|Wednesday, 16 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-11-01
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>November 1, 2002
 Cabinet approves finance ministry's draft budget for 2003
Athens, 01/11/2002 (ANA)The Greek economy would grow by 3.8 per cent in 2003 and inflation would fall to 2.5 per cent by the end of that year, according to revised estimates presented by Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Thursday, after the cabinet approved a new draft budget prepared by his ministry for the coming year.
The new budget will now be tabled in Parliament on November 19.
Growth rate targets have been revised downward from original targets of 4.1 per cent in the new draft budget, in response to a slowdown in the global economy, uncertainty in international markets and the latest forecasts by international organization on the Greek economy's performance in 2003.
Forecasts for public debt and state finances for 2003 and in previous years have also been revised after the EU statistics service Eurostat called for changes in the way certain economic indices and categories of state spending were calculated.
The new draft budget includes a package of measures to limit and contain public-sector spending. According to Christodoulakis, the reduction in inflation will be achieved by restraining rate hikes by public utilities over the coming year.
The minister described the new budget as ''realistic'' and said it formed part of a new plan for a long-term developmental strategy for the Greek economy to be announced at the start of 2003.
The minister stressed that there would be no change to spending on social policy and the public investment program in the revised budget, which would rise by 13 per cent as in the original draft budget, while the government would fully implement the tax reductions in its tax reform packages.
Apart from these, the new budget introduced a new framework to manage and restrain public-sector spending in order to meet the public debt targets set for 2003 and beyond.
This would include a public finances stability code whereby each year's budget would be balanced as regards revenue and spending, while the state would only be allowed to borrow in order to cover spending needs for investment and armaments procurements. In addition, a new framework for monitoring and assessing the operation of state enterprises, public utilities and organizations would be set up that would set an upper limit for their operating costs, limit state guarantees for loans they took out and also limit their grants to third parties. At the same time, rate rises by public enterprises would be restrained within 2003.
The finance minister announced additional measures for restraining large categories of spending within the budget, such as special accounts system that would be introduced to monitor billing between hospitals and social insurance funds.
Regarding the Eurostat review of indices in the budget, Christodoulakis said this required that sums spent by the state to cover guarantees arising from public utility loans be included in the public debt and the public deficit figures, not just public debt as previously.
In addition, they also concerned state spending arising from share capital increases by public utilities and 'exchangeable loans' taken out by the state that had not been included in the public debt.
These changes caused the figures for the general government deficit in 2000 to rise from 0.8 per cent of GDP to 1.8 per cent of GDP, while a general government surplus of 0.1 per cent in 2001 became a 1.2 per cent deficit.
Similarly, a 0.4 per cent of GDP surplus in 2002 became a 1.1 per cent deficit, while forecast surpluses of 0.4 per cent and 0.8 per cent of GDP in 2003 and 2004 would now become a 0.9 per cent deficit and a 0.4 per cent deficit, respectively.
Public debt figures had also increased, rising to 105.3 per cent of GDP in 2002 and 100.2 per cent of GDP in 2003.
The finance minister announced a new round of privatizations in 2003, the revenue from which would be used to lower public debt. These would include a privatization of the State Natural Gas Enterprise (DEPA), and an international tender for a license to operate the 'Xysto' instant lottery.
The minister also announced pay rises of 5.3 per cent for civil servants and pensioners and a 19.1 per cent increase in spending on social insurance and healthcare.
Specifically, he said that payments to social insurance funds would increase by 21.1 per cent in 2003, with the lion's share going to the Social Insurances Foundation (IKA), while the spending for the EKAS benefit would increase by 17.5 per cent.
These would be offset by reduced public sector operating costs and spending for grants to state-sector bodies.
 President Stephanopoulos meets Cape Town Greeks
CAPE TOWN 01/11/2002 (ANA - N. Megadoukas)President Kostis Stephanopoulos was welcomed by members of the Greek community at Saint George Cathedral here on Thursday and said Greece will continue to be interested in all its children in whatever part of the world they may be in.
President Stephanopoulos said in an address that the homeland does not forget overseas Greeks and called on them to preserve their Greek language and identity.
He also referred to the Greek economy's upward trend and the effort to adjust to the new situation prevailing in Europe, as well as to major projects which, as he said, have changed the country's image.
