|Friday, 4 December 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-06-06
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 EU finance ministers approve Greek euro-zone bid
LUXEMBOURG, 06/06/2000 (ANA-M. Spinthourakis)Finance ministers of the 15-nation European Union on Monday unanimously approved Greece's bid to join the euro-zone on January 1, 2001.
The ministers adopted an earlier recommendation by the EU's executive Commission, which means the final step for Greek entry is anticipated endorsement by EU leaders at a summit in Portugal on June 19-20.
National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, who attended the Luxembourg meeting, welcomed the approval, calling it "historic" for Greece.
Papantoniou also said that the 11-member euro zone had decided to invite Greece to euro council meetings from July, well before its expected entry in January.
Speaking on behalf of the euro-zone's 11 members, the finance minister of the Netherlands called Greece's swift progress in meeting the Maastricht Treaty's entry criteria "an amazing success".
The finance ministers' recommendation for Greek euro-zone entry is to be given to this month's EU summit in Fiera.
"On the basis of evaluation concerning the fulfillment of convergence criteria, Greece has succeeded in attaining a high level of sustainable convergence," said the recommendation, which was released to reporters.
The recommendation, in the form of a brief report, said the country had met the inflation criterion in April 1999-March 2000 with a rate of 2.0 percent, lower than the EU's 2.4 percent reference point.
It also underlined the need for the government to implement structural economic reforms in the mid-term in order to ensure long-term alignment with other member states.
 Spokesman rejects congressional report on terrorism as 'anti-Greek fabrication'
Athens, 06/06/2000 (ANA)Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas on Monday rejected the claims of a US congressional panel that has recommended that Greece be designated a country "not fully cooperating" in tackling terrorism.
In a report published by the US daily "Washington Post" on Sunday, the National Commission on Terrorism called for increased spending and wider powers for US agencies to combat terrorism, while it recommended that Greece and Pakistan, both US allies, be designated as "not fully cooperating" against terrorism. If the proposal were adopted, Greece would then be barred from purchasing US military equipment and participating in a US "visa-waiver" program.
Describing the report as an "anti-Greek fabrication," Reppas said that the necessary steps were being taken with the competent US agencies. He said the matter had not been discussed by Prime Minister Costas Simitis and US President Bill Clinton, both of whom were in Berlin over the weekend for a conference.
In response to questions regarding a memorandum for cooperation between Greek and US police, the spokesman said that the memorandum had been drafted but no date for its signature had yet been set.
Late on Sunday, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said that the US government was "not considering sanctions" against Greece and Pakistan, regardless of the congressional report.
 Papandreou says report on terrorism "unfair for Greece and its image"
LONDON, 06/06/2000 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Monday expressed displeasure over the report.
"I wish to stress that the report published by the American Congress is unfair for Greece and its image. Greece is a country with the best performances on the issue of security compared with other countries and, of course, the practically expressed will to combat terrorism," he said.
Papandreou said he was pleased because the US government, through US Ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns, took necessary distances from the report.
In Athens, main opposition New Democracy party spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos, commenting on the same report, said Greece's identification with Pakistan was "an unfair and provocative exaggeration."
Spiliotopoulos said such reports and allegations cause great harm to the country's image and interests, particularly when they are made during the tourist period.
He added that issues exist where Greece should increase the effectiveness of its action against organized crime, terrorism and drugs. Spiliotopoulos said the composition of courts and police restructuring were, however, "domestic issues from all points of view".
 Bremer accuses Greece of lack of cooperation in fighting terrorism
WASHINGTON, 06/06/2000 (ANA - A. Ellis)Speaking at a press conference in Congress on Monday, the President of the National Committee on Terrorism Paul Bremer said Greece does not cooperate as much as it should on cracking down on terrorism. The press conference was held on the occasion of the presentation of a report by a committee created by Congress to seek measures aimed at the more effective handling of the risk of terrorist attacks against Americans both in the United States and abroad.
Bremer invoked this year's State Department report on terrorism and said "Greece is the weakest link in the effort against terrorism in Europe", claiming that the committee's proposal to the Clinton administration is to examine the possibility of imposing certain sanctions on Greece, without this necessary meaning that it should do this.
However, his preference for sanctions being imposed was clear as he stated that evidence collected over the past 25 years proved that Greece does not cooperate absolutely with the US in this sector and for this reason there should be consideration for some sanctions.
