|Monday, 20 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-10-06
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Simitis says that the will of the Yugoslav people should be respected
Athens, 06/10/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday appealed for "coolheadedness and responsibility" in Yugoslavia and called for the will of the people to be respected.
Speaking to the press after a meeting with relevant ministers, Simitis expressed hope that the situation in Belgrade would develop smoothly and calmly. "All sides should demonstrate cool-headedness and responsibility...but the will of the people of Yugoslavia must be respected."
Greece, the premier said, has always supported the establishment of close relations between Yugoslavia and the European Union and will continue to work towards this direction.
Foreign Minister George Papandreou was continuing efforts to help Yugoslavia overcome its current crisis, diplomatic sources had said earlier on Thursday, and was constantly in touch with the leader of Yugoslavia's opposition presidential candidate Vojislav Kostunica, to try to find a way out of the impasse.
Also helping in the Greek effort is the head of the foreign ministry's International Developmental Relations department Alex Rondos, who is in Belgrade and has contacted all sides involved, including the governing Socialist Party.
The same sources said that Papandreou had discussed the Yugoslav crisis on Wednesday with his German counterpart Joschka Fischer over the telephone.
 Series of government measures announced to modernize passenger-shipping
Athens, 06/10/2000 (ANA)The cabinet decided on Thursday on a series of measures to modernize domestic passenger shipping, during a special meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, among them the lifting of cabotage, allowing free competition in domestic passenger shipping, by 2002.
It was also announced that the age limit on passenger ships serving domestic routes would be gradually reduced to 30 years, compared to the current 35 years, while an internal affairs service will be established at the merchant marine ministry.
The port authority corps will be reinforced; a general secretariat of ports will be established while a network of volunteers to work on rescue efforts and pollution incidents will be created.
The measures were announced following a tragic shipwreck in the Aegean last week, which claimed the lives of 79 people.
After the cabinet meeting, Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis, during a press conference, said that with these measures the government achieves its basic aim, which is the safety of passengers and the upgrading of services rendered by domestic passenger shipping companies.
The measures, announced by Papoutsis, include intensifying checks of ships and the effectiveness of those checks and reviewing the way the sector operates.
He also said that the measures included the reinforcement and renewal of the personnel of the Merchant Shipping Inspectorate, mandating a two-year rotational system, whereby the personnel of the inspectorate will be allowed only a two-year term at the end of which inspectors will be transferred to other state services.
He added that one section of the inspectorate would be decentralized to regional ports.
Papoutsis noted that a committee would be established to check on the inspectorate and the shipping registry, while it would review complaints against services rendered and will be composed of sector specialists and the general inspector of the port authority corps.
He said that all authorized private contractors, checking on fire safety and rescue systems of ships, would be reviewed, while a special section would be established within the inspectorate to make spot checks of ships.
Papoutsis also said that an internal affairs service will be established at the merchant marine ministry, modeled after the one established at the public order ministry, to investigate corruption cases brought against officers and ministry officials.
Measures also include stricter regulations concerning the mandatory training of crews on safety measures and dealing with emergencies.
Specifically, crews would strictly adhere to their training and exercise programs on the use of rescue equipment, while the government would mandate specific regulations for outfits with night signals and regulations on the passenger-shipping companies' obligation to inform passengers.
He also announced an end to cabotage beginning in 2002, adding that the bill mandating the lifting of the ban on foreign ships serving routes in Greece would be tabled in Parliament by November.
He said that there would be no routes with monopoly conditions, while manning of ships would be regulated by the existing rules of Greece as the state of reception of workers.
Papoutsis added that the bill would mandate the establishment of a regulatory commission to regulate the new market, in order to ensure the respect of fair play in competition among shipping companies.
Papoutsis, however, noted that in the short term the government would enforce measures to improve conditions in passenger shipping, as the new regulations would be coming into force.
He said that representatives of local governments of regions serviced by passenger shipping would be included in the decision making process for the seaworthiness of ships, while efforts would be made for improvements in sailors' working conditions and the upgrading of their training and education.
He added that port facilities around the country funded by the second community support framework would be completed and further funds would be allocated from the third second community support framework.
