|Monday, 27 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-10-31
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Clerides outlines positions on Cyprus problem in exclusive interview with ANA
NICOSIA, 31/10/2000 (ANA - G. Leonidas)Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, in an exclusive interview with the ANA on Monday, said that he did not rule out Camp David-style talks on the Cyprus issue when conditions were ripe and if this was necessary for an agreement to be reached. He underlined, however, that the time for this had not yet come.
Cyprus' participation in such a negotiations, he added, would depend on the conditions and prospects that would emerge and things had not yet reached that stage.
President Clerides departs for Geneva on Tuesday to participate in the fifth round of UN-led proximity talks for a comprehensive settlement of the problem due to begin on Wednesday.
Clerides also spoke about a possible role for the European Union in upcoming Cyprus talks, while he ventured the opinion that Cyprus' EU accession prospects were an important motivating factor for the Turkish side and a means of pressure for it to show political will for a solution.
The Cyprus president said that the two sides were no closer to a solution after the last round of talks in New York, but noted that the international community was now showing intense interest in finding a solution, which had led to a greater number of informal ideas and greater activity around the issue.
"I am aware that this will continue and I've been told that the goal is to reach the stage where we (the Cyprus government and the Turkish-Cypriots) can both be presented with an outline of a comprehensive solution."
He qualified, however, that this would mean direct and meaningful negotiations between the two sides.
Clerides ruled out any form of solution based on a confederation and reiterated that Cyprus was seeking a solution based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation arising from the two high-level agreements made by former Cyprus presidents with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and UN resolutions, and which was in accordance with human rights, international law and EU practice.
A EU representative, he added, could be of assistance on the sidelines of proximity talks, to provide ideas and advice that would ensure that any agreement was compatible with EU laws.
He also stressed that, while Cyprus' EU accession and a solution to the Cyprus problem were independent, the benefits for the Turkish-Cypriot community if they became part of the EU within the framework of a federal state would help create more effective resistance to Ankara's current policies for Cyprus.
 Andrew Athens praises US presidential candidate Al Gore
CHICAGO, 31/10/2000 (ANA)United Hellenic American Congress (UHAC) National President Andrew A. Athens on Monday praised US presidential candidate Al Gore and thanked him for announcing his policy on Cyprus and for his dedication to finding a solution to the Cyprus conflict in accordance with relevant UN resolutions.
"The statement by Vice President Mr. Gore is dynamic and clear and will serve American interests and will help peace in this problematic region of the Mediterranean," said Athens, who is also President of the Council of Hellenes Abroad.
In his statement on Cyprus, Gore had said "if I am elected President, Cyprus will be one of my priorities in foreign policy. My government will continue to support the relevant resolutions of the UN's Security Council which call for a bicommunal federation with two zones which will unite Cyprus."
 Dutch PM Kok lauds Helsinki summit's effect on Greek-Turkish relations
ISTANBUL, 31/10/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)The Helsinki summit did much to improve Greek-Turkish relations, visiting Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok said here while arriving for an official trip.
"The decision in Helsinki (to approve of Turkey's status as an EU member-state) is indicative of the improvement in Greek-Turkish relations," Kok said during a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Bulent Ecevit.
"Without Helsinki things would be very difficult," he added.
Gov't criticizes latest Yilmaz statements: The government on Monday said recent statements attributed to veteran Turkish politician Mesut Yilmaz offered "negative service" to the issue of Greek-Turkish rapprochement.
The Greek government spokesman, however, said it remains to be verified whether statements by Yilmaz, the current Turkish deputy premier in charge of European affairs, were actually attributed correctly.
If correct, spokesman Dimitris Reppas said, then "Yilmaz isn't speaking the language of friendship."
 Prime Minister chairs meeting on revising constitution
Athens, 31/10/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Monday chaired a meeting at the Maximos Mansion on the revision of the constitution, while the ruling PASOK party's general rapporteur on the issue Evangelos Venizelos said the Constitution Revision Committee has accomplished very good preparation and the issue is mature for discussion in Parliament.
