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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-02-28

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

February 28, 2002


  • [01] PM emphasizes foreign policy agenda at Executive Bureau meeting
  • [02] Greek FM receives U.S. envoy on Cyprus problem in Athens
  • [03] Greece will not implement land mine treaty before Turkey, minister says
  • [04] Deputy FM to depart for London on Thursday
  • [05] Bush-Patriarch meeting at White House next week
  • [06] Bill on Greek Balkan economic reconstruction plan
  • [07] Gov't spokesman denies reports over minister, possible reshuffle
  • [08] Protopapas rejects call for cross-party control of 3rd CSF
  • [09] Skandalidis: Current Parliament will vote on election law; meets with PM
  • [10] Republika Srpska delegation visits Thessaloniki
  • [11] Gov’t seeks private participation in social security system
  • [12] Gov't: 285 sea routes proposed following deregulation
  • [13] Sea transport agreement between Greece and Syria ratified
  • [14] Public Power Corp. shows higher EBITDA in 2001
  • [15] OTE telecoms group shows EBITDA profit rise in 2001
  • [16] Tax reform plans ready by end of March, gov’t says
  • [17] Northern Greece industries react to new legislation
  • [18] Piraeus Port Authority to invest Dr 74.9 bln in 2001-2006
  • [19] Consumer group warns of "nutritional nightmare" in Greece
  • [20] Civil Aviation Union Federation announces work stoppages
  • [21] Air Traffic Controllers work stoppage on Thursday
  • [22] Greek drachma no longer legal tender as of March 1
  • [23] Greek stocks resume downfall on Wednesday
  • [24] Charges pressed against businessman Kokkalis
  • [25] Study highlights sex discrimination, low pay among journalists
  • [26] Maurer says accession talks to be wrapped up by end of June
  • [27] National Council reviews Cyprus talks
  • [28] Spokesman says Security Council statement disperses concerns
  • [29] Papapetrou says Denktash should reproach himself
  • [30] Cyprus representatives leave for EU Convention

  • [01] PM emphasizes foreign policy agenda at Executive Bureau meeting

    Athens, 28/02/2002 (ANA)

    Addressing ruling PASOK's Executive Bureau on Wednesday, Prime Minister Costas Simitis emphasized the importance of the government's goals on foreign policy issues, saying that conditions were ripe for solutions that would usher in a new period of peace and prosperity in the region.

    During the meeting, he also stressed that he intended to stay on and "fight the good fight" in order to make sure that the government's goals were carried out.

    Summarizing, Simitis said the government's four main goals were to achieve true economic and social convergence, an answers to long-standing foreign policy problems, ensure that Greece hosted a successful Olympiad in 2004 and to lay the groundwork for Greece's future position in Europe.

    The Executive Bureau's meeting was devoted to foreign policy issues, while sources said that a discussion on the current political conjunction would take place at the next meeting in a fortnight.

    In statements to reporters afterwards, the prime minister said the conditions were ripe for an answer on foreign policy issues that would allow peace to prevail in the region, such as Cyprus' European Union accession, a solution to the Cyprus problem, Greek relations with Turkey on the basis of the Helsinki Summit decisions, international law and territorial rights, so that future generations could live without the burdens of the generations preceding them.

    "The vision for a time of peace and prosperity is equally important to the economic targets we had previously set, (joining the eurozone)" Simitis stressed.

    Sources said that during the meeting, Foreign Minister George Papandreou had noted the need to be ready for Cyprus' EU accession with or without a solution to the Cyprus problem, while Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Environment Minister Vasso Papandreou had asked that preparations be made for possible adverse developments initiated by Turkey.

    PASOK MP and candidate for Athens mayor Christos Papoutsis, meanwhile, asked that there be daily references to foreign policy issues that stressed territorial rights.

    Asked about his recent statements regarding the risks of political 'abnormality' and if they were excessive, Simitis said he had just outlined developments for the benefit of those who were attempting to alter the course of events in Greece, and that he had wanted to send a message to Greek society that the government was watching and protecting the country's democratic course.

    Referring to the successes of the previous four years, such as Greece's entry in the eurozone, the prime minister said these had shown that when the country could achieve the goals it set for itself.

    Addressing another event held on Wednesday night, Simitis told an audience of businessmen at a meeting organized by the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce that centers lying outside power cannot shake the government's effort and the modernization of Greece cannot be reversed, prevented or thwarted.

