|Friday, 13 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-03-16
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>March 16, 2002
 EU summit focuses on economic and social policy
BARCELONA, 16/03/2002 (ANA - V. Demiris)The European Union's informal summit opened here on Friday with an account of the EU's economic and social policy over the past two years, namely after the Lisbon summit.
The target set at the Lisbon summit had been for unified Europe to develop into one of the most competitive economies in the world within the coming decade.
Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis said in a statement that in essence the ''15'' committed themselves to give a new impetus to the implementation of policies and strategies to achieve the Lisbon target, although acknowledging delays in many sectors for promoting necessary structural changes in the European economy.
He said the ''15'' have not yet discerned certain policies on which priority should be placed, resulting in negative consequences regarding their effectiveness.
Simitis said a classification of priorities was required, the first being particular importance to be placed on enterprise and the role small and medium-size enterprises can play in strengthening employment and tackling unemployment.
He added that as far as Greece was concerned SMEs were the backbone of the European economy and should be backed with benefits in such sectors as providing capital and facilities in loaning to enable them to assume business risks in their access to research and technology as well.
Secondly, Simitis said greater social justice and cohesion should be secured in the EU by achieving the target of full employment. He added that the gradual rapprochement between pension systems was necessary to provide competition preconditions for all.
Simitis went on to say that the promotion of the role played by social partners, the development of the informatics society and the issues of modern governance and viable growth with emphasis on environmental protection should be included in economic policy priorities.
He also noted that candidate countries should gradually become a part of this common European effort.
Simitis pointed out that a necessary precondition for achieving all these targets is the political will of member-states, which, however, is not always noticeable.
The challenge Europe is faced with, he added, is the increase in competitiveness, prosperity and social cohesion.
On the question of coordinating economic policies, Simitis made it clear that Greece supports the implementation of a flexible economic coordination framework which will contain elements of flexibility which, however, will not dispute the general directives which should apply to all.
Referring to the major issue of energy market deregulation, Simitis said Greece backs the process and expressed hope that a compromise solution will be found between the ''15''.
He said market deregulation will have positive repercussions for price decreases, adding that Greece desires the continuation of the deregulation process in the telecommunications market.
Regarding the natural gas market in particular, Simitis said Greece supports the deregulation process but with some time allowed for adjustment.
 Simitis says autonomy in decision taking in Euroarmy must be secured
BARCELONA, 16/03/2002 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)Greece is ready to cooperate with the Spanish EU presidency and the member states of the European Union in order for a solution to be found on EU-NATO relations on the needs of the so-called European army, on condition however that the autonomy in decision taking by the European Union will be secured and that there will not be any discriminations against any member-state or candidate country, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis stated early Saturday following the dinner of the EU heads of state and government in Barcelona.
The prime minister said Greece will cooperate with the EU presidency in the near future and that a meeting is expected to be held by the Spanish chairman of the Foreign Ministers Council Josep Pique and the EU representative on defense and foreign policy Javier Solana with Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, without a date as yet having been set.
Simitis in his statements to reporters noted that EU-NATO relations on the European army is not a bilateral problem between Greece and Turkey, but concerns the general framework of the EU's relations with NATO.
For this reason, any solution that will be found should secure the autonomy of the EU decisions and be based on the principles of the common foreign and defense policy, Simitis said.
Simitis said that many of the partners assess that a solution should be found soon on the issue of European defense. He said a solution was necessary so that the EU undertake the command of the international force, which is in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), which at this moment is under NATO command.
The prime minister added that Greece's argument is that if the EU succession of the command of the force in FYROM takes place, it is not necessary for a general comprehensive solution to be found and that this can occur through an ad hoc settlement until a final solution is reached.
Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou briefed Greek reporters on developments in the Middle East, underlining the vital need of resuming the peace procedure. He said Greece has submitted a series of proposals for finding a political solution, which will lead to the creation of an independent Palestinian state, but also the safeguarding of the state of Israel.
 PM refers to Greek-Turkish natural gas pipeline cooperation
BARCELONA, 16/03/2002 (ANA - Ch. Poulidou)Prime Minister Costas Simitis, speaking at a press conference here on Friday on the sidelines of the European Union's informal summit, referred to Greek-Turkish cooperation on the building of a pipeline to convey natural gas from Iran to Alexandroupolis via Istanbul.
