|Wednesday, 22 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-10-21
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Ecumenical Patriarchate and Greek state to cooperate closely Simitis says
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)The Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek state are two institutions that will cooperate closely, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Friday, following his half-hour meeting with visiting Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.
Simitis added that Vartholomeos is the leader of the Orthodox Church, which has a very important role to play under his tutelage.
The Church "has to communicate the message of love and solidarity, which it should disseminate. It has to attend to the promotion of humanist principles and - what is of concern to us and is very important- the dialogue of civilisations and churches and the presence of Orthodoxy in the world," Simitis said.
"The Phanar (the seat of the Patriarchate in Istanbul) and the Greek state are two institutions, which will cooperate closely. We look to the Patriarchate to promote Orthodoxy," he said.
The Patriarch inaugurated on Thursday the Patriarchate's representation office in Athens.
On his part, Vartholomeos, who is conducting a private visit in Greece, said "I thanked the prime minister for his trust in us as the pinnacle institution of Orthodoxy".
"We are looking forward to a harmonious cooperation and to a future of common benefit, for the promotion of dialogue between religions, civilisations on issues regarding man and the ecological problem, so that people may live in greater prosperity," Vartholomeos said.
Later on Friday evening, President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and Education and Religious Affairs Minister Petros Efthimiou received Vartholomeos during a special event at the Benaki Museum.
Vartholomeos inaugurated a Byzantine art exhibition of icons of the "Mother of God" and was then hosted to a dinner by graduates of the Halki School of Theology operated by the Patriarchate, until it was forcibly shut down by Turkish authorities.
On Saturday, Vartholomeos will visit Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, in light of the latter's name-day celebration
Earlier in the day, Vartholomeos met with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis and inaugurated the new Metropolitan mansion in the Athens suburb of Peristeri in the presence of many clergymen, Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis, Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos and crowds of people.
Addressing a message of unity at a local cathedral later, Vartholomeos said God is pleased when people are united without schisms, adding that unity and cooperation are great virtues.
The Patriarch is scheduled to address an event in central Athens on Monday on the "nature of Orthodox tradition and its significance to modern man and his concerns."
 Gov't on NATO stance in Turkey-based maneuvers
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)The Greek government on Friday said NATO's legal service had accepted Athens' positions regarding a controversial alliance military exercise over the past week in Turkey, in which Turkish military commanders requested the exclusion of Greek airspace from maneuvers.
Speaking to reporters, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the alliance accepted Athens' adamant position that air corridors over the strategically placed Aegean islands of Limnos and Ikaria remain in tact for the exercise's duration. Reppas also charged that Ankara had "discovered a baseless term" in designating "demilitarised airspace".
The government spokesman also noted that NATO should guarantee the successful completion of the exercise based on the original planning.
Athens has vehemently criticised 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.
 Turkish aircraft infringe on Athens, Nicosia FIR
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)Turkish fighter jets on Friday infringed on the Athens' and Nicosia's Flight Information Region (FIR) to contradict a joint military exercise of Greek Armed Forces and Cyprus' National Guard, entitled "Nikiforos-Toxotis", reports said.
According to the same reports, 38 Turkish aircraft infringed on the Athens' FIR 12 times over the Greek island of Rhodes and Nicosia's FIR 8 times. Greek warplanes intercepted the Turkish planes in every instance, while in 14 cases the interception led to unarmed engagement.
This was the second day in a row that Turkish fighters harassed Greek aircraft, during the Greek-Cyprus "Nikiforos-Toxotis" joint military exercise.
Meanwhile, Greek A7 Corsair bomber planes concluded succes-sfully their participation in NATO's "Destined Glory 2000" exercise, passing over the eastern Aegean Greek island of Limnos and from there entering the Istanbul FIR.
Last Wednesday, during the exercise, Turkish jets intercepted the Greek A7 Corsair in effect cancelling their participation in the exercise.
Greece reacted by lodging complaints with NATO and according to reports, NATO accepted Greece's positions and enforced the initial plans of the exercise.
Reports also noted that early this morning Greek Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos sent a letter to NATO's Secretary General Lord Robertson, containing Greece's positions on the issue.
