|Monday, 27 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-02-26
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>February 26, 2002
 PM Simitis says confrontation with main opposition party reflects different policies and social groups
Athens, 26/02/2002 (ANA)The government's confrontation with the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party is not about who holds power, but a clearly political confrontation reflecting different political proposals and different social groups, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Monday, speaking to ruling PASOK deputies from south-central Greece.
"This is the truth," the premier said, adding that "ND can not handle reality and it is attempting to muddy the waters".
Simitis also said that ND represents the most "conservative establishment and believes in the political and social backtracking," noting that ND's political proposal was and still is a conservative one.
"ND represents the neo-liberal recipe, which wants to transform the society of citizens in a society of the market," he said, adding that "there can be genetically modified products, but there can not be modified parties".
The premier also spoke of the ruling party's efforts to cooperate with center-left political forces, stressing that PASOK should "walk on new political roads" with all the other progressive political forces, the forces of the left and center-left.
He added that the political climate of these days does not blear the focus of the government from its attention in its responsibilities and obligations.
Simitis stressed that "the campaign to denigrate politics can be answered by the political and governmental work of PASOK in confronting the small and large problems of the citizens and the completion of projects related to commitments toward the country, the society and the citizens".
ND leader criticizes gov't of failing to serve citizens: "The measure is lost when the state instead of serving the citizen becomes the oppressor of the citizen," main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis said on Monday during the presentation of a book entitled "About neo-liberalism" and published by the Konstantinos Karamanlis Institute for Democracy.
He added that this is so "when the state becomes subservient to petty party politics and to conservative practice and when it is trapped by small and big vested interests".
"He who allows the control of the state by the ruling party and helps towards the perpetuation of corruption is combatting the essence and quality of democracy," Karamanlis said.
"Whoever cultivates division and polarization consciously damages the country and the citizens and dissolves the last shreds of his dignity," he noted, adding that ND's top priority as a government would be to re-establish the state based on the principles of integrity and effectiveness of a state that will be humane, responsible, truly democratic and focusing on serving the citizens.
Former ND deputy George Souflias, also present at the event, accused the ruling party of ideological "confusion" and of lacking a clear ideology and stressed that it was PASOK that introduced populism on the Greek political scene.
Gov't, ND trade charges following PM's Edessa address: The latest stepped up round of political parrying between the government and the main opposition that commenced on Saturday with Prime Minister Costas Simitis' high-profile references to "scenarios of (political) aberration" and a media-fuelled smear campaign against the government continued on Monday.
"The only political leader that charged the prime minister with imagining scenarios of (political) aberration is Mr. Costas Karamanlis," the government spokesman said on Monday during his daily press briefing, and two days after the heated exchanges between the prime minister and the main opposition leader.
Regarding the substance of Simitis' high-profile remarks during an address in the town of Edessa on Saturday, the spokesman said the premier was describing the "murky political situation" of late apparent in the country, while also charging that certain "economic interests" vying for control of upcoming 3rd Community Support Framework funds were behind the recent political turbulence.
In a reply, ND spokesman Theodoris Rousso-poulos said Protopapas was merely trying to "justify what's unjustifiable ... as well as placing the blame on the main opposition, like the main opposition began this strange affair over a policy of aberrations," he said.
"Mr. Simitis should tell the Greek people who is behind these scenarios or apologies," Roussopoulos added.
Former ND leader questions PM on aberration forces: Former main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert tabled a question to Prime Minister Costas Simitis in Parliament on Monday, calling on him "to name those who are engineering the overturn of our democratic form of government and with what means."
Referring to a speech made by Simitis in the Pella prefecture, in northern Greece, Evert said "surprised, the Greek people watched Mr. Simitis, evidently having lost his coolness, who stated that there are forces which have chosen a strategy reminiscent of aberration policies."
According to Evert, this point as well as the prime minister's reference to eras leading the country to democracy, "create a climate of insecurity, uncertainty and fear which affect the country's economic and social life and disorientate the Greek people."
 Papandreou concludes visit to Lithuania
VILNIUS, 26/02/2002 (ANA - A. Makridis)Foreign Minister George Papandreou wound up his official visit here on Monday following talks with the country's Prime Minister Algirdas Mykolas Brazauskas and his counterpart Antanas Valionis, as Lithuania's standing request to join Euro-Atlantic structures dominating talks.
Additionally, Brazauskas became the latest international leader to sign Athens' ongoing initiative for an "Olympic Truce" during the holding of the Olympic Games.
