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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-06-23

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Athens 2004 Olympics Organising Committee, gets new board
  • [02] Papandreou confers with UN special adviser on Cyprus issue
  • [03] Government disagrees with Church position, says Reppas
  • [04] Stathopoulos counters critics
  • [05] ND spokesman calls on PM to start dialogue with the Church on IDs issue
  • [06] Foreign ministry denies Greece will mediate for Yugoslav president
  • [07] PM Costas Simitis chairs meeting on foreign policy planning
  • [08] Legal framework for terrorism adequate, Greece works closely with US on these matters, says Reppas
  • [09] Foreign, Interior ministers to attend conference on democracy in Warsaw
  • [10] Greek and Turkish foreign ministry directors to probe measures of good neighbourliness
  • [11] Diamantopoulou in Turkey
  • [12] Simitis holds reception for Greece's EMU entry
  • [13] Archbishop Christodoulos will not attend reception on EMU accession
  • [14] Communist parties from 53 countries to participate in three-day meeting organised by KKE
  • [15] Labour minister says government does not intend to create uncertainty in labour market
  • [16] Equities slump in flaccid trade
  • [17] Equity futures drop in line with indices
  • [18] Bond prices flat in light trade
  • [19] Drachma down vs euro, dollar
  • [20] Water board plans entry into telecoms
  • [21] Intrasoft to operate in Turkey
  • [22] Greek employers more optimistic than all other Europeans on increase in employment in retail trade
  • [23] Albanian PM blasts Greek engineering contractor
  • [24] Greece, Egypt seek ways of expanding business ties
  • [25] Delta forges strategic alliance with Scandinavian dairy
  • [26] Greece to press for broad solution on double-hull oil tankers proposal
  • [27] President Stephanopoulos launches cruise ship Olympic Voyager
  • [28] First trial flight lands at Athens' new international airport at Spata
  • [29] Athens court rejects lawsuits calling for banning of Androulakis' book
  • [30] Economic Crime Squad will check workshops issuing exhaust fume control cards
  • [31] Health Minister announces creation of injury treatment centre in Larisa
  • [32] President Stephanopoulos to award prizes to Greek expatriate media
  • [33] Is King Abdullah's cruise retracing the steps of a lovestruck royal relative?
  • [34] Greek Cypriot calls on EU to persuade Turkey to comply with human rights ruling
  • [35] Cyprus government says Denktash is trying to avoid substantive negotiations
  • [36] EU Commissioner addresses EuroMediterranean Conference
  • [37] Canada says will help towards resolution of Cyprus problem

  • [01] Athens 2004 Olympics Organising Committee, gets new board

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday appointed a new board of directors for the "Athens 2004" Olympics Organising Committee, following the resignation of managing director Costas Bakouris.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that Bakouris had resigned on good terms with the government in a "climate of consensus and good will," and that the government planned to use him again "in good time."

    Simitis appointed the new board members following deliberations with the chairwoman of Athens 2004, Yianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, who will head a five-member executive committee. The Merchant Marine Ministry's secretary-general Petros Synadinos, who was on the team that organised Athens' successful bid for the Games, is replacing Bakouris. The other members are Spyros Kapralos, Costas Liaskas and Marton Simicek. Greek Olympics Committee Chairman Lambis Nikolaou will act as vice-chairman filling in for Angelopoulos-Daskalaki.

    In addition to the above, the organising committee's 17-member board of directors will also include Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos and 10 other members.

    Observers note that the reshuffle represents an undoubted strengthening of Angelopoulos-Daskalaki's position in the organising committee. A bill voted through Parliament on Wednesday provides her with increased powers in the selection of staff. The five-member executive committee is to hold its first session on Friday.

    [02] Papandreou confers with UN special adviser on Cyprus issue

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    Foreign minister George Papandreou on Thursday conferred with the UN Secretary General's special adviser on the Cyprus issue, Alvaro de Soto, for talks ahead of the resumption of Cyprus reunification talks in Geneva.

    The envoy arrived in Athens after three-day consultations each in Cyprus and Turkey.

    After their discussion on developments in the Cyprus issue in advance of the July 5 resumption of intercommunal negotiations, Papandreou told reporters that the will existed on the part of the UN for the two sides in the Cyprus issue to proceed with "substantive discussions", adding that this was a "critical and sensitive period" for the Cyprus problem.

    He said de Soto had briefed him on the results of his talks in Cyprus and Turkey, and described the Athens meeting as "crucial and interesting".

    Papandreou also announced that de Soto would go directly to Brussels after Athens for talks with the European Union's High Representative for Foreign and Defence Policy, Javier Solana, and Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen.

