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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-02-20

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

February 20, 2002


  • [01] PM satisfied with progress of Attica high-way, metro extensions
  • [02] Visiting Luxembourg premier speaks on EU in Old Parliament building
  • [03] PASOK secretary reiterates proposal on center-left dialogue
  • [04] Prosecutor files espionage, fraud charges against Kokkalis
  • [05] Greece shares EU concern over extension of Afghanistan war
  • [06] ND sector-heads discuss illegal gambling, OA; Protopapas responds
  • [07] Iranian Parliament VP lauds Athens' interest in Mideast
  • [08] Greece and Bulgaria sign health cooperation program
  • [09] EU ministers on measures to combat violence against women
  • [10] Final decisions on Olympic Airways on Thursday
  • [11] Agriculture minister tables crop loss compensation request
  • [12] M.J.Maillis announces new acquisitions abroad
  • [13] ERS block to IKA-Intrasoft deal is absolutely legal, minister says
  • [14] New Greek navy tanker launched
  • [16] U.S. ambassador visits GMC industry in Xanthi
  • [17] Greek tipped by central bankers for ECB vice president
  • [18] Economy minister calls for contract of trust with trade unions
  • [19] Greece, FYROM bourse authorities mull dual listing
  • [20] ASE rejects reports over creation of a "three-tier" market
  • [21] Greek stocks end sharply lower in ASE
  • [22] Athletes brief Parliament over 2004 preparation
  • [23] Olympic torch relay route up for discussion this week
  • [24] New Acropolis Museum competition entries on show in Athens
  • [25] Event in New York on preparations for Athens 2004 Olympiad
  • [26] Supreme Court to examine German real estate confiscation
  • [27] Sultans' Glassware exhibition in Athens
  • [28] German FM has high hopes of a solution to Cyprus problem
  • [29] National Council to evaluate talks

  • [01] PM satisfied with progress of Attica high-way, metro extensions

    Athens, 20/02/2002 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday said he was greatly satisfied with the progress being made in the construction of the Attiki highway and an extension of the Athens metro after inspecting worksites with Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou earlier that morning.

    "I was very impressed by what is being done here," Simitis told Papandreou after visiting the Attiki Highway-Kifissias Avenue junction and the extension of line 3 of the metro at the Doukissis Plakentias station in Polydroso, Halandri.

    In statements afterward, the prime minister stressed that the works were progressing on schedule and would be ready within the deadlines set, some in 2002 and 2003, while the remainder in 2004 before the start of the Olympic Games.

    Simitis also underlined that the projects would greatly improve life in Athens when completed and urged local residents to bear with any inconvenience they had to put up with at present.

    Papandreou stressed the large size of the projects and that they would transform life in Athens once completed.

    According to the minister, the section of the Attica highway linking the new Athens airport with the Elefsina toll post and the western Hymettus ring road would be ready by the end of 2003, while a large section of the road from Kymis Avenue to Pentelis Avenue would be open to traffic by the end of the year.

    The Kifissias Avenue underpass at the junction with the Attica highway would be ready and open for traffic by the end of the coming April, she said.

    The giant split-level junction near the OTE building will have three levels, with the Attica highway itself and the suburban railway line on the lowest level, 13 meters below ground level.

    Above this and three meters below ground level will be the Kifissias Avenue underpass and above this, on ground level, a circular junction that will be used to enter and exit the Attica highway.

    Even more significant is the flyover at the Doukissis Plakentias junction, which is destined to become a transportation hub for Athens. When complete, this will link the western Hymettus ring road, the Attica Highway from Elefsina to Spata and the airport, the suburban railway and the Athens metro.

    Due to be finished by December 2003, the junction will create road and rail links spanning Athens from Thriasio Pedio near Elefsina to the Mesogia in eastern Attica, from the new Athens airport from Mesogia to Piraeus, as well as the new Athens airport to Athens' western and southern suburbs.

    The metro station at Doukissis Plakentias will be one of two constructed prior to the Olympics, with the second at the Stavros junction at the top of Mesogion Avenue and serving the northeast suburbs Halandri, Vrilissia, Pendeli and Agia Paraskevi.

