|Sunday, 26 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-06-07
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Government rules out dialogue with Church over identity cards
Athens, 07/06/2000 (ANA)The government on Tuesday ruled out the possibility of talks with the Church over the identity card issue, saying that an agenda for talks between government officials and church leaders could not include "matters that were the sole responsibility of the state."
Earlier on Tuesday, the Greek Orthodox Church's leadership had met in Athens to discuss how it would respond to a government decision to remove indication of religion from new Greek identity cards and had requested a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis. Simitis referred them to Education and Religious Affairs Minister Petros Efthymiou, who in turn said he would be happy to discuss any outstanding issue but not identity cards.
In statements later on Tuesday, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that dialogue between the Church and State could only take place on condition that each respected the role of the other.
In response to questions, Reppas said that the Prime Minister had ruled out the possibility of a meeting with Archbishop Christodoulos and church leaders under present conditions. Efthymiou, as the competent minister, Reppas said, would get in touch with the Archbishop's office to draft an agenda for such a meeting, which could only include matters directly related to relations between Church and State.
A meeting between the Archbishop and the Prime Minister, Reppas said, might take place once the "right basis had been created," and when "there was respect for the discrete roles of Church and State."
The spokesman also criticized the comments made on Monday by the honorary president of main opposition New Democracy and former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis, saying that the government was totally opposed to them and that "in the present time, it does not help to polarize or aggravate (the situation)."
During a meeting on Tuesday, meanwhile, of the Church's High Synod, Archbishop Christodoulos said, according to reports, the Church should seek dialogue but should not accept compromise, while Philippi Metropolitan Prokopios said that there were legal arguments in favor of making indication of religion optional. Alexandroupolis Metropolitan Anthimos said that the Church should not accept dialogue unless the government first withdrew its decision on ID cards.
Other prelates who addressed the High Synod were highly critical of the government's policy and the way it had been implemented, called for unity and said the Church should adopt a dynamic stance.
Church announces rallies over ID issue: The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece on Tuesday decided to call two rallies in protest against the government's plans to abolish the reference to citizens' religious persuasion from identity cards.
The rallies, in Thessaloniki on June 14 and Athens on June 21, were announced by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, after a nine-hour session of the Holy Synod which met to discuss how to handle the issue further, and following a rejection by the government of a request for a meeting with the Prime Minister, Costas Simitis.
"Unfortunately, our request for dialogue with the government has been turned down and the Church is addressing the Greek people, protesting strongly against the conversion of our country to irreligious. Maintaining our sobriety, we adhere to the use of peaceful means and have decided to call the two rallies, to which we invite the people to participate en masse. There is still room for reaching an understanding with the State," he said.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas earlier in the day ruled out dialogue with the Church on the issue, insisting that it was "the sole responsibility of the State" to decide on.
In a communique, the Holy Synod expressed its bitterness over what it called the government's "intransigent tactics".
Australian prelate: Archbishop of Australia Stylianos, currently in Hania, Crete, on Tuesday distanced himself from the position taken by the Greek Church on the issue of identity cards.
"It would be more just if Greek citizens are not distinguished by the label of religion," he said.
He was, however, completely opposed to a proposal to make civil marriages mandatory, saying that this would be blasphemous.
 Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar arrives in Athens for talks with Simitis
Athens, 07/06/2000 (ANA)Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar arrived in Athens on Tuesday on a two-day official visit, during which he will be holding talks with his Greek counterpart Costas Simitis on Wednesday on bilateral relations and European problems.
Aznar, who visited the Acropolis after his arrival and dined with Simitis at an Athens restaurant in the evening, will also be received by President Kostis Stephanopoulos on Wednesday and meet main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis, as well as representatives from the business world.
Aznar will leave for Madrid on Wednesday afternoon.
 Simitis-Guterres discuss upcoming EU summit
Athens, 07/06/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis had a long telephone conversation on Tuesday with European Council President and Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres on the upcoming European Union summit to be held in Feira, Portugal, on June 19-20.
According to government sources, Guterres referred to the agenda and confirmed that the session will start its work with the ratification of Greece's accession to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) by the heads of state and government.
On the question of the Intergovernmental Conference, which will dominate talks between European Council members with the aim of agreeing on the main directions it will follow, the sources said Simitis agreed with Guterres on the need to extend talks to issues concerning flexibility and strengthened cooperation.