    Desiring to send the message that the government will not be trapped and disorientated by the climate of scandal talk in past weeks, Simitis expressed opposition to the effort "to turn political opposition into a systematic moral disdain of everything and to manipulate the Greek citizen's daily life with tactics of easy sensationalism, innuendoes and moral attrition."

    Replying to criticism that structural changes are being delayed, Simitis said "we are promoting major reforms steadfastly", adding that the social security and taxation issues will be raised in the immediate future.

    Commenting on the former, he said "we want to achieve a settlement which will be widely accepted. We do not fear political cost. We shall support what is right", indicating the magnitude of the delicate balance sought in the framework of social dialogue at the labor ministry's responsibility.

    On the question of finding a buyer for Olympic Airways, Simitis said the effort was abortive since the investors considered the risk excessively high at the conjuncture of low passenger demand.

    Simitis was also explicit on the allocation of 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF) funds.

    "Let some pressure for disbursements here and now. We shall achieve our targets with the appropriate, transparent and speedy processes, but not uncontrolled," he said, giving businessmen to understand that there is no ground for pressure.

    [02] Greek FM receives U.S. envoy on Cyprus problem in Athens

    Athens, 28/02/2002 (ANA)

    The presence of U.S. State Department special envoy for the Cyprus problem Thomas Weston is indicative of the importance the resolution of the problem has for the U.S., Foreign Minister George Papandreou said after his meeting with the U.S. envoy on Wednesday.

    Weston discussed with Papandreou the results of the first round of inter-communal talks in Cyprus and the developments in light of the beginning of the second round on Friday.

    The Greek minister stressed that the resolution of the Cyprus problem would contribute to the further improvement of Greek-Turkish relations.

    Papandreou wished success to Weston concerning his trip to Turkey scheduled for Thursday, to hold talks with the Turkish authorities, stressing that Weston was coordinating his efforts with those of the United Nations and the European Union.

    He called his meeting with Weston a very useful one and reiterated that the direct talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot community leader Rauf Denktash were a positive development, adding that the Greek side was expecting more from those talks.

    "We want to see the accession of the Turkish Cypriot community when Cyprus enters the European Union. This of course is related to whether there will be a solution to the Cyprus problem before the accession or not," Papandreou said.

    On his part, Weston said that he was in agreement with Papandreou's comments, noting that his visit to this region underlines the need to seek a just and viable solution for the Cyprus problem.

    He added that his visit follows the first round of direct talks between Clerides and Denktash, the results of which were noted in a report drafted by U.N. envoy Alvaro de Soto to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and the Security Council.

    He stressed that the report included some especially positive and optimistic conclusions for the future.

    Weston did not comment any further on his belief that the report included positive conclusions of the report, stressing, however, that the United States, as a permanent member of the Security Council have voted for the U.N. resolution regarding Cyprus and their position has not changed, remaining in support of a bizonal, bicommunal federation.

    Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem had expressed a similar optimism in relation to the report in his letter to the European Union foreign ministers.

    Papandreou and Omirou confirm lack of progress in Cyprus talks: Athens did not discern any palpable results arising from first round of direct talks between the Cyprus government and the Turkish-Cypriot side, Foreign Minister George Papandreou reiterated on Wednesday.

    Papandreou made the statement after meeting with the head of the Cyprus Parliament's Defense Committee, Cypriot Social Democratic Movement leader Yiannakis Omirou, who is visiting Athens at the head of a delegation. During the meeting, the two men reviewed the political tactics employed so far on the Cyprus issue and agreed that Ankara was now faced with a dilemma.

    "Turkey must decide if it wants the Turkish-Cypriots in Europe," Papandreou underlined in statements to reporters, while Omirou concurred and said this question had historic dimensions and should occupy Turkey over the next few months.

    The Greek-Cypriot side and Athens have clearly expressed their political will, the two men added, and the Greek-Cypriot side would enter the second round of direct talks with the same will as it had shown in the first phase.

    If a solution was not achieved, they said, Cyprus accession to the European Union would go ahead anyway, based on the decisions of the Helsinki Summit.

    Asked to comment on reinforcements sent by Turkey to the occupation force in the north of Cyprus, Omirou said it was natural for there to be concern when troops were seen massing at the same time as efforts were being made for a peaceful resolution to the problems.

    He called on the United Nations and the EU to pressure Turkey into cooperating in order to ensure peace and security in the eastern Mediterranean, saying that tolerance did not make things easier.

