|Tuesday, 28 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-10-03
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Papoutsis says government will submit law on deregulation of coastal sea transport
LUXEMBOURG, 03/10/2000 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis, addressing the European Union Council of Transport Ministers on Monday, said the Greek government's policy is aimed at modernizing the country's coastal shipping fleet and that "it will soon be submitting a law on the deregulation of coastal sea transport."
At the end of the meeting, which focused on shipping safety, Papoutsis said that at its start the French EU Presidency, the European Commission and all member-states expressed their solidarity and sincere condolences over the sea tragedy which occurred in Greece late Tuesday night off the coast of the island of Paros and cost the life of at least 79 persons.
Papoutsis referred to the tragedy and expressed the Greek government's will and commitment to have ample light shed on the causes of the tragedy and to have responsibilities apportioned.
He said that despite the fact that in all EU member-states there is no limit for the age of ships, Greece will maintain the 35-year age limit, adding that in the event of a change it will only be in the direction of decreasing it.
Papoutsis proposed the start of a dialogue at European level on determining an age limit for passenger ships active in Europe and said this limit could also be determined below 35 years.
He also briefed ministers on the implementation of directive 98/18 on upgrading safety and fire protection systems on ships, saying that from the start the Greek authorities had insisted on the strict implementation of the directive.
Referring to the Greek coastal shipping fleet, Papoutsis said, "out of 500 ships 431 have complied. A ban on sailings was imposed on the 69 ships failing to comply by the final date of October 1, 2000, anticipated by national and EU legislation, and they were given a 20-day deadline to comply with the provisions contained in directive 98/18."
Papoutsis underlined that should they fail to comply, their expediency license will be lifted.
Focusing on issues listed in the agenda, Papoutsis underlined the need to strengthen control of ships in ports and the need to increase relevant funds, as well as necessary staff, to enable national authorities to reliably meet the provisions of the directive on ship controls in ports, as was agreed at the council.
Commenting on the issue of harmonizing legislation on the working conditions and rights of workers, Papoutsis said the governments of member-states and the European Commission should guarantee an improvement in seamen's working conditions.
In another development, Papoutsis delivered a letter to Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio on Monday in connection with a letter sent by EU official Francois Lamoureux to the Greek authorities.
In his letter to the Spanish commissioner, Papoutsis indirectly expresses the Greek government's annoyance over the fact that the letter was made public before it was formally received and at a time of particular sensitivity and grief for the Greek people.
He also mentioned that "the letter's tone and character gave an excuse for unsubstantiated generalizations concerning the safety of the coastal shipping fleet."
According to well-informed sources, the Spanish commissioner expressed her regret to Papoutsis over the letter being leaked to the Greek and international press.
 Merchant Marine Ministry says Greece has complied fully with commitments emanating from EU law
LUXEMBOURG, 03/10/2000 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)Greece has complied fully with commitments emanating from European Union law concerning shipping security, the Merchant Marine Ministry announced on Monday in connection with a letter by EU official Lamoureaux.
The announcement, concerning information requested by the European Commission on conditions by which the ferry "Express Samina" was sailing, said the ship had been provided with a security certificate anticipated by law as of July 20, 2000, while the certificate had been issued following inspections carried out in all sectors.
During repairs carried out, the ship had been upgraded regarding stability, in accordance with the EU directive. Clauses concerning the ISM security code had also been applied on the ship.
The ferry "Express Samina" sank off the island of Paros last Tuesday night and to date 79 bodies have been recovered, while a search by frogmen to find more is still underway.
EU directives for shipping in place before Samina shipwreck, Reppas says: The "Express Samina" shipwreck had nothing to do with the enforcement of the European Union directive on passenger shipping fire safety regulations at this time, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Monday.
He said that Greece was obliged to enforce the Union directive beginning on Oct. 1 and the merchant marine ministry issued a reminder on Sept. 1, thus ships that did not comply remained at port.
Reppas also announced that Prime Minister Costas Simitis would receive Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis on Tuesday.