''There is no technocratic cooperation of such a range which does not have a political dimension,'' Simitis said and recalled the history of the development.
''From the time I had been industry minister we had examined the possibility of our country's alternative (from Russia) procurement of natural gas,'' he said, adding that the idea had then been processed by Vasso Papandreou and Nikos Christodoulakis, discussed again by himself during his meeting with Iranian President Khatami last Wednesday and because ''this project cannot be implemented without Turkey's cooperation'', a visit to Turkey on this issue by Christodoulakis and Akis Tsohatzopoulos has already been scheduled.
Replying to a questioner, Simitis said he had a brief and ''formal'' discussion with Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit to whom he pointed out that developments concerning the Cyprus issue and the continental shelf should forge ahead.
Foreign Minister George Papandreou also had a brief meeting with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem in Barcelona. The results of the first exploratory communication between the delegations of the two foreign ministries were examined during the discussion, as well as Greek-Turkish cooperation for the piping of natural gas to Greece, which Papandreou termed to be of ''strategic importance.''
Facilitating the initiative on jointly organizing the 2008 European Soccer Championship (an issue for which Greek Soccer Federation President Vassilis Gagatsis recently met his Turkish counterpart) was also examined by Papandreou and Cem, while the need for active support for talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash by the two governments was also noted.
Papandreou also announced that a quadripartite meeting between the foreign ministers of Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania will be convened in Athens on March 29 to support the two candidate countries for NATO membership.
In response to a relevant question, he said Cem briefed him on the objections, regarding Turkey's European orientation, raised by officials in Ankara.
 Procedures for Greece-Turkey natural gas pipeline progressing
ISTANBUL, 16/03/2002 (ANA - E. Aretaios)Procedures for the construction of a natural gas network between Greece and Turkey are progressing at a rapid rate, Turkey's Energy Minister Zeki Cakan said Friday.
In the framework of the program for a network of natural gas pipelines to link Europe with the Caspian Sea via Greece, Italy and Turkey, the Greek public gas corporation DEPA and the Turkish BOTAS are carrying out financial/technical studies on linking the two countries, according to a written statement issued by Cakan before his departure for Italy to attend the SE Europe Energy Forum.
Upon completion of the studies, an agreement will be signed between the two countries and the first works will begin in six months, Cakan's statement said.
Regarding electrical energy, Cakan said that the studies for linking Turkey with the Union for the Coordination of the Transport of Electricity (UCTE) via Greece and the Balkans had ''positive results''. He added that works for the installation of a 400 KW electricity transfer line between Greece and Turkey were continuing.
Meanwhile, analysts said that Thursday's signing of a cooperation memorandum between DEPA and its Iranian counterpart NIOC providing for examining the possibilities of DEPA and NIOC for the completion of a system of natural gas pipeline system from Iran to Greece could give new impetus to the works to link the Turkish system with the Greek system.
Last December the pipeline linking Turkey and Iran opened for operation. The pipeline runs to Ankara, and could be extended for another 650 kilometers to the Greek-Turkish border, the same analysts said.
 PM and Cyprus president discuss inter-communal talks
BARCELONA, 16/03/2002 (ANA - V. Demiris)Prime Minister Costas Simitis held talks with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides on the sidelines of the European Union's informal summit here on Friday and said later ''it is time the Turkish Cypriot side shows the will to take advantage of this great opportunity which exists for a solution to the Cyprus issue.''
Referring to the Turkish Cypriot position during direct talks, Simitis said that what is necessary to solve the Cyprus issue is contribution which means that we cannot repeat the same positions and expressed the hope that ''there will be some move further on which will signal a change in position.''
On his part, President Clerides said he gave Simitis a full briefing on the course of the inter-communal talks.
 ND leader meets Cyprus President in Barcelona
BARCELONA, 16/03/2002 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis reiterated on Friday that Cyprus should be among the first wave of countries in European Union enlargement, regardless of whether a solution to the Cyprus problem was found.
Karamanlis made the statement after a half-hour meeting with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides in the Belgian capital.