    [03] Greece will not implement land mine treaty before Turkey, minister says

    Athens, 28/02/2002 (ANA)

    Greece will not enforce a treaty banning the use of anti-personnel mines before Turkey does the same, Deputy Defense Minister Loukas Apostolidis assured members of Parliament Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday.

    Apostolidis was responding to concerns raised during discussion on ratifying the treaty, who said that implementing it would undermine the country's defense capability.

    He also assured the committee that the new defense systems that would replace the anti-personnel mines would defend the country's borders "a hundred times better".

    The treaty was ratified in principle by the Committee, while its final ratification now lies in the hands of the Parliamentary assembly.

    The objections raised during the discussion were unexpected, with six MPs from main opposition New Democracy departing from their party's official line in raising questions about it.

    [04] Deputy FM to depart for London on Thursday

    Athens, 28/02/2002 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis will depart for London on Thursday on a two-day visit and will be meeting Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Great Britain Gregory, community leaders and the British Committee for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.

    [05] Bush-Patriarch meeting at White House next week

    ISTANBUL, 28/02/2002 (ANA – A. Kour-koulas)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos will arrive in the United States next week to participate in events commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, while his week-long stay also includes a meeting with US President George W. Bush at the White House.

    Vartholomeos will be received by Bush at the White House on Tuesday, followed by a meeting with US Secretary of State Colin Powell at the State Department.

    The White House meeting comes on the heels of the Patriarch’s high-profile role in organizing a December inter-faiths meeting attended by some 80 international religious leaders representing Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Entitled “The Peace of God in the World”, the Brussels meeting – held under the auspices of the European Commission and its president, Romano Prodi – attempted to intensify efforts at curbing conflicts fought in the name of religion.

    In New York, Vartholomeos will visit “Ground Zero” -- the spot where the Twin Towers once stood in Manhattan -- before officiating at a six-month memorial service for the victims of the dastardly Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at the site of the destroyed St. Nicholas (Aghios Nikolaos) Greek Orthodox Church on March 9.

    Besides the 80th anniversary of the Archdiocese, the Patriarch will also attend events for the 65th anniversary of the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology at Brookline, Mass.

    [06] Bill on Greek Balkan economic reconstruction plan

    Athens, 28/02/2002 (ANA)

    Parliament's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee voted in principle on Wednesday on the bill for the "Greek plan for the economic reconstruction of the Balkans. Only the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) voted against.

    Before the vote was held, Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos submitted a chart with the financing in 2001 of 145 non-governmental organizations.

    The financing amounted to about 1.98 billion drachmas and was paid by the foreign ministry, and specifically by the International Development Cooperation Department (YDAS).

    Loverdos said the foreign ministry is interested that "the credits should not be split up but given for serious projects. At the same time he said Japan and the World Bank have also showed interest in the plan.

    Loverdos further said that the sums will be distributed to each country by the foreign minister and that discussions are being held with the five interested countries (Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) which "may mature next month."

    [07] Gov't spokesman denies reports over minister, possible reshuffle

    Athens, 28/02/2002 (ANA)

    The government spokesman on Wednesday declined to respond to press queries over the prime minister’s blunt statements more than a week ago regarding scenarios towards destabilizing the country's political system. Prime Minister Costas Simitis made the statement during a high-profile address in northern Greece.

    Moreover, spokesman Christos Protopapas denied reports that Simitis sought the resignation of Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Paschalidis last week, following a media furor that erupted when the latter was linked to an illegal 'video slot machine' proprietor active in the northern town of Yiannitsa.

    "There's no such issue, besides the Macedonia-Thrace minister actively participated in the group that accompanied the prime minister on his tour of Pella and Imathia (prefectures)," Protopapas said.

    Finally, regarding comments by former PASOK minister Theodoros Pangalos over a pending government reshuffle, the spokesman said there is no possibility of a reshuffle taking place.

    [08] Protopapas rejects call for cross-party control of 3rd CSF

    Athens, 28/02/2002 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Wednesday rejected a suggestion that cross-party control of the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF) might be needed, put in the form of a question, saying that an adequate framework for ensuring transparency and the effective absorption of 3rd CSF funds already existed.

    This was the first time that Greece was implementing a comprehensive system of procedures related to allocating projects and the effectiveness of applications, which also safeguarded the public interest and employment prospects, he added.

