|Sunday, 26 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-10-18
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Greek aircraft return to NATO military exercise
Athens, 18/10/2000 (ANA)Greece on Tuesday accepted a NATO proposal to rescind its ultimatum issued last Thursday to the NATO command for a reinstatement of the agreed to planning for an alliance exercise based and managed in neighboring Turkey.
Greek Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, on Tuesday evening said that with negotiations, Greece achieved a new framework of participation in the exercise.
It secured that with the responsibility of the National Commander of Greece, Greek aircraft will participate in the exercise, making full use of the initially agreed upon corridors and in addition of all other corridors, Tsohatzopoulos added.
The Greek ultimatum was due to expire on Tuesday evening as Greece last week temporarily ordered a squadron of its warplanes and troops participating in the NATO exercise to withdraw after Ankara demanded changes in pre-determined flight corridors that passed over two strategically placed Greek islands.
According to the Greek general staff, the flight corridors in which NATO fighters were planned to operate during the maneuver, code-named Destined Glory 2000, had been agreed upon during the planning stages of the exercise without any objection.
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.
The eastern Aegean islands of Limnos and Ikaria were the focus of objections by Ankara.
"The participation of the Greek Air force, which was temporarily stopped for a few days, due to this concerted effort to nullify what was initially agreed upon...is once again possible and starting tomorrow the regular participation will take place," Tsohatzopoulos said.
"There is also another issue to be discussed within NATO following the execution of the exercise. The behavior of the neighboring country, which, in fact during the exercise did not honor its commitment-agreement for the execution of the exercise based on specific terms, which were the basis of the exercise for the first two days," the Greek defense minister said.
"This is an issue that creates a political problem in NATO's functions. It will be discussed at the NATO defense ministers conference next month," he added.
Earlier in the day, as negotiations were still underway, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said: "We stated our proposal with the terms which, we believe, should be accepted, so as to conclude the exercise with our participation".
He said that the priority was to secure Greece's national interests and not to create impressions, underlining that a possible withdraw from the exercise could create precedents or faits accomplis, which "we will confront as problems tomorrow".
 Prime Minister confident of Athens 2004 Olympic Games success
Athens, 18/10/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Tuesday he was confident that the "Athens 2004" Olympic Games preparations would conclude on time, reiterating that organizing the Olympic Games was a national issue concerning all Greeks, according to Deputy Press and Media Minister Telemahos Hytiris.
Simitis added that political exploitation of the issue should not be made, as is usually the case with the opposition parties.
Hytiris was speaking to the press after a joint meeting of ministers and the "Athens 2004" organizing committee heads chaired by Simitis, which lasted over five hours.
It was the first such meeting following the recent Sydney Olympic Games and, according to the prime minister, it was the start of a new era for the country in this effort.
Simitis also referred to the question of cooperation between ministers concerned in the issue and the Organizing Committee, calling for even closer cooperation between them and adding that the image given by the country's preparation to organize the Olympiad is not yet what he would like it to be, Hytiris said.
Hytiris also said that "Athens 2004" President Gianna Angelopoulou-Daskalaki and Deputy Sports Minister George Floridis gave a detailed analysis to the ministerial committee on the experience provided by the Sydney Olympic Games, while it was also revealed that the Organizing Committee would be holding two seminars in November.
The first of the seminars will be on how the Greeks saw the Sydney Olympics and the second on how the Australians themselves saw and prepared the Olympic Games.
The meeting also focused on issues as the Olympic projects, infrastructure works, radio and TV coverage of the Olympiad, construction of the Olympic Village, the journalists' village and security issues.
Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis expressed optimism that the five Olympic projects undertaken by his ministry will be ready earlier than scheduled, adding that he will announce in November the dates on which these projects will be delivered.
Hytiris said that decisions on the radio and TV coverage of the Olympiad will have been taken by the end of the month and that until a delegation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) arrives on November 21 the memorandum of cooperation will have been signed between the Culture Ministry and the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee.
The next Cabinet Committee meeting will take place on November 2.
Reppas denies reports of changes to the "Athens 2004" committee: Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas denied reports of imminent changes in the "Athens 2004" Olympics Organizing Committee on Tuesday, and also denied that Cabinet secretary Socratis Kosmidis would be acting as liaison between the organizing committee and the government committee for the Olympics.
 Greece expected to take measures against Albania after irregularities in local elections
Athens, 18/10/2000 (ANA)The Greek government is expected to take measures against Albania, both on bilateral and European level, after irregularities were ascertained in Sunday's local elections in the neighboring country, especially in the region of Himara where widespread adulteration of the vote at the expense of the ethnic Greek minority party was registered.