Venizelos said the government tried to shape the widest possible consensus everywhere, adding that "we shall insist on this policy and only deviate where this is not feasible due to ND's bad faith" but noting that "it has also understood that it should contribute."
He further said the process of revising the constitution is the greatest political event taking place in the country at this time, since the charter for the 21st century is being shaped.
 Karamanlis says mudslinging against him aimed at passing message that 'they are all the same'
Athens, 31/10/2000 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis said on Monday he had expected a mudslinging campaign against him, regarding his assets, adding that the purpose of the campaign was aimed at passing the message that "they (politicians) are all the same."
Karamanlis, who was addressing a meeting of party cadres, said "well, we are not all the same. This is a fascist mentality, nihilism and an effort at leveling."
He further said "I expected it and I knew that I would find myself at the epicenter of defamation. They are struggling now to find things, which have been known for years because we are carrying out a pure and honorable struggle, which we shall win. I have hidden nothing, I fear nothing and I have not had transactions with the public sector."
Karamanlis said the government's signs of fatigue and inability to handle the country's problems are visible, adding that it is a tired government of the past. He also accused the government of arrogance and authoritarianism and of having the mentality of a regime.
Referring to Greek-Turkish relations, Karamanlis said the government's policy of appeasement did not solve problems but complicated them even further.
Karamanlis also stressed that the policy applied by Prime Minister Costas Simitis does not produce results because the country appears vulnerable to pressures and attracts pressures from international factors.
 Athens reiterates support for Bucharest's EU prospects
Athens, 31/10/2000 (ANA)Alternate Foreign Minister Elizabeth Papazoi on Monday received her visiting Romanian counterpart Eugen Dizmarescu in Athens.
Papazoi reiterated Athens' support for Bucharest's EU orientation and the speedy promotion of accession negotiations between the Union and Romania, while she offered Greece's support towards providing know-how in Community procedures.
Additionally, the two officials discussed Bucharest's standing request that EU countries' visa requirements for Romanian nationals be lifted sometime in the near future.
 Karamanlis, Kaklamanis discuss bill on National Radio and Television Council
Athens, 31/10/2000 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis on Monday called on Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis and briefed him on his positions concerning the draft bill on the National Radio and Television Council, which is coming up for debate at the plenum.
Karamanlis said that it was an issue of great importance, which concerns the quality of democracy and transparency. He expressed concern over what he termed the immunity in this sector, but also on the timing selected for the bill to be tabled and on its contents.
Responding to Karamanlis' remarks, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the government wishes for the establishment of the Council in such a way, which will constitute a genuine independent authority and would not "degenerate into an intra-party committee".
 KKE's Papariga calls for solidarity towards Palestinians
Athens, 31/10/2000 (ANA)Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga on Monday proposed the creation of what she called a solidarity movement for the Palestinians at the social and political level.
Papariga, speaking at a press conference, had visited Palestinian self-rule territories and Israel last week.
She said the development of a solidarity movement was necessary by sending pharmaceuticals and foodstuffs, which the Palestinians are in absolute need of, and called on the Greek government to declare its position on the issue of self-determination and the creation of a Palestinian state.
She also expressed the view that the Palestinians' latest uprising is a political struggle aimed at vindicating their national aspirations.
Referring to her contacts with the Israeli Communist Party, Papariga said the meeting between the two sides took place in a village located 50 km outside Jerusalem, adding that Palestinians and Israelis live in harmony in the village and have a common school.
The Palestinian Authority's envoy to Athens, Abdallah Abdallah, who attended the press conference, thanked Papariga for her visit to the region, while adding that the Palestinians will continue their uprising regardless of price and until their national targets are fulfilled.
 Minister says foreign children achieving high grades in northern Greece to receive scholarships
Athens, 31/10/2000 (ANA)Minister of Macedonia and Thrace George Paschalidis said on Monday scholarships will be enacted for foreign children achieving high grades in schools in northern Greece, adding that the first pupil to receive this scholarship will be Odysseus Cenai from Albania.
Paschalidis, who was speaking after receiving Cenai, 15, and his parents at his office, went on to say "the 20s in grades that young Odysseus achieved at his school are worth much more than the medals won by the Olympic medallists at the Sydney Olympic Games."
