|Tuesday, 28 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-10-27
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Stephanopoulos, government ministers, ND leader attend celebrations in Thessaloniki
Athens, 27/10/2000 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis were all in Thessaloniki on Thursday to attend holiday celebrations in the northern Greek city.
October 26 is the holiday for Thessaloniki patron saint Aghios Demetrios, as well as the anniversary of the city's liberation from the Ottoman Turks in 1912. On October 28, meanwhile, the entire nation celebrates the historic anniversary when Greece said 'No' to the ultimatum from Italy and joined the fight against Fascism in World War II.
Emerging from the Church of St. Demetrios after a celebration mass, Stephanopoulos referred to the memories and patriotic feelings evoked by the day and the certainty that these would guide Greece's future.
Tsohatzopoulos, who is representing Prime Minister Costas Simitis, said the grand celebrations in the city sent a message of hope to the Greek people that a new creative course would be set in this year that will satisfy the nation's needs for peace, security, cooperation and stability in the region. He also spoke about the Greek people's hope for positive developments in foreign policy issues, during the current difficult time.
Statements were also made by Karamanlis, who focused on the role the city could play in southeast Europe and its prospects of becoming a "great economic and cultural center for the region." He strongly criticized the government, however, for not making sufficient investments in northern Greece and Thessaloniki in order to develop its role.
After the mass, the President of the Republic inaugurated an exhibition of well-known Greek painter Nikiforos Lytras at the Villa Bianca in Thessaloniki.
Praising the artist's work, which he said had given a new impetus to modern Greek painting, Stephanopoulos stressed that Greece must also promote its more contemporary culture instead of focusing exclusively on its glorious ancient past.
The exhibition will run until the end of December and features more than 40 paintings and sketches by the 19th-century painter from Tinos. The works are on loan from the National Gallery, the Averoff Institute, the Katsigra collection, the Bank of Greece and other private collections.
On Friday morning at 11:00 a.m. there will be a big parade by the city's schools, after which Thessaloniki's Mayor will hand the president the gold key to the city at a special function.
President Stephanopoulos says Greece is on 'path to progress' at official dinner: President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos said that Greece was "on the path towards progress" on Thursday, after an official dinner given by Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Paschalidis in Thessaloniki.
Stephanopoulos said that the country was progressing "with difficulties, both external and internal, that did not seem about to stop easily."
Continuing, he expressed certainty that a way forward would present itself - but quickly clarified that this would not be linked to any particular political faction.
"I do not mean that we will walk this path with one government or another. I do not care who walks in front, who governs the country. That's the least of it. The country will move ahead because of its own vigor, its own strength and it's certain that this strength exists and makes us feel better than ever."
Also present at the dinner were National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, former Greek president Christos Sartzetakis, Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos and a number of MPs.
President receives "Golden Alexander" award: President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos received the "Golden Alexander" award during a ceremony at the Aristotelion University of Thessaloniki on Thursday night.
The president was bestowed the honorary distinction for his ethics and popularity among the Greek people. In his address, President Stephanopoulos referred to the history and development of the Greek language and the need to avoid its misuse. The universitys dean, Michalis Papadopoulos, also addressed the event.
Party messages stress Greece's contribution in WWII: Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, in a message on the anniversary of the outbreak of war with Italy on October 28, 1940, said the country's upward course does not mean that Hellenism has settled all its accounts with history.
He said that 40 per cent of the territory of Cyprus remains under Turkish occupation, while the Balkans are a continuous flashpoint, stressing the need for new national and social unity.
The Coalition of the Left and Progress said in a similar message that even today the non-negotiable values of freedom, independence, democracy, social justice, the principles of international law and the protection of human rights are not respected self-evidently.
It added that in this part of the world an atmosphere is being preserved through continuing international interventions and influences which favor conflicts, the disputing of borders, competition with armaments, threats of confrontations and the resurgence of nationalism.
 Gov't says new bill will speed up probes into several high-profile cases
Athens, 27/10/2000 (ANA)The government on Thursday said a newly tabled bill in Parliament should speed up court action in almost a half-dozen high-profile cases involving suspected criminal negligence, including responsibility for the collapse of several buildings during a devastating quake that hit the greater Athens region in September 1999.
