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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-02-19

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

February 19, 2002


  • [01] Vedrine, Fischer pledge support for 'Olympic Truce' idea
  • [02] EU FMs agree to intervene in 'tragic and chaotic' Middle East
  • [03] Protopapas: PM to meet visiting Luxembourg premier this week
  • [04] Gov't backs Laliotis' proposal for PASOK-Left cooperation
  • [05] Premier chairs meeting on tenured hirings in wider public sector
  • [06] Evert and Papantoniou call for consensus in foreign policy
  • [07] Protopapas pledges speedy measures against illegal gambling
  • [08] PM to hold meeting on preparations for EU presidency
  • [09] Mandela to visit Greece in June
  • [10] Greece marks 50 years in NATO-'Important contributor to peace', NATO chief says
  • [11] Greek contingent's airlift to Afghanistan continues
  • [12] EU commissioner addresses domestic violence in council of ministers' meeting
  • [13] KEP leader: Cooperation with gov't maybe after elections
  • [14] Bosnia-Herzegovina officers begin training at Greek military academies
  • [15] British ambassador gives dinner for ND leader
  • [16] Gov't mulling plan for infusion of private capital into OA
  • [17] Greek economy minister meets Yugoslav president, Serb premier
  • [18] Draft law on Balkan economic reconstruction
  • [19] Development minister meets business leaders, focuses on inflation control
  • [20] Record number of British tourists in Greece this year
  • [21] Piraeus Bank in consortium to buy Turkish bank
  • [22] Greek consumer group reveals "unjustified" price increases
  • [23] Greek stocks end sharply lower on Monday
  • [24] 2004 Olympics the focus of SAE's new action plan
  • [25] Parliament presidents sign proclamation on cultures
  • [26] Onassis cultural center to be created in Athens by 2005
  • [27] 2002 dedicated to Greek Diaspora Women
  • [28] Spokesman: 'We hope the Turkish side will revise its positions'
  • [29] FM Kasoulides holds meetings in Germany
  • [30] Cyprus to participate in the European Convention

  • [01] Vedrine, Fischer pledge support for 'Olympic Truce' idea

    BRUSSELS, 19/02/2002 (ANA – V. Demiris)

    The French and German foreign ministers on Monday offered their full backing towards Athens’ high-profile “Olympic Truce” initiative, signing a relevant document on the sidelines of a EU General Affairs Council here.

    Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, Athens’ “point man” in promoting the initiative, stood by as both his French and German counterparts, Hubert Vedrine and Joschka Fischer, respectively, penned their support for the idea of refraining from armed conflict during the holding of the winter and summer Olympic Games.

    The foreign ministers’ support follows similar backing by several other international statesmen and personalities, with Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem being the first to sign the “Olympic Truce” document.

    On his part, the Greek FM added that both Israeli Knesset Speaker Avraam Burg and the Palestine National Council (PNC) Speaker Salim al-Zaanoun have signed on, while European Union representatives have recently promoted the idea of an “Olympic Truce” in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Armenia.

    A relevant statement in the document cites the "Olympic Truce" as a "medium to promote peace and reconciliation in conflicts", while also committing leaders to exert every possible effort, both on a personal level and collectively, to encourage a peaceful solution to differences and to work towards cease-fires during the holding of the Olympics.

    [02] EU FMs agree to intervene in 'tragic and chaotic' Middle East

    BRUSSELS, 19/02/2002 (ANA - Ő. Zitouniati)

    The EU foreign ministers which convened here on Monday decided to intervene immediately in the "tragic and chaotic situation" in the Middle East and authorized the EU representative for foreign policy, security and defense, Javier Solana, to visit the region with a series of proposals for a "truce" and for a political solution to the impasse.

    "We view the two aspects of the problem as interconnected, that is the consolidation of a climate of security and the shaping of a political solution with the declaration of a Palestinian state," Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said, adding that "both the procedures should be promoted simultaneously."

    The Greek minister, noting that for the EU Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat remains the only reliable co-speaker, said that for the easing of the crisis, relevant notes will be sent at the same time to the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the Federation of Arab states

    The EU Council of Foreign Ministers has also undertaken an initiative to avert a new crisis in the Balkans, from a possible secession of Montenegro. In contacts with the leaders of Montenegro and Serbia, the EU proposes a package of measures for institutional reorganization among which the change maybe of the name of Yugoslavia.

