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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-05-23

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Papantoniou unveils defense industry privatization plan
  • [02] Papandreou states support for German proposal on European Union federation
  • [03] EU committee reaches agreement on common foreign and defense policy
  • [04] Ecevit's military advisor calls for abolition of 'Aegean Army', mutual concessions
  • [05] Aerial part of NATO exercise over Greek skies begins on Tuesday
  • [06] Foreign Ministry denies Turkish press report over proposed joint military issues committee
  • [07] Premier Simitis receives Angelopoulou for unscheduled meeting
  • [08] Culture minister briefs main opposition on preparations for Olympic Games
  • [09] Hillary Clinton on Greece's side over Parthenon marbles
  • [10] Papandreou to open UN meeting
  • [11] Kaklamanis notes age-old Greek-Egyptian ties
  • [12] Simitis receives ruling PASOK deputies
  • [13] Premier to brief Stephanopoulos on Tuesday
  • [14] Diamantopoulou notes Cyprus's speedy progress to EU accession
  • [15] Top cadres on ND internal issues
  • [16] Europarliament rejects Finnish proposal for deporting illegal aliens to country of origin
  • [17] Macedonia and Thrace Minister inaugurates Asia Forum
  • [18] European Commission satisfied over Greece's economic achievements
  • [19] Greek stocks end sharply lower on profit taking
  • [20] Greece slowest EU member to adopt internal market rules
  • [21] Jobless rate for seamen drops in April
  • [22] Greece one of EU's low-cost-of-living countries
  • [23] Development Minister announces government program for Crete
  • [24] Onassis Foundation and Haifa University sign agreement to establish Modern Greek studies program
  • [25] "Requiem" to be staged at National Theatre on Tuesday and Wednesday
  • [26] FYROM delegation in Rome for events honoring St. Cyril
  • [27] General secretary for Overseas Greeks visits London
  • [28] EU Commissioner presents priorities regarding social dialogue
  • [29] New round of Cyprus-EU negotiations open on Friday
  • [30] US supports a bizonal, bicommunal federation, US envoy says

  • [01] Papantoniou unveils defense industry privatization plan

    Athens, 23/05/2000 (ANA)

    The Greek government will sell a 43 percent stake in Hellenic Vehicles Industry and a 49 percent stake in Hellenic Aerospace Industry, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said on Monday.

    Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Papantoniou said that the government would seek a strategic investor for HAI to take over its management as well.

    He said that the country's defense industry was moving satisfactorily and that armed forces' supplies were adequately supported the industry and improving their financial conditions.

    Papantoniou said that final decisions on the sale of national defense industries would be taken during the summer.

    He also said that PYRCAL, a state-owned ammunitions industry, would be listed on the Athens Stock Exchange following a restructuring plan.

    [02] Papandreou states support for German proposal on European Union federation

    BRUSSELS, 23/05/2000 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou said on Monday Greece supports recent proposals by German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer on the prospect of a European Union federation.

    Papandreou, who was addressing a press conference after a meeting of the General Affairs Council, said that in his meeting with Fischer on the sidelines of the Council he stressed that Greece always supported the deepening of relations between member-states, parallel to enlargement, adding that following its entry to the euro zone, which introduced it to the EU's "nucleus" it would discuss, under certain preconditions, the prospect of not excluding countries desiring to participate.

    Papandreou said the debate on EU prospects was "timely", in view of the discussion on "strengthened cooperation" between countries "wishing to proceed further in certain sectors" in the framework of the Inter-Governmental Conference underway aimed at the EU's institutional reform.

    The Inter-Governmental Conference is expected to be concluded at the end of the EU French Presidency in December and will preoccupy itself primarily with the European Commission's composition, the re-weighting of votes at the Council on the basis of population criteria and the expansion of the special majority with the restriction of unanimity and the right of veto.

    Papandreou and Fischer also discussed the issue of German war reparations in the wake of a recent decision by the Greek Supreme Court. However, Papandreou avoided comment on whether he had found a change in Germany's negative attitude, saying that "the issue will be examined."

    Papandreou further hailed the adoption by the Council of the proposal by Foreign Relations Commissioner Chris Patten, also ardently supported by Greece, for an increase in aid to the Balkans from the Community budget's reserve.

    "We hailed the fact of an increase in funds for the Balkans and primarily that funding potentially includes Serbia, with a provision for 2.3 billion euros, even on condition of democratic developments in the country," he said.