Cenai found himself in the middle of a furore last week when parents of many pupils at his school objected to his holding the Greek flag at a traditional parade held on the October 28 national holiday, arguing that a non-Greek cannot hold the Greek flag. Their views were shared by many people in the coastal township of Nea Michaniona, near Thessaloniki, where the school is located.
Television channels gave widespread publicity to the issue and many views were heard both in favor and against the Albanian boy holding the Greek flag during the parade.
Education Minister Petros Efthymiou supported the right of the Albanian student to carry the flag and said that his ministry was considering a formal decision on this issue, since the case was not unique.
Referring to the people of Nea Michaniona, Paschalidis said he would meet and talk with them during the next few days and call on the Cenai family at their home "for a cup of coffee."
Cenai told reporters the flag issue was a great experience for him and that he received the message that he should "continue to study very hard."
 Turkish ambassador hosts reception on occasion of republic anniversary
Athens, 31/10/2000 (ANA)Justice Minister Mihalis Stathopoulos represented the government at a reception given by Turkish Ambassador to Athens Ali Tuigan on Monday on the occasion of the 77th anniversary of the declaration of the Turkish republic.
Also present, among others, were main opposition New Democracy (ND) party deputies, Foreign Ministry officials and businessmen.
Meanwhile, the Greek-Turkish Business Council will convene in Athens on Thursday and Friday.
Earlier on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis reassured that the procedure for the ratification of the Greek-Turkish agreements on the so-called low-key issues would proceed as soon as possible.
Beglitis underlined that "the Greek government attributes particular importance to the speedy ratification of the nine agreements which have already been signed between the two countries".
 Gov't report warns of possible cost increase for 5 Olympic projects
Athens, 31/10/2000 (ANA)Construction costs for five Olympic projects may exceed initial estimates, Greece's public works ministry stated in a recently submitted report on 2004 preparations handed over to the Greek prime minister.
According to the report, "imperfections and oversights" in initial studies could lead to supplementary works for five Olympic venues originally dubbed the "orphaned projects" by local media because of delays in formulating and assigning their construction contracts. The public works ministry was finally given the go-ahead to build the projects.
The report comes on the heels of a Monday meeting between the head of the Athens 2004 organizing committee (ATHOC), Culture Minister Theodoros Pangalos, in charge of the ministry under which ATHOC falls under administratively, and Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis.
In terms of the "orphaned" projects, expropriation decrees for properties envisioned as the Olympic rowing and kayak center at the eastern Attica site of Schinias have been posted, with a relevant design study set to be awarded by the end of the year.
The coastal Schinias site, near one of the few remaining marshland sites in the greater Athens area, has been at the epicenter of a campaign by several local environmental groups opposed to the Olympics-related construction.
Additionally, the ministry says a contract to design an Olympic sailing complex on a choice coastal strip - the Agios Kosmas site - across from the current Athens airport will also be awarded by the end of the year, whereas the design contract for a canoe-slalom facility near the ancient battlefield of Marathon, eastern Attica, is set to be awarded in the next few days.
Finally, a contract for facilities set to be constructed on land that once housed an airbase next to the current airport, the Hellenikon suburb, will be awarded in January.
Another area in the report handed to PM Costas Simitis focused on road works and mass transportation projects, an all-important 2004 chapter for traffic-congested Athens.
The latest whirlwind of meetings by ATHOC executives and top government ministers comes in light of a crucial visit by an International Olympic Committee (IOC) delegation to Athens late next month.
On Friday, Pangalos reiterated that whoever wins a pending horse racetrack concession is obliged to fulfill all the conditions set out in a relevant tender, including construction of an Olympic equestrian facility in northern Athens and a five-venue, multipurpose sports complex on the current racetrack site, the Faliro Delta site.
 Government announces plan for dual pricing system
Athens, 31/10/2000 (ANA)Greece on Monday unveiled a detailed plan for a dual pricing system ahead of the introduction of the euro currency in the country.
