|Sunday, 19 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-07-24
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>July 24, 2002
 Public order minister: We've dealt a powerful blow against terrorism
Athens, 24/07/2002 (ANA)The authorities had dealt a powerful blow against terrorism that amounted to a victory for democracy, Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis said on Tuesday, in a press conference that outlined the progress made by police so far in cracking open the November 17 case.
Ten people had so far been caught in connection with N17's activities, he stressed, while another was being sought by the authorities. In the meantime, police were still sifting through the evidence to find clues pointing to the existence of yet more N17 members and their activities.
''Through systematic and methodical effort, with respect for the fundamental rights of Greek citizens, democratic legitimacy, the Constitution and the law we have dealt a severe blow to the terrorist organization N17,'' he said, describing those now in custody as a ''significant portion of the organization.''
He also underlined, however, that the investigation would continue in every direction until it was absolutely certain that all the guilty parties had been brought to justice.
''The investigation will go right to the end of the line,'' he stressed.
Chrysohoidis underlined, however, that the real victory against terrorism had been a moral victory won by the force of ideas.
''The power of ideas is much greater than the power of weapons. This is why democracy won. Long before N17 was defeated operationally by the law enforcement agencies, it had been defeated politically and ideologically by the power of the ideas of democracy and a society of citizens,'' he said.
Chrysohoidis described the group as a ''shadow of violence'' that spread doubts and attempted to usurp the will of the majority in Greece's hard-won democracy, which for the first time in the country's modern history was nearing three decades of uninterrupted operation.
''The time has come for justice and the legitimate State to answer, to attribute responsibilities where they belong, to shed light on sides of this black page in our history...''
The minister also referred to those who had struggled for the return of democracy under the 1967-1974 military junta in Greece, particularly to the student uprising that was crushed by the junta on the bloody night of November 17, when armed troops stormed the barricaded Athens polytechnic with tanks.
''I express the entire government when I say that no one can slander their struggles and sacrifices, their years in prison and exile, the years of their lives that were lost so that we can all live free today in democratic Greece.
''The date of 17 November is an indelible historic day that belongs to modern Greece. It belongs to those young people that defended the gates of the Polytechnic with their blood, it belongs to the collective memory of the Greek people and, of course, it does not belong to pitiless murderers,'' Chrysohoidis said.
Finally, he stressed that all those responsible for acts of terrorism would receive a fair trial, as democracy dictated, with full respect for human rights.
''But they will be tried. They will have to answer for their actions...today marks the moment when yet another cycle of the post-junta period comes to an end.''
Police Chief Fotis Nasiakos: Speaking after the minister, Greek Police Chief Fotis Nasiakos said there had been a meeting at the anti-terrorism squad to assess the progress made so far in the N17 case and determined the next steps to fully eradicate the group.
He said the meeting had agreed that the 10 arrests made so far were a serious blow to the organization and that the men in custody, as well as Dimitris Koufontinas who is still being sought, carried out the vast majority of terrorist acts and other crimes attributed to N17. He did not, however, rule out the involvement of yet more N17 members who had not yet been discovered by police.
In addition, the two safe houses discovered in Athens contained almost all the weaponry and other equipment acquired by N17 since its foundation, while crime lab and other tests on this evidence might expand the scope of the investigation and pro-vide further proof of N17's crimes to use in court.
Nasiakos stressed that the efforts of the police force would not abate until all those involved in the terrorist group were uncovered and led before the courts.
Giotopoulos continues to maintain he is not a member of 'N17': Alexandros Giotopoulos, said to be a leading member of the ''November 17'' terrorist group, continued to maintain on Tues-day that he is not a member of the group.
He remained for more than one hour at the office of investigating magistrate Theoni Bouri on Tuesday.
Giotopoulos was among two other men accused of being members of the urban guerrilla group to give testimony before the magistrate on Tuesday. The others were Vassilis Tzortzatos and Theologos Psaradellis. All three were imprisoned after giving testimony.
His lawyer Yiannis Rahiotis in a statement after his client's testimony said Giotopoulos ''of course denies the charges.''
