|Thursday, 23 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-10-04
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Greece's Olympic champions return, dedicate medals to memory of shipwreck victims
Athens, 04/10/2000 (ANA)Greece's Olympic champions returned home on Tuesday to a simple welcome by the country's political and sports leaders, and dedicated their medals to the memory of the victims of a ferry shipwreck off the coast of Paros the previous week.
We dedicate our medals to the people who were lost in the maritime tragedy off Paros," weightlifter Pyrros Dimas, a gold medallist in three consecutive Olympics, said as the Greek Olympics team was greeted by the country's political and sports leaders, headed by prime minister Costas Simitis, upon landing at Athens airport from the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia.
The athletes brought home a total of 13 medals, which ranked Greece among the top 20 medal-winning countries in the 27th Olympiad.
Apart from the four gold, six silver and three bronze medals, which put Greece in 17th place, the athletes and Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos also brought the Olympic flag back home for the first time, 104 years after the first modern-day Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896, for the 2004 Games in the Greek capital.
The Olympic champions were welcomed in a modest ceremony, as the originally planned lavish 'heroes' welcome' was cancelled in mourning over last week's "Express Samina" shipwreck off Paros that cost the lives of at least 79 people.
Apart from the officials, relatives of the athletes and sports fans also showed up for the welcome.
"For 15 days, the heart of all of Greece was beating in Sydney, and you made all of us feel proud. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts," premier Simitis told the athletes.
"All of Greece welcomes you with joy and emotion. And while the tears over the maritime tragedy in the Aegean have not yet dried, you managed to make the entire nation proud," Simitis said.
"We know that your successes are the result of a long and methodic effort, and are an example for the entire country. You proved that whoever tries, wins. You set high goals and achieved them, and you reflect the new Greece, a Greece of development and dynamism. We shall continue to support your efforts, especially in anticipation of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. In those Games, we wish to bring friendship and fraternity to the forefront. Our basic aspiration is to place emphasis on modesty and unaffected good taste. We want to put man and ideals at the forefront. In a growing world, Greece wants to show that it can successfully organize the Olympic Games and elevate its own values," the premier continued.
Athens mayor Avramopoulos, who together with Athens 2004 organizing committee president Gianna Daskalaki-Angelopoulos were entrusted with the Olympic Flag by International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Juan Antonio Samaranch at the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympics, said that Greece was "welcoming home the Olympic Flag and its worthy children with honor and emotion".
"Our country is moving into a new era, and is called on to give to the Games their true meaning," the Mayor said.
Greek Olympic Committee president Lambis Nikolaou also congratulated the Greek team in a brief greeting.
Dimas, speaking on behalf of the Greek Olympic athletes, said "we gave all that we could, we believed in our abilities and fought for what is beautiful, lofty and true".
"We shall do the same in the 2004 Games, and will try to prove worthy of your expectations," Dimas said.
President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos will receive the medallists on October 6, and the prime minister will receive them on October 9.
The gold-medal winners are: Weightlifters Pyrros Dimas in the 85-kilo category and Akakios Kakiasvilis 94-kilo category, Kostas Kenteris in the 200-metre sprint, and Tae Kwon-do athlete Mihalis Mouroutsos in the 78-kilo category.
The silver medal winners are: Katerina Thanou in the women's 100m sprint, Dimosthenis Tampakos in the men's gymnastics rings, Mirella Maniani-Tzelili in the javelin throw, Anastasia Kelesidou in the discus throw, and weightlifters Viktoras Mitrou in the 77 kg. category and Leonidas Sambanis in the 62 kg. category.
Bronze medal winners: Greece's Olympic rhythmic gymnastics team, Ioanna Hatziioannou in the women's weight-lifting competition in the women's 63-kg category, and Amiran Karntanov in freestyle wrestling in the 76 kg. category.
 PM Simitis to chair cabinet meeting on Thursday on shipping issues
Athens, 04/10/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday night held a meeting with Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis who told the premier that a new page in the history of shipping was in the making.
