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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-03-09

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

March 9, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greece, Turkey to begin 'exploratory contacts' on March 12
  • [02] Greek-Turkish work group to hold 3rd round of talks
  • [03] Women MPs seek president's aid on gender equality issues
  • [04] Greek Commissioner seeks end to stereotypes regarding Moslem women
  • [05] FM, Israeli envoy discuss Mideast situation
  • [06] Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos in Boston
  • [07] President of Iran to pay three-day official visit to Greece
  • [08] Cyprus House President not optimistic on Cyprus direct talks
  • [09] Turkish Cypriot leader on solution to Cyprus problem
  • [10] ND leader inspects Thessaloniki airport during northern tour
  • [11] Church of Greece delegation visits the Vatican
  • [12] Prosecutor's office inquiry into continuing garbage strike
  • [13] Greek inflation falls to 3.4 percent in February
  • [14] Over half of Greek retailers are self-employed
  • [15] Greece, Portugal top EU ranking for ageing farmers
  • [16] Chinese business delegation in Thessaloniki
  • [17] ASE seminar on international accounting standards
  • [18] OTE assigns project to Intracom, Motorola
  • [19] OTE telecom denies wrongdoing with Telecom Italia in Bulgarian deal
  • [20] Hellenic Petroleum launches new polypropylene unit
  • [21] Greek pensioners demand higher pension pay raises
  • [22] Greek bond market steady in February
  • [23] Greek stocks end week 3.46 percent higher
  • [24] Angelopoulos-Daskalaki lauds Cyprus' spirit of volunteerism
  • [25] Exhibition inaugurated on 'The twilight of the Byzantium'
  • [26] Cyprus peace talks continue
  • [27] Verheugen says Cyprus should speak with one voice in the EU
  • [28] Commissioner says impossible to stop or delay enlargement

  • [01] Greece, Turkey to begin 'exploratory contacts' on March 12

    Athens, 09/03/2002 (ANA)

    Greek and Turkish officials will meet in Ankara on March 12 for the first round of "exploratory talks" between the two countries aimed at ascertaining “points of convergence” that will ostensibly lead to dialogue at a later stage for the drafting of an agreement referring the delimitation of the Aegean’s continental shelf to the International Court at The Hague.

    Greek foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis made the announcement on Friday at a previously unscheduled press briefing, while the Turkish foreign ministry issued a written announcement on the same issue simultaneously.

    Beglitis said the Greek delegation would be headed by the foreign ministry’s political director, Amb. Anastasios Skopelitis, and would include international public law professor Argyris Fatouros. Conversely, the Turkish delegation will be headed by Turkish foreign ministry secretary general Amb. Ugur Ziyal and include legal consultant Amb. Deniz Bolukbasi, who served as secretary at the Turkish embassy in Athens in the mid-1980s.

    Regarding the content of the exploratory talks, Beglitis reiterated that these contacts comprised neither dialogue nor negotiations, but would be ''an exchange of views, without an agenda and without minutes of the discussions being recorded''.

    He further stressed that for the Greek side, the framework of principles governing dialogue with Turkey ''is a given fact and comprises respect of the principles of international law as well as international and bilateral treaties, respect of the territorial integrity and inviolability of both countries along with their sovereign rights''.

    Athens also places priority on respect of the "acquis communautaire", especially conclusions of the Helsinki EU summit and Paragraph IV of the conclusions in particular, according to diplomatic sources.

    The sources also noted that, in accordance with the foreign ministry spokesman's announcement, agreement on a commonly accepted framework of principles would also be an item of discussion in the exploratory contacts.

    They further said that the date of the second meeting, which will take place in Athens, and also the frequency of the meetings between the two delegations, would be agreed between Skopelitis and Ziyal.

    Finally, Beglitis confirmed that the current Spanish presidency of the European Union has scheduled an EU-Turkey association council meeting on April 16 on the sidelines of a General Affairs Council session in Luxembourg. He added that the Spanish presidency has also submitted a joint proposal by the EU 15 members, expected to be reviewed by a relevant work group.

    [02] Greek-Turkish work group to hold 3rd round of talks

    ISTANBUL 09/03/2002 (ANA-A. Kourkoulas)

    The Greek-Turkish work group in the cultural sector will hold its 3rd round of talks in Ankara on March 12, in parallel with exploratory contacts between representatives of the two countries' foreign ministries.

    According to the Anatolian news agency, the Greek delegation will be headed by ambassador Haralambos Rokanas, the foreign ministry's general director of cultural affairs.

