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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-05-17

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Gov't: No decision yet over new IDs, religious affiliation furor continues
  • [02] Stephanopoulos concludes official visit to Israel, meets Arafat on Wednesday
  • [03] Europarliament approves favorable report for Greece's accession to EMU
  • [04] Tsohatzopoulos says EU Council will decide on transfer of WEU responsibilities
  • [05] FYROM's top military officer to visit Athens
  • [06] Prime Minister fully briefed on health care issues
  • [07] Hillary Clinton praises Iakovos
  • [08] Turkish MP tables question on Aegean islands
  • [09] Simitis-Skandalidis meeting
  • [10] WCHA leadership meets State Department official over health centers in former USSR
  • [11] Economy ministry promotes self-funded national project systems
  • [12] Private capital necessary for OA to survive, minister says
  • [13] Building activity falls 0.9 percent in February yr./yr.
  • [14] Cosmote, Telenor buy Albanian mobile phone operator
  • [15] Poland to hold exports exhibition, conference in Athens
  • [16] Rally of prices continues for fifth consecutive session
  • [17] Greeks work more hours than the average European, study says
  • [18] Pensioners demand minimum pension of 200,000 drachmas
  • [19] Greek and Turkish journalism conference on Rhodes
  • [20] Iran's parliament ratifies bilateral pact to combat drug smuggling
  • [21] EKEBI organizes conference on the changes that new technology will bring to the book sector
  • [22] "Aegean: Images of Greece" photo exhibition in Boston
  • [23] Number of road accidents declines for first time last year
  • [24] Heart operations in Greece deemed very successful
  • [25] Cyprus problem closer to a resolution, says Britain's FM
  • [26] Turkish Cypriot newspaper calls for international support
  • [27] Greece, Cyprus hold joint military exercise

  • [01] Gov't: No decision yet over new IDs, religious affiliation furor continues

    Athens, 17/05/2000 (ANA)

    The Greek government clarified on Tuesday that it hasnt received any decision by an influential independent authority regarding the divisive issue of excluding citizens religious affiliation from new ID cards.

    While the expected elimination of information related to Greek citizens profession, spouses name and fingerprints from new IDs barely raised eyebrows over the past few weeks, the proposal to also exclude religious affiliation has profusely irked the powerful Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greeces leadership and several affiliated conservative religious groups.

    A government spokesman on Monday, in fact, rejected a proposal by outspoken Greek Church Prelate Christodoulos for a nationwide referendum on the issue, while on Tuesday spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the government will study the decision when it is conveyed to the government by the independent authority for the protection of personal data.

    He added that the authority was legally established in 1997 and operates based on the countrys laws, but does not legislate, while any decision it makes based on law is binding on all.

    Finally, Reppas said a meeting between Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Christodoulos has not been scheduled.

    All of the issues that arose with regard to the ID cards issue will be discussed through an expanded dialogue, while relevant circulars and regulatory decisions will then be issued.

    In a related development on Tuesday, Christodoulos met with former ruling PASOK minister and constitutional law expert Evangelos Venizelos, as talks expectedly included the ID cards issue.

    Afterwards, Venizelos - a deputy from the Thessaloniki area - simply noted that the Archbishop desires dialogue over the matter, whereas he reiterated the Church's standing demand that citizens retain the option of listing their religious affiliation on IDs.

    The Greek Church's hierarchy has recently become more vocal in demanding that the country's Orthodox faithful, approximately 97 percent of the populace, retain the option of listing their religious denomination on the new ID cards - expected to replace the out-dated and hand-written cards issued at police stations for decades.

    "The government is not dealing with such an issue (referendum)," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas replied on Monday, adding that "everyone has a right to freely express their opinions".