Replying to a remark by the ANA that reference to Greece is unfortunate, to say the least, since the 146 cases of attacks against American targets even included the breaking of window panes, while the four American officials who lost their lives in Greece are far fewer than those who have been killed in many other countries in the world which are not mentioned in the report, Bremer said "you should tell this to the relatives of these people" and referred to the case of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan afterwards and added that "Greece helped a terrorist and the Greek ambassador in Kenya gave him hospitality at his residence."
The 64-page report includes three pages on Greece. It says that "Greece is annoyingly passive in the confrontation of terrorist acts" and adds that "since 1975 146 terrorist attacks against American interests have occurred in Greece and only one case has been solved and there are no indications that investigations of substance have taken place in the rest."
The report further says that "despite complaints by the US the Greek authorities allow the Turkish organization Popular Revolutionary Liberation Party (DHKP-C), which is on the State Departments' list of terrorist organizations, to maintain offices in Athens.
It also proposes to President Clinton to examine the possibility of placing Greece, as well as Pakistan, in the category of "states that do not fully cooperate" with the US anti-terrorist services, as well as an increase in public criticism against countries in this category and the adoption by Congress of a law prohibiting these countries from participating in the visa waiver program.
 State Dept not to impose sanctions on Greece over terrorism
WASHINGTON, 06/06/2000 (ANA- T. Ellis)The United States is not considering imposing sanctions on Greece over its record of cooperation in fighting terrorism, State Department spokesman Philip Reeker told reporters on Monday.
"We are working closely with the Simitis government and the Greek Police to support their anti-terrorist efforts," he said.
US envoy Burns reiterates his government's disagreement over terrorism report: US Ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns on Monday reiterated his Sunday statement that the US government did not agree with the Congress National Commission's views on terrorism and Greece.
Burns made the statement after meeting Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis in the framework of "Poseidonia" exhibition.
"The American government does not agree with these positions. Greece is a friendly country, a NATO ally, and we are cooperating excellently. No sanction will be imposed. We have cooperation and I believe that in six to eight months we will have agreed on that Greek citizens will not be required to obtain visas for the US. We want friendly relations with Greece. Terrorism is a difficult affair and is a global phenomenon. We are cooperating closely with the Greek government to confront it. The time has come to see the development of the issue, while there is also good cooperation with Public Order Minister Mr. Chrysohoidis. The US government does not agree on the positions on terrorism and does not intend to take measures against Greece," Burns said.
 Papandreou testifies before House of Commons committee over Parthenon Marbles
LONDON, 06/06/2000 (ANA-L.Tsirigotakis)Foreign Minister George Papandreou testified for two hours on Monday before a House of Commons cultural committee in London, arguing for the return of the famous Parthenon Marbles to Greece.
At the head of a three-member Greek delegation, which included culture ministry general secretary Lina Mendoni and Jules Dassin of the Melina Merkouri Institute, Papandreou put his case to a nine-member British parliamentary committee that is holding an inquiry into the illicit trade of antiquities.
The line taken by the Greek foreign minister marks a new approach to the issue, with the Greek side inviting the British government and the British Museum to cooperate with Greece in finding a solution that satisfies all parties, with the eventual prospect of the Marbles return to Greece. He specified, however, that such a development need not be directly linked to the issue of who owns the Marbles.
"I have the impression," Papandreou said, "that our proposal is realistic. The return of the Marbles to Greece would be a historic affair that would deeply move the Greek people, and which will gain a large place in the hearts of Greeks."
Papandreou argued that the Greek side is legally and historically justified, and pointed to reports by archaeologists that talked about the need to make the unique Parthenon temple whole again.
Talking about his testimony afterward, Papandreou described it as "a new start, a new beginning" since this was the first time that the British Parliament had shown an interest in investigating the issue of the Parthenon Marbles in 200 years.
"I have the impression," he continued, "that the members of the committee were strongly interested in finding a solution to the issue of the sculptures from the Parthenon."
On Thursday, the same parliamentary committee will hear the testimony of British Museum director Robert Anderson and other museum officials.
 Papandreou and Cook discuss Cyprus and Parthenon Marbles
LONDON, 06/06/2000 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou discussed the issue of the Parthenon Marbles with his British counterpart Robin Cook during a working lunch with him on Monday.
Papandreou briefed Cook on Greece's views and proposals, which he had earlier submitted to a House of Commons culture committee.
"Mr. Cook listened to me with interest," Papandreou said, adding that he was not the relevant minister but he would convey the views to the British Culture Minister.
