|Friday, 19 July 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-09-30
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>September 30, 2003
 EU foreign ministers concerned over situation in Balkans and Middle East
Brussels, 30/09/2003 (ANA)The European Union's 15 foreign ministers convened here on Monday and expressed concern over the tense situation prevailing in the Balkans, primarily in Kosovo, as well as over the state of the Middle East.
The ministers also warned Iran of stricter inspections and the need for closer cooperation with the international community regarding its nuclear program.
Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, referring to the initiative on rapprochement between the countries of the western Balkans during the Thessaloniki summit last June, stressed the need for promoting dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade which has entered its initial stages with an agreement in principle on the agenda of talks.
The ministers also called on Iran to countersign the Treaty's additional protocol on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons with the International Atomic Energy Service headed by Mohammed El-Baradei, while warning Tehran that an evaluation of steps it has taken in this direction will take place in October with repercussions on the country's economic and trade transactions.
The Greek foreign minister said the EU's foreign ministers want Iran to commit itself on stricter inspections on its installations on atomic energy management and to abstain from activities capable of being used in producing materials for the making of nuclear weapons, stressing that such an attitude would strengthen prospects for political and economic dialogue, as well as cooperation.
Papandreou also focused on common initiatives and articles against weapons of mass destruction which he had promoted with recently assassinated Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh so as, as he said, ''to prevent the dilemma of war or peace in the way it was set in Iraq.''
The foreign ministers further examined the situation in the Middle East, terming as ''mistaken'', as Papandreou said, the logic of not discussing with Yasser Arafat and even more so of his being held hostage.
''The EU is awaiting the new Palestinian government and it will encourage it to go ahead with the implementation of the road map for the peaceful settlement of the crisis,'' he said.
On the question of Iraq, the ''15'' called on the EU's foreign policy representative Javier Solana to make proposals on a strengthened role for Europe in the country's reconstruction which will be discussed at the conference of donors in Madrid on October 23-24.
The Council, also attended by Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis, preoccupied itself with preparations for the upcoming summit (October 16-17 in Brussels) where emphasis will be placed on developments in the European economy and on the EU's policy on asylum and immigration, as well as on the Intergovernmental Conference on the processing of the European constitution, due to begin its work on Saturday.
 Deputy FM meets with Iranian counterpart in Tehran
Tehran 30/09/2003 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos was received on Monday by his counterpart Dr. Ali Ahani and during their meeting he handed to him a message from Foreign Minister George Papandreou.
Following the meeting, Loverdos said that they discussed issues of general political interest, focusing on the Cyprus issue and the Palestinian problem, as well as the two countries' economic relations and developmental cooperation.
On a different note, Loverdos requested of his counterpart the pardoning and release of the former president of the Greek community in Iran Antoniadis, who was convicted and imprisoned.
He also placed high on the agenda financial problems of Greek construction firms with the state of Iran, for overdue payments.
Despite the business problems of Greeks in Iran, during the joint inter-ministerial committee meeting, the Organization for the Promotion of Exports signed an agreement for the creation of a business council, which, however, has to be activated later.
Loverdos stressed that Iran was a very significant country for Greece and ''we insist in having friendly relations, since it is a matter of strategy''.
On his part, Ahani underlined Iran's will to continue its nuclear program exclusively for peaceful purposes, adding that ways were sought for Iran to sign an additional protocol for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons - satisfying a proposal by Germany, Britain and France - while at the same time ensuring the continuation of its nuclear program for peaceful purposes.
Ahani also placed special emphasis on the relations of Iran with the EU, stressing Iran's wish for a trade and cooperation agreement with the Union.
Loverdos underlined that Greece and the EU were asking for the full facilitation of the U.N. nuclear inspection team, stressing that Greece's opinion was for Iran to sign the additional protocol of non-proliferation.
Loverdos is expected to return to Athens on Monday evening.
 Greece assures Cyprus of continuous and unwavering support
Larnaca 30/09/2003 (ANA/CNA)National Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou has given strong assurances that Greece will continue to back Cyprus not only in the realm of defense matters but also in the attempt to find a peaceful negotiated settlement that would reunite the now divided island, whose northern areas are under Turkish occupation.
''My presence and my meetings here highlight the importance Greece attributes to the joint defense area, the Joint Defense Pact and the wholehearted support towards Cyprus in the effort to find a just, viable and functional political settlement,'' Papantoniou said Monday on arrival here for a three-day official visit.
He stressed that Athens' support is ''continuous, substantive and uninterrupted''.
''We are with you, we are close to you and our armed forces participate in Cyprus' defense planning through the procedures of the Joint Defense Pact, and cooperation between the two Army Commands is substantive and effective,'' he added.
The Greek minister said that a lot had been achieved over the past few years to the joint defense area, which as he pointed out ''operates effectively and is a deterrent.''
