|Friday, 24 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-01-26
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Simitis inaugurates National Bank's Shipping Trade Center
Athens, 26/01/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday inaugurated National Bank of Greeces Shipping Trade Center in the bustling main Greek port of Piraeus, saying the center would help to promote "quality shipping" in the country's all-important sector.
Simitis noted that Greek shipping needed Greek officers and seamen, stressing that the government would also offer solutions to the country's shipbuilding industry.
Piraeus must be the center of Greek shipping, Simitis said.
"The Greek-owned fleet accounts for 16 percent of the world's total and 50 percent of the EU's fleet. The sector needs to operate under more quality standards. We increasingly believe in quality shipping worldwide and promote policies to meet a triptych of quality in life, ship and cargo -- protection of the marine environment -- quality services. This effort means a change of attitude and increased investments to benefit the market in the long term," Simitis said.
"To achieve this goal all involved in the sea transport business have to contribute. That's why we believe that quality and safety are not only a responsibility of states, ship-owners and merchant seamen. Shipyards, registers, brokers and banks have their share of responsibility," he noted.
Simitis added that the Greek state was contributing in drafting an international regulatory framework, supporting policies towards quality shipping in all decision-making centers, international and European, aimed at promoting Greek shipping interests in an free and fair environment of competition.
He noted that the National Economy Ministry was also examining plans to list ocean-going shipping firms on the Athens Stock Exchange.
National Bank Governor Theodore Karatzas said that the bank "was always the bank of Greek shipping".
"The creation of a Shipping Trade Center in Piraeus demonstrates National Bank's decision to continue financing the shipping sector in the years to come despite the fact that shipping financing low returns have led several other banks to withdraw from the sector," Karatzas said.
He pledged that National Bank would continue to support Greek shipping both from its branches in Piraeus and London.
Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis, Foreign Undersecretary Grigoris Niotis, local authorities and shipping officials, attended the ceremony.
 Greece picks Eurofighter to boost air defense
Athens, 26/01/2000 (ANA)Eurofighter is the final choice of the Hellenic Airforce regarding fourth generation fighter planes, Deputy Defense Minister Dimitris Apostolakis said on Tuesday, during a press conference in Thessaloniki, northern Greece.
Apostolakis confirmed that the Government's Council of Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA) made its final decision on the Eurofighter, but did not decide on the number of planes to be acquired.
The decision on the number will depend on the percentage of Hellenic Aerospace Industry's (EAB) participation in the project, the deputy minister said, adding that Greece may order anywhere from 60 to 90 aircraft, which are expected to be delivered by 2005.
The Greek order will amount to between eight per cent and 11 per cent of production, and will depend on the extent of Greece's participation in it, as well as the outcome of other issues such as the hiring of a strategic investor by EAB, Apostolakis said.
 Parliament ratifies agreement enabling floatation of 49 percent of Hellenic Aerospace Industry
Athens, 26/01/2000 (ANA)A Parliament plenum on Tuesday ratified an agreement enabling the transfer of up to 49 percent of the Hellenic Aerospace Industry's capital to a third party, to which the company's management could also be granted. The agreement was put to a roll call vote at the request of the main opposition New Democracy party and was ratified with 134 votes to 110.
 PM briefs president over domestic, foreign policy issues
Athens, 26/01/2000 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos received Premier Costas Simitis on Tuesday for discussions concerning both domestic and foreign affairs issues -- part of the Prime Minister's regular briefing of the Greek head of state.
Afterwards, asked by reporters if Greece's Economic and Monetary Union entry is guaranteed, with elections to follow, Simitis responded by saying what has precedence is "that we do our job as best as possible."
The Greek PM also told Stephanopoulos before television cameras that a positive development for the country was recorded yesterday, namely, a relevant European Union committee approved of Greece's convergence program, something he noted "opens the way for EMU entry". Stephanopoulos agree with the latter assessment.
Finally, Simitis explained to reporters that a large file he held when entering the Greek president's office contained the 1927 edition of the book "Asceticism on Athos", by noted writer Takis Papatsonis. The premier added that the volume had been gifted to his family by the late author and was the subject of a previous discussion he had with Stephanopoulos.