Rahiotis said Giotopoulos declared that the charges were based on preliminary testimony given by others accused, which were ''lies''.
Suspected 'N17' member admits participation in terrorist acts: Suspected ''N17'' member Vassilis Tzortzatos, who is charged with a score of felonies, completed his testimony before an Athens Magistrate a little after 6.30 p.m. on Tuesday.
''Tzortzatos admitted his participation as a simple accomplice in a series of punishable acts which he called ''repulsive'' before the Magistrate'', Dimitris Tentolouris, one of the two defense lawyers representing Tzortzatos, said on his way out of the Magistrate's office.
''We are opposite a typical political crime; transferring it into the area of punishable crimes may facilitate some people's consciousness and the spectacle, however, it ''blacks out'' things'', Constantinos Kourkoulos, who also represents Tzortzatos, said.
Both lawyers said that their client was contributing to the clarification of truth and that he looked forward to clemency measures.
Man linked to 'N17' gives himself up to police in Thessaloniki: A person linked with the November 17 terrorist group gave himself up to police in Thessaloniki on Tuesday afternoon, stating that he had taken part in strikes by the urban guerrilla group.
Thessaloniki police chief Nikiforos Tzatzakis said in an announcement that Konstantinos Tellios, 37, gave himself up at the Thessaloniki Police Headquarters.
Tellios, who was born on the island of Samos in 1965, was residing in Thessaloniki.
Police said that Tellios was being transported to the Violent Crimes Department in Athens.
17N suspects' statements to police: The younger brother of a man injured in a botched bomb attack that led police to the heart of the notorious 'November 17' terrorist group on Tuesday claimed that his brother, Savvas Xiros', injury was intentional and that organization members wanted to kill him, reliable sources told ANA.
''After the explosion in Piraeus (on the night of June 29 when a time-bomb exploded prematurely in 40-year-old Savvas Xiros' hands), I assumed that some people inside 17N wanted to do away with Savvas,'' said 30-year-old Vassilis Xiros, who has also been charged on several counts of murder and robbery and membership in the group.
''From what I had seen and knew, I assumed that some members of the organization had put the pressure on 'Loukas' (Dimitris Koufontinas, who is wanted for participation in the group) to do away with my brother. I thought this because, from what I knew, in all the operations he took part in was together with 'Loukas', who appeared to be in charge,'' Vassilis Xiros told police during interrogation.
Vassilis Xiros said 'Loukas' and his brother Savvas were the ones who shot and killed shipowner Costis Peraticos (Piraeus, May 1997), but claimed that no women were involved in the group and that Savvas' companion, Alycia Romero Cortes, had not been aware of his activities.
The third Xiros brother charged with 17N membership, killings and robberies, 44-year-old Christodoulos, named Alexandros Giotopoulos as the man at the top of the organization who determined the targets. ''He'd bring handwritten proclamations, read them to us for comment, and would jot down the additional elements,'' he said.
Christodoulos Xiros said Dimitris Koufontinas and Theologos Psaradelis, or 'Fotis', were Giotopoulos' right-hand men. He said the first 17N operation he took part in was the murder attempt against US serviceman Sgt. Robert Chad in April 1984 on Vouliagmenis Avenue, and that Yannis Skandalis or 'Komis (The Count, who was killed in a traffic accident a few years ago), Koufontinas, and another member code-named ''Alekos'' or ''Tainias'', were with him. Christodoulos Xiros said it was Skandalis who had shot Chad.
As for the National Bank robbery in Petralona in December 1984 in which police officer Christos Matis was killed, Christodoulos said he had taken part in that incident together again with Skandalis and Koufontinas, the man codenamed ''Alekos'', another man codenamed ''Nikitas'', and a Turkish citizen codenamed ''Apostolis'' who was now dead. Christodoulos said ''Nikitas'' used to have a ceramics shop on 3 Septemvriou Street in Athens, while it was Koufontinas who had shot the police officer in this attack.
