|Friday, 24 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-07-09
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>July 9, 2002
 DM Papantoniou briefs EU ambassadors on terrorism investigation
Athens, 09/07/2002 (ANA)Greece's position on confronting international terrorism and the results so far of the ongoing investigation on the elusive 'November 17' terrorist group were outlined Monday by defense minister Yannos Papantoniou, in a briefing of the ambassadors of Greece's 14 EU partners.
Papantoniou further briefed the ambassadors on the initiatives Greece intended to take with respect to a common EU defense and security policy during its EU presidency in the first half of next year and its current informal 'eurozone' presidency for defense issues.
The minister said after the briefing that the 14 ambassadors acknowledged the significant work accomplished by the Greek Police in confronting terrorism.
The recent results in the terrorism investigations had not come ''out of the blue'', but were the result of systematic efforts by the Greek police and the ''strong political will of the government to deliver a crushing blow to terrorism'', Papantoniou told reporters after the meeting.
The important success of the Greek police, he added, was the result of ''systematic efforts being made in the areas of training of the anti-terrorism service and its equipment, while its constructive cooperation with foreign services experienced in confronting terrorism also helped''.
The government, he reiterated, was determined to find the perpetrators of the killings carried out in the nearly 28 years that 'November 17' has been active.
Further, he added, it was the country's obligation to ensure the greatest possible degree of security for the thousands of spectators of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Papantoniou also denied that pressure was exerted by the ambassadors of the other 14 EU member states for speedy results on the issue of terrorism, while he predicted that the continuous effort would bear fruit and go all the way to the end, striking a crushing blow to terrorism.
The defence minister further reiterated that Greece was absolutely aligned in the struggle against international terrorism.
Regarding defence issues, Papantoniou said that Greece would make every possible effort to achieve an agreement between the EU and NATO regarding the embryonic European rapid reaction force.
If no agreement was reached, the minister said that a solution would be sought ''through special measures outside a general agreement frame-work'' based on past experience.
He stressed that Greece would take all necessary steps to allow a 'Euroforce' mission to be deployed in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) at the end of the year in order to replace NATO forces currently stationed in the region.
Greece would also ensure that an EU-NATO military exercise scheduled for the second half of 2002 took place, he said.
Other plans of the Greek presidency in the defense sector included the development of mechanisms for effective cooperation beween political and military bodies in the handling of international crises, greater cooperation between European arms industries, seminars on the Mediterranean aspects of European common defense and security, informing European public opinion about its goals and supporting European defence with space technology and space applications.
 Gov't condemns runaway media speculation regarding '17N' leaders
Athens, 09/07/2002 (ANA)The government on Monday condemned what it called "sordid" and "inexcusable" media speculation regarding the leaders of the terrorist group November 17 (or 17N), particularly reports containing thinly disguised portraits of specific people.
Government spokesman Christos Protopapas asked the political parties and the Athens journalists union (ESHEA) to "isolate these symptoms" that sacrificed reputations for profit and possibly served personal or political ends.
The spokesman also condemned main opposition New Democracy for trying to raise doubts regarding the government's intentions to fight terrorism, saying that they were undermining the work done by the authorities and failing to support the national effort against terrorism.
Meanwhile, the Greek police announced that they were allowing residents back into the Kypseli apartment block where the first of the group's two arms caches was found, and that all evidence found in the apartment will have been transferred to crime labs for further testing by Monday night.
They said that no arrest warrants would be issued at present, though it was still possible that further evidence might turn up that would allow an arrest, such as fingerprints on the guns found in the apartments or the results of DNA tests on hair found within the two arms caches.
 Deputy FM comments on the terrorism issue
Athens, 09/07/2002 (ANA)The government has provided the example for all others to follow in handling the terrorism issue, Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loberdos said on Monday, commenting on the latest developments of the issue.
Speaking at the sidelines of the meeting of the committee for the controlling of the Greek Plan for the Reconstruction of the Balkans, which took place in Thessaloniki, Loberdos said, "in regards to the operation of the police, the government has provided the example of the correct behavior."
"The police has the control of operations and the government does not comment, does not name names, not even those of organizations. It speaks of the phenomenon of terrorism, as it has the mandate of the people to combat it".
Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Pascha-lidis, who was also present, refused to comment.
