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Athens News Agency: News in English, 02-03-01
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Premier Simitis to officially visit Japan next week01/03/2002 22:24:22
The government announced on Friday that Prime Minister Costas Simitis will tour Japan between March 2-8, in what will be the first-ever official visit by a Greek premier to the Far East country.
Former premier Constantine Mitsotakis had travelled to Japan twice in 1990, the first time to lobby the IOC for the assumption of the 1996 Olympics by Athens, followed by his attendance at the coronation of Japanese Emperor Akihito.
Greek-Japanese relations date to 1899 with the signing of a friendship, commerce and maritime pact.
 Greece officially says farewell to drachma01/03/2002 22:24:13
Greece on Friday officially ended the parallel circulation of the drachma with the euro, leaving the single European currency as the only legitimate currency in the country.
The drachma withdrawal procedure was fairly smooth, the Bank of Greece said in a statement, with approximately 2.7 trillion drachmas, or 90 percent of drachma in circulation by the end of 2001, withdrawn from the market by February 28.
Drachma was Greece's national currency for the last 169 years, as it was in the past for ancient Athens and other Greek cities. It was issued in 1833 replacing phoenixe, the first currency of the Greek state, to mark Greece's modern history both in times of trouble and prosperity.
The drachma was part of a various monetary systems in the past, such as the Latin Monetary Union, the Gold standard, Bretton Woods' foreign exchange system, the European Monetary System's foreign exchange mechanism - a precondition for participating in EMU.
The Bank of Greece said it would continue exchanging drachma banknotes for euros for the next 10 years, and drachma coins for the next two years.
 Tsohatzopoulos visits US to promote tourism, energy01/03/2002 22:23:01
Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos has started an official visit to the United States in an effort to promote Greek tourism and to boost Greek-American cooperation in the energy sector.
During his five-day visit in Florida, Washington and New York, Tsohatzopoulos will meet with his American counterpart, address a seminar in the University of South Florida on the "Significance of Global Hellenism", and meet with members of energy think tanks and tour operators in New York.
He will be also honoured with the American Foundation for Greek Language And Culture award as "Man of the Year".
 ATHOC to call tender for catering companies to serve Olympic Family01/03/2002 22:21:49
The Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) will call a tender for the selection of a catering company to undertake huge needs of the athletes and the Olympic family during the Games in Athens.
The three restaurants to cater to the needs of 24,000 athletes and the Olympic family will prepare 6,000 meals per hour, for a total of 50,000 meals per day and a grand total of two million meals during the entire Games.
Approximately 100 tons of food will be consumed per day.
 Greece drafts bill to protect the young from unsuitable video games01/03/2002 20:07:17
BRUSSELS (ANA/M.Spinthourakis) -Greece is drafting legislation on protecting the young from material in video and electronic games that could be psychologically damaging.
Senior Greek government officials told a meeting of European Union internal market ministers on Friday that the law would allow the state to intervene in cases where the games were deemed unsuitable.
Representing Greece at the session were Deputy Finance Minister Christos Pachtas and Deputy Development Minister Christos Theodorou.
The EU ministers adopted a consumer protection resolution that would introduce labels denoting age suitability for entertainment and leisure goods, including video games.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - Monday01/03/2002 18:33:22
Indicative tourist buying rates per euro until Monday
U.S. dollar 0.874
Pound sterling 0.615
Danish kroner 7.490
Swedish kroner 9.161
Japanese yen 116.6
Swiss franc 1.487
Norwegian kroner 7.767
Cyprus pound 0.579
Canadian dollar 1.399
Australian dollar 1.691
 Government approves three major arms supply programmes (Adds details)01/03/2002 18:06:40
The Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) on Friday approved three major arms supply programmes, during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
Defence Minister Yiannos Papantoniou afterward announced that the meeting had approved three important armaments purchases falling within Greece's five-year arms procurement plan. These included an order for 170 LEOPARD 2-A5 tanks made by Germany's Krauss-Maffei, the ASPIS electronic counter-measures system made in the United States and 12 mid-range C 27J transport planes made by a US-Italian consortium comprised of Italy's Alenia and Lockheed Martin.
The minister said the three programmes would account for a large chunk of the total 2001-2006 armaments programme but avoided giving a specific figure, saying that this would be decided on during negotiations for the contracts and the agreements for annual payments.
