|Friday, 24 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-10-12
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Athens reviews Balkan developments, considers support to Belgrade
Athens, 12/10/2000 (ANA)The Greek government on Wednesday reviewed recent developments in the Balkans, focusing especially on the situation in Yugoslavia and economic activity by Greece-based companies in the greater region.
According to reports, the Inner Cabinet discussed Greeces national action plan for the region, which includes the healthcare, housing, telecommunicat-ions and trade sectors and will be funded by the Greek state to the tune of 180 billion drachmas, plus investments funds by the Greek private sector.
Following the meeting, Foreign Minister George Papandreou said Athens is applying a Balkan policy based on the principles of international law and the protection of human rights.
Commenting on Yugoslavia, he said Greece's policy toward that country was vindicated, calling developments in Belgrade 'historic' and as forging the way for the region's accession to Euro-Atlantic alliances.
Papandreou also said the Inner Cabinet decided to immediately grant financial aid to Yugoslavia, adding that National Economy Minister Yannos Papantoniou was planning to visit Belgrade next month at the head of a delegation of Greek entrepreneurs.
He added that National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis would also visit Belgrade to discuss issues relating to their ministries.
Sources also said that Yugoslavia would be granted import credits, while other proposals for aid to Belgrade, Sofia and Skopje already submitted would be reviewed and supplemented during Papantonious tour of those capitals.
Speaking on conditions in neighboring Albania, Papandreou said that the cabinet discussed the recent instances of anti-Greek sentiment reported in the impoverished neighboring country, stressing that Athens' relations with Tirana are also based on the principles of international law and the protection of human and minority rights.
 President Stephanopoulos and Estonian counterpart express will for widening of bilateral relations
TALLINN, 12/10/2000 (ANA - N. Megadoukas)Visiting Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos and his Estonian counterpart Lennart Meri expressed the political will for the further widening of bilateral relations between the two countries in talks here on Wednesday.
President Stephanopoulos, accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister Angeliki Laiou and Deputy National Economy Minister Yiannis Zafeiropoulos, arrived in Estonia on Wednesday, second leg of his tour of Baltic States, and in his talks with Meri he reiterated Greece's assistance for Estonia's accession to Euroatlantic structures.
Reports said European Union enlargement (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are seeking EU accession), the widening of trade and economic relations between Athens and Tallinn, as well as of cultural exchanges between the two countries, constituted the focal point of talks between the two presidents.
Meri announced that the establishment of a scholarship of 10,000 Estonian crowns was decided under the name of "Pytheas Massaliotis", to be given to a translator or researcher from Estonia who will have contributed with his writings to understanding between the Greek and Estonian people.
President Stephanopoulos said Greece intends to give a corresponding scholarship, which will contribute to the further development of relations between the two countries in all sectors.
Meri said in a statement he and President Stephanopoulos continued the discussion they had started in Athens, during his official visit to Greece over a year ago, concerning the future of the EU and the role played by small countries in it, as well as Estonia's plans to become a NATO member.
On his part, President Stephanopoulos said Greece is absolutely positive towards Estonia's claim, as well as towards those of Latvia and Lithuania, to join the EU, adding that future developments in the EU were analyzed with the prospects of its enlargement to east and north.
In addition, addressing an official dinner given in his honor by Meri later, President Stephanopoulos reiterated Greek support for Tallinn's accession to Euroatlantic structures.
President Stephanopoulos will inaugurate an economic forum between Greek and Estonian businessmen on Thursday morning and will meet with the Estonian prime minister, the mayor of Tallinn and the president of the Estonian Parliament, while he will also be visiting the Technological University in the Estonian capital.
Greece, Estonia see potential in developing economic relations: Greek-Estonian relations are good and steadily developing, with Greece lending its support to Estonian efforts to become a member of the European Union and NATO.
Bilateral economic relations have great potential due to the fact that Estonia has been invited to the first wave of EU accession talks.
Greek businesses have shown an increasing interest towards the Baltic state and in particular in the fields of maritime transport, port construction, shipbuilding, high technology, science, forestry, agriculture, food, textiles and furniture.
Estonia is particularly interested in cooperation in the tourism sector.
The two countries have signed four agreements covering the promotion and reciprocal protection of investments, abolishment of visa requirements, maritime transport and international road transport.