Papoutsis described his two-hour meeting with Simitis at the Maximos Mansion as constructive and said it concerned preparations for the proposals on shipping which will be presented at the cabinet meeting on Thursday.
Papoutsis also briefed Simitis on the meetings he had with his EU counterparts in Luxembourg on Monday and on the common position taken regarding the safety of shipping in Europe.
The minister said that issues, which will be discussed at the cabinet, will include the continuing investigations into the cause of the shipwreck of the "Express Samina" off Paros island last week and on the market deregulation of shipping and the modernization of sea transport
Reppas rules out Parliamentary inquiry into shipwreck, resignation of Papoutsis: he government is not considering the appointment of a parliamentary committee to investigate the 'Express Samina' shipwreck, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Tuesday and urged everyone to wait for the results of a judicial inquiry currently underway.
The spokesman accused main opposition New Democracy of "fabricating guilty parties" and pinning the most serious charges on them, "showing extreme irresponsibility."
Such serious issues should not be dealt with this sort of petty party politics, he said.
In response to other questions, Reppas said that no party had requested an emergency debate in Parliament and he did not rule out a meeting between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and former merchant marine minister Stavros Soumakis.
Regarding Soumakis, Reppas said he had been "a good minister," and he added that there was no question of current Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis resigning.
He also ruled out the possibility of the government asking for a vote of confidence in Parliament, saying that it already had this as well as the recently expressed trust of the Greek people.
Officers of shipwrecked "Samina" imprisoned pending trial: The captain and Lt. captain of the fateful "Express Samina" passenger ferry that sank two miles of the port of central Aegean island of Paros claiming the lives of 79 persons, were imprisoned pending their trial for manslaughter.
Meanwhile, sailor at the helm at the time of the shipwreck Papagiotis Kasdaglis and Cadet George Patilas, who was on duty at the bridge, both also accused of manslaughter, were released on bail of one million drachmas.
According to reports, Capt. Vassilis Yiannakis and Lt. Capt. Anastasios Psyhogios gave conflicting accounts of their actions during the shipwreck, as well as conditions following the collision of the ferry with the "Dyo Portes" rock islet.
"I am very sorry, from the depths of my heart," Kasdaglis said following his release.
The 'Express Samina' sunk last Tuesday night after colliding into a rocky outcrop just outside the island of Paros, causing the death of at least 79 people.
Paros port, municipality to set up beacon to mark site of tragic shipwreck: The Paros Port Authority and municipality are to set up a floating beacon above the spot where the passenger/car ferry 'Express Samina' went down a week ago as a reminder of the tragic shipwreck, it was announced on Tuesday.
Paros Mayor Costas Argouzis said that the beacon would be put into place immediately after diving crews looking for missing passengers and the crews pumping fuel out of the sunken ferry had finished their work. According to sources at the Port Authority, all the fuel will have been removed over the next three days.
The search for the missing passengers continues meanwhile. One of these, according to the latest reports from relatives, may possibly have been sleeping in her cabin in the center of the ship at the time of the shipwreck and diving teams intend to concentrate their search in that area. An Albanian reported missing by his fellow travelers, meanwhile, might possibly have been swept away by the sea since they say he jumped off the ship with them.
 Captain of shipwrecked "Zeus III" arraigned
Athens, 04/10/2000 (ANA)The captain of yacht "Zeus III" that hit a riff and sank a mile and a half off the port of the central Aegean island of Naxos claiming the life of one person, was arraigned on Tuesday on charges of manslaughter.
The yacht Zeus III hit a rock and split in two and sank, claiming the life of one of the 31 passengers and seven crewmembers, in the early hours of Sunday.
Port authority vessels and local fishermen rescued the passengers and crewmembers. However, on the way to the island's healthcare center, United States national Richard Ihde, 82, died.
The yacht transported 27 US nationals, one German and three Greeks, along with the seven-crew members.
 Greek, Turkish defense ministers stress need of reducing armaments
Athens, 04/10/2000 (ANA)The defense ministers of Greece and Turkey on Tuesday agreed on the necessity of reducing armaments.
