|Tuesday, 28 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-05-31
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 OECD sees higher Greek economic growth, lower unemployment
PARIS, 31/05/2000 (ANA-O.Tsipira)Greece's economy should show growth of 3.8 percent in 2000, rising to 3.9 percent in 2001 with unemployment dropping to 10.3 percent in 2000 and 9.8 percent in 2001 from 10.7 percent in 2001, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said on Monday.
In a preliminary country report for Greece, the Paris-based OECD said that robust consumerism, higher investment and a healthy outlook for exports should help to spur growth and lower unemployment.
Private consumption should increase by 2.9 percent in 2000 and by 3.1 percent in 2001, with total domestic demand rising by 3.3 percent this year and 3.8 percent in 2001. Fixed capital investment is forecast to rise by 6.2 percent in 2000 and 7.9 percent in 2001, the report said.
In addition, exports are estimated to increase by 11.1 percent in 2000 and by 9.0 percent in 2001 from a rise of 6.2 percent in 1999.
Imports should grow by 7.1 percent this year and 7.3 percent next year from 5.4 percent in 1999.
Despite an increase in inflation in the first quarter of 2000, Greece still met the Maastricht Treaty criterion for euro-zone entry as in February average inflation did not exceed the 2.0 percent limit, the report said.
The rate of inflation is expected to stabilize in the next two years although consumer prices could come under inflationary pressure due to demand and a relaxation of policy, according to the OECD.
Consumer price inflation had risen in the first quarter, reaching 3.1 percent in March due to a rise in world oil prices. In April it fell to 2.6 percent due to a decline in telephone charges, and a drop in indirect taxation on cars, fuel and electricity, the report said.
It added that 1999 was a favorable year for the Greek economy with GDP growth at around 3.25 percent due to strong consumption and a healthy rate of investment.
Although industrial production only rose by 0.5 percent, the outlook was positive for exports, fuelling new confidence in Greek enterprises. As a result, industrial output was likely to rise by 3.0 percent in 2000 and 3.5 percent in 2001, the OECD said. Furthermore, an anticipated reduction in interest rates would lend fresh impetus to investment by businesses, aiding a rise in construction activity. At the same time, public investment, backed by European Union funds, was expected to maintain a high level.
The OECD recommended curbs on state spending and a tighter fiscal policy.
 Greek and Belgian Prime Ministers discuss EU, bilateral issues
Athens, 31/05/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday responded to questions regarding his handling of the controversial "identity card" furor that has erupted in Greece of late.
Simitis was addressing a joint press conference with visiting Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, where he also underlined Greece's European orientation.
The question of whether we are first Greece or first Europe is a "false and nonexistent dilemma," Simitis said, adding, "Greece is Europe because Europe is Greece."
A recent decision to exclude religious affiliation from new Greek ID cards has put the government on a collision course with the Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greece, with Archbishop of Athens and Greece Christodoulos accusing the government of trying to subordinate the "Greek identity to that of Europe".
"We are Europe because Europe is based on ideals and values that our country has always had," Simitis said.
Simitis and Verhofstadt said they had discussed developments in the EU and preparations for the EU summit in Portugal.
Saying that Greece and Belgium enjoyed excellent bilateral relations in all areas, Simitis noted that the two countries were cooperating closely in the framework of the intergovernmental conference on issues related to institutional reforms within the EU and had the same line on the crucial issue of flexibility.
On his part, the Belgian premier reiterated that Greece is 100 per cent European since its civilization constitutes the basis of European civilization. He also praised the Greek economy and hailed Athens' anticipated entry into the 'euro zone', noting that the country had made spectacular economic progress.
Asked to comment on a proposal to create a federal Europe put by German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer in a speech to a Berlin university, Simitis praised the German FM for raising the issue. Underlining the need for a "common vision for Europe," Simitis said issues discussed by the intergovernmental conference could not be limited to "how many people make up a committee or how decisions are made by European organs", because then they won't broach the essence of the problem.
