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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-03-14

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

March 14, 2002


  • [01] Athens eyes improved EU-Iran ties during 2003 Greek presidency
  • [02] PM chairs meeting on upcoming EU Barcelona summit
  • [03] Protopapas reports 'constructive' start to Greek-Turkish exploratory talks
  • [04] Kaklamanis meets Bosnian PM, expresses support for Bosnia
  • [05] Greece, Bosnia Herzegovina study closer economic ties
  • [06] Protopapas conveys condolences over death of Kyprianou
  • [07] Mitsotakis sends condolences over Kyprianou's death
  • [08] Defense minister inspects 2nd Army Corps
  • [09] Papariga to meet PM for talks on the Middle East
  • [10] Verheugen foresees settlement of Cyprus issue by end of 2002
  • [11] Government 'opens front' against corruption
  • [12] Polls show support for PASOK's center-left cooperation
  • [13] OTE gets first chief to be appointed by shareholders
  • [14] Gov't presents social insurance deal to unions
  • [15] Parliament gives first okay to Balkan reconstruction plan
  • [16] Greek food inspection agency adopts EU standards
  • [17] Feasibility study underway for SE European telecoms school
  • [18] Athens-quoted Intracom seeks damages from newspaper
  • [19] Greek, Cyprus stock markets sign memorandum of cooperation
  • [20] Greece participates in real estate exhibition
  • [21] Greek stocks end lower on Wednesday
  • [22] Venizelos: More 2004-related legislation envisioned
  • [23] ATHOC signs cooperation memorandum with Boy Scouts
  • [24] Campaign for Parthenon Marbles return begins in Belgium
  • [25] Symbolic compensation for Nazi era forced labor victims
  • [26] Photographic exhibition in Athens on cultural heritage of Cyprus
  • [27] Cyprus to participate in Barcelona EU Summit
  • [28] Cyprus talks are going reasonably well, says Kofi Annan
  • [29] Three days of mourning for former president Spyros Kyprianou

  • [01] Athens eyes improved EU-Iran ties during 2003 Greek presidency

    Athens, 14/03/2002 (ANA)

    Iranian President Mohammad Khatami arrived here on Wednesday for an official visit expected to revolve around traditionally cordial Greek-Iranian relations, as Athens appears intent on taking steps to improve often cool EU-Iran relations when it assumes the Union’s six-month rotating presidency in the first half of 2003.

    Greeting the reformist Iranian president, his Greek counterpart Kostis Stephanopoulos praised Iran’s efforts in the international anti-terrorism campaign and in helping Afghanistan get through the post-Taliban era, stressing in particular Tehran’s role in hosting millions of Afghan refugees over the years.

    Khatami’s arrival in Greece follows his visit to Austria, where he began a mini European tour that comes on the heels of US President George W. Bush’s reference to Iran as part of an “evil axis” as well as highly publicized reports that Washington is reviewing new contingency plans that purportedly include the tactical use of “battlefield” nuclear warheads against a handful of countries -- including Iran.

    “Greece doesn’t recognize such axes, evil or otherwise,” Stephanopoulos stated in paraphrasing comments last week from Japan by Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    In indirectly commenting on the "evil axis" reference, Khatami said such notions hurt the US people as well.

    "Because this great power belongs to the US people, not to the (US) governments that come and go ... this power should not become a tool against the international community," Khatami said, before agreeing that "there is evil in the world."

    "I'm sure that the international public opinion's conscience, and the US public's conscience, does not accept this US policy of threats," he said.

    In terms of the Middle East, the Iranian leader stressed that the Palestinians' rights must be fulfilled before peace can be sustained, while he called the situation extremely grave not only for the region but also for the entire world.

    Stephanopoulos greeted Khatami at the presidential mansion in downtown Athens for the signing of five bilateral agreements, including a memorandum of understanding between Greece's state-affiliated gas provider, DEPA, and Iran's National Oil Co. (NIOC).

    Other signed pacts aim to promote and safeguard investments; cultural, research and educational exchange programs between 2002-2004 and a memorandum of cooperation on customs issues.

    Stephanopoulos also praised Tehran's support for Cyprus in various international fora, particularly the Organization of Islamic States (OIS), while emphasizing the fact that both countries regard international law as a basis for solving problems.

    Moreover, the Greek president noted Iran's role in burgeoning international efforts at upgrading dialogue amongst the world's major religions and civilizations, citing, in fact, Tehran's warm reception of Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos in January.

    Following his meeting with Stephanopoulos, Khatami was scheduled to meet with PM Simitis before attending a dinner in his honor.

    Meanwhile, five separate agreements were signed in the presence of both leaders.

