|Monday, 27 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-06-17
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 FM Papandreou says Greece should not follow policy of isolationAthens, 17-06-2000 (ANA)
Foreign Minister George Papandreou said on Friday Greece should continuously seek positions in the complicated and changing environment of modern-day international reality, adding that Greece's international presence is not a policy of isolationism.
Papandreou was speaking at a conference organized by the National Bank of Greece on "EMU-Greece in Europe-The start of a new challenge."
Addresses were also made by main opposition New Democracy party Deputy Dora Bakoyianni and Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Deputy Orestis Kolozov.
"We do not support heroic inertia and a denouncing policy. We cannot remain there. We should continuously seek positions in the complicated and changing environment of modern-day international reality," Papandreou said. "Greece's international presence is not a policy of isolationism. It is based on principles such as respect for international law and protection for human rights. In parallel, it seeks ways of modern expression which are not covered by classical diplomacy."
Outlining the country's policy in the Balkans, the foreign minister said Greece should contribute to their rapprochement with Europe and to the shaping of a common vision with the Balkan countries. He said application of the European model in the region could lead to the overcoming of problems if certain principles are accepted such as respect for borders and protection for minorities and for the territorial integrity of countries in the region.
Speaking on the repercussions of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) on foreign policy, he said accession to EMU reflects an internal dynamism and provides the country with new possibilities in exercising foreign policy.
Papandreou said Greece's relations with Turkey are based on international law, adding that Turkey's rapprochement with Europe also provides a new opportunity for a solution to the Cyprus issue.
"Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership should utilize this opportunity. Otherwise, it will very soon be faced with the dilemma of Cyprus joining the European Union without the Turkish Cypriots," he said.
Papandreou referred to common interests with Turkey which could be enlarged without, however, this leading to the doubting of Greece's sovereign rights.
Bakoyianni spoke of very positive repercussions resulting from Greece's accession to EMU and added that Greece should revise its strategy to utilize the possibilities which are offered both in Europe and on the international scene.
Referring to the Balkan region, she said that Greece should clarify its position towards the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and show that it is seriously interested in this country's integrity.
"This relationship should be based on reciprocity. The interest of both countries requires an immediate and overall application of a solution to the problem of the name without victors and vanquished," she said.
Bakoyianni said the strategy of Turkey as an EU member is a correct medium-term option. However, she said rapprochement with Turkey without it having revised its positions on "gray zones" and casus belli is a failure for the government.
She further said that Greece should promote, at European level, apparatuses for the periodical and explicit control of Turkey's progress in the direction of satisfying conditions set at the EU Helsinki summit.
Bakoyianni also said that Greece should continue to give top priority to the Cyprus issue.
Kolozov expressed his party's rejection of the prospect of European unification, as it is being attempted by the EU, and termed EMU an expression of Europe's intention to participate in international competition and the effort to dominate markets.
"Following the collapse of socialism, international relations are determined by the principle of the powerful imposing themselves on the weak. This brings us many years back and for this reason we should react decisively," he said.
 Premier holds separate talks with political leadersAthens, 17-06-2000 (ANA)
Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Friday held separate, consecutive meetings with opposition leaders, beginning with main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis.
According to reports, Simitis and Karamanlis discussed four major issues focusing on public life during their 45-minute meeting.
The first issue concerned Greece's imminent entry into Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), which is due to be formally approved at the EU summit in Portugal over the weekend.
On his part, Karamanlis - who narrowly lost to Simitis and ruling PASOK during the April 9 general elections -- said a greater emphasis should have been placed on "substantive convergence" with the other EU members, stressing that the government "must now proceed with structural changes in the economy and denationalisations".
He also called for a fairer taxation system.
Turning to relations between the state and Church - an issue that has strung to the forefront of public debate recently with the Orthodox Church's vehement opposition to the exclusion of religious affiliation from new police ID cards -- Karamanlis implied that the premier had a share of the blame over the recent tension.
"The social rift caused by the clash with the Church deepens his (the prime minister's) own responsibility," the ND leader said, before proposing that the government commence a dialogue with the Church.
On the issue of terrorism - which also exploded onto headlines over the past week with the assassination of Britain's defense attaché in Greece by a notorious urban terrorist group -- Karamanlis said time was running out and measures needed to be taken immediately to tackle the problem.
