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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-05-12

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] First units arrive in Thessaloniki for Dynamic Mix NATO military exercise
  • [02] Gov't denies issue of Aegean island's exclusion from NATO exercise
  • [03] Cem says Greek-Turkish relations are proceeding slowly but steadily
  • [04] Greece allows Turkish F16s to fly over its airspace, Milliyet reports
  • [05] Pangalos meets with Samaranch on Athens Olympics
  • [06] Simitis says 'fresh party necessary' to respond to problems of the times and society
  • [07] Greek FM to participate in humanitarian security conference in Lucerne
  • [08] President Stephanopoulos to start official visit to Israel on Sunday
  • [09] Greek Culture Minister attends inauguration at the Tate Gallery
  • [10] Australian General Governor meets President, Prime Minister and other officials
  • [11] Former ND leader calls for deputy's expulsion from the party
  • [12] Coalition of the Left cadres reportedly prepare to leave party
  • [13] Gov't to liquidate Industrial Reconstruction Organization
  • [14] Deputy National Economy Minister says no funds from 3rd CSF will be lost
  • [15] Papantoniou stresses need for market deregulation to proceed rapidly
  • [16] OA reports passenger rise; unions allege weak finances
  • [17] Greek stocks end higher, turnover soars
  • [18] European Capital Market Commissions plan single "passport" for listed companies
  • [19] Thomas O'Brien appointed new chief executive in Atlantic Bank of NY
  • [20] Alpha Finance US Corporation opens in New York
  • [21] Greece unveils its EXPO 2000 exhibit
  • [22] Synod discusses issue of religion listed in new identity cards
  • [23] Priceless artifact confiscated, one arrest announced
  • [24] Cyprus proximity talks scheduled for May 23 postponed
  • [25] FM Kasoulides to meet British counterpart Cook in London next week

  • [01] First units arrive in Thessaloniki for Dynamic Mix NATO military exercise

    Athens, 12/05/2000 (ANA)

    Preparations for the NATO exercise Dynamic Mix began in Thessaloniki on Thursday as the first units began to arrive in order to prepare the ground for the 7,000 men expected to take part in the last phase of the exercise from May 20 to June 10.

    The 7,000 strong force, which will comprise of Americans, Britons, Hungarians and Greek soldiers, is expected to camp in and around Thessaloniki.

    The city will be under the cover of an anti-aircraft "umbrella" manned by German and Danish troops using Patriot, Hawk and Roland missiles, deployed in the Thessaloniki areas of Halastra, Nea Mesimvria, Filiro, the forest of Seich Sou, the mountain of Hortiatis and Epanomi.

    Dynamic Mix is the largest and most comprehensive NATO exercise planned for the Southeastern Wing of the alliance and this year Greece is the focus of the exercise. Turkey and Italy are also included in map exercises.

    The Larissa NATO headquarters commander will have the overall tactical control of the exercise, while Turkish ground and airforces are expected to also participate.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, responding to relevant questions, noted that the eastern Aegean Island of Limnos would be included in the exercises, as there was no issue tabled requesting its exemption.

    The same held true for the southern Aegean leg of the exercise, he said.

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga voiced her opposition to the exercises, saying "Thessaloniki became a bridge for the transport of troops geared to attack and occupy, as well as a beautiful resort where those who are interested in the 'banquette' of the Balkans meet and discuss".

    [02] Gov't denies issue of Aegean island's exclusion from NATO exercise

    Athens, 12/05/2000 (ANA)

    The Greek government on Thursday stressed there was no issue of a NE Aegean island's exclusion from a NATO exercise this month, noting that multinational air-sea maneuvers will take place in the southern Aegean.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas was responding to press question in relation to the holding of NATO's "Dynamic Mix 2000", set between May 20 and June 10 mostly in south-southeastern Greece.

    In an unrelated issue, Reppas said the government is not considering any proposal at present over Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs) between Athens and Ankara focusing on the Aegean, a direct reply to relevant comments made recently by Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem.

    The spokesman simply noted that Greece remained devoted to implementing the Papoulias-Yilmaz memorandum of 1988 in regards to the Aegean.

