|Monday, 25 January 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-06-08
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Spanish PM Aznar expresses satisfaction over talks with Greek counterpart
Athens, 08/06/2000 (ANA)Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar congratulated Greece and the Greek government on Wednesday "which succeeded in covering the necessary distance to enable the country to join the euro zone".
"Greece's participation in the euro constitutes a success for Greece and a success for Europe," Aznar told reporters at a joint press conference with his Greek counterpart Costas Simitis. He also expressed satisfaction over his visit to Greece and his talks with Simitis.
"Undoubtedly the presence of the drachma in the euro is very positive for the present and the future of Greece and Europe," Aznar added and wished Greece every success for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
Simitis said his conversation with his Spanish counterpart was "very friendly and cordial", adding that it focused on bilateral relations between the two countries and problems and developments in the European Union.
He said relations between the two countries are excellent while there is a deficit in Greece's trade balance with Spain, pointing out that "I and Mr. Aznar sought ways of restricting it and developing our trade relations in a better way."
Simitis said Aznar had a constructive meeting with Greek businessmen in the morning and added that he discussed the possibility with him of the two countries developing a joint business initiative in the Balkan region.
On the question of developments in the EU in light of the Feira summit later this month, Simitis said he discussed with his Spanish counterpart the issue of the intergovernmental conference, concerning the way with which the EU's institutions will be reshaped. He clarified that decisions will not be taken during the Portuguese summit but certain directions will be determined, while final decisions are expected to be taken during the French EU presidency which will follow.
Outlining some of the intergovernmental conference's main issues, Simitis said what is necessary is a union which jointly resolves problems and not shaping a nucleus of states which will proceed without the participation of the others.
Simitis also said he discussed the region's problems with Aznar and briefed him on developments in the Balkans, the Cyprus issue and Greek-Turkish relations.
Aznar calls on Greek and Spanish businessmen to take advantage of Greece's EMU entry for investments: The opportunities for closer business relations between Greece and Spain in view of Greece's imminent EMU entry were discussed Wednesday by visiting Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar and local businessmen.
Aznar, who arrived in Athens Tuesday evening on a two-day working visit, also held a 40-minute discussion with main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis, and was due to hold talks later with prime minister Costas Simitis on bilateral relations and EU issues.
The delegation of Greek businessmen included Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) executive committee chairman Eleftherios Antonopoulos and SEB chairman of the board Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, Alpha Bank president and managing director Yannis Kostopoulos, National Bank of Greece governor and chairman of the Union of Greek Banks Theodoros Karatzas, Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) president Spyros Kouniakis, Union of Greek Ship owners (UGS) president Yannis Lyras, New Democracy MP and former president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) Yannis Papathanasiou, Union of Passenger Ship Owners Andreas Potamianos, and businessman Theodoros Vasilakis (Technocar, SEAT, Hertz).
Aznar said the Greek and Spanish businessmen should take advantage of Greece's EMY entry to carry out investments, and proposed the holding of a seminar in Greece to enable businessmen from the two countries to discuss investments in both countries.
A similar seminar was held in Spain last year, attended by the Greek premier.
 Situation in Yugoslavia, Montenegro dominates talks among SE Europe foreign ministers
Athens, 08/06/2000 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou stressed on Wednesday that SE European countries must assume the responsibility for the successful implementation of the all-important Stability Pact for the troubled Balkans.
Papandreou spoke to reporters from the northern port city of Thessaloniki following the conclusion here of an unofficial summit of SE European foreign ministers. The EU's high representative for common foreign policy and security, Javier Solana, as well as Stability Pact special coordinator Bodo Hombach also attended sessions.
The Greek foreign minister stressed, among others, the importance of linking regional initiatives currently underway in the region with the Stability Pact.
As expected, the situation in Yugoslavia was discussed by the attending foreign ministers, which as Papandreou noted in referring to that country, remains a "black hole" in terms of efforts for stability in the wider region. In other remarks, he cited the need for Serbia's rapid move towards democracy and a free press.
Referring to Montenegro, the Greek minister expressed both his and his SE European counterparts' complete support towards the Djukanovic government, citing the need for dialogue between Podgorica and Belgrade.
Solana, on his part, simply mentioned that no progress has been achieved in regards to contacts with Belgrade allowing for the lifting of European Union sanctions.