He also brought up the issue of "vested interests", noting that accusations were being made by MPs from all the parties and by the press.
"There is a question of protection of the public interest, and a matter of quality of democracy," he added.
Following her meeting with the premier, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga lashed out at the Greek government and the other EU countries.
She claimed that the picture presented by the government for the country's EMU entry was "manufactured and distorted" as regards the rights of the people and the role to be "supposedly played" by Greece in European affairs.
She said the "masks will fall" at the EU summit in Portugal next week, where a "multi-speed Europe with an inner core of states deciding in the absence of the others" would be formalized, and "everyone will see that the EU, by its nature, is not the participation of equal states".
Papariga further expressed opposition to the creation of a European defense corps, saying the EU "cannot and does not want to" play the opposite pole of the United States, but was "simply seeking to play its own game, that of policeman of the peoples of the region".
The KKE leader predicted that the EU was headed towards militarisation, "on the rationale that governments want to acquire the right to make interventions wherever capital requires the might of weapons".
Following his talks with the premier, the president of the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos), Nikos Constantopoulos, attacked the Orthodox Church's leadership, charging that several high-ranking ecclesiastical leaders are in interested in "co-ruling" and in politics.
He also criticized MPs that, as he noted, aren't taking a firm stand on the IDs issue.
Finally, in reference to Greece's EMU accession, Constantopoulos said the development creates certain positive aspects for the country.
 European Commission president says Greece's accession to EMU an event of great importanceBRUSSELS, 17-06-2000 (ANA - V. Demiris)
European Commission President Romano Prodi said here on Friday Greece's accession to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) "is an event of great importance."
Speaking at a press conference on the European Council in Feira on June 19-20, Prodi praised the achievements of the Greek economy and said "Greece's accession to EMU constitutes an important message for Europe."
Prodi said it is the first wave of Euro zone enlargement since the adoption of the unified currency, adding that Greece's efforts and preparation produced positive results for its economy.
He said the heads of state and government will discuss, among others, the course of the Intergovernmental Conference on the revision of the Amsterdam Treaty, as well as the issue of strengthened cooperation.
These consultations are expected to be completed at the European Council in Nice in December.
On Monday night, EU Finance and Monetary Affairs Ministers will attempt to reach an agreement on taxing savings in the wake of British objections.
 British minister comments on Greek-British cooperation to solve Brig. Saunders murderAthens, 17-06-2000 (ANA)
British Minister of State and of the Foreign Commonwealth Office Peter Hain on Friday told reporters that British authorities were satisfied with the way Greek police were cooperating with a Scotland Yard counter-terrorism team. Hain was in Athens to attend the memorial service for slain British defense attaché Brig. Stephen Saunders.
Two assassins riding a motorcycle gunned down Saunders last week on a congested Athens highway, as he was driving alone in morning rush hour traffic.
The elusive "November 17" terrorist group claimed responsibility the next day amid an avalanche of condemnation from within Greece and abroad.
Hain said that he had had an "excellent meeting" with Foreign Minister George Papandreou earlier on Friday, with whom he had discussed ways in which Britain and Greece could work together to combat terrorism.
The British minister also expressed satisfaction over the degree of cooperation at governmental level, saying that British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and Papandreou were working together very closely and would be meeting on Sunday prior to the start of the EU summit in Feira, Portugal, as would Prime Minister Costas Simitis and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Commenting on the problem of terrorism, Hain said that it was an issue of the "highest importance" for Europe and he said that Greece and Britain would work together both in solving this latest hit by "November 17" and in dealing with the problem generally.
Greece and Britain, he said, "will work toward a common counter-terrorism strategy," throughout Europe. Hain noted that if "November 17" had hoped that by murdering Saunders they would persuade the British government to change its policy on this matter, they were completely wrong and that the British government's policy would not change one iota either on Kosovo or on any other issue. "All they have succeeded in doing," he added, "is to destroy a family."
He also pointed out that, even though the terrorist group had murdered a total of 23 people, this was the first time that they had slain a European diplomat, the first time they had slain a Briton and this was the first time that a brigadier had been murdered in 52 years. "This is something that we consider to be very serious," Hain said.