Later, President Stephanopoulos gave a reciprocal reception in honor of South Africa's President Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki, wrapping up his official visit to the country.
He will be arriving in Johannesburg on Friday for a meeting with Greeks living in the city and will inaugurate the conference of an Overseas Hellenism regional council.
In another development, Olympic Games Secretary General Costas Kartalis will arrive in Johannesburg on Friday to attend the conference of the Overseas Hellenism Council on ''Athens 2004 and Overseas Hellenism.''
Progress achieved in Greece's preparation for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games will be outlined during the conference, while a special culture ministry pavilion on the Olympic Games will be operating.
The pavilion will be inaugurated by President Stephanopoulos.
Stephanopoulos visits Mandela's prison in South Africa: President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Thursday visited Robin Island, the prison islet on which Nelson Mandela had been incarcerated by South Africa's apartheid regime.
The Greek president was shown around the prison building, including the cells and the yard where the leader of the African National Congress and thousands of other freedom fighters against apartheid spent a large part of their lives in great deprivation.
Earlier on Thursday morning, Stephanopoulos had delivered the opening address at an economic forum aiming to promote trade ties between Greek and South African business people.
In his speech, he had stressed that Greek businesses could help their South African counterparts find an outlet in the surrounding regions through the extensive experience with investments in the Balkan region, the Black Sea and the Caucasus.
He also called for the development of more small and medium-sized businesses in order to counteract unemployment and said that the two sides should take advantage of the ready-made links between Greece and S. Africa, namely the ethnic Greek community that lived and worked here.
The forum was addressed by a number of S. African officials, who also noted the need to develop bilateral trade ties between the two countries and by Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos, who announced that the Greek Parliament would be ratifying a trade and development agreement between Greece and S. Africa within November.
 Deputy FM discusses bilateral issues with S. African FM
CAPE TOWN 01/11/2002 (ANA - N. Megadoukas)Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos, who has accompanied President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on a five-day official visit to South Africa, on Thursday, met S. African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma, for talks on bilateral issues and international cooperation.
Loverdos asked and received S. Africa's support for Greece's bid to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. The South African minister said she would consider two further Greek requests for support - one for the Greek bid to host the EXPO 2008 trade fair in Thessaloniki and one for Greece's attempt to take over the General Secretariat of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) - and answer in due course.
Zuma agreed to a Greek proposal for developmental cooperation between Greece and the 77 developing countries led by South Africa, and for cooperation with Greece in the construction of schools and hospitals in mainly black areas within the country.
The Greek minister also announced that the Greek Parliament would be ratifying an agreement for economic cooperation between the EU and South Africa in November (and not between Greece and South Africa as reported on Wednesday).
 Greek and Turkish FMs discuss bilateral issues
ISTANBUL 01/11/2002 (ANA - F. Karaviti)Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Sukru Sina Gurel held informal talks on all bilateral issues during an informal luncheon here on Thursday afternoon.
Papandreou, who arrived here at Gurel's invitation, said after the luncheon that he stressed the purpose of his visit, that is strengthening the two countries' candidacy to jointly host the Euro 2008 Soccer Championship and promoting the Olympic Truce venture.
''The fact that we are three days ahead of the Turkish elections does not allow us to probe political issues deeper at the moment,'' he said, but pointed out that Gurel will be serving as caretaker foreign minister until the next Turkish government is formed at a crucial period for all issues remaining unsolved.
Papandreou referred to Turkey's recent international successes, both in soccer and athletics, and said the Euro 2008 champion-ship is an ideal occasion for wider cooperation between the two countries.
Gurel spoke of ''an opportunity for the two countries to show Europe and the entire world that they have the maturity to cooperate in sport and at other levels'' and, referring to political issues discussed, said ''there was a useful exchange of views.''
The two foreign ministers will be watching the soccer match between Fenerbahce Istanbul and Panathinaikos Athens, being played for the second round of the UEFA Cup, here on Thursday night.
They will also attend the ceremony for the signing of the Olympic Truce Proclamation by the presidents of the two countries' soccer federations.