    PM and Iranian president examine international relations: Prime Minister Costas Simitis and visiting Iranian President Mohammad Khatami examined international relations on Wednesday in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

    Simitis told reporters that the need for a dialogue, which will take autonomy and particularities of each country into consideration, was stressed during the talks.

    Simitis assured the Iranian president that Athens intends to assist the EU-Iran rapprochement during its six-month presidency in the first half of 2003.

    The two leaders also discussed economic and energy cooperation issues, while Simitis accepted an invitation by the Iranian president to visit Tehran.

    The visit will be scheduled in the near future and Greek businessmen with the purpose of widening economic cooperation between the two countries will accompany Simitis.

    Khatami praised Greece's role in the EU and stressed Tehran's desire to develop even better relations with Athens.

    Replying to questions by the press on developments following the September 11 events, the Iranian president expressed his regret because, as he said, ''at the beginning of the year of dialogue between cultures we are seeing the worst form of terrorism'', adding that civilization can respond to violence.

    President Stephanopoulos hosts dinner for Iranian counterpart: President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, speaking at a dinner he hosted on Wednesday evening in honor of his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Khatami, expressed his particular satisfaction over talks he had earlier in the day with him and over agreements, which were signed.

    He noted that the agreements, which were signed, were indicative of the increased high level of relations between the two countries and that the Iranian president's visit contributed to the further strengthening of these relations in all sectors.

    On the Middle East problem, Stephanopoulos stressed that dialogue was needed for a solution to the various differences, based always on international law and the UN resolutions, and not through the use of violence.

    He said that Greece supported the rights of the Palestinian people as well as the creation of an independent Palestinian state, which will be the result of talks within the framework of the peace procedure based on the UN resolutions, ''a state which will live and develop with peace, equality and dignity.''

    At the same time, Stephanopoulos said ''we of course recognize the right of Israel with security within its internationally recognized borders.''

    The Greek president referred to the Cyprus issue and on Greek-Turkish relations, expressing the hope that the direct talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash ''will mark the genuine u-turn of the one side which refuses the implementation of the UN resolutions and undermines the efforts for a sincere dialogue.''

    He further stressed that Greece seeks an improvement in relations with Turkey even though he stressed that ''this policy is not easy because the neighboring country insists on positions and conducts which flagrantly violate international law and international treaties, thus harming the sovereign rights of Greece.''

    Stephanopoulos said Greece firmly supports and promotes closer cooperation between Tehran and the European Union and noted the adoption by Greece of the Iranian proposal for a dialogue of cultures.

    ''We are convinced that for the most effective confrontation of the phenomenon of extremism and terrorism, it is important, among other things, for the strengthening of cooperation and mutual understanding between cultures and religions in today's multi-cultural world societies,'' the president said.

    On his part, Iranian President Khatami referred at length to cultural bonds between Greece and Iran and stressed that ''entering the third millennium, in a world where in its composition there are many worlds, we must learn to live with differences and hold a dialogue on the 'difference'.'' He noted that ''differentiation and difference are a prerequisite for talks, in a contrary event the similar sides have nothing to say.'' He added that ''the acceptance of the 'other', of the different is a cultural and political opening towards him and concludes in a dialogue and stability for the common human survival.''

    Khatami reminded that at the UN summit aimed at confronting terrorism and violence, he had proposed a "coalition for peace instead of a coalition for war" and stressed that Greece and Iran can play new roles in the direction of cooperation for local and international peace and stability.

    On the Middle East problem, Khatami stressed that ''the daily slaughter of the oppressed Palestinian people and the widening of the level of state terrorism in these territories is a threat to the need for the restoration and calm throughout the world and the creator of all the international crises.''

    He said that ''Greece and the European Union with their faith in the peacekeeping procedure in the Middle East can certainly take drastic steps for the realization of the rights of the people of Palestine and consequently for the settlement of local and international crises.''

    Concluding, the Iranian president said that Greece and Iran have many prerequisites and possibilities which they wish and can fulfill, particularly in the new world horizons and in the new strategic centers and to pave new prospects which are based on their long-term relations.

    FM Papandreou holds talks with Iranian counterpart: Foreign Minister George Papandreou met on Wednesday with his Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharrazi and discussed the situation in Afghanistan and the role of Iran in the stability and reconstruction of the region in collaboration with the European Union and developments in the Middle East in light of Wednesday's UN Security Council resolution on the Palestinians.

    Following the meeting, Papandreou said they gave particular emphasis in their talks on the Middle East issue and hailed the Security Council resolution, expressing support of the Greek side to send a mission of observers to the Middle East.

    The Iranian foreign minister also expressed satisfaction over the Security Council resolution, saying it was a step for the safeguarding of the rights of the Palestinians.

