|Wednesday, 22 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-02-01
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>February 1, 2002
 Simitis cites federal model towards EU's 'genuine political union'
BRUSSELS, 01/02/2002 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis continued his visit to Belgium on Thursday, a day after his address to the European Commission’s plenum and a joint press conference with Commission President Romano Prodi, by speaking at Bruge’s College d’Europe.
In his address, entitled “The Future of Europe: Economic and Social Cohesion in an Expanded European Union”, the Greek premier called for the evolution of the current 15-member bloc into a “genuine political union” based on a federal model.
He stressed that after the successful changeover to the euro in 12 out of the Union’s 15 member-states, the EU must now move rapidly in order to evolve into such a political union, warning however, that the Community’s “model of integration” must be respected in the process.
Echoing his statements before the Commission a day earlier, the Greek PM reiterated that EU expansion into eastern Europe and the Mediterranean – i.e. Malta and Cyprus – must be concluded, thereby allowing the Union to act as an enormous factor of stability, democracy and prosperity for the entire European continent.
Along these lines, Simitis said a robust and federated political union that also sports an eminently competitive economy guaranteeing full employment, social solidarity and economic balance must comprise the new “progressive vision” for Europe.
 Gov't and political parties condemn slanderous attack against Stephanopoulos
Athens, 01/02/2002 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Thursday became the target of a slanderous attack when his name was connected with illegal gambling operations in the Patra region, giving rise to speculation that he might resign and thus cause early Parliamentary elections.
Both the government and the opposition condemned the slanderous attacks against the president, expressing the opinion that the attack was aimed at democratic normalcy in the country.
In a written statement on Thursday night, President Stephanopoulos stressed that "it is extremely unpleasant for me that my name was involved in the issue of electronic games."
He further said that "I never imagined that any relation to activities contrary to the law and morals could be attributed to me" and expressed his appreciation to the political world and to all "who demonstrated their confidence and esteem for me."
Prime Minister Costas Simitis said the president is a model of moral standards.
"Mr. Stephanopoulos is a model of moral standards and all who are attacking him in the way we have seen are a model of wretchedness," Simitis said, adding that "their aim of destabilizing institutions shall not succeed."
Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis communicated to Stephanopoulos the high regard, respect and support of the members of the Greek Parliament.
In a related development, following a meeting of government and ruling PASOK officials, government spokesman Christos Protopapas spoke of a "heinous journalistic practice which was aimed at the president of the republic".
"This tactic meets with the universal reaction of the Greek people," Protopapas said, adding that the government expressed its deep respect and total trust in the president, a politician with a longtime and transparent course and one that is the model of ethics and honesty.
Protopapas also condemned any attempt to slander the name of Kostis Stephanopoulos and underlined that the government will not allow anyone to promote suspicious scenarios against democracy itself.
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) also condemned the slanderous attack against the president, as party spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said that the real target of the "unethical attack was democratic normalcy in the country and not Stephanopoulos, who is respected by all Greek people for his integrity".
"New Democracy, for some years now, time and again has been noting the dangers that are caused for the democratic institutions by the unchecked actions of non-institutional sources," Roussopoulos noted.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga met with the president in person and discussed the issue, saying on her departure from the meeting that her party would issue a press release on the matter on Friday morning.
Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos stressed that the president has worthily gained the recognition and respect of the Greek people and is surrounded by the respect of the Greek political world, in a press release issued by his party.
According to reports, the issue arose in connection with a building owned by the president since 1959 and rented out in 1997 to a company entitled "Vasilopoulos-Kontis" to be used as a restaurant and cafe bar.
The same sources, however, noted that the president never met with the owners of the business as the whole affair was handled by other persons, apparently his only connection to the affair was his ownership of the now rented out building.
ND leader: Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis telephoned to the president, but no details of their discussion were made available. However, it is considered certain that he expressed his support to the president.
PASOK secretary general: PASOK's Central Committee secretary Costas Laliotis said the integrity, honesty and moral standards of President Kostis Stephanopoulos are indisputable and have been confirmed in practice in a longstanding political and social course.
Laliotis said that every effort to tarnish the president is condemned unequivocally by PASOK in the most categorical manner, adding that wretchedness has its limits.
He further said that the Greek people have expressed and are expressing through time their absolute confidence and unlimited esteem and deep respect for the president of the republic.
