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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-03-13

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

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

March 13, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] National elections in 2004, Simitis stresses after Executive Bureau meeting
  • [02] Greek-Turkish 'exploratory dialogue' begins in Ankara
  • [03] Greek and Bosnian PMs discuss Bosnian institutions
  • [04] Giannitsis outlines Athens' goals at Barcelona summit
  • [05] Iranian President Khatami to begin Athens visit on Wednesday
  • [06] Parliamentary committee discusses Nice treaty
  • [07] Greece contributes frigate to int'l anti-terrorism campaign
  • [08] Greece and Bulgaria discuss road links
  • [09] Greek Church delegation discusses Catholic education system with Vatican
  • [10] Govít to amend means declaration law, Protopapas says
  • [11] Main opposition slates government for inefficiency
  • [12] Protopapas on Avramopoulos' call for early elections
  • [13] Greek trade deficit falls 1.1 pct in Jan-Sept 2001
  • [14] Greek companies to begin presentations in Japan
  • [15] Critical stage reached in gov't - union talks on social insurance
  • [16] HDW of Germany retains buying interest in Hellenic Shipyards
  • [17] Greek drachma coins to be recycled
  • [18] Greek stocks end sharply lower on Tuesday
  • [19] Int'l tender for 'Culture Olympiad's' free-standing structures, designs
  • [20] U.S. ambassador visits ATHOC for talks on promoting baseball
  • [21] Search continuing for crashed U.S. military helicopter
  • [22] Belgian campaign for Parthenon Marbles' return
  • [23] Former president of Cyprus Spyros Kyprianou dies
  • [24] President Clerides expresses deep sorrow for Kyprianou's death
  • [25] Greek leadership sends condolences over death of former Cyprus president
  • [26] Clerides and Denktash continue direct talks

  • [01] National elections in 2004, Simitis stresses after Executive Bureau meeting

    Athens, 13/03/2002 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday clarified that the next national elections will be held in 2004, after a meeting of the ruling PASOK party Executive Bureau, which he chaired.

    Simitis stressed that the elections will take place in 2004, because the people voted a four-year term government and because that is what the Constitution mandates.

    ''The aim is from this day already PASOK's victory, which will be conquered with a relation of trust that is being built every day between the government and the citizens, through the government's work,'' the premier said.

    He criticized main opposition New Democracy (ND) which he called a party of a social minority, which serves business interests.

    He said that the members of the Executive Bureau agreed that PASOK and the government should undertake initiatives, which will negate the efforts of ND to lead the country to early elections.

    Simitis pointed out four major targets, which should be accomplished until the end of the current four-year term, outlining them as: - Real economic and social convergence with the other European Union member-states - Answers to the Greek national issues, these being the accession of Cyprus to the EU, the resolution of the Cyprus problem and improvement of Greek-Turkish relations - The successful organizing of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and - The battle for a better position for Greece in tomorrow's Europe.

    All these aims, the premier stressed, are connected with Greece's European Union presidency due in the first half of 2003, adding that the government will also deal with basic issues that are priorities for citizens and make up the citizens' everyday life.

    In his criticism of ND, Simitis underlined that the main opposition party ''serves business interests, of those that are well off and defend their position in society''.

    He noted that ND's identity was proven during the 1989-1993 period, ''when it governed the country and led the country backwards'', adding that ND did not have specific positions on issues.

    He accused ND of dynamiting the political climate of the country, ''as its rhetoric is characterized by special aggressiveness, an effort to create a polarized climate, scandal mongering and disaster talk''.

    Simitis said ND wants early elections, ''because it wants to cut short the course of affairs, that is the implementation of the government's work, because then it will find itself without arguments''.

    Speaking on the possibility of PASOK's cooperation with other parties, Simitis said that PASOK was steadfastly oriented in creating a progressive majority current and aimed at cooperating with the center-left and left political forces of the country.

    He clarified that the initiatives undertaken toward that direction, were not aimed only at the leadership of other parties, but mostly were aimed towards the citizens, underlining that this option of the ruling was not an issue of tactics or an issue of creating impressions.

    Responding to questions on possible changes to the electoral law, Simitis said that the relevant discussions were part of an effort to upgrade the political system and left open the possibility for the issue to be discussed before the municipal elections due in October.

    ND spokesman responds to premier's criticism of his party: Main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Tuesday responded to Prime Minister Costas Simitis' criticism of ND, saying that ''Mr. Simitis admitted today to his impasse and his inability to overcome them''.

    ''His attempt to distance himself from all that he stated as aberration, accusing the main opposition party, affirms his irresponsibility. It is about time for him to understand that his inability cannot become a source of new problems for the country,'' Roussopoulos added.

    ''It is about time for him to understand that the Greek people, for 20 years now, has been fed up with magnificent words and empty promises. Today the Greek people demand respect, responsibility and mainly work,'' he concluded.