 Hombach concerned about Montenegro
Athens, 07/06/2000 (ANA)The coordinator of the Stability Pact for SE Europe, Bondo Hombach, on Tuesday expressed concern over possible new tension in Montenegro, referring to the likelihood of provocations and the activation of a military operations plan by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
Speaking in Thessaloniki to a meeting of representatives of more than 100 non-governmental organizations active in SE Europe, Hombach reiterated that Serbia would not be included in reconstruction plans as long as Milosevic remained in power.
He appealed to private investors to show interest in the region, but recognized the need for prior conditions of democracy, security and the rule of law.
Tuesday's event opened the three-day sessions of the Stability Pact, which will continue on Wednesday with a meeting of the foreign ministers of SE European countries, also to be attended by the European Union's High Representative on issues of foreign and security policy, Javier Solana. The countries to be represented are Albania, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, Hungary, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia and Turkey.
The agenda of discussions includes the development of regional cooperation, the plan for promoting stability -to be presented by Hombach, and the situation in Yugoslavia and assistance to Serbian opposition groups and independent media.
Greek foreign minister George Papandreou will host his counterparts to a working lunch.
 Premier meets Angelopoulou-Daskalaki to discuss Olympics preparations
Athens, 07/06/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday received Gianna Angelopoulou-Daskalaki, president of the committee organizing the Athens 2004 Olympics, for an unscheduled meeting to discuss the course of preparations for the Games.
According to sources, their discussion focused on recent problems that emerged with the tender for rights to radio and television coverage of the Games, as well as the three new members that will join the "Athens 2004" board of directors. These will man a five-member executive committee that will be set up through a bill regulating preparations for the Olympics and which Angelopoulou-Daskalaki will also sit on.
Possible amendments to the bill were also touched upon, as were the responsibilities of the members of the Committee. The bill is supposed to resolve this issue by transferring many of the current responsibilities of "Athens 2004" managing director Costas Bakouris to Angelopoulou-Daskalaki.
Meeting with Pangalos: Angelopoulou-Daskalaki also met later with Culture Minister Theodoros Pangalos, with whom she discussed many of the same issues as with the Prime Minister.
Earlier controversial statements by the culture minister regarding the progress of Olympic projects caused a minor storm.
"They won't even be ready in 2005," Pangalos said of peripheral projects aimed at improving quality of life in the capital, while also hinting that there might well be problems with the sports infrastructure for the Olympics, perhaps even requiring outside contractors.
A meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday of the general secretaries of the eight ministries involved in preparations for the Olympics.
 Papazoi and Irish foreign minister discuss EU issues in light of summit
DUBLIN, 07/06/2000 (ANA)Alternate Foreign Minister Elizabeth Papazoi, continuing her tour of European capitals in light of the European Council summit in Feira, Portugal, held talks with Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen here on Tuesday, focusing on issues to be discussed at the summit.
The two ministers and their delegations also discussed the challenges currently being faced by the European Union in seeking, within the processes of the Inter-governmental Conference, institutional settlements permitting its effective functioning in light of its enlargement with many new members. In this context, particular emphasis was placed on the accession course of Cyprus.
 Greek mine sweepers in NATO squadron heading to Istanbul
ISTANBUL, 07/06/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)A squadron mine sweepers from NATO member-states, commanded by Hellenic Navy Lt.-Commander Ioannis Grammatikakis, is expected to sail into Istanbul on Wednesday and remain in the area until June 13.
According to a dispatch by the semi-official Anadolu news agency, the squadron includes two Greek vessels, as well as one vessel each from Turkey, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy.
 Two FYROM soldiers injured from sniper fire on border
SKOPJE, 07/06/2000 (ANA - M. Vihou)Two FYROM soldiers were injured on Monday from sniper fire coming from inside the Kosovo frontier.
According to local reports, two out of four soldiers in a patrol came under fire at the Blatse checkpoint. The injured men were later transported to a hospital in Skopje, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) capital.
FYROM's defense ministry later termed the attack the second most serious on its border with the troubled Yugoslav province now governed under a NATO-enforced United Nations mandate. The most serious incident occurred three months ago, when four soldiers were abducted on the FYROM-Kosovo border by members of the so-called "Kosovo Liberation Army" (UCK) - the armed branch of ethnic Albanian extremists in the region.
