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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-02-27

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

February 27, 2003


  • [01] Cyprus solution must be viable and functional, ND leader Karamanlis says at meeting with UN chief Annan
  • [02] Weston: Efforts for Cyprus settlement, Iraq crisis absolutely 'separate issues'
  • [03] State Department denies report connecting Cyprus problem with Iraq crisis
  • [04] US State Dep't coordinator for Cyprus 'more optimistic' after Ankara talks
  • [05] FM to visit Washington for talks on Iraq, Middle East, Korea and Cyprus
  • [06] Deputy FM Magriotis briefs Chinese counterpart on Iraq, Cyprus
  • [07] Coalition party leader says war a crime against humanity
  • [08] FYROM president, Greek liaison officer visit Doirani Lake
  • [09] Greek EU presidency - preparations for the venue of Thessaloniki Summit
  • [10] Alternate FM discusses EU-South Korea cooperation with new president
  • [11] Education minister presents informal EU Council agenda
  • [12] DM briefs Parliament committee on Greek EU presidency defense affairs
  • [13] Gov't on media coverage for November 17 trial
  • [14] New Navy gunboat launched by Skaramangas Shipyards
  • [15] Weather forces Greek deputy FM to postpone Jordan visit
  • [16] Parliament committee gives green light to renewal of OSE's director's term
  • [17] FinMin unveils export support measures
  • [18] Gov’t discusses financial support to electricity investments
  • [19] Greek inflation to rise in February, FinMin
  • [20] Tsohatzopoulos to chair EU competitiveness council in Brussels
  • [21] Greece seeks to curb impact on tourism of possible war with Iraq
  • [22] Greek stocks end to new five-year lows
  • [23] ATHOC and labor ministry sign cooperation memorandum
  • [24] Olympic Games' archival exhibition inaugurated by Venizelos
  • [25] UN Secretary-General seeks agreement within a week the maximum
  • [26] Annan expects 'real movement' from talks on Thursday
  • [27] Weston: Renewed hope that solution achievable

  • [01] Cyprus solution must be viable and functional, ND leader Karamanlis says at meeting with UN chief Annan

    Athens, 27/02/2003 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis met Wednesday morning in Athens with UN secretary general Kofi Annan with whom he discussed the Cyprus issue.

    Karamanlis said after the half-hour meeting that ND supported the effort for finding a Cyprus solution provided, however, that the solution was viable, functional and in accordance with the acquis communautaire and the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

    The ND leader further pointed out to Annan that the ''asphyxiating'' time margins did not allow particular optimism, particularly given that the Turkish Cypriot side persisted in its intransigence and negative attitude.

    New Democracy, he reaffirmed, was at the side of the efforts of the Cypriot people and their leader-ship.

    According to diplomatic sources, Annan appeared optimistic after his visit to Ankara and talks with the Turkish government earlier this week before his visit to Athens, and felt that the Turkish government desired that a Cyprus solution be found.

    The same sources said that Annan hopes that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's objections would be overcome by the pre-referendum to be held in the occupied sector of Cyprus in early March, although there were still issues regarding the terms under which the poll would be carried out.

    The sources added that the UN considers that ''everything will be open'' if the pre-referendum rejected the UN proposal for seeking a solution.

    Karamanlis expressed concern to Annan over the functionality of the draft plan, but Annan opined that any problems that may arise would be overcome by the European dynamic.

    UN chief Annan winds up Athens talks, heads to Cyprus for crucial deliberations: United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan on Wednesday completed a 24-hour Athens visit and consultations with the Greek government and political leadership before flying to Nicosia for crucial deliberations with the Cyprus government and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash on his Cyprus peace plan.

    Before his departure, Annan, who held similar consultations with the Turkish government in Ankara before coming to Athens, met separately with President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos and main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis, while he also had a brief discussion with foreign minister George Papandreou at Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos international airport.

    Annan held talks on Tuesday with Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    Earlier, Papandreou had a 30-minute discussion at the airport with US State Department special coordinator on the Cyprus issue Thomas Weston.

    [02] Weston: Efforts for Cyprus settlement, Iraq crisis absolutely 'separate issues'

    Athens, 27/02/2003 (ANA)

    US Special Cyprus Coordinator Thomas Weston on Wednesday dismissed recent speculation that Washington has in any way linked the ongoing Iraq crisis with stepped-up United Nations-led efforts to solve the long-standing Cyprus issue, stressing that his government considers the issues as totally separate.

    Moreover, Ambassador Weston flatly rejected an international press report out of Brussels a day earlier quoting unnamed US officials as saying the Cyprus issue would suffer in the wake of Iraq and Washington’s high-profile agreement this week with Turkey to base US troops in that country – a potential spring-board for northern Iraq.

    “I think it’s (report) a piece of junk,” the veteran diplomat said of the controversial foreign press report. “It’s not anyone I talk to (unnamed US official), and I’m US official as well”.