    [02] Stephanopoulos concludes official visit to Israel, meets Arafat on Wednesday

    JERUSALEM, 17/05/2000 (ANA - N. Megadoukas)

    President Kostis Stephanopoulos concluded his official visit to Israel on Tuesday and will arrive in Bethlehem on Wednesday for talks with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

    President Stephanopoulos attended a luncheon given in his honor at noon by Israel's Foreign Policy Institute and said "Greece and Israel belong to a unified, in its wider form, geopolitical and geostrategic area since southeastern Europe and the Middle East are showing common security problems, are experiencing similar strategic threats and are showing quite a few common economic and social infrastructure problems."

    He stressed the need for strengthening cooperation between the two countries and expressed the hope that his visit to Israel will contribute decisively to the further development, improvement and enrichment of Tel Aviv's relations with Athens.

    Jerusalems Hebrew University awarded President Stephanopoulos an honorary doctorate in the afternoon.

    In a brief address, President Stephanopoulos stressed the need for cultural cooperation between Greece and Israel, which can focus in principle on cooperation between universities of the two countries.

    In the evening, President Stephanopoulos gave a reciprocal reception in honor of Israeli President Ezer Weizman. Earlier, both presidents attended a music concert with works by Greek composers, which was presented by the orchestra of the Greek Radio Service's Third Program.

    Earlier on Tuesday, the Greek president visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and later laid a wreath at the grave of former Israeli premier Yitzhak Rabin.

    Controversy over meeting with Palestinians: Meanwhile, controversy flared up after the Greek side's refusal to meet with a Palestinian representative in East Jerusalem.

    The Palestinian authority reportedly lodged a strongly worded protest with Athens.

    According to Alternate Foreign Minister Elisavet Papazoi, who is accompanying the president on his visit, Stephanopoulos' itinerary had been decided last week, at which time Athens had ruled out a meeting with Faissal Husseini, in spite of Palestinians' insistence.

    "We were bothered by the strong tone of the protest, which does not reflect the level of our relations," Papazoi said.

    She went on to say that Greece does not wish to become embroiled in discussions on sensitive issues, such as the status of Jerusalem, where Greece complies with a European Union decision that refers to a "special status" for the city. She further clarified that there is no change in the Greek stance toward the Palestinians and that Stephanopoulos would make this clear on Wednesday in his talks with Arafat.

    Commenting on the protest, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas in Athens said the government would respond within the next few days.

    He indicated that Athens' answer would emphasize the friendly stance toward the Palestinian people and the high level of bilateral relations it maintains and wishes to preserve.

    The spokesman added that the President of the Republic visited the Israeli State and that his schedule was set in collaboration with authorities of that country.

    Jerusalem meetings: Earlier on Tuesday, Papazoi met with the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister N. Massalha in Jerusalem, with whom she discussed Greek and Israeli bilateral relations, the Middle East problem, relations between Greece and Turkey and the Cyprus problem.

    Massalha repeated that his country wished to further develop relations with Greece in areas such as industry, commerce and the economy.

    Papazoi said that Athens considers Israel an important partner in this region of the Mediterranean and SE Europe, especially in the Balkans, where there could be Greek-Israeli economic cooperation.

    The minister also raised the issue of the status of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and of Greek property within the context of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations over the West Bank.

    She also stressed the need for cooperation between the Greek and Jewish Diaspora (especially in the US) and informed the Israeli deputy minister of Greece's decision to support Turkey's European orientation. There is, she said, a climate of calm dialogue between Athens and Ankara, without having broached major issues between the two countries.

    She noted that hasty moves had to be avoided in Greek and Turkish relations. "We need to find where we agree - and not disturb this climate," she said, adding that Athens' first priority was the Cyprus problem and not Aegean issues.

    The minister, answering questions on last night's meeting between the President and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, said that Israel expressed interest in supplying Greece with an electronic counter-measures system for the Hellenic Air Force's fleet of F-16s. Also, Barak referred to the question of the 2004 Olympics projects.

    The Israelis also agreed to a proposal to promote an educational agreement between Israel, Jordan, Greece and the Palestinian authorities, and to continuing talks between Israel and the Palestinians, hosted in Athens, on issues relating to a "society of citizens".

