|Sunday, 19 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-06-28
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Papantoniou targets a leap in Greek living standards
PARIS, 28/06/2000 (ANA- O. Tsipira)Greece is targeting growth rates which will largely narrow the gap in living standards from the rest of the European Union in the next ten years, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said on Tuesday.
"Greece is targeting growth rates of at least 5 percent in the next ten years, which will mean real convergence, that is, a parity in living standards with the rest of Europe," he told reporters after the end of the first day's session of the annual ministerial conference of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The agenda of this year's conference, which ends on Wednesday, is focusing on the subject of new technologies and globalization, and their impact on the economies and societies of the organizations 29 member states.
Papantoniou expressed confidence that Greece would succeed in implementing a large-scale program of structural changes until the end of 2001, which would significantly, boost the competitiveness of the economy.
"I believe that the institutional initiatives which will put the structural changes on course will have been completed until the end of 2001. The goal is the attainment of a particularly competitive position by 2002, when we adopt the euro, in order to be able to reap the full benefits of European Economic and Monetary Union," he said.
Papantoniou predicted that by the end of 2001 the Greek public sector would be smaller than in most other EU member-states and Greek firms would be well placed to compete in Europe through the introduction of new technologies.
He said the government's program of structural changes was six-pronged: Privatizations, the deregulation of the telecommunications and energy markets early in 2001, a reduction in company taxes -particularly on small ones, the promotion of entrepreneurship through lower interest rates and venture capital schemes, the simplification of bureaucratic procedures, and large investments in information technology in education.
Finally, Papantoniou said his French counterpart Laurent Fabius, who will be president of the European Economic Council in the next six months, proposed Greece's full participation in the euro zone group of countries ahead of its official accession on January 1, 2001.
 Government says question of IDs and religion has closed for good
Athens, 28/06/2000 (ANA)The government reiterated on Tuesday that the issue of identity cards, and of religion affiliation not being registered in them, has closed for good adding that it was not to blame if contacts with the Church hierarchy stopped.
"This issue, which is exclusively the responsibility of the state, has been handled and has closed for good. On the question of this much-talked-of dialogue, and contacts, I remind you that it was not the government that discontinued contacts with its own responsibility," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas told reporters after a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis focusing on issues concerning the state and the Church and attended by Education Minister Petros Efthymiou, Press Minister Reppas and Deputy Press Minister Telemahos Hytiris.
The Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church, which expresses strong objections to a government decision to drop the religious affiliation entry on new state-issued IDs, had convened on Monday, only days after mass rallies were held in Athens and Thessaloniki, and had clarified that it was only prepared to hold a dialogue with the government on the identity card issue.
"We are prepared to handle and give solutions to whatever issues the state and the Church have to meet and discuss," Reppas said.
"The government, from the very first moment, had stated in an explicit and categorical way that the door to dialogue is and remains open on its part. And I think that this is the path that we should follow to reach a result in good faith. But, of course, always having as a criterion the principle we are proclaiming that roles are distinct and mutually respected," the spokesman added.
In a related development, the spokesman of the Permanent Holy Synod, the Metropolitan of Piraeus Kallinikos, reiterated on Tuesday that the Church requested a dialogue with the state but only on the issue of identity cards.
"There is no other issue for us," he said, adding that the Holy Synod has already made a written claim for a start to dialogue on the registration of religion in identity cards "since this is the claim of the majority of the Greek people".
Metropolitan Kallinikos said decisions would be taken on Wednesday on the issue of signatures being collected from the faithful.
 Stephanopoulos cites imminent resolution to 'ID card' uproar, Alexiy comments
MOSCOW, 28/06/2000 (ANA - D. Constantakopoulos)Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos expressed his certainty here on Tuesday over a quick resolution to the ongoing "identification card" furor that has pitted the government in Athens against most of the Greek Orthodox Church's hierarchy.
Stephanopoulos, on an extended official visit to Russia that included talks with newly elected President Vladimir Putin on Monday, was asked about the divisive issue following his meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexiy II.
Asked about Church-state relations in his vast country, the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia responded that unlike the situation in Greece, the Russian Orthodox Church was completed separated from the state's apparatus and institutions. He also added that both sides have developed a "partnership based on mutual respect", while stressing that differences must be definitely solved through dialogue.
Justice minister, Kaklamanis: Back in Athens, meanwhile, Justice Minister Mihalis Stathopoulos declined to answer any questions dealing with the ID issue, during a regular press briefing in the morning.