Meanwhile, a government spokesman here on Tuesday denied recent press reports that FYROM's prime minister has received a defense ministry report alleging, among others, that former UCK militiamen have joined ranks with ethnic Albanian ex-FYROM officers in order to "prepare for the establishment of an Albanian national army to liberate Albanian lands under Slavic occupation."
FYROM Defense Minister Nikola Kliousev said, in response, that he has not received such a report, although he added that if such information proves true then the country must be "placed in a state of emergency."
 Gov't appoints consultant for OA sale tender
Athens, 07/06/2000 (ANA)National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said on Tuesday that the government had selected Credit Suisse First Boston to act as its consultant in an international tender to find a strategic investor for Olympic Airways.
The government would await a recommendation from the newly appointed advisor on the terms of the tender, Papantoniou said.
The terms include the sale of a second batch of shares within about a year.
The government has said it is considering an initial share sale and possible hand-over of management for the national carrier.
Karamanlis says what took place at Olympic Airways is tantamount to a crime: Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis held talks with representatives of employees and the administration of Olympic Airways, Greece's national carrier, at Athens' western airport on Tuesday.
Karamanlis said the company is in a deep crisis, adding that "three programs for supposed restructuring failed at a cost exceeding 800 billion drachmas. The company's administration was assigned to a foreign company, which led with certainty to deadlock. Assets were sold with non-transparent procedures, while commercial depreciation and new deficits were incurred."
Stressing that the government's responsibilities are great, Karamanlis went on to say that "stunning amounts were wasted, resulting in Olympic being in the worst position it has ever been in. What took place is tantamount to a crime."
ND calls for fact-finding commission on OA: Main opposition New Democracy party (ND) on Tuesday called for a parliamentary fact-finding commission to be set up to investigate the finances of the ailing national carrier Olympic Airways (OA).
According to the proposal, tabled by a group of ND deputies headed by party leader Costas Karamanlis, OA's situation was "dramatic", and this was a "common acknowledgement, even among government officials".
The ND deputies said that the national carrier had entered a stage of "commercial disdain" and was "headed to dissolution".
The proposal calls for the establishment of a fact-finding commission to investigate:
- Who decided the "so-called streamlining programs", why, and under what conditions.
- Under what guarantees and by whom the management of OA was assigned to a British Airways subsidiary.
- Why a ND proposal tabled in February 1998 to call an international tender to assign the management of OA was ignored.
- How and under what criteria crucial assets of the company were sold.
- The deficits of the company and who are responsible.
The proposal is not co-signed by Liberal MPs Stephanos Manos and George Psaharopoulos who were elected on ND tickets.
British Airways subsidiary Speedwing was in late June 1999 awarded a concession to manage the ailing national carrier for 30 months in order to shape up its finances and operations.
 Greece has won the battle of growth and inflation, Papantoniou says
Athens, 07/06/2000 (ANA)Greece has won the battle for growth and low inflation and will participate in the European Union's core for the first time, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference, a day after an ECOFIN decision to approve Greece's EMU membership, Papantoniou said this was the last step before a formal approval at an EU summit in Lisbon, set for June 19.
"The Council declared that Greece fulfilled all convergence criteria to participate in the euro zone," he noted.
Commenting on the privatization process, Papantoniou said: "We don't sell off, we are very careful in the flotation process and we have already achieved our goals".
He said the government was waiting for improved conditions to proceed with a second package of 17 privatizations, expected to be complete in summer 2001. "Privatization is not a panacea. We should not forget that a failed attempt preceded Hellenic Telecom's successful privatization. The same thing happened with Ionian Bank, while in the case of Cretabank there were two failed privatization attempts."
Papantoniou noted that the government faced resistance in its privatization program and that it was moving cautiously, acknowledging the problems faced by other national governments when state-owned companies were heavily sought after by private investors only to return to state control with greater financial burdens.
He said the privatizations of the Hellenic Vehicles Industry and Hellenic Aerospace Industry was expected to be completed this summer along with a management contract for the Corinth Canal.
"Olympic Airways is an important company that has to survive and this effort could last two or three years", Papantoniou noted.
