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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-10-01

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

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

October 1, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] Iraq, Middle East, EU's enlargement examined at EU conference
  • [02] Greece backs EU linkage of economic policy, spurred by Iraq crisis
  • [03] Ecumenical Patriarch meets with president, prime minister
  • [04] PM to meet head of EU presidency this week
  • [05] Greece sees chance of EU defense deal by November
  • [06] 40 European leaders to meet in Athens during Greek EU presidency
  • [07] President Stephanopoulos sends message for Cyprus Independence Day
  • [08] Deputy Defense Minister meets Cyprus Defense Minister
  • [09] Turkish businessmen request Greek support for EU bid
  • [10] Gov't expresses satisfaction with success of Serb elections
  • [11] ND leader addresses EU conference on the elderly
  • [12] Gov't spokesman on legal framework governing opinion polls
  • [13] New Athens airport picks up kudos from US security inspectors
  • [14] Mitsotakis treated for low red cell count, released from hospital
  • [15] Parliament president says Greek-German relations excellent
  • [16] Yiannopoulos on the mend, doctors say
  • [17] Greece signs $63.9 ml arms contract with Russian Rosoboronexport
  • [18] Defense minister calls on EU's defense industry to become competitive
  • [19] Ministers announce proclamation of employment programs
  • [20] Major energy groups from abroad eye Greek project
  • [21] Reactions continue from tram route change
  • [22] Greek public debt was provisional 105.1 pct of GDP in 2001
  • [23] Greek computer market maturing, report says
  • [24] Greek group gets EIB loan to complete Athens ring road
  • [25] Greek central bank chief to strengthen bank regulatory controls
  • [26] Athens bourse turnover totals 78.5 mln euros in September
  • [27] Greek stocks plunge 2.41 percent on Monday
  • [28] FM presents international opinion poll on environment
  • [29] Italy to return a fragment of the Parthenon frieze to Greece
  • [30] Greece gears up for draconian smoking ban from Oct. 1
  • [31] Prosecutor seeks reversal of misdemeanors ruling for 'Express Samina' accused
  • [32] Perspectives in astrobiology reviewed in Chania conference
  • [33] Annan says Cyprus talks to go beyond Copenhagen summit
  • [34] Verheugen expects Commission report on Cyprus to be positive
  • [35] Clerides receives US Ambassador

  • [01] Iraq, Middle East, EU's enlargement examined at EU conference

    BRUSSELS 01/10/2002 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    Iraq, conditions in the Middle East and the European Union's enlargement dominated discussions of the EU's General Affairs Council here on Monday.

    Greece was represented by Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis.

    Papandreou noted that a positive element of the meeting was that all EU member-states agreed that the United Nations should play a primary role concerning Iraq, alluding, however, to differences of opinion in procedures to be followed, by France and Britain, which are permanent Security Council members.

    The 15 expressed their satisfaction over developments in the Middle East, noting the de-escalating tension, following Israel’s decisions concerning the surrounding of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's headquarters and agreed that the EU should intensify its presence in the region.

    The ministers also discussed the enlargement of the EU, Yiannitsis said, adding that they had the chance of exchanging views on economic and institutional issues, without, however, reaching any conclusions.

    All member-states agreed that financial support for the new members was necessary, but Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland underlined that those new member-states should have their funding increase gradually, so as to develop in time the necessary mechanisms for the effective management of funds.

    Discussion on institutional issues was more contentious regarding the allocation of votes for each country. Greece voiced the significance of vote allocation in a way that establishes a minority vote that can overturn a decision and so making it necessary for at least three of the larger member-states to vote for an issue before it passes.

    Greece also supported, under some conditions, the establishment of a fund for natural disasters.

    Finally, the 15 agreed that the conference on the future of Europe should conclude its work by the end of the Greek presidency, so as to allow an agreement during the Italian presidency, set for the second half of 2003.

    [02] Greece backs EU linkage of economic policy, spurred by Iraq crisis

    BRUSSELS 01/10/2002 (ANA/G.Zitouniati)

    Greece on Monday backed an EU move to link economic policy more closely among its 15 member states, spurred by a possible deeper recession if Iraq comes under attack.

    The bloc's group of development ministers would be upgraded to the status of a supplementary body to its finance ministers, aiding policy coordination, Greek Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos told reporters in the Belgian capital.

    "These are measures to boost procedural transparency, rationalization and simplification that will serve a further aim of creating a new model that would favor growth, employment, consumers and the environment," Tsohatzopoulos said.

    He was speaking after a meeting of the EU's development ministers.

    [03] Ecumenical Patriarch meets with president, prime minister

    Athens, 01/10/2002 (ANA)

    Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, who arrived in Greece on Sunday for a four-day unofficial visit, on Monday met with Greece's leadership.

    At noon, the Orthodox Church's highest prelate met with President Kostis Stephanopoulos at the Presidential Mansion.

    During the meeting Stephanopoulos expressed his joy of seeing the Vartholomeos in the international media promoting his chosen activities, with which both the Patriarchate and Hellenism are also promoted.

    Vartholomeos on his part thanked the president for his kind words and for his efforts to reach the expatriate Greeks around the world.

    Later in the day, Vartholomeos met with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and exchanged views on current issues from the international scene, in light of the prelate's upcoming visit to Brussels on Thursday. These issues included Greece's EU presidency.

    Ecumenical Patriarch visits Greek Parliament: Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, currently in Athens on a private visit, on Monday paid a call on Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, where he briefed him on the Patriarchate's environmental activities.

    After the 20-minute meeting, Kaklamanis said the Patriarch's visit was a great honor for both himself and the Greek Parliament.

