|Monday, 20 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-05-13
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Government sets out priorities in economic policy
Athens 13/05/2000 (ANA)The Greek government on Friday set out three priorities in its economic policy for the period 2000-2001, which include speedier structural reforms, implementation of all pre-election pledges for social benefits and completion of negotiations for the country's EMU membership.
A cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, unanimously approved plans presented by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou.
Presenting his plans, Papantoniou said that the ministry would move rapidly to abolish all market structures hindering competition and all bureaucratic procedures, including opening up certain state-licensed professions, currently under discussion by the ministry.
Papantoniou also said that the government would promote all structural reforms needed to open up monopoly markets in energy and telecommunications and implement its privatization program.
He said that the ministry planned to strengthen the supervising role and the function of regulatory authorities in competition, capital markets, telecommunication and electricity.
He reiterated that the government would implement all pre-election pledges for higher pensions and tax cuts without deviating from provisions made by this year's budget.
Papantoniou said that the government is expected to formally complete negotiations on the country's EMU membership at an EU summit in Lisbon, June 19.
"Greece comfortably fulfils all EMU membership criteria," he said.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, later analyzed the government's priorities and determined foreign policy, economic development, the social state and public administration modernization as the four key sectors of government policy during the four-year term of office which has just started.
Reppas said that during his address at the cabinet meeting, Simitis called on ministers to implement all that the PASOK party had committed itself to do during the election period.
"Implementing PASOK's election commitments constitutes a contract of honor for us," Simitis said.
Reppas said the Prime Minister also referred to the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, pointing out that Olympic preparation is a top priority for the government and explaining that not only the government but the country's credibility as well will be judged by the effort's success.
"The Olympic Games are also linked to Greece's international promotion and development and signal Greece of achievement," Simitis said.
 Simitis says PASOK expresses need for modern and powerful social state and a society of cohesion and solidarity
Athens 13/05/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis signaled the start to the ruling socialist PASOK party's re-establishment on Friday, saying at the opening of the party's three-day Central Committee meeting that "with the old one we cannot express the progressive side in its entirety."
Simitis said this course had already been decided by the 5th congress and will be completed at PASOK's next congress in the spring of 2002. He determined the party's enlargement and renewal as being the most important terms in this context.
Simitis did not elaborate further, but noted that a socialist movement cannot be "static neither in ideas nor in persons since inertia is attrition and a recipe for defeat".
He said the shaping of a more effective party is possible at present, which will be open to society, will express the big majority of the people and will determine policy.
Simitis said that in 1981 (the year in which PASOK first came to power) PASOK expressed the necessity for change and deep democratization.
He went on to say that today PASOK expresses the need for a modern and powerful social state and a society of cohesion and solidarity, the need for a substantive reform in all the crucial sectors of the citizen's life such as public administration, education and health and the need for a big renewal in proposals, ideas, speech and work.
Determining the characteristics of the new-era PASOK, Simitis said, among others, it is vital for the party to continue to shape, as is necessary in a socialist party, its ideological and political image for the start to the new century and work for a modern power coalition of all the forces of democratic socialism and the center-left, of modernization and European vocation.
Referring to last month's elections in the country, Simitis said that for the first time a party succeeded in winning three consecutive elections adding that for the first time a ruling party increased its election percentage considerably.
He said that for the first time after the '80s PASOK expanded its influence in broader social strata to such a degree, and won the elections despite the fact the conservative side rallied round the New Democracy party, widening its electoral base, and for the first time the two major political parties totalled 86.5 percent which meant a real bipolar confrontation.
Outlining certain points which gave PASOK the edge, Simitis referred to its reliable speech and program, the economy's stable development and the successful course towards Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), wise policy on such issues such as the war in Kosovo, the effort to achieve détente in relations between Greece and Turkey, social policy in the framework of the economy's capabilities, big and small projects being carried out all over the country, the smooth course and the feeling of stability created.
Simitis said that main opposition New Democracy party (ND) tried "falsely to convince that it is a party of the political center, presenting itself as the protector of the weak in a populist manner as if the political right had never existed in Greece," adding that "people who are nostalgic of the past, monarchists and far-rightists, are endemic in ND".