Christodoulos Xiros further maintained that Giotopoulos had proposed the killing of 'Apogevmatini' newspaper publisher Nikos Momferatos (Feb. 1985, in which incident the publisher's driver, Panayotis Rousetis, was also killed), and that his role in that attack was to inform the team of executioners when the victim was approaching.
Christodoulos further confessed that he had taken part in the theft of arms and ammunition, including rockets, from the Sykourio military camp depot in Larissa in December 1989, together with his brother Savvas, Koufontinas, Vassilis Tzortzatos, Theologos Psaradelis, Iraklis Kostaris, and someone codenamed 'Markos', whose real name he gave to the police.
Christodoulos said he also took part in the murder attempt against businessman Vardis Vardinoyiannis in November 1990 together with his brother Savvas and Koufontinas, wile he believed Kostaris also had a role in that operation.
At the end of the interrogation, Christodoulos asked that he and his brothers have beneficial treatment because 'I helped disintegrate the group without being forced''.
Theologos Psaradelis, in turn, told police and the prosecutor that he had taken part in the National Bank robber in Patissia in 1986, claiming that someone called 'Yannakis' from the 'Tsironis' organization had proposed he take part in this robbery. Police believe 'Yannakis' may have been Yannis Skandalis.
''I don not consider myself as having taken part as a member of a criminal organization such as 17N, since I oppose any participation by myself in an organization that kills,'' Psaradelis said.
Vassilis Tzortzatos said that the operation against publisher Momferatos had been decided at a meeting between Koufontinas, Skandalis, Christodoulos Xiros, and ''Alekos''. He also claimed that Koufontinas was the executioner in the March 1988 attack against businessman Alexandros Athanasiadis-Bodosakis.
According to Tzortzatos, the rocket against the then EEC offices on central Vas. Sofias avenue in Athens in December 1990 was launched by Savvas Xiros.
During his interrogation, Tzortzatos said he also took part in the attempt against then finance minister Ioannis Paleokrassas in Syntagma Square in July 1992, in which pedestrian Thanassis Axarlian was killed, together with Christodoulos and Savvas Xiros and Dimitris Koufontinas.
He further confessed to taking part in the attempt against New Democracy MP Lefteris Papadimitriou in December 1992, together with Koufontinas and Savvas Xiros.
Giotopoulos' companion, 48-year-old French national Marie-Therese Peynaud, in her statements to the police, said that she had met him in Paris in 1973 at a demonstration protesting the events in Chile, and that his name was Michalis Economou. Peynaud said she had come to Greece for a month in the summer of 1974 to see him, and again at Christmas in 1975 for two weeks. She ruled out her companion's participation in 17N, and claimed that she had first heard the name Alexandros Giotopoulos from the police.
Appeals judges' council assigns N17 case to special magistrates: The appeals court justices council on Tuesday assigned the main judicial inquiry regarding the terrorist group November 17 to special appeals examining magistrates, naming justices Leonidas Zervobeakas, Haris Birbos and Panos Petropoulos to take over the next stages in the case.
Investigation ordered regarding N17 evidence leaked to media: The public prosecutor's office on Tuesday ordered a preliminary investigation to find out how evidence contained in the November 17 case file ended up being leaked to the press and media.
More specifically, the investigation will look into the leak of transcripts of testimony given by suspected members of the group during preliminary cross-examination.
The investigators have been instructed to determine whether there has been a breach of confidentiality rules, whether the defendants' attorneys may have been involved and also whether the crime of harboring a criminal was committed by those who released the names of people not placed under arrest.
Government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Tuesday expressed the government's displeasure at the leaked testimony, saying it laid "outside our logic".
He stressed, however, that the public prosecutor had ordered the investigation without the government's intervention.
According to the spokesman, the evidence had obviously been leaked by someone who legally had access to the case file.
He stressed that the suspected terrorists would all receive a fair trial and said that the justice system should be left alone to carry out its work, which it would do better if everyone behaved responsibly.
Finally, he denied reports that the United States had asked that all those responsible for killing US nationals be deported to stand trial in the US, or that Greece had been asked to assist the Turkey police.`
Public order minister briefs PM on ongoing efforts to eradicate 'N17': Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis discussed latest developments in the struggle to eradicate terrorism, during a one-hour-long meeting they had on Tuesday evening.
