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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-06-15

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Archbishop attacks decision on IDs, government steadfast on its stance
  • [02] EU says processing of personal data in identity cards prohibited
  • [03] Simitis chairs cabinet meeting focusing on Greece's accession to EMU
  • [04] Memorial service for slain British defense attache on Friday
  • [05] Deputy defense minister and Georgian alternate foreign minister discuss bilateral cooperation
  • [06] Amnesty I'ntl accuses Greece for prosecuting conscientious objectors
  • [07] Eurocourt of Human Rights hears ex-king's recourse over property
  • [08] Papantoniou predicts better future after EMU entry
  • [09] Greek stocks recover losses on ASE
  • [10] Indicative fuel prices fall, diesel rises
  • [11] New oil exploration in Thassos
  • [12] Balkan center announces tender to privatize Turkish telecom
  • [13] Greek aluminum industry plans investments exceeding 55 billion drachmas
  • [14] Commercial Bank's shareholders discuss Credit Agricole deal
  • [15] Civil servants to seek 5.5 pct pay rise
  • [16] President Stephanopoulos to name world's fastest cruise liner
  • [17] UNICEF report on OECD child poverty levels, Greek statistics
  • [18] Postal workers' union calls 'warning strike' demanding extra staff
  • [19] Time limit for participation in Abdi Ipekci competition ends on November 30, 2000
  • [20] Greek Cypriot side to attend July UN-led talks with necessary political will
  • [21] Greek-Turkish Cypriot parties issue joint communique

  • [01] Archbishop attacks decision on IDs, government steadfast on its stance

    Athens, 15/06/2000 (ANA)

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos addressed a massive rally in Thessaloniki on Wednesday evening in protest of the government's decision to abolish reference to citizens' religious persuasion on the new police identity cards.

    He reiterated the Church's "right to consultation with the government on important issues," while stressing that this did not represent a wish to co-govern.

    The rally was the first of two called by the Church to protest the government's decision.

    In response, the government said that the rally was in contradiction to the Church's proper role.

    "The holding of the rally and the content of the speech confirmed intentions and goals which contradict the spiritual and social role of the Church...The government has made its position known on the issue of identity cards, which is of the exclusive responsibility of the State," said government spokesman Dimitris Reppas.

    Addressing the rally whose size rivaled that of many political gatherings, the Archbishop said: "The Church does not intend to co-govern... On the other hand, it retains its claim to dialogue and consultation, as is usual in our democratic country before the adoption of any important decision by the government," he said.

    The head of Greece's Orthodox Church accused the government of going back on a promise to hold dialogue before announcing its decision and unleashed a strong attack "on those progressive technocrats who aim, willy-nilly, to convert Greece into a country which does not recognize Orthodox Christianity" and "a few intellectuals who stubbornly ignore the role of the Church in the maintenance of tradition". He said the Church's objections extended to the keeping of electronic records on personal data, which, he claimed, would provide the basis for further measures eroding tradition, according to recently aired views of Justice Minister Michalis Stathopoulos. Christodoulos described Stathopoulos as the "theoretician of the undoing" of ties between Church and State.

    Several local parliamentary deputies and Thessaloniki Mayor Vasilis Papageorgopoulos attended the rally.

    A second Church rally has been scheduled to take place in Athens on Wednesday, June 21.

    Gov't rebukes Church involvement in politics: The government said on Wednesday that a Church rally in Thessaloniki, held in protest against a government plan to abolish the reference to citizens' religious persuasion from identity cards and addressed by Archbishop of Athens Christodoulos, was in contradiction to the Church's proper role.

    "The holding of the rally and the content of the speech confirmed intentions and goals which contradict the spiritual and social role of the Church ... The government has made its position known on the issue of identity cards, which is of the exclusive responsibility of the State," said government spokesman Dimitris Reppas.

    Commenting on the same event, Foreign Minister George Papandreou said the involvement of the Church in politics was a mistake, which would boomerang on itself.

    "It is a big mistake for the Church to meddle in politics. It deprives it of its spiritual role, which is especially important, and will adversely affect the whole of Orthodox Christianity, particularly that of Greece," he said.

    "The quality of democracy is measured by respect for the majority and -especially so- for each individual," he added.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis reportedly told a session of the ruling PASOK party's Executive Bureau on Tuesday that he considered the government's decision for the abolition of the reference to citizens' religious persuasion on identity cards a closed issue.

