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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-06-22

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Christodoulos says Church will collect signatures over ID issue
  • [02] Gov't reiterates position on IDs issue
  • [03] No question of referendum over identity cards, says Reppas
  • [04] Tsohatzopoulos urges meeting to pressure EU for funds due under Stability Pact
  • [05] SE European countries renew support for existing borders
  • [06] EU Commission president to speak at Athens University event
  • [07] PM Simitis briefs unions on Greece's accession to EMU
  • [08] Health Minister Papadopoulos says reform planning in health sector to be completed by end of summer
  • [09] Agriculture minister to sign cooperation protocol with Turkish counterpart
  • [10] President Stephanopoulos attends events marking 83rd anniversary of the liberation of Kilkis
  • [11] Event to commemorate death of PASOK founder Andreas Papandreou
  • [12] Labour minister unveils sweeping reforms
  • [13] Next year's budget to be drafted both in drachmas and euros
  • [14] Greek stocks continue moving lower
  • [15] Derivatives drop in line with stock market
  • [16] Bond prices drop in sell-off
  • [17] Drachma flat vs euro, down vs. dollar
  • [18] Fuel prices continue moving higher
  • [19] Kathimerini Publications announces share buy-back programme
  • [20] Vernicos Yachts to become holding company
  • [21] Titan Cement gives Dr 220 dividend on 1999 profits
  • [22] Evros region to be supplied with natural gas soon
  • [23] Commercial unions issue informative guide for merchants on the euro
  • [24] Alpha Bank signs management deal with Hilton International
  • [25] Alpha Bank denies Eurobank planning hostile takeover
  • [26] Jordan's King Abdullah and family begin Greek island cruise in Rhodes
  • [27] Athens rally July 4 against worldwide phenomenon of racism and xenophobia
  • [28] Four arrested for firearms possession
  • [29] German and Greek wife arrested for 'masterminding' robbery plan
  • [30] CoE rapporteur underlines that 'only the Republic of Cyprus is recognised'
  • [31] Palestinian National Authority supports Cyprus struggle
  • [32] US presidential emissary due in Cyprus on Monday

  • [01] Christodoulos says Church will collect signatures over ID issue

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    Archbishop of Athens Christodoulos said on Wednesday the Church would collect signatures in support of the optional reference of citizens' religious persuasion on identity cards, which it would present to the President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and Parliament.

    "Who can ignore this voice of the people? For our part we respect both the will and the power of the people," he said in an Athens address to the second mass Church rally on the issue -after Thessaloniki last week.

    The head of Greece's Orthodox Church appealed to the government for dialogue.

    "We are asking for the channels of communication and dialogue to open. Do not ignore the will of the people and do not disregard Christians, relegating them to second- or third-class citizens ... Do not persist with a decision which harms the entire nation. We plead with you to revise your decisions which aim to distance Mother Church from its children and to cease seeing us as opponents whom you must neutralise," he said.

    Christodoulos also took care to dispel suggestions that the Church aimed to win political influence or meddle in public affairs.

    "We have no political designs. We are not against the State or the government, rather with a specific administrative act," he declared. He added that the Church was in favor the nation's progress in a united Europe.

    "We do not hold backward or fanatic views, but we refuse to give up our holiest beliefs. Our people have no need of reforms that negate their spiritual identity ... We congratulate the government on its successes, such as entry to the Economic and Monetary Union and believe that our faith and traditions are fully compatible with all this... The Church says 'yes' to Europe, but a double 'yes' to Greece," he said.

    [02] Gov't reiterates position on IDs issue

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Wednesday that the government's position on the issue of reference to citizens' religious persuasion on identity cards was "given and crystal clear".

    He made the statement after a mass Church rally in Athens on the issue, addressed by Archbishop of Athens Christodoulos.

    The government has repeatedly said that it considers the issue as being of the exclusive responsibility of the State.

    "Any attempt to alter the constitutional functions of the State, indeed, through the use of imaginary scenarios and deceptive words, is impermissible," said Reppas.

    Responding to Christodoulos's plea for dialogue, he said the "channel of dialogue is always open on issues concerning the Church and its relations with the State".

    Few hours before the rally in Syntagma Square Church officials were busy making preparations and instructing the faithful on how to deport themselves during the event.

    As people flocked to Athens on boats, trains, planes and cars to take part in the 7:00 p.m. protest rally in central Athens, scaffolding and platforms were being set up in Syntagma Square opposite Parliament and traffic police began cutting off access to the centre from 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon.