    Papandreou said that what was positive was the fact that funds did not result from cutbacks in the agricultural sector and that the Berlin agreement (25 March 1999) is still valid. He further said he was satisfied over the unification of the two funding regulations for the Balkans, considering that the role of the Reconstruction Organization in Thessaloniki was consolidated even more.

    Papandreou also met with the EU's High Representative for Foreign and Defense Policy, pointing out to him that Greece supports every funding and aid initiative for the Kosovo Serbs, while they also appealed to the Yugoslav government to respect the mass media, condemning the recent closure of the independent TV station in Serbia.

    The Balkans will also be discussed in Florence on Wednesday with his US counterpart Madeleine Albright "in an in-depth exchange of views, despite different approaches."

    [03] EU committee reaches agreement on common foreign and defense policy

    BRUSSELS, 23/05/2000 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)

    The European Union's Political Committee, set up at the Helsinki summit in December, on Monday reached agreement on crucial arrangements seen as the starting point for the formulation of EU-NATO relations with third countries (including Turkey), which are members of the alliance but not the EU, aiming to achieve joint decisions as long as the two organizations collaborate in operations.

    Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Elisavet Papazoi said that the agreement secured full respect for EU autonomy in decision making for the common security and defense policy and collaboration on equal terms between EU and NATO.

    She said the decisions vindicated the Greek view that "as long as the particularities and the autonomy of the participants in cooperation are secured, there will be no problems in the implementation of our sincere desire for equal, transparent and functional relations with NATO and third countries".

    After the General Affairs Council formally approves them on June 13, the texts of the agreement will be submitted to the European Summit in Feira, on June 19-20, as part of the report, which the Portuguese presidency will present on the Common Foreign and Defense Policy.

    [04] Ecevit's military advisor calls for abolition of 'Aegean Army', mutual concessions

    ANKARA, 23/05/2000 (ANA - A. Abatzis)

    A senior Turkish military aide has recommended the abolition of Turkey's "Aegean Army" and the adoption of a policy of mutual concessions on Greek-Turkish issues, a major Turkish daily reported on Monday.

    Turkey's former navy chief (ret.) Guven Erkaya, an advisor to Turkish Premier Bulent Ecevit, in a letter to the latter also proposed referral of the Aegean continental shelf issue to international arbitration or a "freeze" on the issue, the daily "Sabah" reported in its Monday's edition.

    In a front-page article, Sabah said Erkaya's letter recommended that, "in order for problems such as the territorial waters, the continental shelf, FIR, airspace, the demilitarization of the islands of the Aegean and the 'islets of undetermined sovereignty' to be resolved, instead of efforts to achieve results through individual talks on each issue, it would be preferable that they be examined as a whole, with mutual concessions".

    Regarding the Aegean Army, which is deployed in Izmir, opposite many Greek islands of the Aegean, Erkaya said that "Greece's intentions to extend its territorial waters to 12 (nautical) miles resulted in the creation of the Aegean Army, which achieved its basic goal but resulted in Turkey being criticized by various circles".

    Erkaya said in his letter that "in the event that Greece committed itself to not extending its territorial waters beyond the (present) six miles, there would be no negative results caused by Turkey's lifting the threat of the use of violence".

    He added that it would be "in vain for one to wait for Greece to make such a commitment -- which would put it in an awkward position before the Greek and international public opinion -- without some step taken by Turkey".

    Erkaya further said "problems such as the 10-mile airspace limit and the demilitarization of the islands of the Aegean could be negotiated, with the abolition of the Aegean Army".

    Regarding the Aegean continental shelf, Erkaya said that "for recourse to the International Court of Justice at The Hague there must first be an agreement between the two sides".

    "As long as there is no such agreement, the problem must be solved on the basis of the principles of equity. For this purpose, there could be recourse to a third party, such as The Hague Court or international arbitration, or the issue could be frozen following agreement by the two sides," he added.

    [05] Aerial part of NATO exercise over Greek skies begins on Tuesday

    Athens, 23/05/2000 (ANA)

    The aerial part of the major NATO military exercise "Dynamic Mix" begins on Tuesday over Greek skies.

    Participating alliance air force units on Monday mainly covered procedures dealing with air traffic regulations, terrain characteristics for the Greek mainland, etc. Specifically, NATO pilots flew training missions in the general vicinity of the Greek air bases their planes are temporarily stationed.

    Military sources said 136 planes are taking part in the exercise, including 66 Greek aircraft belonging to the Hellenic Air Force, 15 German planes, 17 from Italy, 12 from Turkey, seven from France, 11 from Spain and eight from Portugal.