Summing up his address, Simitis interpreted the result of the election as "a clear message to us to go ahead, a clear message to us to dare" and pointed out that "this is our duty and we will respond to it with a modern, renewed, big, united and pioneering PASOK."
Central Committee Secretary Costas Skandalidis stressed the need for a new big majority wave in Greek society, which will express the wider progressive sector, and with PASOK evolving into the focal agency of the new coalition.
 Athens rejects latest Ankara objections over Aegean's defense
ANKARA, 13/05/2000 (ANA - A. Abatzis)Turkey this week presented Athens with two demarches, with one mentioning "disputed sovereignty" of certain "Aegean geographical formations" and the other taking umbrage with the Greek Deputy Defense Minister's recent comment over an "anti-missile umbrella" along the country's eastern frontier.
In Athens on Friday, Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas rejected however Turkish objections over the two issues outright, stressing that "there is no cause for concern".
In terms of Ankara's criticism of "military activities by Greece on Aegean geographical formations of disputed sovereignty," sources said the Greek side simply pointed to international law and the exercise of the country's legitimate sovereign rights.
Reppas also said that Turkey's demarches noted programs that to a great degree were part of European Union actions, adding that Greece wishes for a spectacular improvement in its relations with Turkey, "based on respect for international law, within the spirit of good neighborliness, a spirit permeating all choices of the Greek government".
Regarding the demarche over the so-called "anti-missile umbrella" - uttered this past week by Greek Deputy Defense Minister Dimitris Apostolakis and referring to air defense systems and protection from Thrace down to the remote southeastern Aegean island of Kastellorizo - the Greek side also summarily rejected criticism, stressing that any such prospect falls under the category of "exercising its sovereign right regarding defense policy."
The two demarches were presented at the Turkish foreign ministry to the Greek diplomat on Wednesday.
In a related development on Friday, the semi-official Anadolu news agency in a dispatch referred to "a (Turkish) demarche related to the militarization of geographical formations in the Aegean and two demarches over violations of air space".
The dispatch adds that "Turkish diplomatic sources stressed that protests must be assessed within the framework of routine developments in Turkish-Greek relations."
On her part, main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputy charged with foreign and defense affairs Dora Bakoyianni said that the Turkish demarche was an unpleasant surprise, adding that the response of the government was not enough.
"We are waiting for a more substantial reaction by the Greek government, which should include a briefing of the European Union, along with a clear warning that Turkey will be faced with critical questions regarding its understanding of the Helsinki decisions," she said, adding that "ND will table the issue at the European Parliament as soon as possible".
 Defense minister says nobody can enter the Aegean without submitting flight plans
Athens 13/05/2000 (ANA)National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said in Parliament on Friday that whoever participates in an exercise in the Aegean and uses Greek airspace will abide by international law "otherwise he will be intercepted", adding that without submitting a flight plan "nobody can enter the Aegean."
Tsohatzopoulos was replying to a question by main opposition New Democracy party Yiannis Varvitsiotis on the NATO exercise code-named Dynamic Mix to be held in the Aegean.
Earlier, Varvitsiotis had invoked a Turkish report according to which Ankara has submitted a NOTAM briefing Greece it will not submit flight plans. Tsohatzopoulos said he had heard of this statement, but he does not know about it and has not yet received it officially.
Tsohatzopoulos said NATO has arrived to decisions stressing that international law will be employed for flights in the Aegean, which means that "entering the Greek FIR, all aircraft are obliged to submit flight plans."
Referring to the same issue, Deputy National Defense Minister Dimitris Apostolakis reiterated that Greece would observe processes it has used in the Aegean in the event flight plans are not submitted during the NATO exercise Dynamic Mix.
Speaking after meeting his Bulgarian counterpart Plamen Georgiev Radonov, Apostolakis reminded that it has been agreed that Turkish aircraft participating in the exercise taking place in Greek airspace will be directed by the Greek regular air force chief, while Turkish aircraft are already submitting flight plans on their movements to Greek airports where they will be making stopovers and flights will be governed by the same terms as those for the corresponding Greek ones.