During the press conference, Hain repeatedly stressed that this was not something that Britain would allow to blow over in one, two or three weeks - as an example, he mentioned the murder of a well-known British journalist last year, which British authorities had solved after systematic work and effort one week ago.
While finding the members of "November 17" was not an easy task, Hain said, "we believe it's possible," and he once more appealed to the Greek public to come forward and testify any information they might have "so that no more wives and children will suffer and no more families are destroyed."
The British minister confirmed that security measures at the British Embassy in Athens had been beefed up, while at another point in his statements he noted that "thousands of British tourists come to Greece every year and they would not like to be disappointed."
Earlier in the day, Hain had attended the memorial service for the slain British defense attaché to Greece, a somber event also attended by several top Cabinet members. Hain was accompanied by British ambassador to Athens David Madden and the foreign office's chief clerk.
The service was held at the Greek capital's Agios Dionyssios Cathedral, with eulogies delivered by Greek Alternate Defense Minister Dimitris Apostolakis, Church of England Bishop in Europe John Hind and the British embassy's naval attaché.
According to a British embassy source, Greek relatives of other "November 17" victims were also invited to the service at the Kolonaki - district Greek Orthodox Church.
"Today, two children are fatherless, and I plead that anyone with information on the attackers come forward and cooperate with Greek authorities," Hain said.
He also told the gathering of mourners that Greeks and Britons are united and will not surrender to terrorism.
Among others, Foreign Minister George Papandreou, Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou and Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis attended the memorial service. Top main opposition New Democracy deputies Miltiades Evert and Dora Bakoyianni also attended, as did Coalition of the Left deputy Maria Damanaki and veteran film director Jules Dassin.
The Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos and the chief rabbi of Athens also attended the service.
 State Department says attachés killing deepens determination to eradicate terrorismWASHINGTON, 17-06-2000 (ANA - T. Ellis)
US State Department spokesman Richard Bowcher said on Friday the tragic event of the assassination of the British military attaché in Athens deepens determination for results to be achieved in eradicating the problem of terrorism.
Replying to a press question on the reasons leading the US government to raise the issue of terrorism once again, Bowcher said "there was a very unfortunate and regrettable assassination of the British military attaché in Athens. We had continuous concerns over the situation in Greece, which we had expressed."
"This very tragic event merely makes us all deepen our determination to achieve results to eradicate this problem. We made our views clear in the report on terrorism and in other replies to questions put to us.
We have our concerns over this issue. We expressed them and we will continue to do so until we feel that the problem is being addressed and is indeed under control," he added.
Bowcher said he had not been informed on depositions made on Thursday by federal officials and National Committee members on terrorism before the Senate's Foreign Affairs Committee, and would be in a position to comment after previously being briefed.
 Former ND leader briefs president on his views on IDs, terrorism and EMUAthens, 17-06-2000 (ANA)
President Kostis Stephanopoulos received former New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert on Friday who briefed him on his views on the issue of identity cards and religion, developments regarding terrorism and the country's accession to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).
Speaking to President Stephanopoulos, Evert said "there is a pleasant event, which is the country's accession to EMU, as well as unpleasant issues concerning the Church and the Olympic Games."
President Stephanopoulos said "the Olympic Games themselves are not unpleasant. You mean fears over repercussions on the Olympic Games after the terrorist attack."
In a statement after the meeting, Evert spoke of a dangerous national crisis due to the clash between the Church and the State. He placed responsibility on Prime Minister Costas Simitis for this development and called on him to take an initiative and discuss the matter which has been created with the Archbishop and the Hierarchy and give the leadership of the Church necessary assurances."
 Karamanlis chairs ND meeting focusing on intergovernmental ConferenceAthens, 17-06-2000 (ANA)
Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis chaired a party session on Friday focusing on the upcoming EU Intergovernmental Conference.
Among others, top ND cadres Dora Bakoyianni and Marietta Yiannakou attended the meeting.
Topics discussed included several prominent issues, including the Commission's composition, member-states' right to veto, implementation of the principle of flexibility and the bloc's budding foreign and defense policy.
In a related development, Karamanlis is set to depart for Oporto, Portugal on Saturday to participate in a European People's Party (EPP) summit.
EPP-affiliated political leaders are expected to discuss the Intergovernmental Conference and EU expansion.
