|Wednesday, 22 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-05-09
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Papantoniou says Greek euro-zone OK welcomed by EU ministers
Athens, 09/05/2000 (ANA)National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said on Monday that his European Union counterparts unanimously welcomed endorsement by the EU's executive Commission of Greece's bid to join the 11-member euro zone.
Papantoniou was speaking after separate meetings on the sidelines of a regular EU finance ministers' meeting in Brussels.
Last week, the Commission released a report recommending Greece's entry into the euro area on the country's self-appointed target date of January 1, 2001.
A final decision will be taken by EU leaders at a summit in Portugal on June 19-20.
The next stage in the application is for the EU's financial and fiscal committee (formerly known as the monetary committee) to discuss the Commission's recommendation, which will then be debated by the EU's finance ministers, who, in turn, will issue their own recommendation to the summit.
The leaders' decision will then go back to the finance ministers for settlement of the legal details, Papantoniou said.
The final - and most stubborn - entry criterion Greece attained for euro entry was lowering its inflation rate.
"Many people today congratulated me on the Greek miracle of inflation," Papantoniou told reporters.
Asked to comment on Monday's meeting of finance ministers, Papantoniou said the talks focused on attaining sustainability of growth and providing long-term support for competitiveness.
 Slovak president begins official visit to Greece
Athens, 09/05/2000 (ANA)Slovak President Rudolph Schuster, currently on an official visit to Greece, held consecutive meetings with President Kostis Stephanopoulos, Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Alternate Foreign Minister Elizabeth Papazoi on Monday and requested and received Greece's support for his country's rapprochement with Euroatlantic institutions. Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan and Administrative Affairs and Privatizations Minister Maria Mahova accompany Schuster.
"The exchange of views with the Greek political leadership is a valuable source of learning for us which will help in the avoidance of many mistakes. We can only utilize your experiences and knowledge with cooperation to enable us to learn and be able to follow a correct course," he said and praised Greece's contribution to his country's efforts to join the European Union and NATO.
Schuster said bilateral relations with Greece are on the path of development, adding that new possibilities existing in all fields are currently being probed.
Replying to a question by the Athens News Agency (ANA), he termed the starting point "very positive" since, as he said, investment interest was ascertained. He said the Slovak delegation received promises that Greece will support investments in his country.
"We should treat investors with sensitivity, particularly those in the banking sector," he said. Schuster did not conceal Slovakia's interest in participating in tendering for projects concerning the piping of natural gas.
Schuster exchanged views with the Greek Prime Minister and president on developments in Kosovo and the application of the Stability Pact in the Balkans. He favored the lifting of sanctions imposed on Yugoslavia because, as he said, the sanctions have produced the opposite results of those desired and have strengthened Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic instead of subduing him.
He was briefed on developments on the Cyprus issue and Greek-Turkish relations and had, as he said, interesting discussions on NATO's new structure.
Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos gave Schuster the Gold Medal of Value of the city of Athens during a special ceremony held at the Athens Town Hall. Avramopoulos praised the Slovak leader and referred to the strong ties of friendship between the two countries. On his part, Schuster thanked the mayor for his hospitality and the awarding of the Gold Medal.
Official dinner: President Stephanopoulos on Monday evening held a dinner in honor of his Slovak counterpart Rudolf Schuster, reiterating, during his address, that Greece supports Slovakia's entry in the Euroatlantic institutions.
He also stressed that the enlarged European Union should support the economic and social reforms that will contribute to the securing of democracy in Southeastern Europe.
Stephanopoulos also noted that the relations of Greece and Turkey have entered a period of détente, stressing that "for a total and lasting normalization of relations between the two countries, beyond the resolution of the Cyprus issue, there must be a settlement according to the principles of international law and the prescribed processes of the United Nations".
Earlier in the day, Schuster met with main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis and ND cadre and party deputy Dora Bakoyianni and discussed bilateral relations and the further development of relations between the two nations.
Schuster also met with Communist Party of Greece (KKE) representative Orestis Kolozov and Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos.