Papantoniou, who will watch Wednesday's military parade to mark 43 years of independence of the Republic of Cyprus, said he would have the opportunity to hear the views of political parties and listen to the positions of the government with regard to future moves.
Noting that the Cyprus question is going through a ''sensitive phase'', he said after EU membership, prospects for a just settlement should improve.
''This however needs to be proven, we need to continue our efforts, systematic and painstaking effort to achieve the desired outcome, namely a united Cyprus,'' he said.
Cyprus Defense Minister Kyriakos Mavronicolas greeted his Greek counterpart with warm words and thanked him for the help Greece has been giving Cyprus over the years in all national issues.
''His presence here provides a continuation of the important national issues,'' he said and noted the help Greece has offered Cyprus both in its European accession course but also in the peace effort for a speedy political settlement.
DM says as long as Cyprus issue unsolved Turkey's path to Europe closed: Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said on Monday, following meetings in the evening with delegations of Cyprus' four major parties, that as long as the Cyprus issue remains unsolved Turkey's path to Europe will remain closed.
Referring to the Cyprus issue, Papantoniou said it is going through a sensitive phase, adding that Cyprus has a considerable political advantage, that of its accession to the European Union, which also constitutes a great national success.
The defense minister noted that this success also paves the way for a just, viable and workable solution to the Cyprus issue.
Papantoniou said it is the responsibility of the Turkish Cypriot and the Turkish side to contribute in such a direction, but also focused on certain imponderable factors such as the upcoming ''elections'' in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus and the shaky balance in Turkey itself.
However, he expressed hope that political forces will be found on the other side which will see the real interest of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot community.
Papantoniou received at the Greek ambassador's residence delegations of the leftist AKEL party, headed by Nikos Katsouridis, the Democratic Rally (DHSY) party, headed by the party's two vice presidents Socrates Hasikos and Averof Neophytou, the Democratic Party, also headed by its two vice presidents Nikos Pitokopitis and Costas Petrides, as well as of the Socialdemocrats Movement-EDEK party headed by party leader Yiannakis Omirou.
The defense minister also received a delegation of enclaved Cypriots from the region of Rizokarpasso
 Verheugen believes there is an opportunity for resumption of Cyprus talks
Brussels 30/09/2003 (ANA)The assessment that ''there is an opportunity for a resumption of the talks on the Cyprus issue and the finding of a solution on the basis of the Annan plan'' was expressed by EU Commissioner responsible for enlargement Gunter Verheugen, following a meeting he had here on Monday with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul.
Earlier, the EU Commissioner met in the Belgian capital with Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou.
In statements after his meeting with the Turkish foreign minister, Verheugen said that efforts must be made for a solution of the political problem before the accession of Cyprus to the European Union on May 1, 2004, something, which he clarified, constitutes a preferable solution for Europe. He noted that if this happens there will be positive results for satisfying Turkey's request for the start of negotiations.
The Commissioner claimed that a settlement of the Cyprus issue will become easier if it precedes the decision which will be taken in the autumn of 2004 for the start of Turkey's accession talks with the EU.
On this issue, Papandreou in statements stressed the importance of a settlement of the Cyprus issue for the start of Turkey-EU accession talks, at the same time noting the need for the implementation of reforms which Ankara has committed itself that it will make.
Verheugen noted the progress which has been made in Euro-Turkish relations with the government of Recep Tanya Endogen, he himself also stressing on his part the need for the implementation in practice of the legislative reforms for the fulfillment of the political criteria of Copenhagen. Specifically, he claimed that with the present government the course towards democratization has improved and the political situation in Ankara is characterized by ''stability'', without it henceforth containing ''elements of uncertainty'' such as with previous Turkish governments. According to Verheugen, the message of the regular progress report which the Commission will present on November 5 on the course of Turkey will be ''positive and encouraging.''
With regard the decision of the supreme annulment court on the pro-Kurdish Democratic People's Party (DEHAP), Verheugen expressed the hope that there will be no repercussions for Turkey's political stability.
On his part, Gul reiterated the commitment of the Turkish government to proceed in the implementation of the reforms and the decisiveness of the government to continue efforts for the preparation of Turkey for the start of accession talks.
 Report on economic cost of Annan plan presented in Athens
Athens, 30/09/2003 (ANA)The reunification of Cyprus based on the peace plan proposed by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan will lead to a new era of prosperity and safety for the island, according to a report on the economic impact of the plan presented on Monday in Athens.
The findings of the report were outlined at a press conference in the city by former Cyprus president George Vassiliou, who headed a team of experts who voluntarily participated in this independent, self-funded initiative.
Vassiliou said the plan would facilitate the return of thousands of displaced persons to their homes, assist in settling property issues and greatly accelerate growth on Cyprus by safeguarding the freedom of movement of goods, services, labor and capital.
He said the team had chosen to present its findings now because negotiations on the Annan plan were not currently underway and it would not compromise Cyprus' national interests.