 Parliament president expresses Greek people's indignation over US State Department's terrorism report
Athens 13/05/2000 (ANA)Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis received US Ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns on Friday and noted the indignation and anger caused to the Greek people by the publication of the US State Department's report on terrorism "because it was linked to talks between the foreign ministers of Greece, Turkey and the US."
Burns congratulated Kaklamanis over his re-election and conveyed an invitation to him to visit the US. Burns also expressed the wish of the US for the development of relations between the two countries' legislative bodies. Kaklamanis offered his thanks for the invitation to visit the US, while the time of his visit will depend on his program.
Referring to the US State Department's recent report on terrorism, Kaklamanis said both the time of its publication, coinciding with the three foreign ministers' meeting on the Cyprus issue and Greek-Turkish relations and, primarily, its content caused the Greek people's indignation and anger because it was linked to talks between the foreign ministers of Greece, Turkey and the US with which it coincided.
"Of course, expedition of the report can be a bureaucratic process for the State Department's services, but its political leadership should have taken the repercussions it would create into consideration, if it did not desire them," Kaklamanis said.
Burns said the report did not concern Greece alone but many countries and the time of its publication merely coincided. He said it could not be otherwise because the US government was obliged to present the report to Congress on the specific day.
Kaklamanis insisted that even if formal reasons necessitated this, the US government should have changed the time of the report's publication if it did not want other conclusions to be drawn.
On the question of its content, Kaklamanis expressed even greater indignation because "if American citizens sustain a terrorist attack around the world a major issue is created for the US, while from the point of view of victims the US is the first country where one feels insecurity from acts of terrorism."
Kaklamanis further wondered "how it could be that for so many years the Greek Police have been cooperating with the US authorities no criticism has been made over joint operational responsibility, while the lack of a satisfactory outcome is highlighted as a political issue, which harms Greece, particularly when it is publicized in spring, in light of the start to the tourist period."
On his part, Burns underlined that the stay of American tourists in Greece is absolutely safe and said that he encourages his compatriots to visit Greece.
 US Congressional report on Greece's election and new government released
WASHINGTON, 13/05/2000 (ANA - T. Ellis)The US Congressional Research Service on Friday released a report analyzing Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis' early call for elections, the climate during the pre-election period, and result of the election and the aims of the Greek government for the Future.
The report stated that Simitis decided to forge ahead with early elections, since he believed that the success of the government in securing the criteria for entry to the European Monetary Union (EMU) would aid PASOK to remain in power.
The report added that this assessment vindicated Simitis, adding, however, that the narrow victory of PASOK strengthened the position of main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis within his party.
Regarding the government, the report said that Simitis re-appointed the basic government team, while he appointed close associates and technocrats to realize the government's agenda on domestic issues.
The report predicted that the government would continue its efforts at Greek-Turkish rapprochement, would contribute to stability in the Balkans and will move even closer to the European Union via the EMU and the European Policy of Security and Defense.
Finally, the report noted that Greek-US relations are warm, but occasionally problematic because of differences regarding the future of Yugoslavia, "anti-American terrorism in Greece" and other issues of lesser importance.
 Kaklamanis and former Ukrainian president discuss parliamentary institutions
Athens 13/05/2000 (ANA)Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis and former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk, currently visiting Greece in the framework of the International Conference on international détente and peace, confirmed on Friday the close relations of friendship and cooperation between the Greek and Ukrainian people, which are strengthened by the creative presence of the Greek element in the Ukraine.
Kaklamanis expressed his interest in the Ukraine's course in building democracy and exchanged views with Kravchuk on issues concerning the functioning of parliamentary institutions.
Kravchuk briefed Kaklamanis on developments over the Ukraine's nuclear disarming, as well as on efforts being made to close the last of the four reactors at the Chernobyl nuclear plant.
 Karamanlis meets with ND section heads in aftermath of deputy's expulsion
Athens 13/05/2000 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis on Friday held separate meetings with several of his party's sector heads, as fallout from this week's expulsion of a high-profile ND deputy appears to have retreated, at least for the moment, from Athens' front-page headlines.
