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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-12-12

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

November 12, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] FM Papandreou says progress for a Cyprus settlement difficult
  • [02] Athens optimistic Cyprus will enter EU without 'asterisks, conditions'
  • [03] Athens sees 'improvements' in revised Annan plan
  • [04] Prodi says Commission ready to conclude Cyprus' EU negotiations
  • [05] Cyprus resolution in Copenhagen ''unlikely'', German sources say
  • [06] Copenhagen ready to host Cyprus talks, Rasmussen says
  • [07] Danish PM addresses letter to counterparts on opening summit
  • [08] Main opposition leader departs for EPP summit in Copenhagen
  • [09] Protest rally against Annan's Cyprus plan held in Athens
  • [10] 35 Turkish war planes infringe on Athens' FIR, violate Greek airspace
  • [11] DM discusses Aegean incidents with Turkish counterpart
  • [12] PM and public order minister discuss ongoing terrorism investigation
  • [13] Erdogan meets in Washington with Avramopoulos, Sen. Sarbanes
  • [14] Interior minister seeks immediate trials in six high-profile graft cases
  • [15] Parliament President meets with Cypriot Students' Union
  • [16] EU says Olympic Airways must return 194 million euros in state funds
  • [17] Palacio details Commission's decision on
  • [18] JBR Hellas-Horwath compares Greek, European hotels
  • [19] National Bank of Greece becomes official sponsor of Yugoslavia's Olympic team
  • [20] Most Greeks see upward revision of prices in euros
  • [21] Labor Minister Reppas holds talks with British counterpart Smith
  • [22] Stocks rise for second straight session
  • [23] Greece, Italy to follow ''common line of action'' on Olympic issues
  • [24] Italy to return piece of Parthenon frieze to Greece
  • [25] Greek, Italian culture ministers present new cultural multifunction space
  • [26] Concern over decrease in number of grant asylums given to refugees in Greece
  • [27] Event held in Austria on mass media in southeastern Europe
  • [28] Alleged ''November 17'' terrorist group member requests mixed jury trial
  • [29] N17 suspects Koufodinas, Sotiropoulou wed in prison in civil ceremony
  • [30] Reduced sentences for air traffic controllers in 1997 Aerosweet plane crash
  • [31] It's raining...fish!
  • [32] Greek, Turkish FMs send letter to UEFA president on joint bid to host Euro 2008
  • [33] President Clerides arrives in Copenhagen
  • [34] Clerides: Accession and solution are two different issues
  • [35] UN hope Copenhagen to provide deadline for Cyprus agreement
  • [36] UN envoy flies to Copenhagen

  • [01] FM Papandreou says progress for a Cyprus settlement difficult

    COPENHAGEN 12/12/2002 (ANA - Ch. Poulidou / M. Spinthourakis)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou said here on Wednesday night that progress for a comprehensive settlement of the political problem of Cyprus appears difficult due to statements made by the Turkish side.

    Papandreou was speaking after a meeting in the Danish capital between Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides on the eve of the two-day EU summit, expected to endorse the EU entry of ten candidate countries, including Cyprus.

    The minister said the three landmarks of primary interest to Greece are Cyprus' EU accession within the framework of the EU enlargement, the settlement of the Cyprus problem and Turkey's European course, noting that they are three matters which are not linked but are related and create a common dynamic.

    Present at the Simitis-Clerides meeting were Papandreou, Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides and Cyprus government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou.

    Following his meeting with President Clerides, Prime Minister Simitis met with Cypriot political party leaders accompanying Clerides in Copenhagen.

    On his part, Cyprus government spokesman Papapetrou said he was not ''particularly optimistic concerning a Cyprus settlement in the near future'' because of the recent statements made by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and Turkish officials.

    Addressing journalists after the two-hour Simitis-Clerides meeting to review Cyprus' EU accession course and efforts for a political settlement, Papapetrou said that Turkey ''has not shown the necessary political will for a Cyprus settlement.''

    This development, Papapetrou added, does not bend the determination and readiness of the Greek Cypriot side for an agreement to be reached in order to end the division, occupation and stagnation in the country.

    Papapetrou said that under present conditions and ''if talks are going to take place, these talks will be proximity talks'' and the representative of the other side ''will be the one appointed by the Turkish Cypriot community.''

    Regarding the island republic's EU accession, he said that he hoped for ''a clear-cut entry.''

    Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan expressed his reservations over the possibility of an agreement being reached between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides during the Copenhagen summit, according to Danish Premier Anders Fogh Rasmussen who had a telephone conversation with the UN chief.

    [02] Athens optimistic Cyprus will enter EU without 'asterisks, conditions'

    Athens, 12/12/2002 (ANA)

    The Greek government expressed its continued optimism on Wednesday over Cyprus’ EU accession bid this week without “asterisks and conditions”.

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday conveyed Athens’ optimism vis-a-vis the Copenhagen Summit over the next two days, following a two-hour meeting by the government’s top ministers at the premier’s office.

    According to sources, Athens is “cautiously optimistic” regarding the possibility of a political solution to the long-standing Cyprus problem, particularly in light of what the Greek side perceives as “foot-dragging” by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    Regarding the crucial matter of whether the Union will give Turkey a fixed date for beginning negotiations leading to possible EU accession, Papandreou said the most probable decision will be along the lines of the Franco-German proposal.