A government spokesman said the heated issue of bringing such cases before justice dominated a meeting between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Justice Minister Mihalis Stathopoulos.
Among others, no criminal court proceedings have been initiated as yet into the "Ricomex" building's collapse, the sinking of the "Express Samina" ferry boat last month and that of the cement freighter "Distos" several years ago, the Ocalan affair in February 1999, as well as the collapse of a bridge along the under construction Elefsina-Stavros toll way and the mid-air passenger jet accident that claimed the life of alternate foreign minister Yannos Kranidiotis.
 Simitis receives PASOK deputies
Athens, 27/10/2000 (ANA)The government has the program, the willingness and the policies to build the new Greece, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Thursday, during a meeting with 10 ruling PASOK party deputies.
During the four-hour meeting the deputies expressed their views on the course of governmental policies, as well as their views regarding PASOK.
Simitis noted that many things have been accomplished, but more hard work lay ahead for all, so that the government's commitments could come to fruition.
He also stressed that the government would soon announce a series of measures to confront accusations by the main opposition New Democracy party on issues of transparency in dealings between political figures and economic interests of the country.
 Hytiris comments on statements by Albanian president
Athens, 27/10/2000 (ANA)"Borders in the Balkans are what they are," deputy government spokesman Telemachos Hytiris said on Thursday, commenting on statements made by Albanian President Rexhep Mejdani the previous day, in which he appeared to question existing borders in the region.
Mejdani was speaking after the end of an informal Balkan summit in Skopje, at which Federal Yugoslavia was represented for the first time since 1997.
The stability and inviolability of borders in the Balkans is a standing Greek position.
 European Parliament ratifies PASOK Eurodeputy's report that Albania should respect minority rights
BRUSSELS, 27/10/2000 (ANA - V. Demiris)A report by PASOK Eurodeputy Anna Karamanou on the European Union's plan of action for Albania was ratified by a European Parliament plenary session on Thursday.
The report, among others, calls on the Albanian government to recognize and respect minority rights as an essential precondition for substantive social and economic changes to be brought about in Albania. The report comes in the wake of recent human rights violations during local elections.
The report also ascertains Albania's insecure position, which is indicated by political instability, the fragile character and violent competition of the party system, the bad functioning of the constitution, the non-observance of laws, administrative chaos, the high level of crime and corruption.
 Greece remains firm in defending its rights, spokesman says
Athens, 27/10/2000 (ANA)The government's policy on national issues and on Greek-Turkish relations is specific and steadfast, acting government spokesman Telemachos Hytiris said on Thursday in response to press questions concerning statements made by Turkey's Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit and Foreign Minister Ismail Cem.
Hytiris said that Greece remained firm in defending its positions and rights, adding that it was equally stable in its policy regarding the implementation of the Helsinki agreement and Turkey's European Union candidacy, which must follow a specific course.
Concerning statements made by the Turkish side in reference to the NATO exercise "Destined Glory 2000", the spokesman said that right was on the side of Greece, as recognized by the Alliance's legal service. Turkey is aware of this fact and this is why it does not have recourse to the Court at The Hague.
NATO's Office of the Legal Adviser said in a document released Wednesday that "there is no legal obstacle to the overflights" by military aircraft over the islands in the eastern Aegean.
The document, which was dated October 8, 2000 and appeared in Wednesday's issue of TA NEA newspaper, disproves Turkish claims that the Greek islands of Limnos and Ikaria in the eastern Aegean are demilitarized zones.
Greek forces pulled out of the NATO exercise "Destined Glory" in Turkey on the weekend after Turkey blocked Greek jets from participating in the exercise Saturday and Sunday and warned of "undesired results" if Greece persisted in flying over the islands of Limnos and Ikaria, which Ankara claims are "demilitarized zones" under past agreements, although the islands were included in exercise flight plans agreed on by the alliance before the maneuvers.
Hytiris called on NATO to be consistent with its principles. If this continues not to be the case, the alliance cannot be convincing, he added.
On Turkey's EU accession course, he said this course would be examined by the EU without the neighboring country.
 Eurobarometer poll on EU enlargement, xenophobia
BRUSSELS, 27/10/2000 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis, V. Demiris)Greeks are only second to Spaniards in supporting Turkey's accession to the European Union and of course first among all European Union citizens in support of Cyprus' accession, according to a Eurobarometer poll.