Laliotis stressed that the Greek people will certainly not accept and not allow anyone to undermine the president of the republic and every unethical attack on his person is an act against democracy and its institutions.
 Greek, Turkish FMs expected to meet in New York
Athens, 01/02/2002 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou is expected to meet his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem early Friday Greek time in New York, on the sidelines of the sessions of the international Economic Forum which will not be held in Davos, Switzerland, for the first time this year.
According to sources, the two ministers will discuss procedural issues in view of the dialogue which will start soon at a level of experts.
In Athens, the government spokesman described the dialogue with Turkey as desirable and reiterated that the only difference which Greece recognizes is the limits of the continental shelf.
 Minister says public administration needs constant reform
Athens, 01/02/2002 (ANA)Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis, addressing a meeting of the Central Monitoring Committee for the "Politeia" program-me on Thursday, said permanent reform is necessary for the effective improvement of public administration and the creation of a relation of confidence with the citizen.
Skandalidis said the program's ultimate aim is a modern state and added that for this to be achieved decentralization should go ahead up to the lowest possible level, the state should adjust to the informatics society and a public administration with targets and results should be organized.
He said Citizens Service Centers, to be found all over the country by 2003, and their attachment to the operation of municipalities constitute the paramount expression of administrative decentralization.
Corruption and bureaucracy are handled through these centers, the time between taking a decision and carrying out an administrative act is shortened and the administration's obligation to compensate the citizen when it exceeds the specific time required for the outcome of his case is enacted.
 Athens, Nicosia reconfirm identity of positions on Cyprus
NICOSIA, 01/02/2002 (ANA - G. Leonidas)Athens and Nicosia reconfirm a complete identity of positions on all aspects of the Cyprus problem and daily coordination on the issue of the direct talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.
The positions of the two governments was reiterated on Thursday by Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Panayotis Beglitis and Cyprus government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou.
In a statement, Beglitis stressed that the position of the Greek government in its relations with Cyprus was a given fact, which is reconfirmed daily with the coordination of the two governments in the direct talks.
At the same time, he clarified that the responsibility lies with the Cypriot government, with the support always of the Greek government and the Greek political parties.
Papapetrou said that the Greek government, in all the various aspects of the Cyprus issue, supports and identifies itself fully with the positions which the Greek Cypriot side places at the negotiating table.
 Turkish army chief 'warnings' over Cyprus
ISTANBUL, 01/02/2002 (ANA)A wide cross-section of Turkey's dailies carried statements on Thursday reportedly made by Turkish army chief Gen. Hilmi Ozkiok during the latter's visit to the occupied parts of Cyprus recently, complete with ominous titles referring to the general's "warnings".
"Warning by the general" was "Hurriyet's" title, with the paper quoted as saying that in case a solution is gained from Turkish Cypriot Rauf Denktash's latest initiative, then a crisis in the Mediterranean will arise and "Turkey's armed forces will do their part".
"The army in favor of dialogue", the daily "Radikal" writes, adding that "Support from Turkish armed forces over a Cyprus solution."
"Ozkiok: The Mediterranean will boil", was the headline in the mass daily "Cumhurriyet", followed by a drop line reading: "Turkish armed forces ready".
Roughly one-third of Cyprus' territory remains occupied to this day by Turkish troops, almost 28 years after Ankara ordered an invasion of the island. A T/C pseudo-state in the occupied areas is recognized only by Turkey, whereas the internationally recognized Cypriot government in the free areas to the south has launched the island republic into a frontrunner status for EU accession in the upcoming expansion wave.
 Protopapas comments on Greek-Turkish affairs, Cyprus
Athens, 01/02/2002 (ANA)Bilateral dialogue with Turkey was permissible for problems concerning good neighborliness and cooperation whose resolution would make things easier for both sides, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Thursday.
With regard to territorial claims, the spokesman reiterated, the only bilateral difference with Turkey recognized by Greece was that of delineating the Aegean continental shelf.
Protopapas also stressed in response to statements by members of the Turkish military on Tuesday that the policy framework for a solution to the Cyprus problem was given. The United Nations considered the current state of affairs unacceptable and has asked that military forces on the island be withdrawn, as had the European Union.
"Every display of intransigence on Turkey's part leads it to complete isolation," the spokesman added.
