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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-11-30

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

November 30, 2002


  • [01] Greece will not accept obstacles in Cyprus' EU accession, Simitis says
  • [02] Cyprus problem solution at the focus of talks between Greek FM & UN envoy
  • [03] Foreign minister accuses Denktash of intransigency and stalling
  • [04] Gov't: Deadlines for Cyprus talks getting tighter
  • [05] Parliament's off-the-agenda debate on Cyprus issue set for December 17
  • [06] Holbrooke reiterates support for Cyprus' EU entry; Denktash criticism
  • [07] Greece condemns terrorist attacks in Kenya
  • [08] Alternate FM meets EuroParliament's Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs
  • [09] Skandalidis addresses PASOK party meeting
  • [10] FM Papandreou opens conference on 'The European Prospect of Balkan Countries'
  • [11] Conference for Euro-African Dialogue ends, Magriotis returns to Athens Saturday
  • [12] New EU directive on marital and child custody differences
  • [13] Deputy FM Magriotis to attend events in London projecting Cyprus' culture
  • [14] ND organizes the ''Center-Democrats International'', in Corfu over weekend
  • [15] Main opposition briefed on armed forces role in Olympics preparations
  • [16] Coalition leader's Cyprus trip postponed to December 9-10
  • [17] Central bank anxious about Greek inflation vs eurozone average
  • [18] Economic confidence in Greece up 0.3% in November month/month
  • [19] Five bids submitted in Olympic Airways sale tender
  • [20] Karamanlis attacks gov't economic policies; defense-related commissions
  • [21] Bank of Greece submits mid-year report to Parliament
  • [22] Household wealth rose in 1995-2001, central bank says
  • [23] Greek-Turkish business group to meet December 1-2 in Greece
  • [24] ATHOC announces two home rental program contracts
  • [25] EU internal affairs council focuses on immigration, external border issues
  • [26] 'N17' suspect Savvas Xiros back in hospital
  • [27] Nine-million-year-old elephant tusk discovered on Crete
  • [28] UN remains hopeful for foundation agreement on Cyprus by EU Summit
  • [29] Kasoulides says Cyprus to join EU even without solution
  • [30] British premier Blair says Cyprus will join EU in any event
  • [31] Turkey's National Security Council backs Denktash

  • [01] Greece will not accept obstacles in Cyprus' EU accession, Simitis says

    Athens, 30/11/2002 (ANA)

    Greece will not accept obstacles in Cyprus' accession to the European Union, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Friday, during his closing address to the joint meeting of ruling PASOK's Parliamentary Group and the party's Executive Bureau.

    Speaking at the second and final day of the meeting, Simitis stressed that Greece's ''no'' will be categorical in front of any procedural tactic, which will obstruct the accession of Cyprus, adding that ''the time has come to conduct with resolve the fight we prepared for the last few years''.

    Simitis called the discussions that took place during the two days of the meeting as fertile, but responded to various positions expressed in the meeting according to which the UN Chief Kofi Annan's plan for a Cyprus solution was a solution of defeat, saying that the only policy of defeat is that which accepts the partition of the island republic, the one that leads to the partition of Cyprus.

    ''We will not follow that policy and we will not tear down all that we achieved the past few years,'' Simitis stressed.

    In support of his position, Simitis spoke of a discussion he had with late alternate foreign minister Yiannos Kranidiotis, who is considered as the architect of the strategy of Cyprus' accession to the EU.

    Simitis said that during that discussion Kranidiotis had said that partition is a bad solution, but worst than that would be the union of the possible two parts with Greece and Turkey respectively, which may come as a result of a partition.

    ''Today, Greece is asking for an end of the partition and can promote it with actions. Today, Turkey is in need to act in accordance with all that is expected by the international community and this is a result of the strategy followed by Greece after 1994,'' Simitis said.

    Simitis also stressed that the current conditions are helping the Greek Cypriot side while, at the same time, they are exerting pressures on the Turkish Cypriot side, which is hesitant, but can not reject the Annan plan.

    He said that Greece has achieved an international rally, which helps, but if the chance is lost, the support for the Greek side will also be lost.

    Addressing all those who criticized negatively the UN plan, he reiterated the position held by Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, according to whom, all those that speak positively or negatively of the Annan plan can only cause damage.

    Simitis called on all to ''help Clerides to secure the forest,'' while he criticized those who stated or proposed solutions far from the center of the problem.

    Responding to the question on whether a Cyprus settlement can conclude in Copenhagen, he said that if this can happen it would be the best outcome.

    ''If it does not happen, we will continue our effort after Copenhagen as well. What is of the outmost importance is the essence of the agreement and not haste,'' he said.

    ''We must see the future and not the past, and when we talk of a just and viable solution of the Cyprus issue, we should assess the present and see the future,'' he concluded.