The poll took place last spring and included 16,000 Europeans from all 15 member-states of the Union, among them 1,004 Greeks, answered questions regarding the Union's enlargement, the operational standards of institutions, integration and use of new technologies.
A total of 38 per cent of European citizens supported the Union's enlargement, with Cyprus garnering above average approval with a 44 per cent and Turkey the lowest by 30 per cent.
Greeks supported Turkey's accession to the Union by 39 per cent, well above the Union average and Cyprus' accession by a whapping 87 per cent.
Greeks, Danes and Swedes were the only Europeans that supported the Union's enlargement by more than 50 per cent, while Greeks at the same time seemed the most xenophobic of all as 38 per cent of those Greeks questioned said they thought of the presence of foreigners as disturbing.
Greeks ranked third behind the Portuguese and Spaniards in being the least satisfied with the function of democratic institutions, as only 53 per cent of those asked in Greece declared they were satisfied with the way the democratic institutions functioned in the country.
The results of the poll regarding the use of new technologies were disappointing for Greece, as only 6 per cent of those participating in the poll, said that they have internet access from their residence, compared to a Union average of 18 per cent.
 Papandreou meeting on 2002 Winter Olympic Games LOS
ANGELES, 27/10/2000 (ANA - I. Afentouli)Foreign Minister George Papandreou was due to meet Organizing Committee President Mitt Romney of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games late on Thursday to achieve coordination between Salt Lake City and Athens on a series of issues, such as security, since Athens will be organizing the 2004 Olympic Games. As already known, Greek police officers will be following preparations to organize the games in 2002.
Papandreou held lengthy talks on the organization of the 2004 Olympiad with California Governor Grey Davis in Sacramento on Wednesday.
The state of California holds sixth place among economies in the world and interest to invest in major projects scheduled for the Olympiad is self-evident.
 Papantoniou confers with premier before Cyprus visit
Athens, 27/10/2000 (ANA)Prime minister Costas Simitis met Thursday with national economy and finance minister Yannos Papantoniou shortly before the minister left on a visit to Cyprus for talks with the Cypriot government and to address an event organized by the island republic's Chamber of Commerce.
Papantoniou met Thursday evening in Nicosia with Cyprus finance minister Takis Clerides.
On Friday, he will meet with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, and also hold separate talks with Speaker of the House of Representatives Spyros Kyprianou, AKEL left-wing party leader Dimitris Christofias, Democratic Rally (DHSY) party leader Nikos Anastassiades, Democratic Party (DHKO) leader Tasos Papadopoulos and KISOS party leader Dr. Vassos Lyssarides.
Papantoniou will further sign a memorandum of economic, industrial and technological cooperation with Finance minister Clerides on Friday, before addressing the Chamber of Commerce on "Greece in EMU, Cyprus and the EU" in the evening.
Replying to press questions after his meeting with the premier, Papantoniou said the recent jump in the dollar was "not very rational", adding that he was not particularly concerned, as he believed it was "clearly a passing phenomenon".
The minister also replied in the negative when asked whether the rise in the dollar would affect the drafting of next year's budget.
 Greek weapons contractor to again manufacture 'Stinger' systems
Athens, 27/10/2000 (ANA)Greece's state-run armaments manufacturer on Thursday said it would again participate in a new program to build the US-patented "Stinger" anti-aircraft missile system in conjunction with a German firm.
Representatives of the Greek firm, EBO, and the German company STN Atlas signed the relevant contract in Athens.
The total cost of the program is set at 18 billion drachmas, with offsets equaling around four billion drachmas, according to reports.
EBO plant in Mandra, west Attica prefecture, will manufacture the new units, known as the ASRAD system
 V. Papandreou to attend EU conference on equality
PARIS, 27/10/2000 (ANA - O. Tsipyra)Interior and Public Administration Minister Vasso Papandreou was received by former Commission president Jacques Delors here on Thursday, her first day in the French capital as part of an official two-day visit complete with contacts focusing on public administration issues and equality.
Delors met with the Greek minister at UNESCO's headquarters in his capacity as the president of the "Notre Europe" (Our Europe) movement.
