|Saturday, 25 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-06-29
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Bank of Greece slashes key intervention rates
Athens, 29/06/2000 (ANA)The Bank of Greece on Wednesday slashed its key intervention rates by between 0.50 and 0.75 basis points, bringing short-term rates closer to their EU equivalents, in the sixth such reduction in eight months.
After a meeting of its Monetary Policy Council, the central bank announced a 0.50 percentage point reduction in the weekly intervention rate for two-week funds from 8.75 percent to 8.25 percent. The Bank of Greece uses the rate in a tender most Wednesdays to help regulate liquidity on the interbank market.
It also slashed the primary overnight lending rate by 0.75 percentage point from 8.0 percent to 7.25 percent, and abolished the secondary overnight rate.
In addition, the central bank reduced the Lombard rate by 0.5 percentage point from 9.50 percent to 9.0 percent.
The Monetary Policy Council said in a statement that its decision to go ahead with the rate cuts took into account the developments on the inflation front and the overall liquidity of the economy.
National Bank of Greece to cut rates Jul.3: National Bank of Greece, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, on Wednesday announced that it will lower its loan and deposit rates following a reduction in central bank intervention rates the same day.
National's rate decline is effective on July 7.
Among rates set to drop are the state-run bank's operating capital lending rate to 9.50 percent from 10.0 percent; its floating rate consumer loans to 13.00 percent from 14.25 percent; floating rate housing loans to 9.25 percent from 9.75 percent; and its savings deposit rate to 5.50 percent from 6.00 percent.
Bank of Piraeus joins new round of rate cuts: The Bank of Piraeus on Wednesday announced that it would lower its interest rates on July 3, joining the latest round of cuts triggered by a reduction in the central bank's intervention rates.
Among Piraeus' rate cuts are a drop in its base short-term business loan rate to 12.00 percent from 12.90 percent, and in its savings deposit rate to 5.50 percent from 6.0 percent, the bank said in a statement.
Industrialists welcome rate cuts: The Federation of Greek Industry (SEB) on Wednesday welcomed a reduction in the central bank's main intervention rates that led to a new round of cuts by commercial banks.
"This is a very positive development, as, beyond the favorable impact on costs for Greek enterprises, it will also allow the economy to approach more closely the level of competition in the European Union," SEB president Lefteris Antonakopoulos told a news conference.
Improving domestic competitiveness was crucial for Greece's membership of the euro zone, which begins on January 1, 2001, he added.
 Reppas rejects rumors of president's ill-health, ND denies all responsibilityAthens, 29/06/2000 (ANA) Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas on Wednesday dismissed Tuesday's rumors that President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos was suffering from health problems as "the work of mean-spirited and nasty people."
The president had himself given the best possible answer to those spreading these scurrilous rumors, Reppas added.
He also chided reporters for making an issue out of this matter, which he said offended persons and institutions and had no real basis. "There is some sort of limit to these things," he said.
Asked whether the rumors were linked to the rapid political developments predicted on Tuesday by main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis, Reppas replied that it was inconceivable that such "groundless and miserable rumors could be part of a political strategy."
Reppas rejected the possibility that the rumors and Karamanlis' statements might be linked, while pointing out that the main opposition had voted for Stephanopoulos alongside the government.
New Democracy: ND spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos countered accusations that the main opposition was behind rumors of Stephanopoulos' ill-health on Wednesday.
Saying that it "shamed the political system when issues were raised that offended" the Head of the State, Spiliotopoulos stressed that "some" had not hesitated to create an issue "in order to play their communications game", even when this meant "placing blame where it did not belong."
 Greek Church opts for collecting signatures to press ID card reversal
Athens, 29/06/2000 (ANA)The Greek Churchs Holy Synod announced on Wednesday that it would hold an unofficial referendum by means of collecting signatures nationwide, part of its vocal campaign against the dropping of the religious affiliation listing from new identification cards.
The ID card uproar has appreciably soured Church-state relations over the past few weeks, with the government repeatedly declaring that the issue falls entirely within its domain and ruling out any reversal. Conversely, the Churchs hierarchy has mobilized considerable opposition against the decision, highlighted by two massive rallies this month in Athens and Thessaloniki.
According to Metropolitan of Piraeus Kallinikos, the Greek Church will create a committee of prelates over the next few days charged with developing a reliable procedure with which to collect signatures.
Commencement of the referendum will begin as soon as possible in the provinces, with the major urban to follow by the fall, a spokesman for the Holy Synod said.
Additionally, the Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greeces top ecclesiastical body also noted that it is requesting dialogue with the government only over the issue of Ids at present.