FM's presence at Turkish stadium marred by incident: Temperamental supporters of the Panathinaikos Athens soccer club created an incident against members of a Greek delegation and Turkish officials accompanying them marring the presence of Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, his Turkish counterpart Sukru Sina Gurel and Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos at Fenerbahce Istanbul's Sukru Saracoglu stadium here on Thursday night.
The Greek and Turkish officials were walking towards the stands, before the start of the Fenerbahce-Panathinaikos UEFA Cup second round first leg match, when Panathinaikos supporters hurled various objects at them (broken plastic seats and drinks).
Retaliating, Fenerbahce supporters hoisted a banner reading ''Istanbul 1453'' (the year when Mohammed II the Conqueror captured the city from the Byzantines), while calls were made to the fans from the stadium's loudspeakers to calm down.
Shortly before the match started, minor clashes broke out between supporters of the two clubs, which were prevented by police from spreading.
Outside the stadium, Panathinaikos fans were stoned by Turkish fans and some minor injuries were reported.
Before the match, the presidents of the Greek and Turkish soccer federations, the presidents of Fenerbahce and Panathinaikos and the two teams' coaches and captains signed the Olympic Truce Proclamation in a cordial atmosphere in one of the stadium's halls.
Papandreou and Gurel expressed satisfaction over cooperation between the two countries on the issue of their candidacy to host the Euro 2008 soccer championship.
They expressed their conviction that the two peoples can live in peace and cooperate in all sectors.
 Venizelos-Liannis meet with Turkish state minister in Istanbul
ISTANBUL 01/11/2002 (ANA – A. Kourkoulas)Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Greek Deputy Sports Minister Giorgos Liannis on Thursday met with Turkish State Minister Erdogan Toprak sending messages of peace, friendship and bilateral cooperation.
During the meeting, the Turkish government official and the two Greek ministers, who are on a visit to Istanbul along with several high ranking Greek politicians to watch Thursday night’s Fenerbahce-Panathinaikos soccer match, exchanged views and focused on Greece’s and Turkey’s joint bid to host the 2008 European soccer championships, the Greek position on Cyprus’ accession to the European Union and “Turkey’s European perspective” as the Greek culture minister called it.
“We especially appreciate the selection of Turkey, which has broad support by almost all the political and social powers. Turkey wants to have a close association with today’s 15-member Europe and the future 27-member Europe. We too want to support this perspective with all the means available to us”, the Greek culture minister said.
The Turkish state minister emphasized the importance of the Greek-Turkish joint bid for Euro 2008 and expressed the conviction that this joint bid would constitute a first step for the cooperation and the support of Greece, a EU member-state, toward Turkey’s EU accession.
With regard to Cyprus’ accession to the EU, the Greek culture minister reiterated that this did not represent a hostile act in relation to Turkey and that it was a very important event that could turn out to be very beneficial not only for the Turkish-Cypriot community but also for Turkey.
“As a member of the Turkish government, I would like to say that we should go ahead with issues that we agree on”, the Turkish official said, adding “There are also some issues on which we do not agree, as for example the Cyprus issue. We believe that the Cyprus issue is the accession of the Greek sector in the EU, not of the Turkish sector. I believe that also the northern sector will join one day, however these are issues preferably not discussed here any further. I believe that time is the best medicine and that sports is a sector that greatly contributes to peace”.
The Greek culture minister and the deputy sports minister also visited Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos at the Phanar.
 EU commissioner sure of Greek presidency's success on educational issues
Athens, 01/11/2002 (ANA)Visiting European Commissioner Viviane Reding after a business lunch with Greek Education Minister Petros Efthymiou on Thursday expressed her conviction that the Greek presidency will be “completely successful” on education related issues and said “Greece has worked very hard and successfully toward achieving the Lisbon Goals, at a moment when other member-states are faced with a multitude of problems”.
With regard to the Olympic Games, the commissioner said “they present an opportunity to promote the ancient Greek values that make the citizens of the European Union state-members to feel European”.
On his part, the education minister stressed that the Greek government would promote the new technology policies in education “what we at the Greek presidency call electronic enlightenment”.
Reding also met with Deputy Education Minister Eleni Kourkoula and Youth Secretary General Giorgos Sakellionas.
 Main opposition slams government handling of foreign policy
Athens, 01/11/2002 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis on Thursday criticized the government's handling of major foreign policy issues, while welcoming the EU leaders' confirmation that Cyprus would join the Community.