 Gov't says presidential election to be held according to Constitution
Athens, 26/01/2000 (ANA)The government on Tuesday reiterated that the president of the republic's election would be held according to the Constitution's dictates.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas made the comments in answer to a press question over whether the presidential election was discussed during a regularly scheduled meeting earlier in the day between President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
The president of the republic is elected by a majority vote in Parliament. The first round of voting by Parliament's 300 deputies is tentatively scheduled for around mid February.
The government spokesman also noted that the ruling PASOK government would discuss the matter with the Parliament president and the other political parties.
In an unrelated development, Reppas dismissed press speculation that Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos requested funding from the European Union's 3rd Community Support Framework during a meeting between the Greek Church's Prelate and Simitis on Monday. Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis also participated in that meeting.
Some press reports claimed that Christodoulos had requested 126 billion drachmas for the Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greece as well as the construction of a new greater Athens area Metropolitan Cathedral.
Referring to the minister's presence, the government spokesman said the meeting was of a "social nature".
 Simitis, Skandalidis discuss election preparations
Athens, 26/01/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis met with ruling PASOK secretary Costas Skandalidis on Tuesday afternoon. Talks reportedly covered the ruling party's preparations in light of elections this year.
No election date has as yet been set.
Skandalidis criticizes Karamanlis over proposals made at ND's preparatory congress: Ruling PASOK party Central Committee Secretary Costas Skandalidis on Tuesday criticized proposals made by the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party at its preparatory congress last week as lacking seriousness and responsibility. Referring to the proposals made by ND leader Costas Karamanlis on the amendment of the country's constitution, Skandalidis said they were "shots in the air."
Skandalidis said Karamanlis proposed a presidential system, which was alien to traditions of parliamentary rule as experienced in most European countries, adding that it was a diversionary move with proposals referring vaguely to the future.
Earlier, Skandalidis held talks with Prime Minister Costas Simitis on the operation of party committees concerning PASOK's preparation for the elections and its conference on positions scheduled to take place February 5-6.
 Verheugen presents plans for closer EU-Turkey relations
BRUSSELS, 26/01/2000 (ANA)EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen on Tuesday presented the framework for the further development of the Union's relations with Turkey to the block's 15-member General Affairs Council, sources said.
Verheugen was reported to have said that the Commission was currently working on the formulation of the EU's new partnership with Ankara --which should be initiated until the autumn, on Turkey's phased adaptation to the acquis communautaire, and on the coordination of all funding sources for that country in a single regulatory mechanism.
The same sources said that according to Verheugen, these initiatives should move in parallel with progress in Greek-Turkish relations.
"In the actions and the initiatives we undertake we need the contribution of all interested parties," he was quoted as saying.
 Alternate FM on visit to Slovakia
Athens, 26/01/2000 (ANA)Greece's Alternate Foreign Minister Christos Rokofyllos was due on Tuesday to meet with Slovakia's Deputy Prime Minister in charge of European Affairs Pavol Hamzik, on the first day on his visit to the country.
Rokofyllos was also due to meet with Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan, Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda and the speaker of the Slovak Parliament.
Issues on the agenda of Rokofyllos' talks in Slovakia include the country's relations with the European Union and accession prospects in the wake of the EU Helsinki summit
Also to be covered during the talks are bilateral relations, the situation in the Balkans, the Cyprus issue and Greek-Turkish relations.
 German transport minister to arrive in Athens for talks
Athens, 26/01/2000 (ANA)German Federal Transport and Town Planning Minister Reinhard Klimmt is expected to arrive in Athens on Wednesday on a two-day official visit at the invitation of Greek Transport Minister Tassos Mantelis.
The two ministers were expected to discuss cooperation between Greece and Germany regarding the reconstruction and development of infrastructures in southeastern Europe, via private and public funding.
Among issues to be discussed are also the construction of the European interstate highway X, connecting Thessaloniki-Skopje-Belgrade-Zagreb-Lujbljana-Saltzburg-Munich, the Athens planned railcar system, the rail connection of the new Athens airport at Spata, Attica and cooperation between Greece and Germany in road safety programs.
