|Sunday, 16 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-12-04
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>December 4, 2002
 Greece calls on WEU member-states to increase their defense spending
PARIS 04/12/2002 (ANA - O. Tsipira)Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on Tuesday presented the priorities of the Greek EU presidency on Europe's Policy of Security and Defense to the plenum of the parliamentary assembly of the Western European Union (WEU).
The WEU 48th parliamentary assembly, which Papantoniou addressed, began on Monday and will last until Thursday.
The Greek minister stressed that one of the priority objectives of the Greek presidency will be to convince the member-states to increase their defense spending immediately, as in all cases the defense spending of EU states do not exceed 1 per cent of their GDP, with the exception of Greece, which spends 5 per cent of its GDP.
To force the issue, he said, the Greek government will table the issue during the upcoming European Councils and clarified that Greek Premier Costas Simitis has already made relevant discussions with other European leaders.
He added that he would send a relevant letter to the European Commission President Romano Prodi and to EU high representative on defense and foreign policy Javier Solana over the next few days, asking them to cooperate with the Greek presidency toward a comprehensive discussion of the issue of the finances of the European defense, research and technology in one of the upcoming European Councils.
Papantoniou said that the prospect of increased defense spending should force changes to the Stability Pact, aiming to confront the European defense budgets to provide national government with the ability to confront the negative effects of economic fluctuations.
''We say yes to the ability for the development of an autonomous defense European Policy in conjunction with the development of an equitable relation with NATO and the United States, for the widening of the circle of those defense activities that we will be able to undertake in common,'' Papantoniou said.
''This is the Greek presidency's policy and more so Greece's position in Summits,'' he added.
There are two schools of thought in the EU he said, one wanting to limit the EU-NATO relationship, thus securing the autonomous development of the European defense policy and the other which wants to subjugate the EU to the NATO defense umbrella.
''The Greek presidency is forced to move between the two schools of thought. We believe that we should secure the preconditions for the autonomous development of the European defense policy, since it is a critical element of the European integration. There can not be a European integration without common defense and foreign policy,'' he said.
''For Greece the European rapid reaction force, which we are assembling is the cell of a future common European defense. At the same time, however, we believe, that the EU and the U.S. should develop a strategic partnership, since this is what NATO symbolizes, a partnership that will lead the international community through the difficult winds of international insecurity. We should intervene together,'' he concluded.
 Papantoniou discusses Cyprus and Turkey at WEU
Athens, 04/12/2002 (ANA)Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou attended the West European Union's (WEU) Parliamentary Assembly on Tuesday, presenting the Greek presidency's priorities in the European defense sector and answering questions put to him by deputies on Cyprus and Turkey.
Referring to Turkey's new government and to how Greece is facing the neighboring country's new leadership, Papantoniou said Greece is looking forward to the new Turkish government with optimism.
He said Turkey is being regarded under a new political aspect regarding European prospects and Turkey's attitude, adding that the question is what will the new government's ability be in overcoming resistance within the existing political system since there is a very powerful military establishment.
Papantoniou wondered whether the new Turkish government will be able to impose its own policy and proceed in the desired directions and said that with these factors European prospects are of great importance for Turkey because they will constitute a strong card in the new government's hands.
The defense minister said Greece will support Turkey's European prospects, but added that it will wait for tangible tokens of change and a new attitude before adjusting its policy in a more substantive manner.
''We have learnt to be vigilant because on other occasions as well there had been similar goodwill moves by Turkey which, however, were not followed up. Namely, the words we heard becoming actions and deeds,'' he said.
On the question of Cyprus' accession to the European Union, Papantoniou reminded of the decisions taken at the EU's Helsinki summit, according to which accession can take place regardless of whether a solution is found to the political problem.
He also pointed to the unwillingness of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to start negotiations based on the UN secretary general's blueprint, but did not rule out the possibility of certain developments taking place during the 10 days left until the EU's Copenhagen summit.
 Danish presidency pushes for Cyprus solution before Copenhagen
Athens, 04/12/2002 (ANA)The Danish presidency of the EU appeared determined to push for a solution to the Cyprus issue before the Copenhagen summit on December 12, during talks held by Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moller in Athens on Tuesday.
After a working dinner with Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, Moller said he was convinced that a solution could be achieved before the EU leaders met to ratify enlargement and Cyprus' accession to the Community.
He clarified that a solution to the Cyprus problem was not a condition for Cyprus' EU accession but reiterated that the EU would "take all the facts into account" at the specific time.