 Europarliament plenum ratifies resolution on "Express Samina" shipwreck
STRASBOURG, 06/10/2000 (ANA - O. Tsipyra)The European Parliament plenum ratified a joint resolution on the Greek ferry "Express Samina", which sank off the island of Paros after hitting a reef last week with the loss of 79 lives, on Thursday which stresses the importance it attributes to the European Commission's three proposals, particularly those concerning the safety of passenger ships, shipping registers and port control by the state.
The resolution was proposed by the five parliamentary groups of the Christian Democrats, the Socialists, Liberals, Greens and the United Left.
It calls on the European Commission to examine the possibility of shortening the timetable set out in directive 98/18, concerning the specifications and safety rules since the implementation of the proposals will not take place before 2009.
The resolution also urges the Commission to reconsider exceptions granted to member-states in general, including the exceptions for Greece regarding the age of ships and cabotage.
It further stresses the importance of fully implementing rules concerning the compulsory training of crews on safety measures and handling emergencies.
Papoutsis: 'New day for Greek merchant shipping': A new day begins today for Greece's merchant shipping," merchant marine minister Christos Papoutsis said Thursday, in the aftermath of a ferry shipwreck that killed at least 79 people and government pledges for more stringent safety controls in the sector.
Papoutsis made the statement before a Cabinet meeting which was to focus, inter alia, on the coastal shipping sector and the September 26 sinking of the "Express Samina" in a gale off the coast of Paros after it scraped a rocky outcropping.
Development deputy minister Milena Apostolaki told reporters as she entered the Cabinet meeting that the government was fully aware of the magnitude of the tragedy and its responsibilities, and was going ahead with solutions for coastal shipping.
Meanwhile, PASOK MP and former justice minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos said Thursday he had asked the Athens Bar Association to provide free legal counsel for the relatives of the shipwreck victims.
Commenting on media criticism to reports that high-profile PASOK cadre and former deputy foreign minister Christos Rokofyllos would be acting as defense counsel for Minoan Flying Dolphins -- the Express Samina owners -- vice-president Pantelis Sfinias, Yiannopoulos said that "these are myths that the media are once again concerning themselves with", adding that "every Greek citizen has the right to (legal) defense".
Greek ferry captains demand 'vote of confidence' from Papoutsis, threaten action: During a meeting in Piraeus on Thursday, the captains of Greece's passenger ships warned that they would bring Greece's ferry fleet to a standstill unless their tarnished reputations, much battered after the disastrous 'Express Samina' shipwreck, were restored.
Gathered aboard the "Patmos" in Piraeus port, the Greek skippers said they would hand in their sailing papers unless Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis had not publicly proclaimed his faith in Greek captains by midday on Friday.
Union president Evangelos Kouzilos claimed that the treatment of the captain and the officers on the 'Express Samina' by the authorities during their arrest was insulting to the body as a whole.
"They drag all Greek captains through the mire when they put handcuffs on ["Express Samina" Captain Vassilis] Yiannakis and the cadet. The cadet was a student at the Syros Naval Academy and his cell shared a wall with the academy! This sort of behavior is unacceptable. We do not want privileged treatment. We just want the real guilty parties to be found," he said.
Also present at the meeting were Coast Guard Chief Andreas Syrigos and the Piraeus Port Harbor Master.
In statements afterward, Syrigos expressed bitterness that after the shipwreck some people had 'reduced everything in the shipping sector to one level."
He said that Coast Guard officers had been transferred out of the commercial fleet inspection service simply to appease public outrage over the accident, without any specific charges against them. If anything that incriminated them surfaced during questioning, he added, they would be made an example of.
With regard to a report of mechanical problems on the 'Express Samina' made by a former engineer, Syrigos said that the report had been vague and nothing turned up during the inspection.
Ferry banned from sailing after surprise inspection: A car/passenger ferry was barred from sailing after a surprise inspection revealed a problem with its rudder, the merchant marine ministry said Thursday.