He accused of unacceptable behavior all those who claimed that Minoan Lines part-owner Sfinias extend his hospitality at his home in Mykonos to former Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis, adding that the former minister contributed decisively to the renewal of the Greek passenger fleet and all rumors aim at minimizing his contribution.
Reppas, also, said that Culture Minister Theodoros Pangalos' proposal to abolish the merchant marine ministry was not acceptable as this ministry is very important and its existence is mandated by Greece's geography.
Search continues for missing passengers, containment of pollution: Efforts to locate and retrieve those still missing from the 'Express Samina' shipwreck last week were continuing on Monday, with 18 divers scouring the area around the shipwreck.
The passenger/car ferry rammed into a rocky islet just off Paros on Tuesday night and sank within 20 minutes. Merchant Marine ministry sources said that 79 bodies had been recovered by Monday morning, of which 78 had been identified, while Paraskevi Triantafyllou, 60, and Albanian national Akis Skantera had been reported as still missing by their relatives.
At the same time, a private crew was busy pumping the fuel out of the sunken ferry to prevent the pollution of the marine environment.
According to Coast Guard officer Nikos Economakis, the ship's compartments had been fully contained and there was no leakage, while he was under orders to check the ship thoroughly but quickly.
Meanwhile, Paros Mayor Costas Argouzis demanded that ship-owners Minoan Flying Dolphins make arrangements to raise the sunken ferry from the seabed, warning that if they didn't "the people of Paros will take different steps."
Karamanlis asks Simitis for party-leader parliamentary debate on shipwreck and shipping policy: New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis has written to Prime Minister Costas Simitis, the main opposition's party headquarters said on Monday, asking that the 'Express Samina' shipwreck and the government's passenger shipping policies be discussed by the leaders of the political parties in Parliament.
Karamanlis has apparently asked that the premier himself initiate the discussion, in accordance with parliamentary regulations, since the opposition parties can raise only one issue for debate per day until June because of the constitutional review.
ND estimates that the prime minister will not refuse the request, given the gravity of the issue, while they said that the debate would be independent of a discussion on Wednesday afternoon between the premier and ND's leader during "Prime Minister's question time".
Opposition parties question government's role in 'Express Samina' disaster in Parliament: The opposition parties blamed both the government and owners Minoan Flying Dolphins for the shipwreck of the 'Express Samina' on Monday, through questions put in Parliament.
The passenger/car ferry 'Express Samina' sank after ramming into the "Dyo Portes" rocky islet off Paros last Tuesday night, causing the death of at least 79 passengers and possibly more. The accident has highlighted the very poor safety standards on many of the passenger ferries plying Aegean routes, 65 of which have since been forbidden from sailing since the shipwreck, as well as the virtual monopoly that Minoan Flying Dolphins has developed in the Aegean over the past few years by taking advantage of lax regulations in passenger shipping.
New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis questioned Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis' "curt" statement that, following the shipwreck, radical changes were needed in passenger shipping that would ensure safety on the seas. He also claimed that lack of coordination between the Merchant Marine and Defense ministries had prevented the use of specially designed "Super Puma" helicopters in the crucial rescue mission.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga, meanwhile, asked why the merchant marine ministry had not taken measures to deal with the ship's poor seaworthiness, why the government had not organized an immediate rescue operation and also what measures the government planned to take in order to protect human lives from the avarice of shipping companies and for the retirement of "rust bucket" ships.
Finally, Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos said that "private interests and state stereotypes" showed disregard for safety in public transport and asked Prime Minister Costas Simitis why his government had encouraged and accepted the creation of a monopoly in passenger shipping in the Aegean.
The Coalition leader also demanded to know why former merchant marine minister Stavros Soumakis had consented to the demands by Greek shippers that their ships be exempt from increased measures for the radical overhaul of old ships, why the government had failed over the course of many years to stamp out corruption in the inspection services for the commercial fleet and the Greek shipping register and whether anyone intended to take political responsibility for the weaknesses shown by the state machinery in either preventing or dealing with accidents and disasters.