Foreign Minister George Papandreou reportedly said at an in camera session of Parliament's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday evening that Greece will raise the issue of Albania's democratic deficit at all relevant European Union bodies, while it might also reconsider its position regarding entry visas for Albanian citizens entering Greece.
Greece will also reconsider its stance in connection with the EU's various funding programs for Albania, such as the Phare and Intereg programs, as well as on the funding regulation on Balkan reconstruction and at negotiations due to start soon on an association and stability agreement with Albania.
Papandreou, replying to criticism from opposition parties that the problem in Himara was not handled in time, said the Greek foreign ministry contacted OSCE, EU and US representatives in Tirana, Albania, and observers were sent to the country.
Papandreou also expressed his surprise over the levels of voters' participation in the elections in Himara, where participation amounted to 50-55 per cent in the first round held on October 1 and to only 40-50 per cent in the second. He added that one should focus his attention on how the ethnic Greek minority will smoothly join a democratic Albanian society.
Deputies from all parties agreed during the discussion that a "message" should be sent to Albania.
OECD report revealed irregularities in Himara elections, spokesman says: Commenting on a report by OECD observers of the Albanian municipal elections on Tuesday, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the report confirmed that violations of electoral procedure had occurred in the district of Himara and that the report had also referred to a Greek-speaking minority.
Reppas said that the issue would be raised at the EU ministers' council, while he warned Albania that its EU prospects would not be fulfilled under these conditions.
Asked to comment on statements by foreign ministry spokesman Panagiotis Beglitis, the spokesman said that Beglitis had been very clear and that Greece should not return to past policies that had had negative results for the country.
 Non-governmental organization condemns violence against ethnic Greeks in Albania
TIRANA, 18/10/2000 (ANA I. Patso)The non-governmental organization "Observatory Press Center for minorities in Albania" noted "the escalated tension between Greece and Albania", resulting from incidents during the elections for local governments in Albania on Sunday.
In a press release, the Center stated that during election run off Albanian secret police SHISH officers used physical and psychological violence against Center Chairman Stavri Marko.
Marko, an ethnic Greek from Himara, condemned the attack of the Albanian press against the ethnic Greek minority, calling it chauvinist, adding that the Greek minority "was terrorized by the Albanian military and police forces," the press release also said.
 Greek main opposition leader welcomes memorandum to end Middle East violence
Athens, 18/10/2000 (ANA)The Israeli-Palestinian memorandum signed at Sarm el-Sheikh, Egypt, may end the cycle of violence in that area, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis said on Tuesday.
"Today's positive development, allows hope that the cycle of violence and blood will break. The commitment for the immediate enforcement of measures, which will lead to the cease fire, is a first important step," Karamanlis said.
"We hope that this development will encourage similar progress in the rest of the political and human standing issues of the international community and especially the open wound, that is the Cyprus problem," he added.
On his part, Israeli Ambassador to Athens Ran Curiel welcomed the results of the conference in Egypt, saying "Israel was always seeking ways to stop the violence and bloodshed initiated by the Palestinians two weeks ago.
"The last two weeks of violence have left deep scars on both Israelis and Palestinians. We hope that all commitments undertaken in Sarm el-Sheikh in the presence of the international community will be upheld," he concluded.
 Reppas says EU-Turkey partnership agreement should include Helsinki summit conclusions
Athens, 18/10/2000 (ANA)The decisions of the Helsinki summit should be included in a EU-Turkey partnership agreement, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Tuesday.
In presenting Greece's position, the spokesman added that such a text should also incorporate the Copenhagen criteria for Greek-Turkish relations, in other words the ways in which neighboring countries should coexist on the basis of the principles of international law and the implementation of international treaties, as well as a resolution of the Cyprus problem.
 Reppas announces southeast Europe summit meeting in Skopje
Athens, 18/10/2000 (ANA)A summit meeting of southeast European states will take place in Skopje on October 25, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Tuesday.
The spokesman said that the meeting in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was arranged after a proposal by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
 Prime Minister to meet Patriarch Vartholomeos in Athens, hold dinner in his honor
Athens, 18/10/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis will receive Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos at his offices on October 24, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas announced on Tuesday.
After the meeting, there will be an official dinner in honor of the Patriarch.
Asked if Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, the Autocephalus Greek Orthodox Church's highest prelate, would also attend the dinner, the spokesman said he didn't know.