    Earlier Wednesday, the government reiterated that the issue of new ID cards falls entirely within the realm of its responsibility.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas added that there is also "no room for dialogue" on including religious affiliation on IDs, expected to carry information both in Greek and Latin script.

    Additionally, Reppas said the decision by the government is unanimous, while he declined to comment on discussions Tuesday evening at a ruling PASOK executive bureau meeting. He also verified that Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis has received a letter addressed to him by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, saying the premier will answer through diplomatic channels.

    Asked to comment on Wednesday's rally in Thessaloniki, Reppas said its preparations had all the characteristics of a political rally.

    Christodoulos arrived at Thessaloniki's "Macedonia Airport" shortly before noon and headed directly to a local waterfront hotel. Metropolitan bishops Panteleimon of Thessaloniki, Prokopios of Kavala and Dionyssios of Neapoli greeted him at the airport.

    The Archbishop later hosted a luncheon for several metropolitan bishops of northern Greece, who arrived in Thessaloniki for the rally, organized by the Orthodox Church of Greece's hierarchy.

    A similar rally has been called for June 21 in Athens.

    A Thessaloniki police spokesman told ANA that about 700 chartered buses were expected in the northern capital, bringing faithful to the rally.

    The spokesman said the coaches would park in special areas set out by the traffic police around the port of Thessaloniki and the Kaftatzoglio stadium.

    Thessaloniki traffic police have stepped up measures throughout the city center and at the entry and exit points to the city to facilitate movement.

    The police spokesman added that there would be a "discreet" police force monitoring the rally.

    Kaklamanis, Tsovolas: Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis on Wednesday accused the Church leadership of choosing a particularly crucial period for the country to "force the state into submission, and the legally elected government into retreat... Proving, therefore, that it is forgoing its spiritual role and wants to co-rule the land."

    Just hours before the mass rally, Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) party leader Dimitris Tsovolas appealed to the Prime Minister to meet with the Church leadership.

    Tsovolas called on Simitis to "abandon arrogance and authoritarianism and meet, today (Wednesday), with the Church leadership so as to avert adverse developments for the country, the nation and the people".

    "The Prime Minister continues to add fuel to the fire, with his persistent refusal to hold dialogue with the Church leadership," he said.

    KKE says artificial tension and division of the people according to religious beliefs being attempted: The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) announced on Wednesday that artificial tension and the division of the people according to religious beliefs is being attempted with the non-registration of religion in identity cards.

    KKE said the PASOK government deliberately sought and triggered this development, adding that the Church's leadership is also fuelling tension.

    "From the moment it ascertained that on the part of the Church the tendency to exceed its role existed, it should have sought the segregation of State and Church in Parliament with the process of revising the constitution," it said.

    KKE said that in reality behind bourgeois modernization, which should have taken place many years ago, lies the PASOK government's intention to promote the practice and ideology of capital's cosmopolitanism and of the "European citizen."

    The announcement further said that the reaction of the Church to the government's plans, with Orthodoxy as its flag, does not respond to the people's modern-day and real problems and to the dangers threatening the country.

    [02] EU says processing of personal data in identity cards prohibited

    STRASBOURG, 15/06/2000 (ANA)

    A European Commission spokesman said on Wednesday processing of personal data on racial or national origin, political affiliations and religious or philosophical beliefs are prohibited in the European Union. He was replying to a question by Eurodeputy Alekos Alavanos on whether listing of religion in identity cards is permissible.

    The European Commission, after clarifying that processing of the above data is prohibited, added that certain exceptions could be made provided there is explicit consent by the person involved.

    Analyzing the issue of the listing of religion in Greek identity cards, the Commission pointed out that the purpose of identity cards is the recognition of a person and that religion cannot be considered an element in recognizing a person.

    Consequently, according to the above observations, the Commission concludes that reference to religion in a national identity card, even with the unreserved consent of its bearer, could constitute a violation of the EU directive.

    He also referred to the Commission's written reply that identity cards issued by other member-states do not list religion.

    The Council, through the presiding Portuguese Foreign Minister Seisa Dacosta, stressed that the relevant issue is not subject to the EU but exclusive responsibility of member-states and particularly the Greek personal data protection authority, as the questioning Eurodeputy correctly underlines.