On his part, Papandreou stressed that "Lithuania is a country, just as Greece, that forms a bridge between civilizations, a crossroads in the northern part of Europe; and this attitude, as well as its cooperation with countries such as Russia, gives us the opportunity to see things through a common approach, as well as to exploit Lithuania's experience in a future Europe."
"We've been in Europe all of these years, but only recently have we approached the European Union," Lithuanian FM Valionis said.
 Talks with Turkey a 'historic opportunity', Papandreou tells German paper
BERLIN, 26/02/2002 (ANA - P. Stangos)The start of exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey on Tuesday over the Aegean continental shelf was described as a "historic opportunity" by Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, in an interview with the German newspaper "Handelsblatt".
He stressed, however, that there would be no negotiation related to borders or territorial demands put forward by the Turkish side, saying that no Greek government was had the right to start such a process.
Papandreou also said that Athens was working with the Spanish presidency of the European Union on a formula that would life Turkish objections to the use of NATO infrastructure by the European Army.
Clarifying the reasons for Athens' dissatisfaction with a 'compromise text' on this issue prepared by the United States and Britain in talks with Turkey, he pointed out that Greece had not been involved in those negotiations and that the EU had not authorized them.
Greece did not want differences with Turkey to become a complicating factor for European Security and Defense Policy, he added, and the US-UK paper would allow this to happen.
If accepted, the document could end up paralyzing European defense policy, he warned. "Turkey, as a member of NATO, has the right to be consulted where European Army operations are concerned and to have its interests taken into account, but the decision can only be taken by EU member-states and no one else," Papandreou underlined.
During the interview, the Greek minister stressed that Greece supported Turkey's European prospects but avoided predictions about when accession negotiation with Ankara could begin.
Asked to comment on direct talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot community leader Rauf Denktash on the Cyprus problem, Papandreou carefully avoided any assessment of the results up until now, saying only that the conditions for a solution to the Cyprus issue and the climate internationally had never been better.
He conceded, however, that the Cyprus problem would clinch the final success or failure of efforts for Greek-Turkish rapprochement, initiated by himself and his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem.
"Cyprus will either unite or divide us," he stressed, while noting the significant improvement in relations between Greece and Turkey in the past two years, during which time trade transactions had doubled and the number of visitors from each country had tripled.
 Government spokesman on PM's reference to Cyprus issue
Athens, 26/02/2002 (ANA)Government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Monday the report according to which Prime Minister Costas Simitis reportedly said that on the accession course of Cyprus "Turkey is playing a role with its stance" was conveyed erroneously.
Protopapas added that Simitis referred to the Cyprus issue in a discussion with the PASOK party's Prefectural Committee and not in a public speech in Veroia, in northern Greece.
He noted that what the prime minister said was that during the accession course of Cyprus reactions are expected to appear on the Turkish side.
Protopapas said the first reaction was the letter by Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem, whose content drew reactions from Greece's European partners.
"Similar Turkish reactions cannot be ruled out in the future as well" was the meaning of the prime minister's remark in his discussion in Veroia, the spokesman said.
Simitis also referred to his telephone communications with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides concerning the intercommunal talks and conveyed the assessment that progress achieved in them was not particularly substantive.
 First-round Cyprus talks outcome not encouraging, Greek FM spokesman says
Athens, 26/02/2002 (ANA)The outcome of the first round of direct talks on the Cyprus issue "are not encouraging", Greek foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis said Monday in reply to press questions.
Beglitis said that the first round of the talks between Cyprus president Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash "did not produce anything specific", adding, however, that the developments in the next period would "contribute decisively to the formulation of the final picture".
Beglitis maintained a cautious stance, noting that there was still time ahead, although the timetables were clear-cut and could not be continued indefinitely.
Meanwhile, the political directors of the Greek and Turkish foreign ministries were due to meet in Athens on Tuesday in the context of their bi-annual regular contacts.
 DM Papantoniou says Greece will back Cyprus militarily
Athens, 26/02/2002 (ANA)National Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on Monday assured that Greece is determined to back Cyprus in the military sector and stressed that securing the island republic's accession to the European Union is Greece's top national aim.
Speaking after a meeting with visiting members of the Cyprus House of Representatives Defense Committee, Papantoniou said Athens was closely following developments in Nicosia and reiterated that "we are present, strong and supporters in the effort of the Cyprus people for the island's accession to the EU".
