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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-12-28
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>December 28, 2002
 Christodoulakis to unveil Greek EU Presidency's policy priorities
Athens 28/12/2002 (ANA)Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis will unveil the Greek EU presidency's policy priorities in a news conference on Monday.
The Greek economy and finance ministry has to promote, during the first half of 2003, a so-called Lisbon package and at the same time to monitor developments in Iraq for assessing all scenarios from a likely US military strike against Baghdad.
Ministry sources said that the government would continue its efforts to ensure a successful spring EU council
The Lisbon package is a series of initiatives agreed by the European Union aimed to develop Europe into the most competitive and viable economy and the world by maintaining and expanding social cohesion among the 15 member-states. It is, therefore, the agenda for real convergence for all European economies.
The Lisbon package is based on three pillars: economic, social and sustainable growth. The economic pillar covers initiatives to support business activity and competitiveness, to completing the integration of European markets (deregulation in the financial, energy, transport and telecommunication sectors), to create an e-Europe and to improve education and research systems.
The second pillar, on employment and social cohesion, covers initiatives to boost employment, improving labor quality, to combat social exclusion, to support life education and to ensure the viability of pension systems in Europe.
The third pillar, covers strategy on sustainable growth.
 Cyprus FM Kasoulides honored by Athens Mayor
Athens 28/12/2002 (ANA)Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides has been awarded the Medal of the City of Athens by the Mayor of Athens, Dimitris Avramopoulos.
Accepting the award at a special ceremony in Athens, the minister said the honor also belongs to the Cypriot diplomatic service, which has worked very hard to help secure the European Union decisions in Copenhagen, which invited Cyprus, along with nine other countries, to join the Union in 2004.
''This success would have been impossible to achieve without the full support of Greece. We have always believed that the effort to join the EU would have a catalytic effect on the peace process, aiming at reuniting Cyprus through a political settlement,'' he added.
He said that "we have never accepted that Cyprus could remain hostage to Turkey's demands regarding our accession to the European family where we rightly belong".
Kasoulides paid special tribute to the role of the late Yiannos Kranidiotis, a Cypriot born politician and Greece's alternate foreign minister who strongly believed and promoted Cyprus' course to Europe.
Avramopoulos said Cyprus is the key to a full and frank harmonization of Greco-Turkish relations but also Turkey's relations with Europe.
After Copenhagen, he said, "we can say that Turkey's road towards Europe goes through Athens and Nicosia. The positive development in Copenhagen is due to Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, the foreign minister and his forerunners, the political parties and the Greek governments and the political parties.''
Referring to the political leadership in Turkey, Kasoulides expressed hope that all the pledges made by the new Turkish government are implemented.
''We have an obligation to respond to the Turkish Cypriots who are demonstrating on a daily basis against the oppressive regime" of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, he said.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the island’s territory.
 FYROM FM calls his country's relations with Athens 'satisfactory'
SKOPJE, 28/12/2002 (ANA – N. Frangopoulou)FYROM Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski was quoted here on Friday as characterizing his land-locked country’s cooperation with Greece as “satisfactory”.
According an interview featured in a local weekly magazine, Crvenkovski noted that a solid basis now exists for finding a mutually acceptable solution to the “name issue” separating Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), which he said comprises the only remaining difference between Athens and Skopje.
However, the FYROM premier appeared inflexible in another portion of the interview, saying that “we must take into consideration that our position over this issue has been defined for some time, and is also concurrent with international law and the country’s (FYROM) national interests”. Moreover, he also criticized his predecessor, Ljubco Georgievski, claiming “rampant speculation” regarding the latter’s “dealings” with Athens over the contentious matter.
In terming bilateral cooperation “satisfactory”, Crvenkovski mentioned only the OKTA refinery near Skopje, purchased by the Greek state-run Hellenic Petroleum concern in 1999, as an exception to this rule.
“We’re certain that Greece is in favor of ‘Macedonia’ remaining an independent and stable country, one integrated into Europe, something that comprises a good basis for finding a mutually acceptable solution by both sides,” he was quoted as saying.
Relations between Greece and the more than 10-year-old country to its north have dramatically improved since the two countries signed the interim agreement in New York under the UN’s auspices more than seven years ago. Currently, on the 'name issue' ranks as the only major difference between Athens and Skopje.
Under the terms of the agreement, Greece and FYROM are responsible for commencing and continuing negotiations to find a mutually acceptable solution for the “name issue”.
 Turkish jetfighters violate Greek airspace
Athens 28/12/2002 (ANA)Turkish fighter planes on Friday infringed the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) on 8 occasions over the northern and central Aegean, with three instances developing into national airspace violations, according to press sources.