In a related development, the Holy Synod also mentioned that a letter of protest will be sent to Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis - an outspoken critic of the Church hierarchys stance vis-a-vis the ID card crisis.
 Spokesman says respect for human rights does not obey the principle of majority
Athens, 29/06/2000 (ANA)The Greek government said on Wednesday, referring to a Church Holy Synod decision to collect signatures on the issue of religion being included in identity cards, that respect for human rights does not obey the principle of majority, nor does it comply with offsetting.
"Respect for the human rights of citizens should be complete and absolute and it does not obey the principle of a majority, nor does it comply with offsetting," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.
On the question of religious affiliation being registered on new identity cards, Reppas said "the government has expressed its final and irrevocable position on an issue, which is the exclusive responsibility of the state."
A government decision to omit religious affiliation from new IDs provoked strong reactions by the Church hierarchy.
Reppas said procedures for issuing the new identity cards are going ahead and the relevant decision will be implemented soon.
Speaking on the collection of signatures, he said "the administration of the Church has every right to choose the way with which it will activate its forces, as is also the case with every citizen who is free to develop his activities, always in the framework of the constitution and the laws."
Reppas further noted that everyone assumes responsibility for his acts and even more so in view of procedures, which might result in the dissension of Greek society.
Replying to a question on whether the property of the Church will also be an issue in a dialogue between the state and the Church, Reppas said it was one of the issues raised by the Church in the agenda to be discussed, when it set out its positions to the Education Minister. He further said the issue of funds requested by the Church from the 3rd Community Support Framework is an issue, which can be discussed.
 Greek president meets leaders of Russian political parties
MOSCOW, 29/06/2000 (ANA - D. Constantakopoulos)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, currently carrying out the first official visit by a Greek president to Russia, on Wednesday asked his Russian hosts for their assistance in curbing Turkish and Turkish Cypriot intransigence over Cyprus, so that a solution to the island republic's protracted problem will fall in line with UN resolutions.
According to diplomatic sources, Stephanopoulos made this request during a working breakfast with the leaders of the Russian political parties at the Greek Embassy in Moscow.
Later in the day, Stephanopoulos left Moscow and headed for St Petersburg.
On their part, the Russian politicians confirmed their support for a solution to the Cyprus problem within the framework of UN resolutions but asked Athens to lend its support to a more political approach in the Yugoslav crisis, expressing their intense concern over the situation in Kosovo and the Balkans. Many referred to the dangers of rising nationalism in the region, particularly Albanian "expansionism" and criticized Washington's policies in the region.
Former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov also referred to the sale to Cyprus of the S-300 missile system, using it as an example of unbearable Turkish and US pressures on Cyprus.
Nevertheless, he noted, the sale of the S-300s had led to greater activity over the Cyprus issue and the missile system was being fully utilized on Crete, where it had finally been deployed.
Talking to the political leaders, with the exception of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who sent a representative of the "Unity" party that supports him, Stephanopoulos expressed strong reservations about the results of the next round of Cyprus proximity talks, due to begin in Geneva on July 5, and stressed that Athens supported solutions in Greek and Turkish relations that coincided with international law, the Lausanne Treaty and with referring issues to the International Court of Justice at the Hague.
On the situation in the Balkans, the Greek president stressed the need to respect UN resolutions on Kosovo and came out in favor of lifting the sanctions and the policy of isolation imposed on Serbia, stressing that sanctions and isolation would not help the development of that country.
Primakov supported Stephanopoulos on Greek and Turkish relations and the Cyprus problem. He described Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic as "a bulwark against the rise of Islamic forces in the Balkans" and said that "a weakened and shrunken Serbia was contrary to the strategic interests of Serbia and Greece."
Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzkov, who also rejected the solution of a confederation on Cyprus as unacceptable, talked about crass mistakes on the part of the US and Western Europe in the Balkans and asked that Albanian expansionism be quashed, seconded Primakovs assessments of Milosevics role.
The other Russian political leaders attending, such as Gennadi Zhukanov, leader of the Communist Party also expressed similar concerns, especially over the situation in the Balkans.
 Ministers decide to cut back on infrastructure projects planned for Olympics
Athens, 29/06/2000 (ANA)The sixth meeting of a ministers' committee for the Olympics took place on Wednesday, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis and attended by the new managing director of the "Athens 2004" Olympics Organizing Committee, Petros Synadinos.
The Prime Minister said that a bill recently passed by Parliament would speed up preparations for the Olympics and asked the ministers involved to each prepare a time-table for the Olympic projects being carried out by their ministry.
