|Thursday, 18 July 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-11-27
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>November 27, 2002
 Greek, Turkish FMs discuss prospects for Annan plan in phone conversation
WASHINGTON 27/11/2002 (ANA - T. Ellis)The prospects arising for the acceptance of UN secretary general Kofi Annan's plan as a basis for negotiations for a Cyprus settlement were discussed Monday in a telephone conversation between Greek foreign minister George Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Yasar Yakis.
Papandreou, who was scheduled to hold talks with top US government officials in Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday, was briefed by Yakis on the new Turkish government's stance, and on his own discussions in New York with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.
Yakis told Papandreou that Ankara maintained a positive approach to the Annan plan, assessing that it could serve as a basis for negotiation, but pointed out that "further analysis and clarifications will be needed".
Papandreou reiterated Athens' and Nicosia’s' initial positive response to the UN chief's blueprint, and expressed hope that advancement of the UN process would be possible.
The two foreign ministers also discussed EU-Turkey relations, on which Yakis reiterated that Ankara placed great importance on securing a date for the commencement of Turkey's EU accession negotiations, and stressed the "political volition" of the new Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul's government to materialize as soon as possible the necessary reforms, which were passed by the Turkish National Council in August and include the abolition of torture, release of political prisoners, and the protection of minority institutions.
Papandreou impressed upon Yakis the fact that a will was forming among the EU partners to send a positive message to Turkey during the upcoming EU summit in Copenhagen and, in that framework, urged Ankara to accelerate the completion of the reforms by the December 12 summit.
The Greek foreign minister further spoke by phone with the UN's special envoy on the Cyprus issue, Alvaro de Soto, who said the UN was expecting Denktash's response on the Annan plan after completion of the analysis and clarifications, so that negotiations could begin.
De Soto, who was expected to meet with Yakis later in the day in Berlin, is due in Athens on Friday.
 Greek, Turkish FMs due to meet in Ankara on December 4, according to sources
WASHINGTON 27/11/2002 (ANA - T. Ellis)Foreign Minister George Papandreou will visit Ankara on December 4 for talks with his Turkish counterpart Yasar Yakis. He is also expected to have consultations with Prime Minister Abdullah Gul, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan and opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal.
According to reliable sources, the final decision for the visit was taken during the telephone conversation the two countries' foreign ministers had on Monday.
. Their talks will centre on U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's plan for a comprehensive settlement of the political problem of Cyprus and on the U.S. request for the setting of a date for the start of negotiations for Turkey's accession to the European Union.
The Greek foreign minister is expected to state that the U.S.'s position for the setting of a date for the start of the accession negotiations for Turkey finds Athens in agreement, on the precondition that Ankara and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash show a spirit of cooperation on the Cyprus issue and accept Annan's blueprint as a basis for negotiations.
 Papandreou holds talks with U.S. National Security Adviser Rice
WASHINGTON 27/11/2002 (ANA - F. Karaviti/T.Ellis)Foreign Minister George Papandreou met at the White House on Tuesday with U.S. President George W. Bush's National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and asked for the U.S. government's help both in the effort for a comprehensive settlement of the political problem of Cyprus and for promotion of Turkey's European prospects.
During their one-hour meeting, Papandreou called on the U.S. to ''contribute in the efforts for a just and viable settlement of the Cyprus issue'' and to ''exert its influence in order for the atmosphere which has been created now to be maintained also after the European Council in Copenhagen on December 12, if until then there is no solution.''
The Greek foreign minister added that that Greece was in favor of Turkey's European prospects and that ''we are aware that such a thing, sooner or later, will also lead to the solution of the Cyprus issue,'' and that is why Greece seeks Washington's support ''in the effort to maintain this dynamism.''
Papandreou said the Greek side is prepared even for ''the most extreme scenarios,'' regarding Cyprus' EU accession.
''Cyprus is ready to enter even without a solution and the European Commission has already proceeded in the preparation for a special protocol which will foresee the implementation of the acquis communautaire in the occupied regions from the moment there is a solution of the Cyprus problem,'' he said.
With regard to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's stance, who has not yet answered to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's blueprint for a comprehensive solution of the political problem of Cyprus, the foreign minister said there was general displeasure in Europe as well as in the U.S. and underlined that ''there is a special dynamic that has been developing among Turkish Cypriots who wish their entry into the EU and in this direction they are willing to accept Annan's plan as a basis for negotiations.''
