|Wednesday, 12 August 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-05-30
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>May 30, 2003
 Visiting Canadian premier praises Athens for EU integration policy
Athens, 30/05/2003 (ANA)Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, speaking during a press conference on Thursday that followed talks with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis the day before, praised his Greek counterpart and the Greek government for the economic policy the country had followed in connection with European Union integration.
Chretien has been in Athens since Tuesday for summit talks with the European Union.
The Canadian premier said his visit to Athens had been very productive and had provided him with an opportunity to renew Greek-Canadian relations and hold discussions on the entire spectrum of developments in the Balkans and the Middle East.
Chretien praised Simitis' domestic policy for its ''common economic European perspective'', and stressed that the Greek prime minister had taken over a problematic economy which he had prudently led toward the single European monetary policy.
He referred to Canada as a global example of economic restructuring and said that as a main speaker at the G8 meeting he was strongly concerned over imbalances within the US, Japan and EU economies, noting that he would not want to see world economies return to the big deficits and high inflation of the early '90s.
The Canadian premier is completing his visit to Athens on Thursday.
Chretien meets here with ND's Karamanlis: Visiting Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien met with main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis here on Thursday, part of the former’s high-level contacts with the EU and Greek leadership.
According to a ND press release, international developments, including Iraq and the Palestinian issue, were discussed.
Canadian PM presented with Medal of the City of Athens: Visiting Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien was on Thursday presented with the Medal of the City of Athens by the mayor of the Greek capital, Dora Bakoyianni, during an official ceremony at the City Hall.
Chretien spoke warmly of Athens and its hosting of the 2004 Olympic Games, referring to the infrastructure projects for the modernization of the city.
From antiquity to the present, Athens knows how to attract the spotlight of the world, he said, adding that ''The Olympic Games are not only a grand event, but also an opportunity to link modern Greece with its classical past''.
Bakoyianni praised Chretien for his leadership ability, which she said had led his Liberal Party to a third re-election to government.
Bakoyianni further stressed the close bonds between Greece and Canada, noting the large Greek community in Canada.
 PM arrives in St. Petersburg for historic EU-Russia summit ST.
PETERSBURG 30/05/2003 (ANA – V. Mourtis)Prime Minister Costas Simitis arrived here on Thursday to participate in a historic EU-Russia summit held amid events commemorating the 300-year anniversary since the city’s founding by Peter the Great.
Simitis, who will co-chair the summit as the European Union’s president-in-office, addressed a ceremony later in the afternoon where a statue of modern Greece’s first governor, Ioannis Kapodistrias, was unveiled in the city’s “Greteskaya Plosad” (Greek Square), a contribution by the ethnic Greek communities of Russia.
In a brief address, Simitis referred to Kapodistrias’ personality and importance as a link between the two peoples, Greece and Russia, as the latter served as a leading politician and diplomat for the czarist court prior to arriving as the newly liberated Greek nation’s first governor (1830-31).
Several high-ranking Russian officials, including Valentina Matvienko, the authorized representative of the Russian Federation's president in the north-western federal district and a former ambassador to Greece, attended and spoke at the event.
Simitis meets with Russia's Greek community leaders: Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday met with the Greek community representatives of Russia in the presence of Greek Ambassador to Russia Dimitris Paraskevopoulos, in light of his visit to St. Petersburg for the 300th anniversary since the founding of the city.
''It is with special joy that I am among you, to exchange information and opinions, concerning the problems of the Greek community of Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union,'' Simitis said.
''There is a tight connection between you and Greece. This strong bond is made possible by the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE), in which you have a representative that voices your views,'' he added.
Simitis also spoke of a series of problems and the efforts of the government to resolve them, such being the existence of schools for the teaching of the Greek language, the maintenance of the Greek heritage and the ability of members of the Greek community to travel to Greece, among others.
Representatives of the Greek community focused on issues related to the rehabilitation of the Greeks of Russia in accordance with the Russian legislation, the package of measures that facilitate the coming of members of the Greek community to Greece permanently and other problems.
