|Monday, 27 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-10-11
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Simitis approves next year's budget bill
Athens, 11/10/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis gave the "green light" on Tuesday for the tabling of a tax bill to parliament next week, during a meeting with the government's economic team headed by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou.
The tax bill includes tax cuts of 270 billion drachmas for the 2001 fiscal year and is aimed mainly at wage earners and pensioners, Papantoniou said, adding that no new taxes would be introduced.
The new tax legislation envisages tax cuts totaling 400 billion drachmas over the next two years through a gradual reduction of the tax scale ceiling from 45 percent to 40 percent and from 40 percent to 35 percent for taxpayers and companies.
It also includes a price-adjustment of the tax scale every two years, raising the sum for tax-free incomes, and abolishing a special duty on banking services, as well as taxes collected via the banking system for state agencies and pension funds.
The 2001 budget is expected to be the first surplus budget in the fiscal history of Greece and will envisage higher social spending and pay rises, exceeding the inflation target, for civil servants and pensioners.
It will also seek to reduce the country's public debt to below 100 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), from 103.9 percent this year, and a significant increase in tax revenues without imposing new taxes.
Papantoniou said that the Greek economy was on the right track and overcame with ease the petrol crisis of the past few months, adding that the government would grant cash subsidies to low wage earners and low pension recipients for fuel purchases.
The amount of subsidies would be determined by fuel prices at the end of October and the government would make its final decision on the issue at that time, he said.
Speaking of the fiscal policy for 2001, Papantoniou said it would guarantee the substantial increase of incomes in the public sector, adding, however, that the government would not interfere in the private sector's negotiations between employees and employers.
He also said that it was normal of employees to strike requesting more, stressing, however, that within a strong economy that grows at 5 per cent per year there are comfortable margins for substantial increases of wages.
 Simitis, Papandreou discuss EU summit in Biarritz
Athens, 11/10/2000 (ANA)Preparation of the informal European Union summit in Biarritz, France, on October 13-14, focusing on the Intergovernmental Conference and revising the Amsterdam Treaty, was examined on Tuesday in a meeting between Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Foreign Minister George Papandreou, Alternate Foreign Minister Elizabeth Papazoi and other government officials.
The summit will also examine the situation in the Balkans and developments in Yugoslavia in particular, while newly elected Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica has been invited to attend a dinner to be given on Saturday afternoon by the EU's 15 heads of government and state.
"The door has opened for Yugoslavia's European course and very soon the neighboring country will start negotiations with the EU on shaping an Association and Stabilization Agreement similar to those also being shaped with the other countries in the western Balkans," Papandreou said.
He also said an important factor is that with decisions taken on Monday by the General Affairs Council the Balkan Reconstruction Organization is being strengthened and with it the role played by Thessaloniki and northern Greece in general "which is now becoming dominant in the reconstruction of Yugoslavia and all of the Balkans."
On her part, Papazoi said the summit would also be discussing issues concerning security in the shipping sector, adding that Greece is absolutely positive towards discussions held so far and to decisions taken.
Karamanlis says Greece unable to undertake role suiting it in the Balkans: Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis said on Tuesday Greece is unable to undertake the role suiting it in the Balkans and is being dragged by developments, very often humiliating, while it appears to be a foreign envoy without being able to utilize its geographical and political advantage.
Karamanlis, who was addressing his partys Parliamentary Group, said the rights of the ethnic Greek minority in Albania are being flagrantly violated, while the Greek force is being withdrawn at a time when Turkish military bases are being created.
Referring to Greek-Turkish relations, Karamanlis said the policy of appeasement sat examinations and failed completely and accused the government of forbidding any discussion on just national causes, which, as he said, constitutes an attempt at ideological terrorism.
Karamanlis said the government is attempting to beautify Turkey's image, passes over provocations against our country in silence and tolerates arbitrary Turkish interpretations of the EU Helsinki summit.
He called on the government to adopt a clear and steadfast position on Greek-Turkish relations, adding that the lifting of fait accomplis concerning the invasion of Cyprus and a just solution to the problem constitute a precondition for Turkey's European course and that there will be no EU enlargement without Cyprus.