Referring to his upcoming visit to Ankara on December 4, Papandreou said that his intentions are to reconfirm the good relations between the two governments, expressing the hope that Ankara ''will show a spirit of cooperation.''
Press reports noted that the U.S. prefers the settlement of the Cyprus issue with acceptance of the Annan plan before the EU summit in December because the specific time conjuncture offers benefits to all interested parties, but will contribute for the maintenance of the dynamic for the solution of the problem even after the EU summit, in the event that it is not possible for an agreement to be signed before December 12.
Rice said the U.S. insists on the need for a solution now, but as it is becoming increasingly apparent that time is running short and Denktash's negative stance does not give room for optimism that the Annan plan will be accepted in time, Washington will continue to exert pressure for the achievement of a solution even after Copenhagen.
It is assessed that this development may operate as a pressure point on Denktash who continues to oppose the Annan plan, as after Copenhagen and the decision for Cyprus's EU accession, the Greek Cypriot side's negotiating position will be strengthened. Papandreou was due to meet later in the day with U.S. special envoy for Cyprus Thomas Weston. He will meet on Wednesday with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.
 Gov't: Ample time for Cyprus negotiations before Dec. EU summit
Athens, 27/11/2002 (ANA)The government on Tuesday again commented on the timely Cyprus issue, in light of a recently tabled UN peace plan for the island republic, saying Athens believes there is enough time to begin substantive negotiations before next month’s Copenhagen EU summit.
“There is ample time to begin substantive negotiations before Copenhagen. If time runs out before they (negotiations) are concluded – because of delays by the Turkish side – they can be continued after the Copenhagen summit,” government spokes-man Christos Protopapas told reporters during his regular press briefing.
“Turkey’s responsibility (for the delay) is particularly grievous, and it (Turkey) should offer a clear-cut answer,” he said, while adding that a recent phone conversation between Greek Foreign George Papandreou and his new Turkish counterpart Yasar Yakis witnessed “more optimistic” comments by the latter.
Meanwhile, according to an ANA dispatch from Brussels, a spokesman for EU Commissioner Guenter Verheugen echoed Athens' statements on Tuesday, stressing that enough time remains before Copenhagen to negotiate a Cyprus solution.
He also said a solution to the Cyprus problem before Copenhagen is preferred, although it does not rank as a condition for the island republic's accession into the European Union.
 Denktash denies reports he's ready to accept Annan plan; Erdogan comments
ISTANBUL 27/11/2002 (ANA – A. Kourkoulas)Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash on Tuesday denied reports that he was ready to accept the recently tabled Annan peace plan for the divided island of Cyprus.
Speaking to a Turkish Cypriot television station (headquartered in the Turkish-occupied areas of the island republic) from New York, Denktash said there “is no issue of us accepting the plan, my illness has prevented my contacts with the government and the people. I hope to soon have this opportunity.”
The veteran T/C leader remains hospitalized in New York City following complications from his recent heart surgery, less than three weeks before a crucial EU summit in Copenhagen is expected to approve the internationally recognized Cyprus government’s EU membership and amid pressing deadlines for responding to the UN Secretary-General’s initiative.
According to an Anadolu dispatch from occupied Nicosia, Denktash is also quoted as saying the UN plan cannot be accepted as a basis for final negotiations, and that the T/C side needs more time to study the Annan plan.
Meanwhile, in an ANA dispatch from Ankara later in the afternoon, Turkish AKP party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan – the winner of general elections earlier in the month -- was quoted as saying that “... if we come up with a road map, a date for the beginning of (EU accession) negotiations should be given to Turkey on Dec. 12. We accept the Annan plan as negotiable, in the event we are given a date for beginning (EU) negotiations.”
Holbrooke: Finally, in a related development, former US presidential envoy for Cyprus Richard Holbrooke sharply criticized Denktash recently in statements published in the Turkish media.
“Who does Mr. Denktash represent? ... He supposedly speaks for the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’. However, he does not serve the interests of the Turkish Cypriots because they are left behind as far as economic development is concerned,” Holbrooke said.
A Turkish Cypriot pseudo-state was illegally declared in 1983 in the areas controlled by the Turkish military, although no government – sans Ankara – recognizes the Denktash regime.
“Mr. Denktash should not be allowed to endanger the interests of 70 million Turks … With his behavior there’s a danger that the Europeans will say ‘no’ to Ankara,” Holbrooke said.