    In regards to the snag in EU-NATO relations, caused by Turkey's demand to co-decide on matters of the European defense, when NATO infrastructures are used, diplomatic sources said that over the next few days Greece will table its proposals to the Spanish EU presidency, proposing ways that would secure the autonomy of Union decisions and the Greek sovereign rights.

    The same sources evaluated the recent "intransigent" letter sent to the Union by Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem, as "diplomatic maneuvering", accessing that the "pro-European turnaround Turkey made is clear and is a one way road to the problems it faces".

    Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Giannitsis, in a joint press conference with Papandreou, referred to the financing of the EU enlargement, which the Council dealt with, supporting the need for the "weaker regions" of the EU to continue to be supported even after the accession of the candidate countries in order for there to be an equal balance of development and to avert a "two-speed" Europe.

    [03] Protopapas: PM to meet visiting Luxembourg premier this week

    Athens, 19/02/2002 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis began the week with a meeting to discuss the status of temporary workers in the public sector, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Monday.

    Soon afterwards, at 14:30 pm on Monday, Simitis was scheduled to meet PASOK General Secretary Costas Laliotis.

    On Tuesday morning, the prime minister plans to visit the Attica highway worksites and on Tuesday evening at 17:30 p.m. he is to receive visiting Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker.

    At 18:30 p.m. on the same day, Simitis will hold a meeting with Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and Transport Minister Christos Verelis to discuss the failed tender for the national carrier Olympic Airways, while at 17:45 p.m. he is due at an event at which the Luxembourg prime minister will be speaking. Later on, Simitis will host a dinner in honor of the Luxembourg premier.

    On Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. the prime minister will chair a meeting of PASOK cadres to prepare for his visit to Pella and Imathia in northern Greece, while at noon he will hold official talks with Juncker. At 19:00 p.m. he will chair a meeting of ministers and top staff at the finance ministry regarding Greece's EU presidency in the first half of 2003.

    After chairing the regular cabinet meeting held every Thursday to monitor the progress of the government's program, the prime minister is due to depart for a two-day tour of the northern Greek prefectures of Pella and Imathia on Friday and Saturday.

    [04] Gov't backs Laliotis' proposal for PASOK-Left cooperation

    Athens, 19/02/2002 (ANA)

    Ruling PASOK wanted dialogue with the Left that would ultimately allow the forces of the progressive majority in Greece to prevail, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Monday, commenting on a proposal made over the weekend by PASOK secretary Costas Laliotis for election cooperation with the center-left.

    "PASOK is interested in a broad dialogue of a strategic nature with the Left, which can lead to convergence and program commitments for changes. Such a dialogue could lead to creating

    a majority social movement that would ensure that progressive changes are carried out in the country," the spokesman said.

    In response to questions, Protopapas said that Laliotis' proposal included coming down on a joint ticket with smaller parties in upcoming elections in order to create a strong progressive government.

    Regarding reactions by main opposition New Democracy, he said these denoted "panic" and said they "highlighted the lack of content and non-existent positions of ND," which hoped to win the elections by default, banking on voter fatigue with a ruling party that had spent many years in power.

    He also said the issue of electoral law was also an element of dialogue, given that it did not refer to the upcoming elections and that the government had already declared its intention to change this.

    Responding, ND spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said the Laliotis proposal for coalition governments and changes to the electoral law smacked of panic in the ruling party.

    Historically, he noted, PASOK usually made overtures to the Left and talked about changing election laws when it realized it was about to lose the next elections, as Laliotis had done back in 1988.

    ND MP Prokopis Pavlopoulos also pointed to statements by Laliotis and Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis the previous week, when they had rejected a proposal by the smaller left-wing parties for an election system based on simple proportional representation.

    Pavlopoulos reiterated that ND was not prepared to discuss or accept any move toward changing election laws.