 Finnish health minister interested in Greek welfare programs
Athens, 26/01/2000 (ANA)Finnish Health and Social Affairs Minister Eva Biaudet, currently on an official visit to Greece, visited a number of foundations on Tuesday and showed interest in welfare programs applied in Greece, while Deputy Health and Welfare Minister Theodoros Kotsonis stressed Greece's desire for cooperation with Scandinavian countries in this sector.
"We have achieved a great deal in the welfare sector in Greece and we wish to develop cooperation with the Scandinavian countries, since we can take a great deal from the welfare systems of these countries which are at a high level," Kotsonis said.
Biaudet noted emphasis placed on protection for the elderly and said she wished to learn more about programs concerning handicapped children. She was also briefed on the program for "traffic light children", children which beg or sell various items at pedestrian crossings.
 Mayors from eastern and western Thrace discuss local administration bodies
Athens, 26/01/2000 (ANA)A meeting of mayors from eastern and western Thrace focusing on the creation of a network of municipalities with the participation of local administration bodies from both the Greek and Turkish sides ended in Marmaris on Monday. The municipality of Sapes in the Rodopi prefecture in Greece and the Turkish municipality of Marmaris Ereglisi organized the meeting. The local administration bodies will have common characteristics and will be small in area and population and will participate on an equal basis.
Participants at the bilateral meeting said the consolidation of the climate of good cooperation, neighborliness and mutual understanding could lead to economic, tourist, cultural and sports cooperation which in turn would create a new climate of security for citizens in Thrace, shape conditions for attracting investments and promote its resources and potential.
Mayors from both sides said that such initiatives promoted the relations of the neighboring peoples of Greece and Turkey and constituted another positive step in the new setting created in the wake of the Helsinki summit.
A new meeting with an enlarged composition will be held in Sapes in April.
 Defense Minister to visit Cyprus
Athens, 26/01/2000 (ANA)Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos will pay a private visit to Cyprus between January 27 and 28, but during his stay he will call on President Glafcos Clerides and the Primate of the Church of Cyprus Archbishop Chrysostomos.
According to a defense ministry press release, Tsohatzopoulos will meet his Cypriot counterpart Socrates Hasikos, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides and party leaders.
The Greek official will be the quest of honor and speaker at an Economist magazine conference entitled "Heading towards the European Union," opening on Thursday in Nicosia.
 Greek stocks remain under pressure, end lower
Athens, 26/01/2000 (ANA)Equity prices remained under pressure for the second consecutive session on Tuesday pushing the market temporarily below the 5,000 level on the Athens Stock Exchange.
Trade was nervous due to inflation worries while a sharp fall in international market also depressed sentiment. A technical problem on the electronic trading system OASIS, which delayed transactions for 90 minutes, also burdened on the market's climate. The general index ended 1.17 percent lower at 5,022.41 points, off the day's lows of 4.969.06 points. Dealers said the market found support at the 5,000 level helped by a partial recovery of shares in the financial sector.
Turnover was extremely low at 150 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 0.79 percent to 2,629.13 points, while the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended at 920.46 points, off 1.87 percent.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: 9,166.66 -0.67% Leasing: 1,314.75 -1.86% Insurance: 3,329.03 -1.44% Investment: 2,527.18 -0.19% Construction: 3,284.37 -1.88% Industrials: 3,066.12
-1.50% Miscellaneous: 6,517.91 -1.87% Holding: 6,136.33 -0.79%
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended at 1,527.20 points, off 3.37 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 274 to 44 with another 10 issues unchanged.
Doudos, Macedonian Plastics, Epiphania, Athens Aluminium, Sportsman and Olympic Catering scored the biggest percentage gains, while Korfil, Imperio, Kyriakoulis Yachts, Vernicos Yachts, Themeliodomi ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit down.
Leading shares' closing prices (in Drs): National Bank: 21,650 Alpha Credit: 23,350 Commercial Bank: 22,590 Eurobank: 13,510 Titan Cement (c):
16,900 Hellenic Petroleum: 4,115 Intracom:
14,000 Minoan Lines: 8,260 Panafon: 4,250
Hellenic Telecoms: 7,755
 Long-term yields rise to 6.60%
Athens, 26/01/2000 (ANA)Long-term yields rose during Tuesday's regular weekly bond auction by the finance ministry, reflecting higher bonds yields in European market.