On his part, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, the recipient of sharp criticism by several members of the Church's Holy Synod recently after his vocal support of the government's decision, replied to a press question by saying, "Christ taught love and not animosity, especially of a lasting variety."
 Stephanopoulos holds talks with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and the Patriarch of Moscow
MOSCOW, 28/06/2000 (ANA - D. Constantakopoulos)President Kostis Stephanopoulos held a number of contacts in Moscow on Tuesday, on the second day of his four-day official visit to Russia. He met with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexiy, the President of the Federal Council Egor Stroev and Greek community representatives who came from all over Russia to meet him. President Stephanopoulos also addressed a conference on Greek-Russian economic relations, inaugurated an exhibition at the Pushkin Museum by two Russian painters inspired by Greece and was given an honorary doctorate at Moscow's Lomonosov University.
All the major issues concerning Greek-Russian economic relations were discussed in contacts held in Moscow on Monday and Tuesday by President Stephanopoulos, Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Deputy National Economy Minister Yiannis Zaphiropoulos, who also had a program of economic contacts with the Russian Energy and Federal Affairs Minister and other officials. The interest of the new Russian leadership in building the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline was confirmed during the contacts.
Zaphiropoulos hopes the tripartite committee concerning Greece, Bulgaria and Russia will convene in Athens in a month's time to decide on a charter for the Transbalkan Oil Pipeline Consortium, the distribution of shares between the three sides and clarify guarantees on the production of adequate, for the pipeline's viability and quantities of Russian oil.
On the question of natural gas, Moscow has agreed to a friendly settlement to the difference regarding price by suspending resorting to international arbitration. It also showed interest in cooperation to build underground storage facilities for gas and electric power plants.
President Stephanopoulos addressed a gathering of Greek community representatives in Moscow and was enthusiastically applauded on saying that "all of Greece is proud of the Greeks in Russia."
He also called on them and on the other Greeks to join their efforts "to hold high the name of Greece, the Greek flag and our Orthodox faith."
President Stephanopoulos was also applauded when he predicted that Greece would have reached the economic level of the other European countries by the year 2010.
According to authoritative diplomatic circles, Papandreou referred to the controversial issue of identity cards and religion during the meeting between President Stephanopoulos and Alexiy, which he attended. Papandreou briefed the Patriarch of Moscow on the Greek government's position, while Alexiy refrained from mentioning this specific issue.
 President Stephanopoulos denies rumors on the state of his health
Athens, 28/06/2000 (ANA)President Kostis Stephanopoulos, currently on an official four-day official visit to Moscow, on Tuesday categorically denied rumors on the state of his health.
"I don't want to say anything. I will let them exhaust themselves with lies so that they can receive the reward for their untruthfulness."
The issue was raised by independent Deputy George Karatzaferis during his a program on his privately owned TV, who spoke of an issue regarding the president's health blaming at the same time the main opposition New Democracy party of leaking such rumors.
A front-page report in the newspaper Eleftheri Ora claimed that rumors on the bad state of the president's health were untrue. The ND party made no comment, but senior cadres said "it is a shame, we should be serious."
 Opposition ND leader gets go-ahead for reforms within party, sharply criticizes government
Athens, 28/06/2000 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis, in a speech to the party's central committee on Tuesday, predicted a cascade of events triggered by pressures from vested interests and urged ND party executives to be "on constant alert."
During the same meeting he proposed changes to the organizational structure of the party, which were approved by a majority of the central committee.
Implying that the present government would now have to make good for favors received in the past, Karamanlis stressed that New Democracy would not tolerate "non-transparent procedures."
"Let there not be any delusions. We will not tolerate a crazy dance of billions on the backs of a people that has been brought to its knees by the government's revenue-raising policy."
Karamanlis said that "11th-hour" decisions and decrees were going to be rushed through to satisfy organized vested interests, while in other areas the government would be paralyzed and fixated on the dogma of a discredited past.
"They are in a hurry to deliver the horse-racing bets and football pools (OPAP) but pretend they can't see what needs to be done about public transport. They get worked up over dropping the religion category from identity cards but insist on maintaining the state's monopoly of tertiary education," he said.
He also accused the government of engaging in "secret diplomacy" in its handling of relations between Greece and Turkey, and of "risky personal maneuvers" that might be damaging to Greece's interests.