Regarding references made by foreign minister George Papandreou to a rotating presidency on Cyprus, Protopapas said the foreign ministry had given the necessary clarifications and underlined that Greece supported the choices made by the government of Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides.
The foreign ministry announced on Wednesday that the references to a rotating presidency made by Papandreou had been simply a statement of the various ideas put forward, and not an assessment or proposal.
 Ecumenical patriarch says Greek-Turkish rapprochement beneficial
ISTANBUL, 01/02/2002 (ANA - G. Psylias)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, referring to Greek-Turkish rapprochement, said it benefits Turkey to join the European Union and Greece to have an eastern neighbor belonging to the civilized world and not threatening it.
Vartholomeos was speaking to Greek reporters during a dinner given in his honor on Wednesday night by Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis.
"We hope this new phase of Greek-Turkish dialogue will pro-duce results and will not disappoint us here and the people in Greece who favor the dialogue," he said, and called on Magriotis to convey his wishes both to the prime minister and the foreign minister.
Vartholomeos said the prayers of the Patriarchate will accompany these efforts for dialogue, adding that "we hope tomorrow will be better than today" and pointing out that dialogue is never harmful and should not be feared.
 Gov't spokesman on inter-religious conference
Athens, 01/02/2002 (ANA)Foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis said on Thursday Greece has made it clear to Turkish authorities, and Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem in particular, that Foreign Minister George Papandreou will not attend the inter-religious conference in Istanbul "if the Turkish Cypriot community participates in any way in an upgraded manner."
Beglitis said that on the part of Cem, and the Turkish foreign ministry in particular, there is full confirmation that the Turkish Cypriot community will participate in the Istanbul meeting with community status and that on the basis of this confirmation Papandreou and his Cyprus counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides will be participating in the conference.
The spokesman deplored statements recently made by various Turkish officials on the Cyprus issue, stressing that such statements do not contribute to the direct talks going on in Cyprus and prove Turkey's intransigent stance on the question of Cyprus.
Beglitis added that the statements do not come as a surprise since they have been expressed by Turkey over the past 30 years.
 New bill for Greek building permits law presented
Athens, 01/02/2002 (ANA)Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou on Thursday presented a new bill regulating the issue of building permits and other activities, saying it would be tabled in Parliament within February.
According to Papandreou the new bill would bring Greek law in line with European Union regulations and also correct problems in the previous system.
The hearing of a case brought against Greece for flouting EU directives has been set to begin on March 5.
Papandreou said that the new bill struck the best compromise between environmental concerns and the needs of development and investment safety.
Under the new bill, the initial town planning approval is replaced by a preliminary environmental assessment and evaluation. According to the minister, this change will achieve a balance between environmental and developmental concerns and simultaneously simplify the entire process, so that investors are safer and better informed and can proceed from the very first stages in the planning of their investment without surprises.
The new bill also introduces high, medium and low environmental impact categories for projects and activities so that they can be more easily monitored by local authorities, speeding up and also decentralizing the process.
 ND again tables motion for inquiry into 'illegal naturalizations' issue
Athens, 01/02/2002 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) again brought its demand for a committee of inquiry to focus on allegations of illegal naturalizations throughout the 1990s to Parliament's floor on Thursday.
This time around, however, the main opposition called for the "investigation into the legality of procedures in granting Greek citizenship between 1990 to Sept. 4, 2000," a period that also covers the period of 1990-93 when a ND government was in power. ND's last request was from 1996 to 2000.
ND rapporteur and former minister Vyron Polydoras cited what he called "mass naturalizations of people from the middle of Asia that voted in the 2000 elections." He also referred to "airborne brigades of naturalized" people flown into Greece on the eve of the elections from Cyprus.
"It is an admission of guilt if (ruling) PASOK refuses to establish the committee of inquiry," he charged.
In response, the majority's speaker on the issue, former transport minister Tassos Mantelis, said procedures to naturalize eligible individuals in Greece were based on a law passed by ND, whereas most naturalizations were approved by prefects affiliated with the main opposition party.
One of Mantelis' remarks chastising ND, namely, his statement that the main opposition has referred to repatriated ethnic Pontians as "Russian or Chechens .... and thus considers them all illegal" heightened tensions on the assembly's floor.
Finally, he stressed that various checks showed less than "500 serious irregularities".