Press and Media Minister Christos Protopapas and Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis were also present at the meeting.
 Deputy FM hails ratification of EU-Croatia stability treaty
Athens, 30/05/2003 (ANA)Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos on Thursday said one of the Greek EU presidency's priorities was to enhance the European prospect of all Balkan countries, and that the Western Balkans would be on the agenda of the Thessaloniki EU Council on 21 June, a Greek foreign ministry press release said.
In statements following the conclusion of discussions at the Greek Parliament's Defense and External Affairs Committee for the ratification of the Stability and Association Treaty between the European Union and Croatia, Loverdos said ''This treaty, along with the Stability and Association Treaty between the EU and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), as well as the Balkans Support Program, form part of initiatives that Greece has undertaken on a bilateral level as well as within the European Union in order to reinforce the European course of the Western Balkan states. Such initiatives render Greece fully prepared in light of the European Council in Thessaloniki'', the release said.
 New Democracy MPs accuse gov't of lack of advertising, support for tourism
Athens, 30/05/2003 (ANA)A group of main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputies on Thursday tabled a question in parliament accusing the government of ''lack of organized advertising support of the tourist product'' and a ''deficit in communications planning''.
The 30 New Democracy MPs said in their question that tourism-related businesses in Greece were facing an extended crisis due to a lack of measures, strategy and targets for the branch.
They also said that the situation has excessively burdened this year's tourist season, adding that following the end of the war on Iraq a large reduction in arrivals was observed in all the tourist destinations.
The MPs further said that planning of the advertising campaign for the tourist season had been put off to the second half of 2003, whereas most of the bookings are usually made early in the year.
They also cited official figures from the European Union according to which Greece had the lowest annual increase in tourism (1 percent in the period 1997-2001) among the Mediterranean member states (compared with 7 percent for Spain, and 4 percent for France, Italy and Portugal).
 Dep. Press minister: PM did not use the word 'conspiracy'
Athens, 30/05/2003 (ANA)At no time had Prime Minister Costas Simitis used the word 'conspiracy' or named names, Deputy Press Minister Telemahos Hytiris stressed on Thursday in his response to criticism from main opposition New Democracy regarding the premier's claim that 'business circles' were trying to undermine the government's work.
Hytiris was filling in as government spokesman for Press Minister Christos Protopapas.
The prime minister's complaint concerned certain interests that were seeking to harm the government for their own ends, he added.
"The government responsibly supports normal political life and, in a democracy, can answer when it is criticized. Why are some bothered by this?" the spokesman noted.
Referring to statements by ND spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, Hytiris challenged ND to explain its position on double-hull tankers and its support for the interests of shipping owners that had monohull ships.
 Communist leader says next few years in Greece will be dramatic without changes
Athens, 30/05/2003 (ANA)Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga said on Thursday the next few years in Greece will be dramatic unless considerable changes take place in the social and political sectors.
Papariga, speaking in the northern town of Edessa, called on citizens to disengage themselves from the two mainstream parties, PASOK and New Democracy, and to support KKE, saying it is the most radical pole in Greek society.
She further said if such developments do not take place in the next elections, the dominant policy will become more frenzied and reactionary, whether there will be a PASOK government or an ND one.
Papariga also warned that KKE will not tolerate the Left being plundered either by PASOK or ND.
 Canadian PM encourages Greek businessmen to view Canada as activity destination
Athens, 30/05/2003 (ANA)Visiting Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, speaking during a luncheon on Thursday, encouraged Greek businessmen to view Canada as a destination for their activities since it is the seventh biggest economy in the world.
Many Greek businessmen are already using Canada as an entrance to North America, just as some Canadian firms are using Greece as an entrance to the Balkans.
Chretien said Canada worked hard in the past to make its economy more dynamic and noted that tax percentages for businesses are lower than in the neighboring United States.
Canada hopes to widen its economic cooperation with Europe and Greece. It was decided during the latest Canada-EU conference in November 2002 that a new impetus should be given to strengthening bilateral trade and to investment relations.