    Cyprus issue may be solved after EU summit in Copenhagen, FM Papandreou says: Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Friday said he believes probable the eventuality of a solution of the Cyprus issue to be given after the EU summit in Copenhagen in mid-December.

    Addressing the ruling PASOK's joint Central Committee and Parliamentary Group, he said that in this case, ''we must create the prospects for a possible solution of the problem as soon as possible.''

    Papandreou also said that if during the negotiations there are changes, which will offer a satisfactory solution, ''we must not be afraid to confront positively such a development.'' He called on the PASOK cadres to trust and support the government's handling.

    The foreign minister stressed that the new Europe of 25 will make its first steps during Greece's EU presidency in the first half of 2003 and that in this course ''Cyprus will also be with us.'' He added that in April, with the signing of the EU enlargement, under the Acropolis, the partition of Europe in rival military camps would be finally overcome.

    He said that with the settlement of the Cyprus issue, new priorities will develop and the forces will be provided in other sectors. At the same time, he said, the tension and problems in Greek-Turkish relations will be reduced. The minister cited as an example the issue of the continental shelf, reiterating that the solution of this issue will be a matter of time following the solution of the Cyprus problem. Replying to reservations expressed by deputy Yiannis Kapsis, Papandreou stressed that the exploratory contacts are not negotiations and that the extension of the territorial waters to 12 miles is the sovereign right of the country and an issue of political assessment of (any) the Greek government.

    The foreign minister rejected the remaining versions on the Cyprus issue. He stressed that the solution of a 'double union' is no longer supported by anyone, as it would transfer in Cyprus the Greek-Turkish borders. He further rejected the position regarding partition, which in any case, he said, is not compatible with PASOK's ideological model. Papandreou also stressed that ''a non-solution'' is impossible as a solution, given that there is Turkey's course towards the European Union, which cannot exist without a settlement of the Cyprus issue.

    Greece, the minister said, supports Turkey's European prospects and will strive to give a positive message in Copenhagen, even a date for the start of accession talks.

    Papandreou also made mention of small or greater, but anyway, significant steps in Greek-Turkish relations these past few years and evaluated as important the fact that the winner of Turkey's general elections, Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the discussions he had in European capitals spoke of a road map for his country, which will fulfill the Copenhagen criteria.

    PASOK MPs and party officials continue debate on Cyprus: A joint meeting of PASOK's Central Committee and Parliamentary Group continued on Friday, with speakers again focused primarily on the Cyprus issue and the set of proposals for its solution presented by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.

    Speakers calling for the plan to be rejected on Friday included former minister Gerassimos Arsenis, who said the Annan plan was a deliberate attempt to once again link the Cyprus problem to the island republic's EU accession after the two had been separated at the EU summit in Helsinki.

    Arsenis also stressed that the plan established the island's division and gave the Turkish-Cypriots power of veto on all issues, meaning that the resulting state would be controlled by powers and states outside the EU and would restrict the freedoms and laws that applied in the rest of the EU.

    Government ministers Mihalis Chrysohoidis, Akis Tsohatzopoulos and George Drys, on the other hand, described the Annan plan as an historic opportunity for reuniting the island and as a basis for negotiations, though not in itself an acceptable solution. Other speakers supporting the plan as a basis for negotiations included MP Stefanos Manikas, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Environment minister Vasso Papandreou.

    Former foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos, however, disagreed that this would be the last opportunity for Cyprus' reunification and he advised against a hurried acceptance of the UN plan, saying that time was working for Greek positions not against them.

    Pangalos also tabled a resolution calling for support of the Greek government's efforts to achieve the most favorable outcome for Greek interests possible in the efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem, insisting that Cyprus join the EU without any delays at Copenhagen with the immediate implementation of EU laws and regulations and stating that the steady reference points for negotiations within the framework of the Annan plan would be UN resolutions concerning the resolution of the Cyprus problem.

    The resolution was hailed by Greek EU Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou, who said that the Greek government would negotiate on the basis of the body of European laws and regulations and stressed that there would be repercussions on a European level if human rights were not being respected in the northern part of Cyprus.

    [02] Cyprus problem solution at the focus of talks between Greek FM & UN envoy

    Athens, 30/11/2002 (ANA)

    The resolution of the Cyprus issue at this juncture was the subject of talks held by Foreign Minister George Papandreou and United Nations special representative for the Cyprus issue Alvaro de Soto on Friday.

    ''We had an honest and fertile discussion with Mr. de Soto on his contacts, as well as ours, the recent ones, concerning the Cyprus issue,'' Papandreou said.

    ''I want to thank again for his systematic effort and for the time he devotes for the resolution of the Cyprus issue and of course we wish him as always success for a just and viable solution,'' he added.

    ''We all believe that it would be preferable to have a solution by Copenhagen (EU Summit). Efforts are underway toward that effect and of course it is expected that the necessary negotiations would take place, so as to move forward with improving this plan (UN Chief Kofi Annan's blueprint for a comprehensive solution of the Cyprus issue)'' he said.