Regarding the Euroforce issue, however, Karamanlis noted that ground had been lost even relative to the Seville summit, since the 'Ankara document' had simply been rechristened the 'Brussels text' and adopted more or less entirely.
Speaking to his party's parliamentary group, ND's leader warned that no Greek government could make commitments regarding Cyprus at the EU summit in Copenhagen that went beyond Europe's "acquis communautaire" or UN resolutions. He also stressed that EU enlargement could not go ahead without Cyprus, otherwise Greece could activate its veto.
He called for Greeks in all political camps to rally together behind major foreign policy goals that were now at a critical phase, while criticizing Simitis and Foreign Minister George Papandreou for their failure to set up a foreign policy council as dictated by the Constitution.
He accused Simitis of carelessness and of 'packaging' unrelated issues together and said the government was unreliable and synonymous with concessions and backtracking, which had weakened Greece's relative advantage from joining the EU.
Finally, commenting on the results of the recent local government elections, he said these had confirmed that New Democracy was the leading force on the political scene, which had rallied the support of large social groups, such as laborers, farmers, employees and pensioners.
He dismissed the government's overtures to left-wing parties, meanwhile, as a last-ditch attempt to cling on to power.
Government spokesman criticizes remarks made by ND leader: Government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Thursday strongly criticized main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis over remarks he made earlier in the day regarding the results of the local government elections, national issues and the Left.
Protopapas noted that with his speech at the ND's Parliamentary Committee, Karamanlis ''showed that he is not aware that the divisive policy, which he followed in the municipal and prefectural elections was condemned and the message he wanted to send was returned to him.''
The government spokesman also accused the ND leader of distorting developments in national issues and particularly on the issue of the European Army.
 Lithuanian officials visit Greek Parliament
Athens, 01/11/2002 (ANA)The chairman of the Lithuanian Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee Gediminas Kirkilas, currently on an official visit to Athens, called on the Greek Parliament on Thursday accompanied by Lithuanian foreign ministry official Algirdas Paleckis.
In talks with Greek Parliamentary officials, Kirkilas discussed the positions of the Greek EU presidency on EU enlargement, Kaliningrad and other international issues.
He then met members of the Greek Parliament's Defense and Foreign Affairs committee, where he asked to be briefed on the latest developments concerning the Cyprus issue.
 Greek, US officials interviewed by RIK on Cyprus issues
NICOSIA 01/11/2002 (ANA - G. Leonidas)Greece's government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Thursday said in a phone interview with Cyprus radio that great caution, and a climate of national unanimity and vigilance were necessary to face the problems that could prospectively arise on the Cyprus issue over the next few months.
In a statement to the RIK Cyprus Radio Foundation, when asked to clarify recent statements by Greek premier Costas Simitis on problems and choices that under other conditions the Greek side would not accept, Protopapas said that indeed "we are at a very sensitive period for two national issues of great importance: Cyprus' accession to the European Union and the efforts for a solution of the Cyprus problem".
On Cyprus' EU accession, Protopapas, who is Greece's minister of press and media, said that "we are on a good road", but added, however, that "this does not mean that accession is an accomplished fact."
"The road to (the EU summit in December) in Copenhagen (where the final decision on which candidate countries will be admitted to the EU in the imminent enlargement) is a long one, and we will not put the carriage on automatic pilot," Protopapas said. He said Simitis has undertaken important initiatives on this issue, including a recent meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, as well as planned talks next week with French president Jacques Chirac and German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Similar initiatives have been undertaken by Greece's foreign minister, George Papandreou, as well, Protopapas continued.
The goal, he said, was to reinforce Cyprus' accession course and ensure that obstacles would not be put up, for any reason whatsoever, to Cyprus' EU accession.
Referring to information that UN secretary general Kofi Annan intended to table a draft solution plan for Cyprus' political problem, Protopapas said that the Greek and Cypriot governments were making a coordinated effort, and certain conditions had been put forward so as to ensure functionality on the basis of the UN resolutions and the EU's 'acquis communautaire'.
He noted that there was close cooperation between Athens and Nicosia. "We are closely following the developments, and of course we have critical choices ahead of us".