Replying to Karamanlis' criticism, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said later Karamanlis has not come to terms with the results of the April 9 elections and for this reason he spoke to the Parliamentary Group in the way he did.
He accused ND and Karamanlis of lacking positions and proposals and of trying to cover their absence with attacks against the government. He further said that ND remains attached to its past and the leadership of defeat is proceeding towards the next scheduled defeat.
 Papandreou warns of possibility of Kosovo Albanians undermining Kostunica
Athens, 11/10/2000 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou warned on Tuesday night of the possibility of the prestige of the new Yugoslav president being undermined by the Albanian leaders in Kosovo.
He asked that the expression of patriotic views by President Vojislav Kostunica not to be characterized as nationalism.
Briefing the members of Parliament's National Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee on the Yugoslav issue, Papandreou expressed the hope that Yugoslavia's integrity will be maintained following the recent developments and announced that negotiations on the status of Kosovo will begin soon.
He also referred to the important political and economic prospects opening up for Greece in the Balkans.
The foreign minister will brief the committee next week on the Cyprus issue and on Greek-Turkish relations.
 Stephanopoulos comments on Yugoslav situation from Riga
RIGA, 11/10/2000 (ANA - N. Megadoukas)Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos conveyed his wishes from here for a smooth political transition in Yugoslavia, saying he hopes the Balkan country will upgrade its democratic institutions and "become a member of the European family (of nations)".
Stephanopoulos, on an official visit to Latvia, also emphasized Greece's role in the Balkans during an official dinner hosted by his Latvian counterpart Monday evening, noting that Greece has not "stopped warning of the major dangers emanating from a change in our region's borders".
On Tuesday, the Greek president visited the Riga Town Hall and met with the Baltic country's prime minister. He later toured Riga's old quarter and the "Museum of Occupation -- 1940-91".
Meanwhile, Alternate Foreign Minister Angeliki Laiou, who is accompanying Stephanopoulos on his trip, met with representatives of Latvia's small ethnic Greek community on Monday, saying the Greek state will dispatch schoolbooks and other materials to that community.
On Tuesday, Stephanopoulos was due to visit the University of Riga before hosting a reception in honor of Latvian President Vike Freiberga.
He departs for Estonia on Wednesday.
 Greece assumes greater role in Balkans, Greek defense minister says
BIRMINGHAM, 11/10/2000 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)With the latest developments in Yugoslavia Greece assumes a greater role in the Balkans, Greek Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Tuesday.
Tsohatzopoulos, who is attending a two-day conference of NATO's defense ministers that begun in Birmingham on Tuesday, noted that Greece's "role is dual".
"We are still presiding over the multi-national Balkan security force, while the organization for the reconstruction of the Balkans, based in Thessaloniki, would be active in aiding Yugoslavia in its reconstruction effort, considered to be a priority," Tsohatzopoulos added.
He said that the NATO ministers expressed support for Yugoslavia's course toward democratization.
Press reports also noted that the Alliance's Secretary General Lord Robertson said that a precondition for smooth relations between Yugoslavia and the international community would be the extradition of war criminals to be tried at the International Court at The Hague.
 No question of transferring Balkan Reconstruction Organizations headquarters to Pristina
Athens, 11/10/2000 (ANA)Members of the European Parliament's Industry, Overseas Trade, Research and Energy Committee appeared satisfied on Tuesday with the work being done at the European Balkan Reconstruction Organizations office and in their view there is no reason to transfer the Organizations headquarters from Thessaloniki to Pristina.
The Committee's view was voiced by one of its members, British Deputy Giles Bryan Chichester, during a press conference held on Tuesday at the end of the two-day visit they made to Thessaloniki, at the invitation of Greek Eurodeputy Christos Folias.
Replying to a question by the Athens News Agency (ANA), they said "the Organizations head office is and should remain in Thessaloniki" and denied scenarios regarding its transfer to Pristina.