He acknowledged that the current management has made some positive steps, like the modernization of the carrier's fleet and better adherence to flight schedules.
"We need not dramatize current events. Olympic Airways needs fresh capital and that can only come from the private sector," he said.
 Turkish ship-owners call for maritime rapprochement with Greece
Athens, 07/06/2000 (ANA)Representatives of Turkey's up-and-coming shipping sector came out in force on Tuesday in a harbor that only a short time ago was considered the "metropolis" of their main rivals - the major Greek port of Piraeus.
While more-or-less specific initiatives for jumpstarting cooperation between the two neighbors were spelled out by a high-ranking Turkish delegation, including the country's merchant marine minister and the heads of Turkey's shipper chamber and ship-owners' federation, it was two past thorny issues that dominated questions following the Turkish officials' introductions.
The Turkish delegation arrived in Greece to participate at the biennial "Poseidonia" shipping exhibition -- one of the largest such trade shows in the world - amid an ever-improving climate in Greek-Turkish relations and a flurry of contacts between the two governments and business leaders following last summer's "seismic rapprochement".
In reply to a question over Ankara's possible attempts to revise the seminal 1936 Montreux Treaty governing maritime traffic through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, Merchant Marine Minister Ramazan Mirzaoglu said "Turkey has no problem with this agreement, and as a republic we abide by all the provisions of this pact..."
He noted, however, that two revisions by the Turkish government over the past decade, "within the treaty's frame-work", was part of Ankara's strategy to reduce maritime accidents.
Mirzaoglu also told a press conference held on board the Turkish-flagged cruise ship "Iskenderun" that the installation of a long-delayed radar monitoring and guidance system along the straits belies neither "an intention to reduce or increase shipping traffic. Our only goal is to ensure maritime safety."
Mirzaoglu was referring to a long-delayed project to install a radar- and satellite-guided maritime navigation system along the Bosporus.
The 24-million-dollar system is expected to control maritime traffic in the narrow strait on a 24-hour basis as well as to supply direct satellite communications, weather and oceanographic input.
Cyprus 'embargo': Asked about an unofficial 'embargo' by Turkey against Cypriot-flagged vessels, Mirzaoglu simply noted that "problems between two friendly nations exist, of course, but as you very well know, talks between the two (countries') foreign ministers have begun over those points where they can agree, and not on the points or differences which separate the two sides."
"Of course, problems will be discussed in turn, and I believe we're proceeding in this sector. Personally, I don't believe there's any problem that can't be solved," he added.
Turkish figures have put the number of vessels passing through the Bosporus at more than 50,000 every year, while Ankara has increasingly cited concerns in recent years over the heightened possibility of accidents to call for changes in the Montreux Treaty.
Prospects for cooperation: Despite the concerns over the straits and Cyprus, most comments focused directly on prospects for closer shipping cooperation, given the close proximity of the two countries, Greece's perennially massive fleet and Turkey's dynamic growth in the sector over the past decade.
The representative of Turkey's ship-owners federation, Sadan Kalkavan, said joint ventures by shipbuilding and ship repair yards, along with business ties in yacht leasing, marinas, cruise ships and ferry connections interest the Turkish side.
"We believe genuinely that we have things to learn on the subject of shipping from our Greek colleagues. On the other hand, we are ready to share with our Greek colleagues Turkey's cargo possibilities, which are much greater when compared with those of Greece," he noted.
Mirzaoglu earlier also referred to joint efforts for environmental protection, joint ventures, construction contracts in Turkish shipyards and the development of a joint action plan for Turkey's entry into the European Union.
He also reiterated a standing request aired by practically all-Turkish dignitaries when speaking in Greece, namely, visa-free cross-border transit for Turks.
According to figures released by the Turkish delegation at the press conference, that country's merchant fleet today tops the 10 million-DWT mark, with income from shipping exceeding five billion dollars annually. Figures for only Greek-flagged vessels, not including those owned by Greek interests, were listed as roughly 44 million DWT.
 Greek and Turkish Marine ministers meet
Athens, 07/06/2000 (ANA)Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis held talks with his Turkish counterpart Ramazan Mirzaoglu on Tuesday on cooperation between the two countries.