Karamanlis on Tuesday informed the Greek Parliament president that Giorgos Karatzaferis no longer belongs to ND's Parliament group, following the latter's stinging remarks against the party's spokesman, among others, over the past week.
During his Friday contacts, the ND leader received MP and former government spokesman Vyron Polydoras for talks related to public administration issues, while he later met with former ND minister and high-ranking deputy Dora Bakoyianni for talks focusing on foreign affairs. Karamanlis held brief talks with ND Deputy Andreas Andreoulakos on Thursday evening, in an apparent effort to "mend fences" with his main opposition party's right-of-center wing.
During an interview to a private television channel on Monday, Karamanlis said Karatzaferis "surpassed all limits of civilized behavior", adding that statements by the latter to an Athens daily were "opposed to ND's values and constitute reason enough for a party official to be expelled".
Tensions rose within the main opposition 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 expected push toward a more centrist political landscape.
Karatzaferis also indirectly attacked the party's leadership for the April 9 election results, which ND lost by a slight margin to ruling PASOK.
Two former ND leaders also commented on the same issue this week, with Miltiades Evert on Thursday defending Karamanlis' decision to expel Karatzaferis.
In a written statement, Evert said Karatzaferis' statements over time damaged ND.
"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.
Conversely, honorary ND president and former premier Constantine Mitsotakis on Wednesday said ND might not achieve a return to power if it ceases to be "democratically organized".
 Pangalos discusses the Parthenon Marble issue with British political figures
LONDON, 13/05/2000 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)Culture Minister Theodoros Pangalos on Friday met British political figures, journalists and members of the British committee seeking the return of the Parthenon marbles to Greece and discussed the issue in regards to the Greek request for their return.
Pangalos noted that there was a positive climate regarding the issue, adding that "the climate in England, regarding the marbles, has changed to a more positive one and toward the right path.
"On our part, we must be sober so as to command prestige and not to use the issue for demagogy. This is a warning to the politicians and to the representatives of the press," he added.
 Luxembourg Eurodeputy lauds progress in Greek economy
LUXEMBOURG, 13/05/2000 (ANA-G.Zitouniati)Socialist Luxembourg Eurodeputy Robert Goebbels on Friday welcomed progress in the Greek economy towards euro-zone entry, anticipated on January 1, 2001.
Goebbels is the rapporteur of a report on the economy to be submitted to the Europarliament in Strasbourg next week.
"Greece does not need to beg for entry into the euro. It has shown massive progress. It is able to meet the terms of entry, and able to join. This will create no problems," Goebbels told a news conference.
 Greece, Spain ranked at top of long-term unemployed workers
BRUSSELS, 13/05/2000 (ANA - B. Demiris)Half of all Greek workers have been unemployed for at least a month over the past five years, according to a European Commission report released on Friday.
The "job market in the European Union for 1999" report noted that 50 per cent of all workers in Greece and Spain have been unemployed at least once over the past five years, compared to the Union's average of 30 per cent.
Specifically, 49 per cent of those who were jobless for more than a month, remained out of work for over a year, compared to the Union average of 57 per cent,
It was also mentioned that 16 per cent of them remained jobless for less than three months, 18 per cent for three to six months, 16 per cent for seven to 11 months, 16 per cent for one to two years and 33 per cent for more than two years.
The Union's averages for the above groups of people are 13 per cent, 20 per cent, 10 per cent, 23 per cent and 33 per cent.
Greece and Spain also hold the highest rank in numbers of workers who lost their jobs more than three times over the past five years.
The report also noted that "over the past five years 85 million work years have been lost to unemployment", while 90 per cent of those persons were workers with long-term unemployment.
 Harmonized inflation down to 2.1 percent in April
Athens 13/05/2000 (ANA)Greece's harmonized inflation remained close at the 2.0 percent rate for the third consecutive month in April, to 2.1 percent from 2.6 percent in March year-on-year, the National Statistics Service said on Friday.