Papandreou said that the time before the Copenhagen Summit was very short but that every effort had to be made so that the historic opportunity for a solution was not lost.
With regard to Turkey's prospects of joining the EU, the Greek minister said that Athens wanted Turkey to receive a positive message from the Copenhagen Summit, while noting that that Turkey had to fulfill the necessary criteria. Moller said that Turkey was making good progress in this direction.
In cryptic statements after a meeting with main opposition leader Costas Karamanlis earlier in the day, Moller had refused to answer directly on whether a solution to the Cyprus issue was a condition for Cyprus accession, saying only that the Helsinki Summit decisions of 1999 called for ''everything to be taken into account'' if the island was still divided.
The question referred to reports about the existence of a Danish presidency document in which the two issues were linked.
''I still believe that there is hope, that there is time to complete the negotiations so that Cyprus can unite and join the EU as a united island,'' the Danish foreign minister told reporters.
Asked about the prospects of a Greek veto to enlargement over Cyprus, Moller appeared to downplay this possibility, saying that Greece would then inherit the presidency and all the problems that a veto to enlargement would cause.
Responding to Moller's statements after the meeting with Karamanlis, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said that Greece desired and contributed to finding a solution to the Cyprus issue. He stressed, however, that EU enlargement could not proceed without Cyprus.
In further statements, the spokesman noted that the time frame before Copenhagen was now extremely short and for this reason, the Greek government underlined that negotiations for a solution should continue after the summit.
 Finnish PM says solution not a precondition for Cyprus' EU accession
Athens, 04/12/2002 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his Finnish counterpart Paavo Lipponen discussed the Cyprus issue on Tuesday, while both stressed that a solution to the issue is not a precondition for Cyprus' accession to the European Union.
Lipponen reminded that it had been decided at the Helsinki summit, during Finland's presidency, that ''even if the Cyprus problem is not resolved, we must proceed and Cyprus should join. And this is precisely what we are doing now.''
Simitis said ''a serious effort should be made by all sides on the Cyprus issue to enable negotiations to have a positive outcome'', adding that the EU's Copenhagen summit ''should send a positive message to Turkey to facilitate support for the effort being made by the country's European forces.''
Referring to the priorities of Greece's EU presidency, he stressed the assessment of the course being covered by the ''Lisbon strategy'' and the handling of illegal immigration.
Simitis accepted Finland's request for the Northern Dimension to be discussed, meaning north European cooperation in the environment, health and energy sectors.
He further said he agreed with his Finnish counterpart on the question of Iraq that ''following the inspectors' report'' the Security Council should be reconvened.
Lipponen reminded that his country joined the EU during Greece's presidency and thanked Simitis for support he is providing for the Northern Dimension and agreed that ''reformist forces in Turkey should be supported'', while what should happen in the discussion on ''the future of Europe'' is that ''countries of a medium and small size should be in contact with each other to enable a balanced text.''
 Gov't refutes validity of document on Cyprus issue printed by 'Ta Nea'
Athens, 04/12/2002 (ANA)Government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Tuesday strongly refuted the validity of an alleged European document printed in the Athens daily 'Ta Nea', in which a solution to the Cyprus issue was directly linked to Cyprus' EU accession.
''No such document has ever been presented to the Greek government or given to any EU member-state by either the EU presidency or the European Commission,'' Protopapas stressed.
As a consequence, no discussion of the said document had been scheduled at the EU permanent representatives council, he added.
Protopapas stressed that Athens desired and contributed to finding a solution to the Cyprus problem but also reiterated that EU enlargement without Cyprus could not go ahead.
Announcing a scheduled meeting between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar on Monday at 9:30, the spokesman noted that the timeframe was now desperately short despite Greece's genuine desire for a solution to be achieved before the Copenhagen Summit.
"This is why we underline that negotiations for a solution must continue after Copenhagen," he said.
 Increased US interest and activities on Cyprus issue
WASHINGTON 04/12/2002 (ANA - T. Ellis)There was increased interest and intense activation on the part of the US government aimed at a resolution of the Cyprus problem, US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told a press briefing on Monday, replying to questions on recent contacts by senior US officials with the sides concerned.
Boucher said that the US had become intensely active with meetings and telephone contacts held by secretary of state Colin Powell, and the activities of undersecretary of state Marc Grossman and the state department's special coordinator on the Cyprus issue, in a bid to back the UN secretary general's efforts, to support the UN, and to encourage the two sides to take advantage of the opportunity and achieve a solution.