 Simitis, Papandreou to discuss Yugoslav crisis, Cyprus problem
Athens, 03/10/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis will meet with Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday to discuss the foreign minister's new initiative for Yugoslavia and developments on the Cyprus problem.
According to government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, Papandreou had a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov and French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine in order to draft a memorandum aiming to lead Yugoslavia out of its current crisis.
The memorandum will urge Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to allow a recount of the votes in Yugoslavia's recent national elections by independent and trustworthy persons.
Meanwhile, the Yugoslav opposition parties have already begun blockading roads and bridges and have organized strikes in schools, factories and public services around Yugoslavia, demanding that their electoral victory is recognized, according to an ANA report from Belgrade.
Minor incidents occurred when police removed the license plates from cars and buses used in roadblocks and when they tried to open major roads to traffic by using force.
The mobilization by the opposition is working well in the countryside, but is less effective in the capital, where it has caused chaos and discontent among the public rather than the total paralysis of the public sector, which the opposition had hoped for.
Papandreou and Simitis are also expected to discuss developments on the Cyprus issue and Greek-Turkish relations, in light of the discussion in the Parliament committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense, scheduled for Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Cyprus political party leaders are expected to arrive in Athens on Wednesday and Thursday to meet with Papandreou.
Papandreou is also expected to begin briefing Greek party leaders within the week, possibly beginning with Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos.
A foreign ministry official said that the focus of Ivanov's visit to Athens on October 11 would be the Cyprus problem, on which "we always had a very good cooperation with Russia".
He added that the Cyprus problem is at "a very critical phase" after the completion of the fourth round of proximity talks in New York, stressing that "it is self evident that we are very interested in the positions and proposals of Russia", which has been working on the resolution of the problem in all international fora.
 Kostunica hails Greek proposal, criticizes US, Russia
BELGRADE, 03/10/2000 (ANA - M. Mouratidis)Yugoslav presidential candidate Vojislav Kostunica stated here on Monday that the governments of Greece, France and Norway are well intentioned in their efforts to help maintain peace and stability in the region and expressed his readiness to accept the proposal of those governments who call for a recount of the votes in the presence of independent observers.
Kostunica indirectly criticized the behavior of the United States and Russia, saying that they are acting as major powers and thus make difficult the solution of the problem.
Regarding reports that President Slobodan Milosevic could become prime minister of Yugoslavia, the opposition leader underlined that if his election is ratified, he will give the order for the formation of a government to the Socialist People's Party of Montenegro, stressing that he sees as most suitable for this position, the Vice-President of this party, Predrag Bulatovic.
 Greek, Spanish defense ministers discuss on European defense and security, NATO
Athens, 03/10/2000 (ANA)Greek National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos met in Athens on Monday with his Spanish counterpart Federico Trillo Figueroa and discussed European defense and security issues.
The two men discussed issues regarding the cooperation among defense industries, NATO, and bilateral cooperation.
They also discussed the supply of transport aircraft to the Greek Armed Forces, for which Spain proposed the C-295 or the CN-235.
Tsohatzopoulos also noted that negotiations for the purchase of 60 new fourth generation Eurofighter planes will be completed with the consortium of the four manufacturing companies by late October.
The two ministers stressed in their statements that they agreed on issues concerning European political defense and security and their course in NATO.
Tsohatzopoulos noted the need for the creation of permanent military and political structures in the European Union and for the responsibility of their political actions to be undertaken by the EU Council of Defense Ministers.
On the Cyprus issue, the Spanish minister said his country supported a settlement of the Cyprus problem based on all the UN resolutions.
 Turkish Defense Minister due in Athens
ISTANBUL, 03/10/2000 (ANA - E. Aretaios)Turkish Defense Minister Sabahatin Cakmakoglu was due in Athens on Monday to attend the 11th international exhibition Defendory International 2000, according to a report by the Turkish news agency Anadolu.
Speaking at Ankara airport prior to his departure, Cakmakoglu expressed optimism over the further improvement of Greek-Turkish relations, adding that "Greece and Turkey should compete for peace and not for armaments."