    In terms of the naval portion of the maneuvers, alliance vessels have been gathering over the past few days in at the Souda anchorage near Hania on Crete and off Izmir, on the Asia Minor coast. Two Hellenic Navy frigates and two torpedo boats have anchored at Souda, along with a US Navy aircraft carrier and frigate, two frigates and an oil tanker from Italy, as well as two other nations' frigates, one from Turkey and one from Spain.

    Two Greek frigates and two torpedo boats have anchored at the Turkish port, along with an USN cruiser, a Spanish frigate and another three Turkish navy vessels.

    Ground operations begin on June 1 with a landing exercise at Kyparissia, on the SE Peloponnese.

    The exercise began on Saturday in various parts of Greece, with the participation of 12 alliance member-states. Some 15,000 troops, 65 vessels and more than 290 aircraft are set to participate in "Dynamic Mix" from between May 20 to 31.

    Reppas says regular rules of engagement will apply to aircraft not participating in Dynamic Mix: Aircraft not participating in the NATO exercise Dynamic Mix 2000, not having submitted flight plans and without having provided certain common data for all aircraft will be intercepted as was always done in the past, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Monday.

    Commenting on whether there was a snag in the Dynamic Mix exercise regarding Ankara not to submit flight plans to the headquarters in Larissa, Reppas responded that the Larissa headquarters was an operational section of NATO.

    The Greek commander of NATO in Larissa is responsible for coordinating the exercise and he operates in the capacity of a NATO officer, while the movements of fighter aircraft has been anticipated and it will be common for all aircraft participating, Reppas said.

    [06] Foreign Ministry denies Turkish press report over proposed joint military issues committee

    ANKARA, 23/05/2000 (ANA)

    The Greek foreign ministry on Monday denied a press report appearing in a Turkish daily that cites Athens' acceptance of a proposal to establish a joint Greek-Turkish political-military committee.

    "It's a report that has nothing to do with reality. I categorically deny it. The writer of the article obviously misunderstood the recent decision for the creation of a joint committee by the (Greek) foreign affairs and defense ministries in order to focus on issues of joint responsibilities," foreign ministry spokesman Panayiotis Beglitis said in Athens.

    In a Monday article, the mass Turkish daily "Milliyet" claims that Greek leadership accepted the proposal after "intense discussions", adding:

    "... the Greek side's positive response will be made known in the next few days to the Turkish side by Foreign Minister George Papandreou."

    The paper also claimed that the committee would include military officers.

    [07] Premier Simitis receives Angelopoulou for unscheduled meeting

    Athens, 23/05/2000 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Monday received the newly appointed "Athens 2004" Olympic Games Organizing Committee President Gianna Angelopoulou-Daskalaki for a 40-minute meeting.

    Angelopoulou-Daskalaki refused to make any statements following this unscheduled meeting with the premier, but according to sources they discussed details of the bill regarding the preparation for the Games the government will soon table in Parliament.

    According to the same sources they also discussed the resignation of the committee vice-president Niki Tzavela, who was confronting a serious family problem. Tzavela is scheduled to meet with Simitis on Wednesday, before the cabinet meeting.

    In a related development, no announcements have been made yet over the persons to be appointed in the so-called five-member "Executive Committee" for the organization of the Games, which will be responsible for the control of the progress of the projects for the Games.

    [08] Culture minister briefs main opposition on preparations for Olympic Games

    Athens, 23/05/2000 (ANA)

    In a meeting on Monday afternoon with New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis, Culture Minister Theodoros Pangalos briefed the main opposition on issues related to his ministry and the course of preparations for the Athens Olympics in 2004.

    Also present at the meeting was ND cadre Manolis Kefaloyiannis, the opposition party's section-head for matters relating to the Athens Olympics.

    In statements after the meeting, Pangalos expressed satisfaction that ND "while retaining the option to criticize perceived insufficiencies or delays, intends to contribute positively and actively to our achieving a flawless Olympiad and....the success of the cultural Olympiad."

    Asked whether Niki Tzavela, the vice-president of the Olympics Organizing Committee, might be resigning, Pangalos expressed the hope that she would find a way to continue exercising her duties in spite of her husband's ill health.

    Kefaloyiannis, in his statements to reporters, noted the government's slow progress so far and stressed that ND wanted to make the Athens Olympics the best in the history.

