|Sunday, 19 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-06-14
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Papantoniou puts cost of Athens 2004 Olympiad at 2 trn drachmas
Athens, 14/06/2000 (ANA)National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said on Tuesday the cost of the Athens 2004 Olympiad would exceed two trillion drachmas.
Presenting the overall budget for the events during a session of the responsible ministerial committee, chaired by the Prime Minister Costas Simitis, he detailed that the cost of the necessary sports projects, security and hospitality would reach 1,150 billion drachmas, organizational expenses would approach 700 billion, while a further 300 billion drachmas would be required for peripheral Olympic projects.
Deputy Press Minister Telemachos Hytiris said the funds would be found through the Public Investment Program, which accompanies each year's state budget, the EU-subsidized Community Support Framework III, the privatization of the Betting Organization (OPAP) and revenues from the new telephone operating licenses.
Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said the organizers had reached agreement with hoteliers, which was pending approval by the International Olympic Committee and Parliament.
Simitis condemned what he called "polemics" regarding the progress of preparations for the Games and the political exploitation of the issue -particularly by the main opposition New Democracy party, and urged ministers to dedicate themselves to the tasks necessary to make the event a success.
The Prime Minister later met separately with Gianna Angelopoulou-Daskalaki, president of the Athens 2004 organizing committee, and managing director Costas Bakouris. The latter was reported in a good mood after the meeting, which seemed to dispel recent speculation of a trimming of his responsibilities in favor of Angelopoulou-Daskalaki.
Sources said Simitis would announce the names of the five-member executive secretariat, which will coordinate and monitor the progress of preparations, after Parliament's approval of a relevant bill.
 Karamanlis addresses Parliament on preparations for 2004 Olympiad
Athens, 14/06/2000 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis, speaking in Parliament on Tuesday on the Culture Ministry's draft bill on issues concerning preparations for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, accused the government of refusing "any form of consensus" and said that the draft bill was prepared "at the last minute and attempts to correct sins."
He said a nationwide effort should be made for the success of the Games, and argued that "instead of competencies being given to the Olympic Games committees, these are concentrated on the Prime Minister, while the limits of party hirings are broadened with personal and party criteria."
He called on the government to take additional security measures for the Games, noting at the same time that "Athens is one of the safest and most hospitable cities in the world."
He reiterated the ND's proposals on the course of the Olympics projects, such as the setting up of a National Olympics Council under the chairmanship of the President of the Republic.
 Gov't rejects ties between Olympics, Nov. 17; massive reward offered
Athens, 14/06/2000 (ANA)The Greek government on Tuesday flatly rejected press reports claiming a connection between the Athens 2004 Olympics and the recent attacks by a notorious urban terrorist group.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said last week's deadly attack by the elusive "November 17" group provided certain "individuals biased against Greece with the opportunity to dispute the country's ability to organize the Olympiad."
Two November 17 assassins gunned down Britain's defense attache to Greece Thursday morning as he was driving alone on a congested Athens highway. The perpetrators were riding a motorcycle that subsequently sped away through morning rush-hour traffic.
Asked by reporters about recent widely publicized statements by former US intelligence officials regarding terrorism in Greece, Reppas called on anyone "who knows anything that will assist in overcoming delays and ineffectiveness to provide the evidence they claim they know about, in order to help succeed in a common goal, which is the eradication of terrorism".
The spokesman added that such former intelligence service officials should exploit the chance to speak "reliably and responsibly, otherwise, the common effort (against terrorism) is damaged with the hurling of such accusations against Greece..."
Ex-CIA director James Woolsey was quoted in an interview published by the Athens weekly "Pontiki" last week as citing "complete ineffectiveness" by Greek police vis-a-vis terrorism.
Woolsey's comments echoed past statements by other former US State Department and intelligence officials.
"We have strong reasons to believe that important Greek government officials know how to track down and catch this organization (November 17) if they wanted to, but they aren't," said Woolsey, whose interview with "Pontiki" generated repeated calls that he be summoned to provide testimony to local prosecutors.
The interview was given before the attack on Brig. Stephen Saunders and published the same day as the assassination.
In closing his remarks during a regular press briefing, Reppas said no official response has been given by Washington regarding Athens' request for judicial assistance in the matter, namely, the testimony of ex-US government officials on terrorism in Greece.
The British officer's body was flown out of Athens on Tuesday, accompanied by Heather Saunders and the couple's two children. The plane is expected to reach London's Gatwick at around 5:30 p.m. (local time).