    The section of the tunnel to Doukissis Plakentias will be ready in a year's time, while the rest will be completed by spring 2004 and will be ready to begin operating by June 2004.

    Another three stations are planned for the route, all of which will be constructed after the Olympics.

    Other metro extensions due to be delivered before the 2004 Games are the line linking Syntagma and Monastiraki, due in December, and the extensions from Sepolia to Peristeri and Daphni to Ilioupoli.

    Due after the Olympics is the extension of the Monastiraki line to Aigaleo.

    [02] Visiting Luxembourg premier speaks on EU in Old Parliament building

    Athens, 20/02/2002 (ANA)

    Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker spoke on the successes, failures and ambitions of the European Union on Tuesday night at the Old Parliament building in the presence of Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and numerous members of the government.

    Juncker, who began a two-day official visit to Greece on Tuesday, declared his pro European feelings, but spoke of a deficit of a social policy in Europe today.

    "The common currency exists, but we have to learn to manage it," he said, noting that the current coordination of the European economic policy is not what is demanded.

    He spoke for a European Constitution and said that there is a need for an institutional reform in Europe, before the grand step of enlargement, thus, he said, a longer-term European presidency is needed, so as for one minister to hold the specific responsibility of each subject and bring it to completion, in one or more years.

    Juncker spoke of the need for a common foreign and defense policy, as well as the institutional harmonization to the measure demanded by the internal market.

    "Europe should follow the road of patience and determination, following the example of the Greeks," he said, congratulating Simitis and the Greek people for their success in their effort in Europe.

    Earlier in the day Juncker also met with Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, who presented him with the medal of the city of Athens and spoke of the premier's contribution to his country and the European Union, while he reminded all that it was during Luxembourg's EU presidency that Cyprus was accepted as a candidate member-state.

    On his part, Juncker spoke of Athens' history, being the birth-place of democracy, philosophers and poets, and of current artists and citizens of the country that often exhibit their work in his country.

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephano-poulos on Tuesday night received the Luxembourg premier, accompanied by Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Giannitsis.

    [03] PASOK secretary reiterates proposal on center-left dialogue

    Athens, 20/02/2002 (ANA)

    PASOK Central Committee secretary Costas Laliotis, reiterating his proposal for dialogue aimed at creating a left-left policy and government majority, determined the recipients of his proposal on Tuesday, which are all parties with the exception of the main opposition New Democracy party, whose reactions he termed "cries of the desperate."

    Laliotis discussed the issue with Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday, as well as consultations underway in PASOK on the selection of candidate mayors and prefects who will be backed by the ruling party.

    Speaking after his meeting with Simitis, Laliotis said his proposal is directed at the leaderships of the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos), the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) and the Free Citizens Movement (KEP) and not them alone.

    He added that it is also directed at "Greek citizens, democrats and progressive citizens wishing to play an active role in a movement of renewal, democracy, modernization, reforms and changes in Greece."

    Coalition leader opposes proposed cooperation pact with PASOK: Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) on Tuesday criticized the government's policy and rejected a "friendship and cooperation" pact proposed by the ruling PASOK party.

    Coalition leader Nikos Constantopoulos said the government's policy "destroys the social and political progressive majority," stressing that "we are in an extended pre-election period during which Synaspismos is exercising its opposition program against the government's policy because it does not agree with it."

    Constantopoulos underlined that everyone "is calling for a cleansing of the country's political life and a restructuring of public life. Because all people see that public life is ailing and our political system is suffering and 'leaking' from everywhere."

    Expressing his disagreement with the government, Constantopoulos said the government's policy was becoming all the more similar to that of the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party.

    [04] Prosecutor files espionage, fraud charges against Kokkalis

    Athens, 20/02/2002 (ANA)

    An Athens first instance prosecutor on Tuesday filed felony espionage charges, among others, against telecoms tycoon Socrates Kokkalis, the president of the Intracom group.

    The indictments, including felony charges of fraud, embezzlement, money laundering as well as two counts of misdemeanor bribery, follow an 11-month judicial investigation initially spurred by allegations from main opposition New Democracy deputy Panos Kammenos, who claimed that Kokkalis had served for the former East German intelligence agency, better known as "Stazi".