Speaking to reporters after an hour-long meeting with Turkish counterpart Sabahattin Cakmakoglu on the sidelines of the Defendory 2000 international conventional weapons systems exhibition that opened Tuesday in Athens, Greece's defense minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said that there was common interest on both sides to comprehend that the cost of armaments was a heavy financial burden for both peoples, "regardless of the reasons for which we invest in that sector".
It was necessary that a proportion of the funds that went to armaments should be earmarked to meet the needs of the two peoples in such areas as education, social policy and culture, Tsohatzopoulos added.
He reiterated Greece's support of Turkey's prospective European Union membership, noting that Turkey's partner relationship with the 15-nation EU would create stability, which, in turn, "will positively influence the security terms in our region".
Tsohatzopoulos said he had made it clear to his Turkish counterpart that Greece endorsed a just solution for the Cyprus issue, as well as the Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs) between Greece and Turkey currently being discussed at bilateral level, among senior officials of the two countries' foreign ministries, and at NATO level concerning operational and military CBMs.
Cakmakoglu also expressed condolences to the Greek people over last week's sinking of the "Express Samina" ferry off the island of Paros that killed at least 79 people.
He further described his discussion with Tsohatzopoulos as "productive", covering issues of concern to both countries.
The 11th Defendory international exhibition on conventional armaments opened Tuesday in Piraeus, attended by delegations from more than 60 countries, with 22 defense ministers and deputy defense ministers attending.
The exhibition, under the auspices of the Greek ministry of defense, runs to November 7.
 Greece watching with great concern volatile situation in Jerusalem
Athens, 04/10/2000 (ANA)The Greek government said on Tuesday it was "watching with great concern" the violent incidents, which have broken out in Jerusalem, warning that the possible continuation of violence "might reintroduce the religious dimension" at the center of developments.
Foreign Minister George Papandreou discussed the volatile situation in Jerusalem and territory of the Palestinian Authority in talks he had on Tuesday with Palestinian Ambassador Abdallah Abdallah and the ambassadors of Jordan Ahmad al Hasan, Morocco Nuredin Sefiani and Tunisia Ali Husani.
The meeting was held at the Arab ambassadors' request.
An announcement by the Foreign Ministry said "the Greek government is watching with great concern the violent incidents which have broken out between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli security forces and have cost the lives of scores of people. We express our sorrow over the loss of so many people and the injuring of thousands, possible continuation of violence might reintroduce the religious dimension at the center of developments after some time, as well as our sincere sympathy to their families." The announcement went on to say that "we point out that the overshadowing the political nature of differences and exercising an unfavorable influence not only on the peace process but on stability in the region of the Middle East in general.
"We call on the two sides to show calm, avoiding provocative or unfortunate acts, such as the visit by Mr. Ariel Sharon to the region of the Moslem Shrines. The sole path leading to peace is that of negotiations and understanding and today, more than ever, it is necessary for it to be followed by all sides.
"The Greek government is ready to undertake, in the framework of the European Union, every possible initiative to enable the political role of Europe to be strengthened at this crucial phase of the peace process, equating it with its development role."
 FM Papandreou briefs PM over situation in Yugoslavia
Athens, 04/10/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis met with Foreign Minister George Papandreou in Athens on Tuesday for talks centering on the situation in Yugoslavia, following presidential elections in the neighboring country.
In statements to reporters afterwards, Papandreou referred to what he called a "supportive role" Athens wants to play, in cooperation with other countries, in relieving the latest crisis in Yugoslavia following the first round of voting.
He also again mentioned Greece's proposal for a recounting of votes in the Yugoslav poll.
Finally, Papandreou reiterated that Athens desires Yugoslavia's re-inclusion into the European family of nations "as soon as possible", and that peace and stability be ensured in the region.
Reppas says common proposal for recount of votes in Yugoslav elections is rational: Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Tuesday the joint proposal by France, Greece and Russia for a recount of votes in the recent Yugoslav elections is rational, adding that the endorsement of this proposal by Yugoslavia's political forces can give an exit to the crisis.
Reppas said that for efforts being made to produce results, they should have the backing of the local political forces since no one desires intervention in Yugoslavia's domestic affairs.