Papandreou also visited the head of France's noted academy of public administration, while other meetings were scheduled with the prefect of Paris, Jean Pierre Duport, and the head of the regional council of greater Paris, Jean Paul Huchon, and Public Administration Minister Michel Sapin.
On Friday the Greek minister will participate in an informal EU conference focusing on equality, organized by the French EU presidency, whereas she will also be received by her French counterpart Daniel Vaillant.
 Orthodox Prelate to visit Estonia
ISTANBUL, 27/10/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos departed for Estonia on Thursday for a five day visit, invited by the country's church leadership.
Vartholomeos will meet with Estonia's president, prime minister and other political leaders, while he is scheduled to address the Estonian people from the podium of the country's parliament.
This will be the first visit by an Ecumenical Patriarch to the Baltic republic since the fall of communism in those countries.
During his visit the Patriarch will officiate at a liturgy service in the Orthodox cathedral of Tallinn.
 High-school students hold protest rally, march in central Athens
Athens, 27/10/2000 (ANA)Approximately 1,000 high-school students took part in a protest rally at the gates of Athens University on Thursday morning, demanding modern and free state education.
The students had originally intended to march up to the Education ministry on Mitropoleos Street, but were turned back by a strong police presence at Philellinon street. Police sources said that student response to the rally was much reduced relative to previous years.
The students' demands included making lyceums independent of university and technical school entry, re-establishing re-sits, abolishing the skills test, nationwide exams in the last two years of school, providing schools with necessary staff and books and abolishing the criminalization of student struggle. These demands were submitted to the Education ministry by representatives of the Coordinating Struggle of Athens schools.
The rally and march caused traffic chaos in central Athens between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. since traffic police had cordoned off several major routes leading to and from the city center.
 Europarliament focuses on Yugoslavia during budget discussions
BRUSSELS, 27/10/2000 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)Europarliament on Thursday approved the first reading of the European Budget for 2001, giving priority to the section regarding aid to third countries, focusing on the Balkans.
Discussions in Strasbourg, seat of the Europarliament, centered on providing aid for Yugoslavia, following the recent presidential election victory of Vojislav Kostunica.
The European elected body gave priority to the reconstruction of Yugoslavia, taking under advise, however, notes of deputies that this priority would not take place at the expense of other Mediterranean countries.
 Energy sector and future of Public Power Corporation discussed
Athens, 27/10/2000 (ANA)The energy sector and especially the future of the Public Power Corporation (DEH) was the focal point of the meeting of Prime Minister Costas Simitis with Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Thursday.
DEH President Dimitris Papoulias, DEH General Director Stergios Nezis and DEH employees' representative Nikos Exarhos were also present at the meeting.
Following the meeting, Christodoulakis said that plans for the corporation's restructuring were finalized, while its business plan would be completed soon and beginning in January presentations will be held for domestic and foreign investors aiming to complete the privatization of the company by June.
He added that DEH was also investing in telecommunication services as it already established a subsidiary to undertake the development of such services based on the company's extensive energy network throughout the country.
Christodoulakis also announced that a tender regarding the distribution of natural gas in Attica was successful, adding that an international group of companies made a "very good offer", so soon tens of thousands of homes would be connected to the natural gas network under construction.
Speaking on the heating fuel prices, creating problems to lower income families, Christodoulakis said that the government would take care to relieve them.
He stressed that the government, adopting European Union policy, would promote alternative forms of energy, such as natural gas, adding that within the next few days the government would announce details of a 30 billion drachma program regarding renewable energy sources.
During the meeting, Christodoulakis said, the premier confirmed the "good climate of cooperation" between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), adding that they also discussed prospects of Greece's presence in the Balkan energy sector.
"We are planning to visit Serbia soon, a country with great needs in electricity and oil, so as with suitable agreements to be able to aid in rebuilding the neighboring country," Christodoulakis said.
On his part, Exarhos said that the employees supported the plans of the company in expanding its role in new services.
 Uncertain economic outlook due to dollar, fuel hikes
Athens, 27/10/2000 (ANA)The outlook for the domestic economy contains some uncertainty due to the US dollar's surge against the euro on world markets and steep hikes in fuel prices, a think tank said on Thursday.
