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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-11-02

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

November 2, 2002


  • [01] Greece, Bulgaria re-affirm close ties; Athens again backs Sofia's EU prospects
  • [02] Stephanopoulos urges more work to achieve SAE targets
  • [03] FM meets with US ambassador; Grossman in Athens on Monday
  • [04] Gov't comments on violence at Panathinaikos-Fenerbahce match
  • [05] FM and EU education commissioner discuss Greek EU presidency
  • [06] Seminar on Mediterranean dimension of ESDP opens in Rhodes
  • [07] Draft bill on opinion polls due in November, media minister says
  • [08] Greek-US pact on legal regime for US military activity here tabled in House
  • [09] Coalition party opens to other left forces, criticizes government policy
  • [10] FM and EU commissioner discuss immigration
  • [11] Lithuania's Kaliningrad envoy meets with Yiannitsis in Athens
  • [12] Visiting Ukraine parliamentary speaker Lytvyn meets ND officials
  • [13] ND leader sends condolences to Italian PM for quake victims
  • [14] Simitis, Karamanlis comment on Stasinopoulos death
  • [15] Fourth Xiros brother summoned for questioning in 17N investigation
  • [16] Diamantopoulou, Christodoulakis discuss Greek presidency priorities
  • [17] Development minister comments on Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline
  • [18] OTE and Romanian ministry announce agreement on Romtelecom
  • [19] Bank of Greece unveils stricter transparency rules on bank transactions
  • [20] Merchant marine minister discusses ports with Bulgarian counterpart
  • [21] ASE ends week 0.82 percent higher
  • [22] Culture minister and EU commissioner discuss arts and sports program
  • [23] President Clerides: no unacceptable concessions for Cyprus' EU accession
  • [24] US Assistant Secretary of State to visit Cyprus
  • [25] Spokesman: We are examining new proposals for rapprochement

  • [01] Greece, Bulgaria re-affirm close ties; Athens again backs Sofia's EU prospects

    Athens, 02/11/2002 (ANA)

    Greece on Friday reiterated its support for neighboring Bulgaria’s European Union and NATO accession prospects, as Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha’s arrival in Athens this week marked his first official visit here.

    “Greece backs Bulgaria’s European prospects and proposes that Bulgaria’s EU accession date be in 2007 ... Each country that desires EU membership must strive to meet the targets set by the EU...” Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis told reporters after talks with his Bulgarian counterpart.

    “Greece believes all of the Balkan countries must participate in the Euro-Atlantic structure, because this is what ensures stability in the region, cooperation and peace,” he added. “We hope that during the Greek EU presidency in the first half of 2003 Bulgaria will be able to finalize, if not all, most of the negotiation chapters.

    Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who at the age of six succeeded his father, Boris III, on the Bulgarian throne before being driven to exile in 1944 following a Soviet-backed coup, said his talks with Simitis were significant, while noting that his country was concentrating on rapid and sustainable growth.

    The Bulgarian premier also said his government is determined to safeguard macro-economic stability and increase the competitiveness of the country’s products and services.

    As far as bilateral economic relations are concerned, a veritable model for the wider region, Simitis said Greece ranks first in terms of overall foreign investments in Bulgaria.

    Saxe-Coburg-Gotha said bilateral trade is developing along “normal and satisfactory” lines, noting that Jan.-Aug. trade so far in 2002 has the reached the US$640-million mark, whereas throughout 2001 it totaled $860 million.

    The Greek premier, moreover, praised ongoing progress in the neighboring country, saying high growth rates help alleviate major problems.

    Regarding Bulgaria’s NATO prospects, Simitis said an up-coming alliance summit in Prague should yield positive results.

    Burgas-Alexandroupoli pipeline: Meanwhile, the long-delayed Burgas-Alexandroupoli crude oil pipeline, announced in the mid ‘90s amid heightened expectations but still on the drawing boards today, was also discussed in the two prime ministers’ meeting, with Simitis later announcing that a deal was worked out along the lines of equal participation amongst the three participating countries – Russia, Bulgaria and Greece.