 Cyprus to join EU as is, if resolution of problem is not struck: Washington Post
WASHINGTON 27/11/2002 (ANA - T. Ellis)Cyprus will join the European Union even if an agreement for the island republic's reunification does not materialize before the Dec. 12 deadline, a report published by the Washington Post stated on its Monday issue.
The article, written by Karl Vick in Istanbul, noted that the Greek, Turkish and Greek Cypriot sides have accepted the plan, but the Turkish Cypriot side did not yet accepted. This plan the report says is one of many that was not accepted.
In fact the newspaper reported that '' Annan announced Friday that he would press ahead with the negotiations despite the ambiguity from the Turkish Cypriot leadership. The governments of Greece, Turkey and the Greek Cypriots have agreed the plan has merit''.
''But time is what the Turkish side does not have. The Dec. 12 deadline is firm, according to EU officials and foreign diplomats trying to urge the two sides together. When the 15 current EU member states vote, as expected, to receive an entity called Cyprus along with nine other candidate countries, the union will begin integrating whatever government is recognized on the island at the time,'' the article said.
''We will not accept the document as a basis for negotiations,'' said Turkish Cypriot community leader Rauf Denktash, said, adding ''we can negotiate if we will or will not accept it as a basis, and we have to say what changes we want, so we can accept it. We need time for this.''
''But time is what the Turkish side does not have. The Dec. 12 deadline is firm, according to EU officials and foreign diplomats trying to urge the two sides together. When the 15 current EU member states vote, as expected, to receive an entity called Cyprus along with nine other candidate countries, the union will begin integrating whatever government is recognized on the island at the time,'' the article noted.
''Unless a reunification bargain is struck before then, the new EU member will be the current Republic of Cyprus, which takes in two-thirds of the island's territory and the Greeks who make up 80 percent of its 750,000 inhabitants. If settlement negotiations take hold, however, the EU could stretch its transition to accommodate a newly reunited republic, comprising two 'component states,''' the report stated.
The newspaper report also noted that the Turkish bid to join the EU was affected by the conditions in Cyprus stressing that a senior U.S. official involved in the effort said that ''we have a much higher prospect for a Cyprus settlement than we have ever had, Which, if it were to happen, would be incredibly positive for Turkey's prospects with the EU.''
 Colin Powell holds telephone conversation with Turkish FM
WASHINGTON 27/11/2002 (ANA - T. Ellis)U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who will be receiving his Greek counterpart George Papandreou at the State Department on Wednesday, held a telephone conversation with Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis on Sunday and one of the main issues they discussed was the Cyprus issue, according to an announcement by State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.
''The Cyprus issue is an issue of great importance for the United States. We are watching it and we are trying to support the efforts of the UN secretary general,'' Boucher added and stressed the need for the process to go ahead at a speedy pace.
Boucher also said Washington is in constant contact with the governments involved, as well as with the EU member-states, and is discussing the importance ''promoting the issue of Cyprus'' has for all.
 PM to have meetings on Olympics, EU presidency this week
Athens, 27/11/2002 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis began his day on Tuesday by meeting Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and Deputy Finance Minister Christos Pahtas to discuss the implementation of the 3rd Community Support Framework, government spokesman Christos Protopapas announced.
At noon, the prime minister chaired a meeting on implementing the Lisbon strategy during Greece's EU presidency that was attended by Christodoulakis, Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas, Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis and Greek EU Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou.
On Tuesday afternoon at 14:30, Simitis was to meet Bank of Greece governor Nikos Garganas and at 19:00 he is to meet Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos.
On Wednesday at 10:00 the premier will chair a meeting of the government committee for Olympic Games preparations, while at 13:00 he will again meet Yiannitsis for further talks on preparing for the Greek EU presidency.
On Thursday morning Simitis will address PASOK's Central Committee and also meet Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis on the sidelines.
On Friday at 10:00 he will meet Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Yiannitsis.
 Alternate FM meets with US State Dept. aid
Athens, 27/11/2002 (ANA)Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis on Tuesday met with U.S. Under-Secretary of State aid Janet Bogue and discussed issues related to the development of the Balkans, including the energy situation and the issue of organized crime.
In light of the Greek EU presidency, beginning in January, Yiannitsis and Bogue discussed economic and political cooperation in the Balkans and the necessity for the establishment of conditions conducive for investment and development.