"Turkey is walking with steady steps on its European path. I think that this is the big challenge for the years to come. The European Union is interested in Turkey coming closer to the European family and Greece is working in this framework to facilitate the course in that direction," Papoutsis said later.
Referring to Turkey's participation in the maritime exhibition "Poseidonia", Papoutsis said "Turkey's participation for the first time with such a big delegation, and with the relevant minister at its head, as well as the president of Turkey's Ship-owners' Union, is an important step."
Papoutsis said he told Mirzaoglu that the more political dialogue is extended and enlarged the more the opportunity will be provided for the two countries' ship-owners and economic forces to find the paths leading to cooperation with mutual benefit.
 Lord Mayor of London's City outlines City's potential in Thessaloniki
Athens, 07/06/2000 (ANA)The Lord Mayor of London's City Clive Martin outlined in Thessaloniki on Tuesday the possibilities the City can provide for the economy of Thessaloniki.
Addressing an event organized by the Hellenic-British Chamber of Commerce, Martin referred to changes which have taken place recently in the heart of Europe's fiscal structure and added that the City is the leading center for international banking services and the speedy progress of technology.
On the question of opportunities it can offer to the Balkans, he said the City is developing through cooperation with the rising and recently liberalized economies and the City's investment companies and its lawyers have great experience in the creation of joint ventures.
Martin said developing economies should not fear joint ventures and recommended London's insurance market to investors. It is the second time in recent years that the Lord Mayor of the City visits Thessaloniki.
 EU's business confidence index for Greece edges down
BRUSSELS, 07/06/2000 (ANA-B.Demiris)The European Union's business confidence index for Greece dropped by 0.4 percent in May from April, Eurostat, the EU's statistics agency, said on Tuesday.
The business index comprises indices for consumers, industry, construction and stocks.
In May, the categories that fell in the umbrella Greek index were consumers and construction. Industry held steady and stocks edged up, Eurostat said in a statement.
 Credit expansion slows significantly in March
Athens, 07/06/2000 (ANA)Credit expansion growth slowed significantly in March to 21.0 percent from 31.7 percent the previous month, reflecting a decline in consumer credit, Bank of Greece's figures showed on Tuesday.
Mortgage loans fell by 23 billion drachmas in March from the previous month, for a year-on-year increase rate of 25.1 percent, down from 29 percent in February.
The central bank said that total credit expansion slowed to 14.6 percent in March from 16.3 percent in February, reflecting slower credit to both the private and the public sector to 14.4 pct and 14.7 pct, respectively, from 16.1 pct and 16.4 percent in the previous month.
The Bank of Greece said credit figures were affected from the drachma's exchange rate significant fluctuations, notably against the Japanese yen and the US dollar, with the two foreign currencies accounting for 55 percent of all foreign exchange loans to the private sector.
 Greek CPI inflation rises to 2.9 percent in May yr/yr
Athens, 07/06/2000 (ANA)Greece's consumer price inflation rose to 2.9 percent in May from the same month in 1999, up from 2.6 percent in April, National Statistics Service said on Tuesday.
The NSS said inflation figures were 2.4 percent and 5.3 percent in May 1999 and 1998, respectively.
The consumer price index recorded a 0.3 percent increase in May from the previous month, reflecting rises of 1.4 percent in hotel and restaurant prices, 1.3 percent in transport prices and 0.6 percent in healthcare prices.
Declines, however, were recorded in food and beverage prices (-0.3 pct) and other goods and services (-0.4 pct).
 Conference on euro to be held in Athens
Athens, 07/06/2000 (ANA)An international conference on the transition from the drachma to the euro is to be held in Athens on July 3-4.
The conference is being held under the aegis of the Association for European Monetary Union and is sponsored by EFG Eurobank.
Among speakers at the event are National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and central bank governor Lucas Papademos.
Handling arrangements for the conference is Symeon Tsomokos SA.
 Greek stocks remain under mild pressure
Athens, 07/06/2000 (ANA)Equity prices ended lower on the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, remaining under mild pressure in subdued trading conditions.
Analysts said the market was searching for new support levels, around the 4,400-4,500 levels, in the short-term.