    The Turkish delegation will be headed by the Turkish foreign ministry's general director of cultural affairs and overseas publicity ambassador Varol Ozkocak.

    Contacts are expected to focus on issues concerning cultural activities between the two countries, sports issues and details of the joint organisation of the 2008 European Soccer Champion-ship.

    Turkish cabinet OKs Euro 2008 joint bid: Ankara has reportedly given its approval for a joint bid by the Greek and Turkish soccer federations to host the 2008 European championship, days after heated reactions in Athens greeted demands by the Turkish premier that a pseudo-state in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus participate in the tournament.

    According to a dispatch by the semi-official “Anadolu” news agency, several relevant Turkish ministers “signed off” on the proposal, thus providing the Turkish government’s acquiescence -- a condition mandated by UEFA, Europe’s governing football body.

    Greece’s football federation (EPO) on Tuesday warned that any attempt by the Turkish government to politically exploit the joint Greek-Turkish candidacy would result in the proposal’s immediate termination.

    EPO president Vassilis Gagatsis made the statement after press reports from the neighboring country cited demands by Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit that the so-called “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” be allowed to compete in the Euro 2008 tournament.

    “The bid by EPO and the Turkish federation to host the championship was and is based on a political agreement calling for the complete abstention by both sides of any reference to problems that exist between the two countries, as well as the promotion of messages emphasizing peace, understanding and cooperation ...” a press release by EPO’s president read on Tuesday.

    During a Cabinet meeting on Monday in Ankara, Ecevit reportedly said the pseudo-state in the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus should be allowed to participate in the 2008 tournament.

    The issue surfaced after Turkish Minister of State Fikret Unlu, who holds the sports portfolio, asked the Turkish cabinet’s approval.

    The so-called ‘Turkish republic of northern Cyprus’ was illegally declared in 1983 in areas of the east Mediterranean island republic occupied by the Turkish military since an invasion in 1974. Only Turkey, the occupying power, recognizes the pseudo-state.

    [03] Women MPs seek president's aid on gender equality issues

    Athens, 09/03/2002 (ANA)

    Violence against women and their under-representation in politics dominated a meeting on Friday between President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and a delegation of 13 women MPs and MEPs led by Environment Minister Vasso Papandreou.

    The group presented arguments in favor of a quota system in local elections that would make it mandatory for at least one third of the candidates to be women, while pointing out that the exorbitant sums spent on election campaigns were another factor that hampered the participation of women.

    The president noted that laws for properly regulating money used in politics would be a good general measure for reforming public life, while a good time to introduce changes such as quotas would be during a change of electoral law.

    On the issue of violence and the trade in women, raised by MEP Anna Karamanou, Stephanopoulos questioned the usefulness of political measures in dealing with the former, saying it was primarily a social issue, while he condemned the trade in women as inhuman and said it had to be dealt with since it was shameful for both men and women.

    New Democracy MP Anna Psarouda Benaki asked for the president's assistance so that the quota measure would not have a negative impact on women, with a campaign to support women candidates.

    Coalition of the Left and Progress MP Maria Damanaki, meanwhile, noted the important role played by funding in the election of candidates, which served to lower the participation of women, while she also asked Papandreou to try to introduce a quota system in parliamentary elections as well.

    Papandreou pointed out that this would be very difficult given the small number of women in Parliament and the stiff resistance the measure would face from within the parties.

    The minister expressed satisfaction with the results of the meeting afterward, saying that the president seemed aware of the under-representation of women in politics, society and economic life and wanted equal participation by all citizens in all institutions.

    She said it was very important for the local election quota measure to come into force after the upcoming elections.

    Damanaki, meanwhile, asked for the president and the government to take a stand on women's issues while she underlined the need to speed up work on a bill against the trafficking in women. She stressed that the failure to introduce this legislation had laid the country open to severe criticism abroad and in Europe.

    ND leader lashes out at government at Women's Day event: Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis, speaking on Friday night at an event organized by ND's Secretariat for Women's Affairs on the occasion of Women's Day, launched a stinging criticism against the government.

    He claimed that ''the country for some time now is going through an odd situation of non-governance'' and criticized Prime Minister Costas Simitis for this situation. Karamanlis said Simitis ''admits that he lacks legality for necessary actions, that there is uncertainty and that this situation is at the expense of the country.''

    Karamanlis further accused Simitis that ''he is attempting to draw public life into scenarios of talk of conspiracy and ideological terrorism.'' The ND leader declared that ''he will not play at the field of polarization and division.''

    Karamanlis expounded on ND's program for the improvement of the position of women in society and for the implementation of equality between the genders.