Unofficial sources estimate the total cost of the three programmes announced to be 2.05 billion euros.
 Purchasing Managers Index rises in February01/03/2002 18:03:55
The Greece Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rose to 52.3 points in February, showing a shift towards recovery after terrorist attacks in the US in September last year dampened markets.
Released on Friday, the seasonally-adjusted monthly index is designed to offer an overview of conditions in the manufacturing sector. Points above 50 denote growth, and below 50 slowdown.
The monthly index is the outcome of a survey of 300 companies carried out by NTC Research of the United Kingdom working with the Greek Procurements Institute.
 Weather Forecast: Sunny on Saturday01/03/2002 17:06:09
Sunny weather is forecast in all parts of the country. Early morning visibility will be limited. Winds southwesterly, light to moderate, turning strong at sea. In the north, temperatures will range from 7C to 23C; on the rest of the mainland from 9C to 25C; and in the islands from 12C to 21C. Sunshine in Athens with temperatures between 10C and 23C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 6C to 22C.
 Greek stocks end week substantially higher01/03/2002 16:38:30
Equity prices ended the last trading session of the week substantially higher, reflecting strong gains in blue chip stocks, particularly telecoms.
The general index, after a highly volatile session, ended 1.42 percent higher at 2,366.02 points, with turnover an improved 126.1 million euros.
The Wholesale, Textiles and Telecommunications sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (2.24 percent, 2.18 percent and 2.17 percent, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 1.29 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 1.63 percent higher and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index gained 1.83 percent.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 286 to 45 with another 29 issues unchanged.
The general index ended the week with a net gain of 0.61 percent.
 Government approves 2.05-billion-euro arms supply programmes01/03/2002 16:03:42
The government council for foreign affairs and defence (KYSEA) on Friday approved an arms supply programme costing a total of 2.05 billion euros, during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
Defence Minister Yiannos Papantoniou afterward announced that the meeting had approved the purchase of three important armaments programmes falling within Greece's five-year arms procurement plan. These included the purchase of 170 German-made LEOPARD2-A5 tanks, the ASPIS electronic counter-measures system made in the United States and 12 mid-range C 27J transport made by a US-Italian consortium.
 Bill on draft-evasion, military deferments unveiled01/03/2002 14:39:31
The defence ministry on Thursday unveiled portions of a draft bill dealing with Greek citizens who fail to enlist for mandatory conscription service as well as the regime governing assorted military duty deferments.
One of the highlights of the bill is the halving of conscription duty to six months for draft-evaders belonging to the 1986 and 1987 classes, whereas Nov. 30, 2003 is the projected deadline for the enlistment of individuals belonging to the class of 1988.
Defence Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, who presented the bill, said the governments intention is to allow the repatriation of a significant number of native-born Greeks -- a large portion of whom finished their university studies overseas -- who have so far avoided permanently returning to the country because they have been listed as draft-evaders.
In other statements, Papantoniou expressed his opposition to the prospect of allowing the buying off of ones military service.
Greek males are obliged to perform varying amounts of military duty in one of the three armed forces branches, although exceptions affect males with disabilities and in some cases expatriates that qualify for permanent overseas residence status, among others.
According to the ministrys figures, 14,630 Greek citizens were listed as draft-evaders in 2002; up from 13,795 in 2001 and 12,686 two years ago, an growing trend that precipitated in the government searching for measures to alleviate the problem.
Other measures envisioned in the bill include reducing the maximum age an individual can be called up for military duty from 50 to 45 years of age, as well as dropping the ban on issuing or renewing passports at Greek consulates abroad to individuals regarded as draft-evaders.
In terms of deferments, the draft bill foresees an increase in the age limit for individuals pursuing doctorates, up to 31 years of age from 29 -- 33 for medical specialisation, up from 31.
A clause for ?distinguished scholars? allows academic deferments up to the age of 33, as well. An individual designated as a ?distinguished scholar? will serve a six-month term, with a further two-month reduction possible due to family status.
Papantoniou said this designation necessitates the acquisition of a Ph.D. from an internationally recognised university and accompanying academic research or work that will be evaluated by a committee of professors.
Moreover, only 25 such individuals will be eligible for such a distinction every year, the minister said.
The draft bill, ruled constitutional by the states legal council, will be tabled in Parliament in March.
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