|Thursday, 22 October 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-02-16
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>February 16, 2002
 PM, Cyprus House speaker discuss Cyprus issue, EU prospects
Athens, 16/02/2002 (ANA)Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Friday met with visiting Cyprus House of Representatives speaker Dimitris Christofias for talks on developments regarding the Cyprus issue and the island republic's EU membership course.
After the half-hour meeting, Christofias told reporters that he had a "cordial discussion and an in-depth exchange of views on the latest developments in the Cyprus issue and our joint effort".
Christofias arrived in Greece to attend the Euro-Mediterranean Conference of parliament presidents and house speakers.
He said they both hoped that the dialogue currently taking place would operate positively and produce results..." and for it to be a dialogue, both sides must speak the same political language and aspire to the same basic goal".
"The common goal that had once been decided is a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation. Mr. Clerides (Cyprus President Glafcos) remains consistent with that position, as also with the provisions of the UN resolutions, and we hope that the Turkish side will change philosophy so that we may speak the same tongue. To date, unfortunately, it speaks its well-known tongue, which in essence, means two sovereign states," Christofias added.
Kaklamanis: The Cypriot political leader was later received by Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, who reiterated, among others, that "the course and accession of Cyprus into the European Union is independent from the solution of the Cyprus problem, which however, interests us greatly..."
On his part, Christofias emphasized that two major "focal points of tension, the Cyprus issue and the Mideast" continue to plague the Mediterranean", which he said was sown all over with military bases and warships -- "and these are the issues that should always interest us as progressive people."
Papandreou – Christofias: The recent developments in the Cyprus issue and the results of Greek-Turkish contacts were discussed Friday in Athens by foreign minister George Papandreou and visiting Cyprus House of Representatives speaker Dimitris Christofias.
Speaking to reporters after their meeting, the two men stressed the need to advance a Cyprus solution that was not only in line with the UN resolutions and decisions, but also in accord with the acquis communautaire, which they said formulated the framework that would enable the correct function of a state with a European character.
Papandreou briefed Christofias on his recent contacts in Istanbul and his talks with Turkish foreign minister Ismail Cem. And from his contacts with his EU counterparts, Papandreou conveyed to Christofias the EU's strong determination that the time-table for completion of Cyprus' accession talks by the end of 2002 should be adhered to.
Christofias described his meeting with Papandreou as particularly constructive but appeared rather pessimistic over the developments, noting that "unfortunately the situation cannot be described as good or auspicious".
"(Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf) Denktash remains devoted to his partitionist philosophies and it is our duty to support the dialogue taking place until the proper solution (is reached)," Christofias said.
Christofias stressed the need for mobilization of the Greek Cypriot side internationally so that pressure may be exerted on Turkey and Denktash to change their philosophy and bring their vies on the Cyprus issue in line with the UN decisions.
Replying to press questions on the role of the UN, Christofias said that Nicosia expected the UN to act more decisively and back its resolutions and decisions. "We will continue to project this everywhere. Laxness leads to tolerance of intransigence". Christofias said that peaceful cooperation was in the interests of Greece, Turkey and Cyprus alike, adding that Denktash needed to comprehend this.
Papandreou reiterated that although the Cyprus, it nevertheless influenced their bilateral relations.
"Cyprus will either divide or unite us," Papandreou said.
Opposition party leaders meet with Cyprus House Speaker: Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis reiterated the standing positions of his party that a European Union enlargement without Cyprus is unthinkable, during his meeting with Cyprus' House of Representatives Speaker Dimitris Christofias on Friday.
Karamanlis stressed that Cyprus should enter the Union with the first group of countries and noted that the resolution of the Cyprus problem will have to be in accordance with the Union's acquis communautaire, so that the citizens of Cyprus can be able to enjoy the same rights as the rest of the Europeans.
Christofias made no statements at the end of the meeting.
Later in the day, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Ale-ka Papariga in her meeting with Christofias stated that the Cyprus issue is an international problem which should be resolved on the basis of the decisions and resolutions of the United Nations.
She added that both the Cyprus issue and the Palestinian problem are two lingering problems that should be resolved, otherwise "we will have exacerbated conditions" in the region in years to come.
