|Thursday, 25 February 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-01-22
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>January 22, 2003
 ECOFIN approves Greece's updated stability program
Athens, 22/01/2003 (ANA)An ECOFIN meeting in Brussels on Tuesday approved Greece's update stability and development program for the period 2002-2006.
Commenting the council's decision, Greek Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis - who chaired the meeting - said that "everyone acknowledged the very significant progress made in the Greek economy and particularly its high growth rates."
The Greek minister stressed that "for this reason, the council insisted that the same policy should be continued in the coming years giving more emphasis to a reduction of public debt, economic growth, increased competitiveness and new jobs."
Mr Christodoulakis said that council's decision was equally significant for the promotion of structural reforms in the economy.
Commenting on a meeting with EU Commission for Regional Policy, Michel Barnier, Mr Christodoulakis said that it was a very good meeting and stressed that Greece would be able to meet its obligations in a Second Community Support Framework sooner than the end of March - the timetable set by the European Commission.
A spokesman for Mr Barnier said that there was no problem with Greece in absorbing EU funds and stressed that from a total of 20 billion euros still not absorbed by EU member-states only 1.5 billion euros were earmarked for Greece.
 EU advises Greece to continue fiscal discipline
BRUSSELS 22/01/2003 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)European Union finance ministers have advised Greece to continue its fiscal discipline, at the same time sending a danger signal to Germany and France, calling their fiscal condition absolutely worrisome.
The stability programs of Greece, France, Germany, Italy and Finland were discussed Monday night at the euro-zone countries council meeting that traditionally precedes the Council of Economic and Finance Ministers (Ecofin) meeting. Greek national economy and finance minister Nikos Christodoulakis, in Brussels to chair the Ecofin summit on Tuesday, told reporters in the early morning hours of Tuesday that with regard to the Greek economy, the Council had adopted the recent EU report .
''The economic policy as well as efforts to reduce Greece's fiscal deficit will continue'', Christodoulakis said, stressing the need for pushing on with social insurance initiatives within the spirit of recent Greek Social Insurance Foundation (IKA) reforms.
With regard to France and Germany, both Christodoulakis, currently the chairman of the euro group, and European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Pedro Solbes told reporters there was ''political consent'' for the dispatch of an ''early warning'' to the former and the activation of the Excessive Deficit Procedure for the latter.
Both EU officials declined any reference to the stance that France may adopt at Tuesday's Ecofin council. France has so far refused to state compliance with Community recommendations that target an annual reduction of the structural deficit by 0.5% of Gross National Product (GNP), and eliminating the fiscal deficit by 2006.
Referring to the EU economy, Christodoulakis noted that recovery was delaying, but an average growth rate of 1.8% of the Community GNP was tangible for 2003.
''In order to achieve that target, the Greek presidency is going to place special emphasis on advancing the Lisbon strategy for boosting the competitiveness of the European economy, as well as on the coordination of national economic policies'', Christodoulakis said, at the same time pointing to the international economic environment and the current geopolitical uncertainty that pose serious threats to the EU economy.
 Greek and Romanian PMs discuss Romania's EU candidacy
Athens, 22/01/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his Romanian counterpart Adrian Nastase on Tuesday discussed developments regarding Romania's candidacy for European Union membership and Greece's assistance for the creation of conditions facilitating the completion of negotiations with the EU.
The prime ministers also agreed to closer cooperation on the phenomenon of illegal immigration, while Simitis said a program is already being implemented for Romania's economic development and there is technical aid with specific plans prepared by experts.
Simitis further said Greece's aid for Romania's economic development amounts to 1 per cent and that Greece is the country having the most investments in Romania.
Nastase called for greater economic cooperation between the two countries and a solution should be found on the issue of illegal immigration through consultations.
Replying to questions by reporters on whether the EU's Greek presidency will undertake certain initiatives on the issue of Iraq, following the visit to Greece by top UN weapons inspector Hans Blix, Simitis said Greece will be working for a joint EU stance on the issue of Iraq until January 27 when UN inspectors will be announcing their findings.