    [03] Cem says Greek-Turkish relations are proceeding slowly but steadily

    ISTANBUL, 12/05/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem said on Thursday that Greek-Turkish relations are proceeding slowly but steadily.

    "I am not saying that everything is perfect in Greek-Turkish relations. Each of us defends his country's interests and these interests are not always parallel," Cem said in Cappadocia.

    "What we succeeded in doing is to find the common points in our national interests. I expect this process to continue, but carefully and not in a hurry," he added.

    Turkish Foreign Ministry sources said Ankara would like dialogue with Athens to take place in a framework defined by international law, the Madrid communique, article 33 of the UN's charter and the framework defined by the European Commission's report, known as the "Agenda 2000."

    The sources added that whichever of the problems are not handled in these frameworks will be referred to the arbitration of the International Court at The Hague.

    Cem conveyed these ideas to his Greek counterpart George Papandreou during their recent meeting in New York.

    Meanwhile, Cem said that contacts have started with Greece and Bulgaria on the tripartite development of cross-border trade, while cooperation between Greece and Turkey is also going ahead in the tourism sector.

    "Tourists who visited Greece also come to Turkey now," Cem said, referring to the tourism sector, and added that mutual agreements will follow on tourist movement from Turkey to Greece and from Greece to Turkey.

    [04] Greece allows Turkish F16s to fly over its airspace, Milliyet reports

    ISTANBUL, 12/05/2000 (ANA-A. Kourkoulas)

    Four Turkish F16s used Greek airspace to fly to Germany, Turkey's Milliyet daily reported on Thursday, commenting that this was indicative of the rapprochement in Greek-Turkish relations.

    The newspaper said Greece allowed the Turkish warplanes to fly over its airspace in order for them to take part in the "Elite 2000" exercise.

    [05] Pangalos meets with Samaranch on Athens Olympics

    LAUSANNE, 12/05/2000 (ANA)

    Greece's Culture Minister Theodoros Pangalos discussed preparations for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games with International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Juan Antonio Samaranch late Wednesday in Lausanne.

    During the meeting, which sources said was held in a "particularly positive climate", Pangalos briefed Samaranch on the progress in preparations for the Athens Games and informed the IOC chief on the change in the organizational structure of the Athens 2004 organizing committee, following the appointment of Gianna Angelopoulou-Daskalaki -- the high-powered lawyer who spearheaded Athens' successful bid for the Games in 1997 -- at the helm of the organizing committee, replacing prominent banker Panayotis Thomopoulos, who had tendered his resignation shortly after the April 9 general elections.

    The appointment, announced by Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Monday, will take effect on May 15.

    The Pangalos-Samaranch meeting, held at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, also included the issue of enlarging the section of the Museum's exhibits related to Greece, the birthplace of the Olympic Games in antiquity and venue of the first Modern Olympics.

    Samaranch asked Pangalos to convey to the Greek premier his congratulations on the speed with which the Greek government acted on a pledge to accelerate Olympics-related projects following IOC criticism of delays.

    He expressed satisfaction with the placement of Angelopoulou-Daskalaki as chairman of the Athens 2004 organizing committee, and praised outgoing chairman Thomopoulos on the high quality of the work he had accomplished.

    Samaranch further expressed understanding for the reasons for which Thomopoulos opted to concentrate his attention on the Bank of Greece, of which he is the deputy governor.

    [06] Simitis says 'fresh party necessary' to respond to problems of the times and society

    Athens, 12/05/2000 (ANA)

    Ruling PASOK party Central Committee Secretary Costas Skandalidis said on Thursday, after an Executive Bureau meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, that PASOK's evolution will depend on upgrading, renewal and enlargement.

    Skandalidis said the result of the elections paves the way for the party and the qualitative reformation of the progressive sector. According to what he said, which is expected to be included in the Executive Bureau's proposal at the Central Committee meeting on Friday, the elections were won by PASOK and were not lost by New Democracy.

    On his part, Simitis told the Executive Bureau members that "we cannot speak of a new and old PASOK. What is necessary is a fresh party which will respond with explicitness to the problems of the times and of society."