    PASOK secretary Costas Laliotis unveiled his proposal for election cooperation with the left-left ahead of both the 2004 general elections and Parliament's vote for president in 2005 in an interview published by the newspaper 'Eleftherotypia' over the weekend. ]

    Among others, Laliotis stressed that PASOK was not the "only expression" of what he called the progressive political landscape in Greece and should not seek to monopolize this.

    Conversely, he said, the main opposition was alone in representing the opposing conservative pole.

    [05] Premier chairs meeting on tenured hirings in wider public sector

    Athens, 19/02/2002 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Monday chaired a meeting on tenured hirings in the Greek public sector, with the participation of Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis and Deputy Finance Minister George Floridis.

    Speaking after the meeting, Skandalidis stressed that the government will abide by the constitution and will not allow unchecked hiring in the public sector, but it will allow bonus points for those having worked for several years as temporary employees, provided that these employees were initially hired before the ratification of constitutional amendments which do not allow the hiring of employees in the public sector beyond limits set by the Supreme Council for Personnel Recruitment (ASEP).

    He added that the court decisions providing tenure for employees will be fully respected by the government.

    Labor and Social Security Minister Dimitris Reppas, who also met with the premier to discuss the demands of Social Security Foundation (IKA) doctors' who are on strike, said that the doctors will receive a pay increase of 60,000 drachmas per month and that a special committee will be formed to examine the institute's needs in tenured doctors and then go ahead with the hiring process for the number of doctors it needs.

    [06] Evert and Papantoniou call for consensus in foreign policy

    Athens, 19/02/2002 (ANA)

    Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and high-ranking New Democracy MP Miltiades Evert agreed during a meeting on Monday that the main opposition and the government should confer and achieve consensus on major foreign policy issues vital to Greece.

    Evert, a former ND leader, underlined that such issues were poor fodder for party political bickering, particularly when Greece's neighbor Turkey was following a tactic of increasing provocation.

    Papantoniou agreed, saying that sensitive issues related to foreign affairs should cause all Greeks to unite and support a common foreign policy.

    The minister attributed Turkey's increasing provocativeness to an attempt to create artificial tension in the Aegean prior to the start of Greek-Turkish dialogue, saying that this was a standard Turkish policy at such times.

    He said there was no particular cause for alarm, though the armed forces would obviously be on alert and ready for action.

    Evert also commented on earlier statements he had made regarding the dangers of a major bilateral incident taking place by June, stressing that the country should always be prepared for the worst.

    [07] Protopapas pledges speedy measures against illegal gambling

    Athens, 19/02/2002 (ANA)

    The government intends to rapidly introduce strict measures to protect society against illegal gambling, government spokesman Christos Protopapas stressed on Monday in response to questions.

    He said that all necessary measures would be taken to restrict free access to gambling in uncontrolled venues.

    Turning to a news story aired over the weekend, which implied a connection between Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Paschalidis and one of the foremost owners of illegal gambling venues in northern Greece, the spokesman referred to statements made by the minister on the issue on Monday, while he ruled out all thought of postponing a trip to northern Greece by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, scheduled to take place later this week.

    Protopapas said that the minister would continue to form part of the delegation accompanying the prime minister on his tour and he reiterated that Paschalidis had the government's support.

    In a program broadcast on Sunday night by Alpha TV channel, TV journalist Makis Triantafyllopoulos had presented a photograph of Paschalidis making a phone call from the office of a man exposed as the owner of several illegal gaming venues.

    Commenting on the program on Monday, Paschalidis said the country was "living through a time of television terrorism that a section of the media insisted on perpetuating."

    "Since when can a photograph in the offices of a local paper be considered evidence of corruption; I have visited many news-papers in the prefecture of Pellas and Thessaloniki and all regions of Greece and I've met a great number of publishers. Since when have social interactions, ordinary handshakes and chance snapshots become evidence for selective incrimination?" he said.

    The affair was also commented on by Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis, who said the evidence presented could not be used to back claims of involvement by Paschalidis in any illegal activity.

    He stressed the need for caution on the part MPs in all their activities, however, saying that certain actions concealed traps, and also the need for government measures to stamp out illegal gambling and all kinds of illegal activity.

    Main opposition New Democracy, meanwhile, said the affair of illegal video gaming machines and the links with political figures had to be cleared up once and for all.