He said they had discussed all the major issues concerning Greece and Cyprus, while ascertaining that Cyprus was making good progress toward EU accession.
Regarding the direct talks between the Cyprus government and the Turkish-Cypriots for a solution to the Cyprus problem, Karamanlis said that his party considered the start of talks positive.
"We cannot, however, express great optimism at this stage since the views of the Turkish-Cypriot side do not appear to be conducive to a good climate for finding a solution," he added.
The ND leader noted that there were still margins for a change of stance by the Turkish-Cypriot side while stressing that any solution had to be viable, functional and be based on UN resolutions.
He repeated, however, that Cyprus accession must not be prevented or delayed because Turkish-Cypriot intransigency.
ND leader meets Kostunica, Norwegian FM in Barcelona: Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis on Friday met Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica in the VIP lounge at Barcelona airport, shortly before departing for Athens.
Sources said that Kostunica briefed Karamanlis on a European Union-brokered agreement over Montenegro and informed him that he would take part in a Thessaloniki forum on the Balkans organized by ND in collaboration with the European Peoples' Party.
Earlier on Friday, Karamanlis had also met with Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen, with whom he chiefly discussed a Norwegian plan for fighting corruption on an international level.
Karamanlis agreed to jointly promote the plan within the EPP, saying that corruption and powerful vested interests were ''obstacles to economic growth, marginalized honest business - particularly small and medium-sized enterprises - and damaged democracy.''
Dealing with these problems was of momentous importance for Europe and Greece, Karamanlis stressed, and ways needed to be found to deal with them decisively.
 Turkish premier, Cyprus president meet briefly in Barcelona
BARCELONA, 16/03/2002 (ANA - Ch. Poulidou)''I greeted (Cyprus President Glafcos) Mr. Clerides because it was the first time I met him. We did not discuss politics. It was a social contact -the politics are a matter concerning (Turkish-Cypriot community leader Rauf) Mr. Denktash,'' Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said on Friday in reply to a relevant question.
''Here in Barcelona I reaffirmed the positive effect, the Denktash-Clerides talks had,'' he added, noting that many European leaders expressed their satisfaction for the developments.
Ecevit, however, reiterated Turkey's view that there are two different states in Cyprus.
Since the 1974 invasion by Turkish forces of the Republic of Cyprus, the island has been forcibly divided, despite repeated calls by the United Nations for an end to the occupation.
Ecevit also said that he briefly met with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, saying that it was just a handshake.
 Iran's Khatami meets with Christodoulos, opposition leaders
Athens, 16/03/2002 (ANA)Iranian President Mohammad Khatami on Friday continued his high-profile three-day visit here by meeting with several of Greece's opposition political leaders and influential Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos.
Dialogue between the world's major religions and civilizations - especially in light of the dastardly Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States - dominated talks between Khatami and Christodoulos, the primate of the Greek Orthodox Church.
In a direct reference to recent press reports claiming Washington is reviewing new contingency plans that include the tactical use of "battlefield" nuclear warheads against a handful of countries -- including Iran - Khatami reiterated, "... no nation is safe. Not even the people nor the leadership (of a nation) that threatens the use of nuclear weapons."
On his part, Christodoulos tersely referred to a theme thrust onto the international limelight following Sept. 11.
"All of those who believe in God; all of us who are pious, should dare to see and speak the truth: Religions have not done what they must to help the world understand that conflict is not the solution; conflict is the problem," the head of the Greek Church stressed.
"Christianity, and especially Orthodoxy, has not been involved with politics and has not tried to acquire secular political power. Despite this, they (religions) do have a role to play in averting conflicts. They can combine forces, communicate and influence peoples and governments so that religion is not used as a weapon against another religion," he said during the 50-minute meeting with Khatami.
Christodoulos' comments regarding inter-religious dialogue and understanding among the world's major faiths echoes an initiative begun by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Patriarch Vartholomeos, which resulted in an EU Commission co-sponsored conference in Brussels late last year.
Khatami, in fact, received Vartholomeos -- the spiritual leader and "Primus inter pares" among Orthodox Patriarchs representing approximately 250 million Eastern Orthodox faithful around the world -- when the latter paid a historic visit to Tehran last January. Iran was the second predominately Muslim country to officially invite Vartholomeos, following Bahrain.