 Europarliament report calls for Turkey's contribution for resolving Cyprus issue
BRUSSELS, 11/10/2000 (ANA - V. Demiris)French European People's Party (EPP) Deputy Philippe Maurillon called for Turkey's contribution for resolving the Cyprus issue and the immediate withdrawal of Turkish occupation forces in a report on Turkey's application for European Union accession and the state of negotiations.
The European Parliaments Foreign Affairs Committee approved the report on Tuesday.
The rapporteur notes in his report that "the Cyprus issue should be resolved as soon as possible, to the degree that nobody understands today for what reason Cyprus remains divided by a wall, such as in Berlin and Sarajevo, which fortunately no longer exist."
During the vote on the draft resolution accompanying the report, an amendment by PASOK and New Democracy party Deputies George Katiforis and Christos Zacharakis was included which calls on the Turkish government "to contribute, in accordance with UN Council resolution 1250, to the creation of a suitable climate for talks between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities to enable a viable, just and overall settlement through negotiations to be achieved which will be in accordance with relevant decisions taken by the Security Council and the UN General Assembly's recommendations."
The hope was also expressed that this will be able to take place during the fifth round of UN-led Cyprus proximity talks.
The draft resolution also appeals to Turkey to take measures to abolish capital punishment in the framework of the penal code's reform.
Also requested is the gradual decrease of the Turkish military's special leverage in the taking of political decisions which, as it was stressed, will result in incidents such as that which occurred in the buffer zone in Strovilia, Cyprus, this year not happening again.
Referring to this issue, the rapporteur explains in his report: precisely because they hold military power, the members of the military cannot be those who will decide on its use.
The Committee ratified an amendment by Katiforis by which the violation of the status quo in Strovilia by the Turkish occupation forces was condemned.
 Pangalos says Turkey obliged to contribute actively for Cyprus settlement
NICOSIA, 11/10/2000 (ANA - G. Leonidas)Greek Culture Minister Theodoros Pangalos said here on Tuesday that the Turkish government is obliged to contribute actively and positively for a settlement of the Cyprus issue.
He pointed out that this must be stressed more dynamically and more specifically than was the case during last December's European Union summit in Helsinki and in the EU-Turkey partnership negotiations.
Pangalos also added that the EU-Turkey partnership talks must include the EU's clear commitment that Cyprus will become an EU member once the island republic's accession negotiations are completed and that in this prospect there would be no obstacles placed, regardless of the situation existing on the island as a result of the Turkish invasion and occupation of northern Cyprus.
Pangalos made the statements following a meeting he had in the morning with President Glafcos Clerides who expressed the wish for closer cultural exchanges between Cyprus and Greece. Clerides added that particularly at times when there are developments in the Cyprus issue, the presence of Greece must be apparent in Cyprus.
Pangalos also met House of Representatives President Spyros Kyprianou and political party leaders.
Greek Orthodox Church rejects resolution of Cyprus problem on confederation basis: The Greek Orthodox Church criticized what it called the "gestation of a resolution on the basis of a confederation" for the Cyprus problem, a press release issued on Tuesday by the Archbishopric said.
Following a meeting of the church leadership on Tuesday, a press release was issued noting "our church is not qualified to propose solutions on foreign affairs issues. It feels, however, the weight of its historical responsibility and for this reason it is obliged to stress that a non-resolution of the Cyprus problem is comparatively better than a bad resolution".
"Such a bad resolution is the gestating confederation in Cyprus, which means, according to experienced diplomats: 'the total Turkish control of the northern part of Cyprus and the Turkish partial control in the southern part (of the island republic)," the press release noted.
Responding to comments that the Church was expressing political views by intervening in Greece's foreign policy, Church spokesman Metropolitan of Alexandroupolis Anthimos said "to express concern is not an expression of political views".
 Burns says Greek security forces able to confront challenge of terrorism in light of Athens Olympiad
Athens, 11/10/2000 (ANA)US Ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns said on Tuesday "the Greek security forces are in a position to confront the challenge of terrorism in light of the 2004 Olympiad and shall do so."
Burns was addressing a press conference together with Greek-American AHEPA organization President Johnny Economy on three-day events starting in Athens on Wednesday on the present and future of Greek-American relations.
