|Saturday, 25 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-10-14
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 E.U. calls for urgent Mideast summit
BIARRITZ 14/10/2000 (ANA - V. Mourtis)The Middle East crisis topped the agenda of a European Union summit in this French seaside resort on Friday with leaders of the 15-nation bloc calling for a top-level meeting of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Egypt, the E.U. and the United States.
On the summit's first day, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said the E.U. was deeply concerned about escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians and was urging the meeting, possibly on Saturday, so that Europe would not remain on the sidelines of the crisis.
The 15 E.U. leaders said in a joint communiqué that further destabilization in the Middle East would have repercussions throughout the region, underlining that halting escalation of the violence should be the priority. They also stressed that no winners would emerge from the confrontation, as both sides had already lost the gains they made in the recent past.
The E.U. leaders gave a mandate to the EU's High Representative of Foreign Policy and Security Affairs, Javier Solana, to continue his mission of seeking a solution in the Middle East.
The leaders also decided to decrease the EU's dependence on Middle Eastern crude oil, turning to Russia for supplies of natural gas and crude, while alternative forms of energy production should be promoted, Simitis said. He added that the economic impact of the crisis in the Middle East should be handled through short-term, medium-term and long-term strategies.
In the short term, the leaders agreed to apply pressure on crude oil producers to reduce their prices. Oil prices would not drop to last year's levels, Simitis said. The prime minister added that the E.U. had decided against declines in fuel taxes as the move could encourage producers to increase their prices.
He noted that if oil prices continued to rise, or remained at current high levels, they could hurt the EU's rate of growth, but not Greece's.
 E.U. Wants Cooperation With Yugoslavia
BIARRITZ 14/10/2000 (ANA - V. Mourtis)On a more positive note, the European leaders welcomed political developments in Yugoslavia and recognized the need for cooperation with that country as part of the EU's Balkan policy.
They agreed to allow the new Yugoslav leadership time to establish a policy program and apply it without external pressure; and economic and political support for Yugoslavia should be unconditional, the prime minister said.
"When we say without terms, we mean without terms," Simitis said in response to reporters' questions about whether support for Yugoslavia would include terms on the future of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic. Regarding Kosovo, the 15 leaders stressed that United Nations resolutions should be applied in order to secure peace in the region.
Meanwhile, the newly elected President of Yugoslavia Vojislav Kostunica is expected to arrive in Biarritz on Saturday, invited by the E.U. leaders to attend the second and final day of their summit. He is expected to meet Simitis and discuss ways of further developing Greek initiatives to secure peace in the region.
European leaders also discussed the reform of E.U. institutions, the reason the informal summit was called. France, which is currently the holder of the six-month rotating presidency of the E.U., wants final decisions taken regarding basic reform of the institutions as differences of opinion still remain among member-states. The final decisions on amendments to the Amsterdam Treaty are to be taken at the Nice Summit in December.
Summit approves emergency winter aid for Serbs
BIARRITZ, 14/10/2000 (Reuters)The European Union on Friday endorsed an emergency aid package worth nearly 200 million euros ($173 million) to help Serbs get through the winter. The money, taken from the EU's annual aid budget, will be used to provide drugs and heating oil and to improve food distribution in Yugoslavia as winter approaches, officials said.
 Gov't spokesman predicts wide-reaching consequences from Middle East crisis
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)Commenting on the recent outbreak of violence in the Middle East, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Friday that the consequences would affect all areas, including the economy.
The spokesman stressed that the two sides had to return to the negotiating table, while he described developments in the Middle East as a major issue that would affect the entire region. He also announced that Middle East developments would be discussed at an upcoming informal E.U. summit in Biarritz, France.
Finally, he noted that this was a crucial time and also a chance for those involved to show that they had a sense of responsibility.
 President Stephanopoulos terms situation in Middle East "extremely alarming"
TALLINN 14/10/2000 (ANA - N. Megadoukas)President Stephanopoulos while on a visit to Tallinn, Estonia, said on Friday the situation in the Middle East following latest developments in the region was "extremely alarming."
The Greek president, who had visited Israel and the Palestinian Authority about six months ago, said the situation was calm at the time and everything seemed to be going smoothly. "Talks in the US between Mr. Arafat and Mr. Barak followed afterwards which, unfortunately, did not produce results and today we are following this situation which is extremely alarming because nothing is stopping armed conflict," he said, adding that "there are actions on the one side and retaliations on the other."
Referring to the repercussions of the current crisis, President Stephanopoulos said one of them was the continuous increase in the price of oil "which concerns us all".
 Israeli envoy says the two soldiers lynched were not undercover agents
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)Israeli Ambassador to Athens Ran Curiel said in a statement on Friday "the two soldiers barbarically lynched were not undercover agents like the Palestinians claim but reserve soldiers on their way home. Palestinian policemen participated in the lynching of the soldiers."
Curiel added that "Israel did not bomb hospitals or the offices and residence of Yasser Arafat. Strategic points of Palestinian police stations were hit. The response was measured in order to give the Palestinian leadership a clear message to stop the violence." "There has been a massive release of Hamas and Jihad terrorists during the last few days by the Palestinian leadership giving a green light for terrorist attacks against Israel," the envoy said.