The ministry said that Piraeus harbor authorities conducted a surprise inspection on the ferry "Alkaios" Thursday night, acting on an anonymous tip-off, shortly before the vessel was due to set sail for the island of Chios and Mytilene.
It said the ferry was barred from sailing after a malfunction in the pump of one of the rudders was discovered.
The inspection was due to resume Thursday with a trial sailing.
 FM Papandreou, Lyssarides discuss Cyprus problem in Athens
Athens, 06/10/2000 (ANA)Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Thursday met with Cyprus' Movement of Social Democrats (KISOS) party leader Vassos Lyssarides in Athens, as part of the Greek minister's talks with Cyprus' political party leaders.
Lyssarides arrived in Athens, following his visit in Strasbourg, where he participated in the process that led to the approval of the Jacques Poos report on Cyprus' European accession course by Europarliament. The report by Rapporteur of the Committee on External Relations of the European Parliament Jacques Poos noted that the Republic of Cyprus is the only state entitled to represent the island as a whole and welcomes the progress it has made towards accession, while calling for more efforts to incorporate fully the acquis communautaire.
Speaking on Europarliament's decision to approve the report, Papandreou said that it created a very fertile ground for Cyprus' European accession course, as well as for the form of the resolution of the Cyprus problem.
"This solution should be based on the United Nations resolutions and it should be a solution creating a unified and indivisible Cyprus," Papandreou said.
On his part, Lyssarides said that the Poos report was the best that was ever adopted regarding Cyprus, stressing that Europarliament in essence constitutes the voice of the European governments.
Regarding the Cyprus issue, he said that the solution should be based on the concept of a unified state and should secure human rights of all of Cyprus' people. "This should be the basis of the (intercommunal) dialogue and there should be no deviation from this basis," Lyssarides added.
"I believe that it is a joint effort of the Greek and Cyprus government for the Cyprus problem to remain within this framework," Lyssarides said.
Papandreou also mentioned that he had a telephone conversation with United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, during which he requested his reassurance that the Cyprus problem would be resolved within the framework of the UN resolutions.
On his part, Lyssarides, discussing Annan's statements on the Cyprus problem, said that the UN secretary general is obliged to work within the framework of the organizations resolutions, as he does not have the power to make decisions.
He added that it should be made clear to everyone that that all negotiations will be conducted within the framework of the UN and its resolutions and issues regarding a confederation or separate states can not become a dialogue issue.
 T/C leader threatens to end proximity talks if EU states adopt Europarliament report
ISTANBUL, 06/10/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash was quoted by local media this week as threatening to cancel UN-sponsored proximity talks with the Greek Cypriot side if EU member-states approve a report by the Europarliament focusing on the island republic's EU accession prospects.
A pseudo-state illegally declared by Denktash in 1983 in the areas (37 percent) of the island republic occupied by Turkish forces since an invasion in 1974 is recognized only by Ankara.
"If the report is accepted by the governments of EU member-states, proximity talks will stop," Denktash warned, adding that "Cyprus will remain divided."
The Turkish Cypriot leader made the statement from Ankara, where he briefed Turkish President Ahmet Sezer and PM Bulent Ecevit over the latest developments regarding the Cyprus issue.
He was also set to undergo scheduled medical checks at a local hospital on Thursday.
The European Parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to pass the report, which, among others, recognizes that the island republic fulfills practically all of the Copenhagen criteria set out for EU accession. Conversely, the same report criticizes a "lack of good will" by the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey to contribute to progress leading to a resolution to the 26-year deadlock.
 PASOK, ND agree on basis for Constitutional amendments regarding parliamentary functions
Athens, 06/10/2000 (ANA)Ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy (ND) on Thursday agreed on amendments to the Constitution that will radically change the way Parliament operates, while other opposition parties rejected the amendments.
The changes introduced by PASOK deputy Evangelos Venizelos included changes in the discussion and voting process of bills, as well as ways to end the practice of introducing amendments to bills just before voting begins, (a practice used to introduce mostly unrelated amendments to bills).
According to the proposed amendments to the Constitution, bills would be discussed in six separate committees of the Parliament and approved by the committees never reaching the plenum.