During the meeting, Deputy National Economy Minister Christos Pachtas presented a budget for the public works connected to the Olympic Games, set at 1,150 billion drachmas. A detailed break-down of the budget for the works is due soon.
The government, however, is keen to cut the cost of public works linked to the Olympics to what is absolutely necessary, sources said. An example is the latest cutback as regards works on the seafront in southern Athens, where Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis has said that only absolutely necessary improvements will be made, where there is a prior commitment to the International Olympics Committee.
In previous days, there have been cutbacks to plans for a suburban railway system, a tram line and general improvements to the city, reducing these to the strictly necessary.
Culture Minister Theodoros Pangalos referred to the Cultural Olympiad, telling the committee that it would combine the Olympic ideal with culture and the arts. He also said that regional areas would be strongly represented in these events, which will start at the beginning of the year and come to a peak during the course of the Games in 2004.
According to Deputy Press Minister Telemachos Hytiris, the meeting did not discuss security measures during the Olympics.
He stressed, however, that this was an issue that the government was very concerned about and that there might be an announcement on it after the next meeting of the committee on July 12.
 Stephanopoulos tops all-time Greek popularity ratings
Athens, 29/06/2000 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos currently commands the highest popularity rating ever recorded for any person in Greek public and social life, according to the latest opinion poll.
The survey, conducted by MRB on behalf of Mega TV channel, gives Stephanopoulos an 82.4 percent approval rating, 8.4 percent more than six months ago and nine percent more than Archbishop of Athens Christodoulos whose rating has receded.
Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos and Foreign Minister George Papandreou follow in third and fourth place, with 66.9 percent and 57.8 percent respectively.
The poll, the first after the April 9 election and gives a 0.3 percent lead to New Democracy over the ruling PASOK party, while Prime Minister Costas Simitis and main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis are about equally popular, with 43.7 percent and 44.2 percent ratings respectively.
 Victoria State premier to visit
MELBOURNE, 29/06/2000 (ANA - S. Hatzimanolis)The premier of Australia's Victoria State, Steve Bracks, arrives in Athens on July 9 for a brief visit.
During his stay, he will hold talks with the ministers of transport and communications, culture, and education on topics including the future of the Olympic Airways flights to Melbourne, the Museum of Greek Antiquities in Melbourne, and the prospect of a formal agreement with Greece on exhibition exchanges.
He will also discuss matters related to the teaching of the Greek language in Victoria.
Bracks will also hold consultations with Secretary General for Greeks Abroad Dimitris Dollis, a former aide of his.
Bracks left Melbourne Tuesday for New York. He will visit Germany and Britain before arriving in Athens.
 Dassault Aviation presents fourth-generation Rafale warplane in Athens
Athens, 29/06/2000 (ANA)The French fourth-generation warplane "Rafale" was presented in Athens on Wednesday by the manufacturing company Dassault Aviation and its industrial partners Thomson-CSF and Snegma, who announced their proposals in the event of Greek participation in the specific program.
According to the manufacturing company, the Rafale is the sole European fighter aircraft coming exclusively from the euro zone.
Dassault Aviation considers Greek participation in the specific program an ambitious plan, adding that "it guarantees a longstanding and stable activity for the Greek industry, immediate results in the sector of employment and the development of technologies and provides satisfactory offset benefits."
The Rafale is a multi-role and mission aircraft and meets the present and future needs of combat air forces. The manufacturing company used digital technology in developing it.
 Gov't considers changes in press law
Athens, 29/06/2000 (ANA)The government is considering changes in the law regarding offences through the media, focusing on correction instead of the pecuniary compensation prevailing presently, government spokesman and Press Minister Dimitris Reppas said on Wednesday.
"It is time we considered a new system based on the logic of correction, which would rehabilitate the offended party and define the offender as a slanderer," he said at a one-day conference organized by the ruling PASOK party, entitled "Press
Freedom, Political Pluralism and Protection of the Individual".
PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis condemned what he called "the industry of abusive suits aiming to silence the freedom of expression or judgement," as shown in a recent wave of legal actions by religious circles against publications which they considered offensive. He expressed the view that Justice had an obligation "not to consider orchestrated legal actions on an individual basis" and that the government had to find more effective ways of dealing with the problem.
The director of the wide-circulation Eleftherotypia daily, Serapheim Fyntanidis, said that the necessity of protecting the rights of ordinary people by all means should not apply in the case of public figures, who could use their power to defend themselves.
"Public figures influence society through their decisions and, for this reason, must be subject to criticism," he said.