 Greece will withdraw if exercise does not return to original planning, Reppas says
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Friday that Greece was continuing to participate in the NATO exercise "Destined Glory" in Turkey but that this was no longer following the original plans. He added that Greece would withdraw, however, if the original planning was not reinstated by Friday night.
On Thursday, Greece had ordered six Greek Airforce warplanes taking part in "Destined Glory" to withdraw after Ankara requested changes in air corridors and the exclusion of those pas-sing over the Greek islands of Limnos and Ikaria in the Aegean.
Athens has vehemently criticized past attempts by Ankara over the years to exclude Greek territory, airspace and territorial waters from NATO planning, saying such actions aim to undermine Greek sovereignty in the Aegean.
In response to reporters' questions, the spokesman said that Greek forces were continuing to take part in the exercise, which was the equivalent of the exercise that had taken place in Greece during the summer.
He clarified, however, that the US commander of the exercise was currently in the US and that his replacement was following plans different from those originally agreed.
Greece, the spokesman said, would withdraw its forces from "Destined Glory" unless an order arrived by Friday night to return to the original plans.
In response to other questions, the spokesman said that the climate in Greek and Turkish relations may have improved, but the problems had not been solved. A great effort was needed, he stressed, especially on the Turkish side, to prove this improvement in practice.
Turkey's inclusion in European institutions and persuading Ankara to comply with international rules were a strategic choice for Greece, the spokesman added. The effort was a historic challenge for Turkey, at a time when Greece was very strong, had international credibility and was contributing to stability and peace throughout the surrounding region.
 Defense Minister says observance of what has been agreed a precondition for Greek participation
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on Friday that observance of what has been agreed by NATO general staffs was a precondition for Greece's participation in the NATO exercise codenamed "Destined Glory". Tsohatzopoulos attributed the present problems to "unfortunate initiatives or the transfer of administrative duties at various levels."
"We hope that all issues will be resolved immediately to enable the exercise to be completed, as initially anticipated and under the conditions initially set out so that the Greek armed forces will be able to continue their participation since, for the time being and following yesterday's problems, they are not participating in the exercise," he said.
Commenting on developments in the Middle East, Tsohatzopoulos conveyed the spirit prevailing during Thursday night's meeting of Socialist leaders and ministers in France, saying the need was ascertained to reinforce the involvement of the international community, and the E.U. in particular, to facilitate a return to normalcy, an end to hostilities and the safeguard of the peace process.
 Former ND leader concurs with government's decision, but blames ministry for bad preparation
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)Former New Democracy leader Miltiadis Evert, commenting on the government's decision to pull Greek warplanes out of NATO's "Destined Glory 2000" exercise in Turkey, said on Friday that the decision was correct but that things should not have been allowed to get to this point.
"The non-participation of Greek fighter aircraft in the NATO exercise 'Destined Glory' was the correct action. But the National Defense ministry bears grave responsibility for allowing the planning for the exercise to take place without laying down the terms and conditions for carrying it out, resulting in plans that compromised our national interests," he said, adding that it was unacceptable that Greek warplanes were now grounded on Turkish soil because of mistaken handling. Evert concluded that the government should make it clear to NATO that it will not allow any exercise in Greek territory without terms and conditions having been decided jointly in advance.
According to the Greek general staff, the air corridors in which NATO fighters were to operate during the maneuver, code-named "Destined Glory 2000", had been agreed upon during the planning stages of the exercise without any objections being raised at the time.
Athens has vehemently criticized past attempts by Ankara over the years to exclude Greek territory, airspace and territorial waters from NATO planning, saying such actions aim to undermine Greek sovereignty in the Aegean.
 Gov't hopes for new Turkey settlements by 2004
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)Speaking at a conference on Greek-American relations on Fri-day, National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos expressed the hope that Turkey's discussions with the European Union, Greece and Cyprus will lead to new settlements and a solution to some existing problems.
Tsohatzopoulos said Greece and Turkey should use the opportunity provided for them through the E.U. and NATO for the acceptance of measures aimed at reducing tension for the benefit of stability in the region.
He also expressed the hope that all of Cyprus would join the E.U. Tsohatzopoulos said the political changes in Yugoslavia were unexpected, adding that they required particular attention since at any moment the balance could be overturned and for this reason the support of the international community was necessary for the Yugoslav people's decision.
 Ecevit repeats call for 'dialogue' versus int'l court
ISTANBUL 14/10/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit on Friday reiterated Ankara's long-standing call for dialogue with Athens to solve what he termed "our problems with Greece".
The veteran Turkish politician, prime minister during Turkey's invasion of Cyprus in 1974, spoke to the CNN-Turk television station. "We want to solve our problems with Greece through dialogue Athens doesn't want to begin dialogue with us, but wants to take recourse to international courts," Ecevit said.