    The same prosecutor, Dimitris Papaggelopou-los, also investigated the Kokkalis group's involvement with a project to launch a lottery in Russia, an issue that has repeatedly been the focus of several articles by the Athens daily "Kathimerini".

    Both investigation files have been forwarded to an investigating magistrate, the next step under Greece's criminal justice process.

    According to evidence listed in the indictments, and reportedly based on information gleaned from Stazi's files, Kokkalis was recruited by the East German agency to commit industrial and hi-tech espionage for the one-time Soviet bloc under the guise of normal trade and business activities.

    Another claim is that Kokkalis bribed members of the Russian National Olympic Committee in order to win the contract for the Russian "Lotto".

    Telecoms tycoon denies espionage, criminal charges: Intracom group president Socrates Kokkalis on Tuesday afternoon issued a categorical denial of charges filed against him earlier in the day by an Athens prosecutor, including felony counts of espionage, fraud, embezzlement, money laundering and two misdemeanor bribery charges.

    Kokkalis stressed that the charge of espionage, especially, pained him deeply as both an individual and as a Greek citizen.

    "Once again the well-know circles, via the same politicians, as well as certain newspapers, which 'specialize' in the commissioned war against me, are playing a leading role as so-called 'informants' and 'seekers' of the truth, in a new criminal prosecution which was initiated with totally unfounded charges," a press release issued by Kokkalis read.

    "I declare to all that the same thing (charges will be dropped) will occur in this case as well, since I simply had no involvement and I have no involvement in any kind of criminal actions," he added.

    "All those that publicly and repeatedly slander me will have to at last assume their responsibility when these charges fall apart," he concluded.

    ND calls for justice to be left untrammeled in Kokkalis' prosecution: Main opposition New Democracy Party spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, commenting on the prosecution of businessman Socrates Kokkalis on Tuesday, said that "justice is called on to investigate a case concerning the defense of the state and the national interest as well".

    "Everybody, and the government even more so, should understand that justice should be left unobstructed and unaffected to do its duty, with full respect for the independence of its functionaries," he added.

    Gov't spokesman responds to ND's comment on the Kokkalis case: Government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Tuesday responded to main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos statements regarding the Socrates Kokkalis case, saying that it is self-evident that the independent justice is obliged to do its work in the framework of a just state.

    He added that ND is obliged to know that justice does not need protectors and even more so prompters.

    Earlier an Athens first instance prosecutor brought Intracom S.A. president Kokkalis up on charges of espionage and fraud, among others.

    KKE calls Kokkalis' activities showcase of free market "jungle": The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Tuesday issued a press release saying that the business activities of Socrates Kokkalis shows the "jungle" of the free market and the "so very much expected" liberalization of the market.

    [05] Greece shares EU concern over extension of Afghanistan war

    Athens, 20/02/2002 (ANA)

    The Greek government shares the concern of its EU partners over the extension of the war in Afghanistan, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said Tuesday.

    "The Greek government shares the concern of the European partners over the extension of the war in Afghanistan. We are in favor of combatting terrorism, but the unarmed population should not pay the price," he said.

    Protopapas made the statement in reply to questions, adding that Greece will send a company of engineers and a mobile hospital unit to Afghanistan, in the framework of the international peace and security force.

    [06] ND sector-heads discuss illegal gambling, OA; Protopapas responds

    Athens, 20/02/2002 (ANA)

    Illegal gambling and video slot machines dominated a meeting of main opposition New Democracy sector heads on Tuesday, with many ND cadres - including Dora Bakoyianni - favoring a total ban of video games that might be converted to games of chance, while others called for greater monitoring and control.

    Former ND leader Miltiades Evert, meanwhile, called for the resignation of Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Paschalidis after yet another TV program over the weekend implied links between the minister and illegal gambling.

    Other topics covered during the meeting chaired by ND leader Costas Karamanlis were the latest failure in the tender to sell the national carrier Olympic Airways.

    After the meeting, ND spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said that the main opposition had already proposed that the cabinet give the police greater powers to enforce strict and sweeping controls of illegal gambling.

    "If we accept that the state cannot guarantee the basics, then the next step is a complete ban of these games," the spokesman added.