The Institute of Industrial and Economic Research (IOBE) said in its quarterly report that the two factors would have an adverse impact on the economy if they persisted.
Despite the possible problem, the country's economic indicators were healthy, IOBE said.
 Tunisia seeks closer economic ties with Greece
Athens, 27/10/2000 (ANA)Tunisia seeks closer economic ties with Greece. That was the message delivered by a delegation of Tunisian businessmen to their Greek counterparts at a special event held at the Federation of Greek Industries' (SEB) offices in Athens, on Thursday.
Tunisian businessmen urged Greek businessmen to invest in their country taking advantage of a stable economic environment and a free access deal agreed with the European Union in 1995.
Tunisian ambassador in Greece, Mr. Ali Hachani, said that his country's economic performance was offering new directions in a drive towards closer bilateral relations.
"Tunisia has shown stable economic growth in recent years, with GDP growth rates at an annual 6.0 percent, and is one of the most deregulated economies in the Northern Africa and the Middle East regions," SEB's chairman N. Antonakopoulos said on Thursday.
Greek-Tunisian trade totalled 38.4 million US dollars in 1999, with Tunisia showing a trade deficit.
The country's inflation rate ranges at 2.7 percent in recent years, with a forecast of 2.4 percent this year.
France tops the league of foreign investors in Tunisia. Greece is at the bottom of the table with only one Greek company operating in Tunisia.
The Tunisian government is implementing an ambitious privatization program. It has completed the privatization of 150 state enterprises and plans to sell another 63 companies by 2001.
 Survey shows positive outlook for construction shares
Athens, 27/10/2000 (ANA)Greek listed construction companies' prospects were positive despite recent sharp falls, a survey by the Federation of Listed Companies showed on Thursday.
According to the report, listed construction companies are expected to increase their turnover to record-levels in 2000, with an annual increase of at least 30 percent from 1999, while pre-tax profits are expected to rise by at least 18 percent from the previous year.
The sector's combined turnover rose 39.2 percent in the first six months of the year, from the corresponding period in 1999, while pre-tax profits rose 23.5 percent over the same period. Combined equity capital rose 111 percent to one trillion drachmas, the report said.
Construction companies were recording annual rates of operations of 39 percent this year, along with high rates of liquidity, credibility and creditworthiness, and the sector's P/E is currently at very low levels.
 New hi-tech channels for banking sales to grow in Greece
Athens, 27/10/2000 (ANA)The sale of banking and financial services through the inter-net, mobile phones and interactive digital television is growing in Greece but is still minor in relation to other western European countries, speakers told a conference on the sector.
In five years from now, domestic penetration of the three mediums is estimated at 40 percent of the population for the internet from 7.0 percent currently; 80 percent for mobile phones from 40 percent; and 8.0 for interactive digital television, which has just made its debut, a senior EFG Eurobank Ergasias executive, Dimitris Mavroyiannis, said on Thursday.
He was addressing a two-day conference held by the Economist business magazine and Hellenic-British Chamber on information technology.
EFG Eurobank was the only Greek bank to use the three channels, and one of the few in the world to offer goods and services via digital TV, in EFG's case, Nova, Mavroyiannis said.
On Wednesday, the first day of the conference, Deputy Development Minister Milena Apostolaki had said that Greece, which lagged other western countries in its information technology infrastructure, needed to adopt the culture and work hard to catch up,
At the same time, the country's position could be viewed as an asset as there were no precedents to hinder progress, Apostolaki added.
 Winner announced in natural gas tender
Athens, 27/10/2000 (ANA)The Cinergy consortium won a government tender to find a strategic investor for the Attica Natural Gas Supply Company.
Cinergy offered 57.930 million drachmas, well ahead of the next bidder.
The project to supply Attica with natural gas is due for completion by 2004, when Athens will host the Olympic Games.
 Gov't launches part-float for Piraeus Port Authority
Athens, 27/10/2000 (ANA)The government on Thursday took a fresh step in arranging a part-flotation on the Athens Stock Exchange for Piraeus Authority.
A ministerial committee approved the creation of a company that will undertake the port authority's management.
National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis signed the decision.
Also endorsed were the appointment of Bank of America as adviser in the share sale, and Cantor Consultants to help with planning and restructuring of the port authority.