    According to the same reports, Simitis said PASOK of 2004 cannot be and should not be the same as PASOK of 1993.

    [07] Greek FM to participate in humanitarian security conference in Lucerne

    Athens, 12/05/2000 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou arrived in Lucerne, Switzerland on Thursday to participate in the two-day meeting of the International Conference for Humanitarian Security, attended by foreign ministers from Europe, Asia, Africa, Canada and Latin America.

    The conference was organized by the foreign ministers of Switzerland and Canada and will focus on the protection of Human Rights and international conditions regarding the application of the principles of International Humanitarian Law.

    The participants will also discuss international treaties regarding the use of weapons against personnel.

    Following his stay in Lucerne, Papandreou will travel to Zurich, Switzerland, to visit Grigorios Papadopoulos, director of late Yiannos Kranidiotis' diplomatic office.

    Papadopoulos was flown to Zurich to receive special medical treatment for injuries he sustained during the airplane accident, which claimed the life of Kranidiotis and another six persons aboard the Greek airforce Falcon, on September 14, 1999.

    [08] President Stephanopoulos to start official visit to Israel on Sunday

    Athens, 12/05/2000 (ANA)

    President Stephanopoulos will start an official visit to Israel and territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority as of Sunday. The purpose of the visit, the first since President Stephanopoulos assumed his second term, is to confirm the existing good climate in relations between Greece and Israel and to promote it even further, particularly in the political, military and economic sectors.

    According to reports, Greece wants President Stephanopoulos' visit to Israel and Palestinian territory to be balanced. President Stephanopoulos will hold talks with his Israeli counterpart Ezer Weizman and Prime Minister Ehud Barak, while he will also be addressing the Israeli Parliament.

    In Palestinian territory, President Stephanopoulos will meet Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and will speak at the Palestinian National Assembly.

    Reports said that Israel would like to provide Athens with electronic systems for F-16 warplanes and undertake security issues during the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, while also aiming at economic cooperation with Greece in the Balkans.

    President Stephanopoulos will be accompanied by Alternate Foreign Minister Elizabeth Papazoi (since Israeli Foreign Minister David Levi will be away from Israel), Deputy National Economy Minister Yiannis Zaphiropoulos, Greek university rectors, an orchestra of the Greek Radio and TV (ERT) network, which will give a concert in Jerusalem, and a number of businessmen.

    [09] Greek Culture Minister attends inauguration at the Tate Gallery

    LONDON, 12/05/2000 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)

    Culture Minister Theodoros Pangalos, who participated on Thursday as a guest in official events marking the inauguration of the Tate Gallery's new big modern art gallery, will have an informal meeting on Friday with members of the Greek-British Friendship Committee. Later, he will meet British historian William St. Clair, who had revealed damage caused to the Parthenon Marbles during a process to clean them at the British Museum and British journalist William Stewart from Channel 4, who created a documentary on the history of the Parthenon Marbles which documents historical data and vindicates the Greek appeal for their return.

    Pangalos will give a press conference for Greek correspondents in London on Saturday morning.

    [10] Australian General Governor meets President, Prime Minister and other officials

    Athens, 12/05/2000 (ANA)

    Australia's General Governor William Patrick Dean, currently on a two-day visit to Greece, held consecutive meetings on Thursday with President Kostis Stephanopoulos, Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis and main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis.

    In the evening, Dean attended an official dinner given in his honor by President Stephanopoulos who placed emphasis on close ties between Greece and Australia. He referred to the Greeks living in Australia, the fact that the two peoples fought together in the two world wars and said the two countries maintain an excellent climate in their political relations and wish to expand their cooperation in the economic sector as well.

    President Stephanopoulos outlined the role played by Greece as a political and economic force in the region of southeastern Europe and, referring to Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue, expressed hope that the neighboring country will contribute decisively towards finding a solution to the national issue.

    [11] Former ND leader calls for deputy's expulsion from the party

    Athens, 12/05/2000 (ANA)

    Former main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Miltiades Evert on Thursday defended the decision of current ND leader Costas Karamanlis to expel deputy Giorgos Karatzaferis from the partys parliamentary group and called for his expulsion from the party.