    According to other reports, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis will meet with Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides on Wednesday evening in Copenhagen, as well as with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan and possibly with new Turkish PM Abdullah Gul on Thursday.

    [03] Athens sees 'improvements' in revised Annan plan

    Athens, 12/12/2002 (ANA)

    The revised blueprint for a solution to the Cyprus problem presented by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan contained improvements on a number of points, Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Wednesday, just two days before European Union leaders meeting in Copenhagen would have to decide on Cyprus' accession to the Community.

    Expressing hope for a fair and viable solution to the Cyprus issue, Protopapas welcomed changes regarding the Turkish settlers in northern Cyprus, the regime of a minimum and maximum limit for foreign forces that would remain on the island after a solution was achieved, the specific map which was submitted and measures for the transitional period.

    On questions about the balance of power for the Supreme Court under the plan and its provision for a joint referendum on the solution and EU accession, Protopapas said the Cyprus Republic had the first word on the solution desired and referred to statements by Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides that the margins for further improvements of the plan were limited, though they did exist.

    The spokesman also announced a meeting between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Clerides in Copenhagen on Wednesday and a meeting with the leader of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday morning, at the latter's request.

    KKE leader: No fundamental differences in revised Annan plan: The changes made to the United Nations blueprint for a Cyprus solution were marginal, Communist Party of Greece General Secretary Aleka Papariga said on Wednesday in comments about the 'revised' plan submitted by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.

    "I cannot see any fundamental differences in the new Annan plan. The philosophy with which he approaches the Cyprus issue remains the same," she said.

    [04] Prodi says Commission ready to conclude Cyprus' EU negotiations

    BRUSSELS 12/12/2002 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)

    European Commission President Romano Prodi, speaking at a press conference here on Wednesday, said that in any event the European Commission is ready to officially conclude negotiations in Copenhagen on Cyprus' accession to the European Union, despite preference for the accession of a reunited Cyprus.

    Referring to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's revised plan on a solution to the Cyprus issue, Prodi said the Commission supports Annan's appeal to both the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides to reach an agreement in Copenhagen, taking advantage of the ''historic opportunity'' being presented to them.

    On the question of setting a date for the beginning of accession negotiations with Turkey at the Copenhagen summit, he reiterated that ''although he recognizes progress achieved so far by Turkey and commitments undertaken by the new Turkish government, he believes, on the basis of objective analyses, that the country does not yet fulfill Copenhagen's criteria and in its future negotiations what applies to the other candidate countries should be observed.''

    Commenting on the Franco-German proposal on setting a date for the beginning of EU-Turkish negotiations on conditions in 2005, Prodi said that according to information he has the EU's Danish presidency is examining the submission of a compromise proposal.

    ''My message for Copenhagen is very simple. Enlargement, as a target, is very important and it should not be jeopardized by last-minute inflexible positions or by the promotion of very special interests,'' Prodi said.

    [05] Cyprus resolution in Copenhagen ''unlikely'', German sources say

    BERLIN 12/12/2002 (ANA - P. Stangos)

    The possibility of the striking of an agreement on the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan's plan for the resolution of the Cyprus issue in Copenhagen was evaluated as ''unlikely'', German government sources said here on Wednesday.

    The same sources, also considered as a ''given'' that Cyprus is included in any event in the ten candidate countries for accession, which will be called to enter the Union during the Copenhagen Summit.

    The resolution of the Cyprus issue with the signing of the founding agreement between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots and the signing of the agreement on the Euroforce, are not preconditions for Cyprus accession to the Union, from a legal stand point, nor is the provision of a binding timetable for Turkish accession negotiations initiation, the sources said during an informal briefing of the press ahead of the Copenhagen Summit.

    ''A positive development on those problems, will effect significantly the decision on the date (for Turkey), but those issues are not connected from a legal stand point,'' they said, adding ''Helsinki stands (as far as Cyprus is concerned) and in the event that an agreement is not reached, the southern portion of the island (republic) will enter the Union, based on the fact that we are talking of an enlargement that includes 10 candidate states''.

    [06] Copenhagen ready to host Cyprus talks, Rasmussen says

    COPENHAGEN 12/12/2002 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan on Wednesday telephoned Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, requesting that he undertake all the necessary measures to facilitate talks between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, on the sidelines of the European Union Summit here.

    In fact, Rasmussen made public the communication after the Summit of the European Liberals Party that took place here, saying that the necessary facilities would be provided.

    The Danish premier also stressed that the European Union clearly prefers the accession of a unified Cyprus, underlining, however, that the resolution of the Cyprus issue is not a precondition for the accession of the island republic to the Union.

    Speaking of his telephone conversation with U.S. President George Bush, the latter requested that the Union send a positive clear message to Turkey concerning its European prospects. ''We will do our utmost to support the reform process in Turkey but at the same time, I stressed that according to the rules of the EU a candidate country must fulfill certain political criteria to get a date for the start of accession negotiations,'' Rasmussen noted.

    ''I will not be pressured, but of course I listen carefully to those who offer me good advice. President Bush is well aware of the fact that this is a European decision,'' he added.

    [07] Danish PM addresses letter to counterparts on opening summit

    COPENHAGEN 12/12/2002 (ANA - V. Demiris)

    The European Union's summit will begin here on Thursday afternoon with an open agenda due to pending issues existing regarding the accession negotiations of candidate countries.

    Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in a letter to his EU counterparts, stressed that ''the main issue at the dinner with which the Council's work will begin tomorrow night is enlargement, as to which the presidency has the ambition of achieving an agreement. We should also decide on the next step of the Turkish candidacy.''

    The Danish prime minister expresses the hope that the summit will end on Friday night, but notes the possibility of work being extended over the weekend ''if this is considered necessary to achieve necessary results.''

    Presenting the summit's program, Rasmussen said that at 19.00 on Thursday Assembly President Valerie Giscard d' Estaing would present a progress report on the Assembly's work.

    At 20.45 the heads of state and government and foreign ministers will attend separate working dinners. Developments on the Middle East issue and in the Balkans will be discussed during the foreign ministers' dinner.

    On Friday morning at 10.00 the Council will hold talks with the European Parliament president, while as of 10.30 onwards the discussion will focus on the summit's conclusions.

    During the 15 leaders' luncheon (at 13.15), the issue referring to the operation of the Ministers' Council will be examined, while during the foreign ministers' luncheon (due to take place at the same time) ''developments in Iraq and the European army'' will be probed.

    At 15.00 the European Council will reconvene and also discuss arrangements on remedying harm created by the sinking of the tanker ''Prestige.'' At 17.00 the ''15'' will meet with the leaders ''of all candidate countries that are ready to complete negotiations.''

    This meeting will signal the end of accession meetings, while at 17.30 the ''15'' will meet with the leaders of the remaining candidate countries.

    At 17.45 a brief ceremony with a family photograph of the ''25'', European Parliament presidents and the European Commission, as well as the Council's secretary general, is anticipated.

    At 21.00 the European Council president will give a dinner for the leaders and foreign ministers of the ''25'', with the topic of discussion being ''our common future.''

    [08] Main opposition leader departs for EPP summit in Copenhagen

    Athens, 12/12/2002 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis departed for Copenhagen on Wednesday to attend the enlarged European People's Party summit in the city.

    On Thursday, Karamanlis is to meet Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides for talks on the revised blueprint for a solution submitted to the two sides on the island by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.

    After a meeting at ND headquarters on Wednesday morning to discuss the revised plan, ND spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said the changes made were marginal and that the plan still contained great weaknesses in terms of creating a functional state and compatibility with EU laws and practices.

    He said ND insisted on Cyprus immediate accession to the EU without terms and conditions.

    [09] Protest rally against Annan's Cyprus plan held in Athens

    Athens, 12/12/2002 (ANA)

    A protest rally against UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's Cyprus plan was held outside the Athens University on Wednesday night to shout ''a big no to the plan inspired by the U.S. and Britain which was promoted as Annan's plan.''

    At least 600 people responded to the call of the Citizens' Patriotic Movement and of other societies and organizations such as the Coordinating Committee for Support for the Struggle of Cyprus, Solidarity for the Struggle of Cyprus, Cypriot student organizations and citizens' movements.

    Banners, Greek flags and slogans filled the area and speakers reiterated their categorical opposition to a future ''which subjugates Hellenism in Cyprus'' and makes the island ''a protectorate of Turkey and the U.S.''.

    Speakers included Panteios University professor Christodoulos Yialouridis, the Citizens' Patriotic Movement President Costas Orologas, Cyprus' Ecologists Deputy George Perdikis as well as Greek politicians, former ministers and deputies such as Lefteris Veryvakis, Nikitas Kaklamanis, Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) party leader Dimitris Tsovolas and Achilleas Katartzis, a member of the Communist Party of Greece's Central Committee.

    Addresses were also sent to the demonstrators by the ruling PASOK party's former ministers Gerasimos Arsenis and Stelios Papathemelis.

    The Annan plan was also denounced by the mothers and wives of missing persons because it ''ignores the pain for their people''. The Metropolitan of Kyrenia Pavlos was also with them.

    [10] 35 Turkish war planes infringe on Athens' FIR, violate Greek airspace

    Athens, 12/12/2002 (ANA)

    Turkish war planes infringed on Athens' Flight Information Region (FIR) 20 times and 15 of those developed into violation of Greek airspace over the Central Aegean and East of Rhodes Island, on Wednesday, according to press sources.

    The same sources said that all 35 Turkish fighter-jets responsible for the infringements and violations were intercepted by Greek Airforce jets.

    [11] DM discusses Aegean incidents with Turkish counterpart

    ROME 12/12/2002 (ANA - L. Hatzikyriakos)

    Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou held talks with his Turkish counterpart Vecdi Gonul on Wednesday and called for an end to incidents in the Aegean and to provocative actions to enable cooperation in the defense sector after the European Union's Copenhagen summit.

    Commenting on the incidents in the Aegean and Turkey's European prospects, he said discussions were held during his contact with Gonul in the framework of the session of defense ministers of southeastern Europe held here.

    ''I explained to Mr. Gonul that these incidents should stop to enable preconditions for our cooperation to become more substantive in all sectors, including defense. Our discussion was held indeed in a very friendly climate and I think there is good intent on his behalf. However, I explained to him that as long as these violations continue, the climate in defense relations between the two countries cannot be improved,'' Papantoniou said.