He also denied that US President Bill Clinton had a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, but said that Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his US counterpart Madeleine Albright communicated frequently.
 Simitis, Stephanopoulos send messages marking Cyprus' 40th independence day anniversary
Athens, 04/10/2000 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos sent Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides a message marking the 40th anniversary of Cyprus' independence on Sunday, assuring him of Greece's continued support in efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just, permanent and viable solution to the Cyprus problem, based on UN resolutions.
Similar message were also sent by Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who also promised to support Cyprus' efforts to join the European Union.
 Papandreou begins separate meetings with Cypriot political party leaders
NICOSIA, 04/10/2000 (ANA/G.Leonidas)Greece's Foreign Minister George Papandreou begins separate meetings as of Wednesday with Cypriot political party leaders.
The meetings follow the end last week of a fourth round of UN-led proximity talks to resolve the protracted Cyprus problem.
He is due to meet on Wednesday with Democratic Rally (DHSY) party leader Nikos Anastassiades who will submit to the Greek minister in writing his party's positions.
Papandreou will meet on the same day with left-wing AKEL General Secretary Dimitris Christofias.
The Greek minister will meet with Social democrats Movement (KISOS) leader Vassos Lyssarides on Thursday.
It has not been determined yet on what day Papandreou will hold talks with the Democratic Party (DHKO).
Reppas says accession of Cyprus to EU not linked to solution of island's problem: Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Tuesday the European Union's position that the accession of Cyprus is not linked to a solution to the problem of Cyprus (as it had been decided at the EU Helsinki summit) still stands and is strong.
Reppas had been called on by the press to comment on a statement by Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, who represented the government at events marking the anniversary of the independence of Cyprus, reportedly linking the political solution to the issue of Cyprus to the accession course.
Reppas said Christodoulakis did not relate the two issues, adding that Cyprus is the country most prepared for accession from among the candidate countries. He also said the accession of Cyprus to the EU will also create a new environment for the Cyprus issue.
 Tsohatzopoulos inaugurates weapons exhibition
Athens, 04/10/2000 (ANA)National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Tuesday inaugurated the weapons exhibition Defendory International 2000, which takes place once every two years in Greece, at the installations of the Piraeus Port Authority exhibition center.
There was a 25 per cent increase in exhibits, compared to 1998, as 85 weapons firms from 34 countries, including Greece, are participating in the exhibition that will last until Saturday and is closed to the public.
Representatives of 62 countries, international organizations and research centers are scheduled to visit Defendory this year.
Tsohatzopoulos visited all pavilions of the exhibition and stressing that the weapons production capacity of Greece is recognized as a basic element in the sum of the European defense industry.
He added that the presentation of Greek products was up to par with those of multinational corporations of Europe, America and Asia.
He also noted that the exhibition's success was proven by the fact that 22 defense ministers and deputy ministers from around the world visited Defendory.
British Deputy Defense Secretary in Athens on occasion of "Defendory 2000" exhibition: British Deputy Defense Secretary Baroness Liz Simons arrived in Athens on Tuesday on the occasion of the "Defendory 2000" exhibition and said it has a "very European" character.
Simons, who was in Greece when British Embassy Military Attache Steven Saunders was assassinated by terrorists, held talks on the sidelines of the exhibition with National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Deputy National Defense Minister Dimitris Apostolakis.
She made it clear that, apart from the Defendory exhibition, her visit also concerned "the continuation of the Saunders case", adding that all in Britain are committed to its solution.
Simons reiterated the British government's satisfaction over cooperation between the Greek authorities and British Scotland Yard officials who are in Greece and announced that Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis is expected to visit London soon. She further said the Greek government, in cooperation with the British government, is doing everything possible to promote investigations which "we are aware, due to the great relevant experience we have in the United Kingdom, might last six months, a year or even more."
Commenting on whether Britain links investigations aimed at breaking up the November 17 terrorist organization with the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, Simons said "we never linked these issues directly" but added that for Athens, as well as for every Olympiad, "the issue of the games' security is of top priority."
