|Friday, 28 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-02-26
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>February 26, 2003
 PM says Cyprus solution possible in timetables set if Turkish side shows will
Athens, 26/02/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Tuesday that a solution to the Cyprus issue is possible in timetables set by the UN, if the political will exists on the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot sides. He was speaking after holding talks with visiting UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
The UN chief reiterated that a unique opportunity currently exists ''for a reunited Cyprus to accede to the EU'' and expressed satisfaction over the outcome of his talks in Ankara on Monday, saying the Turkish leadership also strongly supports a solution to the Cyprus issue in existing timetables.
Talks between Simitis and Annan continued during a dinner the prime minister hosted for his guest. The talks were attended by Foreign Minister George Papandreou, Deputy Press Minister Telemahos Hytiris and Annan's special representative Alvaro de Soto.
Simitis said in a statement that Greece and Cyprus have every reason to appreciate Annan's contribution to the issue of Cyprus which has come to the forefront of events after many vicissitudes, as he said.
''The possibility of a solution arose after many initiatives by the UN and much work for difficult problems which had been accumulated, following three decades of occupation of a third of Cyprus, to be handled in detail,'' Simitis said.
Referring to Annan's plan, he said it handles the claims of both sides, while in many points it is not absolutely satisfactory for either of them.
''It shows the way for dividing lines to be overcome and for new relations to be shaped. I have said that what is necessary is political will,'' he said.
Simitis pointed out that the Greek Cypriot and Greek sides have shown that they possess such will, but they cannot take the step alone since the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot sides should move in the same direction.
''If this will exist we can reach a solution in the timeframe set,'' Simitis said, adding that he stressed the need to Annan for a constructive attitude on behalf of Turkey as well.
On the question of Annan's visit to Ankara, Simitis said ''he himself is in a position, better than all, to judge if preconditions of success exist for such an undertaking.''
Simitis referred at length to the decisive importance of the accession process and the participation of Cyprus in all EU deliberations.
''It creates other preconditions for problems to be overcome, consolidating procedures which will gradually push aside differences, conflicts and enmities created as a result of many decades of military intervention, arbitrary acts and the infringement of rights which led to the overturning of international agreements,'' he said.
Simitis further said memory is necessary for one to learn from the past, as well as a will to enable us to create the future, reiterating that this will exists on the Greek and Greek Cypriot sides and appealed for a corresponding will to be exhibited on the part of Turkey as well.
''We expressed our views on acts and points of the solution for us to lead the Cyprus issue to becoming a problem of the past,'' he said, assuring that ''we want this.''
On his part, Annan referred to the very important role played by Greece, particularly now that it is exercising the EU's presidency, and expressed absolute satisfaction over his discussions on the issue of Cyprus, reminding that the present procedure began in 1999 with intensive negotiations between his special envoy and the parties involved.
After reiterating that he sees a ''unique opportunity for a reunited Cyprus to accede to the EU'', he referred to the signing of Cyprus' accession treaty to the EU on April 16, expressing his conviction that an agreement can be reached to enable referendums to take place in both communities by March 30.
Annan further focused on the benefits from the accession of a reunited Cyprus to the EU for the people of Cyprus, the peoples in the region and the EU itself, noting that the present opportunity ''will not exist forever. Courage, vision and determination are necessary.''
He said he will travel to Cyprus on Wednesday to deliver his document which, as he said, will not be a surprise for any side since the views and concerns of both parties have been taken into consideration.
Commenting on whether he is more optimistic for a solution to be found in the time limit set by the UN, after the briefing he had from Annan on results of his visit to Ankara, Simitis said Annan told him that there were encouraging indications and stressed that ''I want to see them in practice.''
Responding to a question on whether he believes his plan will be accepted, Annan expressed the conviction that the new thoughts he will present ''will enable us to move forward, to have differences bridged and to reach an agreement. I came with the hope that we shall conclude so that we can be in a position to say that we have achieved our target'', adding that timetables ''are not technical but real'' and that ''I believe that with the assisting revised plan there will be a satisfactory outcome.''
UN chief Annan arrives in Athens, says opportunity must not be lost for Cyprus: UN secretary general Kofi Annan arrived in Athens at noon on Tuesday for talks with the Greek government on ongoing efforts for a Cyprus settlement, and in an airport statement reiterated that the opportunity for a solution must not be lost.
Annan said there was an important opportunity for resolving the Cyprus issue that must not be lost.
He said the matter was urgent, and that Cyprus should join the European Union reunited, noting that this was desired by the European Union and the UN Security Council alike. But for this to occur, he continued, the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots needed to hold separate referendums by March 30 at the latest.
If this opportunity was lost, he warned, it was unclear whether there would be another opportunity anytime soon.
A reunified Cyprus should sign the accession to the European Union, he reiterated.
Annan further said that the hour of decisions had arrived, and that both sides needed to reach agreement by February 28, noting, however, that a few days extension could be given. But he warned that a delay beyond early March would comprise a 'no' to the accession to the EU by a reunified Cyprus.
The UN chief said he was encouraged by the talks he had in Ankara on Monday, and said the new amendments to his draft solution plan would contain no surprises and would aim at bringing the two sides to agreement.
Replying to questions, Annan said he hoped that EU accession would be made by a reunified Cyprus, adding that he had briefed the Turkish government (on Monday) of the points of the revised plan he would present, and would do the same with the Greek government (on Tuesday) as well as the Cyprus government and the Turkish Cypriot community. Annan is due to arrive in Cyprus on Wednesday.
Asked what would happen if a solution was not reached, Anna said it was in the interests of both sides to reach a solution, adding that Ankara realized how urgent this was and desired a unified Cyprus to accede the EU.
Annan also described Greece as a country with an important role on the international scene, and now, more than ever, as it was holding the EU presidency.