Papandreou said the issue given the most attention during the meeting was the Cyprus issue.
"This issue is preoccupying us at the moment, particularly in light of the new rounds of talks which we want to be substantive and have an essence in order to help towards a solution. Conditions over the Cyprus problem have improved. I believe that the new political environment, together with the interest of the international community and of the UN, as well as Turkey's EU candidacy, which under the circumstances is linked to good neighborliness and to another candidate country named Cyprus, are the new factors which create a better starting base for the new developments on the Cyprus issue," he said.
Papandreou said he also discussed with Cook the situation in the Balkans, saying that also due to Greece's initiatives the Balkans are at the focal point of the EU's interest.
On the question of Papandreou's appearance at the House of Commons culture committee on the Parthenon Marbles, a journalist responsible for Channel Four's cultural issues said "what I heard from the Greek minister was very interesting. I believe that his tone was of particular importance. He was conciliatory, polite and not at all provocative. What he pointed out was that an opportunity exists at the moment and let us take advantage of it. It was a rational and convincing appearance on his part."
 Foreign Ministry spokesman says Greece follows policy of equality
Athens, 06/06/2000 (ANA)Foreign Ministry spokesman Panayiotis Beglitis said on Monday that Greece follows a policy of equality before the law and of equal rights for all Greek citizens regardless of religious affiliations.
"Greece is following, without deviations, a policy of equality before the law and of equal rights for all Greek citizens, regardless of religious affiliations, including the citizens belonging to the Moslem minority," he said in reply to accusations, formulated earlier Monday, by the Turkish Foreign Ministry regarding the conviction of the pseudo-mufti in Xanthi Mehmet Emin Aga.
Beglitis said Greece's policy of equality before the law is based on respect for the European Union's international treaties and democratic principles.
"The rights of Greek Moslems are fully safeguarded by the rule of law, which envisages certain obligations as well. These obligations must be observed by all citizens who are subject to control in this respect," Beglitis added.
 Ankara reacts to 'pseudo-mufti's' conviction
ISTANBUL, 06/06/2000 (ANA - Kourkoulas)Last week's conviction by a Greek court of a man on charges of falsely impersonating a Muslim religious official drew a sharp response by Turkey's foreign ministry on Monday.
Ankara charged that the conviction of "pseudo-Mufti" Mehmet Emin Aga "again violates the rights of western Thrace's Turkish minority."
In the same announcement, the foreign ministry states that Turkey is determined to protect the "Turkish minority's" rights, while calling on Greece to "respect these rights".
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Turkish assembly's human rights committee, Sema Piskinsut, who attended Aga's trial in the central Greek city of Lamia, said the recent Greek-Turkish rapprochement has not as yet affected the "low-level bureaucratic and judicial strata, or efforts for a comprehensive solution of (bilateral) problems."
The self-styled "mufti" was sentenced to seven months imprisonment by a Lamia court on Wednesday on charges of, among others, impersonating the legal religious authority by issuing bulletins of a religious nature.
Aga issued religious statements despite the fact that he was not the official Mufti in the Xanthi region, located in the NE Greek province of Thrace.
According to international treaties signed between Greece and Turkey in the early 1920s, appointment of Islamic religious officials in Thrace and Greek Orthodox clerics in Turkey are subject to validation by state authorities in the country they serve.
The "pseudo-mufti" was given the right to buy off his sentence at 1,500 drachmas per day, a sentence that was lower than the initial 20-month jail term.
Present at the hearing was a five-member delegation from the Turkish parliament, observers from the local Amnesty International chapter and around 100 followers of Aga.
 Greece and Turkey discuss cooperation in European matters
Athens, 06/06/2000 (ANA)The foreign ministry's European Affairs general secretary, Ilias Plaskovitis, on Friday visited Istanbul, Turkey at the head of a ministry delegation for the third Greek-Turkish meeting for cooperation in European matters.
A foreign ministry announcement on Monday said that the meeting was carried out in a warm and friendly atmosphere and it was agreed that a series of seminars should be set up for the further training of Turkish civil servants in economic, customs and banking issues, as well as for the Turkish judiciary on the application of European law by Turkish courts.
This cooperation is expected to continue in the future and to examine other areas that interest both countries in relation to European affairs
 Verheugen cautions Turkey, Turkish Cypriots
BRUSSELS, 06/06/2000 (ANA- Y. Zitouniati)The European Union's top enlargement official on Monday indirectly cautioned Turkey to mend its ways regarding human rights if it wanted closer ties with Europe.
