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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-06-29

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

June 29, 2002


  • [01] Defense Minister holds talks on European army issue in Berlin
  • [02] Prime minister inaugurates Aktion-Preveza undersea tunnel
  • [03] PM slams opposition during tour of western Greece
  • [04] Karamanlis in Nice for EPP event
  • [05] Prime minister, president meet for regular briefing
  • [06] Gov't confirms PM's plans for working dinner with ministers
  • [07] Alternate FM ends visit to Estonia
  • [08] Australian PM to visit Greece
  • [09] Karamanlis Institute event on effective governance begins
  • [10] National Bank announce merger plan with ETEBA
  • [11] Unemployment rate eases to 10.5 percent in first quarter
  • [12] Industrial production up 4.9 percent in April, yr/yr
  • [13] Athens Water announces agreement with Vivendi Water
  • [14] French minister impressed with Greek Eureka presidency
  • [15] Aspis Bank purchases ABN AMRO's operations in Greece
  • [16] Greece ranks 14th in European mutual funds market
  • [17] Greek weekly economic review
  • [18] ASE ends week 1.79 percent higher
  • [19] Olympics cutbacks have IOC's approval, gov't says
  • [20] Karaiskaki football stadium not to be used for Olympics
  • [21] Supreme Court issues decisions on German war reparations
  • [22] Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos ends Volos visit
  • [23] Prime minister's street to be reopened to traffic early
  • [24] Ombudsman's report slams state agency for assessing foreign degrees
  • [25] European Commissioner holds talks in Cyprus
  • [26] Danish EU presidency posts diplomat in Nicosia

  • [01] Defense Minister holds talks on European army issue in Berlin

    BERLIN 29/06/2002 (ANA - P. Stangos)

    Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou focused on the nagging European army issue during informal meetings he had here on Friday with his German counterpart Rudolf Scharping and former British Foreign Minister Robin Cook.

    The meetings were held on the sidelines of the conference, entitled ''Europe's global responsibilities'', organized here by the European Socialist Party and the German Social Democrat Party.

    The contacts were part of Athensí push to consolidate positions shaped at the European Union's Seville summit over finding a settlement by the end of the year between the EU and NATO.

    Speaking to Greek correspondents, Papantoniou said that on the basis of what was achieved in Seville he will be starting discussions with NATO, Turkey and the United States in the coming months in his capacity as chairman of the EU's Defense Council to achieve a deal on the European army issue.

    Regarding a sale offer for second-hand tanks to Greece by Germany, he said the country's interest focuses exclusively on tanks of the Leopard-2/A4 type, while there is no interest in the older type Leopard-1 tanks.

    The relevant offer for the sale to Greece of 123 Leopard-2 and 225 Leopard-1 tanks is included in a proposal made by Scharping last May. The offer has nothing to do with the order for the purchase and joint production of 170 Leopard-2/A5-GR tanks, whose delivery is expected to begin at the end of the year.

    Addressing the conference's third ''table'' on European security and defense policy and EU-NATO relations, Papantoniou focused on the Turkish factor.

    ''The threat by Turkey remains at high levels,'' he said and pointed out that due to its geopolitical position Greece continues to be faced with the ''new threats'' of illegal immigration and organized crime.

    "The continuing threat from Turkey, combined with the illegal occupation of Cyprus, obliges Greece to spend about 5 percent of GDP on defense, compared to about 2 percent, which is the average for EU member-states. And at this crucial point Greece differentiates itself from its European partners," he added.

    Papantoniou and the other Greek officials are due back in Athens on Friday night.

    [02] Prime minister inaugurates Aktion-Preveza undersea tunnel

    Athens, 29/06/2002 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Friday inaugurated an undersea tunnel linking the shores of Aktion and Preveza in western Greece, that will now allow motorists to drive directly from Aetoloakarnania prefecture to the town of Preveza and Epirus province without a short ferry crossing.

    Simitis, who is conducting a two-day tour of Preveza and Arta, expressed satisfaction at the completion of the project, which he said would be among those that transformed the face of Greece.