"If they think that we will give amicably all the things that Turkey has demanded but not achieved by threatening to use force, they are sorely mistaken.
We Greeks do not adopt decisions arrived at in secret, we do not accept agreements that effectively amputate justice and the rights of our country, we do not recognize de facto satisfaction of Turkish claims, nor accept accomplished facts," the ND leader said.
Karamanlis also referred to the identity card crisis, and the objections of the Greek Orthodox Church to a government decision to drop the religious affiliation entry on new state-issued IDs.
He urged the Prime Minister to enter into dialogue with the Church, saying that the government had deliberately provoked the crisis and "attempted to divide society" in order to notch up an "easy victory".
With regard to the party's organization, Karamanlis proposed closer ties with local authorities, social agencies, employer and employee groups and non-governmental organizations. Citizens, Karamanlis said, should be encouraged to take a more active role in politics and in the formulation and implementation of the party's policies, with two-way communication between the center and periphery, the party and society.
More specifically, he proposed setting up a social committee in every municipality and re-evaluating the need for local committees in every prefecture, making changes where necessary. Other changes proposed were to introduce new technologies, such as on-line networks, in the running of the party, the introduction of local referendums and to assign specific sectors of responsibility to specific party cadres.
He also proposed the creation of a number of coordinating and other bureaus within the party, setting up a council for the assessment of party executives and a permanent elections office.
A number of high-ranking cadres were absent from the Tuesday meeting of the 150-member central committee, among them Dora Bakoyianni, while only 18 took the stand.
Nevertheless, the central committee finally gave the party's executive a carte blanche to carry out any changes it thought necessary in order for the new party structure to be functional.
 Greece and Croatia sign military cooperation agreement
Athens, 28/06/2000 (ANA)National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and his Croatian counterpart Jozo Rados signed a bilateral agreement for military cooperation between their two countries, during a meeting in Athens on Tuesday.
In talks during the meeting, the two men discussed developments in the Balkans, particularly in Bosnia and Kosovo.
During a press conference afterwards, Tsohatzopoulos said statements made by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday in connection with Greece's role in the Balkans confirmed the crucial importance of the country's political and military involvement in the handling of Balkan crises. He also announced that he would be visiting Russia next week.
Rados also praised Greece's role in the region and expressed hope that cooperation between the two countries would be expanded.
The Greek minister also announced that a Greek contingent in Albania had successfully completed its mission, helping restore stability, train the Albanian army and handle problems caused by the influx of refugees from Kosovo.
He added that programs for the construction of infrastructure, such as a military hospital in Gjirokaster, a naval base in Durres and a part of the airport in Tirana, would continue as per existing agreements for bilateral military cooperation.
Both ministers expressed their support for creating a multinational state in Kosovo that retained its existing borders.
Finally, Rados expressed his country's desire to participate, initially as an observer, in the southeast European countries' initiative for peace and security in the region.
 Defense Minister says Greek contingent in Albania will leave in the coming weeks
Athens, 28/06/2000 (ANA)National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos has addressed a letter to his Albanian counterpart informing him of Greece's decision to withdraw the Greek contingent which has been stationed at Ishberish over the past two and a half years.
According to reports, the withdrawal will take place in the coming weeks, while 30 Greek armed forces officers will stay behind in Ishberish to train NATO's rapid deployment force. All forces summoned to contribute to the country's stabilization have already left Albania.
The reports said that a small number of Greek soldiers returning would join the Greek contingent in Kosovo, without increasing the size of the force.
In this context, the replacement of mechanized and health unit staff deployed in the region by combat troops is being considered, as well as a decrease of the Greek force stationed in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
 Greek Defense Ministry to provide more than 8.5 billion drachmas for infrastructure in Albania
Athens, 28/06/2000 (ANA)The Greek Defense Ministry has already provided and will provide more than 8.5 billion drachmas for infrastructure projects in neighboring Albania.
The amount primarily concerns reorganizing the naval base at Durres, reorganizing and training a rapid deployment brigade of the Albanian armed forces, delivering 10 armored personnel carriers, providing medical treatment at military hospitals, creating three army camps and building a military hospital at Gjirokaster.
 Ministerial conference focuses on issue of "Towards a society of democracies"
Athens, 28/06/2000 (ANA)A ministerial conference on the issue of "Towards a society of democracies" was held in Warsaw on Monday and Tuesday aimed at promoting democracy as an issue concerning international relations and an object of discussion between the representatives of governments.