 Diamantopoulou says Social Agenda to be announced in late JuneAthens, 17-06-2000 (ANA)
European Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou, in charge of employment and social affairs, said during a press conference on Friday that the EU's Social Agenda for the next five years would be announced in Brussels on June 28. She said this would be ratified by an EU Summit meeting in September.
According to Diamantopoulou, 60 trillion drachmas would be spent over the next five years to boost levels of employment, and after September the Commission would begin making recommendations to member-states that delayed implementing the approved National Action Plans for Employment for each country.
In addition, Diamantopoulou warned that steps would be taken, within the framework of the Social Agenda, to streamline state insurance systems throughout Europe, while there would also be talks to decide on a joint immigration policy, particularly on establishing uniform criteria for entry into a member-state.
The focus of the Sweden's EU presidency, the Commissioner said, would probably be on measures to combat social exclusion. Up to 18 per cent of Europe's population was now "socially excluded," Diamantopoulou noted, including many of the unemployed, poor, handicapped, elderly and those cut off from the information society.
Another priority of the Swedish presidency, she said, would be to combat the illegal trade of women. It is estimated that at least 700,000 women from Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa are being illegally traded without their consent and in conditions comparable to the slave trade of the 18th century.
 Greek and Turkish mayors to discuss transport and environmental issuesISTANBUL ,17-06-2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)
Greek and Turkish mayors and prefects will meet on the island of Marmara on Saturday, within the framework of the European Pact on Inter-border Cooperation of Local and Regional Authorities.
Transport and environmental issues between the two nations will be discussed at the two-day meeting.
 PASOK Eurodeputy Anna Karamanou to visit Montenegro and SarajevoBRUSSELS, 17-06-2000 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)
PASOK Eurodeputy Anna Karamanou will visit Montenegro and Sarajevo from June 18-21 as a member of the European Parliament delegation on relations with southeastern Europe.
The delegation members will meet representatives of the democratic forces of Serbia and Montenegro, Montenegrin President Jukanovic, the head of the OSCE mission in Bosnia Herzegovina and other politicians and government officials.
The purpose of the visit is an exchange of views and an on-the-spot briefing of the European Parliament members on the political situation in the region.
 Archbishop of Tirana proposes dialogue in dispute between Church and stateTIRANA 17-06-2000 (ANA)
Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania Anastasios on Friday proposed dialogue as a means of resolving the current dispute between the Church and the state.
"I believe that only with a serious, calm and patient dialogue, despite whatever difficulties, can the appropriate solution be sought to the specific problems which arise in a living society," he told reporters, adding that "only with such a dialogue is the unimpeded development of a society of solidarity and the persuasion of the Church which proclaims freedom and love safeguarded."
 Papantoniou outlines government's economic policy after EMU entryAthens, 17-06-2000 (ANA)
National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on Friday outlined the government's policy after the country's entry in the Euro zone.
Addressing a seminar on Greece's EMU membership at the Zappeion Hall in Athens, Papantoniou said the government had four main targets for the day after the country's entry in the Euro zone.
"Our first target is a drastic cut in the country's public debt to 60 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). The second, is to maintain growth rates of at least 5.0 percent and to create the conditions of full employment for the country's workforce. The third, is the restructuring of the economy based on competition and to contain the public sector to the education, health, welfare, culture, environment, defense and public safety services.
The fourth, is to create a society of cohesion and fraternity," he said.
"Achieving these targets will be the greatest challenge of the decade and it will need all our efforts," Papantoniou noted.
Referring to the country's benefits from its participation in the Euro zone, Papantoniou said it would not be just economic but mostly political.
"The Euro zone countries will be the core of a new architecture and it is important for our to be in that core," he said.
"We will cross many stages and it will take a long time to find the EU's final structure. But, the integration course that started 50 years ago has accelerated significantly and the first results are already seen," Papantoniou said.
"Participating in the Euro-12, the economic government of the Euro zone, demonstrates the country's new upgraded role.
It ensures our negotiating position on big national issues and supports speedier initiatives in the Balkans and the Black Sea region. Greece's positions are even more significant now.
We are more efficient in protecting our interests. In a medium-term prospect we will be able to reduce our huge defense spending to promote social and growth targets. Participating in the Euro currency is a security investment for the country," he said.
