|Monday, 20 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-06-27
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Putin and Stephanopoulos review relations, international issues
MOSCOW, 27/06/2000 (ANA- D. Constantakopoulos)The presidents of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and of Greece, Kostis Stephanopoulos, on Monday held talks covering the whole spectrum of bilateral relations and also international issues, in the presence of the two countries' foreign ministers, Igor Ivanov and George Papandreou.
President Stephanopoulos began a four-day official visit the same day to Russia, the first ever by a Greek head of state.
Speaking to reporters later, Putin expressed support for the solution of all problems in the Mediterranean on the basis of international law, and welcomed Greece's proposal for the examination of all arising issues by international judicial bodies. He described as particularly significant Greece's views on Balkan issues and expressed support for a solution of the Cyprus issue on the basis of UN resolutions.
The two sides examined the potential for further cooperation in the sectors of energy, military and technical cooperation, natural gas and the construction of electrical power plants in Greece.
Stephanopoulos said Athens would give very careful consideration to the Russian proposal for a joint antiballistic defense scheme with Europe, and expressed support for Russia's cooperation with Europe and the U.S.
Reliable sources said Putin assured his interlocutors that Moscow desired cooperation with Turkey in the Caucasus area, but Ankara had to appreciate the existence of Russian interests in the region. According to the same sources, Putin said the Caspian oil issue was of strategic significance and Russia saw it as one of cooperation for the transportation of energy resources, whereas the West considered it as one of strategic confrontation.
Referring to the problem of Chechnya in his official address to his Russian counterpart earlier, Stephanopoulos said Greece had from the start expressed support for Russia's territorial integrity and for a condemnation of separatist claims and terrorism. Athens was also in favor of the inviolability of borders and a European orientation for the Balkans, he added.
Further, he said he hoped that the Turkey's EU candidacy would have a positive impact on Greek-Turkish relations, stressed that the Cyprus problem was one of occupation of territory of an independent state and expressed deep appreciation for Moscow's contribution to its solution.
The two sides signed an agreement for the avoidance of double taxation.
 Gov't: Simitis-Christodoulos meeting not ruled out, decision over IDs irreversible
Athens, 27/06/2000 (ANA)The government on Monday was again queried on the ongoing "ID card" furor that has appreciably soured Church-State relations of late, clarifying that a meeting between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Archbishop Christodoulos has not been ruled out.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas noted that any such meeting between the Greek premier and the leader of the Greek Church must, however, be worked out with the Prime Minister's schedule in mind. Reppas told reporters at his regular daily press briefing that Christodoulos' previous request for a face-to-face meeting with Simitis, to discuss the ID issue, was made for a specific day and time only hours in advance.
Furthermore, the spokesman reiterated that the government's decision to exclude, among others, the category of religious affiliation from new, police-issued identification cards was irreversible.
Referring to the Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greece's repeated calls for dialogue - punctuated by two massive rallies in the country this past month -- Reppas said the relevant minister of education and religious affairs was at the Church hierarchy's disposal. He also mentioned that a customary visit of acquaintance by the new education minister to Christodoulos has as yet to be reciprocated by the Church Prelate.
Holy Synod: Meanwhile, following a late morning session, the Church's Holy Synod again called for the immediate commencement of dialogue on the divisive issue.
According to Metropolitan of Piraeus Kallinikos, who read out a relative announcement, the Holy Synod's members remain "de-voted to the pacific procedures of dialogue."
Even more importantly, however, the top ecclesiastical body took no decision over the issue of collecting signatures nation-wide against the dropping of the religious affiliation listing from ID cards.
Parliament discussion: Finally, it was announced on Monday that a relevant Parliament committee will hear deliberations in early July over a proposal by main opposition New Democracy for the voluntary listing of religious affiliation on IDs.
According to a ND press release, the party's Parliamentary group secretary, MP Dimitris Sioufas, agreed to a one-week postponement following contacts with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.