 Tsohatzopoulos arrives in Cyprus to watch final phase of military exerciseNICOSIA, 21-10-2000 (ANA - G. Leonidas)
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos arrived in Cyprus on Friday night to watch Saturday the final phase of the military exercise "Nikiforos-Toxotis" jointly executed by Greece and Cyprus.
Speaking on arrival at Larnaca airport, Tsohatzopoulos said the joint exercise confirmed that Greece and Cyprus are mutually strong enough to handle any threat and any danger. Tsohatzopoulos added that the exercise signaled the strengthening of the joint security and defence of Cyprus and Greece in the framework of the joint defence doctrine.
 EU Commissioner Diamantopoulou meets Turkish Deputy PremierBRUSSELS, 21-10-2000 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)
Greek European Union Commissioner Anna Diamanto-poulou and Turkish Deputy Prime Minister in charge of European affairs Mesut Yilmaz discussed the Turkey's harmoni-sation with EU legislation and established practice here on Friday.
Diamantopoulou referred to the need for Turkey to prepare a national strategy on employment, placing emphasis on deve-loping social protection, revising the social insurance system and lifting all forms of discrimination concerning gender, racial or ethnic descent, religion, invalidity, age and sexual orientation.
On his part, Yilmaz presented progress achieved by Turkey in its effort to harmonise itself with EU established practice and called for Diamantopoulou's assistance in this effort. He also raised the issue of the free transfer of Turkish workers' pension rights in the EU.
Sources close to Diamantopoulou said the Cyprus issue was also discussed and Yilmaz reiterated Turkey's known positions, let-ting it be understood that progress in resolving the Cyprus problem is not unrelated to the course of Turkey's EU accession.
 Late PM Papandreou-Ozal agreement was to resolve Cyprus problem, former Greek FM says
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)Late Greek premier Andreas Papandreou and also late Turkish President Turgut Ozal concluded an agreement in 1988 during a meeting in Davos, Switzerland, dictating the withdraw of Turkish occupation forces from northern Cyprus, former Greek foreign minister Carolos Papoulias said on Friday.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, the ruling PASOK deputy confirmed that he made that statement during a session, Thursday night, of the Parliament's foreign affairs and defence committee, which he chairs.
He also said that he believed the agreement would have been implemented, if where not for Ozal's untimely death.
Papoulias said that Ozal himself worked on the agreement, underlining that Greek-Turkish rapprochement at that time was the most substantive ever.
He wished current Foreign Minister George Papandreou to also have similar results regarding the Cyprus problem, during his tenure, adding that substantive Greek-Turkish rapprochement would decisively contribute to the liberation of Cyprus from the Turkish occupation forces.
 Verheugen to participate in next round of Cyprus proximity talksBERLIN, 21-10-2000 (ANA - P. Stangos)
EU Commission for enlargement Guenter Verheugen has been quoted as saying he will participate in the next round of UN-sponsored proximity talks between the two communities of the divided island republic of Cyprus.
The German Commissioner also said he called on Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to reconsider his decision not to allow Turkish Cypriot membership in an official Cypriot delegation holding accession negotiations with the European Union.
In an interview published on Friday by the German newspaper "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung", Verheugen - who held talks with Greek leadership this week in Athens - noted that UN Chief Kofi Annan had asked him to be ready to participate in the next round of proximity talks.
"We're open to suggestion, but there will not be separate negotiations, there will not be a separate accession (of the T/C pseudo-state) or its accession as part of Turkey," he said.
 Interior Minister discusses Middle East with Israeli Environment Minister
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation Minister Vasso Papandreou on Friday discussed the Middle East problem with visiting Israeli Environment Minister and government envoy Dalia Itzik.
Itzik conveyed her government's views that the Palestinians were solely to blame for the current crisis in the Palestinian territories and accused Palestinian President Yasser Arafat of "violating every paragraph in agreements he has signed".
Itzik, who is visiting Athens to brief the Greek government on latest developments in the Middle East, also expressed, as a member of the Labour Party, the disappointment of Israeli public opinion over the Palestinians' stance.
She added that the present Israeli government "has made the biggest concessions than any other in the past".
According to unconfirmed diplomatic sources, Itzik's visit aims at averting recognition by Greece of an independent Palestinian state in the event it is proclaimed.