Mega TV channel news director Nikos Hatzinikolaou concurred with Fyntanidis' view, and said that the public used the right criteria in its selection of media, which, on the whole had a sound record of quality and objectivity.
ANA general director Andreas Christodoulidis said that the present general picture of the media worldwide was not at all rosy, and that the freedom of the press did not serve the public interest but provided an alibi for serving the interests of all forms
of power, be they political, economic or religious. He expressed the view that such conditions promoted "market journalism," where the dissemination of news aimed not to inform the public but to increase media revenue.
 Black Sea countries cite initiative to establish joint naval force
ISTANBUL, 29/06/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Black Sea nations on Wednesday announced their intention to create a joint Black Sea naval force dubbed BLACK-SEAFOR, according to the semi-official Turkish news agency Anadolu.
Representatives of Turkey, Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia and the Ukraine on Wednesday signed a joint communique in Ankara, in which they announced their intention to create BLACKSEAFOR and to speed up efforts for its deployment.
The mandate of BLACKSEAFOR will be to carry out search and rescue missions, humanitarian aid missions, mine-clearing operations and protection of the Black Sea environment.
 Petrol prices increase
Athens, 29/06/2000 (ANA)Indicative fuel prices for the coming posted a sharp upswing on Wednesday, with super gasoline hiked by 5.2 drachmas per liter.
Unleaded increased by 5.3 drachmas per liter, the same hike for diesel. Out-of-season heating oil rose by 4.7 drachmas per liter.
Specifically, the retail sales price for unleaded stands at 268.6 drachmas per liter in the greater Athens area and Thessaloniki prefecture; super rose to 284.8.
 European Commission ratifies new agenda on social policy over the next five years
BRUSSELS, 29/06/2000 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)The European Commission ratified the European Union's new social policy agenda on Wednesday, which includes the way and means of modernizing the European social model and covers a period of five years.
The new social policy agenda, expected to contribute considerably to the French EU Presidency's labor program and the December summit in Nice, promotes the creation of more jobs and converts political commitments made at the Lisbon and Feira summits into specific actions.
Some of its activities are aimed at full employment for Europe's potential, while others focus on modernizing and improving social protection, promoting the social integration and equality of genders, supporting fundamental rights and combatting every form of discrimination.
The new agenda proposes a policy framework in which all interested parties can play a role with respect for the EU's variety of systems and policies.
Referring to the agenda's targets, Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou underlined "the handling of new social challenges emanating from the radical transformation of the European economy and society and particularly the
challenges of the economy based on knowledge."
"In the future, the modernization of the European social model through investments in people and the building of a dynamic welfare state will play a significant role in preserving the European social values of solidarity and justice, while improving economic performances at the same time," she said.
Diamantopoulou determined the main characteristic of the European social model as being a combination of good social conditions, high productivity and high quality goods and services.
"More and better employment in a dynamic and competitive economy strengthens social cohesion," she said.
 Anomeritis holds talks with Chinese delegation on tobacco market and biological filter
Athens, 29/06/2000 (ANA)Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis held talks with a Chinese delegation, headed by a senior party and government official, on Wednesday which showed interest in tobacco purchases and the joint production of the biological filter produced by the SEKAP tobacco industry.
Anomeritis said the Chinese are strongly interested in cooperation in the trade and agricultural sectors, adding that it is an emerging big market at present and opportunities for Greece are considerable.
SEKAP President Ilias Seitanidis, who accompanied the Chinese delegation, said that the agreement on the biological filter would be signed soon.
Seitanidis said that a new cigarette fitted with a biological filter would appear in the Greek market in the next few days. It will be SEKAP's old cigarette, the first Greek blended, known as Cooper. The new Cooper having a biological filter will be sold in packets of 25.
For the first time in its history, SEKAP's profits amounted to about one billion drachmas in 1999.
 Rod Lynch testifies before standing parliamentary committee on OA finances
Athens, 29/06/2000 (ANA)Speedwing, the British Airways (BA) subsidiary hired to shape up the Greek national carrier's finances, had no intention of reducing Olympic Airways' value to enable BA to pick up its option to buy a stake in OA cheaply, Speedwing president and OA former managing director Rod Lynch told a standing parliamentary committee late Tuesday night.
BA subsidiary Speedwing was in late June 1999 awarded a concession to manage the ailing Greek national carrier for 30 months in order to shape up its finances and operations, and Roderick Lynch was appointed OA managing director. The contract, which was due to expire on December 31, 2001, also
gave British Airways the option of bidding for up to a 20 percent stake in OA.