Meeting with political leaders: In consecutive meetings Friday morning, Khatami met with a delegation from the main opposition New Democracy party as well as the leaders of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos).
During his brief talks with the ND delegation - comprised of former premier Tzannis Tzannetakis, Amb. Petros Molyviatis and deputy Marieta Yiannakou - Khatami reportedly referred to the role of late Greek statesman Constantine Karamanlis in restoring democracy in Greece.
Additionally, Yiannakou touched on the issue of a "society of citizens" and the progress of women.
During a meeting with KKE leader Aleka Papariga, the latter referred to the international coalition against terrorism, saying it was correct to categorically condemn the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, "but we must oppose those, especially the US and other forces, who use terrorism as a guise to create conditions in order to strike at the rights of peoples..."
Finally, after Khatami's meeting with Synaspismos leader Nikos Constantopoulos, the latter said both Greece and Iran must develop multilateral relations of friendship and cooperation, as both have similar interests for stability in the wider region.
Upon his arrival on Wednesday, the reformist Iranian president - at the head of a high-ranking delegation of Iranian ministers -- was received by Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
Khatami's three-day visit coincided with the signing of five bilateral agreements, including a memorandum of cooperation between Athens and Tehran towards potentially transporting Iranian natural gas to Western Europe via Greece.
The Iranian president toured the Acropolis in downtown Athens on Thursday before he was bestowed with the Medal of the City of Athens during a ceremony at town hall.
 Iran's Khatami derides 'axis of evil' notion, outlines world-view
Athens, 16/03/2002 (ANA)Iran's reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, this week promoted the idea of an "Islam of progress and freedom", while countering the notions of a "clash of civilizations" and an "axis of evil" with dialogue amongst the world's religions and civilizations.
In the midst of the dangerous flare-up of violence and warfare in the West Bank and Gaza, the elected president of the Islamic Republic of Iran also referred to "the achievement of a peaceful co-existence between Muslims, Christians and Jews", something he said first necessitates that the Palestinians "return to their lands ... where they will, themselves, be allowed to rule their country."
Khatami, on a three-day official visit to Greece following his high-level talks in Austria, aired his thoughts during an interview with the Athens daily "Ta Nea", to be published in the paper's Saturday edition.
Among others, he reiterated his opposition to the policy espoused by Washington and Israel while expressing a hope over what he called a "reaction by societies in the West against violence and injustice".
"There is violence in the world. It emanates from injustice and poverty. And the occupation of territories and terrorism is a great evil," Khatami said in answer to a question regarding US President George W. Bush's recent reference to an "axis of evil", one that includes Iran.
"People have eyes and see who calls for dialogue towards peace and justice and who calls for war and violence and threats," he is quoted as saying.
Moreover, Khatami charged that Washington is intent on "overcoming all obstacles in order to become the exclusive world power".
Conversely, he praised the stance of a segment of western society.
"Americans' conscience is aroused. Many American academics and intellectuals disagree. The same holds true in many European countries that are expressing their opposition," he said, before warning:
"If this situation continues, however, the Americans will include Europe in the 'axis of evil'. They will include China and Russia as well, and humanity will march towards a terrible war."
In terms of Europe, the Iranian president said:
"Europe has a past and history ... A strong Europe can be an obstacle to the world's monopolization by America."
In terms of his country's strife-ridden eastern neighbor, Afghanistan, Khatami said the key is to avoid an increase in tension in favor of its neighbors assisting in its rebuilding.
Iran and Islam: Furthermore, Khatami once again expressed his support for ongoing efforts at promoting a "dialogue amongst civilizations", based as he said, on the principle that "all peoples, regardless of economic or technological knowledge, must be equal".
He added that his predominately Shiite nation aligns itself with an "Islam of progress and freedom, with its roots in history, as opposed to an Islam of regression and under-development. But until these gals are achieved, surely they will find obstacles, both domestically and overseas..."
Finally, Khatami defended the Islamic revolution's track record in his 60-million strong country.
"Our universities have many students. Our women have been educated to a large extent. All (men and women) want to participate in society. The issue is for this youthful population to find work. Of course, structural changes are necessary. We must stave off the government and bureaucracy, to use this money for development..."