He also said the issue of Iraq and preserving peace in the region will be discussed with Nastase during a dinner he will be having with him.
Parliament speaker conveys concern over Iraq issue to visiting Romanian PM: Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis on Tuesday conveyed his concern over the prospect of a war in Iraq or the Middle East during a meeting with visiting Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, saying that such an outcome would harm the countries and peoples of southeast Europe as well as the European and world economy.
According to a Parliament press release, Kaklamanis said the peoples of the Balkans had lived with the consequences of a war and did not want to see a new war in their neighborhood - the Middle East - that would harm the region and all of Europe.
He expressed satisfaction at the Copenhagen Summit's decision to accept Romania into the EU and assured Nastase of Greece's steady support for Romania's effort to join Euro-Atlantic structures.
He also raised a series of issues concerning the Greek community in Romania, such as the return of property and churches, and Greeks that had carried out investments in Romania, to which the Romanian prime minister responded positively.
Nastase thanked Kaklamanis for Greece's political support and for its assistance through investments in the Romanian economy and invited Kaklamanis to visit Bucharest - an invitation that was gladly accepted.
Romania seeks Greek investors: Romania on Tuesday called on Greek companies to increase their investments in the Balkan country from nearly 1.9 billion euros at present.
Greece is a key investor in Romania, having made key placements in banking, electronics and telecoms equipment, the country's prime minister, Adrian Nastase, told a business forum held by the country's embassy in Athens.
Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos told the Greek-Romanian event that in January-November 2002 bilateral trade totalled 598 million euros, slightly down on 2001, which was expected to rise to 1.0 billion euros for the whole of 2003, up 40 percent on a year earlier.
 Romanian PM signs statement of world personalities in support of Olympic Truce
Athens, 22/01/2003 (ANA)Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase signed the statement of world personalities in support of the Olympic Truce in Athens on Tuesday, in the presence of Foreign Minister and EU Council of Ministers chairman George Papandreou.
After the signing, Papandreou, said Nastase's ''signature gives better weight to the efforts we are making and particularly in the region of the Balkans, a region which has seen much conflict but now is not only stabilizing but integrating into a community of values.''
The Greek foreign minister added that ''we are of course very happy that Romania is in the forefront of this integration process of the countries of the region and I think this signature just signifies one more area of our close cooperation and of our belief in common values, and particularly our belief in peace through culture and sports.''
On his part, Nastase, who was accompanied by Romanian Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana, said he was honored to sign for the Olympic Truce, noting that ''it is a matter of philosophy, it is a way to behave, it is a way to assume values.''
Nastase added that ''competition exists but it might take the form of a race in sports avoiding some other type of conflicts which might appear in the human society. That is why I very much support the Olympic Games, the idea and especially when they take place very close to Romania and we shall do whatever we can to be present and to underline our participation, our very close and very old friendship.''
''We consider that our bilateral relations, our common efforts, they represent a way to testify, to underline the way we want to build our regional cooperation and to expand, to explain, to transfer a lot of people the new brand coming from the Balkans,'' Nastase concluded.
 Greek press minister presents mass media priorities within the Greek presidency
Athens, 22/01/2003 (ANA)Greek mass media and press minister Christos Protopapas in Brussels on Tuesday presented his ministry's priorities in the audio-visual sector, within the framework of the Greek European Union presidency, a mass media and press ministry announcement said on Tuesday.
Speaking to the Europarliament's education, youth, culture, mass media and sports committee, Protopapas said that during the Greek presidency his ministry would concentrate on advancing the debate for re-examining the Community's ''TV without frontiers'' directive, the announcement said.
The minister announced the organization of a conference on the Ionian island of Corfu in May, themed ''Audiovisual Media and Advertising: Balance between viability and the social role of the media'', which he said was directly associated with efforts to re-evaluate the ''TV without frontiers'' directive.
He said the Greek presidency aimed to present the conference's conclusions during the informal ministers' council in Thessaloniki and contribute to the debate and exchange of views regarding radio and TV policy of the EU member-states on advertising in the audiovisual media.