    "We will continue the 3rd CSF process using this system, given that it is the most transparent and effective," the spokesman stressed.

    [09] Skandalidis: Current Parliament will vote on election law; meets with PM

    Athens, 28/02/2002 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis met on Wednesday with Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis, with the latter telling reporters afterwards that several majors issues – social security reform, unemployment, combating corruption, education, health etc. – must be dealt with in the coming period.

    He also cited a handful of other major issues, such as Greece’s upcoming EU presidency in the first half of 2003, the Athens 2004 Olympics and the “evolution of the (country’s) political system”.

    Regarding the recent speculation over possible changes in the election law, he said any discussions over the contentious matter will begin after October’s local government elections, while stressing that there are “no (election system) models or plans at this point, and no procedure has started.”

    Moreover, he said the current Parliament will be called on to pass any election law changes.

    [10] Republika Srpska delegation visits Thessaloniki

    Athens, 28/02/2002 (ANA)

    The President of the Serbian Republic (Republika Srpska) of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mirko Sarovic, Prime Minister Mladen Ivanic, Science Minister Mitar Novakovic, Health Minister Milorad Balaban, Religion Minister Dusan Antelj and Metropolitan of Sarajevo Nikolaos on Wednesday paid a courtesy call on Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos.

    Welcoming the delegation, the mayor of Thessaloniki expressed the need for consolidating peace and stability.

    On his part, president Sarovic spoke on the friendship between the Serbian and Greek people.

    The Republika Srpska delegation visited Thessaloniki on their return from Mt Athos where they went on a pilgrimage.

    During their contacts to Thessaloniki, they also met with the presidium of the Association of Industries of Northern Greece from which they asked for investment help for their country, as well as with Thessaloniki Prefect Kostas Papadopoulos.

    [11] Gov’t seeks private participation in social security system

    Athens, 28/02/2002 (ANA)

    Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Wednesday reiterated the supplementary role of private insurance companies to the country's social security system and said it was regarded by the government as an important factor for economic growth in Greece.

    Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with representatives of Greek Insurance Union (EAEE), Tsohatzopoulos said the government was promoting measures to ensure the protection of the citizen and noted that the domestic insurance market was offering an additional sense of security.

    He urged for urgent regulatory moves to deal with current problems in the function of the insurance market, as they appeared during a union's general assembly recently.

    "We are a market, where the efficiency of offer, in relation with the lowest possible burden on the consumer, is the main priority of our policy," Tsohatzopoulos said, commenting a government's plan to deregulate the domestic pension funds' management market.

    He dismissed recent reports over a new wave of increases in insurance contracts, saying that the government has approved a 4.0 percent increase.

    Dimitris Kontominas, the union's chairman, said that insurance companies would be managing "private and not state funds. State money from pension funds will be managed by the state and not private insurance companies."

    He defended the right of insurance companies to promote pension programs for workers and said the union supported a cooperation between the state and the private sector in the social security system.

    Greece's civil servants' union ADEDY opposed any such talk, with its chairman Spyros Papaspyrou noting that "this is in full contrast with a basic and non-negotiable principle of the union movement and all workers to enhance public social security in the country."

    [12] Gov't: 285 sea routes proposed following deregulation

    Athens, 28/02/2002 (ANA)

    The government reiterated on Wednesday that the long-time regime governing internal sea transports (cabotage) will be deregulated in line with EU directives on Nov. 1, 2002.

    In briefing a relevant Parliament committee, Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis said eight ministerial decisions have been issued to push through deregulation, whereas an independent regulatory authority for sea transports and a Council for Passenger Shipping Transports (SAS) have also been established.

    Anomeritis said 285 routes have been proposed – 213 by the ministry and 72 by the Aegean ministry. On the other hand, 279 applications have been tabled for the proposed routes.

    The new passenger shipping council is expected to declare the approved routes on March 6. Referring to routes failing to earn ship owners' interest, he said a tender will be issued by April 30 for three- and five-year contracts aimed at passenger shippers.

    In an attempt to alleviate fears that island destinations regarded as “less commercial” will be left without ferryboat service, Anomeritis said that if proposals aren’t met, then the new council will convene and proceed “with the institution of mandatory public service” for those destinations.

    Among others, the minister countered that despite deregulation “no island will be left without a sea link for the 2003-2004 period”, whereas the old regime still holds for island destinations over the 2001-2002 period.

    Finally, he said no foreign company has expressed an interest in the Greek routes so far.