    Weston arrived in Athens this week for contacts with top Greek leadership during a period of unprecedented activity to solve the almost three-decades-old Cyprus problem, given an European Union invitation last December for the island republic to join the bloc as well as the emergence of a new one-party government in Turkey apparently bent on ensuring that country’s European course. He was expected back on Cyprus Wednesday evening to begin another round of contacts between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides.

    Asked about timeframes set by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for both sides to find a settlement -- namely Feb. 28 -- Weston said the latter was always an artificial deadline, more-or-less a date that would allow for a referendum to approve of any settlement prior to April 16, when Cyprus and nine other EU Acceding Countries will sign their Accession Agreements in Athens.

    However, at every instance he reiterated that the United States believes a solution prior to April 16 is preferable. “It’s hard to see how you’ll have the same settlement post-accession”.

    Weston added that he doesn’t see the need either to delay efforts at a Cyprus settlement pending a resolution of the Iraq crisis, stressing, for instance, that the EU timetable for signing Accession Agreements is not affected by Iraq or anything else.

    He also reiterated that Washington fully backs Annan’s efforts to find a solution to the Cyprus problem, mentioning a recent statement by the US president himself.

    Additionally, the US diplomat said he was “encouraged” by his contacts with new Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, “because I believe he’s interested in a settlement. Obviously he (Papadopoulos) he needs to have certain concerns addressed ... he’s given every indication to us that he’s interested.”

    Conversely, he said a variety of views over a possible settlement and eventual inclusion of a unified Cyprus into the bloc plainly exist within the Turkish Cypriot community, noting that the question is to what extent Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash’s policy “really respects the wishes of (a majority) of the Turkish Cypriot community”.

    To make his point, Weston referred to a massive pro-EU rally in occupied Nicosia in mid January.

    Finally, he avoided pointing on any one major 'stumbling point' in negotiations (i.e. territory, return of refugees, Turkish settlers' status, security, division of powers etc.) saying instead that all of the issues are extremely inter-related and complex.

    [03] State Department denies report connecting Cyprus problem with Iraq crisis

    WASHINGTON 27/02/2003 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    The United States has categorically denied a report in the ''Financial Times'' according to which senior officials of the Bush administration have proposed to Turkey for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Cyprus plan to be improved in favor of the Turkish positions in exchange of Ankara's cooperation for the passing of American troops through Turkish territory.

    ''The claim included in the report that the U.S. have linked the Cyprus issue with the Iraq issue in private discussions with Turkish officials is totally groundless," a State Department official told the ANA on Wednesday. She added that ''the U.S. has repeatedly made clear to all parties in Cyprus that there is no connection between the Cyprus issue and any other issue, including that of Iraq.''

    The official, who spoke on behalf of the State Department spokesman, stressed that the U.S. was in very close contact with the United Nations and the European Union for a settlement of the problem within the time limits set by the UN Secretary General and it was within this context President George W. Bush had telephone talks with Annan on February 21 and with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday.

    [04] US State Dep't coordinator for Cyprus 'more optimistic' after Ankara talks

    Athens, 27/02/2003 (ANA)

    US State Department special coordinator for the Cyprus issue Thomas Weston told reporters in Athens on Wednesday that he had returned from Ankara and talks with the Turkish government ''more optimistic'' than before.

    Speaking to reporters at Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos international airport after a brief meeting there with Greek foreign minister George Papandreou, Weston said that developments in the Cyprus issue were at a ''historical point'', adding that the next few days would decide the future of Cyprus. He endorsed a just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue, a solution that was acceptable to all sides concerned.

    Both Weston and Papandreou said that they had a good consultation, while Papandreou expressed hope that a solution to the Cyprus issue could possibly be found within the timetables set out by the United Nations, adding that the recent flurry of consultations on the problem reflected the interest of all sides involved for a solution.

    Weston, who was due to leave for Cyprus later in the day, avoided responding to questions as to who was responsible for lack of achievement of an agreement to date, but lauded the good cooperation between Greece and the United States, which he said had played a decisive role in developments thus far.

    ''Our emphasis is on the present, and not the past, and now I am more optimistic than in the past,'' Weston said.

    [05] FM to visit Washington for talks on Iraq, Middle East, Korea and Cyprus

    WASHINGTON 27/02/2003 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou will conduct a one-day visit to Washington on Thursday, in his capacity as president of the EU's Council of Ministers, for talks on developments in Iraq, the Middle East and the issues of Korea and Cyprus.

    The visit is part of the scheduled six-month ministerial meeting between the EU and U.S. and will also focus on other issues concerning Euro-Atlantic dialogue which the Greek EU presidency has set as one of its priorities.

