|Thursday, 17 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-03-14
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>March 14, 2003
 Gov't seeks price restraint to counter inflationary pressure
Athens, 14/03/2003 (ANA)The government said on Thursday that it wanted to see price restraint in consumer goods and public utility rates in a bid to counteract inflationary pressures, which drove up inflation to 4.3 percent in February.
Speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting, Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis pledged that public utilities would not impose above-inflation rate hikes this year.
''In this adverse set of circumstances, the objective is for the Greek economy to hold its ground and maintain a growth outlook,'' Christodoulakis said.
Also singled out for price restraint were foodstuffs in stores and restaurants, in order to help attain underlying inflation of 3.0 percent in 2003 from 3.6 percent a year earlier.
Authorities would step up spot checks in the consumer and fuel market to curb profiteering, with oil prices up 70 percent against 2001, Christodoulakis warned.
He also urged for restraint in the transport sector, where price hikes were unwarranted.
Other measures to aid the economy decided by the cabinet were greater promotion abroad of Greece as a tourism venue and a drive to boost exports through the National Exports Council, which is due to meet on Monday.
Finally, the minister urged a strict adherence to budgetary targets in order to help the government meet contingencies; and an acceleration of inflows from the European Union's Third Community Support Framework package of funds to 400 million euros each month.
The government also plans to speed up privatization and the implementation of existing programs to boost employment, Christodoulakis added.
 Central bank sees higher inflation this year
Athens, 14/03/2003 (ANA)Earlier in the day, the central bank said in its interim report on monetary policy that inflation for 2003 would rise above an average of 3.6 percent in 2002.
Underlying inflation would hold the same level in 2003 as in the previous year at roughly 3.6 percent, the Bank of Greece said.
The report also forecast that any major rise in fuel prices linked to a probable war on Iraq could lower the disposable income of Greeks.
If the price of oil rose by 10 US dollars a barrel, then the domestic inflation rate would gain another 0.5 percent, lowering disposable income by the same amount, the report said.
In a news conference, central bank governor Nikos Garganas said that while Greece was more vulnerable than other member states in the eurozone to a steep hike in global oil prices, panic should be avoided.
''Let us not create a psychology of crisis,'' Garganas warned.
 Prime minister expresses confidence in economy
Athens, 14/03/2003 (ANA)Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday expressed his confidence in the Greek economy and its strength.
Addressing a cabinet meeting to discuss recent economic developments amidst international uncertainty over developments in Iraq, Mr Simitis stressed: "We will not be carried away by those trying to create a climate of crisis and fear and adopting emergency economic measures."
"Economic growth combined with stability is our choice," Mr Simitis said and added that "we need to give a measure of the real situation and rebut doom talking".
The cabinet meeting agreed not to take any emergency economic measures ahead of developments in Iraq.
The Greek premier noted that this crisis would be overcome also "if we are wise, show self-control and do what we have to."
"Our country managed to overcome a bigger crisis, the war in Yugoslavia in 1999" Mr Simitis said.
The Greek prime minister said that in the next 10 days the world could have a total view of the situation in Iraq.
 Cabinet decides against special measures for Iraq crisis
Athens, 14/03/2003 (ANA)A meeting of the cabinet on Thursday was unanimous in deciding against special measures to deal with the repercussions of the outbreak of war in Iraq, following an address by Prime Minister Costas Simitis in which he stressed the need to resist those feeding a ''climate of crisis''.
Reporting on the results of the meeting, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said that the prime minister had criticized those ''who speak of imminent catastrophes, cultivating a false climate without evidence. We must stand against those feeding a climate of crisis, apprehension and the need to take emergency measures.''
''We are the guarantors of development and we will continue this policy unwaveringly,'' Simitis added.
Commenting on the unfavorable international situation, where the bad performance of the stock exchange had coincided with a rise in oil prices and possible repercussions on tourism, Simitis underlined that these factors did not add up to ''an image of crisis''.
None of the government ministers at the meeting had supported the need for emergency measures, calling instead for ''sober and serious'' ways to reinforce the anti-inflationary front, particularly against rising food prices and by not raising rates for public utilities above the rate of inflation, as well as possible measures to support tourism and boost exports.
They also agreed on the need to strictly implement the budget and promote structural reforms.
 Opposition criticizes gov't handling of the economy
Athens, 14/03/2003 (ANA)The main opposition New Democracy party said on Thursday that a central bank report on the economy served to confirm its view that the government was managing the economy badly.
''Adverse economic fundamentals and events cannot be attributed to circumstances around the Iraq crisis,'' said N. Nikolopoulos, the party's economy spokesman.
''The rise in inflationary pressure and increase in primary spending, which is up 30 percent against a forecast of 6.0 percent, shows that the government's economic leadership has lost all control,'' Nikolopoulos said.
In a separate statement, the Coalition of the Left and Progress complained of falsely reassuring government statements, which had failed to conceal a deterioration in the economy and decline in the income of the less prosperous.