 Turkish President Sezer satisfied over state of Greek-Turkish relations
ISTANBUL, 03/10/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Turkish President Ahmed Nezdet Sezer on Monday expressed satisfaction over the state of Greek-Turkish relations and optimism over a "solution to problems in the Aegean".
"The satisfying fact is that a climate of moderation is prevailing in our relations with Greece, following last year's earthquakes and solidarity between the two peoples after the Helsinki summit...We believe we can find a solution for the main issues concerning the Aegean which are having a negative effect on relations between the two countries," Sezer said in an address at the beginning of the Turkish National Assembly's works.
Sezer said "political will exists in Turkey for a solution to the issues preoccupying Greek-Turkish relations and the signing of nine agreements between our two countries are encouraging for the further course of our relations."
Referring to the Cyprus issue, the Turkish president said Turkey desires a permanent solution and claimed that "a confederation is the most realistic solution which will ensure the cohabitation of the two communities on the island."
 Greece opposes changes to highway transport regulations
LUXEMBOURG, 03/10/2000 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)Greece on Monday declared its opposition to French presidency proposals on inflexible work schedules for drivers on highway transport vehicles, during the European Union Transport Ministers' Council.
Greek Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis said that such regulations would be especially harmful to Union member-states of the periphery, as they increase the cost of transporting goods, thus decreasing the competitive edge of economies in the periphery of the Union.
Verelis presented Greece's positions which aimed at protecting the transport sector of the country, which is composed to a great degree by free lance vehicle owner-drivers, who usually drive on their own great distances without regard for work schedules, toward central European markets.
According to Verelis, Greece proposes that there is no need for changes to the existing directives, as the current one provides for the resolution of all issues; Greece does not accept the replacement of the term "driving" with the term "total work hours"; in any case Greece requests for the exemption of all self employed drivers.
In a related development, it was announced that Greece secured a satisfactory number of transit licenses for Greek transporters to pass through Switzerland.
 Simitis to chair meeting of Executive Bureau, answer questions on 'Express Samina'
Athens, 03/10/2000 (ANA)A meeting of PASOK's Executive Bureau that had been postponed last week after the shipwreck of the 'Express Samina' has been rescheduled for Wednesday, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas announced on Monday.
The spokesman said the meeting would discuss the claims made by Culture Minister Theodoros Pangalos that "certain" high-ranking PASOK cadres had been entertained on the yacht of a well-known businessman.
Earlier on Wednesday, Reppas said, Prime Minister Costas Simitis would answer questions in Parliament regarding the shipwreck of the 'Express Samina' passenger/car ferry last Tuesday during "Prime Minister's question time."
On Thursday morning there will be a meeting of the cabinet chaired by the prime minister regarding the state of the shipping sector, while on Thursday afternoon the premier is to meet the head of the "Athens 2004" Olympics Organizing Committee, Gianna Angelopoulou-Daskalaki.
On Friday, the spokesman said, Simitis will address a meeting of PASOK's Central Committee, which ends the following day, on Saturday.
Simitis confers with PASOK parliamentary group presidium: Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Monday night conferred with his ruling PASOK party's parliamentary group presidium on current political affairs.
Also present at the meeting was State Minister Miltiadis Papaioannou.
Parliamentary group secretary Kosmas Sfyriou told reporters after the meeting that the presidium outlined its views on current issues to the prime minister.
 Pangalos proposes abolition of merchant marine ministry
Athens, 03/10/2000 (ANA)Culture minister Theodoros Pangalos on Monday endorsed abolition of a number of ministries, including the merchant marine ministry.
Replying to press questions concerning the issue of setting up an Olympics ministry in view of Athens' hosting of the 2004 Games, Pangalos said:
"In my opinion, there are too many ministries today. Only about half are necessary, and one of the ministries I would propose should be abolished is the merchant marine ministry," said Pangalos, a former foreign minister.
He made the comments to reporters after a meeting with visiting European Commissioner for education and culture Viviane Reding, with whom Pangalos discussed the proposed designation of the year 2004 -- when Athens hosts the Olympic Games -- as the European Year of Athletics. They also discussed cultural matters to be dealt with at the next EU summit in Nice in early December.