    He noted, however, that "consensus means participation not collusion" and stressed the role of Parliament and the importance of transparency, while suggesting the creation of an Olympic Games Council headed by the President of the Republic.

    [09] Hillary Clinton on Greece's side over Parthenon marbles

    Athens, 23/05/2000 (ANA)

    United States First Lady Hillary Clinton and Senatorial hopeful on Monday "addressed" via a videotaped message the international conference on the Parthenon Marbles, taking place at Zappeion Hall in Athens.

    "My husband has expressed his wish for the Marbles to return to their home. I wish that the conference will be able to aid in the return of the Parthenon Sculptures," she noted in her message.

    The conference entitled "The claim on the Sculptures of the Parthenon in the framework of the European Union: Historical, Cultural, Legal approach", is organized by the Ioannis Kapodistrias Center of European Studies and is under the auspices of the culture ministry, the press and media ministry and the Greek national committee of UNESCO.

    [10] Papandreou to open UN meeting

    Athens, 23/05/2000 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou is to open a two-day international meeting in Athens on Tuesday, organized by the United Nations in support of the peace process in the Middle East.

    The meeting is to be attended by officials and deputies and representatives of NGOs from the Middle East and research centers.

    [11] Kaklamanis notes age-old Greek-Egyptian ties

    Athens, 23/05/2000 (ANA)

    Common interests and friendly relations between Greece and Egypt are not the result of sporadic political calculations or interests, but the settled outcome of a process, which began, from mutual appreciation and trust cultivated by age-long contacts, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis said on Monday.

    "The two civilizations, Greek and Egyptian, constitute a splendid heritage which can serve as the most secure basis for building a peaceful and creative future ... It is with great pleasure that I wish to see this friendly country, where Greeks have a long tradition, attested to by the monuments, grand churches and neoclassical buildings in old Alexandria," he said during an interview to Egyptian media after his arrival in Alexandria to attend the Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Parliament Presidents.

    He said the issues to be discussed were of a broad range, including culture, employment, emigration and economic crime, which are of concern to both the European Union and the countries on the other side of the Mediterranean.

    Kaklamanis was received by Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Petros at the Patriarchate, where he praised the work of the clergy on the African continent who often had to work without the elementary financial means.

    He later visited Alexandria's Greek community and its new library, still under construction.

    [12] Simitis receives ruling PASOK deputies

    Athens, 23/05/2000 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Monday received the new presidium of the ruling PASOK party Parliamentary group and called for the upgrade of the role of parliament deputies, as well as the systematic supervision of the application of governmental decisions.

    According to reports, Simitis called on the deputies to be at the forefront of political activities of PASOK, "to head our efforts, to become the bridges of communication with society and the citizens, to actively participate in the promotion of the political agenda the government has set".

    The deputies on their part requested a closer productive cooperation with the government ministers, especially regarding the legislative work in parliament.

    [13] Premier to brief Stephanopoulos on Tuesday

    Athens, 23/05/2000 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos will receive Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday morning, with the latter to brief him on domestic and foreign policy issues, part of what government spokesman Dimitris Reppas described as their "regular monthly meetings".

    At noon the same day, Simitis will visit the national economy ministry, initiating a series of visits to the ministries.

    On Wednesday, Reppas announced, the premier will preside over another meeting of the bi-ministerial committee for the 2004 Olympic Games, after which he will receive 2004 organizing committee vice-president Niki Tzavella, at her request.

    On Friday, Reppas concluded, Simitis would preside over a cabinet meeting discuss the serious problem of road accidents.

    [14] Diamantopoulou notes Cyprus's speedy progress to EU accession

    NICOSIA, 23/05/2000 (ANA-CNA)

    The decisions reached at the Helsinki Summit are "an excellent basis for the pursuit of the goal of Cyprus's accession to the European Union," EU Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs Anna Diamantopoulou said here on Monday.

    "It has become clear after Helsinki that an agreement on the (island's) political problem is not a condition for the accession of Cyprus," she said at a press conference.

    Diamantopoulou is in Cyprus to attend the two-day 4th Round Table of the Industrial and Employers' Federations of the 15 member-states and candidate countries.

    "It is very important for the Cypriot people in its entirety, both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, to participate in the advantages and benefits which Cyprus will reap from its accession to the EU. It is clear that Cyprus must have a single voice in this process," she said.

    She described the timetable, which Cyprus kept during the accession negotiations as "satisfactory", and forecast that the island-republic will have completed its program in the social sector by 2002.