    “We completed our discussions; we took a decision in relation to the political framework of this cooperation, where we agreed that participation of the three countries will be equal, and will meets the rules of equal treatment… the commercial aspects of this endeavor will be examined in the coming period,” Simitis said.

    Greek and Bulgarian environment ministers sign memorandum of cooperation: Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou and Bulgarian Environment and Waters Minister Dolores Arsenova signed in Athens on Friday a memorandum of cooperation between Greece and Bulgaria for the protection of the environment. Arsenova is in Athens within the framework of the Bulgarian prime minister's official visit to Greece.

    The objective of the memorandum is for the two countries to cooperate in protecting the environment, the modernization of the institutions for the protection of the environment in Bulgaria and their harmonization with European Union standards, the creation of new legislative measures, environmental training programs, joint research programs for monitoring the quality of air, water and of the ground, in accordance with EU legislation, joint programs for dealing with waste, the environmental protection of coastal regions and the development of proper technologies in industry.

    Parliament speaker meets visiting Bulgarian prime minister: Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis on Friday received visiting Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who is in Athens on a working visit to further promote good bilateral ties between Balkan neighbors Greece and Bulgaria.

    In a Parliament press release, Kaklamanis said the Bulgarian premier's visit had been "useful and productive" and that the meeting between them had focused on matters of mutual interest, such as the works being carried out at common border crossings and the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline. They also noted a high level of cooperation between Greek and Bulgarian parliamentarians at regional and international fora.

    On his part, the Bulgarian prime minister expressed thanks for Greek support of Bulgaria's efforts to join Euro-Atlantic structures.

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece meets Bulgarian PM: Visiting Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotski paid a courtesy call on Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos on Friday in the presence of senior clerics and close associates of his.

    The Bulgarian prime minister expressed respect for the Greek Church and its primate, recognizing its important spiritual, social and humanitarian work.

    He also underlined the need for an immediate solution to the ecclesiastical problem in Bulgaria, with purely ecclesiastical criteria and without intervention by the state, to "enable Ortho-doxy to perform its beneficial mission for the people".

    The two men discussed the role the Church can play in modern society, in cooperation with the state, and Bulgaria's European prospect.

    Archbishop Christodoulos underlined the importance for every member-state and every people of maintaining its identity and singularity in the common European home and pointed to the need for strengthening the presence of Orthodox culture in the European Union.

    [02] Stephanopoulos urges more work to achieve SAE targets

    JOHANNESBURG 02/11/2002 (ANA - N. Megadoukas)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Friday urged all involved with overseas Greek issues to ''roll up their sleeves'' and get to work so that the targets set by the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) could be achieved.

    Stephanopoulos made the statement while addressing a meeting of the Asia-Africa SAE Regional Congress in Johannesburg, the last leg of his five-day official visit to South Africa.

    The Greek president praised the high standard of the Greek community in the country and the important work achieved by the SAE in the past seven years.

    He particularly stressed that the time had now come to implement the goals for which the SAE had been set up, namely that Greece should help overseas Greeks retain their ethnic identity and that they, in their turn, could help their country of origin wherever possible and get to know one another.

    He asked the delegates to put down their proposals regarding each area's problems in writing and submit them to the overseas Greeks secretariat, which could then create a strategy for dealing with the problems.

    Stephanopoulos also noted that the SAE did not represent a large proportion of Greeks abroad because many of them were not actively involved with the Greek societies that belonged to it and said that their participation should be encouraged.

    Finally, he asked that ways be sought to strengthen ties between Greek communities in neighboring countries.

    The conference was also addressed by SAE President Andrew Athens and Alexandria Patriarch Petros, as well as other officials.

    Soon after arriving in Johannesburg, Stephanopoulos had visited the Apartheid Museum, dedicated to the memory of the victims of racism, while he later visited a Greek community school.