    [02] Greek-Turkish 'exploratory dialogue' begins in Ankara

    ISTANBUL, 13/02/2002 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    The first face-to-face session between high-ranking diplomats from the Greek and Turkish foreign ministries within the framework of a recently unveiled "exploratory dialogue" between the two neighbors commenced in Ankara on Tuesday.

    The latest initiative was announced by the Greek and Turkish foreign ministers, George Papandreou and Ismail Cem, respectively, during their meetings in New York last January and later in Istanbul.

    The "exploratory talks" aim to find "points of convergence" that will ostensibly lead to the beginning of a more structured dialogue on how to work out an agreement referring the issue of the Aegean Sea's delineation to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

    Amb. Anastasios Skopelitis and Prof. Argyris Fatouros head the Greek delegation.

    In Athens, meanwhile, the government spokesman reminded that both sides retain the right to hold and express their opinions, "which in the current phase will be exchanged within the frame-work of these exploratory contacts".

    In brief statements afterwards to reporters, both Skopelitis and Turkey's foreign ministry secretary general, Amb. Ugur Zigal, called their talks "fruitful" and "positive".

    Zigal also said both sides agreed to continue the same procedure when they meet again in Athens next month.

    Asked if the Cyprus problem came up during talks, the Turkish diplomat said Greek-Turkish issues were discussed, while adding that there are no time constraints for the ongoing "exploratory contacts".

    "The goal of our meetings is to promote Greek-Turkish relations," he said.

    Skopelitis merely repeated that the talks were "fruitful and positive" with an exchange of views aired during the meeting.

    [03] Greek and Bosnian PMs discuss Bosnian institutions

    Athens, 13/03/2002 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis held talks with his counterpart from Bosnia-Herzegovina Zlatko Lagumdzija on Tuesday, who presented the process already underway of ''building institutions'' to enable Bosnia-Herzegovina to acquire the smooth functioning of its economy and society.

    In a statement, Simitis underlined Greece's solidarity for Bosnia-Herzegovina's effort ''to become an effective state entity'' and pointed to the country's upcoming accession to the Council of Europe.

    He also reminded that Greek soldiers are stationed there and promised that Greece will back the country's joining the Balkan Reconstruction Program and that it will encourage the activation of Greek firms in its territory.

    Lagumdzija thanked Greece ''for its assistance and solidarity'' and underlined his government's European orientation to enable his country to become a modern European state.

    FM Papandreou discusses bilateral relations with Bosnian PM: Foreign Minister George Papandreou met with Bosnia-Herzegovina's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija on Tuesday night and discussed issues concerning bilateral cooperation, stability in the Balkans and their European orientation.

    Lagumdzija met Papandreou in his capacity as foreign minister.

    Following their meeting, Papandreou gave particular emphasis in his statements to the European course of Balkan countries, assuring that Greece will wholeheartedly support this course during Greece's EU presidency in the first half of 2003.

    Papandreou said he discussed with Lagumdzija issues concerning bilateral cooperation, focusing on the shaping of infrastructures, energy and telecommunications networks and also the help, which Greece will offer Bosnia-Herzegovina on issues concerning the development of institutions. He reiterated that Greece, through a unanimous decision by Parliament, has decided to incorporate Bosnia-Herzegovina in the Greek plan for the reconstruction of the Balkans.

    The foreign minister noted that the Bosnian prime minister also signed the Greek proclamation for the Olympic Truce.

    On his part, Lagumdzija expressed his satisfaction over the talks he had with Papandreou and noted that the fact that Greece has incorporated his country in its national plan for the reconstruction of the Balkans, other than its substantive importance, ''also is of symbolic importance.''

    He added that he discussed in detail with Papandreou the aid, which Greece will offer for the development of infrastructures in his country and for issues of a legal nature.

    Concluding, Lagumdzija expressed the hope that Sarajevo will become again ''an Olympic city'' like Athens.

    [04] Giannitsis outlines Athens' goals at Barcelona summit

    Athens, 13/03/2002 (ANA)

    Greece intends to press its European Union counterparts for a statement that stressed the equal importance of social goals and economic performance at the informal EU Summit in Barcelona later this week, Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Giannitsis said on Tuesday.

    Athens also wanted improved coordination among the '15', while Prime Minister Costas Simitis planned to present Greek positions on the issue of the European Army, he added during a press briefing outlining the Greek government's goals during the summit meeting on Thursday and Friday.

    Another proposal from the Greek side, he said, would be the addition of social issues, the Community's economic performance and the Lisbon process to the agenda of mid-year EU summits, starting from the Greek EU presidency in the first half of 2003.

    Commenting on the Spanish presidency's attempt to link the Lisbon process with EU enlargement and to seek greater involvement in the EU reforms by candidate countries, Giannitsis noted the serious problems thus created because of the ''heterogeneous social and economic characteristics'' of candidate states and the effect this would have on the economic indices average, which would be pushed down.

    The minister said that a way would have to be found to link the processes without creating additional conditions for EU entry for candidate states nor relaxing efforts to carry out reforms decided in Lisbon.