    Diamantopoulou noted that both sides had to bear the political responsibility for their actions.

    "President Clerides has made some really positive moves and Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen has tried to achieve the participation of Turkish Cypriots in the accession negotiations," she said.

    "Time passes, the negotiations are continuing and all carry the political responsibility for their actions," she said.

    She added that Cyprus was ahead of the other candidate countries in accession negotiations, having completed 15 of the 30 chapters of acquis communautaire, compared to 12 by Estonia, which was second.

    [15] Top cadres on ND internal issues

    Athens, 23/05/2000 (ANA)

    The internal woes of main opposition New Democracy continued to be played out in much of the press on Monday, with articles and interviews of top ND cadres on many front pages.

    In an interview with the Athens daily "Apogevmatini", former minister Dora Bakoyianni said ND's problems stemmed from a "democratic deficit" that has resisted all attempts made over the years at its correction.

    Declining to make comments in reference to embattled party spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos, Bakoyianni said the upcoming ND congress had "limited power" to solve the problems, calling instead for the 're-founding' of ND.

    An article by Spiliotopoulos in "Exousia", meanwhile, gives his definition a the "middle political ground" that ND leader Costas Karamanlis proposes to occupy, saying it goes beyond the "center" and does not introduce any "new political geography".

    Speaking to the "Ethnos" daily, however, ND cadre Yiannis Kefaloyiannis was quoted as distancing himself from Karamanlis' choices, saying that defining the "middle ground" was "awkward" and that he was "unaware" of the theory of "electoral ties."

    Asked whether Spiliotopoulos should resign, he said "that question concerns him and should be addressed to him."

    [16] Europarliament rejects Finnish proposal for deporting illegal aliens to country of origin

    Athens, 23/05/2000 (ANA)

    Europarliament on Monday widely endorsed a report by Greek Euro-deputy for PASOK Anna Karamanou, and threw out a Finnish proposal that would have made European Union member-states obliged to accept residents of third countries that entered their borders illegally.

    The decision is particularly favorable for member-states, such as Greece, that act as "portals" into the EU for illegal immigrants. Under the Finnish proposal, illegal aliens found within the EU would have to be deported to the country from which they came. On the one hand, this would mean their being shuttled from country to country and, on the other hand, that they would all end up in the country from which they first entered the EU. In her address to the body, Karamanou described the proposal as "lacking strategic vision" and asked the members to reject it.

    [17] Macedonia and Thrace Minister inaugurates Asia Forum

    Athens, 23/05/2000 (ANA)

    Macedonia and Thrace Minister George Paschalidis inaugurated the Asia Forum during a ceremony at the Ioannis Vellidis Convention Center on Monday night.

    Paschalidis referred to the new role of Thessaloniki in southeastern Europe, adding that "the Asia Forum constitutes an opportunity for contact points to be created between the business world of Greece and Asia and, based in Thessaloniki, to have joint activities start in the region of the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean."

    The purpose of the Asia Forum is to contribute to the development of cooperation through the exchange of information, the promotion of multipartite business cooperation and investments and the strengthening of tourism through cooperation and the development of new strategies.

    [18] European Commission satisfied over Greece's economic achievements

    BRUSSELS, 23/05/2000 (ANA - B. Demiris)

    The European Commission expressed its satisfaction over the achievements of the Greek economy, but noted the need for policies of fiscal restraint, in a report made public on Monday.

    The report entitled "Public Finance within the Economic and Monetary Union-2000", notes the need for structural changes in the Greek economy so as to speed up the decrease of the public deficit.

    The Commission called for the shrinking of the public sector, whose enlargement was reflected in the high primary expenses, which have not yet, began to decrease.

    The report of the Commission also noted a projection for a 0.3 per cent of GDP decrease in salaries in the public sector every year for both 2000 and 2001.

    [19] Greek stocks end sharply lower on profit taking

    Athens, 23/05/2000 (ANA)

    Equity prices dramatically changed direction on the Athens Stock Exchange to end sharply lower on Monday, hit by waves of profit taking selling.

    Analysts said that a correction was due in the market following a previous week's 8.0 percent advance and noted that it could offer new incentives to investors.

    They said that the 4,650 level remained a strong support level for the market.