Asked to comment on the goals of a tour of European cities by a large US delegation headed by US deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Grossman, Boucher said the talks mainly concerned the issue of Iraq and the "implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1441", adding that in the contacts to take place in Greece, Turkey and Cyprus a main issue would also be "the opportunity for peace in Cyprus".
 Wolfowitz meets with Gul in Ankara, they discuss Cyprus issue
ISTANBUL 04/12/2002 (ANA)U.S. State Department Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz on Tuesday discussed the Cyprus issue, Iraq's case and Turkey's relations with the European Union with Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul in Ankara.
Following the meeting, Wolfowitz said that the United States support a speedy and permanent resolution of the Cyprus problem, adding that the U.S. also supports Turkey's EU accession.
Speaking of Iraq, Wolfowitz said that the cooperation between Turkey and the United States will play a key role toward the peaceful resolution of the problem.
 Visiting Portuguese president at Greek Parliament
Athens, 04/12/2002 (ANA)Visiting Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio on Tuesday called at the Greek Parliament, where Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis received him and awarded him the gold medal of Greek Parliament, given to heads of state and outstanding individuals.
During his meeting with Sampaio, Kaklamanis thanked the Portuguese president for his country's stance on Cyprus' accession to the EU independently of a solution of the Cyprus issue.
Discussing the prospects of a military operation against Iraq, Kaklamanis said that this would be a "disastrous mistake" that would mark the start of new and greater problems for the eastern Mediterranean and said that Europe should not follow the United States into yet another wrong choice after Yugoslavia.
 Portuguese president meets opposition party leaders
Athens, 04/12/2002 (ANA)Visiting Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio on Tuesday met with main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga and Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos.
In its press release after the Karamanlis-Sampaio meeting, ND said the two men discussed European Union enlargement in light of the Copenhagen Summit, while Karamanlis spoke of the positive results of the recent International Central Democrat Parties' conference in Corfu.
Synaspismos leader Nikos Constantopoulos, following his meeting with Sampaio, said ''there can be no EU enlargement without Cyprus' participation''.
 Portuguese president receives Medal of the City of Athens
Athens, 04/12/2002 (ANA)Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos bestowed the Medal of the City of Athens on visiting Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio during a ceremony at the Athens Town Hall on Tuesday.
Avramopoulos spoke cordially on the personality and political activity of the Portuguese official who for many years was a deputy, mayor for two terms and finally becoming the president of Portugal.
The Portuguese president, having thanked the mayor for the honor bestowed on him, said that ''today is a happy circumstance for Greece, which has the privilege to fulfill at this historic point of Athens the imminent reunification of the European continent, within the framework of its assumption of the next EU presidency.''
Concluding Sampaio said ''let's hope that this coincidence will constitute a good omen for the future of Europe.''
 ND leads PASOK, Simitis leads Karamanlis in opinion poll
Athens, 04/12/2002 (ANA)The main opposition New Democracy party leads ruling PASOK by 7 percentage points in an opinion poll conducted by Metron Analysis and released by Antenna Television station on Tuesday.
According to the survey, ND was 7 points ahead of PASOK against 5.5 points in late July, and 8.8 points in June, just before the ''November 17'' terrorist group members' arrest.
Commissioned by Antenna Television, the poll gave PASOK 32.2 percent of voter backing, while ND garnered 39.2 percent.
Next came the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) with 5.7 percent of voter preference; the Coalition of the Left and Progress at 3.6 percent; the Democratic Social Movement at 2.0 percent and the newly formed LA.O.S. led by George Karatzaferis garnered 2.6 per cent, while 14.7 per cent of the vote was uncommitted.
Asked which party would win if elections were held now, 57.8 percent of respondents tipped ND for victory and 25.1 percent PASOK, with the rest declining to forecast.
Despite the widening lead of ND, Prime Minister Costas Simitis regained the lead against ND leader Costas Karamanlis, being preferred as premier with a margin of 1.2 per cent (35.7 against 34.5 per cent).
Among political party leaders, Synaspismos leader Nikos Constantopoulos retook the lead with 62.1 per cent, followed by Karamanlis with 56.3 per cent, Simitis with 51.7 per cent, Dimitris Tsovolas of DHKKI with 48 per cent, Aleka Papariga of KKE with 32.4 per cent and Karatzaferis with 26.5 per cent.
Also, Athens Mayor Elect Dora Bakoyianni garnered a 76.2 percent of those asked regardless of their partisan voter preference.