Sioufas said that Kaklamanis told him that the government wants Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou to act as its rapporteur on the issue.
The date for deliberations was fixed on July 6.
 British ambassador's appreciation for condolences over diplomat's killing
Athens, 27/06/2000 (ANA)British ambassador in Athens, Dave Madden, on Monday thanked all the people from Greece and other countries who sent messages of condolence for the murder of the embassy's defense attache Brig. Stephen Saunders by the "November 17" terrorist organization.
The ambassador "wishes to thank all those -- from Greece, Britain and other countries -- who have sent messages of sympathy and expressed outrage at the murder of Brigadier Stephen Saunders and sent condolences to his family," the message, released by the embassy, said.
"We have passed these messages to Heather Saunders and her daughters. It provides some consolation to them to know how many people share their profound grief, and mow many loved and respected Stephen Saunders.
"Nothing can bring back the dead. But the priority now is to bring the perpetrators of this senseless and cowardly crime to justice. The British government welcomes the efforts with the Greek government and police are making to investigate the crime and tackle the problem of terrorism, and is giving full support and assistance," the message said.
British defense attache Brig. Stephen Saunders, was shot and fatally injured on June 8 by two gunmen on a motorcycle as he was driving alone from his home in Nea Erythrea to the British embassy in downtown Athens. The elusive "November 17" terrorist organization claimed the attack in a proclamation to the Athens daily "Eleftherotypia"
 Gov't claims progress in Olympic preparations
Athens, 27/06/2000 (ANA)The government said on Monday it was making progress in unblocking bottlenecks in the organization of the Olympic Games of 2004 and that all projects would be implemented through transparent methods.
"Delays to date have been due to the lack of organizational infrastructure, which the government has managed to solve by unblocking bottlenecks in the allocation of tasks and providing an improved framework," said Deputy Environment and Public Works Minister Athanasios Alevras at a conference on "Constructing the 2004 Olympiad" at the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
"The Olympic Games is an organizational challenge for the Greek economy and society. The assignment and implementation of projects will be according to clear rules of EU and Greek legislation, aiming to ensure transparency," said Deputy Minister for Sports, Giorgos Floridis.
He added that the Olympic infrastructure projects were directly related to the quality of life in Greece, its environmental development and orientation in the 21st century.
 Australian management company sets up shop in Greece
Athens, 27/06/2000 (ANA)An Australian company specializing in the provision of training, project management and marketing services presented in Athens on Monday its experience and know-how in the organization of the Sydney Olympiad this summer, suggesting appropriate solutions for the Athens Games of 2004.
International Training of Australia (ITA), a public company owned by the State of Victoria, has set up its Greek subsidiary, ITG, in collaboration with PRC-Spot Thomson and Emfasis consultancies which have merged.
"The Olympic Games last 14 days but create opportunities for more than 14 years," said Costas Lambrinopoulos, of PRC-Spot Thomson and Emfasis. He said, however, that ITG was in a position to offer much more in all sectors of the Greek economy, from tourism to telecommunications and commerce, industry, health and public agencies.
 US Ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns visits Kastoria at the invitation of local prefect
Athens, 27/06/2000 (ANA)US Ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns on Monday visited the town of Kastoria, northern Greece, at the invitation of the local prefect and met with the local prefectural and municipal authorities, as well as with the administration of a Kastoria Greek-American society, created by Greeks who had emigrated to the United States and later returned to Greece.
It is customary for the US ambassador to visit Kastoria, home to more than 3,000 migrants who had lived in the US for many years and who maintain good relations with the US diplomatic authorities in Greece.
Meanwhile, a local branch of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) organized a gathering in a local square where anti-American slogans were heard and Burns was declared "persona non grata."
 Athens seminar by 'Partnership for Peace' program
Athens, 27/06/2000 (ANA)Eighty delegates from 24 countries, both politicians and members of the military, will be participating in the "Athens 2000" crisis management seminar that begins in Athens on Tuesday morning.