 Israel's Sneh cancels Athens lecture, press conference set for Wednesday
Athens, 04/10/2000 (ANA)Visiting Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh will hold a press conference on Wednesday at the "Defendory" arms exhibition being hosted at the port of Piraeus, Israeli embassy sources said on Tuesday after an event scheduled for later in the evening in downtown Athens was cancelled.
According to reports, Sneh's lecture on the Mideast peace process at the Athens-based Institute for International Relations was cancelled following the large-scale flare-up of violence in the West Bank and Israel during the last few days.
The press conference is set for 2:45 p.m. at the Piraeus port authority's exhibition center. Sneh is currently visiting Greece.
Fighting began after rightwing Israeli politician Ariel Sharon enraged Muslims by visiting a Jerusalem shrine on Thursday, considered sacred to both Muslims as well as Jews.
In all, 38 Palestinians, eight Israeli Arabs, an Israeli border policeman, an Israeli soldier and an Israeli Jewish civilian have been killed.
 Gov't to up budget spending on health, education
Athens, 04/10/2000 (ANA)The government is to boost spending on health and education in the 2001 budget by more than 6.7 percent, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said on Tuesday.
Papantoniou was speaking after a meeting with Education Minister Petros Efthymiou and Deputy Finance Minister George Drys on the education ministry's budget.
The new budget would shortly be finalized, and ministers had shown care in curbing their spending requirements, Papantoniou added.
 Giannitsis wants social partners' positions on employment soon
Athens, 04/10/2000 (ANA)Labor and Social Security Minister Tasos Giannitsis wants to be informed of social partners' positions on employment over the next 10 days, according to a letter he addressed on Tuesday to the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) and other unions.
Giannitsis said that, according to replies given, the Labor Ministry would set meetings to enable the process of social dialogue for employment to resume.
He added that the government will carefully examine views set out, but "with a feeling of duty to the 520,000 unemployed, it will also take political decisions, it will provide prospects for their accession to active life and policies which will give hope and will lead to the cohesion of society."
 GSEE president unveils study on insurance system liabilities
Athens, 04/10/2000 (ANA)General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) on Tuesday announced that the public insurance and pension system inflow would be unable to cover its liabilities toward the insured by 2005.
GSEE President Christos Polyzogopoulos said that if current conditions are projected in the future and no measures are taken to remedy problems, by the year 2030 the insurance system would be 48.4 billion drachmas in debt, or 127 per cent of the Greek GDP of 1998.
Polyzogopoulos said that a committee of experts worked on producing the projections, adding that the problem will manifest only in the event that current conditions of non-payment of insurance contributions and unemployment continue.
He also announced that the union would create a special committee of experts to prepare for the dialogue with the government on changes of the insurance system, adding that unionists and academics expressed their reservations over the credibility of the British agency called to study the insurance conditions in Greece, the Government Actuaries Department (GAD).
He concluded noting that the Oct. 10 strike called by GSEE should be seen as a warning regarding changes in the insurance system.
 Report on passenger shipping proposes deregulation earlier than 2002
Athens, 04/10/2000 (ANA)A report by a Personalities Committee, which examined guidelines to govern the new institutional framework for passenger shipping, delivered to Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis on Tuesday proposes that deregulation of passenger shipping should be made feasible earlier than October 2002.
The report proposes that before each scheduling period starts, the country's shipping companies will be called on to show interest in scheduling of a one year duration, with the possibility of an extension.
Whichever EU shipping company having ships registered under the flag of a member-state may show interest freely, provided it meets certain conditions.
Among others, the conditions rule that a company should not have outstanding debts to the state, it should not be in the process of bankruptcy or liquidation and its ships should not be over 35 years old and when they reach this age they should be withdrawn from service.
 Greek stocks end sharply lower on ASE
Athens, 04/10/2000 (ANA)Greek stocks ended sharply lower on the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday hit by lack of buying interest and a shrinking liquidity in the market.
Shares in the banks sector came under strong pressure pushing the wider market lower.