He added that similar discussions regarding proposals and positions for Europe's prospects would be taking place within government organs in Greece also. "We need a dynamic Europe," he concluded.
Gov't spokesman: In a related development concerning the ID furor, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas on Tuesday said the government is not considering holding a referendum over whether to allow citizens to voluntarily list their religious affiliation on IDs, as Christodoulos and most of the Church's hierarchy have demanded.
 Papandreou denies press speculation over alleged friction with Defense Ministry
Athens, 31/05/2000 (ANA)Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday dismissed recent press speculation regarding alleged friction between himself and National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Papandreou said he and Tsohatzopoulos enjoy an "excellent working relationship."
The Greek FM had previously briefed Simitis on developments in various foreign policy issues, particularly relations between Athens and Ankara in light of his recent contacts with Turkish FM Ismail Cem on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Florence.
He again stressed that no "differences of opinion" between himself and Tsohatzopoulos exist, adding that he has meetings with the Greek defense minister on a regular basis.
Additionally, he said he has agreed with Tsohatzopoulos over the content of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) being discussed between Greece and Turkey, while he also downplayed the issue related to the composition of a joint foreign and defense ministries committee focusing on CBMs.
Papandreou simply said that it does not greatly matter how institutional cooperation between the two ministries is accomplished.
Meanwhile, in a related development, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas called cooperation and coordination between Greece's foreign and defense ministries 'very good'. He added, however, that the establishment of a joint committee of officials from the two ministries has not yet been given final approval.
"Ways of improving this cooperation will be sought," he said.
 Stephanopoulos continues Canada visit
MONTREAL, 31/05/2000 (ANA- N. Voulelis)Continuing his official visit to Canada, President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Tuesday met with Canadian businessmen and was hosted to dinner by the Quebecois capital's Greek community, also attended by the Prime Minister of the predominantly French-speaking province, Lucien Bouchard.
On Monday, Stephanopoulos visited the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa and inaugurated a painting exhibition from the Greek foreign ministry at the Canadian foreign ministry.
In an interview with the "Globe and Mail" newspaper, the Greek President said that Greece wished no country, not just Canada, to sell a nuclear reactor to Turkey for the planned power plant at Akkuyu, as this would not solve any substantial energy problem of the country. Nevertheless, he expressed satisfaction with statements in the same paper by Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who tried to assuage Greek anxieties over the issue by saying that his country would ensure observance of international safety specifications.
"A country with a serious sense of its integrity, such as Canada, will take into account the military and environmental risks posed by such a prospect. Honesty in foreign policy is much more important than economic gain," the paper quoted Stephanopoulos as saying.
The Greek president is due in Toronto on Wednesday.
 Turkish FM praises current level of Greek-Turkish relations
ISTANBUL, 31/05/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem this week reiterated that Ankara's current relations with Athens stand at one of the best levels that they've ever been.
Speaking on a Turkish television program, Cem also touched on the Cyprus issue, noting that the entire problem has entered a "course where Turkey can now better explain its (Cyprus problem) particulars."
The Turkish FM also referred to recent developments in Turkish-Iranian relations, where he said that "the new government in Iran provides hope". He added that although Ankara's relations with its eastern neighbor are still not at a desired level, "they are much better than in the past."
 NATO exercise running smoothly, Tyrnavos NATO base commander says
Athens, 31/05/2000 (ANA)The commander of the NATO sub-headquarters in Tyrnavos near Larissa, Lt.-Gen. Manolis Mantzanos, said during a press conference on Tuesday that he was fully satisfied with the course of NATO's "Dynamic Mix" exercise, currently taking place in Greece. He also stressed that cooperation between the Greeks and Turks participating had been flawless.
Mantzanos added that Greeks and Turks had worked together harmoniously in military exercises in the past, but this was the first time that they were cooperating in this way on Greek soil.
With regard to the departure of two French ships on Monday, the NATO commander pointed out that France was still participating in the exercise with another three ships.