 Gov't denies pressure for finance minister's resignation
Athens, 14/03/2003 (ANA)No one within the government had asked for the resignation of Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, government spokesman Christos Protopapas told reporters on Thursday after the regular weekly cabinet meeting and advised them not to treat various political analyses as facts.
"If this were the case, we would have had at least 15 cabinet reshuffles and as many different prime ministers by now," he added.
Responding to questions about Thursday's intervention by Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, Christodoulakis' predecessor in the finance ministry, Protopapas said that Papantoniou had agreed with the picture of the Greek economy as presented by the current head of the finance team and had made proposals regarding the political and communications handling of the crisis period, based on his own personal experiences during similar periods in the past.
 PM: Cyprus impasse will seriously impede Turkey's EU prospects
Athens, 14/03/2003 (ANA)The collapse of the latest effort for a solution to the Cyprus problem would have serious repercussions for Turkey's EU course, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis stressed on Thursday, telling his cabinet that ''without a solution, there are no European prospects for Turkey''.
Reporting on Thursday's cabinet meeting, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said that the premier had dwelt at length on the ultimately fruitless initiative by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to find a formula to reunite the island.
''This concerted intervention, which was perhaps the most important of all that have been presented in many years, unfortunately did not yield results. The responsibility for this has been attributed to the obstructive policy of the Turkish-Cypriot side, which caused the impasse assisted by Iraq-occupied Ankara,'' Simitis said.
The premier also noted that the Turkish side had shown no willingness to shift its fixed positions and that the repercussions of this were already evident ''in the reactions of the European Commission and the foreign ministries of third countries,'' while it would not in any way affect Cyprus EU accession.
''Greece and Cyprus have been convincing throughout the negotiations and confirmed the rightness of our choices,'' he added.
At the same time, he said that the prospect of accession still left open the possibility of gathering momentum for a Cyprus solution.
''If (Turkish-Cypriot) leader Rauf Denktash and certain people in Ankara think that they can legalize the fait accompli of invasion they are mistaken. Time works in favor of justice and a solution, a fact confirmed by the events in the occupied territories.''
Athens' position was that as long as the Cyprus problem remained unresolved, a major possible source of crisis in the eastern Mediterranean remained and for this reason the Cyprus problem remained a top priority for Greek foreign policy, Simitis noted.
The sooner Turkey realized in which direction history was moving, the better it would be for the region, the Greek premier added and congratulated Cyprus' government on its good cooperation and choices.
 Ban on Turkish party a 'negative development', Athens says
Athens 14/03/2003 (ANA)A decision by Turkey's Constitutional Court to ban the operation of the HADEP party within the country was a "particularly negative development for the normalization of political life and the establishment of democratic principles within Turkey," the Greek foreign ministry said on Thursday.
Foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis said that Turkey, as a candidate-country for the European Union, was obliged to guarantee the normal and unobstructed operation of political parties under the commitments that arose from its partnership association with the EU.
Noting that the court's decision would be assessed by EU bodies, he predicted that it would have a negative impact on Turkey's European course.
 FM stresses need for EU to turn its attention to the Balkans again
BRUSSELS, 14/03/2003 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)Foreign Minister and Council of General Affairs President George Papandreou on Thursday stressed the need for the European Union to turn its attention to the Balkans again in the wake of the latest developments.
Papandreou will discuss the issue with his 15 counterparts on Tuesday, while it will also be raised by Prime Minister and EU President Costas Simitis at the summit on Thursday.
''The assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic reminded Europe of the Balkans in a tragic way,'' Papandreou said, adding that Greece's insistence on this priority was justified in the worst possible way.
''We must not and can not forget the Balkans where the situation is still very far from secure stability,'' Papandreou said and noted that on the part of the Greek EU presidency the Balkan crisis is already ''very high on the agenda of all summits.''
Papandreou, who arrived in the Belgian capital to participate in the Assembly on the future of the EU, had an in-depth discussion on all controversial institutional issues with its President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, who is trying to complete the proposed text of the new Treaty by the Thessaloniki summit in June.
 Greek FM Papandreou gives interview to U.S. state television PBS
NEW YORK, 14/03/2003 (ANA - P. Panagiotou)Greece insists that all diplomatic efforts must be exhausted to avert a war in Iraq, Greek Foreign Minister and EU Council of Foreign Ministers president George Papandreou said in an interview to U.S. state television (PBS).
The interview was recorded last Friday during Papandreou's presence in New York where he attended the UN Security Council debate on the Iraq crisis.
Referring to the prospects of a resolution at the Security Council, the minister conceded that the Council was split, while there was consensus among the EU members on a series of matters, such as the need for Iraq to fully disarm and comply, for inspections not to continue indefinitely, the need for a second UN resolution to be taken in the event that military action had to be taken, at the same time for all diplomatic efforts to be exhausted so as to avert war and finally of the importance of sending a clear message to Saddam Hussein that there was possibility of the crisis being provided he cooperates.