The general index ended 2.42 percent lower at 4,079.77 points, with turnover a low 59 billion drachmas. The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 2.25 percent to end at 2,316.48 points and the FTSE/ASE 40 index ended at 515.16 points, off 2.75 percent.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: 8,343.16 -2.39% Leasing: 667.10 -1.44% Insurance: 2,228.35 -1.19% Investment: 1,616.12 -1.83% Construction: 1,903.81 -4.06% Industrials: 2,409.13 -2.65% Miscellaneous: 4,117.32 -1.63% Holding: 4,904.68 -3.00%
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended at 569.55 points, off 4.15 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 323 to 22 with another seven issues unchanged.
Hellenic Telecoms, Piraeus Bank, Klonatex, National Bank, Hellenic Bottling and Eurobank were the most heavily traded stocks.
Leading shares' closing prices (in Drs): National Bank: 15,500 Titan Cement (c): 14,700 Alpha Bank: 14,770 Hellenic Telecoms: 7,300 Commercial Bank: 19,050 Panafon: 3,610 Hellenic Petroleum: 4,000 Eurobank: 10,750 Attica Enterprises: 3,280 Piraeus Bank: 6,600 Intracom: 12,610 Lambrakis Press: 8,600 Minoan Lines: 2,415 Heracles Cement: 6,150 Hellenic Bottling: 4,945
Equity futures end down, tracking Athens bourse: Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished lower on Tuesday, in line with the indices on which they are based.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 2.25 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 2.75 percent lower.
Turnover was 19.29 billion drachmas.
A total of 3,098 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 with turnover at 14.7 billion drachmas.
On the FTSE/ASE 40 index, 2,145 contracts changed hands on turnover of 4.5 billion drachmas.
Bond prices end mixed in brisk trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Tuesday finished mixed in moderate to heavy trade focusing on 10-year paper.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.99 percent from 6.024 percent in the last session.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 75 basis points from 79 basis points in the previous trading day.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 138 billion drachmas from 150 billion drachmas in the session before.
Of the total, buy orders accounted for around half of trade.
Greek long-term bond yields ease slightly: Greek long-term bond yields eased slightly on Tuesday during a regular auction of state securities by the Public Debt Management Organization.
The average weighed yield of a 10-year bond, worth 220 billion drachmas and paying an annual coupon of 6.0 percent, fell to 5.98 percent from 6.01 percent in the previous auction of same securities in August 1.
Bids submitted totalled 950.5 billion drachmas, more than four times the asked sum. The average weighed price of the bond was 100.054 points, with a minimum accepted price of 100.40.
Drachma down vs. euro, dollar: The drachma on Tuesday 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 339.370 drachmas from 339.350 drachmas in the previous session.
Also at the fix, the dollar was set at 387.110 drachmas from 384.700 drachmas a trading day earlier.
 Athens bourse to get arbiter
Athens, 04/10/2000 (ANA)The Athens Stock Exchange is to acquire an arbiter who will try to resolve disputes between capital market authorities and investors before they reach the courts, bourse president Stavros Thomadakis said on Tuesday.
The non-profit-making institution has a share capital of 100 million drachmas and will begin operations early next year, Thomadakis said.
 EU ministers' council decides to deregulate telecommunications, postal services
BRUSSELS, 04/10/2000 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)The European Union Council of Communications Ministers on Tuesday decided to deregulate local telecommunications and postal services by Jan. 1, 2001, as mandated by the relevant regulations.
Deputy Transport and Telecommunications Minister Alekos Voulgaris represented Greece in the council.
The decision was made in efforts by the Union to cover lost ground in the sector, compared to the United States of America, also aiming to provide low cost and high speed connections to the Internet for Europeans.
 Greece launches electronic business drive for SMEs
Athens, 04/10/2000 (ANA)Greece will help the country's small- and medium-sized enterprises to adapt to the challenges of the new economy with a government-sponsored program, called "Get on the internet".
The new program, presented by Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis at the 2nd e-Business Forum in Athens on Tuesday, offers internet access to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the first step in an effort to lead Greek SMEs into the new economy.