As far as PASOK cadres are concerned, Foreign Minister George Papandreou took the lead of PASOK voters with 65.5 per cent, followed by Theodoros Pangalos with 61.4 per cent and Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis with 61.2 percent.
Gov't spokesman, Synaspismos respond to poll results: Government spokesman Christos Protopapas responded to the opinion poll saying that every poll has its own value and presents a picture of a specific moment in time.
''I believe that we all can see, even without the aid of opinion polls, that there is an improved image for the government at this time as a result of political initiatives and greater effectiveness of our work,'' he said, adding that ''there is an increasing trust placed in the person of Prime Minister Costas Simitis by the Greek people''.
On its part, Synaspismos said in a press release that the results of the opinion poll were positive for the party, noting that Synaspismos showed a significant increase in voter preference compared with earlier opinion polls.
 Balkan city mayors meet in Sofia
SOFIA, 04/12/2002 (ANA - B. Borisov)The third friendship and cooperation meeting between the mayors of major Balkan cities came to an end here on Tuesday, while the impression created was that the big hope, if not guarantee, for a future of peace, development and prosperity is the indisputable goodwill of peoples, governments and elected local administration representatives.
The mayors examined policies to further strengthen their cooperation in the framework of the Major Balkan City Network (Balcinet) which began in 2001 with an initiative by the municipality of Thessaloniki.
Addressing the forum's inauguration on Monday night, Sofia Mayor Stefan Sofianski underlined the significance of the municipality of Thessaloniki's initiative in strengthening relations between local administration and the citizens of major cities in the Balkans, as well as consolidating a climate of peace and stability in the region.
Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos, addressing the forum on Tuesday, expressed support for institutional and economic decentralization, adding that it is a model characterizing major European cities.
Piraeus Mayor Christos Agrapidis referred to challenges posed for local authorities in light of the looming prospect of ever-increasing populations in major cities during the 21st century, when the people of Athens and Piraeus together are expected to reach seven million.
The next meeting between the mayors of major Balkan cities will take place in 2003 in Skopje in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
 Greek Parliamentary delegation headed by Apostolidis visits Berlin
BERLIN 04/12/2002 (ANA - P. Stangos)A Greek Parliamentary delegation headed by Deputy Defense Minister Loukas Apostolidis arrived here on Tuesday, following a two-day visit to Munich.
During its visit to Munich, the delegation visited the facilities of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS), where the Eurofighter is produced, while it also visited installations of Siemens and BMW.
The visit to Berlin will focus on an exchange of views on the Cyprus issue, the Euroforce issue, EU enlargement and the progress of the conference on the Future of Europe.
The Greek delegation will meet with Germany's Alternate Foreign Minister Kersten Miller and high-ranking diplomats.
 Minister meets deputies on professional conflict of interest during term
Athens, 04/12/2002 (ANA)The issue of resolving the problem of Parliamentary deputies' conflict of interest by professional pursuits during their term in office appears difficult, while Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis is continuing his contacts with deputies from all parties to enable him to formulate a proposal.
Skandalidis met with main opposition New Democracy party Deputy Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Tuesday and promised that the bill on the issue will be submitted before the end of the year.
Referring to difficulties in preparing the law in question, Skandalidis said there were many views ranging from proposals on the absolute prohibition of deputies exercising a profession to proposals on excluding certain professional activities.
Pavlopoulos, despite requesting the tabling of the bill before the year is over, avoided making proposals on the issue, saying that ''in Parliamentary forms of government it is the government which has the initiative in issuing relevant laws.''
 Drastic reduction of public debt a top target for next few years
BRUSSELS 04/12/2002 (ANA - V. Demiris)Greece has made the drastic reduction of its public debt a top target over the next few years, national economy and finance minister Nikos Christodoulakis said early Tuesday, following a meeting of the euro-zone member states in Brussels that lasted late into the night.
Christodoulakis, who chairs the Eurogroup (the finance ministers of the 12 eurozone member countries), said that beginning this year, Greece had adopted the ambitious goal of drastically reducing its public debt by 2 percentage points by end-2002, accelerating to a reduction of 5 percentage points in 2003, and leveling off at an annual reduction of 4 percentage points up to an including 2006.
Conceding that Greece, together with Italy and Belgium were the three countries with the highest public debt in the 15-nation European Union, he said that Greece, nevertheless, also presented among the highest growth rates in the bloc for the years 2002 and 2003, as well as a satisfactory performance in reducing deficits. He said this was so even when calculated on the basis of the new, stricter rules for determining the basic economic indicators that were being applied by the EU statistical service Eurostat.