It was decided during the meeting that the EU's committee on cultural affairs would work closely with the Greek culture ministry in the run-up to the 2004 Games in Athens.
Reding and Pangalos also discussed efforts to boost cinemas throughout the 15-nation bloc and the establishment of a "European Reading Observatory" aiming at spreading book reading at university level.
The two officials further discussed the cultural Olympiad Greece plans to hold in tandem with the Olympics' sports events. Reding said the European Commission desired that the 2004 Olympic Torch relay would have a European-wide character.
"The Olympic Games of Athens are the Olympic Games of Europe," Reding said.
 International Development Cooperation Service to enable Greece to meet role of donor
Athens, 03/10/2000 (ANA)The publication of Presidential Decree 224 (Government Gazette 193/6-9-2000) activates the International Development Cooperation Service to enable Greece to meet the role of international donor it is already playing. The purpose of the service as a national, developmental and humanitarian apparatus and agency is the supervision, coordination and promotion of activities and programs of an urgent nature, as well as aid for the restructuring and rehabilitation of developing and transitional countries, promoted primarily through Non-Governmental Organizations and other agencies of the citizens' society.
The Foreign Ministry's new General Department, whose creation was a commitment by Foreign Minister George Papandreou, targets the promotion of the citizens' society in the sector of international development and humanitarian action.
Papandreou believes that the dynamic agencies of the society of our citizens, which are governed by a spirit of volunteerism and international contribution, can contribute effectively towards handling crises in developing and transitional countries and contributing decisively towards stability, democratization and peace in these regions.
The International Development Cooperation Service is a dynamic implement for exercising foreign policy, particularly in such regions as the Balkans, where Greece has the ambition of playing a leading role.
 Papazoi meets EU Commissioner
Athens, 03/10/2000 (ANA)Alternate Foreign Minister Elizabeth Papazoi met in Athens on Monday with European Union Education and Culture Commissioner Viviane Reding who is in the Greek capital for consultations with the Greek government.
Papazoi briefed the Commissioner on current issues of Greek interest, which are in process at the various EU agencies.
The Greek minister also proposed the founding in Athens, with the help of the European Commission, of a European Communications and Information Center.
 Arab ambassadors call on Greece to contribute towards normalcy in Palestinian territory
Athens, 03/10/2000 (ANA)The Council of 12 Arab ambassadors accredited to Athens convened on Monday to examine the issue of bloody incidents on Palestinian territory, following the entry of Israeli Likud Party leader Ariel Sharon into the courtyard of the Al-Akca mosque under the protection of 3,000 Israeli soldiers, and decided to send a delegation to Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday (composed of the Palestinian, Tunisian and Moroccan ambassadors) to describe dangers entailed by Israeli policy and to call on Greece to contribute to the restoration of normalcy.
The ambassadors also decided to have the three-member delegation meet with the leaders of parties represented in Parliament.
The Arab diplomats said this act was a crude provocation for the Palestinians, Arabs and Moslems of the entire world, since the holiness of the place, protected by the principles of international law, was violated.
Addressing a press conference after the meeting, the Palestinian Ambassador to Athens Abdalla Abdalla said the Israeli military used live ammunition, rockets, tanks and helicopters, resulting in the murder of 40 Palestinians and the injuring of 1,600 people.
The Palestinian diplomat called on the "friendly Greek government" to intervene in the framework of the European Union and the UN for an end to Israeli crimes and called on the UN secretary general to intervene and send an international investigatory committee to place responsibility on the Israeli government for the recent massacres and bring the Israelis responsible before relevant international courts.
Abdalla also told reporters that a protest march will be held at 3.30 p.m. on Tuesday with the participation of Palestinian, Arab and Greek demonstrators. The march will start from the building housing the Palestinian delegation in Athens.
 Interior minister meets with fuel truckers' representatives
Athens, 03/10/2000 (ANA)Negotiations to end the fuel-trucker strike were progressing on a positive track on Monday as representatives of owners and drivers met with relevant government ministers.
Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou, who headed the government delegation said that by Tuesday noon she expected a positive response to the government's proposals from truckers, thus effectively ending the strike.
"The government confronts the problems of the sector in a positive light and we hope that the other side comprehends the problems created by the strike. Tomorrow at noon we are expecting their positive response, otherwise the government will take measures to supply the market with fuel," Papandreou said.
The government has already promised to decrease the annual license fees, the freeing of the profession from regulations and the inclusion of the sector to development subsidy programs, at the time when corporations are created.
On their part representatives of truckers said that discussions were on the right track.
On Tuesday at 11 am, local time, the fuel truckers' union will hold its general assembly to decide on the issue.
 Greek stocks remain range bound; end flat
Athens, 03/10/2000 (ANA)Equity prices ended flat the first trading session of the week, reflecting lack of fresh incentives and a shrinking liquidity in the market.
Traders said the general index would continue moving within the 4,100-4,200 level in the short-term because of lack of capital inflows in the market.
Shares in the shipping sector were particularly hit, following a series of maritime accidents in the previous week.
The general index ended 0.05 percent higher at 4,180.91 points, off the day's highs of 4,216.15 points, with turnover a low 67.97 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.08 percent lower at 2,369.78 points and the FTSE/ASE 40 index eased 1.09 percent to 529.71 points.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: 8,547.46 +0.31% Leasing: 676.82 +0.56% Insurance: 2,255.21 -0.52% Investment: 1,646.23 -0.37% Construction: 1,984.38 -1.19% Industrials: 2,474.83 +0.05% Miscellaneous: 4,185.39 -2.25% Holding: 5,056.58 +0.25%
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended at 594.22 points, off 0.36 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 194 to 132 with another 28 issues unchanged.
Hellenic Telecoms, Minoan Lines, Alpha Bank, Hellenic Bottling, Alpha Leasing, Panafon and Eurobank were the most heavily traded stocks.
Leading shares' closing prices (in Drs): National Bank: 15,800 Titan Cement (c): 14,750 Alpha Bank: 15,250 Hellenic Telecoms: 7,390 Commercial Bank: 19,585 Panafon: 3,695 Hellenic Petroleum: 4,085 Eurobank: 11,170 Attica Enterprise: 3,390 Piraeus Bank: 6,600 Intracom: 12,880 Lambrakis Press: 8,990 Minoan Lines: 2,500 Heracles Cement: 6,330 Hellenic Bottling: 5,190
Equity futures end down, tracking Athens bourse: Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished lower on Monday, in line with the indices on which they are based.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 0.08 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 1.09 percent lower.
Turnover was 16.4 billion drachmas.
A total of 2.889 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 with turnover at 13.8 billion drachmas.
On the FTSE/ASE 40 index, 1,167 contracts changed hands on turnover of 2.5 billion drachmas.
Bond prices nose up in heavy trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Monday finished higher in heavy across-the-board trade.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.024 percent from 6.039 percent in the last session.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 79 basis points, same as in the previous trading day.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 150 billion drachmas from 112 billion drachmas in the session before.
Of the total, buy orders accounted for the bulk of trade.
Drachma down vs. euro, gains ground vs. dollar: The drachma on Monday ended lower 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 339.350 drachmas from 339.320 drachmas in the previous session.
Also at the fix, the dollar was set at 384.700 drachmas from 385.560 drachmas a trading day earlier.
 Tsohatzopoulos addresses defense industry conference
Athens, 03/10/2000 (ANA)National defense minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said Monday that his ministry was making constant efforts to increase the proportion of Greek industries' participation in the Greek armed forces' armaments programs.
In the past four years, he said, a total of 1.9 trillion dr. had been paid to the Greek defense industry, of which 1.3 trillion dr. was for co-productions and 0.6 trillion dr. for participation in programs. Of that overall sum, he said, 30 percent had been absorbed by the private sector and 70 percent by public enterprises.