Burns also said Greek police officers will visit Salt Lake City in the US, where the 2002 winter Olympic Games will be held, to watch the planning and implementation of security measures.
On his part, AHEPA's president said the organization will play an active role in promoting and organizing the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and that, among others, it plans to secure the participation of many Greek-Americans and Greek-Canadians in the group of volunteers to be created in light of the Olympiad.
 Greece, Italy, Albania to cooperate in curbing organized crime
Athens, 11/10/2000 (ANA)Greece, Italy and Albania will implement a series of measures to curb criminal activities in the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, as the three countries decided to cooperate following an increase of organized criminal activity in the area.
Greek Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis, his Albanian counterpart Spartak Potsi and Italian Interior Minister Enzo Bianco, met in Corfu on Tuesday and discussed specific measures to curb the increasing organized criminal activities that include narcotics, weapons, cigarettes and undocumented immigrant smuggling.
Following the meeting, Chrysohoidis said that the three men agreed to join forces on a policing level, by a systematic exchange of information and liaison officers.
He added that Greece and Italy would aid the creation of an information center in Alvona, Albania, following the request of the Albanian government, in efforts to better control all types of movement toward Europe.
Chrysohoidis noted that European Union funds would be used to provide equipment and training for the police forces of the three countries, emphasizing on training to detect specific activities of organized crime, such as forgery.
He added that, following a proposal by Bianco, Greece and Italy would table a proposal at the upcoming EU interior ministers' council requesting a complete policy with measures for the protection of the Union's external borders.
He also said that this joint effort could be enhanced with the cooperation of other neighboring countries, thus allowing for the even more substantial confrontation of crime, adding that the Greece, Italy and Albania also agreed to cooperate in confronting natural disasters.
 Hellenic Air Force chief visits US
WASHINGTON, 11/10/2000 (ANA - T. Ellis)Hellenic Air Force General Staff Chief Lieutenant General Dimitris Lytzerakos, currently on a visit to the United States, was due to meet on Tuesday with his US counterpart Michael Ryan.
Lytzerakos was to also lay a wreath at the Arlington Cemetery, United States Armed Forces, and attend a dinner in his honor by his US counterpart.
Over the next three days he will visit airport bases in Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Texas.
On Monday, he visited the installations of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, where the new Joint Strike Fighter is being built. According to reports, Greece is interested in acquiring this new aircraft.
He also attended a dinner given in his honor by Greek Ambassador Alexandros Philon.
He is due to depart from the US on Saturday.
 Unprecedented participation in nationwide strike, unionists claim
Athens, 11/10/2000 (ANA)Tuesday's strike was a "pleasant surprise", General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) President Christos Polyzogopoulos, said commenting on the participation in the nationwide rally of workers.
Trade unionists said workers' participation in the strike "surpassed all expectations", as public transport in Athens came to a complete standstill, fewer bank staff worked on Tuesday compared to the day before and in many factories in Athens and in the prefectures strike participation touched almost 100 per cent.
The rally from at a central park in Athens to Parliament was also considerably large.
Addressing the rally, Polyzogopoulos warned the government, saying "if you insist (on your policies), the workers will not forgive you. You will see them in front of you every day. It is time for you to change course of action."
Polyzogopoulos called on the government to withdraw its measures on labor relations, and proceed in the redistribution of income in view of the budget.
 Greek stock continue moving lower
Athens, 11/10/2000 (ANA)Equity prices continued moving lower on Tuesday hit by investors' reluctance to open new positions in the market and by draining liquidity on the Athens Stock Exchange.
Traders, however, were satisfied because the market found support at the 3,900 level. Analysts said the market's current levels were in the middle of its recent rally, which pushed the general index from 3,400 to 4,400 points.
They said that draining liquidity in the market posed risks for a total of 70 listed companies planning to raise capital from the market (around one trillion drachmas) by the end of the year.