Adopted in 1989, in an environment totally different from today's, the ''TV without frontiers'' directive is the foundation of EU policy in the audiovisual sector, governing the rules and regulations for broadcasting for the whole of the European Union.
Protopapas said that a second priority was to advance the debate for extending the Media Program through 2006, including the Commission's new preparatory action ''Growth and Audiovisual: i2i audiovisual'', so that the relative decision can be made during the Greek presidency at the Ministers Council on 5-6 May 2003 in Brussels, the announcement said.
The Media Program (2001 - 2005) aims to strengthen the competitiveness of the European audiovisual industry with a series of support measures dealing with training of professionals, development of production projects, distribution and promotion of cinematographic works and audiovisual programs.
 Papantoniou, Blaauw firm on peace in Iraq
Athens, 22/01/2003 (ANA)A peaceful solution to the Iraq problem is a common stance adopted by both Greece’s National Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Western European Union Assembly President Jan Dirk Blaauw, as announced in statements after the two officials met in Athens on Tuesday afternoon. Issues discussed during the meeting focused on the role played by national parliaments in mapping out European defense policy, as well as on issues relating to the defense industry.
Papantoniou and Blaauw agreed that safe predictions with regard to developments in Iraq could not be made, in expectation of the UN weapons inspectors’ report on Jan. 27. And the response by UN Security Council standing members.
Papantoniou reiterated that as EU Presidency, Greece will use all of its influence, although limited, to ensure a peaceful solution to the conflict.
Expressing the hope by the WEU 28 members’ national parliaments for the aversion of war, Blaauw said the cost of a war on Iraq lasting for one week would be much higher than the cost required for the reconstruction of the Balkans, not counting human life.
On the occasion of a recommendation by ECOFIN for continuation of fiscal discipline and its impact on shaping European defense, Papantoniou announced that the Greek EU Presidency was considering certain plans involving the methods of leasing and joint-ownership to enable countries facing fiscal trouble to meet their obligations for European defense requirements.
The WEU Assembly President called for needs to be covered through national resources savings, which may be achieved either by reorganizing and reducing national armed forces or cooperation by European nations on military exercises. And he again opposed a proposal for rising national spending on defense in order to cover European defense needs.
 US Assistant Secretary Jones meets with EU presidency, Troika in Athens
Athens, 22/01/2003 (ANA)Customary meetings with the EU’s current presidency and the Union’s Troika were on the agenda of US Assistant Secretary of State A. Elizabeth Jones’ itinerary in Athens on Tuesday, as she first met with ministerial-level political directors of the “15” member-states’ foreign ministries followed by talks with the Troika.
Jones’ 24-hour visit comes as Greece assumed the European Union’s six-month rotating presidency at the beginning of the month.
According to sources, the Mideast situation, efforts to gain a peace deal on the divided island of Cyprus by a Feb. 28 deadline, Europe’ security and defense policy, counter-terrorism cooperation and, of course, the Iraq crisis, reportedly dominated talks.
Jones, who heads the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs since May 2001, and a handful of top State Department officials held their meetings at the coastal seaside resort southeast of Athens that serves as one of the Greek EU presidency’s headquarters.
 Senior US official touches on Iraq situation, Cyprus issue
Athens, 22/01/2003 (ANA)A senior US official on Tuesday acknowledged here that evidence presented so far has “not been persuasive” enough to sway international public opinion in favor of military operations against Iraq, while stressing that Washington still considers war as a “last resort”.
The same official noted, however, that if the “last resort option” is necessary, then public opinion will have to be convinced with evidence by that time, in reference to any possible US-led strike against the Mideast country.
“Nobody wants war ... We all want a peaceful solution,” the US official said, before reiterating that the Bush administration does not believe a second UN Security Council resolution is necessary if the Iraqi regime is found in violation of UN resolution 1441.
“The only way to get a peaceful solution is to get Saddam to disarm,” the official said, while stressing that nothing short of 100 percent compliance with the UN resolutions and UN weapons inspectors by Baghdad is satisfactory.