 New Greek ambassador says president's visit to Australia a catalyst
MELBOURNE, 16/03/2002 (ANA - S. Hatzimanolis)Greece's new Ambassador to Canberra Ioannis Xydas, in an interview with the newspaper The Canberra Times, said President Kostis Stephanopoulos' expected visit to Australia in June can become ''the catalyst for new dynamism in relations between the two countries.''
In the interview, in which he places emphasis on possibilities of further strengthening traditional relations between the two countries, Xydas said the presidential visit aims at underlining and strengthening the two countries' friendly relations.
He also believes that a mission of businessmen will also be organized which will include some of the Greek economy's strongest officials.
''I believe that the business world of Australia will view such a mission positively,'' Xydas said, adding that while the two countries are enjoying the best possible relations, trade between them is not flourishing.
 Greece's first professional soldiers sworn in on Friday
Athens, 16/03/2002 (ANA)The first professional soldiers recruited by Greece for its standing army were sworn in on Friday, in the presence of Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Deputy Defense Minister Loukas Apostolidis.
The 286 new commandos and 280 new artillery troops represent the first step in implementing government plans for a core of professional soldiers in the armed forces, which will allow the amount of time served by youths conscripted for compulsory military service to be reduced to one year after January 2003.
Papantoniou predicted that current problems in attracting recruits to the army would be overcome by new measures introduced by the government and that 25 per cent of the armed forces would be made up of professional soldiers by 2003.
The new measures also apply to the troops sworn in on Friday and involve a reduction in the amount of time served by professional troops generally.
This is the first time that privates have been hired as professional soldiers as opposed to commissioned and non-commissioned officers in Greece.
 Turkey to join Ottawa Treaty on personnel mines
ISTANBUL, 16/03/2002 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Turkey has decided to join the Ottawa Treaty on banning the use, storage, production and transportation of personnel mines and their destruction, a Turkish foreign ministry announcement said on Friday.
The relevant Treaty, implemented as of March 1999, has been submitted to the Turkish National Assembly for ratification, the announcement added.
Turkey has agreed to go ahead, in parallel with Greece, with the Treaty's ratification and on measures on abolishing minefields on the Greek-Turkish border.
Greece favors gradual energy deregulation BARCELONA, 16/03/2002 (ANA - M. Spinthou-rakis)
Greece favors a deregulation of energy markets in Europe on the condition that member-states will be given enough time to prepare the ground for a free household market, in which households freely choose the electricity supplier, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Friday.
Speaking to reporters in Barcelona, in the framework of an EU summit, Christodoulakis said he informed his EU counterparts on Thursday that Greece believed that a deregulation of energy markets should initially cover industrial and business users.
"The Greek market is not ready to accept household energy consumer choices over electricity suppliers," he said.
Christodoulakis said meeting of finance ministers in Thursday also discussed a joint initiative by the prime ministers of Greece and Holland to ask for more community support in small- and medium-sized enterprises and for more job creation in the EU.
He said that EU member-states believed that European communities should become credible and capable of dealing with their obligations to pensioners and that any reform of a national social security system should be part of structural changes in European economies in general.
Christodoulakis said that an ECOFIN decision to give the green light for creating a Euro-Mediterranean bank to finance development and cooperation between European and Mediterranean countries "put the founding base for a wider Euro Mediterranean partnership."
 Employers, unions talks deadlocked over pay rises
Athens, 16/03/2002 (ANA)A third round of talks between employers and workers' union to sign a new general collective labor contract ended in deadlock on Friday, with the two sides arranging a new meeting next Thursday.
Employers asked for a two-year contract offering pay rises of 4.8 percent and the estimated inflation plus 0.5 percent for 2002 and 2003, respectively, an offer far away from union demands for pay rises of 5.5 percent and an one-year contract.
The two sides also disagreed on a plan to reduce weekly working hours, with employers accepting the introduction of a 39-hour week from January 1, 2004 in exchanging for lower overtime pay.
Union representatives said that the employers' policy was proof that employers were willing to discuss lower working hours but not with the prospect of increasing employment but lowering labor costs.
Labor minister counters criticism over social security reforms: Parrying accusations that the government's proposed reforms to social insurance were ''slapdash'' and ''irresponsible'', Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas responded to the main opposition on Friday by saying that the government was seeking to ease society through the crisis gently.