Trade between Greece and Canada has been increasing continuously and it exceeded 350 million Canadian dollars in 2001. However, it decreased in 2002 and, according to the Canadian prime minister, more should be done to achieve a clear prospect of development for trade relations existing between the two countries.
Finance and Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and Federation of Greek Industries President Odysseas Kyriakopoulos made brief addresses during the luncheon, referring to the course of the Greek economy and progress it is achieving following the country's accession to Economic and Monetary Union.
They also referred to the two countries' very good relations and to the effort being made by the business world in the framework of enlarging their business activities.
 Greek Chambers' Union reaction to Prime Minister's comments
Athens, 30/05/2003 (ANA)Greece's Central Chambers Union on Thursday reacted strongly to recent comments made by Prime Minister Costas Simitis over "business interests which in an improper association with the conservative party are trying to overthrow the government", saying that these comments were "vague and unsubstantiated".
George Kasimatis, the union's chairman said that the union "did not know of any business interests that were trying to overthrow the government or that they were improperly associated with the conservative party."
"On the contrary, the union knows thousands of small, medium and large businessmen who are giving a daily fight to ensure the viability of their businesses, under adverse conditions created by inefficient state interventions or failures."
Mr Kasimatis stressed that "in a period when significant national funds were earmarked to encourage business activity, the prime minister's unacceptable comments discredit the business culture and undermine the role of the Greek businessman".
 Merchant marine minister Anomeritis briefs UGS on shipping legislation
Athens, 30/05/2003 (ANA)Merchant marine minister George Anomeritis on Thursday briefed the Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) presidium on his ministry's legislative work.
Anomeritis told a press conference after the meeting that he had also briefed the UGS on current issues concerning the Greek EU presidency.
He said a broad discussion was also held concerning the proposals for double-hulls on bulk carriers, in accordance with the discussions and proposals within the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and also on the proposals of the EU agencies on the new shipping regulation, efforts to avert terrorist actions against ships and ports and the revision of Regulation 417/2000, and the course of discussions of the issue at IMO.
Anomeritis further announced the immediate disposition of 20 million euro in 2003 for the building infrastructure of the Merchant Marine Academies (AEN).
 Tourist arrivals on charter flights up nearly 17 pct in April yr/yr
Athens, 30/05/2003 (ANA)Incoming tourism on charter flights rose nearly 17 percent in April this year over the corresponding month in 2002, and by 1.55 percent in the first four months of the year against the same period last year, according to figures released Thursday by the national tourism organization of Greece, EOT.
More specifically, tourist arrivals by charter flights at airports in 12 tourist destinations in the country increased by 1.55 percent in the first four months of the year, reaching 301,657 arrivals, against the same period in 2002.
EOT also said that tourist arrivals on charter flights numbered 267,761 in the month of April alone, marking a 16.98 percent increase over April 2002.
According to the figures for the first four months of the year compared with the corresponding period last year, the largest increases were noted at Thessaloniki airport, up 50.23 percent with 14,389 arrivals, followed by Cos, up 44.21 percent with 13,354 arrivals; Aktio, up 20.61 percent with 2,054 arrivals; Lesvos, up 18.86 percent with 1,450 arrivals; Corfu, up 14.18 percent with 10,662 arrivals; Rhodes, up 9.60 percent with 56,776 arrivals; Santorini, up 2.47 percent with 705 arrivals; and Heraklion (Crete), up 0.47 percent with 138,382 arrivals.
EOT said in an announcement that the charter arrival figures would have been larger if the war on Iraq in March had not affected air travel, thus suspending the upward momentum.
EOT recommended calm, rather than "disaster-mongering", noting that many times in the past the end figures had belied pessimistic predictions, and indicatively cited the 16.98 percent increase in April "which responded to the pessimistic forecasts of a 20 percent reduction made that month".
 Statistics Service unveils report on job market
Athens, 30/05/2003 (ANA)Young unemployed people in Greece are taking a long time to return to the country's labor market, a report by the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.