Papantoniou added that with the Cypriot deputies he discussed the face-to-face talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, and reviewed the defense cooperation between Greece and Cyprus, through their joint defense pact.
President of the House Defense Committee Yiannakis Omirou said that "we reached the unanimous conclusion that the coming months would be crucial" and will "seal the future of Cyprus and Hellenism for the next decades".
Referring to the direct talks between President Clerides and Denktash, Omirou said "we would like to be optimistic" but noted their outcome would depend on the stance of Turkey.
Omirou noted that statements from Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit and Foreign Minister Ismail Cem, as well as Denktash, "do not give much room for optimism".
Cyprus and Greece agreed in 1993 to adopt a joint defense pact, according to which Greece would provide Cyprus with air, sea and land coverage in the case of a new Turkish offensive against the island.
 Greek transport minister on Cyprus' EU accession course
NICOSIA, 26/02/2002 (ANA - G. Leonidas)Greece's Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis said here on Monday that Greece's strategic objective is the unhindered accession course and final accession of Cyprus to the European Union.
Addressing an event at the Research, Studies and Communications Center in Nicosia on Monday, Verelis said the direct peace talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash "are at a critical turn which does not allow particular optimism or pessimism." He added that Greece supports the efforts of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for a settlement of the Cyprus issue on the basis of the UN decisions and resolutions.
"There will not be a deviation from this framework," Verelis said, noting that "it is the responsibility of the Turkish Cypriot side to contribute in the effort and not to perpetuate the problem."
Verelis noted that a positive development in the Cyprus issue "will radically consolidate relations of trust between Greece and Turkey."
He also expressed the conviction that the negotiations on Cyprus' EU accession "will be completed within 2002, as assessed also by the European Commission, and we will have the joy during Greece's EU presidency in the first half of 2003 to take the decision for the accession."
 Defense minister meets with Spanish counterpart Trillo, discuss Euro-army, ties
Athens, 26/02/2002 (ANA)National defense minister Yannos Papantoniou on Monday met with his visiting Spanish counterpart Federico Trillo, whose country currently holds the rotating six-month EU presidency, and discussed European defense and security policy.
Papantoniou voiced backing for the Spanish EU presidency's proposal that the informal council of EU defense ministers be upgraded into a decision-taking organ, while the two men also agreed on the need for acceleration of procedures so that the Euro-army would be operational in 2003, for the purpose, inter alia, of supplementing the international forces currently in Bosnia-Herzegovina and FYROM.
On EU-NATO relations, Papantoniou reiterated Greece's firm position that it will not accept the EU coming under the jurisdiction of NATO in the event of operations not dependent on NATO installations, nor will it accept transfer of the problems in its relations with Turkey regarding settlement of the differences in the Aegean to the European force, given that Turkey is not an EU member and such a development, he warned, could prospectively lead to an immobilization of the Euro-army over a wide geographical section of its responsibility.
Papantoniou added that the prime ministers of the two countries would over the next few months be in communication so as to achieve a mutually acceptable result on this issue.
Trillo, in turn, denied press reports claiming that during a Europarliament discussion he had accused Greece on its stance over the issue of EU-Turkey relations, vis-a-vis the Euro-army.
He said the discussion had been a very open one, during which all the MEPs' vies had been frankly examined.
Trillo praised Greece's willingness for an understanding to be reached on this issue, and added that EU-NATO relations should be government by such principles as the autonomy of the EU's decisions.
The two ministers further agreed that more funds should be earmarked for defense industry research and development.
Trillo further described as a "positive event" the Spanish prime minister's imminent visit to Cyprus on Tuesday.
Papantoniou to visit Germany next week: Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou will carry out a two-day visit to Germany as of next Monday, his first in this capacity.
According to sources, during his meeting with his German counterpart Rudolf Scharping, Papantoniou will discuss issues related to the "Euroforce" and bilateral issues concerning armaments.
Papantoniou is also expected during his visit to participate in a dinner held for NATO Secretary General Lord George Robert-son, who is in Berlin participating in events organized by the Atlantic Security and Military Affairs Center in Potsdam and the U.S. ASPEN Institute.
 Minister arrives in Britain on four-day visit
LONDON, 26/02/2002 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)Minister of Macedonia and Thrace George Paschalidis on Monday began a four-day visit to London, cities in northern England and Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland to obtain experience on regional development issues and apply them in the scheduled development of Thessaloniki.