The sources said that 18 Turkish jetfighters, three of them armed, and flying in 8 formations infringed the Athens FIR on 8 occasions, three of which developed into airspace violations.
On all occasions the Turkish military aircraft were intercepted by Greek jetfighters, while in three instances the interception process developed into engagement.
 Manos Travel's bankruptcy shocks Greek tourist market
Athens 28/12/2002 (ANA)The Greek tourist market was shocked after the news that the biggest travel agency in the country, Manos Travel, was unable to continue its operations during the Christmas season because of severe financial problems.
Manos Travel is the biggest outgoing travel agency in Greece.
Many Greek tourists, traveling mainly to Italy, were left stranded at home while other Greek tourists, already in foreign countries, were obliged to pay double for their hotel reservations and return tickets.
Yiannis Evangelou, chairman of the Panhellenic Tourist and Travel Agencies' Federation (HATTA), tried to calm down angry customers saying that hoteliers abroad are obliged to service Greek tourists carrying travel vouchers and noted that all Manos Travel customers would have to be compensated.
He also said that Greek authorities had revoked the travel agency's license two months ago.
News of the bankruptcy caught the market by surprise, despite speculation that the company was facing severe financial problems.
Manos Travel was founded by businessman Manos Tsatsakis in 1965 and gradually evolved into one of the biggest travel operators in Greece.
The company adopted an aggressive expansion strategy during the previous decade that led to heavy debt burdens and to its default.
Manos Travel created its own network in and out of Greece, using the franchising method under the name Manos Centers, bought several Xenia hotels around the country, used its own charter airline (Manos Air) and created a subsidiary in Britain (Manos Holidays) which it sold to Airtours in 2000.
The company finally succumbed to its accumulated debt to banks and other partners (particularly Autohellas-Hertz and Aegean Airlines). Manos Travel faced the liquidation of its assets in the last few months while an effort to be placed under court protection from its creditors also failed.
Its founder, Manos Tsatsakis, was arrested on Christmas eve after a class action suit by angry travelers.
Development Deputy Minister Dimitris Georgakopoulos on Friday said that travelers were due for compensation by the insurance company covering Manos Travel's holiday packages.
Speaking to reporters, Mr Georgakopoulos stressed the need to offer help to all Greek tourists traveling abroad and urged all Greek National Tourist Organization's offices in foreign countries to facilitate Greek travelers facing problems after the bankruptcy of Manos Travel.
The Greek minister acknowledged that authorities had revoked operation licenses from three out of a total of four companies in Manos Group. The fourth, maintaining its license, was the one to organize the Christmas holidays' packages.
Spyros Ginis, chairman of the Panhellenic Travel Agency Union, on Friday said that Manos Travel's shares were transferred to Hellenic-Balkan SA for 50 million drachmas. Mr Ginis said that Hellenic-Balkan is poised to continue operating the network but it was unknown if it would maintain its original name (Manos Travel).
Mr Ginis said that Manos Travel's debt totalled five billion drachmas.
 Greek army to provide computer systems for Bulgarian army
Athens 28/12/2002 (ANA)The Greek General Army Staff announced on Friday that in the framework of military cooperation between Greece and Bulgaria, and following the establishment of a modern Greek language department at the Bulgarian army's officers academy, the General staff's Informatics Department will provide four electronic computer systems together with suitable software.
The move is aimed at assisting the teaching of modern Greek for the Bulgarian military academy's students.
 Ioannis Vardinoyiannis acquires 2.3 mln Petzetakis shares
Athens 28/12/2002 (ANA)Businessman Ioannis Vardinoyiannis addressed a letter to the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, notifying it of the acquisition of 2,300,000 common anonymous shares of the A. G. Petzetakis company.
 ELBO to supply 140 trolley buses worth 73.5 million euros
Athens 28/12/2002 (ANA)ELBO, a member of Mytilineos Group of Companies, on Friday announced the signing of a contract, worth 73.5 million euros, with ELPAP (Athens Trolley Bus) for the supply of 140 new trolley buses.
The majority of the new trolley buses will be delivered by the summer of 2004 ahead of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
ELBO is currently undergoing a restructuring plan resulting to a return of the company to profitability (2.3 million euros last year and an expected higher profit in 2002), despite a fall in turnover due to lower defense orders.
The company expects its result to fully recover in 2003.