Greece has long countered various Turkish claims by maintaining that adherence to international law as well as international and bilateral treaties clearly define sovereignty of territorial waters, airspace and territory in the Aegean basin, whereas any unilateral disputes should be taken to international fora - such as the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
"Despite the agreements that were signed there are serious problems between the two countries, problems connected mainly with the Aegean," Ecevit said, adding his oft-repeated remark that "if one looks at a map it's easy to understand that the Aegean is a complicated sea."
"The Aegean issues aren't legal, they include a political dimension that relates to issues of security," he said.
 Greek president returns from visit to Baltic countries
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos arrived in Athens on Friday following his six-day tour of Latvia and Estonia.
In statements to the press upon his arrival, he said that he was totally satisfied by the results of his contacts in both Baltic countries, stressing that there was room for further development of Greece's bilateral relations with both countries.
Asked whether he would visit Belgrade following the recent developments in Yugoslavia he said that he would at some point after newly installed Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica's visit to Greece
 Tsohatzopoulos: Ethnic Greek community's rights must be respected by Tirana
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Friday emphasized that the ethnic Greek community in neighboring Albania enjoys under international law "the same rights for which the Albanians struggle for their compatriots in Kosovo."
The Greek minister's statements from the northern city of Thessaloniki came in light of reports from the impoverished, neighboring country citing increased chauvinistic rhetoric prior to the upcoming second round of municipal elections in the predominately ethnic Greek region of Heimarra.
Several Albanian politicians, most notably former premier and current Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano, as well as portions of the local media have focused inflammatory remarks against a mostly ethnic Greek party active in the area. These developments had led to the scheduled dispatch of numerous international election observers and to concern by several diplomatic representations in Tirana, including the Greek and US embassies, according to reports.
Speaking to reporters, Tsohatzopoulos stressed that Athens expects that the principles of human and minority rights be strictly respected within Albania.
"To the extent that we jointly respect these principles, we can create a positive climate and conditions for a stable situation. Elections should descend into behavior that give the impression 'principles are proper but when necessary they can be forgotten'."
He also maintained that Greece will continue to work unimpeded with the Albanian people "for the same ideals, principles, security, peace, social progress and prosperity."
Asked about the situation in Yugoslavia, Tsohatzopoulos said the "void" that existed for the past years in the region's security has vanished.
 Athens conference focuses on Greek-American relations, fight against terrorism
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)The current state and future prospects of Greek-American relations was the focus of a major conference in downtown Athens on Friday, with speakers touching on issues ranging from joint initiatives and interests in the Balkans to the thorny problem of combating urban terrorism.
In opening the event, US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns said relations between Athens and Washington today are at a very good level in relation to the early 1990s, while he again reiterated his belief that the 2004 Olympics will be hosted and organized without a hitch.
Burns recently drew criticism for statements aired in an ABC network report focusing on Greece -- televised last week -- comments the ambassador charged with used "out of context" and with only a fraction of his interview shown.
Referring to the prospects of Greek-American cooperation in SE Europe, analyst Janos Bugaski said Athens' interests in the area coincide with Washington's the concept of security in southeastern Europe should be served with the creation of a security pact" under the auspices of NATO.
The Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies also said Greece's armed forces could play a major role in any potential restructuring of Yugoslavia's military.
In his address, the director of the Western Policy Center, John Sitilidis, said the United States supports Greece's inclusion in an informal bloc of countries concerned with Balkan developments, which besides the US includes Britain, France, Germany and Italy.
 Cooperation against terrorism
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)Greek Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis kicked off the second part of the conference, which focused on terrorism, saying Greek-American cooperation will assist local authorities in combating such incidents.
Referring to the notorious "November 17" terrorist group, the Greek minister said the members of the shadowy group have exhibited a "high degree of professionalism", whereas they do not enjoy any major support among public opinion. Finally, he said November 17's attacks are "suspicious", regardless of the content of their highly publicized proclamations.
While praising Greek-American cooperation in the anti-terrorism field, academic Mary Botsi cautioned, however, that combating such instances remained a "national affair", citing Italy as an example.
The Athens conference was part of a three-day series of Greek-American events, which included the unveiling of a statue of US statesman George C. Marshall on the grounds of the US embassy in Athens and renovation of a monument to American philhellenes.
 Defense, Development ministry to cooperate in R & D
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Friday said that their two ministries would cooperate in research and development.
The men said that such a cooperation was long time overdue, adding that 1 per cent of the defense ministry's arms procurement funds would be allocated for research and development, beginning with the 2001-2004 arms program which is worth 4 trillion drachmas.
They also announced that the Armed Forces' research centers would be consolidated into one unified center to be established near Athens, adding that they would also establish a Defense Research and Technology Council.
The legal basis for the cooperative effort would be included in a bill to be tabled in Parliament.
 US issues consular advice on travel on domestic passenger shipping in Greece
WASHINGTON DC, 14/10/2000 (ANA - T. Ellis)The problems in Greek passenger shipping that surfaced with the shipwreck of the "Express Samina" that claimed the lives of 80 people in September were included in the US State Department's Consular Information Sheet for Greece.
The three-page report, that was updated on Wednesday, included information on travel in Greece and detailed explanation of the way institutions and laws function in Greece.