On his part, the Communist Party of Greece's (KKE) rapporteur, Antonis Skyllakos, stated from Parliament's podium that there is no reason to establish such a committee of inquiry because ND has not tabled a motion charging electoral fraud in the April 2000 vote.
Instead, Skyllakos cited what he called an attempt by the two main parties, PASOK and ND, to "disorientate the people". As an example, he referred to various televised debates over the past week on the problem of illegal gambling, saying broadcasters are simply focusing on individual politicians and businessmen "instead on the liability for the existence of casinos (in Greece)", adding that the country is being transformed into a "massive casino".
Finally, Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) speaker Maria Damanaki called for the establishment of such a committee to investigate the problem of corruption in state services, as she called it. However, Damanaki also noted that ND has not questioned the validity of results from the April 2000 vote.
The latest spark in ND's more than year-long campaign to expose what it calls "mass naturalizations" came in the latter half of December, when Athens' top first instance courts prosecutor pointed to "responsibilities towards the committal of offences" by the interior, foreign affairs and public order ministers between 1996-2001.
A copy of the long-anticipated investigation by prosecutor Isidoros Dogiakos, which was forwarded to Parliament last month, charges that responsible ministers during the 1996-2000 period failed to "take measures and legislative action" in order to prevent the rambunctious naturalization of foreign nationals by the Greek state.
Another charge in the Dogiakos report asserted that the relevant ministries employed procedures that allowed private citizens to act as "liaisons" to an undetermined number of ethnic Greeks (Pontians) from the former Soviet Union as well as Russian citizens living on Cyprus.
The report also mentioned the "implementation of procedures not foreseen by specific and enacted legal provisions".
Parliament rejects ND motion for inquiry into 'illegal naturalizations' issue: Parliament rejected on Thursday a main opposition New Democracy (ND) motion for a committee of inquiry to focus on allegations of illegal naturalizations throughout the 1990s.
The motion was rejected as 147 deputies voted against it and 127 in favor.
Ruling PASOK insisted on its standing position that there were no criminal liabilities on the part of ministers for isolated mistakes, weaknesses or premeditated illegal actions by some public servants. PASOK, however, called for the continuation of a judicial inquiry.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) also voted against the motion, noting that the evidence did not point to criminal liabilities for ministers, while the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) accepted the creation of a committee of inquiry, but only to investigate the illegal actions of Greek consular authorities and those of local administrations, since it considered that the effort to focus the problem on governmental initiatives was "unfortunate".
 Protopapas rejects ND claim of secret PASOK account
Athens, 01/02/2002 (ANA)Government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Thursday rejected the existence of a secret account belonging to ruling PASOK in Germany, saying that PASOK had nothing to hide about to its finances.
"Everything is recorded in reports the party has drafted," Protopapas said.
He was responding to statements made by main opposition New Democracy deputy Vaggelis Meimarakis at Parliament's Institutions and Transparency Committee, regarding the existence of a German account.
Stressing that "such diversionary tactics are not acceptable," the spokesman also called on ND to answer regarding the Mayo Investments offshore account that the main opposition has been accused of using.
 Greek PASOK Eurodeputy proposes meeting with Arafat to socialist group presidium
BRUSSELS, 01/02/2002 (ANA-B. Demiris)The Europarliament's Socialist group presidium on Thursday adopted a proposal, tabled by ruling PASOK Eurodeputy George Katiforis, for a meeting of a delegation of Eurodeputies with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.
The presidium adopted the proposal for the meeting, which, according to the proposal aims at lifting the isolation imposed on Arafat by the Israeli government.
The socialist group of the Europarliament, next week, will table to the plenum the issue of the destruction of infrastructures funded by the European Union in Palestinian areas.
 Greece awards posthumous Medal of Honor to Cypriot independence fighter
Athens, 01/02/2002 (ANA)Gregoris Afxentiou, Greek Cypriot hero of the struggle for Cyprus' independence from British colonial rule, was awarded posthumously the medal of the "Star of Valor and Honor" of the Hellenic Republic, the Greek General Staff announced on Thursday.
Afxentiou was killed in action during the British military operations against Greek Cypriots in the late 50s. His death became internationally known as the young man who was burned alive in a cave in the mountains of Cyprus, having refused to surrender to the approaching British forces.
The decision for the posthumous award was made by former defense minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and former Chief of General Staff Manoussos Paragioudakis before they left their posts.