    [03] Europarliament approves favorable report for Greece's accession to EMU

    STRASBOURG, 17/05/2000 (ANA)

    The European Parliament's Economic Committee on Monday night ratified a report by Luxembourg's socialist Eurodeputy Robert Goebbels in support of Greece's accession to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

    oebbels' report will be debated at a European Parliament plenary session on Wednesday and is expected to be ratified on Thursday.

    Goebbels said that Greece has achieved impressive economic progress since 1996, according to the assessments of all the international economic organizations, and its economy is now moving in an absolutely positive direction.

    He also said the Greek economy's convergence with the economies of the other 11 EMU countries is real and expressed the view that it will be permanent and continuous.

    The head of the PASOK party's Eurodeputies Giorgos Katiforis said Goebbels' report was complete, objective and generous.

    [04] Tsohatzopoulos says EU Council will decide on transfer of WEU responsibilities

    Athens, 17/05/2000 (ANA)

    National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said the transfer of the responsibilities, infrastructures and potential of the Western European Union's (WEU) will be decided by the European Union's Council, as agreed on Tuesday at the session of WEU defense ministers at Oporto, Portugal.

    Tsohatzopoulos said the WEU would maintain its present form for a period of time and have the responsibility of promoting both the work of the parliamentary sector and armaments "until the suitable settlements are found which will secure common contribution at this level as well."

    Commenting on Turkey's desire to join European defense and security, Tsohatzopoulos said this process will be long term and so is the process of its accession to the European Union.

    Tsohatzopoulos reminded that the real members of the EU are those which decide on the content and way of implementing the EU's security and defense policy.

    Earlier, addressing the WEU's defense ministers' session, Tsohatzopoulos said the high level of cooperation between the WEU and NATO paves the way for securing the broadest participation of all European allies in the processes of the European security and defense identity, respecting the spirit of collectiveness and the indivisibility of security.

    Tsohatzopoulos also expressed the hope that a satisfactory formula will be found for the rationalization of European armaments and the convergence of the European defense industry to save necessary funds for the common European security and defense policy.

    [05] FYROM's top military officer to visit Athens

    Athens, 17/05/2000 (ANA)

    The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) General Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Jovan Andrevski is expected to arrive in Athens on Thursday for a three-day official visit, at the invitation of his Greek counterpart Gen. Manoussos Paragioudakis.

    The two men are expected to discuss bilateral military issues, including the program of military cooperation between the two counties.

    During his stay Andrevski has been scheduled to visit the Greek munitions factory (PYRKAL), the special forces training center, the War Museum of Athens and the archaeological site of Delphi.

    [06] Prime Minister fully briefed on health care issues

    Athens, 17/05/2000 (ANA)

    During a meeting Monday afternoon with Health Minister Alekos Papadopoulos, Prime Minister Costas Simitis was fully briefed on all issues relating to the national health system and the minister's immediate plans for improving this.

    Leaving the meeting, Papadopoulos made a brief statement in which he said that there were problems in health care and that structural changes were being contemplated for certain sections of the health system. Asked if the changes amounted to reform, however, he responded by saying that "reforms take time".

    [07] Hillary Clinton praises Iakovos

    NEW YORK, 17/05/2000 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)

    Hilary Clinton, wife of US President Bill Clinton and a candidate for the Senate form New York, praised former Archbishop of North and South America Iakovos at an event organized on Monday night by the Hellenic American National Council's Coordinating Committee of Social and Cultural Events and the Cretans' Charity Foundation. The event took place in the framework of the Hermes Expo Inc. exhibition.

    The First Lady said Iakovos' "struggles against every form of prejudice and in favor of peace and human dignity everywhere, in South Africa, the Middle East, Bosnia, Haiti, Greece and America produced rich fruit and continue to constitute a source of inspiration and a lighthouse showing us all the way to move forward together."

    Hilary Clinton also let it be understood that she counts on support for her political pursuits by her friends in the Greek American community.