Reward offered: As the spokesman addressed reporters, the government also announced a one-billion-drachma ($2.83 million) reward for anyone providing information leading to the apprehension of Saunders' killers. A public order ministry news release also noted that witnesses or informants would be provided with complete anonymity and protection.
Suspicious motorbike found: In terms of the ongoing investigation, authorities on Tuesday announced that a stolen "vespa-type" two-wheeler was found near the scene of Thursday's attack.
Although witnesses initially pointed to a high-powered, "off-road" type motorcycle as the getaway vehicle, police are now considering whether the distinctly smaller 100-cc Korean-made vespa was used by the terrorists.
The license plates on the motorbike, ZMA 756, were stolen in late March from the Maroussi district in northern Athens, while the vespa itself was stolen from the upscale Nea Erythrea district on June 8, the same area where the Saunders family resided.
What remains is for eyewitnesses to be shown the stolen vespa, police said.
 Papazoi underlines need for cooperation between EU member-states in combatting terrorism
LUXEMBOURG, 14/06/2000 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)Alternate Foreign Minister Elizabeth Papazoi referred to the issue of the November 17 group's terrorist activity in Greece in an address during a dinner for European Union foreign ministers here on Monday night, stressing the need for intensifying cooperation between all EU member-states in combatting terrorism. She said Greece desires and seeks whatever cooperation of a similar form.
Papazoi referred in particular to apparatuses existing in the framework of the EU, such as Europol, and to political cooperation between member-states.
Meanwhile, Greek diplomatic sources revealed here on Tuesday that the British position at the Council was absolutely positive, while Papazoi's British counterpart thanked her for the way with which Greece is handling the issue.
Main opposition says changes in anti-terrorist law necessary: New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis said on Tuesday that the inefficiency and incompetence of PASOK governments in tackling terrorism was harming the country and that the main opposition would have to take the initiative on the issue.
He made the statement during a meeting of senior main opposition party members.
New Democracy spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said that the effective fight against terrorism required an appropriate institutional framework and that the main opposition would table a relevant draft bill.
He called for discussion of the issue in a parliamentary committee and a public debate on the necessary institutional changes. Sources said the draft bill would contain a provision for the exclusion of jurors from the composition of courts trying terrorists and the formulation of a witness protection system.
Slain British officer's widow demands assassins' capture; 'I don't blame the Greek people', she stresses: The widow of Britain's slain defense attache to Greece flew back to Britain on Tuesday, accompanying the body of Brig. Stephen Saunders to his homeland.
Two "November 17" assassins gunned down Saunders on Thursday morning as he was driving alone on a congested Athens highway. The terrorists were riding a motorcycle that subsequently sped away through morning rush-hour traffic.
During her arrival at London's Gatwick Airport, Heather Saunders made a brief statement, which was earlier released, by the British embassy in Athens.
"I would like to thank all those people from all over the world who have filled my home with messages of sympathy and love for my kind and gentle soldier.
"Stephen was very much a peace-keeping soldier, a man who had a deep belief in all things good in life. But foremost, Stephen was my darling beloved husband and father of our wonderful girls, Nicola and Catherine. He was a true family man who has been ripped from the very heart of his family by evil, wicked and cowardly men who have achieved nothing for themselves but wide condemnation.
"I want that condemnation to continue. I want these men caught and prosecuted. They must never destroy another family in this way. I want to repeat here the appeal I made to the Greek people in Athens: If anyone knows anything that can help bring these men to justice, please pass it on to the police. Any small piece of information could make a difference.
"I don't blame the Greek people for what happened. But I appeal to them again to take this opportunity to ensure that no one else has to suffer the way we are.
"Finally, I ask you all from time to time to remember Nicola, Catherine and myself in your prayers, because we have a long road to travel," she said.
 Simitis warns that State will clamp down on terrorist activity
Athens, 14/06/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday warned that the State would do all in its power to obstruct and wipe out terrorist activity.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos, Simitis said that the entire Greek society condemned all acts of terrorism and the most recent killing of Britain's defense attache in Athens last week by the elusive "November 17" group.
Receiving Simitis at the Presidential Mansion, Stephanopoulos expressed his abhorrence at the killing of the British diplomat, Stephen Saunders, and said such criminal acts must be condemned in the strongest manner.