    Later on Friday evening, Stephanopoulos will meet with the presidency of South African communities, while he is due to depart for Athens at midnight, arriving back in Greece early on Saturday morning.

    [03] FM meets with US ambassador; Grossman in Athens on Monday

    Athens, 02/11/2002 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou met with US ambassador in Athens Thomas Miller on Friday for a half-hour meeting, as talks revolved around the Iraq crisis, the Cyprus issue and the upcoming general elections in Turkey.

    Other topics included Greece’s upcoming EU presidency in the first half of 2003 as well as the Union’s security and defense policy.

    Asked about recent press speculation citing a comprehensive Cyprus solution, Miller said that a step-by-step procedure should exist.

    US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman, meanwhile, will arrive on Monday for talks with Papandreou. Statements to the press are expected after the early afternoon meeting.

    Finally, in an unrelated development, Papandreou is scheduled to speak at a banquet hosted by the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce on Monday to commemorate its 70th year of operation.

    [04] Gov't comments on violence at Panathinaikos-Fenerbahce match

    Athens, 02/11/2002 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Friday deplored violence by fans at a game between the Greek football team Panathinaikos Athens (PAO) and the Turkish team Fenerbahce the previous day, which had marred efforts for Greek-Turkish rapprochement through ‘soccer diplomacy’.

    He said the joint presence of Greek and Turkish officials at a football game had great symbolic importance, while noting that the unpleasant incidents were the work of a small minority of fans.

    Fans in the Turkish stands had raised a huge banner hours before the game began, bearing the legend “Istanbul since 1453, kill for you”, which received a general round of applause every time it was raised. Greek and Turkish fans exchanged volleys of rocks and bottles during the game and a coach belonging to Greek fans was set on fire. As a Greek delegation and Turkish government officials made their way across the pitch to the VIP stands amid applause, renewed incidents between Greek and Turkish fans broke out and two broken seats were hurled out onto the pitch, narrowly missing Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, while another object hit a Turkish diplomat.

    The spokesman dismissed the violence as the work of “isolated elements'', however, and said that these should not be allowed to set the tone in bilateral relations.

    “The Greek and Turkish peoples wanted the joint organization of the European Football Championships of 2008,” he stressed.

    [05] FM and EU education commissioner discuss Greek EU presidency

    Athens, 02/11/2002 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou and European Union Education and Culture Commissioner Vivianne Reding discussed issues to be handled by the Greek EU presidency in the first half of 2003 during their meeting on Friday.

    Speaking after the talks, Papandreou said the discussion focused on ways with which Europe's educational and cultural dimension will be strengthened in light of enlargement.

    Reding said the European Commission and she herself will cooperate very closely with the Greek presidency and, giving an example in the educational sector, referred to the utilization of the Olympic Games' institution to enable children in European schools to become acquainted with the values on which the Olympic idea is based.

    On the question of culture, she underlined the activities to be developed during the Greek presidency to have multicultural variety promoted in the EU.

    Reding further said "we should become aware of our cultural heritage and instill future generations with the Olympic ideal, while there will be close cooperation in the first six months of 2003".

    Shortly afterwards, Papandreou had a brief meeting with Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotski, who signed the Personalities' Proclamation for the Olympic Truce.

    EU Commissioner holds talks on audiovisual media policy in Athens: Visiting European Commissioner Viviane Reding, responsible for cultural and educational issues, on Friday met Deputy Media Minister Telemachos Hytiris for talks on the use of audiovisual media in the EU during the Greek EU presidency.

    They said that the first priority would be to extend the 'Media Plus' program, the only Community program aiding audiovisual media in the EU, until the year 2006. They also judged it necessary to determine guidelines for the program from 2007 onward.

    More particularly, the Greek presidency will deal with the "Television without Frontiers" directive, aiming to carry out a constructive review in light of EU enlargement.