    Kharrazi also supported the development of Greek-Iranian relations in the political, cultural, economic and judicial sectors and expressed his country's will to play a constructive role for the reconstruction of Afghanistan in cooperation with the European Union.

    Papandreou assured that Greece will continue and intensify the European Union's dialogue with Iran during Greece's EU presidency in the first half of 2003.

    Iranian president and FM sign Olympic Truce proclamation: Visiting Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi signed the proclamation of international celebrities for the Olympic Truce on Wednesday in the presence of Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

    The proclamation refers to the history of the Olympic Truce, the significance it can have for the modern world and calls for its revival.

    Greek-Iranian memorandum of cooperation on natural gas: A memorandum of cooperation between the Public Gas Company (DEPA) and that of the corresponding Iranian company NIOC was signed in Athens on Wednesday afternoon in the presence of President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Khatami and Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos.

    The memorandum among other things provides for the examination of the possibility between DEPA and NIOC for the completion of a pipeline system for the transport of natural gas from Iran to Greece as well as the study of the possibility for the transport of liquid natural gas from Iran to Greece by sea.

    The memorandum also foresees the transport through Greece of Iranian natural gas for export to western Europe and to the Balkan region, as well as the possibility of investments on the part of the Greek side in natural gas projects in Iran and in particular in stations of liquid natural gas.

    [02] PM chairs meeting on upcoming EU Barcelona summit

    Athens, 14/03/2002 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis chaired a meeting of his finance, foreign affairs, education and press ministers on Wednesday, focusing on the preparation of the European Union's informal summit in Barcelona, Spain, later this week.

    Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis later said one of the main issues at the summit is the promotion of structural changes to enable Europe to become more competitive and to strengthen employment.

    ''This precisely is our priority as well,'' Christodoulakis said and clarified that in relation to energy market deregulation Greece supports ''the gradual deregulation of the market'' and believes that ''at present there is no reason to deregulate the demand of domestic consumers.''

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou, replying to relevant questions, said Greece ''is against the use and dissemination of nuclear weapons'', adding that he wants to see a solution to the problem with Iraq achieved with peaceful means and in the framework of UN resolutions.

    Papandreou also said, referring to the Middle East problem, that Greece has taken a specific position on the problem with a five-point proposal, which Simitis will be presenting at the Barcelona summit.

    PM to speak on Euro-army in Barcelona, Protopapas confirms: Prime Minister Costas Simitis will present Greece's positions on the 'Euro-Army' to his European Union counterparts in Barcelona during the summit dinner on Friday, government spokesman Christos Protopapas confirmed.

    He told reporters on Wednesday that Greece had received two letters from Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, head of the Spanish EU presidency. The first of these underlined the urgency of settling outstanding issues regarding a European rapid strike force, he said, while the second arrived on Tuesday and contained the agenda for the summit.

    He also confirmed that the informal Barcelona Summit would focus on the Lisbon process, discussing the targets set in Lisbon for competitiveness, unemployment and EU structural reforms.

    Finally, Protopapas reiterated the Greek government's intention to once again raise Athens' five-point plan for peace in the Middle East, first presented to his EU counterparts in Brussels by Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

    [03] Protopapas reports 'constructive' start to Greek-Turkish exploratory talks

    Athens, 14/03/2002 (ANA)

    Exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey began in a good climate but there was still a long road ahead, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Wednesday.

    Commenting on the results of the meeting that began in Ankara on Tuesday, Protopapas said the two foreign ministry officials representing Greece had reported the start of a ''positive, constructive, exploratory discussion.''

    The Ankara meeting kicked off a recently unveiled "exploratory dialogue" initiative announced by Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem during meetings in New York and Istanbul.

    Beginning on the level of high-ranking foreign ministry officials from the two sides, the process aims to identity "points of convergence" that might lead to more structured dialogue and ultimately an agreement on referring the issue of delineating the Aegean Sea continental shelf to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

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

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

    [04] Kaklamanis meets Bosnian PM, expresses support for Bosnia

    Athens, 14/03/2002 (ANA)

    Greece supports the efforts of Bosnia-Herzegovina for peace stability and economic development, Parliament speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis assured Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija during their meeting at the Greek Parliament on Wednesday.

    At the same time as the meeting was taking place, the Greek assembly was debating the government bill on the Greek plan for Balkan reconstruction.

    In statements afterward, Kaklamanis said that Bosnia belonged within the European Union, while Lagumdzija thanked him for Greece's support of Bosnia's effort to gain access to European structures and stressed that Bosnia-Herzegovina was now becoming a country that solved problems instead of creating them.

    Bosnian PM gives lecture on situation in his country: Zlatko Lagumdzija, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Bosnia-Herzegovina, gave a lecture at the Athens University on Wednesday on the situation prevailing in his country and its position in the wider region.