Chrysohoidis briefed the prime minister on the latest evidence, as well as on the efforts being made to locate and bring to justice all those involved in the ''November 17'' terrorist group.
No statements were made after the meeting.
 Katiforis briefs Eurodeputies on progress of efforts to eradicate 'N17'
BRUSSELS, 24/07/2002 (ANA - B. Demiris)George Katiforis, head of PASOK's Eurodeputies, during Tues-day's extraordinary meeting of the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee on the issue of the situation in the Middle East, had the opportunity to brief the members of the committee and EU High Representative for common foreign policy Javier Solana, on the success of the Greek police in their efforts to eradicate terrorism.
Katiforis stressed that the Greek authorities are proceeding systematically and with seriousness in the full eradication of the ''November 17'' terrorist organization which for 27 years was ''an open wound'' for Greek society but also cause for Greece's national interests and prestige abroad to be harmed.
Katiforis briefed the Eurodeputies on the Greek government's determination to proceed in the full investigation of the crimes and to the discovery of all those responsible so that the chapter of ''terrorism'' in Greece finally closes.
 U.S. envoy says no evidence linking PASOK to 'N17'
WASHINGTON, 24/07/2002 (ANA - T. Ellis)US. Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller said on Tuesday he has no evidence confirming the existence of a relation between the November 17 terrorist group and members of PAK (an anti-junta organization) or PASOK (the party currently in power in Greece).
Miller, who was addressing the Hellenic American Institute here, said that from probes and investigations conducted so far ''I have seen no evidence supporting these assessments.''
He further said that ''when I have no evidence I shall not submit my personal views on the issue'' and called for attention only to be paid to statements made by himself and other relevant officials and not the views of people who have no official bearing at present.
Miller said this issue ''is of secondary importance at this stage, adding that what is important at the moment is for probes and investigations to go ahead and then the trials and convictions of those responsible.
''The case will not be over if the trials are not completed, which must be fair,'' he said and added that the Greek authorities handled the issue ''with great effectiveness.''
Miller praised the role played by Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis with whom, as he said, he is maintaining continuous contact even from Washington where he has been during these past few days to brief relevant American services on the latest developments.
''We are helping and we shall continue to do this, but the Greek government is the one deserving to be credited with the success,'' he said.
Commenting on the reasons why the breakup of November 17 is being achieved now and not over the past 27 years, Miller attributed it to luck to a certain degree as well ''since the bomb exploded in the hands of (Savvas) Xiros'' (the alleged terrorist currently being treated at an Athens hospital).
However, Miller added that ''luck only helps when you have done the necessary preparation to enable you to be in a position to take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself'' and that ''serious work has been done in past years, there is a very efficient public order minister, there is determination.''
The U.S. envoy further said ''the change observed in Greek public opinion was also a considerable contribution'' which was due to the ''human image'' given to the victims of terrorism by the British attachťís widow Heather Saunders and the families of the rest of the victims who created the organization ''Enough is Enough.''
Miller termed the level of bilateral relations as ''excellent'', adding that cooperation against international terrorism is very good and preparations for the security of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games are moving in the same spirit.
Lastly, Miller said Cyprus already fulfils almost all criteria necessary for European Union accession, which, as it is hoped, will contribute to the finding of a solution.
 PM, parties issue messages on democracy's restoration
Athens, 24/07/2002 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis and political parties issued messages on Tuesday on the 28th anniversary of the restoration of democracy in the country following seven years of military dictatorship between 1967 and 1974.
Referring in his message to developments regarding the crackdown on terrorism, Simitis said ''the 28th anniversary of the restoration of democracy coincides with the heightening of the struggle to break up terrorism. Terrorism was the stigma and shame of the post-dictatorship period.''
Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis said all should help to have the authorities' preparation, possibility and opportunity to put a final end to terrorism utilized to the full.
He added that all perpetrators, as well as their accomplices and leaders, should be detected and brought before justice and a complete breakup of terrorist organizations should be achieved, as well as the final ideological crushing of the phenomenon.