    [06] Seminar on Mediterranean dimension of ESDP opens in Rhodes

    Athens, 02/11/2002 (ANA)

    A seminar on the Mediterranean dimension of the European Presidency of the European Union began on Friday on the Eastern Aegean island of Rhodes with the participation of representatives from the 15 EU member-states, Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Malta, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Turkey and Tunisia, according to a Defense Ministry press release.

    Opened by Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, the seminar themed ''Mediterranean Dimension of the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) is expected to process support for joint training programs, military co-operation initiatives and institutionalization of such seminars to ensure their continuation and further development of the Mediterranean Dimension of the Common European Security and Defense Policy, the release said.

    Designed to promote dialogue between the EU and the Mediterranean countries, the Mediterranean Dimension was launched in May 2002 as a Spanish EU Presidency initiative and it is continued by the Greek EU Presidency on defense issues.

    [07] Draft bill on opinion polls due in November, media minister says

    Athens, 02/11/2002 (ANA)

    The government will have a draft bill for regulating opinion polls and surveys ready to submit to Parliament within November, Press and Media Minister Christos Protopapas announced on Friday, in response to questions from a main opposition New Democracy MP Yiannis Kefaloyiannis.

    He said the new bill would cover issues such as ethics, incompatibility and the rules for carrying out measurements and opinion polls.

    [08] Greek-US pact on legal regime for US military activity here tabled in House

    Athens, 02/11/2002 (ANA)

    A “Comprehensive Technical Agreement” (CTA) between Athens and the US government outlining the legal regime of US military activities both on and off bases in Greece (first part), as well as a reciprocal agreement for Greek military personnel in America (second part), was tabled in Parliament on Friday.

    The agreement, signed by the two countries on the sidelines of a NATO conference in Brussels last year, covers issues ranging from visa-less travel for military-affiliated civil personnel, special ID cards issued by Greek authorities for such individuals, to using the Souda Bay (Crete) airbase as a point of entry and departure for military aircraft, supplies and accompanying US personnel “during the execution of missions approved by the Hellenic Republic”, as stated in the agreement.

    Other provisions concern stationed personnel members’ legal status in the host country and procedures for possible criminal prosecution in the event a felony is committed on the host country’s territory.

    The agreement had been amongst the topics discussed during a June 2001 meeting in Thessaloniki between US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his then Greek counterpart Akis Tsohatzopoulos.

    At the time, Tsohatzopoulos said the agreement would be applied at the same time as the prior agreement governing NATO forces.

    [09] Coalition party opens to other left forces, criticizes government policy

    Athens, 02/11/2002 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left and Progress (SYN) leader Nikos Constantopoulos on Friday inaugurated the three-day deliberations of his party's Central Committee by making an ''opening gesture'' toward the other forces of the left and by launching strong criticism against government policy.

    Constantopoulos said that PASOK was autonomously governing the country, adding that the ruling party's implemented policies were at a great distance from the policies and ideas of SYN and those that PASOK followers regarded as left policies.

    Referring to statements by PASOK cadres regarding dialogue and co-operation with SYN, Constantopoulos said that his party never turned down dialogue, on the contrary, he said, PASOK had turned down all the alternative proposals submitted by SYN.

    He said that SYN would not allow ''communication games to be played at the party's expense'' and that it would seek maximum support from voters in the next parliamentary elections, stressing that joint action and co-operation with the radical left, social and ecology movements should be sought.

    Finally, the SYN leader criticized the Communist Party of Greece for what he called ''assaults against SYN'' and isolationism.

    [10] FM and EU commissioner discuss immigration

    Athens, 02/11/2002 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou and European Union Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou on Friday discussed the issue of immigration, in the framework of the EU, as well as the Greek EU presidency in the first half of 2003.

    Papandreou said ''the promotion of the positive aspects of immigrants' accession to our societies and their participation in our economies and societies were issues we discussed because the Greek presidency is preparing, we hope, initiatives capable of being promoted during the Brussels summit as well, at the Lisbon process and, of course, the Thessaloniki summit.''