"We Europeans desire democratic institutions in Yugoslavia," he said, before appearing optimistic about the general situation in SE Europe.
Finally, Hombach said the situation in Yugoslavia is cause for "deep concern", while warning that a "crisis can strike again in the region".
Papandreou-Dimitrov meeting: On the sidelines of the meeting, the Greek minister met with the foreign minister from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Alexander Dimitrov.
Talks reportedly revolved around the small, land-locked Balkan country's EU prospects.
Afterwards, Papandreou voiced his concern over a recent spate of terrorist attacks against police in FYROM.
Additionally, he touched on the importance of FYROM's existence and territorial sovereignty as well as reiterating opposition towards any changes in the region's borders.
The foreign ministers of Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania did not attend the summit due to previous engagements.
Hombach, Solana reiterate need for ouster of Milosevic: Representatives of the Serbian opposition to President Slobodan Milosevic held a two-hour meeting in Thessaloniki on Wednesday with Stability Pact coordinator for SE Europe, Bondo Hombach, and the European Union's High Representative for Foreign and Defense Policy, Javier Solana.
The Serbian representatives included Democratic Party leader Zoran Gingic, Stefan Vrbraski, Mayor of Novi Sad, Zoran Zivkovic, Mayor of Nis, and Zoran Matic, representative of the Otpor student organization.
The meeting took place behind closed doors, but sources said that the Serbian opposition leaders called for an end to sanctions against Yugoslavia, arguing that they hurt the general population rather than Milosevic.
They were also said to have called for the assistance of the international community in the forthcoming elections in Serbia, claiming that Milosevic would attempt to adulterate the results.
Solana stated afterwards that the sanctions were not directed against the population but against Milosevic.
He said that the international community would continue assisting Serbia's civil society with a view to opening the road to the democratization of the country.
Hombach reiterated that Yugoslavia would have a place in the Stability Pact on condition that Milosevic was ousted from power.
EU's Solana leaves for Kosovo, cites concerns over ethnic Serbs' situation: Former NATO general secretary Javier Solana, currently the EU's high representative for common foreign policy and security, will travel to the troubled Yugoslav province of Kosovo Wednesday afternoon in an effort to persuade Serbian leaders to return to a provisional political council (UNMIK) established under UN auspices.
Ethnic Serbian leaders of Kosovo announced their departure from the council this past week following a recent spate of attacks by Albanian extremists.
Solana was in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki earlier on Wednesday to participate in sessions of an unofficial summit of SE European foreign ministers
Asked about the situation in Kosovo, the former Spanish diplomat said the "Serbian community is being treated in a manner that cannot be tolerated."
 Doors to dialogue with Church are open, says government, but not on identity cards
Athens, 08/06/2000 (ANA)Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas on Wednesday said that, while there was no question of refusing dialogue with the Church, the government was not prepared to back down on the identity card issue, which it considered "closed".
The government does not regard the Church as a political antagonist or as a partner for political debate, Reppas told reporters at the regular press briefing, and he emphasized that "all doors are open," but that there could be no discussion on matters that were the sole responsibility of the state.
Prime Minister Costas Simitis, he said, is at the disposal of the Archbishop and the metropolitans, but any meeting would have to be arranged within the framework of the premier's schedule.
"I have to tell you, however, that the issue of identity cards is closed for the government. It is clear that the content of any future meeting between the Prime Minister and the archbishop must be predetermined, in other words we do not discuss with the Church matters that concern the State."
Conversely, the government is prepared to talk about any matter that connected to relations between the Church and State, he said.
The spokesman added that the government's stance did not justify the attack launched by Church circles against the Prime Minister. "The government does not enter into talks with extreme positions, nor does it intend to enter into conflict with the Church," he said, while he expressed surprise at Tuesday's announcement by the Church leadership, read out by Archbishop Christodoulos.
Reppas was also asked whether the Prime Minister was an Orthodox Christian, to which he said:
"I could just say yes. But this is not a matter for the regular press briefing and I would ask that we do not indulge in witch-hunts based on people's beliefs and faith."
Asked to comment on statements by PASOK deputies opposing the government's decision, the spokesman said that they were free to express their opinions on matters that concerned them.