Yiannitsis reiterated that Greece supports the European prospect of the Balkan countries and underlined the importance Greece places on developments and the development of the wider region.
 Diamantopoulou to meet with Hanan Asrawi in Brussels
BRUSSELS 27/11/2002 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)Greek European Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou on Wednesday will meet with leading Palestinian activist Hanan Asrawi, member of the Palestinian legislative council, to discuss the promotion of the role of women in the Middle East peace process.
Diamantopoulou, who is responsible for gender equality issues, will brief Asrawi on her visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, where she had a first hand experience on the living conditions of everyday people and where she met with representatives of 40 organizations of the society of citizens.
 Defense minister and US ambassador discuss NATO issues
Athens, 27/11/2002 (ANA)Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou had a short meeting with US Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller on Tuesday to discuss issues concerning US-Greek defense cooperation and the next stage of NATO expansion.
No statements were made after the meeting.
 Greek minister attends event for Scotland Yard officers involved in N17 case
LONDON 27/11/2002 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis and the head of the Greek Anti-Terrorism Squad Stylianos Syros on Tuesday attended a gathering at the residence of the Greek Ambassador to London organized for Scotland Yard officers that had worked alongside Greek authorities in cracking the ''November 17'' terrorism case.
In statements afterward, Chrysohoidis said that the cooperation between Greek law enforcement agencies and Scotland Yard had been a ''model for unselfish and mutual cooperation'' that helped the Greek police force adopt a modern approach and had taught the Greek Anti-Terrorism Squad new ways of handling terrorist phenomena.
The minister hailed the joint effort as a prime example of what international cooperation against terrorism and crime could achieve.
''We need international cooperation because crime is international and no one can deal with it on their own,'' he added.
Chrysohoidis said the British police were done as far as the ''November 17'' case was concerned but cooperation with the British was continuing in the planning of Olympics security, where they had undertaken to coordinate an advisory team put together by seven countries.
Syros also thanked his British colleagues for their assistance in the N17 case, especially for sharing their experience and technological know-how and for their discretion while the N17 operation was unfolding.
 Leftist parties, trade unions call for release of N17 suspect Yiannis Serifis
Athens, 27/11/2002 (ANA)Dozens of academics, trade unionists, lawyers, writers and members of Leftist organizations, including left-wing resistance hero Manolis Glezos, on Tuesday held a press conference at the Athens Bar Association calling for the immediate release of jailed trade unionist Yiannis Serifis, remanded in custody as a suspect in the ''November 17'' terrorism case.
All the speakers condemned the decision to incarcerate Serifis before trial and attributed it to political motives and pressures from the United States government.
 Deputy FM departs for visit to Armenia
Athens, 27/11/2002 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos departed for a working visit to Armenia on Tuesday, within the framework of the third Greek-Armenian joint inter-ministerial meeting. He is expected to hold talks with the country's top leadership, before returning to Athens on Friday.
 Public audition held for seven European mediator candidates
BRUSSELS 27/11/2002 (ANA - V. Demiris)A public audition for the seven candidates for the post of European mediator was held here on Tuesday during a meeting of the European Parliament's Reports Committee.
On the part of Greece, the process was attended by ombudsman Nikiforos Diamantouros and former European Parliament vice president George Anastasopoulos.
Diamantouros said in an address he considers the principles of a state of law and respect for human rights as being the main axes of his activities.
The Greek candidate also spoke of a European institution which should not be limited merely to collecting reports, adding that the European mediator's effectiveness depends a great deal on his cooperation with the European Parliament and with mediators on a national level.
Anastasopoulos, referring to the institution of the European mediator, stressed the need for confidence the citizen should have in the institution and pointed out that new methods of information are required for its dissemination and transparency in its operation.
The decision on the appointment of the new European mediator is expected to be taken by a European Parliament plenum in Strasbourg between December 16-19.
 Rally at Greek-Turkish border against ''white prison cells'' in Turkey
Athens, 27/11/2002 (ANA)The Committee of Solidarity for the TAYAD - a group of family members of political prisoners in Turkey - held a rally at the Greek-Turkish border post of Kipoi, in the northeastern Evros prefecture, on Tuesday to protest against the use of the Turkish prison system's ''white prison cells.''
The Committee's representatives Pahat Kimyon and Medin Amja, in statements to the press said that some 99 prisoners have died to date by hunger strikes, adding that such hunger strikes will continue until justice is served.