    De Soto told reporters that he was awaiting with interest the resumption of talks between the Greeik Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, noting that Greece also had an important role to play in the reunification efforts, and adding that the UN's target remained a "spherical and comprehensive solution" to the problem.

    Asked to comment on the fact that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash had yet to formally accept the invitation for the Geneva talks, the de Soto said that the UN Secretary General expected to see Denktash in Geneva and anticipated that both sides would be present.

    "I do not wish to imagine anything else," the UN envoy added.

    Questioned on the issue that had arisen with the UN Security Council decision for a six-month extension of UNFICYP, the UN peacekeeping force on Cyprus, de Soto said that "misunderstandings arose".

    Denktash had stated Sunday that he would be re-evaluating his position in view of last week's Security Council resolution which he complained failed to treat his side as equal to the internationally recognized Cyprus government of president Glafcos Clerides. Last Wednesday, the Council dropped an addendum to a U.N. report that said U.N. peacekeeping mission on the island could only operate with the approval of both the Turkish and Greek Cypriots.

    De Soto said that the purpose of the addendum had simply been to reflect the positions of all sides concerned.

    "It is no secret that difficulties arose," he said, adding his conviction that there would be no repercussions since the UNFICYP extention was not one of the issues on the agenda of the intercommunal talks.

    [03] Government disagrees with Church position, says Reppas

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Thursday that the Greek government did not agree with the position of the Holy Synod (the supreme governing body of the Greek Orthodox Church) because it was not correct. Reppas was responding to questions regarding Wednesday's rally, organised by the Church in protest to a government decision to remove the religious affiliation entry on new state-issued identity cards.

    The spokesman did not wish to comment on the Church's reported intent to gather signatures in support of its position, saying that this was hypothetical and not an actual event. He stressed that the government did not intend to become involved in the Church's initiatives and said that this proved its concern for the future of the country and its dedication to serving the interests of the public and the nation.

    Claiming that the government's position was correct, the spokesman pointed out that a meeting between Orthodox Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos and the minister in charge of religious affairs, Petros Efthymiou, was still pending. The fact that the Archbishop had not visited Efthymiou, he supported, was negative and did not contribute to a resolution of the crisis, which Reppas described as "unnecessary and damaging".

    He also said that the road to dialogue was open, as the government had claimed from the first day.

    Asked why the state-run television channel ERT had not done a live broadcast of the Archbishop's speech, the spokesman replied that ERT had transmitted large excerpts of the speech but that it had scheduled other programmes for Wednesday evening.

    Asked about Justice Minister Michalis Stathopoulos, who had expressed a different view than the government's line on this issue, Reppas said that Stathopoulos enjoyed the full confidence of Prime Minister Costas Simitis and continues to carry out his duties.

    [04] Stathopoulos counters critics

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    Justice Minister Michalis Stathopoulos on Thursday dismissed criticism that he was responsible for igniting the current crisis between Church and State over the proposed abolition of the reference to citizens' religious persuasion on identity cards.

    "I do not believe that I was not the one who caused this crisis, but rather those who reacted, in my opinion, in an unjustifiable manner to a lawful act of the government and mobilised the crowds," he told reporters during a courtesy visit to the Athens Bar Association.

    Stathopoulos dismissed suggestions and calls for his resignation. "There would have been an issue of my resignation if I lost the prime minister's confidence. This is not the case, and I am, therefore, not considering to resign," he said.

    [05] ND spokesman calls on PM to start dialogue with the Church on IDs issue

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    The main opposition New Democracy party on Thursday called on Prime Minister Costas Simitis to abandon his intransigence and start a dialogue with the Church on the issue of identity cards and the listing or not of religion.

    In the wake of the rally organised by the Church in Athens on Wednesday, ND spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos blamed Simitis for the creation of a social rift as a result of the IDs issue which, as he said, is deepening all the more.

    ND, according to reports, believes that a majority trend in favour of the optional listing of religion in identity cards has been created and that the government should take the messages of society into consideration.

    [06] Foreign ministry denies Greece will mediate for Yugoslav president

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    The Greek foreign ministry denied on Thursday reports in the US and British press claiming that Greece will mediate for certain guarantees to be secured for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to enable him to resign from his duties.

    Foreign ministry spokesman Panayiotis Beglitis said "our country has never become involved in such procedures" and neither has such a request been made.

    He said that Greece has made it clear from the start that a solution to the Yugoslav crisis would come about with peaceful means, while referring Milosevic to the International Court would lead to deadlock and would not contribute to a solution to the problem.