The report said that Greek men, with a university degree, needed around 41 months to find a job after completing their studies, while women needed around 36 months.
The survey was based on a sample of 7,656 people aged 15-35 years old who had completed their studies after 1990.
The NSS survey also showed that young Greeks who have completed their basic education needed an average four to 11 months to find a job.
Another survey compiled by the National Statistics Service on a sample of 30,863 wage-earning families showed that 86.2 percent of them had stable working hours, with the other 13.8 percent working on flexible hours (of which 14.6 percent were men and 12.5 percent women).
Farmers and cattle-breeders (28.4 percent) led the list of Greeks working on flexible hours, followed by non-skilled workers (19 percent), with office clerks (7.0 percent) reporting the lowest rate.
 Hytiris rules out further changes to laws for pensions system
Athens, 30/05/2003 (ANA)Deputy Press Minister Telemahos Hytiris on Thursday ruled out further changes to the existing legislative framework for the social insurance system, while noting that figures for employment in Greece reflected the average figure for Europe.
Hytiris was filling in as government spokesman for Press Minister Christos Protopapas.
According to the minister, there was a high rate for early retirement due to the previous regime that had been established for working women.
He said this was gradually adapting toward the European average but more time was needed for the shift to be completed.
Hytiris also clarified that the adaptation process tended toward retirement at the age of 65.
 Greek stocks end moderately higher on Thursday
Athens, 30/05/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks ended higher on Thursday reflecting increased buying activity for blue chip stocks, particularly banks and telecommunications, in the Athens Stock Exchange.
The general index rose 0.24 percent to end at 1,712.26 points, with turnover a moderate 103.1 million euros.
The Telecommunications, Banks and Food-Beverage sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (0.90 percent, 0.89 percent and 0.71 percent, respectively), while the Publication, Metals and Holding sector suffered the heaviest percentage losses (2.32 percent, 1.83 percent and 1.78 percent, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.58 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 0.23 percent higher and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index eased 0.63 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 196 to 111 with another 54 issues unchanged.
Derivatives Market Close: Trade at discount Thursday
Equity Index Futures:
Bond Market Close: Buyers outpace sellers on Thursday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
Closing rates of May 29 2003
Parities in euro
For. Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,185 1,158
 ATHOC opens 'Olympic bureau' in Thessaloniki
Athens, 30/05/2003 (ANA)Athens 2004 Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki on Thursday led an ATHOC delegation on a visit to the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki, one of several “Olympic cities” that will host soccer preliminaries for next year’s Summer Games.
The ATHOC chief was set to inaugurate an “Olympic bureau” in the city later in the day, as she first toured a Thessaloniki-area military officers’ academy, where she noted that applications by would-be volunteers for the 2004 Games have now surpassed the 82,000-mark and that a selection process is currently proceeding without delay.
She also said the Greek national defense ministry’s involvement in the volunteer program will be outlined at a joint press conference next week with the ministry’s top civil leadership.
Visiting Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos was expected to attend the bureau’s opening by the ATHOC chief, along with local government leaders
 More than 370 Greek beaches and marinas receive 'blue flag'
Athens, 30/05/2003 (ANA)'Blue flags' were awarded to 373 Greek beaches and five Greek marinas in 2003, the Greek Society for the Protection of Nature announced on Thursday, up from 354 beaches and seven marinas the previous year.
The 'blue flag' designation is an international symbol used in 36 countries and denotes that organized beaches and marinas meet certain high standards for cleanliness, organization and environmental protection.
The Society raised the alarm over the state of Greek marinas, however, noting that standards had dropped relative to last year. It also pointed out that more than 12 marinas had received blue flags in neighboring Turkey.
Areas in Greece that received the highest number of blue flags included Crete, with 32 in Lasithi prefecture alone, the southern Aegean, Central Macedonia and the Ionian islands.