"The purpose of our visit is for us to see on the spot applied methods of development and urban reformation, as well as social cohesion and metropolitan actions programs," he said.
Paschalidis said that four consecutive forums on Thessaloniki's strategic viable development plan are currently taking place in the city these days.
"We are exchanging experiences. Of course, London has many examples to show us, which we shall utilize in this direction. We want a metropolitan Thessaloniki, we want a Thessaloniki which will develop everywhere and fairly, to the east, center and west, a European Thessaloniki and I think we are all walking together towards a Europe of regions and cities," Paschalidis said.
 Protopapas presents PM's agenda for the week
Athens, 26/02/2002 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis held a meeting with PASOK MPs from central Greece on Monday at 13:00 pm, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said while presenting the prime minister's program for the week.
On Tuesday at 10:00 am, Simitis is to chair a ministerial meeting on the Olympics, followed by a meeting with National Bank governor Theodoros Karatzas at 13:30 pm and with Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou at 14:00 pm.
On Wednesday at 10:00 am, the prime minister is to meet with Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Giannitsis to prepare for the informal EU Summit at Barcelona.
At 11:00 am the same day he is to meet Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis, while at noon he will chair a meeting of PASOK's Executive Bureau on foreign policy. At 21:00 pm on Wednesday evening, meanwhile, he is to speak at the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce on the Greek economy.
On Thursday morning he is due to speak at an event on equal opportunities within the framework of the 3rd Community Support Framework, while at 14:00 pm he will chair a special meeting to prepare for a visit to Greece by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
On Friday morning, the prime minister will be in Parliament to answer questions by the opposition parties and at 11:00 am he will chair a meeting of the government's foreign affairs and defense committee to discuss arms programs and the selection of a new chief for the coast guard.
 Education minister, US ambassador visit Athens high school
Athens, 26/02/2002 (ANA)Education Minister Petros Efthymiou and U.S. Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller on Monday visited the 5th High school at Paleo Faliro, in the south Athens metro municipality, which is one of Greece's environmental education centers.
The minister said that environmental improvements being witnessed in Greece will be even more rapid as younger generations are educated in a system that promotes environ-mental sensitivity.
He noted that there are 17 such centers around the country, stressing that the curriculum in all Greek schools focuses on environmental awareness.
Miller said that the specific program called "Globe" is an international initiative, which was proposed by the United States and already more than 9000 schools in more than 100 countries around the world are participating in the program.
He concluded by noting that if one can change the opinions and habits of people on the environment then one can achieve a great deal and so there is great hope of involving young people who are actively participating in such programs.
 Greek gov't congratulates new Albanian PM Pandeli Majko
Athens, 26/02/2002 (ANA)The Greek government on Monday sent a letter of congratulations to Albania's new Prime Minister, Pandeli Majko, on the occasion of the assumption of his duties.
The letter expressed the Greek government's hope that the new government in Tirana would overcome the domestic political problems in Albania so that the country's economy and political restructuring could move forward.
Greece, the letter noted, remained devoted to advancing bilateral relations with Albanian and was ready to contribute to the neighboring country's European prospect.
 Minister addresses letter denouncing illegal gambling allegations
Athens, 26/02/2002 (ANA)Minister of Macedonia and Thrace George Paschalidis, in an open letter, denounces all who are presenting him as allegedly having relations with wanted illegal gambling mastermind in Yiannitsa, northern Greece, George Tekteridis.
Paschalidis speaks of a mudslinging war against him and calls for the punishment of all who decided to lead him, as he said, "to the electronic gas chamber."
He refutes the "three false arguments" on which the creation of a "fictitious reality" against him was based and mentions that he has assigned the case to legal experts, letting it be understood that he will also resort to justice.
Paschalidis says he considers the case to be exclusively political and for this reason he will choose the path of an institutional probe, requesting from the institutional bodies of the party and the government to give him the possibility of presenting his views analytically together with accompanying evidence, as well as the convening of the PASOK party's ethics committee.
He added that in the next few days he will be submitting to the National Broadcasting Council all the audiovisual and printed material describing the fabrication of a fictitious reality and of methods used.
 Gov't: Election law talks after upcoming municipal elections
Athens, 26/02/2002 (ANA)The government confirmed on Monday that it will table the issue of changing the country's election law following the upcoming municipal and local government elections in October.
In response to a press question, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said then often contentious issue falls within an "expanded initiative to upgrade the political system", more-or-less confirming speculation over the past few weeks that the government envisions a change the election law.