"Turkey's progress in human rights and democratic reform will play a crucial role in the commencement of accession negotiations," said the Union's Enlargement Commissioner, Guenter Verheugen, during a session of the joint EU-Turkey parliamentary committee.
He also cautioned that it would be impossible to speak of Turkey's accession before that of Cyprus, which, he said, he hoped will have solved its political problem by then.
Referring to the Turkish Cypriots, he warned that their political positions were not realistic and that they had not grasped the changes in the international scene.
"I am not happy and I expect a lot from the Turkish-Cypriot community. Their position is understood by it does not correspond to reality," he said.
 Spanish PM in Athens on Tuesday
Athens, 06/06/2000 (ANA)Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar starts a two-day official visit to Greece on Tuesday. He will have talks with Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Wednesday.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, who made the statement, also announced that on Tuesday afternoon Simitis would have a telephone conversation with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guteres, who currently presides over the European Union.
 Last land operation in Dynamic Mix exercise concluded successfully
Athens, 06/06/2000 (ANA)The last phase of land operations of the multinational NATO exercise "Dynamic Mix" ended in northern Greece on Monday.
The operation, which included 550 troops from Greece, the US and Hungary on the ground and fighter planes from Turkey, was watched by the leadership of the Greek National Defense ministry and the Greek Armed Forces General Staff, the commanders of NATO's southern flank and NATO Forces Europe, and the commanders of the four NATO regional headquarters in the Mediterranean, based in Larissa, Madrid, Verona and Smyrna, respectively.
The final phase of the exercise involved the use of live ammunition by artillery, Greek Mirage and F-16 fighter jets, and use of anti-tank systems and Apache helicopters.
In statements after the exercise, Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos congratulated the leadership of all participating detachments, stressing that through such exercises the participating countries strengthen their joint-defense capacity and their ability to face problems and crises in various parts of the world.
"This is an effort that is appreciated by all the peoples of the region as a contribution to ensuring peace, security and stability," he said.
Oymen says Greek-Turkish cooperation in NATO "normal": The participation of Turkish troops in the ongoing Dynamic Mix exercise in Greece is a definite improvement from past problems which amounted to an abnormal situation, a senior Turkish official said on Monday.
"It is a further indication of the rapprochement between the two countries and of the solidarity of Turkey and Greece with NATO... The Turkish officers were happy to cooperate with their Greek counterparts ... NATO allies collaborating in an exercise is a normal situation. Past problems were not," said Turkish ambassador to NATO Onur Oymen in Thessaloniki.
Oymen attended the last phase of land operations of the exercise outside the city as a member of the Turkish delegation
 Culture Minister Pangalos says Greek-Turkish dialogue in "complete deadlock"
Athens, 06/06/2000 (ANA)Culture Minister Theodoros Pangalos said in an interview published in the Athens daily "Apogevmatini" on Monday that Olympic Airways, Greece's national carrier, should be sold to private interests.
"Conditions are mature for Olympic to be sold. In Greece a party apparatus is not expected to rule, but a government. The issue, therefore, is whether Parliament is prepared to ratify further funding of Olympic Airways. We do not have limitless money. I consider a grave responsibility of mine my allowing the company to survive in 1994 and not close. I would like the harm to stop because the future of this company is defined with an ever-increasing deficit at the expense of the Greek taxpayer," Pangalos said and insisted that the government should discuss the issue.
Pangalos also referred to the tragic accident concerning the Falcon jet last September in which Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis and six other people were killed, stressing that for the accident and "the murder, the death of Yiannos Kranidiotis" a specific person was responsible who he did not name. He added, however, that he heads trade union interrelations and runs the company at present.
Pangalos, also a former foreign minister, commented on Greek-Turkish relations and said "we are in a complete deadlock at the moment."
"The idea that you will flatter the Turkish political world is totally alien to the Turks' civilization and history," he said.
Pangalos supported the appropriateness of Greece's position at the EU summit in Helsinki last December but said that "I think it was an illusion for us to expect positive initiatives from the Turks."
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said nobody had the right to speak on behalf of the government before report on the Falcon tragedy is issued, adding that if some people are responsible for the tragedy they will be held accountable and will be punished, but embarking on a witch-hunt is not a serious handling of the issue. He said the Romanian civil aviations report on the accident is expected to be completed early next month and will be conveyed to the Greek authorities.