    Vartholomeos said he had been happy to accept the invitation, both out of respect for Kaklamanis and because the Greek Parliament represented the Greek people, the majority of whom belonged to the Greek Orthodox Church.

    Meeting with ND leader: During an afternoon meeting later in the day, the Patriarch met with main opposition New Democracy deputy Costas Karamanlis, with the ND leader praising Vartholomeos for what he called his “effective reconciliation of the Churches, society and the environment, as well as prospects for the peaceful co-existence amongst peoples”.

    Ecumenical patriarch given honorary doctorate: Visiting Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos was given an honorary doctorate by the Athens Agricultural University on Monday night in recognition of his work for environmental protection.

    The event was attended by President Kostis Stephanopoulos, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, ministers, party leaders, armed forces representatives, academics and foreign diplomats.

    Vartholomeos referred in his address to the disastrous effects fragmental knowledge, greed for profit and counter-scientific haste in applying insufficiently tested methods have for balance in nature and their contribution to the denudation of great expanses of land.

    [04] PM to meet head of EU presidency this week

    Athens, 01/10/2002 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Monday met Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, who is currently in Athens on a private visit, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said while outlining the premier's schedule for the week.

    Earlier on Monday, he added, Simitis had met with the presidency of a Turkish business association.

    On Tuesday at 10:00, the prime minister is to head a meeting at the foreign ministry to prepare for Friday's visit by Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, head of the Danish EU presidency.

    At noon on Tuesday, meanwhile, Simitis is due to attend the opening of the Medical-Biological Research Institute, operating under the aegis of the Athens Academy, at 19:00 he will meet with Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas and in the evening he will host a dinner for PASOK MPs in the 3rd summer session of Parliament in Peristeri.

    On Wednesday at 10:30, Simitis is due to meet Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis and at 11:15 he will tour newly pedestrianised Apostolos Pavlos Street.

    The regular cabinet meeting chaired by the premier on Thursday will deal with employment issues, while Simitis will begin the day on Friday by meeting Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis.

    Rasmussen is due to meet the Greek premier on Friday at noon.

    The spokesman also gave advance notice of the prime minister's schedule in the following week, announcing that Simitis would attend a dinner with the management of the central bank next Monday at 14:00 and immediately afterwards make statements about the economy.

    The Tuesday after next at 11:00, the prime minister is to chair a meeting of PASOK's parliamentary group and at 13:00 he will head a meeting of the government's communications team.

    On Wednesday next week at 10:00 Simitis has a meeting with President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and at noon he will head a meeting of the government committee for the Olympics.

    On Thursday at 11:00, the prime minister will visit the public order ministry and afterwards make a joint statement with public order minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis.

    [05] Greece sees chance of EU defense deal by November

    Athens, 01/10/2002 (ANA)

    Greece said on Monday Turkey now was willing "to move ahead" in negotiations on access to NATO military planning for EU crisis management operations, and voiced optimism that a deal would be struck by November, a Reuters dispatch from Brussels said.

    "We do have elections in Turkey so this may or may not be a hindrance," Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou told Reuters in an interview. "But I think we've had a sense from the Turkish side that there's a willingness to move ahead."

    A senior European Union diplomat said Turkey had indeed given ground in the standoff between the Aegean rivals, which has stymied the bloc's plans for its fledgling Rapid Reaction Force to make a peacekeeping debut in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) this year, Reuters said.

    There was no immediate official comment from Ankara.

    Papandreou, speaking on the sidelines of an EU foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels, said the long-elusive deal could be tied up even before Turkey's November 3 elections and then formally presented at a NATO summit in Prague later that month.

    The EU's 60,000-strong Rapid Reaction Force, which is due to become fully operational from next year, would need access to NATO assets to conduct even low-risk missions.

    But NATO-member Turkey, which has long been knocking on the EU's door, wants to have a say in the force. Greece, a member of both blocs, does not want its traditional foe to take part in EU decision-making.

    British and U.S. diplomacy produced a text on a defense agreement acceptable to Ankara last December, but Greece was quick to dismiss it, asking for changes.

    With an eye to Cyprus, Greece demanded reciprocal assurances that NATO would never take action against an EU member state, Reuters said.

    Hopes that a deal would be clinched at a summit in June were dashed after Ankara rejected amended proposals made by the EU.

    Now, the EU diplomat said, Turkey was "on board" and it was up to Greece to decide on the timing of a final agreement, Reuters added.

    Papandreou was more circumspect, saying "we've got the elements of a solution, but we're not yet there, we're still working".

    "There will most likely be an EU-NATO meeting (at the Prague summit) and that could be a good forum to conclude," he said. "But that would be an official conclusion and we would have done much of the work before."

    The EU had hoped to take over NATO's peacekeeping mission in FYROM when it ends on October 26. NATO is now planning for an extension of its mandate there, which could give the EU time to strike its deal with the alliance and take over in January, Reuters added.

    [06] 40 European leaders to meet in Athens during Greek EU presidency

    Athens, 01/10/2002 (ANA)

    A Europe-wide conference, with the participation of leaders from 40 countries of the European continent, will be held in Athens in April in the context of Greece's EU presidency in the first half of 2003, it was announced Monday.

    The Greek foreign ministry is organizing the Pan-European Conference in a bid to 'send the message' to all the EU countries, candidate countries, and the countries with a European orientation that they all belong to the wider European family.

    The Pan-European summit will be attended by the leaders of the 15 EU member states, the 13 EU candidate countries, the European Steel Community countries (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein), Switzerland, and the countries of the western Balkans (Yugoslavia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania and FYROM). IN addition, special invitations have been extended to the Ukraine and Moldova, while Russia will also be invited.

    The Zappeion Mansion has tentatively been slated as the most appropriate venue to host the 40 European leaders and their close staff.