 Gov't spokesman expresses hope for smooth course of democratic changes in Serbia
Athens, 14/03/2003 (ANA)Government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Thursday expressed the hope that ''the smooth course of democratic changes in Serbia will not be upset'' following the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, adding that Prime Minister Costas Simitis has addressed a relevant letter to the government in Belgrade.
 Karamanlis criticizes gov't on its foreign policy options
Athens, 14/03/2003 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis on Thursday criticized Prime Minister Costas Simitis' handling of the Cyprus issue, speaking of a ''simplistic and experimental'' way of handling Greek national issues.
Addressing an event at the "Constantine Karamanlis Institute for Democracy", the opposition leader said that ND believed that efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue did not end nor did opportunities for a resolution expire and called on the premier to abandon opinions he stated recently that the Annan plan may be the last opportunity and that the international community may become tired of the issue and recognize a partition of the island republic.
''If the premier realized an international community's fatigue, instead of predicting a legalization of the partition, he is obliged to note that it is its (the international community's) obligation to exert pressure on the victimizer and not the victim of the invasion,'' Karamanlis said.
''If the statements he used aimed at exerting pressure on Cypriot Hellenism and its leadership he committed a grievous mistake,'' he added, stressing that efforts for the resolution of the Cyprus problem continue unabated and that ND stands by the struggles of the Cypriot people.
Karamanlis underlined that the European Union's notification, which said that if the Cyprus issue was not resolved by May 2004 Turkey would find itself occupying part of the EU's territory, was very significant.
He also said that ND would stand for and vote for the ratification of the new EU members' entry to the EU, only after the entry of Cyprus is approved by all member-states.
The ND leader underlined that Turkey's European prospects depended on its behavior concerning the Cyprus problem.
Speaking of the Iraq crisis, he said that the EU should adopt a common policy of security and defense and requested that such provisions be made in the European constitution.
He added that the constitution should also include provisions for solidarity between member-states in the event that any of them may be the victim of an attack or become victim of an asymmetrical threat.
''We should progress toward the creation of a eurozone defense,'' he said, stressing that he viewed the proposal for the exemption of military expenditures from the stability pact as correct in principle.
As regards Iraq, Karamanlis stood for the peaceful resolution of the crisis, adding, however, that whatever decisions for an intervention should stem from the UN Security Council.
He called the Security Council the only institution that can legally make decisions on international peace and security.
At this point, he noted that the harmony and logic in the EU-USA relations should be secured, based on an equitable alliance, but noted at the same time that the unity of the EU should be safeguarded and political unification should be sped up.
Karamanlis also said that immediate initiatives should be taken, adding that the common position arrived at by the ''15'' of the EU is neither common nor a position.
Concluding his statements, Karamanlis underlined that the ghosts of destabilization in the Balkans are still ''among us'' and for that reason the international community, and especially the EU, should deal even more decisively with the case of stability in the Western Balkans.
 Gov't spokesman says U.S. aircraft carriers did not harass Greek aircraft
Athens 14/03/2003 (ANA)Government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Thursday ''American aircraft carriers participating in exercises outside the Athens FIR did not harass a Greek aircraft.''
Protopapas clarified that a Greek aircraft approached the zone in which American exercises were taking place and it was requested to move away.
 Coalition party leader meets Arab country ambassadorsAthens,(14/03/2003 (ANA)
Coalition of the Left and Progress party leader Nikos Constantopoulos on Thursday met the ambassadors of Algeria, the Palestinian community, Syria, Tunisia and the first secretary of the Egyptian Embassy in Athens for talks on the Iraq crisis.
He expressed his party's total opposition to the policy of the United States on Iraq, stressing that the dogma of ''preventative war'' was a strategy for continuing warfare that would and usher in catastrophes, the fall of regimes, insecurities and uncertainties and allow them to dominate the 21st century, causing hardship for all nations.
Constantopoulos stressed the historic role of the European Union and said that it had an obligation to avert the war by supporting the recent statement of United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, who declared that a unilateral war by the U.S. and the United Kingdom would be illegal and violate the U.N. charter.
He called on the Greek EU presidency to make it clear on behalf of the 15 that the EU would oppose the war, to call a new summit to support the French position and send an official delegation to Baghdad.
Finally, the Coalition leader stressed that the war threatened the entire region and that Europe, in particular, would have to deal with its economic repercussion.
The Arab officials thanked Constantopoulos for his invitation to them and stressed the need to secure peace, respect for the principles of the U.N. charter and international law and called for democratization of international relations as a necessary condition for world safety.
 DHKKI leader meets Iraqi charge d'affaires, warns of war repercussions
Athens 14/03/2003 (ANA)Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) party leader Dimitris Tsovolas on Thursday met with Iraqi embassy charge d'affairs Farouk al Fitian for talks on the latest developments in the Iraqi crisis.