Speedwing's concession was terminated after British Airways' new management announced in early June that it did not intend to take up its option to bid for up to a 20 percent stake in OA, and an international tender was called to find a buyer, who would also take on the ailing Greek carrier's management.
Testifying before a standing parliamentary committee on DEKO public utilities and corporations, Lynch said Speedwing's intention had not been to reduce the value of OA to enable British Airways to pick up its option cheaply, explaining that such a move would have obliged the British airline to invest more capital later.
He said the managing company's target had not been to render OA profitable but, at an initial stage, to enable it to survive after 25 years of losses.
OA's capacity and output indices and its financial data improved in recent months, but the contract with Speedwing was discontinued after only 11 months instead of the 30-month period set out in the contract, Lynch said, adding that the contract foresaw freedom in management without outside interference.
Asked by committee member Anastasios Papaligouras (ND deputy) whether there had been interference by the government, Lynch denied having made such a statement, noting that the only difficulties he faced concerned the inability to hire personnel due to current legislation at a time when competitor airlines were able to easily hire the staff they desired.
Lynch added that, with OA's relocation to Athens' new Eleftherios Venizelos international airport at Spata, 1,000 new employees would be required.
Regarding his compensation, Lynch said that the matter had not been fully settled since he had yet to submit his resignation in writing and the relevant discussions with the government had not been concluded. He said that the administrator must be compensated, since deliberate action or gross negligence had not been proven for OA's lack of profitability.
Lynch also explained his efforts to sell off cumbersome OA assets, such as the airline's building in New York, to cover the airline's operational needs since state subsidization was prohibited under EU legislation and the company's finances did not allow it to take out a bank loan.
He said maintenance of the empty building, which had been purchased in 1992 and required half a million dollars annually for upkeep and guarding, was "scandalous".
Concerning his decision to sell off several airplanes owned by OA and lease others in their place, Lynch explained that the sale of the aircraft had injected three million dollars in OA's cash-strapped coffers, while now it was paying 50 thousand dollars monthly for the leases, meaning that OA was saving about half the money until those airplanes were withdrawn.
As for a 17 billion dollar taken out by OA under Lynch's management, he said that the loan had been necessary to tackle a liquidity problem, otherwise the airline would have shut down as of February.
Transport and communications minister Christos Verelis, who attended the committee session, said that the money that had entered OA's coffers during the last fortnight of Lynch's management were funds that had been approved by the national economy ministry and were part of the reimbursement to OA for its relocation to the Spata airport, adding that the sum provided covered only those bills that had been documented.
 Olympic Aviation signs contract for installations at Spata airport
Athens, 29/06/2000 (ANA)Olympic Aviation on Wednesday signed a 3.092 billion dr. contract for the construction of its building installations at Athens' new "Eleftherios Venizelos" international airport at Spata.
The contract with General Constructions Company (GEK) S.A. covers the designing of the installations to their actual construction.
The agreement provides for the construction of a technical headquarters for Olympic Aviation, installations for the maintenance of light aircraft and helicopters, and a 17,300 sq.m. office complex.
Construction is expected to take 12 months from the signing of the agreement, and Olympic Aviation will take delivery of the installations in two stages.
The technical headquarters and part of the office complex will be completed in February 2001, and the rest of the office complex will be completed by June 2001.
 Court rules civil aviation employees' stoppages illegal
Athens, 29/06/2000 (ANA)An Athens court on Wednesday ruled that planned work stoppages by civil aviation employees for the second half of the week were "illegal and abusive".
Ground and airport maintenance crews at airports throughout the country on Wednesday launched two daily work stoppages to demand pay of outstanding overtime remuneration.
The union of civil aviation employees (OSYPA) called the work stoppages for Wednesday through Saturday from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
A Civil Aviation Authority (YPA) request for an injunction was discussed by the court on Tuesday, but the decision was not released until Wednesday morning, after the protesting employees had entered their first day of industrial action.
They employees are also demanding guarantees by the government that the country's airports would not be privatized, and want assurances that workers at Athens' International Airport will not be fired after it relocates to Spata.
The court injunction prohibits such action by civil aviation employees in the future for the same demands.
 Intracom to set up technological institute
Athens, 29/06/2000 (ANA)Intracom telecom equipment company president Socrates Kokkalis on Wednesday announced the creation of a technological institute for postgraduate studies.
Speaking at Intracom's shareholders' general assembly, Kokkalis said the institute, a non-profit making concern, would provide Master of Science courses to graduates of Greek and foreign college graduates, in collaboration with foreign tertiary education establishments.