PASOK - ND comments: Meanwhile, an announcement released by the PASOK press office later on Wednesday criticized the Church leadership decision, saying it had chosen "a very slippery path," that was leading to "a pointless, unreasonable and objectless deterioration of its relations with the State."
The general secretary of main opposition New Democracy's central committee, Dimitris Sioufas, was strongly critical of the prime minister's decision to trigger conflict with the Church, saying it was "extremely suspicious, politically unacceptable and deplorable."
FM, KKE on IDs issue: Foreign minister George Papandreou called for logic to prevail, saying the Church had made a mistake in taking on the issue of the police identity cards.
Replying to press questions in Thessaloniki late Tuesday night, Papandreou said that the state-issued police identification cards should contain the least necessary data "out of respect to the citizen".
He said the tone of the argument over the state's decision to remove religious affiliation from the IDs should be lowered because "irrational demands on a simple matter do not help Greece's image abroad".
"In the past, we lived in times when, in order to facilitate the citizen, the state wanted not only the citizen's simple identification data but also his political conviction. These things have been put behind us," Papandreou said.
"The Orthodox tradition is not being disputed," Papandreou said, adding that it was regrettable that "a section of the Church has identified this rich heritage of ours with a bureaucratic procedure".
He called for "the tones to be lowered". "We must look at the issues rationally and reason must prevail, something we have achieved in displaying outwardly. Irrational demands on simple matters do not help our image abroad," the minister added.
Asked by reporters why Prime Minister Costas Simitis refused to meet with a delegation of the Church Hierarchy, Papandreou replied that no such move had been made. The government, he added, was in favor of dialogue, but did not want "ultimatum-style rationales".
Papandreou made the above statements before addressing a greeting to a meeting of representatives of 120 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) held in the northern Greek capital.
Meanwhile, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said the tension created over the IDs issue "does not correspond to the true dimensions of the problem".
In a statement Wednesday, the K╩E said that both the government and the Church Hierarchy were placing Greek society "on a dangerous path of division of the Greek people on the basis of religious belief, and disorienting the people from the huge problems they face".
It said that at a time when "the most reactionary choices of EMU and NATO" were being advanced and "the Schengen Treaty is abolishing even the most elementary rights of the working people", the government and the Church were "adding fuel to the fire, prompted by a secondary issue".
The KKE said that the government had handled the meeting with the Church Hierarchy as a "matter of principle and disdainfully refused" to hold such a meeting, "whereas it should have agreed to the meeting, regardless of the correctness of the position that religious affiliation should not be recorded" on the IDs.
The Church, on the other hand, with the Hierarchy's decision to hold rallies in Athens and Thessaloniki "is inflaming the situation, and over an issue that does not obstruct the display of religious belief", and was at the same time "putting forward the groundless argument of de-Hellenization that will supposedly result from the non-inclusion" of religious affiliation on the IDS, the KKE added.
The KKE said that the dispute over the IDS had put forward the main issue of separation of Church and State "which the government had the ability to promote towards a solution in the framework of the revision of the Constitution but did not do so".
Church leaders plan street rallies against new IDs: The leadership of Greece's powerful Orthodox Church on Wednesday set about organizing the protest rallies against the exclusion of religious affiliation from new state-issued IDs, a decision taken the previous day after a meeting of the Church's Holy Synod.
While some Metropolitans urged restraint, the majority of prelates and Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos decided that rallies are the best way to declare their opposition to a government plan to scrap the religious affiliation category on new Greek identity cards. Church leaders are in favor of retaining the listing on a voluntary basis.
Earlier on Wednesday, a meeting to plan the Thessaloniki rally on June 14 took place with the participation of Alexandroupoli Metropolitan Anthimos, Kaisariani Metropolitan Daniel, Nafpaktos Metropolitan Ierotheos and Peristeri Metropolitan Chrysostomos. Metropolitans are bishops in the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Not all the prelates were in agreement with the Holy Synod's decision, notably Thebes Metropolitan Ieronymos, who described the rallies as "extremist actions" and said he will neither participate nor urge his congregation to take part.
Ieronymos said he was in favor of making the record of religious affiliation optional but this did not mean cutting off avenues of communication with the government.
He stressed his "worry, concern and exhaustion after the 12-hour meeting of the Holy Synod," and said he was "determined to follow the path of silence - but, I won't participate in extremist actions."