    In a written statement, Evert noted that Karatzaferis statements over time damaged ND, adding that Karatzaferis insistence to making statements against party policy forced his expulsion.

    It is unthinkable for officials and members of ND to accept the unacceptable accusation, that there was collusion, against the Greek people, so that we do not win the April 9 elections, Evert said.

    How are we going to look in the eyes of 2.5 million people, who with faith, unselfishness and with great cost supported and support ND? It is apparent that these statements do not only insult ND, but they insult our democratic political system and critically damage our parliamentary system, he added.

    He said that the Greek people demand and expect of ND and the rest of the parties to act on their problems, and concluded noting that those who oppose ND aim to create conditions of introversion to the party.

    Speaking on the issue, former ND deputy George Souflias, who was expelled from the party two years ago, said that ND faces a problem of people considering the party their own property.

    My stand is vindicated, that the attitude of people considering the party their own property, was and is the great problem within New Democracy. It hinders the synthesis and production of a substantial policy, he said.

    Karamanlis initiated developments concerning Karatzaferis on Monday during an interview to a private television channel, when he said that Karatzaferis "surpassed all limits of civilized behavior".

    He added that statements of his appearing in an interview to an Athens daily are "opposed to ND's values and constitute reason enough for a party official to be expelled".

    On Tuesday, Karamanlis informed Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis that Karatzaferis no longer belonged to ND's parliamentary group.

    On Wednesday, Kaklamanis announced that deputy Giorgos Karatzaferis became a member of the group of independent deputies and no longer belonged to ND's parliamentary group.

    Earlier on Wednesday, former ND leader Constantine Mitsotakis said that if the party ceases to be a democratically organized and representative of a wide political spectrum it may not achieve to govern the country.

    "If ND ceases to be a democratically organized party, it has no hope of governing," Mitsotakis said.

    Following Kaklamanis' notification, Karatzaferis said "I am outside ND based on the typical procedures, while based on the essence of the matter I am within ND and I remain one of its deputies".

    "I will vote against PASOK, even in cases were ND fully supports government bills," he said adding, "I support the president of the party (Karamanlis), who is undergoing a difficult time".

    Also on Wednesday, Karatzaferis indirectly attacked the party's leadership for the April 9 election results, which ND lost by a slight margin to ruling PASOK.

    Tensions began to rise within ND when Karatzaferis -- the owner and midday anchor of the small Athens-based "Telecity" TV station -- attacked ND spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos a month ahead of a special ND party congress, calling him a "Salome who wants heads on platters" prior to ND's push toward a more centrist political landscape.

    [12] Coalition of the Left cadres reportedly prepare to leave party

    Athens, 12/05/2000 (ANA)

    An estimated 15 cadres of the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) are preparing to leave the party, press reports said on Thursday.

    The 15 are said to follow Nikos Bistis, a prominent party member, who announced his withdrawal from the Coalition during a session of the party's Political Secretariat earlier in the day.

    According to the same reports, the disaffected cadres are preparing to form a new Left political grouping, will seek to reconstitute the progressive forces and will follow an autonomous policy vis-a-vis the ruling PASOK party.

    The Coalition made a rather poor showing in the April 9 election, only just managing to clear the hurdle of three percent of the poll required for parliamentary representation.

    Other sources said that Coalition leader Nikos Constantopoulos would reply to the dissidents during the party's scheduled Central Committee session on Saturday.

    [13] Gov't to liquidate Industrial Reconstruction Organization

    Athens, 12/05/2000 (ANA)

    The development and finance ministries on Thursday signed a document that allows liquidation of the Industrial Reconstruction Organization (IRO), an agency set up in 1983 to rescue ailing companies, Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said.

    The government has appointed National Capital SA to carry out the liquidation, which should be completed in 18 months with a six-month extension permissible if needed, Christodoulakis told a news conference.

    Supervising the operation will be the development ministry's industrial policy department.

    IRO's board will cease to exist on publication of the ministry's decision. Staff will choose between departure with compensation or reallocation to the development ministry and the agencies it supervises.