Attica beaches received two more blue flags in 2003, up from eight in 2002, while the island of Corfu gained three to reach a total of 29. The highest number of blue flags by prefecture was in the Dodecanese islands, with a total of 46, while Halkidiki lost two relative to last year, dropping to 28, and Magnesia gained six to reach a total of 28.
 Passengers of crippled high-speed ship transferred to two other ships
Athens, 30/05/2003 (ANA)Passengers of a high-speed ship which took in water and was in danger of sinking at press time were being transferred to two other passenger ships late Thursday night.
The high-speed passenger ship ''Jet 1'', which was carrying 163 passengers and 11 crew and was heading for Iraklion on the island of Crete, had sent an SOS signal at 20:40 on Thursday as it was sailing 25 nautical miles south of the island of Santorini.
The ship's captain sent the distress signal after water began to flood the vessel at a time when gale-force winds were sweeping the area.
The passengers of ship "Jet 1", belonging to "Ilion Lines", were transferred to the passenger ships "Ierapetra" and "Olympic Countess" and were heading for Santorini from where they had earlier departed.
Efforts were being made in the meantime to pump the water out of the high-speed passenger ship.
Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis announced that the decision to transfer the passengers to the other two ships was taken because the "Jet 1" had started to slightly tilt.
 Character witnesses for Yiannis Serifis testify in N17 trial
Athens, 30/05/2003 (ANA)The trial of 19 alleged members of the terrorist organization ''November 17'' continued on Thursday with the testimony of defense witnesses for defendant Yiannis Serifis.
Among them was the academic Nikos Rigos, who noted that Serifis had been a ''usual suspect'' for the authorities for 26 years and that none of his actions or publicly expressed opinions supported any links with violence.
Next on the stand was optician Nikos Manios, who said that Serifis' political opinions did not allow him to participate in groups such as ''November 17'', since he was critical of armed struggle and personally rejected violence.
The witness said he had first met Serifis in 1971 when they were both members of the resistance group ''20th October'' that opposed the junta then ruling Greece.
Questions put to the witnesses by the prosecutor on the bench triggered controversy in the courtroom, particularly a reference to the allegations made by Pavlos Serifis in his statements to the examining magistrate, in which he had implicated his cousin Yiannis in the murder of CIA station chief Richard Welch in 1975, the group's first hit in its nearly 30-year career of violence.
Asking to address the court, Pavlos Serifis retracted and claimed that his disabilities precluded his involvement in terrorist activity.
The alleged leader of the terror band, Alexandros Giotopoulos, supported Pavlos Serifis' claim that the statements had been the result of psychological pressure, noting the exact same scenario had been presented to him by police a week before Serifis' statement was made public.
He denied having been tortured but noted that Pavlos Serifis was a victim of multiple sclerosis and therefore perhaps more susceptible to milder discomfort, such as sleep deprivation. Pavlos Serifis claimed to have been awake for 40 hours when he was brought before the examining magistrate at 2:00 in the morning.
The defense for Yiannis Serifis also asked the court to examine the file on the Welch murder and the testimony of his widow, noting that this did not contain any description that matched that of Yiannis Serifis.
 Prosecutor: Most Avriani claims against ministers baseless
Athens, 30/05/2003 (ANA)A first instance court prosecutor’s probe of recent controversial press allegations against a handful of top ruling PASOK cadres, including Press Minister and government spokesman Christos Protopapas, has essentially shelved most of cases, as the prosecutor stated that practically all of the claims were baseless.
The judicial probe followed several banner front-page stories in the “Avriani” tabloid alleging financial improprieties, influence peddling, insider trading on the Athens Stock Exchange as well as illegal campaign contributions, among others, against Protopapas, former public order deputy minister Evangelos Malesios and state MP Mihalis Neonakis, a one-time top adviser to the prime minister.
The prosecutor, identified as Elli Toubanou, said the paper’s claims citing “shady financing” of Protopapas’ under-construction home in the northern suburb of Vrilissia as well as a holiday home were baseless, while no building or construction code violations were ascertained.
