|Friday, 24 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-05-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Pangalos, Rogge discuss projects scheduled for 2004 Athens Olympiad
BRUSSELS, 05/05/2000 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)Greece will give exams as a society and for this reason Greeks must be at there best, Culture Minister Theodoros Pangalos said following his meeting with International Olympic Committee (IOC) Deputy President Jacques Rogge, with whom he discussed the course of projects scheduled for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games here on Thursday.
"In the 2004 Olympic Games we shall be giving examinations as a society and for this reason we should be at our best," Pangalos said.
"The Olympic Games are not only a case of public works and setting sports records. This means that whoever does not realize this is not interested in lofty ideals," he said, pointing out that from this point forward many things should begin to change until 2004 so that, apart from the Olympiad's success, "we shall also obtain a better way of life."
"For example, we cannot drive like this, violating signs. Measures should be taken to enable Greek drivers to become like the other Europeans," he said and stressed the need for "more respectable taxis."
Pangalos and Rogge discussed latest developments in promoting Olympiad projects over the period lapsing since their recent meeting in Athens and for which the IOC's coordinator expressed satisfaction.
Pangalos said that tendering for the Olympic Village has been completed and briefed Rogge on relevant studies. He also said that the issue of accommodation for journalists and mass media technicians covering the games, who are expected to exceed 17,000 people, will be handled in coming weeks.
On the question of hotels, for which he will be meeting Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis on Friday, he said that a complication has appeared since hoteliers have backed out of the memorandum initially signed with them, invoking the change in the administration of their union.
"We shall not tolerate relentless speculation from wherever it may come," he said.
Regarding the holding of soccer matches, he offered assurances that they will take place on the dates determined without there being the problem of empty terraces (due to the period of August) "because I believe that the spectacle-loving public will fill stadiums."
Pangalos and Rogge also discussed solutions proposed for the Greek exhibits at the Olympic Committee's museum in Lausanne, as well as the tournament's security issues with additional training for police officials in other countries, and Sydney in Australia, to enable them to obtain relevant experience.
Pangalos also offered assurances that all-necessary structures for the timely promotion of projects in anticipated time limits will be completed by the end of the year.
Sports deputy minister discusses Athens 2004 projects with prime minister: Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday received at the Maximos Mansion Deputy Sports Minister George Floridis and discussed the progress of Athens 2004 Olympic Games projects undertaken by the latter's ministry.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Floridis said that there were no serious delays in projects undertaken by his ministry, adding, "we will be punctual regarding the obligations we have undertaken".
"I informed the Prime Minister of issues regarding the Secretariat (General Secretariat for Sports) and we discussed on the 43 Olympic projects of the sports ministry, as well as the Hellas 2004 program, which was promised by the Prime Minister and is a governmental commitment. According to this program, 200 billion drachmas will be spent on projects throughout Greece," Floridis said.
Speaking on International Olympic Committee President Javier Solana's comments on delays in Athens 2004 projects, he said "we should take them under serious consideration and we already have. Our delays are not great, we will be totally punctual in our obligations".
"I believe that there is a need for better bonds between all the agencies regarding 2004, as well as better internal structure of the whole effort," he said, responding to questions on whether there will be changes of persons in the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee, adding that all projects will be managed with "transparency and legality".
The minister also announced that the Greek Soccer Pools (OPAP) would cease to fund the General Secretariat for Sports.
 IOC President and Athens Mayor discuss 2004 Athens Olympiad
LAUSANNE, 05/05/2000 (ANA)International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch and Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos discussed the 2004 Athens Olympic Games here on Thursday.
"I have said many times that Greece cannot only offer athletics and culture but athletics, culture and history as well since Olympic history belongs to your country," Samaranch said afterwards, adding that "you are aware that we are interested in the success of these games very much, not only for Athens and Greece, but for the Olympic movement as well."
Samaranch praised Avramopoulos and said "he has been a very good friend of mine for quite some time and I am pleased to be welcoming him again at the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee."
Avramopoulos once again appeared optimistic over the success of the Olympic Games, saying that: "Athens will win this big bet and our entire country with it. It is a golden opportunity for our country to cross the threshold of a new era and, for this purpose, all in our country bear collective responsibility."