    Papandreou, who will arrive in the U.S. capital at dawn (Greek time), accompanied by EU Foreign Affairs and Defense Policy High Commissioner Javier Solana and Foreign Relations Commissioner Chris Patten, will hold talks at the White House with U.S. President George W. Bush's national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and later at the State Department with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

    Papandreou will also be meeting a group of experts from foreign policy foundations at the ''John Hopkins'' University.

    [06] Deputy FM Magriotis briefs Chinese counterpart on Iraq, Cyprus

    Athens, 27/02/2003 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis met with his Chinese counterpart Zao Zintu on Wednesday, who is currently on a visit Athens.

    The Greek minister briefed his counterpart on a number of issues, including developments in Iraq and the European Union’s positions on the crisis, according to a Foreign Ministry announcement.

    With regard to the North Korea, Magriotis asked the Zintu for his country’s influence toward resolving the crisis in North Korea. The Cyprus problem was also discussed, with Magriotis noting the good will on the part of the Greek and Cypriot sides and the lack of cooperation mainly on the part Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. He also thanked Zintu for China’s support toward a solution of the problem.

    Magriotis said that Greece-China cooperation in the sectors of tourism, economy, technology and culture should be furthered.

    The Chinese deputy foreign minister expressed his country’s agreement with Greek and EU positions on the crisis in Iraq, while he said that a peaceful resolution to the Cyprus problem was China's standing position.

    He added his country appreciated Greek efforts to promote values such as peace and democracy through the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

    [07] Coalition party leader says war a crime against humanity

    Athens, 27/02/2003 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) party leader Nikos Constantopoulos said on Wednesday the Greek government's position on a possible war in Iraq should be in accordance with the will of the Greek people.

    Constantopoulos, who was speaking in Hania, Crete, said the stance should be "no to war", "war is disaster and a crime against humanity", adding that war should not take place even as a last resort.

    He also referred to the presence of military installations and bases in Hania, saying that ''it is evident that a prefecture such as Hania, which has serious problems and great possibilities of development, cannot constantly be under the burden of military bases'' and pointing out that development cannot be in step with the militarization of regions.

    [08] FYROM president, Greek liaison officer visit Doirani Lake

    SKOPJE 27/02/2003 (ANA - N. Frangopoulos)

    Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) President Boris Trajkovski and the Greek liaison office head Ioannis Oikonomou on Wednesday visited the Doirani Lake section of FYROM, accompanied by European Union officials.

    The lake is on the border of Greece and FYROM, shared by the two countries.

    During the visit they examined the issue of the more effective management of the cross-border waters.

    Trajkovski stressed that his country has spent some 20 million euros on projects for the protection and enrichment of the lake, adding that FYROM and Greece with the aid of the European Union should in common work to confront the ecological catastrophe threatening the lake and the surrounding ecosystem.

    On his part, Oikonomou spoke of the necessity for the effective management of the cross border waters, those of the lake as well as those of the Axios River that is also shared by the two countries.

    He stressed that the water management of the region is one of Greece's priorities, aiming to confront the problem created by the fall in the water levels of the lakes, problem connected with the management of the Axios River water's management.

    [09] Greek EU presidency - preparations for the venue of Thessaloniki Summit

    Athens, 27/02/2003 (ANA)

    The Greek foreign ministry and representatives of ''Porto Carras'' hotel signed an agreement with which the plush complex undertakes the responsibility to revamp its areas and prepare them for hosting the European Union Summit in June 2003.

    Based on strict specifications forwarded to them by the ministry, the representatives of Porto Carras, a 3000-acre complex located in the northern Greek peninsula of Halkidiki, will forward a time schedule and alternative proposals for the project to ensure completion in early June.

    [10] Alternate FM discusses EU-South Korea cooperation with new president

    Athens, 27/02/2003 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis met in Seoul, South Korea, on Wednesday with the country's new President Roh Moo Hyun, whom he briefed on the course of cooperation between the EU and South Korea and conveyed the interest of both the EU and Greece for further strengthening this cooperation, according to a press release by the Greek foreign ministry.

    Yiannitsis also congratulated the president on behalf of Prime Minister and European Council President Costas Simitis, whom he represented at the swearing-in ceremony.

    The alternate foreign minister underlined the seriousness of the problem which has appeared with the nuclear program of North Korea and the efforts of the EU to resolve it, noting close cooperation and a wide coincidence of views on this issue between the EU and South Korea.

    President Hyun thanked Yiannitsis for the EU's participation in his swearing-in ceremony and expressed his appreciation for both relations between the EU and South Korea and bilateral relations with Greece.

    He also expressed his categorical refusal for tolerance for the nuclear program of North Korea, adding that he looks forward to a resumption of dialogue with the United States to prevent an escalation of the crisis.

    He further underlined the crucial role of the United States in resolving the problem which can be achieved through economic aid and guarantees regarding the regime's security.