The final phase of the exercise, he said, would take place on June 5 at the Askos Profitis area near Thessaloniki in the presence of high-ranking Alliance officers, and perhaps also National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, and would use live fire.
Mantzanos said the exercise cost NATO 70 million drachmas, not including the sums spent by the member-states on their own detachments.
In a related development, a planned protest by the Communist Party of Greece's (KKE) youth group, scheduled to take place as NATO staff boarded buses for the base, reportedly failed to materialize because of a strong police presence.
 Tank carrier 'Rodos' delivered to Greek Navy at Elefsina Shipyards
Athens, 31/05/2000 (ANA)The tank carrier "Rodos", the fifth of its kind completing a program started in 1986, was delivered to the Greek Navy at the Elefsina Shipyards on Tuesday in the presence of National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos.
Speaking at the ceremony, Tsohatzopoulos referred to the European economic policy and preconditions the Greek Defense Industry should observe and by which it was fully accepted, and on an equal basis, in the European defense industry.
Navy General Staff Chief Vice-Admiral George Ioannidis said the contract for the building of a tanker and three missile boats, assigned to the Elefsina Shipyards has been activated and has entered its initial stage.
 ND leader speaks of coordinated operation to weaken party
Athens, 31/05/2000 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis said on Tuesday that a coordinated operation was underway to weaken the party and linked it to the risk of projects being awarded directly in light of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and to non transparent procedures in light of denationalizations.
He was speaking at a meeting of party department leaders, which focused on the party's opposition activities. He called for a more determined and more intense presence, adding that the internal dialogue in the run-up to next month's extraordinary congress does not exclude the exercising of the party's institutional role.
Karamanlis said "various people are being reviled and are the victims of mudslinging, with me first of all. A primary message should be taken from here. We will show no tolerance to such phenomena, we will not remain apathetic, we are relentless and uncompromising and are forging ahead. We will not allow any shadow of compromise in pressures exerted on us. We should stand steadfast because such phenomena are linked unbreakably to the quality of democracy."
Karamanlis let it be understood that he is expecting more attacks and stressed that all should rise to the occasion, while understanding and solidarity is necessary between cadres.
On the question of new identity cards, ND insisted on its position that a dialogue should be held between the state and the Church and stressed that its proposal for the voluntary registration of one's religion in identity cards constitutes the base for a start to dialogue.
Party cadres also accused the government of taking by surprise and deceiving the Church, while noting that the European Union does not impose non-registration of religion in identity cards.
 Papandreou discusses planned changes in local government
Athens, 31/05/2000 (ANA)Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou on Tuesday met with the Prefecture Administrations Union (ENAE) leadership and discussed the ministry's plans for changes on the local administration districts, as well as the clarification of jurisdictions of the different authorities.
Papandreou held a similar meeting with the Municipalities and Communities Union (KEDKE) last week in light of the dialogue expected to begin between the ministry and local governments in June.
 Initiative Royaumont being incorporated in Balkan Stability Pact
BRUSSELS, 31/05/2000 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)The European Union's Initiative Royaumont on cooperation between countries in southeastern Europe, the development of relations of good neighborliness and the consolidation of stability in the region, shaken by the Bosnian crisis, is completing its cycle five years after its creation and is being incorporated in the Balkan Stability Pact.
Panayiotis Roumeliotis, the special representative of Royaumont to whom the European Council has entrusted the role of coordinator among member-states and the link with the EU regarding their internal reconstruction, said "incorporation with the stability Pact is aligned with the EU's present priorities in the region of southeastern Europe which concern increased interest in the region, with Kosovo as the focal point, the strengthening of the society of citizens and cross-border cooperation."
Referring to the incorporation of the two organizations, Roumeliotis said they are corresponding experiences, which have shifted the center of gravity in the region after the crisis in Kosovo.
A total of 34 programs costing 7.5 million euro are being implemented in the sectors of the society of citizens, the mass media, education, dialogue among various ethnic groups and social and inter-parliamentary dialogue in the framework of the Royaumont process.