 Stability Pact coordinator praises Greece's economic achievements
Athens, 09/05/2000 (ANA)The Stability Pact's special coordinator Bodo Hombach addressed the annual forum on economic cooperation in southeastern Europe in Thessaloniki on Monday, calling the Greek economy a "miracle" and saying that Greece is the best example of excellent economic development.
"All in Europe speak of the Greek miracle," he said addressing the 7th Thessaloniki Economic Forum, jointly organized by the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece and the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce, which opened with addresses by the Minister of Macedonia and Thrace and the mayor of Thessaloniki.
Addressing the representatives of other Balkan governments attending the forum, he said the miracle of the Greek economy would not have been achieved without "painful interventions."
Hombach disclosed that, following discussions he had with the Greek government, Greece has undertaken to play a strategic role in reforming and upgrading the banking system in Balkan countries.
He appeared optimistic over the level of cooperation in the region and mentioned, as an example, the agreement reached between Bulgaria and Romania for the building of a bridge on the Danube.
Hombach further said that there would be no peace in the region without a democratic Yugoslavia, adding that the Stability Pact always has an empty seat on condition, of course, that Yugoslavia "will resolve its political problem."
He accused Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic of being the sole person responsible for all the woes experienced by his country and as being a person with whom "we cannot talk."
Hombach said "we are ready to reconstruct Serbia and Montenegro" but added that "the fall of Milosevic cannot come from outside" and that "only the democratic forces of Serbia can have this honor."
 SE Europe's finance ministers address economic forum in Thessaloniki
Athens, 09/05/2000 (ANA)The finance ministers of Cyprus, Albania, Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on Monday addressed the annual forum on economic cooperation in southeastern Europe in Thessaloniki.
The ministers noted the will of their governments to succeed in working through the process toward entry to the European and Euroatlantic structures, as well as toward entry into international organizations.
They also made special mention of Greece's success, calling it an example.
On his part, Greek National Economy Ministry Secretary General of International Economic Relations Stephanos Avgouleas "welcomed" the application of most, as he said, countries of the region to enter the "European Family".
He stressed that Greece has shown in practice its willingness to support the course of SE European countries' reconstruction, as it was the first state that completed a national reconstruction plan for the region.
He spoke of the need for Serbia to be included in this reconstruction plan, so as not to have "black holes", as long, of course, as that country will move toward the necessary reforms.
Cyprus' Finance Minister Takis Clerides said that Greece and Cyprus should take advantage of their geographical proximity and the traditional relations with the Arab world and Israel and thus become bridges for businesses aiming at investing in the Middle East.
"Our ambition is to maintain Cyprus' standing as a regional, well respected economic center, which is based on the high quality and credible services rendered," Clerides said.
FYROM's Finance Minister Borko Andreyev stressed his country's efforts at privatizing public enterprises and providing incentives to foreign investors, noting that 181 state-owned enterprises will be added soon to the list of 1,488 already privatized.
Albanian Finance Minister Mustafa Mutsi also noted his country's efforts to privatize state-owned firms and create the necessary infrastructure for enticing foreign investment to his country.
Finally, Bulgaria's Finance Minister Muraviev Randev called Greece an excellent example of a SE European country that achieved entry in the "family" of the industrialized nations of Europe.
He added that "Greece succeeded to enter the EMU on equal terms, an aim that would have been achieved earlier, had there not been the high risk conditions created by the Balkan crisis".
The 7th Thessaloniki Economic Forum is jointly organized by the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece and the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce and opened with addresses by the minister of Macedonia and Thrace and the mayor of Thessaloniki.
 Cem says Ankara wishes to find points of understanding with Greece
ISTANBUL, 09/05/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem said Ankara does not feel concerned over issues in the Aegean and wishes to find points of understanding with Greece.
In an interview he gave in New York to the newspaper Yeni Bingil, Cem refers to Turkey's proposal for confidence-building measures in the Aegean and noted that Greece is processing the relevant proposal.