    [08] Turkish MP tables question on Aegean islands

    ISTANBUL, 17/05/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    Nationalist Action Party MP Mucahit Himoglu tabled a question in the Turkish Parliament on Tuesday, directed at Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem, regarding an article run by the Greek newspaper "Ethnos". The article in question claimed that the Greek government has plans to sell Aegean islands whose sovereignty is contested by Ankara and was reproduced by the entire nationalist Turkish press.

    [09] Simitis-Skandalidis meeting

    Athens, 17/05/2000 (ANA)

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis met with ruling PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis on Tuesday during a one-hour meeting.

    Afterwards, Skandalidis told reporters that the topic of discussion centered on implementation of decisions taken at the party's recent central committee session.

    [10] WCHA leadership meets State Department official over health centers in former USSR

    WASHINGTON, 17/05/2000(ANA - T. Ellis)

    Leaders of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (WCHA) on Tuesday met with US State Department special adviser on former Soviet Republics' affairs Bill Taylor at the Capitol building.

    Taylor and SAE leaders discussed the progress of construction and operation of health centers in Georgia, the Ukraine and other countries were ethnic Greeks reside.

    Over time, the State Department has contributed one million dollars toward this effort.

    WCHA President Andrew Athens and other leaders of the organization honored Taylor and the Congressional Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Ben Gilman for their contribution in securing the funding. Greek-American Senator Paul Sarbanes was present during the visit.

    WCHA-sponsored health centers treated "44,000 patients over the past year", Athens said, stressing that a similar project was scheduled to begin in Albania over the next quarter.

    [11] Economy ministry promotes self-funded national project systems

    Athens, 17/05/2000 (ANA)

    Greece's economy ministry is rapidly promoting self-financing project systems in national, regional and municipal levels, aiming to attract private capital necessary to fund infrastructure projects in the country.

    Economy Undersecretary Christos Pahtas said on Tuesday that the ministry has already formed a special task force to process and coordinate policies and actions promoting private funding of public projects.

    Pahtas said the ministry was in the process of drafting a feasibility report on projects aimed for private funding.

    He said the implementation of the new modern system would ensure alternative sources of funding.

    "This program will free up public funds to be earmarked for projects in other sectors, such as education and health," Pahtas said.

    [12] Private capital necessary for OA to survive, minister says

    Athens, 17/05/2000 (ANA)

    If private capital was not found for Olympic Airways (OA), the national carrier would not be able to survive, transport and communications minister Christos Verelis warned on Tuesday, after a meeting with national economy and finance minister Yannos Papantoniou.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Papantoniou recalled that under an existing contract with British Airways, the British carrier would in a few weeks' time submit an offer for the acquisition of a 20 percent stake in OA.

    If the offer was deemed adequate, the deal would go ahead, Papantoniou said. If the offer was deemed inadequate, then an international tender would be called for the sale of the 20 percent stake in Olympic Airways, the finance minister added.

    British Airways subsidiary Speedwing was in late June 1999 awarded a concession to manage the ailing national carrier for 30 months in order to shape up its finances and operations. Rod Lynch was appointed as the OA managing director.

    The contract, which expires on December 31, 2001, also gave British Airways the option of bidding for up to a 20 percent stake in the Greek national carrier.

    [13] Building activity falls 0.9 percent in February yr./yr.

    Athens, 17/05/2000 (ANA)

    Building activity fell 0.9 percent in volume terms, bases on registered building permits, in February from the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said on Tuesday.

    Building volume fell 25.5 percent in the Attica region but it increased 13 percent in the rest of the country.

    The NSS said that building volume fell 9.8 percent in the first two months of 2000 compared with the same period last year, reflecting a 24.4 percent drop in Attica and a 1.8 percent fall in the rest of the country.

    [14] Cosmote, Telenor buy Albanian mobile phone operator

    Athens, 17/05/2000 (ANA)

    Cosmote, a subsidiary of Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, and Telenor, a Norwegian telecoms operator, have acquired Albania's single mobile phone company after winning an international privatization tender, the Greek firm said in a statement on Tuesday.