Tsovolas charged that, ''on the pretext of the destruction of weapons of mass destruction and the overthrow of (Iraqi leader) Saddam Hussein, the Unites States, together with Mr. (British prime minister Tony) Blair, wish to violate the principles of International Law and human rights and go ahead with a filthy war, remaining indifferent to the human sacrifices but also the repercussions on the global economy, in order to, essentially, forward their plans for political and military control of the entire region and advance their global hegemony''.
Tsovolas said that the war on Iraq could and should be averted, adding that the peoples of all the countries, and mainly the peoples of the EU member countries, would contribute in that direction.
The DHKKI leader warned that if the war took place, the living standard of the European citizens would be hard hit ''and we in Greece will suffer greater damage, since we have long-standing economic but also cultural relations with Iraq and the countries of the Middle East, and we have a large energy dependence on those countries''.
 EU-NATO security agreement to be signed on FridayAthens, (14/03/2003 (ANA)
The security agreement between the European Union and NATO will be signed at the foreign ministry at noon on Friday.
The agreement will be signed by the EU's Council of Ministers President George Papandreou, the EU's High Commissioner Javier Solana and NATO's Secretary General George Robertson.
 Greek EU Presidency welcomes outcome of Malta's referendumAthens, (14/03/2003 (ANA)
Greece's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on Thursday, on behalf of the Presidency of the European Union, welcoming the positive outcome of Malta’s referendum over the country’s European Union direction.
The full text of the statement follows:
“Following the results of the national referendum on EU membership in Malta, the first in an acceding country, the Presidency welcomes the decision of the Maltese people regarding the future of their country as part of the European family.
“This is an important step in the established procedures for the signing and entry into force of the treaties of accession.
“The Presidency reiterates its commitment to do its part in helping to bring about the reality of an enlarged union”.
 Greece opens conference of the European Island Committee in Majorca
Athens, 14/03/2003 (ANA)Greek Aegean Minister Nikos Sifounakis on Thursday in his opening address to the annual Conference of the European Island Committee stressed the need for continued support to the EU's island regions in tackling enormous difficulties associated with access and communication through the reinforcement of horizontal initiatives, including cross-border, cross-region and interstate cooperation, a Greek Aegean ministry press bulletin said.
''Structural and cohesion fund initiatives should be reinforced with state assistance in step with policies designed for regions with permanent geographical and demographic disadvantages'', the minister said.
Sifounakis also referred to his 3 February meeting with EU Commissioner on Regional Policy Michel Barnier where the two men discussed the Commission's considerations on the islands beyond 2006.
''The Commissioner feels that the goal of the Commission should be the development of a structural funds policy for action in geographically disadvantaged regions such as islands, mountain zones, outer regions and sparsely populated areas through the establishment of a separate financing tool, but also through a process simpler than the one currently in effect''.
He said the Commissioner informed him that the relevant study on the European islands would be ready before the end of March and said that he reacted positively to an invitation for developing the Commission's proposals on the Aegean islands within 2003.
While in Majorca, the minister will have separate meetings with President of the Balearic Islands Government Francesc Antich I Oliver, European Island Committee President Jean Baggioni, Spanish government representative Ricardo Perez Villota and other dignitaries, the bulletin said.
 Meeting by journalists unions, Athens bar on N17 trialAthens, (14/03/2003 (ANA)
The presidencies of the Panhellenic Federation of Journalists Unions (POESY), the Athens Journalists union (ESHEA) and the Athens bar held a meeting on Thursday to discuss the ongoing trial of alleged members of the terrorist group November 17.
The meeting focused on the need for journalists and lawyers to observe the code of conduct for their respective professions throughout the trial and to avoid "recreating" the trial outside the courtroom in televised debates and on the street.
They said that disciplinary proceedings would be activated in case of transgressions and agreed that the institutional organs of lawyers and journalists would cooperate and be constantly on guard on matters of mutual interest that concerned the prestige and dignity of the respective professions.
 US Senate unanimously adopts bill on Greece's contribution to democracyWASHINGTON, D.C. 14/03/2003 (ANA)
“Last evening (Wednesday) the United States Senate unanimously adopted legislation highlighting Greece’s contributions to freedom, democracy, peace and stability,'' the leaders of the National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (CEH) announced on Thursday.
''Resolution S. Res. 78, which was introduced by Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) last week, formally designates March 25, 2003 as `Greek Independence Day: A National Celebration of Greek and American Democracy,’” they added.
“A record number of 60 U.S. Senators from 38 different states, representing over 221 million or 80% of all Americans, asked to have their names associated with this legislation as cosponsors,'' the press release issued by the CEH said.