    The rally was organised by the Church to protest over a government decision to remove the religious beliefs' category in new identity cards at the recommendation of relatively new government agency for the protection of personal data, and to stream-line Greek IDs with those issued to EU citizens. The Church objects, saying that the category should be retained but made optional.

    The organisers instructed rally participants to "carry the message of success throughout their return, until the government changes its mind and does not take these measures that turn against our people and faith," and to "send telegrams and letters to the prime minister, to phone in to television channels and to protest over the one-sided and ironic treatment of the Church's positions."

    The previous "people's assembly" organised by the Church in Thessaloniki on June 14 mustered an estimated 100,000 faithful to the northern port city's central square.

    [03] No question of referendum over identity cards, says Reppas

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    The government is facing no issue of holding a national referendum over identity cards, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said earlier on Wednesday.

    Referring to the issue of identity cards, which the government has decided should no longer bear any indication of the holder's religious beliefs, Reppas said that the government had made its position known in a clear and categorical way, saying that identity cards were the concern of the State.

    Asked on the government's view on dialogue with the Church, the spokesman reiterated that the doors of the Education ministry were always open, that there was a meeting outstanding between the minister in charge of religious affairs, Petros Efthymiou, and Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos and he said the government was open to discussion on matters concerning relations between the Church and the State.

    Asked if Environment Minister Costas Laliotis disagrees with the government on this issue, Reppas denied there was any disagreement. To questions about this evening's protest rally, the spokesman replied simply that "the government is not in opposition or conflict with the Church."

    "The Church and the State are not opposite and opposing poles. The roles are separate," Reppas noted, and added that the political "traits" of the rallies were obvious and led one to the conclusion that the Church was seeking to play a different role than that which belonged to it. "A political role is not compatible with the spiritual role that truly belongs to the Church," he said.

    [04] Tsohatzopoulos urges meeting to pressure EU for funds due under Stability Pact

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    Deputy defence ministers from the countries of SE Europe on Wednesday opened their annual meeting in Athens to discuss activation of a Multinational Brigade of SE Europe and sign a protocol setting out the legal status of the Brigade.

    The member countries of the regional collective security body are Albania, Bulgaria, FYROM, Greece, Italy, Romania and Turkey, while observers are attending from Slovenia, the United States, and for the first time from Croatia.

    The ministers are due to discuss an Italian proposal to set up a force that will police areas where the Multinational Brigade is deployed.

    They will also engage in an initial exchange of views on a proposal tabled by Greece's defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on setting up inter-ministerial cooperation for the civilian coordination of the diverse activities being developed in the framework of the body, since "the existing managing politico-military committee cannot fully respond to this task due to the plethora of proposals being advanced by all the sides involved for peace and security in the region".

    Opening the conference, Tsohatzopoulos outlined the security problems in the region, and what progress had been made towards activating the Multinational Brigade.

    More specifically, Tsohatzopoulos predicted that NATO forces would remain in Bosnia-Herzegovina for some time to come before stability was achieved in the region.

    On Kosovo, he anticipated that a definitive solution to the problem was still far away, despite the substantial work accomplished by KFOR in that direction.

    He isolated the individual problems in the troubled Yugoslav province of Kosovo as:

    Ethnic cleansing practices, this time against the Serbs

    The disproportionate return of refugees, with large numbers of Albanian refugees returning compared with small numbers of returning Serb refugees, and

    The problems related to guarding the borders of the neighbouring countries, particularly those of FYROM, as the UN had yet to materialise its pledge to set up a 5,000-strong police force.

    Tsohatzopoulos reiterated the Greek positions on confronting the Kosovo crisis, which include the return of all the refugees without exception, absolute respect of borders, including those of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and broad autonomy, with the guarantee of the international community, for Kosovo.

    The minister further stressed that the Balkan Stability Pact was not a "windfall" opportunity of credit but marked the directions of the EU's goals regarding the countries of SE Europe seeking to join it. He said the Stability Pact should be used as a tool to materialise EU policy vis-a-vis the Balkan countries.

    At the same time he urged those attending the conference to exert political pressure on the EU to implement programmes arising under the Stability Pact that were being held up by Brussels' bureaucracy. It should be noted that the sum of 2.4 billion euros has been approved for such programmes, while the total sum up to this point comes to 1.8 billion euros.