    Regarding OA, the spokesman said the government seemed to be at sea and not to have any alternative plans as it had originally claimed. He described the government as incapable of pushing through structural reforms and called on it to adopt a "brave policy" that would lead to OA's privatization and to take fundamental measures to restore the airline's financial health.

    Asked about recent statements by ruling PASOK in favor of changing election laws and cooperating in elections with the parties of the Left, the spokesman reiterated that PASOK remembered the Left and election laws when it seemed about to lose an election.

    He refused to say how ND would react to the prospect of a change in election laws.

    The spokesman also slammed the government over the way it handled the issue of contract and temporary workers in the public sector, describing its approach as unacceptable.

    Responding on Tuesday, government spokesman Christos Protopapas noted that illegal gambling was not the responsibility of any single party and said it was wrong to link these affairs with political forces in the country.

    He particularly stressed that no government minister was involved, while pointing out that many of these illegal gambling venues had operated with the tolerance of ND-dominated local authorities, such as Patras and Yiannitsa.

    Protopapas hailed a decision by the Ioannina mayor to shut down all illegal gambling venues in the city, while he said the government would work together with the opposition parties and announce additional measures against the problem.

    The existing legislation did provide means for dealing with the problem, he added, but additional measures might be required.

    Regarding Paschalidis, in particular, he said the minister continued to have the trust of Prime Minister Costas Simitis and would be part of the government delegation accompanying Simitis on his tour of Imathia and Pella prefectures.

    [07] Iranian Parliament VP lauds Athens' interest in Mideast

    Athens, 20/02/2002 (ANA)

    The vice-president of Iran's parliament, Mohammad Reza Khatami, on Tuesday personally conveyed Tehran's appreciation for Athens' interest in Middle East developments, during a meeting here with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.

    During their meeting, the Iranian official again conveyed an invitation by the speaker of the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majles), Mehdi Mahdavi-Karubi, for Kaklamanis to visit the Mideast nation.

    "Greece is contributing in earnest towards the solution of problems in our region, and it can also play a decisive role in relations between Iran and the European countries," Khatami said, before he referring directly to the situation regarding the Palestinians. In terms of the latter, he said the issue is "a source of tension and abnormality, both for the wider region, as well as for the whole world."

    On his part, Kaklamanis cited Athens' interest in further developing cooperation with Iran.

    [08] Greece and Bulgaria sign health cooperation program

    SOFIA, 20/02/2002 (ANA - B. Borisov)

    Health Minister Alekos Papadopoulos and his Bulgarian counterpart Bozhidar Finkov signed a Cooperation Program between their ministries here on Tuesday, considered a substantive new step in the dynamic development of Greek-Bulgarian relations.

    The document includes a wide spectrum of health and medical activities to further widen the already close cooperation in the health sector.

    Greece and Bulgaria will exchange doctors and implement common cross-border cooperation programs in the sectors of public health, the joint combatting of infectious diseases and the transfusion and production of blood products.

    "Apart from the will of the two ministers, which is a given fact, our countries' interest in cooperation on health issues is indeed very great," Papadopoulos said in a statement.

    Papadopoulos' two-day visit to Sofia was concluded with the Cooperation Program's signing. He is due back in Athens later in the day.

    [09] EU ministers on measures to combat violence against women

    SANTIAGO de COMPOSTELLA, 20/02/2002 (ANA - E. Boukaouri)

    Measures to combat violence against women topped the agenda at the unofficial European Union council of ministers' meeting in this historic city of Spain on Tuesday.

    The 15 ministers concluded that this phenomenon that knows no geographical boundaries, age limits or class, race and cultural differences and insists on mocking legislation on the equality of genders should be confronted everywhere it exists.

    Greek Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou and Spanish Minister of Labor and Social Issues Juan Carlos Aparicio chaired the meeting. Along with the 15 EU ministers, representatives from candidate member-states were also present.

    During the meetings, representatives stressed that the EU needs a common definition of the meaning of the term "violence against women" and the importance of the wide cooperation between the agencies involved, as well as the continual exchange of information regarding the implemented policy of every country.

    [10] Final decisions on Olympic Airways on Thursday

    Athens, 20/02/2002 (ANA)

    Final decisions on the future of Olympic Airways, Greece's national carrier, will be taken on Thursday since the members of the inner cabinet will examine the issue.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis chaired a meeting on Tuesday night, attended by Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis and Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, which focused on all alternative scenarios for the airline's future, following the deadlock in negotiations with an Australian joint venture on the sale of a majority package.