Christodoulakis also said that the revised stability and growth program for the period 2002-2006 submitted to the European Commission by Greece on Monday was indicative of the faithfulness, credibility and effectiveness of the country's efforts to reduce its public debt and fiscal deficits, in accordance with the eurozone stability and growth pact.
On the discussions held in the eurogroup, Christodoulakis said that the growth rates of the European economy in 2002 would fall short of the initial forecasts and stand at 0.8 percent, rising to 1.8 percent in 2003 and 2.7 percent in 2004, while the euro currency had also boosted its position on the international monetary and credit markets.
European commissioner for monetary affairs Pedro Solbes told the group that the proposal adopted last week by the Commission for increased coordination of the economic policies of the eurozone countries was a comprehensive and ambitious effort to reinforce coordination of fiscal policy at European level, which would be to the benefit of monetary union and the euro and would also comprise the basis for an increase in growth and the creation of jobs.
On inflation in the eurozone, Solbes estimated that it would drop from 2.3 percent in 2002 to 2.0 percent in 2003 and 1.8 percent in 2004.
 Finance ministry releases funds for compensation awarded to former monarch
Athens, 04/12/2002 (ANA)The finance ministry had transferred 13.7 million euros to cover the compensation awarded to Greece's former monarch Constantine by the European Court of Human Rights to the relevant tax offices that would pay out the funds, the government announced on Tuesday.
Outlining the procedure to be followed, Deputy Finance Minister George Floridis said that four payment warrants would be issued in the names of the four beneficiaries, who would then be able to collect the money within two years from the tax office where they submitted their tax statements, either in person or through a representative with power of attorney.
According to Floridis, the funds in question had been classed as 'compensation for natural disasters'.
In this way, the government declared its respect for the European court in practice and did not want the issue to remain outstanding, he added.
Government spokesman Christos Protopapas said that the entire process would be based on the decisions of the European court and that it could be collected either in Greece or abroad, while the recipient of the sum would have the same legal identity as used in the Strasbourg courts.
 PPC's public offer has price range of 11.80-13 euros
Athens, 04/12/2002 (ANA)The binding share price range in a public offer launched on Tuesday by the Athens-quoted Public Power Corporation (PPC) is 11.80 euros to 13.0 euros for institutional investors.
Available in the offer, which ends on December 6, are 23,200,000 common bearer shares at a nominal price of 2.93 euros. The stock total will rise to 30,624,000 in the case of a green shoe option, or over allotment.
For non-institutional investors, shares will be sold at a 3.0 percent discount, or at the bottom of the price range if the discount brings the price lower than the range's floor.
On sale is 10.0 percent of the PPC's share capital, along with a further 1.2 percent if a stabilizing mechanism is required, and another 2.0 percent in the case of demand outweighing supply.
Chief underwriters in the public offer in Greece and London, along with a private placement to company employees, are Alpha Finance, Deutsche Bank, National Bank of Greece and UBS Warburg.
 Greek EU presidency to back action on employment and growth
BRUSSELS 04/12/2002 (ANA/G.Zitouniati)Greece said on Tuesday that it backed action by the European Union on boosting employment and growth.
''We should remain dedicated to the spirit of the Lisbon summit on growth and employment, despite skepticism triggered by a delay in implementing its aims,'' Labor and Social Security Minister Dimitris Reppas said in the Belgian capital.
Reppas is currently holding talks with his EU counterparts and European social partners in order to detail the goals of Greece's presidency of the 15-nation bloc in the first half of 2003.
The Greek presidency would set as a priority debate on a readjustment of the direction of employment strategy in order to aid implementation, Reppas told reporters.
In addition, social and economic policy required coordination, without a loss of autonomy, the minister said.
He proposed the establishment of a social summit, which would comprise the current presidency of the EU, the two following ones, and the social partners, that would be held before each spring summit.
 Main opposition deputies meet with civil servants' trade union reps
Athens, 04/12/2002 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party deputies Vangelis Meimarakis and Panos Panagiotopoulos on Tuesday met with the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) presidium and discussed the government's budget for 2003.
The union representatives briefed the deputies on ADEDY's demands and underlined that there will be an official position by their organization tabled in Parliament's plenum.
The deputies agreed with ADEDY's representatives who called the budget unfair for civil servants concerning pay hikes and termed the government's economic policy counter-productive.