 Ruling PASOK deputies meet with premier
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Friday received a delegation of six ruling PASOK deputies who chair Parliament com-mittees, as part of a series of meetings that will include all deputies of the party.
Addressing the deputies, Simitis underlined the importance of achieving true economic convergence with the other European Union member-states, adding that the government would com-plete this project, responding to the hopes of the people.
Speaking on the current political climate, he said "we will make it now, as we made it over all those years".
 Simitis pledges support for large families, as solution to demographics in Greece
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis called attention to large families in Greece and their instrumental role in the face of Greece's aging population, on Friday in light of the celebration for the Day of Large Families in Greece.
Simitis said that the government was developing a systematic policy for the financial support of large families in Greece, including subsidy payments to families that have more than three children, life-time pension to women that mother more than three children and maternity aid.
 ND leader discusses developments in Intergovernmental Conference withEU Commissioner Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)
Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis on Friday discussed developments in the Intergovern-mental Conference and the European Commission's remarks on the absorption of the 3rd Community Support Framework with European Union regional policy Commissioner Michel Barnier.
Karamanlis said the Greek government has delayed preparing apparatuses for managing EU funds and expressed concern over the danger of these funds being lost.
According to reports, Barnier said concern also existed on the part of the Commission regarding absorption of funds, but expressed hope that no problem will ultimately be faced.
On the question of the Intergovernmental Conference, Kara-manlis reiterated that there is no question of enlargement without Cyprus, adding that the European Union's federalisation and political unification requires careful steps and consideration for the sensitivities of small countries.
In a related development, Barnier briefed the members of Parliament's European Affairs Committee, saying that "the pro-cess of Cyprus' accession is continuing as normal in the frame-work of the relevant decision taken by the Helsinki summit."
He said absorption of 3rd CSF funds is continuing smoothly and that strengthened cooperation constitutes a means of integration and not exclusion.
Barnier further said that out of the 12 candidate countries for ac-cession "some are almost unknown to us. We know quite a lot of things about Cyprus but some member-states refer to the political issue of Cyprus. However, the European Commission does not feel concerned."
Deputies from all parties said that Cyprus should be included in the first wave of EU enlargement and pointed to explicit decisions taken by both the European Council at Helsinki and the European Parliament on the issue.
 Prominent Communist Party of Greece member Kostopoulos expelled
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)Mitsos Kostopoulos, former Communist Party of Greece (KKE) parliamentary spokesman, was expelled from his party on Thursday night after 38 years of active participation and organised action, by his local chapter.
Reports said he was expelled due to his recent appearance in the presentation of his book titled "We Can" and due to his past statements criticising KKE's policy and the party's collaboration with what he called "nationalist networks".
Referring to his expulsion, Kostopoulos said Friday it was the result of long-term attempts by the party's leadership. He added that the decision was a mistake and that "those who methodised it are well aware that I do not want and cannot be anything else than a communist."
On his part, KKE Eurodeputy Yiannis Theonas said the expulsion of the "historical KKE member is a great loss for the party and the movement," adding that it was the result of a "political culture which should have died many years ago but which, unfortunately, is reappearing".
"Today is really a bad day for my party because one of the most important members, having 38 years in the party and a great contribution to the party and the movement, has found himself outside the party and expelled for his views. I do not think that all the rest about charter violations is what determined the decision," Theonas said.
Theonas, who also expresses reservations on KKE's policy, did not wish to comment on reports saying his own expulsion from the party is imminent.
 New Greek ambassador in Yugoslavia presents credentialsBELGRADE, 21-10-2000 (ANA - M. Mouratidis)
Greek Ambassador Mihalis Spinelis on Friday became the first new European diplomat to present his credentials to newly elected Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, following the recent political changes and after the lifting of the European Union embargo on the Balkan country.
During an event conducted according to protocol, Spinelis said that this day was historic for Yugoslavia, Greece and Europe as "it is the first indication of the normalisation of diplomatic relations between Yugoslavia and the rest of the world". "My emotions run high, since I had the great honor to be the first ambassador to present my credentials to you (Kostunica), the first democratic president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia," Spinelis said.
He also expressed the wish for Yugoslavia to "walk along" with Greece on the path of the united democratic Europe.