    The general index ended at 4,691.93 points, off 2.30 percent, but off the day's lows of 4,668.34 points. Turnover was a heavy 268.4 billion drachmas.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 2.12 percent lower at 2,578.46 points and the FTSE/ASE 40 index fell 3.55 percent to 696.68 points.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: 8,777.02

    -1.94% Leasing: 1,015.63 -3.83% Insurance: 2,850.95 -1.63% Investment: 2,003.80 -1.69% Construction: 2,732.67 -7.10% Industrials: 2,850.95

    -2.11% Miscellaneous: 5,008.80 -4.24% Holding: 5,544.61 -1.20%

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended at 1,007.30 points, off 6.43 percent.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 293 to 47 with another four issues unchanged.

    Klonatex, Naoussa Spinning, Hellenic Telecoms and Doudos were the most heavily traded stocks.

    Leading shares' closing prices (in Drs): National Bank: 16,700 Alpha Bank: 22,140 Commercial Bank:

    19,900 Ergobank: 7,545 Eurobank: 10,330 Heracles Cement: 8,850 Titan Cement (c): 15,420 Hellenic Telecoms: 9,200 Panafon: 4,400 Hellenic Petroleum:

    4,260 Intracom: 14,900 Minoan Lines: 6,290 Hellenic Bottling: 6,050

    Bonds nose up in thin trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market ended slightly higher in light trade on Monday with players across Europe awaiting a European Central Bank meeting later this week that may order a rate hike to aid the slumping euro.

    The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.282 percent from 6.31 percent in the previous session; and the yield on the equivalent German bund was 5.386 percent.

    The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was around 89 basis points from 95 basis points a session earlier.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 44 billion drachmas from 142 billion drachmas in the previous session.

    Buy orders accounted for 34 billion drachmas of trade and sell orders the remainder.

    Drachma drops vs. euro, rises vs. dollar: The drachma on Monday fell against the euro and rose versus the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market.

    At the central bank's daily fixing, the euro was set at 336.850 drachmas from 336.700 drachmas in the previous session.

    Also at the fixing, the US dollar was set at 374.700 drachmas from 377.190 drachmas a day earlier.

    The central bank intervened at the fix, selling around 210 million euros.

    [20] Greece slowest EU member to adopt internal market rules

    BRUSSELS, 23/05/2000 (ANA-B.Demiris)

    Greece is the slowest country in the 15-nation European Union to adopt internal market rules, the EU's executive Commission said in a report released on Monday.

    In May, Greece had failed to harmonize its legislation with 7.3 percent of directives, lower than 5.2 percent in May 1999 and 5.5 percent in May 1998. Numerically, the May figure represents 109 EU directives.

    The report said that after an improvement in 1998 and 1999, Greece was back to 1997 implementation levels.

    Most of the delays in adaptation were in directives on public health controls, vehicles, the environment and the public sector.

    Finally, Greece had a total of 159 internal market directives to incorporate by December 31 or the Commission would begin proceedings at the European Court over some of the failures, the report said.

    [21] Jobless rate for seamen drops in April

    Athens, 23/05/2000 (ANA)

    The number of unemployed seamen dropped sharply to 2,600 in April from 3,283 in March, the merchant marine ministry said on Monday.

    The decline was due to the start of the cruise and passenger shipping season, the ministry said in a statement.

    [22] Greece one of EU's low-cost-of-living countries

    Athens, 23/05/2000 (ANA)

    Greece ranks as one of the European Union's member-states with low prices in 30 basic goods and services, including potatoes, vegetables, mass transport, telecommunications, paper goods, heating and electricity.

    According to an annual European Commission report, Denmark ranks as the country with the highest cost of living ratio to salaries and Portugal as the one with the lowest. The difference in prices of consumer goods between the two countries was estimated at 177 per cent.

    The report also noted that cellular telephone connections in Greece totals 3,580,128, a 96.2 per cent increase since 1998.

    [23] Development Minister announces government program for Crete

    Athens, 23/05/2000 (ANA)

    Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Monday announced that Crete should become a model of regional development not only on a Greek, but also on a European level.

    Addressing a series of meetings in prefecture offices around the southern Aegean island of Crete, Christodoulakis noted that the government was planning the installation of two new electric power generators on the island to confront the rising demand.

    He added that 1.6 trillion drachmas would be allocated for Crete alone from the third community support framework fund of the European Union, while emergency aid of 2.5 billion drachmas would be allocated to the island's citizens to cover the cost of the natural disaster of April 21st.

    "Every region of the country should become a lever of development on all levels," Christodoulakis stressed, speaking of the ministry's strategy for the development of the country over the next four years.