The institute, budgeted at six billion drachmas, will be based in Paiania, some 25km east of Athens, and will be ready to receive its first 100 students on September 3, 2001.
Intracom recorded a turnover of 129 billion drachmas and pre-tax profits of 25.3 billion drachmas in 1999, while the value of orders pending execution was 480 billion drachmas.
Kokkalis said Intracom planned a series of acquisitions in Germany, USA AND Hungary.
Turnover in 2000 was projected to reach 185 billion drachmas and pre-tax profits 35 billion drachmas. The company has budgeted 18.5 billion drachmas for research and development this year. It projects turnover of 1.5 trillion drachmas and investment of 270 billion in the 2000-2004 period. Part of the funds will be raised through a seven-year bond issue for 70
Intracom will distribute a dividend of 120 drachmas per share for 1999.
 Interamerican and BCP complete share package swap
Athens, 29/06/2000 (ANA)Interamerican Life Insurance company and Portugal's Banco Commercial (BCP) announced the completion of a share package swap on Tuesday.
Interamerican, Greece's biggest life insurance provider, acquires a five percent stake in BCP in exchange for a 25 percent interest in its own share capital. The Portuguese bank is listed on the Lisbon, New York, London and Frankfurt stock exchanges.
The two groups are due to launch Novabank in Greece in September with 45 branches in Athens, Piraeus and Thessaloniki, and more planned in 2001 in other Greek cities. The bank will have an initial share capital of 50 billion drachmas.
Interamerican and BCP are also considering plans for expansion in the neighboring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in real estate and insurance, and boosting operations in Bulgaria.
 Commercial Bank's president resigns
Athens, 29/06/2000 (ANA)Commercial Bank of Greece president Costas Georgoutsakos said on Wednesday that the government had accepted his resignation, submitted three months ago.
A new president is expected to be appointed for the listed bank over the next two or three weeks.
Tipped to assume the post is Yiannis Stournaras, head of the national economy ministry's panel of advisors.
 ND leader calls on gov't to scrap bourse bill
Athens, 29/06/2000 (ANA)Main New Democracy opposition party leader Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday called on the government to scrap a bill on modernizing the stock market, citing unconstitutional provisions.
Addressing parliament, Karamanlis said the national economy ministry's bill gave the capital market commission powers to which it was not entitled. In addition, it failed to protect retail investors and also was riddled with "padding and half-measures".
Deputy Finance Minister Apostolos Fotiadis told parliament in reply that the ruling PASOK party had raised the status of the Athens Stock Exchange to match bourses worldwide "from that of a kiosk in Omonia Square". The government had not claimed that the bill would resolve all the Athens bourse's problems, Fotiadis added.
 Equities slump in moderate trade
Athens, 29/06/2000 (ANA)The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) fell in moderate trade on Wednesday in the wake of a jump in the previous session and declines for six days before that. The ASE's general share index ended at 4,098.09 points, down 1.80 percent. Turnover was 154.7 billion drachmas. The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 1.60 percent lower and the FTSE/ASE 40 index dropped 2.55 percent.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: -1.54% Leasing: -3.54% Insurance: -0.68% Investment:
-2.00% Construction: -2.96% Industrials: -2.22% Miscellaneous: -1.87% Holding: -1.06% The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended 4.41 percent down. Of 346 stocks traded, declines led advances at 307 to 36 with 3 issues unchanged. Most heavily traded were
Naoussa Spinning Mills, National Bank of Greece, Interamerican, Fanco, Klonatex and Mytilineos.
Closing prices for leading shares (in drachmas): National Bank: 14,100 Alpha Bank: 13,960 Commercial Bank: 15,850 Eurobank: 9,400 Lambrakis Press: 10,220 Heracles Cement: 7,650 Titan Cement (c): 13,390 Hellenic Telecoms: 8,725 Panafon: 4,065 Hellenic Petroleum: 4,010 Intracom: 13,125 Hellenic Bottling: 5,625
Derivatives end down in line with stock market: Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished lower on Wednesday, tracking the two indices on which they are based.
The FTSE/ASE 20 closed 1.60 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 2.55 percent lower.
Turnover was 11.8 billion drachmas from 11.7 billion drachmas drachmas a day earlier.
A total of 1,174 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 index with turnover at 5.3 billion drachmas.
Changing hands on the FTSE/ASE 40 were 2,773 futures on turnover of 6.5 billion drachmas.