    Lagumdzija referred to differences currently existing in Bosnia-Herzegovina from past problems and explained difficulties faced over the past 2-3 years on taking decisions at institutional and other levels as a result of the solution of the "three minorities" which characterized his country.

    He said Bosnia-Herzegovina is at present basing its future on integration processes both on the home front and in the wider region and Europe.

    Lagumdzija further said that not killing each other is not enough, or for one to say there is no nationalism today or that it is a multinational country, adding that institutions, primarily economic reforms and growth are a considerable step for democracy.

    [05] Greece, Bosnia Herzegovina study closer economic ties

    Athens, 14/03/2002 (ANA)

    Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Wednesday held talks with the visiting premier of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Zlatko Lagumdzija, on closer ties in energy and banking.

    The two officials agreed to hold a forum in Bosnia-Herzegovina in April as part of an effort to boost bilateral economic relations, Lagumdzija told reporters after the meeting.

    Executives from major companies in telecoms, security, natural gas and road building would be invited, he added.

    An area of particular interest to both sides was the European energy market, of which Bosnia-Herzegovina could become a part along with neighboring countries, Tsohatzopoulos said.

    [06] Protopapas conveys condolences over death of Kyprianou

    Athens, 14/03/2002 (ANA)

    Expressing the Greek government's grief at the loss of Cypriot politician and former Cyprus President Spyros Kyprianou, government spokesman Christos Protopapas described him on Wednesday as a "great figure" who had fought for the independence, democracy and rights of the Cypriot people.

    Kyprianou had always been present at all of the big battles fought by Cyprus, Protopapas noted, while he conveyed the condolences of the Greek government to the Cyprus Republic.

    [07] Mitsotakis sends condolences over Kyprianou's death

    Athens, 14/03/2002 (ANA)

    Honorary New Democracy president Constantine Mitsotakis, a former prime minister of Greece, on Wednesday sent a telegram conveying his condolences to the family of the lately deceased Cypriot politician and former Cyprus president Spyros Kyprianou.

    'The loss of Spyros Kyprianou, whose fighting spirit and valor in the defense of our national issue I greatly respect, is a loss for Cyprus, for Hellenism and for all of us.

    ''In this harsh hour, I wish to assure you of my wholehearted support and please accept my sincerest condolences,'' Mitsotakis wrote in his message.

    [08] Defense minister inspects 2nd Army Corps

    Athens, 14/03/2002 (ANA)

    Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on Wednesday expressed satisfaction with the condition and combat-readiness of the 2nd Army Corps, which is made up of Greece best and most highly-trained troops and is issued with the most up-to-date equipment.

    Papantoniou was in Veria to inspect the troops and assess their fitness for United Nations peace-keeping missions. During his visit, he watched a military exercise carried out by the 33rd Motorized Brigade and the 71st Airborne Brigade at Orivasia in Paleokastro.

    Afterward, he said that Greece would continue to take part in peacekeeping missions around the world to support and establish conditions of peace and security, both in the surrounding region and in other areas that might pose a threat to Greece.

    The defense minister found the troops well trained and with high morale and urged the men of the 2nd Army Corps to continue to work with the same zeal during this ''sensitive time'' for Greece in foreign policy issues.

    Asked to comment on the start of exploratory dialogue between Greece and Turkey, Papantoniou said he was neither optimistic nor pessimistic regarding the outcome.

    ''We have to wait and see what Turkey's intentions are, because the outcome of the talks will depend on this,'' he said.

    He also clarified that the missions of the 2nd Army Corps would not be related to security for the 2004 Olympics.

    During the visit there was also a surprise for the minister, who was offered - and gladly accepted - a chance to briefly fly an Apache combat helicopter.

    [09] Papariga to meet PM for talks on the Middle East

    Athens, 14/03/2002 (ANA)

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga has asked to meet Prime Minister Costas Simitis when he returns from Barcelona to discuss the Middle East crisis, a KKE announcement said on Wednesday.

    It said Papariga made the request on Wednesday over the phone and that the prime minister had agreed.

    Simitis is due to attend an informal EU summit in the Spanish city on Thursday and Friday.

    In its announcement, the Greek Communist party also stressed that the Greek government ought to take a stand condemning a recent Israeli raid against Palestinians and that it should present its positions to the EU.

    [10] Verheugen foresees settlement of Cyprus issue by end of 2002

    STRASBOURG, 14/03/2002 (ANA - O. Tsipira)

    Commissioner for EU enlargement Gunther Verheugen on Wednesday said he foresees a viable political settlement of the Cyprus issue before the end of 2002.