The general index ended 0.85 percent lower at 3,923.17 points, with turnover a low 58.89 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended at 2,223.77 points, off 0.75 percent, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index fell 1.18 percent to 483.78 points.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: 8,134.89
-0.18% Leasing: 611.69 -3.16% Insurance: 2,123.94 -0.64% Investment: 1,520.93 -2.09% Construction: 1,930.63 -0.48% Industrials: 2,266.05 -1.65% Miscellaneous: 3,720.67 -3.43% Holding: 4,383.78
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended 3.33 percent lower at 518.70 points.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 270 to 71 with another 10 issues unchanged.
Intracom, Hellenic Telecoms, Eurobank, National Bank, Lambrakis Press, Klonatex and Hellenic Bottling were the most heavily traded stocks.
Leading shares' closing prices (in Drs): National Bank: 15,050 Alpha Bank: 14,250 Commercial Bank: 18,100 Eurobank: 10,920 Piraeus Bank: 6,390 Lambrakis Press: 7,760 Heracles Cement: 5,990 Ôitan Cement (c): 13,975 Hellenic Telecoms: 7,195 Panafon: 3,625 Hellenic Petroleum: 3,870 Attica Enterprises: 2,950 Intracom: 11,000 Minoan Lines: 2,200 Hellenic Bottling: 5,000
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 0.75 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 1.18 percent lower.
Turnover was 19.2 billion drachmas.
A total of 3,649 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 with turnover at 16.3 billion drachmas.
On the FTSE/ASE 40 index, 1,494 contracts changed hands on turnover of 2.9 billion drachmas.
Bonds end mixed in scant trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Tuesday finished mixed in slim trade.
The Greek benchmark 10-year yield spread over German bunds was 75 basis points from 74 basis points in the two previous trading days.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 26 billion drachmas from 34 billion drachmas in the session before.
Overnight interest rates closed at 8.25 per cent as the Bank of Greece announced moves to increase liquidity in the market, on Wednesday.
Drachma up vs. dollar, stable vs. euro: The drachma on Tuesday ended virtually at the same levels as at the previous session against the euro and higher against the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market.
At the central bank's daily fixing, the euro was set at 339.45 drachmas same as in the previous session.
The fix, however, of the drachma against the dollar was set at 388.91 drachmas from 390.340 drachmas a trading day earlier.
 Greek, Turkish papers agree on quarterly joint edition
ISTANBUL, 11/10/2000 (ANA - A. Abatzis)Greek-Turkish rapprochement has apparently ventured into the print media sector -- following bilateral agreements on specific economic areas over the past few months -- as the Athens financial daily "Express" and the Turkish daily "Dounya" signed a protocol of cooperation recently in Istanbul.
Among others, the two newspapers plan on publishing a quarterly Greek-Turkish review - tentatively named "Cooperation" -- featuring economic, political and cultural news in both Greek and Turkish.
The first issue is set for December.
Additionally, an exchange of news and information is envisioned between the two media groups.
 Relatives and survivors file suit against officers, ship-owner and inspection service
Athens, 11/10/2000 (ANA)The death toll for the "Express Samina" shipwreck had reached 80 on Tuesday, after coast guard officers retrieved the body of Albanian national Akis Skantera from the sea off Mykonos late on Monday.
Skantera, in a state of advanced decay, was identified through travel documents found in his clothes.
Meanwhile, survivors of the shipwreck and relatives of the victims have filed a suit against the officers of the passenger ferry, the ship owners and the officials at the Commercial Ships Inspection Directorate, demanding the conservative impoundment of the ship-owner's property up to 100 million drachmas.
 Ancient Macedonian-era community discovered near Thessaloniki
Athens, 11/10/2000 (ANA)An ancient Macedonian-era city has been recently uncovered by archaeologists in Thessaloniki prefecture of northern Greece at the Nea Apollonia site, following the mysterious discovery of a priceless golden laurel by a local farmer last August.
At the time, authorities investigated allegations that the ancient artifact was the product of antiquities smuggling, with the focus now turning to the farmer himself.
The ancient community's founding has been initially dated to the 5th century BC, with an inland site chosen in order to avoid raids by the powerful Athenian fleet that dominated the Aegean at the time. Various artifacts, building foundations, coins and walls have come to light with the recent excavations, as the city is believed to have peaked during the reign of Alexander the Great and survived into the early Byzantine period.