Speaking on the radio, New Democracy MP George Souflias continued ND's barrage against the government over this issue on Friday, saying that its interventions were marginal, while hinting that government policy was actually focused more on winning the next elections than on solving the incipient pensions crisis.
Reppas replied that the government had secured the additional money needed by state insurance funds and was seeking to overcome the crisis in the system without a jarring impact for society, by introducing gradual changes and securing consensus.
He also indirectly accused the main opposition that it wanted harsh measures against workers when it spoke about reform.
 French tourists seek more than sea and sun in Greece
Athens, 16/03/2002 (ANA)Greece's Deputy Development Minister, Dimitris Georgakopoulos, attended a seminar on "Tourism and Globalization" held in the framework of an international tourism trade fair in Paris, March 14-17.
The seminar was organized by his French counterpart Jacques Brunhes and was attended by French Transport Minister Jean-Claude Gayssot.
"The trade fair and the seminar were very helpful for Greek tourism. France is a country that sends us around 600,000 tourists annually and is one of the biggest tourism sources for Greece. French tourists visit our country for its cultural history, they visit archaeological sites and have a keen interest in Greek history and mythology, they don't come only for its natural beauties, sun and sea, as its the case with tourists from other countries. That's why competition from other countries offering sea and sun does not affect our country," Georgakopoulos told reporters.
Greece participates in the Paris tourism trade fair with its official pavilion and with other private participations, including French tourism agencies Acropolis-Paris-Athenes, Navifrance-Minoan Lines and Royal Olympic Cruises.
 Govít, groups pledge measures to protect Greek consumers
Athens, 16/03/2002 (ANA)A new dynamic development procedure is beginning in Greece with the consolidation of a new relation between the state, businesses and consumers, Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Friday.
Addressing a conference on ''Food Safety and Companies' Social Responsibility'', organized by INKA - Greece's largest consumer group - on the occasion of the World Consumer's Day, Tsohatzopoulos said that producers and merchants should respect consumers' demand for quality and quantity sufficiency.
''The state will help enterprises to equally face European competition with the lowest possible cost in order to ensure the necessary effective activity. This activity has its own dynamism and freedom while it is also supported by the common European currency,'' he said.
INKA's chairman, H. Kouris, said, however, that the introduction of the euro has put the purchasing power of Greek consumers into a divergence course and did not lead to a convergence with the rest of the EU, as prices rose significantly in March after the official withdrawal of the Greek drachma and the end of the discount period.
Referring to the World Consumer's Day, Mr. Kouris described it as a ''Greek day of protest'' for the absence of any respect to Greek workers' income, and the insulting phenomena of profiteering and fraud.
INKA's chairman urged the development ministry and the Bank of Greece to halt an aggressive policy by commercial banks in their effort to gain market shares, citing the fact that Greek households' debt exceeded 7.5 trillion drachmas and that many families were unable to repay their debts.
INKA plans to take action to enhance food safety procedures, by launching a campaign on food safety, creating an agency for protecting consumers of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, building a portal on the internet and issuing a Greek consumers' barometer.
 Development minister visits ITB tourism fair in Berlin
Athens, 16/03/2002 (ANA)Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos will head the Greek delegation to visit the ITB international tourism trade fair in Berlin that opens its gates on Saturday.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos will meet with government officials from the US and China and with tour operators from Germany. Talks will focus on improving infrastructure projects in Greece and promoting special forms of tourism in Greece. Contacts with German tour operators are considered significant for the Greek delegation as Germany is the biggest source of tourists, with more than 2.5 million tourists arriving in Greece annually.
Greek National Tourism Organization will participate in the ITB trade fair along with Athens 2004 Organizing Committee (ATHOC) and 58 exhibitors.
ITB attracts 160,000 visitors, of which 60,000 professionals from the tourism sector.
 Greece ups development aid to 0.20 pct of GDP in 2000
Athens, 16/03/2002 (ANA)Greece increased total net outflows in official development aid to 0.20 percent of gross domestic product in 2000 from 0.15 percent a year earlier, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said on Friday.