    He noted that the initial cost of the project had risen because its length had been doubled at the request of local communities, adding that the government was happy to carry out works that were better integrated with the environment and that this was also the request of local residents.

    The Aktion-Preveza tunnel, he said, highlighted the work that was being done in Greece, a country that was changing, being modernized and responding to the challenges of the region.

    The prime minister stressed, however, that progress was not only measured by public works alone but also by the ability to adapt to new conditions and create new prospects.

    Also present at the inauguration was Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou, who said it was a very important project that proved what the country was capable of and that Simitis' government produced results.

    Simitis' Preveza tour: After the inauguration, Simitis visited the Fanari municipality to inaugurate a summer school for teaching Greek language and culture to Greek and foreign students at an Ioannina University department.

    The prime minister is being accompanied on his tour by Papandreou, Agriculture Minister George Drys, Deputy Economy-my Minister Christos Pahtas, Deputy Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Lambros Papadimas, Deputy Industry Minister Alexandros Kalafatis and PASOK Central Committee Secretary Costas Laliotis.

    [03] PM slams opposition during tour of western Greece

    Athens, 29/06/2002 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis strongly criticized the country's opposition, and the main opposition New Democracy party in particular, during an address to ruling PASOK party supporters at an indoor stadium in Preveza, western Greece, on Friday.

    Simitis accused opposition circles ''which, lacking any program and in their thirst for power, are exploiting the claims sometimes of one professional group and sometimes of another in the most unacceptable way.''

    He criticized ND for its position on the social security issue, saying that with its position it showed irresponsibility, populism and the complete lack of any program.

    Simitis appeared optimistic over his party's victory in the next election, at the end of its four-year term, determining the main target and slogan with which PASOK will seek its fourth consecutive election victory, which, as he said, will be historic for Greece.

    He termed the next four-year period, after 2004, as the period of convergence and on the question of local elections in the country in October Simitis said municipal and prefectural elections have local characteristics.

    Regarding Cyprus, and in the wake of discussions held on European Union enlargement, Simitis considers its EU accession a foregone conclusion, as well as the promotion of a solution to its political problem.

    Simitis will visit Arta on Saturday and will be ending his two-day tour of two of the four prefectures in the region of Epirus.

    [04] Karamanlis in Nice for EPP event

    Athens, 29/06/2002 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis was in Nice, France on Friday to attend a conference focusing on the European Convention for Europe's Future, an event organized by the European People's Party (EPP) and the Conrad Adenauer Foundation.

    Karamanlis was scheduled to return to Athens late Friday evening.

    [05] Prime minister, president meet for regular briefing

    Athens, 29/06/2002 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis paid a visit to President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Friday for the president's regular briefing on domestic and foreign policy issues.

    Simitis said the meeting had mainly discussed the Greek government's planning for the coming year, which was very important for Greece's position within the European Union.

    Other crucial issues that would figure largely in the coming year were Cyprus' accession to the EU and developments concerning Europe's embryonic rapid reaction force.

    On this last issue, Simitis relayed to the president that Greece had achieved a reversal of the previously unfavorable situation at the EU summit in Seville.

    Over the next year, Athens would mainly focus on the Cyprus problem, dealing with illegal immigration, developing the social state and the course of Turkey's candidacy for the EU - all issues that would also occupy the Greek EU presidency in the first half of 2003.

    [06] Gov't confirms PM's plans for working dinner with ministers

    Athens, 29/06/2002 (ANA)

    The government on Friday confirmed rumors that Prime Minister Costas Simitis was planning a working dinner with members of the cabinet in order to discuss the government's overall program in a relaxed setting.

    Acting government spokesman Dimitris Gerou said that the dinner had been organized for next week because there would be no meeting of the Cabinet.

    He said that government spokesman Christos Protopapas had intended to announce the dinner on Monday, during his regular briefing on the prime minister's agenda.