 Radio A. Korasidis S.A. board proposes 20m euro stock capital increase
Athens 28/12/2002 (ANA)Radio A. Korasidis S.A., an Athens Stock Exchange listed retailer, announced on Friday a 20 million euro stock capital increase to be decided in June, during the company's annual stock holders' meeting.
The proposal of the board of directors stated that the capital increase will be for the company's old share holders and the two major share holders, Andreas and Spyridoula Korasidis, who hold 49.99 per cent of the shares, announced that they would prepay their share of the capital increase to the firm.
The capital increase was decided to strengthen the company's financial structure, a company press release said.
 Greek stocks end week 1.61 percent lower
Athens 28/12/2002 (ANA)Greek stocks ended the last trading session of a shortened week lower on the Athens Stock Exchange with the general index finding support at the 1,700 level.
The index fell 0.14 percent to end at 1,762.69 points, for a net loss of 1.61 percent in the week.
Turnover was a low 45.7 million euros.
The IT, Cement and Metal sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (2.15 percent, 1.15 percent and 1.11 percent, respectively), while the Investment, Telecommu-nications and Retail sectors scored gains (1.04 percent, 0.78 percent and 0.60 percent).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 0.19 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index eased 0.36 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 0.66 percent lower.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 193 to 102 with another 54 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Base metals: -1.11%
Information Technology: -2.15%
IT solutions: -0.33%
Food & Beverages: -0.34%
Real Estate Management: -0.51%
Parallel Market for smaller cap stocks: -0.25%
Selected shares from the MSCI index
closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 11.58
Coca Cola: 13.50
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 11.11
Aluminium de Grece: 17.24
Public Power Corp: 13.28
National Bank of Greece: 13.60
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.75
Commercial Bank of Greece: 14.48
Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation: 10.70
Titan Cement Company (common): 36.16
Motor Oil: 6.58
The most heavily traded stocks in value were Aspis Pronoia, Drugfarben, Balafas, Hellenic Stock Markets and Vodafon.
 Greek-Russian astronaut arrives in Thessaloniki to spend holidays with family
Athens 28/12/2002 (ANA)Greek-Russian astronaut Theodoros Yurtsihin, 42, arrived in Thessaloniki on Friday to spend the holidays with his family for the first time since 1996.
Following in the steps of Yuri Gagarin, he succeeded in entering the Russian space program and taking part in the construction of the international space station.
In fact his last mission was precisely that and he participated in a joint American-Russian mission to the space station that began on October 7 and lasted for 11 days.
Speaking to journalists, he said that he spoke with his mother several times from space, using the Pontian dialect of Greek, widely spoken by Greek-Russians, as they trace their origin to the south shores of the Black Sea.
 Immigrant smuggling to be considered a felony by law
Athens 28/12/2002 (ANA)Immigrant smuggling will be receiving tougher treatment and, according to reports, the merchant marine ministry will table a draft law in Parliament soon changing immigrant smuggling from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Thousands of illegal immigrants are currently on the Turkish coast, waiting to travel to Europe through Greece.
Coast guard officials have intercepted 50 boats over the past five months, carrying about 5,000 people, and forced them to turn back to Turkey.
Meanwhile the search for five missing illegal immigrants continued at first light on Friday after their boat sank off the island of Chios on the previous day.
The bodies of four illegal immigrants have been found so far while 13 other people were rescued.
Nikolaos Panagopoulos, allegedly responsible for carrying the illegal immigrants, has been arrested and will be brought before an investigating magistrate on Chios on Monday.
 Prison board on N17's suspect's hunger strike
Athens 28/12/2002 (ANA)A three-member prison board at the Korydallos facility has offered to allow alleged “November 17” member Angeliki Sotiropoulou -- the only female amongst the 19 suspected ‘N17’ terrorists currently jailed -- recreational yard privileges if she’ll end a 17-day hunger strike.
The board, comprised of the prison’s warden, its assigned prosecutor and the highest-ranking social worker at the facility, said Sotiropoulou could be given five hours of recreational yard time with certain other female prisoners on the condition that her cell be kept locked during that period.
The board has also offered to allow the self-described beekeeper the opportunity to meet with her husband, Dimitris Koufodinas, once a month for half an hour. The latter is also jailed at Korydallos, charged with numerous N17-related felonies.
 Athens Academy presents annual awards
Athens 28/12/2002 (ANA)The Athens Academy on Friday presented its literary and cultural awards for the year, giving its first prize to the ''Anastasios Leventis'' foundation for its work in locating and purchasing antiquities discovered and illegally exported from Cyprus.
Among those honored were two main opposition New Democracy (ND) party deputies George Alogoskoufis and Vyron Polydoras, for their ''considerable'' writings.