    Diamantopoulou said on her part ''immigration is currently one of the biggest problems in all the countries of Europe. Immigration has many dimensions and at present we have in our hands considerable studies on the social repercussions of immigration.''

    [11] Lithuania's Kaliningrad envoy meets with Yiannitsis in Athens

    Athens, 02/11/2002 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis on Friday received the Lithuanian president’s special envoy and Parliament deputy Gediminas Kirkilas, who is responsible for promoting Vilnius’ views concerning the Kaliningrad issue.

    Kirkilas expressed the Lithuanian side’s satisfaction with the European Commission’s proposals regarding Kaliningrad -- Russian territory on the southeast Baltic coast that is sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland – whose citizens Moscow argues should have visa-less access to mainland Russia via Lithuania.

    He said that Moscow should now take the initiative by signing a bilateral re-entry agreement; proceed with ratification of a bilateral border agreement and establish more Russian consulates.

    The Lithuanian MP also called for economic assistance to allow Vilnius to upgrade transit facilities and services for travel between Kaliningrad and Russia.

    Finally, he agreed that his country should meet the Commission’s request favoring flexibility, saying he hopes the Russian side will soon consent.

    [12] Visiting Ukraine parliamentary speaker Lytvyn meets ND officials

    Athens, 02/11/2002 (ANA)

    Visiting Ukraine parliament speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn on Thursday had a working meeting with officials of the main opposition New Democracy party's (ND) parliamentary group, for talks on bilateral and international issues.

    Lytvyn, heading a Ukrainian parliamentary delegation, met with the ND parliamentary group's general secretary Dimitris Sioufas, MP responsible for foreign affairs issues A. Pavlidis, and alternate secretary for international relations and the EU, Sp. Efstathopoulos.

    The discussions covered bilateral and international issues, such as the European rapid reaction force, Ukraine's European orientation, Greek-Ukrainian bilateral economic and cultural relations, and issues concerning the large Greek community in the Ukraine. They also discussed the deepening of democracy in Ukraine and the operation of its parliamentary institutions, as well as closer cooperation among representatives of the two sides at international organizations.

    The Ukrainian delegation included the chairmen of the parliamentary committees on foreign affairs, social policy and employment, energy, and budgetary issues.

    [13] ND leader sends condolences to Italian PM for quake victims

    Athens, 02/11/2002 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis addressed a letter of condolences to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Friday for the victims of the killer earthquake which struck the neighboring country.

    Among others, Karamanlis said in his letter ''both I and the Greek people are shocked by the tragedy which struck the friendly country of Italy. At this time I wish to express to you and the families of the victims my warmest condolences. You should be aware that the Greeks, having themselves recent memories of respective disasters, are joining their prayers with yours for the finding of survivors of the killer earthquake.''

    In a related development, Education Minister Petros Efthymiou addressed the following message of condolences to his Italian counterpart Leticia Moratti.

    ''On behalf of the entire educational community of Greece, we express the most profound sorrow, great sympathy and the greatest solidarity to the families of the victims, children, parents and teachers, from the disastrous earthquake in San Giuliano. I am also conveying my personal sympathy to you for this ordeal of the friendly Italian people.''

    [14] Simitis, Karamanlis comment on Stasinopoulos death

    Athens, 02/11/2002 (ANA)

    Praise for Michalis Stasinopoulos, the first president of the republic after the restoration of democracy in Greece in 1974, continued on Friday from the country’s top political leaders, one day after the 99-year-old academic, jurist and politician died in Athens.

    “Michail Stasinopoulos’ lengthy career graced the country’s public life,” Prime Minister Costas Simitis said in a released statement.

    The premier lauded the Messinia prefecture native’s distinguished career as a law professor, judge and academic, saying he served justice in an exemplary fashion.

    “His ruling to reject, in his capacity as the Council of State’s presiding judge, the notion of legality for the dictatorial regime will go down in history,” the premier added.

    On his part, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis echoed the political world’s praise, saying Stasinopoulos served as an example of morality and moderation.