She also stated in her investigation report that there was no evidence of improper funding of Protopapas’ 1996 and 2000 election campaigns by IT executive Athanassios Athanasoulis, the founder of the Altec group and the erstwhile business partner of “Avriani” publisher George Kouris.
In terms of insider trading charges against Neonakis, Malesios, Protopapas as well as Minister of State Stefanos Manikas, the prosecutor noted that the bourse’s Capital Markets’ Commission must first file a relevant suit before any criminal procedure commences.
Finally, concerning the paper’s allegations that Malesios used his position as a deputy minister to influence the awarding of a massive Olympics security contract – ostensibly to a consortium that once included Athanasoulis’ Altec firm -- the prosecutor said the file will be transferred to Parliament for further investigation, while she will continue a probe of third parties allegedly involved in the case.
In later statements, Protopapas’ attorney referred to a “vindication” of his client.
 Patriarch, gov't officials attend Holocaust service in Thessaloniki
Athens, 30/05/2003 (ANA)Visiting Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Thursday attended a memorial service in the northern port city of Thessaloniki for the Greek Jews exterminated during the Holocaust, as several top government officials and World Jewish Congress (WJC) Chairman, Rabbi Israel Singer, also attended the service at the city’s Holocaust monument.
“The 60th anniversary of the Holocaust, especially for Thessaloniki, is not only a Jewish anniversary, but an anniversary for the Jewish community of the city. It is a national day of memory, and this day, just as others of a similar nature, is an exercise in self-knowledge, an exercise in reaching out for the messages and lessons of history. We are obliged to remember so that as humanity we never experience the same things,” Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said.
Some 50,000 Jews of Thessaloniki, the largest Sephardic community of the era, were rounded up by German occupation forces, deported and finally exterminated in the Nazi death camps between 1943-1944.
 Korydallos prison governor arrested for alleged abusive behavior
Athens, 30/05/2003 (ANA)The governor of Korydallos prison, Spyros Athanasopoulos, was arrested and brought before a public prosecutor on Thursday after a lawyer called Elli Rizou filed a complaint against him the day before for inappropriate and abusive behavior when she tried to exercise her rights as legal counsel for one of the prisoners in Korydallos.
Police had been searching for Athanasopoulos throughout the night after a public prosecutor issued a warrant for his immediate arrest and finally found him at his home in Keratsini at 9:00 on Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, in an announcement on Thursday soon after the charges against the prison governor became known, the Athens Bar Association has asked that Athanasopoulos be immediately removed from his post.
 Harbor authorities went on 'red' alert during informal EU Transport Council
Athens, 30/05/2003 (ANA)Harbor authorities had been on ''red'' alert during the cruise of the European Union's informal Council of Transport Ministers after an authoritative state source notified them of the existence of two small freighters, which had sailed from Lebanon carrying explosives and terrorists with Cyprus or Greece being their destination.
Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis made the revelation during a press conference on Thursday and said the Greek Police's anti-terrorism service had been the source of the information.
The minister said that since 25 European transport ministers were on board the passenger ship ''Eleftherios Venizelos'', all of the harbor authorities' patrol boats were mobilized and, with assistance from the navy, combed the Aegean Sea for two days and the southeastern Aegean in particular where the two suspicious ships were expected.
Anomeritis further said the suspicious ships did not eventually appear even in international waters since Greece had shielded its sea borders.
 Real-time flight info on Athens airport's website
Athens, 30/05/2003 (ANA)The Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport of Athens on Thursday unveiled a new real-time flight information service on its website, www.aia.gr
The airport's management noted that details and information regarding all flights operated from and to the new facility, east of Athens, will be easily accessible to Internet users on a 24-hour basis.
The Athens airport website already offers weather forecasts for 17 Greek and 15 European destinations; a mailing list service automatically updating Internet users on the airport's new services etc.; a FAQs section, as well as up-to-date passenger traffic statistics for the Athens International Airport.