    Asked if there might be a plan to destabilize the political system in Greece, ND spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said he could not speak of a plan. Regarding the attempt to link President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos to illegal gambling, however, he said that this had aimed to undermine the standing of politics in general.

    He refused to comment on accusations leveled against members of ruling PASOK in connection with this issue, however.

    [08] PM to hold meeting on preparations for EU presidency

    Athens, 19/02/2002 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis is to hold a meeting on Wednesday with his advisers and senior officials of the foreign ministry on preparations for Greece's presidency of the European Union.

    According to sources, the premier will ask for an acceleration of preparations, and identify any delays in work on buildings to be used during the presidency.

    [09] Mandela to visit Greece in June

    Athens, 19/02/2002 (ANA)

    Former South African president Nelson Mandela will visit Greece between June 18 and June 24, at the invitation of Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

    [10] Greece marks 50 years in NATO-'Important contributor to peace', NATO chief says

    Athens, 19/02/2002 (ANA)

    NATO secretary general George Robertson on Monday praised Greece as an important contributor to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic zone, in a statement marking the 50th anniversary of the country's membership in the Alliance.

    Since February 18, 1952, when Greece and Turkey joined the Atlantic Alliance, "they have been devoted Allies and contribute substantially to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic zone", Robertson said in a written statement.

    He said that during the Cold War period, both countries, together with the other NATO members, bore the burden of "defending democracy and our common values".

    Noting that NATO's southeastern flank was a "region with big dangers and challenges", he said that Greece and Turkey played an important role in safeguarding security "and for this reason alone, Greece's and Turkey's contribution to NATO can be considered a great success and honor for those two countries".

    He said that at the end of the Cold War period, the Alliance had faced new challenges: from the wars in the Balkans to the building of new collaborations with former rivals, and the challenge of terrorism.

    "NATO has successfully faced all these challenges. Greece and Turkey have contributed substantially. Indeed, NATO's success in the past decade has shown that the bonds among the Allies remain stronger than ever, and that NATO remains an incomparable factor of positive changes," Robertson said.

    The NATO chief congratulated Greece and Turkey on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of their formal accession to NATO. "It has been half a century of strong solidarity with the entire Atlantic Community, and of decisive contribution to Euro-Atlantic security. This solidarity and determination will be important elements as we face the security challenges of the future".

    Bush sends message to president on Greece's 50th NATO entry anniversary: Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos received a message from U.S. President George Bush on Monday in light of the 50th anniversary of Greece's accession to NATO.

    Bush referred in his message to the feelings of friendship and the cooperation relations that have characterized the alliance over the past 50 years.

    [11] Greek contingent's airlift to Afghanistan continues

    Athens, 19/02/2002 (ANA)

    An operation to airlift Greece's peacekeeping contingent to Afghanistan was underway on Monday, with the first 49 troops having departed a day earlier and 128 more men pending.

    Nineteen military vehicles were also parked at Thessaloniki's Macedonia airport for transport to the Central Asia country aboard two Russian-made "Antonov" cargo planes. The Greek force is expected to remain in the war-ravaged country for three months, participating both in security operations and infrastructure building.

    [12] EU commissioner addresses domestic violence in council of ministers' meeting

    BRUSSELS, 19/02/2002 (ANA - V. Demiris)

    Violence against women topped the agenda at the unofficial European Union council of ministers' meeting in the historic city of Santiago de Compostella on Monday.

    Greek Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou said in her address that violence against women knows no geographical boundaries, age limits or class, race and cultural differences.

    She stressed that one out of every five European women falls victim to violence by her spouse during her lifetime, while the probability of permanent injury or death from male violence in the 15 to 44 age group is greater than that of death or injury from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined.

    Diamantopoulou mentioned the example of Great Britain where, according to a study published recently, a woman dies every three days from causes connected to domestic violence.

    She noted the need for the strict implementation of laws designed to confront such crimes and spoke of the need to dispel myths surrounding this issue, myths that insist that women in families with lower incomes and lower educational backgrounds fall victims to violence.

    Diamantopoulou stressed that 50 per cent of men using violence against their spouses are university graduates.