    [24] Onassis Foundation and Haifa University sign agreement to establish Modern Greek studies program

    Athens, 23/05/2000 (ANA)

    The Onassis Foundation and the Haifa University signed an agreement on Monday, under the auspices of the Athens University, for the establishment of a modern Greek studies program at the Haifa University's Department of Higher Mediterranean Studies, according to a press release by the Alexandros S. Onassis Foundation.

    The relevant ceremony at the Athens University opened with an address by Athens University Dean Constantine Dimopoulos and was followed by addresses by the President of the Onassis Foundation Stelios Papadimitriou, the Israeli Ambassador Ran Curiel and the President of Haifa University Yehuda Hayuth, as well as by a presentation of the modern Greek studies program by professor Minna Rozen.

    The ceremony was also attended by representatives of the Onassis Foundation, Athens University, Haifa University, the President of the University of Europe Eleni Ahrweiler, Foreign Ministry representatives and other officials.

    Athens University Dean Dimopoulos said in his address that cultural rapprochement is the best way for renewing friendship and cooperation among peoples.

    "Weapons have been heard enough," he said, adding that the Athens university encourages and participates in such events with its slogan of "the pen is stronger than swords" and that it will support the modern Greek studies program with special programs and books, while boarders from Israel are expected to be hosted this summer.

    Israeli Ambassador Curiel said that "I am pleased to say that in general we are recently engaged in pursuing programs and initiatives that did not exist before. Recent days' events are clear proof of this fact - I have just returned from accompanying the first visit ever of a Greek president to Israel - a very successful one and tomorrow night, for the first time, a Hebrew theater will perform on the main stage of the Greek National Theater."

    Referring to the program itself, he said "the program that is about to be signed will undoubtedly enhance the academic ties between our two countries and provide Israeli students with an opportunity to acquaint themselves with modern Greece."

    Rozen said "the program will include a cluster of courses in a selection of subjects to be given annually, with studies of the Modern Greek language constituting a permanent component of the curriculum. Specific subjects will be changed every two years. The program will be of two years' duration, and will encompass 24-28 weekly hours."

    On his part, Onassis Foundation President Papadimitriou said the signing of the agreement is a new start to strengthening intellectual and cultural relations, leading to useful and good results for all the peoples in the region.

    [25] "Requiem" to be staged at National Theatre on Tuesday and Wednesday

    Athens, 23/05/2000 (ANA)

    The troupe of the famous Israeli Theatre Cameri arrived in Athens from Tel Aviv at the invitation of the National Theatre and will stage Hanoch Levin's "Requiem on the central stage on Tuesday and Wednesday.

    The theatre's repertoire, ever since it was established in 1944, is rich in works of a social and political content.

    "They speak of the present-day situation in Israel, as well as of the traumas of the Holocaust," said Cameri's art director Noam Shemel, while thanking National Theatre director Nikos Kourkoulos for the troupe's first invitation to Greece.

    [26] FYROM delegation in Rome for events honoring St. Cyril

    SKOPJE, 23/05/2000 (ANA - M. Vihou)

    A delegation from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Yugoslavia (FYROM), led by President Boris Traikovski, departed on Monday for a three-day visit to Rome to attend events in honor of St. Cyril.

    St. Cyril (born 869 AD) along with his brother, St. Methodius, were missionaries from Byzantine-era Thessaloniki. Both have been called by historians "Apostles to the Slavs" and "fathers of the Slavonic literary culture", hence the name 'Cyrillic alphabet. Cyril is buried in Rome.

    Other FYROM officials to travel to Rome include the Balkan state's foreign minister, culture minister, sports minister and the Archbishop of FYROM's Orthodox Church, Stefan.

    Meanwhile, in an unrelated development, Metropolitan Petar told the Skopje daily "Nova Makedonja" that recent reports citing the possibility of the Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greece recognizing the FYROM Church as the "Archbishopric of Ochroid" or the "Archbishopric of Skopje" were no more than "rumors by reporters".

    [27] General secretary for Overseas Greeks visits London

    Athens, 23/05/2000 (ANA)

    General secretary for Overseas Greeks Dimitris Dollis stopped over for a brief visit in London on Monday on his way back from Washington, where he had participated in a meeting by the International Coordinating Committee of Justice for Cyprus.

    He met with representatives of the Greek and Greek-Cypriot community, the president of the Macedonian Union of Great Britain Philippas Mavroskoufis and the director of the Greek department of the BBC, Babis Metaxas.