The seminar is part of the "Partnership for Peace" program.
The aim of the seminar is to brief participants on:
The procedures and means used by the international community to handle crises; recent and ongoing crises and other unstable situations; the legal aspects of crisis management.
Among the countries that will be represented are Albania, Armenia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Georgia, Germany, Estonia, the US, Spain, Italy, Britain, Norway, the Netherlands, Hungary, the Ukraine, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Turkey and the Czech Republic.
Greek officials attending the seminar will include representatives of all three branches of the Armed Forces (army, navy and airforce), and from the national defense, foreign, public order and interior ministries.
Among the speakers will be staff of Greek institutes for political, strategic and defense planning, while General Staff Deputy Chief Vice-Admiral Antonios Antoniadis will deliver the opening address.
Seminars of this type first began in 1996 and take place every year - with the exception of 1999, the year of NATO operations in Kosovo.
 Communist party meeting ends in Athens with pledge to meet again
Athens, 27/06/2000 (ANA)An international meeting attended by 60 communist and workers' parties, organized by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), ended in Athens on Monday by acknowledging the need for further initiatives of this kind.
The delegates attending agreed on the need for continued meetings between far-left parties, particularly ones focusing on particular subjects.
During the meeting, many speakers stressed that despite the different opinions expressed on various issues, the meetings had highlighted the common points between them.
They also stressed that the new element that had emerged from their experiences in the mass demonstrations of Seattle, Davos and Washington was the opposition to policies of imperialistic organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Finally, they underlined the continuing importance of coordinated struggle by trade union movements and organizations to combat capitalist reforms and attacks on workers' rights.
 Forest area in Ankara prefecture named "George Papandreou Forest"
ISTANBUL, 27/06/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)A forest area in the Gokseyurt region in the prefecture of Ankara has been named "George Papandreou Forest" in honor of Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou.
Greek Ambassador to Turkey Ioannis Korantis and the donor of the expanse of land Salim Tatsi attended a symbolical tree-planting ceremony.
 Low wage earners to get 10,000-drachma raise, as per election promise
Athens, 27/06/2000 (ANA)Low wage earners will receive a 10,000-drachma salary in-crease as of August 1 in accordance with a promise made by Prime Minister Costas Simitis before the elections. The wage increase was ordered on Monday by Labor and Social Insurance Minister Tasos Yiannitsis.
The cash bonus is not in fact a salary increase, but a pension contribution exemption made for those on low salaries. A special fund covered by the government budget will cover the shortfall for the Social Security Foundation (IKA).
The increase is valid as of January 1, 2000 and the amount corresponding to the first seven months of the year will be paid retroactively. The measure will affect an estimated 470,000 employees. The beneficiaries are employees paid minimum wages and having full time employment.
The cost of the measure has been estimated at 60 billion drachmas and will be paid to the Social Insurance Foundation (IKA) by a special account to be covered by the budget.
 Equities slump in light trade
Athens, 27/06/2000 (ANA)The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) fell sharply in light trade on Monday, remaining under pressure for the sixth consecutive session with some players believed to be trying to drive the market down in order to buy cheaply.
The ASE's general share index ended at 4,041.37 points, down 2.52 percent. Turnover was light at 92 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 2.15 percent lower at 2,242.74 points and the FTSE/ASE 40 index dropped 4.17 percent to finish at 571.20 points.
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended 7.68 percent down.
Of 341 stocks traded, declines led advances at 330 to 8 with 3 issues unchanged.
Most heavily traded were Naoussa Textile Mills, National Bank of Greece, Klonatex, Alpha Bank and Hellenic Telecommunications Organization.
Equity futures drop in line with indices: Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished lower on Monday, tracking the two indices on which they are based.
The FTSE/ASE 20 closed 2.15 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 4.17 percent lower.
Turnover was 9.0 billion drachmas from 9.8 billion drachmas a day earlier.