    The IRO ceased to take new companies under its wing in 1990.

    Christodoulakis also announced that the process of awarding operating licenses to new industrial units would be accelerated and simplified.

    Finally, the minister said that the position of managing director of the Public Gas Corporation SA would be re-advertised following a major delay in evaluating applications for the post when it was first advertised.

    A financial consultant would also be hired to sound out the prospects for listing of the corporation on the Athens Stock Exchange, Christodoulakis said.

    [14] Deputy National Economy Minister says no funds from 3rd CSF will be lost

    Athens, 12/05/2000 (ANA)

    Deputy National Economy Minister Christos Pachtas said in Parliament on Thursday that no funds from the 3rd Community Support Framework would be lost as a result of the delay in the whole plan's ratification by the European Union.

    Pachtas was replying to a question by main opposition New Democracy party Deputy Nikitas Kaklamanis, who said that despite the fact that Greece was first among all countries to submit the regional development plan for the 2000-2006 period, relevant approval has not yet been given by the EU at a time when other countries, such as Portugal, have already received a positive reply.

    Kaklamanis asked the government for what reason relevant approval on the part of the EU is being delayed, when the government believes the Community Support Framework will be ratified and which will be the possible consequences of the delay.

    Pachtas said the delay was due to the Greek elections and the doubting of the Greek economy's potential by "other political sides in our country" and to changes in responsible cadres at EU services.

    [15] Papantoniou stresses need for market deregulation to proceed rapidly

    Athens, 12/05/2000 (ANA)

    National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou stressed the need on Thursday, in an address during the awarding of business prizes for 1999 by the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, for market deregulation to proceed with speedy rates.

    Papantoniou said the opening of markets would be achieved by following a general plan, which will safeguard a satisfactory level of competition and services, transparency in transactions and encouragement for creating new jobs. He added that market deregulation will strengthen the economy's competitiveness and increase citizens' prosperity through upgrading quality and lower prices for products and services.

    "The speeding up and deepening of privatizations promotes the same target. It facilitates the speedier adjustment of utilities and banks to new competitive conditions and upgrades services they provide for the citizen," Papantoniou said.

    [16] OA reports passenger rise; unions allege weak finances

    Athens, 12/05/2000 (ANA)

    Olympic Airways, the ailing national carrier being revitalized by UK managers, on Thursday reported that it had increased its international flights by 13.8 percent in January-April and the number of international passengers had risen by 7.6 percent against the same period of 1999.

    Also marking an increase was the use of business class, up 24.9 percent, and tourist class, which showed a 13.8 percent rise.

    The airline said it had reduced the number of domestic flights by 6.9 percent in order to boost its operations abroad, which brought in the bulk of revenue.

    As a result, the number of passengers on domestic flights fell by 12.4 percent.

    The government to help restore the ailing to profitability called in Speedwing, a subsidiary of British Airways.

    Meanwhile, the Professional Air Union of Greece claimed that OA's financial results were 217 percent lower than targets set out in the company's business plan.

    The union, which represents administrative employees of the airline, has charged that Speedwing is trying to lower Olympic's value so that British Airways may exercise an option to buy a stake in the Greek carrier more cheaply.

    [17] Greek stocks end higher, turnover soars

    Athens, 12/05/2000 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended higher on the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday supported by heavy demand and an improved turnover.

    Dealers said the Greek market largely ignored a negative picture in international markets, which were hit by fears of a large interest rate increase by the US Federal Reserve next week.

    Analysts said that the market has found a new support level at 4,500 points, after several failed attempts earlier in the week.

    The general index ended at 4,527.71 points, up 0.61 percent, off the day's highs of 4,549.07 points. Turnover was 195 billion drachmas.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended at 2,503.53 points, up 0.23 percent and the FTSE/ASE 40 index rose 2.37 percent to end at 642.11 points.

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended at 863.83 points, up 2.55 percent.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 276 to 65 with another seven issues unchanged.

    Hellenic Telecoms, Interamerican Life, Panafon and Lambrakis Press were the most heavily traded stocks.