    He noted that Greece had called in writing for an evaluation of why certain goals set at Lisbon had not been achieved and to reconfirm overall commitment to the Lisbon process, as well as a re-evaluation of particular policies that were affected by extraordinary conditions within member-states.

    Giannitsis said the Spanish presidency had not yet sent notification regarding the summit agenda, but tentatively predicted that this would chiefly focus on evaluating the Lisbon process.

    He said this presented a mixed picture, with successes in telecommunications and education policy but also failures due to low growth rates, rising unemployment and a failure to adopt European-wide agreements (such as a European patent or unification of financial markets).

    Other possible topics, he said, included a British-German proposal for reforming the European Council and the Euro-Mediterranean Bank.

    Government spokesman Christos Protopapas, meanwhile, on Tuesday confirmed that the prime minister hoped to present Athens' positions on the European Army, possibly during the summit dinner, as well as an initiative for the Middle East proposed to his EU counterparts on Monday by Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

    ND leader leaving for Barcelona for EPP summit: Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis will leave for Barcelona, Spain, on Wednesday to attend the European Peoples Party's (EPP) summit on Thursday.

    He will be accompanied by International Relations and EU secretary G. Valinakis and press spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos.

    Shortly after the summit, Karamanlis will attend a dinner to be given in the evening by Catalonia's UDC party President Josep Duran Illeida.

    On Friday, Karamanlis will meet Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen and Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides. He will be returning to Athens in the afternoon.

    [05] Iranian President Khatami to begin Athens visit on Wednesday

    Athens, 13/03/2002 (ANA)

    The President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mohammad Khatami will be beginning an official three-day visit to Greece as of Wednesday, returning a visit to Tehran by Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos in the autumn of 1999. Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi will accompany him.

    Khatami will be holding talks with President Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Simitis -and so will Kharrazi with his Greek counterpart George Papandreou- on the entire spectrum of bilateral issues, as well as on major international problems.

    Three Greek-Iranian agreements are expected to be signed on Wednesday afternoon, following Khatami's meeting with President Stephanopoulos. The first concerns cooperation on customs issues, the second a cultural program and the third a memorandum between the DEPA company and the corresponding Iranian service on energy issues.

    According to the government spokesman, there is the possibility of the signing of a cooperation memorandum between the two countries' foreign ministries, as well as an agreement on the mutual protection and promotion of investments between the two countries.

    [06] Parliamentary committee discusses Nice treaty

    Athens, 13/03/2002 (ANA)

    The Parliamentary Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday discussed on the ratification of the Nice Treaty.

    Rapporteur Theodoros Pangalos said what was anticipated by the treaty was ''timid settlements and not radical innovations'' but added, however, that it contains the trend for institutional perfection and the completion of new sectors directions, such as social issues, the environment and transportation.

    The main opposition New Democracy party said the ratification of the treaty was imperative and that ''Greece should be in Europe's hard nucleus'' and that Greek interests are promoted in the framework of enlargement with the participation of Cyprus.

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) representative Antonis Skyllakos said his party will vote against the treaty because ''monopolistic capital in Europe is being strengthened at the expense of working people and poorer countries and interventions in third countries are established for selfish economic interests.''

    On behalf of the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos), Asimina Xirotyri said the treaty has been overcome by events and many important issues have been left out, adding that ''for this reason the coalition maintains its reservations, hoping that many things will be put right at the next intergovernmental conference.''

    [07] Greece contributes frigate to int'l anti-terrorism campaign

    Athens, 13/03/2002 (ANA)

    Greece on Tuesday dispatched a frigate to participate in the US-led anti-terrorism campaign "Enduring Freedom", with the vessel expected to join other allied naval units in the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain later this month.

    Forces from France, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and, of course, the United States are participating in the operation.

    The Hellenic Navy frigate "Psarra" will patrol in the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf for three months.

    [08] Greece and Bulgaria discuss road links

    SOFIA, 13/03/2002 (ANA - B. Borisov)

    Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Regional Development and Public Works Minister Konstadin Paskalev and visiting Greek Minister of Macedonia and Thrace George Paschalidis announced on Tuesday that a Greek-Bulgarian experts committee will examine in the near future the entire spectrum of issues related to the beginning of work on three new road links on the two countries' common border.

    The experts will be preparing a joint report to be presented to the two governments with the view of speeding up the start of corridors benefiting the development of the two countries' cross-border cooperation.

    ''We ascertained that the level of relations between our countries is excellent. We are working for the region's common European future,'' Paschalidis later said.

    In a statement to the Bulgarian and foreign press, Paschalidis said ''the Greek Balkan Reconstruction Plan has reached the starting point of its implementation.''

    He also announced that with the expected ratification of the relevant bill by the Greek Parliament in the near future, the funding of development projects in six Balkan countries with 550 million euros over the next five years will begin.

    On his part, Paskalev expressed gratitude for Greece's support for Bulgaria's Euro-Atlantic orientation.