 Papandreou meets with US envoy for Cyprus Moses
WASHINGTON, 05/05/2000 (ANA - T. Ellis)Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou met here on Wednesday with the special US presidential envoy for the Cyprus issue Alfred Moses, as talks expectedly focused on the latest developments in the long-standing problem.
In remarks afterwards, Papandreou told reporters that "we're interested in utilizing the new climate and new prospects (in Greek-Turkish relations), Turkey's EU accession prospects as well as Cyprus' expected entry into the Union. We want to see how we can all benefit from these developments in order to ensure a speedy solution for Cyprus."
Moses, on his part, reiterated that the Clinton administration considers a solution for the 26-year Cyprus problem a "priority", adding that he is in close contact with Athens and Ankara as well as the two communities on the island republic. He also referred to the upcoming third round of proximity talks between the leaders of the two communities, noting however, that a postponement may be necessary following the recent hospitalization of Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides for polyp removal surgery.
Papandreou, conversely, said no change in schedule has as yet been decided for the next round of Cyprus proximity talks, before conveying his best wishes towards Clerides.
Greek ambassador to Washington Alexander Philon and US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns also attended a portion of the meeting.
In a related development, US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher commented on this week's trilateral meeting in New York between Papandreou, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem.
The spokesman said Albright wanted to personally congratulate her Greek and Turkish counterparts for their efforts to upgrade bilateral relations, in light of an awards ceremony organized by the East-West Institute in honor of the two foreign ministers. He also noted that discussions between the trio covered Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue.
 FM Papandreou discusses Greek-Turkish relations, Cyprus issue
WASHINGTON, 05/05/2000 (ANA - A. Ellis)Foreign Minister George Papandreou outlined Greek-Turkish relations and discussed the Cyprus issue and this year's State Department report on terrorism in an interview with the CNN during his brief stay in Washington.
Focusing on Greek-Turkish relations, Papandreou said: "A new climate has been achieved between the two countries. We have signed bilateral agreements concerning business activities, the environment, social insurance and tourism, while we are also cooperating on the European process which is bringing both new prospects and new commitments for Turkey. However, there is at the same time a big pending problem, the Cyprus issue. We have always been in favor of a solution to the Cyprus issue, in favor of dialogue between the two communities and, of course, the UN has stated very specifically that there should be a bicommunal and bizonal federation in Cyprus and this constitutes the framework for a solution to the problem. We have seen no mobility on the Turkish side over the past 25 years. It is important, if we want the dynamism of this new relationship to continue, for us to concentrate our attention on resolving this problem."
Commenting on whether progress can be achieved on other issues if the Cyprus issue is not solved, he said: "We have started a rapprochement on other issues and we hope that these issues will function as catalysts, when we see the rapprochement between the two peoples, non-governmental organizations, citizens' diplomacy and between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. However, if progress is not achieved in a period of time bilateral relations will certainly be affected and this will be a negative development."
On the question of the State Department's negative report on terrorism concerning Greece, Papandreou said: "We have struggled steadfastly against terrorism. Existing security in Greece is very good, compared to the situation prevailing all over the world and in the EU. There have been (terrorist) incidents. We are trying to detect the perpetrators, we are cooperating closely with many allies, including the US, we are on the threshold of signing a police cooperation agreement with the US and for this reason we believe that the report was exaggerated because it did not give an objective picture of our actions and successes."
 Government spokesman statements by Turkish PM offer bad services to Greek-Turkish relations
Athens, 05/05/2000 (ANA)Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, commenting on statements by Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit on Wednesday, said on Thursday that whoever makes statements similar to those by the Turkish Prime Minister offers bad services to Greek-Turkish relations.
Reppas said that Ankara "should not render the landscape of Greek-Turkish relations misty", adding that the sole issue existing between the two countries is the legal issue of delineating the continental shelf in the Aegean, for which the International Court at The Hague is responsible.
Referring to other issues mentioned by Ecevit on the Aegean, Reppas said that Turkey should honor the commitments it undertook in Helsinki, while on the Cyprus issue he said it is an issue pertaining to the UN and should be resolved on the basis of its resolutions.
Turkish Prime Minister Ecevit said on Wednesday that "for the time being there has been no encouraging step on the part of Greece for peaceful dialogue on the issues of the Aegean".
 Greece supports Turkey's EU bid, Greek defense minister says
SOFIA, 05/05/2000 (ANA - M. Borisov)Greece supports Turkey's prospect to enter the European Union, Greek National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Thursday, addressing the European Socialist Party (ESP) conference here.