    According to Gerou, the dinner had received more press attention than it deserved:

    ''It is nothing more than an informal meeting that will give us the benefit of yet one more discussion on how the government's program is moving along,'' he added.

    He said the dinner would be attended by members of the inner cabinet, PASOK Secretary Costas Laliotis, Press Minister Christos Protopapas and Deputy Press Minister Telemachos Hytiris and Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos.

    [07] Alternate FM ends visit to Estonia

    Athens, 29/06/2002 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis ended his working visit to Estonia on Friday, during which he held talks with members of the Estonian Parliament's European Affairs Committee and the Greek-Estonian Friendship Committee.

    Talks focused on issues concerning European Union enlargement, Estonia's accession negotiations and agriculture, while it was pointed out that the question of quotas in agriculture is creating concern for the public.

    Yiannitsis met with former President of the Republic and Estonia's current representative at the Intergovernmental Conference on the Future of Europe Lennart Meri and discussed issues concerning the future of Europe.

    He also held talks with Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister Aino Lepik von Wiren and Estonian Foreign Minister Kristina Ojuland on EU enlargement and Estonia's accession negotiations.

    [08] Australian PM to visit Greece

    MELBOURNE 29/06/2002 (ANA - S. Hatzimanolis)

    Australian Prime Minister John Howard is due to make an official visit to Greece on July 4-5, during a European tour that also takes in Germany and Italy.

    Howard is to meet Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis for talks on bilateral issues and relations between Australia and the European Union.

    The two men will also discuss the establishment of an embassy by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in Australia, the prospects of a bilateral agreement on pensions and a planned trip by Simitis to Australia.

    Howard is to depart from Australia on Sunday, making his first stop in Germany, followed by Greece and then Italy and the Vatican.

    Before returning to Australia, he will also visit the Greek island of Crete in order to pay homage to Australia's fallen during World War II.

    [09] Karamanlis Institute event on effective governance begins

    Athens, 29/06/2002 (ANA)

    A conference on effective governance during the 21st century, organized by the Constantine Karamanlis Institute for Democracy, got underway at the seaside resort of Vouliagmeni on Friday.

    The conference was inaugurated by the Institute's President Ioannis Varvitsiotis, who said the right-wing trend in Europe is mapping out a new future.

    The first speaker was Hans-Dietrich Genscher, former Vice Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, who shook hands with former Polish leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa before his address began.

    Genscher referred to the new challenges facing the world in the 21st century and stressed the need for the European Union's unity, while expressing support for its enlargement and for the euro, which, as he predicted, will become a currency equaling the dollar in strength.

    Genscher termed Walesa a leader of peace and greeted former Greek Prime Minister and main opposition New Democracy party honorary president Constantine Mitsotakis, saying that he is a close friend of his.

    Friday's session of the conference, due to continue over the weekend, was attended by Mitsotakis, Cyprus's Democratic Rally (DHSY) party President Nikos Anastassiades, ND's Parliamentary Group secretary general Dimitris Sioufas and other dignitaries.

    [10] National Bank announce merger plan with ETEBA

    Athens, 29/06/2002 (ANA)

    National Bank and ETEBA on Friday announced their decision to merge in the framework of a National Bank Group's strategy to improve its structures and adjust better to evolving conditions and demands in domestic and international markets.

    The two banks' board approved the merger plan to be submitted for approval to their general shareholders' meetings.

    National Bank said the advantages of the merger plan included: strengthening the bank's presence in the consulting sector, in mergers and acquisitions, underwriting services, project finances, in which sectors ETEBA has significant experience. National Bank also expects to benefit in institutional investors' fund management services, to create synergies, to make more efficient use of the group's staff and reducing operating spending.

    Under the deal, National Bank will absorb ETEBA, in a share swap ratio to be determined by the two banks' board the soonest possible. National Bank and ETEBA also agreed the merger procedure to be based on the two banks' balance sheets for the year ending December 31, 2001.

    ETEBA is the third subsidiary of National Bank Group to merge with its parent in the last few years, following National Mortgage Bank and Housing Bank.