Elaborating, Protopapas said that the European Union's imminent decision on enlargement would be a critical choice for the Union itself, and consequently was of absolute interest to Greece, particularly with respect to the accession of the Republic of Cyprus. And the proposal for a solution of Cyprus' political problem was also a critical choice.
"Consequently, this proposal, too, will bring us before important decisions, and therefore we are in a particularly sensitive period for both issues, which are of weighty importance for the national problems," he said.
As for the recent informal interim EU summit in Brussels, Protopapas said that an important step forward had been taken, as some problems regarding the European rapid reaction force had been overcome. "But in a fluid and uncertain international scene, no one can pre-determine the next steps, the results and possible obstacles that may arise in the future," he warned.
In another phone interview with RIK, Greece's foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis said that "we are at a crossroads regarding a solution of the Cyprus issue and Cyprus' EU accession course", adding that it was only natural that there be increased interest, but also increased vigilance, on the part of Greece and Cyprus.
Beglitis reaffirmed that there was no integrated plan or draft on the part of the UN chief, since Annan himself had not decided if and when he would table such a plan.
He said that during the two years that the negotiations have been going on, the two communities in Cyprus, as well as the UN, have been submitting proposals and ideas, which, however, "in no instance comprise an integrated plan or draft solution".
Asked to comment on Simitis' statement of difficult choices that may be made in the immediate future, Beglitis said that "problems exist, and we must be prepared, until the final political decision is taken in Copenhagen on the Cyprus Republic's accession to the EU".
Meanwhile, in another phone interview with RIK, the US state department's special coordinator on the Cyprus issue, Thomas Weston, said that any solution plan for the Cyprus problem will be founded on the relevant UN resolutions, while the solution itself must also be in line with the acquis communautaire.
He also said that any efforts must focus on the fundamental interests of both sides in Cyprus, rather than their official positions and views, "which are diametrically opposite", in which case the prospects for reconciling the two viewpoints and bridging the chasm would be much greater.
 Athens Bar Association on prison conditions for N17 suspects
Athens, 01/11/2002 (ANA)The Athens Bar Association's scientific ethics committee issued an announcement on Thursday on the detention conditions of alleged November 17 terrorist organization members, currently being held at Korydallos prison, their terms of communication with their lawyers and other issues concerning them.
''The committee reiterates that a detainee's oral, written, telephone or any other way of communication with his attorney should, in principle, be free and unimpeded and be carried out with an ease of time and space,'' it was noted.
On the question of an exchange of documents, even documents concerning the file of proceedings, between a detainee and his attorney, the committee underlines that in the case of very serious crimes, such as terrorism is, ESDA's judicial bodies have long ago decided that the imposition of controls is permissible on condition that they will be conducted by an independent judicial functionary (and not a penitentiary employee) and that the task of defense will not be obstructed substantively.
''From facts submitted to it, the committee believes that the defendants' conditions of temporary detention regarding the November 17 case do not harm their rights as accused persons as they are consolidated by the Penitentiary Code, the constitution and ESDA,'' it was added.
 Anti-war rally and march to U.S. Embassy marred by incidents
Athens, 01/11/2002 (ANA)Incidents occurred during a march to the U.S. Embassy following an anti-war rally in central Athens on Thursday evening.
Riot police used tear gas to disperse a group of demonstrators who threw stones and other objects at police stationed in front of the embassy.
The thousands of demonstrators, who condemned what they said was the United States' intention to intervene in Iraq, chanted slogans against imperialism, NATO and all those who support the United States and its intention to ''police''. They called on the Greek government to convey the people's message to the governments of the EU member-states and of the U.S. that the Greek people do not want involvement in any war.
The rally was organized by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) and the Athens Labor Centre.
 Greek tourism needs new strategy, gov’t says
Athens, 01/11/2002 (ANA)"Tourism has accidentally developed in Greece so far and to a great extent in an arbitrary manner. Mistakes were made both by the state and private sector. If we continue operating with no compass, then our tourist product will be in danger as neighboring countries are developing wonderful tourist infrastructure," Development Deputy Minister Dimitris Georgakopoulos said on Thursday.
Addressing a seminar on tourism, in the framework of the 18th Philoxenia international tourist trade fair in Thessaloniki, Mr Georgakopoulos presented a first phase of studies on tourist development of the country's regions.