Christofias also met with Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) Nikos Constanto-poulos, who stressed that the resolution of the Cyprus problem should be sought within the framework of the European acquis communautaire.
He added that Cyprus should enter the Union with one voice, with one sovereignty and one international entity.
Constantopoulos stressed that the Union's acquis communautaire did not allow for "dismembered cities" or countries, adding that the Cyprus problem is an international one, which should be re-solved in the framework of the United Nations decisions and the decisions of Summits.
 Turkish PM Ecevit on Greek-Turkish dialogue, Cyprus issue
ISTANBUL, 16/02/2002 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said on Friday that the positive climate which has been created in Greek-Turkish relations has rendered possible a gradual dialogue.
In an interview with the television network NTV, Ecevit said that "over the past two years, within a positive climate, the meaning of dialogue has slowly begun to become acceptable, but there are still some individuals who do not accept this." He added that "Turkey has always supported that the problems between the two countries will be solved through dialogue and not through judicial decisions."
Ecevit claimed that his Greek counterpart Costas Simitis had always been against the dialogue but that through the positive climate of the past two years the meaning of dialogue has started to be accepted.
On the Cyprus issue, Ecevit claimed that the European Union's decision to proceed with Cyprus' EU accession even without a settlement of the political problem, worsens the procedure for finding a solution. He claimed that the European Union should not involve itself in the direct negotiations between the two sides.
The solution of the Cyprus issue is more difficult than the solution of the Aegean matters, Ecevit said, claiming that the situation in Cyprus has certain characteristics which stem from the history and social structure of the island.
 G. Papandreou meets with US envoy
Athens, 16/02/2002 (ANA)International developments and bilateral relations, as expected, dominated a brief meeting on Friday between Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and US ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller.
In statements to reporters afterwards, Miller echoed Washington's position on the Cyprus issue, namely, that the United Stated supports the recently commenced direct talks among the divided island republic's two sides as well as the entire process towards a solution within the framework of the United Nations.
Regarding the volatile Mideast situation, the US envoy merely noted that his government wants a decrease in tensions, while saying he agrees with recent contacts undertaken by the Greek foreign ministry, part of international efforts to defuse the ongoing crisis.
 Greek FM receives Russian ambassador, receives message from Russian FM
Athens, 16/02/2002 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Friday met with Russian Ambassador to Athens Mikhail Botcharnikov, who delivered a message from Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, regarding the relations of his country with NATO.
Papandreou and Botcharnikov discussed about the situation in the Middle East, the Cyprus problem and the NATO-Russia relations, focusing on the proposal tabled by British Prime Minister Tony Blair for the establishment of a council within the Atlantic Alliance consisting of 20 instead of 19+1.
 FM, PNC chief call for EU initiative for resumption of Mid-East peace talks
Athens, 16/02/2002 (ANA)Greece's foreign minister George Papandreou and visiting Palestinian National Council (PNC) chief Saleem al-Zanoun on Friday called for a "specific" EU initiative for the resumption of Mid-East peace talks.
Papandreou and al-Zanoun had an in-depth discussion on the developments in the Middle East, and the Greek foreign minister said after the talks that he would convey the existing concern to his EU counterparts at the Council of Ministers meeting on General Affairs to take place in Brussels next Monday.
He described as "particularly useful" the ideas and thoughts he exchanged with al-Zanoun, and stressed the need for the immediate resumption of peace talks.
Al-Zanoun hailed Greece's "significant contribution" to the "positive decisions on the Middle East" taken to date by the European Union, and expressed hope that Athens would undertake a particular role for the resumption of the peace process.
Replying to press questions, al-Zanoun said that over the past three months "some voices of prudence" had been heard among the Israeli officials "who see an impasse" in Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's policy.
Al-Zanoun further expressed hope that pressure would be exerted for adoption of the initiative presented at the recent EU foreign ministers' informal meeting in Spain, given that the US had not reacted positively.
Papandreou said the fact alone that proposals existed on breaking the impasse was "very positive", but noted that the cooperation of the United States also was necessary in order for there to be a "major effort and more proposals".
The PNC chief conveyed to Papandreou the personal greetings of Palestinian president Yasser Arafat and his best wishes to the Greek government and people.