''This resolution calls on President George Bush to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the U.S. to commemorate Greek Independence Day on March 25. This official U.S. celebration has enabled our community, under the leadership of our Archbishop, to accomplish what few others have done. We highlight in a meeting each year with the President, as he acts on this legislation, the importance of our national community and the issues of concern to us. This meeting has taken place every year for the past 16 years with Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton as well as President George W. Bush,” said Andrew E. Manatos, President of CEH.
 Simitis, Laliotis discuss PASOK's action plan ahead of general elections
Athens, 14/03/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis and PASOK Central Committee Secretary Costas Laliotis on Thursday met to discuss issues related to ruling PASOK's course towards the next general elections.
During their one-hour meeting at the Maximos Mansion, the two men also discussed the possible war against Iraq and the impact it would have on the Greek economy.
''In the conditions of crisis, uncertainty and instability which the war creates, Greece, Costas Simitis and PASOK are points of reference, stability and prospects for every Greek citizen,'' sources said.
According to the same sources, discussed during the Simitis-Laliotis meeting were the basic elements of the ruling party's action plan until May, 2004, while steps to be taken over the next two months on an intra-party level were decided.
 European security and defense discussed at Constantine Karamanlis Institute
Athens, 14/03/2003 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) Deputy Yiannis Varvitsiotis on Thursday expressed fears that the Iraq crisis and arguments between the United States and European countries, such as France, at the Security Council can cause a negative stance among certain European countries towards European Union enlargement.
Varvitsiotis, who was addressing an event organized by the Constantine Karamanlis Institute of Democracy on European security and defense policy, said this can happen to avert the risk of candidate countries, most of which are under direct U.S. influence, creating a unified foreign policy front in the EU which will oppose the dominant trends of the present European nucleus.
ND's defense and foreign affairs coordinator Petros Molyviatis wondered whether the real causes of the global crisis in the UN, NATO, Euro-Atlantic relations and the EU existed before the problem of Iraq and the crisis was merely the cause or the catalyst activating these causes.
He said the first great victim of the Iraq crisis is the EU's common foreign policy and security and defense policy, adding that at the moment the EU is playing almost no role, while the Greek EU presidency has been marginalized.
 Bank of Greece says GDP to grow 3.7 pct this year
Athens, 14/03/2003 (ANA)The Bank of Greece on Thursday recommended a package of measures aimed to limit the impact from a possible war in Iraq on the Greek economy.
Nikos Garganas, the central bank's governor, presenting the bank's report on monetary policy, urged the government to take all necessary measures for a more efficient management of oil reserves in the country and to monitor the domestic fuel market,
and urged social partners to seek an immediate improvement of the country's competitiveness.
The bank's report forecasts that Greece's gross domestic product (GDP) would reach 3.7 percent this year and that the inflation rate would stabilize to higher average levels in 2003 compared with the previous year.
Mr Garganas expressed his satisfaction over the results of a recent ICAP survey that showed that Greek households were not overdebted. The central bank's governor stressed that the bank was examining lifting all limitations to consumer loans from May.
 Greek households not overdebted, report says
Athens, 14/03/2003 (ANA)Greek households are not overdebted, Bank of Greece's governor Nikos Garganas said on Thursday presenting a survey by ICAP.
The survey, held in the period from September 2002 to the end of January 2003 around the country, showed that Greek households were borrowing money after carefully examination
of their financial conditions and that commercial banks were also careful in the lending policies.
"During the last three to four year the rate of non-serviced loans has fallen dramatically to around 6.0 percent of total loans, a rate considered low," Mr Garganas told reporters. He categorically dismissed data, recently presented by Greek consumers groups, of a wave of auction sales as a result of non-performing loans.
"The very satisfactory results of ICAP's survey, combined with a decline in credit expansion in the country, pave the way for a full deregulation in the domestic consumer credit market," the central banker said, although he did not specified the time of such an action - possible after launching a Credit Office in April.
ICAP said that borrowing was significantly concentrated among higher-income households and that the average total outstanding debt did not exceed the annual household income even at the lower incomes.
The report said, however, that there were evidence showing that certain household's personal loans exceeded the Bank of Greece's ceiling of 3,000 euros per person.
One in two households (49.8 percent) said they had no debt from loans, bank or otherwise, with the rate dropping substantially in semi-urban areas of the country (64.7 percent) compared with Athens (42.5 percent).
ICAP said that 50.2 percent of all Greek households faced a loan debt, to an average of 16.143 euros per household.
Credit cards remained the most popular way of borrowing money for Greek households, with around half (50.6 percent) reporting an average debt of 1,830 euros, followed by housing loans. The average debt from housing loans reached 40,000 euros per household, the report said, adding that households with housing debts accounted for 28.4 percent of total households.
Car loans (21.3 percent) and personal loans (20.5 percent) were the next most popular ways of borrowing.
The survey was conducted on a sample of 6,005 households around the country.
 Industrial free zone to be created in the northeast
Athens, 14/03/2003 (ANA)A free zone is to be created in the northeast to boost industry and commerce.