The event was organized for the first time at the initiative of the United States, Poland, Chile, South Korea, India, Mali and the Czech Republic.
Addressing the conference, Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Vasso Papandreou underlined the impressive increase of democracies at the end of the 20th century, resulting in two thirds of the countries of the world operating with the rules of democracy.
Papandreou placed particular emphasis on the fact that Greece supported every cooperation effort to shield and support democracy, both in the framework of the European Union and that of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as well as NATO.
"Democracy, contrary to what its covert and overt critics claim, is not an empty shirt, a formation without content which exhausts itself on procedural talk which every time takes the name of the person christening it. Democracy is a specific form of organization and governance which should also prove at present as well, that it does not merely constitute a theory for the protection of human rights but the most effective and practical way of protecting them through the planning and implementation of policies obeying its principles," she said.
 British embassy official questioned after suicide attempt
Athens, 28/06/2000 (ANA)British embassy official Athony Dunford left the Athens Evangelismos hospital on Tuesday, about a week after being admitted, following his attempted suicide with a large quantity of sleeping pills.
Dunford , who is in good health, was summoned to the British embassy after his release from hospital and for three hours answered questions put to him by Scotland Yard officers who are currently in Greece to participate in investigations concerning the slaying of British embassy military attache Stephen Saunders by the elusive 'November 17' terrorist group earlier this month.
Dunford attempted suicide last week leaving a message saying that that he could have saved Saunder's life.
Afterwards, he left the embassy building escorted for an unknown destination and had not turned up at his home by nightfall. It is possible that Dunford is being kept in a secret location for security reasons. He is expected to give another deposition to the anti-terrorist service.
Scotland Yard and anti-terrorist service officers had been anxiously awaiting Dunford's release from hospital for a detailed report on what he knows and saw concerning the assassins who had been closely watching Saunders before killing him
 Simitis briefed on forest fire contingency plans
Athens, 28/06/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis toured the greater Athens area's 6th fire station in the Metamorphosi district on Tuesday, where he was briefed by the fire brigade's leadership over contingency plans to combat possible summer-time forest fires.
Forest fires in Greece over the past few decades have ravaged much of the nation's forestlands, both on the mainland and the islands.
The Greek premier toured the station and reviewed new equipment purchased over the past few months by the fire brigade, while he also commented on measures the government has taken to combat forest fires.
In citing the importance of volunteerism, Simitis noted that "fires aren't fought only by the fire brigade but by the mobilization of citizens as well."
 Simitis to meet with V. Papandreou, Chrysohoidis on Wednesday
Athens, 28/06/2000 (ANA)The government announced on Tuesday that Prime Minister Costas Simitis would meet with Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou and Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis on Wednesday.
Additionally, the heads of the country's police force (EL.AS) and the national intelligence agency will also participate in the meeting.
Asked if the issue of a bilateral law enforcement pact with the United States will be discussed, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said a relevant protocol has already been agreed to, with only Washington's response over when a signing ceremony will be held pending.
 Papazoi on working visit to Copenhagen
Athens, 28/06/2000 (ANA)Alternate Foreign Minister Elisavet Papazoi will be leaving for Copenhagen on Wednesday, for talks with Danish Foreign Minister Helveg Petersen.
The two ministers' agenda includes issues related to the inter-governmental conference (IGC), the common security and defense policy for Europe, the course of Cyprus' accession to the EU, relations between Greece and Turkey and the situation in the Balkans. They will also exchange views on the issue of "enhanced cooperation" in the EU and the orientations of the French EU presidency in the second half of the year.
 US envoy tours Ioannina region
Athens, 28/06/2000 (ANA)US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns continued a private visit to northern Greece on Monday morning, arriving in the Epirus capital of Ioannina after a stay in nearby Kastoria, the center of Greece's fur industry.
Although on tour of a non-official capacity, the US envoy nevertheless briefly met with several local officials in Ioannina, at one point citing the region's business potential as well as the positive relations that have been developed with neighboring Albania.
The NW Greek province of Epirus lies to the south of Albania.
Burns and his party later visited several historical monasteries and archaeological sites in the greater Ioannina region.
Asked to comment on a protest by roughly 50 pro-Communist Party of Greece (KKE) supporters during his arrival at the Ioannina prefectural building, the US envoy noted that "it would be a disappointment for me if there weren't any demonstrators, because that's what I expect in a democratic country."