Commenting on criticism leveled against the report by the governor of the Cypriot central bank, Vassiliou said the banker's action had been 'unusual' since he had publicly criticized the report while admitting that he had not actually read it.
He said he had informed the Greek government about the preparation of the report, while noting that he had not presented its findings to the Cyprus government earlier so as not to put it in a difficult position.
 Main opposition unveils its plans for local authorities, state sector
Athens, 30/09/2003 (ANA)Presenting his party's program for public administration and local government on Monday, New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis said the main opposition was ready to steer a new policy and a new model of government with a clear-cut program, vision and set of positions.
Noting that Greece was coming to the end of the cycle that began with the restoration of democracy in 1974, Karamanlis presented his vision for government that ''did not separate or make distinctions" between citizens and had no room for discrimination and exclusion based on party flags and affiliations in public administration.
He pledged that his party will place priority on transparency and respect for the laws in public administration when in government, and promised to abolish laws that facilitated corruption and graft.
He said ND's program covered the period up to 2010, during which time the top priorities will be education, cultural issues and a new economic policy for rapid and balanced growth, as well as a transition to a more capable state sector.
The program calls for a reduction in the number of ministries, the reduction and merger of public-sector legal entities and services, less state intervention in the economy through privatizations and by farming out management of ''natural'' monopolies and public utilities that remain in the state sector to private firms.
Regarding local authorities, Karamanlis said ND planned a transfer of responsibilities and promised that they would receive the funds needed after an initial cost assessment, as well as participating in EU Community Support Frameworks.
He said ND planned to retain the institution of regional general secretaries while scrapping an eight-year limit on the term of office for prefects.
Other changes announced were the election of mayors, community presidents and prefects from the first round if they received more than 42 per cent of the vote and the creation of a national council for local government.
Karamanlis reiterated earlier ND positions on upgrading the role of the National Radio and Television Council (ERS) and for regulating the mass media, saying he would scrap laws that encourage graft and corruption.
He also proposed to set up an independent authority to control state-sector contracts and suppliers and to make the Capital Markets Commission fully independent, as well as setting up a special department to inspect 'statement of means' declarations by civil servants and a committee to monitor spending by politicians that will be manned by staff from the State Audit Council.
Other new institutions envisaged by ND include special ombudsmen specializing in health and welfare issues or the public's interactions with local authorities.
ND's leader said his party also planned changes in the system for hiring public-sector personnel through a nationwide written exam after April, by which time all public-sector services must have put in their requests for additional staff.
He said new categories of personnel will be required to sit the exam and that the state would cease to hire temporary staff to cover standing needs, while pledging to introduce part-time work in the state sector.
Regarding civil-service salaries, Karamanlis said these would be linked with rank, responsibilities, education and performance, while he pledged to incorporate subsidies into the main salary, unify sector pay-scales and introduce a clear hierarchy.
ND has also promised measures to eradicate bureaucracy, especially the paperwork required to launch a new business enterprise, and to draft budgets from scratch for all state services with the introduction of double-entry book-keeping.
Minister, government spokesman criticise ND's public administration programme: Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis, commenting on Monday on statements by main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis on public administration and a modern state, said they were ''an extreme case of mimicry'', while terming Karamanlis a ''bad copier who is trying to conceal his ignorance.''
Speaking at a press conference, Skandalidis said ND's program-me contains no new idea and is poor and threadbare.
He added that with this program there will be no re-founding of the state, as Karamanlis claims, but a re-founding of the state of the right, while it opens small windows for the overturning of achievements made.
Referring to the same issue, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said ''it would not even be necessary for us to criticize this non-program, had it not been for the point on the abolition of ASEP'' and that ''it is a pity and shame for a major party to promise a return to logics of the 19th century, to the era of Jube, with practices desiring a return to clientele relations, hostage-taking and the dependence of the citizen.''
The government spokesman pointed out that ''at last, it can be clearly seen where the logic of the re-founding of the state of the right is leading to.''
 SAE president satisfied with results of meeting with PM
Athens, 30/09/2003 (ANA)Emerging from a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis earlier on Monday, World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) president Andrew Athens said he was pleased with its results.
He said he had outlined the activities and programs of the SAE, particularly its medical program in the former Soviet states and Albania.
Simitis expressed a desire to attend the 5th SAE World Congress that will take place in Thessaloniki in December.
 Interior Minister and Athens mayor open new citizens' service centre
Athens, 30/09/2003 (ANA)Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis and Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni on Monday inaugurated a new Citizens' Service Centre in the fourth quarter of the Athens municipality in Sepolia, the first of seven due to operate in Athens by the end of 2003.
 PASOK secretary calls for program convergence of centre-left
Athens, 30/09/2003 (ANA)Ruling PASOK party secretary Mihalis Chrysohoidis, addressing an event organized by the Renewal Modernizing Movement of the Left (AEKA) party on Monday, extended an ''open invitation for the convergence of the centre-left'' to enable the creation of an ''alternative proposal for progressive governance.''