 New ID cards to be issued soon, Reppas says
Athens, 18/10/2000 (ANA)New-format identity cards will be issued to Greek citizens from now on, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Tuesday, adding that the new forms had been delivered and would be sent to police stations shortly.
 New Greek ambassador in Yugoslavia accredited
BELGRADE, 18/10/2000 (ANA - M. Mouratidis)Ambassador Mihalis Spinelis was the first new European diplomat to be accredited in Yugoslavia following the recent political changes and after the lifting of the European Union embargo on the Balkan country.
Spinelis submitted a copy of his accreditation documents to acting Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zoran Novakovic, while new ambassadors to Belgrade from Sweden, Italy and Spain followed.
Spinelis will officially submit his accreditation documents to Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica within the week.
 New ambassadors of Indonesia, Iran, France, Luxembourg and Lebanon present credentials
Athens, 18/10/2000 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Tuesday received the new Ambassadors to Athens of Indonesia, Fransisco Xavier Lopes da Cruz, Iran, Mohammad Taghi, France, Jean Maurice Ripert, Luxembourg, Fernand Kartheiser and Lebanon, William Farid Habib, who presented their credentials.
Alternate Foreign Minister Elisavet Papazoi and presidency general secretary K. Ailianos also attended the ceremony.
 Papantoniou says October inflation within expectations
LUXEMBOURG, 18/10/2000 (ANA-Y. Zitouniati)National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said on Tuesday that October's headline inflation rate would lie within expectations, although showing the impact of a rise in world oil prices.
Reflecting mainly a fuel price hike stemming from the Middle East crisis, consumer price inflation would nevertheless remain in line with the European Union average, Papantoniou told reporters.
He was speaking after a EU finance ministers meeting that discussed the international scene and fiscal policy in the 11 euro-zone countries and Greece, which formally becomes a member on January 1.
The ministers said the impact of high oil prices on inflation would not in turn have a major impact on the euro zone's growth rate.
The outlook for Greece was good, especially as five countries (Belgium, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Luxembourg) had inflation rates higher than Greece's.
"The Greek economy has shown it has great stamina," Papantoniou said.
The domestic growth rate is currently at 4.1 percent, forecast to rise to 5.0 percent in 2001.
Finally, Papantoniou said that Greece next year would find itself ranking fourth in Europe in terms of fiscal revitalization.
Turning to the EU's employment policy discussed at the meeting, the minister added that the measures being planned were "bold" and would make the labor market more attractive, including a reduction in related taxes.
 Public Works Minister assures that new Athens airport will be ready on schedule
Athens, 18/10/2000 (ANA)Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis said on Tuesday the new international airport at Spata, east of Athens, would be ready on March 1, 2001 according to schedule.
He was replying to a report in the Financial Times claiming that the airport will not be operating on the date set for this purpose.
Laliotis said "the project is already completed and has been delivered by the constructing joint venture", adding that "the five-month testing operations for all systems have already started from the beginning of October."
He said newspapers should not be concerned and warned that "many of the reports have been dictated by airline companies which want cheap airport dues."
 Greek stocks dramatically change direction, end lower
Athens, 18/10/2000 (ANA)Equity prices dramatically changed direction after Monday's spectacular rebound to end sharply lower on Tuesday, undermined by lack of buying interest and a record-low liquidity on the Athens Stock Exchange.
Traders said news of positive developments in the Middle East crisis came too late to improve sentiment in the market.
The general index ended 1.76 percent lower at 3,724.26 points, off the day's lows of 3,659.67 points, with turnover a low 46.52 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended at 2,128.07 points, off 1.47 percent, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index fell 1.96 percent to 458.60 points.
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended 3.03 percent lower at 467.77 points.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 286 to 56 with another 14 issues unchanged.
Hellenic Telecoms, Alpha Bank, National Bank, Cosmote and Eurobank were the most heavily traded stocks.
Leading shares' closing prices (in Drs): National Bank: 14,550 Ôitan Cement (c): 13,540 Alpha Bank: 13,660 Hellenic Telecoms: 7,000 Commercial Bank: 17,360 Panafon: 3,250 Hellenic Petroleum: 3,660 Eurobank: 10,300 Attica Enterprises: 2,960 Piraeus Bank: 6,005 Intracom: 10,350 Minoan Lines: 2,310
Heracles Cement: 5,175 Hellenic Bottling: 4,915 Lambrakis Press: 7,100
Equity futures drop, tracking Athens bourse: Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished lower on Tuesday, in line with the indices on which they are based.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 1.47 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 1.96 percent lower.