The harmonized inflation rate fell to 2.0 percent for the first time in February and economy ministry officials expect to continue falling in the next two months.
 No need to change drachma's ERM II parity, Papademos says
Athens 13/05/2000 (ANA)Bank of Greece governor Lucas Papademos said on Friday that he saw no need for a change in the drachma's central parity of 340.75 to the euro before the country's anticipated entry into the euro zone on January 1, 2001.
"I do not expect any change in the central parity ... there is no need for a change," Papademos said in reply to a reporter's question in Brussels, where he was attending anniversary celebrations for a Belgian bank, Reuters news agency reported.
 Greek ship-owners urge for the upgrading of Piraeus port
Athens 13/05/2000 (ANA)Greek ship-owners urged for the creation of preconditions to bring ships back under the Greek flag and to promote the port of Piraeus into a modern shipping center of a European and international range, Greek Ship-owners Union chairman Yiannis Lyras said on Friday.
In his message ahead of the "Posidonia 2000" maritime fair to be held in Piraeus during the first week of June, Lyras said "the Greek shipowner believes that there is still time to correct past mistakes and that all parties will acknowledge that it is the national interest which imposes the productivity relation between the shipping sector and the country as it struggles to achieve economic growth and combat unemployment".
"The return of vessels under the Greek flag and promoting the port of Piraeus into a modern international shipping center will contribute to economic progress," Lyras said.
He noted that the Greek shipping industry has entered its third millennium with the aim to maintain its leadership in world shipping.
"That's why it needs national support, not only for the benefit of the sector but for the benefit of the country as well," he said.
Greece has to efficiently evaluate and manage this valuable asset which offers the country a comparative advantage in a world of globalization, Lyras said.
 Unions claim 3.5% pay rise, threaten strike
Athens 13/05/2000 (ANA)The General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) said on Friday that it would keep its demand for a minimum 3.5 percent pay rise this year in talks with employers to negotiate a settlement.
GSEE, which represents nearly a million workers in the private and public sectors, also said it would call a 24-hour nationwide strike in May if the demand was not met.
Pay talks with the Federation of Greek Industry are to resume on Monday.
 Turkish, Scandinavian officials meet on cooperation with Greece
ISTANBUL, 13/05/2000 (ANA-A.Kourkoulas)Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem and former Finnish president Marti Ahtisaari met on Friday to discuss the prospects for cooperation with Greece.
"Greece and Turkey can make a major contribution to stability in the Balkans," Ahtisaari said in a speech.
"The southeast European region, where Greece and Turkey are located, is an emerging market of interest to Scandinavian businesses," he said.
 Greek stocks continue moving higher
Athens 13/05/2000 (ANA)Equity prices ended the last trading session of the week on Friday with new substantial gains, as strong buying interest for smaller and medium capitalization stocks extended a rally in prices for the third consecutive session.
Dealers noted, however, that blue chip stocks lagged behind the wider market's advance scoring small gains only.
Turnover exceeded 200 billion drachmas for the first time in the last 21 sessions, a sign of the market's dynamic recovery.
The general index ended at 4,581.65 points, up 1.19 percent, but off the day's highs of 4,613.05 points. Turnover was 221 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.31 percent higher at 2,511.18 points and the FTSE/ASE 40 index jumped 4.27 percent to 669.50 points.
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended at 901.82 points, up 4.40 percent.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 318 to 25 with another four issues unchanged.
Panafon, Hellenic Telecoms, Lambrakis Press, Halter and Everest were the most heavily traded stocks.
Derivatives prices end week sharply up: Derivatives prices ended the week with sharp gains on the Athens Derivatives Exchange following a spectacular rebound in the two benchmark indices, FTSE/ASE 20 and FTSE/ASE 40.
Turnover was a moderate 8.6 billion drachmas and volume 2,673 contracts.
A total of 800 futures contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 index, worth 3.9 billion drachmas. The May expiring contract ended at 2,520 points, the June at 2,529.75 and the July contract at 2,518 points.
A total of 1,873 futures contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 40 index, with a turnover of 4.7 billion drachmas. The May expiring contract ended at 658.75 points, the June at 657 and the July contract at 651.25 points.