    However, if listing of religion in identity cards would lead to the violation or harming of the principles governing the European Union, then the EU would take suitable measures on the lack of respect for treaties.

    In such a case, however, the European Commission would be the relevant body and not the Council.

    [03] Simitis chairs cabinet meeting focusing on Greece's accession to EMU

    Athens, 15/06/2000 (ANA)

    Addressing a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, focusing on Greece's accession to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), Prime Minister Costas Simitis referred to the great importance of the country's participation in the EMU, which strengthens its negotiating position in all sectors spectacularly, primarily in the Balkan region.

    Simitis placed emphasis on the fact that decisions taken at present, as well as whatever options, will have a decisive significance for Greece's course over the decades to come.

    "Decisions we are taking now are decisions having a horizon of at least a decade," he said.

    He reiterated that results achieved are due to the policy applied by the government and to the support of the Greek people, who contributed decisively with toils and sacrifices to enable one to speak, both at home and abroad, of an achievement accomplished in the country. To fully achieve, in other words, the criteria anticipated by relevant treaties to enable the country to be an equal member of EMU now.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said after the meeting that the prime minister expressed general skepticism over developments in the European Union since, apart from the target of EMU accession which has been achieved, the effort should be continued to secure the country's equal participation in developments to follow.

    [04] Memorial service for slain British defense attache on Friday

    Athens, 15/06/2000 (ANA)

    British ambassador to Athens David Madden on Wednesday announced that a memorial service would be held for Brig. Stephen Saunders at the Agios Dionysios Cathedral (34, Skoufa St. in the Kolonaki district) on Friday at 10 a.m.

    Brig. Saunders, who was the defense attache at the British embassy in Athens, was assassinated by a notorious urban terrorist group last Thursday.

    For more information, contact the embassy at (01) 72.72.636 or 72.72.744.

    In addition, it was announced that a book of condolences opened at the embassy will remain available for signature between 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at embassy's reception area.

    SYN leader pays respects at British embassy over diplomat's killing: Coalition of the Left and Progress (SYN) leader Nikos Constantopoulos on Wednesday called at the British Embassy in Athens to express his condolences for the killing of the embassy's defense attache by the "November 17" terrorist group.

    "Terrorism destabilizes the function of the democratic institutions," Constantopoulos said upon departing from the embassy in central Athens.

    "It must be confronted with political measures. What Greek society demands is an end to be put to such terrorist activity, which essentially is used as an alibi for exercising pressure against Greece -- destabilizing pressures and interventions on the country's domestic political life," the SYN leader said.

    The British diplomat, Brig. Stephen Saunders, was shot and fatally injured Thursday morning by two gunmen on a motorcycle as he was driving alone from his home in Nea Erythrea to the British embassy in downtown Athens. The notorious "November 17" terrorist group claimed the attack in a proclamation to the Athens daily "Eleftherotypia" published the following day.

    [05] Deputy defense minister and Georgian alternate foreign minister discuss bilateral cooperation

    Athens, 15/06/2000 (ANA)

    Deputy National Defense Minister Dimitris Apostolakis and Georgian Alternate Foreign Minister Giorgi Burduli, currently on an official visit to Greece, discussed bilateral cooperation issues on Wednesday.

    The two Ministers discussed initiatives and actions, which should be undertaken, and based on agreements signed, to promote cooperation between the two countries. They also discussed coordination of their actions, according to principles of international law, in organizations they are participating in which, as Apostolakis said, will contribute to the strengthening of bilateral relations.

    Apostolakis also reiterated Greece's support for Georgia's claim for accession to Euroatlantic institutions.

    [06] Amnesty I'ntl accuses Greece for prosecuting conscientious objectors

    Athens, 15/06/2000 (ANA)

    An Amnesty International report published on Wednesday, cataloguing human rights violations committed in 1999, accused Greece of continuing to take legal action against a member of Greece's Moslem minority for "peacefully exercising the right to freedom of religious conscience and freedom of expression."

    Conscientious objectors who refuse to take up the option of a non-military "social" national service with a punitive duration are liable to prosecution.

    The report also said there had been reports of abuse by police, while conditions in some jails and prisons constituted harsh, inhuman and degrading treatment. It expressed fears that the lengthy investigative procedures seen in past cases might allow the culprits to go unpunished.