    ''Our will to develop cross-border cooperation for the benefit of the two peoples is mutual and for this reason we decided to have a joint committee of experts created which will analyze all pending issues and inform the governments on all that has to be done to enable the beginning of the new cross-border links to be speeded up,'' Paskalev said.

    Paschalidis also met with Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and invited him to attend the international conference on ''Disproportionate threats and stability in the Balkans'' that his ministry will be organizing in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, at the end of May in cooperation with the defense ministry.

    Paschalidis confirmed Greece's steadfast support for Bulgaria's accession course to NATO and the European Union during the meeting, which also included a discussion on the issue of the three new cross-border corridors with Bulgaria.

    [09] Greek Church delegation discusses Catholic education system with Vatican

    VATICAN, 13/03/2002 (ANA)

    A delegation of the Greece's Orthodox Church on Tuesday met with Monsignor Pitau, responsible for the Catholic Church's educational system.

    The delegation, which began an official visit of the Vatican last Friday at the invitation of Christian Unity Council Chairman of the Catholic Church Cardinal Walter Kasper, discussed details of the Catholic Church's educational activities around the world.

    Monsignor Pitau led a presentation of the operations of Catholic universities, ecclesiastical academies and Catholic elementary schools and high schools around the world.

    [10] Govít to amend means declaration law, Protopapas says

    Athens, 13/03/2002 (ANA)

    The government intends to amend legislation on mandatory means declaration in order to place more emphasis on sources of income rather assets, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Tuesday.

    An obligatory means declaration listing all sources of income and assets - which is then made public - is currently required of all MPs, while the interior ministry recently demanded similar statements from civil servants in a bid to combat corruption.

    The spokesman said the interior ministry was now preparing an amendment, which it would probably present in May, while it was also working on a bill on the funding of parties and candidates in general elections.

    He said the bill would tighten up restrictions in order to ensure transparency and protect politicians.

    Protopapas refused to comment on individual cases (following the recent source of income statements submitted by MPs), noting only that parliamentary deputies and members of the government were in any case forbidden from investing on the Athens bourse.

    [11] Main opposition slates government for inefficiency

    Athens, 13/03/2002 (ANA)

    The main opposition roundly criticized the government on Tuesday, saying that it had achieved nothing in the past two years, after a meeting of New Democracy sector-heads to review the country's problems since the April 2000 elections.

    Sources said the meeting, chaired by ND leader Costas Karamanlis, had also decided to turn up the pressure on the government by asking for early elections, either in the immediate future or after the results of local government elections were in.

    This was indirectly confirmed by ND spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, who in response to questions on why the main opposition did not demand early elections said that "this will also happen, be patient".

    ND MP Prokopis Pavlopoulos, meanwhile, told reporters that Prime Minister Costas Simitis "held the key" to further developments since he had the power to "do the country a service" and call elections.

    The party's official line at the moment, however, is that it will not ask for early elections because it cannot impose them and that everything will happen in "due course".

    Commenting after the meeting, Karamanlis said the government had achieved nothing at all in the past two years.

    "Even governments that have not made a positive mark in Greek history had something to show for themselves," he added.

    He also predicted that the government would try to create an artificially tense climate to cover up for its lack of results and said that ND would continue to do its duty as main opposition.

    Another issue raised by Karamanlis was that of transparency and corruption, and he accused the government of being deeply involved with and following the dictates of organized vested interests.

    Reports: Bakoyianni candidacy for Athens unveiled this month: Press reports on Tuesday pointed to a main opposition New Democracy Parliament group meeting on March 27 as the most likely venue for unveiling high-profile ND deputy Dora Bakoyianni's candidacy for the Athens municipality.

    The same reports said ND leader Costas Karamanlis, following discussions with Bakoyianni, will himself make the announcement.

    Ruling PASOK has already fielded its candidate for the country's largest municipality, with former EU Commissioner and merchant marine minister Christos Papoutsis getting the party's nod.

    [12] Protopapas on Avramopoulos' call for early elections

    Athens, 13/03/2002 (ANA)

    The government spokesman on Tuesday voiced what he called a "total disagreement" with Monday's statements by out-going Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, who called for early elections during a press conference to mark the one-year anniversary of the party he founded, KEP.

    A day later spokesman Christos Protopapas noted during a press briefing that Avramopoulos' evaluation of the current political situation was probably related to his new party's interests rather than those of the country, in general.

    [13] Greek trade deficit falls 1.1 pct in Jan-Sept 2001

    Athens, 13/03/2002 (ANA)

    The Greek trade deficit eased 1.1 percent in the first nine months of 2001 to 13.393 billion US dollars from 13.539 billion in the same period in 2000, National Statistics Service said on Tuesday.

    NSS said that the trade deficit rose 4.9 percent in drachma terms in the January-September 2001 period. Excluding oil trade, the trade shortfall dropped 537.5 million US dollars, or 4.7 percent, over the same period (up 1.1 percent in drachma terms).