Bonds end mixed in light trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market finished mixed in light trade on Friday.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.271 percent and the equivalent German bund 5.380 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 56 billion drachmas from 82 billion drachmas a day earlier.
Of Friday's total, sell orders accounted for 32 billion drachmas of turnover.
Drachma noses down Vs drachma, dollar: The drachma on Friday edged down in quiet trade 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 336.430 drachmas from 336.330 drachmas on Thursday.
Also at the fixing, the US dollar was set at 371.920 drachmas from 369.910 drachmas in the previous session.
 Arthur Andersen to hold annual European conference in Athens
Athens 13/05/2000 (ANA)The annual European conference of the auditor company Arthur Andersen begins in Athens on Monday on the theme "The Fiscal Sector in the European Union".
Taking part in the conference will be more than 20 partners of Arthur Andersen from all the European countries.
Issues to be discussed will include economic developments in Europe in light of the entry of the single currency and electronic commerce.
 Ecumenical Patriarch to address world Orthodox Christians during Mt. Athos visit
Athens 13/05/2000 (ANA)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, spiritual leader of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians, will address a message to the Orthodox faithful during his seven-day visit to the Mt. Athos monastic community in July.
The Ecumenical Patriarch will trek up to the highest peak of Athos -- a more than six-hour journey by foot -- and officiate at a liturgy at the small Church of the Metamorphosis.
Vartholomeos is due to arrive on July 15 at the Karyes Monastery, where he will be staying throughout his visit to attend religious celebrations marking the 1,000th anniversary of the death of Gregory of Athos and the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Christ.
During his stay, the Ecumenical Patriarch will visit many of the all-male monastic community's monasteries and bless restoration projects being carried out on Aghios Oros, or the Holy Mountain, as Mt. Athos is called.
On Sunday, June 15, the day after his arrival, a special liturgy will be held at the Protatos Church at Karyes monastery, during which famed relics -- including the Gifts of the Magi from the Aghios Pavlos Monastery -- will be on display.
Sources close to the monastic community said that several dignitaries would be invited to attend the liturgy, including President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos and representatives of the government and the political world.
 Vartholomeos co-signs declaration for religious tolerance
ISTANBUL, 13/05/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, Turkish Culture Minister Istemihan Talay and other leaders of religious communities in Turkey signed a declaration on Friday, calling for all religious communities in that country to cooperate for peace and tolerance.
Leaders of the Orthodox, Catholic, Armenian, Jewish and Muslim communities signed the declaration during the "Religions in the Era of Faith and Tolerance" conference, in a southeastern Turkish town, which was part of the celebrations of the new millenium.
Addressing the conference, Vartholomeos said "every man who wants happiness just for himself and not for others, opposes divine harmony". He expressed the hope that "all our expectations may came to pass".
On his part, Turkish Religious Affairs Director Mehmet Nuri Yilmaz said that "as long as there is no peace between religions, international peace will remain just a vision".
The celebrations also include an international music event that will include performers from Cappadocia, Izmir, Istanbul and France.
 Catholic Hierarchy opposes listing of one's religion in police identity cards
Athens 13/05/2000 (ANA)The Holy Synod of the Catholic Hierarchy of Greece in an announcement on Friday said it followed with concern the recent discussions referring to the listing or not of one's religion in the new police identity cards which are due to be issued.
The Catholic Hierarchy "views as unconstitutional the mention of religion, as also did constitution experts, because a person's religion is not data of the police identity card, but only the free conscience of human personality. It opposes the existence in the new police identity cards of the indication 'religion' among the data, which will characterize the specific citizen. A citizen's religion does not concern the State and particularly the police, but the religion to which the citizen freely belongs to."
 Hillary Clinton to present awards to retired Archbishop Iakovos and A. Vardinoyianni
NEW YORK, 13/05/2000 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)US first lady Hillary R. Clinton was invited to attend a dinner hosted by the Hellenic American National
Outreach Committee, the Hellenic National Council and the Cretans Brotherhood Fund, on Monday.