"Out of a total 400,000 SMEs in the country, only 15 percent is currently using the internet," Christodoulakis told the forum.
The government program, budgeted at 20 billion drachmas, aims to double the number of Greek small enterprises using the internet. EU funds cover 12 billion drachmas of the budget with the remaining 8 billion covered by development ministry funds.
 Three wind power parks for launch on Crete
Athens, 04/10/2000 (ANA)Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Friday is to attend the launch of three wind power parks in Sitia, Crete.
The main investors in the 12 billion-drachma project are A/G Energon GmbH of Germany, Greek Wind Parks SA, Cretan Wind Parks SA, the Sitia Development Organization SA and the municipality of Sitia.
The engineer and builder is the Energon Group.
 European Alliance of Press Agencies assembly meets in New York
NEW YORK, 04/10/2000 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)The annual General Assembly of European Alliance of Press Agencies (EAPA) begun here on Monday with the participation of national news agency general managers from 28 countries.
The EAPA general assembly meetings are scheduled for five days and include organizational issues, the hiring of a full time professional general secretary for EAPA and a special seminar on new digital technologies.
The meeting of the assembly in the United States was the first to be held outside Europe and was scheduled to take place in New York as the US is the world leader in new digital technologies.
Athens News Agency General Director Andreas Christodoulides will take over the presidency of the EAPA and will undertake the organization of the 2001 general assembly, programmed to take place in Athens.
"It was an opportunity to see from close up what is happening in America in the high technology sector, so as to take advantage of their experience in order to enrich and widen our own activities," Christodoulides said, regarding the choice of New York for the meeting of the general assembly.
 Conference on poet George Seferis starts in Izmir
IZMIR, 04/10/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)The Greek Culture Ministry and the Turkish University of the Aegean are organizing an international conference here on "George Seferis, a poet between the East and West", where a group of Greek intellectuals and foreign hellenists are discussing the continuous movement of the Nobel Prize-winning poet between East and West.
The Turkish University of the Aegean is hosting all the events.
Seferis lived the first 14 years of his life in Izmir and returned there as a visitor in 1950, when he was serving at the Greek Embassy in Ankara.
Professor Dimitris Maronitis, president of the events marking the 100th anniversary of the poet's birth, termed events starting in Izmir a "second return home" for the poet.
"I spoke of a return home during life and a return home after death and I believe that both of them have been bridged between them, at least today," he said.
Hospitality provided by the University of Izmir, as well as the participation of the Prefect and of the other authorities of Izmir in the events, also underlines the intention of the Turkish intellectuals and officials to become acquainted with the work of the great Greek poet.
"It was very amazing for one to see Turks and Greeks reciting verses by Seferis in Greek and Turkish," said writer and Seferis' translator into Turkish Cevat Capan.
 Greek, Bulgarian, Turkish local administrators meet in Bulgaria, discuss environmental issues
Athens, 04/10/2000 (ANA)Greek, Bulgarian and Turkish local government representatives from the border region where all three countries meet and share the Evros River, met on Tuesday in Swilegrad in efforts to create an "ecology network" for the protection of the river.
Greek Evros prefecture representative noted that existing cooperation between his administration and the Haskovo prefecture administration through the European Union program entitled INTERREG.
The two administrations worked jointly on issues of healthcare, medical prevention measures, environmental issues, on trade and financial activities, emergencies and confrontation of animal diseases.
The Greek representative stressed the need for similar cooperative efforts with the Turkish local administration, so as the efforts for the environmental protection of Evros River could be more successful and efficient.
The meeting was organized by the Bulgarian non-governmental organization "Green Balkans", active in the Evros River region. The next meetings will be held in Edirne, Turkey and Alexandroupolis, Greece.
 European Cinema Panorama honors Irene Papas
Athens, 04/10/2000 (ANA)Noted Greek actor Irene Papas was honored on Monday night by the panel of the 13th European Cinema Panorama, for her lifetime achievement and contribution to cinematography.
The event took place in the Palace Cinema were the festival organized by the Athens daily newspaper "Elefpherotypia", and film director Jules Dassin presented the award.