    Referring to the EU's Copenhagen summit, he said ''we shall wait and see what will happen on Thursday, hoping to have success on all fronts. And on the front of Cyprus' accession, the issue is going ahead regardless of the rest and the issue of a political solution to the Cyprus issue as well, provided Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash agree on the revised Annan plan, or a variation of this plan, and on the issue of determining a definite date for the beginning of negotiations between Turkey and the EU".

    ''I believe that indeed a new page is opening and a new chapter is being created in relations between the two countries, as well as in relations with Europe and regarding peace and security in the region,'' he added.

    Papantoniou also met with U.S. Undersecretary Douglas Feith and discussed issues concerning Iraq and bilateral relations.

    [12] PM and public order minister discuss ongoing terrorism investigation

    Athens, 12/12/2002 (ANA)

    The next stage in an ongoing investigation into domestic terrorism, including both the notorious "November 17" and other terrorist organizations, was discussed by Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis in a meeting on Wednesday.

    Sources said an order was due out in the next few days for the arrest of more people involved in terrorism and that police were still hard at work on the case.

    The two men also discussed financial issues related to the police, the fight against organized crime and cooperation with third countries for the deportation of suspected criminals.

    [13] Erdogan meets in Washington with Avramopoulos, Sen. Sarbanes

    WASHINGTON 12/12/2002 (ANA-T. Ellis)

    The winner of Turkey's recent elections, Justice and Development party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, met early Wednesday (Greek time) with Greek-descended US Senator Paul Sarbanes and outgoing Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos in Washington, shortly before leaving Washington for New York.

    After his meeting with Erdogan, Sarbanes told reporters that talks focused on the Cyprus issue "now that an important opportunity presents itself for its resolution, and positive prospects are opening up for the region".

    He added that everyone was waiting to see what would happen over the next "2-3 crucial days".

    Sarbanes, a prominent member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, said that Greek-Turkish relations were not discussed at length because this matter was on a good road "following the Greek side's initiative for constructive bilateral cooperation". Sarbanes described Erdogan as a "strong leader", and said the meeting had taken place at his own initiative.

    Avramopoulos, who was in Washington for a meeting of the World Bank and maintains a personal friendship with Erdogan, a former mayor of Istanbul, was also present at the meeting with Sarbanes, and later had a short discussion with Turkish foreign minister Yasar Yakis.

    [14] Interior minister seeks immediate trials in six high-profile graft cases

    Athens, 12/12/2002 (ANA)

    Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis on Wednesday asked Supreme Court prosecutor Evangelos Kroustallakis to immediately initiate court proceedings in six high-profile graft cases involving state services, which had been referred to judicial authorities by the Public Administration Inspectors and Comptrollers Agency (SEEDD).

    The minister said the request would be made formally in writing on Thursday, in a letter asking for the appointment of a special prosecutor to handle public-sector corruption trials.

    He said the six cases, which involved an agricultural department in Ioannina, a Piraeus Prefecture department and town planning departments in Zakynthos, Halkidiki, Thessaloniki and Kapandriti, should be tried using the 'accelerated' procedures allowed by law.

    Skandalidis made the announcement after a meeting with newly appointed Public Administration General Inspector Costas Dafermos, who was given the job a few days ago by the prime minister and officially begins his duties as of January 1, 2003.

    [15] Parliament President meets with Cypriot Students' Union

    Athens, 12/12/2002 (ANA)

    Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis on Wednesday met with the Cypriot Students' Union and received from them a resolution, which called for the solution of the Cyprus problem on the basis of international law, the resolutions of the United Nations and the decisions of the Security Council of the UN.

    According to a press release issued after the meeting, Kaklamanis said to the students that the "accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the European Union, without terms and preconditions - during the upcoming Copenhagen Summit - is an event of the highest importance for Hellenism".

    He added that Hellenism in Greece and Turkey should be vigilant and noted that Turkey should understand that its European prospects are on condition that the Cyprus issue is resolved in just way.

    [16] EU says Olympic Airways must return 194 million euros in state funds

    Athens, 12/12/2002 (ANA)

    Debt-ridden Olympic Airways has to return 194 million euros that it received from the government to carry out structural reforms because it had failed to meet the terms on which the money was given, the European Commission decided on Wednesday.

    The Commission said the funds received by OA constituted favorable treatment relative to its competitors and had skewed conditions of free competition on the domestic market.

    An EU decision in 1998 had sanctioned the financial assistance given to OA to restructure but imposed 24 conditions that had to be met by the company. Among these was a commitment to create an electronic management system and to submit regular reports showing that it had met the terms imposed.

    Most important of all, the company had to carry out a program of structural reforms over 1998-2002, with efforts to control spending and increase productivity, that would make it viable and self-sufficient.

    In its decision on Wednesday, the Commission said the airline had failed to meet any of the conditions above and that the company's viability, either on a short-term or a medium-term basis, had by no means been ensured.

    Instead, Olympic had had no assets of its own since 1999 and remained in debt, while it had illegally received additional funds from the government since that time, in spite of a Greek government commitment not to give more money to the company.

    [17] Palacio details Commission's decision on

    OA BRUSSELS 12/12/2002 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)

    ''The European Commission will cooperate with the Greek government to implement the final decision on Olympic Airways, according to which the refund of subsidies that were granted illegally by the state must be paid back in two months and those funds are 194 million euros,'' Transportation Commissioner Loyola de Palacio said on Wednesday during a press conference here.