The Communist Party of Greece said in its message ''the quality of democracy being experienced by our people is judged by the presence and exercising of the terrorist policy of NATO, the United States and the European Union with the pretext of breaking up terrorism. It is judged by the government's frontal attack against the fundamental rights of working people. State violence and suppression are the order of the day'', adding that ''the case of 17N is being utilized to shield hypocritical democracy and deal a blow at the anti-imperialist and anti-monopoly struggle and the right of the people to select the path they want.''
The Coalition of the Left and Progress said the breaking up of terrorism will rid the country's political system of acts poisoning public life.
''Our democracy, despite existing problems, is proving itself strong in this case as well and it will prove itself even stronger after this case is resolved completely,'' it said.
Democratic Social Movement leader Dimitris Tsovolas said in his message ''due to vested interests, the sovereignty of the people has been replaced to a great degree by the sovereignty of big economic and publishing groups. The Greek people is treated with contempt, having to listen monotonously that their impoverishment is a so-called one-way path for the modernization of the country and society.''
 PM and PASOK secretary discuss party planning
Athens, 24/07/2002 (ANA)Prime Minister and ruling PASOK party leader Costas Simitis discussed the party's political planning and future initiatives with PASOK's Central Committee secretary Costas Laliotis on Tuesday.
Speaking after the meeting, Laliotis said the spearhead of planning are the municipal and prefectural elections (due to take place in October) since there are still certain pending issues to be handled, which he did not name.
Replying to questions from the press on the issue of terrorism, Laliotis said the effort to break up terrorism will continue to the end because, as he said, all terrorist groups and terrorist networks should all be broken up from top to bottom.
Laliotis also added that everything should be revealed about all and leaders, masterminds and their hit men should be held accountable.
He further said that it should be acknowledged that the prime minister, the government, the public order minister, the police and justice worked according to plan for many months and produced results and rejected the theory of a circumstantial event.
 Giannitsis holds meeting in Brussels
Athens, 24/07/2002 (ANA)On the opportunity of the EU General Affairs Council, Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Giannitsis on Tuesday met with the Council's Deputy Secretary General Pierre de Boissieu for discussions and information exchange on organizational issues of the Greek EU presidency, as well as the cooperation between the Greek presidency and the Council.
On the same opportunity, Giannitsis also met with Bulgarian EU Affairs Minister Meglena Kuneva to discuss Bulgaria's EU accession course. The Bulgarian minister expressed her gratitude for Greece's support with her country's efforts for EU accession in 2007.
Giannitsis had a separate meeting with EU Commissioner Gunter Verheugen, during which the two men had a thorough discussion about the general course of the EU enlargement and especially the procedure and problems associated with Cyprus' accession course until its completion.
The alternate foreign minister met with his Belgian counterpart Anemi Nejts to exchange views on EU enlargement and other relative matters. The two officials discussed issues with regard to the Future of Europe and the timetable for the Council's works, the EU interim agricultural revision, immigration and EU socio-economic strategy. They affirmed their convergence on the discussed topics and underlined their intention for close and constructive cooperation toward the promotion of shared views.
 UK minister for Europe to visit Greece
Athens, 24/07/2002 (ANA)Britain's Europe Minister Peter Hain will be in Athens on Wednesday and Thursday for talks with members of the Greek government and to take part in a round table under the auspices of the Hellenic Center for European Studies (EKEM) on the future of Europe, it was announced on Tuesday.
Hain is minister of state at the British Foreign and Common-wealth Office responsible for the European Union, central Europe and southern Europe, and is Britain's representative to the Convention on the Future of Europe.
While in Athens, he will have talks with Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Giannitsis who is responsible for European issues and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis.
Hain's visit is part of the regular exchange of views between the United Kingdom and Greece in the run-up to the Greek presidency of the EU in the first half of 2003.
The talks will cover the Lisbon process, the future of Europe, the enlargement of the EU and other topical issues.