Asked if Washington believes a “regime change” in Iraq is a prerequisite to preventing any military strike, the official referred to comments by US Secretary of State Colin Powell.
“If Saddam Hussein fully demonstrates disarmament, that in a sense, will be regime change...”
Moreover, US officials dismissed any parallel with the ongoing situation in Iraq and the recently reappeared specter of a North Korean nuclear weapons program, saying there is a “huge history with Saddam Hussein, there is no such history with North Korea.”
“There is no difference on how to manage North Korea ... we’re all looking for good ideas on how to influence North Korea.”
Finally, in answer to a press question regarding current UN efforts to workout a peace deal on Cyprus – a month after the east Mediterranean island republic was invited to join the European Union -– the senior US official said the “public should understand the benefits” of Cyprus’ EU accession, citing the immediate availability of aid to the currently Turkish-occupied northern portions of the island, among others.
“...it’s important for others to understand (the need for a peace deal), especially Turkey,” the US official underlined.
 Greek justice minister presents Greek presidency priorities on justice
Athens, 22/01/2003 (ANA)Greek justice minister Philippos Petsalnikos, current chairman of the EU Council of Justice Ministers, on Tuesday presented the priorities of the Greek presidency on justice issues, a ministry announcement said.
Addressing a Brussels meeting of the Europarliament Committee on citizens' freedoms and rights, justice, and home affairs, Petsalnikos said that the main axis of the Greek presidency's policy was the creation of a common area of freedom, security and justice, the press release said.
''I believe that our course toward that direction should be governed by two basic principles'', the minister said.
''First, the respect for human rights, democratic institutions and the just state forms the foundation of the European Union and the justification basis for all of its policies. Second, our policy will have to be balanced, rational and all inclusive'', he said.
He said that those two principles constituted the basic criterion for formulating the priorities of the Greek presidency and that the creation of minimum rules to protect the rights of suspects and defendants, as well as the debate on the course of the European Convention on issues of justice would be included in the agenda of the informal justice ministers' council.
Petsalnikos said that there was an obligation for forming a consolidated strategy in the area of justice and those issues should be prioritized in the light of such strategy.
 Greek province claims large share of 'Competitiveness' program
Athens, 22/01/2003 (ANA)Greece’s provincial regions are claiming a large share of funds from the first round of the special actions of the Operational Program “Competitiveness”, according to data published by a special Development Ministry secretariat.
The results of invitations in the context of four actions, “Organizational Modernization for Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses”, “Small- and Medium-Sized Business Plans”, “Women Enterprise” and “Youth Enterprise”, showed that a total of 634 proposals were approved (budgeted at 10.9 million euros) with respect to action “Organizational Modernization for Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses”. Proposals lodged from the Greater Athens region amounted to 293 and the remaining number, accounting for 54%, from provincial areas, led by Central Macedonia, Thessaly, Eastern Macedonia-Thrace and Crete.
For the action “Small- and Medium-Sized Business Plans”, the regional areas claimed 58% of the funds (132 million euros), while interest for the actions “Women Enterprise” and “Youth Enterprise” by the province amounted to 66% and 64% respectively.
The second round of reception of proposals will open within the next few days, and the Development Ministry expects participation numbers to be satisfactory.
 Tsohatzopoulos address EU conference on industrial policy
Athens, 22/01/2003 (ANA)"It is obvious that achieving the Lisbon summit's goals will not be feasible without an internationally competitive industry, a European industry that flourishes," Greek Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Tuesday.
In his inaugurating speech during an international conference on "Industrial policy in an expanded Europe" held in Brussels, Mr Tsohatzopoulos stressed that "increasing productivity, innovation and competitiveness are high priorities for the Greek EU presidency without ignoring the significance of protecting the environment and the quality advantage offered by sustainable development. Only this kind of growth supports employment and social cohesion, creating better preconditions for economic development."