 Passenger shipping group to study fare hikes
Athens, 27/10/2000 (ANA)The Passenger Shipping Review Committee will convene on Monday to examine a request by the Union of Passenger Shipping Ship owners for increases in ticket prices. No increase in passenger ships' ticket prices has been endorsed over the past two years.
Ship owners had requested an extraordinary 10 per cent increase from Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis in June, due to the increase in the dollar parity and the rapid increase in fuel prices.
The request had not been examined during the summer months, while Papoutsis had said during a recent visit to Thessaloniki, northern Greece, that an increase in ticket prices will be examined in October.
 Greek stocks end mixed in subdued trade
Athens, 27/10/2000 (ANA)Equity prices ended mixed to higher in subdued trade on the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, with smaller capitalization stocks suffering heavy losses while blue chip stocks remained in demand.
Traders said the Greek bourse was steadily becoming a two-tier market.
The general index ended 0.63 percent higher at 3,772.72 points, with turnover a low 57.116 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 1.07 percent higher at 2,199.77 points, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index fell 1.52 percent to 429.87 points.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: 8,069.08 +1.43% Leasing: 532.34 -0.18% Insurance: 1,888.66 -0.09% Investment: 1,302.62 -4.20% Construction: 1,535.26 -5.21% Industrials: 2,191.57 +0.93% Miscellaneous: 3,239.51 -0.85% Holding: 4,089.66 +0.62%
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended 3.16 percent lower at 404.26 points.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 271 to 71 with another 12 issues unchanged.
Hellenic Telecoms, Alpha Bank, Hellenic Bottling, National Bank, Commercial Bank, Panafon and Intracom were the most heavily traded stocks.
Leading shares' closing prices (in Drs): Alpha Bank: 14,595 Eurobank: 10,600 Panafon: 3,395 Lambrakis Press: 6,500 National Bank: 14,985 Hellenic Petroleum: 3,790 Commercial Bank: 18,550 Attica Enterprises: 2,900 Heracles Cement: 4,900 Intracom: 10,330 Minoan Lines: 2,040 Hellenic Telecoms: 7,305 Piraeus Bank: 6,125 Titan Cement (c): 14,280 Hellenic Bottling: 5,670
Equity futures end mixed, tracking Athens bourse: Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished mixed on Thursday, in line with the bourse indices on which they are based.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 1.07 percent up, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 1.52 percent lower.
Turnover was 14.7 billion drachmas.
A total of 2,684 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 with turnover at 11.7 billion drachmas.
On the FTSE/ASE 40 index, 1,705 contracts changed hands on turnover of 2.9 billion drachmas.
Bond prices slip in sell-oriented trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Thursday finished lower in scant trade with players seen 10- and 20-year paper.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.977 percent from 5.941 percent a day earlier.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 74 basis points from 73 basis points in the previous session.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 86 billion drachmas from 32 billion drachmas in the trading day before.
Of the total, sell orders accounted for 62 billion drachmas of trade.
Battered euro pushes drachma to record-lows against US dollar: The Greek drachma fell to new record-lows against the US dollar on Thursday following the euro currency's fall to record lows against the dollar for a second consecutive day in international foreign exchange markets.
The US currency's rate rose to 409.820 drachmas per dollar at Thursday's fixing, up from 408.190 drachmas the previous day.
The drachma was also lower against the euro at 339.530 drachmas per euro, from 339.480 at Wednesday's fixing.
 Greek publishers report lively interest in Greek titles at Belgrade book fair
BELGRADE, 27/10/2000 (ANA - M. Mouratidis)The 45th International Book fair of Belgrade began on Thursday under the auspices and blessing of Serb Orthodox Patriarch Pavlos, with participation of publishers from Greece, the Serb Republic of Bosnia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Russia, Italy and Iran.
The book fair is dedicated to 2,000 years of Christianity.
The federation of publishers and booksellers, who between them are presenting 600 titles in all categories, represents Greece.
So far, interest in the Greek pavilion has been lively, while Greek publishers said they were seriously considering cooperating with Yugoslav publishing houses and possible sales of Greek titles in Yugoslavia.