"We have stressed repeatedly that we support the prospect of the Turkish candidacy for entry into the European Union. On the basis of this prospect the discussions taking place between the EU and Turkey create a very positive framework of discussions on bilateral issues as well," Tsohatzopoulos said.
"Turkey's course to the EU will depend on developments in Greek-Turkish relations and their outcome, among other issues," he added.
"For this reason, I believe that the discussions that took place to this day and the agreements that were signed - even though we called them of "a low policy character" - were very useful," Tsohatzopoulos noted.
The conference, organized by the Bulgarian Socialist Party, was entitled "The Balkans and Europe. New Challenges for the Left" and was attended by socialist party representatives from Greece, Cyprus, Albania, Germany, Hungary, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Poland and Romania.
 Athens University students visit Ankara
ANKARA, 05/05/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Greek students of the Economics faculty of Athens University on Thursday visited the Mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk in Ankara, Anadolu news agency reported.
The Greek students, who visited Turkey at the invitation of Ankara's Middle East Technical University (ODTU), attended a Greek-Turkish evening organized by ODTU students and will also take part in a university festival of traditional dances in Ankara.
 Greek defense minister addresses European socialists' conference
SOFIA, 05/05/2000 (ANA - B. Borisov)Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Thursday addressed the European Socialist Party (ESP) conference here, noting that there should be a decisive political and economic response to globalization in protection of citizens.
The conference, organized by the Bulgarian Socialist Party, was entitled "The Balkans and Europe. New Challenges for the Left" and was attended by socialist party representatives from Greece, Cyprus, Albania, Germany, Hungary, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Poland and Romania.
"If we do not respond, politically and economically, to the terms under which globalizes economy was created based on a neo-liberal logic and economic understanding, the citizens will pay dearly," Tsohatzopoulos said.
He also stressed that Europe, for the first time, is changing course and thus social policies are a precondition not only for social cohesion and solidarity, but for the economy itself and development."
He stressed the need for coordination between socialist parties and other leftist forces in southeastern Europe toward the common effort in stabilizing the Balkans.
Tsohatzopoulos, who is one of ESP's vice-presidents, congratulated the Bulgarian Socialist Party for organizing the conference, and called on all participants to cooperate closely in the efforts to find an permanent and just political solution to the Kosovo problem.
"The socialists of the Balkans can play a critical role in the course of the creation of an effective regional security system, which as an inseparable part of the common European security policy, will be able to guarantee, in the long term, stability and peace in the region," the Greek defense minister said.
 Prime minister and public order minister discuss consolidation of the country's security
Athens, 05/05/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis on Thursday discussed security issues and all of the ministry's necessary actions. Later, Chrysohoidis said the meeting aimed at consolidating the country's security.
Replying to a questioner on a statement made to the CNN by Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday that the signing of a police cooperation agreement between Greece and the US is in the offing, Chrysohoidis said a police cooperation protocol will be signed very soon which, following negotiations, is ready.
 Greece elected as member of ECOSOC's Statistics Service
New York, 05/05/2000 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)Greece shared first place with France in Wednesday's elections for new members of the Statistics Service of the United Nations' Council of Economic and Social Affairs (ECOSOC).
Greece gathered 42 votes, the same as France. Britain followed with 39 votes, while The Netherlands received 29 votes and did not elect a representative.
Greece's term starts in 2001 and is of a five-year duration. Nikos Karavitis, General Secretary of the National Statistics Service, will represent Greece.
 Greek official dismisses unprecedented attack by Albanian opposition leader
Athens, 05/05/2000 (ANA)One of two top Greek politicians characterized this week by Albanian opposition leader Sali Berisha as "enemies" of his small Balkan country on Thursday dismissed the former Albania president's allegations, simply noting that "it's unnecessary, I imagine, to say that these things are baseless".
Former development minister Evangelos Venizelos and current Foreign Minister George Papandreou, both top ruling PASOK cadres in several Greek governments of the 1990s, came under fire by the nationalist Berisha this week, the leader of Albania's conservative Democratic Party.
While addressing party officials in the Albanian capital of Tirana in light of upcoming municipal elections, Berisha was quoted as saying that the two Greek officials have turned Albania into "mafia protectorate".