    “Deeply democratic, he never hesitated, even in difficult times for the country, to clash with the dictatorship, issuing a ruling to reject any legality for the colonel’s regime,” Karamanlis said, adding:

    “He was an outstanding member of our party, serving as a deputy, before being chosen by Constantine Karamanlis as the first president of the Greek republic.”

    [15] Fourth Xiros brother summoned for questioning in 17N investigation

    Athens, 02/11/2002 (ANA)

    A fourth Xiros brother was served a summons on Friday to testify before an examining magistrate heading investigations into the 'November 17' terrorist group, on charges of participating in a terrorist group and possession of arms.

    Avgoustinos Xiros was served with a summons to appear at noon Monday before examining magistrate Leonidas Zervobeakos.

    According to sources, the charges against Avgoustinos Xiros are based on the identification of fingerprints found by the counter-terrorism squad in two 17N safe houses.

    Meanwhile, a police patrol car with two officers -- one plainclothesman and another in uniform -- went to the Xiros family home in Nea Kallikrateia, Halkidiki (northern Greece) early Friday, where the officers spoke for a short time with the Xiros parents -- Father Triantafyllos (a priest) and his wife, Moschoula.

    Sources said the visit concerned the summons served on Avgoustinos.

    At the same time, according to sources, Avgoustinos Xiros had already arrived in Athens on Thursday night.

    [16] Diamantopoulou, Christodoulakis discuss Greek presidency priorities

    Athens, 02/11/2002 (ANA)

    Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Friday met with EU Social Affairs Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou to discuss economic and social policy in the European Union ahead of the EU Greek presidency, starting January 1, 2003.

    Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Mrs. Diamantopoulou said that the EU's priority was to form a policy that would aim at strengthening employment in a current stagnant economic environment. The EU Commissioner stressed that this policy should be based on: boosting economic growth rates in Europe, more flexible labor market and continuous education of workers.

    Mr Christodoulakis noted that Greece was assuming the EU presidency at a time of low growth rates and stressed that the first goal, under these conditions, should be to increase employment, particularly among younger people.

    The Greek minister said that Europe had a long way to go to achieve this goal and added that European economy should find support on its own development forces.

    [17] Development minister comments on Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline

    Athens, 02/11/2002 (ANA)

    Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, speaking on Friday night on the sidelines of his meetings with his counterparts from Russia, Turkey and Bulgaria, said the way is being paved for the final negotiation on the trade agreement to exploit the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline to go ahead.

    His counterparts are currently in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, in the framework of the 18th Philoxenia Tourist Exhibition.

    Tsohatzopoulos had successive meetings with Bulgarian Deputy Finance Minister D. Hadjinikolov, Turkish Deputy Tourism Minister S. Kuci and Russian Alternate Economic Development and Trade Minister V. Strezilkofski.

    Talks focused on bilateral cooperation issues in relation to latest developments in the energy sector.

    ''This morning in Athens, in talks between the prime minister of Greece and the Bulgarian prime minister, an agreement was reached on the political framework on which the operation of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline will be based. With the reaching of this agreement, the way is being paved for the final negotiation on the trade agreement to go ahead,'' Tsohatzopoulos said.

    [18] OTE and Romanian ministry announce agreement on Romtelecom

    Athens, 02/11/2002 (ANA)

    The Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), the Greek full-service telecommunications provider and the Romanian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (“MCIT”), on Friday announced that, following intensive discussions between the parties over the past few weeks, the parties have agreed, subject to approval by the Romanian Cabinet and the Board of OTE, the proposed terms of a transaction in the value of USD 243 million to Romtelecom.

    According to an OTE press release, the consideration will consist of a combination of cash and conversion of debt into equity in Romtelecom. In addition, the transaction will involve the acquisition of a further limited number of existing shares from MCIT as representative of the Romanian State. The two transactions will see OTE assume majority ownership of the share capital of Romtelecom.