The event was also addressed by Deputy Interior Minister and AEKA leader Nikos Bistis and other speakers who stressed the need for a dialogue to begin immediately on the creation of a ''progressive'' political majority, like in the other countries of Europe, despite the particularities of the election period.
 'Medecins du Monde' hails Greek-Turkish anti-landmine pact
Athens, 30/09/2003 (ANA)The Greek branch of the aid organization 'Medecins du Monde' on Monday hailed the signature of an agreement between the Greek and Turkish foreign ministries for the abolition of minefields on the borders of the two countries.
It said the historic agreement put an end to a "dark period marked by the use of the most inhuman and underhand weapon on the European continent."
The organizations announcement also expressed grief at the deaths of seven refugees that were killed by anti-personnel mines as they attempted to cross the borders in Evros on Monday.
 Synaspismos leader arrives in Paris for ''Marx Space'' conference
Paris, 30/09/2003 (ANA)Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos on Monday arrived in Paris at the invitation of the ''Marx Space'' political movement, to participate in a discussion on European developments and the cooperation of the forces of the European Left.
During his stay in Paris Constantopoulos will meet with France's Communist Party leadership to discuss the relations of the two parties and their cooperation in the framework of the European Left.
 Former Israeli FM Ben-Ami on peace process, 'road map'
Athens 30/09/2003 (ANA)One of the chief negotiators of the Oslo accords and Taba talks between Israelis and Palestinians, former foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, on Monday pointed directly to what he called the fallacies of the previous agreements and why the current US-brokered road map is flawed.
Ben-Ami, a respected scholar who also briefly held the crucial Israeli public security portfolio in 1999, spoke at the Hellenic American Unions downtown Athens campus, where he detailed the often-wearisome relations and points of contention between Israel and the Palestinians before and after the Sharon government came into power.
In referring to one of the most crucial mistakes of the Oslo agreements, and something that still hampers any type of real breakthrough, he cited the fact that trust cannot be built within the peace process between occupier and occupied.
He also said that the Israeli public's earnest and thoroughly legitimate demand for a crackdown on terrorism cannot be met by a Palestinian leadership reluctant to pacify extremist groups such as Hamas, the al-Aqsa martyrs brigades and Islamic Jihad for fear of risking a civil war within Palestinian society.
Moreover, he warned that although the vast majority of Israelis are willing to evacuate the Palestinian territories and to dismantle the settlements, they simply do not trust Palestinian leadership to deliver a comprehensive peace and total security for Israel. They dont trust us, and we dont trust them, he said, adding that many Israelis still believe that the occupied territories have not benefited the Israeli nation.
Furthermore, he again stressed the need for a dramatic final agreement as opposed to a piecemeal process so popular with Israeli politicians because of their belief that political costs will be dampened. Regarding the latter, he said this was the reason behind the then Barak governments choice, before also saying a weakness in the process was a lack of a direct relationship between Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat.
In offering a forecast over the next steps in one of the worlds thorniest conflicts, Ben-Ami predicted that Palestinian leadership will reject the notion of a temporary state envisioned in the road map until they know in advance what the next step will be. In their case, he said, the next step means a return to the borders of 67.
Overall, he said a peace process without a stop to terrorism, on one side, and a block on the policy of Jewish settlements, on the other, are the challenges.
Referring to recent high-ranking Israeli officials threats against Arafat, Ben-Ami first noted that the veteran Palestinian leader was an almost impossible interlocutor, although he cautioned that removing the veteran Palestinian leader from the peace process will not change the price of peace.
In delineating the conflict, he warned against trivializing the Israel-Palestinian conflict into a mere territorial dispute much like a territorial dispute between Chile and Bolivia, or even Israel and Syria saying the issue affects the entire Arab and Islamic world.
Finally, he said the collision course that must be overcome in the peace process is Israels need for total security, its philosophy of settlement and a past of historical wrongs versus the Palestinians nationalistic cause, Islam and refugees.
Greece seeks clarification on EU farm policy review, Brussels, 30/09/2003 (A.Simatos)
Finance Minister George Drys said on Monday that the European Union's executive Commission should provide clarification of points in a statement it made on Mediterranean products as part of reform of the bloc's common agricultural policy.
Drys was speaking after a meeting of EU farm ministers in the Belgian capital on the Commission's statement about reforming market organizations for Mediterranean oil, cotton and tobacco.
''The principles of the Commission's statement lie within the framework of decisions of the Luxembourg council meeting,'' the minister told reporters. At the same time, certain points needed clarifying.
Drys also said that a proposal to partially decouple subsidies and production needed further study to see whether a partial or full delinking were enough to avert abandonment of Mediterranean product cultivations, and to improve output.