"Greece, as the prime minister has said, is not part of a the problem in the region, but part of its solution. Turkey, since 1974 is a constant provocation to our territorial integrity. It is in our best interest, though, that our neighbor changes its aggressive habits of the past and to adopt the strict European criteria for the respect of human rights and political freedom. Turkey's transformation will be in the best interest for the rest of Europe and mainly for the Turkish people".
Papantoniou said that participating in the EU's core offered the country the chance to promote its cultural identity in the European and global area.
"New information and communication technologies create a new framework to exchange information and to mutually influence societies," he said. Referring to a dispute over new police identity cards in the country, Papantoniou said the country had a long way to go to achieve its fundamental modernization.
"We are creating a new Greece. A Greece of development, full employment, cohesion and fraternity. Today, we have, or we have conquered, increased credibility. We are setting new high targets that we will achieve.
The Greek society is actively supporting this new national effort. We will continue the steady road forward, with new prospects for the country and the people," Papantoniou noted.
 Bank of Greece urges restraint in incomes, inflation policiesAthens, 17-06-2000 (ANA)
Bank of Greece's governor, Lucas Papademos, on Friday urged for a restraint in the country's incomes and inflation policies, aimed to strengthen economic competitiveness after the adoption of the Euro currency.
Addressing a seminar on Greece's participation in the Euro zone, organized by the National Bank of Greece, the central banker said that the inflation rate would not diverge significantly and systematically for a long time period from the Euro zone's average rate.
Papademos noted that it was necessary for businessmen and workers to acknowledge the need for restraint in their billing policy and their demands, respectively.
Yiannis Stournaras, the government's chief economic adviser, said that Greece's economic growth rates could total 5.5 percent in the next 15 years, based on a growth target of 3.0 percent set in a special EU summit in Lisbon until the year 2015.
"These growth rates can be achieved through an average annual increase in employment by 2.0 percent and an average annual productivity rise of 3.5 percent," Stournaras said.
ND deputy, George Alogoskoufis, stressed the need for the country's real convergence with the rest of the Euro zone.
National Bank of Greece's governor, Theodore Karatzas, said that the introduction of the Euro currency was creating a new economic area in the Europe, characterized by increased transparency in consumer choices, higher demands in production procedure and wider liquidity in capital markets.
 EU banking group welcomes Greek entry into Euro zoneBRUSSELS, 17-06-2000 (ANA-G. Zitouniati)
The Federation of European Union Banks on Friday welcomed Greece's anticipated entry into the 11-member Euro zone on January 1, 2001.
EU leaders meeting for a summit in Portugal on June 19-20 are expected to rubber stamp Greece's entry in the wake of existing approval from the EU's executive Commission, EU finance ministers and the European Central Bank.
The banking federation said in a statement that Greece's eligibility was due to hard work by monetary authorities in recent years to meet the Maastricht Treaty convergence criteria.
The country's entry into the Euro-zone was an impressive success, the statement added.
 Report says Greece's formal admittance in the Eurozone will very likely bring a rate cutAthens, 17-06-2000 (ANA)
Greece's formal admittance in the Eurozone will very likely bring a rate cut but convergence will follow Italy's model and the bulk of cuts will come in the fourth quarter, Salomon Smith Barney said in a report.
"We expect rate cuts to resume following the EU Summit in Portugal, with a further 50 basis point cut in the 14-day deposit rate to 8.25 percent likely by early July," said economist Miranda Xafa.
"We expect an Italy-style convergence, with most remaining rate cuts occurring in the last quarter of the year."
Following the Ecofin's endorsement on June 5, Greece's formal acceptance is expected at the EU Summit on June 19-20 in Portugal.
With just days to go before Greece formally joins EMU, Greek bonds and the drachma remain attractive following an underperformance in May with a widening of the yield spread against bunds.
"The spread remains well above the all-time low of 77 basis points reached in late April, when the drachma was 0.5 percent further away from central parity. We consider the current spread a good entry point," the report said.
With Greece's EMU membership more or less discounted by markets, the focus henceforth will be on progress on structural reform. Privatization, liberalization and a reduction in the public debt burden are needed to sustain high growth with low inflation.