    [19] Bank of Greece unveils stricter transparency rules on bank transactions

    Athens, 02/11/2002 (ANA)

    The Bank of Greece on Friday said it would impose new stricter rules to promote transparency in banks' transactions with their customers from January 1, 2003.

    Speaking to reporters during a news conference, Nikos Garganas, the central bank's governor, said that the Bank of Greece imposed fines on 15 commercial banks for breaching transparency rules in the period 1999-2001, and fines on eight credit institutions for breaching a law on surcharge interest rates over the same period.

    Mr Garganas, however, stressed it was necessary to have closer cooperation with Development ministry to offer more efficient protection to consumers.

    Presenting a new regulatory framework covering transactions between banks and customers, the Greek central banker said ''protection of non-efficiently informed consumers was ensured only with a wide range of interventions on issues related loan terms, advertisement of bank products and receiving complaint mechanisms.''

    Mr Garganas defended the country's banking system against a recent wave of criticism, which he described as ''unjustifiable''. He stressed that the domestic banking system was modern, efficient, stable and reliable and that it was a major factor in the country's economic growth.

    Under the new rules, financial institutions are obliged to offer full and clear information to customers on their transactions, to offer more efficient training to their staff (particularly covering electronic banking services) and establish a deadline of maximum 45 days for completing all paperwork.

    [20] Merchant marine minister discusses ports with Bulgarian counterpart

    Athens, 02/11/2002 (ANA)

    Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis held talks on Friday with Bulgarian Transport and Shipping Minister Plamin Petrov and members of the Bulgarian delegation.

    Petrov presented issues concerning the upgrading plan for Bulgarian ports and called for cooperation with Greek investment and construction companies. Special mention was made of the port of Lom and its linking with Thessaloniki or of eastern ports with Alexandroupolis.

    Among others, the creation of a joint experts committee was decided for cooperation on port policy issues and the modernization of Bulgarian ports.

    Anomeritis, who accepted an official invitation to visit Bulgaria, also briefed Petrov on issues concerning the Greek EU presidency and general developments regarding shipping issues at international organizations.

    [21] ASE ends week 0.82 percent higher

    Athens, 02/11/2002 (ANA)

    Greek stocks ended lower the last trading session of the week following Hellenic Telecommunications Organization’s share price drop and falling international stocks markets.

    The general index ended 0.53 percent lower at 1,775.81 points with turnover a low 72.6 million euros.

    The Retail, Publication and Wholesale sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (3.08 percent, 2.47 percent and 1.04 percent, respectively), while the Telecommunications, Base Metals and Textile sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses (1.89 percent, 1.38 percent and 1.34 percent).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 0.57 percent while the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index rose 0.56 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 0.38 percent higher.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 152 to 132 with another 76 issues unchanged.

    The general index ended the week 0.82 percent higher.

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

    Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 41.6 mln euros Friday

    Equity Index Futures:

  • FTSE/ASE-20 (high cap): At discount

  • Underlying Index: -0.57 percent

  • FTSE/ASE-40 (medium cap): At discount

  • Underlying Index: +0.38 percent

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Alpha Bank (134)

    Day's Market Turnover: 41.6 mln euros

    Bond Market Close: Sellers outstrip buyers on Friday

    Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond

  • Yield: 4.76 pct

  • Spread over German bund: 28 bps

  • Day's Market Turnover: 1.71 bln euros

  • Most Active Bond: 10-yr, (220 mln euros)

    [22] Culture minister and EU commissioner discuss arts and sports program

    Athens, 02/11/2002 (ANA)

    Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and visiting European Commissioner for culture and education Viviane Reding on Friday held talks on an ambitious program for arts, sports and audiovisual productions.

    The meeting also covered topics relating to cultural heritage and the information society, copyright, and the future of European film-making and audiovisual production, as well as the plans of the Greek EU presidency in the first half of 2003.

    Reding late had a working lunch with main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis at a restaurant in Zappeion Square, during which they discussed arts and sports issues and the role that education might play in development, as well as the Olympic Games.