    Beglitis reminded that Greece considers sanctions imposed on Yugoslavia to be counter-productive and favours their lifting and underlined that developments taking place on the Yugoslav issue so far have vindicated Greece's positions.

    [07] PM Costas Simitis chairs meeting on foreign policy planning

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis chaired a meeting on foreign policy planning on Thursday, attended by Foreign Minister George Papandreou and other officials.

    Papandreou said afterwards all foreign policy issues were discussed in light of a cabinet meeting to be held next week on the same issue. He added that European issues were also discussed in light of France assuming the European Union's rotating presidency next month, which has put forward "interesting ideas" on Balkan problems and the EU's institutional reform.

    [08] Legal framework for terrorism adequate, Greece works closely with US on these matters, says Reppas

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    The existing legal framework for dealing with terrorism is adequate and there is close cooperation on these matters with the United States, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Thursday during the regular press briefing.

    He conceded, however, that there were margins for improvement on both counts.

    [09] Foreign, Interior ministers to attend conference on democracy in Warsaw

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou will depart on Sunday for Warsaw to attend an international conference on democracy.

    The conference, which will be attended by foreign ministers from about 100 countries, is organised by the United Nations with the contribution of seven countries (Poland, Chile, Czech Republic, India, Mali, Korea and the United States). The US will be represented by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

    After Warsaw, the foreign minister will accompany President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on an official visit to Moscow.

    During his visit to Moscow, Stephanopoulos will sign an agreement for the avoidance of double taxation between the two countries.

    [10] Greek and Turkish foreign ministry directors to probe measures of good neighbourliness

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    Foreign ministry director Anastasios Skopelitis left for Ankara on Thursday for talks with his Turkish counterpart Alpogan on Friday, as part of regular six-month consultations between the two countries' foreign ministry directors.

    This time, the directors have also been instructed to probe the possibilities of shaping a mutually acceptable procedural framework on promoting measures of good neighbourliness in accordance with what had been agreed by Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem during their last meeting in Florence.

    According to diplomatic sources, confidence-building measures Greece will propose will include the extension of the summer moratorium in the Aegean whose period of application, according to the memorandum agreed by former Greek and Turkish foreign ministers Karolos Papoulias and Mesut Yilmaz, is from July 1ST to September 1ST.

    [11] Diamantopoulou in Turkey

    ISTANBUL, 23-06-2000 (ANA- A. Kourkoulas)

    EU Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou was briefed in Ankara on Thursday by Turkish Minister of Labour and Social Security Yasar Okuyan on issues of his country's cooperation with the EU and the Turkish government's planned legislation on the employment, labour and social security fields.

    Okuyan thanked Diamantopoulou for her contribution to the rapprochement between Greece and Turkey, adding that the two countries' relations were steadily improving.

    The Commissioner also met with Minister of State for Women's Issues Hasan Gemici. She is due to speak here on Friday at a seminar on the subject of "The social model of the EU and the process of enlargement".

    [12] Simitis holds reception for Greece's EMU entry

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his wife Daphne on Thursday held a reception at Zappeion Hall in Athens, attended by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, political and civic leaders, ministers, deputies, entrepreneurs and media representatives, on the occasion of Greece's EMU entry earlier this week.

    Among the attendants were New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis, Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos and composer Mikis Theodorakis.

    The prime minister was broadly congratulated on the endorsement of Greece's application to join European Economic and Monetary Union at the weekend EU summit in Oporto.

    [13] Archbishop Christodoulos will not attend reception on EMU accession

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos has addressed a letter to Prime Minister Costas Simitis on the occasion of Thursday night's reception concerning the country's accession to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and, according to reports, thanking him for the invitation and informing him that he will not be attending "due to commitments undertaken."

    The reports said Archbishop Christodoulos did not wish to attend the reception for three reasons. Firstly, he believes there has been no reply by the prime minister to his request for an across-the-board dialogue, including the issue of identity cards and religion. Secondly, he has not even received a courtesy reply to the message of congratulations he addressed to the prime minister in Portugal to congratulate him on the country's entry to EMU and, thirdly, because he believes the invitation to attend the reception is only of a typical nature and cannot be construed as a goodwill gesture.

    The Permanent Holy Synod is expected to convene on Monday to discuss the holding of an informal referendum with the collection of signatures in favour of the optional listing of religion in identity cards.

    [14] Communist parties from 53 countries to participate in three-day meeting organised by KKE

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    A total of 64 communist and labour parties from 53 countries will participate in a three-day meeting organised by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and starting on Friday on the issue of "Experiences from the struggles, alliances and cooperations of the communists today."