Venizelos, a noted constitutional law expert and one-time justice minister, responded on Friday by adding that "... the common goal of all political forces, both in Greece and Albania, must be a constant improvement in bilateral relations in all sectors, as well as the safeguarding of peace and stability in the Balkans along with the paramount issue of respect of current borders". Venizelos also stated in a press release that he "hopes Mr. Berisha has not said, or in fact, believe (such claims)."
Berisha, a Tirana cardiologist who in the past served as the late Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha's personal physician, was also quoted as saying that "It's true George Papandreou is an intermediary between Albania and the European Union, however, he's a foe of the Albanian opposition..."
He also, among others, attacked Albanian ex-premier Fatos Nano as having close ties with the Greek FM and of travelling frequently to the Greek islands, and also claimed Venizelos was in close association with Albanian Finance Minister Anastas Aggeli - whom he alleged was a "go-between between the Albanian government and the Greek 'mafia'... which are attempting to paralyze the country's economy."
In reply to the unprecedented criticism by the Albanian opposition leader against both the United States and the two Greek officials, a spokesman for the Albanian premier on Thursday said, "the Democratic Party itself should solve Berisha's problem. However, Berisha's comments yesterday concern the Albanian government, because he accused the United States and certain Greek ministers".
 ND special congress rescheduled for June 9-11
Athens, 05/05/2000 (ANA)A New Democracy special congress will take place one week later than originally scheduled, it was announced on Thursday.
Specifically, Greece's main opposition party will hold the congress from June 9 to 11 at the Peace and Friendship indoor stadium straddling an Athens coastal district.
 Greek central bank governor comments on economy
LONDON, 05/05/2000 (ANA)Greece's central bank governor cited favorable prospects for price stability and faster economic growth as two of the most prominent benefits the country can reap from its anticipated entry into the European Union's euro zone.
As the keynote speaker at an annual lecture organized by the Hellenic Observatory at the European Institute of the London School of Economics, Bank of Greece Governor Lucas Papademos covered the major aspects of the country's economic performance over the past decades, before focusing on recent successful efforts to meet the Maastricht Treaty criteria for Economic and Monetary Union and the all-important accompanying future prospects.
"Greece's participation in the 'euro area' will influence in a decisive way the functioning and performance of the Greek economy in the future. The adoption of the euro will cause considerable changes in the economic environment; it will bring benefits and create opportunities, but, at the same time, it will imply constraints and pose challenges for economic policy," Papademos told a London audience.
"The economy's performance in coming years will thus hinge upon the ability of the private sector and economic authorities to secure the potential benefits, take advantage of the opportunities, adjust successfully to the constraints and deal effectively with the new challenges.
"The crucial issues for the post-entry (EMU) period are the consequences of the introduction of the single currency for monetary stability, on the one hand, and for the acceleration of economic growth and hence the prospects for real convergence of the Greek economy, on the other," he added in his address, entitled "The Greek Economy in the Euro Area".
Papademos predicted that Greece's inflation rate would not deviate significantly from the euro zone average "in the long run", although "deviations may arise in the short run and medium run, with possibly unfavorable consequences for economic activity and employment."
In citing potential benefits to the SE European country's economy from the elimination of foreign exchange risks in cross-border transactions within the euro zone as well as lower financing costs and envisaged price stability, he nevertheless warned that "faster economic growth should not be taken for granted, nor should it be considered an automatic consequence of the adoption of the euro, because the effect of Greece's participation in EMU on domestic economic activity will be the net outcome of other factors as well."
The central bank governor pointed to increased competitiveness as a necessary prerequisite for translating whatever EMU benefits into lasting comparative advantages.
"The main goals of economic policy following Greece's entry into the euro area will be faster economic growth, so as to achieve convergence of Greek living standards towards the EU average and lower unemployment.
"These goals should, of course, be attained parallel to securing price stability, both because of the direct benefits price stability entails and because it is a precondition for sustainable growth. Furthermore, economic policy has to be able to stabilize future economic fluctuations arising from exogenous shocks, cyclical effects or the ongoing restructuring of the EU economy," he said.
In touching on some of the concerns aired by the European Central Bank (ECB) this week in presenting its report on Greece's eligibility for euro zone inclusion, Papademos said that "sustainable growth, lower unemployment, and lasting price stability can and should be attained in the euro area mainly through structural reforms aimed at improving the international competitiveness of the Greek economy, enhancing competition in the domestic markets for goods and services, and achieving a more efficient and flexible functioning of the labor market."