    Speaking after the meeting, Verelis said a restructuring plan prepared by relevant ministries for Olympic Airways was presented to Simitis.

    On the question of where money will be found to implement the plan, Verelis said that by the initiative of the privatization adviser, Credite Swiss First Boston, money will be collected and private capital will exist in the new airline and into which the company's majority package will pass, while the Hellenic state will be a minority.

    He also clarified that the restructuring plan is in absolute accordance with rules set by the European Union.

    Referring to the tender on the sale of Olympic Airways, declared inconclusive, Verelis said the Australian joint venture IAS did not succeed in bringing the amount of 102 million euros and necessary letters of guarantee within the time limits prescribed.

    [11] Agriculture minister tables crop loss compensation request

    BRUSSELS, 20/02/2002 (ANA - V. Demiris)

    Greek Agriculture Minister George Drys brought up the issue of crop loss compensation for damages sustained during a spate of inclement weather in December 2001 and January 2002 during his meeting here on Tuesday with EU Commissioner Franz Fischler.

    He told Greek reporters that the relevant request would be tabled to the Commission on Feb. 28, while noting that Fischler promised a speedy approval of compensation to eligible Greek farmers.

    Additionally, the controversial new Commission regulations for cotton subsidies and production quotas - an issue that has generated the most protest by Greek farmers of late -- were also discussed.

    Finally, according to Drys, intensifying monitoring and checks in the subsidy payment system was also examined.

    [12] M.J.Maillis announces new acquisitions abroad

    Athens, 20/02/2002 (ANA)

    M.J.Maillis AEBE, a listed Greek packaging group, on Tuesday announced the purchase of a remaining 49 percent equity stake in Finnish company OY Astrap, taking the company under its full control.

    The Finnish company will be renamed to M.J.Maillis Finland.

    The Greek company also announced the full acquisition of Astar Sweden, taking full control of the company to be renamed M.J.Maillis Sweden.

    A company statement said that COMBI Packaging Systems LLC, a company based in the US and equally owned by Italy's SIAT Spa - a subsidiary of M.J.Maillis - and 3M, would absorb all assets and operations of IPE Corporation (a subsidiary of SIAT Spa in the US).

    M.J.Maillis Group said the company has strengthened its position in the international market and was expecting a significant rise in its results from this year.

    [13] ERS block to IKA-Intrasoft deal is absolutely legal, minister says

    Athens, 20/02/2002 (ANA)

    Press and Media Minister Christos Protopapas on Tuesday said he would have to deny a request from the Social Insurance Foundation (IKA), asking him to intervene so that a contract with the IT firm Intrasoft to install a computer system in the country's largest social security fund could go ahead.

    The problems arose with the National Radio and Television Council (ERS) refused to issue a certificate that would allow the deal with Intrasoft, on the grounds that Intrasoft owners were also main shareholders in media companies, which are barred from entering into contracts with the state sector.

    In a letter to Protopapas that was also sent to the ERS, labor ministry and other bodies, IKA governor Miltiades Nektarios asked the minister to provide a solution to the problem.

    On his part, Protopapas noted that the ERS had acted absolutely legally and therefore it was impossible to grant Nektarios' request.

    [14] New Greek navy tanker launched

    Athens, 20/02/2002 (ANA)

    A ceremony to launch the Greek navy's newest oil tanker, the "Prometheus", was held on Tuesday at the Elefsina shipyards, west of Athens.

    The new vessel will be the largest tanker in the Greek navy fleet at 13,300 DWT and a length of 146.5 meters. The ship's design hails from the Fincantieri shipyards in Trieste, although the construction took place in Elefsina.

    Seaworthiness tests are set to begin in September.

    [15] Intracom proclaimed allied member of USTOA

    Athens, 20/02/2002 (ANA)

    The Intracom company has been proclaimed an allied member of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) after its software tourist package First Class TM Systems gained the confidence of one of the biggest tourist organizations in the United States.

    An announcement by the company said it gained the distinction deservedly since it is considered internationally as being one of the main supplier companies of advanced technology informatics systems in the tourist sector.