    ''We are trying to avert war and for this reason we are calling on the United States to resolve the issue peacefully through dialogue,'' the president added.

    President Hyun also referred to bilateral relations between Greece and South Korea and to very close cooperation in certain sectors such as shipping.

    On the question of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, he said they have a distinct significance for both Greece and the world Olympic movement and expressed his conviction that the Games will be a success and his expectation to visit Greece.

    Yiannitsis, thanking President Hyun, invited him to visit Greece during the Olympic Games.

    [11] Education minister presents informal EU Council agenda

    Athens, 27/02/2003 (ANA)

    Education Minister Petros Efthymiou presented on Tuesday the agenda of the informal EU Council of Education Ministers, including the 10 acceding countries, to be held on March 1 and 2.

    Deliberations are scheduled to open on Saturday afternoon with a meeting of the 15 Education Ministers, to focus on the course of implementation of education policies after the Lisbon EU Council.

    The education ministers of the 10 acceding countries are to participate in a session with their 15 EU counterparts on Sunday, during which discussion will center on electronic education.

    Announcing the agenda, Efthymiou said that a primary target was to promote new communication and information technologies and life-long education as the primary lever for enhancing education systems.

    He added that the Greek EU Presidency target was to remodel education systems to facilitate their contribution to progress of society and prosperity. “The Greek EU Presidency will seek a decision for the holding of a special summit, similar to the Lisbon one, to deal exclusively with education affairs’, said Efthymiou.

    [12] DM briefs Parliament committee on Greek EU presidency defense affairs

    Athens, 27/02/2003 (ANA)

    Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on Wednesday briefed the Parliament committee on foreign affairs and defense on issues pertaining to his ministry in light of the Greek EU presidency.

    He stressed that the possibility of war in Iraq is increasing day-by-day due to the willingness of the United States, expressing, however, his assessment that there is a window for diplomacy that ''we have to take advantage of''.

    The defense minister said that the war in Iraq includes huge dangers for stability in the region, detailing the problems that Greece might face in the advent of a war in Iraq.

    [13] Gov't on media coverage for November 17 trial

    Athens, 27/02/2003 (ANA)

    All direct radio and TV broadcasts of proceedings during the high-profile November 17 terrorism trial were banned under new laws, government spokesman Christos Protopapas reiterated on Wednesday.

    Responding to questions regarding media coverage of the trial, Protopapas said radio and television crews could only be allowed in by a decision of the court itself and with the agreement of all those involved in the trial.

    In the meantime, to allow the public to be fully informed about the trial, he noted that journalists would have access to 40 card phones and 14 direct lines set up in the chambers for counsel, which were adjacent to the press room, and 64 computers.

    No phone lines would be allowed within the press room, which will be equipped with closed circuit TV relaying the proceedings, while the use of mobile phones will be banned to prevent the trial from being broadcast directly on radio, he added.

    Protopapas also noted that, in consultation with the Union of Newspaper Owners, the provision of tape recordings of the proceedings would be allowed in collaboration with a specialist company selected by the union.

    On the use of tape recorders by journalists, Protopapas stressed that this was at the discretion of the public prosecutor.

    He stressed that the government wanted ''full publicity but did not want the trial converted into a TV show or a revival of cannibalistic phenomena''.

    In an another development on Wednesday, the head of the Athens Bar Association Dimitris Paxinos protested at conditions within the special courtroom, saying that they did not allow the lawyers present to exercise their function properly.

    He objected to the ministry's refusal to allow an Athens bar delegation to inspect the site and cited problems in the arrangements, such as a glass partition that would make communication between lawyers and their clients impossible during the proceedings and inadequate phone lines.

    He warned that the Athens bar would not cooperation under the circumstances, which he said would not allow his colleagues to carry out their work unimpeded and which were necessary in order to properly conduct this ''very serious'' trial.

    Athens bar protests at conditions within N17 trial courtroom: The head of the Athens Bar Association Dimitris Paxinos on Wednesday protested at conditions within the special courtroom set aside for high-profile ''November 17'' terrorism trial in the Korydallos women's prison, saying that they did not allow the lawyers present to exercise their function properly.

    In a letter addressed to the general secretary of the justice ministry, Paxinos protested against the ministry's refusal to allow an Athens bar delegation to inspect the courtroom and see if it met their requirements.

    According to the information at his disposal, ''communication between defense lawyers and their clients will be impossible during the trial due to a special glass partition, the benches are unstable and narrow, while the chamber for counsel adjoins that for the press, has no internal circuit and has 40 card phones to serve both lawyers and journalists,'' Paxinos said.

    Under the circumstances, the conditions that would allow his colleagues to carry out their work unimpeded and which were necessary in order to properly conduct this ''very serious'' trial could not be ensured and the Athens bar could not cooperate in this, he warned.