    The ND leader on Saturday morning will visit the lake of Koronia in Langada, Thessaloniki and in the evening give a political speech at Kilkis.

    Women's role in politics dominates messages on Women's Day: A drive by ruling PASOK to increase the participation of women in local government was announced on Friday by PASOK Central Committee Secretary Costas Laliotis, during an event for Women's Day organized by the party's Equality Sector.

    The year 2002 was the year of local government, Laliotis told reporters at a press conference, and as such it raised a challenge for the equal participation of women and men.

    PASOK is currently working toward the introduction of a 30 per cent minimum quota of women among the candidates standing in prefectural and municipal elections.

    This measure by itself would not be enough, Laliotis said, and for this reason the party's equality sector would be organizing numerous events and open discussions throughout the country, with 300 planned during the coming spring, in order to mobilize women and groom them for a more active role in public affairs.

    During a Women's Day visit to the General Secretariat for Equality, meanwhile, Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis spoke about the requirements of the post-feminist era and stressed that great efforts were needed in terms of women's relationship with power and politics.

    This had to be developed and the law on the participation of women in municipal elections implemented, he added.

    Dedicating the day to women about the world that were treated as objects or merchandise, Skandalidis said that this was an issue that would occupy the Greek EU presidency, which would seek to find a solution to it with the other progressive forces in Europe.

    He also mentioned programs for employment and training under the 3rd Community Support Framework, where efforts were being made for a 60 per cent participation by women.

    Equality General Secretary Efi Bekou noted that today, 50 years after the rights of women were first established in Greece, important strides had been made to increase the participation of women in education (where they accounted for 60 per cent of university graduates), the arts and letters and the labor market, where they now made up 40 per cent of the workforce.

    Afterward, the minister and Bekou visited a counseling center for battered women, where they spoke with center staff and some of the women that had come to the center for advice and support.

    In her own message for Women's Day, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga stressed high unemployment among women, who made up 61.4 per cent of the jobless and the large numbers of women who worked without insurance, fixed work hours or rights.

    At the same time, she noted, volunteerism and charity were becoming official social policy, replacing an obligation for state benefits.

    Finally she called on women to resist the government's anti-worker policy and seek full employment, higher wages and pensions, reduced age of retirement and state-sector, universal and mandatory social insurance for everyone.

    [04] Greek Commissioner seeks end to stereotypes regarding Moslem women

    BRUSSELS 09/03/2002 (ANA-M. Spinthourakis)

    European Commissioner for employment Anna Diamantopoulou on Friday stressed the need for an end to stereotypes and ignorance in Europe concerning Moslem women.

    She was speaking at a lecture to mark Women's Day in Brussels on ''Moslem Women in Europe: Voices that must be heard in intercultural dialogue.''

    Diamantopoulou referred to Moslem women's contribution to European society and the many obstacles they faced on a daily basis - ranging from typecasting to harassment, violence and abuse.

    The Greek Commissioner underlined that Moslem women living in Europe should have a right to independence, both in their personal lives and in their family life.

    She welcomed the lecture as a step toward creating multi-ethnic and heterogeneous societies in the heart of Europe, saying that Moslem communities, the authorities, the mass media and the society as a whole had an important role to play.

    [05] FM, Israeli envoy discuss Mideast situation

    Athens, 09/03/2002 (ANA)

    Bilateral relations as well as the situation in the Middle East -- in light of the latest and highly publicized Saudi proposal -- dominated a meeting on Friday between Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Israeli ambassador to Athens David Sasson.

    Papandreou is scheduled to tour the Mideast in early April, with visits planned to Israel, the Palestinian territories, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

    [06] Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos in Boston

    BOSTON 09/03/2002 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    The pressing need for the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to remain in Istanbul "because that way in can better play its role, acting as a 'Christian droplet in a Moslem ocean'" was stressed Friday by visiting Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, speaking to students at the Holy Cross Theo-logical School in Boston, Massachusetts.

    Replying to a question on whether the Ecumenical Patriarchate should continue to be headquartered in Turkey and function under the present adverse conditions, the Ecumenical Patriarch said that this was imposed by the need to safeguard the traditions of Orthodoxy, and recalled that predecessors of his had been martyred there. He added that he must remain in Istanbul under any conditions.

    During the one-hour discussion that covered a broad range of issues, the issue of contraception was also broached. To a question on how this matter should be approached, Vartholomeos reiterated the stand of his predecessor Athinagoras, saying that priests should not enter the bedrooms of the faithful, in a clearly differentiated position than that of the Catholic Church.