    [11] Unemployment rate eases to 10.5 percent in first quarter

    Athens, 29/06/2002 (ANA)

    Greece's unemployment rate eased to 10.5 percent of the workforce in the first quarter of 2002 from 10.9 percent in the same period last year, National Statistics Services said on Friday.

    NSS said that the number of new unemployed totalled 182,500 in the January-March period, a decline of 59,400 compared with 2001, while the number of long-term unemployed totalled 241,600, a decline of 7,900 compared with the previous year.

    The statistics service said that from a total of 475,400 registered unemployed, 37 percent of them said they wished a full-time job, while 54 percent said they were willing to take either full or part-time jobs to avoid unemployment queues.

    NSS said the highest unemployment rates were recorded in the southern Aegean, the Ionian Islands and western Macedonia, while the lowest levels in the Peloponnese and Attica.

    [12] Industrial production up 4.9 percent in April, yr/yr

    Athens, 29/06/2002 (ANA)

    Greece's composite industrial production index rose 4.9 percent in April compared wit the same month last year, National Statistics Services said on Friday.

    The manufacturing production index rose 4.4 percent, the mining production index jumped 7.2 percent, while the electricity-natural gas-water production index increased 6.2 percent in April.

    NSS said the composite industrial production index rose 0.8 percent in the first four months of 2002 compared with the same period last year. The rise reflected an increase of 12 percent in the mining production index, a 1.9 percent increase in the electricity-natural gas-water production index and a 0.2 percent decline in the manufacturing production index.

    [13] Athens Water announces agreement with Vivendi Water

    Athens, 29/06/2002 (ANA)

    Athens Water on Friday announced a board decision to sign a cooperation agreement with French company Vivendi Water to offer water and drainage services in the wider geographical area of the Balkans and the Mediterranean.

    Eleftherios Tzellas, chairman and managing director in Athens Water, unveiled the plan to a general shareholders' meeting and said that the company has embarked on an expansion drive.

    The cooperation agreement with Vivendi, "will contribute decisively in further developing our company and create the necessary preconditions to promote the company's international status and dynamism, taking a significant role in the wider region with obvious economic and technological benefits," Tzellas said.

    He noted that this cooperation could take several forms, such as creating joint ventures capable to offering technical support to similar companies in other countries.

    Athens Water and Vivendi Water plan to expand activities in Albania, FYROM, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Egypt and Libya.

    Mr. Tzellas also referred to the importance given by the company to its participation in electricity production. Athens Water already operates an electricity energy production unit on the island of Psyttalia, in the Saronikos Gulf, with an annual economic benefit of around 700,000 euros.

    Tzellas said that the development ministry has already approved state subsidies up to 40 percent of a total cost of building new electricity production units, estimated at around 35 million euros.

    Athens Water said its pre-tax profit totalled 36.8 billion drachmas last year, up 3.8 percent from 2000. Total revenues rose 12.01 percent last year to 98.02 billion drachmas from 87.51 billion in 2000.

    Tzellas told shareholders the board's efforts focused on restructuring the company's operation, improving its services and completing the installation of a new information system.

    The shareholders' meeting also approved a board plan to pay 0.22 euros per share dividend to shareholders, up 4.17 percent from the previous year.

    [14] French minister impressed with Greek Eureka presidency

    Athens, 29/06/2002 (ANA)

    French Research and Technology Minister Claudie Haignere said on Friday she was impressed with the dynamism of the Greeks and the results of Greece's 12-month presidency with the Eureka initiative.

    The French minister, who arrived in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, to participate in the Eureka initiative's 20th Interministerial Conference, is also France's first astronaut.

    Haignere has made three trips into space. He first space mission was on August 17, 1996, when she participated in the Franco-Russian "Kassiopi" mission and later in the "Perseus" and "Andromeda" missions.