    Gov't says no favoritism in bill on bourse entry for cargo shippers: Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Wednesday that a government bill being debated in parliament that sets the terms for entry into the Athens bourse by cargo shippers favored no specific companies.

    "The bill in no way establishes more favorable retroactive terms or treatment for any particular firm," Christodoulakis said in parliament.

    A number of deputies had pointed out that the owner of the daily Kathimerini newspaper, Aristidis Alafouzos, stood accused of siphoning funds from his Athens-quoted publishing company into non-listed shipping operations.

    A public prosecutor has ordered an investigation into the allegations, which were made by the newspapers Eleftheros Typos and Eleftheros.

    [13] Sea transport agreement between Greece and Syria ratified

    Athens, 28/02/2002 (ANA)

    A sea transport agreement between Greece and Syria has been ratified by Parliament's Permanent Production and Trade Committee, while Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis said the agreement is being ratified at an excellent moment in the strengthening of relations between the two countries, also confirmed by President Kostis Stephanopoulos' recent visit to Syria.

    "I had the opportunity, accompanying the president on this visit, of setting out my views to Syrian dignitaries on the importance of this agreement's signing. An agreement which opens sea transport paths and, primarily, cooperation in port services," he said.

    Anomeritis also said short sea shipping is a priority in European Union policies and, consequently, the development of sea transport between Greece and Syria will constitute an ideal implementation of EU policies.

    [14] Public Power Corp. shows higher EBITDA in 2001

    Athens, 28/02/2002 (ANA)

    The Public Power Corporation, which is quoted on the Athens bourse, on Wednesday reported earnings before tax, interest and depreciation (EBITDA) of 864 million euros in 2001, up 25.0 percent from a year earlier.

    Turnover in 2001 rose by 7.8 percent due to higher electricity consumption and a price hike in July 2001 of a weighted average 3.6 percent, the company said in a statement.

    [15] OTE telecoms group shows EBITDA profit rise in 2001

    Athens, 28/02/2002 (ANA)

    The Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) Group on Wednesday reported consolidated earnings before tax, interest and depreciation (EBITDA) of 1,897.28 million euros in 2001 from 1,600.59 million euros a year earlier, up 18.5 percent.

    Consolidated turnover in 2001 totalled 4,123.16 million euros from 3,602.19 million euros, posting a 14.5 percent rise from a year earlier, the parent company, OTE, said in a statement.

    Management attributed the rise in turnover mainly to a 7.7 percent rise in revenue from domestic calls. Revenue from calls abroad dropped by 6.6 percent due to an average weighted 10 percent fall in charges from March last year, the statement said.

    Revenue from mobile phones increased by 81.6 percent in 2001 to total 637.12 million euros against 350.70 million euros a year earlier. Other services contributed 22.8 percent of turnover, showing a 12.9 percent rise from 2000.

    [16] Tax reform plans ready by end of March, gov’t says

    Athens, 28/02/2002 (ANA)

    A committee recommendation on tax reform in Greece would be submitted to government by the end of March and a dialogue between the government and all interested parties in the issue would begin right afterwards, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Wednesday.

    Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Deputy Foreign Minister Tassos Giannitsis ahead of the EU summit in Barcelona, Christodoulakis said a new tax system to be implemented by 2003 would be more transparent, simplified and would spur growth.

    Christodoulakis said the issue of funding the country's social security system would be discussed in a dialogue with trade unions.

    Commenting on a government plan to deregulate the domestic pension funds' market, he said that a government draft law, currently discussed in parliament, was in line with European Union standards and that it would offer a new outlook to pension funds.

    "A more efficient use of pension funds' reserves is for the benefit of all workers," Christodoulakis said.

    [17] Northern Greece industries react to new legislation

    Athens, 28/02/2002 (ANA)

    Northern Greece's industries gave a mixed welcome to a new government draft legislation aiming to strengthen the country's capital market and to boost business activity.

    Dimitris Symeonidis, Northern Greece's Industries Union (SBBE), told a news conference that the union was opposed to plans to link a further reduction of the tax factor on corporate profits to job creation and noted that a proposal to cut the tax factor on profits by 10 percentage points and five percentage points in the first two years was not a strong incentive and urged for a 10 percentage points cut in the first five years and a 5.0 percent cut in the next five years.

    SBBE, however, welcomed a government effort to restructure the institutional framework for the operation of investment and mutual funds companies in the domestic real estate market, and an initiative for the creation of a New Economy Development Fund (TANEO).