Hillary Clinton was invited to present awards to retired Archbishop of North and South America Iakovos for his "exemplary and inspirational leadership" and Agapi Vardinoyianni for her work, "personifying the Great Women of 2000".
The event will take place on the occasion of the 8th "Hermes Expo International" in New York's Jacob Javits Center and all proceeds will be donated to the Sloan Kettering Memorial Center for breast cancer research.
 President inaugurates industrial history museum on Syros island
Athens 13/05/2000 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Friday inaugurated the Industrial Civilization Center on the central Aegean island of Syros and was given a tour of the facility by Alternate Foreign Minister Elisabeth Papazoi and local leaders.
Stephanopoulos noted that he should not be asked to relay his impression of the museum, rather they should ask this question of those who created it.
He also noted the importance of Syros in Greece's history of industrial development.
 Former ambassador to head Onassis Foundation USA affiliate
Athens 13/05/2000 (ANA)Greece's former permanent representative to the European Union and a past Greek ambassador to the US, Ambassador Lucas Tsilas, has been appointed executive director of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation USA Inc., it was announced Friday. Mr. Tsilas shall be in charge of all the US affiliate's activities -- educational, cultural, etc., the board of directors of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation said in Athens.
 Greek-German Chamber director honored by Rau
Athens 13/05/2000 (ANA)Goetz Funk, director of the Athens-based Greek German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has been awarded Germany's Cross of the Legion of Honor by German president Johannes Rau.
Mr. Funk was decorated Friday by German ambassador in Athens Karl-Heinz Kuhna at a ceremony at the ambassadorial residence.
The medal was awarded to Mr. Funk in recognition of his accomplishments in the strengthening of Greek-German relations and for his long-term efforts to expand and deepen bilateral economic relations.
A German embassy announcement released Friday in Athens said that Mr. Funk, with his excellent knowledge of Greece, personal relations and his initiatives, was instrumental in the establishment of the Greek-German Alliance for Career Orientation by Greek and German business concerns.
 Patrol exchanges gunfire with suspected Albanian smugglers off Corfu
Athens 13/05/2000 (ANA)The Greek coast guard reported a shoot-out early Friday morning off the northeast coast of Corfu, a major Ionian island lying across from southwestern tip of Albania.
According to reports, a three-man unit patrolling off the isle's coast exchanged machine gunfire with at least two suspects in a speedboat, and after the coast guard officers attempted to stop and board the vessel. One of the two suspects was also spotted as running from the shoreline at the Agia Aikaterini site on the island.
No injuries were reported, while the suspects' speedboat managed to flee towards Albania's territorial waters. Afterwards, some 8.5 kilos of hashish were discovered hidden near the beach where the suspect was spotted.
Both gunmen are believed to be Albanian drug smugglers.
 Italian initiative:
ROME, 13/05/2000 (ANA - L. Hatzikyriakos)Meanwhile, on the western side of the Ionian, Italian officials are apparently lending particular importance to a conference in Ancona this month focusing on the issue of the Ionian and Adriatic seas' development and security.
In presenting the conference's agenda, Italian interior undersecretary Umberto Ranieri said contacts at the event are expected to give politicians and experts of Balkan affairs a chance to discuss issues of stability and security for the tension-riddled region.
According to reports, new Italian Premier Juliano Amato, foreign ministers from Greece, Slovenia, Bosnia, Croatia, Albania, EU Commission President Romano Prodi along with the Union's representative for foreign affairs Javier Solana, special SE Europe Stability Pact coordinator Bodo Hombach and several representatives from NGOs active in the area will participate.
"This initiative's goal is the combating of drug and weapons smuggling, the illegal transport of migrants and crime, all of which multiplied over the past years due to the crisis in the Balkans. This conference will close with a text ratifying the principle of cooperation in the region," Ranieri said in Rome.
 Neither venue nor time of third round of Cyprus proximity talks decided yet
NICOSIA, 13/05/2000 (CNA/ANA)Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said here on Friday that neither the venue nor the time of the third round of UN-led talks has been decided as both are subject to the program of meetings of the UN Secretary General.