    Responding to relevant questions, Palacio said that she understood the negative effects of this decision as the company covers regions with low traffic that should have air transport due to the country's geographical position.

    She added that she also understood the negative effects the decision will have on the employment of the company's personnel, stressing, however that there cannot be special treatment for any company because that violates the rules of healthy competition.

    ''We are not attacking any company. The only thing the European Commission does is to guarantee equal conditions for all competitors, so as for no one to enjoy a privileged status,'' she said.

    Palacio also stressed that ''the problems in the company did not begin with the decision of the Commission, they have a long history and those that did not implement the restructuring programs are responsible''.

    Speaking of Greece's possible recourse to the European Court, she said ''it's (Greece's) right, but it should think of the result, because then all the restructuring programs will be reevaluated from the beginning and if 'all is tabled again' then the total sum to be paid back amounts up to 1.59 billion euros''.

    According to a press release issued by the Commission, ''based on the decision of 1998 - which in turn reaffirmed an older decision of the Commission in 1994 - Olympic received subsidies for it's restructuring on condition that the 24 mandated terms would have been adhered to. These terms included the creation of an electronic management system and the submitting of reports, which would have certified the adherence to the terms, as well as the implementation of the program''.

    The aim of the restructuring program, that covered the 1998-2002 period, was the provision of the capability to Olympic to become viable through the intensification of controls of spending and improving its productivity.

    The same press release stressed that ''based on the data at the Commission's disposal, it was discovered that the restructuring program was not set in motion, that none of the fiscal targets was achieved, both on the short-term and on the medium term. Olympic does not have its own funds since 1999 and remains over-burdened with debt. The electronic management system was not set in operation, while the Commission did not receive the regular reports that would have certified the adherence to the terms for the granting of subsidies. More so Greece in contrast with the commitments (Greece) granted new subsidies to the company''.

    The Commission, however, added that it did not raise objections to a 19.5 million-euro loan for the company, which was granted by the state to Olympic in February 2002 and did not raise objections for the recompense paid by the state for the company's transfer to the new airport, nor did it raise objections for the lower (8 per cent) Value Added Tax paid on the company's domestic product.

    Greek Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou disagreed with her colleagues, during discussion on the subject and voted against action by the Commission, explaining that the company serves routes that no other company would care to service, while also stressing that thousands of jobs were at stake.

    Minister says Olympic Airways to appeal to European Court: Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis said on Wednesday Olympic Airways will submit a suspension appeal at the European Communities Court regarding the European Commission's decision.

    According to the decision, Olympic Airways will have to return to the Hellenic state an amount that the Commission believes constitutes illegal state subsidization.

    Verelis did not conceal his irritation over statements by the relevant Commissioner Loyola de Palacio who spoke of 194 million euros, without this amount being mentioned anywhere in the decision.

    As far as the Greek side is concerned, this amount is 41 million euros. That is the money Olympic Airways received from the state in 1998 during the implementation of the second restructuring program for an increase in its share capital.

    Verelis' statements make it clear that from the moment the Greek government will officially receive the Commission's relevant dossier of about 70 pages, it has a 60-day time limit to brief it on its actions concerning this decision.

    ''Olympic Airways will submit a suspension appeal on the decision to the European Communities Court in accordance with the logic of defending its interests. The decision has two parts. The first is specific and speaks of the 41 million euros and the second is vague which speaks of possible subsidizations which, however, are not specified in figures. Olympic Airways will continue to operate,'' Verelis said.

    The transport and communications ministry also disclosed that the decision will not affect the process of the airline's privatization, which got underway last Monday, since it concerns the ''new Olympic Airways'' which will be free of the burdens of the previous one.

    [18] JBR Hellas-Horwath compares Greek, European hotels

    Athens, 12/12/2002 (ANA)

    JBR Hellas–Horwath on Wednesday released the findings of a survey it conducted into hotels in Greece, accompanied by a study of hotels in Europe carried out by Horwath International.

    Among the points to emerge from Hotel Study 2002 were the following:

  • The percentage of guests in luxury Greek hotels sent by tour operators and travel agents is 45 percent, rising to 75 percent in lower grade hotels, against 31 percent across Europe.

  • The average room rate in Greek hotels is about 25,000 drachmas, dropping to around 15,000 drachmas if luxury hotels are removed from the sample, against a Europe-wide average of 33,000 drachmas.

  • Labor expenses in the formation of cost are 39-40 percent of revenue in Greece, regardless of category, against 31 percent in Europe.

  • Hotel staff in luxury Greek hotels totals 0.7 per person/room, more than double 0.3 employees in Europe.

  • Gross operating profit in most categories of Greek hotels is low at 20-30 percent, against more than 30-40 percent in Europe.

    [19] National Bank of Greece becomes official sponsor of Yugoslavia's Olympic team

    BELGRADE 12/12/2002 (ANA)

    The National Bank of Greece has become the official sponsor of Yugoslavia's Olympic team.

    The relevant agreement signed on Tuesday night provides that in its advertising campaign, the bank can use the emblem of the Yugoslav Olympic Committee (JOK).