    KKE Secretary General Aleka Papariga will inaugurate the meeting and addresses from delegations participating will follow.

    Targets set for the meeting are promoting the communist identity, strengthening solidarity and joint action between parties and exchanging experiences and views.

    [15] Labour minister says government does not intend to create uncertainty in labour market

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    Labour and Social Insurances Minister Anastasios Yiannitsis said in Thessaloniki on Thursday that "the government does not intend to create uncertainty in the labour market, particularly in a way causing surprise."

    He was replying to questions by the press on what his intentions would be if he was presented with a request for an increase in the dismissals ceiling, which is currently 2 percent per month.

    Yiannitsis said he has not received a request from the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) for the 2 percent ceiling to increase and that he has no intention of causing surprise.

    On the question of the 10,000-drachma increase in salaries announced by Prime Minister Costas Simitis before the elections last April, Yiannitsis said that the proposal has been completed on the part of the Labour Ministry and has been sent to the National Economy Ministry.

    "I believe that maybe within the week, that is until tomorrow, the issue will close to enable announcements to be made on technical details because the political framework has been given and there is no question of it being overturned in any way. Consequently, either tomorrow or at the beginning of next week I believe we will be in a position to make clear how and in what way it will take place, as well as with which techniques," he said.

    [16] Equities slump in flaccid trade

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) ended lower on Thursday, remaining under pressure for the fourth consecutive session as the market dropped below an earlier support level of 4,200 points.

    The ASE's general share index ended at 4,193.10 points, down 1.45 percent. Turnover was light at 81 billion drachmas.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 1.58 percent lower at 2,326.45 points and the FTSE/ASE 40 index dropped 1.14 percent to finish at 600.04 points.

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended at 819.49 points, off 1.84 percent.

    Of 346 stocks traded, declines led advances at 252 to 85 with another nine issues unchanged.

    Most heavily traded were Naoussa Spinning Mills, Klonatex, Yiannousi and National Bank of Greece.

    [17] Equity futures drop in line with indices

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

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

    The FTSE/ASE 20 closed 1.58 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 1.14 percent lower.

    Turnover was 7.6 billion drachmas from 9.5 billion drachmas a day earlier.

    A total of 734 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 index with turnover at 3.4 billion drachmas.

    Changing hands on the FTSE/ASE 40 were 1,772 futures on turnover of 4.2 billion drachmas.

    [18] Bond prices flat in light trade

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Thursday finished flat in light trade.

    The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.073 percent from 6.087 percent in the previous session; and the yield on the equivalent German bund was around 5.215 percent.

    The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 86 basis points from 89 basis points a day earlier.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 76 billion drachmas from 144 billion drachmas in the previous session.

    Buy orders accounted for 40 billion drachmas of turnover.

    [19] Drachma down vs euro, dollar

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    The drachma on Thursday fell 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 336.550 drachmas from 336.540 drachmas for two straight sessions.

    Also at the fixing, the US dollar was set at 358.030 drachmas from 354.780 drachmas a day earlier.

    [20] Water board plans entry into telecoms

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    The Capital Water Board (EYDAP) is to enter the telecommunications sector, its president, Yorgos Papavasiliou, told shareholders on Thursday.

    The move was part of a strategic plan in 2000 for the company to break into new sectors including energy and the transfer of knowhow to the Balkans and Mediterranean in order to boost turnover and profits, Papavasiliou said.

    In the telcoms sector, EYDAP would specialise in fibre optics, he added.

    Pricewaterhouse Coopers has been appointed as a consultant for the entry into telecoms, and the international firm's report will be ready within three months.

    EYDAP is to make investments of 417 billion drachmas by 2008.

    In 1999, the company's turnover rose by 4.7 percent from the previous year to 78.1 billion drachmas. Pre-tax profits totalled 21.2 billion drachmas, up 31.8 percent from 1998.

    In the first quarter, EYDAP showed turnover of 17,920 million drachmas, up from 17.0 billion drachmas in the same period of 1999.

    Profits this year are expected to total 30 billion drachmas.

    [21] Intrasoft to operate in Turkey

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    Intrasoft, a member of the Intracom Group, is to operate in Turkey, group chairman Socrates Kokkalis told the software producer's shareholders' meeting on Thursday.

    Kokkalis said Intrasoft, which aimed to establish a strong presence in the neighbouring country, had already made contact with Turkish firms during bilateral information technology conferences held by Greece and Turkey.