    Imports totalled 19.785 billion dollars in the first nine months of 2001, from 22.011 billion the same period in 2000, a drop of 10.1 percent.

    Exports totalled 6.392 billion US dollars in the January-September period from 8.471 billion in 2000, a decline of 24.5 percent.

    NSS said figures covered only merchandise trade, excluding trade in services and non registered transactions.

    Greek trade with EU candidates soared, report: Trade transactions between Greece and the 13 candidates for EU accession almost quadrupled in the last 10 years, figures by the Panhellenic Exporters Union showed on Tuesday.

    A report by the union said that EU candidates have become particularly important for Greece's external trade, a development that would facilitate a smooth absorption of unavoidable shocks in the EU economy created by the EU's expansion with new member states, which - excluding Cyprus and Slovenia - were still very low, or low, compared with the EU average (in economic terms).

    The union's research and survey exporting center divided the candidate countries to three groups: the first group includes Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic, the second group (Bulgaria and Romania) and the third group comprising only of Turkey. The division was based on the progress of accession negotiations with the EU.

    Greek exports to the 13 candidate countries soared by 337 percent in the last decade, while the value of imports rose by 224 percent over the same period.

    Candidate countries' participation in total exports jumped to 21.3 percent in 2000 from 6.5 percent in 1990, while their participation in total Greek imports rose to 5.7 percent from 2.6 percent, over the same period, the report said.

    Greece's trade balance with the 13 countries showed a surplus in the previous 10 years, particularly with Cyprus and Malta.

    Greece has achieved a substantial rise in exports towards Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey over the same period (up seven times with the first two countries and five times with the third).

    Greek imports from the 13 candidate countries show a different picture. Imports from Bulgaria and Romania have almost quadrupled, imports from the first group of candidates almost doubled, while imports from Turkey were up 168 percent.

    Exports and imports between Greece and the 13 candidates are steadily rising in the last five years, with Greek exports with the first group and Turkey recording speedier growth rates compared with exports with Bulgaria and Romania.

    Greek exports to the 13 countries comprised of fuel (19 percent), farm produce (14 percent) and raw material (10 percent), a combination very different with trade standards between the rest of the European Union and candidate countries.

    The European Union is the biggest trade partner of the 13 candidate countries, with exports to the EU accounting for more than 50 percent of total exports, with the exception of Cyprus (48%), Lithuania (48%) and Malta (34%). Imports from the EU also accounted for more than 50 percent of total imports, with the exception of Lithuania (43%) and Bulgaria (44%).

    The EU was showing a trade surplus with all 13 candidate countries except from Slovakia.

    Cyprus has the highest per capita GDP from the 13 countries (85 percent of the EU average), followed by Slovenia (to reach 75 percent this year). Other countries are expected to reach that level in 12 years (Hungary), 16 years (the Czech Republic), 20 years (Estonia), 21 years (Slovakia), 28 years (Latvia), 31 years (Malta), 32 years (Lithuania and Bulgaria), 33 years (Turkey), 34 years (Poland) and 35 years (Poland).

    Greece, Sweden, Denmark, Spain and Italy showed the biggest support to the EU's expansion.

    [14] Greek companies to begin presentations in Japan

    Athens, 13/03/2002 (ANA)

    Greek listed companies will begin a series of profile presentations in Japan in an effort to attract capital by Japanese institutional investors that invest in foreign markets, Athens Stock Exchange's executive vice-chairman, Lito Ioannidou, said on Tuesday.

    Mrs Ioannidou met with high-ranking officials from the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) last week in the framework of Greek Prime Minister's official visit to Japan.

    She met with A. Nishihara, chief executive of TSE, other market officials, and the leaders of the Union of Japanese Stockbrokers, the Union of Institutional Investors and the Union of Japanese Banks. Mrs Ioannidou also met with representatives from Japan's Chamber of Commerce and Nasdaq Japan.

    ASE's executive vice-chairman said the Japanese securities and business community reacted positively to the presentation of the Greek capital markets' activities.

    [15] Critical stage reached in gov't - union talks on social insurance

    Athens, 13/03/2002 (ANA)

    A meeting between Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas and public sector and bank worker unions on Wednesday promises to be critical for the continuation of negotiations between the government and trade unions on social security and pension system reforms.

    The minister has proposed a deal under which there is a favorable settlement for the country's largest social security fund, the Social Security Foundation (IKA), on condition that smaller insurance funds for staff at public utilities, state enterprises, banks and the civil service are all unified under a single employees fund governed by one set of rules and giving out the same benefits.

    Reppas will discuss the proposal with the civil servants' union ADEDY and the public utility and bank worker union federations on Wednesday, during a meeting held under the auspices of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), the country's largest umbrella trade union organization.