They stressed that the European Union could not accept Turkey as a member-state, saying also that Turkey and the EU countries that support it were responsible for the deaths of the hunger strikers.
 Christodoulakis reiterates Greek EU presidency priorities
Athens, 27/11/2002 (ANA)The Greek EU presidency's priority was to support small- and medium-sized enterprises, to protect the environment, to boost growth and to strengthen employment and social cohesion in the European Union, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas, Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis, EU Commissioner Mrs. Anna Diamantopoulou and the head of the prime minister's economic office Gikas Hardouvelis, Mr Christodoulakis said the meeting discussed "preparation of the Greek presidency, particularly issues agreed in the Lisbon summit, aimed to promote European growth, employment, market deregulation and a series of other issues aimed to offer the European economy an advantage in economic growth and to stop being a reflection of economic developments in the US, Japan, or elsewhere".
The Greek minister, currently presiding the Euro group of economy ministers from eurozone countries, said that a high inflation rate in Greece mainly reflected the country's high growth rates and urged all market forces to continue their efforts to increase economic competitiveness.
 Ten Greek companies to participate in CeBIT 2003
Athens, 27/11/2002 (ANA)A total of 10 Greek enterprises in the information and telecommunications sectors have already applied for participation in this year's CeBIT 2003 technology trade fair to be held in Hanover, Germany, March 12-20 2003.
Next year's fair, called "Information Technology-Software and Telecommunications", will include more than 7,000 companies from 59 countries.
CeBIT 2003 representatives, currently visiting Athens, said that the trade fair would probably exceed all previous years in visitors' numbers (more than 137,000 foreign visitors visited the Hanover trade fair in 2002).
 Greek gov’t to hire 500 executives to help in Third CSF programs
Athens, 27/11/2002 (ANA)The Greek government aims to speed up Third Community Support Framework programs in the sectors of small- and medium-size enterprises, information society and agriculture, Economy Deputy Minister Christos Pahtas said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis to discuss progress in a Third Community Support Framework program, Mr Pahtas said that the prime minister approved a proposal for hiring 500 executives to work with regional authorities and companies implementing such programs.
The Greek minister stressed that Greece was one of EU member-states that did not risk losing funds because of the high absorption rate it was recording, but warned of the risk of finally losing EU funds because of not meeting EU standards on program quality.
Mr Pahtas admitted that the country faced problems because of lack of experience and a lack of executives' presence in regional authorities and companies in charge of the programs.
He reiterated the government's aim to include all projects in a Third Community Support Framework program by the end of 2003.
 Development minister briefs PM on prices, liberalization of energy market
Athens, 27/11/2002 (ANA)Market prices and the extension which Greece has secured for the complete liberalization of the energy market were the two main issues discussed between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Tuesday night. The two men also discussed the Cyprus issue.
Following their meeting at the Maximos Mansion, Tsohatzopoulos told reporters that he briefed the prime minister on the extension which Greece has been given regarding the complete liberalization of the energy market.
As for the course of prices, the minister appealed to producers to contribute to the effort to peg prices. He added that the development ministry was closely monitoring the shaping of prices and up to now it assesses there is no reason for concern on the course of inflation.
According to reports, producers and street market sellers are preparing to take strike action to protest the imposition of cash registers for industrial products.
 ND criticizes government's economic policy
Athens, 27/11/2002 (ANA)The main opposition New Democracy party on Tuesday sharply criticized the government over its economic policy and the state budget in particular.
Following a meeting of coordinators under the chairmanship of ND leader Costas Karamanlis, the party's spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos reiterated that the budget is the product of "creative accounting".
He said the government, according to the Auditing Council's report and data provided by Eurostat, has been "lying all these years, cutting and sewing economic indicators".
He also mentioned that Greece "is in last place regarding income per capita, it has low growth rates, 22 percent of households live below poverty level and the public debt goes on increasing".
 Bank of Greece urges for anti-inflationary measures
Athens, 27/11/2002 (ANA)Bank of Greece's governor, Nikos Garganas, on Tuesday warned over the impact of a rising inflation in the economy and urged the government to take anti-inflationary measures.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, the Greek central banker noted that if a current divergence between the domestic and European Union inflation rates were to continue in the long-term, Greece could suffer series consequences both in its growth rates and the employment sector.
The central bank governor presented to Prime Minister Costas Simitis the main points of the bank's report on monetary policy to be submitted to Parliament on Friday.