    [07] President Stephanopoulos sends message for Cyprus Independence Day

    NICOSIA 01/10/2002 (ANA)

    President Kostis Stephanopoulos pledged on Monday that Cyprus' accession to the European Union constitutes Greece's national priority.

    In a telegram to Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, on the occasion of Independence Day on Tuesday, Stephanopoulos further pointed out that Greece will not give up efforts for a comprehensive settlement, based on UN resolutions.

    The Greek president said "I would like to point out, once more, Greece's continued and unlimited support to our fellow people of Cyprus, and assure you that we will not surrender efforts and determination until we achieve a comprehensive, just, permanent and viable solution to our national problem, based on UN decisions, which will secure the full respect of the human rights of all its people".

    "I would like to reiterate that the Cyprus Republic's accession to the EU constitutes our prime national priority. The excellent progress Cyprus is making in the accession negotiations makes us certain that the Cyprus Republic will enter the European family, in which it belongs, to benefit the whole of its population," Stephanopoulos added.

    The Greek president also conveyed Greece's wish for the well being of the Cypriot people and vindication of their long struggles.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern third. The island opened accession negotiations with the EU in 1998 and aspires to be among the countries, which will be called to join the EU during the Copenhagen European Council in December.

    [08] Deputy Defense Minister meets Cyprus Defense Minister

    NICOSIA 01/10/2002 (ANA/CNA)

    The Joint Defense Pact between Cyprus and Greece is not restricted to the military sector but also has economic and political aspects, Cypriot Defense Minister Socratis Hasikos said after a meeting with Greece's Deputy National Defense Minister Lazaros Lotides here on Sunday evening.

    The Greek official said the excellent level of relations between Greece and Cyprus and the two ministries was confirmed during their meeting, adding that such meetings ''deepen and strengthen'' relations between the two ministries and that the implementation of the defense pact is on a good track.

    Lotides said Greece, who will take over the EU presidency during the first half of 2003, will be glad to welcome Cyprus within the EU's ranks, pointing out that the Republic of Cyprus fully complies with the preconditions for accession to the European family.

    Hasikos said they discussed various issues concerning both ministries of defense, adding, ''we concentrated on the implementation course of the joint defense pact''.

    The Cypriot defense minister said all programs are progressing efficiently with only minor issues pending.

    The two also discussed the island's EU accession course, as well as the latest developments on Cyprus in view of President Glafcos Clerides' departure for New York, where he will meet with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    [09] Turkish businessmen request Greek support for EU bid

    Athens, 01/10/2002 (ANA)

    A delegation of Turkish businessmen, headed by Mr. Tuncay Ozilhan, chairman of the Union of Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen, requested Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Monday to support an effort for Turkey's accession in the European Union.

    Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Mr. Simitis attended also by Greek Industries' Union chairman, Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, and Greek-Turkish Business Council chairman, Panagiotis Koutsikos, Mr. Ozilhan thanked the Greek Premier and his government for the support offered to Turkey in its European course, based on criteria agreed in Copenhagen.

    He noted that members of the Turkish union had the opportunity to discuss various issues with the Greek premier and said that the meeting was very useful and constructive.

    Mr. Kyriakopoulos told reporters that the visit was made ahead of the Greek EU presidency and in the framework of Turkey's bid to begin accession talks with the European Union.

    The Turkish union will also visit other EU capitals to promote Turkey's bid.

    Greek, Turkish industry want Ankara's EU bid on level playing field: Greek and Turkish industrialists said on Monday that Ankara's bid for European Union entry should be treated in the same way as membership applications from other countries.

    The Association of Greek Industry and TUSIAD, its Turkish counterpart, said in a joint statement in Athens that they welcomed a start by Turkey in adapting its legislation to that of the EU.

    ''This is one more step in Turkey's endeavor to meet political and economic criteria for participation in the European Union, which both our groups hope will be successful,'' the statement said.

    ''From this point of view, the beginning of negotiations with Turkey represents a development that could have a positive impact on an effective solution to political problems outstanding between Greece and Turkey,'' it added.

    The statement was released after a meeting of the heads of the two groups with Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    [10] Gov't expresses satisfaction with success of Serb elections

    Athens, 01/10/2002 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Monday expressed the Greek government's satisfaction that elections in Serbia had been completed smoothly but avoided making other comments, saying that this would constitute intervention in the domestic affairs of another country.

    [11] ND leader addresses EU conference on the elderly

    Athens, 01/10/2002 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis, addressing a Conference entitled ''The European Union for the elderly'' on Monday, said that when elections approach the state and governments promise great words and the next day they forget the elderly.

    Karamanlis said there can be no ignorance of social reality and the marginalization of elderly people, adding that ''we are not a society of three quarters, nor do we wish to become such a society and there can be no such logic in Europe and our common future.''

    He further said his party will create a special sector for the elderly and promised that ''today, being in the opposition, and tomorrow, being in government, it will serve the rights of the charter of the elderly.''

    Karamanlis also said an end should be put to the insecurity of the elderly, adding that it is necessary for public health and welfare services to improve, as well as medical and pharmaceutical care.

    [12] Gov't spokesman on legal framework governing opinion polls

    Athens, 01/10/2002 (ANA)

    The government announced on Monday that it will unveil a series of reforms in November covering the holding and publication of opinion polls, a popular tool used by the media and political parties to gauge voters’ preferences.

    According to the government spokesman, the new framework will include changes in the legal status of opinion polls in order to ensure transparency and the avoidance of conflicts of interest.

    Spokesman Christos Protopapas also said rules on how to conduct such polls will be better defined, whereas an independent authority established on a non-partisan basis is also envisioned.