Ieronymos, while saying that the prime minister should have received the Church delegation that requested a meeting on Tuesday, said there was "still time to seek a language of compromise with the State."
On Wednesday morning, Prof. Ioannis Konidaris, a specialist in ecclesiastical law at Athens University Law School, submitted his resignation from the four committee's in which he participates in writing to Archbishop Christodoulos, disagreeing with the Church's chosen tactics.
 Karamanlis promises dynamic opposition
Athens, 08/06/2000 (ANA)New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis said on Wednesday that his party would inaugurate a period of strong opposition to the government after this weekend's special congress.
"The congress brings an end to the period of introspection. We are forging ahead with responsible and dynamic opposition as of Monday," he said at the main opposition's executive committee session.
The committee approved the draft texts on the party's "middle-ground" platform which congress will debate.
Former Prime Minister Costas Mitsotakis announced that he would not be attending the congress, and sources said that he wished to avoid speaking in harsh terms on the current situation in the party. Certain members of the "old guard" were reportedly furious over what they claimed were attempts to ease them out of key positions.
Karamanlis accused the government of intransigence and of deceiving the Church over the issue of the planned abolition of the reference to one's religious persuasion on identity cards. He expressed support for optional such reference and urged the government to hold dialogue with the Church.
He further claimed that there were huge delays in planned projects for the Olympic Games of 2004.
Karamanlis comes under fire from young cadres: About 120 members of the main opposition New Democracy party's youth wing, ONNED, on Wednesday addressed an open letter to leader Costas Karamanlis criticizing in harsh terms his "middle-ground" platform and warning that the party had to disentangle itself from past notions if it wished to gain power.
"It is now proved that the much-talked about 'middle-ground' position, either as an indiscriminate acceptance of the most novel and digestible views, or as a 'life-style' version of public life, is an unsustainable option which abolishes the substance of politics and undermines the cohesive fiber of the party, a product of lack of boldness and imagination ... (it reflects) only personal insecurities, an obvious inability to articulate a modern liberal platform... an alibi for empty verbalism," the letter said.
The cadres warned that the party's special congress this weekend had to avoid the generalized political declarations of the past.
"From now on, everyone, from the top to the bottom of the pyramid, and all together, must be subjected to judgement because no one is entitled to immunity no matter how high they stand ... The present leadership can neither afford the luxury of another failure nor does it have the alibi of being undermined. The ossifications from which it does not seem able to disentangle itself are unjustifiable, as they concern dilemmas of the past," they said.
 Avramopoulos denies reports claiming new political party imminent
Athens, 08/06/2000 (ANA)Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos reiterated on Wednesday, this time from Australia, that he is not interested in founding a new political party.
Avramopoulos, who is in Australia to participate in events preceding the beginning of Sydney's 2000 Olympics, said recent press reports in Athens belong solely within the sphere of political analyses and estimations.
"Work and efforts for Athens have priority, especially now that our obligations vis-a-vis the national issue entailed with the 2004 Olympic Games (in Athens) are imperative and immediate," he stated.
The former career diplomat, 47, has been elected twice to Athens' City Hall under the loose banner of Greece's main opposition New Democracy party.
 Greek-American senator, organizations slam congressional report on terrorism as unfair
WASHINGTON, 08/06/2000 (ANA/A. Ellis)Greek-American Democratic senator Paul Sarbanes on Wednesday defended the Greek government's record in combatting terrorism, in statements to the Maryland newspaper "Baltimore Sun".
His statements followed a report by a US panel which recommended that Greece be designated as a country "not fully cooperating in combatting terrorism," on the basis of its poor arrest record for terrorist attacks over the years.
Sarbanes described the Greek government as being "very aware" and "very sensitive" to the issue of terrorism and said that it was "trying to deal with it in cooperation with the United States."
The Greek-American senator said that the US and Greece had worked together for a long time in anti-terrorism efforts but had not yet succeeded in uncovering the 17 November organization - "but this goal is on the Greek agenda," he added.
The newspaper also noted that this direct criticism of Greece, a NATO ally, was a very sensitive issue for US authorities, while pointing out that NATO and US troops sent to Kosovo last year had docked at Greek ports on their way to Yugoslavia.
Meanwhile, in a press release on Wednesday, the National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (CEH) said the report by the National Commission for Terrorism was misleading, since it did not discriminate between terrorist attacks targeting Americans and those that did not.