 Alternate FM Giannitsis on visit to Hungary
BUDAPEST, 16/02/2002 (ANA - M. Mouratidis)Greece's Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Giannitsis, within the framework of his working visit here, on Friday discussed issues of bilateral interest and matters which concern Hungary's accession to the European Union, with Hungarian government and opposition officials.
Giannitsis met with Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi, Alternate FM in charge of European affairs Peter Gottfried as well as the head of the opposition, Socialist Party president Laszlo Kovacs.
"We discussed at length on matters which concern Hungary's accession to the EU", said Giannitsis after his talks with Martonyi.
He said "we all hope that by the end of the year the negotiations will conclude with all the countries in the first group of enlargement."
Giannitsis said "Greece supports Hungary's accession to the EU and views that it will be a great achievement for the signing of the EU enlargement to take place during the course of the Greek (EU) presidency" in the first half of 2003.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Martonyi referred to the same issue, recalling that Hungary's application for EU accession was submitted in 1994 when Greece also held the EU rotating presidency.
Giannitsis said Hungarian officials asked for Greece's help in order for the country to prepare and submit a proposal for the undertaking of the 2012 Olympic Games.
"Of course we promised help," Giannitsis said, stressing that "Greece will have the knowledge and the experiences when the Olympic Games are concluded and will have the possibility to offer the Hungarians help to make their own proposal."
Hungary's EU accession course was also the focus of talks which Giannitsis had with Kovacs who said that if the Socialist Party wins the parliamentary election in April it will see to it that the negotiations for Hungary's EU accession will be concluded by the end of 2002.
Giannitsis also discussed with Hungarian government officials the upcoming visit to Greece in May of Hungarian President Ferenc Madl, returning a visit which Greek President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos had paid to Hungary in 1998.
Giannitsis also said that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban expressed his interest to visit Greece during the same period.
 EU informal meeting on EU-US judicial cooperationSANTIAGO DE COBOSTELA, 16/02/2002 (ANA)
The harmonization of legal penalties in European Union countries, the issue of the mutual recognition of the decisions of civil law and the matter of judicial cooperation of the EU with the United States were the main topics discussed here on Friday on the second day of an informal meeting of EU Justice and Internal Affairs Ministers.
Greece was represented at the meeting by Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos and Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis.
The discussion clearly showed that all the countries wished for judicial cooperation with the United States of penal matters for the combatting of terrorism but in general on international criminal activity.
Petsalnikos expressed support for the Spanish EU presidency's initiatives and stressed in particular respect not only for the acquis communautaire but also for the historic acquis of the EU. Within this context, the combatting of terrorism also includes political measures and means to uproot the causes which create and encourage it, the minister said.
 EU Youth Ministers meet in Brussels
BRUSSELS, 16/02/2002 (ANA - V. Demiris)The Council of Ministers of Youth of the European Union that took place here on Friday discussed the implementation of the open method of coordination on issues concerning youths.
Greece was represented by New Generation General Secretary George Sakellion.
 Baltic nations' delegations arrive in Athens for a one-day visit
Athens, 16/02/2002 (ANA)A delegation of high ranking officials from the Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia arrived in Athens on Friday for a one-day visit and held meetings with officials of the foreign ministry and with Deputy Defense Minister Loukas Apostolidis.
The basic reason for their visit to Athens was to secure Greece's support in their bid to be invited to the next NATO summit, which will take place in Prague in November.
Their visit was part of a tour to SE NATO wing countries.
 Luxembourg PM Juncker to visit next week
Athens, 16/02/2002 (ANA)Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker will pay a two-day visit to Athens next week for talks on bilateral relations and EU developments, it was announced Friday.
Juncker, who arrives here Tuesday at the invitation of his Greek counterpart Costas Simitis, will also be received by President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos and meet with national economy minister Nikos Christodou-lakis, parliament president Apostolos Kaklama-nis, and the leaders of the political parties represented in parliament.
 PASOK, ND clash over state of public sector
Athens, 16/02/2002 (ANA)Ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy exchanged harsh words in Parliament on Friday during a debate on the issue of public administration in the country.
On his part, Prime Minister Costas Simitis vehemently disputed a charge by ND deputy Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who referred to a "tattered state". The former countered that EMU accession and the hosting of the 2004 Games in Athens prove otherwise.