    Speaking at the plenum of the European Parliament during a discussion on the course of enlargement, he said he was optimistic of seeing Cyprus soon capable of speaking in the international community with a unified voice.

    Referring to his visit to Cyprus last week, the Commissioner said that he was optimistic in that the impression he obtained was that both Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in their direct talks ''are determined for a solution to the Cyprus issue". He said the two leaders ''are seriously and decisively seeking the aim of a lasting political solution.''

    ''I wish to encourage the two sides to continue their talks constructively and to exploit the window of opportunity to conclude a lasting and viable solution in time before the completion of the accession talks at the end of the year,'' Verheugen added.

    The Commissioner assured that the frequent contacts between the Commission and the United Nations are continuing so as to secure a political solution compatible with the rules of international law.

    The chairman of the Council of General Affairs, Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique, said on his part that the reunification of Cyprus does not constitute a necessary prerequisite for its EU accession despite the fact that it would naturally facilitate it.

    He said the EU Spanish presidency will continue to support the UN efforts within the framework of the direct talks for a settlement of the Cyprus issue with the hope that the prospect of accession will operate as a catalyst.

    [11] Government 'opens front' against corruption

    Athens, 14/03/2002 (ANA)

    Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis, following an interministerial meeting on Wednesday on the issue of the confrontation of the phenomenon of corruption, said that the government ''is opening a front against corruption.''

    He said an inter-ministerial committee which will comprise the ministers of the interior, finance, environment, justice and public order, will implement the decisions taken during Wednesday's meeting.

    Skandalidis said that issues of corruption, such as bribery, fraud and the violation of duty will be given first priority and judged within three months.

    He said citizens will be given the opportunity to protect themselves against bribery or blackmail by going to report the incident to the Greek Police.

    As for the sources of income, the declaration henceforth will be submitted along with the tax declaration, through TAXIS.

    The sources of income is extended to all administrative cadres of public administration and civil servants in a position of high responsibility in sensitive services, including the sector of Local and Prefectural Administration.

    On the issue of the combatting of electronic gambling, the minister said a legislative regulation will be ready in the next few days, which will set terms and prerequisites, determining the sanctions.

    [12] Polls show support for PASOK's center-left cooperation

    Athens, 14/03/2002 (ANA)

    PASOK party Central Committee secretary Costas Laliotis met reporters on Wednesday and presented to them two opinion polls which confirm the option of PASOK cooperating with left-left and leftist parties.

    Laliotis said nobody can dispute the mandate of the people to Prime Minister Costas Simitis and, to confirm PASOK's strategy as described by Simitis on Tuesday, added that this strategy is condensed in the arithmetic sum of 2+4. Meaning the two years left until the next election plus four years after it, while he also expressed certainty for PASOK's victory in it.

    ''Those who are dreaming of early elections will get tired,'' Laliotis said.

    Referring to the dialogue initiative with opposition parties, with the exception of the New Democracy party, Laliotis said this initiative is not conjectural and finds response in society.

    He invoked relevant findings in opinion polls conducted by the Kappa Research company, adding that party leaders and certain PASOK cadres saying ''yes but'' will not endure time since there is great acceptance by society.

    According to the opinion polls publicized about 60 percent of citizens favor coalition governments, while about 38 percent prefer one-party governments.

    Regarding the preferences of each party's voters, coalition governments are desired by 70.5 percent of PASOK voters, 82 percent of Communist Party of Greece (KKE) voters, 85 percent of Coalition of the Left and Progress voters and 35.3 percent of New Democracy voters.

    Out of the total number of voters, 52.6 percent believe that cooperation between PASOK and leftist forces would be preferable, while 41.8 percent are more or less opposed. Moreover, 38 percent would prefer an ND government cooperating with right-right forces, but opposition to this option is expressed by 54.3 percent.

    [13] OTE gets first chief to be appointed by shareholders

    Athens, 14/03/2002 (ANA)

    Shareholders of Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), a heavily traded stock on the Athens bourse, for the first time elected a president and chief executive officer along with a board of directors, positions formerly awarded by the state.

    The corporation's new head is Eleftherios Antonakopoulos, a senior official of the Association of Greek Industry, who succeeds state-appointed Nikos Manasis.

    Antonakopoulos told the shareholders' meeting on Wednesday that his objectives were to boost OTE's presence abroad and increase profitability.

    The outgoing CEO said that he would remain in his position for a short time in order to see through projects that were nearing completion.

    As OTE's main shareholder, the state has the right to make recommendations on board or management choices.

    [14] Gov't presents social insurance deal to unions

    Athens, 14/03/2002 (ANA)

    Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas on Wednesday presented the government's proposals on an overhaul for the country's social insurance system to the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the national civil servants' union (ADEDY).