Mr Garganas noted that the Greek economy's performance have not changed significantly lately, although he stressed that the country's high growth rate was accompanied by high inflation.
 Greek EU presidency to focus on smaller companies
BRUSSELS 27/11/2002 (ANA/G.Zitouniati)Greece's rotating presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2003 is to focus on small and medium sized enterprises, Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Tuesday.
Speaking after a meeting of development ministers in the Belgian capital, Tsohatzopoulos told reporters that Greece would hold a forum for European sector firms in the northern port city of Thessaloniki that would be timed to coincide with a meeting of EU development ministers.
Among items on the development ministers' agenda on Tuesday were the promotion of innovation, technology, business and research.
Greece spends 0.7 percent as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP) on research and technology, lagging the rest of the 15-nation bloc, Tsohatzopoulos said.
The government aimed to rise spending on the sector to 1.5 percent of GDP by 2010, he added.
 National Bank of Greece opens new branch in Belgrade
BELGRADE 27/11/2002 (ANA/N.Pelpas)National Bank of Greece, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, on Tuesday launched a new bank in Belgrade, its second so far in Yugoslavia.
The Yugoslav unit's managing director, Athanassios Panagopoulos, told the Athens News Agency that National would open another three outlets in Yugoslavia by Christmas, with a network of 15 branches planned in the country by the end of 2003.
 Gov't calls on contractors to expand in Balkans
Athens, 27/11/2002 (ANA)Deputy Culture Minister Nasos Alevras on Tuesday urged engineering contractors to expand in the Balkans when projects ended that are linked to the Athens 2004 Olympics.
Alevras, whose portfolio includes Olympics projects, noted that rates of growth in southeastern Europe were rising.
He told a conference on major construction works that Greek companies would find it easier to operate in Balkan countries after they gradually adopted laws and practices geared to the European Union.
 Deadline ends on Friday in Olympic Airways sale tender
Athens, 27/11/2002 (ANA)The deadline of a privatization tender for Olympic Airways is on Friday, with authorities declining to divulge whether or not any bids are likely to be received.
The evaluation of offers will begin immediately, and special attention is likely to be paid to details of financial status given by any bidders.
Acting as consultants to the transport ministry in the tender are National Bank of Greece, Alpha Bank and Commercial Bank of Greece.
 INKA says consumer loans' interest rates high
Athens, 27/11/2002 (ANA)INKA, Greece's largest consumer group, on Tuesday criticized commercial banks of offering consumer loans with high interest rates ahead of the Christmas shopping season.
"The danger of further burdening consumers with debt is visible, if loan repayment is not meet timely," an INKA statement said.
The consumer group urged consumers to compare alternative proposals offered by domestic banks, to read carefully all terms in the loan and all repayment terms.
INKA stressed that households' debt was one of the biggest problems among EU member-states, but particularly acute in Greece because of deceiving advertisements and aggressive sales policies adopted by commercial banks.
INKA urges consumers to participate in World Buy Nothing Day: The influential Greek consumer association INKA on Tuesday urged the Greek public to participate in World Buy Nothing Day on Friday, while stressing that this was not a price boycott.
According to an INKA announcement, the average Greek consumer had to work for 95 hours and 46 minutes to buy 100 food and beverage products, while the average German worked 48 hours and 35 minutes to buy the same products.
A typical worker in Lagos, by contrast, had to work 11 hours and 38 minutes to buy one packaged food product, his Athenian counterpart had to work 48 minutes and his counterpart in Chicago for 14 minutes.
INKA also reported that the average gross wage in Greece was the lowest in the EU at only 64 per cent of the EU average.
It said that the global market, both in Europe and in Greece, was adapting to the reduced buying power of consumers and focusing competition between businesses solely on prices, often endangering consumers' health in the process.
 Greek stocks end slightly lower on Tuesday
Athens, 27/11/2002 (ANA)Greek stocks ended Tuesday's session slightly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange as lack of follow-through orders for blue chip stocks - that lead the market's advance on Monday - left share prices vulnerable to profit taking.
The general index fell 0.32 percent to end at 1,866.78 points, with turnover a low 83.3 million euros.
The Publication, Investment and Retail sectors scored the biggest percent gains of the day (1.27 percent, 0.35 percent and 0.25 percent, respectively), while the Insurance, Metals, IT and Textile sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses (1.37 percent, 1.15 percent, 0.86 percent and 0.83 percent).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 0.29 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 0.56 percent lower and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index rose 0.20 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 158 to 146 with another 63 issues unchanged.