Development Deputy Minister Milena Apostolaki and Finance Deputy Minister Apostolos Fotiadis signed a joint ministerial decision envisaging that Greek companies, including banks, were obliged to a dual pricing of their products and services from January 1, 2001.
Private sector companies with a workforce of less than 10 people would be obliged to a dual pricing system from March 1, 2001.
The conversion of savings from drachmas to euros will be made by the end of next year, unless a bilateral agreement was made for a quicker implementation. All savings transactions will be made in euros from January 1, 2002.
 Greek stocks remain range bound on ASE
Athens, 31/10/2000 (ANA)Equity prices ended Monday's session with minor changes reflecting subdued trading conditions and low liquidity on the Athens Stock Exchange.
Traders said investors remained on the sidelines despite the fact that several stocks shares were trading at very attractive P/E levels.
The general index fell 0.01 percent to 3,762.46 points, with turnover a low 39.18 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks eased 0.06 percent to 2,194.46 points, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index ended at 429.67 points, off 0.33 percent.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: 8,054.98 +0.36% Leasing: 533.84 +1.82% Insurance: 1,877.70 -0.15% Investment: 1,279.49 -0.18% Construction: 1,541.03 -0.25% Industrials: 2,177.22 -0.29% Miscellaneous: 3,197.26 -0.65% Holding: 4,157.03 -0.63%
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended 1.11 percent higher at 408.93 points.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 220 to 118 with another 20 issues unchanged.
Hellenic Telecoms, Alpha Bank, National Bank, Piraeus Bank and Hellenic Bottling were the most heavily traded stocks.
Leading shares' closing prices (in Drs): National Bank: 14,960 Alpha Bank: 14,650 Commercial Bank:
18,410 Eurobank: 10,650 Piraeus Bank: 6,130 Lambrakis Press: 6,805 Heracles Cement: 5,000 Titan Cement (c): 14,250 Hellenic Telecoms: 7,340 Panafon: 3,400 Hellenic Petroleum: 3,690 Attica Enterprises: 2,900 Intracom: 10,250 Minoan Lines: 2,055 Hellenic Bottling: 5,460
Equity futures end mixed, tracking Athens bourse: Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished mixed on Monday, in line with the bourse indices on which they are based.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 0.06 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 0.33 percent lower.
Turnover was 8.2 billion drachmas.
A total of 1,260 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 with turnover at 5.56 billion drachmas.
On the FTSE/ASE 40 index, 1,503 contracts changed hands on turnover of 2.6 billion drachmas.
Bond prices nose up in thin trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Monday finished up flat in scant trade.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.952 percent from 5.94 percent a day earlier.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 73 basis points from 73-74 basis points in the previous session.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 32 billion drachmas from 62 billion drachmas in the trading day before.
Of the total, buy orders accounted for 20 billion drachmas of trade.
Drachma down vs. euro, up vs. dollar: The drachma on Monday 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 339.620 drachmas from 339.560 drachmas in the previous session.
Also at the fix, the dollar was set at 398.610 drachmas from 408.090 drachmas a trading day earlier.
The drachma has lost 21.5 percent against the US currency since the start of the year.
 European Commission says Greek levy on pharmaceutical imports contravenes EU treaties
BRUSSELS, 31/10/2000 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)Just one week after the European Commission threatened to take Greece to court over its pricing policies for pharmaceuticals, the community's executive branch said on Monday that it would take the eastern Mediterranean country to task over a duty levied on pharmaceutical imports.
The duty in question raises funds for the International Pharmaceutical Organization, but the Commission's announcement says that imposing such a levy on imports from other EU member-states contravenes EU treaties that forbid taxes that are equivalent to tariffs within the EU.
With regard to imports from third countries, member-states are obliged to impose the tariffs listed under the Common Tariff Policy but are not allowed to impose other levies that are equivalent to tariffs.
The Commission said it would couch its demand in a so-called "reasoned opinion" and that it would decide on whether to take the matter to court if it did not receive a satisfactory answer from the Greek government.
Last Tuesday the Commission said it was taking Greece to court over regulations for pharmaceutical wholesale prices, which it said created barriers to imports from other EU countries.