 U.S. government congratulates Greece over anti-terrorism bid
WASHINGTON, 09/07/2002 (ANA - T. Ellis)The government of the United States on Monday congratulated the Greek government for successes it has achieved over the past week in combatting terrorism.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, referring to the Greek government for details on the issue, reiterated that cooperation with Greek authorities is excellent and stressed that the U.S. congratulates the Greek government on its successes in past days and encourages it to continue efforts in the same direction to break up the November 17 organisation.
On the question of security measures at the U.S. embassy in Athens, Boucher said they are increased on a permanent basis, adding that the embassy is ''in a state of high alert'' due to ''November 17'' and other terrorist organisations.
 President welcomes Irish counterpart under rainy skies
Athens, 09/07/2002 (ANA)President Kostis Stephanopoulos on Monday warmly welcomed at the Presidential Mansion visiting Irish President Mary McAleese, who heads a delegation that includes her husband Martin.
Following a meeting that lasted for about one and a half hours, the two presidents spoke to the press.
Stephanopoulos stressed that Greece appre-ciated Ireland's presence in the European Union, which is a model of speedy development and a beneficial example for Greece.
The Greek president also said that during their discussions it was noted that trade between the two countries can grow further along with the further development of cultural ties.
They also discussed common interest issues, such as the EU's enlargement, issues on which the opinions of the two countries converge, as the two sides desire the accession of new countries and the development of new institutions so that the EU may have more democratic and effective ones.
Stephanopoulos also said that his counterpart explained that the negative result of the first plebiscite in Ireland over the Nice Treaty was due to a lack of information provided to the citizens of Ireland and not their opposition to the EU.
He added that following a better briefing there will be a different result in the plebiscite scheduled for October.
Stephanopoulos thanked McAleese for her country's stance toward the Cyprus problem.
The Irish president, on her part, thanked Stephanopoulos and wished the Greek people success, stressing that the two countries have the ability to benefit from the advantages as members of a wider cooperation.
''I have the honor to be the first Irish president to visit Greece, as was Stephanopoulos the first Greek president to visit my country two years ago,'' McAleese said.
McAleese said that Stephanopoulos had apologized to her for the rainy weather in Athens, adding, however, that she claimed full responsibility for the sudden storm, saying that she brought rain with as she did in every country she visited.
In fact she said that when she visited Africa it rained upon her arrival, breaking a 20-year drought, an event that was, of course, considered a blessing.
''Greece is the birthplace of European and international democracy,'' McAleese said, stressing that it was a joy and privilege to be in the country and wished success for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
 PM to have talks with visiting Ireland president this week
Athens, 09/07/2002 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis is to attend a dinner on Monday given by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos in honor of visiting Irish President Mary McAleese, government spokesman Christos Protopapas announced while presenting the prime minister's agenda for this week.
On Tuesday at 10:00, meanwhile, Simitis will meet the head of the main opposition in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Social Democratic Union party leader Branko Crvenkovski, while at 10:30 he will have a meeting with Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis.
Immediately after his meeting with Anomeritis, the prime minister will have a meeting with Ireland's president at 11:00.
On Tuesday evening, the prime minister will address an inauguration ceremony for the link between the Greek and Italian electricity grids that will be held simultaneously at Arachthos in Greece and in Caladina, Italy. The prime minister's speech will be made from his Athens office using teleconferencing at 17:30, while Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi will address the Caladina ceremony simultaneously in the same way.
The event will begin at 16:00 and will also be addressed by Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Public Power Corporation (DEH) chairman Dimitris Papoulias, as well as a representative of the European Union.
Finally, the premier will meet Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos at 20:30 on Tuesday evening.
On Wednesday at 11:00, Simitis is to visit the Piraeus Port Organization and at 13:30 he will meet Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and Deputy Finance Minister Christos Pachtas.
 Minister holds talks with Danish foreign affairs minister
Athens, 09/07/2002 (ANA)Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis and Danish Refugees, Immigration, Integration and European Affairs Minister Bertel Haarder discussed immigration, asylum, European Union enlargement and progress on issues regarding the Assembly on the Future of Europe on Monday, as well as matters concerning the preparation of the Danish EU presidency.
The purpose of the meeting was close cooperation between the two sides on issues preoccupying the Danish presidency, which has just begun, and issues to be handled by the Greek EU presidency, which will follow the Danish one.
According to a foreign ministry announcement, the discussion started with reference to enacted cooperation, based on decisions taken at the Seville summit, between the two countries on preparing Danish presidency issues.