    KKE urges gov't to ensure adequate publicity for N17 trial: The government had an obligation to ensure that the November 17 terrorism trial received adequate publicity and to facilitate reporters in every way, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said on Wednesday.

    Televised coverage of the trial could be handled by state television, which could set up one or two fixed cameras in the courtroom recording all the proceedings that would then supply the other TV stations with images, a KKE announcement said.

    A KKE official also noted that government arguments in favor of the restrictions imposed on the way the media could cover the trial - namely, that it did not want to turn the proceedings into a media circus - had also effectively restricted the publicity the trial would receive.

    ESHEA protests to press minister about terms of N17 trial coverage: The Athens Journalists’ Union (ESHEA) board of directors on Wednesday met with Press and Media Minister Christos Protopapas to ''strongly protest to the government the problem created in the coverage of the November 17 (terrorist group's) trial''.

    A press release issued by ESHEA stressed that during the meeting it was ''noted that there is a major problem in substantial coverage and in the abiding by the constitutional mandate for the coverage of the trial''.

    ''ESHEA's position is that of securing the unhindered physical presence and continual visual contact of journalists with all the persons involved in the trial, in the place where the trial will be conducted,'' the press release said.

    ''Also it is necessary that all the relevant facilitation be provided, so that Greek society will be informed in time and substantially on the developments of the much talked about trial, by the press and the mass media,'' it added.

    Furthermore the board of directors stressed that full publicity for the N17 trial is a major issue of the freedom of the press and of democracy, stressing that it believed that the existing terms of journalistic coverage of the trial do not secure the substantial publicity of such an important event.

    [14] New Navy gunboat launched by Skaramangas Shipyards

    Athens, 27/02/2003 (ANA)

    The gunboat "Aittitos" (Invincible), the third of four gunboats ordered by the Greek Navy from the Skaramangas Shipyards, was launched on Wednesday after being named by singer Maria Farantouri in a ceremony attended by Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, the head of the Navy General Staff Vice Admiral Antonis Antoniadis and the managements of the shipyard.

    In his address, Papantoniou noted the serious consequences that a war in Iraq might have for stability in the Middle East.

    He said that the gunboats program expected to be completed in July was worth 176 million euros and that the shipyards had also received a contract to build new submarines and retool the Navy's E-type frigates.

    [15] Weather forces Greek deputy FM to postpone Jordan visit

    BEIRUT 27/02/2003 (ANA - E. Boukaouri)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos on Wednesday postponed a planned visit to Jordan after a state of emergency was declared in the Middle Eastern country due to heavy snowfall, reaching up to 40 centimeters high in Amman.

    Loverdos' trip to Jordan will now take place in the third week of March.

    On Thursday, the deputy foreign minister and the delegation accompanying him will go to Qatar, where they will stay for two days, and he will complete a tour of the Middle East by visiting Kuwait on Sunday, March 2.

    [16] Parliament committee gives green light to renewal of OSE's director's term

    Athens, 27/02/2003 (ANA)

    The Parliament committee on public enterprises and utilities on Wednesday gave a positive opinion concerning the renewal of the Greek railways' (OSE) Managing Director K. Giannakos.

    Eight of the committee's deputies, of the ruling PASOK party voted for the positive opinion, main opposition New Democracy's (ND) five deputies opposed, while the deputies of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and of the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) abstained.

    [17] FinMin unveils export support measures

    Athens, 27/02/2003 (ANA)

    Greek Economy and Finance Minister, Nikos Christodoulakis, on Wednesday unveiled a package of measures aimed to support exports by small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

    The seven measures, announced with the approval of Greek Industries' Union, the Panhellenic Exporters' Union and the Northern Greece Exporters' Union, envisage: - creating a National Export Council to discuss and deal with problems facing the export industry, - restructuring of the Export Promotion Organization with the aim to support SMEs and expand in its network to critical regions of the country, - promoting pilot programs to support SMEs, - creating a network of communication and exchange of information, - setting up Export Promotion Offices abroad, - creating a network of groups offering export services and, - coordinating the promotion of export products.

    [18] Gov’t discusses financial support to electricity investments

    Athens, 27/02/2003 (ANA)

    The Greek government is seeking ways to offer financial support to investments in the domestic electricity market by groups that have already obtained operating licenses, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Wednesday.

    Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Greek bankers, Mr Christodoulakis said that Greek banks would draft a framework plan to fund investments in the electricity market, based on investment plans with budgets ranging from 200-300 million euros for each unit.

    The Greek minister said that a new meeting, including the holders of electricity licenses, would be held next month.

    Mr Christodoulakis was adamant that the deregulation of the domestic electricity market would be done with a unified Public Power Corporation and he dismissed talk of higher electricity prices for the benefit of private investors' interests.

    [19] Greek inflation to rise in February, FinMin

    Athens, 27/02/2003 (ANA)

    February will be a difficult month for Greek inflation, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Wednesday.