It stresses specifically "Americans traveling in Greece should verify the location of life jackets and emergency evacuation procedures with crew. Nighttime traveling should best be avoided. Caution is urged in planning travel by older vessels. Two ship disasters in September 2000 revealed these problems of which American citizens should be aware".
 Athens' response Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)In response to the advice of the Consular Information Sheet for Greece, Greek Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis said in Athens on Friday: "It is unacceptable for isolated incidents to lead to such type of generalities. Greece implements all international agreements and E.U. directives on shipping safety systems".
"All those who have contributed in one way or another to the effort for the humiliation of Greek passenger shipping should take stock of their responsibility. The efforts for a qualitative upgrade and the modernization of Greek passenger shipping and tourism is a constant and continual choice of the government," Papoutsis added.
 German ambassador to visit Paros on Tuesday, to thank islanders for the rescue of Germans
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)German Ambassador to Athens Karl-Heinz Albert Kuhna will visit the central Aegean island of Paros on Tuesday to thank island's residents for their successful efforts to rescue passengers from the "Express Samina" shipwreck, which sank last month two miles of the island's port.
At the time, Kuhna said that there were 18 German nationals on the ferry, among them a delegation of 12 medical doctors, who were especially impressed by the "ability of the local residents to improvise on the spot, yielding great results".
In efforts to thank the islanders the German Embassy undertook the initiative to collect 50.000 German marks in medical equipment to donate to the island's medical center, an embassy press release said, adding that 11 companies already pledged to support the effort.
 Allegations that sports minister fixed racing track tender spark tiff in Parliament
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)A suit filed against Deputy Sports Minister George Floridis, alleging irregularities in the tender for the horse-racing track contract, sparked a heated exchange in Parliament on Friday between the minister and members of main opposition New Democracy.
Commenting on the charges brought against him by businessman K. Tsolakakis, Floridis said they were "strange and directed at the wrong person," since he had not been in charge of the ministry in 1999 when the tender had begun.
Asked by ND deputy Manolis Kefaloyiannis whether he would ask for his parliamentary immunity to be lifted so that the case could be investigated, Floridis replied that the charges had been thrown out by the courts.
He added that the tender was still underway and that to cut it short now would increase the cost for the state up to five times.
"I have said I do not want a tender marred by shadows. But I can't just stop it in the middle and have the state pay fivefold," he said. The deputy sports minister also attacked ND for adopting the charges brought against him by Tsolakakis, who he said had filed his suit against the wrong person.
Responding, Kefaloyiannis said the PASOK minister could not simply blame his predecessors and that many of the legislative regulations for the Horse-Racing Organization in Greece were his government's personal responsibility as well as his own.
"Does all the responsibility lie with your predecessors? Are there responsibilities? The government twice brought legislation to legalize the illegalities of the Greek Horse-Racing Organization. You are called on to answer as a government and you are called on to answer personally, after you tabled the amendment for the horse-racing in June. It's an issue, it's a scandal and you will run up against it," Kefaloyiannis said.
 Final stages of 2004 radio-television tender on Monday
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)An international tender for radio and television coverage of the 2004 Olympics in Athens enters its final stage on Monday. Representatives of the two parties involved, International Sports Broadcasting and the EBC consortium (made up of the companies BBC Resources, RAI, TVRS, F3 and TDF), have been invited to attend the opening of the bidding.
Their bids had been previously assessed by a six-member panel of experts recommended by the International Olympics Committee. After an overall assessment of the bids, there will be negotiations to finalize the contract.
 Reppas confirms statements by IOC deputy head that Games will take place in Athens
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)Asked to comment on statements by International Olympics Committee (IOC) deputy president Jacques Rogge to the radio station "Planet" and Greek dailies in the past two days, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas confirmed on Friday that there was no question of changing the host-city for the 2004 Olympic Games.
Reppas also ruled out any change to the organizational bodies for the Olympics.
Speaking to the newspaper "To Vima" Rogge expressed surprise over the uproar caused by an earlier statement he had made, in which he called for a "truce" between the Greek government and the "Athens 2004" Olympics Organizing Committee.
Rogge denied that the IOC had ever intended to take the Games away from Athens and was categoric in stating that the 2004 Olympics would be held in Greece. He also denied ever saying that sports venues for the Games had to be ready a year in advance.
When asked for his opinion on "Athens 2004" Olympics Organizing Committee chairwoman Yianna Angelopoulou - Daskalaki, Rogge replied that "no one is irreplaceable but we have confidence in the abilities of Mrs. Angelopoulou."
 US Ambassador Nicholas Burns' visit to northeastern Greece postponed
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)US Ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns' visit to Thrace, northeaster planned for October 16-18 has been indefinitely postponed, due to the ambassador's commitments in Athens, a press release said.
A new date for the visit will be announced soon, the press release added. According to press reports, however, the postponement was due to the latest developments in the Middle East.
Burns was to have been accompanied on his visit by members of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce, as well as by the embassy's commercial attaché Jeremy Keler. The mission was to have meetings with agencies in the prefectures of Evros, Rodopi and Xanthi, while contacts had also been scheduled with local businessmen.