Simitis also blamed a New Democracy government of 1990-93 for what he called the "lawless landscape in the broadcasting (sector)", saying PASOK introduced three legal frameworks to try and rein in the radio-television spectrum in 1995, 1996 and 1998.
Conversely, Pavlopoulos said the premier should also direct his attention to several PASOK deputies as well, such as former minister Theodoros Pangalos, who recently also charged that the state services were in a state of disarray.
Finally, Pavlopoulos said the prime minister either "doesn't not comprehend reality, doesn't know about it or knows about it and is satisfied ... If that's the case, then you are a true representative of the attitude of reduced expectations."
 Karamanlis condemns 'state corruption', 'gov't arrogance'
Athens, 16/02/2002 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Friday continued his intensified, of late, attack against the government, while for the first time referring to a "leadership change" in the ruling PASOK party.
Karamanlis spoke during a meeting of New Democracy's central committee at the party's headquarters.
"They've (PASOK) become a regime, one trying to perpetuate itself at any cost and under any leader. What they need to know is that a regime and its maintenance have a date of expiration, namely, the next elections," he stressed, adding:
"Corruption and impunity, misery and arrogance, as well as the parastate have an expiration date. We will not compromise with the current state of affairs, we don't bow to pressures, we won't turn back to the past," Karamanlis added.
Moreover, the ND leader again criticized the interior ministry over the high-profile "illegal naturalizations" issue, while charging that wholesale corruption along with "kick-backs and com-missions" have been institutionalized in the public sector. Among other, Karamanlis claimed that "the state is unable to function without bribes".
Finally, he said ND would resist what he termed PASOK's minimalist "attitude" and that every time the government finds itself in a difficult situation it resorts to "acrimoniousness, talking about the past ... and mudslinging."
 ND leader stresses need for new agricultural policy
Athens, 16/02/2002 (ANA)The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party's Central Committee continued its sessions at a central Athens hotel on Friday on matters concerning agricultural policy.
ND leading Costas Karamanlis stated that the country needs a national strategy of regional development, stressing the need for a new agricultural policy.
Karamanlis said the governments of PASOK showed no vision, did not look ahead, did not have a program and never worked for the future, while the country lost all its crucial battles in Brussels on Greek produce.
Karamanlis said that the capital of the structural funds instead of being directed towards the reform of cultivations and the creation of infrastructures, "were used for satisfying party expediencies, while the economic viability of the agricultural cooperatives were sacrificed to the alter of party interests".
 New armed forces chief of staff installed
Athens, 16/02/2002 (ANA)Army Gen. George Antonopoulos on Friday officially replaced retiring Gen. Manoussos Paragioudakis as the chief of the general defense staff.
In an address, the outgoing military chief referred to developments in the armed forces over the recent period, while emphasizing that a "threat from the east" still exists for Greece.
Paragioudakis will assume the presidency of the Defense Analysis Institute following his retirement.
Meanwhile, outgoing air force chief, Lt.-Gen. Demetrios Lytzerakos was replaced by Lt.-Gen. Panayiotis Papanikolaou, whereas army chief, Gen. George Antonakopoulos, was replaced by Gen. Panayiotis Harvalas.
 Education minister meets with technical institutes' reps, in light of strike
Athens, 16/02/2002 (ANA)Education Minister Petros Efthymiou on Friday met with representatives of Greece's technical institutes teachers' federation and discussed their demands in light of their strike.
Following the two-hour meeting, Efthymiou said all the necessary clarification were provided regarding issues put forth by the teachers and stressed that the institutes should be straightened, adding that funding will triple over the next three years.
On their part, the representatives of the teachers said that the federation will convene to discuss and evaluate the data provided by the minister.
 Greek inflation jumps to 4.4 percent in January, yr/yr
Athens, 16/02/2002 (ANA)Annual inflation soared to 4.4 percent in January from 3.0 percent in December exceeding market forecasts, the National Statistics Service said on Friday.
NSS's secretary-general Nikos Karavitis said that inflation would begin falling from February and described January as an "unfortunate month". He added that February provisional figures showed a significant fall in prices. NSS had predicted that January inflation would jump to 3.5 percent, while Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis had warned, a few days ago, that annual inflation could jump to 4.0 percent in the month.