 Forest land in various areas destroyed by fires will be reforested
Athens, 27/10/2000 (ANA)Forestland on the island of Spetses destroyed by fires will be reforested by decision of the Attica Regional Department. The decision affects about 1,500 acres of forestland destroyed by fires in July and August this year.
Previous decisions taken by the same service have also ordered reforestation for forestland destroyed in Hymettus, Kalamos, Troizina and the island of Kythira.
 Verelis urges drivers to be more careful, in order to reduce traffic accidents
Athens, 27/10/2000 (ANA)Transport Minister Christos Verelis appealed to drivers to be more careful on Thursday, in view of an anticipated mass exodus by city-dwellers for the October 28 national holiday on Saturday.
"Given that the driver very often contributes to creating accidents, we can greatly contribute to a reduction in traffic accidents if we drive carefully," the minister said.
 Cyprus Government to temporarily freeze number of foreign bank accounts
NICOSIA, 27/10/2000 (CNA/ANA)Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou announced on Thursday the temporary freezing of a number of foreign bank accounts, which are mainly in the name of offshore companies, after a request submitted by Carla del Ponte, Prosecutor of the International Tribunal for War Crimes in The Hague.
Papapetrou said that these accounts would be frozen until investigations into whether they are connected to persons in Yugoslavia, including former President Slobodan Milosevic, were wrapped up.
Responding to questions, Papapetrou said that the Tribunal has been set up by the United Nations and that "according to the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus and our international obligations, we must cooperate towards this direction".
Investigations will also be carried out by the Law Office, the Central Bank and the ad hoc Ministry. Papapetrou said it was still not clear whether a number of bank accounts were still open or if they contained any sum, adding that "we are not putting Milosevic on trial, but meeting our obligations".
He also said that initial investigations did not provide any evidence.
 UN envoy assures basis of Cyprus talks unchanged
NICOSIA, 27/10/2000 (CNA/ANA)The UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, reassured on Thursday that the basis of the Cyprus talks had not changed, adding that relevant UN Security Council resolutions talk about certain principles, but do not spell out in detail how the matters must be solved as part of a comprehensive settlement.
Speaking after meetings with Cypriot political party leaders, de Soto said innovations must be made in order to solve certain issues, on which the resolutions are unclear.
Commenting on reactions regarding a statement made by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the start of the fourth round of proximity talks on the Cyprus problem, de Soto said "the Secretary-General has alluded to the question of the political equality in the statement he made on September 12".
The UN diplomat said Annan "made it very clear that this is a matter that needs to be negotiated as part of a comprehensive settlement in order to give it a practical meaning".
Annan said in his statement, read out to President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash on September 12, first day of the fourth round of proximity talks held in New York, that the equal status of the parties must and should be recognized explicitly in the comprehensive settlement to be reached on the Cyprus problem, noting that each side represents itself and no-one else.
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. A fifth round is scheduled to start on November 1, aimed a preparing the ground for substantive negotiations, leading to a comprehensive settlement.
Referring to Cyprus' European Union (EU) accession course, de Soto noted "the importance of the new factor of the move towards Europe in assisting in our effort", but pointed out that "the question of accession to the EU is a matter, which is not in the field of responsibility of the UN".
He said Cyprus' EU accession process and the UN peace talks "are quite separate processes", adding that "the question of EU accession is not an item on the agenda of the negotiations for a comprehensive settlement as such, but we consult with the EU".
Responding to questions, de Soto said "the basis of the talks has not changed" and that "the Secretary-General has begun this new effort as mandated by the Security Council".
He added that Annan "has spelled out the issues, which he considers must be solved", noting that "the Security Council resolutions talk about certain principles, parameters, but they do not spell out in detail how the matters must be solved as part of a comprehensive settlement".
The UN diplomat said "a comprehensive settlement must address in considerable detail, far beyond what a Security Council resolution can do, and in legally binding terms how each issue must be resolved, so they are rather general in nature and that is why I say we have to tread on new ground and innovate".
The UN envoy met on Thursday with President of right-right Democratic Party Tassos Papadopoulos and President of the Movement of Social Democrats Vassos Lyssarides.
On Wednesday, he visited the areas of the Republic under Turkish occupation and met with Turkish Cypriot political party leaders.