    [13] New Athens airport picks up kudos from US security inspectors

    Athens, 01/10/2002 (ANA)

    The new Eleftherios Venizelos Airport in Athens continued its recent string of collecting international distinctions since its March 2001 opening, as it received an “excellent rating” by the US federal government’s newly created Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

    According to a press release issued by the airport on Monday, a three-member TSA inspection team arrived at the new airport in early September for one week to collect information regarding the facility’s overall safety features.

    The American experts’ findings reportedly give an excellent rating to the new airport’s security personnel, the operational capability of its security systems as well as the general level of security at the east Attica prefecture facility.

    According to reports, similar three-member TSA inspection team will now visit major international airports annually to spot what it considers security omissions. Although the US agency – created in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks – obviously has no jurisdiction in foreign countries, its recommendations comprise the basis for issuing foreign travel advisories by US federal authorities.

    In a related development, the latest edition of the noted British periodical “Aviation Security” carried a special feature on the Eleftherios Venizelos airport, referring to the airport as a “model of safety,” among others.

    [14] Mitsotakis treated for low red cell count, released from hospital

    Athens, 01/10/2002 (ANA)

    Former Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis, honorary leader of the main opposition New Democracy party, checked out of the hospital later afternoon on Monday having been treated for low red cell count.

    He had checked in earlier in the day for a blood transfusion after being diagnosed with a low red cell count.

    The transfusion procedure was taken approximately three hours.

    Mitsotakis' attending doctor, pathology professor Sotiris Raptis, told ANA later that Mitsotakis had been scheduled to take a regular physical examination, but it was decided that he should also undergo a blood transfusion since he had a relatively low red corpuscle count.

    Raptis explained that the low red cell count was due to blood loss suffered by the former premier during his recent abdominal aorta surgery in the US, adding that the former prime minister's health was very good.

    "I always told the truth about my health to the Greek people," Mitsotakis said upon his release from the hospital stressing that his health is very good.

    [15] Parliament president says Greek-German relations excellent

    Athens, 01/10/2002 (ANA)

    Newly appointed German Ambassador to Athens Albert Spiegel visited Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis on Monday.

    Kaklamanis said relations between Greece and Germany were excellent but there was always ground for their strengthening, such as on the issue of war reparations.

    ''There is the pending issue of reparations which must he resolved. This issue has a moral significance and it should be addressed on the common principles of our two peoples. For this reason we are expecting goodwill gestures, primarily having a moral and political message,'' Kaklamanis said.

    According to a Parliament's press release, Kaklamanis praised moves made by former Ambassador Kuhna on the problem of terrorism, stressing that although he found himself in danger as a result of action by the November 17 organization, he showed courage and created positive impressions for the Greek people with statements of his and, of course, there was no effort on the part of Germany to utilize the blow for other purposes and have the country defamed ''as others did.''

    [16] Yiannopoulos on the mend, doctors say

    Athens, 01/10/2002 (ANA)

    The health of former PASOK minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos was steadily improving, doctors at the Athens Medical Center said in an announcement on Monday.

    They said that the veteran politician appeared to be recovering from an emergency operation to correct a problem in his intestines and he would leaving the intensive care ward to return to an ordinary ward within the next two days.

    Yiannopoulos had originally been admitted to the hospital suffering from a mild case of gastroenteritis.

    [17] Greece signs $63.9 ml arms contract with Russian Rosoboronexport

    Athens, 01/10/2002 (ANA)

    The Greek Defense Ministry and the Russian Rosoboronexport Company signed a $63.9 million contract for a third hover landing craft of the ''Zubr'' class for the Greek Navy, according to an Itar-Tass dispatch from Moscow on Monday.

    The craft will be built at the ''Almaz'' shipbuilding yards in St. Petersburg and is to be delivered to Greece in mid 2004, the Itar-Tass dispatch noted, quoting a military-diplomatic source.

    The cost of the contract includes spare parts, armaments, and funds needed to train the Greek technical personnel.

    Russia has delivered to Greece the first two ''Zubr'' vessels in 2000-2001, which were named ''Kefalinia'' and ''Zakinthos'', which cost $102 million. Greece bought two more vessels from Ukraine for the same price.

    The ''Zubr'' landing craft are designed to quickly bring a landing party to the needed place and to land it on the enemy coast. It is the world's largest and speediest hover-type naval landing craft with a back-folding bow ramp.

    The vessel has a speed of more than sixty knots. It is able to carry 140 soldiers and 130 tons of cargo, or three tanks, or ten armored personnel carriers. They can be landed on an unequipped coast.

    The vessel is armed with two 22-barrel 140 mm ''Ogon'' launching systems, as well as four launchers of the ''Igla 1M'' missile complex.

    In a related development, about 30 Russian enterprises are scheduled to attend the12th international arms exhibition ''Defendory International 2002'' to be held in Piraeus on October 1-5.

    ''Our exhibition is arranged in such a way that reflects the most promising areas of further development of military-technical cooperation between Russia and Greece, as well as the needs of potential customers from other countries'', the press service of the arms trading company Rosoboronexport stressed, according to Itar-Tass on Monday.

    Russia will show the newest samples of missiles, artillery systems, anti-tank weapons, including an unparalleled high-precision missile system for land forces Iskander-3, guided weapons foreign-made artillery systems, new types of shells and warheads for shells used in multiple launchers.

    Combat, combat-transport and transport helicopters will be represented by the Ka-50, the Mi-35M and the Mi-26. Shipbuilders will show their latest developments based on stealth technologies and equipped with modern anti-ship and anti-aircraft systems.

    [18] Defense minister calls on EU's defense industry to become competitive

    Athens, 01/10/2002 (ANA)

    Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on Monday called on the European defense industry to awaken to the competition, in a market dominated by the United States, which currently holds 57 per cent of the international market.