    [18] Piraeus Port Authority to invest Dr 74.9 bln in 2001-2006

    Athens, 28/02/2002 (ANA)

    Piraeus Port Authority SA is to invest 74.9 billion drachmas in 2001-2006 in projects to modernize the key Mediterranean port, which lies at the crossroads of three continents, before the firm's planned entry into the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Announcing the investment plan, which forms part of wider business strategy, the port authority's managing director, Christos Psaraftis, said on Wednesday that the money would be spent on infrastructure projects, equipment and machinery, and the introduction of new technology.

    The investment plan covered both the port's cargo and passenger facilities, also taking into account increased demand linked to the 2004 Athens Olympics, Psaraftis said.

    [19] Consumer group warns of "nutritional nightmare" in Greece

    Athens, 28/02/2002 (ANA)

    Greek consumers are increasingly worried over an essentially full abolition of inspections and stripping of authority from several agencies around the country in monitoring the use of pesticides on primary crop and premature harvesting, a report by INKA said on Wednesday.

    INKA, Greece's largest consumer group, said that recent surveys showed that lack of measures and inspections for several years "have created a chemical bomb threatening the health of both producers and consumers, of the environment, the eco-system and the water table."

    The report revealed a very dangerous high rate of chemicals found on fruit and vegetables, up to 25 times more than acceptable rates, while the rate of chemicals on breast milk was up to 19 times more than normally accepted levels.

    INKA noted that the country fully lacked "inspections on preserving rules and standards on the use of pesticides and of harvesting deadlines," and warned of a risk of a "nutritional nightmare" in Greece.

    The consumer group urged the creation of a more regulated market for farm produce with measures to combat profiteering and to support bio-crops in the country.

    Deputy agriculture minister says Greek vegetables safe: Deputy Agriculture Minister Evangelos Argyris said on Wednesday vegetables produced in Greece possess all the safety and quality preconditions safeguarding consumers' health and their competitiveness in international markets.

    Argyris was referring to reports on an announcement by an Austrian ecological organization "on Greek plant products reportedly containing harmful substances from pesticides."

    He also mentioned continuous checks being made (2,500 samples were examined in 2000 and 3,000 in 2001) and added that more checks have been scheduled for products and pesticides in 2002.

    [20] Civil Aviation Union Federation announces work stoppages

    Athens, 28/02/2002 (ANA)

    The Federation of Civil Aviation Unions (OSPA), in an announcement on Wednesday, expressed its absolute disagreement with the government's plans on the future of Olympic Airways, the country's national carrier.

    OSPA subsequently announced the holding of two three-hour work stoppages on March 5, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and said the plan being promoted will, in essence, break up the Olympic Airways group to enable companies to be sold to private individuals.

    [21] Air Traffic Controllers work stoppage on Thursday

    Athens, 28/02/2002 (ANA)

    Air Traffic Controllers will stage a four-hour work stoppage throughout the country on Thursday, bringing air traffic to and from Greece to a standstill for the duration.

    Air Traffic Controllers, who are striking for financial and institutional demands of the sector, will launch the nationwide four-hour stoppage at noon on Thursday to 4:00 p.m.

    During the work stoppage, airlines will be carrying out only one international flight per country and one flight per domestic destination.

    Passengers scheduled to fly on Thursday are urged to contact their airline before setting off for the airport.

    [22] Greek drachma no longer legal tender as of March 1

    Athens, 28/02/2002 (ANA)

    Greece will bid farewell to the drachma, Europe's most ancient currency having an age of 2,700 years, on February 28 and as of March 1 only euros will be legal tender in transactions.

    On the occasion of the end of the two currencies' two-month cohabitation and the circulation of the euro alone, the Economy and Finance Ministry and the European Commission's delegation in Greece will be organizing a special event at the Zappeion Hall on Thursday.

    [23] Greek stocks resume downfall on Wednesday

    Athens, 28/02/2002 (ANA)

    Equity prices resumed their decline on Wednesday, quickly reversing Tuesday's sharp advance, as lack of follow-through buying and new positive incentives kept investors sidelined, while others preferred to take early profits.

    The general index fell below the 2,400 level to end 1.12 percent lower at 2,379.95 points. Turnover was a disappointing low Dr 33.8 billion, or 99.17 million euros.