 Representations to be made to universities not to establish relations with Turkish Cypriot "university"
MELBOURNE, 28/06/2000 (ANA)The Australian foreign ministry, as well as the education ministry, are expected to make stringent representations to Turkish diplomats serving in Australia to refrain from all interference in the affairs of the country's universities.
These assurances were given to representatives of the Greek community in Australia by Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and Education Minister David Kemp, during a regular yearly meeting in Canberra to discuss issues concerning Greek-Australians.
The delegation briefed both Downer and Kemp on efforts being made by a "university" in the pseudo Turkish Cypriot "state" to establish relations with Australian universities, as well as attempts by Turkish diplomats in Australia to have the Study Center on Black Sea Hellenism's Genocide, operating at the McQuarry university in New South Wales, closed down.
The two ministers apparently promised to make representations to the Turkish diplomats and send a memorandum to all Australian universities, calling on them not to establish relations with the Turkish Cypriot "university."
 Papandreou and Clerides contribute to journal NEW
YORK, 28/06/2000 (ANA)Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Cypriot President Glafkos Clerides are among the contributors to the inaugural issue of Seton Hall University's Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations.
In an article entitled, "A Total Balkan Approach," Papandreou presents the basic axes of Greece's Balkan policy, while Clerides provides a historical account and efforts for a solution of the Cyprus issue in his contribution entitled, "Impediments to the Solution of the Cyprus Problem".
 Think-tank welcomes euro entry but seeks faster reform
Athens, 28/06/2000 (ANA)Greece's entry into the 11-member euro zone in January 2001 bodes well for the economy and for domestic enterprises but the government needs to move faster with structural reform, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Tuesday. In a six-monthly report on the domestic economy, IOBE acknowledged that meeting the Maastricht economic criteria over recent years for entry into the euro zone was a major success.
At the same time, the think-tank noted that delays in implementing fiscal and structural reform, as well as lowering the public debt, had retarded improvement of Greek competitiveness, and also delayed euro-zone entry.
If the reforms were implemented swiftly, then there was still time for spectacular results as Greece could show a faster pace of development than economies that had carried out an overhaul before they joined the euro zone, the report said.
 Equities jump in moderate trade
Athens, 28/06/2000 (ANA)The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) rose sharply in moderate trade on Tuesday after remaining under pressure for six consecutive sessions.
The ASE's general share index ended at 4,173.35 points, up 3.27 percent. Turnover was 142 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 2.34 percent higher at 2,295.13 points and the FTSE/ASE 40 index rose 6.15 percent to finish at 606.35 points.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: +1.81% Leasing: +5.99% Insurance: +4.92% Investment: +4.14 Construction: +7.65% Industrials: +3.75% Miscellaneous: +5.22% Holding: +6.26%
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended 9.46 percent up.
Of 346 stocks traded, advances led declines at 342 to 2 with 2 issues unchanged.
Most heavily traded were Naoussa Spinning Mills, National Bank of Greece, Interamerican, Fanco and Mytilineos.
Closing prices for leading shares (in drachmas): National Bank: 14,300 Alpha Bank: 14,200 Commercial Bank: 15,820 Eurobank: 9,450 Lambrakis Press: 10,770 Heracles Cement: 7,950 Titan Cement (c): 13,670 Hellenic Telecoms: 8,860 Panafon: 4,140 Hellenic Petroleum: 4,085 Intracom: 13,460 Hellenic Bottling: 5,700
Derivatives rise in line with market: Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished higher on Tuesday, tracking the two indices on which they are based.
The FTSE/ASE 20 closed 2.34 percent up, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 6.15 percent higher.
Turnover was 11.7 billion drachmas from 9.0 billion drachmas a day earlier.
A total of 1,1425 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 index with turnover at 6.4 billion drachmas.
Changing hands on the FTSE/ASE 40 were 2,241 futures on turnover of 5.3 billion drachmas.
Bonds end mixed in thin trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Tuesday finished mixed in light trade ahead of an anticipated rate cut by the central bank in the next session, which the market has mostly discounted.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.094 percent from 6.108 percent in the previous session; and the yield on the equivalent German bund was 5.248 percent.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 85 basis points from 86 basis points for three sessions.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 30 billion drachmas from 86 billion drachmas in the previous session.
Buy and orders accounted for about half each of turnover.
Drachma down vs. euro, up vs. dollar: The drachma on Tuesday fell against the euro and rose versus the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market.