Under current Greek legislation, wholesale prices for drugs are controlled and cannot exceed the lowest price found in the EU for the specific range of pharmaceuticals.
This formula, according to a Commission statement, often leads to regulations being applied in a prejudicial manner, mostly against other EU countries' imports.
 Minister urges economic cooperation with Balkans
Athens, 31/10/2000 (ANA)Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Paschalidis on Monday called for economic cooperation with the Balkans, rather than penetration of the region as a market.
Addressing a seminar on European Union funds arranged by local authorities, Paschalidis said a bald policy of penetration by Greek enterprises could be construed as offensive by the countries involved.
 New passenger shipping operating licenses given for Cyclades and Dodecannese islands
Athens, 31/10/2000 (ANA)The Merchant Marine Ministry's Coastal Transport Advisory Committee decided on Monday to give new operating licenses for the Cyclades islands to the "NEL" and "Strintzis Lines" shipping companies, as well as to the "Attica Enterprises" for the Dodecannese islands.
The committee also proposed a 10 per cent increase in fares for passengers and vehicles. Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis will decide in the next few days on the final percentage of fare increases.
 Spata airport signs natural gas contract
Athens, 31/10/2000 (ANA)The Public Gas Company (DEPA) SA on Monday signed a contract with the Eleftherios Venizelos international airport, currently being built outside of Athens to replace the existing Hellenikon facility, to supply natural gas.
The gas is expected to start flowing by the end of the year, rising to more than 10 million cubic meters annually when the new airport at Spata launches operations in March 2001.
The natural gas will be used in heating and catering.
 Greece to build ecological house in European Homes Exhibition in Sweden
Athens, 31/10/2000 (ANA)Greece is taking part in this year's European Homes Exhibition in Sweden with an innovative Greek-designed ecological house, it was announced Monday.
In the context of the exhibition, to run from May-September 2001 in Malmo, Switzerland, a European village will be constructed comprising some 25 homes entered by various European countries, including Greece.
The Greek House will be constructed solely by materials produced in Greece, and will employ new 'clean' technologies in ecological construction and energy conservation.
The Greek House will be financed and constructed by the ABAX technical firm, and is estimated to cost 200 million dr. After the exhibition, the home will be sold to Swedish or other residents of Malmo.
Presenting the initiative at a press conference Monday, environment, town planning and public works deputy minister Elias Efthymiopoulos said that Greece must be present and have its own say in international programs.
He said the European exhibition aimed at informing and increasing the awareness of the European citizens on matters concerning ecological and sustainable town and building planning, the new clean technology ecological construction, and the use of renewable energy sources, and energy and water conservation techniques and systems.
The exhibition further aims at briefing the public on matters related to the harmonization of national policies along the guidelines of the relevant Community Directive on construction materials and the construction practices employed on the European markets.
 Building costs' index slows substantially in third quarter
Athens, 31/10/2000 (ANA)Greece's new home building costs' index rose 0.6 percent in the third quarter 2000 compared with the previous quarter with year-on-year growth slowing to 1.8 percent from 2.9 and 6.5 percent in the same periods of 1999 and 1998, National Statistics Service said on Monday.
The index had risen 0.6 percent and 1.7 percent in the same periods in 1999 and 1998 on a quarterly basis, respectively.
 Conference of British travel agents association ends on Kos
Athens, 31/10/2000 (ANA)The annual conference of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) ended on the Aegean island of Kos on Monday. The conference also celebrated the 50th anniversary since ABTA's foundation.
As announced the end of the conference, the head of the Hellenic Tourism Organization (EOT) Evgenios Yiannakopoulos referred to the importance of Greece for the British tourism market and noted the efforts being made to upgrade the quality of the Greek tourism product and deal with competition in the Mediterranean.
ABTA's management, which will be holding its next conference in Portugal, spoke about EOT's contribution to making the first ABTA conference held in Greece a success. More than 1,800 people attended the Kos conference, among them British travel agents, British and Greek tourism officials and British journalists.
 Turkish officials attend agricultural seminar on Crete
Athens, 31/10/2000 (ANA)The new common agricultural policy is the focus of a seminar being held at the Mediterranean Agricultural Center in Hania, Crete, attended also by Turkish officials.