Founding of the zone in Ormenio, Evros was ordained on Thursday by Deputy Finance Minister Apostolos Fotiadis.
The government plans to further modernize the area in order to curb unemployment and depopulation of the Evros prefecture, Fotiadis said in a statement
 Lambrakis sells US travel subsidiary
Athens, 14/03/2003 (ANA)The Athens-quoted Lambrakis Journalism Organization said in a statement on Thursday that it had sold a US travel subsidiary, Freegate Tourism Inc., which is based in New York.
 Greek consumer group to file class action suit against banks
Athens, 14/03/2003 (ANA)Greece's largest consumer group INKA is expected to file class action suits against almost all commercial banks seeking court order to declare illegal and abusive 10 terms included in credit card, personal and consumer loans' contracts.
INKA's chairman Chr. Kouris, speaking to reporters on Thursday said that the Greek consumers' barometer for 2003, published ahead of a World Consumers' Day on March 15, showed that 91 percent of Greek consumers were preoccupied with the cost of living, 87 percent with healthcare, 73 percent with education, 71 percent with unemployment and 67 percent with food safety.
INKA said that 67 percent of Greek consumers believed that the Ombudsman was the most credible supervisory agency of the state, followed by the Personal Data Protection Authority, with 58 percent, a financial crimes' squad with 50 percent and a Radio-Television Council with 43 percent.
The bank sector attracted the biggest percent of frustrated consumers in Greece (91 percent), followed by the healthcare sector (85 percent) and political parties (83 percent).
 45 Turkish & 15 Greek businessmen meet in Thessaloniki
Athens, 14/03/2003 (ANA)Forty-five Turkish and 15 Greek businessmen of the lumber and furniture sector met in Thessaloniki on Thursday and discussed the ways of cooperation at the Trade and Industry Chamber of Thessaloniki.
 Greek stocks jump 1.93 percent on Thursday
Athens, 14/03/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks rebounded strongly on Thursday in the Athens Stock Exchange following a recovery trend in international markets with the general index surpassing the 1,500 level again.
The index ended 1.93 percent higher at 1,506.43 points, with turnover a low 68.4 million euros.
The Textile sector was the only one to suffer losses (-2.93 percent), while the Publication (4.21 percent), Holding (3.85 percent), Telecommunications (3.67 percent) and IT Solutions (3.55 percent) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 2.32 percent higher, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index rose 2.03 percent and the FTSE/ASE Small Cap 80 index ended
 Gov't names SAIC consortium as final winner of 2004 security contract
Athens, 14/03/2003 (ANA)The Greek government on Thursday finalized its decision to award a multi-million-euro security contract for the 2004 Athens Olympics Games to a consortium headed by the US-based Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), overcoming a major stumbling block in preparations for the upcoming Summer Olympics.
SAIC's revised bid of 255 million euros came weeks after the consortium's sealed bid of 317 million euros was unveiled by the Greek government.
Multinationals participating in the consortium include General Dynamics, ITT Technologies, Honeywell, IBM, Nokia, Siemens, Rafael and Elbit, as well as the Greece-based and Athens bourse-listed firms Altec, the Pouliadis group and Diekat.
According to the winning bid's terms, 60 percent of the massive contract will go to Greek subcontractors. Siemens will provide the communications networks and sensors, while Nokia will supply the equipment for a central operation control centre overseeing security.
SAIC is the largest employee-owned research and engineering company in the United States, according to its press release.
 FIFA vice president inspects work at soccer stadium in view of 2004 Games
Athens, 14/03/2003 (ANA)FIFA Vice President Isaa Hayatou, accompanied by members of the 2004 football organizing committee, on Thursday inspected work being carried out at the Kaftatzoglio stadium, in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, in light of preparations for the 2004 Olympic Games.
Hayatou said in remarks to reporters that a great deal of work has been done at the stadium since he last inspected it a few months ago, at the same time noting that more work has to be done. ''We are satisfied from the progress of work, there is still work to be done but we believe everything will be ready on time,'' the FIFA vice president said.
Member of the 2004 football organizing committee, Spyros Kapralos, said ''the people of FIFA remained satisfied from what they saw at Kaftatzoglio today. On our part, we see that we are going well. A great effort is being made.''
 ATHOC cites increased demand for tickets
Athens, 14/03/2003 (ANA)The Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) announced on Thursday that some 730,000 tickets have already been sold, a figure that translated into some 50 million euros or 27.3 percent of the relevant program’s target.
ATHOC expects to garner around 183 million euros – or some 9.3 percent of total projected revenues – from ticket sales.
Organizers started early bookings on Jan. 1 for so-called “partner organizations”, namely, national Olympic committees, various international sports federations and broadcast rights holders.
Another three million tickets, out of a total of 5.3 million tickets issued so far, have been set-aside for local and foreign spectators expected to attend the numerous venue sites. Those ticket sales begin on May 12.