On his part, Kostunica thanked Spinelis for his well wishing and said that Yugoslavia felt obliged to the Greek people and the Greek leadership for their "disinterested aid and support during the difficult years" of his country's course to "democratic rebirth".
 Alternate FM Papazoi stresses importance of Asia-Europe MeetingSEOUL, 21-10-2000 (ANA)
Speaking at the 3rd Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) on "Cooperation for permanent stability and the prevention of relapses in economic crises" here on Friday, Alternate Foreign Minister Elizabeth Papazoi stressed the importance of European and Asian leaders meeting for the third time in four years, adding that normalisation is being restored in relations between Europe and Asia.
Papazoi proposed on the part of Greece and in the framework of European Union activation a continuation of open dialogue at the World Trade Organisation and expressed satisfaction over China's impending accession to the organisation.
Participating in the the 3rd ASEM meeting at the level of heads of state and government are the 15 EU member-states and 10 Asian countries (China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei and South Korea).
The European Commission is being represented at the meeting by its President Romano Prodi and Foreign Economic Relations Commissioner Paten.
 Gov't denies press reports of 'raids' in progress
Athens, 20/10/2000 (ANA)The government reiterated on Friday that certain press reports in Albania citing an ongoing "roundup" of Albanian illegal immigrants are entirely false.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas clarified, however, that anyone in Greece without the necessary residence documents would be deported.
He also categorically said Greece is adamantly against any changes in borders in the region and the maintaining of the present status quo.
Greece vehemently criticised what it called widespread fraud in the southern Albanian township of Himarra, which hosts a sizeable ethnic Greek minority, last week during a run-off in municipal elections in the neighbouring country.
 Greek-Turkish business group holds conference
Athens, 20/10/2000 (ANA)The Greek-Turkish Business Cooperation Group is to hold a conference at the Metropolitan-Chandris Hotel in Athens on November 2-3 under the aegis of the foreign ministry. The theme of the conference, the second of its kind, is Greece, Turkey and the European Union - the prospects for business and economic cooperation.
Beyond the formal agenda, Turkish delegates to the conference will have the opportunity to meet EU officials for information on trade, business and procurements legislation in the 15-nation bloc, which Turkey hopes to join. The outlook for joint ventures between Greek and Turkish firms will also be examined.
 Greek tourist and travel federation lauds deregulation efforts
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)The Federation of Tourist and Travel Agencies in Greece expressed on Friday its satisfaction for the government's first steps toward deregulation of passenger shipping, congratula-ting the merchant marine ministry for granting operation licenses for Crete and the central Aegean islands. In a press release, the federation said that it hoped for the effort to continue, until all problems in passenger shipping and proposed that the government should enforce regulations to abolish ticket purchases upon entry on vessels.
The federation also proposed increased controls on the number of passengers on ships, the establishment of a single ticketing system fashioned after the airline ticketing system and the announcement of next year's route programme by October of the previous year.
 New round of talks on labour relations starts Tuesday
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)A new round of talks involving the government, employees and workers on reforms to the labour market and industrial relations begins on Tuesday.
Leaders of the General Confederation of Greek Labour, which represents nearly a million workers in the private and public sectors, are to meet representatives of the Federation of Greek Industry.
 Greek stocks end week sharply higher
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)Equity prices recovered more ground on Friday, extending their previous day's gains, helped by renewed buying interest in blue chip stocks on the Athens Stock Exchange.
Traders said an improved climate in international market encou-raged sentiment on the Greek bourse.
The general index ended 1.95 percent higher at 3,787.44 points, off the day's highs of 3,830.22 points, for a net gain of 2.32 percent in the week. Turnover was an improved 96.29 billion drachmas. The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 2.32 percent higher at 2,187.14 points, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index rose 1.25 percent to 455.95 points.
The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 0.87 percent higher at 448.49 points.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 253 to 87 with another nine issues unchanged. Euklides, National Bank, Hellenic Telecoms, Alpha Bank and Hellenic Stock Markets were the most heavily traded stocks.
 Equity futures end up, tracking Athens bourse
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished higher on Friday, in line with the indices on which they are based. The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 2.32 percent up, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 1.25 percent higher. Turnover was 19.7 billion drachmas. A total of 3,500 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 with turnover at 15.4 billion drachmas.