    ''I will be in Turkey next week. Of course, I will have the opportunity to discuss with the Turkish side also these developments,'' he noted.

    ''We are the guarantor powers, and the plan of Mr. Kofi Annan has issues that we should negotiate, discuss and decide,'' Papandreou said.

    ''Greece, of course, wants to maintain the dynamic for the resolution of the Cyprus issue after the Copenhagen (Summit) as well, if a resolution has not been found by then, something, of course, that the UN has set as target,'' Papandreou concluded.

    On his part, de Soto said ''it is very important for us, at the United Nations, to be in contact with Greece and Turkey, since they play a significant role in the resolution of the Cyprus issue''.

    The UN special representative also said that the plan ''aimed to cause a discussion, to encourage discussion on the issue and to present a framework, on the basis of which the negotiations will be concluded, and this is what is being done, according to what we hear from both sides''.

    He added that the meeting the UN plan proposed between the two sides at the end of November did not happen due to Turkish Cypriot community leader Rauf Denktash's illness.

    ''Then, four days ago the UN asked of the two leaders (Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Denktash) to give us, that is to the UN, the possible amendments, changes, they want for the text, so as to speed up the process,'' he said.

    ''It is clear that the time is very short. We are, however, convinced that we will be able to secure a solution on the basic issues by the Copenhagen Summit. Of course there will be time after Copenhagen as well, and until March, when the referendums will take place, to resolve other issues,'' he concluded.

    [03] Foreign minister accuses Denktash of intransigency and stalling

    Athens, 30/11/2002 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Friday accused Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash of intransigency and of stalling with regard to the United Nations plan for the Cyprus problem.

    In statements as he emerged from a meeting between top echelons at the foreign ministry and Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Papandreou said that Denktash was refusing to come to negotiations and to deal with the central issues, while ignoring the desire of ordinary Turkish-Cypriots for a solution to the Cyprus problem and entry into the European Union.

    The foreign minister also noted that the time until the Copenhagen summit was short and that alternative plans had to be devised to maintain the momentum for a solution to the Cyprus problem after the Copenhagen Summit.

    The meeting had centered on the results of Papandreou's trip to the United States and a series of other issues related to the Cyprus problem, EU enlargement and the Greek presidency, he said.

    [04] Gov't: Deadlines for Cyprus talks getting tighter

    Athens, 30/11/2002 (ANA)

    The Greek government reiterated on Friday that it stands by Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides’ statements regarding the island republic’s priority of acceding to the European Union in the coming period.

    Speaking during a regular press briefing in the Greek capital, spokesman Christos Protopapas said Clerides was referring to the deadlines set in the recently tabled Annan peace plan for Cyprus, while stressing that such deadlines are tightening.

    Additionally, the Greek spokesman again called on the Turkish Cypriot side to assume its responsibilities, underlining that “dialogue must start, and it can start”.

    Finally, Protopapas said the prospect of negotiations being completed before the mid December EU summit in Copenhagen appeared difficult, before noting that “Cyprus’ (EU) accession is one thing, and the solution to the Cyprus problem is another”.

    [05] Parliament's off-the-agenda debate on Cyprus issue set for December 17

    Athens, 30/11/2002 (ANA)

    An off-the-agenda debate on the Cyprus issue in Parliament requested by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) was scheduled for December 17 after a meeting on Friday between Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis and Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    According to a parliament announcement, the date was set after consultations between Kaklamanis and the leaders of the opposition parties in Parliament.

    The announcement said that Simitis and Kaklamanis also discussed the progress of the government's legislative work until the Christmas holidays, particularly the vote on the 2003 state budget.

    [06] Holbrooke reiterates support for Cyprus' EU entry; Denktash criticism

    MELBOURNE 30/11/2002 (ANA – T. Ellis)

    Former US ambassador to the United Nations and top Clinton administration foreign policy official Richard Holbrooke reiterated his support for Cyprus’ EU accession and a start of negotiations for Turkey’s long-desired European prospects.

    In a lengthy “op-ed” piece in the “Washington Post”, Holbrooke said Cyprus will be offered membership into the Union during the upcoming Copenhagen summit because it deserves it.

    Moreover, the former special presidential envoy for Cyprus again sharply criticized Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, charging that the latter has maintained a negative stance for decades over the island republic’s political problem. He also charged that Denktash’s intransigence has not only damaged the 200,000 Turkish Cypriots but 70 million Turks as well.

    [07] Greece condemns terrorist attacks in Kenya

    Athens, 30/11/2002 (ANA)

    The Greek government on Friday strongly and categorically condemned the terrorist attack on a hotel in Mombassa, Kenya that killed 12 people and injured some 75 others, and a failed missile attack against an Israeli airliner at Mombassa airport.