The Paris-based OECD said that the percentage of GDP given in 2000 was equivalent to 226 million US dollars against 194 million US dollars in 1999.
 Regional food safety network to be created within six months
Athens, 16/03/2002 (ANA)Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Friday that a regional infrastructure for food safety controls would be put in place over the next six months.
The agriculture ministry is to issue formal decisions in coming days that will supplement the institutional framework for controls, Tsohatzopoulos said.
Offices are to be opened in the western city of Patras and in Iraklion, on the tourist island of Crete, in line with an existing bureau in the northern port city of Thessaloniki. Others are due to open in the next phase of the project.
The network will belong to the state's Unified Food Controls Authority.
The minister was addressing a European conference arranged by the INKA consumer group.
 Chinese business delegation from Guangzhou to visit Thessaloniki
Athens, 16/03/2002 (ANA)A Chinese business delegation from the city of Guangzhou is due to visit Thessaloniki on March 22.
The representatives of eleven businesses from Guangzhou will be received by the leadership of the Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBETH) at 12.30 at City Hotel.
According to EBETH, the eleven Chinese businessmen are interested in promoting to the Greek market a broad range of products, such as air conditioners, machine tools, lighting appliances, canned food and leather gloves. They will also discuss cooperation in the production of leather goods.
 Local government chief blasts northern border post strike
Athens, 16/03/2002 (ANA)A local government leader on Friday sharply criticized a lasting strike at a northern border post with Turkey by agriculture ministry employees carrying out controls on fresh produce. The walkout has severely disrupted two-way border traffic.
Evros prefect George Dolios said he would seek a court restraining order on Tuesday, after Monday's public holiday, if the strike continued. He also complained that local government authorities had not received notification of the walkout from the union.
On Thursday, more than 80 trucks carrying perishable goods backed up on the Greek side of the Kipi border post in Evros, with congestion also reported on the Turkish side.
Strikers are reportedly mulling blockading the border post over the upcoming holiday weekend that would bar access to all vehicles including tourist coaches.
Dolios said that two local government officials had been dispatched to the border post to carry checks on trucks carrying fruit and vegetables.
 Deputy Transport Minister Vougias meets Thessaloniki urban transport officials
Athens, 16/03/2002 (ANA)Deputy Transport and Communications Minister Spyros Vougias on Friday held a meeting with the administration of the Urban Transport Organization of Thessaloniki (OASTH).
During the meeting, Vougias presented the new telematics program for the automated management of the organizationís fleet of buses.
On the basis of this program, the OASTH officials will be able to know at any moment where each bus is and to estimate at what time a bus will pass by a bus stop.
At the same time, computers will be placed at bus stops where passengers will be informed at what time the bus they are waiting for will arrive.
The program is already being implemented on a pilot basis in 80 buses and will be extended to the entire bus fleet by 2003.
 Greek stocks lose 2.60 percent in the week
Athens, 16/03/2002 (ANA)Equity prices ended the last trading session of a subdued week with minor changes, reflecting investors' inertia and a lack of positive fresh incentives in the Greek bourse.
The general index ended a volatile session 0.09 percent lower at 2,384.22 points, with turnover a disappointing low 79.5 million euros.
The IT and Retail sectors scored the biggest percentage gains (1.17 percent and 0.95 percent, respectively), while the Telecoms, Wholesale and Textile sectors suffered the heaviest losses (1.09 percent, 0.17 percent and 0.11 percent).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.02 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 0.41 percent higher and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index eased 0.13 percent.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 150 to 143 with another 67 issues unchanged.
The general index ended the week with a net loss of 2.60 percent.
Agricultural Bank's shares jumped 8.71 percent leading the group's subsidiaries' prices higher.
The most heavily traded shares were Technical Olympic, Hellenic Telecoms, Alpha Bank, National Bank, Panafon and Intracom.
Equity index futures retain premium: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange fluctuated slightly on Friday, traders said.
Turnover was 59.9 million euros.
The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips gained 0.02 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks rose 0.41 percent.
Bond prices rise in active trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Friday finished higher in heavy trade focusing on five-year paper.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.57 percent, and the spread over the corresponding German bund was 32 basis points.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 2.3 billion euros.
Buy orders accounted over half of turnover.