 Gov't comments on issue of framework for referendums
Athens, 31/05/2000 (ANA)The Greek government on Tuesday said the issue of holding referendums for specific issues would be touched upon during upcoming deliberations on constitutional revision.
In reply to a press question, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the government is planning to table a relevant draft law in Parliament detailing the terms and conditions for holding nationwide referendums.
 Angelopoulou-Daskalaki cautious on Athens 2004 draft bill
Athens, 31/05/2000 (ANA)The President of the Athens 2004 company, the organizers of the Olympic Games, Gianna Angelopoulou-Daskalaki said on Tuesday the new draft bill regarding the operation of the company "is in the right direction" and what was important was the government's will for problems to be solved.
"Beyond that, we will all be judged on how we utilize the existing framework," she said in response to questions by members of Parliament's Cultural Affairs Committee.
Angelopoulou-Daskalaki refused to be drawn on questions regarding the progress of Olympic projects and any possible sanctions by the IOC in case there were further delays.
 EU Commission recommends euro/drachma parity at 340.750 Drs
BRUSSELS, 31/05/2000 (ANA/M.Spinthourakis)The European Commission on Tuesday adopted the necessary community legislative regulations ahead of the drachma's entry in the euro currency and recommended that the Greek currency's switch parity should be its current ERM II central rate of 340.750 drachmas against the euro.
An ANA dispatch from Brussels said that the EU's executive's proposals were included in the framework of legislative procedures adopted two years ago, when a decision was taken for the creation of a single European currency, and aiming to complete the drachma's euro entry by June 20 following a decision by an EU summit in Portugal.
The Commission's decision typically announces that the Greek currency's parity will be permanently fixed against the euro on January 1, 2001.
The European Commission also adopted recommendations to amend community regulations on the euro currency aiming to legislatively establish the circulation of euro coins and notes by January 1, 2002 in Greece and the other 11 members of the euro zone.
EU sources said that the Greek government would seek rapid adjustment of the Greek law to EU regulations.
 Greek government plans to create 75,000 new jobs this year
Athens, 31/05/2000 (ANA)The Greek government plans to create 75,000 new jobs this year aiming to boost employment by 300,000 jobs in the period 2000-2004, Labor and Social Security Minister Anastassios Yiannitsis said on Tuesday.
Presenting the government's national action plan for employment to the parliament's social affairs committee, Yiannitsis said that Greece was among the top EU states in employment growth rates, based on 1994-1999 figures, with 150,000 new jobs created in the previous four years, excluding an "indefinite number of jobs" occupied by immigrants.
Yiannitsis said the national employment action plan focused on four points: improving workers' skills, equal opportunities for both sexes, promoting a business culture and adjusting workers and businesses to a new economic environment.
 Gov't chooses two consultants to find strategic partner for OTE
Athens, 31/05/2000 (ANA)National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said on Tuesday that Credit Suisse First Boston and Warburg Dillon Read had been selected to act as consultants in finding a strategic alliance for Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), which is listed on the Athens bourse.
Papantoniou also said that if more than 50 percent of OTE's stock were to be floated on the Athens Stock Exchange, the state would retain control of the company through management.
Papantoniou was speaking after a meeting with Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis to choose the consultants.
He added that the two international firms would this year give the government their recommendation and that either a single partner or group of partners could be chosen.
No jobs would be lost under a new ownership or management arrangement, Papantoniou added in reply to a question.
 Greek stocks continue moving lower
Athens, 31/05/2000 (ANA)Equity prices ended lower on Tuesday, reflecting losses in blue chip stocks and subdued turnover as many investors remained on the sidelines awaiting fresh news.
Analysts said the general index was currently moving sideways trying to find the necessary strength to break above the 4,800 resistance level. They said that low volumes undermined such efforts and predicted that the market would find support at the 4,550 level.