The Danish minister said he would like progress to be achieved on the Seville agenda regarding asylum and immigration issues (Dublin II, visas and certain policies regarding external borders).
EU enlargement is a top priority for the Danish presidency and the two ministers agreed that negotiations should be completed at the Copenhagen summit in mid-December at the latest.
On the question of Cyprus, and in response to a relevant observation by Yiannitsis, Haarder said the Danish presidency and the Danish prime minister himself will fully honor all that has been anticipated by the Helsinki summit.
 International meeting on Europe's future begins on Samos
Athens, 09/07/2002 (ANA)The ''Andreas Papandreou Foundation'' is organizing an international meeting on the island of Samos with the participation of celebrities from all over the world to examine ''Globalization and the future of Europe''.
Son of late premier Andreas Papandreou and Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou presides over the meeting which is being attended by Turkish Finance Minister Kemal Dervis, the European Union's High Representative on Foreign and Defense Policy Javier Solana and former U.S. President Bill Clinton, among others.
The first day of the meeting was marked by discussions on the international developments in a globalized society, as well as the future of Europe, while on the sidelines of the meeting Bill Clinton and Kemal Dervis signed the text for the Olympic Truce.
Also on the sidelines of the closed-door meeting, the participants had the opportunity to discuss current issues, such as the issue of terrorism.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Papandreou said that Clinton stated his satisfaction over developments in investigations in Greece, for which he was briefed, and expressed his hope for further progress.
Clinton also commented on the course of Greek-Turkish affairs and noted that the resolution of the Cyprus issue remains the key to the relationship between the two countries, which can possibly play a dominant role in the region.
Papandreou also said that he discussed Greek-Turkish relations with Dervis.
A large part of the meeting was devoted to developments in the Middle East. On this issue Clinton analyzed the efforts of his administration to resolve the bloody conflict, as well as the possibilities for a resolution.
He spoke of the Tampa Agreement, on which the implementation of an agreement can be based, which will recognize the right of the existence and the security of Israel and of a Palestinian state. Other participants also focused on the issue.
Solana was expected to arrive in Samos later in the day.
 Magriotis says he is convinced on Cyprus' accession
Athens, 09/07/2002 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis on Monday expressed his conviction on Cyprus' accession to the European Union.
"We are resolved to proceed unwavered and unswept by voices that will attempt to fabricate a crisis and tensions, voices coming from various directions and mainly from the coast on the other side of the water", Magriotis said.
He was speaking during an event organized in Thessaloniki by the Union of Cypriots of Northern Greece to commemorate the anniversary of the 1974 coup d' etat in Cyprus and the subsequent Turkish invasion of the island.
Addressing the same event, Cyprus' Social Democrats Movement (KISOS) President, Yiannakis Omirou said that "a review of the Turkish approach to the direct talks between (Cypriot) President (Glafkos) Clerides and (Turkish-Cypriot leader) Rauf Denktash is absolutely negative".
It is inconceivable to continue with a form of talks that will act as a tool in Turkey's hands to undermine Cyprus' EU accession course, he said.
"These critical times do not allow for complacency", Omirou said, adding, "they call for vigilance and the forging of a unity throughout the nation".
A political decision for expansion of the European Union is expected to materialize at the Copenhagen Summit in December 2002.
 DIKKI EuroMP Bakopoulos: EU defense & foreign policy in Greece's interests
Athens, 09/07/2002 (ANA)A single European defense and foreign policy, but not NATO-oriented, was in Greece's interests, Democratic Social Movement (DIKKI) Eurodeputy Emmanuel Bakopoulos said Monday.
Speaking to the Athens News Agency (ANA) as part of a series of on-going interviews with Greece's MEP's, Bakopoulos also opined that 'groupings' would arise within the European Union after the 15-nation bloc's enlargement, and urged for preservation of the member-states' right of veto in the enlarged EU.
Asked why, in his opinion, a new Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC) on revising the EU treaties had been decided, and whether the imminent EU enlargement had played a part in that decision, Bakopoulos replied that the upcoming enlargement had naturally been an important reason for deciding a new IGC, but not the only one.
''Essentially, we can say that the break-up of the Soviet Union, the end of the division of the European continent and the reunification of Germany allowed and put forward the question 'What kind of a Europe do we want to create, and what kind of a relationship with the US','' he said, adding that this was a difficult question, with many and varied responses.