The conference, organized by the European Commission, was attended by Commission president Romano Prodi, EU Commission for Business and Information Society, Erkki Liikanen, UK Industry and Commerce Minister, Patricia Hewitt, Germany Finance and Labor Minister Wolfgang Clement and representatives of European employers and employees unions.
Presenting the Greek ministry's priorities, in the framework of the Greek EU presidency in the first half of 2003, Mr Tsohatzopoulos stressed that European industry was competitive despite delays noted by a recent EU Commission report. "We had a smaller productivity increase compared with the US in the second half of the 1990s, lower economic performances and a deficit in innovation and research," the Greek minister said.
"The EU has to deal with a slowdown in productivity and innovation growth and to support a restructuring in the Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises sector through combining new technologies and new production methods," Mr Tsohatzopoulos said.
The Greek minister reiterated that knowledge, research, innovation, business, competition and viability were main preconditions for the course of industrial policy in the EU and stressed the need "to impose a fundamental and bold improvement of horizontal conditions affecting competitiveness and development."
In his speech, Mr Tsohatzopoulos said that a spring European Council was an opportunity to approve specific actions in these sectors.
The Greek minister said that the Greek EU presidency would focus on the shipbuilding industry, sea transport, chemical substances, bio-science and biotechnology policies.
The Greek presidency will discuss industrial policy in two Competition Councils, to be held March 3 and May 12, and will hold a European forum in Halkidiki to discuss industrial policy and innovation with all Mediterranean and Balkan countries.
Mr Tsohatzopoulos expressed his confidence that industrial policy in a European Union of 25 member-states would accelerate structural reforms, restructuring and investment decisions.
The Greek minister is expected to unveil the government's policy priorities in industry and commerce to the European Parliament on Wednesday.
 Greek investors gradually return to mutual funds market
Athens, 22/01/2003 (ANA)Greek equity mutual funds' investors have shown self-control and have not liquidated their investments, a sign of confidence in the long-term nature of these investment products, Christos Spanos, president of the Union of Institutional Investors said on Tuesday.
In comments made with the union's latest monthly bulletin, Mr Spanos stressed that a gradual decline of international bank interest rates and particularly Greek, has puzzled Greek savers and Greek investors in general. Mr Spanos noted that the answer to this situation was wise and professional management and the institution of collective investments.
"Both international and domestic investors are returning to bond and money mutual funds because they believe that these categories of mutual funds, offering low or zero risk, will continue to ensure better returns for their money compared with other traditional forms of savings products," Mr Spanos noted.
The president of the Union of Institutional Investors also stressed a gradual return of investors to equity and combined mutual funds, particularly by investors who believe it was time to benefit from low prices and hoping of a recovery in stock markets.
 Agriculture Minister Drys meets Irish Fisheries Minister Ahern
Athens, 22/01/2003 (ANA)Agriculture Minister and EU Council chairman George Drys on Tuesday met with Irish Fisheries Minister Dermot Ahern who referred to the matter of the special status which Ireland has in the North Sea.
During the meeting, at which EU fisheries policy issues were discussed, Drys told Ahern that he will cooperate with the other member-states and the Commission for a mutually acceptable solution to be found.
 Main opposition attacks government over state of the economy
Athens, 22/01/2003 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy on Tuesday launched a stinging attack on the government over the state of the economy, following a meeting of ND coordinators to discuss the updated stability program for Greece that was presented to EU finance ministers' in Brussels.
According to ND spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, the revised stability program actually concerned the next government rather than the current one, which he accused of being a captive of inflexibility, corruption and dependence that did not have a chance of succeeding in changing its economic policy.
According to ND, the EU has highlighted through Greece's revised stability program that the latest budgets have failed to achieve their targets in public debt, social insurance reform and structural changes. In addition, a report by the European Commission shows that Greece is less competitive than most of the new member-states that are due to join the EU.
Responding to ND's accusations, stand-in government spokes-man Telemahos Hytiris said the main opposition had been forced to shift its focus to supposed 'economic scandals' after the government started delivering a series of completed public works projects that ND had previously rubbished as "virtual reality" that existed only as models.