 Justice Minister calls for message to combat racism
STRASBOURG, 14/10/2000 (ANA)Justice Minister Mihalis Stathopoulos, participating on Friday in a Council of Europe ministerial conference on "Racism, racist proclamations and xenophobia", agreed with speakers on the need for Europe to send a strong message to all peoples that the European countries are determined to combat racism in all its forms, using the means of freedom and democracy.
Stathopoulos reminded that European civilization is pluralistic and one of its important common values is respect, not merely tolerance, for differences.
Referring to Greece's sensitivity on the issue, Stathopoulos said that for decades Greece had been a country exporting migrants, while over the past 10 years it has become a country receiving migrants.
Addressing the economic and social causes of racism, Stathopoulos stressed the need for emphasis to be placed on both legal and real equality with the adoption of measures in support of vulnerable social groups. The conference was held as part of the preparation of a world conference to be organized by the UN in South Africa in September 2001.
 Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch to visit Athens
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos is scheduled to arrive in Athens on Wednesday for a seven-day visit to Greece. On Thursday, Vartholomeos is scheduled to inaugurate the Patriarchate's "Representation Office" in Athens. During his stay he is also scheduled to inaugurate the Metropolitan Mansion of Peristeri.
 First business conference since Yugoslavia sanctions lifted
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)Greece will be host to the first Balkan business conference since sanctions against Yugoslavia were lifted, allowing firms from the neighboring country to make contact with enterprises from European Union countries.
Balkan Partnership 2000 will be held in Thessaloniki on November 9-10, organized by the Association of Northern Greek Exporters, Thessaloniki International Trade Fair, and the Inter-Balkan and Black Sea Business Center. Contacts have already been made with more than 17 Yugoslav companies, who will attend as guests. Further information is available on the association's website: www.gbiseve.gr/balkan
 Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis says no extortion will be accepted
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)The first step will be taken on Tuesday to open to competition sea routes to Crete, the Dodecannese and the Cyclades as the first meeting of the Passenger Shipping Advisory Commit-tee will be taking place with its new composition.
The meeting will be taking place in the wake of the tragic shipwreck of the ferry "Express Samina", which sank off the island of Paros over two weeks ago and cost the lives of 80 people, and the recent decision by passenger shipping companies to immobilize their ships on October 27.
Referring to the passenger shipping companies' decision, Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis said on Friday "the message is absolutely clear. No extortion will be accepted. Laws exist. We are living in an organized state. The prime minister and the government are determined. The laws will function and they will be applied. Ships will not be immobilized in port on October 27. I call on all to think again about the consequences of their actions with wisdom and calm and to reconsider their decisions."
 Oil price increase of political dimension, Papantoniou says
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)A surge in international oil prices in the last few days will not be maintained because it has mainly a political and not an economic dimension, Greek Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said on Friday.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Britain's Energy and Competitiveness deputy minister Helen Lindell, Papantoniou said developments in the Middle East would offer directions to oil markets and noted that there could be no predictions over oil prices' course because the situation was critical in the region.
Papantoniou said the government would discuss subsidy payment to lower incomes and pensioners in compensation for higher oil prices in the context of drafting next year's budget at the end of the month.
Commenting on a sharp fall of prices on the Athens Stock Exchange in the last few days, Papantoniou said the Greek market was following a similar trend in international markets.
 Greece, Britain find common ground in E.U. structural reforms
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)Greece and Britain share several common goals in a drive towards structural reforms to strengthen the competitiveness of the European economy, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Britain's Energy and Competitiveness Deputy Minister Helen Liddell said after a meeting in Athens on Friday.
"We all-heartedly congratulate the Greek government and its people for their accomplishment" to participate in the eurozome, Mrs. Liddell said. "We discussed the issue of economic reforms as a need to strengthen the two countries' competitiveness not only for the benefit of our two peoples but for the European Union as a whole," she added.
Papantoniou said the meeting showed that the two countries shared several common aims and noted that both sides agreed that high oil prices would not be maintained and that it was a phenomenon exclusively linked with political developments in the Middle East.
 Meeting with Christodoulakis
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)Liddell said earlier, after talks with Greece's Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis that "we are working with the Greek government, we share a common vision".
"Ensuring that we all (the EU member countries) work together to make the E.U. more competitive is of benefit to all of us", she added.
The British official said her talks here were "very instructive and useful", and aimed at "forging new relationships between Britain and Greece".
Greece, she said, was going through a "remarkable transition", which entailed many opportunities for Greek companies and for British companies to work in Greece, but also for the two countries to work together. And as the E.U. was heading for further expansion, "it becomes all the more important to consolidate existing relationships".
Liddell said she and Christodoulakis had a "very warm conversation" during which they exchanged views on E.U. matters and domestic market issues, including Britain's experience in liberalizing the energy sector and regulating a liberalized market.
Liddell, a former finance minister, said she found it useful to "get a feel" of how her colleagues see various issues of common interest, and said such discussions with Greece had been going on for nearly a year.