    Tsohatzopoulos estimated that the Multinational Brigade for Southeast Europe would be ready to go into action by the end of the year, while a Crisis Management Staff is being set up that will act as a liaison and coordinating body in handling regional crises.

    In fact, the Engineering Corps will go into action for the first time in May and June 2001 in order to construct a section of the road network and a bridge over the River Milo in Albania, while its activities will extend to Kosovo, as well.

    In his speech, Deputy Defence Minister Dimitris Apostolakis referred to the three basic principles that should actuate the "new hope" that will lead the countries of southeast Europe toward brighter future prospects and guarantee the greater goal of security, as he said.

    These three principles, according to Apostolakis, are respect for the independence and territorial integrity of all nations, working together to solve the economic problems that have accrued and, in particular, transparency and clear directions in activating the Stability Pact without excluding anyone - including the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia that had to find its own place, he stressed.

    Any desire to change borders is unacceptable from all standpoints, Apostolakis said, and should meet our steadfast opposition. Our common goal is to promote conditions of security and stability in our wider region - something that requires more than good intentions and proclamations but specific actions that will lead to this goal.

    "We would be held accountable if we allowed the logic of violence or the threat of the use of force to govern international relations," he underlined.

    On the economic front, the deputy minister said that the problems between governments should not become a reason for penalising the citizens of these countries, by marking out "black holes" that were excluded from economic cooperation and integration.

    Applying these principles, combined with the activities taking place within the framework of our initiative for the Balkans, Apostolakis continued, will give us the opportunity to pass once and for all from the conditions of relative stability that we experience today to an era of collective, total and undivided stability and security, he concluded.

    Among those taking part in the conference are the deputy defence minister of Albania, Ilir Bocka, and his counterparts from Bulgaria, Velizar Shalananov, FYROM, Kadri Kadriu, and Italy, Giovanni Rivera. Representing Romania is its deputy defence minister for security policy Mircea Plangu, while Turkey has sent its acting deputy defence minister Gen. M. Sener Eruygur. Observers are the US defence aide for international security issues Franklin Kramer, the Slovenian Defence Ministry's head for international relations Mitja Miklavec and Croatian deputy defence minister Zlatko Gareljie.

    [05] SE European countries renew support for existing borders

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    The deputy defence ministers of Southeast European (SEDM) countries, meeting in Athens on Wednesday, renewed support to the maintenance of existing borders in the Balkans and the promotion of democratic principles, economic development and respect for human rights.

    They also agreed on the need to find more effective ways of coordinating initiatives for security in the region, and discussed the setting up of a crisis management body, to be further considered by experts later this year in Bulgaria.

    SEDM tentatively approved a Greek proposal for the coordination of all activities and initiatives of countries in the region, which will also be taken up in further meetings of experts on July 31 and August 28.

    [06] EU Commission president to speak at Athens University event

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    European Commission President Romano Prodi will be visiting Athens on Friday to speak at a special event organised by the University of Athens on that day. The opening address at the event, to be held in the University's large hall of ceremonies, will be given by Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Athens University Dean Constantine Dimopoulos.

    While in Athens, Prodi will meet with the prime minister and with the leader of the main opposition New Democracy party, Costas Karamanlis.

    [07] PM Simitis briefs unions on Greece's accession to EMU

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis briefed the PASEGES and GSEBEE agricultural and handicraft industries' unions on Wednesday on the country's accession to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

    Both PASEGES President Nikos Liolios and GSEBEE President Yiannis Motsios termed Greece's entry into the euro-zone a success, adding that farmers and handicraftsmen contributed considerably towards convergence with EMU criteria.

    Liolios said "bold policies are necessary to upgrade Greek production in both the local and European market."

    On his part, Motsios said "the small and medium-size enterprises should constitute the basis for the government's development policy and plans to prevent the branch from being ruined."

    PASEGES and GSEBEE in turn briefed Simitis on problems faced by small and medium-size enterprises and farmers and called on him to contact relevant ministries himself to facilitate their solution.

    [08] Health Minister Papadopoulos says reform planning in health sector to be completed by end of summer

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    Health Minister Alekos Papadopoulos said in Thessaloniki on Wednesday that reform planning in the health sector

    will be completed by the end of the summer and the phase of dialogue with agencies involved will follow.

    Speaking at a press conference after holding meetings with representatives from the public health sector in central Macedonia, Papadopoulos said reforming of the National Health System (ESY), a time-consuming and laborious process, will safeguard the public nature of health services and will not allow for "uncontrolled action by the private sector, as is currently the case".