"If we do not proceed with specific studies, then we will really understand that we have wasted our wealth," the Greek minister said.
Mr Georgakopoulos stressed that the studies would help both the state and businessmen to see where the tourist market was heading, so that everybody could be prepared to deal with new conditions emerging in the international market.
He noted that security was now a necessity in tourist services offered worldwide, especially after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US.
Mr Georgakopoulos also acknowledged the state's failure to function as an hotelier and stressed that the initiative should belong to the private sector.
Mr Dimitris Georgarakis, tourism secretary-general, said that government policy was focusing on four main issues: a) quality and modernization, b) changing the country's tourist product by enriching the current "sun-sea-beach" slogan, c) more efficient management of human resources and d) support tourist promotion in cooperation with the private sector.
Greece aims to attract 20 million tourists annually: Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Thursday evening that his ministry, through the implementation of its strategic plan for tourism development, aims for 20 million tourists to visit Greece annually over the next decade.
The minister made the statement during a press conference he gave in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on the occasion of the start of the 18th Philoxenia Tourism Exhibition.
In 2001, 14 million tourists visited Greece.
The minister said one of the aims was to increase the number of American tourists, from 200,000 in 2001, to one million annually, always in the course of the next decade.
 National Bank lowers growth estimates for eurozone
Athens, 01/11/2002 (ANA)National Bank of Greece on Thursday announced it was reviewing downwards its forecasts over economic growth in the eurozone.
In its monthly English bulletin, National Bank forecast that eurozone's economy would grow by 0.8 percent this year, from 0.9 percent initially predicted, and by 2.0 percent in 2003, from 2.3 percent.
The Greek bank attributed its lowered estimates to a slower-than-expected recovery and a volatile demand, both domestic and foreign.
National Bank urged the European Central Bank to reduce interest rates by 25 basis points this year and by another 25 basis points in early 2003. The report said that ECB's inaction in a decision to relax monetary policy in the eurozone was a way of protest against European governments' fiscal policies.
 ASE remains in positive territory
Athens, 01/11/2002 (ANA)Greek stocks ended Thursday's session flat, with demand for blue chip stocks offering support to the Athens Stock Exchange.
The general index ended in positive territory for one more session, up 0.16 percent to 1,785.28 points, with turnover an improved 80.3 million euros.
The Publication, Holding, Investment and Insurance sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (2.85 percent, 2.08 percent, 2.03 percent and 1.94 percent, respectively), while the Telecommunications and IT sectors suffered losses (0.50 percent and 0.42 percent, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.75 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 1.14 percent higher and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index eased 0.94 percent.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 212 to 97 with another 45 issues unchanged.
The most heavily traded stocks in value were Football Pools, Informatics, Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, Lantec and Techniki Olympiaki.
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 50.9 mln euros Thursday
Equity Index Futures:
Day's Market Turnover: 50.9 mln euros
Bond Market Close: Sellers match buyers on Thursday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
Visiting EU Commissioner praises Athens' Olympics preparation
Visiting European Commissioner Viviane Reding on Thursday expressed satisfaction with the preparations in Athens for the 2004 Olympics, after a meeting with Olympics Organizing Committee (ATHOC) chairwoman Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki at ATHOC's headquarters.
In statements after the meeting, Reding and the head of ATHOC particularly stressed the European dimension of the Games, which will be the first to take place in the EU after the introduction of the euro.
Reding, who is responsible for educational and cultural issues, praised ATHOC and the Greek education ministry for the idea of introducing Olympic education in schools, while announcing that close cooperation already existed between EU ministers to introduce European school children to Olympic ideals and volunteerism.
On her part, Angelopoulos stressed the European character of the Games and stressed that there were two pilot programs for Olympic education, while noting that the Olympic flame would pass through all European capitals.
 Athens Press Association opposes content of ethics code
Athens, 01/11/2002 (ANA)The Athens Press Association (ESHEA), in an announcement on Thursday, expresses disagreement with the content and the decision to draw up a code of ethics by the National Radio and Television Council.
Instead of the preparation of a code, ESHEA places priority on the granting of operation licenses, believing that what is urgent is the start to a public social dialogue on media ethics.