    Outside of Greece, the report listed a series of violations throughout the world, including executions without trial in 31 countries, prisoners of conscience in 61 countries, torture and abuse in 132 countries and disappearances in 37 countries. Among the countries mentioned were the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, Colombia, Turkey and Russia.

    According to Amnesty International, the true figures in all the statistics are actually much higher, with thousands of people around the world having been tortured, illegally detained or denied their basic human rights.

    [07] Eurocourt of Human Rights hears ex-king's recourse over property

    STRASBOURG, 15/06/2000 (ANA Y. Zitouniati/Reuters)

    The European Court of Human Rights was the scene on Wednesday for the latest court battle between the deposed ex-king of Greece and the Greek State.

    Ex-king Constantine and eight members of his family filed a claim over several large tracts of property three years after Greece's Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a 1994 law seizing the former monarch's estates.

    The law cleared the way for the properties - including the summer estate of Tatoi, outside Athens - to revert to the Greek State.

    Athens has long argued that the thousands of hectares of land and residences in question were only allocated to the royal family while they ruled, without however, ever being turned over to them as personal holdings. Attorneys representing the government have also cited the historical and archaeological significance of the properties for Greece.

    On his part, Constantine, who fled Greece in 1967 after a failed royalist counter-coup against a military junta ruling the country at the time, argues that the law violates his right to ownership as guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.

    The deposed king has lived in exile in London since a December 1974 referendum -- after the restoration of democracy in Greece -- abolished the monarchy in favor of a republic.

    "First off, I'd like to say that I didn't want to be at the Court of Strasbourg today in litigation against the government of my country," Constantine said after a preliminary hearing, adding:

    "Today's trial was not my choice ... However, I was obliged to protect my honor and reputation, and secondly, my own and my family's rights in accordance with the Constitution of my country as well as international and Greek law."

    Gov't: In Athens, the government spokesman declined to comment on the former monarch's legal recourse, saying simply it was a matter for justice to decide.

    [08] Papantoniou predicts better future after EMU entry

    Athens, 15/06/2000 (ANA)

    "The future will be better from the present, which is already favorable, if we continue our successful past policies," National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said on Wednesday.

    Speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting to discuss the procedures for the country's entry in the euro zone, Papantoniou said the government should have four policy priorities in the coming years: first, to ensure economic stability with low deficits and low inflation, second to promote large investments, third to seek structural reforms and four to introduce new technologies.

    Cabinet ministers adopted these priorities and agreed to begin an extensive campaign to inform Greek citizens for their obligations and rights resulting from the country's participation in EMU.

    Greece expects an EU summit in Santa Maria de Feira, Portugal, June 19-20, to formally approve its membership in the euro zone.

    [09] Greek stocks recover losses on ASE

    Athens, 15/06/2000 (ANA)

    Equity prices recovered their previous day's losses on the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday as the market quickly recovered from a turmoil created by a Morgan Stanley negative report on the Greek market on Tuesday.

    The general index was moving within a narrow range for the biggest part of the session to jump 1.16 percent in the last 45 minutes of trade ending at 4,366.61 points, near its day's highs.

    Turnover was a low 119 billion drachmas. The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended at 2,418.65 points, up 1.22 percent and the FTSE/ASE 40 index jumped 1.75 percent to 637.54 points.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: 8,219.50

    +1.28% Leasing: 893.33 -0.09% Insurance: 2,911.44

    +1.21% Investment: 1,745.52 +1.20% Construction:

    2,428.65 +2.97% Industrials: 2,682.93 +0.73% Miscellaneous: 4,600.79 +0.72% Holding: 4,934.60

    +0.04%

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended at 910.56 points, up 4.08 percent.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 308 to 33 with another eight issues unchanged.

    Alpha Bank, Bank of Piraeus, Naoussa Spinning, Klonatex and Hellenic Telecoms were the most heavily traded stocks.

    Leading shares' closing prices (in Drs): National Bank: 15,500 Alpha Bank: 14,650 Commercial Bank:

    17,890 Ergobank: 7,100 Eurobank: 9,900 Heracles Cement: 8,570 Titan Cement (c): 13,850 Hellenic Telecoms: 8,830 Panafon: 4,420 Hellenic Petroleum:

    4,055 Intracom: 14,080 Minoan Lines: 5,400 Hellenic Bottling: 5,830

    Equity futures rise in line with indices: Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished higher on Wednesday, tracking the two indices on which they are based.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 closed 1.22 percent up, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 1.75 percent higher.