Annual inflation was 3.4 percent in January 2001.
The consumer price index, however, eased 0.3 percent in January from December.
The annual consumer price index's rise in January, compared with the same month in 2001, was attributed to: a 12.9 percent increase in food and beverage prices, a 6.1 percent rise in alcohol and tobacco prices, a 4.7 percent increase in clothing and footwear, a 2.1 percent rise in housing prices, a 2.2 percent increase in durable goods' prices, a 3.2 percent rise in healthcare prices, a 3.7 percent increase in hotel, coffee, restaurant prices and a 3.6 percent rise in education prices.
Only the communication group prices fell in January (-2.2 percent).
The average annual harmonized inflation rose by 3.7 percent in December compared with the same month in 2000, while on an average it was running at 3.7 percent.
Harmonized consumer price index figures are used for price stability comparisons in the euro zone.
 Unemployment falls to 10.2pct in 2nd quarter of 2001
Athens, 16/02/2002 (ANA)The rate of unemployment in Greece dropped to 10.2 percent in the second quarter of 2001 against the corresponding period in 2000, the national statistics service ESYE said Friday.
In figures released Friday, ESYE said that the total number of unemployed in the second quarter last year was 444,700, down 9.4 percentage points from the corresponding quarter in 2001.
During the second quarter of 2001, ESYE said, 49,592 people entered the job market who during the year 2000 had listed themselves as homemakers. Of those, it said, 17,063 had found jobs while the remaining 32,529 were registered as unemployed.
Another 42,260 persons were registered as unemployed, who had in the previous year been pupils or students.
By region, the biggest reduction in the unemployment rate was registered in the Greater Athens area, the Peloponnese and the northern Aegean.
More specifically, unemployment was contained at 10.4 percent in Attica in the second quarter of 2001 compared with 12.2 percent in the second quarter of 2000.
In the Peloponnese, unemployment dropped to 8.1 percent from 9.3 percent, while in the northern Aegean it dropped to 6 percent from 7.4 percent.
Salaried employment in the second quarter of 2001 rose by 2.3 percent, while overall employment fell by 0,7 percent against the corresponding quarter in 2000. This was attributed mainly to a large reduction in the number of women over 45 registered as being involved in family farming operations.
 Retail sales' volume up 4.9 percent in November
Athens, 16/02/2002 (ANA)The volume of retail prices rose 4.9 percent in November 2001 compared with the same month the previous year, National Statistics Service said on Friday.
The retail sales index, measuring the value of sales, rose 7.5 percent over the same period, NSS said in a report.
The increase in the retail sales index reflected a 10.2 percent rise in supermarket sales, a 10.5 percent increase in department stores' sales, a 7.5 percent rise in food-beverage-tobacco and a 7.2 percent increase in bookstore sales in November.
 Greece, EIB discuss further cooperation
Athens, 16/02/2002 (ANA)Greek Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Friday told visiting chairman of European Investment Bank, Philippe Maystadt, that the government was ready to fully exploit a more active presence by EIB in the country.
On his part, Mr. Maystadt, told reporters after the meeting that EIB saw great opportunities for cooperation in the sectors of energy, tourism, new technologies and supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises.
A ministry statement said that both sides saw a fertile ground for cooperation in the activities of a Guarantee Fund in Greece. The government is seeking EIB's help to cover 50 percent of guarantees offered.
The two sides are considering a draft plan envisaging an integrated urban organizing of two "Technopolis" in Athens and Thessaloniki, to promote new technology planning, developing and manufacturing.
EIB's chairman also expressed the bank's interest for participation in a government plan to restructure tourist facilities in Greece (privatization of Mont Parnes casino, sailing marinas, Rhodes golf course, theme park in Anavyssos).
EIB's loan portfolio to Greece totalled 7.5 billion euros in 2001, with 60 percent of this money covering infrastructure projects in the transport sector.
 EU sees progress in Greek food safety, but seeks more measures
Athens, 16/02/2002 (ANA)A senior European Union official said on Friday that Greece had made progress in measures to improve food safety, but it lacked qualified inspectors and should concentrate responsibility for the sector into fewer hands.