Main opposition New Democracy party spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos called on Prime Minister Costas Simitis to implement his commitment and take an initiative for a fact-finding committee to be created on the issue.
Spiliotopoulos said that a major issue has been created, as a result of Pangalos' statements, having penal, moral and political ramifications.
 Greek MPs to participate at BSEC session in Tirana
Athens, 06/06/2000 (ANA)A five-member Greek Parliamentary committee leaves for Tirana, Albania on Tuesday in order to participate in the 15th parliamentary assembly of Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) member-states.
The bipartisan Greek delegation will participate in sessions scheduled to focus on promoting cooperation among SMEs as well as joint initiatives by member-states in the field of law enforcement, customs, immigration etc.
The assembly is scheduled to last from June 6-8.
 Patriarch invites Euro-deputies to Orthodox Church conference
BRUSSELS, 06/06/2000 (ANA)The fourth round of talks between the Orthodox Church and the parliamentary group of the European Peoples' Party and the European Democrats will take place on Thursday and Friday in Istanbul, at the invitation of Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.
According to an announcement on Monday, this is the regular annual meeting between representatives of Orthodox Churches around the world to discuss topical matters. The subject of this year's meeting will be "Society, Human Rights and Quality of Life".
Among those attending will be the head of New Democracy Euro-deputies Marietta Yiannakou and former European Commission President Jacques Santer, among others.
 Gov't to look into progress of Olympic Airways
Athens, 06/06/2000 (ANA)The government will examine allegations that Olympic Airways has failed to show financial recovery, despite its management by a British Airways subsidiary committed to making the airline profitable again, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Monday.
Speedwing, which belongs to BA, was hired two years ago in order to lift the national carrier out of its crisis.
Unfortunate results had emerged from the airline's management for which neither the state nor the government were responsible, Reppas said.
"Olympic is in crisis and the government will try to face this," he told reporters in reply to a question.
A new adviser would be appointed in order to advance the process of drawing up a tender for the sale of part of the company, the spokesman added.
Also on Monday, the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party announced that it would seek the creation of a committee to investigate the state of the airline.
ND said the move was feasible due to the number of seats the party held in parliament.
The decision was taken after a meeting of senior party officials chaired by ND leader Costas Karamanlis, who plans to visit Olympic Airways and seek an explanation from Prime Minister Costas Simitis in parliament.
 Greek stocks end lower in subdued trade
Athens, 06/06/2000 (ANA)Equity prices came under pressure to end lower on the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday with market sentiment undermined by worries over the privatization process in Olympic Airways and Commercial Bank of Greece and the inflation course in May. Blue chip stocks, particularly banks, ended with heavy losses followed by smaller capitalization stocks.
The general index broke the support level of 4,500 points to end 0.88 percent lower at 4,494.99 points with turnover a low 116.547 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended at 2,478.70 points, off 1.39 percent and the FTSE/ASE 40 index eased 0.64 percent to 658.99 points.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: 8,454.82 -1.85% Leasing: 956.77 -0.05% Insurance: 2,867.80 +0.80% Investment: 1,822.20 -0.42% Construction: 2,602.49 -1.16% Industrials: 2,760.37 +0.10% Miscellaneous: 4,852.00 -0.12% Holding: 5,144.57 -1.50%
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended at 946.13, off 2.36 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 232 to 105 with another eight issues unchanged.
Hellenic Telecoms, Korinth, General Warehouses and Sidenor were the most heavily traded stocks.
Leading shares' closing prices (in Drs): National Bank: 16,200 Alpha Bank: 14,500 Commercial Bank: 18,530 Ergobank: 7,200 Eurobank: 9,820 Heracles Cement: 8,935 Titan Cement (c): 13,500 Hellenic Telecoms: 8,750 Panafon: 4,400 Hellenic Petroleum: 4,130 Intracom: 15,040 Minoan Lines: 5,800 Hellenic Bottling: 6,100
Equity futures drop in thin trade: Equity futures finished lower on Monday, tracking the two indices on which they are based.
The FTSE/ASE 20 closed 1.39 percent lower, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 0.64 percent down.
Turnover was 4.6 billion drachmas from 7.9 billion drachmas a day earlier.
A total of 464 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 index with turnover at 2.3 billion drachmas.
Changing hands on the FTSE/ASE 40 were 899 futures on turnover also at 2.3 billion drachmas.