"This report does not separate out a large number of actions in Greece, which were clearly not intended to injure or kill any American, from a small number of actions in Greece which occurred some time ago which were very serious and clearly against Americans."
To lump these together, the CEH continued, was a "disservice to American policy-makers, to the American media and to the American people. It is also a disservice to our ally, Greece."
The CEH also criticized the report over equating Greece, a NATO ally, with countries such as Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan and for its silence on countries that actively support terrorism.
 Commission welcomes directive on racial discriminationBRUSSELS, 08/06//2000 (ANA- M. Spinthourakis)
The European Commission on Wednesday hailed a Council of Ministers' draft directive on the prohibition of racial discrimination at the workplace and beyond.
"This agreement, only a year after the Treaty of Amsterdam came into force, is a clear message of the commitment of the Community's institutional organs as regards fundamental human rights. The directive will boost protection from racial discrimination throughout the Community and shows that we can bring about practical and positive changes in our citizens' daily lives," said Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner, Anna Diamantopoulou.
The Directive, the first measure approved on the basis of the provisions against discrimination in the Treaty of Amsterdam, bans racial discrimination in employment, education, social security, medical care and access to goods and services, and establishes that victims of discrimination will have rights of legal protection in all member-states. It also demands of member-states to set up an agency for the promotion of equal treatment, which will provide independent assistance to the victims of discrimination who have filed complaints.
"There is some form of prohibition of racial discrimination in all member-states. However, the application of legislation varies widely. This directive will promote economic and social cohesion, as it secures for the citizens of all member-states a common minimum level of protection from discrimination," Diamantopoulou said.
Member-states will be given three years from the date when the directive comes into force to adopt the necessary measures for its application.
 Armenian, Greek and Iranian delegations meet in Yerevan
Athens, 08/06/2000 (ANA)Armenia has opened up for foreign businessmen and committed itself to building political stability, democracy and social welfare, Minister of Industry and Trade Karen Chshmarityan said, according to an Itar-Tass dispatch from Yerevan.
Chshmarityan was speaking during the opening of the second session on industrial, technical and economic cooperation between Armenia, Iran and Greece in Yerevan on Wednesday.
Bilateral cooperation between these countries has been developing quite successfully in the last few years, which is not true of trilateral ties, the minister said.
He noted that the current volume of trade does not match the economic potential for cooperation between the three countries, he added.
The prime task now is to identify areas of the economy where the interests of Armenia, Iran and Greece overlap, to determine priorities in economic cooperation and to strengthen business ties, the minister said.
He also stressed the importance of providing a solid legal basis for cooperation. Trilateral cooperation in the fields of science, food and chemical industries, jewelry business and banking can be enhanced, he said.
The participants in the meeting will also discuss cooperation in such areas as banking, small- and medium-sized businesses, trade and industry.
They will sign an agreement on the development of trilateral cooperation.
 Former ND minister Tzitzikostas dies
Athens, 08/06/2000 (ANA)George Tzitzikostas, a former MP of the main opposition New Democracy party (ND) and minister under previous ND governments, died early Wednesday in an Athens hospital at the age of 59 after a battle with lung cancer.
Tzitzikostas, a close personal friend of Greece's ex-king Constantine, was born in Athens in April 1941 and studied law at Thessaloniki University and economics in Paris.
Tzitzikostas was elected to parliament for the first time in 1974 on the ND ticket in the B' district of Thessaloniki.
From 1975 to 1981 he served, as chairman of the Greek national council of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and from 1978 to 1981 was vice-president of the Greece-EEC mixed parliamentary group.
He served in top positions in several party organizations, and was a past member of the ND central committee.
Tzitzikostas served as agriculture undersecretary in 1976-77, coordination undersecretary in 1981, and Macedonia-Thrace minister in 1990-91.
He failed to be re-elected to parliament in the April 9 early general elections.
Tzitzikostas' funeral will be held Monday at the Aghios Dimitrios church in Thessaloniki, and he will be buried in his hometown of Vrachia, Thessaloniki.
 Greek stocks end sharply lower on ASE
Athens, 08/06/2000 (ANA)Equity prices came under renewed strong selling pressure on Wednesday to end sharply lower in subdued turnover on the Athens Stock Exchange.