    He stressed that of 100 top defense industries 40 are headquartered in the U.S., while at the same time the U.S. defense spending stands at $340 billion a year, compared to $150 billion that is spent by the European Union member states, which have only 10 of their defense industries in the top 100.

    Speaking to the 3rd conference of the Greek Association of Defense Materiel Manufacturers, Papantoniou proposed the restructuring of the European defense industry through mergers and business cooperation schemes.

    This issue will be discussed by the European Union's 15 defense ministers during their informal meeting in Rethymnon Crete on Saturday.

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokesman Spilios Spiliotopoulos, who also addressed the conference, outlined the policies of his party on the issue, focusing on the enlargement of the Greek participation in the defense materials supplied to the Greek armed forces and the establishment of a legal framework for the supply system.

    [19] Ministers announce proclamation of employment programs

    Athens, 01/10/2002 (ANA)

    Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou and Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas announced at a press conference on Monday that four new training and employment programs for 14,800 unemployed people with environmental professions will be proclaimed next month.

    The programs, whose implementation body is the Manpower Employment Organization, have a total budget amounting to 67 million euros and are financed by the European Social Fund.

    Papandreou said decreasing unemployment and protecting the environment currently constitute two of the greatest challenges the European Union has to face to achieve social cohesion.

    Reppas said existing reality necessitates the development of initiatives and new interventions in such sectors as the environment.

    [20] Major energy groups from abroad eye Greek project

    Athens, 01/10/2002 (ANA)

    Among major energy companies from abroad interested in possibly becoming a strategic investor in the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) are Gas de France, Total-Fina-ELF Gas et Electricite, and ENI-SNAM and Edison.

    The interest was shown at a corporate presentation of DEPA on Monday.

    Also possibly eyeing the project are Gazprom, Ruhrgras with Prometheus Gas, Sonatrach of Algeria and Gas Natural of Spain.

    The government owns 65 percent of DEPA, with the remaining 35 percent held by Athens-quoted Hellenic Petroleum.

    For sale is 35 percent of the firm, with Athens-listed Public Power Corporation, DEPA's main customer, due to take another 30 percent.

    [21] Reactions continue from tram route change

    Athens, 01/10/2002 (ANA)

    Last week’s surprise decision by the consortium building Athens’ new tram network to avoid a route passing in front of Hadrian’s Arch -- a well-known Roman-era Athenian landmark -- continued to cause political reverberations this week.

    The Tram S.A. consortium bowed to a request late last week by Greece’s culture ministry to change the route in central Athens, thus avoiding the possibility of heavy tram cars’ vibration causing damage to the ancient monument, which lies at the entrance of the Temple of the Olympian Zeus site and only a few hundred meters from the Acropolis.

    On Monday, Tram S.A. issued a press release denying that studies for the network’s routes were inaccurate, while stressing that all relevant studies by independent researchers over the past 20 years envisioned a route passing in front of Hadrian’s Arch, where Athens’ old tramline passed more than 40 years ago.

    Stepped up media and political criticism greeted last week’s announcement, particularly over lost time and money spent so far.

    The consortium’s press release added that the alternate route adds 550 meters of rail line to the network and increases costs by approximately 2.1 million euros, whereas the cost of repairing the roadway on the now discarded route total some 190,000 euros.

    On his part, main opposition New Democracy deputy Aris Spiliotopoulos tabled a question for the transport minister on Monday regarding the route change, where, among others, he charges that drivers were unduly inconvenienced over the past few months for a project that was finally scrapped.

    The first tracks of a new tramline in the Greek capital were installed in late August, less than two years before the next summer Olympics take place here and decades after the last trams were seen on the greater Athens area’s busy streets.

    [22] Greek public debt was provisional 105.1 pct of GDP in 2001

    BRUSSELS 01/10/2002 (ANA/B.Demiris)

    Greece's public debt stood at 105.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2001 to total 137.624 billion euros against GDP of 130.926 billion euros, according to provisional figures released by Eurostat on Monday.

    The European Union's statistics agency said that Greece's fiscal surplus in the same year was 0.1 percent of GDP to total 79.0 million euros; and the primary surplus was 6.3 percent of GDP.

    The ratio of Greek public debt to GDP rose to 105.1 percent from 104.7 percent in 2000, Eurostat said.

    It added that the figures from Greece and Italy could not be verified as data was lacking.

    Requested from Greece were details of transactions involving the state sector, the statement said.

    Eurostat's data on the EU's 15 member states also showed the salutary effect on fiscal finances of the sale of third generation telephone licenses.

    In 2001, Greece garnered 646 million euros in revenue from the sale, representing 0.5 percent of GDP, the report said.

    [23] Greek computer market maturing, report says

    Athens, 01/10/2002 (ANA)

    Greek consumers are maturing in the use of computers and the Internet, a survey conducted by Market Analysis for Intel Hellas showed on Monday.

    The report said that around 1,900,000 computers were currently operating in Greece, with 42 percent of them located in Athens, with another 25 percent located in other urban areas (except Thessaloniki) and 21 percent in non-urban areas.

    Market Analysis said that 35 percent of the Greek population were active users of computers, a figure smaller compared with the European average.

    Greek consumers use their computers in the house (61 percent) and at work (49 percent, followed by schools and educational institutions (19 percent). Internet cafes and friends' computers accounted for 12 percent and 8.0 percent of total use, respectively.

    The report said that the Greek market had great prospects of improvement.

    Around 1,400,000 Greeks were using the Internet, while from a 28 percent of users currently don't using the Internet, 10 percent said they planned to use it this year, while another 18 percent said they did not plan to use it in the next 12 months.