    The settlement proposed by the ministry to some extent improves on present conditions for those insured by IKA after Jan. 1, 1993, providing a right to pension after 37 years in work regardless of age (a compromise between the government's proposal for pension after 40 years and GSEE's demand pension after 35 years). It also raises pensions to 70 per cent of the last salary for those insured after Jan. 1, 1993, (up from 60 per cent under the Sioufas bill) and raises the minimum pension to 366.84 euros (125,000 drachmas) a month.

    The proposal was welcomed on Tuesday by GSEE president Christos Polyzogopoulos, who said it involved no injurious consequences for those insured by IKA before 1993, while leaving benefits for women and for those in hazardous or unhealthy occupations intact and improving on conditions for those insured after 1993.

    He stressed, however, that the unification of insurance funds could not happen without the agreement of the other trade union federations and ADEDY.

    Polyzogopoulos said the unions were now waiting for the government's positions on the crucial issue of funding, which would determine the final outcome of the talks.

    Other GSEE officials affiliated to main opposition New Democracy and the Coalition of the Left and Progress party, however, noted that there was no firm government commitment to tripartite funding of social insurance (with a contribution from the government) nor any guarantee that the favorable measures instituted now would actually still be in place in 2008 when the first benefits would be paid.

    The unification of the social insurance funds, conversely, would be a firm and irrevocable fact, they said.

    The ministry proposals also call for separating the IKA supplementary fund IKA-TEAM from the main body of IKA and creating a single supplementary fund for all workers called ETEAM. Other measures include the addition of ''virtual" contributions for mothers per child.

    [16] HDW of Germany retains buying interest in Hellenic Shipyards

    Athens, 13/03/2002 (ANA)

    HDW, the largest shipyard in Germany, said on Tuesday that it was still interested in acquiring Hellenic Shipyards, despite the German company's buyout by One Equity Partners, a subsidiary of Bank One of the US.

    ''HDW is adhering to its decision to acquire Hellenic Shipyards. This plan will not be affected by the new share composition of Germany's largest shipyard,'' the company said in a statement released by ETBAbank, which owns 51 percent of the Greek yard.

    ''On the contrary, HDW believes that Hellenic Shipyards is a major factor in its future European strategy,'' the statement said.

    [17] Greek drachma coins to be recycled

    Athens, 13/03/2002 (ANA)

    Drachma coins withdrawn from circulation, following the introduction of the euro currency in the country as of January 1, will be recycled through auctions carried out by the ODDY organization.

    An auction has already taken place for 250 tones of drachma coins during which the ELBAN ABEE company bought 200 tons of coins at 1.30 euros per kilo, while the Neonakis ABBE company bought 50 tons at the price of 1.36 euros per kilo.

    ODDY is in favor of the reauctioning of all spoilt drachma coins, which, according to assessments by the Bank of Greece, will amount to 9,000 tons.

    In this context, the organizationís board has already decided to auction 600 tons of coins in Athens and Thessaloniki, determining the auctions' starting prices as well.

    [18] Greek stocks end sharply lower on Tuesday

    Athens, 13/03/2002 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended Tuesday's session sharply lower hit by talk over market authorities' moves to place several listed companies under surveillance because of their negative results, and by a negative climate in international markets.

    The general index ended 2.20 percent down at 2,386.99 points, with turnover a low 107.78 million euros.

    The Telecoms, Holding, Insurance and Wholesale sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses (2.93 percent, 2.84 percent, 2.80 percent and 2.71 percent, respectively).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 1.72 percent lower, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index fell 2.29 percent, and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index dropped 2.43 percent.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 318 to 28 with another 13 issues unchanged.

    The most heavily traded shares were Terna, Panafon, Hellenic Telecoms, Agricultural Life, and Sex Form.

    Bond Market Close: Prices up in light to moderate trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Tuesday finished higher in light to moderate trade focusing on three-year paper.

    The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.50 percent, and the spread over the corresponding German bund was 32 basis points.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 1.9 billion euros.

    Buy orders accounted for the bulk of turnover.

    Derivatives Market Close: Equity index futures back in the red: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange dropped in heavy trade on Tuesday, tracking a sharp decline in the main market and moving into the red.

    Turnover was 79.2 million euros from 56.4 million euros a day earlier.

    The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips shed 1.72 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks lost 2.29 percent.

    [19] Int'l tender for 'Culture Olympiad's' free-standing structures, designs

    Athens, 13/03/2002 (ANA)

    The culture ministry on Tuesday unveiled an open international architectural tender for free-standing structures and pre-fabricated designs for the "Cultural Olympiad" between 2001-2004, all in the run-up to the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

    The tender will be officially published on April 8, with applications taken until June 8 and proposals submitted by no later than Nov. 11.

    The international competition is open to both professional architects and architecture students. Fifty-four entries will be selected for prizes, with the winners to divide 315,600 euros.

    Work on the winning designs and proposals should commence next year, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said in Athens on Tuesday during a press conference.

    The winning entries must be designed to be assembled and disassembled on the spot in order to be transported to various sites around the Greek capital.