 Greece favors EU proposal to combat tax evasion
BRUSSELS 04/12/2002 (ANA / V. Demiris)Greece on Tuesday backed a compromise agreement drafted by Denmark, the European Union's current president, on combatting tax evasion through an EU-wide exchange of information on cross-border savings, and a withholding tax.
Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis told reporters in the Belgian capital that under the Danish package, which has not yet been approved, countries could choose between a full exchange of information on savings or a 20-35 percent savings tax for their citizens with deposits in other European countries.
Achieving agreement on the package would have a favorable impact on state revenue through the tax in the country of origin of the savings, or a withholding tax in the country of destination, Christodoulakis said.
''A withholding tax would compel depositors to declare their incomes, and, under the current proposal, more information would be available on the amount of capital they deposit in the country of destination,'' the minister added.
 Greece's EU presidency aims to improve image of European fleet
Athens, 04/12/2002 (ANA)Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis said on Tuesday that Greece's rotating presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2003 would aim to improve the image of the 15-nation bloc's fleet.
Anomeritis was opening a conference held by the Panhellenic Seamens' Federation.
 European Commission adopts shipping 'blacklist'
BRUSSELS 04/12/2002 (ANA - V. Demiris)The European Commission on Tuesday adopted a 'blacklist' of 66 ships that will be refused entry into EU ports because they violated Community regulations for shipping safety.
The Commission has also proposed a complete ban on using single-hull tankers to carry crude oil.
Most of the banned ships travel under Turkish, Cambodian and St. Vincent and Granada flags, while the rest were registered with Algeria, Panama, Sao Tome, Bolivia, Egypt, Romania, Honduras, Lebanon, Morocco and Syria.
 Conference on international security and finance in Greece
Athens, 04/12/2002 (ANA)The foreign affairs and Macedonia and Thrace ministries, the U.S. embassy in Athens and the Hellenic Foundation for Foreign and Defense Policy (ELIAMEP) will organize a conference on ''Euroatlantic:A Community of Values'' in Thessaloniki and Halkidiki, in northern Greece, on December 6-8.
Issues to be examined during the conference are security in the era following September 11 , cooperation to strengthen economic growth, international terrorism and organized crime.
According to an announcement, speakers will include Foreign Minister George Papandreou, Macedonia and Thrace Minister George Paschalidis, the permanent representative of the U.S. at NATO Nicholas Burns, U.S. Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller and Assistant Secretary of State for economic issues Anthony Wine.
 Athens Bourse Close: Stocks under pressure, end lower
Athens, 04/12/2002 (ANA)The Athens bourse finished lower on Tuesday, with stocks coming under pressure across the board, especially high capitalization paper, traders said.
The general share index shed 1.33 percent to end at 1,867.59 points. Turnover was 149.2 million euros, including a block trade in HBC Coca Cola worth 65 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 1.27 percent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization paper 0.59 percent lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap equities finished 0.44 percent down.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 232 to 102 with 29 issues remaining unchanged.
The most heavily traded stocks in value were Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, Panafon, HBC Coca Cola, Giannousis, and Intracom.
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 48.3 mln euros Tuesday
Equity Index Futures:
Day's Market Turnover: 48.3 mln euros
Bond Market Close: Buyers outstrip sellers on Tuesday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
 Defense ministry Olympics projects on schedule, committee finds
Athens, 04/12/2002 (ANA)Defense ministry projects related to the Athens Olympics in 2004 were progressing on schedule and would be completed by March in that year, a joint committee in charge of monitoring the projects found on Tuesday.
The committee was manned by defense ministry and Athens 2004 Olympics Organizing Committee (ATHOC) and briefed by Deputy Defense Minister Lazaros Lotidis.
 UN report on state of population urges action, education in developing states
Athens, 04/12/2002 (ANA)The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) 25th annual report on ''The State of World Population 2002'', was published in Athens on Tuesday during a press conference at the Foreign Press Association by Wariara Mbugua and U.N. regional coordinator of programs Omar Gharzeddine.
''Promoting reproductive health and rights is indispensable for economic growth and poverty reduction,'' according to the report, which added that ''developing countries that invested in education and health, including family planning, have achieved smaller families and slower population growth and, as a result, higher productivity, more savings and more productive investment.''
''Fertility declines,'' says the report, accounted for one fifth of the economic growth in East Asia between 1960 and 1995,'' while inadequate efforts to provide reproductive health services and combat gender inequality result in continued high fertility among the poor, perpetuating poverty and inequality within both households and nations.