After the meeting, Simitis said he and the President had discussed current affairs, and particularly the upcoming EU summit in Portugal where the EU leaders were due to finalize Greece's entry into the European Union's economic and monetary union (EMU), giving Greece the "green light" for its "participation in mainstream Europe".
Simitis flies to Portugal on Sunday to take part in a European Union summit on June 19-20 that is expected to approve Greece's entry into the euro zone as of January 1, 2001.
The premier said that Monday would be a landmark day for Greece, adding that the decision for Greece's EMU entry marked a qualitative change in Greece's relations with the EU as well as in the Greek economy, as it created better conditions for stability and growth.
Simitis said the target was social cohesion, adding that substantial steps had been taken in that direction, as Greece was close to the average EU standard of living, "and we shall continue on this path".
 Simitis to brief party leaders on Economic and Monetary Union
Athens, 14/06/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis will have consecutive meetings with party leaders on Friday in light of the European Union's summit in Feira, Portugal on June 19-20.
The decision on Greece's accession to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and participation in the hard nucleus of European decision-making will be ratified by the 14 heads of state and government during the summit.
At 10 a.m. Simitis will be meeting main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis, at 10.45 a.m. Communist Party of Greece Secretary General Aleka Papariga and at 11.30 Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos.
 EU foreign ministers discuss preparation of EU's Feira summit
LUXEMBOURG, 14/06/2000 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)European Union foreign ministers convened on Tuesday to discuss the preparation of the EU's summit in Feira, Portugal, next week. Alternate Foreign Minister Elizabeth Papazoi represented Greece.
However, most foreign ministers were absent as they, including Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, traveled to Syria to attend the funeral of President Hafez Al-Assad.
In a statement, Papazoi said the main issues preoccupying the session was the course of the Intergovernmental Conference on reshaping EU institutions, shaping common foreign policy, the EU's defense and security policy and the situation in the Balkans. On the question of common foreign policy and defense and security policy, the foreign ministers agreed on the proposal to be presented at the summit.
On her part, Papazoi said the EU's decisions on defense issues will be taken exclusively in the framework of the "15" and the implementation of the decisions will possibly be the object of negotiations with other countries as well, and primarily with NATO countries which are not EU member-states.
The foreign ministers also listened to a joint report on the Balkans presented by EU officials Patten and Solana. Papazoi said that most EU member-states agree that the EU's intercession in the Balkans is inadequate and procedures for providing EU aid to the region should be speeded up.
The Portuguese EU Presidency disclosed that during the session a proposal by French President Jacques Chirac was discussed for an international conference to be convened with the participation of the heads of state and government from countries coming from former unified Yugoslavia. On the question of Serbia, Portuguese officials clarified once again that under the circumstances there is no question of its participation in such a conference.
 Tsohatzopoulos sees progress in common European defense
LUXEMBOURG, 14/06/2000 (ANA)Greece said on Tuesday that the integration of the European defense capability was directly linked with an intensification of the collaboration of EU member-states in the defense industry and the gradual harmonization of the level of their defense spending.
"We are clearly in favor of setting specific convergence criteria for member states in the defense sector, similar to those that applied to EMU," Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said in statements after a joint session of the foreign and defense ministers of the 15.
The participating ministers met to examine a draft text on the common foreign, defense and security policy which will come up for adoption at the EU summit in Feira, Portugal, next week.
Tsohatzopoulos said he was fully satisfied with a provision confirming the autonomy of the EU in decision making on defense issues. He said progress in this sector was very rapid and the EU would begin consultations in September on the formation of its own division.
Regarding objections by Turkey, which considers that it is being marginalized under the new scheme compared to the arrangements under the Western European Union, Tsohatzopoulos said that Turkey was the only European member of NATO that reacted so strongly and had been isolated as a result.
 Papandreou in Syria for Assad's funeral
Athens, 14/06/2000 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos arrived in Damascus on Tuesday to attend the funeral of Syrian President Hafez al-Assad.
Papandreou had separate brief meetings with Prime Minister Mohammed Mustapha Mero and the late leader's son, Bashar al-Assad, who is emerging as his successor. Reliable sources said Papandreou is planning a tour of the Middle East soon.
The Greek foreign minister also had a brief conversation with German counterpart Joshka Fischer on issues concerning the upcoming EU summit in Feira, Portugal on June 19 and 20.
Simitis sends condolences to Syrian PM: Prime minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday sent a message of condolences to his Syrian counterpart Mohammed Mustapha Mero on the death of Syria's President Hafez al-Assad.