 Greek stocks rebound slightly on Tuesday
Athens, 22/01/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks ended slightly higher on Tuesday reversing a three-day decline that pushed the Athens Stock Exchange to new five-year lows.
The general index rose 0.27 percent to end at 1,672.14 points with turnover a low 75.3 million euros.
The IT Solutions, Retail and Telecommunications sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (1.21 percent, 1.14 percent and 1.01 percent, respectively), while the Holding, Banks and Investment sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses (1.26 percent, 0.51 percent and 0.50 percent).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.15 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index fell 0.13 percent, the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 0.13 percent higher and the wider FTSE/ASE 140 index rose 0.10 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 156 to 127 with another 69 issues unchanged.
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 58.7 mln euros Tuesday
Equity Index Futures:
Day's Market Turnover: 58.7 mln euros
Bond Market Close: Buyers outstrip sellers on Tuesday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
 German chancellor positive on ATHOC proposal for Olympics 'Euro-committee'
BERLIN 22/01/2003 (ANA - D. Kalambakas)German Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder on Tuesday agreed to a proposal that Germany participate in a 'Euro-Committee' alongside Greece and Italy, in order to highlight the European dimension of the Athens Olympics and other major sports events taking place in Europe.
The proposal was presented by the head of the Athens Olympics Organizing Committee (ATHOC) Gianna Angelopoulos, who met with Schroeder on Tuesday in the framework of contacts with European leaders regarding the Athens Games.
The German chancellor also accepted an official invitation to attend the 2004 Olympics in Greece and expressed a desire to take part in the Olympic torch relay.
In statements after the meeting, Angelopoulos said that Schroeder had gladly agreed to the creation of a team with representatives from Greece, Italy and Germany that would discuss the European aspect of the Olympics and how to convey this to Europe's youth, in particular.
She stressed that the Athens Olympics would be followed by a series of major athletic events in Europe, such as the Winter Olympics in Torino in 2006 and the World Cup in Germany the same year. In addition, she said, Germany intended to bid for the Olympics of 2012 and Schroeder had requested Athens' help and her own in preparing the German bid.
''We want to show that the Athens Games are a European affair, something that concerns us all,'' she noted.
''We are particularly concerned by the way in which Europe will show its identity, in the framework of a common European policy, through these great events,'' she added.
 Athens Prefect Sgouros calls on Deputy Sports Minister Lianis
Athens, 22/01/2003 (ANA)Athens Prefect Yiannis Sgouros visited Deputy Sports Minister George Lianis at the Culture Ministry on Tuesday and presented to him his proposals for the development of sports in the Greek capital during his four-year tenure.
The two men also discussed issues related to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
''Yiannis (Sgouros) is vice-president of the World Federation, he plays the issues of Weightlifting at his fingertips and the Greeks have enormous expectations from Weightlifting,'' Lianis told reporters.
 EU: measures against criminal acts affecting international transport drivers
Athens, 22/01/2003 (ANA)The European Union member-states and candidate countries have agreed on ensuring appropriate measures against organized criminal acts affecting international transport and attacks against drivers.
A joint statement issued by the EU Council of Justice Ministers and the European Commission said that international transport vehicles were an easy target for criminal acts against private property due to the high value of the goods that are transported, but also due to the absence of necessary protection.
The EU ministers agreed on the following:
a. Improved security at the road sections and parking areas in general and especially at problem areas (to be identified), by boosting the presence and visibility of law enforcement personnel there.
b. Initiatives for crime prevention in that sector, depending on requirements, with the participation of competent law enforcement authorities at the time of identification and planning of safe areas, in combination with an increased number of supervised parking areas, manned around the clock.
c. Keeping central statistical data on legal charges and convictions in connection with violent attacks against drivers, so that actions in that area can gradually become more documented and effective.
d. Further measures to ensure that law enforcement authorities will be aware of any correlation in attacks that take place in various countries and in conjunction to that, ensure the broadest possible cross-country information exchange, based on national legislation and existing international treaties.