Bills would reach the plenum when a more that fifty per cent majority is needed for approval or when the relevant committee's majority accepts the proposal of a party leader of a certain number of deputies to table the bill in the plenum.
In efforts to confront last minute amendments to bills, Venizelos proposed that any proposed amendment to a bill must be submitted at least three days in advance of the initiation of discussions on the bill in Parliament, while the relevant checks of the proposals' legal ground would have to be made by the presidents of the committees or by the president of the Parliament.
Leftist parties strongly reacted to the amendments. Communist Party of Greece (KKE) deputy A. Skylakos noted that the new system speeds up the approval process for new legislation thus not allowing enough time for workers to escalate their reactions.
 PM Simitis meets Athens 2004 Olympiad Organizing Committee president
Athens, 06/10/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis held talks with Athens 2004 Olympiad Organizing Committee President Gianna Angelopoulou-Daskalaki on Thursday, who made no comment to the press later but who, according to the Prime Minister's office, would travel abroad for a week "for personal reasons."
According to an announcement by the Press Ministry, Daskalaki briefed Simitis on the Sydney Olympic Games and on the work and contacts of the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee.
In a related development, Culture Minister Theodoros Pangalos signed the work contracts of Athens 2004 senior staff on Thursday, but reduced by 50 per cent, although the issue of the final amount of remuneration had been left open.
Earlier, Deputy Sports Minister George Floridis, on leaving the Maximos Mansion where he had also held talks with Simitis, denied rumors that he had proposed Daskalaki's removal from the presidency of Athens 2004.
Reppas says Angelopoulou-Daskalaki will definitely stay; rules out new ministry: Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Thursday that there was no question of removing Gianna Angelopoulou-Daskalaki from the head of the "Athens 2004" Olympics Organizing Committee, nor of setting up a ministry for the 2004 Olympiad.
Angelopoulou-Daskalaki also agrees with the last view, he added, and has undertaken to carry out an important task for Greece, for which she needs everyone's help.
Greek gov't spokesman responds to US envoy's statements on "Athens 2004" security concerns: The Greek government down played on Thursday statements by United States Ambassador Nicholas Burns on security in Athens regarding the "Athens 2004" Olympic Games.
Speaking on US ABC national television network news, Burns said that he did not feel particularly safe, recalling terrorist incidents of the past 25 years, adding that he feared for the safety of athletes during the Olympic Games, which he noted attract terrorists.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Burns has lived in Greece for several years and has stated he felt safe, adding that the government would take all the necessary measures to assure complete safety for the Games.
He also expressed his certainty that the Olympic Games in Athens would be totally successful.
Reppas stressed that Greece signed a memorandum of cooperation on law enforcement with the US, adding that terrorism is a priority issue for the Greek government.
 Coalition party leader proposes foreign policy council after briefing by Foreign Minister
Athens, 06/10/2000 (ANA)Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos asked that a foreign policy council be set up, after a briefing from Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Thursday.
Constantopoulos said that foreign policy issues were now at a critical stage and required greater consultation among political parties, as well as society's approval.
The Coalition leader spoke about a need for stability in the Balkans and a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem, while making it clear that the island's accession to the European Union should not be linked to a solution of its political problems. With regard to Greek-Turkish relations, he added, it was possible to have rapprochement without jeopardizing or negotiating Greece's sovereign rights.
Stressing the need for stability in the Balkans, he said they should be supported in a democratic course toward their social, economic and institutional reconstruction, ultimately aimed at a common European orientation.
 President and Defense Minister watch final phase of military exercise
Athens, 06/10/2000 (ANA)President Kostis Stephanopoulos on Thursday watched the final phase of the military exercise codenamed "Parmenion 2000", which started last Friday, and afterwards expressed his satisfaction and confidence in the armed forces for their capacity and readiness.
National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, the ministrys military leadership and a delegation of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee also watched the final phase, carried out on Pylos hill near the village of Trifyli. "The final phase was an absolute success. Weaponry systems performed what we expected of them, their handling was very satisfactory, the coordination of the various services was absolutely successful and all targets were destroyed," President Stephanopoulos said.