"Visible progress in these areas will give impetus both to the equity and fixed income markets by improving the country's competitiveness and by generating a scarcity premium on public debt," Xafa said. (Reuters)
 Greek stocks end Friday's session lowerAthens, 17-06-2000 (ANA)
Equity prices ended the last trading session of the week with moderate losses on Friday, reversing a two-day advance, in subdued turnover.
Dealers said investors largely ignored a decision by Moody's Investor Service to upgrade the country creditworthiness to the ceiling of the 11 member-states of the Euro.
Analysts said the market was reluctant to push above the 4,400 level due to lack of fresh capital in the market.
The general index ended at 4,369.16 points, off 0.54 percent with turnover at 107.3 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended at 2,422.03 points, off 0.11 percent and the FTSE/ASE 40 index dropped 1.02 percent to 635.84 points.
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended at 897.69 points, off 2.07 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 279 to 59 with another eight issues unchanged.
Naoussa Spinning, Bank of Piraeus, Elmec Sport, Klonatex and Hellenic Telecoms were the most heavily traded stocks.
 Equity futures drop in line with indicesAthens, 17-06-2000 (ANA)
Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished lower on Friday, tracking the two indices on which they are based.
The FTSE/ASE 20 closed 0.11 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 1.02 percent lower.
Turnover was 8.8 billion drachmas from 10.8 billion drachmas a day earlier.
A total of 958 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 index with turnover at 4.6 billion drachmas.
Changing hands on the FTSE/ASE 40 were 2,677 futures on turnover of 4.2 billion drachmas.
 Bond prices mostly flat in buy-oriented tradeAthens, 17-06-2000 (ANA)
Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Friday finished mostly flat in moderate trade.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.02 percent from 6.046 percent in the previous session; and the yield on the equivalent German bund was around 5.1 percent.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 92 basis points from 87 basis points a day earlier.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totaled 160 billion drachmas from 74 billion drachmas in the previous session.
Buy orders accounted for 96 billion drachmas of turnover.
 Drachma down vs. Euro, up vs. dollarAthens, 17-06-2000 (ANA)
The drachma on Friday fell against the Euro and rose versus the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market.
At the central bank's daily fixing, the Euro was set at 336.700 drachmas from 336.650 drachmas in the previous session.
Also at the fixing, the US dollar was set at 351.540 drachmas from 353.600 drachmas a day earlier.
 Greece to auction 10-year state bond issue on TuesdayAthens, 17-06-2000 (ANA)
Greece's Public Debt Management Organization will auction a 10-year state bond issue, worth 220 billion drachmas, next Tuesday, June 20.
The bond pays an annual coupon of 6.0 percent and has a settlement date of Friday, 23, June, 2000.
 Greek industrialists say will support government's efforts for increased competitivenessAthens, 17-06-2000 (ANA)
Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) President Lefteris Antonakopoulos said on Friday SEB's role is supportive for the government's efforts for an increase in the country's development and competitiveness. He was speaking after a meeting between the federation's board and Prime Minister Costas Simitis in light of the European Council in Portugal.
"It is a foremost concern of ours to help the government and help the state to increase our country's competitiveness," he said and clarified that this support concerns, among others, the sectors of employment, competitiveness and innovations, as well as the simplification of the legislative framework.
 Premier briefs labor confederation on country's accession to EMUAthens, 17-06-2000 (ANA)
General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) President Christos Polyzogopoulos said Friday's meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, during which he briefed GSEE's leadership on the course of the country's accession to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), was a "positive initiative."
Polyzogopoulos said the prime minister appeared to be aware of working people's contribution to the achievement of economic targets set for convergence. He said trade unions demand practical recognition of this contribution with a policy of income redistribution, stability in social insurance and the consolidation of a feeling of security in the workplace.
Simitis promised to have social dialogue get underway on the issues of the labor market, insurance, health and training, where positive corrections can be made for working people and trade unions.
 EU says private capital needed to keep OA afloatBRUSSELS, 17-06-2000 (ANA-G. Zitouniati)
European Union Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio has told the Greek government that a new restructuring plan is needed to ensure the survival of Olympic Airways that would involve participation by private investors.
The commissioner was replying on Thursday to a question on the national carrier's future put by New Democracy Eurodeputy Kostis Hatzidakis in the Belgian capital.