    Speaking to reporters, Mr Christodoulakis attributed an expected rise in the inflation rate this month to a rise in international oil prices, because of heightened fears of a war in Iraq, and to very bad weather conditions in the country recently.

    The Greek minister, however, stressed that an expected rise in inflation was temporary phenomenon and did not relate to a long-term decline in the consumer price inflation prevailing in the last few years.

    Mr Christodoulakis called for restraint and noted that the government was setting an example by containing the public sector's pricing policy.

    [20] Tsohatzopoulos to chair EU competitiveness council in Brussels

    Athens, 27/02/2003 (ANA)

    Industry, research, development and the internal market will dominate the U's ''four in one'' competitiveness council scheduled for 3 March in Brussels.

    Greek Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating six-month presidency, will chair the competitiveness council, which has essentially replaced the ministerial councils of industry, internal market, research and tourism.

    According to recent data Greece ranks among the lowest on the ''adjustment list'' presenting an almost 4 percentage point ''implementation deficit'' with regard to 1,500 EU internal market guidelines currently in force, in spite of recent progress it has made in that direction.

    The deficit rate represents the percentage of EU internal market laws currently in force that a member state has not yet passed into national law. The average ''implementation deficit'' in the EU is 1.5 percentage points.

    [21] Greece seeks to curb impact on tourism of possible war with Iraq

    Athens, 27/02/2003 (ANA)

    The government plans to take measures that will help to contain adverse repercussions on tourism in the event of war with Iraq.

    At a meeting chaired by Deputy Development Minister Dimitris Georgakopoulos on Wednesday, sector officials decided to step up a Greek tourism publicity campaign abroad, showing that the country is safe due to its geographical position.

    [22] Greek stocks end to new five-year lows

    Athens, 27/02/2003 (ANA)

    Greek stocks remained under pressure for the sixth consecutive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday pushing the general index to its lowest levels in the last five years.

    The index fell 0.37 percent to end at 1,618.37 points, with turnover a low 65.4 million euros.

    The IT Solutions, Construction and Insurance sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (2.92 percent, 2.72 percent and 1.34 percent, respectively), while the Cement (1.75 percent), Metals (0.76 percent) and Textile (0.49 percent) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 0.32 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 0.32 percent lower, the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index eased 0.22 percent and the wider FTSE/ASE 140 index ended 0.31 percent off.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 164 to 124 with another 65 issues unchanged.

    Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 62.7 mln euros Wednesday

    Equity Index Futures:

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

  • Underlying Index: -0.32 percent

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

  • Underlying Index: -0.32 percent

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (770)

    Day's Market Turnover: 62.7 mln euros

    Bond Market Close: Buyers match sellers on Wednesday

    Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond

  • Yield: 4.17 pct

  • Spread over German bund: 22 bps

  • Day's Market Turnover: 2.5 bln euros

  • Most Active Bond: 10-year, expiring May 2012 and May 2013 (325 mln euros)

    [23] ATHOC and labor ministry sign cooperation memorandum

    Athens, 27/02/2003 (ANA)

    Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas and the head of the Athens Olympics Organizing Committee (ATHOC) Gianna Angelopoulos on Wednesday signed a memorandum of cooperation between the ministry and ATHOC to regulate labor and other issues related to the 2004 Olympics.

    Among these were the construction of the Olympic Village, training the unemployed, civil servants and freelance workers to cover emergency needs that might arise during the Games, as well as working hours and labor problems during that period.

    Responding to questions, Reppas said that all special measures relating to work hours and conditions in areas near the stadiums, designed to ensure that the better organization of the Games, would be made after consultations with the social partners.

    Angelopoulos stressed the good levels of cooperation with the labor ministry, particularly in the construction of the Olympic Village and noted that the workforce would benefit generally from the training and educational programs.

    Reppas said that legislation regulating labor-related issues will be tabled before the Games and that a special committee will be set up to monitor the memorandum with ATHOC that will coordinate and adapt the joint effort.

    [24] Olympic Games' archival exhibition inaugurated by Venizelos

    Athens, 27/02/2003 (ANA)

    The Athens Olympic Games are a unique opportunity for Greece to promote its modern face and to establish the post-industrial model of development, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Wednesday.

    Venizelos, addressing the inauguration of the exhibition ''Sports & Olympic Spirit from the archives of Epaminondas Petralias'', in the presence of President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos said that the ''Olympic Games are an issue involving all the Greek people, while it is necessary to study the past of the athletic and Olympic movement in Greece and the framework of this study includes the exhibition of Petralias''.

    Main opposition New Democracy and ruling PASOK party cadres, Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) cadres and members of the Greek Olympic Team participated in the event.