    Summing up, she said the EU should set common terminology for all forms of violence.

    [13] KEP leader: Cooperation with gov't maybe after elections

    Athens, 19/02/2002 (ANA)

    Free Citizens Movement (KEP) leader and Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Monday that he was open to the possibility of cooperating with the government but only after the elections, stating that this kind of cooperation should be encouraged also from the political system.

    Avramopoulos also raised the issue of the electoral law, which he said in essence prohibited party coalitions.

    He turned down a proposal by main opposition New Democracy (ND) party deputy Miltiades Evert for him to return to the ND, stressing that KEP will follow its autonomous course.

    Avramopoulos did not disclose whom his party would support for the Athens mayor ship.

    [14] Bosnia-Herzegovina officers begin training at Greek military academies

    Athens, 19/02/2002 (ANA)

    Officers of the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina have begun training in military academies in Greece through scholar-ships enacted by the Greek Defense Ministry.

    This was mentioned in Thessaloniki on Monday by Defense Deputy Minister Loukas Apostolidis, following his meeting with the defense ministers of the two entities of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

    During the meeting, a protocol of cooperation was signed between the two sides, while during a press conference later the two defense ministers underlined the stabilizing role played by Greece in the region and hailed its efforts for the two entities in Bosnia-Herzegovina to get closer.

    Within the framework of the military cooperation between the two countries, 90 officers have begun training since Monday at the Multinational Training Operation Center for the Support of Peace in Kilkis, northern Greece.

    After completing their training, the officers are due to take part in the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Eritrea.

    [15] British ambassador gives dinner for ND leader

    Athens, 19/02/2002 (ANA)

    The British ambassador to Athens gave a dinner in honor of main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis on Monday, while their talks focused on terrorism, developments in the economy and the situation in the country.

    According to reports, the British appear to believe that increased possibilities exist for results to be achieved in the sector of local terrorism. It is reminded that the Greek authorities are now cooperating closely with Britain's Scotland Yard.

    Among others, Dora Bakoyianni, George Alogoskoufis and Yiannis Valinakis attended the dinner.

    [16] Gov't mulling plan for infusion of private capital into OA

    Athens, 19/02/2002 (ANA)

    The Greek government was currently seeking private capital that will enable national carrier Olympic Airways (OA) to continue operation smoothly, following the recent failure of the tender to sell a majority package in the ailing airline, transport and communications minister Christos Verelis intimated Monday, assuring, however, that OA would "continue to exist".

    Speaking on private Flash radio station, Verelis confirmed that the negotiations with the Australian consortium IAS had fallen through, given that neither the money - 102 million euros - nor the letters of guarantee required by the Greek State to ensure the credibility of the venture and the airline's future had been deposited.

    Noting the negative international conjuncture in the air transports sector, mainly after the September 11 terror attacks in the US, and the fact that in the last three years there has been no successful transfer of buyout of an airline internationally, Verelis stressed the need for an infusion of private capital into OA so that it could "continue its course".

    Verelis further explained that in the event the State continued to subsidise OA's deficit Greece would be obliged to pay heavy fines to the EU related to previous efforts to streamline the airline.

    The minister also referred to the social services provided by OA, given that it covered the needs of the inhabitants of the remote islands, and the steep fees it paid for services at the new international airport at Spata.

    On the government's plans for OA's future, Verelis said announcements would be issued at the end of the week, and said the government was examining an operational plan to restructure and reorganize the airline in a bid to expand its flight activity.

    Verelis intimated that certain loss-making lines would be abolished and efforts made to reduce personnel.

    He also said the airline's activities would be separated, thus confirming that a plan was being mulled to separate flight activity from other activities, such as ground services.

    Verelis expressed optimism that with the implementation of the plan drafted by the transports ministry, the opportunity will be given for business capital to be infused into the airline soon, thus bringing OA out of its current financial straits.

    Government spokesman Christos Protopapas underlined on Monday that the government was "steadfastly orientated toward privatizing OA" and was for this reason was continuing to work on a program to restore it to financial health.

    He said a great effort had been made to arrive at the right solution but that the second offer made for the airline had not been accepted.