Bonds nose up in buy-oriented trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market rose slightly in light, buy-oriented trade on Monday.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.07 percent from 6.06 percent in the previous session; and the yield on the equivalent German bund was 5.11 percent.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 95-98 basis points from 101 basis points a day earlier.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 62 billion drachmas from 220 billion drachmas in the previous session.
Buy orders accounted for 44 billion drachmas of turnover and sell orders the remainder.
Drachma rises vs. euro, dollar: The drachma on Monday 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 336.900 drachmas from 337.050 drachmas in the previous session.
Also at the fixing, the US dollar was set at 356.990 drachmas from 360.180 drachmas a day earlier.
The drachma has lost 8.69 percent on the dollar since the start of the year.
 National Bank of Greece gets Bulgarian bank
Athens, 06/06/2000 (ANA)National Bank of Greece, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, has signed a contract for the acquisition of 90 percent of United Bulgarian Bank (UBB).
Selling the stock are the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Bulbank of Bulgaria, CIBC Oppenheimer Corp. and Jodrell Enterprises Ltd.
EBRD will retain 10 percent of shares in UBB for two years, which National Bank of Greece will then purchase.
UBB is one of the largest banks in Bulgaria with a market share of more than 11.0 percent and assets of over 500 million US dollars.
 Greek shipping registry shows net rise in May
Athens, 06/06/2000 (ANA)The Greek shipping registry posted an increase in May both in number of vessels and tonnage, the merchant marine ministry said on Monday.
Fourteen ships hoisted the Greek flag totalling 286,986 gross registered tons. Another 10 ships left the registry totalling 267,035 grt, the ministry said in a statement.
 Papoutsis opens shipping exhibition
Athens, 06/06/2000 (ANA)Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis on Monday inaugurated the annual Poseidonia shipping exhibition in Piraeus, which has drawn the participation of 1,500 companies from 70 countries.
Poseidonia offers a comprehensive overview of all sectors related to the world shipping industry, including shipyards, repairs, port services administration, shipping registers, insurance and financial services. This year's event includes 21 national pavilions -three more than in 1998, from Russia, Liberia and Turkey.
The more than 3,500 Greek-owned ships today total 145 million tons, representing 16 percent of world tonnage and 40 percent of the European Union's capacity.
 Mutual funds' assets rise 4.56 pct in May
Athens, 06/06/2000 (ANA)Greece's mutual funds' assets rose by 4.56 percent to 12.052 trillion drachmas in May, from 11.527 trillion in April, Institutional Investors' Union figures showed on Monday.
The increase reflects a 13.88 percent jump in domestic equity mutual funds' assets to 3.956 trillion drachmas from 3.473 trillion in April, and a 2.84 percent rise in the number of shares.
Equity mutual funds raised their share of the total market to 34.3 percent in May from 31.7 pct the previous month, while money market funds' share fell from 45.1 pct to 43.6 percent over the same period.
Vergina MidCap topped the list of returns in the domestic equity mutual funds' market, with an annual return of 12.04 pct, with the sector's average return at -15.85 percent from the start of the year.
Foreign equity mutual funds' assets fell to 137.24 billion drachmas, down 2.01 percent in the year with Alpha Trust European New Businesses recording an annual return of 9.34 percent. The sector's average return from the start of the year totals 2.11 percent.
International mutual funds' assets totalled 47.04 billion drachmas, down 5.18 percent, in May with Midland International Equity topping the list of returns with 12.81 percent. The sector's average return was -3.96 percent.
Money Market mutual funds' assets totalled 5.25 trillion drachmas in May, up 1.1 percent. Sogen Money Market topped the list of returns with 10.89 percent, up from the sector's average return of 3.40 percent.
International money market funds' assets fell 3.2 percent to 8.96 billion drachmas. Interamerican MM USD showed a return of 11.92 pct from the start of the year, up from the sector's average return of 6.16 pct.
Domestic bond mutual funds' assets fell 3.0 percent to 1.443 trillion drachmas in May. SOGEN Income topped the list of returns with 16.99 percent, up from the sector's average of 3.97 pct.
Foreign bond mutual funds' assets fell 5.45 percent to 67.54 billion drachmas. The sector's average return this year totalled 7.32 percent, with Barclays Foreign Bond yielding 13.29 pct.
International bond mutual funds' assets totalled 30.19 billion drachmas, off 3.37 percent in the year.
 Simitis emphasizes importance of ecological development of cities
Athens, 06/06/2000 (ANA)The sustainable development of cities has reached a crucial point and requires the broadest possible acceptance and consent, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Monday.