Asked whether the EU that was evolving would comprise a supra-national system that could, in the current conditions of globalization, function efficiently to the benefit of the European peoples and serve as a model for the rest of the world, Bakopoulos said that the historic phase of the 'nation/state' has not been overcome, and consequently it was not possible to speak of supra-national systems in the Europe of 2002.
''I, for one, cannot imagine the president of France, for example, acting at the expense of the French national interests because that would promote the 'European cause' as defined by some other majority in which France is a minority. The same holds true for everyone,'' he said.
As for what initiatives he believed Greece should advance so that the European citizens may feel closer to the decision-taking centers of European governance, Bakopoulos replied that, ''as unpleasant as it may seem, I believe that Greece, as a small country, must fight for the status quo''.
''The ability of veto and negotiations with 'exchanges', in other words that which creates the 'intransparency' in the function of the EU Council, also comprise the guarantee that a small country will not be violently set aside from the body of the large members,'' he explained.
Asked whether he believed that the governments of the member-states were willing to concede authorities, in light of the fact that the common European currency and advancement of EU enlargement were bringing the matters of political union to the forefront, Bakopoulos said he did not believe that the member states' governments were ready to do so, noting that political unification meant a common foreign and defense policy, which in turn meant common friends and enemies, as well as the obligation to join ranks in the event of threat. ''This is historically very premature,'' he added.
Questioned on how functional a 25-member EU would be after enlargement and now certain sensitive issues such as ethnic particularities, language, etc., could be confronted, Bakopoulos said such matters could not be confronted, and consequently the most likely eventuality was the emergence of groupings on the principle of ''reinforced political cooperation'', something which he said was foreseen under the Nice Treaty.
Asked what Greece's contribution could be so that the EU could acquire a truly uniform foreign policy, Bakopoulos said that a single European defense and foreign policy was in Greece's interests, ''but a European (foreign and defense) policy, not a NATO policy'', otherwise ''the American global interests will create adverse repercussions, as in the case of Turkey''.
 Commission to take Greece to court over noise pollution
BRUSSELS, 09/07/2002 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)The European Commission decided on Monday to take Greece to the European Court for incorrectly implementing the European Union's directive on noise pollution from equipment for exterior uses.
Such equipment includes movable and standing cranes, cement trucks, chainsaws, dump trucks, garbage trucks and mechanical gardening tools.
The directive set as a precondition, for any such equipment's sale in the market, the abiding by specific noise level limits, as well as the notation of those levels in a clearly stated way.
 Commission warns six EU countries on air pollutionBRUSSELS (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)
The European Commission is warning six European Union countries, including Greece, for failing to harmonize their national legislation correctly with EU legislation on air quality.
The Commission issued warnings to Greece, Spain, Britain, Italy, Ireland and Austria that if they do not comply with EU specifications over the next two months the next step will be resorting to the European Court.
''Air pollution is a local problem and at the same time a planetary one,'' said relevant Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom, adding that ''it is of no use if member-states agree on a legislation and then do not apply it.''
 Greek exports to the EU drop in 1990-2000, report says
Athens, 09/07/2002 (ANA)A decline in Greek exports to the EU's largest markets, both in value and as a percentage rate of total exports, was a sign of a shortfall in the country's competitiveness, the Panhellenic Exporters' Union said on Monday.
In its latest bulletin on Greece's export markets in the last decade, the union said that changes in the country's exporting markets benefited its neighboring countries (Turkey, FYROM, Bulgaria, Romania and Albania).
Greek exports to western countries fell in the last decade, and in particular towards the country's EU partners, a decline that was counterbalanced by an increase in exports to Third countries, mainly in eastern Europe, where exports rose almost by five times.
Greece's EU partners remained the biggest three export markets, although their share of total exports fell to 28 percent in 2000 from 48 percent in 1990. On the other hand, Greek exports to neighboring countries accounted for one-fifth of total exports in 2000.
EU member-states' participation in Greek exports fell to 45 percent in 2000 from 68 percent in 1990, while eastern Europe's participation rose to 21 percent from 7.0 percent, over the same period.
Mediterranean states accounted for 7.0 percent of exports in 2000, from 3.0 percent in 1990, while North American states' participation rose to 7.0 percent from 6.0 percent, and North Africa and Middle East were unchanged at 7.0 percent, over the same period.
Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania are emerging as main export markets for Greece, although they were not even included in the country's top 20 list in 1990. Turkey jumped to fifth place with its market share rising to 5.0 percent from 1.4 percent in 1990, Bulgaria rose to eight place absorbing 4.0 percent of Greek exports, while Romania was elevated in the 10th place with a market share of 3.5 percent.
The UK also rose to the third place in 2000, from fourth in 1990, while France fell to ninth place from third, over the same period. Germany and Italy retained their top positions over the decade.
The Panhellenic Exporters' Union warned, however, that changes in Greece's export markets in the last 10 years meant that Greek exports were moving towards more uncertain and volatile markets.
Greek exports' value (towards the country's main exporting markets) rose to 8.694 billion US dollars in 2000, up from 6.792 billion in 1990, although the market share of the top 10 exporting markets fell to 59 percent of total Greek exports from 73 percent, over the same period.
Clothing, fruit and vegetables, virgin olive oil, tobacco and other goods remained Greece's main export products both in 1990 and in 1999.
 Balkan Reconstruction Plan to begin from Bulgaria
Athens, 09/07/2002 (ANA)A Greek plan for the economic reconstruction of the Balkans will begin from Bulgaria and not from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as originally planned, because of a legal obstacle with the republic of Montenegro, Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos said on Monday.
Addressing a meeting of a monitoring committee of the plan in Thessaloniki, Mr. Loverdos said the government would make all efforts to speed up procedures to fund projects in Yugoslavia, particularly the reconstruction of a road network linking Greece with Yugoslavia.
Greece signed a Development Cooperation Pact with Bulgaria last Friday and was expected to sign a similar pact with Albania. Greece will sign a Development Cooperation Pact with FYROM on Friday, with the next round of pacts (with Yugo-slavia, Romania, Bosnia-Herzegovina) expected to be signed next week.
Loverdos said the foreign ministry's target was to sign final agreements with all countries included in the Greek plan by early August and noted that economy and finance ministry's agencies have begun receiving applications from private sector companies from July 1st to include activities in the plan.
The Greek plan for the economic reconstruction of the Balkans envisages offering a total of 550 million euros in a five-year period for projects in neighboring countries, with 20 percent of that money earmarked for co-funding of private investments.
Under the plan, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia will receive 265 million euros (of which 93 percent for Serbia and 7.0 percent for Montenegro), FYROM will receive 75 million euros, Romania 71.5 million, Bulgaria 55 million, Albania 50 million and Bosnia-Herzegovina 19 million euros.
 Transport minister invites EU Commissioner to inspect rail projects
Athens, 09/07/2002 (ANA)Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis on Monday invited European Union Commissioner Michel Barnier to be present during the inspection of the Hellenic Railways Organizationís (OSE) projects, which will be headed by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
Simitis, accompanied by Verelis and relevant government officials will visit the OSE projects on the Leptokaria-Evangelismos, central Greece stretch of the Athens-Thessaloniki rail track, on July 17.
This part of the rail track includes the Tempi and Platamonas tunnels.
Taking the opportunity of the premier's visit to the region, Verelis invited Barnier to participate in the visit, since he had stated reservations over budgets for the specific projects.
Barnier has not responded to the invitation to date.
 Government presents first draft bill on tax reform
Athens, 09/07/2002 (ANA)Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Mon-day presented a draft bill aimed to simplify tax procedures, as part of a government plan for a radical reform of the country's tax system.
Mr. Christodoulakis said the draft bill completed a first phase of a tax reform and noted that two more draft bills were expected to be submitted to parliament by the end of summer, one covering property taxation and the other income taxation.
Christodoulakis said the draft bill would help in reducing bureaucracy, speedier services with citizens, while it would build confidence in relations between taxpayers and tax authorities in the country.
"We will have a tax system equal with other EU member-states," he noted.
 Greece gets EU funding for six environ-mental projects
Athens, 09/07/2002 (ANA)Six environmental projects in Greece have been approved for funding under the European Union's LIFE-Nature program, the European Commission announced on Monday.
Three of those are also covered by the Ramsar Treaty for important wetlands. These are the Mikri Prespa Lake, the Nestos River delta and gorge and the Kohyli lagoon.
Another three are conservation projects targeting specific species, namely the black vulture in the Dadias Forest, a type of vulture found on Crete and the Caretta Caretta turtle that is threatened by fishing activities in its habitat.