ND leader Costas Karamanlis, who was present for the awards, expressed his ''warmest congratulations to the two disguised fellow citizens, that are being honored today by the Academy''.
''I confess that I am very happy for them, I am doubly happy, because among them (those honored) there are two colleagues and close associates of mine, George Alogoskoufis and Vyron Polydoras, who distinguished themselves with their considerable writings,'' Karamanlis said.
Among those given awards was the Greek Federation of Special Olympics, honored for the successes of the Greek Special Olympics team in sports events held outside the country.
 Three stolen vehicles intercepted at NE border post
Athens 28/12/2002 (ANA)A total of five foreign nationals were arrested at a northeastern Greece border crossing over the past few days after a three luxury vehicles were confiscated in as many separate incidents.
Two top-of-line BMW off-road vehicles, one from Spain and the other from Germany, as well as a late-model Mercedes sedan stolen in Germany were confiscated by authorities, bringing to slightly more than 20 the number of stolen vehicles intercepted at the Kypous border post over the past three months.
Charged in connection with the case were one Peter Preoud, 29, who was reportedly traveling with either Polish or German travel documents, and his companion, Turkish national Atiye Boskurd, 18.
Sergei Vinokurt, 31, was arrested on Christmas Day, whereas two Russian nationals, Boris Unakovski, 46, Aleksandr Sergei, 41, were arrested the following day.
Greek authorities have informed Interpol about the suspects, with procedures in place to return the vehicles to their rightful owners.
 Local man charged in migrant-smuggling incident off Corfu
Athens 28/12/2002 (ANA)A 42-year-old local man has been charged with illegal immigrant smuggling in connection to the grounding of a migrant-laden vessel earlier in the week off southwestern Corfu.
Three would-be migrants drowned after the Italy-bound vessel sank in the early morning hours off the northern Ionian island.
The suspect was identified as Vassilios Hatzaridis, a resident of Drama.
 Turkish-Cypriot Mobilization
NICOSIA 28/12/2002 (CNA/ANA)Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou on Friday described as an ''astonishing political event'' a protest rally thousands of Turkish Cypriots staged Thursday in Turkish occupied Nicosia to demand the resignation of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to pave the way for a negotiated settlement, on the basis of a UN proposal.
The spokesman announced that the National Council will convene on January 3 to discuss President Glafcos Clerides' reply to a letter by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on his good offices mission with regard to Cyprus.
''The Turkish Cypriots' mobilization and especially yesterday's (Thursday) rally is an astonishing political event, and its message is loud and clear'', Papapetrou said.
He said the Greek Cypriot community receives the political messages the rally has conveyed in ''a positive spirit''.
''We unite our voices with them for Cyprus' reunification, accession of a reunited Cyprus to the European Union and a solution to the Cyprus problem based on the Annan plan by February 28,'' the spokesman said.
Replying to questions, he said the purpose of the mass rally was to call for a solution based on the Annan proposal.
''We must act in a responsible manner and we should not send the message to the Turkish Cypriots or the international community that our priority lies in anything but a political settlement in Cyprus,'' he added. Regarding the package of economic measures, which the government
intends to announce for Turkish Cypriots, the spokesman said government officials continue to look into these measures and at the right moment they will be announced.
He also said that the government is consulting with Brussels on this issue.
''Our concern is to announce the measures at a time when they will help those who are fighting against Denktash and his policies and not create problems for them'', he added.
Almost the entire Turkish Cypriot press has featured the rally
organized by the platform 'This country is ours'. Press reports said youth opposition organizations, trade unions and thousands of people took part in the rally, the biggest ever in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus according to the Turkish Cypriot media.
''Yes to the plan, yes to the EU,'' the demonstrators chanted, some holding olive branches, others waving EU flags. Banners said ''Denktash, quit! Solution and EU. This country is ours. Anathema to fascism. You will be accountable'', ''Denktash move aside and let peace come through. You have no right to play with our future''.
A number of Turkish Cypriot politicians, including Mustafa Akinci and trade unionist Ali Gul addressed the mass rally, attended by some 30,000. A resolution calling for peace in Cyprus, advocating a solution to the Cyprus problem, acceptance of the Annan plan and accession to the European Union was approved.
The resolutions noted that Denktash no longer represents the Turkish Cypriots.
Annan's letter, sent to the Turkish Cypriot leader and the governments of Greece and Turkey as well, has asked the two sides to intensify in a specific manner their efforts to find a comprehensive settlement by 28 February 2003.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the island's territory.