    Cellular phone operator Cosmote and Telenor bid 85 million US dollars for an 85 percent stake in Albanian Mobile Communication (AMC), the statement said.

    The winning consortium outbid Turk Cell and Vodafone-Panfon.

    In 1999, AMC had 12,000 subscribers, turnover equivalent to 8.0 billion drachmas and profits equivalent to 1.2 billion drachmas.

    The acquisition forms part of Cosmote's strategic policy of expansion in the Balkans, where is already has a presence in Romania and Serbia, the statement said.

    Negotiations are also underway for a deal in Bulgaria, it added.

    [15] Poland to hold exports exhibition, conference in Athens

    Athens, 17/05/2000 (ANA)

    Poland is to hold an exports exhibition and business conference in Athens on May 22-26 in order to help boost bilateral business ties with Greece, the Polish ambassador in Athens announced on Tuesday.

    It is the second such event to be held in the Greek capital, organized by the embassy with the Greek-Polish Friendship and Cooperation Association.

    The week of events, which will be held at the Ledra Marriot Hotel and Athens Chamber of Light Industry, also includes a Polish fashion show.

    [16] Rally of prices continues for fifth consecutive session

    Athens, 17/05/2000 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended higher on the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, extending their rally for the fifth consecutive session and pushing the general index above the 4,700 level for the first time in 20 sessions.

    Dealers said buying interest was once again focused on blue chip stocks in the banks sector.

    The general index ended at 4,709.82 points, up 0.49 percent, but off the day's highs of 4,757.96 points. Turnover was a moderate 207 billion drachmas. The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended at 2,608.39 points, up 1.01 percent, while the FTSE/ASE 40 index fell 0.94 percent to 679.42 points.

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended at 917.47 points, up 0.53 percent.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 215 to 125 with another eight issues unchanged.

    Athens Water, Hellenic Telecoms, Alpha Credit Bank and ETBAbank were the most heavily traded stocks.

    Derivatives prices end mixed on ADEX: Derivatives prices ended mixed on the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday reflecting a mixed appearance in the two benchmark indices, FTSE/ASE 20 and FTSE/ASE 40.

    Turnover was an improved 14.4 billion drachmas in volume of 4,016 contracts.

    A total of 1,641 futures contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 index, with a turnover of 8.2 billion drachmas. The May expiring contract ended at 2,570 points, the June at 2,562, the July at 2,573 and the September contract at 2,570 points.

    A total of 2,375 futures contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 40 index, worth 6.2 billion drachmas. The May expiring contract ended at 664 points, the June at 649 and the July contract at 649.25 points.

    Bond market flaccid ahead of US rates decision: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market were flat in scant trade awaiting, along with other markets in Europe, a decision expected later in the day on US interest rates.

    The lackluster session followed a complete absence of electronic trade in the previous session.

    The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.25 percent from 6.271 percent on Friday, the last day the market moved.

    The yield on the equivalent German bund was 5.3 percent from 5.380 percent on Friday.

    The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 86-88 basis points from 88 basis points on Thursday and Friday.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 4.0 billion drachmas from zero on Monday and 56 billion drachmas on Friday.

    Greek state securities' yields rise slightly: Medium-term yields rose slightly on Tuesday during a regular weekly auction of state securities by the Public Debt Management Organization.

    The average weighed yield of a 12-month state bill issue, worth 40 billion drachmas, rose to 6.39 percent from 6.35 percent in the previous auction of same securities in April 11.

    Bids submitted totalled 131.8 billion drachmas, more than three times the asked sum, while the organization finally accepted bids totalling 48 billion drachmas.

    The average weighed prices of the bill was set at 93.991 points.

    Drachma drops vs. euro, dollar: The drachma on Tuesday fell 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 336.520 drachmas from 336.460 drachmas on Monday and 336.430 drachmas on Friday.