The report, People, Poverty and Possibilities: Making Development Work for the Poor, was made public in London, New York, Washington and other cities around the world.
Addressing population concerns, it states, is critical for meeting the UN’s Millennium Development Goals of halving global poverty and hunger by 2015, reducing maternal and child mortality, curbing HIV/AIDS, advancing gender equality and promoting environmentally sustainable development.
The UNFPA report stressed that to meet these goals in developing countries, urgent action is needed to combat poor reproductive health, unwanted fertility, illiteracy and discrimination against women.
Half the world’s population, or more than 3 billion people, live on less than $2 a day, and 1 billion people live on less than $1 a day. Poverty, however, is more than a lack of income, notes the report. It is characterized by insecurity, inequality, poor health, including poor reproductive health, and illiteracy. Its effects are exacerbated by the very wide gap in most societies between the richest and the poorest.
 Commissioner Diamantopoulou on social security draft regulation
BRUSSELS 04/12/2002 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)European Social Affairs Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou said on Tuesday that European Union citizens will be able to be treated in another member country if in the country they are residing the deadline for the treatment of their illness has lapsed.
Diamantopoulou was referring to a relevant arrangement included in an EU draft regulation on the coordination of the social security systems which was adopted by the 15 social security ministers here on Tuesday night.
The draft regulation which will finally be decided by the end of 2003, foresees the modernization of EU legislation for the greater facilitation of the free settlement of citizens in the EU.
The Social Affairs Council also decided on Tuesday night that with this beneficial arrangement citizens of third countries, who are permanently residing in the EU, will also benefit.
 100 kilos of cannabis found hidden in forest area in Ioannina
Athens, 04/12/2002 (ANA)Four sacks containing 100 kilos of cannabis were found hidden in a forested area in Ioannina, near the Greek-Albanian border, police said Tuesday.
They said the sacks of cannabis were found in the Chryssodouli region near Delvinaki by border guards, who alerted the local police drug squad and jointly placed the area under 24-hour surveillance. Police sources told ANA that no one, however, had approached the area to pick up the sacks.
Police believe the drugs were smuggled into Greece by Albanians, who hid them in a pre-determined spot for pick-up by collaborators inside Greece.
In another incident, a 42-year-old man from the Athens suburb of Argyropoulos was arrested in Ioannina after two sacks containing 57.8 kilos of cannabis were found in his car.
Police said the man, Loukas Skarbounis, had picked up the drugs at the Greek-Albanian border.
The drugs and car were confiscated, and Skarbounis was taken before the Ioannina prosecutor.
 Police to be responsible for passport issuing, reports on U.S, visas denied
Athens, 04/12/2002 (ANA)Greek police will soon be responsible for issuing passports to Greek citizens, instead of prefectural authorities according to a new bill now discussed in a Parliament committee, to which Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis defended the bill on Tuesday.
Outlining the bill, Chrysohoidis said that the issue of passports would be handled by a ''Special Central Service'' of the Greek police and that procedures had already begun for training the staff and housing the new service.
Meanwhile, the public order ministry denied reports that Greeks using the new passports will henceforth be able to travel to the United States without a visa, calling the reports ''just rumors''.
This issue has surfaced in the past, as the U.S. Congress has created a pilot program of open visa policies for several states, mostly of Europe and Greece has been considered as a possible candidate.
 Greece ranks 7th in EU in citizens' life expectancy
Athens, 04/12/2002 (ANA)Data concerning the Greek population's health indicators shows that while the life expectancy of Greeks was 2nd among European Union countries in 1990 with 77 years, it dropped to 7th position in 2001 with 78.1 years, presenting the lowest improvement with 1.1 years.
This development is due to the fact that Greece was the only EU country where deaths caused by heart conditions, cancer and accidents increased during the '90s.
The decrease observed in the number of deaths caused by heart conditions over the past 2-3 years is mostly due to improvements in medical treatment and to a lesser degree to a decrease in ailments.
An analysis of such surveys will be presented during the 3rd Panhellenic Health Promotion Conference due to begin in Athens on Thursday December 5.
 Gavras' film 'Amen' makes its premiere in Athens on Friday
Athens, 04/12/2002 (ANA)''Some churches are closer to dogma than to the happiness of mankind.'' This is the prologue of the much talked about latest film of Costa Gavras titled ''Amen'' which makes its premiere in Athens on Friday and in Thessaloniki on November 13.
Gavras, who is presently in Athens, said on Tuesday that ''this film did not cause such reactions as its poster: a swastika, an SS and a Catholic priest.''