On his part, Tsohatzopoulos said the armed forces have moved on to a new phase of overall reconstruction, qualitative development and training reform regarding their functioning and "new technologies now constitute in practice a tangible implement in our daily functioning."
Referring to human potential, Tsohatzopoulos said it needs continuous upgrading of specialized knowledge to guarantee the effective evolution capacity of our defense potential.
The exercise "Parmenion 2000" involved all three services of the armed forces, while a large number of reserve officers and recruits were also called up for training.
 US has largest foreign pavilion at Defendory exhibition
Athens, 06/10/2000 (ANA)This year the United States has the largest foreign pavilion at the biennial Defendory International Exhibition. Thirty-two US corporations in the defense field are participating in the trade show's eleventh edition, which is taking place this week in Piraeus, a press release by the US Embassy in Athens said on Thursday.
"I am delighted to see such a large American presence at this exhibition. Companies such as Lockheed-Martin, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Boeing, and Pratt and Whitney are well known in the Greek market for the high quality of their goods and services. This year we are pleased to welcome several American companies to Defendory for the first time," said US Ambassador to Greece R. Nicholas Burns, who visited the show on Tuesday morning.
The United States has been the leading supplier of defense technology to the Greek armed forces for over fifty years. The most advanced technology in the world - the Patriot missile system and the F-16 fighter aircraft - have already been acquired by Greece. It is our strong hope that General Dynamics Abrams tank will be selected by Greece in the future, the press release said.
 Turkish press warns of reprisals should Congress recognize Armenian genocide
ISTANBUL, 06/10/2000 (ANA)Threatened "retaliation" by Ankara stemming from a US Congressional panel's approval this week of a non-binding resolution urging President Bill Clinton to characterize the killings of hundreds of thousands ethnic Armenians in the latter days of the Ottoman empire as genocide was the top news among Turkey's press on Thursday.
According to press reports in local papers, Turkey has threatened to not renew an agreement allowing allied planes to use the Incirlik airbase in SE Turkey for over flights of northern Iraq if Congress approves the resolution.
Additionally, the same press reports claim, Ankara will upgrade its diplomatic mission to Baghdad and allow flights to the Iraqi capital in order to deliver pharmaceutical supplies.
Finally, Turkish papers cited a postponement in a scheduled visit by the Turkish military chief Gen. Hussein Kivrikoglu to Washington.
Asked to comment on the reports, Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Hussein Dirioz said, "at present I can neither deny or confirm this news."
 EU Research Commissioner stresses need for unified European research area
Athens, 06/10/2000 (ANA)European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin stressed the need for the creation of a unified European research area, while speaking on Thursday night at an event organized by the Development Ministry in the presence of Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis.
Busquin said the development of the technological research sector is a precondition for competitiveness, economic development and employment, as has been repeatedly noted by the European Council.
He reminded that the issue of "Employment, economic reform and social cohesion. Towards a Europe of innovation and knowledge" was analyzed in detail at the Lisbon summit in March 2000.
Busquin said the composition of the European research sector is necessary for the desired result to be achieved, adding that in Lisbon the heads of state assigned the European Commission with taking measures to promote it.
He said that at present the main European apparatus used for this issue is through the framework program, which is inadequate for this and will be expanded. Its main axes concern the examination and comparison of existing possibilities, the promotion of excellency centers with the development of linkage networks, the linkage of research centers with communication systems and the linkage of European private and public research centers.
On his part, Christodoulakis, referring to the effort aimed at shaping the new framework and development program for the new coordination implements of national policies being promoted by Busquin, said this effort should be backed and assisted in practice by the governments of member-states.
 New budget contains measures to aid pensioners
Athens, 06/10/2000 (ANA)The government's budget for 2001 contains measures to help the elderly on low pensions, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said on Thursday.
Papantoniou told reporters the measures were decided with Labor Minister Tassos Giannitsis at a meeting earlier in the day.
The measures, which come into effect on January 1, are a 5,000 drachma increase in farmers' pensions; a rise in the Social Security Foundation's minimum pension; and a boost for the social solidarity benefit added to low pensions, Papantoniou said.