Dealers said market sentiment remained negative because of the absence of fresh incentives and lack of liquidity. Analysts said investors ignored positive news over the country's EMU membership but reacted negatively to delays in the government's privatization program.
The general index broke the 4,400 support level for the first time in 23 sessions to end at 4,348.78 points, off 2.62 percent. Turnover was a low 127 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended at 2,411.93 points, off 2.51 percent, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index dropped 2.96 percent to 632.25 points
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended at 871.05 points, off 6.21 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 327 to 19 with another two issues unchanged.
Intralot, Lambrakis Press, Germanos, Hellenic Telecoms and Klonatex were the most heavily traded stocks.
Equity futures drop: Equity futures finished lower on Wednesday, tracking the two indices on which they are based.
The FTSE/ASE 20 closed 2.47 percent lower, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 3.10 percent down.
Turnover was 9.5 billion drachmas from 8.1 billion drachmas a day earlier.
A total of 1,152 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 index with turnover at 5.6 billion drachmas.
Changing hands on the FTSE/ASE 40 were 1,548 futures on turnover at 3.9 billion drachmas.
Bond prices rise in buying spree: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market rose on Wednesday, with traders saying funds were being shifted from the Athens bourse into state securities, partly fuelled by a stronger euro.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.067 percent, the same as the previous session; and the yield on the equivalent German bund was 5.148 percent.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 91 basis points from 96-98 basis points a day earlier.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 212 billion drachmas from 204 billion drachmas in the previous session.
Buy orders accounted for 172 billion drachmas of turnover and sell orders the remainder.
Drachma up vs. euro, dollar: The drachma on Wednesday 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 336.660 drachmas from 336.820 drachmas in the previous session.
Also at the fixing, the US dollar was set at 352.100 drachmas from 355.900 drachmas a day earlier.
 European transport ministers' conference starts in Thessaloniki
Athens, 08/06/2000 (ANA)Scenarios, predictions and facts on land transportation from various European countries were presented on Wednesday, the first day of the 15th international European Conference of Transport Ministers in which more than 300 delegates from 33 European countries are participating. The conference is being held at the Ioannis Vellidis convention center in Thessaloniki.
The director of the Aristotelion University of Thessaloniki's Greek Transport Institute and Transport Technique Laboratory George Yiannopoulos presented a study according to which the needs for transport services in the European Union will increase 100 percent by the end of the decade compared to indicators in 1995.
Over the same period of time, the cross-border movement of passenger vehicles in the EU is expected to increase 30 percent, while trucks carrying merchandise to and from unified Europe will increase by 20 percent.
 Two-day BSEC Parliamentary Assembly plenum starts in Tirana
TIRANA, 08/06/2000 (ANA - P. Dimitropoulos)Albanian Parliament President Skender Gjinushi said on Wednesday the stipulation of agreements between Greece and Turkey, as well as continuing contacts between Armenia and Azerbaijan are workable not only for these countries but also for the Black Sea family in its entirety and have positive repercussions on the overall political climate, while paving the way for strengthening the entire political climate in the region and in all of Europe.
Gjinushi was speaking at the 15th plenum of the Parliamentary Assembly of Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC) which got underway at the Albanian Parliament building in the morning and will be concluded on Thursday.
The head of the Greek parliamentary delegation Maria Arseni stressed the significance of the Parliamentary Assembly in the creation of conditions of peace, cooperation and progress in the region.
She referred to the domination of globalization and said "the concepts of national independence and the means of each state for fully resolving its domestic issues should be reconsidered and revised. This is not bad."
 Wholesale prices' index up 0.3 percent in April
Athens, 08/06/2000 (ANA)Greece's wholesale prices' index rose 0.3 percent in April from the previous month, registering the lowest monthly increase in the corresponding months in the previous two years, National Statistics Service said on Wednesday.
The index recorded rises of 1.1 percent in the same months in 1998 and 1999.
 Balkan infotech forum to be held in Thessaloniki
Athens, 08/06/2000 (ANA)A Balkan information technology forum will be held in the northern port city of Thessaloniki on June 9-10, the second event of its kind.
The conference is being held by the Association of Information Technology Companies of Northern Greece, under the aegis of the European Union's executive Commission.
Expected to take part in the forum are 170 representatives of the private and public sectors, and academia.