    The IT, Holdings and Wholesale sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses (3.03 percent, 2.79 percent and 2.50 percent, respectively), while the Insurance and Metals sectors scored gains (0.38 percent and 0.15 percent).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 1.14 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index dropped 1.64 percent, and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 1.72 percent lower.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers b 282 to 52 with another 23 issues unchanged.

    Equity index futures retain premium: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange slipped on Wednesday but remained in the black, tracking a downturn in the main market, traders said.

    Turnover was 42.6 million euros.

    The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips shed 1.14 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks lost 1.64 percent.

    Bond prices mixed in slim trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Wednesday finished mixed in light trade focusing on five-year paper.

    The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.37 percent, and the spread over the corresponding German bund was 35 basis points.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 1.4 billion euros.

    Sell orders accounted for just over half of turnover.

    [24] Charges pressed against businessman Kokkalis

    Athens, 28/02/2002 (ANA)

    Public Prosecutor Dimitris Asprogerakas on Wednesday charged businessman Socratis Kokkalis with fraud and violating laws on Societe anonyme companies and fiscal legislation.

    According to sources, Kokkalis claimed that according to the investigation conducted by the Economic Crime Squad, he had the legal right to implement objectives, which he has set until 2004.

    However, the Capital Market Committee claims that the time for the implementation of his activities had expired in 2000.

    An investigating magistrate will examine the case.

    [25] Study highlights sex discrimination, low pay among journalists

    Athens, 28/02/2002 (ANA)

    Women journalists are still outnumbered by their male colleagues, according to a poll presented by the European Network of Greek Women Journalists on Wednesday, while 36.2 per cent of female journalists believe they have been discriminated against in the workplace, either professionally or financially.

    Sexual harassment in the workplace is another major problem, with 54.6 per cent of women journalists in Athens and 36.4 per cent of those outside the capital claiming to have fallen victim to this at one time or another.

    The poll was conducted by VPRC among 400 journalists on a nationwide basis and taking all media into account on a proportional basis.

    Excluded were the journalists from Tempo and the newspaper "Avriani", who refused to participate. The poll was conducted in the framework of a Community program to promote equality among the sexes.

    According to the figures presented on Wednesday, 58.7 per cent of journalists are men and 41.3 per cent are women, while 50.9 per cent are aged 25-34 and 29.8 per cent are 35-44.

    The majority (52.1 per cent) of journalists do not belong to any union, with union members in Athens accounting for 48.3 per cent of the total and non-union members making up 56.4 per cent of journalists working in the rest of Greece.

    In addition, 48 per cent of journalists hold down more than one job though the percentage is higher among men (56 per cent) than women (29.1 per cent). In spite of double jobs and long work hours, salaries among journalists remain low, with 70 per cent earning up to 1467.35 euros a month.

    Lack of job security is also a major problem for the sector, with 48.1 per cent claiming to feel little or no security. Most journalists (53.9 per cent) also believe that the media exercise power rather than control it and that they interfere with the way journalists exercise their function.

    [26] Maurer says accession talks to be wrapped up by end of June

    NICOSIA, 28/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    The EU's Chief Negotiator with Cyprus, Leopold Maurer, said here on Wednesday that the European Commission expects accession negotiations to be wrapped up by the end of June, during the Spanish presidency, and that the final evaluation of each country by the Commission will be made in its report in October.

    Maurer, speaking after a meeting of the House of Representatives European Affairs Commission with the 25-member delegation of the European Commission, headed by himself, said the final decision on enlargement would be made in December during the Copenhagen Summit, while the Accession Treaty would be signed in March 2003.

    The House European Affairs Committee President Tassos Papadopoulos said there were no delays on behalf of the House regarding the harmonization process, but noted that 400 bills were still pending.

    Papadopoulos said he was satisfied with today's meeting, which he described as one of the most useful and productive meetings yet.

    He added that the next meeting of the Committee with the EU would probably be held in June.

    Cyprus, which opened accession negotiations in 1998, has provisionally closed 24 of the 29 chapters open for negotiation. The chapters not yet closed are Taxation, Competition, Agriculture, Regional Policy and Financial and Budgetary Provisions.

    [27] National Council reviews Cyprus talks

    NICOSIA, 28/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    The Cyprus National Council convened on Wednesday, under President Glafcos Clerides, to evaluate developments so far on talks to solve the Cyprus problem.

    After the meeting of the top advisory body to the President on the national question, which lasted for about two-and-a-half hours, no statements were made.