"Sustainable urban development is a demand for cities which are creative, socially fair, culturally and historically alive and environmentally friendly and responsible. The policies for development and rejuvenation of cities are now on discussion tables in all decision-making centers... Success requires a huge cooperative effort, involving central and local government, the productive forces and local volunteers' agencies. The depth of the required changes, both in administrative and social practices and in mentality dictate the broadest possible consensus and acceptance," he said during a visit to the Ecological Buildings exhibition in Gazi, Athens, on the occasion of World Environment Day.
"Any reference to their proper development, any attempt of reconciling it with respect for the nature which surrounds them or survives within them must take into account the fact that cities are a complex natural and social habitat," he added.
 Laliotis hails World Environment Day, protesters rally outside ministry
Athens, 06/06/2000 (ANA)"World Environment Day is not just one day in the year but concerns all 365 days," Environment, Town Planning and Public Works, Minister Costas Laliotis said on Monday.
"This is why we are trying to envision, plan and create a better quality of life in the cities and settlements of our country," he said.
Deputy Environment Minister Ilias Efthymiopoulos noted that "as a day of thought, reflection and account, as well as of practical proposals, Environment Day can truly become the starting point for a better environment."
At midday, environmental activists rallied outside the Environment ministry's offices in Athens, protesting against genetically modified foods and projects planned for the Olympic Games of 2004, which they claim will further destabilize the ecological balance around the capital.
 Ambitious campaign to establish Hellenic studies the focus of HAU event
Athens, 06/06/2000 (ANA)An ambitious campaign by Greek expatriates and US philhellenes to better diffuse Hellenic culture and language in practically every corner of America's academic landscape will be the highlight of an event on Tuesday evening at the Hellenic American Union.
What began a few years ago in the United States as a heartfelt effort to promote Greek letters and civilization - from antiquity to Byzantium and on to the present - has now taken shape as the American Foundation for Greek Language and Culture (AFGLC).
AFGLC's first and most notable success was the establishment this year of its highly touted interdisciplinary center of Hellenic studies at the University of South Florida (USF), which consists of five permanently endowed chairs in as many "core" areas of Greek studies - Greek language and literature; history; philosophy; culture, and, Byzantine history and Orthodox religion.
AFGLC leadership hopes to transplant the USF model of an interdisciplinary center with multiple endowed chairs or departments to other US universities, with New England, Georgia, New Jersey, the Carolinas, Texas and Chicago-area schools targeted as the next potential candidates for such centers.
Noted Greek-American mathematics professor Chris Tsokos - AFGLC's president and a board member of USF center -- will again be the keynote speaker at the HAU event in downtown Athens, less than a year after the Kalavryta district native first unveiled plans for the USF Hellenic studies center to an audience in the Greek capital.
AFGLC was established by a group of philhellenes in order to showcase and promote the "historic and cultural role of Hellenic tradition and language". Its mission, as its organizers put it, is to assist in the preservation of the Greek language and culture in the United States through high-quality academic instruction in that country's universities and colleges.
The foundation (www.afglc.org) is headquartered in Florida as a non-profit organization in that state.
 Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria sign memorandum on state radio cooperation
Athens, 06/06/2000 (ANA)The Greek, Bulgarian and Turkish state radios, at a meeting in the northern Greek prefecture of Evros, on Monday signed a memorandum of cooperation for the promotion of peace, stability and good relations in the region.
Officially beginning on July 1, the initiative will start off with an exchange of news items over the Internet between the state radio stations of eastern Macedonia-Thrace, Plovdiv and Istanbul and each will introduce a "neighbors song" broadcast, playing one song from each of the other two parties a day.
The Greek side has also agreed to allow young reporters from each radio station to take part in the Arda Festival on July 26-30 in Evros.
 Fish farmers defend production standards
Athens, 06/06/2000 (ANA)The Greek Fish Farmers' Association on Monday criticized as "overblown" and "unethical" a French television report alleging use of genetically modified feeds in Greek fish farms.
The association said the report was biased in that it was based on isolated incidents, disregarding that Greek fish farming products were under strict control for hygienic conditions and that 70 percent were exported to markets of high specifications with no previous complaints.
 Panafon and WWF launch forest protection initiative
Athens, 06/06/2000 (ANA)Panafon mobile telephone operator and the Greek branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on Monday launched a forest protection and reforestation initiative for the June-November period.