"The demand from partners exceeds every expectation and, in some cases, such as with national Olympic committees, demand is greater than tickets reserved for their needs," ATHOC announced.
 Exhibition of Cycladic artifacts in Lausanne
GENEVA, 14/03/2004 (ANA - N. Robin)An exhibition titled ''Poems on marble'', comprised of Cycladic artifacts was inaugurated at Lausanne's Olympic Museum on Wednesday night.
The exhibition, which also includes other prehistoric artifacts from the broader region, will last until June 6.
The items on display belong to the collection of the Barbier Mueller Museum of Geneva.
 International Poetry Day to be celebrated in Greece
Athens, 14/03/2003 (ANA)Greece will celebrate the International Poetry Day on March 21st with the works of its internationally acclaimed poets printed on cards and placards distributed all over the city of Athens, Thessaloniki and other major cities.
Dionisios Solomos, Kostis Palamas, Nobel Laureate Odisseas Elitis and other Greek poets will prominently on busses, train stations, on postcards and will travel to France, Germany, Norway and Spain this year as part of a cooperative effort of the National Book Center of Greece.
 Dutch freighter runs aground off Thessaloniki, crew safe
Athens, 14/03/2003 (ANA)A Dutch cargo ship aground Thursday near the port of Thessaloniki, but its 11-member crew were all safe, the merchant marine ministry said.
The Dutch freighter "Merwedeip", which had set sail from Italy, ran aground in the sandy shallows in the sea region of Palaiomanna west of Thessaloniki as it was heading for the port of Thessaloniki loaded with containers.
According to initial information, no oil slick was caused by the accident, while two tugs were currently attempting to dislodge the freighter.
The vessel's 11 crew members, all foreign nationals, were well and unhurt.
 Albanian arrested at border post for drug smuggling
Athens, 14/03/2003 (ANA)An Albanian truck driver was arrested Thursday at the Kakavia border post on the Greek-Albanian frontier after more than 7 kilos of heroin were found hidden in his truck.
Police said 24-year-old Edmond Rizia, a temporary resident of Parga, was arrested at the border after police and customs officials, assisted by sniffer dogs, found 14 packets containing 7.176 kilos of heroin hidden in a secret compartment in his truck, which bore Greek license plates.
The detainee was due to be taken before the local prosecutor in Ioannina, while the truck was also confiscated.
Meanwhile, in a forest area in Milokastri, Delvinaki in Ioannina prefecture, border guards found a sack containing 7.5 kilos of cannabis hidden among the trees.
Police said they believed the sack had been hidden by Albanian drug smugglers for pick up by accomplices in Greece.
 Government will not break away from UN framework on Cyprus
NICOSIA, 14/03/2003 (CNA/ANA)Government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said here Thursday under no circumstances the Greek Cypriot side will break away from the UN framework for a Cyprus settlement.
Invited to comment on a statement made by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that ''the parties, the leaders, have agreed to go to the island and continue talking,'' Chrysostomides said, ''this was inaccurate. The parties have not agreed to talks or contacts, free from UN involvement.''
He told reporters after the Cabinet meeting ''we wish to continue negotiations within the UN framework and according to UN Security Council resolutions. Under no circumstances we will divert from that framework,'' Chrysostomides stressed.
The spokesman expressed hope that the UN will continue to be involved with the Cyprus problem and the UN Secretary-General's good offices mission will again be at the disposal of the Security Council and its members.
Chrysostomides pointed out that in statements in The Hague, the Secretary-General had clearly blamed Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for the failure of the talks, and quoted him that '''one party had indicated he would not put the plan to referendum and, of course, did not seem to seize the urgency of the work that had to be done'''.
''This is the most coherent statement by the UN Secretary-General as regards to The Hague and he blames Mr. Denktash,'' Chrysostomides added.
Meanwhile, President Tassos Papadopoulos on Thursday briefed the Cabinet in detail about the outcome of the talks in The Hague.
Chrysostomides said one of the decisions taken was that the campaign to inform foreign governments on the Cyprus problem would continue on an urgent basis.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the island's territory.
UN efforts to secure a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, based on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's third plan, came to an abrupt halt on Tuesday when Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said he was not prepared to agree to a referendum on the UN plan and raised fundamental objections to basic points in it.
 Cyprus issue to be discussed at European Council
BRUSSELS, 14/03/2003 (CNA/ANA)The Cyprus problem will be among the issues which President of the European Council, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis will discuss with EU member states, the ten acceding countries and the three candidate countries Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, on March 21.
Simitis has invited the 13 countries to attend a lunch within the framework of the Brussels European Council.
Diplomatic sources in Brussels said the latest developments on Cyprus and mainly the collapse of The Hague talks would be examined.
It is considered certain that there will be interventions by various leaders, including Turkey's prime minister.
The meeting will also examine the situation in Iraq, the Middle East and promoting employment within the EU.