    USTOA is a non-profit organization aimed at briefing all competent agencies on opportune issues concerning tourism, protecting travel agencies and the public from possible problems of an economic nature, safeguarding the high level of services provided and promoting world tourism.

    [16] U.S. ambassador visits GMC industry in Xanthi

    Athens, 20/02/2002 (ANA)

    US Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller paid a scheduled visit to the GMC industry in Xanthi, northern Greece, on Tuesday, accompanied by embassy officials and members of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce.

    GMC President Ilias Kambakas presented information on the industry's activities and underlined its development course, as well as that of the other industrial units in the group.

    He also stressed the dominant role played by these businesses in the Greek market, their developing export orientation and international cooperation, particularly with the American General Dynamic LS.

    After the presentation, Miller attended an official dinner given in his honor by Kambakas in his capacity as president of the Xanthi Federation of Industries and attended by local officials and businessmen from eastern Macedonia and Thrace.

    [17] Greek tipped by central bankers for ECB vice president

    Athens, 20/02/2002 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece governor Lucas Papademos is favored among central banking circles for the post of vice president of the European Central Bank when Christian Noyer steps down in May.

    "Papademos has been tipped in central banking circles, but euro zone politicians may not want to be handed a done deal, preferring to show that they - and not central bankers - pick the ECB board," Reuters news agency said in a news analysis from Frankfurt.

    Papademos is a member of the ECB's governing council.

    A shortlist of candidates is being drawn up ahead of a European Union summit in Barcelona on March 15-16.

    [18] Economy minister calls for contract of trust with trade unions

    Athens, 20/02/2002 (ANA)

    National Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Tuesday proposed a contract based on trust between the government and the trade unions on issues of development and employment.

    In a meeting with General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) leaders, Christodoulakis presented his positions, stressing that a viable development presupposes the participation of the workers and noted that inflation was close to the European Union average, which it will approach even more during the current year.

    This last inflation jump, he said, was due to bad weather conditions and developments related to the economy.

    Speaking on the social security issue he said that the reform should have not only have a social dimension but one that promotes development as well, reiterating that the solution should come from dialogue, but it should also have financial characteristics as well.

    This solution, he added, should also be in connected with the development of businesses and should be compatible with the reforms in other European Union countries. He did not, however, comment on the funding of the social security system.

    In presenting comparative statistics, the minister stressed that the purchasing power of the average Greek rose to 71 per cent of the EU average in 2001 up from 65 per cent in 1994, while productivity in Greece rose to 84 per cent of the EU average in 2001 compared with 74 per cent in 1994.

    He concluded stressing that the ministry's focus for the next period will be the tax reform, projects related to the EU community support framework fund and the national action plan for employment and the social security issue.

    [19] Greece, FYROM bourse authorities mull dual listing

    Athens, 20/02/2002 (ANA)

    Authorities of the Thessaloniki Stock Exchange Center and the Skopje bourse in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia met on Tuesday to debate plans for cooperation, including dual listing.

    Hellenic Stock Exchanges SA, owner of the Athens bourse and Thessaloniki center, made the proposal for dual listing.

    Hellenic is also considering buying a stake in the Skopje bourse.

    [20] ASE rejects reports over creation of a "three-tier" market

    Athens, 20/02/2002 (ANA)

    The Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday rejected recent press reports over the creation of a "three-tier" market and noted that "the stock market is interested for the total of listed companies while its main target is to operate as a growth lever for them."

    An ASE statement said that market authorities were promoting policies to help all listed companies and that it was examining ways to improve the Greek market's international appreciation and its operation in cooperation with all market participants.

    ASE rejected as "fully false and unfounded" all information included in a press report saying that ASE was promoting a plan to put "most stock shares off from continuous trading in the market."

    The announcement said that plans under consideration were directed to benefit the total of listed companies and not a selection of them and that market authorities have decided not to make any announcements until a final decision was made on the issue.

    Press reports said that ASE was planning to place stock shares into three different groups of trading; the first, including blue chip stocks with high trading volume, the second, including blue chips with not sufficient volumes and medium capitalization stocks that would need necessarily a primary dealer, and the third, including the rest of listed shares that would be traded regularly based on a call auction system.