''A basic component of the reform, apart from fiscal neutrality, is the maintenance of the historic allocation of resources among member state producers,'' the minister added.
Draft budget and IGC the main focus of PM's meetings this week Athens, 30/09/2003
Government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Monday announced a meeting between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and the president of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad, Andrew Athens, at 14:00 the same day.
On Monday morning, meanwhile, Simitis met Bank of Greece governor Nikos Garganas for talks on supervising the banking system and protecting consumers.
On Tuesday at noon, the prime minister is to meet PASOK Central Committee Secretary Mihalis Chrysohoidis, while on Wednesday he will visit the Agia Varvara old people's home in the morning, followed by a meeting with the leadership of the foreign ministry at noon to discuss the Intergovernmental Conference that is working on a draft text for the new EU Constitution.
At 19:30 on Wednesday evening, Simitis is to have a meeting with Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, prior to Thursday's cabinet meeting that will discuss the early draft of the budget.
Protopapas announced that a government meeting might be held on Friday morning, chaired by the PM, who was due to depart for Rome that afternoon to attend the EU summit on the start of the IGC.
Trikala farmers hold protest rally over reduced subsidies Athens, 30/09/2003
Farmers in Trikala on Monday congregated in the centre of the prefecture's capital for a protest rally over the gradual reduction of subsidies for farm products envisioned under revisions of the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
The protesting farmers said the rally was a "warning action" that will be followed by others unless their concerns are addressed.
They object to the gradual phasing out of EU subsidies for key agricultural products, such as cotton, tobacco, wheat and vegetables used in processing, which will be reduced up to 5 per cent after the initial 5,000 euros per farm after 2007.
They claim the measures will reduce the income of the overwhelming majority of farmers with small to medium-sized holdings and have a very negative impact on the quality and quantity of agricultural production, as well as on the economy of the countryside.
8 companies submit papers to ministry for gas pump cash registers Athens, 30/09/2003
The finance ministry announced on Monday that another eight companies submitted application for the approval of their gas pump retail cash register equipment, bringing the total number of companies up to 15.
The ministry's press release stressed that all gas stations have up to Oct. 13 to order the cash registers that are mandatory for diesel fuel pumps.
 Extension for electronic VAT tax submittal
Athens, 30/09/2003 (ANA)The finance ministry announced on Monday a new extension for the mandatory submitting of VAT tax through the internet system TAXISnet for personal businesses.
The new deadline was set for July 1st, 2004, while the old deadline was set to expire on Oct. 26th.
According to the press release, the extension was given to allow businesses to prepare for the new measure.
 Spanish company tables offer for 35 percent stake in Public Gas Corporation
Athens, 30/09/2003 (ANA)The Spanish Gas Natural company has tabled an offer for the buyout of 35 percent of shares of the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA).
Two other companies, the German Ruhr Gass and the Russian GUSPROM which had initially shown interest, did not ultimately make offers.
The time limit for offers to be submitted ended on Monday and the only one made was that of the Spanish company, amounting to about 260 million euros.
Finance ministry circles consider the development satisfactory, while relevant statements are expected by Finance and Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Tuesday.
 Pay talks between government and TEI teachers fail once moreAthens, 30/09/2003, (ANA)
Deputy Finance Minister Nikos Farmakis and Technological Educational Institute (TEI) teachers' unions once again failed to reach any agreement over pay rises in a new round of talks on Monday.
The government is insisting that wage increases should be limited to 7 per cent, while teachers are demanding a 10 per cent increase in both 2004 and 2005.
The union is expected to recommend that TEI teachers continue to strike alongside their colleagues in universities. Both unions have scheduled a protest rally at Propylaia beneath the Acropolis followed by a march to the Education Ministry on Wednesday.
 Greek and Cypriot broadcasting corporations sign cooperation protocol
Nicosia, Athens, 30/09/2003 (ANA/G. Leonidas)The Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (CyBC) and Greece's Radio and TV Corporation (ERT) signed a cooperation agreement on Monday, while ERT President Angelos Stangos said the cooperation protocol will strengthen cooperation already existing between the two broadcasting corporations.
Stangos said the protocol will create better conditions in satellite cooperation between the two channels.
 Taxis begin 24-hour strike on Saturday
Athens, 30/09/2003 (ANA)Taxi drivers in Athens and Attica are to stage a 24-hour strike on Saturday, their union said in a statement.
The drivers are protesting against a government plan to make the use of electronic cash registers in their vehicles mandatory from January 1, 2004; and against the government's refusal to allow taxis to use bus lanes, the SATA union said in a statement on Monday.
The government has said it will not backtrack on receipts; taxi owners say they have accepted the move in principle but object to the procedure. Another demand is a rise in tariffs.
The SATA union is also to hold a general assembly meeting the day of the stoppage.