Bilateral trade is steadily rising. Estonian exports to Greece has increased from 2.5 million kroons to 33.5 million in the period 1995-1999, while imports have grown from 13 million to 37.1 million kroons.
Estonian exports to Greece totalled 30.3 million kroons in the first half of 2000, while imports totalled 20.9 million.
Greece ranked as the 51st biggest trade partner and the 60th biggest investor of Estonia.
 Russian FM arrives in Athens on Thursday morning
Athens, 12/10/2000 (ANA)Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov arrives in Athens on Thursday morning from Nicosia for talks with the Greek government.
Ivanov had delayed his visit to Athens by a day due to his visit in the Middle East.
 Greek troops make historic landing on Turkish coast during NATO's "Destined Glory 2000" exercise
ISTANBUL, 12/10/2000 (ANA - E. Aretaios)The historic landing of Greek troops on the Izmir coast - within the framework of the NATO exercise "Destined Glory 2000" - was run as a news flash by every Turkish television channel on Wednesday. This is the first time that Greece has participated in a military exercise on Turkish soil since its army was forced out of Izmir in defeat 78 years ago, in 1922.
The 127-strong company of Greek marines of the 32nd Marine Brigade from Volos, led by Commander Parris Kapravelos, carried out a landing from the air in helicopters, and reinforced other NATO troops in the region.
Last Saturday, the Greek Navy frigate "Spetsai" sailed into Izmir harbor and six Greek Air force F-16 fighter jets landed at the military airport at Balikesir to take part in the exercise.
 Turkish minister says Greek-Turkish "differences" could be solved within a few months
ISTANBUL, 12/10/2000 (ANA - E. Aretaios)The problems between Greece and Turkey could be solved through dialogue within a few months, Turkish Minister of State responsible for the Cyprus issue, Sucru Sina Gurel, said in a speech at the Aegean University in Izmir on Wednesday.
"There exists a very positive climate in Greek-Turkish relations, following (last year's) the earthquakes in the two countries," said Gurel, adding that "this climate must not be restricted to the signing of agreements on issues of secondary importance."
Greece and Turkey signed over the past months nine agreements on low-key issues.
The Turkish minister said that "the problems between Greece and Turkey can be solved in four or five months or even in four days, provided the two sides decide to make the Aegean a sea which both countries can use," he said.
Greece rejects a dialogue on so-called problems in the Aegean, recognizing only one difference, that of the delineation of the Aegean continental shelf for which it proposes referral to the International Court at The Hague.
Referring to the European-Turkey partnership document, Gurel supported that the Turkish government "will not accept a settlement of the problems in the Aegean and the solution of the Cyprus problem as preliminary terms for Turkey's full accession into the EU".
The Turkish minister finally reiterated Ankara's steadfast views concerning two separate and equal states in Cyprus and claimed that "the Cyprus issue will be settled when the interested parties accept this reality."
 EU plans to stem emigration of Albanian citizens
BRUSSELS, 12/10/2000 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)The European Union's plan of action for Albania's economic development, to stem the emigration of Albanian citizens, will include special care for the security and protection of ethnic minorities.
A relevant amendment by main opposition New Democracy party Eurodeputy Christos Zaharakis, accepted by the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, encourages the return to Albania of thousands of members of the Greek minority who were forced to emigrate.
According to conclusions drawn by the Committee's avis "if internal security does not improve in Albania, substantive social and economic improvements cannot be carried out", while after the endorsement of the amendment the phrase "including the security and protection of ethnic minorities" was added.
"The members of the Greek minority could return and contribute substantively to the country's economic and social recovery, provided they enjoyed satisfactory conditions of security, educational possibilities and religious freedom," Zaharakis said.
 Israeli ambassador: Arafat chose to derail peace effort
Athens, 12/10/2000 (ANA)Israeli diplomats echoed here on Wednesday the Barak government's position of directly blaming Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for the recent whirlwind of violence in the Mideast.
During a noontime press conference, Israeli Ambassador Ran Curiel reiterated that the visit by Israeli hard-line opposition leader Ariel Sharon to a Jerusalem religious shrine - sacred to both Muslims and Jews, who call it Temple Mount -- on Sept. 28 was "simply the pretext used by Arafat" to derail the peace process.