    Reppas said he believed that a gradual shift towards a new system could be attained that would deal with unfairness under the present arrangement.

    The leader of the GSEE, a trade union umbrella group that represents nearly a million workers in the private and public sectors, welcomed progress although other senior officials in the union maintained reservations.

    GSEE president Christos Polyzogopoulos told reporters after the meeting that workers had secured moves towards improvement from the government.

    But the federation's deputy president, Yiannis Manolis, said that agreement should be secured from workers and pensioners before talks could resume on the unification of supplementary pension funds and their management.

    ADEDY president Spyros Papaspyros told reporters the government's social insurance policies were almost viable. The union's executive committee is to take a final position on talks for the overhaul on Tuesday.

    [15] Parliament gives first okay to Balkan reconstruction plan

    Athens, 14/03/2002 (ANA)

    Parliament on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to a 550-million-euro reconstruction plan for the Balkans after a first reading of the bill.

    Voting in favor were the ruling PASOK party, main opposition New Democracy, and the Coalition of the Left and Progress. Next, the house will study the contents of the bill and vote article by article.

    The five-year plan offers financial aid to countries in the region to rebuild their economies and consolidate democracy.

    Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos, who is handling the national reconstruction project, told parliament that the government wanted to have a corresponding plan ready for Yugoslavia early in May with payments disbursed in 2001 and other pacts concluded in the first half of the year.

    The objective of the reconstruction plan for the Balkans, which is to be implemented through bilateral pacts with beneficiary countries, is to help fund investments, a modernization of infrastructure and public administration, and training schemes.

    The plan also aims at supporting democratic institutions and equitable legal and social systems in the countries involved.

    The government is to set up a commission to monitor the plan comprising senior officials of seven or more ministries, reporting to Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

    [16] Greek food inspection agency adopts EU standards

    Athens, 14/03/2002 (ANA)

    Greece's food inspection agency (EFET) in cooperation with the State Chemical Laboratory on Wednesday announced completion of a procedure to adopt further measures in the official inspection of foods in the country, in line with EU standards.

    EFET also called on the country's registered food test laboratories, both from the state and private sectors, to apply for registration in a Laboratory Register.

    [17] Feasibility study underway for SE European telecoms school

    Athens, 14/03/2002 (ANA)

    A feasibility study is being carried out for the creation of a telecoms academy in the northern port city of Thessaloniki that would have branches in other southeast European countries.

    Undertaking the study is the Southeast European Institute for Research and Studies in Telecommunications and Information Technology (INA).

    INA is working on the project with the communications ministries of countries in the region, backed by the Greek ministry.

    Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos showed interest in the scheme during a recent visit to Thessaloniki.

    Loverdos is handling Greece's reconstruction plan for the Balkans.

    [18] Athens-quoted Intracom seeks damages from newspaper

    Athens, 14/03/2002 (ANA)

    Intracom, a blue chip telecoms and information technology manufacturer quoted on the Athens bourse, and its founder and president, Socrates Kokkalis, are seeking a total of 6.6 million euros in damages from the daily Kathimerini newspaper for 153 news reports they claim were aimed at hurting the company financially.

    Kathimerini's executive director and the newspaper's industry correspondent told the Piraeus Court of First Instance on Wednesday that the news reports were accurate and stemmed from banking and other market sources.

    The court is expected to rule in coming days.

    [19] Greek, Cyprus stock markets sign memorandum of cooperation

    Athens, 14/03/2002 (ANA)

    The Athens Stock Exchange, the Athens Derivatives Exchange and the Cyprus Stock Exchange signed a memorandum of cooperation on Tuesday, 12 March in Cyprus, aiming to extend their cooperation dating back in 1996.

    The memorandum envisages that all three parties offer and exchange consulting services and know-how in stocks and derivatives trading and settlement, and introduction and operation of new stock market products. Also, exchanging information over institutional and regulatory issues in a drive to harmonies regulatory framework with EU directives.

    The three stock markets also agreed to cooperate more closely in training for both investors and market officials and to promote dual listing of companies.

    The Athens Stock Exchange has already signed similar memorandums of cooperation with the bourses of Belgrade, Sofia, and Bucharest and is expected to sign a memorandum with the Skopje stock market on March 28, seeking to establish cooperation between the region's capital markets.

    [20] Greece participates in real estate exhibition

    CANNES, 14/03/2002 (ANA - P. Loukopoulos)

    The showing of interest for the creation of a convention center in Athens, at the old Hellenikon airport, will be announced next week in accordance with what has been announced here in the framework of Greece's participation in the international real estate Mipim 2002 exhibition.

    Considerable investment opportunities provided by Greece in the real estate market is the focal point of Greek participation in Mipim 2002, which opened in Cannes on Tuesday and will last until March 15.