The award ceremony will take place on March 3 at Macheras, Cyprus and the eulogy justifying the award will include Afxentiou's struggle and ultimate sacrifice in defense of the Greek ideals.
 Greek energy groups unveil expansion plans
Athens, 01/02/2002 (ANA)Hellenic Petroleum, a listed Greek energy group, will play a leading role in an expanded European energy market, George Moraitis, the group's new chairman and chief executive said on Thursday.
Addressing an Economist's energy conference in Athens, in its second and last day, Moraitis noted that Hellenic Petroleum "is the biggest energy group in southeastern Europe and because of its geopolitical position is expected to play a decisive role in the regional market."
Moraitis stressed that the group has prepared a program to enhance its presence in regional markets. "A forthcoming strategic alliance will create the preconditions for the company to become a steady supplier of fuel in competitive prices in the region," he said.
Hellenic Petroleum also plans to boost its participation in the production and management in the hydrocarbon industry.
Moraitis said a precondition for the group's viability and development in a competitive energy environment "was and still is adopting an outgoing policy."
He noted that a decision by the Greek state (the biggest shareholder in Hellenic Petroleum) to sell up to 23 percent of the group's equity capital to a strategic investor was very significant.
Petrola's chief executive, Yiannis Costopoulos, addressing the conference said that Greek oil product companies were seeing some very important investment opportunities in the Balkan region as a result of a privatization drive in the region.
He noted, however, the these markets were hiding many risks (economic growth rates, legislation) for a successful activity of energy groups.
Costopoulos said that Greece, with a combination of initiatives and investments, could become an energy hub for the Balkans and the wider are, interconnecting East with western Europe.
Petrola, a member of Latsis Group of companies, in partnership with Lukoil, was participating in a tender to buy an equity stake in Hellenic Petroleum and was in partnership with German RWE in electricity power production.
Shell Europe's chairman, Adrian Loader, said that both oil and natural gas were finite products and that if consumption continued to grow in the future, it would be logical for markets to witness shortages.
"If and when that happens, prices will start rising and we could all function in a market characterized by real shortages," he said.
Loader stressed, however, that this kind of shortage was not evident today.
 Protopapas comments on farmers protests; roadblocks continue
Athens, 01/02/2002 (ANA)The government's attention was focused on farmers, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Thursday, while he also pointed to a commitment made by the European Commission to hasten the process for paying compensation to farmers for losses suffered in a recent spell of bad weather.
The Commission's announcement was made on Wednesday, after a meeting between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and European Commissioner for agriculture Franz Fischler.
Representatives of the farmers, meanwhile, warned that the protests would escalate on Monday, without revealing how, if their demands were not met by the government.
 Gov't: Decision on Monday over OA sale negotiations
Athens, 01/02/2002 (ANA)The government said it will announce on Monday whether negotiations over the sale of troubled state-owned Olympic Airways (OA) will continue with the one and only remaining consortium expressing interest in the deal.
During a press briefing in Athens on Thursday, the government spokesman echoed similar statements by Cabinet members and even Prime Minister Costas Simitis himself, namely, that the government wants a surefire solution that "doesn't burden the Greek taxpayers and facilitates the viability of the national carrier."
An Australian-US consortium, Integrated Airlines Solutions (IAS) - which of late has reportedly attracted Greece-based investors as well - remains in negotiations with the government for some 51 percent and the management of ailing OA.
A previous suitor dubbed as a front-runner to acquire OA, small Athens-based Axon Airlines, was expectedly eliminated the picture late last year after ceasing operations.
Bidder for Olympic Airways seeks extension to deadline: IAS, which is interested in acquiring national carrier Olympic Airways, has sought an extension to the deadline set by the government for submittal of its financial profile and a down payment, government sources said on Thursday.
According to the sources, the extension to Thursday's deadline was requested as pilots of Olympic were due to meet the same evening to discuss whether or not they would take part in the consortium, and how much they would contribute.
The government tacitly allowed an extension of a few days, the sources said.
 Turkey seeks to bring Greece into energy plan
Athens, 01/02/2002 (ANA)Turkey is seeking to become a gateway for the transportation of energy from the Caspian and central Asia to Europe, a plan in which Greece could play a major role, a Turkish government official said on Thursday.