    Alliances involving the transfer of sector knowhow by Intrasoft would be announced in the near future, and its purchase of holdings in Turkish companies, Kokkalis said.

    Decided at the shareholders' meeting was the sale of 4.0 percent of Intrasoft's stock to staff at 3,000 drachmas a share.

    The firm, which is listed on the Athens bourse, expects sales of 40 billion drachmas in 2000, up 33 percent on the previous year, and profits of around 10 billion drachmas.

    [22] Greek employers more optimistic than all other Europeans on increase in employment in retail trade

    BRUSSELS, 23-06-2000 (ANA - V. Demiris)

    Greek employers appear more optimistic than all the other Europeans on an increase in employment in the retail trade sector both this year and next.

    The conclusion was reached through research conducted by the European Commission's General Economic and Monetary Affairs

    Department on retail trade in the EU, publicised here on Thursday.

    A total of 92 percent of Greek employers involved in retail trade predict that employment will increase in their sector in the years 2000 and 2001. The main reasons for the increase in employment are an increase in demand, the introduction of new technologies and a decrease in the cost of labour.

    [23] Albanian PM blasts Greek engineering contractor

    TIRANA, 23-06-2000 (ANA-I.Paco)

    Abanian Prime Minister Ilir Meta has again sharply criticised KI Sarantopoulous SA, a Greek engineering

    contractor carrying out major roadbuilding works in the neighbouring country.

    "Let us not forget that (former premier) Sali Berisha brought Sarantopoulos to Albania. This firm and others have learnt to leave projects half finished and produce poor quality work," Meta said on Wednesday.

    "Now, however, they have realised that they cannot continue working in the same way as in the Berisha era," he told a Socialist Party meeting, speaking of companies that had been accused in local media of creating problems of quality and breaking deadlines.

    The premier undertook personally to monitor the progress of roadbuilding projects in Albania, which are classed as urgent government business.

    Sarantopoulos, which is listed on the Athens bourse, has in the past denied the allegations of wrongdoing.

    Other foreign companies working in Albania are from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Italy, Greece, France, Germany and Turkey.

    [24] Greece, Egypt seek ways of expanding business ties

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    Greece and Egypt on Thursday discussed ways of expanding ties chiefly in the economic and trade sector.

    The bilateral symposium on Greek-Egyptian relations was held at the Athens Chamber of Trade and Industry, organised by the Federation of Greek Industry and Greek-Egyptian Friendship Association.

    Egyptian Ambassador to Greece Khalil Mohamed el Amir spoke of the close ties between the two countries and said he hoped the symposium would contribute to further development of relations.

    Taking part were around 80 representatives of business from both countries.

    [25] Delta forges strategic alliance with Scandinavian dairy

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    Delta Holding SA on Thursday announced that it had forged a strategic alliance with Scandinavian dairy Arla Foods, entering the cheese and butter sector.

    Arla Foods was created from a merger between Arla of Sweden and MD Foods of Denmark.

    The Scandinavian firm is a cooperative with more than 17,000 partners and processes 8.0 million tonnes of milk annually.

    It has 102 production units in Denmark, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Norway and Poland.

    A subsidiary, Arla Foods Hellas SA, has a unit in Thessaly.

    Meanwhile, Delta's shareholders on Thursday endorsed 1999 results showing consolidated turnover of 126.6 billion drachmas and net pre-tax profits of 17.6 billion drachmas.

    [26] Greece to press for broad solution on double-hull oil tankers proposal

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    Greece is to press for a study of the social and economic repercussions of a European Commission proposal for double-hull oil tankers by 2010, senior Port Authority officials said on Thursday.

    Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis is to put Greece's case to the Sea Transport Ministers' Council in Luxembourg on Monday. Greece, along with Spain, the Netherlands and Germany, have expressed general reservations, while the UK, Finland and Denmark, have only called for further examination of the matter.

    Implementation of the proposal, which is claimed to increase safety and reduce environmental damage from oil tanker accidents, is estimated to affect 300, or 65 percent of Greek-flagged tankers, and 3,000 Greek seamen. Greece is also seeking an international, rather than unilateral EU-solution. The issue is expected to be come up for broad discussion at the conference of the International Maritime Organisation in London in October.

    [27] President Stephanopoulos launches cruise ship Olympic Voyager

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    President Kostis Stephanopoulos launched the cruise ship Olympic Voyager on Thursday, the fastest in the world of its kind hoisting the Greek flag. The Olympic Voyager, belonging to the Royal Olympic Cruises company, is 590 feet long and 84 feet wide and has a speed of 27 knots.