Curiel also said Arafat bears responsibility for the violence as he could stop the rioting -- "he doesn't control every stone thrower; maybe he can't stop it in an hour, but he could stop the violence in maybe one day, maybe two".
"Hamas terrorists have been released...and there have been crude violations of every item in the (Oslo) peace agreement...which creates doubt if we have a partner for peace with the current (Palestinian) leadership. The Palestinians will always be our partners because we have no choice...
"We still believe in peace and negotiation ... Israel has displayed a maximum of patience," Curiel said in his opening comments, while stressing that Palestinian media has incited West Bank and Gaza residents to take the streets.
In terms of the carnage witnessed to date - 88 dead, mostly Palestinians - Israeli diplomats said casualties would have been much higher if IDF forces hadn't exercised self-restraint in dealing with the protesters.
"Our forces fire only when they are threatened," Curiel said, before noting that the disproportionate number of dead between the two sides lies in the fact that no Israeli civilians are on the streets, "only Palestinian protesters, including unfortunately, civilians and children, and Israeli soldiers".
"There will be no reward for violence. This is a principle that will be followed when the peace negotiations resume ... we are not weak, we're strong, but we want peace," Curiel said at the end of his comments.
 Palestinian Authority Ambassador briefs Communist leader on Middle East
Athens, 12/10/2000 (ANA)Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga received the Palestinian Authority's Ambassador to Greece Abdallah Abdallah on Wednesday, who briefed her on events leading to the start of the second "Intifada" and said the acquisition of a Palestinian state constitutes a claim, which the Palestinian people will never abandon, regardless of sacrifices necessary.
"The Israeli government, despite UN agreements and resolutions, refuses to accept it and makes provocative actions, such as that of Ariel Sharon's visit to the Holy Mosque and the use of open and undisguised force, killing unarmed demonstrators and children," Abdallah said.
Abdallah conveyed personal greetings from President Yasser Arafat to KKE and Papariga for the multiform solidarity it demonstrated for the Palestinian people from the start.
On her part, Papariga referred to KKE's actions, with the first outbreak of events, and the promotion of the party's position that it is necessary for the Greek people's movement of solidarity and support for the Palestinian's struggle to obtain their own state to develop even further.
 Vested interests again dominate talks among ND section heads and Karamanlis
Athens, 12/10/2000 (ANA)A meeting of New Democracy section heads chaired by ND leader Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday discussed the resignation of Christos Salales from PASOK's Central Committee, vested interests and ND's proposal to set up a parliamentary committee for Olympic Airways, which is being discussed in Parliament on Thursday.
According to Karamanlis, everything his party had said about the ways of thinking encouraged by the government in its cadres was too little.
He also claimed that during Salales' tenure, many gambling games had been set up within the Greek football pools organization OPAP.
When ND spoke about vested interests, he added, it was not referring to some theoretical construction and this was proof.
Karamanlis also announced that his party was drawing up a bill that would require a three to five-year gap before managers in the state sector could transfer to the private sector.
 Government responds to Church comments on Cyprus problem
Athens, 12/10/2000 (ANA)The statements of the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos on the Cyprus issue, as well as other interventions of the Church leadership were not in line with the Church's spiritual mission, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Wednesday.
He added that such interventions created problems to the elected bodies in exercising their policy.
On Tuesday 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 by the Church noted that "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".
On his part, on Wednesday, Christodoulos referred to the police identification card conflict between the Church and the government, during a two-hour speech at a meeting of the Church leadership.
The government decided in June to exclude the religious affiliation notification from the police identification cards, and the Greek Orthodox Church reacted by collecting signatures to force a plebiscite on the issue.
Christodoulos said the Church would not back down from its efforts to retain the notification, albeit voluntary.
 EU seeks to reform pension systems
BRUSSELS, 12/10/2000 (ANA - G. Zitouniati, M. Spinthourakis)European Commission on Wednesday said that reforms of the pension systems in member-states should go hand-in-hand with strong economic development and active strategies to promote employment.
In a report, following a proposal by Greek Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou, responsible for employment and social affairs, the Commission defines a framework of cooperation between European Union member-states.
Speaking to reporters, Diamantopoulou said the Commission does not mandate compulsory regulations regarding age-limits in its directives to member-states.
She added however that the focal point of this cooperation would be to make the European pension funds viable, as they all "are faced with the common challenge of an aging population", threatening the long-term viability not only of the pension funds but also of the European social model.