 Defense minister attends special forces exhibition
Athens, 24/07/2002 (ANA)The Greek armed forces and the Special Forces were ready and able to contribute effectively to the fight against terrorism, both in its national and international dimensions, Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said on Tuesday after watching a Special Forces exhibition at Megalo Pefko.
The minister also referred to the recent breakthroughs against the terrorist group November 17. Wiping out terrorism would rid Greek society of a terrible danger and raise the country's standing in view of the Olympic Games in 2004, he told the gathered troops.
Papantoniou also stressed that the success would help Greece to defend its national interests and pursue a just solution to the Cyprus problem, based on its armed forces and its effective diplomacy in the past few years.
 Education minister pays two-day visit to Evros prefecture
Athens, 24/07/2002 (ANA)Education Minister Petros Efthymiou, paying a two-day visit to the Evros prefecture, visited the Evros prefectural offices and the town halls of Alexandroupolis and Orestiada and attended the official opening of the 8th youth meeting ''Ardas 2002'' at Kastanies on the Greek-Turkish border on Tuesday afternoon.
Speaking to reporters on the breakup of the November 17 terrorist group, Efthymiou said ''what I think every Greek citizen is feeling is that the radical breakup of terrorism, currently being achieved in a methodical and responsible way by the government.''
He further said the government worked methodically, decisively and unwaveringly to root out terrorism in the country, adding that ''the government achieved this with the guidance of the prime minister and with the personal methodical approach and responsibility of Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis.''
 Fourth assembly of Greek parliamentarians abroad begins in Athens
Athens, 24/07/2002 (ANA)Greek Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis on Tuesday opened the 4th General Assembly of the World Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of Hellenes, welcoming 80 MPs of Greek descent from 14 countries around the world.
Both Kaklamanis and Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who spoke immediately afterward, focused on the recent breakthroughs in the fight against terrorism in Greece, the upcoming Greek presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2003 and the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004.
The meeting was also addressed by the president of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad Andrew Athens.
 Athens briefing on EU's review of common agricultural policy
Athens, 24/07/2002 (ANA)An official representing European Union Agriculture Commissioner Hans Fischler on Tuesday held a news conference in Athens to explain the 15-nation bloc's move to review the common agricultural policy.
Tassos Haniotis said that the interim review addressed qualms expressed by the public in EU countries about the policy's effectiveness.
It was believed that the proposals would lead to competitiveness of the EU's farming sector, also acting as a safety net; and promote sustainable, market-oriented farming practices, sup-porting producers rather than products, Haniotis said.
 FM, finance and development ministers discuss cooperation
Athens, 24/07/2002 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou, Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos discussed cooperation between their ministries, both before and during the European Union's Greek presidency in the first half of 2003, during a luncheon on Tuesday.
One of the main issues interesting the three ministries is strengthening activities in the Balkan peninsula, whose stability and security is of particular importance for Greece.
The ministers, apart from European activities in the Balkans, also discussed initiatives Athens will undertake on a bilateral basis for Balkan reconstruction, with particular emphasis being placed on transport, telecommunications and energy infrastructures, as well as the preparation of the Balkan countries' European prospect.
Another issue they discussed was tripartite economic cooperation between Turkey, Greece and Italy on the transport of Caspian energy resources.
 Finance minister recruits support for foreign investments
Athens, 24/07/2002 (ANA)''We are anticipating that Greece will become an attractive country for investors'', National Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis told on Tuesday Greek-descent deputies from the US, Australia, Canada, Russia, Albania, Rumania, the Ukraine and other countries.
Addressing the fourth General Assembly of the World Intra-parliamentary Union of Hellenes at the Parliament, Christodoulakis referred to the accomplishments of the Greek economy during the past years and requested the support of the deputies in Greece's efforts to attract foreign investors.
President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Simitis will receive the members of the Union on Thursday, while on Friday they will visit the northern Greek port-city of Thessaloniki where they will have a meeting with Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Paschalidis.
 Gov't releases data on subsidies to farmers
Athens, 24/07/2002 (ANA)Farmers received 2.3 billion euros in subsidies from October 2001 to July 2002, Agriculture Minister George Drys said on Tuesday.