On the FTSE/ASE 40 index, 2,258 contracts changed hands on turnover of 4.2 billion drachmas.
 Bond prices nose up in light trade
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Friday finished higher in light trade.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.95 percent from 5.972 percent a day earlier.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 76 basis points from 77 basis points in the previous session. Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 54 billion drachmas from 132 billion drachmas in the trading day before. Of the total, buy orders accounted for 30 billion drachmas of trade.
 Drachma down vs euro, up vs dollar
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)The drachma on Friday ended lower against the euro and higher versus the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market. At the central bank's daily fixing, the euro was set at 339.500 drachmas from 339.470 drachmas in the previous session. Also at the fix, the dollar was set at 400.880 drachmas from 402.570 drachmas a trading day earlier.
The central bank intervened at the fix, selling 19 million euros.
 ASE in presentation to Hellenic-German Chamber of Commerce
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)The Athens Stock Exchange's chairman, Panayiotis Alexakis, on Friday presented the Greek market's investment opportu-nities and new regulatory measures to a group of German institu-tional investors and journalists. The presentation was made at a special event organised by the Hellenic-German Chamber of Commerce in Athens.
 Athens bourse adopts priority list for new entries
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)The Athens Stock Exchange has adopted a priority system for companies set to enter the bourse.
Receiving priority in the waiting list are firms with a high-capitalisation outlook, a major position in their sector, and a likelihood of boosting liquidity in the exchange.
 Panafon signs customer service deal with National Bank
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)Panafon, Greece's largest mobile phone operator, and Natio-nal Bank of Greece, the country's largest financial institu-tion
, announced a deal offering Panafon's customers payment services through the bank's ATMs.
The deal will also offer Panafon's non-contract customers the ability to extend their mobile cards' time through National Bank's ATMs. National Bank's ATMs network totals 840 units around the country. The bank expects to increase its network to 1,000 early next year.
 Vatera SA to launch internet auctions in Greece
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)Vatera SA, a company created with the support and coopera-tion of e-vision - owners of Deremate.com, the biggest internet auctions company in Latin America - aims to promote e-auction services in Greece. Panayiotis Gomopoulos, the company's chief executive, said its plans were to create a users' community on the internet (using its website www.vatera.com) to trade in cross-border transactions.
Vatera SA plans to expand in Eastern Europe, launching new websites in Poland, Czech Republic, Turkey and Hungary in the next six months.
 Sex Form signs supply deal with Harrod's
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)Sex Form SA, a Greek listed underwear manufacturer, announ-ced a deal with world famous UK stores Harrod's for the production of luxury underwear under the name Harrod's Private Labels.
The Greek company also completed the purchase of a 50 percent equity stake in Prestige SA, a fabric manufacturer, for 1.26 billion drachmas.
Sex Form also announced a share capital increase plan for its recent acquisition Petit Elephant International ABEE, a children clothes manufacturer, aiming to upgrade its production equip-ment, improve its building facilities and expand its sales net-work.
The company has recently signed cooperation agreements with UK stores John Lewis, Dunnes Stores, Freeman's order catalo-gue, Replay clothes and Fashion Box SPA Italy.
 Greece, EU Commission discuss railways' expansion project
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)Greek Transport Minister Christos Verelis and EU Regional Development Commissioner Michel Barnier on Friday discussed a programme on the expansion of Greece's railways network and a Greek demand for increased community funds on the project.
"We discussed a project of building a new, modern and safe railway network layout on a double track, electrically-powered," Verelis said after the meeting.
 N. Aegean has highest proportion of elderly in EUBRUSSELS, 21-10-2000 (ANA/G.Zitouniati)
The northern Aegean has the highest number of elderly people as a proportion of the working population in the 15-nation European Union, Eurostat, the EU's statistics service, said in a survey on Friday.
In the region, 62 out of 100 members of the working population are above 65 years of age against an EU average of 34 elderly out of 100.
 Southern Aegean has highest proportion of hotel beds in EUBRUSSELS 21-10-2000 (ANA/G.Zitouniati)
The southern Aegean has the highest ratio of hotel beds to population in the 15-member European Union, Eurostat, the EU's statistics service, said in a report released on Friday.