The text also notes that the achievement of the Lisbon Summit goals for total employment would make possible the just restructuring of the pension systems.
Diamantopoulou also said that the "ratio of pensioners to the active population would double from 2000 to 2040," stressing that this "added pressure on the public finances is clear."
"The challenge for policy makers is to secure that the future funding of pensions would not destabilize state budgets, while at the same time pensioners would continue to be totally protected," she said.
According to the announcement-report, Europeans over 65 years of age are equivalent to 28.3 per cent of those aged 20 to 64 years, in 2010 they would be equivalent to 31.4 per cent, in 2030 they would be equivalent to 46.8 per cent and in 2040 they would be equivalent to 55.9 per cent.
In Greece residents over 65 years of age are equivalent to 30.2 per cent of those aged 20 to 64 years, in 2010 they would be equivalent to 33.6 per cent, in 2030 they would be equivalent to 44.4 per cent and in 2040 they would be equivalent to 61.6 per cent.
On his part, Commissioner responsible for internal market affairs Frits Bolkestein said that he presented a draft for a Union directive, which would allow pension funds to invest their assets in stocks.
"With the aging of the population of the EU, we should secure that pension funds would be able to function with best possible safety and effectiveness," Bolkestein said.
 Passenger ship owners announce protest
Athens, 12/10/2000 (ANA)Domestic passenger shipping companies decided on Wednesday that they would not sail their ships on Oct. 27 in protest of what they called unjust criticism.
Eighteen shipping companies, less Strintzis, issued a press release noting that "through the abuse endured by the Greek passenger shipping, new investments are discouraged and thus the modernization and renewal of the passenger fleet is blocked".
The announcement also said that 103 ships over the age of 27 years ply the seas of the European Union, while 22 of those are over 35 years of age and one serving the Naples-Capri route is over 64 years of age.
The announcement came at the wake of the Minoan Lines "Express Samina" shipwreck in September that cost the lives of 80 people.
Relatives of "Express Samina" shipwreck victims request restraining order on Minoan Flying Dolphins assets: Eighteen relatives of six people who lost their lives when the ferry "Express Samina" hit a reef and sank off the island of Paros two weeks ago requested a restraining order from a Piraeus court on Wednesday on the sale of Minoan Flying Dolphins company (the company owning the vessel) assets of up to 3.3 billion drachmas. They also requested that the ownership status of MFD's four new "High Speed" ferries not be changed until the case is tried.
The request was accepted until the case will be tried on November 6, 2000.
The "Express Samina" sank in rough seas after hitting the reef near Paros harbor as it was preparing to dock late at night, resulting in the loss of 80 lives.
 Gov't may sell over 51 pct of Hellenic Petroleum
Athens, 12/10/2000 (ANA)Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Wednesday that the government might privatize a further stake in Hellenic Petroleum, taking the amount of stock sold above 51 percent.
Christodoulakis was addressing parliament's production and trade committee on the impact of a world hike in oil prices and on liberalization of the domestic energy market.
 Shipping register shows net rise in September
Athens, 12/10/2000 (ANA)The Greek shipping register showed a net increase in both number of ships and tonnage in September, the merchant marine ministry said on Wednesday.
Six ships joined the register while three lowered the Greek flag. The register gained a net 219,863 registered tons, the ministry said in a statement.
 British energy minister to inaugurate Greece-UK conference, meet with Greek leadership
Athens, 12/10/2000 (ANA)British minister Helen Liddell, whose portfolio includes energy and competitiveness in Europe, is scheduled to arrive in Athens on Thursday for a three-day visit and talks with Greek leadership.
Liddell will be received by Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, Employment and Social Security Minister Tassos Giannitsis as well as National Economy Minister Yannos Papantoniou, while on Saturday she will attend the inaugural session of a Greek-British conference on the island of Hydra entitled "UK/Greece: A New Look at Relations."
The conference is being jointly organized by the British embassy in Athens and the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) in cooperation with the British Council and the London School of Economics (LSE).
In her keynote address, Liddell is expected to praise Greece's economic modernization program, while stressing the importance of economic reform and competitiveness across the EU during a speech at a business luncheon in Athens.
 GSEE satisfied with outcome of Tuesday's nationwide strike
Athens, 12/10/2000 (ANA)The General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) are satisfied with the outcome of the nationwide strike they jointly called for last Tuesday.