She repeated an EU ruling of August 14, 1998 that allowed the government to subsidize the ailing airline in order to achieve its medium-term revitalization.
"It was made absolutely clear that no other state aid could be given in the future," de Palacio said.
 EU okays ownership of EFG Eurobank real estate companyBRUSSELS, 17-06-2000 (ANA-G. Zitouniati)
The European Union's executive Commission on Friday approved the acquisition of joint control over EFG Eurobank Properties by REIB Europe Investments Ltd., EFG Eurobank SA and Lamda Development SA.
The Commission said in a statement that the ownership status would pose no threat to fair competition.
REIB Europe Investments belongs to Deutsche Bank of Germany, a shareholder of EFG Eurobank. It was created in order to share control of EFG Eurobank Properties, which is active in real estate in Greece.
Lamda, a development firm, belongs to EFG Eurobank
 Cosmote to offer Greek voice recognition for share dataAthens, 17-06-2000 (ANA)
Cosmote, a mobile phone operator, is to offer a voice recognition service in Greek for share data on the Athens Stock Exchange, it said in a statement on Friday.
Cosmote is a subsidiary of state-owned Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, which is listed on the Athens bourse. Customers will simply name a stock, and real-time information will be given on the stock's performance during the session, the statement said.
 Representatives of Greek firms meet with FYROM political leader CrvenkovskiSKOPJE, 17-06-2000 (ANA - M. Vihou)
A delegation of executives representing Greek firms with investments in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) met here Wednesday evening with Social Democrats leader Branko Crvenkovski.
Nineteen businessmen were on hand for the meeting at the home of Greece's envoy to the Balkan country.
Companies represented at the meeting included Mytilineos, Lazaridis & Kyriakides Marbles, Hellenic Petroleum, Nikas, Aluminio, Domiki Makedonias, National Bank of Greece, Titan Cement, Kapniki Michaelides Tobacco, Alpha Bank, Pouliades Software Computers, Veropoulos super markets, Athinaiki Brewery and 3E as well as DIPEK.
On his part, Crvenkovski said afterwards that he was satisfied with the meeting, while he reiterated that either with the Greek liaison office's mediation or directly, "the door will always be open for them".
 Two-day meeting between Greek and Turkish public enterprise federationsAthens, 17-06-2000 (ANA)
The Center of Greek Public Enterprises and Organizations (KEDEO) organized a two-day bilateral acquaintance meeting with the Turkish Public Enterprise Federation Turk Kamy Isletmeleri Birligi in Athens starting on Friday.
The meeting is focusing on issues concerning public enterprises in new market economy conditions, as well as prospects of Greek-Turkish cooperation.
 Violence against women in the family is a European-wide problem, conference notesAthens, 17-06-2000 (ANA)
Most of the women who contact the Center for Abused Women have been in a violent relationship for 15 to 45 years, claimed the centers director, S. Sakareli, at a conference on family violence that took place in Athens on Friday. According to Sakareli, these women are most often abused by their husbands and tend to have more than two children.
The conference on "Violence within families" was organized by the General Secretariat for Equality and the Equality Issues Research Center (KETHI) and inaugurated on Thursday by Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou.
Sakareli also noted that most of the younger women, aged 25-35 years old, tend to contact the center for advice and support in the first 5-15 years of abuse. She added that a recent campaign to increase awareness about violence in the home - called "Break the silence" - had led to a sharp increase in the number of women contacting the center, which received between three to four calls a day requesting help.
Prof. Vasso Artinopoulou of Panteion Faculty of Arts referred to the different forms of violence within families and underlined that the phenomenon was socially recognized in Europe but that the precise figures were still an unknown quantity.
In statements on Friday, meanwhile, European Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou confirmed that violence within the home was an issue that greatly concerned the EU. According to Diamantopoulou, one in five abused women had been attacked by their partner, while more women died in Europe because of violence within the home than because of cancer or road accidents.
The conference is the culmination of a European-wide campaign to combat violence within families and against women. Running parallel to the conference is a photography exhibition featuring the work of Dona Ferato entitled "Living with the enemy" that will end on June 25.