In his cable, Simitis expressed the "deep grief" of the Greek government and himself over al-Assad's and sent condolences to the people of Syria and the deceased's family.
"President al-Assad will remain in our memory as a leader who left his mark on the region and as an old and genuine friend of Greece," the premier said in his message.
 Church hierarchy ready for Wednesday's Thessaloniki rally over ID cards furor
Athens, 14/06/2000 (ANA)The Orthodox Church's powerful hierarchy is intensifying efforts to prepare Wednesday's rally in downtown Thessaloniki, due to begin at 7 p.m., regarding the issue of religion affiliation being listed on new identity cards.
Church circles estimate that more than 600 coaches will be used to carry people to the rally.
Vehicles fitted with loudspeakers were also driving through Thessaloniki in the morning, calling on people to attend the rally. Members of several Orthodox Christian organizations are also distributing printed material door-to-door and on the streets. A similar rally will also be held in Athens on June 21.
In a related development, Jerusalem Patriarch Diodoros II has addressed a letter to Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, stressing his undivided support for the people and the Church.
An announcement by the Holy Synod also revealed that the Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania Anastasios had a telephone conversation with Christodoulos and offered assurances of his support and participation in the Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greece's efforts to avert the removal of religious affiliation from new state-mandated identity cards.
Gov't: Meanwhile, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the identification of the main opposition New Democracy party with the Church on the issue of rallies was "unacceptable."
He said the move altered the character, which should govern the functioning of the Church and indicated that the main opposition party was succumbing to temptations merely for petty-party reasons.
 Ecumenical Patriarch calls on PM to examine listing of religion in IDs
ISTANBUL, 14/06/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos addressed a letter to Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday, appealing to his "known wisdom" and calling on him to examine the issue of religion being listed in identity cards. The Patriarch ascertains in his letter, according to reports, that the issue of identity cards is an issue belonging to the exclusive responsibility of the Greek State.
Authoritative sources at the Phanar disclosed that the letter addressed to Simitis is the Ecumenical Patriarchate's reply to an appeal made to it and to other Orthodox Patriarchates by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos for support for rallies it is organizing on the issue of identity cards.
The letter was also communicated to Archbishop Christodoulos to inform him of the way with which the Ecumenical Patriarchate supports moves by the Church of Greece.
The Church will hold two rallies on the issue of religion being listed in identity cards. One in Thessaloniki on Wednesday and another in Athens on June 21.
 New Democracy proposes voluntary listing of religion in ID cards
Athens, 14/06/2000 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis and party members participating in Parliament's first summer recess committee on Tuesday tabled a draft bill on the voluntary listing of religion in identity cards.
ND's deputies said in their report that the problem created is due to "mistaken handling by the prime minister and the government who discontinued dialogue with the Church suddenly and without reason" and to "vagueness which has appeared at institutional level."
 Papazoi comments on recourse by ex-King at European Court on former royal property
LUXEMBOURG, 14/06/2000 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)Alternate Foreign Minister Elizabeth Papazoi, referring to the issue of royal property to be examined by the Council of Europe's European Court of Human Rights on Wednesday, told Greek reporters on Tuesday that ex-King Constantine is seeking compensation from the Hellenic state amounting to 168.7 billion drachmas, adding that the money is compensation for the discriminatory attitude of the Greek authorities against him.
Papazoi said that Greece's lawyers would maintain that the so-called royal property is a particular form of ownership (sui generis) and that the estate at Tatoi in particular cannot be considered a private estate. She said that on the part of Greece all necessary work has been done to present Greek arguments in a convincing way at the Strasbourg court.
 Tripoli municipality delegation meets Istanbul mayor
ISTANBUL, 14/06/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)A delegation of Greece's Tripoli municipality, headed by the head of the Municipal Council, George Lagos, on Tuesday visited Istanbul Mayor Ali Mufit Gurduna.
"When we abandon prejudices and hostilities which constitute material in domestic politics, we will see that there are many common characteristics between the two peoples," Gurduna said on receiving the Greek delegation.
Gurduna termed Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos as a "friend" and conveyed greetings to the Greek people.
On his part, Lagos said "our greatest desire is for the Turkish people to also get to know our people," adding that "we too are hospitable like the Turks."
 Departing Iranian Ambassador pays farewell call on defense deputy minister
Athens, 14/06/2000 (ANA)Departing Iranian Ambassador to Athens Mahdi Khanda Ghabadi on Tuesday paid a farewell call on Defense Deputy Minister Dimitris Apostolakis who reiterated the Greek government's will to strengthen Greek-Iranian relations.