    The great importance attributed by Greece to this sector is confirmed by the presence of Deputy Development Minister Dimitris Georgakopoulos, as well as by a large participation of Greek exhibitors.

    As part of his contacts, Georgakopoulos will meet the French tourism minister in the framework of a conference on tourism and globalization. He was also briefed on the interest shown by foreign investors in the development of special forms of tourism in Greece.

    Speaking to Greek reporters, he pointed out that Greece's participation in the exhibition is aimed at achieving its stronger presence in the real estate market and the promotion of existing investment opportunities to enable the country to become better known in the real estate market.

    [21] Greek stocks end lower on Wednesday

    Athens, 14/03/2002 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended Wednesday's session slightly lower on the Athens Stock Exchange, as lack of follow-through buying and persistent low liquidity reversed an early modest advance.

    The general index fell 0.11 percent to 2,384.35 points, with turnover a low 92.6 million euros.

    The Retail, Holding and Publication sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses (2.50 percent, 1.83 percent and 1.72 percent, respectively), while the Metals and Telecoms sectors scored gains (0.84 percent and 0.22 percent).

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended 0.06 percent higher.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.32 percent lower, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index fell 0.27 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index eased 0.37 percent.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 185 to 116 with another 58 issues unchanged.

    Equity index futures back in the black: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange rose in an abbreviated session on Wednesday, regaining a premium. Trade was dogged by technical problems.

    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 0.32 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks lost 0.27 percent.

    Bond prices mixed in active trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Wednesday finished mixed in heavy trade focusing on 20-year paper.

    The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.52 percent, and the spread over the corresponding German bund was 32 basis points.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 2.4 billion euros.

    Buy orders accounted for about half of turnover.

    [22] Venizelos: More 2004-related legislation envisioned

    Athens, 14/03/2002 (ANA)

    The latest session of the "national committee for the 2004 Athens Games" was convened in the Greek capital on Wednesday, with the culture minister, among others, stressing that preparations are proceeding at a satisfactory pace.

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos added that the enacting of new legislation for hosting the Games will continue up until six months before the August 2004 Olympics, while he said 91 percent of the projects for the 2004 Olympics have been tendered.

    Meanwhile, the all-important issue of volunteers for the Games was cause for a slight disagreement between Venizelos and high-profile Athens 2004 organizing committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, after the former cited the need for a new legal framework to "solve problems dealing with volunteers' labor relations and incentives for those outside the job market".

    In response, the ATHOC head said, "greater sensitivity and attention is needed on the issue of volunteerism. Careful wording is needed. Let's not talk about incentives ... It's legitimate to help volunteers; volunteerism is the organizing committee's responsibility."

    [23] ATHOC signs cooperation memorandum with Boy Scouts

    Athens, 14/03/2002 (ANA)

    Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki and Greek Boy Scouts Corps President George Asimakopoulos signed a cooperation agreement on Wednesday concerning the implementation of action regarding the Olympic Games.

    Speaking during the event, Daskalaki said the 2004 Olympics will differ in quality from the previous ones, adding that ''you shall make the qualitative difference.''

    Daskalaki further said that ''the ideas of volunteerism, contribution, social cooperation, cultural and physical training, who others are hearing for the first time and which we are trying to inspire them with, are for you a part of your lives.''

    On his part, Asimakopoulos referred to the granting of the camping site at Aghios Andreas, east Attica, to the Organizing Committee and which is a place where thousands of children trained, lived and camped. He said the site was being given "with pleasure to achieve the great and common goal, which is to organize the best Olympic Games".

    The children's camping site at Aghios Andreas will function as a press village during the period of the Olympic Games.

    [24] Campaign for Parthenon Marbles return begins in Belgium

    BRUSSELS, 14/03/2002 (ANA - V. Demiris)

    A campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece was launched in Belgium on Wednesday by Belgian senators Francois Roelants du Vivier and Paul Wille, at a press conference in the Belgian capital.

    Entitled 'Parthenon 2004', the campaign aims to put pressure on the British government and the British Museum, where the Parthenon Marbles are currently on display, to return the ancient sculptures in time for the start of the Athens Olympics in 2004.

    The Belgian campaign mirrors a similar campaign started up in Britain with the same aim.

    At the press conference, du Vivier said the Greek request for the return of the Marbles was indisputably correct and that Britain's continued refusal made an international effort to support Greek demands all the more necessary.

    So far, the Belgian campaign has collected 150 signatures supporting the Marbles' return, two thirds of which belong to members of the Belgian Senate, Parliament and political parties.

    The press conference was also attended by several important figures of the arts and letters, who pledged to intensify efforts in support of Athens demand.