Ankara and Athens were in talks for the creation of an electricity transmission line between the two countries, the Turkish deputy energy and natural resources minister, Yurdakul Yigitguden, told a conference in Athens arranged by the Economist magazine.
In addition, Turkey, Greece and Iran were evolving cooperation on the transportation of natural gas in which Greece could become a transit center for supplies towards the west, Yigitguden said.
Turkey which began importing natural gas from Iran and Tehran last year, was in talks with Athens for expansion of the network into Greek territory, he added.
As part of the plan, Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos met on Thursday with Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh.
"Iran has 17 percent of world natural gas reserves, ranking second after Russia. It wants to cooperate with Greece and Turkey to export the product," Zaganeh said.
"Iran's objective is not only domestic consumption in Greece, but also natural gas exports to the European Union market," he added.
On Wednesday, Zaganeh told the conference that Iran planned to increase the production of natural gas to more than 500 million cubic meters per day in 2005 from 300 million.
"We will boost our natural gas exports to Turkey to 10 billion cubic meters a year from 4.0 billion," he said.
 Titan Cement buys 70 pct stake in Kosjeric
Athens, 01/02/2002 (ANA)Titan Cement announced the signing of an agreement in Belgrade on Wednesday for the purchase of a 70 percent equity stake in Serbian cement producer Kosjeric for 35.5 million US dollars.
The agreement was signed with the Privatization Agency of Serbia.
Kosjeric's cement factory has a production capacity of 600,000 tones with a net liquidity of around 6 million US dollars in local currency, a sum likely to increase following completion of the stock sale agreement, in three months.
Under the agreement with the Serbian government, Titan Cement will have to invest 28.5 million US dollars in the company to increase its production capacity to more 800,000 tones.
Global Finance was the consultant to the deal.
 Piraeus Port Authority to go public
Athens, 01/02/2002 (ANA)The Piraeus Port Authority is to hold an initial public offer (IPO) for entry into the Athens Stock Exchange's main market, Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis said on Thursday.
Available will be 6,375,000 shares currently belonging to the state, representing 25.50 percent of the company's share capital, at a nominal value of 2.0 euros, Anomeritis said.
Also on sale to the port authority's staff are 303,000 stocks at 20 percent less than the price to be set in the IPO.
In addition, incentives will be provided for retail investors to hold stock with two free stocks to be given for each ten retained for six months. The ceiling is 200 free shares per investor, Anomeritis added.
 Binding bids for Hellenic Post Offices by March 8
Athens, 01/02/2002 (ANA)Deutsche Post of Germany, Netherlands Post Offices (TPG) and La Poste of France have until March 8 to submit binding bids in the part-privatization of Hellenic Post Offices.
The two short listed companies on Thursday were asked to submit their proposals on forging a strategic alliance that would be accompanied by a 10 percent holding in Hellenic Post Offices; and the creation of a joint venture in speed deliveries.
In addition, the process will begin this year for Hellenic Post Offices to enter the Athens Stock Exchange.
 Greek stocks end Thursday's session flat
Athens, 01/02/2002 (ANA)Equity prices ended Thursday's session flat reflecting investors' reluctance to open new positions in the market amidst high volatility in international markets and lack of positive news in the domestic market.
The general index ended 0.03 percent higher at 2,596.75 points, with turnover a low Dr 40.8 billion, or 119.7 million euros.
The Holdings, Wholesale and Textile sectors scored the biggest percentage gains (1.45 percent, 1.11 percent and 0.99 percent, respectively), while the Insurance, Cement and Telecoms sectors suffered the heaviest losses (0.74 percent, 0.35 percent and 0.28 percent).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.24 percent higher, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index rose 0.09 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 0.43 percent up.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 187 to 121 with another 52 issues unchanged.
The most heavily traded shares were Klonatex (common), Public Power Corporation, National Bank of Greece, Follie Follie, Naoussa Textiles and Giannousis.
Derivatives contracts up 83 pct in 2001: The number of contracts traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange rose by 83 percent in 2001 to total 4,358,866 against 2,381,260 in the previous year, market authorities said on Thursday.
Institutional investors increased their trade in the market in 2001 to 14.9 percent from 13.1 percent at the end of 2000, the authorities said.
Futures nose down in light trade: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange widened their discount slightly on Thursday, traders said.
Changing hands were 4,362 contracts on turnover of 27.1 million euros.