    The relevant ceremony took place at the port of Piraeus in the presence of former President of the Republic Christos Sartzetakis, Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis, Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, Piraeus Mayor Christos Agrapidis and other officials.

    [28] First trial flight lands at Athens' new international airport at Spata

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    The first airplane landed Thursday at Athens' new Eleftherios Venizelos international airport at Spata, in a trial flight to test the airport's landing and take-off systems.

    "This is a historic day," environment, town planning and public works minister Costas Laliotis, who observed the trial, said, adding that the airport would open for operation on March 1, 2001.

    Laliotis said that a month earlier, on February 1, 2001, the Pallini to Spata section of the Attica Freeway (Attiki Odos) would open to traffic.

    The minister said that 98 percent of the construction work on the airport had already been completed, and the rest was due for completion in October.

    Between October and the end of February, regular test flights would be held, meaning that the airport would essentially be in full operation, so as to complete the checks on all the systems.

    "We are certain and optimistic that the new international airport -- a 600 billion dr. investment -- will consolidate Greece in international air transports and raise our country's position at geopolitical level," Laliotis said.

    "The new international airport will be a modern and safe airport -- reliable, competitive and efficient, but also profitable," he said.

    He said the "reference framework of the new airport's operation will be a reference framework for all airlines, and of course the fees will be linked to the quality of services, with the modern infrastructure and security, because it is one of the most modern, perhaps the most modern, airport in Europe, and consequently we believe that it must be made clear that an investment made by the state with the Athens Airport consortium must also be efficient and profitable".

    Transport minister Christos Verelis, who also watched the trial run, noted the need for cooperation from the Civil Aviation Authority so as to avoid problems when the new airport went into operation.

    "An airport cannot tolerate 'childhood illnesses'. It must function flawlessly from the very first day," he pointed out.

    [29] Athens court rejects lawsuits calling for banning of Androulakis' book

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    An Athens court on Thursday rejected lawsuits calling for restraining orders and the banning of the book by Mimis Androulakis M to the Nth power on grounds that it is abusive, blasphemous and offensive for God and Jesus Christ.

    The lawsuits, including one by the Greek Orthodox Salvation movement (ELKIS), were rejected as groundless, while it was stressed that the controversial book, being a work of art, is excluded from the concept of an obscene publication and, therefore, there is no possibility of it being confiscated.

    [30] Economic Crime Squad will check workshops issuing exhaust fume control cards

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    The Economic Crime Squad (SDOE) will implement a special plan to check 2,000 auto workshops in the Attica basin authorised to issue exhaust fume control cards.

    The purpose is to ascertain whether the workshops issued tax documentation for exhaust fume control services and whether the special book on incoming vehicles was updated. Documentation concerning workshops to be checked will be found by checks to be made on 10,000 cars in the next few days.

    [31] Health Minister announces creation of injury treatment centre in Larisa

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    Health Minister Alekos Papadopoulos announced the creation of an injury treatment centre in Larisa, central Greece, on Thursday and attributed national importance to it since, as he said, Larisa is the centre of the country.

    Papadopoulos, who made an official visit to Larisa, met with representatives from all health agencies, participated in meetings and exchanged views with the regional governor and prefect and visited both the regional and general hospitals of Larisa and promised that all stages in its creation will be completed soon.

    Addressing a press conference, he said gradual upgrading of general hospitals in the four prefectures of Thessaly will take place and stressed the need for upgrading local health centres which are faced with many problems.

    [32] President Stephanopoulos to award prizes to Greek expatriate media

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos will award the annual prizes to Greek expatriate media on July 10 at the Zappeion Mansion.

    This year, two Greek community newspapers from Australia and two journalists from the United States will receive awards. The award will include five million and two-and-a-half million drachmas each respectively.

    [33] Is King Abdullah's cruise retracing the steps of a lovestruck royal relative?

    Athens, 23-06-2000 (ANA)

    Is the Greek island cruise being carried out by Jordan's King Abdullah II retracing the steps of a torrid 1930s royal romance that had shocked international public opinion at that time?

    An exclusive ANA report indicates that the itinerary being followed by Abdullah on board the luxury yacht "Sarafsa" - including visits to Rhodes, Symi, Halki, Nisyros, Kos and Astypalaia in the Dodecanese - is recreating the route taken by a cousin of his father King Hussein, Iraqi princess Anja of the Hashemite dynasty, who in 1935 had fallen passionately in love and later married a humble hotel barman she met on Rhodes.