    The competition is a joint effort by the "Cultural Olympiad" organization and the International Union of Architects (IUA).

    The IUA is an organization embracing all the architects of the world through the professional associations of their respective countries.

    [20] U.S. ambassador visits ATHOC for talks on promoting baseball

    Athens, 13/03/2002 (ANA)

    US Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller visited the headquarters of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) again on Tuesday, his second visit in 24 hours, for talks with the company's adviser Spyros Kapralos on promoting baseball, the most popular sport in the United States.

    Miller promised every possible assistance in promoting the sport in Greece and backing the Greek national team with know-how and even expatriate players.

    [21] Search continuing for crashed U.S. military helicopter

    Athens, 13/03/2002 (ANA)

    Sea and air operations to locate a U.S. military helicopter which crashed in the sea region about 100 nautical miles west of the Peloponnese coast on Tuesday morning were continuing throughout the day, without any trace of the helicopter being found by nightfall.

    Two Greek C-130 aircraft and a ''Super Puma'' helicopter were participating in the ongoing search operations, as well as two U.S. helicopters, an aircraft and a U.S. navy vessel.

    [22] Belgian campaign for Parthenon Marbles' return

    BRUSSELS, 13/03/2002 (ANA)

    Belgian Senators Francois Roelants du Vivier and Paul Wille are scheduled to give a press conference here on Wednesday regarding efforts to repatriate the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum back to Athens.

    The press conference will mark the beginning of a campaign in Belgium entitled "Parthenon 2004", with the stated goal being the Marbles' return prior to the 2004 Olympics Games in the Greek capital.

    [23] Former president of Cyprus Spyros Kyprianou dies

    NICOSIA, 13/03/2002 (CNA/ ANA)

    Spyros Kyprianou, president of Cyprus for 11 years from 1977-1988 and one of the fore-most politicians of the island died of cancer here on Tuesday, at the age of 69.

    Kyprianou was the first foreign minister of the Cyprus Republic and served in that capacity for twelve years, under the presidency of Archbishop Makarios, the first president of Cyprus, which gained independence from the British colonial rule in 1960.

    Spyros Kyprianou was born in Limassol in 1932. After attending the Greek Gymnasium in his hometown, he went to London where he studied Economics and Commerce at the City of London College and Law at Gray's Inn. He was called to the bar in 1954. He also obtained a diploma in comparative law. He founded the Cypriot Students' Union in England (EFEKA).

    In 1952 he was appointed Secretary in London of Archbishop Makarios, Ethnarch of Cyprus, and in 1954 he assumed the office of the Secretary of the Cyprus Ethnarchy and projected the Cyprus case for self-determination. He returned to Cyprus in 1959, after the signing of the Zurich and London Agreements granting the island independence from Britain. On the declaration of independence, on August 16, 1960, president Makarios appointed him minister of justice and a few days later, minister of foreign affairs.

    In this capacity he represented Cyprus in various conferences, negotiations, meetings and talks. He also accompanied president Makarios in his state visits to several countries including Turkey, West Germany, Japan and the Soviet Union.

    He resigned from his post in May 1972 after a serious dispute with the military regime in Athens and withdrew from politics until the coup díetat against Makarios and the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in July 1974.

    In the same year he led the Cyprus delegation at the UN General Assembly that discussed the Cyprus problem.

    Two years later, he founded the right-right Democratic Party in Cyprus. In the September 5, 1976 Parliamentary elections his party won 21 out of 35 seats in the House of Representatives. Kyprianou was elected President of the House.

    After the death of president Makarios on August 3, 1977, Kyprianou became, under the constitution, acting president of the Republic and one month later, was unanimously elected President for the remainder of the term of Archbishop Makarios. On February 28, 1978 he was elected, again unopposed, President of the Republic for a full five-year term.

    He was re-elected president on February 13, 1983 with the support of his own party and the Leftwing AKEL party, which formed the democratic cooperation front, receiving 56.54 % of the votes.

    During his presidency he visited many countries and attended conferences and summits of the United Nations, the Non-Aligned countries and the Commonwealth.

    As president, Kyprianou is credited with the economic miracle in Cyprus, after the Turkish invasion and occupation of 37 per cent of its territory.

    He participated in Parliamentary elections for the last time in 1996 and was afterwards elected President of the House of Representatives.

    He served until the end of his term in May 2001, when he withdrew from active politics and handed over the Democratic Party's presidency.

    Kyprianou was married and had two sons.

    [24] President Clerides expresses deep sorrow for Kyprianou's death

    NICOSIA, 13/03/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    President Glafcos Clerides has expressed ''deep sorrow'' for the death earlier today of former Cyprus President Spyros Kyprianou, whom he described as a ''friend and an associate''.

    As the President issued his statement, tributes were pouring in from the island's political leadership for the man who has left his mark on the history of the Republic and who served his country from various posts.

    President Clerides extended his sincere condolences to Kyprianou's family and wished them courage to overcome the loss of their love done.