Creating rapport among countries was very important, and her Athens talks were part of that effort.
"There's no point in each of us reinventing the wheel. Let's learn from one another's mistakes," she said, adding that the member states needed to work closely together to make the E.U. "globally competitive".
Liddell will attend a Greek-British conference on the island of Hydra over the weekend 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 to a group of about 50 Greek and British ministers, officials and journalists, Liddell is expected to focus on Greece's economic modernization program.
 More banks in Greece and Ireland, bucking E.U. trend
BRUSSELS, 14/10/2000 (ANA - V. Demiris)Greece and Ireland were the only European Union member states that experienced an increase in the number of banking institutions in 1994 to 1998, Eurostat said on Friday.
According to a Eurostat report, the number of banks in the other 12 member-state decreased, while only Finland saw no change. Eurostat noted that the increase in Greece and Ireland was due to growth in the banking sector and the creation of new branches.
Specifically, the number of banking institutions in Greece increased by 10.3 per cent and in Ireland by 35.9 per cent. A decrease occurred in 12 E.U. countries, due primarily to mergers and acquisitions. The number of banks decreased by 12.9 per cent in the Union and by 13.7 per cent in the euro zone.
Employment in the banking sector represents only 2 per cent of total employment in the E.U.
 Company bankruptcies fall in September
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)Sixteen Greek company filed for bankruptcy in September, down from 156 the same month last year, to a total of 1,086 in the first nine months of 2000, from 1,612 in 1999 (a decline of 32.6 percent), Greek Banks Union data showed on Friday.
Declared bankruptcies, however, rose to 75 in September from seven in 1999, although they fell to 523 in the January-September period from 556 last year (a 6.0 percent fall). Bouncing bills volume totaled 18.122, worth 4.7 billion drachmas, in September for a decline of 31 percent in volume and 39 percent in value compared with the same month last year. Bouncing checks volume was 6,146, worth 13.1 billion drachmas (down 27 percent in volume and 29 percent in value respectively).
Total volume of bouncing checks and bills in the January-September period was 278,836, worth 224.7 billion drachmas (off 15.4 percent in volume and 13.6 percent in value over the same period in 1999).
 Planet Ernst & Young seeks leading position in SE Europe
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)Planet Ernst & Young, whose creation as a new company was signed on Friday, is seeking a leading position in the consultancy market in southeastern Europe, it said in a statement.
The company was formed from the absorption by the Greek consultancy firm of the regional division of Ernst & Young that operates in Greece, Cyprus, Romania, Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Yugoslavia, Albania and Moldova.
Planet Ernst & Young is also shortly to absorb Ernst & Young's consultancy division in Turkey, the statement said.
 Bank of Cyprus sets IPO price range at Dr 3,100-3,400
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)The Bank of Cyprus has set the share price range in its initial public offer (IPO) on October 17-20 at 3,100-3,400 drachmas, it said in a statement on Friday.
Hoping to tap the market for around 130 billion drachmas, the bank is offering 39 million shares in its IPO, enabling entry into the Athens Stock Exchange's main market. Trade in Bank of Cyprus' stock will be suspended from October 16-20 to coincide with the Athens IPO.
 Conference, trade fair on infrastructure for Athens Olympics
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)An international conference and trade fair on infrastructure for the 2004 Olympics to be hosted by Athens will be held on November 2-5.
The venue for the Athens 2000/Bidex 2000 is Helexpo's new trade fair center in Maroussi, a suburb north of Athens. Also to be covered at the event are equipment and services linked to the Olympic Games.
 International turmoil sends Greek stocks 2.81 pct lower
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)A turmoil in international markets hit the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday pushing share prices sharply lower.
Traders, however, said the market's reaction to negative developments in the Middle East, oil markets and international bourses was excessive.
The general index ended 2.81 percent lower at 3,701.32 points, off the day's lows of 3,673.50 points, with turnover a low 72.82 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 2.56 percent lower at 2,113.07 points, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index dropped 3.38 percent to 453.36 points.
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended 5.80 percent lower at 456.36 points.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 331 to 23 with another three issues unchanged. Hellenic Telecoms, National Bank, Alpha Bank, Panafon and CosmOTE were the most heavily traded stocks.
 Equity futures drop, tracking Athens bourse
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished lower on Friday, in line with the indices on which they are based. The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 2.56 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 3.38 percent lower. Turnover was 14.4 billion drachmas. A total of 2,763 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 with turnover at 11.8 billion drachmas.
On the FTSE/ASE 40 index, 1,402 contracts changed hands on turnover of 2.5 billion drachmas.
 Bond prices end mixed in moderate trade
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Friday finished mixed in moderate trade with buying in mid-term paper and selling in long-term securities.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.949 percent from 5.959 percent a day earlier.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 76 basis points from 78 basis points in the previous session. Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totaled 92 billion drachmas from 72 billion drachmas in the trading day before.
 Drachma up vs. euro, dollar
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)The drachma on Friday ended higher 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 339.440 drachmas from 339.490 drachmas in the previous session. Also at the fix, the dollar was set at 392.330 drachmas from 392.810 drachmas a trading day earlier.