Bond players sell in light trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Wednesday finished lower in light trade with players apparently re-acting negatively to central bank rate cuts and trying to boost six-monthly profits.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.094 percent for the second straight session; and the yield on the equivalent German bund was 5.248 percent.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds again was 85 basis points.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 68 billion drachmas from 30 billion drachmas in the previous session.
Sell orders accounted for about 60 billion drachmas of turnover.
Drachma up vs. euro, dollar: The drachma on Wednesday rose 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 336.580 drachmas from 336.630 drachmas in the previous session.
Also at the fixing, the US dollar was set at 357.750 drachmas from 358.000 drachmas a day earlier.
 Border guard killed by Albanian drug smugglers - Police launch manhunt
Athens, 29/06/2000 (ANA)Police on Wednesday launched a manhunt for a group of Albanian illegal immigrants, believed to be drug smugglers, who opened fire on a unit of border guards near the Greek-Albanian frontier at dawn, killing one of them.
Border guard Ioannis Pamboukidis, 30, was shot and killed early Wednesday by Albanians carrying Kalashnikov rifles in the rural Argos Orestikou region, near Kastoria, when Pamboukidis and three other border guards ordered them to stop for a search.
A police spokesman told ANA that the Albanians opened fire on the border guards when the latter attempted to stop and search the group of illegal immigrants, who were heading inland on foot.
The Albanians escaped under the cover of darkness, but left behind four sacks containing four kilos of hashish, a kalashnikov and cartridges as they fled.
Heavily armed police are patrolling the border area and blockades have been set up at the passes, since it is believed the Albanians did not have time to flee back the border back into Albania, while suspects are being rounded up and taken for questioning at the Kastoria police headquarters.
The Kastoria area of the border is considered the weakest section of the Greek-Albanian frontier due to the very rough terrain, and is usually favored by Albanian criminals, who are apparently undeterred by beefed up patrols, the dispatch of 250 additional patrol guards, and numerous arrests.
Albanian gangs, aided by Greek crime rings, smuggle narcotics and illegal immigrants through the Kastoria pass, while stolen luxury cars from Greece are smuggled into Albania from the same pass.
Another Greek border guard was killed near Kastoria in February 1998 during a chase of Albanian drug smugglers, who also left behind 160 kilos of hashish as they fled to escape arrest. Two of
the smugglers were arrested a few days later.
Greek government lodges strong demarches: The Greek government lodged two strong demarches with the Albanian Embassy in Athens and the Albanian Foreign and Public Order Ministries (through the Greek Embassy in Tirana), in protest over the killing of a Greek border guard by Albanian gunmen on Wednesday.
Apart from the demarches, Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Panayiotis Beglitis also expressed the Greek government's abhorrence and strong condemnation of the hideous slaying of the Greek border guard.
"We underline once again the need for the Albanian government to take all necessary measures and cooperate effectively with the Greek government in cracking down on organized cross-border crime and better protecting the borders," Beglitis said, adding that "we call on the Albanian government to cooperate to detect these criminal elements and bring them to justice."
 AIDS sufferers have tripled in Greece over the last decade
Athens, 29/06/2000 (ANA)The number of AIDS sufferers has tripled in Greece over the last decade, while Greece currently holds fifth position in Europe concerning the ratio of AIDS sufferers and population after being in eighth place six years ago.
The revelation was made by the president of the Special Infectious Diseases Control Center, who said the total number of deaths and patients approached 5,000 people in the last decade, 70 of whom are children.
He expressed fears that AIDS sufferers are more than initially estimated in Greece, adding that all cases have not been declared to enable an overall picture of the problem to be created.
It appears that the age bracket having the greatest risk is that between 25-35 and concerns both homosexual and bisexual men.
In a separate development, Health Minister Alekos Papadopoulos spoke of the case concerning Greek companies active in Balkan countries which mediate to enable patients, primarily from Albania and Bulgaria, to have free treatment in Greek hospitals.
He said that as a result aliens occupy vacancies in hospitals, while waiting lists for Greek patients get longer.
 Fiscal program for projects and improvements in the region of Mount Paiko
Athens, 29/06/2000 (ANA)A full fiscal program for new infrastructure and improvements in the region of Mount Paiko, in the northern prefecture of Kilkis, will be prepared in the autumn. It will be based on a master plan drawn up by the Agriculture Ministry and funded by Agriculture Ministry programs and the Special Program for Local Authorities (EPTA).
This was announced on Wednesday by the Minister of Macedonia and Thrace George Paschalidis, during a meeting on promoting and utilizing Mount Paiko.
Meanwhile, strong winds and the inaccessible terrain hampered the efforts of firemen to extinguish a forest fire that continued to rage on Mount Paiko, and which has already destroyed more than 250 acres of pine and oak tree forests.