A total of 1,212 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 index with turnover at 5.57 billion drachmas.
Changing hands on the FTSE/ASE 40 were 1,487 futures on turnover of 3.43 billion drachmas.
Bond prices end mixed: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Monday finished mixed in light to moderate trade.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.108 percent from 6.101 percent in the previous session; and the yield on the equivalent German bund was 5.251 percent.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 86 basis points for the third straight session from 89 basis points a day earlier.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 86 billion drachmas from 106 billion drachmas in the previous session.
Buy and orders accounted for about half each of turnover.
Drachma down vs. euro, dollar: The drachma on Monday 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 336.570 drachmas from 336.510 drachmas in the previous session.
Also at the fixing, the US dollar was set at 360.830 drachmas from 358.950 drachmas a day earlier.
 Greek firm to launch BF cigarette on Italian market
ROME, 27/06/2000 (ANA-L.Hatzikyriakos)SEKAP of Greece on July 1 is to launch its BF cigarette on the Italian market following an alliance with Filtrati of Italy.
Company officials told a news conference on Monday that Filtrati will promote the product globally, including Italy, and undertake the manufacture of the cigarette's biological filter (BF) for markets other than Greece.
The makers of the filter claim that it offers greater health protection than normal filters as larger amounts of carcinogenic substances are absorbed.
BF is the first Greek cigarette to be sold in Europe, outside Greece.
 Coastal shipping companies reacting to the government's decision for double crews will have reduced sailing schedules this year
Athens, 27/06/2000 (ANA)The Lesvos Shipping Company (NEL), abiding by a recent decision by Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis calling for double crews for fast ferries, has hired the necessary number of seamen. Minoan Flying Dolphins (MFD) and the Strintzis company, by contrast, have submitted programs to the ministry for ratification on Monday in which they reduce the frequency that ships sail particular routes.
On the question of double crews for fast ferries, Papoutsis last Friday gave an extension for application of the decision until the end of June. Shipping companies are claiming that the cost of having double crews will be great.
MFD's schedules awaiting ratification reduce the number of scheduled trips by eight, while Strintzis will reduce scheduled trips for the Cyclades islands by two.
 Greek exports to Turkey increase 210.9 percent compared to previous year
ISTANBUL, 27/06/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Greek exports to Turkey increased by 210.9 percent, compared with the previous year, and amounted to 133.4 million US dollars. On the other hand, Turkish exports to Greece increased by only 1.9 percent, amounting to 95 million dollars, according to a report in the Turkish newspaper "Sabah."
The Greek product whose imports to Turkey present the greatest increase is cotton.
In the year 1999, Greek cotton worth 10 million dollars was imported into Turkey, while during the January-March period this year, imports of Greek cotton amounted to 76 million dollars.
The newspaper stressed that Greece's exports to Turkey amounted to 42.9 million US dollars over the same period last year.
 Greece reserves right to resort to European Court on truck transit through Austria
BRUSSELS, 27/06/2000 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)Greek Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis tabled a statement at the Council of Transport Ministers, convened in Luxembourg on Monday, according to which Greece reserves the right to resort to the European Court against the European Commission for its proposal to include Greece in the further decrease in the number of transit trucks passing through Austria.
Addressing the Council, Verelis said it was paradoxical that Greece, which has modernized its fleet of trucks and has consented voluntarily to the electronic method of measuring environmental repercussions resulting from crossings, should be threatened with a further decrease.
Verelis also underlined the fact that Greece is the sole country which has reduced its crossings through Austria to 88 percent compared to 108 percent which is the European Union average.
He said that the protocol referring to Greece as a country with special needs was ignored and proposed Greece's exclusion from the group of five countries having to reduce truck crossings.
"Otherwise, we are entitled and obliged, unless the protocol's reference to Greece is taken into consideration, to take legal action against the Commission from now on," he said.