Leading trade unionists underlined the great participation in both the rally organized and the strike itself.
Working people's participation was the greatest in past years and the political conclusion drawn for each side is that the strike cannot be considered a usual "shot in the air."
The threat of upheaval in labor relations combined with changes being prepared by the government in the insurance sector and the upcoming "tight" state budget is the reason, according to trade unionists, for the image of unity among trade union forces. GSEE said on Wednesday it would address a memorandum to Prime Minister Costas Simitis soon, containing all the relevant labor claims, while ADEDY will convene its General Council on Friday in a similar mood.
 Slight drop for unleaded, diesel posts hefty hike
Athens, 12/10/2000 (ANA)Indicative petrol prices will drop slightly for the upcoming week, whereas diesel posts a noteworthy hike, following the government's regular Wednesday announcement.
Specifically, super gasoline falls by 0.7 drachmas per liter and unleaded by 0.8 drachmas per liter. Conversely, diesel will rise by 4.4 liters per liter.
The price of heating oil will be announced on Monday by the government in light of the upcoming winter season, although according to reports, that price will figure near the 155-drachmas mark per liter.
 Greek stocks remain under pressure, end lower
Athens, 12/10/2000 (ANA)Equity prices lost further ground on Wednesday pushing the general index below the 3,900 technical support level on the Athens Stock Exchange.
Traders said low liquidity remained the biggest problem of the Greek market and reiterated that it remained vulnerable to further falls.
The general index ended at 3,883.20 points, losing 1.02 percent of its value, with turnover a low 70.62 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.65 percent lower at 2,209.27 points, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index eased 1.22 percent to 477.09 points.
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended at 503.10 points, off 3.01 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 279 to 61 with another 13 issues unchanged. Hellenic Telecoms, Alpha Bank, Intracom, National Bank and Commercial Bank were the most heavily traded stocks.
Equity futures end down, tracking Athens bourse: Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished lower on Wednesday, in line with the indices on which they are based.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 0.65 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 1.22 percent lower.
Turnover was 17.7 billion drachmas.
A total of 3,130 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 with turnover at 13.9 billion drachmas.
On the FTSE/ASE 40 index, 1,965 contracts changed hands on turnover of 3.7 billion drachmas.
Bond prices down in profit-taking: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Wednesday finished lower in brisk trade with profit-takers raking in their gains in long-term paper.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed an average yield of 5.92 percent.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 75 basis points, the same as in the previous session.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 144 billion drachmas from 26 billion drachmas in the trading day before.
Drachma up vs. euro, down vs. dollar: The drachma on Wednesday ended slightly up against the euro and lower against the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market.
At the central bank's daily fixing, the euro was set at 339.440 drachmas from 339.450 drachmas in the previous session.
Also at the fix, the dollar was set at 388.950 drachmas from 388.910 drachmas a trading day earlier.
 McDonald's to expand in Greece by 2004
Athens, 12/10/2000 (ANA)McDonald's, the global fast food chain, plans to have 100 restaurants open in Greece by 2004, when Athens hosts the Olympics.
The company said in a statement on Wednesday that it currently has 47 outlets in Greece following the opening of a new restaurant in Ioannina, the seventh new store nationwide for the company this year.
Another outlet is due to open in Corfu by the end of 2000, the statement added.
 Conference stresses need for creation of central informatics system
Athens, 12/10/2000 (ANA)Prospects for Greek audiovisual archives were examined at a conference on "Informatics on the Greek Audiovisual Memory in the Digital Era", held at the initiative of the Press and Media Ministry's Audiovisual Means Institute (IOM).
Representatives of audiovisual archives and of similar organizations participating in the conference (13 archives, four private collections, three radio and TV stations and four professional organizations) outlined their views and queries on the main issues and prospects of Greek audiovisual archives in the digital era.
The IOM's proposal on the creation of a "Central Informatics System for the Greek Audiovisual Memory", as a national electronic guide in the form of a database in the Internet, replies to the need ascertained for the utilization of audiovisual archives material.
 US envoy Burns to tour northern Greece cities
Athens, 12/10/2000 (ANA)US Ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns will pay a visit to Thrace and eastern Macedonia from Monday to Wednesday, accompanied by members of the Greek-American Chamber of Commerce and the embassy's commercial attache.