ECB Vice-Chairman Christian Noyer on Wednesday noted that the Greek economy's performance has improved and that Greece has met all five of the Maastricht criteria for membership, although doubts remained about the sustainability of progress made.
He noted that the ECB urged continued strict fiscal discipline, a tight income policy and implementation of structural reform.
Papademos, in fact, made mention of the two convergence reports issued by the European Commission and the ECB several hours before his speech, saying the assessments "examine in a thorough and rigorous way the attainment of a high degree of sustainable convergence in Greece. I believe they will provide a good and convincing basis for a positive assessment of Greece's fulfillment of the treaty requirements for joining the euro area next January."
Finally, in gauging the distance the Greek economy has covered over the past three decades, Papademos called the economic situation in the country from the late 1970s to the early '90s as "far from ideal".
 EU economic confidence index in Greece creeps up
BRUSSELS, 05/05/2000 (ANA-B.Demiris)A European Union index of economic confidence showed a rise of 0.4 percent for Greece in April from March, the EU's executive Commission said on Thursday.
Confidence in Greece rose in the construction and consumer sectors but fell in the industrial sector, the Commission said in a statement.
The index, which covers the EU's fifteen members, posted an overall drop of 0.1 percent in the same month, the statement said.
The index remained unchanged for the 11-member euro zone, which Greece hopes to join on January 1, 2001.
 Finance ministry calls for control, evaluation mechanism in local government spending
Athens, 05/05/2000 (ANA)Deputy Finance Minister George Drys called on Thursday for the creation of the necessary mechanisms for the control and evaluation of funds funneled to local administrations (OTA) and the services rendered by them.
Addressing the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE) funding conference in Halkidiki, northern Greece, Drys said that the aim of the new mechanism would be to secure transparency, to control and increase the effectiveness of funding allocated to local governments.
Drys also called on the more than 2,000 mayors attending to show "self-control", regarding proposed demands of KEDKE, voiced earlier by its president Paris Koukoulopoulos.
He noted that over the 1998-2000 period local governments were granted more than 1.6 trillion drachmas, while outstanding debts were refinanced in favorable terms.
 7th Thessaloniki Forum will focus on Balkan reconstruction
Athens, 05/05/2000 (ANA)The two-day 7th annual Thessaloniki Forum will be held in this northern city on May 8-9 and will focus on the social, political and economic state of the countries of southeastern Europe, which are under reconstruction. An account will also be made of economic cooperation promoted in the region in 1999.
The Federation of Industries of Northern Greece and the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with the Thessaloniki-headquartered Balkan Reconstruction Organization will organize the forum.
Participants in the forum include Stability Pact coordinator Bodo Hombach, US Ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns and the Deputy Prime Minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Vassil Topurkovski. Foreign Minister George Papandreou, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos are also expected to attend on the part of Greece.
One of the main characteristics of this year's forum is the big participation of foreign delegates, who are expected to exceed 200.
Addressing a press conference on Thursday, Federation of Industries of Northern Greece President Vassilis Takas said this fact signals recognition by foreigners of both the event itself and Thessaloniki's geostrategic role and highlights Greece's leading role in the whole effort of reconstruction.
According to the program, the forum will open on May 8 with addresses by Minister of Macedonia and Thrace George Paschalidis and Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos.
 Greek stocks end moderately lower
Athens, 05/05/2000 (ANA)Equity prices ended moderately lower on the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday hit by lack of fresh buying interest and a negative trend in international markets.
Trading conditions were subdued with turnover falling to 74 billion drachmas.
The general index ended at 4,358.26 points, down 0.52 percent, but off the day's lows of 4,300. The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.91 percent lower at 2,442.84 points and the FTSE/ASE 40 index ended at 579.78 points, off 0.28 percent.
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended at 738.32 points, down 0.26 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 211 to 122 with another 12 issues unchanged.
Hellenic Telecoms, General Bank, Alpha Credit Bank and Athenean Holdings were the most heavily traded stocks.
Derivatives prices end lower in subdued trade: Derivatives prices ended lower on the Athens Derivatives Exchange in subdued trade on Thursday, following declines in the two benchmark indices, FTSE/ASE 20 and FTSE/ASE 40.