 Helios SA postpones IPO due to market turmoil
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)Helios SA, a Greek tourism company owners of Elounda hotels in Crete, on Friday announced it was postponing its planned initial public offering to list its shares on the main market of the Athens Stock Exchange, citing a negative climate in the domestic and international markets.
The company also called subscribing investors to withdraw their capital.
Helios plans to issue 6,200,000 new common shares, of which 5,906,000 will be offered to private investors and the remaining 249,000 through private placement. The price range of the offering was set at 3,900-4,200 drachmas per share.
The company reported turnover of 7.6 billion drachmas and net pre-tax profits of 1.5 billion drachmas last year. It expects a turnover of 9.5 billion and pre-tax profits of 2.5 billion drachmas in 2000.
 Germanos ABEE increases market share in mobile telephony connections
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)Germanos ABEE on Friday announced it has increased its market share in the domestic market of mobile telephony connections in the third quarter of 2000 to 36.5 percent, from 32.6 percent in the previous quarter.
The company expects that its turnover would exceed 125 billion drachmas this year, while pre-tax profits could reach 15 billion drachmas, up 97.4 percent from 1999.
 Russian pop artists showcased in Thessaloniki exhibition
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)The Russian freighter "Volgo Balt", which has been docked at the Thessaloniki port for some two years, will become a gallery for modern Russian artists on Saturday, as part of the city's annual Dimitrian Festival.
The exhibition will include post Soviet iconoclastic pop art created by Nikita Alexeyev, Ira Valdron, Constantine Zvezdotsotov, Greorgi Lititsefski and Andrei Philipov.
The artists were invited by the French Institute of Thessaloniki as part of a dual event called "Red Square-White Tower" and includes this exhibition in Thessaloniki and an exhibition by Greek artists in April in Moscow.
The exhibition will remain open until Nov. 13, while part of the exhibition will be housed at the French Institute of Thessaloniki.
 Transport Minister announces program for the use of bicycles in cities
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis said on Friday the Transport Ministry has elaborated a special program aimed at the use of bicycles in Greek cities and, in the framework of the program, various actions have been undertaken.
He added that two relevant books have been published and sent to the mayors of big urban centers, calling for their interest in the issue.
In addition, he said, pilot accession to the program will be funded in four or five regions of Greece in which a positive environment exists for bicycles. Relevant measures to be taken will include special lanes for bicycles in cities, while signposts and parking facilities will also be provided. Verelis was speaking at a conference "On a policy of alternate mobility in Greece", organized at the Zappeion Hall by the Athens Organization for Environmental Planning and Protection.
He said in European countries the use of bicycles is among the main measures taken to tackle traffic problems, adding that a percentage of daily travel takes place with bicycles and reaches 20 per cent when weather conditions are favorable. He said bicycles have been ignored in Greece so far since they have been displaced entirely by cars.
 Traditional architecture conference to end with opening of new institute, concert
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)Culture Minister Theodoros Pangalos is to inaugurate an Institute of Traditional Architecture in the northern Greek city of Veria on Sunday. The institute will be housed in a recently restored listed building in the city's Jewish quarter, which has been adapted to house survey and restoration services for traditional buildings around the country.
Leading up to the inauguration ceremony is an international conference on traditional Balkan architecture that began on Thursday, which will be addressed by distinguished Greek and Balkan scientists.
The conference is being held at Veria's new conference and concert hall - the "Arts Space" - and at the Veria Arts and Letters Shelter. Parallel to the conference, the city is also hosting exhibitions of architectural design, theatrical costumes and photography. On the last day of the conference and after the inauguration ceremony at the new Institute, there will be a concert by the Salzburg Symphony Orchestra to celebrate the first anniversary since the opening of the 600-seat "Arts Space" concert hall, featuring a solo by noted pianist Dimitris Sgouros.
The "Arts Space" was built at a cost of 2.5 billion drachmas and is the first major work funded by the Culture Ministry under the National Cultural City network program.
 Concert pianist Dimitris Sgouros and Salzburg Symphony Orchestra to play at Veria's 'Arts Space' hall
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)A concert by the Salzburg Symphony Orchestra will be held in the northern Greek city of Veria on Sunday, to celebrate the first anniversary since the opening of the city's 600-seat "Arts Space" concert and conference hall. The concert will also feature noted pianist Dimitris Sgouros.
The "Arts Space" was built at a cost of 2.5 billion drachmas and is the first major work funded by the Culture Ministry under the National Cultural City network program.
 PASOK parliamentary group proposes cross-party committee to deal with substance abuse
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)PASOK's Parliamentary Group submitted a proposal to Parliament on Friday calling for the creation of a cross-party parliamentary committee to deal with "the use of addictive substances".
The proposal stressed that the "terms of operation of the committee must be comparable to the equivalent cross-party committee of the previous parliamentary session."
 Students bake cake to benefit children suffering from tumors
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)Students of a private cookery and confectionery school baked an 11-meter-long and five-meter-wide cake, weighing 9.5 tonnes on Friday, to raise money for the purchase of latest technology medical equipment for the AHEPA hospital's Oncology Clinic.