    Younger users (18-24 years old) prefer built-to-order machines, while older users (31-40 years old) prefer local brands and notebooks, the report said.

    An even older group of users (41-54 years old) prefer multinational brands.

    [24] Greek group gets EIB loan to complete Athens ring road

    BELGIUM 01/10/2002 (ANA/B.Demiris)

    Greece's Attiki Odos SA consortium on Monday was awarded a loan of 106.6 million euros by the European Investment Bank in order to complete construction of the Athens ring road.

    The money is the final tranche of a financing package worth 998 million euros endorsed by the Luxembourg-based bank in 1996 and 2000.

    The project, whose construction time spans 1997 to 2003, will aid circulation in the Athens 2004 Olympics.

    [25] Greek central bank chief to strengthen bank regulatory controls

    WASHINGTON 01/10/2002 (ANA/T.Ellis)

    Greek central bank governor Nikos Garganas said on Monday that he would move to tighten regulatory controls on banks.

    The banks themselves were eager for more effective controls, Garganas told reporters after a meeting in the US capital of the G7 group of countries.

    He said a lack of banking controls in Japan had hurt the country's economy.

    The main problem in the global economy was uncertainty in markets, exacerbated by the crisis with Iraq, the newly appointed head of the Bank of Greece added.

    [26] Athens bourse turnover totals 78.5 mln euros in September

    Athens, 01/10/2002 (ANA)

    Transactions on the Athens Stock Exchange totalled 1,813.28 million euros in September, up from 1,600.16 million euros a month earlier, bourse authorities said on Monday.

    Of September's 21 trading sessions, 14 finished lower and seven higher, the bourse said in a monthly report.

    The general share index lost 13.69 percent, or 291.54 points against August to close at 1,837.52 points.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for high capitalization stocks finished the month with a 14.27 percent loss in September in comparison with the month before, the statement said.

    [27] Greek stocks plunge 2.41 percent on Monday

    Athens, 01/10/2002 (ANA)

    Greek stocks plunged 2.41 percent in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday hit by a negative climate in other European markets.

    The last trading session of September sealed a very negative month for the market, during which the general index lost more than 14 percent raising this year's losses to around 29 percent.

    The general index dropped 2.41 percent to 1,837.52 points, off the day's lows of 1,800.87 points as some late bargain hunting for blue chip stocks, like Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, helped to a partial recovery of the market.

    Turnover was an improved 119.5 million euros.

    The IT Solution, Holding and Textile sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (6.10 percent, 5.75 percent and 5.13 percent, respectively), while the Cement and Bank sectors ended 1.40 percent and 1.95 percent lower, respectively).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks dropped 2.12 percent, while the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 3.23 percent lower and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index fell 3.92 percent.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 325 to 20 with another 14 issues unchanged.

    The most heavily traded stocks in value were Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, Football Pools Organization, Sex Form, Commercial Bank of Greece, and Informatics.

    Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 111.8 mln euros Monday

    Equity Index Futures:

  • FTSE/ASE-20 (high cap): At discount, nearly 3.0 percent

  • Underlying Index: -2.12 percent

  • FTSE/ASE-40 (medium cap): At discount, nearly 3.0 percent

  • Underlying Index: -3.23 percent

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (614)

    Day's Market Turnover: 111.8 mln euros

    Bond Market Close: Buyers outstrip sellers on Monday

    Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond

  • Yield: 4.62 pct

  • Spread over German bund: 34 bps

  • Day's Market Turnover: 3.0 bln euros

  • Most Active Bond: 5-yr (485 mln euros)

    [28] FM presents international opinion poll on environment

    BRUSSELS 01/10/2002 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Monday presented the results of the first international opinion poll on the environment conducted by the ''Andreas Papandreou Foundation'' via the Internet.

    This initiative allowed some 25,000 people from 175 countries to express their opinion on environmental problems confronted by the international community, as well as ways to confront these problems and improve the environmental conditions of the planet.

    The vast majority of the 25,000 respondents opined that the world is moving in the wrong direction with regards to environmental issues, while half of them noted that the problems of the environment ranked second to world poverty and lack of development.

    The poll showed that the respondents considered water pollution, air pollution and over-population to be the most significant problems of the environment on an international level, while air pollution and urban development ranked first on a local level.

    [29] Italy to return a fragment of the Parthenon frieze to Greece

    ROME 01/10/2002 (ANA/L/Hatzikyriakos)

    A fragment of the Parthenon frieze presently housed in Palermo’s Museo Nazionale will be returned to Greece during Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi’s official visit to Athens on 6 November, Italian daily La Republica reported on Monday.

    The 14-by-13.4-inch foot of Pithos, a fragment from the eastern Parthenon frieze, gifted 150 years ago by a British diplomat to the Palermo Museum, will be returned to Athens by the Italian President, the article said, adding that this would be enough to “rekindle” the confrontation over the return of various archaeological finds, now housed in museums around the world, to their countries of origin.

    According to La Republica, this is a “gesture of friendship” providing the Greek authorities with the opportunity to resume the campaign for the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles that are now housed in London’s British Museum.

    Sculpted in the fifth century BC, the 176-yard frieze was removed from the Parthenon 200 years ago by Lord Elgin, the British Ambassador to Istanbul at the time.

    [30] Greece gears up for draconian smoking ban from Oct. 1

    Athens, 01/10/2002 (ANA)

    Even government ministers will not be exempt from the tough anti-smoking rules that come into effect in Greece as of Tuesday and will be obliged to go to designated smoking areas within their ministries if they cannot quench their desire for a cigarette, Health Minister Costas Stefanis told reporters.

    Speaking after a meeting with scientists on Monday to prepare for the start of the new measures, Stefanis said the smoking ban did not discriminate against smokers but actually did them a favor, since they would help them kick a dangerous habit.