 Ministers discuss environment in 10 new member-states
BRUSSELS 22/01/2003 (ANA - V. Demiris)The implementation of the acquis communautaire in the environment sector in the European Union's 10 new member-states and the remaining three candidate countries (Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey) was discussed at a meeting here on Tuesday, attended by relevant commissioner Margot Wallstrom, Environment Town Planning and Public Works Minister and Council President Vasso Papandreou and counterpart ministers from the 13 countries.
Referring to the EU's upcoming enlargement, Papandreou said it is the enlargement with the best preparation and that pre-accession aid given by the EU was considerable both in the economic and technical sectors.
She further said an environmental dimension should be included in all EU policies and it should be accepted by all governments, the local authorities of member-states and public opinion.
Papandreou underlined the important progress achieved by Europe in environmental issues and insisted on the need for greater sensitivity by public opinion on these issues.
 Bulgarian drug traffickers arrested in Thessaloniki with ecstasy pills
Athens, 22/01/2003 (ANA)Thessaloniki security police have arrested two Bulgarians, one of whom is considered among the biggest drug traffickers in Europe and the other is a Bulgarian special forces police officer, and confiscated 4,543 ''ecstasy'' pills, police announced on Tuesday.
Thessaloniki security police chief George Kokkinis said that the two detainees, whose names were not released, had planned to sell the ecstasy pills to Greek drug dealers who in turn would make the drugs available at various clubs frequented by youths.
Security police have also arrested two drug dealers, both residents of Thessaloniki, Kokkinis said.
He said that the two Bulgarians were arrested Sunday at the Neapolis bus terminal following surveillance by the police's narcotics squad. They had smuggled the drugs from Germany to Greece, entering the country in the port city of Igoumenitsa, and intended to pass them on to dealers they had links and similar dealings in the past with.
Police also confiscated 8,200 euros found in the possession of the two Bulgarians, as well as two grams of cocaine found in the Bulgarian police officer's possession.
Kokkinis clarified that the case of the Bulgarians was not related to the break-up in Athens of an ecstasy smuggling ring and the confiscation 1,800 ecstasy pills. He added, however, that one person had been arrested in connection with the Athens case.
A total of 5,379 ecstasy pills were confiscated in Thessaloniki in 2001 and another 6,886 ecstasy pills last year.
The two suspects appeared before a Thessaloniki examining magistrate later in the day and received an extension until Thursday morning to respond to the charges made against them. According to their defense counsel, both Bulgarians deny the charges.
 Turkish national convicted for immigrant smuggling
Athens, 22/01/2003 (ANA)Turkish national Yalvak Metin was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and fined 15,000 euros on Tuesday by a Samos misdemeanors court on charges of immigrant smuggling.
Metin was caught transporting 12 illegal immigrants to Greece in a seven-meter boat.
 Benchmarking conference held in Athens
Athens, 22/01/2003 (ANA)An international conference on "benchmarking", held at the National bank convention centre in the Athens suburb of Glyfada and concluded January 18, signaled the end of the first cycle of works and the beginning of the second cycle.
The two-day Athens conference was aimed at the diffusion of results from the first cycle and the drafting of the next phase.
A first cycle of benchmarking was concluded in September 2002 and examined a variety of themes including human resources in research, technology and development, public and private Investment, impact of RTD policies, competitiveness and employment, scientific and technological productivity, and culture and public understanding of science. Final reports served as input for action at EU member-states national level.
Greek development minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos opened the works of the Athens benchmarking conference, which was also attended by policy officials from the development ministries of EU member-states, as well as from the associated states.
Adopted at the recommendation of the Lisbon Council as a tool for monitoring the implementation of sustainable growth and for Europe's transfer into the Society of Knowledge, ''benchmarking'' is about learning by comparing, aiming at identifying better policies and exchanging experiences and knowledge.
 Auditing Council inspecting AEK football club books
Athens, 22/01/2003 (ANA)The Auditing Council had begun inspecting the books of football club AEK since the previous day, stand-in government spokesman Telemahos Hytiris said on Tuesday.