The most heavily traded stocks in value were Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, Panafon, Intralot, Public Power Corporation, and National Bank of Greece.
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 72.5 mln euros Tuesday
Equity Index Futures:
Day's Market Turnover: 72.5 mln euros
Bond Market Close: Buyers outstrip sellers on Tuesday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
 2004 Paralympics conference discusses access issues
Athens, 27/11/2002 (ANA)A two-day conference organized by the ''Economist'' magazine on the 2004 Paralympics opened in Athens on Tuesday with a wide-ranging discussion on access issues around the Greek capital, both within and outside the Olympic facilities.
Speakers noted that the Paralympics were a valuable chance to change attitudes to people with special needs in Greek society, which were a large part of the problem.
In his address to the conference, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos outlined the legislative work to secure equal access to buildings and public transport by the disabled and noted that the government had for the first time done away with the registration fee for Paralympic athletes, the cost of which would be borne by the government and the 'Anter Expo' exhibition on athletics and Paralympic events in 2003.
Athens 2004 Olympics Organizing Committee board member Yiannis Spanoudakis stressed the classic marathon event in the 2004 Paralympics and said that ATHOC would guarantee access for all to all areas and that it had secured 300 buses and 100 other vehicles designed for wheelchairs.
Deputy Press Minister Telemahos Hytiris stressed the role of the media in changing attitudes toward the disabled to focus less on their problems and more on their abilities.
Among other speakers addressing the conference was four-times Paralympics medalist Tani Grey Thompson who stressed that time was running short and that the most important issues for Paralympic athletes were a well-designed Olympic Village, the quality of the food and access to public transport and areas in the city.
14,500 volunteers apply for 2004 Paralympic Games.
About 14,500 applications have been submitted to the 2004 Athens Olympic Games Organizing Committee by volunteer candidates wishing to offer their services for the 2004 Paralympic Games.
Out of this total, 12,000 are interested in providing their services for the Paralympic and Olympic Games, while the 2,500 exclusively for the Paralympic Games.
The holding of the Paralympic Games will require the assistance of about 15,000 volunteers.
The figures were announced on Tuesday by the Organizing Committee's managing director Ioannis Spanoudakis, who was speaking during the inauguration of the international conference on the Paralympic Games organized in Athens by the British magazine ''Economist.''
Paralympics committee president lauds efforts toward 2004 Games in Athens: The preparations for the Paralympics in Athens in 2004 moves ahead at speedy rates, while significant progress has been made in the so important sector of accessibility, International Paralympics Committee President Phil Craven said on Tuesday following his meeting with Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos.
''I believe that the organizing process progresses very well. The projects are developing smoothly. We believe that there is work underway, especially concerning the accessibility of sites in the city of Athens,'' he added.
On his part, Venizelos said that ''we have made great progress and I am glad that the Paralympics of 2004 give us the unique opportunity to make Greece an accessible country, the buildings, as well as the hearts of people''.
 Debate on placing passports under police jurisdiction begins
Athens, 27/11/2002 (ANA)Parliament began debate on Tuesday on a bill shifting responsibility for the issuance of passports from prefectural governments to the centrally administered police force (EL.AS), with MPs from the two major parties mostly backing the proposed legislation.
According to Deputy Public Order Minister Evangelos Malesios, the need to ensure the integrity of the passport issuing process and the need to combat forgeries mark a common ground among all political forces.
He said a central police service will ensure better security and effectiveness, while promising that new passports will be issued within five days, or three in case of emergency.
On her part, main opposition New Democracy speaker Katerina Papakosta also backed the bill, while however, taking the government to task for what she termed its “legalization of acts and omissions” regarding “10,000 fake passports” now circulating in Greece, as she claimed. She also noted that the transfer of this responsibility from prefectures to police will allow the US federal government to drop its visa requirement for Greek citizens – alone amongst EU citizens in this category.
Finally, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) speaker Antonis Skyllakos voiced his party’s opposition to the bill, saying it was the byproduct of pressure by the US side and Schengen Pact requirements.
Skyllakos also pointed to the fact that no other EU member-state retains a public order ministry, charging that the reason the current ministry isn’t combined with the interior ministry lies in the fact that it is a “leftover” from the Greek civil war era.
No deputy from the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) addressed Parliament.