The spokesman also said the government wishes to make the most of the time between now and the presidential elections in the US and reiterated its readiness to enter into substantive negotiations leading to a solution.
"The UN have completed their consultations with the two sides and in a few days they will announce their decision about the venue and the time of the talks," he said at the press briefing.
The third round of talks was originally scheduled for May 23 but the UN announced Thursday it will be postponed because of President Glafcos Clerides' state of health after an operation.
He said on Thursday UN Secretary General's Special Advisor for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto communicated with President Glafcos Clerides to wish him speedy recovery. The president is in a private clinic recovering from surgery to remove a polyp from his large intestine.
"The venue is immaterial, what matters is that to continue the effort and enter substantive negotiations and create such conditions that would secure a settlement," Papapetrou said.
Asked to comment on statements by the Turkish side that it intends to table "constructive proposals" at the next round of talks, he said the talks will have no prospects if the Turkish side comes forward with proposals on confederation, which is contrary to UN resolutions providing for a bizonal, bicommunal federation.
"We are ready to engage into substantive negotiations on all chapters and all aspects of the Cyprus question. It is up to the Turkish side to respond with in the same manner," he added.
Commenting on US moves to press on with the Cyprus peace effort, the spokesman said Washington has not set any deadline and added "the most important period is the time between now and the end of the term in office of the US President" as the election of a new president and the changes that entails would take some time.
 FM Kasoulides to meet British counterpart in London
NICOSIA, 13/05/2000 (CNA/ANA)Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides leaves Sunday for London where on Tuesday he is scheduled to have a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook.
Kasoulides is also due to have talks with Britain's envoy for Cyprus Sir David Hannay, who has recently visited Athens for talks with the Greek government.
It is expected that developments in the Cyprus question will dominate the discussions but Cyprus' accession course will also be on the agenda of the meeting. The meeting was arranged some time ago, in view of the resumption of the UN-led talks originally set for 23 May and now postponed for late June, to allow President Glafcos Clerides time to recover fully from surgery.
While in London, Kasoulides will visit former Cyprus president George Vasiliou, who had a benign brain tumour removed earlier this week at a London hospital. Kasoulides is due back on Wednesday.
 Millions of viewers worldwide will watch Miss Universe 2000 in Nicosia
NICOSIA, 13/05/2000 (CNA/ANA)Millions of viewers worldwide at dawn on Saturday (Cyprus time) will be watching the crowning of the new Miss Universe 2000 at the Eleftheria indoor stadium in Nicosia to be selected among 79 contestants from across the world.
The pageant, an unprecedented international event on the island, will be aired live on America's number one television network CBS to 1.5 billion people in the US and Latin America and is pre-sold to about 24 other countries including Japan.
The set of the final telecast, a reproduction of the ancient Curium amphitheater made in Greece will give Cyprus two hours worth of advertising worldwide estimated, according to international rates at 90 million US dollars.
A panel of seven celebrity judges flew in from the US especially for the event, including American Vogue editor-at-large Andre Leon Tally, famous author and positive thinker Antony Robbins, US actress/producer/choreographer Debbie Allen, supermodel Kim Alexis, MTV presenter Serena Altschul, Ghilean actor Christian de la Fuente and US actress Catherine Bell.
Famous American comic actor Sinbad will host the event, which will be enhanced with performances by Elvis Crespo, saxophonist David Koz and Cypriot international star Anna Vissi. Official sponsor Maurice Lacroix unveiled the Miros Integral diamond/steel watch worth 4,500 dollars, which will be offered to the winner at a special reception at the Forum Hotel in Nicosia.
 IMF team on visit to Cyprus
NICOSIA, 123/05/2000 (CNA/ANA)A team from the International Monetary Fund is in Cyprus to review economic developments and study the economic prospects.
The visit, to be completed by Tuesday 23 May, is part of the routine consultations IMF officials have with member-states.
The team is scheduled to have talks with Finance Minister Takis
Klerides, the Governor of the Central Bank Afxentis Afxentiou and on a daily basis IMF officers will consult with senior government officials.