    Vartholomeos noted, however, that the best foundation for rapprochement with the Catholic Church was the common teachings of the first thousand years.

    Vartholomeos also called on the students to become familiar with the "rich and incomparable" Greek language of their heritage and to safeguard the Hellenic traditions, while at the same time encouraging them "spread their wings towards new horizons which you will determine" as free and self-determining individuals.

    Earlier, Vartholomeos chaired a meeting of the Holy Synod of Greek Orthodox Bishops of America, where he stressed the need to review the course of the overseas Greeks and Greek Orthodox Church in America to date and forge future goals. He told the bishops they were shouldering the lofty and heavy responsibility of preserving the unity of the Orthodox Greek-Americans and of guiding them to the best possible solutions.

    [07] President of Iran to pay three-day official visit to Greece

    Athens, 09/03/2002 (ANA)

    President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mohammad Khatami is due to pay an official visit to Greece from March 13-15.

    He is returning a visit paid to Tehran in October 1999 by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

    [08] Cyprus House President not optimistic on Cyprus direct talks

    Athens, 09/03/2002 (ANA)

    Cyprus House of Representatives President Demetris Christofias in a speech at Athens University on Friday evening said that the ongoing second round of direct talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash ''left very few prospects for optimism.''

    Christofias said that despite the optimism prevailing internationally concerning the second round of the talks, he himself saw little ground for optimism and attributed this assessment to ''Denktash's successful public relations and to the creation of pro-Turkish lobbies in various states.''

    He stressed that the good will of the Greek Cypriot side in the talks is a given fact but that it should be accompanied ''by our own campaign in the international arena. To ask from the United Nations and the major powers to exert pressure on Turkey and Denktash for respect of UN decisions in the direction of a substantive solution of a bizonal federation.''

    The Cyprus House President also said that Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis ''said the truth when he stated that things are difficult and that the path to Cyprus' accession to the European Union is not strewn with rose petals.''

    Concluding, he thanked the Greek political parties and the Greek people for the support they are giving to the Greek Cypriot positions and expressed the conviction that this stance on the part of Greece will continue with consistency.

    [09] Turkish Cypriot leader on solution to Cyprus problem

    NICOSIA 09/03/2002 (ANA-G. Leonidas)

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, speaking to reporters during his return from Istanbul on Thursday night, expressed hope that a basis will be found to pave the way for a mutually acceptable solution to the problem of Cyprus.

    Denktash said the Turkish people are very sensitive on the need for a settlement of the Cyprus problem, which will not harm the interests of Turkey.

    He also said that many citizens of Turkey support their country's accession to the European Union.

    Denktash added that this does not mean that Turkey does not want a compromise or peace in Cyprus but, on the contrary, it desires a correct evaluation of all that had happened between 1963 and 1974.

    He went on to say that for the Greek Cypriots to be persuaded to agree to a solution, the international community should review the realities of Cyprus and stop treating the Greek Cypriot administration as the legal government of the island.

    [10] ND leader inspects Thessaloniki airport during northern tour

    Athens, 09/03/2002 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis was shown around 'Macedonia' airport by the airport officials on Friday, soon after his arrival in the northern Greek city for a three-day tour of Thessaloniki and Kilkis.

    He was briefed on the progress of works to improve the airport's facilities, particularly an upgrade of the ILS instrument landing system to ILS II.

    Afterward, Karamanlis slammed the government over the delay in putting the ILS II into operation, pointing out that it had originally promised to have the system online by December.

    It was now March, the ND leader pointed out, and the second-largest city in Greece was still at the mercy of weather conditions and the frequent mist found in the area.

    Civil Aviation Service director Athanasios Tzoganis told reporters that work on the ILS had been completed a few weeks ago and had been operating on a test basis, with a final test to take place on Monday, and might well be fully operational in 15 days. Responding to the main opposition's criticism later on Friday, Transport Minister Christos Verelis noted that the ILS II system would be ready within the next few weeks.

    Verelis also revealed that legal action had been initiated against the contractor in charge of the ILS II for failing to meet the deadline, with the case now in the hands of a Thessaloniki public prosecutor who had been requested to speed up his investigation a month ago.

    The minister predicted that delays and flight cancellations due to adverse weather conditions would fall by 70 per cent once the new system went into operation.

    In addition to the ILS II, an additional 62.8 million euros (21.4 billion drachmas) would be spent on upgrading the airport.

    [11] Church of Greece delegation visits the Vatican

    ROME 09/03/2002 (ANA - L. Hatzikyriakos)

    A high-ranking delegation from the Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greece arrived here this week for a series of contacts with Vatican officials, including a meeting with Pope John Paul II.