    No statements were made after the meeting.

    [23] President Clerides: no unacceptable concessions for Cyprus' EU accession

    NICOSIA 02/11/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides has pledged not to proceed with unacceptable concessions on the Cyprus problem to secure the island's accession to the European Union.

    Noting the Greek Cypriot side attaches the same significance to finding the right solution to the Cyprus issue, he said that with unity on the home front, ''we will successfully handle the difficult time we are going through''.

    In a speech on Thursday night during a gathering to honor former Mayor of the Turkish-occupied town of Famagusta, Andreas Pougiouros,

    President Clerides referred to the coming months when ''Cyprus will face Turkey in the most important diplomatic battle of the last 28years''.

    ''It is a battle which will determine the island's future. Our aim in the next crucial months is to achieve a solution to the Cyprus problem which will be to the benefit of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and Cyprus to join the European Union'', he said.

    Noting that Cyprus ''is already at EU's threshold'', Clerides stressed ''that we will not go ahead with unacceptable concessions to secure our accession (to the EU)''. He explained ''we attach great significance to finding the right solution to our national problem, a solution which will comply with international law, UN resolutions, human rights international conventions, the acquis communautaire and the relevant decisions of the European Court of Human Rights''.

    However, he said ''with the greatest unity on the home front and continuing the proper strategy which we are following, I am optimistic that we will handle with success the difficult time which is ahead and secure the future of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in a united, prosperous Cyprus, member of the great European family''.

    Praising the former mayor of Famagusta, Clerides thanked him for his overall contribution to Famagusta and Cyprus at large.

    Pougiouros served a total of 36 years as mayor of Famagusta, the first time in 1953. He was Cyprus' ambassador to the UN in Geneva and Ambassador at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. He also served at various posts, as President of the Ports Authority and President of the Land Development Organization and was re-elected mayor of the occupied town of Famagusta in 1991.

    The gathering was organized by the Famagusta Municipality and was held at the Famagusta Gate Cultural Centre in Nicosia.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of the island's territory. Famagusta, a thriving holiday resort before 1974, was the home of some 60,000 people.

    [24] US Assistant Secretary of State to visit Cyprus

    NICOSIA 02/11/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Ambassador Beth Jones, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, arrives Sunday in Cyprus for her first visit to the island.

    The purpose of the visit, according to a US Embassy press release, is ''to become familiar with the important part of her portfolio that Cyprus represents and to underscore the commitment of the US government to support the UN Secretary General's good offices mission and his efforts to foster a settlement between the two sides''.

    Ambassador Jones will be received by President Glafcos Clerides on Monday morning.

    In her meetings with Cypriot leaders, she will underscore the message that this year ''there is an historic opportunity to reach a settlement'', a view expressed by US Ambassador to Cyprus Michael Klosson and State Department Special Coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston.

    Jones will also ''listen carefully to their views'', the press release adds. She is due to leave Monday.

    [25] Spokesman: We are examining new proposals for rapprochement

    LONDON 02/11/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    The government is studying new comprehensive ideas for improved rapprochement with the Turkish Cypriots, which it intends to announce before the European Union takes its final decision on Cyprus' accession at next month's EU summit in Copenhagen, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou has said.

    Speaking here at a press conference, he did not rule out the possibility of seeing the format of the UN-led peace talks change from direct negotiations to proximity talks.

    This, he explained, may take place as a result of proposals the UN might put forward to the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides or it could occur because of the state of health of the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who is recovering from open-heart surgery in New York.

    He said a lot of things with regard to the prospects of a solution in Cyprus would depend on the outcome of Sunday's general elections in Turkey.

    ''If there is a positive development, we are ready to negotiate in good faith and the main objective will be to find a solution that works and safeguards the single sovereignty, international personality and citizenship,'' the spokesman said.

    He said a solution should be in line with UN Security Council resolutions, human rights principles and European Union laws

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