"Ankara does not feel concerned," he said.
"Mutual sensitivities exist on other issues of the Aegean," he said and added that he does not wish to raise these issues at present.
"Certain steps can be taken in time which will take the two countries' sensitivities into consideration," Cem said and pointed out that "Ankara wishes to pinpoint, with good intention, points of understanding in the Aegean and then move."
Cem underlined positive developments taking place in economic and commercial relations between the two countries and noted that "Greece also has much to gain from this rapprochement."
He further stressed that the agreement between Athens and Ankara on cracking down on terrorism was of vital importance for Turkey and that thanks to the deal "a great distance was covered in relations between the two countries."
Greek, Turkish women deputies sign mutual understanding memorandum: Women deputies from Greece and Turkey signed a mutual understanding memorandum in Ankara with the purpose of strengthening peace and friendship between the peoples of the two countries.
The understanding memorandum, read by PASOK Deputy Chrysa Manolia in Greek and Democratic Left Party (DSP) Deputy Gyonul Sarai Alphan, stresses that the finding of realistic and correct solutions which will be adopted by both sides and will be in accordance with the interests of the two countries is necessary.
"We are determined to provide every possible support for the positive rapprochement which has started between our peoples and for the positive talks which our governments have started," the memorandum said.
The memorandum was announced at a press conference at the Turkish National Assembly by Manolia, main opposition New Democracy party Deputy Elsa Papadimitriou, Alphan and Motherland Party (ANAP) Deputy Nesrin Nash.
 Tsohatzopoulos states opposition to economic pressure on Serbia for political ends
Athens, 09/05/2000 (ANA)Defense minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Monday the policy of Balkan reconstruction should not be used as a weapon of political pressure on Yugoslavia.
"It is unacceptable to use the policy of Balkan reconstruction in order to solve a country's internal problems. Yugoslavia's internal problem is a problem of democratization and it concerns the Yugoslavs themselves," he said in an address to the Balkan Business Forum.
Commenting on an earlier statement by Stability Pact Coordinator Bondo Hombach that Serbs should get rid of President Milosevic if they wished to enjoy the fruits of reconstruction, Tsohatzopoulos said it was inconceivable for anyone to consider holding security and development in the Balkans hostage in an attempt to single Yugoslavia out.
 Olympic preparations to dominate PM's itinerary on Tuesday
Athens, 09/05/2000 (ANA)An inter-ministerial meeting focusing on issues dealing with the Athens 2004 Olympics is scheduled for Tuesday, with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis set to chair the session.
Steps to accelerate delayed preparations for the Games are expected to be announced.
Afterwards, the premier will receive visiting IOC Deputy President Jacques Rogge.
Finally, Simitis met with Culture Minister Theodoros Pangalos on Monday for talks over 2004 preparations.
 Karamanlis threatens ultra conservative deputy with expulsion
Athens, 09/05/2000 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Monday threatened a party deputy with expulsion, in response to criticism over the party's future political orientation.
During an interview to Mega private television channel, Karamanlis said that ND Deputy Giorgos Karatzaferis surpassed all limits of civilized behavior, saying that statements of his appearing in an interview to an Athens daily are opposed to the values of ND and constitute reason enough for a party official to be expelled.
Tensions rose as Karatzaferis verbally attacked ND spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos a month ahead of the extraordinary party congress, calling him a "Salome who wants heads on platters", in light of the party's move toward the center.
According to reports, Karamanlis was expected to send a letter to Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis in notification of Karatzaferis' expulsion from the party's parliamentary group, with in-party institutional processes to follow.
Karatzaferis also indirectly attacked the party leadership for the April 9 election results, which ND lost by a slight margin.
Another ND deputy Apostolos Andreoulakos supported Karatzaferis' criticism and made statements against the party's move toward the center of the political spectrum.
In unrelated developments, ND party cadre and parliament deputy Dora Bakoyianni noted that ND has problems in communicating its ideas, while former ND deputy, who was expelled from the party, George Souflias accused Karamanlis of treating ND as his personal property.