At the central bank's daily fixing, the euro was set at 336.630 drachmas from 336.570 drachmas in the previous session.
Also at the fixing, the US dollar was set at 358.000 drachmas from 360.830 drachmas a day earlier.
Fuel prices to rise by up to Dr 6.0: Fuel prices are expected to rise by up to 6.0 drachmas a liter due to an increase in world oil prices and in the US dollar's parity against the drachma, sources said on Tuesday.
The development ministry is to release its weekly indicative fuel prices on Wednesday.
The ministry's rates for Attica and Thessaloniki are expected to set lead-free gasoline at around 270 drachmas a liter and super at about 285 drachmas a liter.
According to Hellenic Petroleum, which helps set the indicative rates with the ministry, the global rising prices trends in petroleum products is likely to last for several weeks.
Rates on 6-month, 3-month T-bills drop in auction: The average weighted rate on six- and three-month treasury bills dropped in an auction on Tuesday, while the rate on 12-month paper held steady, the public debt management agency said in a statement.
In the sale of 25 billion drachmas' worth of six-month T-bills, the average weighted rate fell to 7.47 percent from 7.83 percent in the previous auction in February, said the agency, which belongs to the finance ministry.
The average weighted rate in the auction of 25 billion drachmas' of three-month T-bills dropped to 8.1 percent from 8.5 percent in the last sale, also in February.
Finally, the average weighted rate on 40 billion drachmas' worth of 12-month T-bills auctioned was flat at 6.40 percent from 6.39 percent in May, the statement said.
 CoE report says Greece responding to challenge of multi-cultural society
BRUSSELS, 28/06/2000 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)Greece has, in recent years, adopted measures against racism indicating that authorities have become conscious of the need for responding to the challenges of a multi-cultural society, a Council of Europe report released in Strasbourg on Tuesday said.
The report, the second prepared by the Council's European Committee Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) on Greece, appears in three parts; the first provides a general overview of the situation in the country, the second deals with the problems needing special attention, while the third contains Greece's observations.
ECRI claims that despite the positive measures, phenomena of racism, intolerance, discrimination and exclusion persist in the Greece, particularly against Gypsies, immigrants and members of the Muslim minority. It expresses the view that such problems are closely related to the fact that Greek society is hesitant in acknowledging its multi-cultural character, and recommends the adoption of additional measures to implement legislation introduced in recent years.
The report notes the existence of discrimination against "religious groups," mainly non-Orthodox Christian, which "face administrative difficulties and legal restrictions in the exercise of their religious duties". It claims that the police is frequently biased against Gypsies -estimated at between 150,000 and 200,000- and Albanians, who form the largest group of immigrants. Numerous instances of hostility and phobia among public opinion in the last 10 years, it says, are not unrelated to the large number of illegal Albanian immigrants, but the media bear the largest part of the responsibility for feeding this biased image by portraying them as chiefly responsible for the rise in crime.
The ECRI report says that despite the lack of specific data, minorities are estimated to represent 5-10 percent of residents in Greece, which would appear to question the traditional official position of the existence of only a Muslim minority.
In their observations to the report, the Greek authorities express their full support to the work of the committee but note the existence of certain mistakes, a large number of generalizations and the citing of wrong data.
"The attitude of Greeks towards immigrants should not be judged by the very few and isolated cases of hostile behavior by fringe elements which are active outside the social fabric and are condemned by public opinion," note the Greek authorities, drawing attention in particular to the fact that in contrast to the rest of Europe, there are no political parties with xenophobic platforms, despite the huge influx of immigrants in the last 10 years.
The observations cite a series of data showing that there is no large-scale racist prejudice or discrimination on religious grounds in Greece. Non-Orthodox Christian groups, submitted between 1994 and 1998 also draw attention to the omission in the report of the fact that the Greek Parliament includes three Muslim deputies and that authorities approved all 84 applications for the foundation of places of worship.
 Four antiquities smugglers arrested with precious bronze statue
Athens, 28/06/2000 (ANA)Police in Thessaloniki arrested four people after they attempted to sell a bronze statue of the goddess Diana, valued at tens of millions of drachmas, to a policeman who had appeared as a prospective buyer.
The four are Lambros Morfakis, 56, Yuri Savanidis, 20, Panayiotis Tsirkinidis, 59, and George Tsiftsis, 53.
Police arrested Morfakis and Savanidis after arranging a meeting in Edessa, northern Greece, on June 9 at which they attempted to sell the statue for 50 million drachmas.