    According to reports, one of the items on the agenda of discussions includes negotiations over a possible visit to the city-state by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos.

    [12] Prosecutor's office inquiry into continuing garbage strike

    Athens, 09/03/2002 (ANA)

    The prosecutor’s office ordered an emergency inquiry on Friday into the continuing garbage strike plaguing the greater Athens area, as tons of rubbish have piled up on the Greek capital’s streets over the past week despite an earlier court order ruling the industrial action illegal.

    The inquiry will examine whether striking sanitation workers, their union representatives or the municipal government is viola-ting the law.

    Meanwhile, outgoing Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos pointed the blame at the interior ministry and the government over the situation -- emanating from workers’ demands for permanent employee status and pay hikes -- while the ministry’s leadership said the municipality is solely responsible for resolving the malodorous problem.

    However, Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis said the prospect of the government altering contract workers’ status is out of the question and unconstitutional in the revised Constitution. He also said the municipality employs the striking workers.

    [13] Greek inflation falls to 3.4 percent in February

    Athens, 09/03/2002 (ANA)

    National Statistics Service said that the inflation rate was 3.5 percent in February 2001 and 2.9 percent in February 2000.

    The NSS said the annual increase in the inflation rate to 3.4 percent in February reflected, an 8.6 percent rise in the food and non-beverage drinks group, a 6.0 percent increase in alcohol-tobacco prices, a 1.2 percent rise in housing, a 2.2 percent increase in entertainment-cultural activities, a 6.1 percent rise in hotel-coffee-restaurant prices, a 3.4 percent increase in other goods and services, a 3.3 percent rise in clothing and footwear, a 1.7 percent increase in durable goods' prices and price rises of 3.2 percent and 3.6 percent in health and education, respectively, in February.

    Prices, however, fell 1.1 percent in transport and 4.2 percent in communications.

    The monthly 1.1 percent fall in the consumer price index reflected a 2.5 percent drop in food and beverage, a 5.4 percent decline in clothing-footwear, a 1.0 percent fall in hotel-coffee-restaurant prices and a 2.1 percent fall in communications.

    Monthly prices, however, raised 0.4 percent housing and 0.7 percent other goods and services.

    [14] Over half of Greek retailers are self-employed

    BRUSSELS 09/03/2002 (ANA/ B.Demiris)

    More than half of Greek retailers are self-employed with workers in the trade mostly hired on a full-time basis, and the sector has relatively few women, according to a survey by Eurostat, the European Union's statistics service.

    The self-employed account for 60.2 percent of the retail trade against an EU average 27.1 percent, the highest rate in the 15-nation bloc, Eurostat said.

    Greece has 94.9 percent of retail workers employed on a full-time basis versus an average 70.1 percent in the EU.

    Finally, 46.7 percent of employees in the retail sector are women - the lowest rate in the EU - versus an EU average of 58.5 percent, the survey showed.

    [15] Greece, Portugal top EU ranking for ageing farmers

    BRUSSELS 09/03/2002 (ANA/ G.Zitouniati)

    Greece and Portugal have shown the highest rate of ageing farmers in the European Union over the last ten years with the lowest rate of young farmers, the EU's statistics agency, Eurostat, said on Friday.

    The ageing percentage in the agricultural population in Greece, Portugal and Spain, which all joined the EU in the 1980s, was 36 percent from 32 percent.

    In Greece, 42 percent of farmers were over 55 years of age in 1989-1997.

    In 1997 Greece, Italy and Portugal showed the lowest participation rate in the EU of farmers aged less than 35 years with a rate of 17 percent.

    [16] Chinese business delegation in Thessaloniki

    Athens, 09/03/2002 (ANA)

    A delegation of 11 Chinese businessmen from Guangzhou will visit Thessaloniki, March 22, for talks with the city's businessmen in an effort to promote Chinese products in the Greek market.

    The Chinese delegation will seek to promote air conditioning systems, machinery, metal accessories, canned food, fruit and vegetables, lighting objects, leather gloves, resin and other products.

    On the other hand, they want to import from Greece polyethylene, leather-cutting machines and to discuss cooperations in the leather production sector.

    [17] ASE seminar on international accounting standards

    Athens, 09/03/2002 (ANA)

    Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Friday said he was optimistic over improved transparency in listed companies' accounting and auditing practices.

    Addressing a seminar over international accounting standards (IAS), organized by the Athens Stock Exchange, Christodoulakis said, "we are proposing a framework to be discussed with interested parties to find commonly accepted adjustments."