His tour will include Alexandroupoli, Komotini and Xanthi.
 Greece and Norway to cooperate in charting Greek undersea antiquities
Athens, 12/10/2000 (ANA)Greece and Norway are to work together in underwater archaeology and set up a database of all submerged antiquities in the country, using the latest technology. At a joint press conference on Wednesday, Culture Ministry general secretary Lisa Mendoni and Norwegian Ambassador in Athens Jan Wessel Hegg said that the ministry's Undersea Antiquities Service and the Trondheim Technological University in Norway would be working together to chart all Greek underwater antiquities, using new techniques that were absolutely safe for ancient finds.
The Norwegian Ambassador said the project, already in its second year, would run for another two years. The primary liaison for this effort would be the Norwegian Institute in Athens, which is becoming involved in this field for the first time.
In fact, the first results were already in, speakers noted, following the discovery of a previously unknown 12-century Byzantine shipwreck during the first joint search in the sea off the northern Sporades islands and around Cephallonia and Ithaca, which had spurred efforts for closer and more systematic cooperation.
Another search using side scan sonar earlier this year in the north Sporades region had revealed another three shipwrecks, two dating from Roman times, with potentially rich finds.
According to a visiting Norwegian professor, the side scan sonar does not reveal shipwrecks, as such, but anomalies in the seabed that often turn out to be shipwrecks.
The Norwegian side is also contributing to the search with a special remotely operated undersea vehicle equipped with closed-circuit television.
Other speakers at the press conference were the head of the Greek Undersea Antiquities Commission Katerina Delaporta and Norwegian Institute director Michael Wedde.
The technology was first developed by Norway as a tool for discovering deposits of oil and natural gas in the North Sea.
 Hellenic language and culture a 'world heritage'
Athens, 12/10/2000 (ANA)The Hellenic language and culture is a world heritage and not only a national heritage of Greece, education minister Petros Efthimiou said late Tuesday.
Addressing the inauguration of the Greek Foundation for the Hellenic Language and Culture at the Zappeion Hall, attended by US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns, Efthymiou added that this heritage was being safeguarded by the Greeks abroad and expressed his pleasure at the establishment of the Greek Center, pledging his ministry's support for the Center.
The American Foundation for the Hellenic Language and Culture was established in 1994 for the purpose of strengthening the Greek language and culture in the United States through the establishment of Hellenic Studies Centers at American universities and colleges.
Burns said that, through the Foundation, "we are attempting to project in the most appropriate manner the Hellenic culture, and it is necessary for Greek-Americans to acquire full knowledge of the Ancient Greek Civilization".
 Burns and Avramopoulos unveil obelisk monument outside US Ambassador's residence
Athens, 12/10/2000 (ANA)An obelisk to honor the contribution of US philhellenes in Greece and that of Greeks in America, situated opposite the US Ambassador's residence in Athens, was unveiled on Wednesday by US Ambassador Nicholas Burns and Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos. During the ceremony, Burns and Avramopoulos said that the obelisk symbolized the respect of both nations for the principles of independence, human rights and freedom.
AHEPA representatives also attended the unveiling and Greek and US expatriate organizations in Athens. The latter expressed the hope that the monument, which was actually donated by "American Legion" veterans to Greece 70 years ago, would fare better the second time round. After the first unveiling, they added, it has been set aside and forgotten and its symbolism had not been interpreted and appreciated, as it deserved.
"It expresses our gratitude to those philhellenes that helped and loved this country - Greece - and strengthened Greek and American relations," Burns said.
The ceremony was slightly marred, however, when young students attending nearby schools threw eggs at the officials before police intervened, though neither Burns nor Avramopoulos commented.
 Onassis Foundation to inaugurate ambitious cultural center in New York this month
Athens, 12/10/2000 (ANA)A unique hub for Hellenic culture will soon be inaugurated in the heart of New York City, as the Alexander S. Onassis Foundation's first US-based cultural center will open its doors this month within Fifth Avenue's Olympic Tower.
The cultural center will be inaugurated on Oct. 24 with two noteworthy art exhibitions, including a replica of the Parthenon Marbles, circa 1817, and a collection of works by modern Greek artists inspired by Classical antiquity.
The latter exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Greece, held under the auspices of Greece's culture ministry. Besides works donated by the National Gallery, several pieces from private collections will be featured as well.