The proportion is 550 hotel beds to 1,000 inhabitants in the Cyclades and Dodecanese islands. The EU average in 1998 was 25 hotel beds for 1,000 inhabitants, the report said.
 Contalexis Financial Services sues for defamation
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)Contalexis Financial Services said on Friday it would sue for defamation following allegations of tax evasion made by the government's financial crimes squad.
Contalexis appeared in a finance ministry blacklist of tax-evading firms that was released to the public.
The crimes squad claimed the firm had collected commissions from securities transactions totalling 27 percent that were not declared as income.
Contalexis Financial Services said in a statement that it was not guilty of tax evasion.
 Greece making efforts to have 500 illegal immigrants on Turkish ship return to Turkey
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)The Turkish freighter "Funda", carrying about 500 illegal immigrants, was to be towed to the port of Mesta, on the eastern Aegean island of Chios, on Friday night, while Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis and Foreign Minister George Pa-pandreou had repeated consultations throughout the day to have Turkey agree to accept back the migrants.
According to the ship's Ukrainian captain, the vessel had sailed from the Turkish port of Canakkale and was headed for an Italian port. The ship had finally anchored off the island of Chios after gale force winds forced the captain to seek shelter.
The illegal immigrants had refused any form of help in the form of food and water by coast guard officials and threw quantities given to them into the sea. They also refused to be towed to a safe anchorage, insisting that Italy was their destination.
However, at about 6.30 p.m. they finally agreed to being towed and efforts got underway to either release or cut the ship's anchor, which was ultimately achieved two hours later.
The illegals were to be given tents and every other assistance at a soccer stadium later in the evening. They would then be taken back to Turkey when weather conditions improve and provided Turkey gives its consent for their return.
 Powerful bomb set off under car of Athens judge alarms Nea Smyrni residents
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)A powerful explosive device set under the car of an Athens judge, parked under his Nea Smyrni apartment block, went off in the early hours of Friday morning, causing extensive damage to nearby cars and buildings and a panic among the building's residents - none of whom, however, were injured.
The blast destroyed both the judge's car and two others parked nearby, as well as knocking down the rear wall of the building's entrance. Windows were smashed in seven other parked cars and in surrounding buildings some distance from the blast.
A fire broke out immediately after the explosion, causing damage to the exterior of the apartment block up to the second floor. At the point where the bomb went off, meanwhile, a crater roughly one metre across was formed.
Bomb squad experts are now searching the area to find fragments of the mechanism, while no group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.
 Balkan cultural agencies meeting in Thessaloniki
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)Cultural agencies and personalities from the Balkans are due to begin Saturday a meeting in Thessaloniki to discuss the creation of a Balkan Cultural Biennale and exchange views on cultural cooperation.
The two-day meeting on "Culture as a means and guarantee for developing stability and good neighbourliness in southeastern Europe" will be accompanied by a series of cultural events.
 Exhibition on "Quality of life for the citizen" opens in Ioannina
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)An exhibition on "Quality of life for the citizen" opened in the city of Ioannina, northern Greece, on Friday and will last until October 29.
The exhibition is being housed in the local town hall and was organised by the Epirus Regional Department in cooperation with the Press and Media Ministry, as well as the Athens News Agency (ANA).
The purpose of the exhibition is the briefing and participation of citizens in the multifaceted state effort, aimed at improving the citizen's life.
Visitors at the exhibition will have the opportunity, through the use of audiovisual means and printed material, to obtain infor-mation on projects which have been completed in their region, as well as on those nearing completion. They can also be informed on the activities of the state which are aimed at improving the life of citizens.
 Iconoclast music writer arrested for defacing Greek flag
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)A music writer and performer was arrested on Friday on charges of defacing the Greek flag, the image of which he used for advertising replacing the Orthodox cross on the upper left corner with the Communist hammer and sickle sign.
Tzimis Panousis, a self-styled iconoclast music writer and performer, was arrested and taken to police headquarters. In the past the artist faced civil action by a music performer, accused of slander.
 Man arrested for breaking laws on antiquities
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)Lithographer George Moragiemos, 40, was arrested on Friday after a search of his house in Athens turned up 237 ancient silver and bronze coins and a can of mace.