    He was less clear on how the measures would be enforced in a country where 45 per cent of the population are smokers - the highest percentage in the EU by far - who have largely ignored similar efforts in the past and routinely smoke in areas where smoking is strictly forbidden, such as hospitals.

    Stefanis said only that the government had no intention of becoming some kind of 'smoking police' and that the emphasis would be on making people understand that they must stop smoking in order to protect their health.

    He made it clear that no-smoking rules would be strictly enforced in hospitals from now on and that visitors would not be allowed to bring cigarettes in at all, while smoking areas in hospitals would be for staff use only.

    The rules would be made even tougher for patients caught smoking, where penalties for offenders might even include a disciplinary hospital release.

    The ministry said that it was now in negotiations with private firms to extend the measures to private workplaces as well, though Deputy health minister Ektoras Nassiokas noted that it was hard to persuade people to stop smoking on their own private premises.

    Enforcing EU anti-smoking policies, no-smoking signs have been set up in public places throughout the country, including public transport and health services.

    The ban applies to all state and public services, schools and universities, while restaurants and cafeterias have until November 30 to divide their space into smoking and non-smoking sections, with the exception of late-night bars, clubs and traditional coffee shops (kafenia).

    As of January 2003, finally, there will be a ban on cigarette advertising on billboards and in cinemas.

    [31] Prosecutor seeks reversal of misdemeanors ruling for 'Express Samina' accused

    Athens, 01/10/2002 (ANA)

    Supreme Court public prosecutor Evangelos Kroustalakis on Monday moved for the reversal of a ruling by the Aegean Appeals Council that converted the charges against the captain and crewmembers of the shipwrecked ''Express Samina'' to misdemeanors.

    Eighty people lost their lives and 67 were injured when the Minoan Lines passenger ferry sank on September 26, 2000 after smashing into a well-marked rocky outcrop a short distance from the port of Paros.

    A final judgment on the prosecutor's recommendation will be made by the supreme court's legal department after an 'in camera' discussion.

    In moving for the reversal, Kroustalakis argued that the ruling lacked a sound legal basis, as well as being vague and contradictory regarding the misdemeanor charges against the accused.

    He named these as 'Express Samina' captain Vassilis Yiannakis, bridge officer Anastasios Psyhogios, first mate Georgios Triantafyllou and first engineer Gerassimos Skiadaresis.

    The prosecutor also reversed rulings acquitting radio operator Dimitris Tsouras and the legal representatives of the company that owned the 'Express Samina', Costas Klironomou and Nikos Vikatos, saying that these were not adequately backed by arguments - as well as a ruling that Aegean courts were not competent to try certain elements of the case, which should be redirected to courts in Piraeus.

    The Aegean Appeals Council had ordered the four 'Express Samina' crewmembers to stand trial on charges of manslaughter through negligence, exposing passengers to danger and disrupting maritime communications on the level of misdemeanors. The ruling said they had failed to take measures to ensure a safe journey, they had failed to inform passengers about the life-saving equipment on the ship, while the first engineer had not given the order to shut the waterproof doors to the engine-room.

    It had also said that the case should be separated from that of six merchant marine ministry inspectors accused of issuing false certificates regarding the ship's safety, and called for the case file on these to be forwarded to the Piraeus public prosecutor, who would also be called on to examine possible penal liability by the board of the ship-owning company, for crimes related to the issue of false certificates.

    [32] Perspectives in astrobiology reviewed in Chania conference

    Athens, 01/10/2002 (ANA)

    NASA and NATO astrobiology laboratories have joined forces with UNESCO and the Technical University of Crete in sponsoring an astrobiology conference in Chania, Crete from September 29 through 10 October 2001.

    Themed “Perspectives in Astrobiology”, the conference is bringing together distinguished lecturers and interdisciplinary scientists from around the world to in-depth examine the possibility of life anywhere else in the Universe and the future form of life on Earth and beyond.

    "Once we are able to bring samples from Mars and other bodies of the solar system, then we will be able to show that life is distributed and that it exists in many other bodies outside Earth," Richard Hoover, an astrobiologist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, said.

    As indicated at the conference, efforts to record and compare fossils on earth to those on other planets have led to impressive findings.

    The comparison of existing fossils to photos taken on Mars leads to the conclusion that for each of the species there are the same fossils as the ones found on Earth, Dr. Thodoros Markopoulos of the Technical University of Crete, said.

    According to Dr. Markopoulos, the dust that reaches Earth from space with the meteorites contains the same chemical characteristics and a multitude of genetic characteristics also observed on Earth.

    “The morphology on Mars shows that the planet’s evolution progress was the same as Earth’s. Therefore, in millions of years our planet will perhaps look like Mars”, Dr. Markopoulos concluded.

    President: future of the country.

    In a televised address to the nation Monday, on the eve of the 42nd anniversary of independence, the president described the current period as ''probably the most crucial'' after the 1974 Turkish invasion and called for the widest possible unity in the domestic front.

    On Cyprus' accession course, he warned against complacency and said wisdom and flexibility are essential in order to make a correct assessment of the international political scene and avoid mistakes.

    Referring to the Republic's defenses, he said the defense capability of the country is quietly being upgraded and sent a message to Turkey that its threats against Cyprus, if implemented, would harm Ankara's own interests with regard to Europe.

    The president did not fail to thank and express appreciation to Greece for its unwavering support in the effort to reunite the country, divided since Turkish troops invaded in 1974, but in particular in the effort to join the EU and in defense matters.

    ''Today we are at the beginning of perhaps the most crucial period in the Cyprus question, after the Turkish invasion, a time that coincides with the final stages of our accession course,'' the president said, adding that his objective is to solve the political problem and see Cyprus join the EU.