Market participants said bond yields steadily rose from Nov. 9, 1999, with the 10-year German Bund rising 67 basis points and the 10-year Greek bond 21 bp since then.
The average weighed yield in a 10-year state bond rose to 6.60 percent from 6.39 percent in the previous auction of the same bonds of Nov. 9.
Bids submitted totalled 633 billion drachmas, 3.17 times more the asked sum, evidence of strong demand for Greek securities. The auction, held through the market's primary dealers, was a reopening of an earlier issue with a settlement date of Jan. 28, 2000.
 OTE forecasts higher profits and investment
Athens, 26/01/2000 (ANA)The Hellenic Telecommunications Organizations (OTE) board on Tuesday approved the utility's budget for 2000, envisaging revenues of more than one trillion drachmas and pre-tax profits of 322 billion drachmas.
OTE will devote 470 billion drachmas to investment, of which 180 billion drachmas for the acquisition of a stake in the national Bulgarian telecoms utility (BTK).
The board also approved an increase in the bond loan issue already announced from 800 million to 1.1 billion euros, in order to repay older debts.
 Intrakom signs new contract with Hungarian Matav telecom firm
Athens, 26/01/2000 (ANA)Listed telecommunications firm Intrakom on Tuesday announced the signing of a new 12-million-dollar contract with Hungary's telecommunications firm Matav, for the construction of ISDN line and management systems.
The contract, which begins this year and is scheduled to be completed by the year 2001, follows an earlier contract between Intrakom and Matav, which has been in force since 1994 and also regards manufacturing and delivering of telecommunications equipment to the tune of 10 million dollars per year.
Matav became a subsidiary of Ameritech and Deutsche Telekom, who purchased a majority stake in the Hungarian company during its privatization.
In a related development, Intrakom is about to conclude the process of buying out Hungarian Formax, a telecom equipment firm.
 EU Portuguese presidency to focus on amending agricultural regulations
BRUSSELS, 26/01/2000 (ANA)The European Union's Agricultural Ministers' Council met in Brussels on Tuesday for the first time this year, under the Presidency of Portugal, and discussed future policy issues for the Union.
Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis represented Greece.
Among the priorities of the council are discussions: on the amendments of the linen and cannabis regulations; amendments of the banana trade regulations; amendments on the cotton production regulations; beef production regulations; price controls for the 2000-2001 period; promotion of a foodstuffs white paper and forest regulations regarding United Nations activities.
The council is also expected to focus on issues regarding the "mad cow" disease and generally production and market conditions of agricultural goods in the Union.
 Commissioner reports reduced Greek absorption of funds for tourism and culture
BRUSSELS, 26/01/2000 (ANA)The Greek government reduced funds budgeted for tourism and culture by 34 percent during implementation of the EU's Community Support Framework (CSF) II (1994-99), but even so only managed to absorb 59 percent at the end of the period, Commissioner Michel Barnier replied to questioning ND party Eurodeputy Costis Hatzidakis on Tuesday.
He added that, nevertheless, the rate of absorption "improved markedly during 1999."
Commenting on the reply, Hatzidakis said "while there is an evident inability to absorb funds in the tourism sector, the government has announced a tripling of allocations for the same sector in the new CSF, obviously aiming to create impressions in view of the (upcoming) elections".
 Conference on alternative fuel applications
Athens, 26/01/2000 (ANA)An international conference titled "Viable cities and alternative fuel in transports" opens in Athens Thursday, organized by the transport ministry.
The ministers of transport Tassos Mantelis, development Evangelos Venizelos, and environment Costas Laliotis will address the two-day conference.
Delegates will discuss the latest technological developments regarding the use of alternative fuel in urban transport aimed at reducing air pollution in the cities.
They will also discuss the application of alternative fuel technology in European urban centers in the context of the European Union's policy on sustainable cities and reducing the repercussions of urban transport.
 New Greek consul in Izmir receives young Turkish entrepreneurs group
Istanbul, 26/01/2000 (ANA)A delegation from the "Federation of Young Aegean Region Entrepreneurs" in western Turkey has conveyed the group's desire to contribute to the further development of Greek-Turkish relations, during a recent visit with Greece's new consul in Izmir.