    He said that a discussion should focus on: replacing auditors every three years, prohibiting accounting firms from offering both consulting and auditing services to the same company simultaneously and finally offering incentives for a continuous training of auditors.

    Greek Capital Markets' Committee chairman, Stavros Thomadakis, said that the commission should have its own say in implementing international accounting standards in the Greek market.

    "Implementing such standards it would need training of executives, auditors and company staff. By adopting the international accounting standards we ensure the quality of information offered to investors, enhance their protection and make stock shares more attractive," Thomadakis said.

    He unveiled that already 27 listed Greek companies were using international accounting standards, accounting for 53 percent of the market's total capitalization.

    ASE chairman, Panayiotis Alexakis, said that the stock market would continue supporting listed companies throughout the adjustment period needed to adopt new accounting practices.

    [18] OTE assigns project to Intracom, Motorola

    Athens, 09/03/2002 (ANA)

    Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation said on Friday that its board had assigned Intracom and Motorola a project to expand its OTElink multi-channel radio network, worth more than 8.0 million euros.

    The project envisages the supply, installation and "turn-key" delivery of TETRA equipment to expanding OTElink's network covering Patras, Thessaloniki, the Athens-Thessaloniki and Athens-Patras national roads, northern Crete and Olympic Airways facilities at the Athens international airport at Spata.

    [19] OTE telecom denies wrongdoing with Telecom Italia in Bulgarian deal

    Athens, 09/03/2002 (ANA)

    Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), a heavily traded stock on the Athens bourse, on Friday denied allegations in a newspaper report that it had rigged the outcome of a Bulgarian state tender with another bidder, Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM).

    In July 2001, OTE launched a mobile phone network in Bulgaria through a local subsidiary after winning the tender two years before.

    The Kathimerini newspaper claimed that OTE and TIM had made a secret agreement that the Greek telecom would end up with the permit with talks conducted through a Greek subsidiary of the Italian firm, Stet Hellas.

    OTE's management said in a statement that the company had not entered into agreements with third parties in order to secure the Bulgarian mobile phone permit.

    Information about ties between OTE and Telecom Italia that appeared in Kathimerini's article pre-dated the tender, and referred to talks undertaken by the two firms on agreements that are still pending as their financial side remained unresolved, the statement said.

    It added that OTE had forged other alliances and commercial links with the Italia Telecom Group in Greece and abroad due to the operation of Stet Hellas in Greece, which is a customer of OTE through the mobile connection charges it pays.

    ''The newspaper's bid to distort reality and link past agreements with the Bulgarian mobile phone tender process - agreements that were legal and irrelevant to the issue - and the ensuing adverse impression created over legality and transparency, have hurt the OTE group's prestige and its shareholders' interests,'' the firm said.

    OTE's mobile phone network in Bulgaria is run by Globul, a local subsidiary. The system covered 20 percent of the population in the first phase of operations under the terms of the Bulgarian government license.

    The country's main cities have since received the service, raising the total to 40 percent of the population.

    [20] Hellenic Petroleum launches new polypropylene unit

    Athens, 09/03/2002 (ANA)

    Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Friday officially inaugurated Hellenic Petroleum's new polypropylene production unit in Thessaloniki.

    The new unit, worth 52 billion drachmas, has an annual capacity of 180,000 tones and signals the creation of the country's most significant vertical form in the petrochemical industry. The unit is particularly significant as it exceeds the country's manufacturing needs (around 70,000 tones annually) and strengthens Hellenic Petroleum's export activities.

    The unit will need around 300 more jobs when it will be fully operational.

    The technology used in building the new was based on strict environmental criteria, in line with the European Union's directives on security and environment protection.

    AEGEK to build 390MW power station in Thessaloniki Athens, 09/03/2002 (ANA

    AEGEK, a listed construction group, on Friday said it would build a 390MW electricity power station, worth 100 billion drachmas, in Thessaloniki, in cooperation with Hellenic Petroleum and Tractebel SA.

    The power station will be built in an area of Hellenic Petroleum's industrial complex.

    The company said the project would be completed in 2004 and it would supply electricity to Hellenic Petroleum's facilities and other businesses in Thessaloniki. It will be part of the country's national electricity grid.

    The three companies have also agreed to seek joint projects in the electricity and natural gas sectors both in Greece and in other neighboring countries.

    A company statement said the project was strengthening efforts made by the country's Energy Regulatory Authority to deregulate Greece's energy market and to attract foreign investments in the country.

    [21] Greek pensioners demand higher pension pay raises

    Athens, 09/03/2002 (ANA)

    Representatives from pensioners' union on Friday demanded higher pension pay increases and expressed their opposition to a planned reform of the social security system in the country.