    Du Vivier said the campaign would continue to collect signatures throughout Belgium until the end of June, after which it would present a resolution to the British Ambassador in Brussels.

    To further support the cause and promote it among the Belgian public, the campaign organizers have also set up a website at where visitors can express their views on the issue.

    The 56 blocks of frieze and 19 statues that make up the Parthenon Marbles were originally part of the Parthenon temple on the Athens Acropolis, one of the most famous and admired ancient monuments in the world. They were removed and taken to Britain by Lord Elgin two centuries ago, with the permission of Ottoman officials.

    [25] Symbolic compensation for Nazi era forced labor victims

    VIENNA, 14/03/2002 (ANA - D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Five Greek citizens will receive a symbolic sum of 2,500 euros each by Austrian Reconciliation Fund secretary general ambassador Rihard Wotawa during a ceremony to take place at the Austrian embassy in Athens on Thursday.

    The Greek citizens are among 108 who have been recognized so far as being victims of forced labor during the Nazi era in the region of present-day Austria.

    In a statement to the Athens News Agency (ANA) in Vienna, Wotawa said the amount only has a symbolic character and is a gesture by the Austrian state towards foreign nationals who were victims of forced labor and slavery during the era of Austria's rule by the German Nazis from 1938 to 1945.

    According to the secretary general, the Reconciliation Fund has only received 200 applications by surviving Greek victims to date and of which 108 have already been ratified and the payment of amounts to beneficiaries has got underway.

    He further estimated that the number of surviving Greek forced labor victims during the Nazi era in Austria should be much greater and might be several thousand.

    Wotawa also said that despite last year's publication of relevant Austrian Reconciliation Fund announcements in a section of the Greek press, interest shown and the response by Greek forced labor victims to apply for compensation was not that expected, while the time limit will last until November 27, 2002.

    [26] Photographic exhibition in Athens on cultural heritage of Cyprus

    Athens, 14/03/2002 (ANA)

    A photographic exhibition on the theme ''The presence of Cyprus in the World Cultural Heritage'' was inaugurated in Athens on Wednesday. It presents the archaeological sites and churches which UNESCO has registered in the list of the most important monuments of world heritage.

    The Cultural Center of Cyprus, which is housed in Athens, constitutes a donation by Cypriot businessman George Paraskevaides.

    The exhibition, which is supervised by historian and author Andrew Pavlides, constitutes the start of a series of activities by the Center which will aim at briefing the Greek public on issues concerning Cyprus, its tradition and history.

    In his presentation, Pavlides referred to the history and cultural treasures of Cyprus.

    [27] Cyprus to participate in Barcelona EU Summit

    NICOSIA, 14/03/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides will participate in the European Union Council to be held on March 15-16 in Barcelona, at the invitation of the Spanish presidency.

    This is the first time ever the EU has invited the candidate countries to participate in its deliberations.

    Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides will participate in the Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the 15 member states and their counterparts from the candidate countries while Finance Minister Takis Klerides will take part in the Meeting of Ministers for Economic Affairs of the EU member states and the candidate countries.

    President Clerides will leave for Barcelona tomorrow and return on Saturday. Among the issues to be addressed at the Council are the liberalization and interconnection of the electricity and gas markets, integrating the financial markets, developing a more flexible labor market and improving education and training Europe's students and workers, thus increasing their scope of mobility.

    [28] Cyprus talks are going reasonably well, says Kofi Annan

    UNITED NATIONS, 14/03/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    "The Cyprus talks are continuing and they are going reasonably well," UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, said here on Wednesday.

    "The two leaders have been talking since January and they themselves set a deadline of June to try and reach a settlement, if not a settlement at least substantial breakthrough, substantial progress for us to say that we are moving forward," Annan told a press conference when asked to comment on the direct talks on Cyprus.

    "The talks are continuing, they are going reasonably well," Annan said, noting that he could not go into details because "we've encouraged everybody to be discreet and not to rush to the press and I should not be the first to do that."

    Direct talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash began in Cyprus in mid January, in the presence of Annan's Special Adviser Alvaro de Soto, with a view to finding a comprehensive settlement.

    [29] Three days of mourning for former president Spyros Kyprianou

    NICOSIA, 14/03/2002 (CAN /ANA)

    The Council of Ministers on Wednesday declared three days of mourning for the death of former Cyprus President Spyros Kyprianou. Flags will fly at half mast at all government and school buildings.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou announced that President Glafcos Clerides and his ministers will attend the funeral on Thursday.

    President Clerides will deliver the funeral oration and lay a wreath on behalf of the government.

    Books of condolences will be opened at all Cyprus diplomatic missions abroad.

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