    Referring to Thessaloniki and central Macedonia, he spoke of problems and malfunctions in ESY which will be handled in the framework of reform. He placed particular emphasis on the issue of building facilities, which he termed a "great problem" both for Thessaloniki and Athens.

    Papadopoulos said the improvement of the "hotel" infrastructure at hospitals in Thessaloniki and central Macedonia will be funded through the 3rd Community Support Framework, since it constitutes one of the ministry's top priorities.

    On the question of reforming health services in the region of central Macedonia, Papadopoulos said it will take place through the new health charter with the redistribution, transfer and abolition of clinics, as well as the specialisation of certain hospitals.

    Papadopoulos said the Papageorgiou hospital, which currently has a 60 percent level of operation, will become fully operational in the next two years, while hospital staff at Athens and Thessaloniki hospitals will be supported with an extra 3,000 people in the summer, who will work in the framework of the 11-month European Union STAGE programme.

    [09] Agriculture minister to sign cooperation protocol with Turkish counterpart

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis, currently on a three-day official visit to Turkey, said on Wednesday he will be signing a general cooperation protocol on agricultural issues with his Turkish counterpart Husnu Yusuf Giokalp.

    Anomeritis, who was speaking at a press conference, said the first phase of talks will focus on animal diseases.

    Anomeritis will visit Ankara, Diyarbakir, the Ataturk Dam and Istanbul where he will be received by the Ecumenical Patriarch.

    Among others, he is accompanied on his visit by representatives of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB), the Exporters' Federation and the PASEGES agricultural union, as well as by the ministry's two general secretaries and businessmen.

    [10] President Stephanopoulos attends events marking 83rd anniversary of the liberation of Kilkis

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    President Kostis Stephanopoulos attended events marking the 83rd anniversary of the liberation of the town of Kilkis, in northern Greece, on Wednesday.

    Referring to Greece's accession to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), President Stephanopoulos said "we can be compared to European countries on an equal basis today."

    He said wide and optimistic vistas were opening up and praised the Greek people for their broad consensus on development and progress.

    [11] Event to commemorate death of PASOK founder Andreas Papandreou

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    An event commemorating the fourth anniversary since the death of PASOK founder and three-times prime minister Andreas Papandreou will be held on Friday in the garden of the George Papandreou Institute, on the corner of Piraeos and Salaminos St, at 8:30 p.m.

    [12] Labour minister unveils sweeping reforms

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    Labour and Social Security Minister Tassos Yiannitsis on Wednesday unveiled sweeping reforms in the state Workforce Employment Organization (OAED) and announced the appointment of KPMG-Kyriakou Consultants SA to draft an operational plan for the organization's restructuring and modernization, worth 111.6 million drachmas.

    Tilemahos Palaeologos, general manager in National Leasing, was appointed as governor of OAED. Yiannitsis said Palaeologos is a man "from the management business, from the market area".

    Evi Hadziandreou, a lecturer at the Harvard's Health Management and Policy Department and the London School of Economics, was appointed vice-governor at the Social Security Foundation.

    Yiannitsis reaffirmed the government's intention to offer a 10,000-drachma pay increase to lower incomes this year and said that the labour and national economy ministries were working on the details of the programme.

    He said the ministry was positive on a proposal by the Coalition of the Left party, Maria Damanaki, to offer pension schemes to divorced women.

    Yiannitsis left the door open to a plan to raise the limit of group lay-offs in businesses employing more than 50 workers. "We shall see," he said.

    Workers' unions have repeatedly said they would not discuss this demand by employers' unions.

    [13] Next year's budget to be drafted both in drachmas and euros

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    Greece's 2001 budget will be drafted both in drachmas and in euros, Finance Undersecretary George Drys said on

    Wednesday. Speaking to reporters from Thessaloniki, on a visit to brief tax and customs agencies over changes in the fiscal policy procedures following the country's entry in the eurozone on January 1, 2001, Drys said government ministries should speed-up procedures to submit their proposals to the State Accounting Office.

    He said that the deadline for submitting spending proposals was July 10, instead of July 25 as initially planned.

    "It is a fact that the convergence programme has now been replaced by the stability and growth programme, which cannot differ in its quality characteristics," Drys said.

    He reminded that the replacement of the Greek currency with the euro would be definitely take place in the second half of 2002.

    [14] Greek stocks continue moving lower

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended lower on Wednesday remaining under pres-sure for the third consecutive session as the market seems to be testing the 4,300-4,270 support level once again.