 Six ND deputies table question citing illegal naturalizations
Athens, 09/05/2000 (ANA)Six main opposition New Democracy deputies have tabled a question in Parliament over what they charge are widespread instances of illegal naturalizations of foreign nationals, including alleged international outlaws.
The ND deputies' question calls on the ruling PASOK government to explain why "it did not exercise, as it should, a comprehensive and thorough check on procedures to grant Greek citizenship, and despite the continuous disclosures of such illegal naturalizations for foreign criminals."
The case of Ukrainian outlaw Sergei Kotovic's naturalization is cited as one example, while the tabled question requests an overview of the extent of two separate investigations begun into the specific instance.
Other cases the ND deputies point to are the granting of citizenship to assassinated Russian mobster Alesandr Solonik and alleged Russian hitman Vladimir Tatarenkov, who was arrested last year in a Rhodopi prefecture resort.
The Parliament query is signed by deputies Vyron Polydoras, Theodoros Anagnostopoulos, Anna Psarouda-Benaki, Christos Makrogiannakis, Evripidis Stylianidis, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Anastasios Nerantzis and Christos Zois.
Pavlopoulos: In a separate development, Pavlopoulos, the main opposition's former spokesman, tabled another question in Parliament directed at the prime minister, this time in relation to an ongoing criminal investigation that includes current Greek Police (EL.AS) chief Yiannis Georgakopoulos.
Pavlopoulos asks why the PM "persists in retaining the current EL.AS chief despite the criminal investigations against him; what obstructs even his temporary replacement until the conclusion of the pending probe, and if other (top police) cadres are capable of assuming this position..."
In reaction to Pavlopoulos' question, government spokesman Dimitris later stated that Georgakopoulos "does not stand accused, the government desires that judicial officials quickly finish their investigation and serve justice wherever necessary".
He also said the Greek police force has operated more efficiently during Georgakopoulos' tenure
 Karamanlis supports Greek election system, in Italian daily's interview
Athens, 09/05/2000 (ANA)Italian daily Giornale on Monday published an interview of Greek main opposition New Democracy party (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis, who stressed that "the case of Italy's (Silvio Berlusconi) can not be compared to (Austria's) Haider".
Karamanlis, who visited Rome to attend the European Peoples' Party (EEP) summit, said that this summit was "timely and useful more than ever," adding that "a strategy for a more dynamic and competitive Europe was analyzed".
Speaking of ND's narrow defeat at the polls, Karamanlis said, "in politics there is no room for disappointment and I, instinctively, always try to look at the glass half full and not half empty.
"Despite the fact that I was defeated, I believe in this election system, as it guarantees the representation of small parties and stability," he added.
 Anti-aircraft umbrella between Thrace and Kastellorizo to be created
Athens, 09/05/2000 (ANA)Outgoing commander of NATO's MEM-Formed force Cassota handed over command to Ioannis Grammatikakis at the naval station in Crete on Monday in the presence of Deputy National Defense Minister Dimitris Apostolakis.
MEM-Formed is one of the two permanently active NATO immediate response forces in the Mediterranean with specialization in mine warfare operations. It has been designed to meet the needs of the present geopolitical situation so as to be available for immediate deployment at a time of tension, crisis or conflict. The force includes a Turkish navy minesweeper, which has arrived at the port of Souda.
"We are NATO member-states. We are cooperating and we are trying to enable this cooperation to be as smooth and beneficial as possible both for the countries of NATO and the two countries of Greece and Turkey," Apostolakis commented.
Referring to the country's anti-aircraft protection program, Apostolakis said "the anti-aircraft umbrella program for Greece is complex. It includes the S-300s, the Patriots and other medium and short-range missiles and will be completed very soon. An anti-aircraft umbrella will be created all over Greece, from Thrace to Kastellorizo."
 Paragioudakis to attend summits of NATO and EU armed forces chiefs
Athens, 09/05/2000 (ANA)Chairman of the Greek Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Manousos Paragioudakis, is leaving for Brussels on Tuesday to participate in the separate summits of his NATO and EU counterparts.