    The man was Tassos Haralambis, who worked at the Rodon Hotel where Anja was staying during a short holiday with her sister and their royal entourage. According to Nikos Haralambis, 48, the son of Tassos Haralambis by a second wife, "a torrid love affair developed between them that not only shocked public opinion of that time but overturned crown, country and religion."

    The story told by Haralambis is that Princess Anja stayed on Rhodes for three weeks before returning to Amman - by which time the couple had sworn eternal love. They even made arrangements for Tassos to secretly travel to Baghdad to make arrangements for their wedding. Nikos Haralambis has also supplied the ANA with a photograph given to his father by his future royal bride before she left for Amman, with the dedication "Yours for ever until death and after death" written on the back.

    Nikos Haralambis said that his father enjoyed telling the tale of his trip to Baghdad, recounting the details of secret trysts with Anja in a local cinema. Haralambis says that he would very much like to meet King Abdullah and learn how his father's first wife lived out the rest of her days in Amman.

    During the visit to Baghdad, the couple agreed that they would meet in Athens to get married and, in May 1936, Princess Anja arrived in Athens with her sister. After a series of incredible difficulties and lengthy ordeals, they finally married in a chapel at Ellinikon after the princess was first baptised Orthodox Christian.

    The marriage made the newspaper headlines in Greece and throughout the world, while the Athens daily "Vradyni" stressed the baptism of the elder daughter of Iraqi King Faisal, "a direct descendant of Mohammed" and her subsequent marriage to a Greek.

    The Iraqi royal family, of course, was anything but pleased and even hired lawyers to try to annul the marriage between Tassos and Anja. According to Nikos Haralambis, the couple managed to live together for four years, during which they travelled abroad extensively but "chiefly lived on Rhodes, Symi, Astypalaia and Kos."

    The pressure to break up the marriage was unrelenting, however, and after a series of dramatic events, the couple left for Rome at the end of 1939, even as Europe was plunging headlong into war. While there, Anja disappeared and the Italian authorities arrested Tassos and sent him to live in exile on an island for 14 months. He then returned to Rhodes and joined a resistance organisation against the Germans.

    "Before he left Italy, my father filed for a divorce and the incredible love story ended," says his son Nikos.

    From then on, the Haralambis family knew little of Anja's fate except that after the war she lived with the family of King Hussein and died in Amman in 1966. "This information was given to my father by an Iraqi businessman who came to Rhodes to meet him. It may possibly have been Anja's wish before she died," Nikos Haralambis said. He expressed great admiration for his father, called by some the "prince of Rhodes", who died in 1996 at the grand old age of 84.

    [34] Greek Cypriot calls on EU to persuade Turkey to comply with human rights ruling

    BRUSSELS, 23-06-2000 (CNA/ANA)

    A Greek Cypriot has asked the European Union member states to intervene in the direction of Turkey to persuade Ankara of the need to comply with a European Court of Human Rights ruling relating to human rights violations in Cyprus.

    "EU members, as contracting parties to the Council of Europe conventions, have unanimously asked Turkey to execute the Court judgment unconditionally, but at the same time, the same states as EU members appear to have adopted a somewhat different approach on the same issue," Titina Loizidou told a press conference here today, after two days of meetings with EU officials.

    She said keeping a certain distance from the Court ruling no longer has any meaning, in the sense that Turkey is an EU candidate country and is therefore expected to fulfill the EU criteria, including respect for human rights.

    Loizidou said her demand for compliance with the ruling, which means access to her property in Turkish-occupied Cyprus and compensation amounting to about 900,000 US dollars, met with understanding from her interlocutors.

    They urged other Greek Cypriots to follow in Loizidou's steps, saying this could increase pressure on Turkey to comply with the decision and at the same time raise hopes in that direction.

    Replying to questions, Loizidou, who has become a household name with regard to human rights violations by Turkey in Cyprus following her successful lawsuit against Turkey, said she expects to see her case mentioned in reports of the European Parliament and said her case is likely to be dealt with at the joint EU-Turkey parliamentary committee.

    Loizidou took her case to the European Court in the late 1980s and nearly seven years later the Court found Turkey guilty of violating her right to peacefully enjoy her property in occupied Cyprus and said Loizidou is and must be regarded as the legal owner of thatproperty.

    It also said the self-styled Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus is a "local subordinate administration" to Turkey and does not exist as far as international legality is concerned.

    [35] Cyprus government says Denktash is trying to avoid substantive negotiations

    NICOSIA, 23-06-2000 (CNA/ANA)

    The Cyprus government believes that the Turkish Cypriot leader is trying to get away from substantive negotiations for a comprehensive settlement, through various ploys, and considers that he should not be allowed to get away with suchbehaviour.

    Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou on Thursday stressed the government invests a lot in the UN peace process, which is the only means the Cyprus question can be settled, and warns that it will not facilitate Rauf Denktash in his attempts to abandon the process without any fallout.

    Papapetrou told his daily press briefing President Glafcos Clerides will assess the situation at the July talks in Geneva as this develops, following threats by Denktash to have a break during the talks half-way through, and act accordingly.

    Referring to the role of envoys of various countries, monitoring the peace talks, the spokesman said their interventions are likely to be more intense but this will not, in any way, signal a change in the talks, which take place under UN aegis.

    "The Turkish Cypriot leader is inventing some reaction in an effort to render the climate of the talks more heavy and find excuses to free himself from any kind of pressure or the need to take a stance on substantive issues," Papapetrou said, commenting on Denktash's recent public statements.

    Denktash has said he is reconsidering his participation in the talks, due to begin on 5 July, and he warned of measures to curtail the operation of the UN peace-keeping force in the Turkish-occupied northern part of the island, over which the government is prevented from exercising its jurisdiction because of the continuing Turkish occupation and the massive presence of Turkish troops. Dentkash aired his views publically after the UN decided to drop an addendum to a resolution on the renewal of UNFICYP's mandate, which referred to consultations with the Turkish Cypriot side on the modalities of the force's operation.

    "I would like to hope that Mr Denktash will not be allowed to achieve this objective," Papapetrou said, expressing the hope that the Turkish Cypriot leader will not take any action to disrupt UNFICYP'sstatus.

    Replying to questions, he said the Greek Cypriot side considers the UN process "very important, invests in it and believes the Cyprus question can be solved only through talks under UN aegis."

    "We will do anything to see this process succeed but our own will is simply not enough," Papapetrou said.

    On the role of foreign envoys on Cyprus (US, UK, Germany, EU and others) in the peace process, the spokesman said "they will probably make their presence more felt in Geneva this time and have a more intense behind the scenes intervention but this cannot mark a change in the UN-sponsored talks."

    [36] EU Commissioner addresses EuroMediterranean Conference

    LIMASSOL, 23-06-2000 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus is among the countries with the most open economies, having a very high per capita income, European Commissioner Erkii Liikanen said here on Thursday.

    Speaking at the third EuroMediterranean Conference, which got underway in the southern coastal town of Limassol, Liikanen noted that "the opening of the future EuroMed free trade area is planned for 2010" and it will be a major asset for the Mediterranean region.

    He added that the European Community "has made a real effort to develop regional programmes, which address the concerns of the natinal authorities responsible for industrial development and the concerns of company managers" and assured that the EU "will continueto do so".

    He pointed out however that "the southern Mediterranean partner countries will also have to meet a number of challenges such as creating a climate favourable to investment and entrepreneurship and increasing cooperation within the region". The EU Commissioner added that Cyprus, Malta, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan and Tunisia are the countries with the most open economies.

    In his statement, Secretary of State for Industry and Energy in Portugal Vitor Santos said that "the Portuguese Presidency has elected the cooperation across the Mediterranean area as a major political priority".

    He noted that although the EuroMed Conference was scheduled under the Portuguese Presidency Programme, it has been organised within the contrext of a partnership between the governments of Portugal and Cyprus.

    Santos underlined the importance of establishing the EuroMed Free Trade Area noting "it will have a long-term positive effect on foreign direct investment and on the economical development of the region".

    [37] Canada says will help towards resolution of Cyprus problem

    NICOSIA, 23-06-2000 (CNA/ANA)

    Canada backs UN resolutions on Cyprus providing for a bizonal, bicommunal federation and notes that Ottawa, and other members of the G8, will be monitoring developments in next month's UN-led peace talks, in Geneva, according to a senior Canadian official. Canada, the official said, is ready to offer any help towards a resolution of the Cyprus question. "Canada supports the UN Security Council resolutions calling for the establishment of a bizonal, bicommunal federation on Cyprus," Denis Paradis, parliamentary secretary to the Canadian Foreign Minister, told the Federal Parliament. Invited to outline Canada's position on Cyprus, in view of the Geneva talks in July, Paradis said "the G8 has Cyprus on its agenda and will be closely monitoring developments in Geneva."

    Canada, he added, joined the other G8 members at last year's Cologne summit to invite the leaders of the two parties to comprehensive negotiations.

    "We have advanced a demining initiative to the parties and offered to provide constitutional expertise," he said, adding that his country is open to provide "any other assistance it can to help resolve this longstanding question."

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

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