 Agreement reached on banning smoking in private workplaces
Athens, 30/05/2003 (ANA)A special agreement has been unanimously reached between interested parties and, for the first time, it enacts a ban on smoking in private workplaces as well with the purpose of curbing smoking in the country in general.
The text agreed on by the health ministry, in cooperation with the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) and the General Confederation of Workers of Greece, mentions specifically that smoking is forbidden in places of waiting, reception, transactions and assembly of the public, as well as in conference and assembly halls and amphitheatres.
It was added that in private businesses places where smoking will be allowed or forbidden will be determined through dialogue and bilateral agreements between employees and employers.
The agreement will be implemented as of October 1, 2003, for the public's places of transactions and assembly, as well as for conference halls, and as of March 1, 2004, for the remaining workplaces.
 IASON environmental conference opens in the presence of Ecumenical Patriarch
Athens, 30/05/2003 (ANA)The IASON environmental conference opened in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on Thursday in the presence of Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.
Patriarch Vartholomeos blessed the sessions of the conference, which was inaugurated by Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos.
In his speech, Vartholomeos, who is particularly sensitive on environmental issues, given that the Patriarchate organizes conferences of ecological interest, stressed that all the environmental problems concern humanity and the conditions of survival and expressed his satisfaction that over the last few years all the more people are dealing with environmental problems.
In his address, Tsohatzopoulos stressed that the solution of the environmental problem should be the first political priority, at the same time noting that the aim of the countries of the European Union is for specific reference for viable development to be included in the new 2004 treaty.
 EU Parliamentary committee for environment to meet in Athens
Athens, 30/05/2003 (ANA)A meeting of the Environmental Committee of the European Parliament, EU national parliaments and the parliaments of EU candidate-states is to take place in Athens on Friday and Saturday.
The meeting will be declared open by Greek Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis.
 US official says settlement should precede reconstruction
NICOSIA 30/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)Director of the US Agency for International Development Andrew Natsios said on Thursday that reconstruction and reconciliation on the island were not the solution to the Cyprus problem and that a settlement should be found in order to make progress.
Speaking after a meeting with President of the House of Representatives Demetris Christofias, Natsios expressed the readiness of the US administration to contribute financially to a possible Cyprus settlement.
Welcoming Natsios to Cyprus, Christofias wished him to return to the island, reunited with US assistance.
He said Natsios is head of the US special department that gives financial assistance to various countries facing problems and he is now in Cyprus to visit sites where US help is being put to use, such as the Apostolos Andreas Monastery in the Turkish-occupied areas.
Christofias briefed Natsios on the developments in the Cyprus problem, noting the easing of restrictions on the free movement of citizens. He added that they agreed that these half-measures cannot constitute a solution to the political problem.
The solution will emerge from talks within the UN framework, Christofias said, noting that efforts so far have collapsed due to the stance of the Turkish side.
Natsios said that a solution plan put forward by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was ''the best way'' towards a settlement and urged the parties involved ''back to the negotiating table to begin the process of completing the negotiations.''
He said the US has been providing assistance in reconciliation and inter-communal programs through the UN development program UNOPS and that over the past twenty years it has contributed 300 million dollars.
''It is not widely known but it is the US who funds these programs and I am here to witness them because we had very good reports in Washington of their success, and what they indicate is that the people of the island, regardless of where they live or what language they speak or what religion they believe, want a united island and a settlement,'' he added.
Natsios said that in the event of a settlement, the US ''will participate in a donors' conference of the European Union'' to support the implementation of the solution.
Replying to questions, Natsios said ''a settlement has to be reached first'' and that ''reconstruction and reconciliation plans, the ones we have now, are not a substitute for a political settlement, which is what is needed in order for us to make progress.''
He added that ''this is the closest the people of the island have come to a settlement and there is a breakdown, but it is the closest we have come and it would be a shame if there is no way to bring energy back into the process so that a settlement could be achieved.''
Asked if Cypriot companies have shown an interest in plans for the reconstruction of Iraq, Natsios said an independent contact has been chosen to evaluate and decide which companies would be selected for that purpose.