The issue has been referred to the permanent representatives of the 15 EU member-states (Coreper) for a further approach to be attempted.
 Messages on International Anti-Drug Day
Athens, 27/06/2000 (ANA)Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, in a message on world Drugs Day on Monday, said drugs are one of the biggest nightmares of modern societies, adding that the state and society owe a reply to the inexorable question why this is so.
Kaklamanis said the essence of the problem lies in the downfall of ideological and moral values and the unbridled freedom of drug merchants "who are dissolving the social tissue, marginalizing sections of society and encouraging 'flight' to the artificial worlds of hallucinations."
In a statement on the same issue, main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis said particular emphasis should be placed on prevention and called on young drug addicts to apply to special therapeutical societies which are in a position to offer them help to tackle their problem.
Karamanlis, who paid a visit to the Center Against Drugs (OKANA), said nobody should view the problem with apathy and forces and efforts should be united, otherwise the age limit of drug users might fall even lower than 14 at present and the problem in military camps be intensified.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and Coalition of the Left and Progress (SYN) on Monday called on the government to take immediate measures to confront the narcotics problem, in messages marking Monday's UN-sponsored International Anti-Drug Day.
The KKE said it was struggling to create a wider social movement that would fight the causes of the problem, and founded its policy on prevention and cure, as well as social rehabilitation.
SYN proposed reform of the legislative framework so that the user would not be subject to criminal prosecution. It also called for drastic reinforcement of the detoxification communities and the speedy establishment of more such programs.
 British doctor to swim for return of Parthenon Marbles to Greece
Athens, 27/06/2000 (ANA)A British pathologist is Greece's latest ally in its campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, currently on display at the British Museum in London. On July 1, Christopher Stockdale, who flew in from Birmingham on Monday, is to swim the 26 nautical miles between the islet of Delos, an archaeological park, and the island of Paros in the Cyclades, in a bid to gain publicity for a campaign to have the Marbles returned to the Acropolis in Athens.
The 56-year-old's "swimming marathon" was conceived and organized by the Melina Merkouri Institute, named after the late politician and actress who first launched the campaign for the Marbles' return in the 1980s, as a way of increasing the public's awareness of this issue.
According to the organizers, Stockdale will start off the swim on Delos at 6:00 a.m. and arrive in Naoussa, Paros at 9:00 p.m.
Stockdale has participated in many marathon swims in support of humanitarian causes, despite suffering from a heart murmur, and he said in a press conference on Monday that he would do his utmost to support "the fair struggle of the Greeks."
Speaking alongside the director of the Melina Merkouri Institute, Jules Dassin, and the chairwoman of the "Focus on Hope Foundation" Nana Mouskouri, Stockdale said he felt honored to "span" this highly historic and symbolic distance.
The "Focus on Hope Foundation" will also be contributing funds to organize the event.
 N. Greece university officials probe allegation of 'cyber-threats' against Hollywood star
Athens, 27/06/2000 (ANA)An allegation that dozens of threatening e-mail messages were sent to a young Hollywood star from a terminal at a northern Greece university computer center has placed officials on the lookout for a possible hacker or even would-be "cyber-stalker".
According to reports in at least two local papers this week, officials at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki were recently informed, through a tersely worded e-mail, that "Titanic" star Kate Winslett has been the target of several death threats sent to the 24-year-old's fan club web site. The source of the alleged malicious missives was apparently tracked to the faculty of arts' electronic site and after a report of the incident was made to British authorities, according to an e-mail received by faculty officials, undersigned only as "Kimberly".
However, when the faculty's computer center staff requested detailed copies of the threatening e-mails in order to track their sender, they were reportedly informed through a second message that "it's probably not serious, we don't want to cause problems for your student..." before politely being asked to forgive any inconvenience over the matter.
"The legal users of the Aristotelian University's computer network exceed some 10,000 students and faculty members. It is not possible, without specific data, to track down the author of a text that we can't even check," the centers supervisor, Panayiotis Tzounakis, said.