Topics to be studied by five working groups are information technology and human resources, electronic commerce, the web in the service of the public, information technology and health, and growth for small- and medium-sized infotech companies.
 EU Commission approves 'new strategy' to promote equality of sexes
BRUSSELS, 08/06/2000 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)The European Commission on Wednesday approved a new strategy for promoting equality between the sexes in the years 2001-2005, based on a proposal by Greek Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou, in charge of employment and social policy.
Based on the experiences of past programs, this new strategy takes an ambitious approach that aims to mobilize all politicians in the community. This global approach aims to deal with inequality on a personal, social, economic and political level, as well as in roles and gender stereotypes.
"Discrimination on the basis of gender means a loss of abilities and resources, pure loss for society as a whole and for the women who are directly affected," Diamantopoulou said. She urged the EU to establish a general legal requirement that would help make gender equality a consideration in all activities.
The Commission also approved a law banning sexual harassment in the workplace, which is the first attempt to legislate against this type of offence on a community level. Under the provisions of the new law, employers could be liable for prosecution if they fail to secure a workplace free of sexual harassment, which is defined as a series of offences ranging from verbal harassment to rape.
Diamantopoulou noted that few legal systems had attempted to deal with this problem to date - perhaps because of the intrinsic difficulties of defining it. The main aim of setting up a legal framework in the community, she added, was preventative and to help draw attention to the problem in Europe, as well as to encourage employers to take steps to stamp out the phenomenon.
According to the Commissioner, up to 35 per cent of European women are victims of sexual harassment, while in countries such as Greece, Italy and Spain this can rise to 60 per cent. The equivalent percentage for men in Europe is 10 per cent.
The Commissioner also referred to the special EU summit in Lisbon for employment, where the need to give women equal access to the labor market had been underlined, especially in the new economy. This, she said, was not only a fundamental right but also sound economic policy, given the ever-increasing income gap throughout Europe in relation to skills in the information technology sector.
Progress in eradicating gender inequality in all sectors was very slow, she noted, and had to speed up. Another reason for this, she said, was expansion and the need for the EU to act as a "model" in matters like this for candidate-countries.
 Assembly of Turkish-American Associations on nine-day visit to Greece
Athens, 08/06/2000 (ANA)The president and 15 members of the Assembly of Turkish-American Associations, active in many states in the United States, met with the secretary general of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace Stavros Kambelis in Komotini, northern Greece, on Wednesday in the framework of a nine-day visit to Greece.
Kambelis briefed the members of the assembly on issues concerning eastern Macedonia and Thrace, development and social issues, the minority and the prospects of policies applied in the region.
"Their presence here, as well as the presence of all people from other countries, provides the opportunity for acquaintances, dialogue and, consequently, rapprochement between views and people and, therefore, a decrease in whatever problems exist between us," Kambelis said.
Assembly President Tolga Cibuc said their visit to Greece "is part of the new atmosphere of friendship between the two countries of Greece and Turkey and had Athens as its first stop."
 European Delphi Cultural Center starts events on June 17
Athens, 08/06/2000 (ANA)The European Delphi Cultural Center will start scheduled events on June 17-18 with an exhibition for two leading creators of the 20th century, Chrysa and Takis, and will come to an end on August 21 with a conference on ancient Greek mathematics.
The Japanese production of "Oedipus", set for July 6, and the Greek-Turkish "Descent of Hercules", July 2, are also among theatrical performances included in the events.
The sculptor Takis will present his new work, 18 works based on photovoltaic energy. Chrysa will be exhibiting her work in Delphi for the first time in neon, inspired primarily by inscriptions and Chinese ideograms.
The theatrical Moscow 2001 Olympiad will be announced in Delphi over the period between June 30 and July 8 in the presence of Russian Culture Minister Svidkoi and other officials.
The artistic program also includes leading actress Ala Damidova with the performance "Tristia" (sadness).
 President Stephanopoulos inaugurates 'new' Benaki Museum
Athens, 08/06/2000 (ANA)President Kostis Stephanopoulos inaugurated the "new" Benaki Museum, composed of new sections depicting Greek history from ancient to modern times, on Wednesday night in the presence of Prime Minister Costas Simitis and other officials.
President Stephanopoulos said he felt national pride while inaugurating the new sections, adding that the section on modern Greek history moved him in particular.