Turnover was 14.0 billion drachmas.
A total of 2,701 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 with turnover at 11.6 billion drachmas.
On the FTSE/ASE 40 index, 1,254 contracts changed hands on turnover of 2.3 billion drachmas.
Bond prices nose up in light trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Tuesday finished higher in light trade.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.969 percent from 5.965 percent a day earlier.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 74-75 basis points, the same as in the previous session.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 43 billion drachmas from 22 billion drachmas in the trading day before.
Of the total, buy orders accounted for 35.0 billion drachmas of trade.
Drachma down vs. euro, dollar: The drachma on Tuesday ended lower against the euro and the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market.
At the central bank's daily fixing, the euro was set at 339.360 drachmas from 339.350 drachmas in the previous session.
Also at the fix, the dollar was set at 399.430 drachmas from 398.450 drachmas a trading day earlier.
Greek bond yields fall substantially: Greek bond yields fell substantially during a regular auction of state securities by the Public Debt Management Organization on Tuesday.
The average weighed yield of a three-year bond, worth 220 billion drachmas and paying an annual coupon of 5.90 percent, fell to 5.64 percent from 6.12 percent in the previous auction of same securities. The issue was a re-opening of a bond dated February 11, 2003.
Bids submitted totalled 1.096 trillion drachmas, almost five times more than the asked sum. The average weighed price of the issue was 100.499 points.
 EU to undertake initiatives to eradicate poverty in member-states
LUXEMBOURG, 18/10/2000 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)The European Union Council of Labor Ministers on Tuesday discussed the issue of poverty in the fifteen member-states and agreed on common action to eradicate it, based on proposals presented by European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs Anna Diamantopoulou.
According to the report presented by Diamantopoulou, 61 million people in the Union live under the poverty line, with women and children being at higher risk, as numbers are stark, showing 21 per cent of the children residing in the Union under the poverty line.
The proposals tabled by Diamantopoulou included the training of unemployed, who constitute the majority of those under the poverty line and special protections for weak social groups.
The 15 ministers also decided to adopt a directive to eradicate every kind of discrimination in employment.
Poverty remains a tragic problem, UN Greek office chief says: Despite considerable steps already taken to eradicate poverty in the world, the situation remains tragic and the volition of governments is necessary to tackle the issue, the United Nations Greek Office program chief warned on Tuesday.
Mirka Gontika was outlining the present state of poverty in the world at a public discussion organized by the UN's Information Center and the Marangopoulos Foundation for the Rights of Man on "Poverty in the world. Factors and prospects" on the occasion of World Day Against Poverty.
Ambassador Ioanna Manganara, a Foreign Ministry expert on human rights, said the framework should change for the social, economic and educational approach to the problem of poverty, primarily on the part of governments since governments are mainly to blame for the spreading of poverty.
Reppas comments on findings of Eurostat report on poverty: The government would continue efforts to improve living standards in Greece, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Tuesday in response to questions relating to a Eurostat report of widespread poverty in Greece.
According to the report 2,150,000 Greek citizens are currently living below the poverty line.
The spokesman admitted that there were problems but also pointed to a clear improvement in Greek living standards.
He said the government was making great efforts to combat unemployment and had presented its proposals, and was now waiting for the other interested bodies to state their positions.
Asked whether the government planned to take measures to help those living in poverty, Reppas said that measures for the weaker classes had been in effect since September 1999.
The results might not be satisfactory, he added, but the effort being made should not be counted as nothing.
 EU Justice Ministers endorse measures against organized crime, money-laundering
LUXEM-BOURG, 18/10/2000 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)The European Union's Council of Justice Ministers on Tuesday endorsed measures against organized crime, and money-laundering in particular, in a meeting here. The ministers ratified a corresponding directive by the European Commission.
The most important measure contained in the directive concerns the lifting of confidentiality by banks, funding establishments and organizations, as well as professionals who, due to the nature of their work, could have information on illegal activities, such as lawyers, notary publics and real estate agents.
Greek Justice Minister Mihalis Stathopoulos said the directive handles protection for professional confidentiality, which could be harmed by such a settlement.
 Ecumenical Patriarch receives dignitaries
ISTANBUL, 18/10/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Tuesday received Balkan Stability Pact Special Coordinator Dodo Hombach and Chairman of the Balkan Stability section on Democratization and Human Rights Affairs Panayiotis Roumeliotis.