Fickle, constantly shifting winds have repeatedly changed the direction in which the fire moves, creating a circular front.
 Interruption of peace talks unacceptable, spokesman says
NICOSIA, 29/06/2000 (CNA/ANA)Any interruption of the UN-led peace talks by the Turkish Cypriot leader would be considered "unacceptable", especially if this takes place with a view to allow Rauf Denktash to celebrate the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, an event the UN has condemned, Cyprus government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou stated on Wednesday.
He also said the Greek Cypriot side has no more room for compromise or concessions with regard to a solution but acknowledged that in any negotiation, one must be ready to give and take.
"If Mr. Denktash interrupts the talks for any reason, but particularly to return to Cyprus to celebrate something the UN have condemned, this will be unacceptable and as such, no political cover of any kind should be offered to him," Papapetrou said, at his daily press briefing.
President Glafcos Clerides and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Rauf Denktash are due to be in Geneva next week for a new round of UN-sponsored peace talks. Denktash has yet to say in public that he would attend. President Clerides said he would go, following a UN invitation, and as requested is prepared to stay in Geneva for the entire month of July.
Commenting on calls by a senior US official for compromise by both sides, Papapetrou said "the compromise we have made to accept a bizonal, bicommunal federation has reached its limits and there is no more room for compromise or concessions."
"When one is engaged in negotiations, one must be ready to give and take. We have come a long way as far a compromise and concessions are concerned," the spokesman said, adding that the Turkish side has maintained its positions.
"If we want to look forward to a compromise in the Cyprus question, the other side must make many concessions," Papapetrou said, and pointed out that if the government were to adopt a position that no concessions can be made, then one would not talk about negotiations but ultimatums.
Asked what the Greek Cypriot side expects from the Geneva talks, Papapetrou said it was important to see a momentum "in the right direction which would offer some prospects to continue."
Replying to questions, he said the Greek Cypriot side would work in all directions to ensure that the dialogue is substantive.
 British Eurodeputy notes Denktash intransigence
NICOSIA, 29/06/2000 (CNA/ANA)British Member of the European Parliament Theresa Villiers, said here on Wednesday that there was good news and bad news on the Cyprus problem, and noted the intransigence of Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash.
Speaking at a press conference, after the conclusion of her visit to the island, at the invitation of the island's ruling rightwing Democratic Rally, Conservative Party Villiers said that "good news and bad news would be the conclusion of my trip and what I have learned", noting that "there are an awful lot of good signs in terms of the peace process" and "we have a framework idea of what a solution should look like, that is the bizonal bicommunal federation".
Villiers also noted the Helsinki European Union Summit decisions on Cyprus and Turkey, as well as the improvement of Greek-Turkish relations.
Referring to the "bad news", Villiers noted the absence of "change of heart" by Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied the northern third of the island.
A third round of UN-led proximity talks is scheduled to begin July 5 in Geneva, aimed at preparing the ground for substantive negotiations leading to a comprehensive settlement.
Villiers noted "a depressing lack of progress and a depressing intransigence from Mr. Denktash" and expressed hope that he (Denktash) would "take a more positive role in the process, because everything else is in place".
Responding to questions on EU enlargement, Villiers said it was not enough for candidate countries to comply with the acquis communautaire, but for "the European Union to make changes itself" and to become more flexible.
Invited to comment on the policy of British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Cyprus, Villiers said the British government "is standing firm" on the position that a solution to the Cyprus problem should not be linked to the island's accession to the European Union. Villiers noted, however, that Blair's Labor government was "going wrong" regarding Titina Loizidou, who won her case at the European Court of Human Rights against Turkey.
The Court ordered Turkey to pay Loizidou compensation for not being able to use her property currently under Turkish occupation.
Villiers said the British government should take "much stronger measures on that particular case".
She said that together with her London fellow Euro MPs she represents 250.000 Greek Cypriots living there.
The British Euro MP said that during her stay in Cyprus she met with all the political parties.
 Greek Cypriot soldier freed
NICOSIA, 29/06/2000 (CNA/ANA)The illegal Turkish Cypriot regime in the occupied north of Cyprus released here Wednesday a Greek Cypriot soldier they abducted earlier this month.
Savvas Kasianides, 21, from the coastal town of Larnaca was "sentenced" by an illegal "court" in the Turkish occupied areas to 20 days imprisonment after he was abducted on June 4.
He was handed over to the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus at the Ledra Palace checkpoint by UNFICYP soldiers.