"Amid the overall climate of improvement in Greek-Turkish relations, the margins for cooperation between the two sides of the Aegean are constantly broadening," Greek consul Christina Alexopoulou told the ANA afterwards.
The Greek diplomat received the federation delegation, led by its president, Bulent Akgerman, as part of a courtesy call as Alexopoulou recently assumed the diplomatic post in the western Asia Minor port city.
"The consulate will do whatever is possible to assist and support Greek-Turkish initiatives of cooperation in all sectors," she added.
 Laliotis shows off Athens Metro to disabled groups
Athens, 26/01/2000 (ANA)Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis on Tuesday showed representatives of disabled groups around the soon-to-be-opened Athens Metro, saying that all 21 stations were designed to ease access for those with special needs.
The Athens Metro, which will be officially opened on Friday by Prime Minister Costas Simitis in the presence of President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, did not initially include planning for disabled access, but this has since been rectified, Laliotis said.
Similar priorities will be given to the Thessaloniki Metro.
"The Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Ministry has drafted and is implementing a program with the aim of making our cities more human and accessible to all citizens over the next few years," Laliotis said.
He said the 21 Athens Metro stations would all be fully accessible, equipped with ramps, special lifts and innovations de-signed to make life easy for the blind and deaf.
Ease of access is also a factor in modernization work currently under way on the existing rail line, which runs from Piraeus to Kifissia.
Representatives said that they were satisfied with the efforts undertaken so far and that the Metro appeared to be a "non-discriminatory" project.
The Metro line from Sepolia to the Pentagon (national defense ministry), via Syntagma Square, will begin normal operation on Friday after the official opening.
The second Metro line from Syntagma Square to Daphni will open to the public in a few months. The Sepolia-Syntagma and Syntagma-Pentagon sections of the new line will take nine minutes each.
An estimated 300,000 commuters will use the Metro on a daily basis, and the number is to rise to 450,000 daily when the Syntagma-Daphni line opens.
Fares to be introduced as of Monday: As of Monday, commuters will be able to buy a multiple-use day pass valid for all forms of public transport for 1,000 drachmas.
The Transport Ministry said it would introduce a monthly multiple-use pass valid for all public transport for a fare of 8,000 drachmas, 2,000 drachmas less than the regular fare. As of March 1, the price of the pass will revert to 10,000 drachmas.
A 12-month pass for all public transport will cost 100,000 drachmas. A pass valid for a year will also be available for use on buses and trolley buses for 50,000 drachmas.
Free rides on Athens Metro this weekend: Commuters will be treated to free rides on Athens' new Metro this weekend, it was announced Tuesday.
By decision of Transport Minister Tassos Mantelis, the long-awaited Metro, which will be formally inaugurated Friday by prime minister Costas Simitis, will be free to all passengers over the weekend as part of celebrations marking its incorporation into the Greek capital's public transport system.
 Police chief enjoys government's confidence
Athens, 26/01/2000 (ANA)The government on Tuesday denied it was considering replacing the head of the Greek Police Force, following a prosecutor's recommendation that he and three other ranking police officers face charges over a botched hostage raid.
"The chief of police enjoys the confidence of the government and will remain at his post," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said in response to press questions.
A prosecutor investigating the circumstances of a bungled raid on a fugitive holding three hostages in September 1998 on Monday recommended that the four senior police officials then present at the scene face charges over the handling of the affair.
Twenty-five-year-old Amalia Ginaki was critically wounded and later died of her injuries when police raided her downtown Athens home, where a convicted fugitive was holding her and two other members of her family hostage.
The police apparently acted on the basis of spurious information that a grenade the fugitive was brandishing was a fake.
When the grenade - which had been planted on the young woman - went off, two people were critically injured and another 10 - including then Police Chief Athanasios Vassilopoulos - were slightly injured.
Vassilopoulos tendered his resignation in the aftermath of the affair. Ioannis Georgakopoulos, then Vassilopoulos' deputy and also injured in the raid, was later appointed to lead the Greek Police Force.
 Eminent Australians to press London for return of Parthenon Marbles
Athens, 26/01/2000 (ANA)A delegation from the Australian Committee for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece will fly to London this week to submit a memorandum to the British parliament calling for the repatriation of the Marbles, currently housed in the British Museum.