    Also at the fixing, the US dollar was set at 370.700 drachmas from 367.290 drachmas on Monday and 371.920 drachmas on Friday.

    [17] Greeks work more hours than the average European, study says

    BRUSSELS, 17/05/2000 (ANA)

    Greek employees work 40.8 hours per week on average, compared to a European Union average of 40.4 hours per week, a European Commission study shows.

    The study based on 1997 data and released on Tuesday noted that only Britons worked more hours than the Greeks, reaching an average of 43.6 hours per week.

    According to the study, only 55.6 per cent of Greeks between the ages of 15 and 64 were gainfully employed, compared to the European Union average of 62.1 per cent.

    Of the 10.28 million Greeks, 6.93 million people were between the ages of 15 and 64.

    The study showed that 94 percent of those people gainfully employed in Greece held full-time jobs, while the remaining 6 per cent worked part-time.

    [18] Pensioners demand minimum pension of 200,000 drachmas

    Athens, 17/05/2000 (ANA)

    Pensioners' trade unionists told a press conference on Tuesday that they would press for a minimum pension of 200,000 drachmas and left open the possibility of mobilizations in the event the government does not respond to their demands soon.

    Pensioners expressed strong disbelief over whether the election promise of a minimum pension exceeding 150,000 drachmas will be honored when application of the measure is discussed.

    They also reported that the investment of funds in the Stock Exchange last year has resulted in the loss of hundreds of billions of drachmas from reserves.

    [19] Greek and Turkish journalism conference on Rhodes

    Athens, 17/05/2000 (ANA)

    A Greek-Turkish Journalism Conference will be held on the island of Rhodes on 26-28 May at the Rodos Palace Hotel Conference Center. The aim of the conference is to explore the ways in which the mass media can help improve relations between the Greek and Turkish peoples, focusing on its role in relation to local authorities, business and professional communities, tourism and the environment.

    For each of the four themes, the conference will be addressed by a Greek and Turkish journalist and by a representative of the sector under discussion from Greece and Turkey respectively.

    [20] Iran's parliament ratifies bilateral pact to combat drug smuggling

    TEHRAN, 17/05/2000 (ANA/AFP)

    Iran's parliament on Tuesday ratified a pact with Greece focusing on security issues and cooperation against drug smuggling, the first such agreement the large Mideast country has implemented with an European Union member-state.

    According to a local radio station in the Iranian capital, the pact was ratified by the parliament's conservative majority despite objections of many reformist deputies.

    An AFP dispatch from Tehran adds that the agreement foresees an "intensification of cooperation between the two countries". Other provisions reportedly include an officer exchange program between relevant police agencies and joint anti-drug initiatives.

    However, a spokesman for the minority bloc of reformist MPs, identified as Mazid Ansari, said the pact "offers nothing".

    "For us what counts is for Europeans to assist us financially to combat drug smuggling originating from Afghanistan," Ansari, who voted against the agreement, added.

    [21] EKEBI organizes conference on the changes that new technology will bring to the book sector

    Athens, 17/05/2000 (ANA)

    An international conference on books and new technologies, the first of its kind to be held in Greece, will take place this weekend (19-21 May) at the Culture ministry lecture theatre. The conference is organized by the National Book Center (EKEBI) and will deal with all issues and changes arising in the production, distribution and nature of books through the use of new technologies, ranging from e-commerce to the electronic "mega-books" due to come onto the market in Europe this June.

    "Our aim is to help the book sector become aware of the scope of these changes, their dangers but also the opportunities created by the new technology," said EKEBI director Christos Lazos on Monday about the goals of the conference.

    [22] "Aegean: Images of Greece" photo exhibition in Boston

    Athens, 17/05/2000 (ANA)

    A photographic exhibition titled "Aegean: Images of Greece", is running at the Boston Public Library, featuring photographs by 11 of Greece's finest contemporary photographers.