Later in the day, Vartholomeos received Hungarian General Consul Pal Elias, Spain's Ambassador to Ankara Manuel de la Camara and Germany's General Consul Herbert Hofmann-Less.
 Icon of "Mary of Bethlehem" to arrive in Thessaloniki on Monday
Athens, 18/10/2000 (ANA)The holy icon known as the "Mary of Bethlehem" will be taken out of the nativity cave in Bethlehem for the first time ever, to travel to Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on Monday as part of a litany church service along with the holy relics of Saint Dimitrios, the city's patron saint.
The joint litanies was a Byzantine custom which has been revived at the Metropolis of Thessaloniki in past years, as part of the celebrations for the patron saint's memorial day on October 26.
The Metropolitan of Thessaloniki Panteleimon II will receive the holy icon on Monday afternoon.
 UN envoy Alvaro de Soto to arrive in Cyprus on Sunday
NICOSIA, 18/10/2000 (CNA/ANA)The UN's top official dealing with the Cyprus peace effort, Alvaro de Soto, arrives here Sunday with a view to have "interim discussions" with the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides, before he embarks on another round of proximity talks with them in early November.
"It would be very useful for him to have talks on the island ahead of the Geneva meetings", a UN official has said.
The UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus is due to have two meetings with President Glafcos Clerides, during working breakfasts on Monday and Friday.
On the same days, he is scheduled to see Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. He will also have talks with Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides.
During his weeklong stay, the Peruvian diplomat will talk to the leaders of parliamentary parties, who normally accompany the president to the talks for consultations.
He will also meet leaders of Turkish Cypriot political parties. De Soto is set to have a meeting with the ambassadors of the five permanent members of the Security Council and is likely to talk to the press on completion of his contacts on the island.
He does not intend to go to either Athens or Ankara for contacts, as initially thought, because of scheduling conflicts.
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 Denktash, began last December and a fifth round is to begin on November 1 in Geneva, aimed at reaching a comprehensive settlement.
 EU official on enlargement ends visit
NICOSIA, 18/10/2000 (CNA/ANA)Director General of the European Union General Directorate for Enlargement Issues, Eneko Landaburu, said on Tuesday that the EU was greatly interested in proximity talks to solve the Cyprus problem and that it was for this reason that European Commissioner on Enlargement, Gunter Verheugen, would be in Geneva next month for the fifth round of talks.
Landaburu noted, however, that it was not up to the EU at this point to determine its position regarding the acquis communautaire if a settlement of the Cyprus problem was achieved.
Speaking at a press conference, after a series of meetings in Nicosia, Landaburu reassured that a solution of the Cyprus problem would not be a precondition for the island's accession to the EU.
Landaburu praised Cyprus for its progress in its accession course, but noted that there was much to be done yet, that is to close the difficult chapters of the acquis communautaire.
He also said the EU wishes to sponsor Cyprus' bicommunal programs, aiming at Greek and Turkish Cypriot rapprochement.
He furthermore noted that 57 million euros would be spent by the year 2004, to help Cyprus harmonies itself better and participate in EU research programs. Landaburu said part of the funds would be used for rapprochement.
 German and Norwegian State Ministers to visit
NICOSIA, 18/10/2000 (CNA/ANA)Developments in the Cyprus peace effort, the Republic's European Union accession course and the role Germany can play with regard to both issues will be the focus of discussions German State Minister for Foreign Affairs Christoph Zoepel will have here later this week.
His Norwegian counterpart Johansen, who arrives here Thursday, will also have talks with Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, which will focus on bilateral issues. During his brief visit, Johansen will be briefed on efforts to settle the Cyprus issue and review bilateral relations.
 Annual large-scale military exercise begins
NICOSIA, 18/10/2000 (ANA)Reservists began congregating at designated bases on the free portions of the island republic on Tuesday in light of annual inter-service military maneuvers.
The annual "Nikiforos" exercise by Cyprus' National Guard is expected to be held on an expanded basis this year in comparison with previous years. It will also coincide with the Greek armed forces' "Toxotis" and "Vergina" maneuvers.
According to plans, several Hellenic Air Force warplanes and Greek navy vessels will participate in the Cypriot exercise, while Greek Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and military chief Gen. Manoussos Paragioudakis are expected to observe the final portion of the maneuvers.
The exercise will also feature the operational debut of the Russian-made Tor-M1 anti-aircraft system by Cyprus' National Guard.