Apostolakis accepted an invitation to visit Iran, at a date to be set through diplomatic channels.
 Morgan Stanley's report hit Greek stocks
Athens, 14/06/2000 (ANA)A Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's forecast that the general index should be 25 percent lower from current levels, around 3,400 points, undermined sentiment on the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday and pushed share prices sharply lower.
Market sources - and the government - expressed doubts over the credibility of that forecast which is based on dividends discount. They said that based on this method the NASDAQ composite index should be below 1,000 points currently.
The US investment firm said that current overvaluation of Greek stocks should keep foreign investors away from the market even after the country's entry in the euro zone.
The general index fell 2.39 percent to 4,274,72 points immediately after the report, only to recovery modestly helped by selective buying in blue chip stocks.
Finally, it ended at 4,316.70 points, off 1.43 percent. Turnover was an improved 146 billion drachmas. The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 1.35 percent lower at 2,389.39 points and the FTSE/ASE 40 index dropped 1.93 percent to 626.55 points.
Sector indices ended as follows: Bank: 8,115.55
-1.28% Leasing: 894.12 -3.63% Insurance: 2,876.70
-0.59% Investment: 1,724.85 -2.45% Construction: 2,358.52 -2.20% Industrials: 2,663.50 -1.27% Miscellaneous: 4,568.11 -1.17% Holding: 4,932.57
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended at 874.86 points, off 2.24 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 279 to 58 with another 10 issues unchanged.
Commercial Bank, Sysware, Xiosbank, Macedonia-Thrace Bank and Hellenic Telecoms were the most heavily traded stocks.
Leading shares' closing prices (in Drs): National Bank: 15,500 Alpha Bank: 14,310 Commercial Bank:
18,000 Ergobank: 6,800 Eurobank: 9,405 Heracles Cement: 8,520 Titan Cement (c): 14,000 Hellenic Telecoms: 8,700 Panafon: 4,350 Hellenic Petroleum:
4,130 Intracom: 14,000 Minoan Lines: 5,400 Hellenic Bottling: 5,810
National Ministry officials reject Morgan Stanley's report on ASE: Greece's national ministry sources rejected a Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's report of an overvalued Greek stock market, saying that it was based on questionable suppositions and methods.
"Morgan Stanley's report is based on questionable suppositions and methodology and we cannot understand how Greece's EMU entry and a four-percentage-point decline in interest rates could push the Greek stock market lower," they told ANA on Tuesday.
 Equity futures drop in line with stock market
Athens, 14/06/2000 (ANA)Equity futures finished lower on Tuesday, tracking the two indices on which they are based.
The FTSE/ASE 20 closed 1.35 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 1.93 percent lower.
Turnover was 13.8 billion drachmas.
A total of 1,520 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 index with turnover at 7.2 billion drachmas.
Changing hands on the FTSE/ASE 40 were 2,678 futures on turnover of 6.6 billion drachmas.
Bond prices nose down in sell-oriented trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Tuesday finished lower in moderate, sell-oriented trade.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.053 percent from 6.05 percent in the two previous sessions; and the yield on the equivalent German bund was 5.15 percent.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 91 basis points from 88-89 basis points a day earlier. It widened to 93 basis points in after-hours trade.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 150 billion drachmas from 20 billion drachmas in the previous session.
Sell orders accounted for 102 billion drachmas of turnover.
Drachma up vs. euro, dollar: The drachma on Tuesday rose against the euro and the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market.
At the central bank's daily fixing, the euro was set at 336.400 drachmas from 336.500 drachmas in the previous session.
Also at the fixing, the US dollar was set at 351.100 drachmas from 353.180 drachmas a day earlier.
The central bank intervened at the fix, selling around 160 million euros, traders said.
 Greece begins public debt's euro conversion
Athens, 14/06/2000 (ANA)The conversion of Greece's public debt into the euro currency will be made in five phases, lasting from June 16 to December 31, 2000, Finance Undersecretary George Drys said on Tuesday.
Presenting the ministry's plan to bank officials, Drys said that the program would be coordinated by a task force, including representatives from the State's General Accounting Office, the Bank of Greece and the Hellenic Bank Association.