In France, the extreme right and specifically the person responsible for Lepen's cultural program filed a suit against this poster, supported also by certain cardinals but finally the French court acquitted Gavras and the film is launched with this poster.
''I did not make a historic film about Nazism but I wanted to transfer to the big screen certain facts not from the side of the victims, many such films have been made, but from the other side. I wanted to speak on the silence and indifference on this big drama which humanity lived,'' Gavras said.
 National Council agrees on letter to Annan
NICOSIA 04/12/2002 (CNA/ANA)The National Council (top advisory body to the President on the handling of the Cyprus question) concluded its two-day meeting on Tuesday night, having discussed the content of the letter President of the Republic Glafcos Clerides will be sending as a reply
to a letter received on November 25 from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said the members of the National Council, who on many occasions were in agreement, expressed their views, which the President will take into consideration when writing his letter to Annan.
The reply will be handed to the UN chief's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto within the timeframe already agreed with the Peruvian diplomat.
On November 25, Annan sent letters to President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, requesting that they notify him about which points of his solution plan, handed to them on November 11, they would like to see changed.
Papapetrou said ''the President of the Republic has carefully heard all the views that have been expressed.''
''The letter will be sent within the timeframe already arranged during a previous meeting with Mr. de Soto,'' he added.
Replying to questions, Papapetrou said ''all the parties have expressed views on which issues should be raised'', adding that ''there is a great convergence'' of views.
He added that the National Council, on November 18, had by majority decided to accept Annan's plan for a Cyprus settlement as a basis for negotiations.
Replying to questions regarding the European Council to be held next week in Copenhagen, Papapetrou said ''what should be mainly taken in to consideration is the political behavior of the two sides during the ten-month talks and whether they cooperated and are cooperating towards a solution.''
 Annan: There is still time to conclude an agreement on Cyprus
UNITED NATIONS 04/12/2002 (CNA/ANA)UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan believes there is ''plenty of time'' until the Copenhagen Summit, for Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to conclude an agreement on Cyprus.
Annan refused to reveal what he will do if there is no settlement by December 12.
Replying to reporters' questions, upon entering the UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday, Kofi Annan stated that his special adviser Alvaro De Soto is in the region ''working very actively with the leaders to get the answers.''
''I think,'' the UN chief, said, ''we have time to come to an honorable agreement and as I have indicated, the timetable was part and parcel of the proposals. There is still time to conclude an agreement.''
''The issues are not new,'' he said, noting the UN has been working on them for years. ''Luckily the same team of the same leaders have been working with us on these issues for over 25 years. And we do have time to come to an agreement.''
Replying to a question of CNA, he insisted, ''the time has not run out. Today is the 3rd of December. We have almost 9-10 days and I think that's plenty of time.''
Asked what his dream for Cyprus is, Annan said he would like to ''see a united Cyprus admitted to the European Union, and a Cyprus which will enter EU and prosper as one nation. I think the people have gone through this conflict for several decades and we now have an opportunity to end it,'' Annan said.
''I hope the two leaders will seize the opportunity and bring peace and stability to the island and make history'', the UN Secretary-General concluded.
 Straw: UN proposals best opportunity for a prosperous Cyprus
ISTANBUL 04/12/2002 (CNA/ANA)British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the UK believes that the proposals of the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan form the best opportunity for a stable and prosperous future for both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
In statements in Ankara, Straw said he hoped that there would be progress on the Secretary-General's proposals submitted early November and that it would be possible to come to an agreement before December 12 when the Copenhagen European Council will take place.
Straw said he discussed with Turkey's President Ahmet Sezer and leader of the Justice and Development Party, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the "issue of Cyprus and the recommendations and proposals from the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan."
"We in the United Kingdom government believe that this represents the best opportunity there is for a stable and prosperous future for both the Greek-Cypriot and the Turkish-Cypriot communities on the island of Cyprus." Straw said.
The Foreign Secretary said he discussed "the progress that we wish to see made to agree these proposals and our hope that it may be possible to agree them before December 12."
Straw was expected to meet Prime Minister Abdullah Gul and Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis. Regarding Turkey, Straw referred to the "very important constitutional and legislative changes, which have been made here in Turkey over the last 18 months."
"I think this progress on reform and change here in Turkey is very impressive and is one more reason why we in the United Kingdom government are so actively in support of Turkey's application for membership of the European Union and for, as our Prime Minister has told our Parliament, a firm date to be set for the beginning of these