The NATO chiefs will be briefed on the latest developments in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo and will meet their counter-parts of Russia and Ukraine for a discussion of issues of common interest.
The armed forces chiefs of EU member-states will meet on May 11 to review progress regarding the functions of the Union's military organs.
 Premier, defense minister meet ahead of PASOK Central Committee conference
Athens, 09/05/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Monday received National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and discussed ruling PASOK's upcoming Central Committee conference agenda and forthcoming changes to the structure of the country's armed forces.
Following the meeting, Tsohatzopoulos said that PASOK was obliged to respond to the demand of the Greek people for social solidarity and complete economic and social development.
 Yiannitsis lays out Greece's employment difficulties
BRUSSELS, 09/05/2000 (ANA- Y. Zitouniati)Labor Minister Tasos Yiannitsis told his European Union counterparts on Monday that Greece had experienced an increase in unemployment since 1994 despite creating relatively more jobs than any other EU country.
Speaking during the EU labor ministers' council, he said the rise in unemployment was due to many factors, such as the restructuring of the economy, the shrinking of the agricultural sector, and immigration inflows. He noted that on relative terms Greece had the second largest number of economic immigrants among EU countries after Germany. These numbered 600,000, representing seven percent of the population.
Regarding flexibility in the labor market, Yiannitsis said that a combination of small businesses, foreign laborers, the black economy and the public sector had created a de facto situation to a degree.
He also said that the recent Lisbon summit had given emphasis on social policy and that the disengagement of issues of employment and social policy showed the evolution of the European Union's position on labor issues.
"The guidelines of economic policy, which the Employment Council discussed, reflect the positions of the Lisbon summit," he said.
 Greek stocks end substantially higher
Athens, 09/05/2000 (ANA)Equity prices ended substantially higher on the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday reflecting improving climate among investors and rising turnover in the market.
Dealers said buying interest focused on smaller and medium capitalization stocks. The general index ended at 4,475.06 points, up 1.32 percent, but off the day's highs of 4,534.23 points. Turnover was an improved 155 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 1.28 percent to end at 2,498.36 and the FTSE/ASE 40 index jumped 2.47 percent to 616.57 points.
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended at 808.02 points, up 3.28 percent.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 314 to 28 with another four issues unchanged.
Hellenic Telecoms, Panafon, Alpha Credit Bank and Athens Water were the most heavily traded stocks.
Derivatives prices end higher on ADEX: Derivatives prices ended higher on the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday reflecting gains in the two benchmark indices, FTSE/ASE 20 and FTSE/ASE 40. Turnover was a moderate 9.1 billion drachmas and volume 2,726 contracts.
A total of 1,143 futures contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 index, with a turnover of 5.4 billion drachmas. The May expiring contract ended at 2,467 points, the June at 2,467.50, the July at 2,482.25 and the September contract at 2,522 points.
A total of 1,583 futures contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 40 index, worth 3.7 billion drachmas. The May expiring contract ended at 592 points, the June at 587.50 and the July contract at 585.75 points.
Euro's recovery fuels bond rise: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market rose in moderate trade on Monday, fuelled by the euro's recovery in markets abroad.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.24 percent from 6.31 percent a day earlier and 6.35 percent on Thursday.
The paper's yield spread over German bunds was 83 basis points from 87 basis points on Friday and 88-90 basis points on Thursday.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 80 billion drachmas from 82 billion drachmas the previous trading day and 98.4 billion drachmas on Thursday.
Of Monday's total, buy orders accounted for 62 billion drachmas of turnover and sell orders the remaining 18 billion drachmas.
Drachma noses up vs. euro, drops vs. dollar: The drachma on Monday edged up against the euro and fell versus the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market.
At the central bank's daily fixing, the euro was set at 336.130 drachmas from 336.190 drachmas a trading day earlier and 336.150 drachmas on Thursday.