An investigation, however, is pending.
 Macedonia-Thrace Minister stresses need to prepare Thessaloniki for expected population boom
Athens, 27/06/2000 (ANA)Macedonia and Thrace Minister George Paschalidis on Monday stressed the need for develop additional infrastructure in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, in light of a possible sharp increase in its population over the next decade.
Paschalidis, who was addressing a press conference, said that even if a big population increase does not materialize, the city would be able to offer its citizens a better quality of life.
Thessaloniki Prefect Costas Papadopoulos expressed the view that the scenario on a population increase in Thessaloniki will not be verified, but added that the need to further develop infrastructure remains even with the present population.
 National Council discusses tactics ahead of proximity talks
NICOSIA, 27/06/2000 (CNA/ANA)The National Council, top advisory body to the President on the Cyprus problem, discussed here on Monday the tactic the Greek Cypriot side will follow at the third round of UN-led proximity talks between scheduled to start on July 5 in Geneva.
In a short statement after the meeting, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou did not exclude the possibility of another National Council meeting before President Glafcos Clerides departs for Geneva.
"The President briefed the National Council members and parties expressed their positions," Papapetrou said and added that "in view of developments, the President of the Republic could possible brief party leaders again this week, and hold another National Council meeting before his departure, if that is considered necessary".
Papapetrou refrained, however, from saying whether a decision was reached on whether political party leaders will accompany President Clerides to Geneva.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.
 US presidential emissary arrives for talks
LARNACA, 27/06/2000 (CNA/ANA)US Presidential Emissary for Cyprus Alfred Moses on Monday expressed the view that it is not unusual for the sides involved in the Cyprus problem to express their well-known positions and not change them in advance of negotiations.
Speaking to reporters on his arrival here for separate meetings with President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot Rauf Denktash on Tuesday, Moses underlined the need for compromise and said this is the purpose of the negotiating progress that got underway last December.
Moses, who is accompanied by State Department Cyprus coordinator Tomas Weston, said that in their meetings with the two leaders they will be "listening to what they wish to discuss with us."
"We look forward to seeing both of them in Geneva on July 5, when the talks resume," he added.
Foreign envoys involved in a Cyprus settlement are expected to be in Geneva next month in the wings of the third round of UN-led proximity talks, separate meetings with President Clerides and Denktash, aiming at paving the way for substantive negotiations.
Invited to comment on statements made last week by Turkish President Ahmed Sezer, during an illegal visit to the areas of Cyprus occupied by Turkey since 1974, in favor of a confederation on the island,
Moses said "it's not unusual for the leaders on both sides to state their positions... they don't change them in advance of negotiations."
He added that what President Sezer said "was consistent with what has been said on island by Mr. Denktash, what's been said in Ankara."
The Turkish side has been demanding that the talks aim at setting up a confederation of two states in Cyprus, contrary to UN resolutions and two agreements reached between the two sides in the 1970s stipulating for a bizonal, bicommunal federation.
The US official said that if both sides stick to the positions they now have "we won't have an agreement."
"What we need is the art of compromise, that's the purpose of negotiations. That's why the parties are going to Geneva on July 5," he added.
Asked to comment on the fact that it appears the two parties are going in opposite directions, Moses expressed the view "they are both committed to uniting Cyprus and more important they are both committed to this process."
"We've been actively engaged in these negotiations since last December... both sides, it seems to me, are very serious about the negotiations," he said.
The American Presidential Emissary said the two sides "are taking positions, not compromising in advance but each side knows that the positions that they've expressed publicly are not likely to be accepted by the other side."
"The question becomes one of compromise. Negotiation is never a 'sum-zero' game where one side receives all and the other side nothing," he added.
Moses said both sides have to determine their interest and the advantages of reuniting the island and bringing peace and stability to Cyprus, but refrained from replying to questions whether the public statements they make are different to what they say behind closed doors.