    Analysts said that the next support level of the market was 4,100-4,020.

    The general index ended at 4,254.80 points, down 1.15 percent, but off the day's lows of 4,205.21 points. Turnover was a low 100 billion drachmas.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.74 percent lower at 2,363.91 points and the FTSE/ASE 40 index dropped 2.43 percent to 606.94 points.

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended at 834.82 points, off 3.40 percent.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 296 to 42 with another seven issues unchanged.

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

    [15] Derivatives drop in line with stock market

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished lower on Wednesday, tracking the two indices on which they are based.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 closed 0.74 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 2.43 percent lower.

    Turnover was 9.5 billion drachmas from 6.2 billion drachmas a day earlier.

    A total of 992 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 index with turnover at 4.7 billion drachmas.

    Changing hands on the FTSE/ASE 40 were 502 futures on turnover of 4.8 billion drachmas.

    [16] Bond prices drop in sell-off

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Wednesday finished lower in brisk, sell-oriented trade.

    The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.087 percent from 6.025 percent in the previous session; and the yield on the equivalent German bund was around 5.20 percent.

    The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 89 basis points from 90 basis points a day earlier.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 144 billion drachmas from 48 billion drachmas in the previous session.

    Buy orders accounted for 31 billion drachmas of turnover.

    [17] Drachma flat vs euro, down vs. dollar

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    The drachma on Wednesday was unchanged against the euro and fell versus the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market.

    At the central bank's daily fixing, the euro was set at 336.540 drachmas for the second straight session.

    Also at the fixing, the US dollar was set at 354.780 drachmas from 351.990 drachmas a day earlier.

    [18] Fuel prices continue moving higher

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    Indicative fuel prices for the coming week were raised by the government on Wednesday, as the price of crude oil continued its upward spiral on international markets.

    Specifically, super and unleaded oil prices increased by 1.7 drachmas per litre and diesel rose by 2.3 drachmas per litre.

    Out-of-season heating oil fell by 0.1 drachmas per litre.

    As of Wednesday and for one week the retail sales price for super stands at 279.6 drachmas per litre in the greater Athens area and Thessaloniki prefecture. Unleaded will sell for 263.3 drachmas per litre.

    [19] Kathimerini Publications announces share buy-back programme

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    A Kathimerini Publications-Media general shareholders' meeting on Wednesday approved a share buy-back programme and plans for a 50 drachmas per share dividend payment to shareholders.

    The buy-back programme envisages the repurchase of up to 10 percent of the company's equity through the stock market at a maximum price of 10,000 drachmas per share, a move designed to support its share price.

    Kathimerini also unveiled plans to expand its activities in the publication, printing and the Internet sectors through partnerships and acquisitions.

    The investment programme's cost, for the period 1999-2001, totals 17.9 billion drachmas.

    [20] Vernicos Yachts to become holding company

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    Vernicos Yachts and Shipping is to become a holding company for a wide range of operations under a planned restructuring, its president, Yorgos Vernicos, told shareholders on Wednesday.

    Among the firm's operations are marine tourism, marinas, ship financing and investments.

    The company plans to own 100 ships by the end of 2001. Profits this year are expected to total more than 900 million drachmas, Vernicos added.

    The dividend to shareholders on 1999 profits is 13 drachmas per share.

    [21] Titan Cement gives Dr 220 dividend on 1999 profits

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    Shareholders of Titan Cement Company, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, on Wednesday approved management's proposal of a dividend of 220 drachmas per share on 1999 profits.

    Titan Cement's first quarter net profits totalled 2.7 billion drachmas, down 600 million drachmas from the same period of last year. Sales were 23.5 billion drachmas, up 3.7 percent on the first quarter of 1999.

    The Titan Group's consolidated net profits after minorities and provision for tax totalled 3.2 billion drachmas in the first quarter, and its turnover was 42 billion drachmas.

    [22] Evros region to be supplied with natural gas soon

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    The amount of 18 billion drachmas has been earmarked for a project aimed at providing the Evros region in northern Greece with natural gas, while the project has been included in the national section of the Operational Programme prepared by the Development Ministry.

    The pipeline will initially take natural gas to the region's capital of Alexandroupolis and then to other cities in the prefecture. It will start from the industrial area of Komotini, where works have been concluded. Installations receiving and distributing natural gas for the Evros region are being made in the industrial area of Alexandroupolis in accordance with studies prepared by the Development Ministry's relevant technical department.