The ancient coins hail from the classical era (480-323 BC), the Roman age (200 B.C. - 400 AD) and the Byzantine era (400-1,453 AD).
 Greek Homosexual Community organises Athens Pride 2000 festival
Athens, 21/10/2000 (ANA)The Greek Homosexual Community is organising the Athens Pride 2000 Gay Pride Festival in Athens on October 20-22, the first of its kind in Greece.
The festival will include art, theatre, photography, discussions and open debates on issues concerning equal rights for homosexual men and women in choosing a lover and a way of life.
Speaking at a press conference, Greek Homosexual Community President Vangelis Yiannelos said the festival is being organised in the framework of the struggle for equal rights for lesbians and homosexual men and the struggle against anti-gay propaganda, discrimination and phobia of homosexuals.
The receipts from the three-day festival will be provided for the establishment and operation of an advisory centre for young homosexual men and women.
 Australian minister Michael Knight to help IOC with Athens Olympics, Samaranch saysMELBOURNE, 21-10-2000 (ANA - S. Hatzimanolis)
Australian Olympics minister Michael Knight, the chief organizer of the Sydney Olympic Games, is to play an important role in the organization of the Athens Olympics of 2004, according to statements made International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Juan Antonio Samaranch in Sydney on Friday.
Currently in Sydney to attend the Paralympics, Samaranch said that Knight would begin work at an IOC committee in Athens after December, when he plans to quit politics.
The IOC president said that Knight would make a valuable contribution to the Athens Games, given his experience, and that the Australian minister would be in Athens in November with an IOC committee.
According to Australian journalists, meanwhile, Knight is reported to get on very well with the chairwoman of the 'Athens 2004' Olympics Organizing Committee, Yianna Angelopoulou - Daskalaki.
 President Clerides watches part of military exerciseNICOSIA, 21-10-2000 (CNA/ANA)
As President Glafcos Clerides watched the annual military exercises of the National Guard unfold on Friday, Turkish fighters harassed again Greek jets on their way to Cyprus to participate in the maneuvers.
"We can be proud of our armed forces," the President said, as he watched the maneuvers.
He said the participation of the Greek navy and air force shows this is part of the designs of the joint defense pact with Greece, agreed in November 1993 and providing sea, air and land cover from the Greek armed forces for Cyprus in case of a fresh Turkish offensive.
The president outlined the importance of the defense pact for Cyprus' defense, noting that it covers sectors the National Guard on its own could not do, including the air and the sea.
"The exercise proves that the National Guard is very well prepared to face threats and dangers and has acquired modern weapons," President Clerides said, as he watched the maneuvers unfold.
Asked to comment on allegations by the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash that the military exercises strengthen his demand for Turkish guarantees, the President pointed out that the exercise takes place exactly because Turkey has expansionist designs on Cyprus.
"Former Turkish President Demirel has often said in the past that the distance between Cyprus and Turkey is only three minutes flight for the Turkish air force. We remind him that we have the means to defend ourselves," the president stressed.
A defense ministry spokesman told CNA on Friday that six Greek warplanes (two F16s and four A7 Corsair) were buzzed by Turkish jets which were in turn intercepted by other Greek planes.
"The Greek planes arrived at their destination on time and accomplished their mission with precision," the spokesman said, adding that the aircraft returned to base.
Friday's exercise, watched by Defense Minister Socrates Hasikos and the Commander of the National Guar d Evangelos Florakis, included bombing of targets by a squadron of Greek F16 and Greek A7 Corsair fighters, a drop of parachutists from a C130 and firing from frigates of the Greek navy 'Salamis' and 'Aegean'.
National Guard tanks participated in the exercise and special marine commando units carried out landing exercises while Gazelle helicopters shot at targets out at sea.
In his remarks about the maneuvers, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said this annual exercise is not "preparation for any offensive", dismissing Turkish Cypriot press reports as exaggeration.
The government, he said, wishes to see peace and friendship with the Turkish Cypriots and reiterated President Clerides' proposal to demilitarize Cyprus.
"As long as the Turkish occupation army continues to occupy part of Cyprus, we are forced to see to our defenses," he added.
The annual exercise ends Saturday. Greek Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos arrived in Cyprus last night to watch Saturday's maneuvers.