    Following the news that the tender had failed, main opposition New Democracy called for another international tender to be held after the company's was brought back into the red.

    ND spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos noted that the new programs for restoring the company's financial health did not guarantee a solution in the long-term, while he stressed that the national carrier had to have a future.

    The government's repeated failure to sell OA was blatant proof that the airline's value had been eroded by wrong handling on the part of the government, he added.

    [17] Greek economy minister meets Yugoslav president, Serb premier

    BELGRADE, 19/02/2002 (ANA - A. Lidorikis)

    Greek Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis was received on Monday by Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica and also met with Serb Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.

    Christodoulakis' talks with the premier of Serbia focused on strengthening bilateral cooperation in the framework of the Serbian economy's restructuring and the privatization of businesses now underway there.

    Speaking earlier in the day, during the inauguration of the first National Bank of Greece branch to open in the Serbian capital, Christodoulakis expressed the "solidarity and support of Greece in the efforts of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to enter the European family."

    He said there are ample margins for the development of cooperation between Greek and Yugoslav businesses as part of the restructuring that is underway.

    He pointed out that such ventures could begin with the connection of the Greek power grid with that of Yugoslavia and then with the rest of Europe, creating a common energy market in this way.

    Christodoulakis also underlined that the entry of the National Bank of Greece into the Yugoslav market would contribute to the restructuring and modernizing of the neighboring country's banking system.

    [18] Draft law on Balkan economic reconstruction

    Athens, 19/02/2002 (ANA)

    The foreign ministry's draft law on the "Greek Balkan Economic Reconstruction Plan" can contribute positively towards the systematization and strengthening of economic aid provided for Balkan countries by Greece, according to the Economic and Social Committee of Greece (OKE).

    OKE held a plenary session on Monday to express an opinion on the draft law. The meeting was attended by Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos.

    OKE ascertained that Greece's direct participation in the effort neighboring countries are making to achieve their economic reconstruction is imperative.

    It was added that every effort aimed at widening and systematizing Greece's role in Balkan economic reconstruction can only be handled favorably by OKE.

    Moreover, OKE believes that the draft plan's targets should include the combatting of poverty and the strengthening of the citizens' society, as well as boosting the countries' production apparatus by upgrading small and medium-size enterprises.

    [19] Development minister meets business leaders, focuses on inflation control

    Athens, 19/02/2002 (ANA)

    Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos met with representatives of the business community on Monday, in a meeting marked by the absence of foodstuff retailers.

    The focus of the meeting was on strategies to maintain low prices in efforts to keep inflation in check. The talks were marked by a climate of understanding and under the terms of a political agreement.

    [20] Record number of British tourists in Greece this year

    Athens, 19/02/2002 (ANA)

    Greek Tourism Organization (GNTO) on Monday said that 2002 will be a record-year for tourist arrivals from the UK because of improved infrastructure in several airports (Rhodes, Crete, Corfu and Athens) and of basic tourist services in the country.

    GNTO based its estimates to written estimates of around 3.0 million British tourists this year from 2.7 million in 2001, according to figures by ABTA, the Association of British Travel Agents.

    GNTO' secretary-general, Yiannis Patelis, said the organization would also seek to promote Greek conference tourism abroad.

    Patelis visited this year's Confex, an international trade fair on conference tourism.

    Greece was unable, so far, to penetrate the international conference market, with GNTO seeking to attract incentive tourism - at a first stage - at the country's main tourist centers (Athens, Thessaloniki, Rhodes, Corfu, Kos, Crete, Halkidiki and Zakynthos).

    [21] Piraeus Bank in consortium to buy Turkish bank

    Athens, 19/02/2002 (ANA)

    Piraeus Bank, which is quoted on the Athens bourse, is part of a consortium that has submitted an initial offer for the acquisition of Toprakbank, owned by the Turkish state, Reuters news agency reported from Istanbul.

    Global Securities of Turkey informed the Istanbul bourse that Templeton Asset Management of the US and Avrasya Investment Holding also were members of the consortium, in addition to Piraeus and Global, Reuters said.

    Bidders have until April 2 to make a final offer for the bankrupt unit.