    Derivatives prices end higher on ADEX: Derivatives prices ended higher on the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday reflecting gains in the two benchmark indices, FTSE/ASE 20 and FTSE/ASE 40.

    Trade was brisk with 3,675 futures contracts changing hands, worth 11.6 billion drachmas.

    A total of 1,143 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 index, with a turnover of 5.5 billion drachmas. The May expiring contract ended at 2,475 points, the June at 2,480, the July at 2,475 and the September contract at 2,513 points.

    A total of 2,532 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 40 index, with a turnover of 6.1 billion drachmas. The May expiring contract ended at 630.25 points, the June at 623.25 points and the July contract at 623 points.

    Bonds drop in sell-oriented trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market fell in moderate trade on Thursday.

    The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.274 percent and the equivalent German bund 5.395 percent.

    The paper's yield spread over German bunds was 88 basis points, the same as the previous session.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 82 billion drachmas.

    Of Thursday's total, sell orders accounted for around 81 billion drachmas of turnover.

    Drachma noses down vs. euro, dollar: The drachma on Thursday edged down against the euro and the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market.

    At the central bank's daily fixing, the euro was set at 336.330 drachmas from 336.280 drachmas on Wednesday.

    Also at the fixing, the US dollar was set at 369.910 drachmas from 369.160 drachmas on Wednesday.

    Wholesale prices rise 0.9 percent in March: The wholesale prices index rose 0.9 percent in March from the previous month, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.

    The index has recorded rises of 0.4 percent and 2.2 percent in the same months of 1999 and 1998, respectively.

    Wholesale price inflation rose 7.8 percent year-on-year in March, down from rises of 1.0 percent and 4.5 percent the same months in 1999 and 1998, respectively.

    Building activity falls 20.5 percent in January yr./yr.: The volume of building activity fell 20.5 percent in January from the same month last year, National Statistics Service said on Thursday.

    The NSS said that building activity, based on building permits issued by the country's town planning authorities, fell 23 percent in the Attica region and by 19.2 percent in the rest of the country.

    [18] European Capital Market Commissions plan single "passport" for listed companies

    Athens, 12/05/2000 (ANA)

    Members of the European Conference of Capital Market Commissions (FESCO) during their recent meeting in Naples decided to initiate a process of consultations on the creation of a European "passport" for bourse-listed companies.

    The plan aims to enable firms to launch public subscriptions throughout Europe and secure a satisfactory level of protection for investors. It provides for the separation of prospectuses for public offerings in two parts, the Registration Document and the Securities Note, which will facilitate mutual recognition in Europe.

    The proposal is seen as an important contribution to the European Commission's Action Plan for Financial Services. The conclusions of the conference will be put to public debate in the member-states.

    [19] Thomas O'Brien appointed new chief executive in Atlantic Bank of NY

    Athens, 12/05/2000 (ANA)

    Thomas M. O'Brien was officially appointed new chief executive at the Atlantic Bank of New York, National Bank of Greece's affiliate in the US.

    National Bank's governor Theodore Karatzas, addressing a ceremony to mark the occasion said that Atlantic Bank of New York was already in a phase of a new dynamic growth course.

    Atlantic Bank of NY was founded in 1926 and is currently the fourth more rapidly growing bank from the 25 largest commercial banks operating in the New York region, offering a complete range of financial services to businesses and consumers.

    The bank operates a branch network in New York, Boston and Chicago and its assets exceed 1.8 billion US dollars.

    Thomas M. O'Brien was a former vice-president at North Fork Bancorporation.

    [20] Alpha Finance US Corporation opens in New York

    Athens, 12/05/2000 (ANA)

    Alpha Finance US Corporation, a subsidiary of the Alpha Bank Group, on Thursday launched operations in New York.

    The company is to offer US institutional investors and major retail investors direct access to the Athens Stock Exchange and other bourses in southeastern Europe in which the Alpha Bank Group has a presence.

    It also provides access to the Alpha Bank Group's financial and investment products.

    The managing director of Alpha's US subsidiary is Constantinos Grigoriadis, a former World Bank official with extensive experience in capital markets.