    [25] UN Secretary-General seeks agreement within a week the maximum

    LARNACA 27/02/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said here on Wednesday that he prayed the leaders in Cyprus will come to an agreement in the coming few days on the Cyprus problem but not later than a week.

    In statements at Larnaca airport in the afternoon, Annan said he was ''delighted to arrive in Cyprus at this decisive time. When I came in mid-May, I looked into people's eyes, and I saw that they wanted to bring an end to the longstanding dispute that has torn this beautiful island apart for decades.''

    Annan said that in the afternoon, he would be seeing (President-elect Tassos Papadopoulos, ''the incoming Greek Cypriot leader, and Mr. (Rauf) Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot leader, in separate meetings.

    Before that I will call on Mr. (Glafcos) Clerides, whose term in office will shortly come to an end. I expect to meet them directly tomorrow morning. Tomorrow I will also be meeting other political party leaders, both Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot, he said.

    The Secretary-General remarked that the ''Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots were given a draft agreement on November 11, 2002. This was revised on December 10, in the hope that they could agree to it before the Copenhagen European Council. This opportunity slipped by.''

    ''This afternoon, I will give them another revision which I hope to discuss with them tomorrow. Its contents should not come as a surprise to them. My Special Adviser, Alvaro de Soto, and his team, have gone over the elements which we proposed to change with all concerned in the past week or so. A preview of the proposed changes was given to them in writing this last Saturday,'' Annan said.

    ''I pray that the leaders, in their wisdom, will come to an agreement in the coming few days,'' the UN Chief said. ''This will allow Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to go to the polls on March 30, in separate simultaneous referenda, to bring into being a new state of affairs in Cyprus. If this happens on April 16, the European Union Treaty of Accession will be signed on behalf of a reunited Cyprus.''

    Annan added ''I have come to Cyprus to tell you that the entire international community is hoping and praying that a Cyprus settlement, so long delayed, is at last at hand. I believe very strongly that the offer on the table is fair and balanced, and that a settlement would bring great benefits to the two sides, to the motherlands, to the region, and to the world.''

    ''I hope that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike understand the urgency of the task at hand. It is no exaggeration to say that you have a rendezvous with destiny,'' he concluded his statement.

    To a question what is the deadline, Annan said as he has indicated, ''the timeframe that we have set, is still valid. I have indicated the date of February 28 may slip slightly but definitely not beyond a few days or a maximum of a week,'' he added.

    [26] Annan expects 'real movement' from talks on Thursday

    NICOSIA 27/02/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan expects ''real movement'' during his joint meeting on Thursday morning with Cyprus President-elect Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    Speaking after wrapping up separate meetings in Nicosia with outgoing President Glafcos Clerides, Papadopoulos and Denktash, and asked what he expected from his meeting on Thursday, the UN chief said ''real movement.''

    The UN Secretary General presented Clerides, Papadopoulos and

    Denktash with a third plan for a Cyprus settlement.

    UNFICYP Spokesman Brian Kelly announced that the meeting will be held at 1000 local time (0800 GMT) and will be held at the site where the direct talks were being held, near the UN-controlled Nicosia airport.

    He also announced that at 1315 local time (1115 GMT) Annan will attend

    a lunch with the political party leaders from both sides of the divide, at the residence of Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Chief of Mission, Zbigniew Wlosowicz at the UN headquarters, in Nicosia.

    Papadopoulos says UN chief wants to push forward Cyprus talks: Papadopoulos said here Wednesday Annan wants to become personally involved in the current stages of the Cyprus problem, hoping ''his presence and personal contribution will push forward the talks.''

    Speaking after his meeting with Annan, on the first day of the UN chief's visit to the island, Papadopoulos said he assured Annan about the Greek Cypriot side's determination to hold talks for a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem with a ''constructive and flexible attitude.''

    Confirming his meeting with Denktash in the presence of Annan, on Thursday, Papadopoulos said he has received the new revised Annan plan.

    To a question if Annan had asked for a reply to the plan from both Papadopoulos and Denktash before his departure from Cyprus, President Papadopoulos said Annan ''hopes to have a reply but he has not given a deadline.''

    The newly-elected Cypriot president pointed out that the Secretary-General expressed his strong wish to maintain the timeframe for a solution. ''He considers the timeframe very important and expressed his desire that it be kept,'' said Papadopoulos.

    He added that he did not discuss with Annan the new revised plan because he is not familiar with it, adding ''I simply outlined our views on the proposals we had.''

    Asked if Annan had informed him whether Ankara is committed to the procedure, Papadopoulos replied, ''Annan is very convinced Ankara wants a solution. Of course, we all want a solution, the point is what kind of solution.'' He added that Annan ''has the impression that Ankara will help find a solution.''

    Invited to comment on a referendum Denktash is reported to organize on the Annan plan in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus, Papadopoulos said, ''the referendum is Denktash’s choice...''.