Press reports have pointed to a "German model" that's more towards the lines of a proportional representational system - a demand long espoused by the country's smaller political parties.
Conversely, main opposition New Democracy's leadership has categorically ruled out any change in the election law prior to the next general poll.
On his part, Protopapas mentioned that it's "not unlikely that some parties may desire to cooperate prior to 2004, and despite the electoral problems that exist, to do so."
2004 is the prescribed year when general elections are scheduled in Greece.
 President, PM of Republika Srpska visit Mt Athos
Athens, 26/02/2002 (ANA)The president and prime minister of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina (Republika Srpska) Mirko Sarovic and Mladen Ivanic are since Monday afternoon on a pilgrimage at Mt Athos.
The officials went to the Monastery of Helandariou where many monks of Serbian origin live.
Serbs have a deep religious reverence for Mt Athos and regard the Monastery of Helandariou as the beacon of their Christian Orthodox faith.
 ESHEA condemns murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl
Athens, 26/02/2002 (ANA)The Athens Journalists Union (ESHEA) in an announcement on Monday condemned the murder of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl and expressed its condolences to his family and colleagues.
ESHEA said the hideous murder of the Wall Street Journal journalist by his kidnappers in Pakistan again brings to the forefront that thousands of journalists fall victim in the line of duty and as the International Journalists Federation reminds, more than 1,000 journalists and employees for the mass media have been killed this past decade by political groups, criminals or armed forces.
ESHEA said it shared the view of the president of the International Journalists Federation for the immediate need of an international campaign directed toward all democratic society so that journalists cease to constitute a target of attack and for the murderers to be brought to justice.
 Report urges for measures to improve competitiveness
Athens, 26/02/2002 (ANA)A further improvement of economic competitiveness was the most significant challenge facing the Greek economy following its participation in the eurozone, according to a report by the Bank of Greece and The Brooking Institute published on Monday.
The report, titled "Greece's Economic Performance and Prospects" and presented by Bank of Greece's governor Lucas Papademos, vice-governor Nikolaos Garganas and Ralph Bryant, a senior fellow in the Washington-based institute, said that a main precondition to improve economic competitiveness was to accelerate and deepen structural reforms in the economy.
The report urged for actions to reforming the country's labor market by adopting policies to lowering the cost of creating new jobs in the private sector and taking measures to improve education and vocational training.
It also urged for the need for expanding the country's tax base and lowering tax factors in the framework of a wider tax reform.
The report said that the government would have to seek a continuation of privatizations, and work harder in order to overcome obstacles in business activity in the country.
The social security system was one of the most significant problems for the government, according to the authors of the report. They warned that unless structural reforms were made in the near future the country would most likely face a significant increase in tax burdens in the medium-term to cover future spending on pensions.
The report said that an increasing consolidation of the financial sector in the eurozone would probably intensify further domestic competition and lead Greek banks to seek alliances with other European banks.
The report includes 11 joint surveys by Greek, European and American economists, which - in their initial form - were presented and discussed in a conference organized by the Bank of Greece and the Brookings Institute in December 2000.
 Greek gov’t approves 5.0 percent rise in unemployment benefits
Athens, 26/02/2002 (ANA)Labor and Social Security Minister Dimitris Reppas on Monday approved a 5.0 percent increase in unemployment benefits, valid from January 1, 2002.
Reppas approved a decision by the Manpower Employment Organization’s board envisaging the increase of basic daily unemployment benefits from 10.07 euros to 10.58 (264.50 euros monthly), and raising the ceiling of daily unemployment benefits from 10.65 euros to 11.19 euros (279.64 euros per month).
The five percent increase will be paid to all unemployed citizens, regardless of their registration date in unemployment registers.
 Contract signed in railway project for airport, 2004 Olympics
Athens, 26/02/2002 (ANA)A consortium led by Athens-quoted engineering contractor Aktor on Monday signed a contract for 84.5 million euros with Ergose, a projects subsidiary of state Hellenic Railways Organization, to undertake works for a railway to the airport.
The suburban railway, part of a wider network, will center on a railway center in Aharnon.
The airport stretch of the railway will help to cope with increased passenger movement during the 2004 Athens Olympics, beyond easing daily travel for commuters. A station will be built at the Olympic Stadium north of Athens.
The current stage of the project is due for completion in 18 months.
The other four short listed engineering contractors in the tender that Aktor's consortium won were Hochtief AG, which built the airport; Terna, GEK and Impregilo Spa; Astaldi; and AEGEK with Evklidis, ETEP and Meton.