 Greece, Cyprus sign cultural cooperation memorandum
NICOSIA, 11/10/2000 (ANA)Cyprus and Greece signed here on Tuesday a three-year memorandum of cultural cooperation to boost ties, which provides for proposals to be submitted to the competent authorities for the Athens 2004 Olympiad.
Cyprus Education and Culture Minister Ouranios Ioannides said a special team would be set up to deal with the proposals, which refer to the route of the Olympic flame and the making of the bronze medals at the Games with copper from Cyprus.
Greek Culture Minister Theodoros Pangalos, who came on Monday and was due to leave later on Tuesday, said he sees no reason why the Olympic Committee cannot accept Cyprus' offer to provide the copper for the medals.
The memorandum provides for exchanges of cultural groups, exhibitions, and cooperation in the music and film industries, including the establishment of a common fund for co-productions.
 EU Council of Environment Ministers takes decisions on air pollution and noise
BRUSSELS, 11/10/2000 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)European Union Environment Ministers examined air pollution, noise and changes in climate causing the greenhouse phenomenon during their session in Luxembourg on Tuesday. Deputy Environment Minister Ilias Efthymiopoulos represented Greece.
The ministers unanimously ratified a common position on the directive determining ozone levels in the atmosphere over the next decade and in the long run, in accordance with the directives of the World Health Organization.
On the question of determining an EU policy on noise, and in principle in places where the problem is more acute (urban centers, road and railway networks and airports), the ministers agreed on a series of actions which will constitute the basis for enacting a relevant EU directive, although many countries, including Greece, proposed that particularities, particularly in the south, should be taken into consideration.
 Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos visits Romania
BUCHAREST, 11/10/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Romanian Prime Minister Mugur Isarescu and his adviser on religious affairs received here on Tuesday Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.
Addressing Vartholomeos at a service at Bucharest's cathedral, Patriarch Theoktistos of Romania underlined the role the Ecumenical Patriarchate plays in the affairs of the Orthodox churches all over the world and expressed his pleasure that Vartholomeos frequently visited Romania.
Patriarch Vartholomeos will be honored on Wednesday by Romania's Academy of Sciences and awarded the title of honorary doctor.
Vartholomeos, who will also visit other Romanian cities, will return to Istanbul on Saturday.
 AFGLC hosts event in Athens focusing on Hellenic culture
Athens, 11/10/2000 (ANA)The ambitious American Foundation for Greek Language and Culture (AFGLC) hosted a one-day event on Tuesday in Athens, focusing on ways of better disseminating Hellenism worldwide.
A morning roundtable centered on the issue of "the Greek academic community and its contribution to Hellenic civilization at an international level", while the second session considered the issue of "Mass media and their contributions".
The event comes four months after AFGLC announced that it was establishing an Athens branch.
What began a few years ago in the United States as a sincere effort to promote Greek letters and civilization - from antiquity to Byzantium and on to the present - developed into the AFGLC, whose most notable success has been the establishment this year of a highly touted interdisciplinary center of Hellenic studies at the University of South Florida (USF) -- which consists of five permanently endowed chairs in as many "core" areas of Greek studies: Greek language and literature; history; philosophy; culture, and, Byzantine history and Orthodox religion.
AFGLC's leadership hopes to transplant the USF model of an interdisciplinary center with multiple endowed chairs or departments to other US universities, with New England, Georgia, New Jersey, the Carolinas, Texas and Chicago-area schools targeted as the next potential candidates for such centers.
The foundation (www.afglc.org) is headquartered in Florida as a non-profit making organization in that state.
A reception was held on Tuesday evening attended by US Ambassador Nicholas Burns who simply commented on preparations for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
 IOC official calls for unity in organizing Athens 2004 Olympic Games
LONDON, 11/10/2000 (ANA/AP)The International Olympic Committee called on Greek government and Athens 2004 Olympic Games organizers to unite their efforts in order to successfully complete the preparations of the Games.
International Olympic Committee Executive Jacques Rogge, with control over the Athens Games, said the Greeks "must close ranks to overcome three years of delays".
"I would call for a four-year truce", Rogge said in an interview.