    Consequently, installations for distributing natural gas will be completed in eastern Macedonia and Thrace in record time and the big state-run and private industries in the industrial areas of Xanthi, Rodopi and Evros will be the first consumers.

    [23] Commercial unions issue informative guide for merchants on the euro

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    Deputy Development Minister Milena Apostolaki said on Wednesday the adjustment of Greek businesses to the new economic environment, in light of the European unified currency coming to the country, is a difficult undertaking and there can be no delays.

    Apostolaki was speaking at a press conference held at the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) concerning the presentation of a preparation guide for small businesses entitled "The euro in your shop-Preparation guide" and prepared by the Commercial Unions of Athens and Thessaloniki and EGF Eurobank.

    It was noted that arrival of the euro, and the introduction of banknotes and coins in 2002 in particular, requires certain adjustments on the part of retail dealers such as listing of prices, converting amounts of money, communicating with customers and accounting.

    The purpose of the guide is to provide answers to practical issues preoccupying merchants, increase the confidence of their customers and their share of the market, help them take necessary steps in time to prevent confusion and simplify transition processes.

    [24] Alpha Bank signs management deal with Hilton International

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    Alpha Bank and Hilton International on Wednesday signed a management deal for the two hotels owned by Ionian Hotels, a member of Alpha Bank.

    The deal envisages the 10-year management of Hilton Athens and the Rhodes Imperial Hotel, to be renamed to Hilton Rhodes Hotel from January 1, 2001.

    Yiannis Costopoulos, Alpha Bank's chairman, speaking at a press conference announced a renovation of the Athens Hilton hotel, expected to start in six months and to be completed by the end of 2002, at a total cost of 20 billion drachmas.

    The Athens Hilton was inaugurated in April 1963 signalling the start of a new era for the hotel and tourism sector in Greece.

    The investment will be covered through a share capital increase in Ionian Hotels, worth 10 billion drachmas, and through bank lending.

    Alpha Bank owns 86 percent of Ionian Hotels.

    Jurgen Fischer, Hilton International Europe, the Middle East and Africa chairman, said the company was interested in expanding activities in Greece, in the Balkans and southeast Europe.

    He said that Hilton International was interested in equity participation in Ionian Hotels, although the current deal did not envisaged such an option.

    [25] Alpha Bank denies Eurobank planning hostile takeover

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    Alpha Bank, the country's largest private sector banking group, on Wednesday denied press reports that EFG Eurobank was planning a hostile takeover.

    "(The scenarios) are hilarious and bear no relation whatsoever to reality. It's a pity this rehashing has to continue in the newspapers. Nothing like this is happening," Alpha Bank Chairman Yiannis Kostopoulos said in reply to a reporter's question.

    [26] Jordan's King Abdullah and family begin Greek island cruise in Rhodes

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    The King of Jordan, Abdullah II, flew into Rhodes on Wednesday with his two children and made his way to the island's harbour, where he was met by the British-flagged yacht "Sarafsa".

    The Jordanian king and his 20-member entourage boarded the yacht and left for the idyllic Rhodes town of Lindos, where they will be spending the night.

    Security during Abdullah's arrival in Rhodes was extremely tight, while Coast Guard vessels will accompany the 'Sarafsa' at all times.

    The yacht is due to return to Rhodes harbour on Thursday afternoon, in order to pick up Queen Rania, and the royal couple will then depart on board the "Sarafsa" for Alimnia on the island of Halki and then on to the island of Symi.

    According to sources, their next ports of call are Tylos and Nisyros before they arrive in Santorini on Saturday.

    The Jordanian royal couple's visit to Greece is purely private and there will be no official meetings with any Greek or foreign officials during their stay.

    [27] Athens rally July 4 against worldwide phenomenon of racism and xenophobia

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    The Athens Labour Centre (EKA) and other social and labour organizations are to hold a rally on July 4 against racism and xenophobia, which is being witnessed on a global scale.

    In a statement, EKA calls on working people to help battle this dangerous phenomenon, encouraged by certain circles, and is against democracy and individual rights.

    [28] Four arrested for firearms possession

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    A Romanian woman and three Greek men were arrested after four pistols and ammunition was found hidden in their car in the port of Piraeus, police said Wednesday.

    They said a Romanian woman, identified as Nita Dana Gabriella, 28, was arrested together with Iraklis Nychtaris, 30, Demosthenes Disyprakis, 33, and Andreas Galanakis, 38, in the port of Piraeus Tuesday evening as they were about to board a ferry for Heraklion, Crete.