The measures are part of pledges made by the government before national elections it won on April 9.
 Greece, Ukraine sign business cooperation protocol
Athens, 06/10/2000 (ANA)Greek and Ukrainian employers' unions on Wednesday signed a cooperation protocol aiming to boost bilateral business relations.
The chairman of the Federation of Greek Industries, Lefteris Antonakopoulos and the vice-chairman of the Ukrainian League of Industrialists and Enterpreneurs-ULIE, S. Chebotar signed the protocol.
Bilateral trade totalled 118.1 million US dollars in 1999. Greek exports to Ukraine mainly comprised of fuel, tobacco and chemicals, while Ukrainian exports accounted for minerals, fuel, iron and steel products.
Greek businesses operating in Ukraine mainly focused in shipping, trade, tourism, transport, foods and telecommunications.
 Barrage of strikes on Monday, Tuesday
Athens, 06/10/2000 (ANA)Bank workers, hospital doctors and Athens bus drivers are beginning strike action on Monday to demand higher pay, better terms of employment and improved social insurance.
Bank personnel and hospital doctors will stage strikes on Monday and Tuesday and Athens bus drivers will walk off the job on Tuesday.
 Trawler owners call off blockade of ports
Athens, 06/10/2000 (ANA)Fishing trawler owners throughout Greece on Thursday called off their recent blockades of several major ports, saying they're ready to back down on their demand for cheaper fuel if the government meets other requests for decreased production costs.
The decision was reached during a meeting the national association of trawler owners held in Thessaloniki in the afternoon.
Among others, trawler owners want greater protection from seafood imports; pension benefits for non-EU foreign nationals working aboard Greek boats and subsidies for new equipment.
Although the blockades have been postponed trawlers will remain in port, it was announced, while new mobilizations were not ruled out.
Over the past few days trawlers blockaded the major port of Piraeus and Patra in western Greece.
 Mutual fund assets up 3.56 pct m/m in September
Athens, 06/10/2000 (ANA)Total mutual fund assets rose to 11.35 trillion drachmas month on month in September, up 3.56 percent from August, the Union of Institutional Investors said in a statement on Thursday.
In its monthly tally of assets, the union attributed the upturn, which followed a slump in August, to a rise in domestic equity mutual funds by 291 billion drachmas, in turn stemming from a rise in prices on the Athens Stock Exchange in September.
In addition, average returns on domestic equity funds improved markedly in September to -25.9 percent against -33.4 percent from January 1 to August 30, the statement said.
 Greek banks adopt new technology in banking services
Athens, 06/10/2000 (ANA)Greek commercial banks are increasingly adopting the use of internet, mobile telephony, automatic cash machines, call centers and digital television in expanding their banking services and to strengthen their position in the domestic market.
Greek banks, however, continue expanding their networks beyond the Athens area and launch new smaller in size but more flexible in operation branches.
Their attention is now focusing in promoting and selling modern banking products and to offering consulting services to customer-investors.
A large number of Greek banks recently announced their expansionary plans. These included:
EFG Eurobank - Ergasias: The bank has a network of 330 branches, it is the third largest bank in Greece - based on total assets - and expands with growth rates more than 35 percent compared with its organic growth. Its customer base totals 2,000,000 and hopes to acquire a 20 percent share of the market in the next four-five years. The bank has invested 100 million US dollars in new technology equipment and launching new branches in the period 1998-2000 and will be the first Greek - and one of the first five European - banks to offer services through the digital television.
Commercial Bank: Its network totals 385 units around the country, the third biggest after National Bank's 610 and Alpha Bank's 500 units. In cooperation with its new strategic partner, Credit Agricole, the bank will announce new alternative distribution channels.
Piraeus Bank: It has a network of 174 branches, to rise to 190 by the end of the year, up from 154 units in 1999. Its electronic bank "Winbank" has a customer base of more than 6,000 and growth rates more than 35 percent on a monthly basis.
Bank of Cyprus: The bank aims to expand its network to 120 branches, from 25 currently. It is the first foreign company to be listed on the Athens Stock Exchange. The bank offers its products through the internet and plans a mobile telephone service soon.