    Greek foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis expressed the Athens government's "sincere condolences to the governments of Kenya and Israel and the country's sympathy with the families of those killed and injured" in Thursday's suicide car bomb attack at a luxury hotel in Mombassa.

    Beglitis said that the two attacks were "blatant criminal actions" that targeted innocent citizens and also aimed to create worry over the safety of air transports, and therefore "it is impossible to justify them on the basis of any purpose, as just as it may be".

    "Greece, true to the principles of international law and the peaceful settlement of differences, is in solidarity with the struggle against terrorism and expresses its conviction that the solution to the Palestinian issue will be achieved via negotiations based on the relevant UN resolutions and the creation of a Palestinian state that will coexist peacefully with the state of Israel," Beglitis said.

    [08] Alternate FM meets EuroParliament's Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs

    Athens, 30/11/2002 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis on Friday held talks with a delegation from the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, during which he discussed Cyprus' accession to the European Union, the set of proposals for solving the Cyprus issue put forward by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and EU enlargement.

    The Greek minister stressed that it is necessary for Turkey to receive the message that its relations with the European Union, will continue and will widen, but also that Turkey should increase its efforts of reforms aiming to achieve the Copenhagen criteria.

    The meeting also dealt with the planned European military force and immigration issues, as well as the incorporation of immigrants now living in the EU.

    The delegation is in Athens to prepare for the Greek presidency of the EU and the Copenhagen Summit in two weeks time, when EU leaders will ratify a decision to allow 10 new members into the Union.

    [09] Skandalidis addresses PASOK party meeting

    Athens, 30/11/2002 (ANA)

    Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis on Friday addressed the joint PASOK Executive Bureau and Parliamentary Group two-day meeting stressing that "we are before critical decisions, which will mark the future of Greece and Hellenism".

    "Following the efforts of many years we managed to shake out of inertia our national issues, to bring again the Cyprus issue to the forefront of international interest. Time, since 1994, worked for us," he said.

    "It will continue to work for us on condition that Cyprus will enter the European Union. The accession should be concluded without asterisks or footnotes. For the first time, in a long time, we have the initiative," Skandalidis underlined.

    "We are not signing anything that will be out of the bounds of the basic preconditions for the resolution (of the Cyprus problem) we have set," he said.

    [10] FM Papandreou opens conference on 'The European Prospect of Balkan Countries'

    Athens, 30/11/2002 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou opened a two-day international conference in Athens on Friday night on the theme "The European Prospect of the Balkan Countries", and referred to Greece's priorities during its presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2003, with particular emphasis on prospects for developing and promoting Balkan cooperation on all levels in order for preconditions to be created for the accession of the countries of the region to the European Union.

    The conference is organized by the Balkan Political Club (BPC) in cooperation with the Hellenic Foundation of Defense and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP).

    Papandreou termed as timely the conference's topic because at the EU Summit in Copenhagen in mid-December, with the EU enlargement, a reunification will take place on the essence of half-century long divided Europe and stressed that Greece will have the honor to host the signing ceremony of the accession of the new members to the EU.

    He said Cyprus's accession was of particular importance for Greece and underlined that it would be a very positive development if a political solution to the Cyprus problem was also achieved.

    The foreign minister further stressed that with the plan submitted by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue, there exists a dynamic for a settlement of the Cyprus problem, stressing that if the political problem is not solved by December 12, due to the dynamic which this procedure has acquired, there will be a solution very soon.

    Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) former president Kiro Gligorov and Romania's former president Emil Constantinescu are among the many notable guests from throughout the region.

    [11] Conference for Euro-African Dialogue ends, Magriotis returns to Athens Saturday

    OYAGADOYGOY, Burkina Faso 30/11/2002 (ANA – E. Boukaouri)

    The sessions of the Conference for Euro-African Dialogue, which was attended by representatives of European Union and African countries, ended here on Friday with an important decision concerning Africa's foreign debt.

    On the sidelines of the conference, Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis, who represented Greece, following the contacts he had with African and European delegates, promoted Greece's candidacy as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2005-2006, distributing a special memorandum.

    The Greek minister returns to Athens on Saturday.

    The delegates at the conference discussed at length Africa's foreign debt and agreed on the formation of a four-member committee of experts, comprised of delegates from Nigeria, Senegal, France and The Netherlands, who will study the issue and make proposals for its solution at the Euro-African Summit in Lisbon in April 2003.

    [12] New EU directive on marital and child custody differences

    BRUSSELS 30/11/2002 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    The European Union's council of internal affairs on Friday discussed details of an EU directive on marital differences and custodial differences concerning children.

    Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos and Deputy Public Order Minister Evangelos Malesios represented Greece in the meeting.

    The ministers concluded on an agreement that will improve the cooperation between judicial authorities and central authorities of the member-states, which are called on to decide and enforce the rulings on such disputes, when they cross borders of member-states.