The campaign is designed to encourage voluntary citizens' participation in forest maintenance and systematic monitoring, reforestation and presentation of methods of forest fire protection to local agencies.
Dimitris Karavellas, director of WWF Hellas said at a press briefing that the situation in Greek forests today was critical and that collective action was needed to save them.
Panafon is to contribute 50 million drachmas towards the cost of the program.
 Cypriot Government says Denktash tries to 'ridicule' procedure of talks
NICOSIA, 06/06/2000 (CNA/ANA)The government of Cyprus considers statements made by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash that he will interrupt the third round of the UN sponsored talks to return to the occupied areas as an effort to "demote and ridicule" the procedure.
Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, speaking to reporters on Monday, called on the international community not to allow the Turkish Cypriot leader to do whatever he wants, reiterating that the most significant thing is for the occupation leader to come forward with a different approach in order to break the deadlock.
"The government has not been officially informed by the UN that there is a possibility to postpone the talks. It (the government) was asked whether it could attend the talks for the whole of July", he said, adding that the Turkish Cypriot leader was also asked the same thing and replied positively.
He further said that there has not been any talk about interrupting the third round of the talks, scheduled for July 5 in Geneva.
"It is up to those who have called for these talks", he said, "to make comments about Mr. Denktash's attitude and whether they intend to allow him to treat the procedure in this manner".
"It is primarily the responsibility of the Turkish side but we also believe that the international community has a responsibility not to allow to a single man to be in full disparity with the international law and impose his own views", the spokesman added.
 Foreign envoys expected in Cyprus
NICOSIA, 06/06/2000 (CNA/ANA)Representatives from the UN, the UK and the US are due in Cyprus in the next three weeks with a view to prepare the ground for next month's resumption of the third round of UN-led proximity talks.
UN Secretary General's Special Advisor Alvaro de Soto arrives on Sunday, 18 June, and will be received by President Glafcos Clerides the following morning.
Later on, he has a scheduled meeting with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Rauf Denktash. His program of contacts allows room for further meeting with both leaders before he departs on Wednesday, June 21.
"The visit aims to carry forward the consultations with Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash," UN spokeswoman Sarah Russell told CNÁ ahead of the visit.
De Soto was due to visit Cyprus in May but this was postponed because of an operation President Clerides had to undergo.
From Nicosia, the UN envoy will go to Athens and Ankara for talks and is likely to be in Brussels as well before concluding this round of contacts.
Britain's envoy, Sir David Hannay, the first to arrive in Cyprus, will be here this coming Wednesday and will start his contacts with a meeting with Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides.
On Thursday, he will have a working breakfast with President Clerides and then meet Denktash.
Later the same day he will give a lecture in the Turkish occupied north of the island at the "Near East University" on matters relating to the European Union's common foreign and security policy.
Hannay will brief EU ambassadors resident in Cyprus and in the evening he will attend a dinner hosted by British High Commissioner Edward Clay with Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
Prior to his departure, Hannay will attend a bicommunal event at the mixed village of Pyla, some 25 kilometers south east of Nicosia, bordering one of the two British Sovereign Bases the UK has retained after it granted Cyprus its independence in 1960.
 UK, US welcome government decisions on missing persons
NICOSIA, 06/06/2000 (CNA/ANA)Representatives of the UK and the US and an ICRC envoy, dealing with the issue of missing persons in Cyprus, have welcomed a decision by the government of the Republic to take concrete steps towards the resolution of this humanitarian issue.
The statements give a clear indication that, with a full implementation of the decisions, the Turkish side should respond in a positive manner to help settle this issue.
Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides has announced a cabinet decision to compile and publish officially the list of missing persons of the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus and to make up a list of war dead in the summer of 1974.
A US embassy spokesman said Washington considers "a positive development the plan of unilateral action of the government of Cyprus to publish the full list of names and we hope a full accounting of the missing will move the process forward."
The spokesman acknowledged that "this is a government of Cyprus move but it is welcomed by the US, it is a good thing."
"We hope the Turkish side would be encouraged by what the government of Cyprus is doing," he added.
Asked what the US administration is doing to establish the fate of the American citizens, missing in Cyprus, he referred to the congressional mandate to follow up on this issue.
"The US will continue to pursue all leads that may come up and we are working with both sides to develop and follow up on any and all information that arises," the spokesman told CNÁ.
Already one of the five Americans, listed as missing, was identified through the DNA process. He was 17 year old Andreas Kasapis.