Apart from the six projects in Greece, the European Commission approved a further 70 projects in the EU and five candidate-countries, representing a total EU investment of 72 million euros.
 Greek industrial electricity rates among cheapest in EU
BRUSSELS, 09/07/2002 (ANA-V. Demiris)Greek industrial electricity rates, in absolute numbers, are among the cheapest in the EU, while electricity rates expressed in buying power units range on average at EU levels, according to Eurostat data released here on Monday.
Electricity rates in Greece, including taxes, range from 9.40 Euro per 100 kilowatt-hours for "small" consumption up to an annual 30,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh), to 4.40 Euro for "large" consumption exceeding an annual 70,000,000 kWh.
Among the "15", Sweden and Finland have the cheapest electricity rates in absolute numbers including taxes, while the highest rates are found in the western region of Germany and in Belgium, Eurostat said.
 Greek stocks end mixed to higher on Monday
Athens, 09/07/2002 (ANA)Greek stocks ended the first trading session of the week mixed to higher reflecting strong buying for telecommunications stocks in the last hour of trading, a move that counterbalanced an early decline of prices.
The general index ended 0.18 percent higher at 2,201.84 points, with turnover a record-low for the year at 54.7 million euros.
The Insurance, Retail and Construction sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (1.42 percent, 1.14 percent and 1.05 percent, respectively), while the Telecoms, Cement and Metal sectors scored the biggest percentage gains (1.17 percent, 1.06 percent and 0.50 percent).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.22 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index fell 0.53 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index eased 0.50 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 169 to 106 with another 77 issues unchanged.
The most heavily traded shares in value were Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, Sex Form, Intracom, Vodafone and AXON Holdings.
Equity index futures finish with mixed results: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished with mixed results on Monday, with contracts on the high capitalization index showing a slight premium.
Turnover was 63.3 million euros.
Bond prices finish higher in light trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Monday finished higher in a slow trade day, focusing on old issue five-year paper.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.3 percent, and the spread over the corresponding German bund was 32 basis points.
 Rain causes severe flooding, traffic chaos in Athens
Athens, 09/07/2002 (ANA)Heavy rain that started falling from midday on Monday caused severe problems and flooding in many areas around Athens, particularly in the western neighborhoods of Rendi and Moschato after the Kifissos River flooded its banks.
The water rose above the barriers near the Rendi vegetable market and up to Pireos Street, flooding the surrounding roads and carrying away dozens of cars and motorbikes.
The emergency rescue service EMAK was called out to respond to calls by anguished residents, while extensive damage was caused in basement flats and shops in the area, including the television station "Alpha", just 300 meters from the riverbank.
One woman had to be taken to hospital after she was found half drowned near a Rendi shopping mall, a day-care center flooded in Moschato, while in some places the water was more than a meter high.
A trolley bus filled with passengers was trapped on the junction of Constantinoupoleos and Lenorman streets, while a bus came to a halt at the junction of Kifissou and Kavalas avenues and firemen had to be brought in to free its passengers.
The waters were also particularly high around Karaiskaki Square, where many people were trapped in their cars.
Kifissos Avenue and Pireos Road became impassable for three kilometers around the Rendi region, while flooding was also reported along the length of Achaias Street in Ambelokipi.
Traffic police have closed off the road under the Kaftatzoglou Street bridge in Patissia as a precaution, while the fire department said it had received 200 calls to report flooding in Galatsi, Psyhiko, Kypseli, Omonia, Patissia and Piraeus.
Numerous traffic lights are also out because of the rain, while the waters have risen dangerously on the Athens-Corinth national highway at Aspropyrgos.
Deputy Planning and Public Works Minister Yiannis Tsaklidis called an emergency meeting at the ministry in response to the floods, after which he said that the measures taken by the ministry and the water board EYDAP had been "largely successful".
He said the problems were partly due to works being carried out along the length of the river and partly due to the large quantity of rain that had fallen, most of which had ended up in the Kifissos River.
Sudden storm in Attica claims one victim: A 35-year old Albanian man fell victim to the heavy rainstorm that hit the Attica basin on Monday, police said
Authorities said that George Pertuffi was killed by rumble when the wall of an old house in the Kolonos area of Athens, where he had tried to seek refuge from the rain, collapsed before he could get away.
Men of the Fire Brigade recovered the body of the misfortunate man from the rumble.