    [28] EU Commissioner presents priorities regarding social dialogue

    NICOSIA, 23/05/2000 (CNA/ANA)

    Greek European Union Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs Anna Diamantopoulou on Monday presented the Commission's priorities regarding the social dialogue, at the two-day 4th Round Table of the Industrial and Employers' Federations of the 15 member-states and candidate countries, taking place in Nicosia.

    On his part Chairman of the Cyprus Federation of Employers and Industrialists (OEV) Michael Zivanaris praised cooperation between the social partners until today and said they now have a new role to play in view of the Republic's bid to join the European Union.

    Opening the meeting, Diamantopoulou said the Commission's first priority regarding the social dialogue is institutional progress and pointed out that the social partners in candidate countries "must obviously take into account and integrate all the institutional mechanisms" of the EU.

    She explained that the Commission's second priority is "social dialogue in the EU enlargement negotiations", as it is "an integral part of the legal acquis (European norms and regulations)".

    Referring to the improvement of industrial relations at the business level, which constitutes the Commission's third priority, the EU Commissioner stressed that "human capital is the key to seizing the opportunities of the new economy".

    In his welcome address OEV Chairman Michael Zivanaris praised the long standing cooperation between Cyprus' social partners and expressed confidence that "this system will continue to play its beneficial role in the traditional fields but also in promoting the institutional, social and overall harmonization of our country with the acquis communautaire".

    Cyprus started substantive accession negotiations with the EU in November 1998.

    The opening ceremony of the Round Table, organized by OEV, one of Cyprus' main employers union, was attended by top government officials, ambassadors and trade union leaders.

    [29] New round of Cyprus-EU negotiations open on Friday

    NICOSIA, 23/05/2000 (CNA/ANA)

    Three new chapters of the acquis communautaire open on Friday in Brussels, at the 8th Session of the Inter-Governmental Conference at the level of negotiators and permanent representatives of the European Union (EU) member states.

    The Republic of Cyprus will have to reply in writing to the EU positions at a later date.

    Planning Bureau General Director, Panicos Pouros, told CNA that he would be standing in for Cyprus' Chief Negotiator for EU accession, George Vassiliou, who is recovering from an operation.

    The team departs for Brussels on Tuesday and will hold meetings to discuss issues regarding the Republic's accession course until Friday, when talks begin on the three chapters plus a fourth, which was opened earlier on.

    Pouros said all six candidate countries would be in Brussels, noting that the three chapters relate to budgets and other financial issues, interior and justice affairs, and social policy and employment, while the fourth is on competitiveness.

    Responding to questions, Pouros said that, in order to give the written replies, the government would cooperate with all interested parties on the island "wherever necessary".

    The team will also meet in Brussels with the EU Negotiator for Cyprus, Leopold Maurer, to discuss issues regarding the accession course.

    Cyprus is included in the first wave of countries expected to join the EU and is considered to lead in the adoption of European laws and regulations.

    [30] US supports a bizonal, bicommunal federation, US envoy says

    NICOSIA, 23/05/2000 (CNA/ANA)

    The US continues to support a bizonal, bicommunal federation in Cyprus, as stipulated for in UN decisions, American Ambassador here Donald Bandler has said.

    He also said the US does not have any plan to solve the Cyprus problem and expressed the hope the UN-led proximity talks due to begin on July 5 will be upgraded and will lend itself to a meaningful negotiation. "We do not have a plan to solve the Cyprus problem that is going to be imposed on anyone," Bandler told the press after a 50-minute meeting here Monday with President Glafcos Clerides.

    He said the problem is going to be resolved by the Greek Cypriot leaders and the Turkish Cypriot leaders "with some help from their friends."

    "We do not have a plan but we have a policy and that is a bizonal, bicommunal federation. That is also in the UN Security Council decisions," the Ambassador added.

    Bandler's comments come in the aftermath of various critical remarks from the political leadership concerning statements on Cyprus attributed to US President Clinton in which he is reported to have talked about two entities and the right of free movement in front of Greek American leaders.

    The US Ambassador refused to comment further on the details of last week's meeting between Clinton and the Greek American leaders.

    Bandler said he had a "good meeting" with President Clerides, who looked in excellent form (barely a month after he underwent an operation to remove a polyp from his large intestine).

    "The government of Cyprus, the US and others are looking forward to the third round of UN-led talks in this process. We are hoping this round will be upgraded in terms of its procedures and will lend itself to a meaningful negotiation on the core issues," he said.

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