The European Council opens with a meeting on Thursday among the 15 EU countries, which will be informed by chairman of the Convention for the Future of Europe, Valery Giscard d'Estaign on progress regarding the convention's deliberations.
At a dinner that will follow the ''15'' will concentrate on the Iraqi crisis. Other issues, which will be raised, are the situation in the Middle East, a briefing on the Cyprus problem and the assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Djindjic.
 FM Iacovou: UN Security Council will not abandon Cyprus
LARNACA, 14/03/2003 (CNA/ANA)The UN Security Council would not abandon efforts to reach a just solution in Cyprus despite the Secretary General's disappointment over the Cyprus talks deadlock in The Hague earlier this week, Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou has said.
Speaking on his return from The Hague here on Wednesday night, Iacovou also noted that many of his foreign counterparts as well as Dutch officials had expressed the impression that the blame for the collapse of the talks lies with the Turkish side and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. He added that after the Turkish refusal to put the UN Secretary-General's plan for a Cyprus settlement to a referendum for approval, a matter of credibility is raised for Turkey's ruling party leader Tayyip Erdogan, who kept giving reassurances that he wished for the solution of the Cyprus problem.
''During my visit in The Hague I had the opportunity to discuss with many foreign ministers, the Dutch prime minister himself, as well as the Dutch foreign minister and I can convey their impression that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leader are those
who led the longstanding initiative of the Secretary General to a disaster,'' Iacovou noted.
Asked to comment on Annan's statement in The Hague that the UN effort had reached ''the end of the road,'' Iacovou said that he doesn't share this view and expressed his certainty that the UN Security Council ''despite the disappointment felt by the Secretary General will not abandon the Cyprus issue and will continue to show interest.''
Asked if he plans to visit New York, he expressed the view that at this stage due to the Iraqi crisis such a trip would not be fruitful.
Asked to comment on the Turkish Cypriot leader's statement that he wishes to continue talks with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, the foreign minister said: ''It is not the first time we hear such a statement from Mr. Denktash. He always tries to drive away the interest of the international community, the UN Secretary General and other organizations and appear of an equal status with the legal President of the Cyprus Republic.''
Asked to comment on the change in Erdogan's stance, he said that for the international community, a matter of credibility is raised concerning the Turkish politician.
''The whole initiative was based on his personal assurances that Mr. Denktash will either sign (a Cyprus solution) or somebody else would sign in his place,'' the Cypriot minister said.
 EU: no direct negotiations with Turkish Cypriot regime
NICOSIA, 14/03/2003 (CNA/ANA)The European Union cannot hold direct negotiations with the self-styled regime in Turkish occupied Cyprus, EU Ambassador to Cyprus Adriaan van der Meer has stressed, noting that the regime is not recognized by anybody except Turkey.
He was speaking after a meeting with Communications and Works Minister Kikis Kazamias, with whom he discussed various issues relating to the accession of Cyprus to the EU.
Van der Meer's comments came in response to claims by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash that he would hold direct negotiations with the EU.
''The regime in the north is not recognized by any state except Turkey and therefore we cannot begin direct negotiations with them,'' the EU Ambassador said on Wednesday.
Denktash had said that if Cyprus joins the EU, he would seek to have direct negotiations with Brussels. Cyprus will sign the Accession Treaty in mid April.
Van der Meer, speaking only days after the collapse of the latest UN-led effort to reunite the island, also said that the UN peace proposal, that was rejected by Denktash, remains on the table.
He expressed hope that peace talks would resume soon.
On Wednesday the Turkish Cypriot regime did not allow the EU Ambassador to attend a gathering organized by the association of Turkish Cypriot doctors.
Van der Meer was invited to attend the gathering by the association, which in turn informed the regime about its guest. On Wednesday it was told that van der Meer would not be allowed to cross into the northern Turkish occupied part of Cyprus for the function.
The regime has often prevented people from entering the occupied areas without giving any reason for its actions.
 President to go to the US for annual medical check-up
NICOSIA, 14/03/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos will depart for the US over the weekend for his annual medical check up, the Presidential Palace has announced.
A statement on Thursday said the president would depart to the US on a private basis for his annual medical check-up.
''The check-up was scheduled for the second fortnight of November 2002 but was postponed because of developments on Cyprus and due to the pre-election campaign,'' the statement added.
Papadopoulos will depart over the weekend via London and will return at the end of next week, the statement concluded.
The President undertook office on February 28 after winning the February 16 presidential elections.
 Cyprus ratifies CoE protocol on abolition of death penalty
NICOSIA, 14/03/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus has ratified the Council of Europe (CoE) protocol No 13 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
The protocol concerns the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances. It will come into effect after a total of ten countries ratify it.
The Republic's permanent representative to the Council of Europe Ambassador Nicolaos Emiliou tabled on Wednesday on behalf of the government the ratification document before the CoE Secretary General.
So far the protocol has been signed by 31 CoE member states and ratified by a total of nine countries.