ESHEA termed the code of ethics ''the result of an unfortunate process of wording and completion which has placed its seal on the code's very text.''
Gov't spokesman criticizes opposition to media ethics code: Government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Thursday the position observed on the media ethics code by those who criticize the method of news coverage, on the one hand, and on the other hand distance themselves or deplore when the time for decisions come is profoundly hypocritical.
Protopapas, who was replying to a relevant question, said there were cases of offending children's rights, as well as ''trials'' and ''convictions'' by television channels.
 Two Greek films at Washington's European Union film showcase
WASHINGTON 01/11/2002 (ANA - Ath. Ellis)Two Greek films are featured in the European Union film showcase this year held at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.
Georgios Vizeynos’ “The Only Journey of his Life” directed by Lakis Papastathis and with Ilias Logothetis in the role of writer and Olga Malea’s box office record breaker “Risotto” represent Greece’s participation in this year’s European Union film festival organized for the 20th consecutive year by Washington’s American Film Institute.
The same as in the previous years, organizers said they believed the Greek films will once more attract large numbers of cinephiles.
 Former president Stasinopoulos dies at age 99
Athens, 01/11/2002 (ANA)Former president of the republic Michalis Stasinopoulos died on Thursday at the age of 99.
Born in 1903, in Messinia, he graduated from Athens University's School of Law in 1924 and was elected Deputy of State in 1974. He resigned from the post on December 18, 1974.
He served as president until June 19, 1975.
Prime Minister Costas Simitis sent a message of condolences.
 Poos says both sides hope to solve Cyprus issue in 'fast track scenario'
NICOSIA 01/11/2002 (CNA/ANA)European Parliament Rapporteur on Cyprus accession to the European Union Jacques Poos said here on Thursday that there is a hope from both communities on the island that the problem can be solved ''in fast track scenario'' before the Copenhagen EU Summit to take place in December 12 and 13.
Poos, who was received by President Glafcos Clerides, noted that his visit to Cyprus took place in a very ''crucial phase'' of the accession of Cyprus to the EU and also in a ''very delicate phase'' regarding the UN-led Cyprus talks going on for the past ten months between President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.
''In the weeks before us, with hard work and much effort and spirit of conciliation which has to govern those who are on the negotiating table and with the help of their friends and with European assistance, they could strike a deal compatible with the standards given by the UN, the EU and the human rights'', MEP Poos pointed out.
He added that desire and hope of Europe is to accept a united island to the EU.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern third.
The European Commission decided last week that Cyprus, along with nine other candidates for EU membership, can finalize accession negotiations by the end of the year.
 EP delegation holds contacts on acquis communautaire
NICOSIA 01/11/2002 (CNA/ANA)The view that Cyprus' accession to the EU will benefit not only the island but also the Union itself, was expressed here by Euro MP Ioannis Koukiades, vice President of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market of the European Parliament.
A delegation of the committee held meetings on Thursday with the head of the delegation of the European Commission to Cyprus, Adrian van der Meer, Attorney General Alecos Markides, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Sotiris Sotiriou and the Chairman of the House Standing Committee on European Affairs, Tassos Papadopoulos and members of the Committee.
The purpose of the visit was to establish the course of negotiations vis-a-vis the incorporation of the acquis communautaire.
Speaking after meeting Papadopoulos, Koukiades said, ''we enter Europe not because we want to but because we are useful to Europe''.
''We ascertained with admiration the 700 laws which Cyprus adopted as regards the introduction of the acquis communautaire. If you continue with this rate, then I believe Cyprus will be one of the best pupils'', Koukiades added.
Papadopoulos said they had an interesting conversation, pointing out that the committee monitors the implementation of the acquis communautaire not only before but after accession too.
The purpose of the visit, said Koukiades, was to establish the course of negotiations as regards the incorporation of the acquis communautaire and at the same time to exchange views on the future of Europe.
The European Parliament, he added, has always been a keen supporter of Cyprus' accession to the EU, adopting resolutions, which overstressed the island's accession course, and creating a climate conducive for Cyprus. The EP delegation departed on Thursday afternoon.
The European Commission decided earlier this month that Cyprus and nine other candidates for EU membership countries could finalize accession negotiations by the end of the year.