    ''I have been informed with deep sorrow the death of a special son of Cyprus, Spyros Kyprianou. Today Cyprus is in mourning,'' President Clerides said in a written statement.

    ''I bid farewell to the man who fought with me for Cyprus, my associate, my friend, the man who for over half a century has served his country from various posts, as Foreign Minister, House President and President of the Republic,'' Clerides said.

    Clerides expressed his government's and his personal ''sincere condolences'' to Kyprianou's wife Mimi, and his two sons, Achilleas and Markos.

    ''I wish them courage and strength to overcome this great loss,'' the President said.

    Kyprianou died today at the age of 69 after a long battle against cancer. He was admitted to the Oncology Center on Saturday after his condition worsened.

    The funeral of the late Kyprianou will take place on Thursday at 1300 (1100 GMT) in Nicosia, at the state's expense. He will be buried in Limassol, the place of his birth, during a private ceremony at the request of his family.

    [25] Greek leadership sends condolences over death of former Cyprus president

    Athens, 13/03/2002 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Tuesday expressed his deep sorrow over the death earlier in the day of former Cyprus president Spyros Kyprianou and sent his condolences to his family.

    Stephanopoulos stated that Kyprianou was ''a man with intense action in support of national interests, of justice and of peace.'' He added that Kyprianou from a young age spent his life in the cause of Cyprus and with his political struggles expressed the desires of Cypriot Hellenism.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis in an announcement expressed his deep sorrow over the death of Kyprianou ''whose contribution to the vindication of the Cyprus issue were of decisive importance.''

    ''A close associate of Ethnarch Makarios for many years as foreign minister and later as President of the Cyprus Republic, he gave crucial diplomatic battles in all international fora for a settlement of the political problem of Cyprus, for a free and unified Cyprus, where the two communities can live together in harmony.'' Simitis said.

    He added: ''I offer my sincere condolences to his family, to the leadership, to the members and friends of the Democratic Party (DHKO) and to all the Cypriot people.''

    Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis said Kyprianou was ''a patriot, an uncompromising fighter and a true democrat.''

    Kaklamanis said Kyprianou offered himself for more than half a century ''to the services of Hellenism and to the Cypriot people.''

    Ruling PASOK Central Committee Secretary Costas Laliotis said ''PASOK expresses its deep sorrow over the loss of Spyros Kyprianou and its condolences to his family, to the leadership, members and friends of the Democratic Party (DHKO) and to the whole of the Cypriot people.''

    Laliotis said Kyprianou, since his student days to president of the Republic left his mark with his positive contribution in the defense and vindication of the Cyprus cause.

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis stated that Kyprianou had dedicated his life to the defense of the rights of Cyprus and its people.

    Karamanlis said Kyprianou was a protagonist in the struggle for Cyprus' self-determination, and after the island's independence from Britain in 1960 he worked for the international representation of the newly created state as head of Cypriot diplomacy. Serving as president for more than 10 years, ''he struggled for the finding of a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem, based on the United Nations resolutions,'' Karamanlis said.

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga sent a telegram of condolences to Democratic Party (DHKO) leader Tassos Papadopoulos which read: ''The absence of Spyros Kyprianou comes at a critical period for the Cyprus issue and deprives the political life of Cyprus from a presence which was marked by the stability of his views and his actions in the direction of a just and viable solution to the Cyprus question.''

    Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) in an announcement expressed its sorrow over the death of Kyprianou. It said his loss deprives the Cypriot people of a democrat and fighter in its efforts for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue.

    Free Citizens Movement (KEP) leader and Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos said Kyprianou was ''one of the most important personalities of the modern political history of Hellenism with international prestige and an example of public morality, who contributed to the national struggle for the defense of the rights of Cyprus and Hellenism''.

    Messages of condolences were also sent by Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas and Political Spring leader Antonis Samaras.

    FM sends message of condolences over Kyprianou's death: Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday sent a message of condolences to the family of former Cyprus president Spyros Kyprianou who died of cancer at the age of 69 in a Nicosia hospital earlier in the day.

    ''I was informed with deep sorrow of the loss of Spyros Kyprianou, a loss which constitutes a blow to the struggle which the Hellenism of Cyprus is waging,'' Papandreou said.

    The Greek foreign minister added that Kyprianou ''dedicated his life to the Cyprus issue and in the most difficult times he was always present to offer his valuable services and to contribute decisively in the effort to find a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem.''

    [26] Clerides and Denktash continue direct talks

    NICOSIA, 13/03/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    UN-led direct talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash continued here on Tuesday with an aim to find a comprehensive solution to the protracted Cyprus problem.

    The two community leaders accompanied by their advisors met approximately for one and a half hours on Tuesday afternoon, near the Nicosia airport situated in the UN-controlled buffer zone, in the presence of UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto.

    This was the fourth meeting of the second round of the UN-sponsored direct talks.

    A total of 14 meetings were held during the first round of direct talks, which started on 16 January 2002.


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