    The solution of the Cyprus issue, he pointed out, depends not only on the Greek Cypriot side but also on the Turkish side, whose positions as the international community has ascertained are contrary to UN resolutions.

    ''In the next few months, we shall be face to face with the Turkish policy in the most important diplomatic battle of the past 28 years, a battle which shall determine the future of this land,'' the president stressed.

    President Clerides called on the political leadership and the people of Cyprus to show the broadest possible unity at home and to cooperate fully with Greece, to have an even closer cooperation with the UN Secretary General and those foreign governments playing a substantive role in the peace process.

    He noted the unprecedented interest on the part of the EU and powerful nations in the UN-led peace effort.

    On Cyprus' accession course, he said ''we are at the threshold of EU accession but we must not become complacent with what has been achieved so far.''

    ''We are on the final track of a very difficult and complex course, which could be affected by the worsening of the situation in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf,'' the president said.

    He said Cyprus does not have the luxury to make ''even the smallest of mistakes'' and cautioned everybody to show wisdom, moderation and flexibility.

    ''It is essential to see what international interests are at stake, to assess the balance of power in the wider region and evaluate the strategy of Turkey,'' he told the Cypriot people.

    He said his biggest ambition is to see the Cyprus question resolved and Cyprus a member of the European Union and to this objective he pledged to devote all his strength in the next few months.

    ''A just, viable and workable solution, in line with international law, UN resolutions, the acquis communautaire and conventions on human rights, would be to the benefit of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots,'' the president said.

    Referring to defense matters, he said the country's defenses are being strengthened quietly in accordance with the joint defense pact with Greece, agreed in 1993 and providing for air, land and sea cover from Greece in the event of a fresh Turkish offensive.

    As far as Turkey's threats against Cyprus are concerned, the president said precautionary moves, on the political and diplomatic front, are in place but stressed also that Nicosia is preparing for any eventuality.

    ''I believe that any attempt by Turkey to implement its threats will harm Turkey itself and prevent its accession to the EU,'' he warned.

    Ankara has repeatedly said that there would be a major crisis if the EU accepts Cyprus in its ranks prior to a political settlement.

    The EU has said a political settlement would facilitate accession but it is not a precondition.

    [33] Annan says Cyprus talks to go beyond Copenhagen summit

    UNITED NATIONS 01/10/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Talks to end the division of Cyprus will continue even after the December 12 decision by the European Union, to accept Cyprus as a member, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said on Monday.

    Talking to Greek and Turkish journalists, Annan said ''we are going to continue our efforts and try to make progress as quickly as we can. If by the time of the accession the issues have not been resolved, I expect the talks to continue beyond the EU accession''.

    He further explained that although ''it will make things perhaps a bit more difficult, the problem of the divided island will still persist and we will have to continue our efforts to try finding a solution. And if we do find a solution, then of course the EU will have to decide what it does''.

    The UN chief said he expected President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in New York on October 3 and 4, ''to assess with them what progress has been made since our last joint meeting in Paris. We are going to continue our efforts and try to make progress as quickly as we can''.

    Replying to a question by CNA, he stated that he would have a better sense, after he was briefed later on Monday by his Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto.

    [34] Verheugen expects Commission report on Cyprus to be positive

    BRUSSELS 01/10/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    A European Union progress report on Cyprus is set to confirm that this applicant country meets the political as well as the economic criteria for accession, according to EU enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen.

    Speaking after a meeting in Brussels with Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides on Monday, the German Commissioner said the EU would stick to the timetable it has set out on membership talks and enlargement.

    The next step in this timetable, he said, will be the publication of the Commission's annual progress reports on October 9 on all applicant countries.

    At the meeting, Verheugen and Kasoulides reviewed developments in the accession negotiations and in the UN-led peace effort to find a negotiated settlement to the Cyprus problem.

    According to Verheugen, the progress report on Cyprus will be positive and will confirm that the island meets the political and economic criteria for membership.

    He said the European Council in late October in Brussels is expected to invite the ten most advanced applicant countries to conclude their membership talks by the December summit, in December.

    Verheugen added that Cyprus will be judged like all other applicant countries on the basis of its achievements and progress in the accession negotiations without any distinction.

    Cyprus, which opened accession negotiations with the EU in 1998, has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    [35] Clerides receives US Ambassador

    NICOSIA 01/10/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    US Ambassador in Nicosia, Michael Klosson, reiterated on Monday that the US strongly supports efforts for a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus.

    In a brief statement after being received by President Glafcos Clerides, Klosson said the meeting ''was part of the very active US role in the settlement talks'' and that they are ''just comparing notes''.

    The ambassador added, ''I reiterated that the US strongly supports the Secretary-General's efforts to bring about a comprehensive settlement''.

    UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has invited Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to New York, early October, to review progress in the ongoing peace negotiations, since the last time he talked to them in early September in Paris.

    The talks, which began in mid January, have yet to produce any substantive progress on the core issues under discussion (governance, security, territory and property).

    US Ambassador outlines four major priorities: The US Embassy in Nicosia has four major priorities with regard to Cyprus, Ambassador Michael Klosson has said, adding that Washington supports Cyprus' accession to the European Union.

    Speaking after a courtesy call on the leader of Democratic Rally party Nicos Anastassiades on Monday, Klosson said the US supports the UN Secretary General and his good offices mission to help bring about a comprehensive settlement and resolve the Cyprus matter.

    ''The second priority is to promote stronger counter-terrorism cooperation and the third is to build on law enforcement cooperation,'' he said. Outlining the fourth priority, he said it aims at building stronger commercial business ties.

    Welcoming the new US Ambassado


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