    The sum which the National Bank of Greece will submit as sponsor, estimated at about 600,000 Euros, will be used for the preparation of athletes who will participate in the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

    [20] Most Greeks see upward revision of prices in euros

    BRUSSELS 12/12/2002 (ANA/G Zitouniati)

    Eighty eight percent of Greeks believe that prices were revised upwards when the country switched to the euro from the drachma in January, according to a Eurobarometer poll released by the European Union on Wednesday.

    In the same league were Spaniards (89 percent) and Italy (81 percent), the poll showed.

    The EU average was 77 percent of citizens in the eurozone who saw an upward revision from their national currencies.

    [21] Labor Minister Reppas holds talks with British counterpart Smith

    LONDON 12/12/2002 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)

    Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas met here on Wednesday with his British counterpart Andrew Smith and briefed him on the issues of social policy which the Greek EU presidency will deal with, noting that the official procedures will start with the informal conference on January 24-25.

    ''At this conference, we will concern ourselves with two major issues, the first being the European strategy regarding employment and its revision five years after its institutionalization in Luxembourg. The second major issue concerns the promotion of social protection as an equal pylon in the European Union's political priorities,'' Reppas said.

    Reppas added that the strategy for employment is interesting as it also includes the revision of the directive lines which will be finally decided on at the EU summit in June and which will remain stable until 2006.

    [22] Stocks rise for second straight session

    Athens, 12/12/2002 (ANA)

    The Athens bourse finished higher on Wednesday for the second consecutive session.

    The general share index gained 0.89 percent to end at 1,831.63 points. Turnover was 382.2 million euros, fuelled by the transfer of a 13.20 stake in Public Power Corporation to new buyers following a public offer last week.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 0.91 percent up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization paper 0.98 percent higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap equities finished 0.93 percent up.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 213 to 91 with 52 issues remaining unchanged.

    The most heavily traded stocks in value were Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, Technical Olympic, Informatics, National Bank of Greece, and Public Power Corporation.

    Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 99.3 mln euros Wednesday

    Equity Index Futures:

  • FTSE/ASE-20 (high cap): At discount

  • Underlying Index: +0.91 percent

  • FTSE/ASE-40 (medium cap): At discount

  • Underlying Index: +0.98 percent

    Stock Futures:

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    [23] Greece, Italy to follow ''common line of action'' on Olympic issues

    Athens, 12/12/2002 (ANA)

    Greece and Italy will follow a ''common line of action'' on Olympic issues, Greek Deputy Sports Minister George Lianis and his Italian counterpart Mario Pescante decided on Wednesday, during a meeting in Athens.

    Greece will hold the EU presidency during the first half of 2003 and Italy the second half of the same year.

    ''We established a common axis and we will try during that whole year to get a crucial message across, one for the Olympic Games,'' Lianis said.

    On his part, Pescante said ''I believe that Italy and Greece during the year they hold the presidency consecutively, can wage a common battle. I am a member of the International Olympic Committee and I was a speaker at the General Assembly in Mexico. I admit that few things appealed to me''.

    The two men decided on their agenda, which will include the limiting of the Games' gigantism and respect for the traditions of the Olympic program.

    [24] Italy to return piece of Parthenon frieze to Greece

    Athens, 12/12/2002 (ANA)

    A small piece of the Parthenon frieze, whose larger segments are held at the British Museum and known collectively as the 'Parthenon Marbles', is to be returned to Greece by decision of the Italian government.

    The announcement was made on Wednesday by Italian Culture Minister Giuliano Urbani, who said after a meeting with his Greek counterpart Evangelos Venizelos that the offer aimed to reinforce friendship between the two countries.

    Venizelos said the decision was an important gesture with great symbolic significance, despite the small size of the segment being returned, and might act as a good omen for the reunification of the entire sculpture.

    He said Greece would offer a gift of great value to Palermo in Sicily, where the portion of the Parthenon was now held.

    The segment involved is a small part of the eastern frieze and shows the foot of the goddess Peitho. It had been given as a gift to the Italian state 150 years ago by a British diplomat.

    Greece has for years campaigned for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum, where they have been held since they were sawn off the Parthenon and taken to England by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century, at a time when Greece was under Ottoman rule.

    [25] Greek, Italian culture ministers present new cultural multifunction space

    Athens, 12/12/2002 (ANA)

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, his Italian counterpart Giuliano Urbani and famous international actress Irene Pappas on Wednesday presented a new multifunction space for culture during a press conference in Athens.

    The new establishment was founded by Pappas in cooperation with the drama schools of Athens, Rome and Sagundo, Spain and funded by the ministry of environment, town planning and public works.

    The 500-seat theater will be operational by 2004 according to the actress, who called it a life long dream coming true.

    [26] Concern over decrease in number of grant asylums given to refugees in Greece

    Athens, 12/12/2002 (ANA)

    The UN High Commission for Refugees has expressed its concern over the marked decrease in the number of grant asylums given to refugees in Greece during 2002.

    The High Commission said in an announcement that Greece has adopted one of the most progressive legislations on asylum in Europe. Nevertheless, the percentage of the recognition of the refugee status in Greece at present is among the lowest in the European Union.

    Despite the relatively low number of applications submitted in Greece for asylum, asylum is granted to very few genuine refugees, the announcement said.