The plan envisages that in the next 45 days all banks must adopt their computer systems to a pilot program, expected to begin on the second or third Saturday of July with the participation of all domestic banks, the Bank of Greece and the finance ministry.
A second pilot program is expected on the second or third Saturday of September.
The finance ministry will announce its detailed timetable in November and on the weekend of December 30-31, the General Accounting Office, the Bank of Greece and commercial banks will remain open to carry out the debt's conversion into the euro currency, under the supervision of a special task force.
The plan also envisages that no banking transactions will be made on Tuesday, January 2, 2001, in order to complete the conversion program.
Drys said that the switch of the country's foreign debt in currencies participating in the euro zone would be made in a later time along with the debt of state organizations and enterprises.
 Budget spending growth accelerates in Jan-April
Athens, 14/06/2000 (ANA)Greece's regular budget's primary spending rose 7.5 percent in the first four months of 2000, exceeding a budget target for an increase of 6.4 percent, while revenues increased by 11.2 percent, up from an annual target growth of 5.8 percent, finance ministry figures showed on Tuesday.
The finance ministry said that interest payment spending jumped 16.1 percent in the January-April period, from an annual target of a 3.0 percent decline, contributing to an increase in the budget deficit.
The budget's borrowing requirements totalled 758 billion drachmas in the first four months of the year, exceeding an annual target of 665 billion drachmas.
Interest spending totalled 1.576 trillion drachmas, up from 1.357 trillion last year, reflecting higher repayment needs in that period.
A 7.5 percent increase in primary spending is attributed to a change in the government's income policy.
 Industrial production up 11.2 pct in March yr./yr.
Athens, 14/06/2000 (ANA)Greece's composite industrial index, including mining, manufacturing, electricity and natural gas, increased 11.2 percent in March compared with the same month last year, official figures showed on Tuesday.
The mining production index rose 14.7 percent, the manufacturing index was up 8.9 percent and the electricity-natural gas-water production index increased 17.6 percent.
 Athens ratifies Greek-Turkish tourism agreement
Athens, 14/06/2000 (ANA)Athens ratified a Greek-Turkish tourism pact on Tuesday that allows for easier cross-border transit and joint business initiatives, among others.
The pact comes on the heels of several other agreements the two neighboring states have signed over the past few months, mostly on "low-impact" sectors, and amid an ever-improving climate of relations following an outpouring of mutual public sympathy during last summer's twin quakes - one hitting NW Asia Minor and the other the greater Athens area.
An exchange of tourism-related know-how, information about investment opportunities and support for joint ventures in yacht leasing and marinas is also envisioned.
In a related development, the second Greek-Turkish tourism summit will take place on the Aegean holiday island of Rhodes, beginning on Friday. The event is co-organized by Greece's foreign ministry, the state-run tourism organization (EOT) and the municipality of Rhodes. The first such meeting took place in the Turkish vacation port of Bodrum (ancient Halicarnassus).
Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis signed the pact in Athens.
 Dionysis Kalofonos appointed new Olympic Airways president
Athens, 14/06/2000 (ANA)Olympic Airways' general assembly of shareholders convened on Tuesday, following a decision by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis, and appointed Dionysis Kalofonos as the airline's new president. He will also be managing director until procedures set by law 2414 are carried out.
 Drug smuggler suspected in '95 Gligorov assassination attempt
SKOPJE, 14/06/2000 (ANA - M. Vihou)An alleged drug smuggling kingpin has been identified as the primary suspect in the October 1995 assassination attempt against former FYROM president Kiro Gligorov.
The suspect, listed only as a FYROM national of Albanian descent going by the knick-name "Alsami", was arrested last October in Prague, according to the Skopje daily "Nova Makedonja". The paper adds that his extradition from the Czech Republic to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is also imminent.
The fugitive has been accused by Czech authorities of running a major smuggling ring funneling heroin into Germany, Sweden and the Czech Republic, while only last week another six individuals were arrested in the case - five of which are Albanians from FYROM, the paper reports.
Gligorov was severely injured in the attack -- a remote-controlled bomb explosion as his limousine drove through a central Skopje avenue -- although he re-assumed his duties after a lengthy hospitalization. His driver was killed.
 Interamerican, Athens Medical to renegotiate deal
Athens, 14/06/2000 (ANA)Interamerican and Athens Medical Group will renegotiate a deal to build a Medical Park in Athens and a share swap, seven months after its announcement.
Dimitris Kontominas, chairman of Interamerican Group, on Tuesday said that the deal was under review, dismissing recent press reports that the deal broke off.