    [15] Aspis Bank purchases ABN AMRO's operations in Greece

    Athens, 29/06/2002 (ANA)

    Banking giant ABN AMRO on Friday announced the sell-off of its Greek subsidiary of 16 branches -- along with all related credit, insurance and retain activities -- to Athens-based Aspis Bank.

    No figures were announced for the deal, except that ABN AMRO will assume a 7-percent share of Aspis Bankís existing share capital.

    Aspis Bank, with total assets exceeding 1.2 billion euros, has 41 branches throughout Greece.

    Fridayís announcement by the Dutch banking conglomerate follows the purchase of an 80-percent equity stake in ABN AMRO Securities, another Greece-based subsidiary, by state-controlled General Bank last November for an undisclosed sum.

    [16] Greece ranks 14th in European mutual funds market

    Athens, 29/06/2002 (ANA)

    Greece's mutual funds market accounted for 0.64 percent of the European market's (including mutual funds and other types of funds based on their assets) in the first quarter of 2002, ranking 14th in a total of 20 European countries.

    The Greek equity mutual funds market accounted for 0.35 percent of the total European market (down from 0.40 percent in the fourth quarter of 2001), the domestic bond mutual funds market accounted for 0.58 percent (down from 0.61 percent), the combined funds market accounted for 0.81 percent (down from 1.17 percent) and the money funds accounted for 1.7 percent (down from 1.9 percent), over the same period.

    The European market of contract investment's assets totalled 4.76 trillion euros in March 2002, up from 4.58 trillion in December 2001, or an increase of 8.3 percent from the same period in 2001.

    Luxembourg (20.3 percent), France (19.7 percent) and Germany (17 percent) recorded the biggest quarterly market shares in Europe.

    [17] Greek weekly economic review

    Athens, 29/06/2002 (ANA)

    The Athens Stock Exchange moved around the 2,200 level during the week under review reflecting the continuing absence of small investors from the market, a pattern followed in the last two years.

    Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, speaking to foreign press correspondents in Athens, said that the Greek economy needed to maintain its high growth rates and said he was worried by the fact that the inflation rate remained stubbornly above 3.0 percent, the high unemployment rate and high trade deficit in the country.

    He welcomed a successful completion of a government plan to reform the country's social security system and stressed that Greece needed to improve its competitiveness to achieve real convergence.

    Mr. Christodoulakis also presented a package of measures aimed to simplify the tax system and said that a second draft legislation on tax reform would be presented in mid-July.

    The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) praised Greece's significant economic progress and predicted that the economy would grow by 3.5 percent this year and 4.5 percent in 2003. The Paris-based organization, however, urged for a flexibility of the labor market, tight incomes policy and reforming the country's tax and social security systems.

    The Athens Stock Exchange said that 23 listed companies currently meet quality criteria for the organization and operation. These companies are: Alpha Bank, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling, Kyriakidis, FORTHnet, Lavipharm, Unisystems, Titan Cement, Silver & Baryte, Germanos, Delta, Lambrakis Press, National Bank, Hellenic Stock Markets, Commercial Bank, Themeliodomi, Minoan Lines, Mohlos, Olympic Technical, EFG Euro-bank Ergasias, Cyprus Bank, Piraeus Bank, Cosmote and Motor Oil.

    The Union of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE) predicted that tourist arrivals in Greece would fall by 3.0 percent this year.

    [18] ASE ends week 1.79 percent higher

    Athens, 29/06/2002 (ANA)

    Greek stocks ended the last trading session of the week with small gains in the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, led by gains in blue chip stocks like National Bank.

    The general index ended 0.36 percent higher at 2,237.86 points, with turnover a moderate 109.6 million euros.

    The Insurance, IT Solutions and Publication sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses (4.96 percent, 1.41 percent and 0.46 percent, respectively), while the Food-Beverage, Cement and Investment sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (1.14 percent, 1.07 percent and 1.04 percent).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.51 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 0.36 percent higher and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index eased 0.28 percent.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 165 to 140 with another 52 issues unchanged. The general index ended the week with net gains of 1.79 percent.