    According to High Commission data, 11.2 per cent were given refugee status in 2001, compared to 0.4 per cent this year.

    The total percentage of refugee and humanitarian status given in Greece was 22.4 per cent in 2001 and just 1 per cent in 2002.

    [27] Event held in Austria on mass media in southeastern Europe

    VIENNA 12/12/2002 (ANA - D. Dimitrakoudis)

    The Greek press ministry and the Foreign Press Association in Vienna organized an event at Vienna's Diplomatic Academy on Tuesday night on the state of the mass media in countries of southeastern Europe.

    Speaking at the event, the secretary general of the Mass Media Organization in southeastern Europe (SEEMO) Oliver Vujovic stressed the great importance he attaches to cooperation with Greece in promoting the organization’s targets in the region.

    In an address on behalf of the press ministry, the head of the Greek embassy in Austria's press office Aikaterini Lambrou underlined that with the ministry's support for SEEMO harmonious cooperation and a steadfast relation is being inaugurated, and also in light of the organization’s intention to open a branch in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, shortly and develop a network of contacts and members in Greece.

    [28] Alleged ''November 17'' terrorist group member requests mixed jury trial

    Athens, 12/12/2002 (ANA)

    Alleged ''November 17'' terrorist group member Alexandros Giotopoulos on Wednesday sent a memorandum to the council of appellate court judges requesting to be tried by a mixed jury, claiming that the actions of the terrorist group constituted a political crime.

    According to Giotopoulos, who is refusing every and any relationship with ''N17'', the actions of the murderous group were akin to political crime, as they turned against political targets and persons of the economic world of the country and were politically motivated.

    In his memorandum, he claims that the anti-terrorist law is unconstitutional for assigning cases of organized crime to a tribunal.

    [29] N17 suspects Koufodinas, Sotiropoulou wed in prison in civil ceremony

    Athens, 12/12/2002 (ANA)

    Jailed 'November 17' terrorist group suspects Dimitris Koufodinas and Angeliki Sotiropoulou, incarcerated in Korydallos prison pending trial, were married Wednesday in a civil ceremony conducted at the penitentiary's women's wing.

    The civil service was conducted by Korydallos deputy mayor George Dimopoulos, and was witnessed by the couple's lawyer Ioanna Kourtovik and Alicia Romero Cortez, who is the companion of Sotiropoulou's first husband Savvas Xiros. Xiros is also incarcerated at Korydallos pending trial for involvement in 17N.

    According to information, the women's prison director Elisavet Sarisava was also present.

    Other attendants included Koufodinas' mother, Sotiropoulou's 12-year-old son (from her marriage with Xiros) Hector and her sister.

    According to sources, no gifts were presented to the couple, while the newlyweds returned to their respective cells immediately after taking their wedding vows.

    According to unconfirmed reports, Sotiropoulou intended to begin a hunger strike today (Wednesday).

    [30] Reduced sentences for air traffic controllers in 1997 Aerosweet plane crash

    Athens, 12/12/2002 (ANA)

    A Thessaloniki appeals court on Wednesday reduced the sentences of two air traffic controllers blamed for a 1997 air disaster that caused the deaths of 74 people.

    The two men were on duty on the night of December 17, 1997 when a passenger plane belonging to the Ukrainian airline Aerosweet veered off course while coming in to land at Thessaloniki airport and crashed into the Pieria mountain range, killing everyone on board.

    The court reduced five-year sentences imposed on Ioannis Yiannakopoulos and Adamantios Fragiadoulis by a lower court for manslaughter through negligence and disrupting flight safety to sentences of four years and four months each.

    Relatives of the victims were incensed at the decision, while the two men said they would lodge an appeal with the Supreme Court to have their sentences overturned.

    [31] It's raining...fish!

    Athens, 12/12/2002 (ANA)

    Residents of the northern Greek village of Korona, in Kilkis prefecture, were taken by surprise Wednesday when, out of the blue, it began raining fish!

    The fish, according to scientists, were carried a distance of 15 kilometers from nearby Lake Doirani by a tornado.

    The incident was not rare for the area, as occasional twisters scoop up and transport inland large qualities of water which frequently contain fish and frogs.

    [32] Greek, Turkish FMs send letter to UEFA president on joint bid to host Euro 2008

    Athens, 12/12/2002 (ANA)

    The foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey, George Papandreou and Yasar Yakis respectively, sent a joint letter to UEFA President Lennart Johansson on Wednesday regarding the two countries' joint bid to host the Euro 2008 Soccer Championship.

    The letter said ''only a few hours before UEFA Executive Committee's decision on the country or countries to host the Euro 2008 Championship, we wish to express our common views regarding our joint bid: The organization of the Euro 2008 will come at a moment when we are witnessing historic changes taking place throughout South Eastern Europe.

    ''Greece and Turkey have entered a new phase of cooperation and understanding, and working together on this candidacy would be an important step forward, which would further strengthen our partnership. The Greek-Turkish bid for Euro 2008 has the full support of our governments and our peoples.''

    UEFA is expected to decide on which country or countries will host the Euro 2008 Soccer Championship on Thursday.

    [33] President Clerides arrives in Copenhagen

    COPENHAGEN 12/12/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides arrived on Wednesday in Copenhagen, where the European Union leaders will meet to take final decisions on EU enlargement.