A total of 921 futures contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 index, worth 4.4 billion drachmas. The May expiring contract ended at 2,419.50 points, the June at 2,429 and the September contract at 2,446 points.
Another 674 futures contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 40 index with a turnover of 1.3 billion drachmas. The May expiring contract ended at 560.75 points and the June contract at 558.50 points.
Bond prices drop in moderate trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market mostly edged down in moderate trade on Thursday amid flagging sentiment in markets abroad due to the euro's plunge.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.35 percent from 6.21 percent a day earlier and 6.15 percent on Tuesday.
The paper's yield spread over German bunds was 88-90 basis points from 82 basis points on Wednesday and 80-82 basis points in the previous session.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 98.4 billion drachmas from 98 billion drachmas a day earlier and 48 billion drachmas on Tuesday.
Of Thursday's total, sell orders accounted for 66 billion drachmas of turnover.
Drachma noses down vs. euro, slumps vs. dollar: The drachma on Thursday edged down against the euro and dropped sharply against the rampant US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market.
At the central bank's daily fixing, the euro was set at 336.150 drachmas from 336.030 drachmas a day earlier and 336.240 drachmas on Tuesday.
Also at the fixing, the US dollar was set at 376.200 drachmas from 373.830 drachmas on Wednesday and 369.450 drachmas in the previous session.
The dollar has gained 14.54 percent on the drachma since the beginning of the year.
 OA orders new sale valuation of old aircraft
Athens, 05/05/2000 (ANA)The board of Olympic Airways, the national carrier, has ordered a new sale valuation of old aircraft and engines.
The move, which was proposed by the company's president, aims to ensure transparency and legal compliance, the board said in a statement on Thursday.
 Greek-Swiss business contact office inaugurated in Thessaloniki
Athens, 05/05/2000 (ANA)The Greek-Swiss Economic Chamber on Thursday inaugurated a Contact Office in Thessaloniki to assist the development cooperation between northern Greek and Swiss businesses.
During a press conference in Thessaloniki, Contact Office chief P. Baltatzis said that this service was geared to offer the best possible information to Greek businesses regarding the possibilities of cooperation between them and their Swiss counterparts.
Furthermore the office will work toward the formulation of new basis of cooperation between the business chambers of Thessaloniki, those of other northern Greek cities and consulates with the official trade missions, he added.
Today there are 25 Greek businesses active in Switzerland and 50 Swiss in Greece, while the trade deficit reached at 1:6.2 in favor of Switzerland, Greek-Swiss Economic Chamber board member Nicola Bellofatti said.
 Australia opens office in Athens embassy to transfer Olympic Games know-how
Athens, 05/05/2000 (ANA)Australia's Trade Commission (Austrade) opened an office in Athens to promote Olympic Games know-how transfer of Australian businesses to Greece in light of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, according to a press release issued by the Australian embassy on Thursday.
The new office is housed in the Australian embassy in Athens.
Austrade Managing Director Charles Jamieson announced that the office will act as a bridge "to facilitate the transfer of commercial knowledge from the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games organizers to those involved in preparations for Athens 2004".
"We are looking to establish partnerships with Greek companies that are of mutual benefit and will deliver good outcomes for Athens 2004 and beyond. In effect, this is a passing of the baton of the Olympics commercial knowledge from one company to another," Jamieson said.
 Archbishop of Athens and All Greece rejects racism, nationalism
Athens, 05/05/2000 (ANA)Orthodox Christianity has rejected the phenomenon of national racism and nationalistic hatred, which became inescapable along with the creation of nation states, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos said on Thursday.
Addressing the opening day of the five-day international theological conference "Orthodoxy 2000. Past-Present-Future" at the University of Athens, Christodoulos said that Orthodoxy had to struggle with "cases and phenomena of national racism, this fatal result of the formulation of nation states".
For this reason, he said, the local "Synod of Constantinople of 1872" stressed "we denounce in condemnation and sit in judgement of racism, that is the racist discriminations and the national hatred and envy and separations within the Church of Christ".
"Despite the whichever difficulties, the historic challenges, despite the mistakes, Orthodoxy continues to exist as a way of life and as the embodiment of the truth of Christ and the hope of salvation," the Greek prelate said.