The general index ended at 4,465.70 points, down 0.65 percent, but off the day's lows of 4,345, with turnover a low 126 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended at 2,474.03 points, off 0.19 percent and the FTSE/ASE 40 index dropped 1.13 percent to 651.53 points.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: 8,428.12 -0.32% Leasing: 941.01 -1.65% Insurance: 2,863.45 -0.15% Investment: 1,799.72 -1.23% Construction: 2,533.32 -2.66% Industrials: 2,735.85 -0.89% Miscellaneous: 4,769.28 -1.70% Holding: 5,081.55 -1.22%
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended at 928.71 points, off 1.84 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 279 to 55 with another 12 issues unchanged.
Dionik, Goody's, Hellenic Telecoms and Lambrakis Press were the most heavily traded stocks.
Leading shares' closing prices (in Drs): National Bank: 16,340 Alpha Credit: 14,590 Commercial Bank: 18,505 Ergobank: 7,055 Eurobank: 9,805 Heracles Cement: 8,750 Titan Cement (c): 14,250
Hellenic Telecoms: 8,850 Panafon: 4,500 Hellenic Petroleum: 4,120 Intracom: 14,900 Minoan Lines: 5,630 Hellenic Bottling: 5,925
Equity futures drop: Equity futures finished lower on Tuesday, tracking the two indices on which they are based.
The FTSE/ASE 20 closed 0.19 percent lower, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 1.13 percent down.
Turnover was 8.1 billion drachmas from 4.6 billion drachmas a day earlier.
A total of 1,076 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 index with turnover at 5.3 billion drachmas.
Changing hands on the FTSE/ASE 40 were 1,091 futures on turnover at 2.8 billion drachmas.
Bond prices drop in sell-off: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market slumped on Tuesday as local investors engaged in a selling spree in order to show profits in their account books.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.067 percent from 6.07 percent in the previous session; and the yield on the equivalent German bund was 5.10 percent.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 96-98 basis points from 95-98 basis points a day earlier.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 204 billion drachmas from 62 billion drachmas in the previous session.
Buy orders accounted for 92 billion drachmas of turnover and sell orders the remainder.
Greek state bond yields rise moderately: Greek state bond yields rose moderately on Tuesday during a weekly regular auction of state securities by the Public Debt Management Organization.
The average weighed yield in a three-year bond, worth 200 billion drachmas and paying an annual coupon of 5.9 percent, rose to 6.13 percent from 5.99 percent in the previous auction of same bonds on April 4, 2000.
Bids submitted totalled 547 billion drachmas, two-and-a-half times more than the asked sum, reflecting continued interest for Greek securities.
The average weighed price of the issue was 99.371 points.
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 336.820 drachmas from 336.900 drachmas in the previous session.
Also at the fixing, the US dollar was set at 355.900 drachmas from 356.990 drachmas a day earlier.
The drachma has lost around 8.69 percent on the dollar since the start of the year.
 Earthquake in Turkey poses no danger to Greece, seismologists say
Athens, 07/06/2000 (ANA)Seismic activity along the Anatolia fault in Turkey was moving easterly, distancing itself from Greece, seismologists at the Aristotelion University's Geophysics Laboratory in Thessaloniki said Tuesday, adding that there was absolutely no risk to Greece posed by a strong earthquake that struck central Turkey earlier in the day.
An earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale struck at 5:41 a.m. with its epicenter in the small town of Cerkes, 100 kilometers north of the Turkish capital of Ankara, and emanating from the Northern Anatolia rift that runs from the Caspian Sea to the Aegean, Greek seismologists told ANA.
They said a "domino effect" was apparent in the seismic activity in Turkey over the past few months, with the earthquakes moving further east along the 1,000-kilometre-long Northern Anatolia Fault, which they said was the second largest on earth after the San Andreas Fault in the US.
Seismologists said Tuesday's earthquake in Turkey posed no danger whatsoever to Greece, as its epicenter was some 130 kilometers further east along the fault than the killer 7.2 Richter quake that struck Turkey on November 12 last year.
Last August, a catastrophic 7.4 Richter quake devastated the region east of Istanbul, killing 18,000 people and destroying thousands of buildings.
Seismologists told ANA the "domino effect" was taking seismic activity eastwards, further away from Greece, towards the depths of Turkey in central Asia.
They did not rule out strong after-shocks over the next few days in the same region.
 Patriarch returns to Imvros for brief visit
ISTANBUL, 07/06/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos concluded a three-day visit to the NE Aegean island of Imvros on Tuesday.