    In a meeting with Economy and Finance Minister, Nikos Christodoulakis, Greek pensioners said that pension pay rises envisaged by the government's incomes policy were not enough to compensate for the loss of income due to higher inflation.

    They also said that reduced state contribution to TEBE (merchants' pension fund) has led to losses up of 136 billion drachmas in the last few years.

    Christodoulakis urged pensioners to become the government's allies in its effort to reform the country's social security system and assured them that the reform would not hit pensioner’s rights but it would create better preconditions for pension pay in the future.

    [22] Greek bond market steady in February

    Athens, 09/03/2002 (ANA)

    The Greek state bond market moved steadily in February with turnover easing from the previous month's levels and prices moving within narrow ranges, following a pattern in other European markets.

    Turnover in the electronic secondary bond market totalled 37 billion euros in February, more than double compared with the same month in 2001 (15 bln euros), but lower compared with January's 42 billion euros.

    Buying interest focused on medium-term securities, mainly three- to seven-year durations that accounted for 42 percent of total turnover in the market.

    Long-term bonds accounted for 31 percent of the market's turnover, with the new 10-year benchmark bond, maturing May 2012, recording the highest turnover, 4.098 billion euros. Buying orders accounted for 43.68 percent of total orders in February, with the remaining 56.32 percent selling orders.

    Prices in the short-term and medium-term end of the yield curve rose slightly, recovering part of their January losses, but fell in the long-term end of the curve following losses in international long-term bonds - hit by signs of economic recovery in the US and Europe.

    Optimism over economic developments in both sides of the Atlantic undermined the attractiveness of long-term state bonds with investors' interest shifting again to stock shares.

    The 20-year bond price fell 60 basis points in February, while prices in the three- and seven-year bonds rose by 11-15 basis points. The 10-year benchmark bond was unchanged at 99.48, yielding 5.31 percent in February.

    Bond yield moves led to a steeper yield curve, with the spread between three- and 20-year bonds widening to 127 basis points in mid-February from 115 bps at the end of January. The average spread between the 10-year Greek bond and the German Bund was 38 basis points in February, from 37 bps the previous month.

    National Bank topped the list of the market's primary dealers, followed by Commercial Bank, Alpha Bank and EFG Eurobank Ergasias (based on figures for the January-February period).

    [23] Greek stocks end week 3.46 percent higher

    Athens, 09/03/2002 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended the last trading session of the week with small gains, with the general index, however, unable to surpass the 2,500 level on the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday.

    The index ended 0.66 percent higher at 2,448.11 points, reflecting a 1.70 percent jump in the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization’s share price, recovering part of Thursday's losses.

    Turnover was a disappointing 111.65 million euros.

    The Metals, Telecoms and Holding sectors scored the biggest percentage gains (1.36 percent, 1.34 percent and 1.24 percent, respectively), while the Insurance, IT and Investment sectors suffered the heaviest losses (0.96 percent, 0.46 percent and 0.43 percent).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.43 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 0.56 percent higher and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index rose 0.72 percent.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 184 to 116 with another 57 issues unchanged.

    The general index ended the week with a net gain of 3.46 percent.

    Bond Market Close: Prices lower in active trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Friday finished down in heavy trade focusing on 10-year paper.

    The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.51 percent, and the spread over the corresponding German bund was 32 basis points.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 2.3 billion euros.

    Sell orders accounted for the bulk of turnover.

    Derivatives Market Close: Equity index futures rise, tracking shares: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange rose on Friday, tracking a drop in the main market during trade and recovering to close higher.

    Turnover was 34.9 million euros.

    The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips gained 0.43 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks increased by 0.56 percent.

    [24] Angelopoulos-Daskalaki lauds Cyprus' spirit of volunteerism

    NICOSIA 09/03/2002 (ANA – D. Kalabakas)

    Athens 2004 organizing committee (ATHOC) chief Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki continued her high-profile tour of Cyprus on Friday, with the focus remaining fixed on the promotion of volunteerism among the island republic’s energetic youth.

    During a press conference here, ATHOC’s president reiterated what she called the “uniqueness” of the 2004 Games and the emphasis on the “human factor” involved with the upcoming Olympiad.

    “The ‘human factor’ will make the big difference in the Athens Games, this is a matter for all Greeks. The people of Cyprus want to help … the ground for volunteerism in Cyprus has been cultivated,” Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said, adding that the island republic is quite advanced in terms of volunteerism.