Robert Coleman, general director of the EU Commission's health and consumer protection division, told a news conference in Athens that progress had been noted in safety for dairy products, although problems remained that posed a threat to public health. Another obstacle was a wide allocation of responsibilities among government departments, which severely hampered action.
Furthermore, there was a lack of personnel qualified to carry out inspections, Coleman said.
He was speaking after a meeting with the agriculture and development ministers, called to inform them that problems in the sector needed fixing as public health was in jeopardy.
As part of an attempt to remedy the situation, a report would be given to the government that contained a detailed description of inadequacies, existing policy and proposals for action, and deadlines for solution of the problems.
The government would comment on the document so that a mutually acceptable agreement could be forged on what action would be taken to improve food safety, and when, Coleman said.
Progress in implementation would then be monitored, he added.
Concerning fears of a threat to public health in the Rentis meat market, the EU official said a report had been given to the government on Thursday stating problems identified during inspections; and the government had 10 working days to reply to the report's conclusions.
The government had shown willingness to resolve the problems, he added.
One problem was that installations housing an abattoir could not be modernized to meet specifications and should cease operations; the government had set in motion a plan for closure, Cole-man said.
 Gov't okays study by TVX Gold for expansion of mining operation
Athens, 16/02/2002 (ANA)The development ministry on Friday approved a technical study by TVX Gold of Canada for a domestic subsidiary, TVX Hellas, to expand its gold mining operation in the north.
Last week, the company had complained about delays in securing approval following objections to the project by local groups near Stratoniki, Halkidiki, where the mine is located.
The ministry met the latest deadline of February 15 for a decision on the study.
Under the terms of the ministry's approval, TVX must comply with environmental regulations and carry out a separate detailed study on repercussions of the mining operation.
In addition, an advisory committee of engineers, trade unionists, staff, residents and management is expected to be created to monitor the company's adherence to terms of operation set by the government.
 Merchant marine minister meets Norwegian, Korean ambassadors
Athens, 16/02/2002 (ANA)Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis met on Friday with the ambassadors to Athens of Norway and Korea.
Anomeritis and Norwegian Ambassador Finn Fostervoll agreed to organize a joint exhibition on the naval history of the two peoples and make preparations for visits of the two countries' ministers.
Korean Ambassador Tae Kyo Han conveyed an invitation by Anomeritis' counterpart to pay an official visit to Korea. The two sides also agreed to proceed in co-signing a shipping agreement, the preparation of which will be undertaken by negotiating teams in Athens at the end of February.
 Greek property owners protest against EU energy saving plan
BRUSSELS, 16/02/2002 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)The Greek Federation of Property Owners on Friday took part in a protest in the Belgian capital opposing a plan by the European Union to order energy saving improvements to large buildings.
The group's president, Stratos Paradias, told a news conference that the mandatory improvements, including insulation and new central heating systems, would bring exorbitant costs and doubtful results.
"Spending in some cases would near the commercial value of the building," Paradias said.
The protest was called by the international property owners' union, of which the Greek group is a member. The UIPI has proposed that the improvements should be mandatory in the design of new buildings.
 Greek weekly economic review
Athens, 16/02/2002 (ANA)A surge in the annual inflation rate to 4.4 percent in January from 3.0 percent the previous month was the most significant economic news of the week under review.
The National Statistics Service attributed the sharp rise in the consumer price index to a big increase in cereals, fruit and vegetable prices and higher prices in tobacco, clothing and footwear.
Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, on Thursday, said he expected a gradual decline in the inflation rate from February and stressed that the government would increase its efforts to combat higher inflation. He said that higher prices were not just a Greek phenomenon as it was evident in other EU member-states.
The Greek market held its breath on Friday afternoon, a few hours before the end of a deadline in an international tender to privatize Olympic Airways, a procedure lasting more than a year now. According to sources, IAS consortium, the last remaining bidder in the tender, has seemingly deposited a bank letter of guarantee, worth 102 million euros, amid talk that one of the three shareholders in the consortium withdrew from the scheme.
A report by International Herald Tribune on Friday said that Bank of Greece's governor Lucas Papademos was the favorite to take the post of European Central Bank's vice-governor, replacing Philipe Noyer, whose term ends on May 31.