Hellenic Technodomiki and TEB join Aktor. The three form an established engineering contracting group in the market while retaining their separate identities.
On Wednesday, bids will be opened for another phase of the airport railway project, including infrastructure work for signals, the electrification of lines, and construction of station buildings.
 Finance minister woos German investors ahead of 2004 Olympics
FRANKFURT, 26/02/2002 (ANA - A. Lidorikis)Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Monday urged German investors to seize business opportunities in Greece, especially ahead of the 2004 Olympics to be hosted by Athens.
Addressing the Frankfurt Chamber of Trade and Industry, the minister said that Greek markets were being deregulated, incentives were available for business and investment, and the Olympics offered scope for new projects.
Christodoulakis identified key investment opportunities in telecoms, energy, tourism, new technology, privatization, renewable energy and Olympics-related projects.
Greece could also act as a launch pad for investments in southeastern Europe, he added.
The minister held private meetings with 16 German executives whose firms already operate in Greece.
He also met executives of Deutsche Bank, a strategic investor in Athens-quoted EFG Eurobank Ergasias, owned by the Latsis shipping, banking and oil group.
 Greece accelerates tourism ad campaign
Athens, 26/02/2002 (ANA)Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Monday gave instructions for a wider use of the Internet in a promotion campaign by the Greek tourism authorities.
Greece's National Tourism Organization (GNTO) already operates two specialized sites in the UK and Italy (www.antor.com/greece and www.ente-tourismoellenico.com, respectively).
GNTO approved an advertising campaign in German magazine Spiegel's site, worth 14,086 euros, and is about to approve a proposal by the BBC to advertise Greek tourism in all US domestic air flights for one year and in BBC's site www.bbcworld.com in March and April, worth 60,000 US dollars.
Greek tourism authorities are now starting an advertising campaign in Europe, after its successful promotion in the United States and plans to participate in other international tourism trade fairs in Berlin, Moscow and Dubai.
 Hoteliers see tourism dropping sharply in Athens this year
Athens, 26/02/2002 (ANA)Tourism in Attica, especially in Athens, is expected to fall by up to 20 percent in 2002 against the previous year, the president of the Union of Attica Hoteliers, Spyros Divanis, said on Monday.
Describing 2002 as "a lost year for tourism," Divanis told a news conference that average occupancy rates in Attica hotels would slump due mainly to a decline of up to 50 percent in tourists from the US, who usually account for 30 percent of arrivals in the area.
In addition, air links to Athens were fewer and sports stadiums were closed for refurbishing, which meant that large-scale exhibitions and trade fairs would not be held in a further blow to the industry, Divanis said.
Furthermore, the 2004 Olympic Games to be hosted by Athens would not bring an anticipated boost to the tourism industry as infrastructure projects were delayed, he claimed.
And no discernible progress had been made in 16 months that had passed since the announcement of a series of measures entitled the Olympics Tourism Package, a move aimed to help the industry, Divanis complained.
However, 55 percent of hotels committed for use in the Games had carried out modernization projects, mostly funded by the owners themselves. Projects completed or underway were worth 171 billion drachmas, with only 3.8 billion drachmas, or 2.2 percent, of the total representing cash from the state.
A shortfall of 2,000 hotel rooms for the Olympics would be covered in time, with more hotels due to commit space and other facilities available that could be put to use, Divanis added.
 Demand for blue chips reverse trend in ASE
Athens, 26/02/2002 (ANA)Greek stocks reversed an early decline to move cautiously higher on the Athens Stock Exchange, led by gains in blue chip stocks.
The general index was 0.13 percent up at 2,354.74 points at 12.10 local time with turnover a low Dr 6.1 billion drachmas, or 17.8 million euros.
The IT Solutions, Textiles and Industrials sectors were recording the heaviest percentage losses, while the Bank, Holding and Metals sectors were showing gains.
Shares in Kokkalis Group's companies remained under pressure, with Intracom, Intrakat and Intralot showing losses of 2.09 percent, 3,76 percent and 1.62 percent, respectively.
 Car prices in Greece lowest in EU, Commission report
Athens, 26/02/2002 (ANA)Factory gate prices, before taxes, of new cars in Greece remained among the lowest in the European Union, a survey by the European Commission said on Monday.
The report revealed that UK was the most expensive car market in the European Union for 52 out of a total of 80 car models in the survey, while in the eurozone Germany recorded the higher prices, followed by Austria.