    [21] Greece unveils its EXPO 2000 exhibit

    Athens, 12/05/2000 (ANA)

    The Greek Export Promotion Organization (OPE) presented on Thursday the exhibits of the Greek pavilion for the international EXPO 2000 trade fair, which will take place in Hanover, Germany from June 1 to Oct. 31.

    National Economy Deputy Minister Yiannis Zaphiropoulos was present during the official unveiling of the Greek exhibit at Zappeion Hall.

    The Greek pavilion at the EXPO 2000 will cover 1,400 square meters and it will bare the title "Man-Nature-Technology".

    [22] Synod discusses issue of religion listed in new identity cards

    Athens, 12/05/2000 (ANA)

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos chaired a Holy Synod meeting on Thursday, which again discussed the issue of one's religion being listed in new identity cards.

    Holy Synod representative and Metropolitan of Piraeus Kallinikos said the hope was expressed that the issue of new identity cards will be handled with a spirit of consensus and under-standing.

    The Archbishop has already addressed a letter to Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis in which two issues are brought to his attention. The one is the listing or not of religion and the other what a secret space will contain.

    A delegation of three Metropolitans visited the public order minister at noon for talks on the issue of new identity cards for police officials.

    The Holy Synod representative said the Church has received many questions from police officials on the issue. The meeting took place in a climate of understanding and knowledge of things. Various views were exchanged both on the listing of religion and the existence of a white band for mechanical optical reading.

    The Public Order Minister promised to give a written reply to the Archbishop.

    "It is hoped that the whole issue of the new identity cards will be handled with a spirit of consensus to avoid social cohesion being disturbed," Kallinikos said.

    [23] Priceless artifact confiscated, one arrest announced

    Athens, 12/05/2000 (ANA)

    Authorities confiscated a Classical-era lecythus, an ancient oil-flask, on Thursday, reports state.

    One suspect, identified as 53-year-old Asimakis Kolyvakis, was arrested in connection with the incident on charges of antiquities smuggling.

    According to cursory reports, the 45-cm marble artifact dates to the 4th century BC and was termed by archaeologists as priceless during an initial examination.

    No date or location for the incident was announced.

    [24] Cyprus proximity talks scheduled for May 23 postponed

    NEW YORK, 12/05/2000(CNA/ANA)

    The United Nations officially confirmed here Thursday that the Cyprus proximity talks scheduled for May 23, will be postponed due to President Glafcos Clerides' surgery earlier this month to remove a polyp from his large intestine. A statement attributable to the spokesman for the Secretary-General said that the UN hopes "to discuss dates and location for the resumption of the talks shortly".

    The statement said "in light of the time required for the recovery of his Excellency Mr. Clerides following his recent surgery, the proximity talks on Cyprus scheduled for May 23 have been postponed".

    It further noted the Secretary-Generals Special Advisor, Alvaro de Soto and representatives of the parties discussed the issue on Wednesday.

    Earlier on Thursday, Cyprus government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou told his daily briefing that the government has been sounded out about the convening of the next round of UN-led peace talks in Geneva instead of New York as was scheduled, at the end of June, but nothing concrete has been decided yet on the matter.

    During the proximity talks, separate meetings UN officials have with the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, the two sides outline their positions on core issues of a settlement.

    Cyprus has been divided since Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory in 1974.

    [25] FM Kasoulides to meet British counterpart Cook in London next week

    NICOSIA, 12/05/2000 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides is scheduled to have a meeting with his British counterpart Robin Cook next week in London.

    Kasoulides leaves Tuesday and will meet Cook on Wednesday.

    Discussions will focus on developments in the Cyprus problem and Cyprus' accession negotiations with the European Union.

    The meeting comes at a time of increased effort by the international community to keep the momentum on the Cyprus peace effort going, following news last week that President Glafcos Clerides had to undergo surgery to remove a polyp from his large intestine.

    The president is recovering well in a private clinic here.

    While in London, Kasoulides is expected to visit former Cyprus President George Vassiliou, who is also in hospital after emergency surgery to remove a benign tumor from his brain.

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