"We're beginning a new exhibition that shows that memories are alive in contemporary Greek art," National Gallery curator Marina Lambraki-Plaka said, adding that the exhibits are the works of major Greek artists, and all works related to antiquity.
 Bank of Crete embezzler Koskotas up for parole
Athens, 12/10/2000 (ANA)Convicted embezzler George Koskotas on Wednesday appeared before a Piraeus Misdemeanors Court for a parole hearing. If the petition is granted, Koskotas will be released from prison after serving 12 years of a 25 year sentence, imposed for embezzling 35 billion drachmas from the Bank of Crete in the late 80s.
As he left the courts, Koskotas seemed confident that he would soon be back with his family.
A decision on Koskotas' petition for parole should be made over the next few days.
 Parliament honors Sydney Olympic Games medal winners
Athens, 12/10/2000 (ANA)Parliament on Wednesday received Greece's Sydney Olympic Games medal winners during a special ceremony and awarded them with the Parliament's gold and silver medals.
Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis said "your awards fills us with optimism for the future of our country and makes us proud for the new generation that knows how to honor traditions and to undertake challenges".
On his part, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said that the Athens 2004 Olympic Games "are a national affair for which the government, the organizing committee, societies, clubs, athletes and the people should work".
"You gave the great moral teaching that nothing is achieved without effort," he added.
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis said "you overcame your own abilities, you showed that you know of sacrifice and effort."
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga congratulated the athletes and said that the Olympic Games of 2004 were in reality organized by "international firms and groups of companies".
Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos also congratulated the Olympic medal winners for their efforts and the honor they did for Greece.
 IOC's Rogge calls for ready sports venues by 2003; Athens says projects on schedule
Athens, 12/10/2000 (ANA)International Olympic Committee deputy president Jacques Rogge on Wednesday called on Athens organizers to have sports facilities ready at least one year before the 2004 Games, while noting that the Greek government had rejected an IOC proposal for the creation of an "Olympics ministry".
In response, Greek Culture Minister Theodoros Pangalos, whose ministry has the overall supervision of the organizing body responsible for preparing and managing the 2004 Games, said significant progress has been made since March, "something that will be verified during the IOC's official visit next month to our country."
On his part, Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis simply referred to "ultimatums", before noting that "they should allow us to work".
"Mr. Rogge knows very well ... that the projects that have been assumed by the environment, town planning and public works ministry -- both the five sports facilities that are all-important for the holding of the Olympics as well as other infrastructure projects -- will be ready well ahead of the deadline we've submitted. Therefore, there's no reason for him to worry," Laliotis said prior to attending a cabinet meeting.
 Athens will sign and organize Paralympics, Floridis says
Athens, 12/10/2000 (ANA)"There won't be the slightest problem. Our country will sign and organize the Paralympics of 2004 as normal," Deputy Sports Minister George Floridis told reporters on Wednesday.
The International Paralympics Committee (IPC) had earlier announced that Athens might not receive the flag for the Paralympics when the Games in Sydney ended on 29 October.
IPC president Robert Steadward told a press conference that the Paralympics contract with 2004 Olympics host-city Athens had not yet been signed, and that the matter had to be cleared up within the next seven days.
"If it is not, we will have to make alternative arrangements for the closing ceremony," Steadward was reported as saying by Reuters.
"We could not morally, ethically or legally pass it on to Athens if the contract is not signed or we have assurance it will be signed," he said.
 Russian foreign minister visits Cyprus
NICOSIA, 12/10/2000 (CNA/ANA)Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on Wednesday reassured that his country would continue to be actively involved in the search for a Cyprus settlement.
Speaking after being received by President Glafcos Clerides, Ivanov expressed support to a solution based on UN resolutions and noted that if it were up to Russia, then the Cyprus problem would be solved.
On his arrival at the Presidential Palace, Ivanov laid a wreath at the statue of the late President Archbishop Makarios III, flanked by Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides and Undersecretary to the President Pantelis Kouros, in the presence of Russian Ambassador to Cyprus Vladimir Pavlinov, the Russian delegation accompanying him and officials of the Republic of Cyprus.
Speaking after the meeting, Kasoulides said it was a great pleasure to welcome Ivanov to Cyprus and noted it was the first visit of a Russian Foreign Minister since Cyprus gained its independence 40years ago.