Addressing the second international conference organized by the Federation of Greek Materiele (defense supplies) Manufacturers on the eve of the opening of the 11th Defendory International 2000 international exhibition of conventional national defense systems by air, sea and air, Tsohatzopoulos outlined the concern of the European peoples on the issue of increased defense budgets.
The 21st century required new replies and new policies so as to form more auspicious conditions of peace and progress for all the peoples, Tsohatzopoulos said.
Addressing the same conference, Cyprus defense minister Socrates Hasikos accused the Turkish side of not only not seeking a solution to the 26-year-old problem but also a consolidation of the faits accomplis created with Turkey's invasion of the island republic in 1974. He further accused Turkey of an obstructive stance in any effort made for a peaceful solution of the problem and, of attempting, "in an extortionist manner", to avert every effort made by the Cyprus Republic as a candidate for membership in the european defense and security institutions.
He further charged that certain european countries and the United States refused to sell weapons systems to Cyprus, but on the contrary were helping turkey reinforce its occupation troops on Cyprus.
Hasikos called for re-examination of the conditions for licensing the export of weapons systems from the European Union so that the EU will not find itself inconsistent on its decision to designate Cyprus as a candidate member country.
The American manager of Armaments Cooperation Atlantic, Robert Bruce, endorsed the establishment of a competitive and trans-Atlantic industrial model in the defense industry sector.
He anticipated that the international community would in the future face rapid action tensions and hostilities and, in order to be effective, there must be full link-up among the defense industries and armaments among the allies.
A spokesman for France spoke of the bilateral cooperation between Greece and his country in the defense sector, and backed the idea of long-term collaborations among defense industries.
Replying to questions, Tsohatzopoulos reiterated that the condition for normalization of Greek-Turkish relations was Turkish contribution to resolving the Cyprus problem.
 EU to aid Olympic Airways in avoiding liquidation
Athens, 03/10/2000 (ANA)The European Union wishes to aid toward the resolution of Olympic Airways' problems to avoid its liquidation, European Commissioner on Transport Loyola de Palacio said on Monday to Greek Minister of Transport and Communications Christos Verelis, at the sidelines of the Union Transport Ministers' meeting in Luxembourg.
Palacio requested of Verelis to brief her on developments of all phases of the tender for the privatization of the group of companies, as all the relevant regulations must be adhered to.
She also stressed that no state aid to the carrier would be allowed, adding, however, that the Union was positively disposed toward the dispensing of funds already allocated for guarantees for the purchase of new airplanes and the transfer of the airline's facilities to the new Athens airport in Spata, Attica.
 Industrial production up 5.7 percent in July
Athens, 03/10/2000 (ANA)Greece's composite industrial production index, including mining, manufacturing, and electricity-natural gas-water, rose by 5.7 percent in July compared with the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said on Monday.
The mining production index jumped 15.5 percent, the manufacturing index increased 2.9 percent and the electricity-natural gas-water production index rose 11.8 percent.
 Hellenic Bank of Cyprus inaugurates branch in Thessaloniki
Athens, 03/10/2000 (ANA)The Hellenic Bank of Cyprus on Monday announced that its new branch in Thessaloniki begun operating, while the bank plans to create another tree branches in that city within 2001.
The bank also announced that it would also create another three branches in other parts of the country, while it already operates five branches in Athens.
The company' turnover for the first six months of 2000 rose to 72.7 million Cyprus pounds, while its pre tax profits rose to 10.08 million Cyprus, for a year-on-year increase of 151 per cent.
 UUNET to provide IS in Athens
Athens, 03/10/2000 (ANA)WorldCom subsidiary UUNET announced on Monday the creation of an Internet hub in Athens, the fifth of its kind in Europe.
During an event in Athens, UUNET officials also noted that the company was planning to provide the full range of services as the hub would allow the company to become a local-international Internet Service Provider in the region.
The company is planning to focus on e-commerce; Virtual Private Networks, dedicated line internet connections, UUdirect transit and wholesale internet services, as well as dial up connections.