The general index ended at 4,570.19 points, down 0.52 percent, but off the day's lows of 4,534.60 points. Turnover was a low 138 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.54 percent lower at 2,539.15 points and the FTSE/ASE 40 index fell 0.22 percent to 663.35 points.
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended at 979.11 points, up 2.13 percent.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 176 to 163 with another six issues unchanged.
Informer, Hellenic Telecoms, Klonatex, Doudos and Lambrakis Press were the most heavily traded stocks.
Bonds end mixed in brisk trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market ended mixed in brisk trade on Tuesday with buyers active in the first part of the session and sellers in the second.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.074 percent from 6.09 percent in the previous session; and the yield on the equivalent German bund was 5.218 percent.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 85-86 basis points from 86 basis points a session earlier.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 96 billion drachmas from 24 billion drachmas in the previous session.
Sell orders accounted for around half of turnover.
Drachma up vs. euro, dollar: The drachma on Tuesday rose 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 337.100 drachmas from 337.150 drachmas in the previous session.
Also at the fixing, the US dollar was set at 359.780 drachmas from 363.950 drachmas a day earlier.
 Papantoniou urges for strengthened role of EU Finance Ministers
Athens, 31/05/2000 (ANA)National Economy and Finance Minister, Yiannos Papantoniou, on Tuesday urged for a strengthened role of the 12 finance ministers of euro zone member-states in shaping the EU's economic policy.
Addressing a meeting with Greek Eurodeputies, Papantoniou said it was important to strengthen the institutional role of the finance ministers' council to create a counterbalance to the European Central Bank's powers in shaping economic policy in the European Union.
Commenting on plans for the EU's expansion, Papantoniou said there must be forms of a more enhanced cooperation to boost integration and predicted that the expansion drive with the 12 candidate states would have been completed by 2005.
Turkey, was a separate chapter, he said.
Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Papantoniou said that the government's privatization program "forbade lay-offs" and that it ensured job positions.
He said that the government would further support lower and medium-sized incomes through tax and social spending measures.
 BA officials due in Athens
Athens, 31/05/2000 (ANA)British Airways officials are expected in Athens on Friday for talks with the government on the possibility of an acquisition of a stake in Olympic Airways, the public-owned national carrier.
National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, who consulted with Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis on the issue on Tuesday, said later that "everything depends on the price".
The deadline for the submission of bids expires on June 28.
According to sources, the stake which the government is considering of selling does not exceed 20 percent, while six percent will be given to employees, and a further 23 percent will possibly be floated in the stock market. The state is to retain at least 51 percent.
The same reports said that if the offer is not satisfactory, the government will unilaterally terminate the contract of the British managers of the carrier and issue a new invitation to tender.
 Civil aviation authority expresses concern over FAA ban on two OA Airbuses
Athens, 31/05/2000 (ANA)A decision by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), the influential agency that oversees air traffic control and the airline industry in the United States, to reportedly ban two new Olympic Airways "Airbus 340" from landing at US airports has apparently taken Greece's civil aviation authority (YPA) by surprise.
According to the latest information, no official memorandum from the FAA to its Greek counterpart has arrived, although OA officials were informed last week of the ban on the two 340s passenger jets. Another two OA Airbuses, conversely, have already been included in an FAA register of planes allowed to land and take off from US airports as of early 1999. OA at present has six planes, including two of the four Airbuses, on the FAA's register.
YPA officials said FAA officials, who also reportedly stated that no more commercial jetliners are being added to the specific register for the time being, cited "bureaucratic reasons".
On their part, OA officials emphasized that the documentation and relevant forms to acquire FAA approval for the two Airbuses had been relayed to US authorities since last fall. Similar FAA approval is pending for another two OA Airbus 300-600 expected to service the all-important Athens-Boston via Manchester route as of June 18, sources at Greece's national carrier said, before expressing concerns that delays may damage the airline's North American summer schedule.