 Antiquities found at Olympic equestrian center site in Markopoulo
Athens, 16/03/2002 (ANA)A series of antiquities have been unearthed at the site destined to become the Olympic Equestrian Center and Horse track at Markopoulo in Attica, the culture ministry announced on Friday.
Archaeologists said that the foundations of ancient houses and public buildings, as well as a number of Classical-era graves, had come to light but were in poor condition because the ground above had been continuously cultivated for more than 1,000 years.
Other finds included traces of ancient roads that linked Myrrinounda and other ancient settlements.
Archaeologists said that a shrine found in the area was probably dedicated to Aphrodite but was not a temple.
The culture ministry said in its announcement that the existence of the antiquities was provided for in the plans for the Olympics facilities, which would be carried out in consultation with experts and archaeologists so that important finds were not compromised.
The antiquities would be preserved and where necessary displayed and highlighted, the announcement said.
The archaeological digs at Merenta in Markopoulo began in 1998. According to the ministry, the contractor awarded the project is obliged to highlight the antiquities in accordance with instructions received from the ministry's antiquities service in order to create an open "archaeological walk" along the length of the ancient roads.
 President: Cyprus endorses Lisbon strategy, applies measures
BARCELONA, 16/03/2002 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus will work closely with the European Union with a view to implementing fully the goals set out in the Lisbon process, which aims at transforming the EU into the most competitive and dynamic economy, President Glafcos Clerides said here on Friday at a meeting of EU leaders and heads of state of candidate countries.
He also said Cyprus fully acknowledges the importance of the current economic challenges and is promoting the required structural reform and measures to convert these challenges into opportunities for sustainable growth, within the Lisbon strategy.
The president said that the process of globalization and the rapid technological changes lead to the dynamic development of new sub-sectors of economic activity and the creation of employment opportunities requiring new or upgraded skills.
''Cyprus fully endorses the Lisbon strategy and supports the measures proposed which aim to transform the EU into the most competitive and dynamic economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs,'' Clerides said.
Cyprus, he said, takes seriously into consideration the Lisbon priorities and is preparing a National Development Plan, which aims at fostering a knowledge-based economy through the adoption of measures promoting access and use of information and communication technologies.
The president said Cyprus endorses fully the completion of the European internal market and is going ahead with the liberalization in the fields of telecommunications, postal services, energy and transport.
Referring to public finances, he said a fiscal consolidation program Cyprus is implementing aims to achieve a balanced budget by 2004 and applies a policy to maintain existing conditions of macroeconomic stability. The president returns home on Saturday.
 Cyprus foreign minister refutes Turkish counterpart
BARCELONA, 16/03/2002 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides on Friday refuted a claim by his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem that since the 1980s, global ideological trends are towards fragmentation of societies.
In an article in the ''International Herald Tribune'' Cem also claimed that societies have been encouraged to split along ethnic lines and added that it would be hard for Cyprus to deviate from this overall trend. He also said in Cyprus ''there are two different nations, cultures, religions, languages and states.''
In a statement in Barcelona, where he is accompanying President Glafcos Clerides in the European Union summit, Kasoulides asked Cem whether he means that Turkey must grant autonomy and independence to the Kurds and other ethnic entities living there.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.
Ankara has ignored numerous UN resolutions calling for the withdrawal of its troops from this east Mediterranean island.
 So-called T/C nationality given lavishly to Turks
NICOSIA, 16/03/2002 (CNA/ANA)The Turkish occupation regime have been granting the so-called Turkish Cypriot citizenship to Turkish nationals with an aim to influence a future referendum in case of a solution to the Cyprus problem.
According to a front-page report in Thursday's Turkish Cypriot newspaper ''Ortam'', the so-called nationality is granted to dozens of Turks, including Turkish students studying in illegal universities in the areas of Cyprus occupied by Turkish troops since 1974.
The Turkish Cypriot daily explains that through this step the Rauf Denktash regime aims to influence a referendum that would follow an agreement on the Cyprus problem.
The paper adds that this measure would also influence the results of the illegal local administration elections to be held in June 2002.
''Ortam'' reveals that a large number of students from Turkey have received the so-called nationality in order to pay reduced fees in illegal universities as Turkish Cypriot students do.