Aspis Bank: Its network totals 25 branches. The bank plans an autonomous expansion.
Hellenic Bank: The newly formed bank has six branches with the aim to expand to 25 in the next two years.
Popular Bank: The bank plans to expand its network to 24 branches by the end of the year, with the aim to reach 50 units in the next three years.
HSBC: The UK bank plans to more than double its network in Greece to 30 branches in the next three years, from 12 currently.
NovaBank: The newly formed bank has 45 branches in Athens and Thessaloniki. The bank plans to expand its network to 120 branches in the next three years and to acquire a 5.0 percent share of the domestic market.
 Athens bourse ends below the 4,000 level
Athens, 06/10/2000 (ANA)Equity prices remained under pressure for the third consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, pushing the general index below the 4,000 level for the first time in the last 15 sessions.
Traders said the market tried to resist pressures early in the session, pushing the index 0.80 percent up, but lack of follow-through buying and a shrinking liquidity reversed its course later in the day.
Analysts said the market would find strong support at the 3,900 level.
The general index ended 1.30 percent lower at 3,958.65 points, with turnover a low 61.81 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended at 2,243.38 points, off 1.39 percent, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index fell 1.50 percent to 496.40 points.
Sector indices ended as follows: Bank: 8,124.35 -1.01% Leasing: 646.26 -2.14% Insurance: 2,179. -0.57% Investment: 1,573.55 -0.99% Construction: 1,838.03 -0.78% Industrials: 2,323.35 -1.94% Miscellaneous: 3,986.98 -1.41% Holding: 4,597.23 -2.85%
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended at 544.65 points, off 1.94 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 265 to 69 with another 16 issues unchanged.
Intracom, Hellenic Bottling, Eurobank, Hellenic Telecoms, Gnomon and National Bank were the most heavily traded stocks.
Leading shares' closing prices (in Drs): National Bank: 14,905 Titan Cement (c): 14,130 Alpha Bank: 14,220 Hellenic Telecoms: 7,190 Commercial Bank: 18,350 Panafon: 3,570 Hellenic Petroleum: 3,800 Eurobank: 10,750 Attica Enterprises: 3,100 Piraeus Bank: 6,535 Intracom: 11,705 Lambrakis Press: 8,400 Minoan Lines: 2,460 Heracles Cement: 6,210 Hellenic Bottling: 5,000
Equity futures drop, tracking Athens bourse: Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished lower on Thursday, in line with the indices on which they are based.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 1.39 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 1.50 percent lower.
Turnover was 24.4 billion drachmas.
A total of 4,392 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 with turnover at 20.2 billion drachmas.
On the FTSE/ASE 40 index, 2,113 contracts changed hands on turnover of 4.2 billion drachmas.
Bond prices edge up in light to moderate trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Thursday finished higher in light to moderate trade focusing on 20-year paper.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.08 percent from 5.99 percent in the last two sessions.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 73 basis points from 75 basis points in the previous two trading days.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 68 billion drachmas from 86 billion drachmas in the session before.
Of the total, buy orders accounted for 40 billion drachmas of trade.
Drachma down vs. euro, dollar: The drachma on Thursday 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 339.380 drachmas from 339.330 drachmas in the previous session.
Also at the fix, the dollar was set at 388.990 drachmas from 387.950 drachmas a trading day earlier.
 US Embassy congratulates Compaq for funding graduate study in computer science
Athens, 06/10/2000 (ANA)The United States Embassy congratulated the Chief Executive Officer of Compaq, Michael Capellas, who on Thursday announced that the company would fund graduate study in computer science for five Greek students a year. Compaq will work in concert with the Fulbright Foundation in Greece, which promotes educational exchange between the United States and Greece, a press release by the US Embassy in Athens said on Thursday.
Capellas announced the donation at a press conference on Thursday with members of the Greek business community. "With this highly generous gesture, Michael Capellas, a Greek-American, has strengthened our efforts to fund more scholarships for Greek students in the United States. We are enormously grateful for his support," said US Ambassador Nicholas Burns.