    "Since the dawn of Western civilization, Greece has inspired poets, writers and philosophers. The islands of the Aegean have been the cradle of Greece. It was on the sunlit shores of the Aegean that Europe began its life," a press release on the exhibition said.

    "The greatest physician in antiquity, Hippocrates, came from the island of Kos. Pythagoras came from Samos. Sappho came from Lesbos. Chios claims Homer; Rhodes, Appolonius. From Homer to Byron and from Sappho to Elytis, the Aegean has been the place where the human spirit continued uninterruptedly to shape Greece's identity, giving the world Reason and Democracy," the press release said.

    The exhibition, which opened May 11 and runs through May 30, features 160 color and black & white photographs of people and places of the Aegean, the sea of the great history of civilization, the press release said.

    It said the exhibition portrays "the essences of daily life in the Aegean islands and captures the Aegean's place in history through the whitewashed buildings, temples, ruins and the faces of the islanders".

    [23] Number of road accidents declines for first time last year

    Athens, 17/05/2000 (ANA)

    The number of road accidents in Greece declined for the first time last year, falling by 4 percent against 1998, public order minister Michalis Chrysohoidis said late Monday, adding that next week he would announce a series of "practical" measures to tackle the problem "quickly and effectively".

    In the first four months alone of the current year, traffic accidents declined by 11 percent against the corresponding period in 1999, the minister told parliament, in reply to MPs' questions.

    Chrysohoidis further said that his ministry would soon table a bill in parliament abolishing the practice of writing off tickets for traffic violations, aiming at the bill being passed by the House in June.

    The minister called for strict implementation of the law, "zero tolerance" for aggressive driving, and reinforced traffic police controls, noting that traffic police checks for drunken driving (breathalyzer tests) had increased by 26 percent in the first trimester of the year, while 30 percent more citations were issued for traffic violations.

    [24] Heart operations in Greece deemed very successful

    Athens, 17/05/2000 (ANA)

    Heart operations in Greece were tremendously successful as only one per cent of patients succumbs, heart surgery professor Panayiotis Spanos said on Tuesday, during a press conference, head of Thursday's 2nd cardiology conference of northern Greece.

    He added that there has been a revolution in heart surgery with the use of robotics, but in Greece requests for the replacement of medical equipment have not been responded to".

    [25] Cyprus problem closer to a resolution, says Britain's FM

    LONDON, 17/05/2000 (CNA/ANA)

    British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook believes that efforts to reach a settlement in Cyprus are now carried out in amore favorable climate, because of the international community's determination, the European Union dimension and the improved relations between Greece and Turkey.

    Speaking after a meeting in London on Tuesday with his Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides, Cook expressed support to the UN-led Cyprus talks, noting they should proceed without preconditions and aim at restoring the Republic's single sovereignty.

    He also expressed admiration with the way Cyprus is proceeding in its EU membership talks. Both ministers described the 45-minute meeting as "very useful", while Kasoulides expressed the hope that the climate in the Cyprus peace talks will enable negotiations on the substance of the problem to take place.

    "We have discussed in particular the prospects for the forthcoming round of talks of the UN on a future settlement in Cyprus," Cook said, adding he has expressed full support to these talks and wishes to see them succeed.

    The British Foreign Secretary said "it is very important that those talks proceed without preconditions and proceed with a view in order to achieve a historic settlement which will restore a single sovereignty and a single Cyprus.

    "The UN have held two rounds of talks with the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot side, during which they outlined their positions on core issues of the Cyprus question, while consultations are underway on the date and venue of a third round of talks. Asked if he is optimistic over the third round of talks, Cook said "now perhaps there is a greater determination to try to find a solution in the international community.

    "Elaborating on his view he noted that "the UN process was born out of an unanimous agreement among the G8 nations, that also has the full support of the EU, and given the stage we are now at in the development of the EU's relations with the accession countries, including Cyprus, and given the very historic changes in relations between Greece and Turkey I think we now have a more favorable climate than before."