    ATHOC president visits University of Cyprus: Athens 2004 Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki was enthusiastically welcomed during her visits to the Pancyprian Gymnasium, the Cypriot Olympic Committee and the University of Cyprus on Friday.

    ''We came to get lessons in courage, endurance and humanity through your history and through your struggles. Cyprus is always present. And it is the one with which we shall move ahead together in the great effort. And I do not wish to hide from you that the Olympic Games are a difficult effort,'' she said while speaking at the Pancyprian Gymnasium and the University of Cyprus.

    ''All are needed to enable us to show the world that we are characterized by our history and our culture, but also to show that we are worthy of more,'' she added.

    Replying to Daskalaki, Cyprus Education and Culture Minister Ouranios Ioannides said among other things that I am certain that the result of these Games will be equally great and splendid as their claiming. I am aware of the capabilities of Hellenism and how we shall all work together to achieve the desired result.''

    Daskalaki also visited the offices of the Olympic Committee of Cyprus where she met its President and IOC member Kikis Lazaridis.

    [25] Exhibition inaugurated on 'The twilight of the Byzantium'

    Athens, 09/03/2002 (ANA)

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Friday evening inaugurated an exhibition in Thessaloniki on the theme ''The twilight of the Byzantium 1204-1453''.

    The exhibition of the representative works of art is being held at the city's Museum of Byzantine Culture.

    Also present at the inauguration were main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis and former Prime Minister George Rallis.

    The exhibition presents works of art of the last two centuries of the Byzantine Empire.

    [26] Cyprus peace talks continue

    NICOSIA 09/03/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash had their third meeting on Friday morning, within the framework of the second round of their direct talks on the Cyprus problem.

    The meeting, in the presence of the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, took place in a building near the UN-controlled Nicosia airport and lasted for one hour and 20 minutes.

    President Clerides was accompanied by his aides, Attorney General Alecos Markides, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou and Undersecretary to the President Pantelis Kouros.

    [27] Verheugen says Cyprus should speak with one voice in the EU

    NICOSIA 09/03/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus must join the European Union as one state with a single internationally recognized personality, European Com-missioner for enlargement Gunter Verheugen has said, adding that its component states cannot be sovereign.

    Speaking after his meeting here on Friday with President Glafcos Clerides, the Commissioner said he remained "cautiously optimistic" about the ongoing direct talks, which began here in mid January between the leaders of the two communities on the island, and pointed out that now the crucial factor is time.

    Referring to his meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash earlier on Friday, Verheugen said Denktash intends to find a settlement by June.

    Verheugen said he repeated to Denktash the Helsinki conclusions, that a solution to the Cyprus problem is not a precondition for the island's accession to the EU and added that "the way the talks are held is one of the relevant factors that we have to take into account when we make the final decision."

    Answering a question, Verheugen said "Cyprus must be one state, with one internationally recognized personality and its component entities or component states cannot be sovereign in a sense that they are internationally recognized and independent in legal terms."

    He pointed out that "it is not enough to have a decision making procedure that would allow Cyprus to speak with one voice in the European institutions, but there must be a central authority that has the structures, the powers and the competencies to carry it out."

    [28] Commissioner says impossible to stop or delay enlargement

    NICOSIA 09/03/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    European Union enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen said here on Friday that ''it is impossible and unthinkable'' to stop or deliberately delay enlargement of the Union and called on both communities in Cyprus ''to participate'' to the EU expansion and ''shoulder responsibilities of a member of the EU and enjoy the benefits.''

    Speaking at the opening ceremony of a two-day international conference on ''The enlargement of the EU and beyond'', organized by the International European Movement, Verheugen also said that the Commission would make in October its assessment for the 10 countries which are on the list of countries to conclude accession negotiations in December 2002 ''based on the fulfillment of political and economic and acquis communautaire related criteria.''

    Verheugen reiterated that the EU's clear preference is that a united Cyprus joins but noted that this ''is not a precondition.''

    ''European institutions, Council, Parliament, Commission and the member states together have created such a strong political momentum that it is already impossible and unthinkable to stop'', enlargement or ''delay it on purpose'', EU Commissioner said, adding that ''if everything goes according to our strategy and our plans we have to make the decisions in the second half of this year.''

    He also noted that the integration of Cyprus in the EU will boost trade, attract investment and thus create more jobs, noting that ''it will be much easier to overcome the regional disparities and certainly the economic disadvantages which exist at least for one of the two communities (Turkish Cypriot).''

    ''But above all, membership in the EU will create a spiritual framework for peace and security, democracy and respect of human rights in a united Cyprus,'' he added.


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