The Fulbright Foundation, with offices in Athens and Thessaloniki, provides scholarships at the graduate level in the social sciences, humanities, science and technology, and business. Through its student advising centers, the Foundation also provides information to hundreds of Greek students annually as they explore further study in the US. The Fulbright program in Greece began in 1948, is the second oldest in the world, and has funded 3,500 scholarships for Greeks and Americans, the press release said.
 Parliamentary committee approves bill regulating sports
Athens, 06/10/2000 (ANA)The relevant Parliamentary committee on Thursday approved a bill on sports defining the terms under which a person can hold a post in various sports boards. The bill, if voted by the plenum of the Parliament, probably next Tuesday, will have an immediate effect on the Greek Soccer League and its current president.
One of the bill's articles mandates that those posts may not be held by persons that have judicial cases pending against them, thus effectively disqualifying current Soccer League President Victor Mitropoulos, who has a case pending for a long time against him in court on charges of embezzlement.
 Government welcomes resolution on Cyprus' EU accession course
NICOSIA, 06/10/2000 (CNA/ANA)The government has welcomed a resolution on Cyprus accession course towards the European Union, noting that it also sends a message to Turkey about its own accession process.
"We welcome the resolution as well as the adoption of a report by the Rapporteur of the Committee on External Relations of the European Parliament Jacques Poos, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said here on Thursday .The resolution, he added, sends a message to Ankara about its political and social obligations the European Union has set out as precondition to membership.
The EU summit in Helsinki last December told Turkey it must put its house in order as far as human rights are concerned, sort out its differences with Greece, deal with the Kurdish problem and help resolve the Cyprus question before it engages in membership talks.
The resolution, adopted by the overwhelming majority of Euro MPs, notes that the "Republic of Cyprus is the only state entitled to represent the island as a whole" and welcomes the progress it has made towards accession, while calling for more efforts to incorporate fully the acquis communautaire.
Noting that Cyprus has completed 16 out of 31 chapters, the resolution welcomes the Helsinki decision "not to make a solution to the Cyprus question a precondition for accession" and urges the Turkish Cypriots to join the delegation of the legal government of Cyprus to negotiate the islands accession.
Furthermore it "deplores the lack of goodwill on the part of the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey to make progress with the negotiations on the question of Cyprus towards a settlement on the basis of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions."
It also deplores the "action of the Turkish troops in Cyprus who have been redeployed, occupying a part of the buffer zone."
Euro MPs call on the EU to become more involved in the search for a solution through its high representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and calls for the final political settlement to respect the acquis communautaire.
Turkey's permanent representative to the European Parliament issued a statement Wednesday expressing dissatisfaction with the resolution and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash threatened to withdraw from the peace talks if the EU member states adopt the resolution and Poos' report.
 Kasoulides satisfied with Britain's policy on Cyprus problem
LARNACA, 06/10/2000 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides on Thursday ex-pressed satisfaction with Britain's policy on the Cyprus problem, which is based on the search for a bizonal, bicommunal federation, complying fully with the relevant UN resolutions.
Speaking at Larnaca Airport on his return to Cyprus, Kasoulides said that after his trip to New York, where UN-led proximity talks on the Cyprus problem were held, he flew to London, where he met Britain's
Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, Commonwealth leaders and Cypriot community leaders.
Kasoulides said he was "pleased", because statements by Cook, indicate clearly that Britain supports "the search for a solution to the Cyprus problem in compliance with UN resolutions" and that this settlement must be "a bizonal, bicommunal federation".
Speaking to the press after meeting Kasoulides in London on Wednesday, Cook said "Britain fully supports the talks aimed at a settlement and 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."
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied the northern third of the island. Four rounds of UN-led proximity talks, separate meetings of the UN with President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, have already taken place, and a fifth is scheduled to begin November 1 in Geneva.
 Russia's Ivanov on Cyprus next week
NICOSIA, 06/10/2000 (ANA)Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is expected to visit Cyprus next week for talks with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and his Cypriot counterpart.
According to reports, the Russian minister will arrive on Monday and depart on Wednesday.