On the other hand, the lower prices for new cars were recorded in Greece, Spain, Finland and Denmark. In the first three countries price differences reached 20 percent for 90 percent of car models surveyed.
The EU executive's report said that "generally low prices, pre-tax, in Finland, Denmark and Greece is the result of a low price policy adopted by car manufacturers," because of high taxes in these countries.
The survey was based on 17 European and seven Japanese car manufacturers with 80 of their best selling models. In Germany, prices in 41 car models were the highest in eurozone, with prices in 40 of them up as much as 20 percent compared with other eurozone markets.
 ASE ends 16-day drop, ends slightly higher
Athens, 26/02/2002 (ANA)Greek stocks ended the first trading session of the week slightly higher, halting a 16-day decline, supported by gains in several blue chip stocks.
The general index ended 0.23 percent up at 2,356.97 points, with turnover a low Dr 24.6 billion, or 72.18 million euros.
Trading was nervous, decliners outpacing advancers by 192 to 114 with another 52 issues unchanged.
The Insurance, Investment and Publication sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses (0.87 percent, 0.42 percent and 0.41 percent, respectively), while the Holding, Metals and Bank sectors scored the biggest gains (2.25 percent, 0.71 percent and 0.56 percent).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.45 percent higher, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index eased 0.26 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 0.15 percent down.
Market participants said the Greek bourse was desperately needed some positive news to reverse a prevailing negative climate in the market. Analysts expect sentiment to remain bearing in the short-term and recommended investors to adopt a medium- and long-term investment strategy.
The most heavily traded shares were Intracom, National Bank of Greece, Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, Panafon, and Alpha Bank.
Equity index futures up in brisk trade: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange nosed up on Monday to close at a slight premium in active trade.
Turnover was higher at 44.7 million euros.
The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips gained 0.45 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks lost 0.26 percent.
Bond prices drop in thin trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Monday finished lower in light trade focusing on five-year paper.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.31 percent, and the spread over the corresponding German bund was 38 basis points.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 1.1 billion euros.
Sell orders accounted for the bulk of turnover.
 ATHOC president tells NBC 600 million dollars for security
Athens, 26/02/2002 (ANA)Athens 2004 Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, in an interview with the NBC television channel, reiterated that the state will provide 600 million dollars for the security of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
Speaking on Sunday night to a sports program watched by over 30 million Americans, she reminded of Greece's cooperation with foreign countries on this issue and of close cooperation with Interpol and Scotland Yard.
Referring to the Olympiad's security program, Daskalaki said "there is no country in the world which is not concerned about security and I personally am thinking continuously of security during the Games."
"Greece is a proud partner in combatting terrorism," Daskalaki added.
On the question of Olympic projects, she said "we are on the right path", adding that "we are doing much of what is essential in organizing the 2004 Olympic Games."
Daskalaki went on to say that "we Greeks usually say we can do everything at the last moment, but for us (the Organizing Committee) the last moment is now."
 700 ancient Greek artifacts from 110 museums on exhibition in Berlin
Athens, 26/02/2002 (ANA)Seven hundred artifacts from 110 museums from around the world will comprise the "Classical Civilization-Idea or reality" exhibition, which will open its doors on Friday in Berlin, under the auspices of Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his German counterpart Gerhard Schroeder.
Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos announced the Friday opening here in Athens on Monday, stressing that the exhibition in Berlin coincides with the decision of the German government to temporarily return to Greece parts of the Ancient Olympia Philippeion building, adding that this decision was "in contrast to the decision of the British government to keep the Parthenon Marbles in the British Museum".
A cultural program entitled "The Classical Civilization Today" will also take place as part of the exhibition, delving in the forms of usage of classical themes in modern art and science. The exhibition and the cultural events that accompany it will take place at the Martin-Gropius- Bau and will end in June.
 Public prosecutor orders investigation in Alafouzos activities
Athens, 26/02/2002 (ANA)An investigation into the activities of businessman Aristidis Alafouzos, also head of the newspaper "Kathimerini", was requested by an appeals court public prosecutor on Monday, following reports that he had drawn funds from a bourse-listed publishing company in his group and invested this in his shipping enterprises.
The newspapers “Eleftheros Typos” and “Eleftheros” made the allegations and the request has been sent to primary court public prosecutor Sotiris Bagias, who will assign someone to the case.