    Asked if such a referendum could cause problems to the Greek Cypriot side, the President-elect replied ''this is an issue which concerns Mr. Denktash and the Turkish Cypriot community.''

    Regarding the submission of the new revised plan, Papadopoulos said that he received it ''ten minutes before meeting Mr. Annan,'' adding he will spend the night studying it.

    Asked whether he believes that substantial negotiations can be held and a solution secured by March 7, Papadopoulos replied ''we have repeatedly said we are ready for substantial negotiations. It must be appreciated that we cannot find a solution alone. There is the other side involved as well. There is also the Turkish side and if it has the will, like we do, and maintains positions which can satisfy our concerns and likewise, a solution can be found. I cannot foresee Mr. Denktash's frame of mind,'' he added.

    Papadopoulos said Annan talked about a unique opportunity for a Cyprus settlement, and not the last chance for a solution.

    The new president said he will confer with his advisers on the revised plan, noting the deliberations on Thursday will be just as intense as they were on Wednesday.

    Asked if the timeframe, which the UN has set, allows him to negotiate with flexibility and assertively, Papadopoulos answered that this would become evident from the discussions.

    Demonstration in favor of Annan plan: A peaceful demonstration in favor of the Annan plan for a Cyprus settlement and accession to the European Union of a reunited Cyprus, was held here Wednesday outside the hotel where Annan will be staying during his three-day visit to the island.

    Members of the Platform Solution-Reunification Now, holding candles and banners with slogans ''Peace'', ''Solution – Reunification Now'', in English, Greek and Turkish, remained for an hour outside Hilton hotel in Nicosia, in an effort to convey their message for peace to Annan.

    Among those attending the demonstration were United Democrats President George Vassiliou, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous, Democratic Rally spokesman Tasos Mitsopoulos and former deputy Kate Clerides.

    Vassiliou, former president of the Republic, said his participation in the demonstration was to indicate the feeling that ''we want a solution the soonest."

    ''The fact that the UN Secretary-General came to Cyprus and will remain here for three days, indicates the great significance which the international community attaches to the need for a Cyprus settlement," he said.

    Mitsopoulos said the demonstration conveys the message to Annan that the people of Cyprus want an ''acceptable and functional solution to the Cyprus problem."

    In a declaration, the Platform states that it supports ''an immediate acceptance of the plan proposed by the UN for the solution of the Cyprus problem and the accession of a united country to the EU."

    It also expresses solidarity with the Turkish Cypriots and urges them to continue their demonstrations and ''intensify the efforts until the dividing walls fall permanently."

    The Platform also calls upon the political leadership to grasp the

    opportunity and ''open the window of hope for the future generations of all Cypriots."

    Furthermore, the Platform asks Annan not to give up his efforts to ''bring peace to this troubled island but to intensify them."

    [27] Weston: Renewed hope that solution achievable

    LARNACA 27/02/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    US State Department Coordinator for Cyprus, Thomas Weston, said he returns to the island from his visits to Athens and Ankara ''with a renewed sense of hope that a solution is achievable."

    Returning on Wednesday to Cyprus from Athens, where he held talks with the Greek political leadership, Weston said he was due to attend a meeting in Nicosia.

    UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is currently holding consultations with Britain's Special Representative for Cyprus Lord David Hannay and other officials at the hotel in Nicosia, where he is staying during his three-day visit to the island.

    ''Obviously I am coming back in a time of extreme importance, as I did a few days ago. I have been to Ankara and Athens in between and had very extensive in substance talks in both capitals, on the subject of the day which is support of the Secretary-General's efforts in achieving a settlement."

    He said he returns ''with a renewed sense of hope that that will be achievable''.

    Asked about the telephone call which US President George Bush made to Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Weston said Bush did have a conversation with the premier on Tuesday, which covered many topics, including Cyprus.

    ''He made clear what US views were, which was to do everything we can to support the Secretary-General's efforts to achieve a settlement," the US diplomat said.

    Weston repeated the US ''commitment to work as hard as we can in support of the Secretary-General's efforts."

    Asked about his meetings in Turkey, Weston said ''they were very positive'' and referred to the statements made by the leader of the Justice and Development Party in Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Those statements, he said, ''should be looked at very carefully, and there you will find the reasons for my hopefulness."

    To a remark that the UN Secretary-General has given to the two sides the new revision of his plan, Weston referred journalists to Kofi Annan, noting ''that is the business of the Secretary-General, not of the US State Special Coordinator for Cyprus. I am here to support him."

    Asked if he was aware of the contents of the plan, Weston replied that the US ''have been discussing with the UN for some time the plan, that's obvious'' but could not comment on what Annan actually discussed with the leaders on Wednesday.

    Invited to comment on statements by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash that those who made the plan do not know the Cyprus problem, Weston said ''that is not a new position for Mr. Denktash to announce yet."

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