Also at the fixing, the US dollar was set at 375.780 drachmas from 373.770 drachmas on Friday and 376.200 drachmas in the previous session.
Greece launches convertible bonds issue on Tuesday: Greece's finance ministry launches a public offering of a three-year convertible bond issue on Tuesday, paying a tax-free annual coupon of 6.60 percent.
The new bonds, called "Agrometoha", could be converted to shares in Agricultural Bank of Greece during the bank's flotation on the Athens bourse.
Offer price was set at 82.55 drachmas per security of a nominal value of 100 drachmas.
The convertible bonds issue will be offered to domestic investors, small and institutional, from May 9-12.
 Wage negotiations continue, gap remains
Athens, 09/05/2000 (ANA)Greek workers and employers concluded a third round of wage negotiations on Monday unable to bridge their differences on wage increases and implementing a 35-hour week.
GSEE's, Greece's largest workers union umbrella, chairman Christos Polyzogopoulos said progress was made on side issues, but differences remained over wage increases and implementing a 35-hour working week.
Employers insist on a proposal for a wage increase deal ranging from 2.5-3.5 percent for the new two years, both rejected by GSEE.
Iason Stratos, Hellenic Industries Union chairman, said employers' proposals were based on the criterion of sustainability and competitiveness of the Greek economy.
He said talk of a 35-hour week in Greece was premature because there was no successful model yet in any other European state.
 New top OTE management announced, gov't promises telecoms deregulation
Athens, 09/05/2000 (ANA)The government announced on Monday that it was not considering the flotation of more than 49 percent of the state-run telecoms utility, in presenting the company's new top management duo.
Recently appointed Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis also said the government holds the telecoms market's EU-mandated deregulation as a top priority, through a revamped institutional framework.
Verelis said his ministry has readied a bill for telecom deregulation, including fixed-line telephony, in light of the scheduled end of Hellenic Telecommunications Organizations (OTE) monopoly on Dec. 12, 2000.
Nikos Manasis, the former head of the utility's mobile phone subsidiary Cosmote, was introduced as new OTE president and managing director. G. Skarpelis is deputy president and general director.
In addition, M. Yiakoumakis will take over the National Telecommunications and Post Offices Committee (EETT), the all-important agency that oversees mobile telephony licensing.
The first two executives replace Vassilis Rapanos and George Symeonidis, president and managing director, respectively.
In terms of EETT, Verelis said the government is eyeing a reorganization of the agency, allowing it to act as an independent regulatory authority. He cited its role in granting new mobile telephone licenses and in ensuring the sector's smooth operation "amid a fair and competitive environment".
 CPI inflation falls to 2.6 percent in April
Athens, 09/05/2000 (ANA)Greece's consumer price inflation dropped to 2.6 percent in April compared with the same month last year, down from 3.1 percent in March, the National Statistics Service said on Monday.
The consumer price index rose 0.5 percent in April from the previous month, recording its smaller monthly increase in the last two years (1.0 percent in April 1999 and 1.6 percent in April 1998).
April's year-on-year figure was also smaller compared with rises of 2.8 pct and 5.3 pct in the same months of 1999 and 1998, respectively.
The NSS attributed the rise in the CPI to a 3.0 percent increase in hotel-restaurant prices and a 1.3 percent rise in goods and services.
 Gov't aims to back research, applications for business
Athens, 09/05/2000 (ANA)The new government aims to back high-quality technological research, aid the conversion of scientific findings into applications for business, and encourage the incorporation of new technology into production, the development ministry said on Monday.
"This is how Greece can maintain its growth in the era of the digital economy and reinforce employment in new, up-to-date specializations," the ministry said in a statement.
The statement was issued to mark an exhibition on research and technology being held at the Zappion Hall on May 6-26.
 Education minister visits elementary and secondary schools in Irakleio
Athens, 09/05/2000 (ANA)Education Minister Petros Efthymiou visited a number of elementary and secondary schools in the city of Irakleio, Crete, on Monday, entered classrooms during lessons and talked to pupils about their problems in light of the examination period.