 MEP sees 'new attitude' over Parthenon Marbles at British Museum
Athens, 27/11/2002 (ANA)Greek MEP Alekos Alavanos on Tuesday reported an apparently softer attitude by the new management of the British Museum to Greek demands for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens.
After a lengthy meeting with the new director of the British Museum Neil McGregor and with the museum's Greek and Roman Antiquities keeper Dyfri Williams, the Coalition of the Left and Progress MEP said the new management appeared less adamant and open to dialogue, though preferring that this dialogue remain within the academic community and away from political tensions.
Alavanos met with the new director in the framework of a visit by the European Parliament's Culture Committee to London.
 Greek EU presidency emblem to be unveiled on Thursday
Athens, 27/11/2002 (ANA)The foreign ministry will unveil the Greek EU presidency’s emblem during an event Thursday afternoon at the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron).
An event program includes video presentation showing scenes from past Greek EU presidencies; addresses by Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Alternate FM Tassos Yiannitsis, as well as the unveiling of the new emblem.
 Cox says two sides must grasp historic opportunity
BRUSSELS 27/11/2002 (CNA/ANA)UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's plan for a Cyprus settlement provides a unique, historical opportunity for a solution and the two sides on the island must grasp this opportunity, President of the European Parliament Pat Cox said on Tuesday.
Speaking during a meeting with the presidents of the parliaments of candidate for EU accession countries, Cox said that on his visit to Cyprus on December 9 he would meet with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, the latter's health permitting, so as to encourage him to reach an agreement before the Copenhagen European Council.
Taking the floor, Commissioner on Enlargement Gunter Verheugen agreed with Cox and expressed hope that the Turkish Cypriots would react positively to the plan before the European Council and an agreement would emerge.
Referring to Annan's plan, the Commissioner said the fundamental structure of a new state and the new decision-making procedure, as proposed through the blueprint, would not interfere with the implementation of the acquis communautaire.
Verheugen expressed certainty that the EU's enlargement would be decided in Copenhagen and there would be no postponement.
Cyprus, which opened accession negotiations with the EU in 1998, has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Kofi Annan submitted a plan for a solution on November 11.
Christofias says alertness needed until Copenhagen Cyprus House of Representatives President Demetris Christofias said that the governments of Greece and Cyprus should be alert to make sure that the Copenhagen European Council in mid December will make a positive decision on Cyprus' accession to the European Union, irrespective of developments in the Cyprus problem.
Christofias, in Brussels for the meeting, said ''a decision must be made in Copenhagen on Cyprus' accession'' and if the Turkish Cypriot side responds positively to talks, these should take place after Copenhagen.
 European Commission prefers solution before accession
BRUSSELS 27/11/2002 (CNA/ANA)The European Commission continues to prefer a Cyprus settlement prior to the island's accession to the European Union and supports the solution plan put forward by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, but reiterates that a settlement is not a precondition for Cyprus' membership.
Replying to questions, Jean-Christophe Filori, spokesman for European Commissioner on Enlargement Gunter Verheugen, said on Tuesday a solution was preferable before the Copenhagen European Council in mid December.
He added that there was still time for a settlement before the European Council, adding that the European Commission supports Annan's plan for a solution.
However, he reiterated the Commission's position that a settlement was not a precondition for Cyprus' accession to the EU.
Cyprus, which opened accession negotiations with the EU in 1998, has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 AHEPA president says Annan's plan provides hope for Cyprus' future
NICOSIA 27/11/2002 (CNA/ANA)American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) President James Dimitriou described the plan for the solution of the Cyprus problem submitted by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as a starting point from where a just settlement can be achieved within the framework of UN Security Council resolutions.
In a written statement, Dimitriou said ''we are cautiously optimistic that a solution exists in the UN plan that strictly upholds the principles of the rule of law, preserves human rights and offers freedom of movement and economic prosperity for all Cypriots in the harmony and context that the EU provides.''
''We consider this document a work-in-progress and a starting point from where a just settlement can be achieved within the framework of United Nations Security Council resolutions'', the statement reads.
Dimitriou expressed the belief that the ''comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem unveiled UN Secretary General provides hope for the future of Cyprus.''
''Ultimately,'' he added, ''it is up to the good people of Cyprus, both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot alike, to decide what is in their best interests.''
The Greek Cypriot side has said it would negotiate on the basis of the UN proposal. The Turkish Cypriot side has yet to reply.