Whereas no issue of decreasing OA routes or the number of OA flights has been raised - OA continues to use two Boeing 747 "Jumbos" - YPA sources said FAA's "red tape" comes after two US civil aviation delegations expressed satisfaction with Greece's flight operations system (October 1999 and over the past few days), while an ICAO inspection on Feb. 14, 2000 also passed local systems and operations.
Concerns over possible "US coolness" towards the European-made Airbus -- Boeing's chief competitor -- have also been aired
 Christodoulakis briefs EU colleagues on energy market deregulation
Athens, 31/05/2000 (ANA)Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Tuesday briefed his European Union colleagues on the latest energy developments in Greece, the setting up of the Energy Regulatory Authority in view of the deregulation of the market next year.
Speaking during the Energy Ministers' Council, he emphasized the need for objective indices of the quantitative and qualitative characteristics of the deregulation and its impact on public utilities and employment.
Christodoulakis said the time had come to examine disconnecting the prices of natural gas from those of oil, as natural gas was the strategic fuel for the deregulation of energy markets.
 British presence at Posidonia 2000
Athens, 31/05/2000 (ANA)Britain's Deputy Minister for Shipping Keith Hill and the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Clive Martin, will be in Athens next week for the opening of the Posidonia international shipping fair, the British embassy announced.
Hill is due to visit Athens from June 5 to 7, while Martin, heading a Maritime London delegation, will be in Athens June 4-5 before going to Thessaloniki June 6-7.
While in Athens, Hill will meet with Greece's merchant marine minister Christos Papoutsis and transport and communications minister Christos Verelis to discuss bilateral ties and EU shipping and transport issues.
Martin will participate in several Posidonia events, and meet with the deputy governor of the Bank of Greece, the governor of the National Bank of Greece, the president of the Union of Greek Ship-owners, and the mayors of Athens and Piraeus. On June 6 he will go to Thessaloniki to address a luncheon reception of businessmen and other key local figures on the City of London's business relations with Greece and the City's possible involvement in Balkan development.
The biennial Posidonia, one of the largest and most important gatherings in the world shipping calendar, opens Monday, June 5,in the refurbished Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) Exhibition Center in the heart of Greek shipping's home port.
According to a British embassy press release, Hill's visit emphasizes the well-established and strong links between the important maritime sectors in the two countries. Some 40 British companies and organizations will be represented at Posidonia, covering most of the sectors of British maritime expertise.
Although Britain's commercial shipping fleet is only a fraction of what it used to be, London remains the world's number one maritime sector, and the bilateral shipping relationship between Greece and the UK remains of vital importance to the British maritime sector, the press release said.
One of the largest shipping congresses ever will launch Posidonia 2000.
The day-long congress, to be held at the Megaron-Athens Concert Hall on June 2, will focus on the issues affecting Greek and international shipping and will provide attendees with the opportunity to mix, meet and discuss the Posidonia week ahead.
 European Commission organizes energy conference in Athens
Athens, 31/05/2000 (ANA)Mediterranean, Balkan and Black Sea countries' energy ministers are expected to arrive in Athens to attend a two-day conference on cooperation on energy issues with the European Union, scheduled for Thursday.
The conference, organized by the European Commission and the Greek ministry of development, will be attended by Union Commissioner Loyola de Palacio, Greek Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and his counterparts from Balkan, Black Sea and Mediterranean countries, including those that belong to the EU.
The agenda of the conference includes issues on cooperation regarding energy, environment, petrol transport, natural gas transport, safe transport and financing of relevant projects.
 Public Works Minister optimistic over projects planned for 2004 Athens Olympiad
Athens, 31/05/2000 (ANA)Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis appeared optimistic on Tuesday over the course of projects planned for the 2004 Athens Olympiad and promised that the five projects undertaken by his ministry will be ready in August 2004, according to plan.
Referring to the Olympiad in general, Laliotis said the Olympic Games symbolize and mean a great deal for Greece.