    Present at the meeting were Attorney General Alecos Markides, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou and Undersecretary to the President Pantelis Kouros, and former President of the Republic Spyros Kyprianou. Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides did not attend the meeting, as he is on his way to Australia for CHOGM.

    The National Council also comprises leaders and representatives of parliamentary parties.

    [28] Spokesman says Security Council statement disperses concerns

    NICOSIA, 28/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    A Security Council statement on the ongoing Cyprus peace talks has dispersed all concerns with regard to the role the UN is playing at these talks in that it has repeated the Council's position that resolution 1250 is the basis on which the peace process is founded, the government has said.

    Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, commenting on Tuesday's statement, said it reiterates clearly the interest of the Council in the talks, it indicates a timeframe for them (June this year) and it repeats that the talks are taking place in the context of the good offices mission of the UN Secretary General.

    "The Council has dispersed any concerns, which we believe were in fact unjustified, about the UN role in the peace process and it has restated that the exercise of Kofi Annan's good offices emanates from resolution 1250 and that this process lies within the terms of reference and the good offices mission of the Secretary General," Papapetrou said after Wednesday's cabinet meeting.

    Papapetrou said that by June it should become clear how the direct talks, which began in mid-January, are progressing, unless the two sides reach the point of signing an agreement by that time.

    "What we are seeking is to see the Turkish side come to the next round of negotiations with a different political will, necessary to break the deadlock," the spokesman said.

    He welcomed the fact that the statement reiterates in a very clear manner the continuing firm interest of the Council in the direct talks and that it will be kept informed at regular intervals about the course of the negotiations.

    Papapetrou said he was pleased the Council has indicated a timeframe within which this process should move and said June this year is a fair date to bear in mind in this regard.

    Invited to comment on a call to both sides to show "a spirit of compromise" with a view to narrow existing differences, Papapetrou said it is early days in the peace process to draw any conclusions.

    "We do not feel that this reference is addressed to us because right from the start we have maintained an absolutely constructive attitude in this process and we shall continue to display this approach," Papapetrou said.

    The Security Council expressed full support for the Secretary General's mission of good offices granted to him by the Council, in resolution 1250, which says that there should be no preconditions to the talks, that all issues should be on the table, both sides should make a commitment to negotiate in good faith until a settlement is reached and that there should be full consideration of relevant UN resolutions.

    UN Chief Kofi Annan's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto, having briefed the Council, returns on Thursday to the island for the resumption of the talks on Friday morning.

    [29] Papapetrou says Denktash should reproach himself

    NICOSIA, 28/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Decisions on Cyprus by international organizations do not adopt Greek Cypriot positions but ratify the compromise between the two communities on the island and thus Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash "should reproach himself and his positions that are a jarring note with those of the rest of the world", government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said here on Wednesday.

    Papapetrou was commenting on statements by Denktash, who accused the EU and Britain for allegedly deciding that Cyprus belongs to the Greek Cypriots.

    Referring to the role of foreign envoys in the Cyprus problem, Papapetrou said the government considers their involvement as "necessary, beneficial and helpful", noting "it is obvious that if we are left alone with the Turks face-to-face, their military supremacy in weaponry is upgraded and plays and important role as a political element within the talks themselves".

    "Hence, the involvement of foreign envoys is welcome, as long as it moves within the framework of their own decisions and the UN Security Council resolutions", he said.

    [30] Cyprus representatives leave for EU Convention

    NICOSIA, 28/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Government and parliamentary representatives left for Brussels on Wednesday to participate in the inaugural session of the Convention on the future of the European Union, beginning on Thursday in Brussels. The House of Representatives on Thurs-day will hold a special plenary session to mark the start of the Convention in Brussels. It was announced on Tuesday that participating deputies will be backed by researchers to be in a position to play a "more active and more creative role" in the Convention.

    Michalis Attalides, former permanent secretary at the Foreign Ministry, will represent the government and deputies Panayiotis Demetriou and Eleni Mavrou will represent the House with another two parliamentarians (Marios Matsakis and Androula Vasiliou) as vice members to the Cypriot team.

    The Convention aims at putting forward recommendations on institutional reforms deemed necessary to make the EU more effective, especially in view of enlargement.

    The Convention is convening following an EU decision in Laeken last December to set up a body to consider the main issues Europe is facing and come up with options and recommendations for the Intergovernmental Conference of 2004.

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