    According to the draft of the directive, it will be the courts of the child's permanent residence that will be called upon to make the decisions on each case for the return of a child to a parent and not the courts of the place of flight.

    [13] Deputy FM Magriotis to attend events in London projecting Cyprus' culture

    Athens, 30/11/2002 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis departs for London on Sunday to take part in events for the projection of Cyprus' culture, on the occasion of the island republic's accession to the European Union.

    During his stay in London, Magriotis will attend on Sunday evening at the London Palladium a concert by Greek singer George Dalaras and the Cyprus State Orchestra, which is organized by the foreign ministry and the General Secretariat for Greek Expatriates in cooperation with the education and culture ministry of Cyprus and the National Cypriot Federation of Great Britain.

    On Monday, Magriotis will attend a luncheon given in his honor by Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Great Britain Grigorios, and also meet with London's academic community.

    Referring to the political symbolism of the events, Magriotis said Greece stood by Cyprus' difficult EU accession course, stressing that ''Europe feels that with Cyprus' accession to the EU, a part of it returns to its natural position.''

    [14] ND organizes the ''Center-Democrats International'', in Corfu over weekend

    Athens, 30/11/2002 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Friday arrived in Corfu to participate in the conference of the ''Center-Democrats International'', which is organized by his party.

    Karamanlis welcomed Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar at the island's airport.

    This is the first time ND is participating in a conference of the ''center'' party and this is due to the good relations between Karamanlis and Aznar, as well as due to the decision the ND leader made to widen the scope of his party toward the center of the political spectrum.

    The conference's title is ''The answer of the middle political space: international challenges, global solidarity''.

    Representatives, many of them state leaders, from 35 countries will participate in the conference which will last through the weekend.

    [15] Main opposition briefed on armed forces role in Olympics preparations

    Athens, 30/11/2002 (ANA)

    Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Deputy Defense Minister Lazaros Lotidis on Friday gave main opposition New Democracy relevant committee an in-depth briefing on the contribution of the armed forces in preparations for the Athens Olympics in 2004.

    [16] Coalition leader's Cyprus trip postponed to December 9-10

    Athens, 30/11/2002 (ANA)

    A trip to Cyprus planned by Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos has been postponed until December 9-10, it was announced on Friday.

    Constantopoulos had originally scheduled the visit for Monday and Tuesday but the date was moved because of a meeting of Cyprus' National Council.

    [17] Central bank anxious about Greek inflation vs eurozone average

    Athens, 30/11/2002 (ANA)

    The central bank on Friday expressed concern about domestic inflation remaining higher than the eurozone average, forecasting an average Greek rate of 3.6 percent against a government prediction of 3.3 percent for the year.

    In an interim report on monetary policy submitted to parliament, the Bank of Greece said that tackling inflationary pressures more effectively should be a prime concern of the government.

    Inflation had remained above 3.0 percent for the third consecutive year, showing for the last two years a growing upward divergence from that of the eurozone, the report said.

    ''Under these conditions, the behavior of the social partners in wage negotiations will acquire especial significance, along with corporate pricing policy,'' the central bank warned.

    The report set growth at a projected 3.4 percent for 2002, lower than a government forecast of 3.8 percent.

    The government, employers and trade unions should bear in mind that their share of the responsibility had increased for improving competitiveness, which was a condition for maintaining and boosting current levels of employment.

    The point should be borne in mind for 2003 wage deals that had yet to be forged, the central bank said.

    The report cited quality indexes on competitiveness that gave Greece a low ranking worldwide in 43rd place.

    In addition, Greece lagged in almost all structural indexes monitored by the European Union's executive Commission.

    A low level of investment from abroad was reflected in a relatively low probability index for foreign investment inflows compiled by UNCTAD, the Bank of Greece said.

    The report also indicated that a certain amount of fiscal relaxation was discernible.

    ''Fiscal management is less rapid than it was in the period of economic convergence. As a result, reduction of the deficit in 2000-2002 totalled 0.8 percent of gross domestic product against 2.3 percent, which was the original estimate; and the same applies to the general government's primary surplus'' the report noted.

    The Bank of Greece recommended strengthening fiscal discipline in order to tackle inflationary pressures; lower the general government debt more swiftly; widen leeway in fiscal management to meet external turmoil; and facilitate financing for public spending on social insurance, which was expected to rise due an ageing population.

    Finally, the central bank urged more action towards fiscal revitalization, and faster moves in dealing with structural weaknesses in the economy, coupled with as much social consensus as possible.

    ''These weaknesses are reflected in a high public debt, in a high level of unemployment, and in a widening current account deficit,'' the Bank of Greece said.

    [18] Economic confidence in Greece up 0.3% in November month/month

    BRUSSELS 30/11/2002 (ANA/B.Demiris)

    Economic confidence in Greece rose by 0.3 percent in November 2002 from the previous month, the European Union's executive Commission said on Friday.