"Orthodoxy, throughout its history, never became and was never understood as a theory nor as an abstract philosophical teaching, rather it was always word in action, as an essential teaching, which directly regarded the life of humans and the history of the world".
Among those who addressed this first day of the conference were Athens University Dean Konstantinos Dimopoulos, who opened the conference, retired metropolitan of Ephesos Chrisostomos, Metropolitan of Carthage Chrisostomos and Metropolitan of Ierapolis Ireneos.
 Greek president to tour Thrace region over the weekend
Athens, 05/05/2000 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos is scheduled to tour the Thrace region of northeastern Greece over the weekend, beginning in the town of Xanthi on Friday, before traveling to Komotini on Saturday and Evros prefecture on Sunday.
 General Secretariat of Sports announces generous budget for federations this year
Athens, 05/05/2000 (ANA)The General Secretariat of Sports on Thursday publicized the total budget for federations this year, which will be increased by 1,207,000,000 drachmas. The generous increase is primarily due to the fact that 2000 will be an Olympic year and federations will have greater needs.
The lion's share of funds, 2,068,000,000 drachmas, will go to the Athletics Confederation (SEGAS), followed by the Greek Soccer Federation (EPO) with 1,917,000,000 and the Basketball Federation with 1,696,000,000.
A regular budget for the Olympic sport of archery, now an independent federation, is included for the first time, as well as for tae-kwon-do, sky diving and two federations for athletes with special needs.
 Issue of Clerides' replacement has not arisen, House President says
NICOSIA, 05/05/2000 (CNA/ANA)President of the House of Representatives Spyros Kyprianou said on Thursday the issue of replacing President Glafcos Clerides, who will undergo surgery to remove a polyp from his large intestine on Friday, does not arise.
Kyprianou who called on the president at "Evangelistria" private clinic to wish him well told the press he did not discuss the issue of Clerides' replacement.
"If the president himself feels at any stage he should be replaced, I have no problem with that," Kyprianou said, noting however, that in his view no such matter arises. According to the constitution, the President of the House of Representatives replaces the President of the Republic in the event of temporary absence or a temporary incapacity to perform his duties.
Many government and other officials visited the president on Thursday afternoon. Among them the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ioannis Kasoulides, the Minister of Health Frixos Savvides, Attorney General Alecos Markides, Chief of the Police Andreas Angelides and Israeli Ambassador to Cyprus Shemi Tzur.
Former government spokesman Christos Stylianides and Greek Ambassador in Nicosia Kyriakos Rodousakis also called on the president on Thursday evening.
 Foreign Minister cancels visit to Albania
NICOSIA, 05/05/2000 (CNA/ANA)A scheduled visit by Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides to Albania has been cancelled due to the operation President Glafcos Clerides will undergo on Friday. A three-member delegation comprising officials of the Foreign Ministry and the Planning Bureau will, however, fly to Tirana on Friday morning for a three-day visit.
President Clerides will undergo surgery to remove a polyp from his large intestine.
 Visits to Cyprus by foreign envoys postponed
NICOSIA, 05/05/2000 (CNA/ANA)Visits to Cyprus by foreign envoys involved in efforts to reach a settlement on the island have been postponed due to the operation President Glafcos Clerides will undergo on Friday to remove a polyp from his large intestine.
UN Secretary-General's special adviser for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto, US presidential emissary Alfred Moses and State Department special coordinator for Cyprus Tomas Weston will visit the island at a later date, depending on the outcome of the president's health, UNFICYP and US embassy officials told CNA on Thursday.
On Wednesday a British High Commission spokesman told CNA London's envoy for Cyprus Sir David Hannay has also cancelled his visit to the island.
The officials were not in a position to say whether the third round of proximity talks that was scheduled to begin in New York on May 23 has also been postponed.
The UN-led talks aimed at paving the way for a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus, divided since Turkish troops occupied 37 per cent of its territory in 1974, opened in December 1999 in New York. A second round of talks was held in February in Geneva. On Wednesday, President Clerides' doctors advised him not to go to the US for the talks and said he would need between six to eight weeks to recover from the operation.
Earlier on Thursday President Clerides was given permission by his doctors to exit the private clinic, where he is being treated, to chair a meeting of his cabinet.
The 81-year-old Cypriot president has not faced any serious health problem. He had gone to the private clinic for a routine check up on Tuesday, where doctors diagnosed the polyp.