    [22] Greek consumer group reveals "unjustified" price increases

    Athens, 19/02/2002 (ANA)

    A report by Greece's largest consumer group INKA on Monday revealed "significant and unjustified divergences in consumer product prices" in the domestic market following the introduction of the euro currency in the Greek economy.

    INKA said that price divergence reached 87 percent in the first one-and-a-half month of the euro introduction and that price increases totalled 29 percent in the last 12 months.

    The report also revealed that Greek consumers were mostly disappointed over the product quality/value ratio.

    INKA said that the problems of lack of transparency in the market and a widening gap between low-high prices for consumer products were showing signs of worsening in the wake of the euro currency circulation and expected this trend to become even more worse following the final withdrawal of the drachma.

    [23] Greek stocks end sharply lower on Monday

    Athens, 19/02/2002 (ANA)

    Greek stocks suffered heavy losses in the first trading session of the week undermined by lack of buying interest and low liquidity in the market.

    The general index ended 1.12 percent lower at 2,461.01 points, with turnover a low Dr 32.5 billion, or 95.3 million euros.

    The Holdings, Wholelsae and Banks sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (2.54 percent, 1.52 percent and 1.42 percent, respectively).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 1.33 percent lower, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index eased 1.27 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 1.20 percent down.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 290 to 47 with another 23 issues unchanged.

    The most heavily traded shares were Dias Fish Farms, Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, Panafon, National Bank of Greece, and Alpha Bank.

    Equity index futures drop in slim trade: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange declined on Monday in sharply lower turnover, traders said.

    Changing hands were about 4,200 contracts on turnover of 25.8 million euros.

    The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips lost 1.33 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks lost 1.27 percent.

    Bond prices mixed in light trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Monday finished mixed in slim trade focusing on five-year paper. The US market was closed for a public holiday.

    The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.29 percent, and the spread over the corresponding German bund was 35 basis points.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 1.5 billion euros.

    Buy orders accounted for about half of turnover.

    [24] 2004 Olympics the focus of SAE's new action plan

    Athens, 19/02/2002 (ANA)

    The newly elected board of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) on Monday unveiled its operational action plan for the coming period up until 2004, with the promotion of the upcoming Summer Olympics in Athens expectedly dominating the agenda.

    Along those lines, SAE said it plans to organize "Cultural Olympics" weeks in various expatriate Greek communities around the world, along with a sports tournament in Thessaloniki this June to promote several lesser-known - in Greece, at least --Olympic sports featuring expatriate athletes, as well as hospitality programs in Greece for expatriate youth.

    SAE will divide its initiatives and action into the areas of culture, education, Black Sea Hellenism, as well as promotion of Cyprus' civilization internationally.

    In terms of education, the emphasis will be on boosting Greek-language studies in expatriate communities and the establishment of new university chairs and departments of Hellenic studies.

    Finally, vocational training for young adults, hosting youths in Greece and meeting health care needs will be the priorities in terms of Black Sea region ethnic Greek communities.

    SAE President Andrew Athens and Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis detailed the plan during a press conference in Thessaloniki.

    [25] Parliament presidents sign proclamation on cultures

    Athens, 19/02/2002 (ANA)

    Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, speaking on Monday during the signing of a finalized proclamation by the parliament presidents of the most ancient cultures of the Mediterranean (Egyptian, Greek, Persian and Roman), said "dialogue among cultures is the only reply to violence and terrorism from wherever it comes."

    "Our parliaments' expressed will for their cooperation to proceed in the framework of dialogue among cultures constitutes a promising message for strengthening relations and mutual understanding among peoples," Kaklamanis said.

    The presidents of the Greek Parliament, the Popular Assembly of the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Islamic Advisory Assembly of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Italian Parliament also hailed the decision taken by the UN's General Assembly to proclaim 2001 as the world year of dialogue among cultures

    [26] Onassis cultural center to be created in Athens by 2005

    Athens, 19/02/2002 (ANA)

    The creation of the Onassion House of Literature and Fine Arts was announced on Monday by Onassis Foundation president Stelios Papadimitriou. The premises will be ready to be used for cultural events by 2005.

    The cultural center will be located at Syngrou Ave. 109, in Athens and will cover an area of 3,000 sq. meters. It is budgeted at 50 million euro.