 Papal nuncio delivers letter on 'unity of Churches' to Christodoulos
Athens, 26/02/2002 (ANA)Papal nuncio Paul Tabet on Monday delivered a letter on the "unity of the Churches" from Cardinal Casper to Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, head of the Autoce-phalous Orthodox Church of Greece.
The letter outlined the framework for closer cooperation with the Roman Catholic Church on issues such as bioethics, combatting heresies and social exclusion.
Committees from the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches are to meet at the Vatican on March 8-11 to discuss closer cooperation.
 Spanish Prime Minister to pay three-hour visit to Cyprus
NICOSIA, 26/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, who is currently President of the European Council, arrives here on Tuesday for a three-hour visit, during which he will have a working lunch with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides.
Aznar, will arrive at 1305 local time (1105 GMT) with a special flight. At 1345 he will arrive at the Presidential Palace, in Nicosia, where the working lunch will be hosted.
Statements will be made to the press approximately at 15.15.
One hour later the Spanish premier and his aides will leave the island. CNA has learned that on his way back the Spanish premier will stop over in Malta.
 Maurer: Cyprus' accession negotiations are progressing quite well
NICOSIA, 26/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)European Union Chief Negotiator with Cyprus, Leopold Maurer said here on Monday Cyprus was progressing quite well in its accession negotiations, adding that the chapters of the acquis communautaire still remaining open for Cyprus are Taxation, Competition, Agriculture, Regional Policy and Financial and Budgetary Provisions.
Maurer was speaking to the press after his meeting with Cyprus' Chief Negotiator with the EU George Vassiliou, who on his part said Cyprus' House of Representatives shows no delay in approving bills aiming at the country's harmonization with the acquis communautaire, adding that the most important of these bills, that has not yet been approved, is the one concerning taxation.
Vassiliou noted that Cyprus Parliamentary Finance Committee has committed itself in completing discussions on the basic provisions of this bill by the end of March.
He also expressed hope that Cyprus would be able to complete its task concerning the remaining chapters by the end of the current Spanish Presidency and discuss economic pending issues with the next EU Presidency.
The EU official said on his part that "Cyprus is progressing quite well, in comparison with the other candidate countries".
Maurer, on the island for a six-day visit, heads a 25-member mission and holds talks on the island, to review work on Cyprus' harmonization with the acquis communautaire.
The mission, which is the largest ever to visit the island, will hold talks with the Cyprus Negotiating Team, relevant government departments and other institutions.
Chapters to be addressed include Taxation, Energy, Transport, Competition, Environment, Telecommunications, Agriculture, Culture and Audio-Visual Policy, Justice and Home Affairs, and Free Movement of Goods.
 National Council to continue consultations
NICOSIA, 26/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)The National Council, the top advisory body to President Glafcos Clerides on the Cyprus question, began on Monday discussions on the UN-led peace talks and will convene again Wednesday afternoon to continue its evaluation.
The Council, comprising all eight parliamentary parties, met for nearly three hours to hear the president's assessment of the first phase of the direct talks, which began here in mid January.
This is the first time the Council has met since January 16, when the talks started between President Clerides and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Rauf Denktash. Face to face talks will resume March 1.
As the island's political leadership met on Monday to assess the outcome of the UN-led direct talks, in New York UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, who has been conducting these discussions, is to brief the five permanent members of the Security Council.
Alvaro de Soto is meeting the ambassadors of the US, Britain, Russia, France and China later this afternoon to give them his evaluation of the situation and his outlook on how he sees the second round of talks, starting on March 1, developing.
 Defense minister says Turkey strengthens its occupation forces
NICOSIA, 26/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus Defense Minister Socratis Hasikos has revealed that the Turkish occupation forces have strengthened their military capability in Cyprus' northern areas by bringing illegally into the country an artillery battalion.
"Last week Turkey brought into the country illegally an artillery battalion, comprising twelve 155 millimeter guns with a 30 kilometer range and a ship loaded with ammunition to back the battalion," Hasikos has said.
This equipment, he pointed out, was transferred to Cyprus in addition to other military equipment, which arrived illegally some twenty days ago.
"The Turks are not only leveling threats against us but they are also trying to find legal means to justify the implementation of these threats, if Cyprus joins the European Union without a political settlement," Hasikos said.
Turkey has threatened to annex the Republic's occupied areas if Cyprus accedes to the EU without a solution.
These moves by Ankara take place at a time when the UN is conducting direct talks in Cyprus with a view to finding a negotiated settlement.