"Leaps are necessary now. Not even a day should be lost. The Olympic Games constitute a big bet for the government, the parties and agencies. We all have the duty to succeed and we should intensify our pace. There should be a strict timetable and transparency, as well as the greatest possible political and social consensus," he said.
Laliotis also expressed support for the creation of a mosque in the Paiania area, east of Athens, as is anticipated by the legislative bill concerning the Olympiad.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, referring to criticism over delays voiced by former deputy Olympiad Organizing Committee president Niki Tzavella, said that Greece is preparing to organize an excellent Olympiad in 2004.
Reppas said that the Prime Minister himself gave the signal for the intensification of efforts and this is already producing results.
 Greece observes World Day against smoking on Wednesday
Athens, 31/05/2000 (ANA)The Ministry of Health and Welfare initiated on Tuesday a campaign to inform citizens on the dangers of smoking, in light of the World Health Organizations international day against smoking on May 31st.
The campaign slogan is "Smoking Kills - Do not let them deceive you" calling on Greeks to stop smoking, as Greece ranked first in tobacco consumption in the European Union.
The EU has adopted a common policy against smoking, aiming to inform consumers and to take measures limiting the use of tobacco.
The first health regulation forbidding smoking in public transportation vehicles adopted by Greece was put into effect in 1972, while in 1980 a new regulation forbade smoking in enclosed public spaces, later in 1987 Greece adopted the first law forbidding the advertisement of tobacco products on television and radio.
In 1989 tobacco companies were obliged by new regulations to place the well-known health warning on every package of smoking products "Smoking causes serious damage to the health".
In 1992 regulations forced companies producing goods for consumption by children to manufacture similes of smoking products and in 1993 a ministerial decision forbade smoking in buildings of the health service sector.
The next step will the adoption of EU regulation on a total ban of tobacco products advertising by member-states by July 30, 2001.
 Gorbachev to inaugurate medical center in Thessaloniki
Athens, 31/05/2000 (ANA)Michael Gorbachev, the last leader of the former Soviet Union, will inaugurate on June 17 the Thessaloniki "George Apostolopoulos" Balkan Medical Center, in the presence of dignitaries from around the world.
 Government says will push for implementation of European Court ruling in Loizidou case
NICOSIA, 31/05/2000 (CNA/ANA)The government will press on with its efforts to get a European Court of Human Rights ruling against Turkey executed and intends to apply all legal and political means to achieve this objective, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said here on Tuesday.
He also indicated that the postponement of the execution of the Court decision in the case of Greek Cypriot Titina Loizidou is tantamount to a denial of the European principles by the Europeans themselves and ruled out any exchange of property between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
"The object of the exercise is to push for implementation of the Court judgment in the Loizidou case and to this effect, we shall study various options that would lead to the execution of the decision as soon as possible," Papapetrou said, commenting on
Wednesday's meeting in Athens between Cypriot and Greek officials on the issue.
The spokesman said postponing the execution of the ruling is "basically a denial on the part of the Europeans of their own principles."
Greek Cypriot Titina Loizidou challenged Turkey's continuing occupation of Cyprus' northern part since 1974 prohibiting her from peacefully enjoying and using her property there, which contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Court ruled in December 1996 that Turkey, through the large presence of her troops exercises effective overall control in occupied Cyprus, something which entails responsibility for the policies and actions of the self-styled Turkish Cypriot regime in those areas.
The Court also said Loizidou is and must be regarded the legal owner of her property and ordered Ankara to pay some 900,000 US dollars in compensation. Commenting on a Turkish Cypriot proposal to have Greek and Turkish Cypriots exchange their properties, Papapetrou said "such a move is not allowed, either on legal or political grounds because it violates important fundamental human rights."
"We hope that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash will relinquish such approaches, if we are to find at some stage a common language of understanding," the spokesman said.
Present at Wednesday's meeting in Athens will be Attorney General Alecos Markides, Tasos Tzionis, Director of the Cyprus problem division at the Foreign Ministry, and Loizidou's lawyer Achilleas Demetriades.