The high-profile committee, which includes two Australian former Prime ministers, deputies, congressmen and intellectuals, has launched a public campaign with widespread media coverage, and its next step is to put pressure on the British government.
The Parthenon friezes, which date from between 447 BC and 432 BC, were removed from the Acropolis in Ottoman-occupied Athens in the early 19th century by British diplomat Lord Elgin, who then sold them to the British Museum.
 New book, CD reveals the unique cultural heritage of ethnic Greeks in the Sea of Azov region
Athens, 26/01/2000 (ANA)Just a little more than a decade ago, parestroika's social and political "thaw" in the late 1980s-era Soviet Union revealed many of the long-isolated ethnic Greek communities in that vast country's Black Sea and Sea of Azov regions - oases of Hellenic culture, tradition and language often dating back to the first wave of Greek colonists in pre-Classical antiquity.
Despite decades of prohibitions and state sanctions - including the banning of even the teaching of Greek -- the ethnic Greeks in the areas today comprising the southern Ukraine retained much of their civilization and culture. A small segment of that unique cultural heritage has been preserved after several years of valuable research by musicologist Alexandros Asla in a newly released book and accompanying CD, entitled "Mariupolitika: Songs, Fairytales and Dances of the Sea of Azov's Greeks," according to a feature story in Tuesday's edition of the Athens daily "Eleftherotypia". The CD features 11 songs, six fairytales and eight dances from the south Ukrainian district.
Asla and his associates taped the music and oral history of the Mariupol region's ethnic Greeks between 1983 and 1984.
According to the late Ukrainian scholar and hellenist Andrei Belietski, "Cultural tradition among the Sea of Azov's Greeks has retained until our days fragments of the ancient civilization that once bloomed in their far-off land. Their chorus-dominated songs remind us of descriptions of the dances in the 18th rhapsody of Homer's 'Iliad', characteristic of their myths and Byzantine lineage."
Asla himself was born as World War II raged, in 1943, in the village of Sartana near Mariupol, a region that today hosts more than 100,000 ethnic Greeks. Following his studies he taught musicology at the Mariupol Conservatory while carrying out his extensive research efforts, and before a scholarship brought him to Greece and the University of Athens' philosophy school between 1992-96.
In his book, he writes: "When I walked from village to village and from person to person, not only did I record the carols and wedding ballads, but I discovered and acquired by small homeland, a Greece in the Sea of Azov - and I was no longer an orphan."
 New Fulbright program on US-EU relations
Athens, 26/01/2000 (ANA)The Fulbright Foundation of Greece announced Tuesday a new program on US-EU relations.
The Foundation said that the program, launched by the Fulbright Foundation of Belgium, focuses on the European Union and its relations with the US.
The Foundation will select one researcher or lecturer to focus on US-EU relations at a selected American university in the coming academic year.
Interested candidates must be citizens of a European Union member state, actively involved in EU affairs at a professional or academic level, perform at the highest levels, and speak English proficiently.
Further details are available at the Fulbright Foundation on 6, Vas. Sophias avenue in Athens or at 4 Eleftheriou Venizelou street in Thessaloniki between 10: 00 a.m. and 1: 30 p.m.
Final applications must be submitted by March 1.
 Low temperatures, snow forecasted for Wednesday
Athens, 26/01/2000 (ANA)A sudden drop in temperatures around the country is forecast for Wednesday, with light snowfall expected in most of the country. Winds will be northerly to northeasterlies, moderate to strong, and very strong in sea regions. Temperatures will range from -10 to -1C in the north, -5 to 4C in central Greece and 0 to 8C on the islands. Athens will be cloudy with the chance of light snowfall, particularly in the north and east of Attica prefecture. Winds will be northerlies, moderate to strong and temperatures will range from 0 to 4C. Thessaloniki will be cloudy with the likelihood of light snowfall but gradually clearing. Winds will be northerly to northwesterlies, moderate to strong and temperatures -5 to -2C.
 Athletics general director for Athens 2004 Olympic Games appointed
Athens, 26/01/2000 (ANA)The Athens 2004 Olympic Games committee on athletics on Tuesday appointed Makis Asymakopoulos to the post of general director of athletics for the Games.
Asymakopoulos is a US university system athletics marketing management PhD holder and has worked for Amateur Athletics Association (SEGAS) in the past.