    The economic confidence index, which is computed for each of the EU's 15 member states, comprises separate indexes for industrial, consumer, construction and retail trade confidence, the Commission said in a statement.

    [19] Five bids submitted in Olympic Airways sale tender

    Athens, 30/11/2002 (ANA)

    Five consortiums submitted bids for the acquisition of a majority stake in national carrier Olympic Airways on Friday as the deadline for offers closed.

    Bidding were Olympic Investors, Wexford of the US, New Wings (Vardinoyiannis), Chrysler Aviation of the US, and Gold Aviation (Restis), tender consultants said.

    An Australian consortium which had taken part in an earlier privatization tender for OA through the IAS group requested an extension of the deadline by several days in order to bid.

    Aegean Airlines submitted a non-binding expression of interest after the tender's mid-afternoon deadline.

    The company said in a statement that the offer submitted by its main shareholders was accompanied by financial guarantees.

    [20] Karamanlis attacks gov't economic policies; defense-related commissions

    Athens, 30/11/2002 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis warned from Parliament’s podium on Friday that the issue of commission fees for defense-related contracts would not “go away”, before launching into a direct attack on the government’s economic performance.

    Speaking during a debate on several tabled questions put forth by the main opposition regarding the state budgets of recent years, Karamanlis stressed that the issue of defense contract commissions does not only affect the economy but society and national interests as well.

    Moreover, he sharply criticized the government’s economic policies and Prime Minister Costas Simitis, saying the latter “surrounded himself with a myth of managerial excellence”.

    Furthermore, he repeated ND’s charge that with today’s growth rates Greece will achieve real convergence with the rest of the European Union in 80 years, before claiming that the government is providing false data about the economy, “thereby consciously deceiving Parliament and the people”.

    In continuing his attack, the ND leader said the government is a prisoner to “vested interests”, citing among others, the state-run telecoms utility’s (OTE) investments in the Balkans -- which he charged are being carried out with “procedures lacking transparency and conditions that serve the ‘preferential public sector supplier’.”

    Turning to another example, as he said, Karamanlis cited delayed road and anti-flooding works on the recently problematic Kifissos River, the greater Athens area’s primary floodway.

    He noted that the Kifissos project’s original budget totaled 55 billion drachmas, whereas 2000 was the completion deadline. However, he said costs have skyrocketed to more than 120 billion drachmas even though half the project is still not completed.

    He also mentioned cost overruns in the Olympic 2004 budget, as he claimed, as well as fines slapped against Athens by the European Union over the “national land registry” project along with a proposed “one-time duty” for registering real estate.

    “Can the country stand on its feet with such practices? Can development exist when everything is done in favor of half a dozen organized vested interests,” Karamanlis asked.

    [21] Bank of Greece submits mid-year report to Parliament

    Athens, 30/11/2002 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece governor Nikos Garganas on Friday submitted the central bank's mid-year report on fiscal policy in 2002 to Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis, a parliament announcement said.

    On receiving the report, Kaklamanis said that the social impact of measures for economic austerity and fiscal discipline should be taken into account when these were implemented, particularly where unemployment was concerned.

    Garganas pointed out that an increase in employment could only be achieved through structural reforms.

    The report will be debated by the relevant parliamentary committee, while Garganas will be invited to attend.

    [22] Household wealth rose in 1995-2001, central bank says

    Athens, 30/11/2002 (ANA)

    The total wealth of Greeks rose by more than 126 percent in 1995-2001, the Bank of Greece said on Friday.

    In 2001, total wealth topped 208.9 trillion drachmas, representing 468 percent of gross domestic product, the central bank said in a statement.

    The figure comprises the value of real estate and shares owned by households, a factor that in part explains why a slump in the Athens Stock Exchange did not have a major impact on consumer behavior.

    The lion's share of total wealth lay in the value of real estate at 193 trillion drachmas in 2001, with the value of shares only accounting for 6.6 percent of the total, the statement said.

    [23] Greek-Turkish business group to meet December 1-2 in Greece

    Athens, 30/11/2002 (ANA)

    The Greek-Turkish Business Cooperation group is to meet on December 1-2 in the coastal resort of Kavouri near Athens.

    Opening the conference will be Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos.

    The session's roughly 160 delegates work in the sectors of energy, tourism, banking, commerce, information technology and shipbuilding.

    Among speakers at the conference, which is to be held under the aegis of the foreign ministry, is Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos.

    Athens Bourse Close: Stocks slip in edgy trade: The Athens bourse finished slightly lower on Friday, with blue-chip National Bank of Greece coming under heavy pressure to shed 2.50 percent, traders said.