 EU Commissioner says Greece will receive half a billion euro over 2000-2006 period
Athens, 03/10/2000 (ANA)European Union Education and Culture Commissioner Viviane Reding said on Monday night Greece will receive half a billion euro over the 2000-2006 period, enabling the Greek government to "invest" in preserving cultural heritage, building cultural centers and in other activities concerning the Culture Ministry's sector.
Speaking at the Athens Concert Hall, Reding said "there will never be a Museum of Europe which will not take Greece's contribution to European civilization into consideration", adding that the European Commission has nothing to do with the "Museum of Europe" plan in Brussels which concerns private initiative.
 Prime Minister to welcome the Olympic medallists at airport
Athens, 03/10/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis will welcome the Olympic medallists during a special ceremony at Athens airport on Tuesday morning.
He is also expected to receive them on October 9 and President Kostis Stephanopoulos on October 6. The medallists will return to Athens from Sydney on Tuesday morning to be met with a modest welcome ceremony at the airport due to the country's mourning over the recent shipwreck off the island of Paros, which claimed scores of lives.
Apart from the 13 medals, four gold, six silver and three bronze, the Greek delegation will also be bringing the Olympic flag back home 104 years after the first modern-day Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896.
 Prime minister to meet with Athens 2004 president
Athens, 03/10/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis will receive Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee President Yianna Angelopoulou-Daskalaki on Thursday, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Monday.
He said that the organizing committee plays the leading role in organizing the Games and the state simply helps out on issues of infrastructure, adding that the meeting of Simitis with Daskalaki will be held in "a climate of cooperation", denying rumors that she would resign her post.
 Australian Olympic Games minister says Athens will organize excellent Olympiad in 2004
MELBOURNE, 03/10/2000 (ANA - S. Hatzimanolis)Australian Olympic Games Minister Michael Knight said on Monday, referring to the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, "the Greek capital will succeed in organizing excellent games in 2004."
Knight said the international press is negatively disposed towards Athens and reminded that for a long period of time Sydney was "fairly and unfairly" subjected to criticism both by the foreign and Australian media.
He ruled out the possibility of the International Olympic Committee withdrawing the games from Athens and expressed satisfaction over the fact the Sydney Olympic Games "were considered the best of all from every point of view", adding that Sydney does not want "and is not raising its hand to undertake the games in 2004 as well."
Knight also placed himself at Greece's disposal for the transfer of the games' know-how to Greece.
 Government says would welcome Turkish Cypriot participation in EU accession negotiations
NICOSIA, 03/10/2000 (CNA/ANA)The government has said it would welcome Turkish Cypriot participation in the accession negotiations Cyprus is engaged in with the European Union, reiterating its hope that the Turkish Cypriots will accept a long-standing invitation to that effect by President Glafcos Clerides.
Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said this would mean that there have been substantive steps in the peace effort for a Cyprus settlement as well, noting also that such a development would entail a slight delay in the accession process.
President Clerides extended an invitation to the Turkish Cypriots, a move EU circles have described as "fair and courageous", to "nominate representatives to be included as full members of the Cypriot team, which will conduct the negotiations."
The invitation of March 1998 has not been taken up by the Turkish Cypriots so far despite repeated pleas by various quarters.
"I wish the Turkish Cypriots respond to the President's invitation as this would signal a significant step not only in our accession course but also in efforts to settle the Cyprus question," the spokesman told his daily press briefing.
Replying to questions, he said the government and the UN, under whose aegis the peace negotiations are taking place, are in constant touch with EU representatives to try and ensure that a comprehensive settlement would not include such provisions that would endanger the EU course.
"If we were to adopt such tactics and such policies that could lead us to be accused of not pushing for peace negotiations or even worse of abandoning without a valid reason the talks, then we would be jeopardizing our position vis a vis the EU," Papapetrou said.
Asked to comment on the possibility of a delay in the accession process, should the Turkish Cypriot join the Cyprus negotiating team, the spokesman explained that the acquis communautaire is to a large extent not negotiable and if there is a delay, it will be such that it will not affect Cyprus' accession course.