On a related development, authorities said that Monday's sudden storm caused serious problems to Athens' "Sotiria" hospital where operations were disrupted due to flooded hospital areas including the operating rooms.
 Greek-Albanian drug trafficking ring busted
Athens, 09/07/2002 (ANA)Two Greek men have been arrested and an Albanian accomplice was wanted after more than 900 kilos of semi-processed cannabis was found in their possession, police said on Monday.
They said the three men comprised a ring that smuggled hashish from Albania into Greece and sold it on the streets of the wider Athens area.
Police on Sunday arrested 37-year-old Nikos Dimopoulos and 49-year-old Angelis Venetis in central Athens, while their 30-year-old accomplice Themistocles Poulas, an Albanian citizen from Gjirokastr, was wanted.
Police found in the possession of the two detainees and confiscated a total of 912 kilos of semi-processed cannabis, 9,200 euros in cash, a van, a trailer, three precision scales, a kalashnikov submachine gun with ammunition, three rifles with ammunition, a pistol and silencer, and three air guns with ammunition.
In an unrelated incident, police on Sunday arrested 23-year-old Dimitris Mihalitsianos in the Glyfada seaside suburb after they found in his possession and confiscated 118 ecstasy pills, 21.6 grams of unprocessed cannabis, 1.2 grams of processed cannabis, 2.4 grams of cocaine, a precisions scale, and 150 euros in cash.
 Kaklamanis receives young Greek-American performers
Athens, 09/07/2002 (ANA)President of the Parliament Apostolos Kaklamanis on Monday received sixty youths of the Hellenic American Ballet Theatre of New York, just hours before their night performance at the "Dora Stratou" Theatre near the Acropolis.
"As Greeks, we should not only feel proud of our historical origins that laid the foundation of modern Western civilization, but we should also be aware of our duty, so that our ties with other peoples are commensurate of that tradition", Kaklamanis told the young performers who are the children of Hellenes residing in the US.
The president of the parliament presented his young visitors with commemorative papyrus and their director Helen Skarla with an honorary plaque for her contribution to voluntary work and the preservation of the Greek tradition.
 'Jerusalem in Ancient Maps' exhibition in Veria
Athens, 09/07/2002 (ANA)Israeli ambassador in Athens David Sasson is to inaugurate the "Jerusalem in Ancient Maps" exhibition in Veria on July 11.
The exhibition was organized by the Israeli Embassy and the Veria municipality, and was originally created by the Israeli foreign ministry.
It features near-perfect copies of some of the world's most ancient maps, since Israel and particularly Jerusalem feature on the longest unbroken series of ancient maps in world history.
 Finnish minister reaffirms EU Helsinki conclusions on Cyprus
NICOSIA, 09/07/2002 (CNA/ANA)The EU is committed to the 1999 Helsinki EU Summit conclusions on Cyprus, as they have been reaffirmed by the European Council in Seville last month, Finnish Minister of Foreign Trade and European Affairs Jari Vilen said on Monday.
''We are hoping for the possibility to have a united island in the EU but that is not a precondition'' for Cyprus to join the EU, Vilen said during a joint press conference with Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides.
In his remarks, Kasoulides said that Cyprus and Finland have many issues of mutual interest, adding that ''Finland is interested in the efforts to use the window of opportunity and resolve the Cyprus problem'' before the EU decision on enlargement in Copenhagen next December.
The Helsinki Summit conclusions said that a solution to the Cyprus problem is not a precondition for EU accession.
The Finnish minister expressed hope that the Turkish government will use its influence and try to find ways to solve the Cyprus problem.
He also expressed hope that there will be a commitment on behalf of the Turkish Cypriot side to continue and push forward the direct talks, which began in January between President of the Republic Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash with the aim to find a solution to the Cyprus problem.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third.
The Finnish minister referred to the economic benefits for the Turkish Cypriots when Cyprus joins the EU.
''The EU is ready and willing to have a sustainable commitment also in the economic factors. There is already a commitment for 200 million euros for that and I am sure that when we will find a solution the commitment will be even higher'', he said.
Cyprus ''is ready and willing to participate in the EU family'', he said, adding that the EU is looking forward to finalizing and solving the final difficulties in the negotiations.
''I am pleased to hear your government's commitment to continue the negotiation to find a sustainable solution to the Cyprus question,'' he added.