    [21] Greek stocks end sharply lower in ASE

    Athens, 20/02/2002 (ANA)

    News of indictments against Greek businessman Socrates Kokkalis undermined sentiment in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, leading investors to massive selling of blue chip stocks and pushing prices sharply lower.

    The general index ended 1.74 percent down at 2,418.11 points, with turnover a moderate 52.7 billion drachmas, or 154.7 million euros.

    Share prices of companies included in Kokkalis Group suffered heavy losses, with Intracom off 16.16 percent, Intralot down 9.47 percent and Intracom Construction down 11.20 percent.

    The IT, IT Solutions and Publication sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses (4.86 percent, 3.55 percent and 3.22 percent, respectively), with only the Retail sector scoring gains (0.29 percent).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 1.48 percent lower, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index fell 2.17 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 1.75 percent down.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 308 to 31 with another 15 issues unchanged.

    The most heavily traded shares were Intracom, Dias Fish Farms, Intralot, Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, and Alpha Bank.

    Equity index futures drop in edgy trade: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange declined on Tuesday in volatile trade with contracts shifting from discount to premium and back again, traders said.

    Turnover was 51.5 million euros.

    The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips shed 1.48 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks lost 2.17 percent.

    Bond prices down in moderate trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Tuesday finished lower in moderate 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 38 basis points.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 2.1 billion euros.

    Sell orders accounted for the bulk of turnover.

    [22] Athletes brief Parliament over 2004 preparation

    Athens, 20/02/2002 (ANA)

    Several Greek Olympic champions and their coaches briefed members of a relevant Parliament committee on Tuesday over athletes' preparation for the upcoming 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.

    A lack of proper training facilities, a modern sports ergometric center and complete medical care.

    Additionally, the athletes requested that they receive their bonuses directly from the state, instead of their respective federations.

    [23] Olympic torch relay route up for discussion this week

    Athens, 20/02/2002 (ANA)

    Preparations for the 2004 Games, the "Cultural Olympiad" and the path for the high-profile "Olympic torch" relay in neighboring countries should dominate talks later this week in Thessaloniki amongst the culture and sports ministers from SE European countries.

    According to an initial itinerary, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis will meet with the ministers on Friday in the northern city of Veria, on the sidelines of a ceremony inaugurating the area's new Byzantine museum.

    [24] New Acropolis Museum competition entries on show in Athens

    Athens, 20/02/2002 (ANA)

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday presented an exhibition of the 12 entries submitted in an international architectural competition for the construction of the new Acropolis Museum, including the winning entry by the architectural firm Bernard Tschumi.

    Models of the 12 designs will be on show at the museum in Makrygianni street in central Athens.

    Dimitris Pantermalis, president of the Organization for the Construction of the New Acropolis Museum (OANMA), told reporters that the new museum would be ready in 2004.

    According to Venizelos, the government had already grappled with a number of problems related to the construction of the new museum, such as archaeological considerations, legal matters, land expropriations and land surveying.

    There now remained the task of organizing a tender to choose a construction firm, after which the project could proceed rapidly, he said.

    The minister also noted that the new museum would have a special chamber built specifically to house the Parthenon Marbles once these were returned from Britain.

    Venizelos pointed out that one of the arguments used repeatedly by the British side in refusing to return the Marbles was the lack of a space built specifically to house them, an argument doomed to collapse once the Museum had been built.

    [25] Event in New York on preparations for Athens 2004 Olympiad

    NEW YORK, 20/02/2002 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)

    Preparations for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and the role the Greek-American community is called on to play for its success was the theme of an event organized here on Monday by the General Sports Secretariat, the General Consulate of Greece and the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE).

    The main speakers at the event were Sports General Secretary Nicos Exarchos and PASOK Deputy Panayiotis Fassoulas.

    Present at the event, among others, were the General Consuls of Greece and Cyprus in New York, Dimitris Platis and Vassilis Filippou, a representative of Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America Dimitrios, SAE members and representatives of Greek-American associations.