    The general share index lost 0.40 percent to end at 1,872.83 points. Turnover was high at 453.2 million euros due to block trades totalling 329 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 0.55 percent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization paper 0.95 percent lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap equities was flat from the previous session.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 181 to 125 with 58 issues remaining unchanged.

    The market gained 0.75 percent on the week.

    The most heavily traded stocks in value were Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, Football Pools Organization, National Bank of Greece, Panafon, and GEK

    Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 40.1 mln euros Friday

    Equity Index Futures:

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

  • Underlying Index: -0.55 percent

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

  • Underlying Index: -0.95 percent

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (170)

    Day's Market Turnover: 40.1 mln euros

    Bond Market Close: Buyers outstrip sellers on Friday

    Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond

  • Yield: 4.74 pct

  • Spread over German bund: 24 bps

  • Day's Market Turnover: 2.0 bln euros

  • Most Active Bond: 10-year, expiring May 2012 (506.0 mln euros).

    [24] ATHOC announces two home rental program contracts

    Athens, 30/11/2002 (ANA)

    The Athens 2004 Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (ATHOC) on Friday officially announced the two consortia long viewed as the front-runners for management of the Games’ all-important “Home Rental Program”.

    Specifically, the “Alpha Filoxenia (hospitality) 2004” and the “Elliniki Filoxenia” groups were awarded the contracts.

    The former includes participation of Alpha Bank’s real estate leasing division (Alpha Astika Akinita S.A.), as well as Epathlon S.A. and Elpa-Altis S.A.

    “Elliniki Filoxenia” includes the participation of EFG Eurobank Properties S.A. (an EFG Eurobank subsidiary) as well as the firms Elliniki Taxidiotiki Ischis S.A. and Georgios Kourmouzis.

    ATHOC executive director Spyros Kapralos, along with representatives of the contractors, is scheduled to give a press conference at ATHOC’s headquarters on Monday to unveil details regarding the program.

    [25] EU internal affairs council focuses on immigration, external border issues

    BRUSSELS 30/11/2002 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)

    The European Union's council of internal affairs on Friday focused on the combating of illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings and the management of the Union's external borders.

    Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos and Deputy Public Order Minister Evangelos Malesios represented Greece in the meeting.

    European Commissioner Antonio Vitorino presented a study that was based on the decision of the Seville Summit of June 2002, concerning asylum and immigration, as well as the progress of the implementation of the plan for the management of the Union's external borders.

    Malesios, in his address, stressed that the promotion of a unified asylum policy, immigration and the management of the external borders is a stated priority of Greece, adding that the unified management of external borders is a necessity and common vision of the EU member-states.

    [26] 'N17' suspect Savvas Xiros back in hospital

    Athens, 30/11/2002 (ANA)

    Suspected "November 17" hit man Savvas Xiros was again transferred to the Athens State Hospital from the special wing at Korydallos Prison on Friday for further treatment to his eyes.

    Xiros was severely injured in a bomb blast last June that led to his capture and gave police their first breakthrough against the notorious terrorist group.

    For the past few days, Xiros has been refusing to take his medication and was transferred to hospital at 13:30 under heavy security and a strong police escort.

    Authorities said that the suspected terrorist might be admitted to the hospital, depending on the results of the doctors' examinations.

    [27] Nine-million-year-old elephant tusk discovered on Crete

    Athens, 30/11/2002 (ANA)

    The Natural History Museum of Crete on Friday announced the discovery of a major fossil find in the Cretan bay of Sitia, consisting of a tusk, teeth and other fossilized bones belonging to an ancestor of present-day elephants that lived on the island seven to nine million years ago.

    The fossils were discovered during excavations at a site pointed out by local inhabitants and included a whole, well-preserved tusk measuring 1.4 meters long, the first ever to be found in Greece, seven teeth in good condition, three vertebrae, sections of ribs, a shoulder blade and other bone segments.

    The new finds provide paleontology experts with important clues about the fauna and flora on the island at the time. The remains have been identified as the species Deinotherium giganteum, an ancestor of present-day elephants measuring some 4.5 meters high with down turned tusks.

    Deinotherium is believed to be a forest dweller and the find confirms the conclusions of previous studies concerning the Cretan vegetation of this period.

    Bones belonging to this species have been found elsewhere in Greece and Europe but never further south than Samos. Some believe the bones of these gigantic animals may have inspired the myths of giants and the battle of the titans in Greek mythology.

    The Museum thanked Costas Yianouris, who indicated the position of the fossils to its paleontologists and Nikos Merabeliotakis, who voluntarily gave his consent for the excavations on his property and assisted in the museum's efforts.

    [28] UN remains hopeful for foundation agreement on Cyprus by EU Summit

    NICOSIA 30/11/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto said here on Friday that he remains hopeful that a foundation agreement between the two sides can be achieved by December 12.

    Replying to questions after a meeting with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides on whether he remains hopeful for a founding agreement by the European Union summit in mid December, he said ''yes''.