The results of this inspection and the Council's report would then be handed over to a sports judge handling the case, who would issue a ruling that the club would have to carry out, he added.
Should AEK fail to comply with the judge's ruling, the government would then step in and do what was necessary and AEK ''will have the fate it deserves,'' Hytiris said.
 FM Kasoulides says Turkish side will suffer repercussions if there is no solution
NICOSIA 22/01/2003 (CNA/ANA)Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides has called on the Turkish side to do whatever possible to solve the Cyprus problem by April 16, when Cyprus will sign the European Union Accession Treaty.
The minister stressed that if there is no political settlement, ''the Turkish side will be faced with the consequences.''
Kasoulides met here Tuesday with Chief EU negotiator on Cyprus Leopold Maurer who said the EU was very clear that the next deadline for Cyprus is February 28, a target date set by the UN to enable the incorporation of the terms of the agreement into the text of the Accession Treaty.
Replying to questions, Kasoulides said the EU representatives stressed the significance the EU attaches to this window of opportunity, which Brussels believe will close with the signing of the Accession Treaty.
The foreign minister said that ''after signing the Accession Treaty, if by then there is no solution, the Republic of Cyprus will join the EU and the Turkish Cypriot community would have to accede to the entity that is already an EU member, when there is a settlement.''
''It is clear that it is in the interest of the Turkish side to do everything possible to solve the Cyprus problem before April 16,'' Kasoulides said, and pointed out that ''our side will not be affected but the Turkish side will suffer the repercussions if the Cyprus problem is not solved by April 16.''
The minister said in this respect the UN had talked about a tragedy if no settlement is achieved by the end of February, as set out in a UN peace plan.
The UN, Kasoulides added, was right in criticizing Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash because such remarks help those Turkish Cypriots who are demonstrating against Denktash's policy as well as the Turkish government, which has yet to secure the full support of the Turkish establishment.
Cyprus' advantages should be exploited, says Maurer: Maurer has said Cyprus' advantages should be exploited for the sake of industrialists and employees.
Speaking to CNA on Tuesday after meeting members of the Employers and Industrialists' Federation (OEB), Maurer said local industries and all the competitive advantages Cyprus has now, such as very low taxation and its proximity to the Middle East, can be exploited for the sake of industrialists and employees.
Maurer said at the meeting they discussed issues like safety at the working place and competitiveness in the future.
Asked if there are any financial programs for Cyprus, Maurer said they would have to start discussing what could be done. They agreed to continue talking and said they will discuss all the details during the next months.
Federation Chairman, Vironas Kranidiotis said they discussed the new role OEB will play within the European Union.
He said they examined issues concerning the economy of Cyprus and the local industry.
Kranidiotis told CNA that Cypriot businesses will receive important help because in Cyprus businesses implement a policy which is not competitive.
 Cabinet approves Hellas Sat program
NICOSIA 22/01/2003 (CNA/ANA)The Council of Ministers approved here Tuesday the participation of the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) in the Hellas Sat satellite program, if all the data asked for is provided.
In statements after the Cabinet meeting, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis said ''this is a very important project of cooperation between Greece and Cyprus.''
He said that despite the fact that Hellas Sat has not given all the data asked by the ministry, the Council of Ministers went ahead and approved the EAC's participation in it, on condition that some of the ministry's terms are met.
Rolandis explained that the financing of the project, estimated at around 100 million dollars, should be secured and the Greek Telecommunications Authority should decide to lease the eight transmitters from Hellas Sat.
The minister of commerce said that the whole project is estimated to cost 170-180 million dollars. The EAC will participate with a capital of 19 million dollars on a total of capital share of 73 million dollars at this stage. The remaining will be financed.
The minister said 70 million would be spent on securing the satellite, another 50 mln. to launch it from the US and another 30 mln. for insuring it.
The launch will take place on March 11, said Rolandis, noting that the House of Representatives will have to approve the project before that.