Kasoulides also noted the "support of Russian diplomacy to Cyprus' efforts for the reunification of the island and the restoration of its territorial integrity".
Speaking through an interpreter, Ivanov said it was "a great pleasure to come to Cyprus" and pointed out that ties between the two countries did not start 40 years ago with the independence of the Republic of Cyprus, but went back centuries.
Ivanov added that "among our peoples there is a very old and sincere friendship and we want these relations to develop further".
He said "we are interested in a solution of the Cyprus problem, based on UN resolutions on Cyprus" and reassured that "Russia will continue to play an active role in the search for such a solution, insisting on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus".
The Russian Minister also expressed satisfaction with the cooperation of Russia and Cyprus internationally, in the context of the United Nations, in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
Ivanov expressed his gratitude to President Clerides for the warm welcome and said he conveyed to him "the regards of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin", who underlined Russia's interest in "developing close bilateral ties in many fields".
Asked if his visit signals the beginning of Moscow's dynamic intervention against any effort to shift the basis of peace talks on the Cyprus problem away from UN resolutions, Ivanov said "Russia has always had an active role in this process".
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied the northern third of the island. UN-led proximity talks, separate meetings of the UN with President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, began last December and a fifth round is scheduled to begin November 1 in Geneva.
Ivanov said he was surprised that no Russian foreign minister had visited Cyprus during the past 40 years, noting that this was an "unnatural phenomenon".
He also expressed hope that "with today's visit as a start, we will begin to exchange visits with my counterpart on a permanent basis, to strengthen our coordination, of course regarding a Cyprus settlement as well".
Asked if this visit brings good omens regarding prospects for a Cyprus settlement, Ivanov said "we are interested" and that "if everything was up to us, then I am sure the Cyprus problem would be solved".
Cypriot, Russian FMs sign protocol: Cyprus and Russia on Wednesday signed a Protocol on the Inventory of Bilateral Relations, as well as a Program of Culture and Scientific Cooperation, for the period 2000-2002.
Foreign ministers Kasoulides and Ivanov signed both documents.
Ivanov departs for Athens from Cyprus on Thursday morning.
 European Parliament committee draft resolution calls on Turkey to withdraw its occupation forces from Cyprus
BRUSSELS, 12/10/2000 (CNA/ANA)A draft resolution, adopted by the Committee of Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament, calls on Turkey to withdraw its occupation forces from Cyprus and act in line with UN decisions to find a just, viable and comprehensive settlement.
The draft resolution deplores the violation of the status quo on the island by the Turkish occupation troops and considers that the European Union cannot open accession negotiations with Turkey until it fulfills the Copenhagen criteria on economic and human rights issues.
The draft accompanies a report by French Euro MP Philip Morillon, on Turkey's application for EU accession and is due to be examined by the European Parliament in November. The Committee of Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament approved both documents.
Ankara is asked to contribute towards a constructive climate, without preconditions, in the UN-led proximity talks with a view to find a viable, just and comprehensive settlement in Cyprus through negotiations.
Such a settlement, the draft adds, should be in line with the relevant decisions of the UN Security Council and the recommendations of the UN General Assembly, as these were endorsed by the European Council.
UN resolutions provide for the establishment of a bizonal, bicommunal federation in Cyprus in a single, sovereign and independent state where human rights and fundamental freedoms will be respected.
The Turkish side insists on confederation of two separate states.
The draft resolution expresses hope that a solution based on UN resolutions could be found in the next round of peace talks, due to start in November in Geneva.
Furthermore it deplores the Turkish moves in the area of Strovilia village, on the southeastern part of the island, where the Turkish troops unilaterally moved their positions forward, violating the status quo.
The Turkish side has ignored repeated calls for the restoration of the status quo ante.
The resolution also notes that it is not possible for Turkey to start membership talks as long as it does not satisfy the Copenhagen criteria, which stipulate respect for human rights and democratic norms.
It encourages the Turkish government to intensify its efforts to bring in democratic changes into the country, particularly as far as the role of the military is concerned.
Turkey was declared officially a candidate country last December and was invited by the EU to put its house in order and help resolve its disputes with Greece in the Aegean as well as facilitate a Cyprus settlement, on which it maintains troops occupying 37 per cent of its territory since 1974.