    Police also confiscated three Zastava 9mm pistols and one Zastava 7.65mm pistol, cartridges for the firearms, and 4.85 mil-lion drachma in cash believed to be the product of illegal activities.

    All four will be brought before a public prosecutor.

    [29] German and Greek wife arrested for 'masterminding' robbery plan

    Athens, 22-06-2000 (ANA)

    Police on Wednesday arrested German national Andreas Mayer, 32, his Greek wife Eleftheria Nakou, 31, and three other Greek accomplices in connection with a robbery on June 17. Nakou and Mayer were charged with masterminding the robbery, while two more men, Pavlos Kolaridis, 30, and Anastasios Tsakiridis, 44, are being sought. The three accomplices were Emmanuel Dakounakis, 58, and his sons Emmanuel, 26, and George, 33. The gang are accused of robbing Ioannis Mitsis, 38, a former associate of Nakou and Mayer, of three million drachmas.

    Nakou and Mayer allegedly contacted Dakounakis at his employment office in central Athens, fed him information about Mitsis' movements and proposed the robbery, which was actually carried out by Kolaridis and Tsakiridis using Dakounakis' car.

    [30] CoE rapporteur underlines that 'only the Republic of Cyprus is recognised'

    NICOSIA, 22-06-2000 (CNA/ANA)

    The Cyprus Rapporteur at the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Political Committee Andras Barsony on Wednesday underlined that only the Republic of Cyprus is recognised and said his visit and overnight stay in the Turkish-occupied areas of the island have been "misinterpreted".

    Barsony, who raised strong reaction from the government and political parties after he stayed overnight in the areas of the island occupied by Turkey since 1974 and addressed the Turkish Cypriot leader as "president", was speaking after a meeting with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, which he described as "very successful and fruitful".

    On his part, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said "the whole issue is considered closed even though the situation will be closely monitored" and said President Clerides conveyed his dissatisfaction with certain particular actions of the Hungarian deputy.

    Papapetrou also said that even if Barsony "had the best of intentions" some of his actions gave Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash the opportunity to take political advantage of them, creating certain problems.

    Talking to the press after the meeting with President Clerides earlier on Wednesday, the Hungarian deputy said certain reports in Wednesday's press are "not 100 percent justified... misinterpreting a visit in the occupied territory".

    "The position of the Council of the Parliamentary Assembly never changed. It recognises the sole entity on the island, the Republic of Cyprus and its government as it stands in every document of the Parliamentary Assembly," he said.

    Barsony pointed out that this visit was organised in the same way as his previous visits to the island and those of his predecessor, the late Lord Finsburg. He said one of the purposes of the visits is to achieve an improvement in the living conditions of some 600 Greek Cypriots and Maronites who continue to live in the Turkish-occupied areas of the island.

    "I understand that the emotional background, the lack of political openness and willingness to achieve a political solution from the Turkish Cypriot community leaders can cause even more tensions in the Republic," Barsony said.

    He added he fully understands "the hesitation and the emotions of those politicians who refused to meet with the Rapporteur."

    House of Representative President Spyros Kyprianou and two party leaders refused to meet with Barsony in an expression of their strong opposition.

    Replying to questions, Barsony said he will not allow his personal emotions and the climate created here to affect the report he will present on behalf of the Committee or the questions debated.

    The Hungarian deputy said he does not blame the press for the situation, noting that most probably it was the first time Journalists were informed about what actually takes place during these visits, recognising at the same time that this visit is also different to others.

    According to sources, Barsony was briefed on the efforts by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to achieve acknowledgement of a separate entity in the Turkish-occupied areas, some-thing completely unacceptable to the Cyprus government.

    Asked about the fact that he referred to Denktash as "president", Barsony mentioned his own experience and the fact that he is also called "president" because of his term in the Political Affairs Committee Presidency.

    He noted that he never named Denktash as president of the illegal regime, adding that he also told the Turkish Cypriot leader that his regime in the occupied areas is not recognised and will not be acknowledged.

    Barsony rejected a question if he believes that his attitude is inconsistent with his statements that the CoE recognises only the Republic of Cyprus and constitutes some form of acknowledgement of the regime in the occupied areas of Cyprus.

    "I don't think that an overnight stay is something which could be introduced as recognition or acknowledgement of a non-existing state," he said.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory. Only Turkey has recognised the illegal state unilaterally declared in 1983. The UN described it as "legally invalid" and called on all states not to recognise it.