    The most heavily traded shares in value were Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, Coca Cola, Naoussa Textiles, Alpha Bank and National Bank of Greece.

    Equity index futures finish lower: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished lower on Friday, with contracts on both the high capitalization index and the medium cap index showing a discount.

    Turnover was 126.91 million euros.

    The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips gained 0.51 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks rose by 0.36 percent.

    Bond prices up in heavy trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Friday finished up in heavy trade focusing on ten-year paper.

    The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.28 percent, and the spread over the corresponding German bund was 31 basis points.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 2.5 billion euros.

    Sell orders accounted less than half of trade.

    [19] Olympics cutbacks have IOC's approval, gov't says

    Athens, 29/06/2002 (ANA)

    The cutbacks in planned infrastructure for the Athens Olympics in 2004 had been approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and had been made after careful consideration in order to benefit Greece and the budget for the Games, the government stressed on Friday.

    Dimitris Gerou, who was filling in for Christos Protopapas as government spokesman, noted that the IOC had praised Greece on its progress in Olympics projects and pointed to a statement by IOC Coordinating Committee head Dennis Oswald, who said the IOC did not ''white elephants'' that would be left behind once the Games were over.

    As an example, the spokesman referred to a decision to build just one hockey pitch for the Olympics instead of the two that the International Hockey Federation had originally asked for. It was later decided that one pitch would be sufficient to cover the needs of the Games, leading to a saving of several million euros.

    ''The government assesses projects on the basis of their use during and after the Olympic Games, and always with the agreement of the IOC,'' Gerou added.

    Regarding the construction of a park at Hellenikon, on the site once occupied by the old Athens airport, Gerou said that this would go ahead according to the statements made by Prime Minister Costas Simitis on January 2001 and that it would be the largest park in Europe.

    Regarding criticism about delays in the project, he said these were due to legal complications that had now been overcome and that work would start at the end of August.

    [20] Karaiskaki football stadium not to be used for Olympics

    Athens, 29/06/2002 (ANA)

    The old Karaiskaki football stadium would not be ready for use during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greek Olympic Committee president Lambis Nikolaou officially announced on Friday.

    He laid the blame for delays that had scuppered the project squarely on the contractors ALTE, saying that the company had reneged on its contractual obligations to carry out the necessary works.

    "I believe it is almost impossible that we can use Karaiskaki during the Olympics. In a meeting with Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos on May 10 the contractors had promised to move the project along. But this did not happen," Nikolaou said.

    The Greek Olympic Committee had terminated the contract with ALTE and was demanding full compensation for damages, he added, while it would be initiating legal action against the firm.

    "We do not have the slightest responsibility for what happened, since we did everything possible on our part," Nikolaou stressed, noting that the contracts with ALTE had been signed in December 1999 and that the company had not met its contractual obligations, "so that two and a half years later the project is a write-off.

    Olympic Games organizers now have to find another football stadium in Athens to use in 2004.

    [21] Supreme Court issues decisions on German war reparations

    Athens, 29/06/2002 (ANA)

    The Supreme Court plenum issued decisions on Friday with which appeals made by victims of the Distomo massacre, during the German occupation of Greece during World War, 2 were rejected.

    The court ruled that the clause in article 293 of the criminal procedure code, anticipating prior approval by the justice minister for confiscations of a foreign state's real estate in Greece, is not contrary to the constitution, the European Human Rights Convention and the UN's international pact.

    Consequently, the Distomo victims cannot go ahead with the confiscation of the buildings of the Goethe Institute and the German Archaeological Academy without the justice minister's consent.

    In another development, the coordinating committee of Greece's bar associations convened in Athens and, among others, discussed the issue of claiming reparations owed to Greece and Greek citizens, who were victims of the Nazi occupation, by the German government.

    An announcement issued on Friday spoke of the unjustified inertia of all Greek governments to claim payment of the German occupation loan and reparations for damage caused to the Greek economy by German forces and of the delay in the reparations process concerning 66 Greek cities and villages.