    The center will include, among other things, a 1,000-seat amphitheatre, music and conference halls, a library and a restaurant.

    [27] 2002 dedicated to Greek Diaspora Women

    Athens, 19/02/2002 (ANA)

    A briefing meeting was held in Thessaloniki on Monday on events marking the occasion of 2002 dedicated to Greek Diaspora Women. The discussion was organized by the foreign and interior ministries and was attended by local government officials and women's organizations in Thessaloniki.

    Speaking at the meeting, Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis said that "the events for the Greek Women of the Diaspora will be held in Athens and Thessaloniki but also in the big regions, America, Oceania, Europe and Asia where distinguished Greek women of the Diaspora will be honored for their contributions."

    As announced by the members of the organizing committee of the Year 2002 for Greek Women of the Diaspora, a two-day event will be held in Athens in May on the theme "Greek woman of the Diaspora on the crossroads of civilizations".

    [28] Spokesman: 'We hope the Turkish side will revise its positions'

    NICOSIA, 19/02/2002 (CAN/ANA)

    Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou has said that the solution of the Cyprus problem cannot be the result of a middle of the road arrangement between two different things, federation and confederation, and stressed that insistence by the Turkish side on two separate states in Cyprus will lead nowhere, adding that the Greek Cypriot side has conveyed this message to foreign mediators involved in the Cyprus peace effort.

    Papapetrou told his press briefing that "the effort to solve the problem has a deadline and will fail", if the Turkish side insists on its demand for a confederation of two sovereign states on the island, a position which is reiterated in a letter Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem has sent recently to his 15 EU counterparts.

    "Our hope is that at the end of the day the Turkish side will revise its positions and adopt views consistent with the parameters of UN Security Council resolutions and the EU acquis communautaire. Then the conditions for a settlement will emerge," he added.

    "But I think that such views will lead us nowhere and Turkey is very well aware of that," he added.

    Invited to comment on the Turkish position, outlined in Cem's letter, that an interim agreement must be reached, Papapetrou said he failed to understand the meaning of such a remark.

    "An effort to solve the problem is currently underway. Either we succeed or we fail. There cannot be anything else in between. There may be some deadlines for the implementation of an agreement but I don’t see what an interim solution could mean," Papapetrou said.

    He also noted that an agreement in Cyprus cannot be a result of bridging the differences between federation and confederation, "which are totally different", as he said.

    Papapetrou said that a solution must comply with the compromise the two communities in Cyprus reached in the '70s, which provides for a bicommunal bizonal federation.

    The international community has repeatedly endorsed this compromise, with resolutions adopted by the UN, the EU, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Commonwealth and other organizations, he added.

    Invited to say whether this is something foreign mediators should take into consideration, Papapetrou said "certainly and this message is given out by the Greek Cypriot side in an explicit way."

    [29] FM Kasoulides holds meetings in Germany

    NICOSIA, 19/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, who is in Berlin on a three-day visit, met on Monday with Germany's Deputy Foreign Minister in charge of European Affairs Christoph Zopel whom he briefed on the efforts to reach a solution to the Cyprus problem, within the framework of the direct talks between the leaders of the two communities on the island.

    According to an official press release issued by the Cyprus Embassy in Berlin, Kasoulides also discussed with Zopel the last chapters to be completed by Cyprus within the framework of its harmonization with the acquis communautaire.

    On Tuesday, Kasoulides will hold official talks with his German counterpart Joschka Fischer. Kasoulides leaves Germany on Tuesday.

    From Germany, Kasoulides will pay a two-day visit to Malta, a country he described as "very friendly to Cyprus" which is working in the same intensive way for its bid to join the EU.

    [30] Cyprus to participate in the European Convention

    NICOSIA, 19/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus will participate in the European Convention to be convened in Brussels, on March 1, in accordance with the European Council's decisions taken at Laeken.

    The government will be represented by Michalis Attalides, retired permanent secretary of the Foreign Ministry, and Theophilos Theophilou, Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the EU, who will act as his deputy.

    Participating in the Convention will also be 16 members of the European Parliament and two representatives of the European Commission.

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