Efthymiou later visited Irakleio Mayor Costas Aslanis for talks on educational problems faced by the municipality. Afterwards, he went to the prefecture's offices.
After meeting the prefect, prefectural counselors and members of parliament, Efthymiou termed his visit to Irakleio a working visit.
"I was particularly pleased with the discussion I had with children in classrooms, as well as with teachers. The image of both is excellent. They armed us with an even greater feeling of duty, an even greater feeling of responsibility for Greek education," he said.
 Network of 27 helipads on Aegean islands has been completed
Athens, 09/05/2000 (ANA)A network of 27 helipads on Aegean islands built by the Ministry of the Aegean is ready. The helipads were built on the islands of Ayios Efstratios, Psara, Oinousses, Andros, Kea, Kythnos, Tinos, Serifos, Sifnos, Kimolos, Folegandros, Sikinos, Thirasia, Anafi, Ios, Koufonisi, Amorgos, Fournoi, Patmos, Agathonisi, Leipsoi, Nisyros, Tilos, Symi, Halki, northern Karpathos and Eresos.
Employees from the Ministry of the Aegean and the Civil Aviation Service started checks at the helipads on Monday to ascertain their suitability and provide them with a license to operate.
Studies are also being concluded for seven more helipads to be built on the very small islands of Arkioi, Irakleia, Antiparos, Donousa and Schoinousa, a second helipad on Ios and a helipad in the region of Rahes on the island of Ikaria. Work is also going ahead for an airport to be built on the island of Kalymnos.
 American and German military cadets visit Greece
Athens, 09/05/2000 (ANA)Students of the US National Defense College began a ten-day official visit to Greece on Monday and will be briefed by representatives of the National Defense General Staff and of the foreign and national economy ministries.
They will also visit military installations in Athens and Thessaloniki and the archaeological sites of Delphi, Acropolis, Vergina and sites in Thessaloniki.
The students will leave Greece on May 18.
Students of Germany's Higher Academy of War will also begin a two-day visit to Greece on Tuesday and visit the headquarters at Tirnavos (JCSC). Representatives of the National Defense General Staff and of the foreign and national economy ministries will also brief them.
 No issue yet of changing venue for third round of Cyprus peace talks
NICOSIA, 09/05/2000 (CNA/ANA)Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou clarified on Monday that at this moment there is no issue of changing the venue for the third round of UN-sponsored Cyprus peace talks, scheduled for New York, and that what is pending is the time of the talks.
He recommended a few days' patience until doctors, treating Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, who had an operation last Friday to remove a polyp from his large intestine, are in a position to say when the president will be able to travel. The spokesman dismissed suggestions about a possible replacement of the president at the talks.
Asked how the government views the possibility of the third round of talks being hosted in Nicosia instead of New York, the spokesman said "the government is not aware of any such discussion", adding however that if the issue is raised in the future, it will be considered.
The spokesman said there is no issue of replacing President Clerides as the Greek Cypriot side negotiator, noting that "the President of the Republic is recuperating fast and will continue to participate in the negotiations".
Commenting on the date of the talks, scheduled to resume on May 23, Papapetrou said this issue is still pending and it will be decided in a few days after doctors determine when President Clerides is in a position to attend and following government consultations with the UN.
UNFICYP spokeswoman Sarah Russell told CNA that the UN is "waiting to see how Mr. Clerides' health progresses and what the doctors have to say", adding that UN Special Adviser, Alvaro de Soto and Acting UN Secretary-General's Special Representative, James Holger have already spoken to President Clerides before the operation.
De Soto has also spoken with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash about the issue, adding that the UN is in contact with the Foreign Ministry and the Presidential Palace.
_NOTE_: The Bulletin of the Athens News Agency will not be available to subscribers on Wednesday, May 10, due to a deferral of May Day celebrations by the Athens Union of Journalists to Tuesday.
We shall be normally back to work on Wednesday evening for the Thursday edition.