The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips gained 0.24 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks rose 0.09 percent.
Bond prices rise in heavy trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Thursday finished higher in heavy trade focusing on ten-year paper.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.31 percent, and the spread over German bunds was 37 basis points.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 2.8 billion euros.
Buy orders accounted for the lion's share of turnover.
 Athens 2004 progress to be reviewed in Salt Lake City
Athens, 01/02/2002 (ANA)Greek government officials at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City will reportedly focus on Olympic preparations for Athens' 2004 Games, the "Cultural Olympiad" as well as the long-sought return of the Parthenon Marbles from London in tandem with a planned Acropolis Museum.
Among others, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos departs for New York City and Salt Lake City this week, where he will inaugurate Greece's pavilion to promote the "Cultural Olympiad" in the Utah metropolis on Feb. 9, a day after the official opening of the Games.
Meanwhile, the head of the Athens 2004 organizing committee (ATHOC), Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, will lead a high-ranking ATHOC delegation to Salt Lake City as well.
Of particular importance is a briefing for the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) executive board by ATHOC executives on Feb. 2. Moreover, Angelopoulos-Daskalaki and Greek National Olympic Committee delegates will detail 2004 preparations at an IOC general assembly meeting on Feb. 4.
 2004 Olympics discussed at Karamanlis Institute event
Athens, 01/02/2002 (ANA)The "Cultural Olympiad" as well as the Olympics in general dominated an event on Wednesday evening in Kifissia organized by the Constantine Karamanlis Institute for Democracy.
Most speakers centered on the notion of the Olympics as a truly "national affair", whereas other cited what they called problems with the fulfillment of the country's obligations vis-a-vis the holding of the Games.
 Second tremor in Ileia prefecture
Athens, 01/02/2002 (ANA)A weak earthquake was recorded shortly after noon on Thursday in the Ileia prefecture, less than 24 hours after a larger quake in the region on Wednesday night, but no damage or injuries were reported in either case.
The Athens Observatory's Geodynamic Institute said a tremor registering 4.2 on the open-ended Richter scale was recorded at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday with its epicenter 175 kilometers southwest of Athens in the Andritsena region in Ileia prefecture, and was felt in the surrounding areas.
A larger trembler registering 4.7 on the Richter scale was recorded by the Patras University's Seismology Laboratory at 10:03 Wednesday night, with its epicenter in the Lala region of Ileia prefecture and coming from a depth of 16 kilometers below ground level, according to the Seismology Laboratory of Patras University.
Wednesday night's trembler was felt in the area of Pyrgos, causing concern among residents.
 Fulbright Foundation launches "EU-US relations" program
Athens, 01/02/2002 (ANA)The U.S. based Fulbright Foundation on Thursday announced the launching of a scholarship program on the study of "the European Union, and its relations with the United States".
According to a press release issued, interested candidates must be citizens of European Union member-states, actively involved in European Union affairs at a professional or academic level, perform at the highest levels and speak English proficiently.
 Clerides and Denktash hold seventh meeting on Cyprus problem
NICOSIA, 01/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash met on Thursday afternoon in Nicosia, to continue talks, under UN aegis, on solving the Cyprus problem.
The meeting, which lasted about 90 minutes, took place at premises near Nicosia airport, in the UN-controlled buffer zone.
This was an extraordinary meeting, in view to speed up the process. Clerides and Denktash had agreed to have three meetings a week, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
 Britain says direct talks are enormously important
LONDON, 01/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)British Minister for Europe Peter Hain reiterated here on Thursday his government would prefer a United Cyprus to join the EU but said that if this that will not be possible by the time the Cyprus government concludes its accession negotiations "then it will be entitled to gain membership of the Union just as any other of the applicant states is entitled if it successfully concludes the negotiations."
Speaking at a press conference Hain described the current process of direct talks on the Cyprus question between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot
Rauf Denktash as "enormously important" noting that "Britain played a role in helping to create the concepts on which those talks can proceed effectively, constructively, and successfully" and "will continue to be constructively and actively engaged."
The British official welcomed Cyprus "considerable progress" in its accession negotiations with the EU, noting that we want to see a united Cyprus, a bizonal, bicommunal Cyprus as a result of the current negotiations between President Clerides and Denktash. "That is by far most preferable option, a united Cyprus coming in the EU," he added.