 Greek stocks close almost unchanged on MondayAthens, 30/09/2003, (ANA)
Greek stocks closed the day almost unchanged in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, despite a significant drop during the trading session, which, however, was ameliorated during the past 15 minutes.
The general index rose by 0.06 percent to end at 2,002.63 points, up from the day's lows of 2,981.15points. Turnover was a moderate 87.6 million euros.
Several sector indices ended lower, with wholesale by 1.81 per cent, Insurance by 1.59 per cent and Publishing 1.54 per cent. To the contrary increases were recorded in Banking (0.32 percent), construction (0.31 per cent) and Industry 0.10 per cent.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.32 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index dropped 0.44 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 1.13 percent down.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 283 to 48 with another 27 issues unchanged
 Central bank to issue special commemorative coin for 2004 Olympics,
Athens, 30/09/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis received Bank of Greece Gov. Nikos Garganas on Monday, with the latter again denying a local press report on Sunday claiming he sent the premier an urgent letter warning of widening budget deficits and lagging fiscal discipline in light of the upcoming Olympic Games and a recently announced social spending package.
The government spokesman first denied the report on Sunday afternoon, stressing that the Bank of Greece governor assured him that he did not send a letter to Simitis over the recent period.
Mondays meeting, meanwhile, focused on the Greek central banks initiative to mint a commemorative 2-euro coin in honor of the 2004 Olympic Games of Athens. The coins are expected to circulate throughout the euro-zone as of Jan. 1, 2004, with revenue forecast to reach the 100-million-euro mark, money Garganas said will be funneled via the state budget for financing various 2004-related works.
Other discussion touched on the issue of strengthening the central banks position in the domestic banking sector, especially on the timely matter of better safeguards for commercial bank consumers and retail borrowers. Garganas said the central bank is pushing for legal changes to ensure its institutional role in this field.
 Venizelos to address 32nd General Conference of UNESCO on Tuesday
Paris, 30/09/2003 (ANA)Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who is currently in Paris to attend the 32nd General Conference of UNESCO, met on Monday with UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura, the culture ministry's press office announced.
In statements after his meeting with Matsuura, Venizelos said he spoke with the UNESCO Director General ahead of the speech he will give at the General Conference of UNESCO on Tuesday and also discussed a number of issues, including the official return of the United States as a full member of UNESCO.
''The fact that the U.S. is becoming a full member of UNESCO is very important both for the economic potential but also for the political effectiveness of UNESCO,'' Venizelos said.
''We also discussed the great joint plan which we have with UNESCO, which is the Cultural Olympiad. We are preparing a very big program for the protection of characteristic monuments which are in danger in all the continents, which we will announce in November,'' the Greek minister concluded.
 First final argument by defense attorney in 'N17' trial postponed
Athens, 30/09/2003 (ANA)The much-expected final argument phase on the defence side at the November 17 terrorism trial was delayed by a day on Monday, as the defence counsel for one of the more prominent defendants, reputed operations chief and top N17 assassin Dimitris Koufodinas, petitioned for a delay due to unforeseen circumstances.
Attorney Ioanna Kourtovik was scheduled to make her final argument on Monday before a special three-judge appellate-level court trying the closely watched case of 19 defendants charged in a voluminous indictment.
Koufodinas other defense attorney told the court that Kourtovik was called away because one of her family members was facing a health problem.
A prosecutors recommendation for a one-day delay was subsequently accepted by the court. Proceedings resume on Tuesday at the specially modified prison courtroom.
 Gusinsky extradition hearing postponed for 15 days
Athens, 30/09/2003 (ANA)A three-member council of appellate judges on Monday issued a 15-day postponement in the hearing of fugitive Russian media baron Vladimir Gusinsky, deciding that additional information should be presented before ruling on a closely watched extradition request by Moscow.
The postponement comes after a similar decision late last week by the same council to allow Gusinsky and his attorneys the opportunity to present evidence proving his allegation of politically motivated persecution against him due to his powerful NTV networks anti-government coverage. The first postponement was for Monday.
According to judicial sources, moreover, a prosecutor assigned to the appellate council is expected to recommend against Gusinskys extradition on the basis that the warrant issued by Russian authorities is vague.
Gusinsky, 51, was arrested at Athens international airport in late August but was later released on a 60,000-euro bond and under the condition that he remain in the country.
The former chief of the Media-Most Holdings, one of Russias largest independent broadcast networks, had arrived in Athens aboard a flight from Tel-Aviv. He was traveling with both Russian and Israeli passports.
Gusinsky was one of a small group of Russian entrepreneurs known as the ''oligarchs'' who made vast fortunes in the aftermath of the Soviet Unions collapse. According to wire reports, he faces charges of embezzling up to $250 million in various banks and laundering schemes in Russia.
He had been detained in Spain almost two years ago, although courts there rejected Russias extradition request in April 2001.