The sum represents 86 percent of provisions for subsidies to the sector in the budget for this year, Drys told a news conference.
 European Commission to take Greece to European Court
BRUSSELS, 24/07/2002 (ANA - B. Demiris)The European Commission decided here on Tuesday to resort to the European Court against Greece on the issue of the circulation tax imposed during the entry of pleasure craft into Greek territorial waters.
The Commission believes that it is a tax, which is tantamount to an import duty and is contrary to relevant clauses. It further believes that adjustments made by Greece to legislation, following the relevant appeal made by the Commission in July 2001, are inadequate.
These articles forbid taxes, which are tantamount to an import duty between European Union member-states and establish a common tariff and a common trade policy in the framework of relations between member-states and third countries.
 Govít confirms Vardinoyiannis Group interest for Olympic Airways
Athens, 24/07/2002 (ANA)Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis on Tuesday confirmed reports that businessman Pavlos Vardinoyiannis has expressed interest in purchasing a 51 percent stake in Olympic Airways.
According to press reports, Pavlos Vardinoyiannis has recently submitted with ETEBAbank - currently in a merger procedure with its parent National Bank - a letter of guarantee for a syndicated loan he has signed with a group of a Greek, a Swiss, a Spanish and two Belgian banks.
The same report said that Vardinoyiannis Group has sent a letter to Economy and Finance and Transport Ministers expressing the group's firm interest in the sale of a majority stake in the national carrier.
 Govít unveils smart cards for public transportation
Athens, 24/07/2002 (ANA)Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis on Tuesday unveiled plans to introduce the use of smart cards in public transportation in Athens from 2004.
Mr. Verelis, accompanied by Yiannis Maniatis, chairman of the Athens Public Transportation Organization, said that smart card would be similar with credit or telephone cards, with a picture of the holder on it, and would replace all paper monthly and annual cards currently issued by all transportation agencies.
The new cards will be used also with the Athens tram, the Suburban Railroad, linking Athens with the Spata International Airport, and in toll stations in the country's road network.
Mr. Verelis said the program would cost around 16.1 billion drachmas and it would help in reducing operating cost, raising OASA's revenues and implementing a flexible pricing policy.
It would help also in drastically reducing theft or forgery with public transportation tickets and help in speeding up access for citizens.
Mr. Verelis said he would urge large enterprises based in Athens to supply their staff with smart cards to help boost public transportation and reduce traffic jams in the capital.
 Selective demand leads ASE higher on Tuesday
Athens, 24/07/2002 (ANA)Selective buying for bank stocks offered support to the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday pushing the general index slightly higher after several sessions of declines.
The index rose 0.12 percent to end at 2,085.89 points with turnover an improved 109.9 million euros.
The Bank, Wholesale and Holding sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (0.75 percent, 0.74 percent and 0.66 percent, respectively), while the Insurance, Food-Beverage and Telecommunications sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses (1.25 percent, 0.99 percent and 0.97 percent).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.18 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 0.04 percent higher and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index eased 0.34 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 170 to 122 with another 68 issues unchanged.
The most heavily traded stocks in value were Hellenic Telecoms, Football Pools, Coca Cola HBC, and Alpha Bank.
Bond Market Close: Prices rise in moderate trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Tuesday finished higher in moderate trade focusing on ten-year paper.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.14 percent, and the spread over the corresponding German bund was 32 basis points.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 2.0 billion euros.
Buy orders accounted for over half of trade.
Derivatives Market Close: Equity index futures down: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished lower on Tuesday, with contracts on the high capitalization index showing a discount of about 1.5 percent, and on the mid-cap index of around 3.0 percent.
Turnover was 71.4 million euros.
The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips gained 0.18 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks rose 0.04 per-cent.
In stock futures, the greatest interest was seen in blue chip National Bank of Greece.
 Greek Cypriot side replies to Denktash on missing persons
NICOSIA, 24/07/2002 (CNA/ANA)The Greek Cypriot side on Tuesday handed to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash its reply on his document on the issue of missing persons.