The island is Vartholomeos' birthplace.
"Imvros has been through difficult years, but now the situation is much more optimistic and hopeful," he said in an address to residents of the island, before referring to positive signs in Greek-Turkish relations of late.
The Patriarch said his visit to Imvros, which was given to Turkey with the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, was akin to a pilgrimage.
A delegation of local officials and clerics greeted the Patriarch, while he was assured that two abandoned Orthodox Churches on the island would soon be renovated. Vartholomeos also officiated at two Te deums on the island.
The island sported a predominately ethnic Greek population throughout the 20th century and up until the 1960s.
 Ambitious US-Greek cultural foundation to open Athens branch
Athens, 07/06/2000 (ANA)The announcement of an Athens branch of the American Foundation for Greek Language and Culture (AFGLC) was made on Tuesday evening by the individual who has spearheaded the ambitious campaign by Greek expatriates and philhellenes to diffuse Hellenic culture and language in American academia.
"It's very important to educate the American people on Hellenism's paramount influence at creating the world most powerful country (US)", Prof. Chris Tsokos told an audience at Athens' Hellenic American Union (HAU).
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 turned into the AFGLC, whose 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.
"Its (AFGLC) mission is the preservation and enhancement of Greek culture and language in the United States through institutions of higher learning," Tsokos told a packed HAU auditorium in the Greek capital after an introduction by HAU president and distinguished Greek-American political leader Chris Spyrou.
AFGLC's 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.
The foundation (www.afglc.org) is headquartered in Florida as a non-profit making organization in that state.
 Deputy sports minister determined to stamp out violence in sport
Athens, 07/06/2000 (ANA)Deputy sports Minister George Floridis appeared determined to stamp out violence in sport in a meeting with journalists on Tuesday, in the wake of serious disturbances occurring during a soccer playoff match between Thessaloniki clubs Iraklis and Aris last Sunday.
"We cannot look at the phenomenon of violence and its handling only at the time of the result. However, our aim is not to reach that point. For this reason we should see what we could do with the enacted bodies to have the problem tackled at its source. Violence is very often organized beforehand at the nurseries of violence. The measures we shall take will nip the evil in the bud," he said.
Floridis revealed that he would be meeting Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis during the day to discuss issues concerning violence, adding that no announcement would be made after the meeting.
 President Clerides says has no information that proximity talks will be postponed
NICOSIA, 07/06/2000 (CNA/ANA)President Glafcos Clerides said on Tuesday the government has no information that a third round of UN-led proximity talks between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides, due to begin in early July, will be postponed.
Replying to press questions, shortly after receiving new National Guard Commander Lieutenant General Evangelos Florakis, President Clerides said the Greek Cypriot side has been informed to be ready for negotiations in July.
The president's statements were echoed by government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou who said there is no information about a deferment of the talks to September, adding that the president has been asked whether he can be in Geneva the entire month of July.
"The president replied positively and is cooperating with the UN", the spokesman said. A third round of proximity talks aiming at paving the way for meaningful negotiations on Cyprus is scheduled to start on July 5 in Geneva and is estimated to last three weeks.
Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has said he wants the talks adjourned between 14 to 22 July to return to Cyprus for "celebrations" in the Turkish-occupied part of the island marking 26 years since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
 Israelis, Palestinians agree to reconvene in Cyprus for more intensive talks
NICOSIA, 07/06/2000 (CNA/ANA)Participants to an Israeli-Palestinian meeting on the future of Jerusalem, hosted by the government of Cyprus last week, agreed to hold separate meetings in Jerusalem and reconvene in Cyprus at the end of the month for another weekend of intensive talks. A statement, issued at the end of their meeting and released on Tuesday, said from June 1-4 a delegation of 14 Israelis and Palestinians convened a meeting for discrete discussions on the question of the future of Jerusalem in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The delegations were composed of both officials and non-officials from both sides.
The organizers of the meeting, Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI), a joint Israeli-Palestinian think-tank, said that the goal of these meetings "is to provide the decision makers on both sides with new ideas and possible model agreements that could advance the formal process".
With regard to the first meeting, the statement said, "there were agreements reached between the sides on several important issues related to Jerusalem's future" and that these agreements are still under review.