Meanwhile, talk - neither confirmed nor denied - of an approach between National Bank and Piraeus Bank came to surface this week. National Bank announced improved figures in its mortgage and consumer loans portfolio and said that its credit card active holders exceeded 3,200,000 in 2001.
Money supply growth accelerated slightly in November, with credit expansion growth running at 16.6 percent from 16.4 percent in October. The Bank of Greece said that credit expansion totalled 17 billion euros, of which 12.3 billion euros accounted for money spent by businesses and households.
Russia's second largest oil company, Yuko Oil, this week announced it was withdrawing from a tender to acquire a 23 percent equity stake in Hellenic Petroleum. The other two candidates are a consortium between Latsis Group and Lukoil, and Austria's OMV.
Greece's mutual funds' assets fell by 5.51 percent this year to 25.31 billion euros, from 26.79 billion at the end of December 2001.
A new round of talks aimed to reform the country's social security system will begin at the end of March, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said in the week.
Greek investors own 76.14 percent of the Athens Stock Exchange's total capitalization or 75.22 billion euros, leaving the remaining 23.86 percent to the hands of foreign investors.
 Greek stocks end the week 1.52 percent lower
Athens, 16/02/2002 (ANA)Greek stocks ended the last trading session of a subdued week lower hit by lack of buying interest as investors continued refraining from market transactions.
The general index ended 0.25 percent lower at 2,488.78 points, with turnover a low Dr 30.77 billion, or 90.3 million euros.
The Construction and IT sectors scored the biggest percent gains (0.51 percent and 0.39 percent, respectively), while the Telecoms, IT Solutions and Food-Beverage sectors suffered losses (1.02 percent, 0.45 percent and 0.37 percent).
The Parallel Market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended 0.50 percent higher.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 0.32 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index rose 0.22 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 0.08 percent higher.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 159 to 138 with another 62 issues unchanged.
The general index ended the week with a net loss of 1.52 percent.
The most heavily traded shares were Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, Klonatex (preferred), Alpha Bank and Folli Follie.
Bond Market Close: Prices rise in light trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Friday finished higher in light trade focusing on five-year paper.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.30 percent, and the spread over the corresponding German bund was 35 basis points.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 1.6 billion euros.
Buy orders accounted for the lion's share of turnover.
Derivatives Market Close: Equity hi-cap index futures at premium: Equity high-capitalization index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange traded at a premium on Friday, again outperforming the underlying market, but mid-cap index futures slipped back into the red, traders said.
Changing hands were 10,819 contracts.
The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips lost 0.32 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks rose 0.22 percent.
 EIB to set priority on funding Olympic projects
Athens, 16/02/2002 (ANA)The chairman of the European Investment Bank, Philippe Maystadt, said on Friday that the EIB would set a priority on helping to finance projects for the 2004 Olympics hosted by Athens.
Speaking in the Greek capital after a meeting with Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, Maystadt also said that the EIB favored financing links for infrastructure projects in southeastern Europe including energy, transport and electronic networks.
In addition, the EIB agreed to hold talks with the government on restructuring the Greek state's debt to the bank.
 Greece safe and ready for the Athens 2004 Games, sports official says
NEW YORK, 16/02/2002 (ANA)"Greece is the safest western country and all the Olympic installations will be ready by 2003. There is a correct organizing on sports infrastructures and the relevant timetables are followed," Sports General Secretary Nikos Exarchos said on Friday, during a press conference held for the Greek expatriate mass media here.
He stressed that the Greek community of the United States is a basic element on the course of organizing the Olympic Games of 2004, adding "we should synchronize so as to achieve the best possible result and to secure the promotion of the Olympic Games of Athens for their special meaning, that is the promotion - not only of the sports events, but also of our culture and history".
"This is a unique opportunity for Greece to make a leap on all levels and at the same time to promote its message for the Games all over the world," he noted.
Speaking on the preparations of installations, he stressed that they will be ready by 2003 and noted that the only concern of the Greek government is the athletic preparations.
"The distinction of athletes from the country that organizes the Olympic Games are the most important element for the success of the Games and for this reason the Greek athletes should move along the lines of their successes in Sydney, in regards to the conquest of medals. For this reason the Greek government has doubled the funding for the Olympic Games preparations, which concern at this time 625 athletes," he said.