The document was handed during a meeting held here on Tues-day between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Denktash, who discussed this humanitarian issue in the presence of the UN Secretary General's
Acting Special Representative in Cyprus, Zbigniew Wlosowicz, Presidential Commissioner on Humanitarian Issues Takis Christopoulos and Turkish Cypriot representative to the Commit-tee of Missing Persons (CMP) Rustem Tatar.
The meeting took place after a meeting of the two leaders, within the framework of the UN-led direct talks going on since mid January this year with a view to reach a comprehensive settlement to the protracted Cyprus problem.
CNA learnt that during Tuesday's meeting, in the presence of UN Secretary General's Special Advisor on Cyprus Alvaro De Soto and the two leaders' aides, Clerides and Denktash discussed the substance of the Cyprus problem but did not look specifically in any of the four core issues of the Cyprus problem (governance, territory, security, properties).
President Clerides and Denktash will meet again on Friday to continue their talks on a Cyprus settlement.
The talks will be followed by another meeting on the missing persons question, during which Denktash is expected to give some answers to the Greek Cypriot side's positions.
The Greek Cypriot side wishes to see a 1997 agreement on the issue of missing persons, signed by Clerides and Denktash, implemented. The agreement provides for the exhumation of remains in the government- controlled southern part of Cyprus and the northern areas of the Republic occupied by Turkish troops since 1974.
The Greek Cypriot side also wants the CMP to become more active in the resolution of the problem.
 Kasoulides says elections in Turkey may complicate Cyprus question
NICOSIA, 24/07/2002 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides has said that whatever the outcome of the elections in Turkey may be, it will complicate efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, adding however that much will depend on the timetable of those elections.
He added that "Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash will take advantage of the pre-election period in Turkey to state that it is not the right time to make any 'concessions' regarding the direct talks" that were launched in January between President Glafcos Clerides and Denktash, under UN auspices, aimed at reaching a settlement of the Cyprus issue.
In an interview with London Greek Radio, Kasoulides also stressed that political developments in Turkey as well as US plans for operations in Iraq will complicate things and will minimize the possibility for the US, the EU, Great Britain and the UN to use their influence so that the window of opportunity that has opened now to solve the Cyprus problem is not closed.
Referring to the direct talks, Kasoulides said the next ten meetings between the leaders of the two communities would indicate whether the Turkish side has the political will to move ahead with substantive talks for a solution of the Cyprus problem.
He expressed certainty that Cyprus' EU accession course will proceed "very well" even despite the change of governments in various EU countries.
Kasoulides described the signing of the Accession Treaty, scheduled to take place when Greece will be holding the rotating EU presidency in the first half of the year 2003, as "symbolic and moving" and said that the Greek EU presidencies have always been "beneficial" for Cyprus.
"Without Greece we would not have reached this stage in our accession course, as its help has always been very precious", he said.
Replying to questions, Kasoulides said he was certain that the British government would support Cyprus' accession at the Copenhagen EU Summit in December this year.
"Britain is a guarantor power for the unity, territorial integrity and independence of the Republic of Cyprus and we believe that it should remain faithful to this commitment", Kasoulides said.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied one third of the island's territory.
The island opened accession negotiations with the EU in April 1998 and has so far provisionally closed 28 out of 31 chapters of the acquis communautaire.
 U.S.: Cyprus accession could serve as incentive for settlement
WASHINGTON, 24/07/2002 (CNA/ANA)US Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman stressed during his recent trip to Turkey that the United States believes that Cyprus' accession process towards the EU can be an incentive to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue, the State Department said answering a question about Grossman's visit to Turkey.
State Department spokesman's office said Grossman expressed the US support for the UN Secretary General's efforts to achieve a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus and the conclusions of the 1999 European Council of Helsinki, that a solution to the Cyprus problem is not a precondition for EU accession.
The State Department said ''while the United States is not a member of the European Union, we support the accession of Cyprus to the EU.''
''Under Secretary Grossman stressed (in Turkey) that the United States believes the accession process can be an incentive to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue,'' the spokesman's office noted. Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.