The seminar, which is financed by the Greek Foreign Ministry, is also being attended by 20 senior officials of Turkey's ministries of agriculture, industry, commerce and forestry.
The seminar's sessions were opened on Monday by the Agriculture Ministry's general secretary Evangelos Tsekouras.
 Most Greek internet users visited in.gr, poll says
Athens, 31/10/2000 (ANA)Of Greek internet users, 90.5 percent visited in.gr in September, representing 2.6 million visits, the AGB Red Sheriff polling agency said in a survey.
The portal's owner, the Lambrakis Journalism Organization, said in a statement on Monday the survey showed that 373,545 computers tuned in to in.gr, 92 percent of them in Greece.
The market research agency IDC showed that Greece had 380,000 computers with internet links in September, allowing Lambrakis to work out its percentage of visitors at 90.5 percent, the statement said.
IDC said each computer had an average of 2.9 users, which meant a total of 990,000 users per quarter, Lambrakis added.
 Kokkalis gets US award for business contribution
Athens, 31/10/2000 (ANA)Socrates Kokkalis, owner of the Intracom Group, has received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement for his contribution to business.
Among other award-winners were BP Amoco Chairman Sir John Brown and Lord Rothschild, the stockbroker.
The award was presented at a ceremony in London on Saturday.
The Intracom Group has 4,500 staff and exports to 40 countries.
 Gov't releases bill on flight safety
Athens, 31/10/2000 (ANA)Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis on Monday released a bill on improving flight safety.
The bill harmonizes national legislation with specifications set by the International Civil Aviation Organization and with European Union rules.
In addition, the ministry is to create a commission of experts to investigate air safety and accidents.
 UN official says political refugees sheltering in Greece amount to 6,200
Athens, 31/10/2000 (ANA)Political refugees persecuted for political, religious and racial reasons who found shelter in Greece amount to 6,200, while the figure for the entire world totals 22,000,000 people.
Speaking at a press conference in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on Monday, the UN's High Commission representative for refugees Florida Rojas Rodriguez said political refugees coming to Greece are primarily Kurds from Iraq, Iran and Turkey, Afghans, Pakistanis and Africans.
Political asylum was requested by 1,528 foreigners last year, while predictions for this year anticipate the same level. Rodriguez said political refugees coming to Greece are much fewer than in other European countries.
Rodriquez arrived in Thessaloniki to inaugurate the first reception center for refugees and people requesting asylum, which will operate in cooperation with the municipality of Thessaloniki and the non-governmental organization "Social Solidarity."
 Interpol conference focuses on international terrorism, crime and illegal immigration
Athens, 31/10/2000 (ANA)Interpol's 69th conference opened on the island of Rhodes on Monday to examine, among others, crime at international level, economic crimes, illegal immigration and prostitution. About 700 policemen from 130 countries are attending.
Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis told reporters the conference would also be preoccupied with the issue of international terrorism and not terrorism in Greece.
Conference President Tashimori Kanemoto said Interpol's target is cooperation with the police forces of countries to crack down on crime since criminals have now found their own codes of communication in the Internet.
Addressing delegates, Chrysohoidis referred to assistance given to criminals by modern technology, adding that "high technology is accessible to criminals who have abolished the borders of countries, language, races and customs and habits."
He said organized crime is regrouping and readjusting rapidly to every political and economic change. Their resourcefulness in new methods of action is such, he added, that prosecuting authorities come behind developments and only react to events, without anticipating measures in advance.
Interpol's conference, taking place in camera, will come to an end on Saturday.
 Aegean, Cyprus, Thrace journalists meet on Aegean island of Hios
Athens, 31/10/2000 (ANA)A second meeting of journalists from Cyprus, Thrace and the Aegean ended on Monday after making six resolutions to reinforce the sector.
The meeting, in which 30 reporters from the three regions participated, was organized by the Poseidonian Cultural Information Center and the Homerian Arts Center of Hios municipality.
During the meeting, the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) said it would make its news service available to its colleagues from the Aegean and Thrace through its website, while a decision was made to establish two more Poseidonian centers in the Aegean and in Thrace.