"There is a new conception here, creativeness and the image of the dynamic continuation of Greek civilization," Simitis said and added that the Benaki Museum shows the image of Greece, which is creating and is present.
 Olympic Airways launches new route to Venice
Athens, 08/06/2000 (ANA)Olympic Airways on Wednesday announced the beginning of its new route to Venice from June 9 in cooperation with Alpieagles.
The new route will be serviced every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday with a daily Fokker 100 aircraft flight.
Venice is the four Italian destination for Olympic Airways after Rome, Milan and Naples.
 Environment ╠inister discusses Athens 2004 Olympic Games with Olympiad Coordinating Committee president
Athens, 08/06/2000 (ANA)Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis and Athens 2004 Olympic Games Coordinating Committee President Yianna Daskalaki-Angelopoulou held talks on Wednesday and expressed certainty over the 2004 Olympiad's success and the carrying out of all projects undertaken by Greece.
Laliotis reiterated that if steps have been taken so far to prepare the Olympic Games leaps will have to be made from now on. Replying to press reports and opposition criticism, Laliotis said all projects will go ahead with faith in transparency, legality and the public interest and indicated that "projects will not be awarded directly, nor will there be tendering with photographic clauses."
 Britain's Cyprus envoy arrives for talks with Clerides, Denktash
LARNACA, 08/06/2000 (CNA/ANA)Britain's Cyprus envoy Sir David Hannay, who arrived here on Wednesday for a series of meetings, said one of his objectives is to prepare the ground for next month's UN-led talks in Geneva.
Refraining from any comment on the content of his discussions, Hannay said he would meet President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and others.
Sir David is the first of several foreign envoys to visit Cyprus ahead of the July 5 talks in Geneva, aiming at paving the way for a settlement on the island, divided since Turkish troops occupied 37 per cent of its territory in 1974.
Next week UN Secretary General's Special Advisor for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto arrives for talks and US Presidential Emissary Alfred Moses is expected a few days later.
"I am here for four days to see the President and Mr. Denktash and to talk to a wide range of people and to prepare the ground for the next talks, which as you know are starting in Geneva on 5 July," Hannay told the press on arrival.
He said he would not go into anything relating to the matters he will be discussing, citing an appeal by the UN for a news blackout on public statements concerning the talks.
Hannay said however that these matters "are familiar".
Asked about the duration of the third round of talks, that opened in December last year, the British diplomat said he was not informed about this kind of detail and referred the press to de Soto.
"I do not know anything about that, you will have to ask Mr. de Soto when he comes, he is in charge of the timetable, he will tell you what he expects," Sir David added.
Later on Wednesday the British envoy had a meeting with Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides. No statements were made.
On Thursday, he will have a working breakfast with the President. Later on he will see Denktash and in the afternoon he will give a lecture in Turkish-occupied Nicosia on European Union common foreign and security policy.
On Friday he will accompany the president aboard his yacht for a cruise and then give a press conference. In the evening he will have dinner with Denktash.
Before leaving on Saturday, he will attend a bicommunal event in Pyla, near one of the two military bases Britain has retained since it granted Cyprus its independence in 1960.
 President Clerides receives US ambassador Bandler
NICOSIA, 08/06/2000 (CNA/ANA)US Ambassador to Cyprus Donald Bandler said he is looking forward to the visits to the island of foreign envoys dealing with the Cyprus problem, in an effort to move the process towards meaningful negotiations.
Speaking after he was received by Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, Bandler said they "had a good meeting" and a "further comprehensive discussion on the settlement talks, preparatory work that is being done now here and elsewhere."
Bandler said "we are looking forward" to the visits of US Presidential Emissary, Alfred Moses, British representative, Sir David Hannay, and UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser, Alvaro De Soto.
"All those are important steps in the road to a third round", he said, adding that "we continue to hope and expect it will take us forward and advance the work we have been doing in the first two rounds and move us forward to the meaningful negotiations that we all want".
Asked if talks will be interrupted due to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's statement that he intends to return to the areas occupied by Turkish troops to attend "celebrations" marking the 1974 Turkish invasion of the island, Bandler replied "we are not the ones who are in the frontline of the discussions about the date of the meeting. I am sure that it will come up again on these visits, particularly Mr. De Soto's".