    [22] Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos ends Volos visit

    Athens, 29/06/2002 (ANA)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos concluded his visit to Volos, eastern Greece, on Friday after being proclaimed an honorary lecturer of the University of Thessaly on Thursday night.

    Speaking to reporters before returning to Istanbul, Vartholomeos said he had a cordial discussion with Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos who had welcomed him on his arrival in the city.

    However, he added that he will be unable to attend the Inter-Religious Meeting the Church of Greece will be organizing in September due to the change in its date, which renders his visit impossible.

    Commenting on whether he will be visiting Athens in October, Vartholomeos said he has already received some invitations. However, he added that there is a line of communication with Archbishop Christodoulos and he will be talking to him before making any announcement.

    [23] Prime minister's street to be reopened to traffic early

    Athens, 29/06/2002 (ANA)

    Anagnostopoulou Street in Kolonaki where Prime Minister Costas Simitis lives will be reopened to traffic on Saturday, a day earlier than originally planned, the public order ministry announced.

    The central Athens road had been closed off after a drug addict armed with a gun had eluded police officers and succeeded in firing shots at the entrance of the prime minister's residence, thankfully without harming anyone.

    The road had been temporarily closed by the public order ministry after the incident, which said it would revise and tighten security measures around the premier's home. Workers are currently installing speed bumps on either side of the premier's building to prevent drivers from building up speed at that spot, after which traffic will be allowed through once more.

    [24] Ombudsman's report slams state agency for assessing foreign degrees

    Athens, 29/06/2002 (ANA)

    The independent Ombudsman on Friday released a special report on the state's DIKATSA service for the recognition of degrees from foreign higher learning institutions, in which it pinpointed serious shortcomings and called for radical changes, including the formation of a new organization

    Special reports are compiled by the Ombudsman in cases where the problems are particularly serious.

    The report was submitted to Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis and noted great delays in dealing with the public's requests, poor communication between DIKATSA and the public and problematic procedures in the recognition of degrees.

    Apart from calling for the creating an entirely new body to run the service, the report called for improved facilities, an information center, more assessment committees, as well as incentives to attract academics and scientists capable of manning the centerís management positions and committees. It also made a number of recommendations on procedural aspects of the service.

    [25] European Commissioner holds talks in Cyprus

    NICOSIA 29/06/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    European Commissioner for the Environment, Margot Wallstrom, was received this morning by Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, who praised her for continuing to strive for a solution of the Cyprus problem despite difficulties.

    She added that the EU is closely following the UN-led talks between President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and hopes that there will be a positive outcome. Speaking after the meeting, Wallstrom said the Cypriot president understands the great importance of environmental issues and noted that they had a very interesting discussion on the acquis communautaire chapter on the environment.

    Wallstrom also attended a House of Representatives environmental committee meeting, during which she said a Cyprus settlement and the accession of a reunited island into the EU would significantly help tackle environmental problems faced by Cyprus.

    Referring to the intention of the British bases on the island to erect a new antenna at the Akrotiri Salt Lake site, which has been designated to be included in the list of important wetlands, Wallstrom said matters on protecting nature in this case should be discussed jointly by the Cyprus government and the base administrations.

    [26] Danish EU presidency posts diplomat in Nicosia

    NICOSIA 29/06/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    The government of Denmark has decided to post Danish diplomat Knud Johansen in Nicosia, who is to manage the tasks relating to the European Union (EU) presidency in Cyprus, during the second half of the year 2002, when Denmark will be holding the rotating EU presidency.

    Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs Per Stig Moller said that EU enlargement would be a key priority during the Danish presidency, adding that the government of Denmark has found it desirable to have a diplomatic presence in Cyprus "in order to secure the best possible handling of the enlargement negotiations".

    Denmark has no embassy in Cyprus and it is served by its Embassy in Rome. Moller said that Johansen is a highly experienced diplomat and will have the title of "charge d' affaires".

    "Due to the general budget framework, the diplomatic presence will not lead to the establishment of an embassy in the traditional sense," Moller said.

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