 23 Hungarians treated for light injuries following bus accident
Athens, 30/09/2003 (ANA)Twenty-two Hungarian nationals out of the 29 aboard a tourist coach that overturned on a northern Greece highway late Sunday evening were still being treated Monday at a local hospital, all for light injuries sustained during the accident. Most of the passengers were members of a dance troupe that had performed earlier in Athens.
According to staff at a hospital in the north-central city of Katerini, only one individual required surgery to repair a broken leg, while another woman was transferred to a nearby Thessaloniki health facility for further tests to rule out possible internal head injuries.
The bus, on route from the greater Athens area back to Hungary, overturned on Greeces main north-south highway at around 10:10 p.m. on Sunday.
Twenty-three people 14 women, eight men and a five-year-old boy -- were listed as injured following the accident, which occurred when the coach collided with a car traveling in front of it in the same lane.
An investigation is pending.
 Seven illegal immigrants killed in minefield
Athens, 30/09/2003 (ANA)Seven illegal immigrants were killed Monday morning in the Evros border region of Greece after two anti-personnel mines exploded when they entered a well-marked minefield, police said.
The tragedy occurred at 9:10 a.m. in the area of Kornofolia, Soufli, in Evros prefecture, near the Greek border with Turkey. According to initial information, the seven men -- believed to be Iranians -- illegally crossed into Greece and entered the minefield, which was enclosed by a double wire fence 1.5 meters high and marked by fluorescent signs, in accordance with international requirements. The men apparently cut through the double-fence enclosure.
The bodies were recovered by a landmine removal squad clearing another mine in the area.
 PASOK Eurodeputy provides briefing on latest developments on women's rights
Athens, 30/09/2003 (ANA)PASOK Eurodeputy and European Parliament Women's Rights and Equal Opportunity Committee President Anna Karamanou on Monday briefed the media on latest developments regarding women's rights in Europe. She also referred to initiatives on the promotion of Greece in light of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
The meeting was also attended by Equality General Secretary Efi Bekou.
Considerable steps are being taken in the European Union on the issue of equality of the genders, steps based on intense efforts by elected women. Karamanou noted that a struggle is taking place lately on the new directive against discriminations, based on article 13 of the Amsterdam Treaty which anticipates the abolition of every discrimination concerning gender.
 Greek books to be exhibited in Madrid, Frankfurt book fairs
Athens, 30/09/2003 (ANA)The Greek Book Center on Monday announced that Greek book titles first issued in 2002 and 2003 will appear in exhibitions in Madrid and Frankfurt, two of the most commercial book exhibitions in the world.
The exhibition in Madrid will take place between Wednesday and Friday and the second in Frankfurt between Oct. 8 and 13.
It was also announced that the book center will invite all directors of International Book Exhibitions to discuss a cooperation program in light of the new International Book and
Graphics Fair called Scripta, which will be inaugurated in May 2004 in Thessaloniki and is under the auspices of the Greek culture ministry.
 V. Papandreou continues tour of Crete announcing public construction projects
Athens, 30/09/2003 (ANA)Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou on Monday continued her tour of Crete showcasing planned public construction projects for the island.
Speaking to mayors of the Central Crete Iraklion region, she focused on the issue of the illegally operating landfills, noting that if ameliorating measures are not taken the prosecutor's office will undertake criminal proceedings.
Papandreou also detailed millions of euros worth of local interest road projects and paid special attention to a local irrigation dam, which as she said will cost 38.5 million euros, adding that its construction will begin within the year and the total project will be finished by 2007.
 Culture minister on Elia Kazan's death
Athens, 30/09/2003 (ANA)Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday said that director Elia Kazan ''was undoubtedly a man that marked the history of cinema and was always connected with the Hellenism of the East. No one can forget the well-known negative points of his political stance, but no one can refuse that he was a great director''.
 WWF Hellas urges public to protest against bill for forests
Athens, 30/09/2003 (ANA)The Greek branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on Monday urged the public to send letters of protest to the agriculture ministry over the government's planned bill for forests.
In a letter to Agriculture Minister George Drys, meanwhile, WWF Hellas asked him to immediately withdraw the draft bill and complete the mapping of forested land in Greece.
"The bill for forests neither protects forest ecosystems in our country nor does it solve problems regarding ownership and use of land," the letter noted.
It invites the public to send letters of protest addressed to Drys at the e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org or to the fax number 210 5237904.
 President Papadopoulos says need to change UN proposal recognized
Larnaca, 30/09/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos has said that an increasing number of parties involved in the question of Cyprus recognizes the need to amend a UN peace plan on a comprehensive settlement, in order to render Cyprus a useful and constructive partner in Europe.
In his remarks at Larnaca Airport on Monday, upon his return after a week's absence at the UN seat, he said that he has arguments and suggestions that would convince of the validity of the proposed changes.
''I return home satisfied with my contacts and the messages conveyed to me by nearly all of my interlocutors,'' he said in his opening remarks at Larnaca Airport.