The gathered journalists also decided to set up an informal Contact Committee to help implement decisions, while a date for the 3rd meeting was set for next summer at Aigeiros in Rodopi.
Another decision was to help organizations in Cyprus, Thrace and the Aegean get onto the Internet through the Poseidonian centers website, and to support and promote the centers magazine "Trireme."
 Non-use of natural gas at new International Airport a 'mistake'
Athens, 31/10/2000 (ANA)Environment, town planning and public works minister Elias Efthymiopoulos on Monday said it was a "big mistake" that the use of natural gas as an energy means had not been foreseen in the planning of Athens' new international airport at Spata.
He added that, apparently, the "time factor" had played a decisive role in this over oversight.
Efthymiopoulos also said that several obligatory regulations were being drafted aimed at the expansion and development of ecological construction in Greece.
He further said that a major challenge for Greece, in relation to ecological construction, would be the construction of the Olympic Village that will house the athletes and trainers from all over the world who will be competing in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, "unless in this case too, as in the case of Spata, the time factor works negatively".
 EDU Executive Secretary believes Cyprus will be among first candidate countries to join EU
NICOSIA, 31/10/2000 (CNA/ANA)Executive Secretary of the European Democrat Union (EDU) Alexis Wintoniak has expressed confidence that Cyprus will be one of the first countries to join the European Union (EU).
Wintoniak, who is visiting Cyprus at the invitation of right-wing Democratic Rally party (DISI), which is an EDU member, told a press conference on Monday he discussed with the DISI leadership ways of strengthening their cooperation as well as EU enlargement.
For EDU and the European People's Party "enlargement is the absolute top priority", he said, adding that Cyprus "from the point of view of economic and political developments, the rule of law and all the conditions of the Copenhagen criteria is certainly fulfilling all the criteria needed for EU membership".
Asked how the European Parliament could press Turkey to play a constructive role in a Cyprus settlement, he noted the conclusions of the Helsinki European Council held last December describing them as an "important step forward".
He said the conclusions pointed out that "the accession of Cyprus would be helped by a solution of the Cyprus issue, but that is not a precondition" for accession.
"The contacts and debates of the European Parliament but also of our parties with Turkish parties are very important", Wintoniak noted, adding the fact that Turkey became a candidate country for EU accession during the Helsinki summit "will or should" affect positively the country's stance on the Cyprus question.
"I am not a friend of exercising pressure", he said, noting that negotiations is the best way to solve problems.
Asked whether Cyprus will be included in the first wave of EU enlargement and on the timetable of enlargement, the Austrian politician said it is too early to talk about dates.
"What I am sure about," he added, "is that Cyprus will be in the first ones".
Invited to say whether the EU acquis communautaire should be part of the solution of the island's political problem, Wintoniak said "what we all hope for, is that a united Cyprus will be a member of the EU.
Then it comes clear that the acquis communautaire has to be implemented in all the territory of the member-states".
A new UN-led effort is underway to reach a settlement in Cyprus, divided since Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of its territory in 1974.
Cyprus started substantive accession negotiations with the EU in November 1998.
Meanwhile DISI officials announced that the Presidency of the Parliamentary Group of the European People's Party has accepted an invitation by the Cypriot ruling party to hold its next meeting on the island, between March 30-31 next year.
 US Ambassador says Washington wants speedy solution to Cyprus problem
NICOSIA, 31/10/2000 (CNA/ANA)US ambassador to Cyprus Donald Bandler stated here on Monday that Washington would like to have a solution to the Cyprus problem as quickly as possible. The US diplomat was received on Monday by President Glafcos Clerides.
Asked to comment on a statement attributed to US Presidential Emissary on Cyprus Alfred Moses that a Cyprus settlement would be reached by the end of the year, Bandler said "I share the optimism that this is a problem that should be solved."
He added "I don't know the timing. Of course, our view has always been to go at all due speed as quickly as we can."
President Clerides leaves on Tuesday for Geneva, where the fifth round of UN-led proximity talks will start November 1. Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash will also travel to Geneva for the talks.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.