    Turnover was 15.5 billion drachmas from 13.8 billion drachmas a day earlier.

    A total of 1,993 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 index with turnover at 9.6 billion drachmas.

    Changing hands on the FTSE/ASE 40 were 2,356 futures on turnover of 5.9 billion drachmas.

    Bonds end mixed in light trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Wednesday finished mixed in light trade.

    The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.07 percent from 6.053 percent in the previous session; and the yield on the equivalent German bund was 5.166 percent.

    The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 90 basis points from 91 basis points a day earlier. It had widened to 92 basis points during trade.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 60 billion drachmas from 150 billion drachmas in the previous session.

    Sell orders accounted for 34 billion drachmas of turnover.

    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 336.370 drachmas from 336.400 drachmas in the previous session.

    Also at the fixing, the US dollar was set at 349.150 drachmas from 351.100 drachmas a day earlier.

    The central bank intervened at the fix, selling around 300 million euros, traders said.

    [10] Indicative fuel prices fall, diesel rises

    Athens, 15/06/2000 (ANA)

    Indicative fuel prices for the coming week were cut on Wednesday, with diesel the only exception.

    Unleaded and super gasoline prices fell by 0.7 drachmas per litre, while heating oil fell by 3.3 drachmas per litre. Conversely, the retail sales price of diesel increased by 0.8 drachmas.

    Specifically, super will sell for 277.9 drachmas per litre in the greater Athens area and Thessaloniki prefecture; 261.6 for unleaded.

    [11] New oil exploration in Thassos

    Athens, 15/06/2000 (ANA)

    Kavala Oil technicians began new oil explorations at the Prinos offshore oil field, in Thassos, with first evidence being positive, company officials said on Wednesday.

    A special drill is being used for drilling, capable to search the under-sea bed to depths up to 3,000-3,100 meters.

    This new reservoir could produce 2,000 barrels of oil a day, which combined with Prinos' current production of 5,000-5,500 barrels per day would raise its total production to 7,000-7,500 barrels, a viable rate for Thassos' hydrocarbonate fields.

    German consultants and Greek experts are observing the new drilling on the belief that the Prinos oil field has still enough oil to produce at a time when oil exploration is cheap because of rising world oil prices.

    Final results of the drilling are expected next month.

    [12] Balkan center announces tender to privatize Turkish telecom

    Athens, 15/06/2000 (ANA)

    The Balkan and Black Sea Business Center in Thessaloniki on Wednesday announced to Greek investors that Turk Telecom is to be partly privatized through an international sale tender.

    On the auction block is a 20 percent stake in Turk Telecom to a strategic investor, who will offer the company technological know-how and help to modernize it, the center said in a statement.

    Sought is a consortium of telecom operators, at least one of whose members has an international profile, or comprises a group of investors, that will receive a majority of shares in the stake for sale.

    Further information is available from the Balkan and Black Sea Business Center, or from Turkey's privatization authorities. Bids in the tender are due by September 15.

    [13] Greek aluminum industry plans investments exceeding 55 billion drachmas

    Athens, 15/06/2000 (ANA)

    The Greek Aluminium Industry (ELVAL) is planning investments exceeding 55 billion drachmas over the 2000-2001 period, according to a general assembly of shareholders meeting on Wednesday, which approved the distribution of dividends amounting to 25 drachmas per share.

    It was noted that 27 billion drachmas will be used for buyouts and holdings in companies, which are active abroad primarily, as well as in Greece, with the main purpose of securing adequate and cheap raw materials.

    The company's immediate targets include the development of new profit-making products, with emphasis placed on products destined for shipbuilding, the auto industry and special uses concerning food packaging. The development of new markets, primarily in developing countries, is also being planned.

    The company is expecting a considerable increase in economic indicators during the current fiscal year. On a consolidated basis, turnover is expected to amount to 120 billion drachmas, while operational profits are expected to increase 30 percent compared to 1999.

    [14] Commercial Bank's shareholders discuss Credit Agricole deal

    Athens, 15/06/2000 (ANA)

    The Commercial Bank of Greece is in the right condition to play a fundamental and autonomous role in a consolidation of the Greek banking system, the bank's chairman Costas Georgoutsakos told an annual general shareholders' meeting on Wednesday.