Referring to his contacts in New York, he said he outlined his positions on the question of Cyprus, he discussed prospects for the resumption of negotiations and he reiterated his firm position that he is seeking a resumption of substantive talks on the basis of the Kofi Annan plan as soon as possible.
He said he had explained the changes he is seeking to make in the Annan plan to render it more functional and more viable.
Asked if his interlocutors considered these changes feasible, the president replied ''today more and more persons involved in the peace plan acknowledge the need to introduce improvements to it and when we talk about improvements, we are not referring to changing dates which have been overtaken by events anyway or completing the legal instruments of the common state to be established through negotiations.''
''I believe that this position is becoming more and more understandable and the next step is for us to be in a position to convince others at the negotiating table, not unilaterally, about the changes needed to render Cyprus a constructive and useful partner in the European Union and not a troublesome presence,'' he added.
Replying to questions on the UN position on changes to the Annan plan, the president said the UN Secretary General does not really have the luxury to air his views before the resumption of talks.
''I am however under the impression that we do have arguments and suggestions that can convince,'' he said.
On the prospects of resuming the stalled peace talks, he said none of his interlocutors had indicated that he expected the talks to resume before the December so-called ''parliamentary elections'' in occupied Cyprus.
Invited to comment on seemingly important gestures by the Turkish Cypriot leader with regard to the fenced area of Famagusta, he said Rauf Denktash has succeeded, without giving away anything except the partial lifting of restrictions on free movement to and from the occupied areas, in having a lot of people, especially abroad, discuss repeated measures and initiatives he is said to be undertaking.
The president said information to the effect that Denktash was opening the fenced area of Famagusta had filtered through in the recent past but no specifics about such a move were at any time announced.
Replying to questions, he expressed hope that no sensible Greek Cypriot would wish to invest in order to create a new group of enclaved people in Famagusta (there are already about 500 enclaved Greek Cypriots living in the northern Turkish occupied part of the island).
The president said in his meetings with heads of states of the Islamic Conference he asked that they do not make any move that would upgrade the status of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot entity in occupied Cyprus.
Replying to questions, he said he would brief the members of the National Council, the top advisory body to the President on the handling of the Cyprus question, ''fully and accurately'' about his discussions in New York.
 Cyprus FM Iacovou says Brussels and Nicosia have identical views on Cyprus question
Brussels 30/09/2003 (CNA/ANA)Belgium and Cyprus share the same views on the question of Cyprus, Foreign Minister George Iacovou said here on Monday, after a working breakfast with his Belgian counterpart Louis Michel.
Speaking to CNA, Iacovou said the Cyprus issue was the main topic of discussion and expressed satisfaction with his talks because they reaffirmed the positions of the Belgian government on Cyprus, which according to Iacovou are identical with those of Nicosia.
Iacovou said the role of Belgium and that of the EU in the effort to find a political settlement before May 1, 2004, when Cyprus joins the Union, were also part of the talks.
Michel said the EU should outline its own political position on that.
Other international issues were on the agenda of the morning meeting, including the Middle East issue. The two ministers agreed that an effort should be made to train Palestinians in Cyprus in various sectors such as the police force and the medical profession.
Iacovou is in Brussels to participate in a meeting of EU ministers to prepare the Rome meeting on Saturday, marking the official beginning of the Intergovernmental Conference.
Later on Monday, the minister was due to go to Luxembourg to address the Joint EU-Cyprus Parliamentary Committee, meeting there.
 Independence parade not a show of strength, says government of Cyprus
Nicosia, 30/09/2003 (CNA/ANA)Wednesday's military parade to commemorate the Republic's Independence Day is not designed to cause tension nor is it a show of strength, government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides has stressed.
He also said that the three-day official visit to Cyprus by Greek National Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou reflects the close ties between Athens and Nicosia in defense matters as well.
''The objective of the military parade is to commemorate our independence day and the 43 years of the Republic of Cyprus. It has no intention to either cause tension or display military might,'' Chrysostomides said on Monday.
He added that the Republic's defense program is continuing and the country's defense capabilities are at a particularly high level.
''As we continue our efforts to find a political settlement through peaceful means, there is no reason to display any military hardware to provoke,'' he said.
On Papantoniou's visit, the spokesman said he might discuss joint military exercises with Greece, expected to take place later this year.
Papantoniou, who arrived in the afternoon, was met by Cyprus Defense Minister Kyriakos Mavronikolas and on Tuesday he will meet House President Demetris Christofias. On Wednesday morning he will be received by President Tassos Papadopoulos.
During his visit, the Greek minister will talk to the House Defense Committee, party leaders and meet representatives of enclaved Greek Cypriots living in Turkish occupied Karpass peninsula.
Papantoniou, who will watch Wednesday's military parade, leaves Wednesday afternoon.