 Cook tells Kasoulides that Britain fully backs Cyprus peace talks
LONDON, 04/10/2000 (CNA/ANA)Britain has expressed its full support to the Cyprus peace talks that got underway last December, considering them an historic opportunity for a solution, and expressed the view that a settlement on the island should reflect UN resolutions stipulating for a bizonal, bicommunal federation.
Speaking to the press after a meeting in London with Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, Britain's Foreign Secretary Robin Cook also said the illegal entity in the areas of Cyprus occupied by Turkey since 1974 is not recognized and therefore there can be no move to facilitate trade from this region of the island.
The British Foreign Secretary congratulated Cyprus on the excellent progress it has made in its negotiations for European Union membership and described it as a sign of the Republic's commitment.
On his part, Kasoulides assured that the Greek Cypriot side will not miss the opportunity for a settlement and said everybody understands that the future solution in Cyprus has to be within the parameters of Security Council resolutions.
The Cyprus foreign minister stopped over in London for meetings on his return to the island from New York, where a fourth round of UN-led Cyprus proximity talks took place in September. He briefed his British counterpart on the progress in the talks.
"Britain fully supports the talks aimed at a settlement," Cook said, adding "we would want to see a settlement reflecting the UN resolutions and heading towards what we have always believed would be the best possible way of accommodating both sides, a bizonal, bicommunal federation."
He described the continuation of the talks since last December as "a good sign" and welcomed the fact that "we have now moved from preparation into serious negotiation."
"I would stress that this is an historic opportunity to resolve the division of Cyprus and I hope that we can seize that opportunity in order to create a single sovereign Cyprus," the British Foreign Secretary said.
 CoE rapporteur says proximity talks the way for Cyprus settlement
LIMASSOL, 04/10/2000 (CNA/ANA)The division of Cyprus is the result of the 1974 invasion and occupation of 37% of the island by Turkish troops, Andras Barsony, rapporteur on the situation in Cyprus in the Council of Europe has said, adding that the UN-led proximity talks is the way to solve the Cyprus question.
In an interview with CNA, Barsony said that in his view the UN Secretary-General's opening statement at the beginning of the fourth round of proximity talks in New York in September, suggests that "whatever kind of agreement to solve the problem is reached, it will be achieved only if there is consensus between the two parties".
He said the statement, which led President Glafcos Clerides to seek clarifications on certain ambiguous references to the equal status of the two parties, does not constitute recognition of the self-styled Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus, nor is it a transgression from UN resolutions.
He said that "it is more important to have a unified state of Cyprus" rather than dealing with issues on whether confederation or federation will be the form of the structure of the future state of Cyprus, adding that "these are details".
In a remark that the relevant UN resolutions call for a solution based on a bizonal bicommunal federation, and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash demands for confederation are in contrast with these resolutions, Barsony said that "the UN resolutions are describing an ideal future for the island but the details are not described in any kind of resolution".
He said "I don't think that in that sense Denktash is moving away from the resolutions", adding that "even Denktash doesn't describe what confederation means".
Barsony, who is in Cyprus taking part in a meeting of the presidium of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on organized crime and corruption will hold meetings on the Cyprus issue in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, at the end of October.
 Clinton says US steadfast in commitment to find Cyprus solutionNICOSIA, 04/10/2000 CNA/ANA)
US President Bill Clinton has said his country remains committed to finding a just and lasting settlement in Cyprus that will address the legitimate concerns of both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, in a message to President Glafcos Clerides on the occasion of the Republic's 40th anniversary of independence, celebrated October 1st.
In their messages to President Clerides, both the President and Prime Minister of Greece express their solidarity and support to efforts for a solution in Cyprus based on UN resolutions as well as the Republic's European Union accession course.
Similar congratulatory messages have been sent to the Cyprus President by a number of Presidents, Prime Ministers and other officials.
"The US remains steadfast in its commitment to finding a just and lasting solution to the Cyprus problem. Comprehensive settlement can address the legitimate concerns of both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots," President Clinton said in his message, reaffirming the strong bonds of friendship between the two countries.