    Asked if President Clerides gave him a letter or a message to convey to Kofi Annan he said ''no letters.''

    Concerning the reply of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to the UN Secretary-General's letter he said ''he considered that Mr. Denktash is prepared to negotiate on the basis of the SG document.''

    He added that the Turkish Cypriot leader ''has said it clearly and we have said it in a communique in New York two days ago.''

    Annan has proposed that a foundation agreement be signed before the EU summit, to be followed by negotiations and a referendum on March 30, before the treaty of accession is signed.

    [29] Kasoulides says Cyprus to join EU even without solution

    NICOSIA 30/11/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    The Greek Cypriot side has ''never stopped efforts to solve the Cyprus problem'', Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said on Friday, noting that if it is not possible to achieve a solution before December 12, then ''surely we will proceed with accession'' to the European Union (EU).

    Speaking to CNA from Stockholm, where he held talks with the Swedish government, Kasoulides referred to ''delays'', which make ''especially difficult'' the possibility of solving the Cyprus problem before the Copenhagen European Council.

    At the same time he assured that the Greek Cypriot side will continue in the ''same intense manner'' efforts to solve the Cyprus problem before that date.

    Kasoulides, who met his Swedish counterpart Anna Lindh on Friday, told CNA ''Sweden is positive regarding Cyprus' accession to the EU and expresses the hope that efforts to solve the Cyprus problem will produce results.''

    The minister said it is obvious there is no issue that a decision will not be taken at the Copenhagen European Council, according to the Helsinki conclusions.

    ''The aim has always been to achieve a solution before Copenhagen, which is most preferable,'' Kasoulides said, only to add that ''if we cannot solve it before Copenhagen, we will continue with the same intense way afterwards.''

    The Cypriot minister said that he hoped the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto will be proved right when he said there was still time for a solution until December 12.

    Regarding his meetings in Stockholm, Kasoulides said he and Lindh ''discussed developments and efforts to solve the Cyprus problem and Mrs. Lindh expressed hope they will be fruitful."

    The UN has said Kofi Annan considers Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to be prepared to negotiate on the basis of Annan's plan to solve the Cyprus problem, submitted earlier this month.

    Annan has also asked the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus to make known to de Soto, by November 30, their ''comments, suggestions or requests on his suggested basis for agreement on a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, so as to enable the process to move forward."

    [30] British premier Blair says Cyprus will join EU in any event

    LONDON 30/11/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    British Prime Minister Toni Blair has said that Cyprus will in any event join the EU and noted that it was partly as a result of the representations of the British government that it was made absolutely clear that Cyprus should be able to join the EU even if there is not a final settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    Answering a question by British Labor MP Andrew Dismore, Blair said his country wants a settlement and expressed hope that the UN proposals for a comprehensive settlement, put forward November 11 by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, ''can be at least the basis for conducting these negotiations reasonably quickly.''

    ''If that happens the Cyprus issue would be resolved - Cyprus in any event will join the EU - and relations between Greece and Turkey could improve. That would be of enormous benefit to the whole region,'' he added.

    Asked by MP John Lyans about the problem of the missing persons in Cyprus, Blair said that was a ''serious issue'' and that ''there is every possibility of trying to resolve it in the context of an agreement on Cyprus.''

    ''I genuinely believe that the UN plan that has been put forward offers the greatest prospect for a final settlement of the Cyprus issue that we have had for many decades, and if that can be agreed by the parties involved some of the traumatic and difficult issues could be resolved,'' he added.

    He also said that ''the best way of dealing with the matter comprehensively will be in the context of an agreement to that settlement.''

    Answering another question at the House, British Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Baroness Symons, noted that the UK will maintain close contact with all the main parties, engaged in the Cyprus problem, both at ministerial level, through diplomatic channels, and through the work of the British High Commission in Nicosia, to support the efforts of the UN.

    Asked by Labor MP Tony Baldry about the British stance on Turkey's accession to the EU at the EU Summit in Copenhagen, the British prime minister expressed the belief that Turkish membership of the EU would be a good thing for Turkey, for Europe and for the wider world.''

    ''We would like to see Turkey start negotiations as soon as possible, by meeting the conditions which apply to all candidates. We want the Copenhagen European Council to signal a decisive step forward in Turkey's candidature,'' he added.

    [31] Turkey's National Security Council backs Denktash

    ISTANBUL 30/11/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Turkey supports Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's stance regarding the negotiating procedure on Cyprus, Turkey's most influential decision-making body, the National Security Council (MGK) said on Friday.

    A statement issued after a four-and-a-half hour meeting, said the Council assessed the ''general security and order in the country and was informed on the external and military developments and the latest developments in Cyprus."

    ''Within this framework'', it said, ''Turkey supports Rauf Denktash's latest stance regarding the negotiating procedure''.

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