 Substance of Cyprus problem discussed in view of second round of proximity talks
NICOSIA, 26/01/2000 (CNA/ANA)Political Party leaders on Tuesday discussed the substance of the Cyprus problem with President Glafcos Clerides in view of the second round of proximity talks, aimed at paving the way for a settlement on the island, scheduled to begin in Geneva later this month.
"Following this meeting, the President feels he is going to these talks more reinforced to represent the Greek-Cypriot side," government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou told reporters after a National Council meeting, adding the party leaders know the positions the president will put forward at the proximity talks.
He said the party leaders did express differing views on some aspects of the problem, but noted there is now "a general direction" which will be followed and reiterated all parties support the establishment of a bizonal, bicommunal federation.
Papapetrou said the political parties put forward their views at a meeting of the National Council, comprising parties participating in Parliament, but refrained from revealing them.
Replying to questions he said the constitutional aspects of a future agreement in Cyprus, divided since Turkish troops occupied 37 per cent of its territory in 1974, was discussed.
"The main issue under discussion was the preparation of the talks on the substance of the Cyprus question," the spokesman added. President Clerides leaves for Geneva January 29 to participate in the second round of UN sponsored-proximity talks.
The first round of talks took place in New York in December last year, during which the UN heard the position of the two sides.
 Head of EU team negotiating Cyprus' accession arrives
NICOSIA, 26/01/2000 (CNA/ANA)Head of the European Union team negotiating Cyprus' accession Leopold Maurer arrived here Tuesday heading a 12-member delegation that will discuss the chapters to be negotiated on under the Portuguese Presidency.
Efforts for a meeting between the EU officials and Turkish Cypriots have failed as their leader Rauf Denktash has not moved from his intransigent position on the issue, informed sources told CNA.
Maurer underlined the importance of the Turkish Cypriots being informed and engaged in Cyprus' accession course, noting "we have to see how we could involve the Turkish Cypriots in the negotiations".
Denktash has also failed to take up an offer from Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides for Turkish Cypriot representatives to be included in the Cyprus team negotiating entry into the EU. European leaders welcomed President Clerides proposal.
He also noted that the working visit is taking place after the Helsinki EU summit, that reconfirmed Cyprus will join its ranks even if a settlement is not reached and gave Turkey a candidate status.
"Of course we have to discuss the open chapters from the former rounds of negotiations," Maurer also said.
The chapters to be addressed include competition, employment, social affairs, economic and financial affairs, fisheries, information society and home affairs and regional policy.
The EU officers will meet Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides and chief of Cyprus' accession team George Vassiliou tomorrow, while they are also scheduled to meet officials of the Republic's Law Office, the Planning Bureau, the House Committee for Foreign and European Affairs and EU ambassadors.
Cyprus applied for EU membership in July 1990. It started official negotiations in 1998. Cyprus signed an association agreement in 1972 and a customs union agreement in 1987.
 Nicosia to host conference entitled 'Heading Towards European Union
NICOSIA, 26/01/2000 (CNA/ANA)Economist's second Conference in Cyprus entitled "Heading Towards European Union (EU)" starts on January 27 in Nicosia.
Both its organizers - the Economist Conferences - and its sponsors and supporters describe the Conference as very useful and well-timed as Cyprus is stepping up its harmonization process in view of its substantive accession negotiations with the EU which started in November 1998.
Eminent personalities from both the international economic and political arena form the list of speakers of the two-day Conference, which is expected to be attended by more than one hundred people from abroad.
Some of them are the Greek Minister of National Defense Akis Tsohatzopoulos, the former UK Foreign Minister and EU Co-Chairman of the International Conference on former Yugoslavia Lord David Owen, the EU chief negotiator in Cyprus' accession talks Leopold Maurer as well as the island's chief negotiator in the same talks George Vassiliou.
Cyprus' Finance Minister Takis Clerides, Central Bank of Cyprus Governor Afxentis Afxentiou, European Investment Bank Vice President Panayiotis Gennimatas, Bank of Cyprus Group Chairman Solon Triantafyllides and the Editorial Director of the island's biggest-selling newspaper "Phileleftheros" Athos Lykavgis are also on the list of speakers.