    The Cypriot president met here on Wednesday night with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    The two-day EU Summit beginning on Thursday in the Danish capital is expected to invite Cyprus and nine other candidate countries to join the EU in 2004. President Clerides flew to Copenhagen on a special Cyprus Airways flight. He was accompanied by Attorney General Alecos Markides, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, Undersecretary to the President Pantelis Kouros, AKEL Secretary General Demetris Christofias, Democratic Rally President Nicos Anastassiades, Democratic Party President Tassos Papadopoulos, Socialdemocrats Movement President Yiannakis Omirou, Struggling Democratic Movement President Dinos Michaelides and Foreign Ministry officials.

    Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides joined the Cyprus delegation later on Wednesday. He flew to Copenhagen from Rome.

    The United Democrats President George Vassiliou was due to fly to Copenhagen from Brussels later in the day. Two small parties, the New Horizons and the Ecologists-Environmentalists, with one seat in the 56-member House of Representatives each, have decided not to accompany President Clerides to Copenhagen.

    [34] Clerides: Accession and solution are two different issues

    LARNACA 12/12/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus' accession to the EU and the solution to the Cyprus problem are two different issues, Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides stated here on Wednesday, on his departure for Copenhagen, where the EU leaders will take final decisions on the Union's enlargement, which includes Cyprus.

    Invited to say whether under today's circumstances he will sign an agreement for a Cyprus settlement, President Clerides said that ''under today's circumstances if I listen to some fools then I shouldn't sign for a settlement. If I listen to others who think rationally I must think about it seriously.''

    Asked if there will be a signing of UN Secretary General's revised blueprint for a Cyprus settlement by Saturday, Clerides said ''people are concerned with this question and I am concerned to.''

    He replied negatively to a question whether he had taken a decision on this matter.

    Answering another question Clerides expressed the belief that there is little room for amendments in the UN revised plan submitted to both sides on Tuesday, noting that this was an issue discussed during Tuesday's meeting of the National Council (top advisory body to the President on the handling of the Cyprus issue).

    Invited to say whether he could negotiate with a representative of the ailing Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash or he wanted to negotiate directly with Denktash, Clerides recalled that in the past he had voiced his opposition to negotiations with someone else apart from Denktash. ''I don't know if Denktash will designate a representative. And I don't know whether if he does I will designate a representative too,'' President Clerides said. He also noted that this was an issue also discussed by the National Council but refrained to elaborate.

    Asked whether a solution to the Cyprus problem is linked with Cyprus' accession to the EU, President Clerides stressed that ''our position is that accession is a different issue and the settlement is a different issue.''

    Invited to say if he will sign the UN plan if Cyprus' biggest party, the leftwing AKEL is against that, Clerides said he will take into consideration the opinions of all parties represented in the National Council and he will decide what will happen in the light of developments.

    [35] UN hope Copenhagen to provide deadline for Cyprus agreement

    UNITED NATIONS 12/12/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    The United Nations hope that Copenhagen will provide the context and the deadline for an agreement on a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    UN Spokesman Fred Eckhard told his daily briefing on Wednesday that the UN were trying to get the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides together in the Danish capital "to see if we can close the final gaps."

    Asked whether the UN have any indication that the two sides in Cyprus are willing to reach a final agreement in Copenhagen, the spokesman said "we don't have an indication one way or the other. Obviously what we are trying to do now that we have revised the proposal in light of the comments of both sides, we are hoping that Copenhagen will provide the context and the deadline... for an agreement."

    The spokesman said he was not in a position, at the moment, "to predict that they are ready to compromise, ready to agree on a final statement. We are trying to get them together in Copenhagen to see if we can close the final gaps."

    Eckhard said consultations on Cyprus were held on Tuesday in Nicosia on the proposal put forward by the Secretary General.

    "Unfortunately, the Turkish Cypriot leader H.E. Rauf Denktash was unwell and not able to see the SG's Special Adviser Alvaro de Soto in the afternoon," the UN spokesman noted.

    He said de Soto met instead with Denktash's adviser Ergun Olgun but spoke to Denktash by telephone on Tuesday night.

    Asked if the Secretary General will be going to Copenhagen, Eckhard replied, "as of now (mid-day) he has no plans to go, so nothing has changed since yesterday."

    He also said that the Security Council would not meet on Cyprus at this time.

    [36] UN envoy flies to Copenhagen

    LARNACA 12/12/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    UN Secretary General's Special Adviser for Cyprus Alvaro De Soto left on Wednesday morning for Copenhagen via Amsterdam.

    Answering press questions at Larnaca Airport, De Soto did not rule out the possibility an agreement for a Cyprus settlement to be signed on the sidelines of the EU Copenhagen Summit to take place at the Danish capital December 12-13.

    Invited to say whether the UN revised plan for a Cyprus settlement submitted on Tuesday to the Cyprus parties will be signed in Copenhagen, De Soto said: ''Well... Why not?''

    Asked whether Kofi Annan will be in Copenhagen during the EU Summit, the UN envoy said ''there is no plan for the Secretary General to go to Copenhagen.''

    Invited to say whether Annan will fly to Copenhagen later on, de Soto said: ''Well, at another moment if you ask me the same question you may get the same answer you may get another answer.''

    He said he was flying to the Danish capital together with his ''loyal staff.''


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