    Georgoutsakos noted that the signing of a strategic alliance with the French bank Credit Agricole offered Commercial Bank a permanent competitive advantage in the domestic market and would contribute to fully exploit any opportunities arising from the country's entry in the euro zone and from a restructuring in the domestic financial sector.

    The deal envisages the sale of a 6.7 percent equity stake in Commercial Bank to Credit Agricole, worth 94.1 billion drachmas, or 16,450 drachmas per share, with a 10 percent discount.

    It also envisages the cooperation between the two banks in the bankassurance sector through the creation of a new company and in money market management and the investment banking sectors.

    Commercial Bank has the right to repurchase its stake after five years in case that Credit Agricole decides not to extend the contract.

    The Greek bank said that it would pay a 300 drachmas per share dividend to shareholders.

    Commercial Bank's profits totalled 92.8 billion drachmas last year, its assets totalled 4.543 trillion drachmas (up 33.8 pct from 1998), deposits were 2.560 trillion drachmas (up 28.5 pct) and loans were 1.647 trillion drachmas (up 19.6 pct).

    First quarter profits totalled 18.2 billion drachmas, up 68.7 percent from the same period last year.

    Commercial Bank has a network of 380 branches in Greece and it is represented in nine countries abroad.

    [15] Civil servants to seek 5.5 pct pay rise

    Athens, 15/06/2000 (ANA)

    Civil servants are to seek a pay rise for 2000 of 5.5 percent in talks on Thursday with Public Administration Minister Vasso Papandreou, union president Spyros Papaspyrou told journalists.

    Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Papaspyrou, who heads the ADEDY civil servants union, said the upcoming meeting with Papandreou was the first round of pay talks.

    According to union sources, negotiators will not accept a pay increase of less than around 3.5 percent.

    [16] President Stephanopoulos to name world's fastest cruise liner

    Athens, 15/06/2000 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos is to christen the fastest cruise liner in the world on Thursday, June 22, according to an announcement on released on Wednesday.

    The "Olympic Voyager", which will sail under the Greek flag, was constructed in a Hamburg ship yard for Royal Olympic Cruises and is due to sail into Piraeus on June 21.

    The ship is 25,000 tons, 590 feet long and 84 feet wide and can reach a cruising speed of 28 knots, though during tests in the North Sea under difficult conditions it gained a maximum speed of 30 knots.

    [17] UNICEF report on OECD child poverty levels, Greek statistics

    Athens, 15/06/2000 (ANA)

    Some 12.3 per cent of children in Greece live below the poverty line, according to a UNICEF report on child poverty in the developed world released on Wednesday. The report focused on the 29 member-states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which between them produce two thirds of the world's goods and services, and contains the most comprehensive estimates of child poverty carried out to date. According to its findings, 47 million children in the world's richest countries, roughly one in six, live below the poverty line, which is defined as living in a family whose income is less than half the national average for the country in question.

    Despite the fact that incomes have more than doubled in most countries since 1950, a significant proportion of children continue to live in families that are so poor that even their health and development is in jeopardy. Other children suffer from relative poverty, finding themselves excluded from activities and advantages that are taken for granted by other children their age. Levels of relative child poverty in the OECD range between 2.6 per cent (Sweden) and 26.2 per cent (Mexico), according to the report.

    For Greece in particular, relative child poverty levels stand at 12.3 per cent, the same as in Spain, placing it roughly in the middle of the scale.

    The report also links child poverty levels with one-parent families and unemployment. In Greece, the proportion of children living in relative poverty is double among one-parent families, reaching 24.9 per cent. Sweden again has the lowest percentage in this category (6.7) and the US the highest (55.4 per cent).

    More complex is the relation with unemployment, with similar levels producing different levels of child poverty. In Greece, for example, where unemployment stands at 9 per cent, child poverty levels are more than double those in Denmark and five times those in Sweden, with similar unemployment rates.

    [18] Postal workers' union calls 'warning strike' demanding extra staff

    Athens, 15/06/2000 (ANA)

    The postal workers' union (OME-ELTA) on Wednesday announced a "warning strike" for June 21, to convince the Greek Post Offices (ELTA) management to take on extra staff.