Natsios said there were Cypriot companies that fulfilled the criteria but noted that ''only competition can tell.''
He also expressed gratitude to the Republic of Cyprus for facilitating the UN office on the island and helping the UN effort to coordinate the Iraqi reconstruction.
 UN report on UNFICYP to Security Council next week
UNITED NATIONS 30/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)A report by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on the renewal of the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) is expected to be submitted to the Security Council on Monday.
The Council will then hold a debate on the issue and a resolution is expected to be adopted by June 15.
According to diplomatic sources the UN Secretary General believes that the negative stance of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash does not leave him much option to undertake a new initiative on Cyprus.
Annan's report is expected to be descriptive and the UN chief will make references to the latest developments in Cyprus, such as the easing of restrictions on the freedom of movement in Cyprus.
It will also refer to the failed attempt in early March to reach a negotiated agreement in Cyprus and will state Annan's readiness for a new initiative, when there is concrete and genuine proof that all parties concerned have the political will to move forward.
Meanwhile, Cyprus' Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador
Sotos Zakhaios paid a courtesy call on Annan on the occasion of his return to Cyprus to assume the duties of permanent secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The same sources have said that Annan believes that political will has been shown by Cyprus, Greece and Turkey but Denktash has shown no intention to cooperate.
 Vassiliou and Durduran agree on need for Cyprus settlement
NICOSIA 30/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)President of Greek Cypriot United Democrats Movement George Vassiliou and leader of Turkish Cypriot Movement of Patriotic Unity Alpay Durduran met on Thursday in Nicosia and agreed on the need for a solution of the Cyprus problem as soon as possible.
Vassiliou said the easing of restrictions on the free movement of citizens on behalf of the Turkish Cypriot side and measures to support the Turkish Cypriots on behalf of the government were welcome but did not constitute a settlement. Durduran stressed that the Turkish Cypriots want a solution this year and noted that the current situation was not stable.
Describing the current stage as ''crucial'', Durduran said ''we are both happy about the developments, we both welcome the new freedom and the real opportunities are very good for people to communicate, to come together and join forces.''
He noted that the Turkish Cypriots ''want the reunification of the country, of the people, they want an early solution,'' adding that they ''have some opportunities but it is not enough and they are very much aware that they have to fight to shorten the time for the solution.''
''The present situation looks stable but it is not stable. We do not want to live it too long. We see some dangers in it and we have to warn everybody that they have to fight for a solution of the Cyprus problem,'' he added.
Referring to Wednesday's meeting of the Turkish National Security Council, Durduran said ''it seems that Turkey has doubts about the situation in Cyprus and they could not reach an accord on Greco-Turkish relations.''
''We need a solution, we need it this year, we have to fight for it, and we have to join forces to pressure our administrations to pave the way for the solution of the Cyprus problem. The measures can increase the possibilities but we cannot replace a solution with them. The solution is a must and only a solution can make everything stable,'' he noted.
Vassiliou said the meeting was held ''in a friendly spirit'' and focused on the easing of restrictions on free movement and that ''this does not constitute a solution.''
''It is a small step in forming the right climate and it is important that we move ahead to substantive negotiations based on the Annan plan,'' he added.
Vassiliou noted that ''for substantive negotiations, the Turkish Cypriot side's stance must change, that is it must abandon the demand for two sates,'' adding that ''we believe it is important that the image we project outwards is that we are ready to negotiate on the Annan plan and not focus on the changes we would like to bring about so that we do not give the impression that we do not agree with the substance of the plan.''
He added that continuous violations of the Greek airspace by Turkish fighters did not contribute to forming a climate to restart negotiations on Cyprus and contradict gestures of goodwill.
Vassiliou said he discussed with Durduran the government's measures to support the Turkish Cypriots and the measures expected early next month by the EU.
The latest effort to reach a settlement based on a plan put forward by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan collapsed due to the stance of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. Last month, the Turkish occupation regime announced the easing of restrictions on free movement.