    "I'm not expressing optimism nor am I expressing pessimism, but I am expressing determination to see that opportunity," Cook added. The British Foreign Secretary said they also discussed relations between Cyprus and the EU.

    "Britain was in the lead at Helsinki in securing language which made it clear a settlement in Cyprus was not a precondition for membership of the EU. We believe that the Republic of Cyprus is entitled to have its application for membership judged on its merits," he said. Cyprus has been divided since Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37percent of its territory in 1974. Expressing satisfaction with the progress Nicosia has made in the accession negotiations it opened with the EU in 1999, Cook said here laid to Kasoulides "Britain's admiration of the business-like way in which Cyprus has proceeded in these negotiations."

    "Of course it would be desirable in its own right to achieve a solution to the division of the island, that is wanted by the people of the island and would also assist in the process of accession," he added.

    Cook expressed the hope that "over this summer we would have made progress on these two separate tracks which would mutually reinforce each other" and the commitment for "a single sovereign Cyprus as a member of the EU".

    "That is what we are working towards," he said. The Cypriot Foreign Minister referred to historical links between Britain and Cyprus and said they had a very useful exchange of views. "I hope that the future climate of the talks on Cyprus will give anew opportunity to both sides to negotiate on the substance and we hope to have successful results which would undoubtedly help our process towards the EU," Kasoulides said.

    Cyprus was a British colony until 1960 and is one of the three guarantors of the Republic's sovereignty and independence, along with Greece and Turkey.

    [26] Turkish Cypriot newspaper calls for international support

    NICOSIA, 17/05/2000 (CNA/ANA)

    The Union of Cyprus Journalists (UCJ) has called on international organizations to help Turkish Cypriot daily newspaper "Avrupa", which is facing closure after the regime in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus raided its premises today, confiscating its equipment.

    "Avrupa" editor-in-chief Shener Levent telephoned UCJ President Andreas Kannaouros and made a dramatic plea to help the daily survive, according to a press release issued by the Union.

    The daily, a strong opponent of the regime in the areas of Cyprus occupied by Turkey since 1974, had been ordered by an illegal "court" to pay some 300 thousand dollars to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for what it decided was "defamation".

    The paper did not pay this amount and as a result illegal "police" today entered its offices to confiscate the equipment.

    "The UCJ is already making representations to international organizations, such as the UN, the European Union, the Council of Europe and journalists' associations, asking them to intervene immediately so that "Avrupa" will not stop publishing," the press release said.

    It added that is also undertaking other measures to help the Turkish Cypriot newspaper but did not elaborate. In a front-page article yesterday, under the title "Ankara stop", "Avrupa" questioned: "Where are we heading towards. Since 1974,Ankara has turned northern Cyprus into one of its districts and a place for piracy. Has it taken up action to do away with the Turkish Cypriots?"

    [27] Greece, Cyprus hold joint military exercise

    NICOSIA, 17/05/2000 (CNA/ANA)

    Cypriot and Greek parachutists were on Tuesday dropped from a Greek Air force plane at a site in the Larnaca district, on the southern coast of the island, during a military exercise code-named "Vergina - Toxotis".

    "This is an exercise held within the framework of cooperation between the Cyprus National Guard and the Greek air and naval forces," Cyprus Defense Minister Socrates Hasikos said.

    Tomorrow Greek F16 and A7 CORSAIR fighters are expected to fly over Cyprus but will not land at the Andreas Papandreou air base in Paphos, west of the island, according to the Defense Minister.

    Hasikos said "there is no question of pressure being exerted on us not to go ahead as this exercise was scheduled".

    He added it would not be right to "ask one side to create a positive climate when the other side, in cooperation with Turkey, consistently violates Cyprus' air space".

    Cyprus and Greece agreed in November 1993 on a joint defense doctrine providing air, sea and land cover to the island by the Greek armed forces in the event of another Turkish offensive against Cyprus.

    Heavily armed Turkish forces have remained in the northern part of Cyprus since they invaded the island occupying 37 percent of its territory in 1974.


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