    The trade union is demanding the urgent hiring of more staff to cover shortfalls, reorganization of ELTA, measures to ensure that the post offices retain their public-sector profile and that temporary staff is taken on to cover seasonal needs.

    They also said that the management had yet to implement a business plan that had been agreed on in order to save and modernize ELTA.

    [19] Time limit for participation in Abdi Ipekci competition ends on November 30, 2000

    Athens, 15/06/2000 (ANA)

    The 10th competition for the Abdi Ipekci Peace and Friendship awards has been announced for the 2000-2001 period. The Ipekci awards are given every two years in Athens and Istanbul on a rotating basis.

    The awards were created by a Greek initiative following the assassination of the Turkish pacifist journalist Abdi Ipekci, director of the Turkish newspaper "Milliyet" in February, 1979.

    The Ipekci awards exercised a positive effect even in times of tension, while relations have improved even further after last year's killer earthquakes in both Greece and Turkey.

    The time limit for participation in the competition ends on November 30, 2000. The results will be announced on 1.2.2001 (on the 22nd anniversary of Ipekci's assassination), while the awards will be given in Turkey after April 30, 2001 on a date to be set.

    [20] Greek Cypriot side to attend July UN-led talks with necessary political will

    NICOSIA, 15/06/2000 (CNA/ANA)

    Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides has assured the European Union that Cyprus will continue to work hard to align its legislation with the acquis communautaire and introduce such institutions as to ensure effectively implementation of the acquis in time for the country's anticipated accession.

    On the political front, the minister said the Greek Cypriot side will go to the July UN-led talks with the necessary political will to achieve real progress towards a comprehensive settlement and called on all interested parties to encourage the Turkish side to show goodwill and cooperation at the talks.

    Addressing on Tuesday the 5th meeting of the Intergovernmental Conference for Cyprus' accession, the Cypriot minister thanked the Commission and the current rotating EU presidency, Portugal, for their efforts and cooperation in the accession process.

    Noting that Cyprus has provisionally closed 16 out of 29 chapters, he welcomed the opening of negotiations on agriculture at the Luxembourg IGC on Tuesday, and said the provisions included in the position papers Cyprus had submitted are set to have "negligible, if any, impact" on the rest of the Community as they are very narrow in scope.

    He said specific harmonization timetables will be provided to the Commission soon and welcomed the allocation of 57 million Euros to Cyprus for the period 2000-2004.

    During the Portuguese presidency, which ends at the end of June, Cyprus closed the chapters on Company Law, Common Foreign and Security Policy, Financial Control, Fisheries and Social Policy and Employment.

    Referring to the resumption of the Cyprus peace talks on 5 July in Geneva, he said the Greek Cypriot side "will be participating in good faith, in a constructive manner and with the necessary political will to achieve real progress towards a comprehensive, viable and just solution of the Cyprus problem, based on international law and the UN resolutions." He recalled President Clerides' invitation to the Turkish Cypriot community to participate in the negotiating team dealing with membership talks and expressed regret that so far this has not been taken up even though it is still on the table.

    "We call upon all interested parties, including the EU, to exert their influence on the Turkish side so as to encourage the necessary spirit of goodwill and cooperation," he told the EU.

    This, he added, will allow the talks to enter into "a substantial phase and make enough progress to open the way for the long awaited political solution."

    Repeated UN-led efforts to reunite Cyprus, divided since Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern areas in 1974, have so far yielded no results. The latest UN attempt has heard the positions of the two sides on the four core issues the UN has identified (security, constitution, territory and refugees-property) but there has been no negotiation as yet.

    [21] Greek-Turkish Cypriot parties issue joint communique

    NICOSIA, 15/06/2000 (CNA/ANA)

    Two Cypriot parties, from either side of this divided island, issued here on Wednesday a joint communique after their meeting, reaffirming their support for a peaceful settlement in Cyprus and backed increased contact between the two sides to help mutual understanding.

    Welcoming improved Greek-Turkish relations, the Democratic Rally (DISY) and the Republican ‘urkish Party (RTP) said this can help towards a solution and expressed the hope that next month's peace talks will be upgraded to direct talks on the core issues of the Cyprus question.

    "The two parties will continue to work for a peaceful solution of the Cyprus problem on the basis of a bizonal, bicommunal federation in accordance with UN resolutions and the high level agreements and respect for human rights," the communique said.


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