The cake, made as a "sweet" message of love for children suffering from tumors, was cut into about 9,000 pieces, which were given free to passers-by in Aristotelous Square in Thessaloniki, who then donated spare change for the cause.
Materials used to bake the huge cake included 2,500 kg of flour, 2,000 kg of sugar, 1,650 kg of margarine and 27,950 eggs. The students hope for their cake to make it in the Guinness Book of Records as they have already applied to the organization.
 Controversial sports bill approved, league play suspended for 2 weeks
Athens, 14/10/2000 (ANA)A controversial bill that, among others, prevents individuals with criminal records from assuming top positions in various sports federations was passed by a wide margin in Parliament on Friday.
The bill, tabled by Sports Undersecretary Giorgos Floridis, was approved amid rabid opposition from certain professional sports circles, including Union of Pro Football Club (EPAE) president Victor Mitropoulos - the most notable official who, ostensibly, would lose his position if the bill became law. Although an initial draft committee ruled that the bill was unconstitutional, it nevertheless garnered almost unanimous support in Parliament, with only the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) voting "present". Another unprecedented reaction came from the Greek Soccer Federation (EPO), which postponed play in the country's top three leagues for two weeks. That measure drew the ire of many lawmakers, the government and two out of the three top Greek pro clubs, AEK Athens and Panathinaikos Athens.
 Clerides offers Cyprus as venue for Middle East talks
NICOSIA, 14/10/2000 (CNA/ANA)President Glafcos Clerides on Friday offered Cyprus as a place where a dialogue to defuse tensions in the Middle East could be held, according to a statement issued here by the Foreign Ministry.
According to the statement, President Clerides sent a written message to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and President of the Autonomous Palestinian Areas Yasser Arafat "expressing the sympathy of the people of Cyprus to the families of the people killed and urging for an end to violence and bloodshed."
"President Clerides expressed to the two leaders the hope that they will find a way to defuse tensions so that the peace process can continue and offered Cyprus as a place for such a dialogue," the statement adds.
The Republic of Cyprus maintains good and friendly relations with both Israel and the Arab countries.
 E.U. official reiterates invitation to Turkish Cypriots to join accession talks
NICOSIA, 14/10/2000 (CNA/ANA)The European Union (E.U.) is trying to persuade the Turkish Cypriot community to participate in Cyprus' accession negotiations, which is in their interest, President of the E.U. Committee of the Regions Jos Chabert has said.
Chabert, who arrived here on Thursday for a four-day visit, stressed that Cyprus' accession to the E.U. will benefit both communities and enable Turkish Cypriots to "catch up" with Greek Cypriots economically.
The Belgian E.U. official was on Friday received by President of the Republic Glafcos Clerides and President of the House of Representatives Spyros Kyprianou, while he held separate meetings with the Foreign Minister, the Acting Minister of the Interior and Cyprus' chief negotiator in the E.U. accession talks.
Speaking this afternoon at a press conference, Chabert said Cyprus, which "has always been part of the European family... certainly has much to gain from joining the E.U. and it also has much to offer the E.U.", adding the Committee of the Regions hopes a political solution will soon be found to the Cyprus problem.
"In accordance with the position adopted in Helsinki, the E.U. is not making Cyprus' membership conditional upon progress in the UN-sponsored negotiations", he pointed out, noting the Union "is trying to persuade the Turkish Cypriot community to join in the accession negotiations, which is in their interest".
Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has rejected an invitation by Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides to the Turkish Cypriot community to nominate representatives in the official team negotiating accession since 1998.
"The accession of Cyprus will, indeed, benefit both communities and enable Turkish Cypriots to catch up economically" with Greek Cypriots, the E.U. official said, stressing "it is therefore essential that they direct their efforts towards the accession process".
"If Cyprus is coming in the E.U., it could be very, very helpful" to the efforts to solve the island's political problem, Chabert pointed out, noting that local authorities should become involved in these efforts very soon.
A UN effort to reach a settlement in Cyprus, divided since Turkish troops occupied 37 percent of its territory in 1974, opened last December.
Four rounds of talks have been held so far and a new round is scheduled to take place in Geneva in November.
 'Nikiforos' military exercise to begin on October 17
NICOSIA, 14/10/2000 (CNA/ANA)The annual National Guard military exercise code-named "Nikiforos" (Winner), taking place October 17 to 21, will be different and upgraded, army chief Lieutenant-General Evangelos Florakis said on Friday, adding that Greek military planes will be taking part.
He also said Greek Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Chief of General Staff Manousos Paragioudakis will be on the island to watch part of the exercise on October 20. Florakis said the National Guard exercise will be carried out jointly with the Greek Military Forces exercises code-named "Toxotis" and "Vergina" and announced that this year there will be no parade at the end of "Nikiforos".
Speaking on the scenario of the exercise Brigadier Alexandros Palas said relations with the enemy will deteriorate leading to a military clash. He added that a search and rescue operation will also take place this year. Florakis said that as from next year people taking part in the exercise will not know its scenario.