The deal envisages building of a Medical Park in east Athens, occupying an area of 150,000 square meters, with a capacity of 350 beds, a maternity house with 150 beds and a conference room.
Kontominas urged for the full liberalization of health services in the country, for stronger competition between state and private hospitals and for more state monitoring in the health sector.
 New Xanthi-Bursa bus route unveiled
Athens, 14/06/2000 (ANA)A new bus service by Greece's state-run railways set to begin on June 15 will connect the northeastern Greek town of Xanthi, in Thrace, will the Turkish city of Bursa, in NW Asia Minor.
Buses will leave Xanthi and Bursa everyday but Saturday.
 President Clerides holds talks with Russian special envoy for CyprusĶICOSIA, 14/06/2000 (CNA/ANA)
Russian Special Representative for Cyprus Vladimir Prygin, on his first visit to the island since his appointment last month, expressed on Tuesday the hope for progress during the third round of proximity talks, pointing out that negotiations could not go on for ever, but should aim at producing results.
Prygin on Tuesday had separate meetings with President Glafcos Clerides and President of the House of Representatives Spyros Kyprianou and on Wednesday he is expected to meet in the Turkish-occupied areas of the island with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.
Stressing his country's steady and continuous support to efforts for a Cyprus settlement in accordance with international law and order, the Russian official said that even though the Cyprus problem is very difficult and complex, the negotiation process is the only way to reach a viable and lasting solution.
"We hope the next round of talks (scheduled to begin in Geneva, July 5) will be constructive and some progress and steps forward will at last be achieved," Prygin said, noting, however, that "negotiations cannot go on for ever, their purpose is to produce results".
Asked to comment on consultations in the UN with regard to a resolution for the renewal of the UN Peace-keeping force's (UNFICYP) mandate on the island, Prygin said "the Russian side understands the Cyprus position and we are in close contact with Cypriot diplomats in New York and believe a good resolution will be approved by the Security Council".
Prygin, who is expected to be in Geneva at least for the first few days of the third round of proximity talks, also pointed on Tuesday to Russia's role as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a member of the G8 and said that it cooperates closely with the interested sides in efforts for a Cyprus settlement.
On Thursday, Prygin will fly to Athens, where he still serves as Minister Plenipotentiary at the Russian Embassy there and in August he will return to Moscow to fully take over his duties as Special Representative.
Prygin had served in Cyprus in the past at the embassy of the former Soviet Union.
 UN special adviser de Soto begins three-day visit to Cyprus on Thursday
NICOSIA, 14/06/2000 (CNA/ANA)Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General Alvaro de Soto arrives here Thursday evening for meetings with President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in view of the third round of proximity talks, scheduled to begin in Geneva on July 5.
On Friday and Saturday de Soto will have a working breakfast with President Clerides. On both these days, he is to see Denktash in the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus.
During his three-day stay on the island, the UN official will also meet with the Ambassadors of the five permanent members of the Security Council, resident in Nicosia.
On Saturday he will give a press conference at Ledra Palace hotel, situated in the UN-buffer zone of this divided capital.
On Sunday, de Soto will fly to Athens and Ankara and then Brussels for consultations. Meanwhile, acting UN Secretary General Special Representative Zbigniew Wolosowicz and US Presidential Emissary Alfred Moses arrive here for meetings, the former on Thursday and the latter in the last week the month.
 Cyprus protests new violations of its airspace by Turkish warplanes
NICOSIA, 14/06/2000 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus has strongly protested new violations of its national airspace and the Nicosia flight information region (FIR) by Turkish military aircraft.
The protest took the form of a letter dated June 5 to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan by Cyprus' Permanent Representative to the Organization Sotos Zackheos, an official statement says.
In his letter, which on Monday circulated as an official UN document, Zackheos draws Annan's attention to the new Turkish violations, which are described analytically.
The violations were carried out by a total of 78 Turkish aircraft on April 27 and 30, and on May 1, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 12, 17, 18, 19 and 26, 2000, Zackheos says in his letter, and describes both the type of aircraft and the positioning of each violation.
"While strongly protesting these violations, which violate international law as well as the Security Council resolutions on Cyprus, and calling for their cessation, I would like once more to express the hope that the necessary positive attitude will be shown by Turkey so that the efforts for finding a just and viable solution of the Cyprus problem on the basis of UN resolutions will not be adversely affected", Zackheos notes.