    [31] Palestinian National Authority supports Cyprus struggle

    NICOSIA, 22-06-2000 (CNA/ANA)

    The Palestinian National Authority supports the unity of Cyprus, the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus and the end of the occupation by Turkey of the island's northern part.

    This was stated on Wednesday by Minister of Planning and International Cooperation of the Palestinian National Authority Nabeel Shaath, at a joint press conference with Cyprus' Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides who stressed that the Republic will assist the Palestinian people in their struggle for reconstruction.

    Kasoulides and Shaath, who arrived here on Wednesday for an official two-day visit, held their conference after formal talks.

    "I share with the Cypriot people all the feelings about history of struggle against invasion, occupation, settlements, attempts to destroy the unity of our peoples and our countries and take away from us our rights of self-determination and sovereignty of our land", Shaath said.

    "Since 1974 we support the unity of Cyprus, the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus, the unity of the people and the end of occupation", he pointed out.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.

    "We enjoy your support" Shaath noted, adding that "we share views in almost all foreign arenas".

    Referring to Cyprus' accession course to the European Union, he said "we look forward to your becoming a full member as soon as possible" and described the island as "an important strategic ally for the Palestinian people in their quest for independence, freedom, prosperity and development".

    He explained that Cyprus and the Palestinian National Authority are trying to strengthen their relations, not only the political ones, but also their relations in the fields of economy, trade, investment, culture, transport, tourism, education and high technology.

    "We would very much like to see Cyprus becoming a connection hub to Europe and the rest of the world for our Airlines, as well as a connection hub for cable communications and Internet", Shaath said.

    On his part, Kasoulides said he was briefed on the latest developments of the Middle East peace process, adding that Cyprus "is particularly interested" in those developments.

    "Cyprus has always demonstrated its solidarity to the Palestinian people and has supported the implementation of the Security Council resolutions and has taken positions of principles, the same principles that apply in the case of the island's question", he said.

    Noting he briefed Shaath on the recent developments of the Cyprus problem, Kasoulides pointed out his visit "will be an occasion where traditional friendship and cooperation will be translated into practical ways whereby Cyprus is expected to demonstrate its friendship and solidarity towards the Palestinian people in many fields".

    "We will continue this kind cooperation and assist the Palestinian people in their struggle for reconstruction as we have assisted them in their struggle for freedom", Kasoulides said.

    Asked about the Palestinian position on a draft resolution at the forthcoming Islamic Conference and Turkey's efforts to pass its views, Shaath said the Palestinian National Authority will hold positions of principle as it does in every meeting.

    Responding to a question on the Palestinian problem and the Middle East peace process, and ways to help resolving the Cyprus question, Shaath said "we both abandoned resolving it by war and confrontation".

    "This is a supreme principle, that it is not going to be any more an endless war, either in your country or in ours, we have accepted all of us to go through negotiations and a peace process but within the borders of international legality", the Palestinian Minister noted.

    Minister Kasoulides referred to the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, noting that "if he is not going to get advice from our Palestinian friends, at least he must look at the example that they have shown, because we have looked at it and try to emulate it".

    Shaath today met also with Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Nicos Rolandis while tomorrow he will meet with Finance Minister Takis Klerides and members of the island's business world.

    Rolandis and Shaath exchanged views on ways to further develop cooperation in trade, industry, tourism, manufacturing and technology. Rolandis extended an invitation to Shaath to visit Cyprus in the second half of the year to discuss future cooperation and matters of mutual interest.

    [32] US presidential emissary due in Cyprus on Monday

    NICOSIA, 22-06-2000 (CNA/ANA)

    US Presidential Emissary for Cyprus Alfred Moses arrives here Monday for a three-day visit during which he is to have contacts with the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides.

    Moses is expected to make a statement to the press on arrival on Monday evening at Larnaca international airport, on the southern coast.

    On Tuesday morning, President Glafcos Clerides will receive him and later on he is due to have a meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus.

    The visit comes only a week after UN Special Adviser for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto ended four days of meetings on the island in preparation of the July UN-sponsored peace talks and amid increasing speculation as to the duration and the content of these talks.

    Moses, who will probably be accompanied by US State Department Cyprus Coordinator Thomas Weston, is planning to give a press conference on Tuesday afternoon once he concludes his meetings.

    The US diplomat will leave on Wednesday.

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