The two other men were arrested shortly afterwards in a hotel in Florina where they were waiting for their accomplices. Investigations revealed that Tsirkinidis and Tsiftsis had obtained the statue from an Albanian known only by the name of Adin.
 Health Minister says new hospital in Hania operational by September 1
Athens, 28/06/2000 (ANA)Health Minister Alekos Papadopoulos visited the new hospital in Hania, Crete, on Tuesday saying in a meeting with hospital officials that it should be fully operational on September 1.
Papadopoulos inspected emergency and surgical wards, intensive care units and other facilities. He was also briefed on the course of work aimed at completing the project.
 The fifth session of the Youth Parliament will convene on Friday
Athens, 28/06/2000 (ANA)A total of 350 youth "deputies", 239 of whom are girls, will be participating in the Youth Parliament's fifth session, due to start on Friday and cover a period of five days.
Presenting the program for this year's Youth Parliament session on Tuesday, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis said the institution meets the real needs of young people to ask questions and air criticism, as well as the public's interest in hearing the voice of Greek youth.
Kaklamanis expressed the wish that this year's session "will be a breath of fresh air in this very hot summer."
Some 14,711 pupils took part in this year's Youth Parliament program, with 300 selected to represent electoral regions in Greece, 25 from Cyprus and the remaining 25 from Greek schools in 13 foreign countries (Britain, Egypt, Ethiopia, Australia, Belgium, Germany, the United States, Israel, Canada, the Congo, Luxembourg, Saudi Arabia and Sudan).
 Seminar focusing on media and repatriated Greeks
Athens, 28/06/2000 (ANA)The changes undergone by Greek society in the last decade, following the influx of hundreds of thousands of repatriated ethnic Greeks and economic refugees, the problems arising from these changes and the role of the media were the subject of a seminar on Tuesday, organized by the General Secretariat of Overseas Greeks.
Deputy Press and Media Minister Telemachos Hytiris inaugurated the seminar, which was attended by more than 100 mass media executives. In his address, Hytiris referred to the crisis triggered on an international level by the changes at the start of the 1990s and the reasons that led tens of thousands of ethnic Greeks living in the countries of the former Soviet Bloc to come to Greece.
 US Presidential Emissary meets President Clerides, Denktash ahead of proximity talks
NICOSIA, 28/06/2000 (ANA/CNA)The US see no obstacles on the way to a third round of UN-led proximity talks due to start in Geneva next week aiming at substantive negotiations for a solution of the protracted Cyprus problem.
US Presidential Emissary for Cyprus Alfred Moses, who arrived here on Monday, had an hour-long working breakfast Tuesday morning with President Glafcos Clerides, during which, according to sources, he listened to the positions of the Greek Cypriot side but did not express any opinion.
In a short statement after the Presidential Palace meeting, Moses said the US "look forward to the meeting of the representatives of the two sides in Geneva on July 5." When asked whether he sees any obstacles on the way to Geneva, he replied "none for us whatsoever. We are looking forward to it".
Denktash casts doubt: Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has again cast doubt as to his participation in the UN-led peace talks, due to resume on 5 July in Geneva.
Speaking after a meeting with US Presidential Emissary Alfred Moses in the Turkish-occupied part of Nicosia on Tuesday, Denktash said he does not know if there will be a third round of talks or not.
He thanked Moses for his visit but refrained from replying to press questions.
Ambassador Moses, who is accompanied by State Department Special Coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston, said he had "a good talk, a frank and intense talk" with Denktash.
"Hopefully, it will turn out to be a productive talk," he said, adding that he was looking forward to being in Geneva for the talks.
Replying to questions, he said he could not say whether the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides would be in Geneva too. "I cannot speak on behalf of the two sides," he said. The US officials leave on Wednesday.
Government spokesman: The Cyprus government believes that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash will be in Geneva on 5 July for the third round of UN-led peace talks, its spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said on Tuesday.
He also said President Glafcos Clerides has made it clear to foreign envoys dealing with the Cyprus question that no attempt to appease Denktash should be made with a view to secure a more conciliatory position at the talks.
The government, he added, believes that Denktash will be present at the talks, in spite of what he says.
Two rounds of UN-led proximity talks have been held so far in a bid to pave the way for substantive negotiations to reach a settlement in Cyprus.
Replying to questions, the spokesman said what is important is to see if Denktash will adopt a position that would allow a break in the current impasse.