 Greek antiquities exhibition to open for Sydney OlympiadMELBOURNE, 17-06-2000 (ANA - S. Hatzimanolis)
The culture ministry's secretary general will represent the Greek government at the official opening of an exhibition of Classical antiquities in Sydney, part of events related to the 2000 Olympiad. The official inauguration is set for June 18.
Lina Mendoni is expected to meet with officials from Victoria State's culture ministry, museum executives and representatives of expatriate groups.
 Orthodox youth conference to begin in Istanbul this monthISTANBUL ,17-06-2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)
Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos will inaugurate an international conference here of Orthodox youth this month on the issue of "Young People in the Church of the Third Millennium".
The conference is set to take place between June 18-25.
Issues such as expatriates' native language, challenges for the next millennium, drug abuse, AIDS, the environment, unemployment and human rights, among others.
 Quake rocksAthens, 17-06-2000 (ANA)
A mild earthquake measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale shook northwestern Greece a few minutes after midnight Thursday causing some panic but no damage or casualties.
The tremor, according to the Thessaloniki University seismological service, was recorded 0032 local time and its epicenter was the northwestern town of Kozani, site of a killer earthquake in 1995.
It was followed by a 5.3 Richter quake one minute earlier, about 250 kilometers away in the sea region of southwestern Peloponnese peninsula also without damage or casualties.
 Top UN envoy begins holds talks in Cyprus, news blackoutNICOSIA, 17-06-2000 (CNA/ANA)
UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser for Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, began his contacts on the island on Friday morning with a working breakfast with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides.
No statements were made after the two-hour meeting at the Presidential Palace, which was also attended by Foreign Minister
Ioannis Kasoulides, Attorney-General Alecos Markides, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou and Presidential Under Secretary Pantelis Kouros.
De Soto, who arrived on Thursday night for a four-day visit, conferred later with the ambassadors of the five permanent members of the Security Council at UNFICYP headquarters, situated in the UN-controlled buffer zone in Nicosia.
In afternoon, he crossed to the Turkish-occupied areas and met with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. He is due to meet Clerides and Denktash on Saturday again. On Saturday afternoon he will give a press conference. He leaves Sunday.
De Soto told reporters on Thursday that the purpose of his visit is to prepare for the third round of proximity talks scheduled to begin on July 5, in Geneva.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.
Clerides was asked by de Soto to abide by an embargo on statements about the contents of their meeting. Asked whether the third round of talks will start on July 5 in Geneva as scheduled, Papapetrou replied "until this changes, surely it applies". De Soto had an hour-long meeting with Denktash.
No statements were made after the meeting, in line with a request by the UN chief for a news blackout during the new effort for a settlement in Cyprus.
 Luxembourg, Cyprus FMs meetLUXEBOURG, 17-06-2000 (CNA/ANA)
Luxembourg's Vice President and Foreign Minister Lydi Polfer has welcomed the progress Cyprus has achieved in
its accession negotiations with the European Union and said her country backs Cyprus' EU membership.
Plofer met here on Friday with Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, who attended the Intergovernmental Conference in Luxembourg and had a series of meetings with EU and other officials.
The two ministers discussed institutional change within the EU, common foreign and security policy and tax policy, areas in which Nicosia and Luxembourg share the same views.
Kasoulides thanked Plofer for the start of accession negotiations which was decided at the EU Luxembourg summit in December 1997.
He briefed her on developments in the Cyprus question and explained that EU membership is very important for peace, stability and prosperity.
Prospects of accession and accession itself will serve as a catalyst towards a Cyprus solution, he added.
While in Luxembourg, Kasoulides met the two vice presidents of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ben Fayot and Narred Glesener.
Fayot told the minister the Parliament in Luxembourg believes each candidate country should be judged on its own merits and in the case of Cyprus, there are no specific difficulties in its accession course.
 Israel responds to Cypriot request for firefighting assistanceNICOSIA, 17-06-2000 (CNA/ANA)
Israel responded to a request by the Cypriot government on Thursday for assistance in extinguishing several major forest fires raging near Nicosia.
According to a press release by the Israeli embassy in Athens on Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak ordered Israeli Defense Forces to dispatch firefighting aircraft to Cyprus. Two "Yasur" helicopters and one "Karnaf" plane were subsequently ordered to nearby Cyprus.