 Greece will be ready to accommodate visitors for Athens 2004 Games
Athens, 16/02/2002 (ANA)Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Friday promised that the 150,000 visitors that will come to Athens for the 2004 Olympic Games will find accommodations, through the use of existing hotel space and the construction of new hotels, as well as the private contribution with rooms in and out of Athens.
Tsohatzopoulos, who made the comments in response to a question tabled in Parliament, also said that 2002 will be one of the "best years in tourist results, based on the existing demand to date", thus the damage of 25-35 per cent caused by the Sept. 11 terrorist attack against the United States will be off set.
 Glassware in 2nd century AD Macedonian tombs betray wealth and vanity
Athens, 16/02/2002 (ANA)Female beauty knew no bounds even 19 centuries ago, so much so that a wealth of female beautification finds were unearthed near Dion, central Greece during 25 years of continual archaeological digs.
Artful glass vials containing perfumes and make up and excellent quality copper mirrors were found in tombs of women that belonged not only to the higher classes of ancient society but also to the middle classes.
Head of the digs for the past 25 years, Prof. Dimitrios Pantermalis, in his lecture "Dion residents' glassware" spoke in detail of the finds, noting that the region was experiencing a high degree of economic development during the 2nd century AD, allowing for such a wealth of non-essentials for city dwellers.
 Cyprus leaders hold 13th meeting on Cyprus question
NICOSIA, 16/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash held here on Friday their 13th meeting, within the framework of their direct talks on the Cyprus problem, in the presence of the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto.
The meeting took place, as all previous ones, in a building near the UN-controlled Nicosia airport, and lasted for about one and a half hour. The two leaders have been engaged in UN-led direct talks, since January 16, 2002.
President Clerides was accompanied as usual by his aides, Attorney General Alecos Markides, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou and Undersecretary to the President Pantelis Kouros.
According to a statement issued on Thursday by the UN there will me one more meeting on Tuesday, February 19, 2002, before a break in light of the Bayram and for a brief reflection period.
The direct talks will resume on March 1, with fewer but longer meetings.
During the break, the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto will travel to New York to report to the Secretary General and to brief the members of the Security Council.
 Cyprus Republic to join EU as one entity
NICOSIA, 16/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)The Republic of Cyprus will accede to the European Union and there is no issue for the entry, one way or another, of two separate Cyprus entities, as the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash demands.
This was stated here on Friday by George Vassiliou, who heads the negotiating team for the accession of Cyprus to the European Union, after a meeting with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides.
Vassiliou said that within the EU there is the impression that Cyprus will be among the first group of countries that will be invited to Copenhagen for accession to the EU. Denmark will take over the EU presidency in the second half of 2002.
The former president pointed out that before the end of June 2002 the Turkish Cypriot side must show whether it is ready to move towards a solution of the Cyprus problem.
He added "the EU is in no way prepared to accept a delay in the accession of Cyprus in order to give more time to the Cyprus talks, if there is no progress."
He said the EU sees no possibility of progress in the Cyprus peace talks as long as the Turkish Cypriot side insists in the entry of two separate entities into the EU.
Vassiliou briefed President Clerides on his recent visits to Brussels and Paris, where he found "understanding", as he told the press, about Cyprus' efforts to join the EU.
 Spanish prime minister to visit Cyprus
NICOSIA, 16/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar is to pay a short visit to Cyprus on February 26, in his capacity as President of the European Council.
He will be accompanied by the Secretary of State for European Affairs Ramon de Miguel.
Sources of the Spanish Embassy in Nicosia told CNA that during his three-hour stay in Cyprus, Aznar will attend a working lunch given for him by President Glafcos Clerides.
The visit of the Spanish premier to Cyprus is part of his tour of European Union candidate countries. Spain is the current President of the European Council (from January 1 to June 30, 2002).
Aznar will travel to this east Mediterranean island on February 26 from Madrid. On his way back to the Spanish capital, he will stop over the same evening in Malta, also an EU candidate country.
The Spanish premier as scheduled to visit Cyprus on September 18 last year, however his visit was postponed due to the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11.