    [26] Supreme Court to examine German real estate confiscation

    Athens, 20/02/2002 (ANA)

    The Supreme Court's seventh department decided on Tuesday to refer the issue of the confiscation and auctioning of German real estate in Athens (the Goethe Institute and the German Archaeological Academy) by relatives of Distomo massacre victims during WW2 to the Supreme Court's plenum.

    The decision concerns applications by relatives of people killed by German occupation forces, calling for a revocation of appeals court rulings prohibiting confiscation and the auctioning of the German state's two buildings in Greece.

    An Athens Appeals Court had ruled last year that a necessary precondition for any action against a foreign state is the prior approval of the action by the justice minister, according to the penal procedure code.

    [27] Sultans' Glassware exhibition in Athens

    Athens, 20/02/2002 (ANA)

    An international exhibition dedicated to the Sultans' Glassware and its influence on European art will be inaugurated at the Benaki Museum in Athens on Wednesday.

    The exhibition is coming from the United States and Greece is its only stop in Europe.

    The 140 exhibits of Islamic glassware, dating back to the 7th to the 19th centuries, include all categories of glass. They have been brought from some of the biggest museums such as the New York Metropolitan Museum, the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and Berlin's Islamic Art Museum.

    [28] German FM has high hopes of a solution to Cyprus problem

    BERLIN, 20/02/2002 (ANA - P. Stangos)

    Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides discussed the Cyprus issue with his German counterpart Joschka Fischer here on Tuesday, who underlined the German government's desire for a solution to be found to the political problem.

    Fischer said the solution "should correspond to the interests of Cyprus and the two communities" and expressed the hope that "this solution will be achieved, if possible, before Cyprus's accession to the European Union. We are expecting a constructive stance from both sides."

    On the question of whether Cyprus could join the EU without the political problem being solved, Fischer said the Helsinki summit decision exists which does not consider a solution to the political problem as being a precondition and the European Council will take the relevant decision at the session, probably in Copenhagen, "in light of the accession negotiation results between the EU and the government of Cyprus."

    Fischer stressed the positive course of Cyprus's accession negotiations and referred to a relevant briefing made by Commissioner Guenter Verheugen.

    "We desire a speedy settlement of all problems which remain pending in these negotiations and we hope that the first candidate countries to join the EU will be able to participate in the next Euroelections in the summer of 2004," he added.

    On his part, Kasoulides said "the decision taken at Helsinki is clear and it is also clear that the government of Cyprus will make every effort for a successful conclusion to the accession negotiations."

    Regarding the issue of whether Cyprus will be included among the first candidate countries to join the EU, Fischer reminded that, according to the standing process, the European Commission will table its proposals on the basis of the outcome of accession negotiations with all candidate countries and then the European Council will be deciding.

    Fischer also referred to the letter addressed by Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem to the EU foreign ministers concerning the island republic's EU accession course, adding that it played no role in talks with Kasoulides and that "we did not discuss third countries."

    Kasoulides expressed his gratitude to Germany for its support and underlined that finding a solution to the political problem before accession is desirable because this would benefit not only Cyprus, but Turkey, Greece and the EU as well.

    Kasoulides, speaking to Greek correspondents later, expressed satisfaction over the results of his meetings with Fischer, Alternate Foreign Minister Christof Cepel on Monday and permanent Deputy Foreign Minister Guenter Ploiger on Tuesday.

    In his first assessment of his marathon contacts in Berlin, due to be continued on Wednesday with German party parliamentary representatives, Kasoulides ascertained the existence of a "common understanding" on the German side and its support for the effort being made for a solution to the political problem at this stage with the direct talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    Kasoulides' main concern was to make it clear to his interlocutors that the government of Cyprus desires, more than anyone else, the finding of a solution before Cyprus's accession to the EU and that it is making every possible effort for this target to be achieved.

    [29] National Council to evaluate talks

    NICOSIA, 20/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    The National Council, top advisory body to the President of the Republic on the Cyprus problem, will convene on Monday to discuss the direct talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou has said.

    Papapetrou told CNA that on Monday morning the Council will "evaluate developments so far in the direct talks", which began under UN auspices in mid January.

    The talks will recess for about ten days as of tomorrow and will resume on March 1, in the presence of UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto.

    De Soto leaves Wednesday for New York to brief the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the Security Council on the talks. He is due back at the end of the month.

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