Cyprus is the first applicant country Vilen is visiting. Vilen, who is on the island for a two-day official visit, was received earlier on Monday by President Clerides. He also met with Chief Negotiator for the Accession of Cyprus to the EU George Vassiliou.
Speaking after his meeting with the Finnish Minister, Vassiliou said Vilen's visit to the island is of great importance, especially taking into consideration that the EU will soon be deciding on the applicant countries.
''Finland has always been a friendly country to Cyprus and these feelings have been reaffirmed during today's (Monday) meeting'', Vassiliou said.
On Tuesday, the Finish minister will meet with Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Nicos Rolandis, to discuss bilateral issues.
Vilen leaves the island the same day. Cyprus opened accession negotiations with the EU in 1998 and has so far provisionally closed 28 out of 31 chapters of the acquis communautaire.
 Italy's Casini says foundations for Cyprus' EU accession have been laid
NICOSIA, 09/07/2002 (CNA/ANA)The foundations have been laid for Cyprus' accession to the EU, President of the Chamber of Deputies of Italy Pier Ferdinando Casini stressed here on Monday, adding that the lack of a solution to the Cyprus problem was no reason for Cyprus not entering the EU.
Speaking through an interpreter after a meeting with President of the House of Representatives Demetris Christofias, Casini said that ''the papers'' for signing Cyprus' accession to the EU are ready, as the island has concluded its negotiations with the EU, satisfying all parameters set by the Union.
''The solution of the Cyprus problem is an issue that interests the EU very much'' Casini said, adding that ''Europe needs Cyprus, and Italy wants Cyprus within the EU''.
Speaking to the press, Christofias said they decided to resume the Parliamentary Friendship Groups of the two countries, adding that soon there will be concrete results.
He also welcomed Casini's decision to organize the next Conference on Mediterranean Identity between both countries next year in Rome.
The last Conference took place in 2001 in Nicosia. Christofias said the conclusions of the Nicosia Conference would soon be published in Greek and Italian.
During the meeting, Christofias briefed the Italian official on Cyprus' course to the EU as well as on the latest developments in the Cyprus issue.
He thanked Casini for the stance of the Italian government and parliament as regards the Cyprus problem.
Christofias said that Italy's stance is based on principles for a just and viable solution on the basis of UN Security Council resolutions.
He also said that Cyprus and Italy wish for a more effective Mediterranean policy and that they discussed about the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation.
On Monday, Casini was also received by President of the Republic Glafcos Clerides and had a meeting with Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides. After the meetings no statements were made to the press.
Later in the day, the Italian official visited the ceasefire line in Nicosia accompanied by the town's Mayor, Michalakis Zampelas. Casini was due to depart from the island Monday evening.
 Clerides: The most crucial period for Cyprus since 1974
NICOSIA, 09/07/2002 (CNA/ANA)President Glafcos Clerides on Monday described this period as the most crucial for Cyprus since the start of efforts to secure a negotiated settlement to the division of the island since the Turkish invasion in 1974.
In his address to the first world symposium of Cypriot academia, the president said there is ''no reason to be optimistic'' at this stage of the ongoing direct talks because no progress has been achieved as a result of the intransigent positions of the Turkish side. He also said that European Union membership for Cyprus is expected to be concluded successfully at the end of the year.
The president called on Cypriot university professors to play an even more effective role in the global effort to inform world public opinion about the situation in Cyprus.
'Our course towards Europe is in its final stages and at the same time we are engaged in negotiations in an attempt to solve the Cyprus question prior to accession,'' the president told some 100 professors who live and work in 11 countries.
''So far, optimism is not justified in the direct talks, in spite of the constructive approach the Greek Cypriot side displays at the negotiating table'', said Clerides, who represents the Greek Cypriot community to the talks.
On Cyprus' EU accession prospects, he said he believed that ''in spite of Turkish threats, there will be no problem and we shall join the EU, with or without a prior solution, which will secure the presence of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in the land of their ancestors and which will be just, viable and consistent with human rights.''
He said the contribution of prominent Cypriot academia abroad is ''significant'' and thanked them all for what they do for their homeland.
''I have no doubt that you will intensify your efforts to help us deal with any obstacles in our struggle to achieve justice and peace, through the exercise of your influence at decision-making centers in the countries where you live,'' he said.
The symposium, entitled ''Cyprus in the 21st century: the role of Cypriot academia'', provides a forum for reflection on ways to serve the interests of Cyprus.