"They cannot afford to quarrel. They have to unite. Now is the time to pull all the ranks together and work in a united way", Rogge said.
The IOC has told Greece it must speed up preparations and increase government involvement to get the games on track.
 Government welcomes statements by EU officials on Cyprus
NICOSIA, 11/10/2000 (CNA/ANA)The government has welcomed statements by European Union officials on Cyprus, saying they convey a clear message to the Turkish Cypriot side.
The government has also welcomed the intention of EU enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen to be present in the wings of the UN-led peace talks, due to resume in Geneva early November.
"Verheugen has given a very clear message to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash that he cannot buy more time and stressing that the EU will accept one Cyprus in its ranks," government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said here on Tuesday, commenting on remarks by the German Commissioner at Monday's meeting of Cypriot and European parliamentarians in Brussels.
Verheugen had said Cyprus' accession course is on the right track and noted full coordination between the EU and the UN.
The spokesman welcomed comments by French Ambassador here Jean Bernard de Vaivre who told Monday's meeting that the EU is seeking a Cyprus settlement in line with UN decisions and reiterated the EU decisions that a solution is not a prerequisite for the Republic's accession.
Papapetrou pointed out that these "very important" comments come days after the European Parliament adopted a report by Cyprus rapporteur Jacques Poos on the Republic's membership course and a resolution to this effect.
"These positive developments are the result of government policy which has paid off," the spokesman said, adding that the government, through its wise policy, stands firm on principles but is also flexible.
Replying to questions, the spokesman said the government would welcome increased EU involvement in the peace effort and Verheugen's possible presence in Geneva next month.
The government is making a conscious effort to ensure that any settlement in Cyprus is not out of step with EU rules and regulations, in order to avoid any complications in its accession course.
Cyprus opened accession talks with the EU in 1998 and EU officials have been monitoring the new UN-led peace effort that got underway last December in a bid to unite the island, divided since Turkish troops occupied 37 percent of its territory in 1974.
 Verheugen says EU wants to facilitate UN-led Cyprus peace process
BRUSSELS, 11/10/2000 (CNA/ANA)European Union Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen has said the 15-member block wants to facilitate the UN-led Cyprus peace process through the accession negotiations it has opened with the Republic and expressed the view the European integration process will facilitate a settlement on the island.
Speaking to CNA in Brussels, Verheugen would not reveal whether the Cyprus question will be mentioned in the document prepared by the EU for Turkey's accession partnership and said the French EU rotating presidency does not intend to set target dates for the conclusion of the accession talks.
Asked on the EU role in the Cyprus peace effort, he said it is well known and will not change.
"We coordinate our policy with the UN, but the settlement process is under the auspices of the UN and their responsibility, not ours," Verheugen said.
He added that "what we want to do is to facilitate that process with the accession negotiations and I sincerely believe that the process of European integration finally will facilitate the solution of the Cyprus problem."
Referring to the meeting he had recently with the UN Secretary General, the European official said Kofi Annan "was interested to be informed about the state of play in the enlargement process as such and especially he wanted to express his appreciation for the fact that the EU and the UN are working closely together on Cyprus in such a constructive approach."
Verheugen said he has accepted a request by the UN chief to be prepared to be present during the fifth round of proximity talks on the Cyprus question, scheduled to begin in Geneva on November 1, to discuss issues pertaining to the enlargement process and a settlement in Cyprus.
A new effort to reach a settlement in Cyprus, divided since Turkish troops occupied 37 percent of its territory in 1974, started last December and separate meetings with the two communities of the island have also been held in February, July and September.
Invited to comment on Ankara's demand that the Commission excludes the Cyprus problem from the document it is preparing on the accession partnership with Turkey, Verheugen said "you cannot expect that I confirm that and you cannot expect that I deny that. I do not confirm, I do not deny.
"The accession partnership is not a negotiated document. It is a unilateral document. The only thing we have to do is to make sure we get the positive response of Turkey," he explained, adding "we are still working on it. It is not completed."
The European Commissioner said it is his intention "to present a draft that can be accepted in the way it is. But as I say, we are still working."