Annan signs Olympic Truce Statement: UN Secretary General Kofi Annan signed the Statement of World Personalities in Support of the Olympic Truce Initiative in Athens on Tuesday evening, in the presence of Foreign Minister and EU Council of Ministers president George Papandreou.
Speaking at a special signing ceremony at the foreign ministry, Papandreou hailed Annan's role in international efforts for peace in many regions of the world, and referring to the Cyprus issue, stressed that ''we are expecting a great deal and have many hopes.''
On his part, the UN chief expressed his particular pleasure as his first visit to Athens coincided with the signing of the Olympic Truce Declaration. He stated that ''we should implement and utilize daily in practice the signing.''
Present at the event were the ambassadors in Athens of the five countries which are permanent members of the UN Security Council as well as Greek parliamentarians.
The brief event came to a close with the screening of a video film on the theme of the Olympic Idea.
 PM and US President discuss Iraq, EU-US relations
Athens, 26/02/2003 (ANA)United States President George Bush on Tuesday held talks with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis over the phone for 15 minutes regarding the Iraq crisis and relations between the United States and the European Union, sources said.
They said the call had been initiated by Bush and that he had congratulated the Greek EU presidency for its decision to call an emergency summit on Iraq and the summit's successful outcome, as well as the presidency's stance on the issue.
The American president also stressed the importance of relations between the U.S. and the EU and his desire that these relations remain so, while assuring Simitis that he would personally work in this direction.
The same sources said that the Greek premier and current president of the European Council stressed that any action related to Iraq must originate with the United Nations and UN decisions, a view with which Bush agreed.
Simitis also took the opportunity to refer to the Cyprus problem and a tour of Athens, Ankara and Nicosia by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, asking Bush to use his influence with Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot side to assist progress toward a solution.
Bush apparently assured the Greek premier of his personal interest in a solution of the Cyprus problem.
 White House spokesman refers to Bush, Simitis communication
WASHINGTON 26/02/2003 (ANA - T. Ellis)White House spokesman Ari Fleischer on Tuesday referred to the points which U.S. President George W. Bush and Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis focused on during their communication earlier in the day.
''The President talked by phone with Prime Minister of Greece Mr. Simitis. It was a cordial exchange of views. The President congratulated the Greek Prime Minister for his country's leading role as EU president, which also includes the work which the EU has conducted on the Iraq issue. The President expressed his determination for the disarmament of Saddam Hussein and his support to a strong position of the United Nations concerning the disarmament of Iraq,'' Fleischer said.
The White House spokesman added that ''the two leaders also discussed the strong Greek-American cooperation in the war against terrorism and stressed their strong support to the UN Secretary-General's plan for the solution of the situation in Cyprus. Both committed themselves to do everything possible for the achievement of a settlement as this is presented by the Secretary-General's plan.''
 Athens blames Turkish side for slow progress toward Cyprus solution
Athens, 26/02/2003 (ANA)Greece on Tuesday reiterated its desire to see a reunited Cyprus join the European Union in April and blamed the lack of progress in this direction squarely on the Turkish side.
Commenting on a meeting between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and visiting Cyprus President-elect Tassos Papadopoulos the previous day, government spokesman Christos Protopapas stressed the ''very good communication'' between Athens and Nicosia, which he said shared ''common views'' but also underlined that Cyprus had the final say regarding the Cyprus issue.
He also stressed that lack of progress toward reuniting the island republic would not ''cast shadows'' on Cyprus' accession to the European Union.
''We all want Cyprus' accession to the EU to take place at the same time as a solution to the Cyprus issue,'' Protopapas said but stressed that the Turkish side's stance had stalled the peace process and that Ankara would be responsible for the impasse in Cyprus unless it abandoned its intransigent attitude.
''The positive statements made by (ruling Justice and Development Party leader) Recep Erdogan are not repeated by Turkey's institutional representation nor by (Turkish-Cypriot leader) Rauf Denktash,'' Protopapas said.
The spokesman also reminded reporters that the new Cyprus president had said that a solution might be achieved if there were a small extension to the deadlines (such as that mentioned on Monday by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan), provided that there were a corresponding desire on the Turkish side.
Protopapas said that Athens was not aware of a third Annan plan for Cyprus, only the contents of ''a memorandum that is an outline of the revisions foreseen by the secretary general.
''The final choice about the form of the third plan resides with Annan himself,'' the spokesman added.
 FM says Athens visit of newly elected Cyprus president very important
Athens, 26/02/2003 (ANA)Foreign minister George Papandreou on Tuesday told reporters that a visit by Cyprus President-elect Tassos Papadopoulos to Athens was very significant ''in light of crucial developments'' on the Cyprus issue and said he had instructed his ministry to develop full cooperation with the Cyprus government.
Papandreou and Papadopoulos had just concluded a meeting at Athens airport before the newly elected Cyprus president boarded his flight back to Nicosia.
Prior to his departure, Papadopoulos told reporters that ''adherence to UN Chief Kofi Annan's time frame (with or without an extension) depends on the stance of the Turkish side''.
He once again noted the identity of views between Athens and Nicosia and thanked the Greek government for its unstinting support.
Annan has urged Turkey, Greece and the two sides of Cyprus to unite the island before the expiration of a February 28 deadline, which is crucial if a united island is to join the EU when Cyprus signs the Accession Treaty with the Union in April.
Mumtaz Soysal, a close aide of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash last Friday said the latest Cyprus peace plan presented by Annan encompassed the same spirit as the previous ones, claiming that it essentially offered “no new improvement for the Turkish-Cypriot side”.
Moreover, the first meeting between Greek and Turkish foreign ministry delegations to discuss security and guarantees for Cyprus, on the basis of UN proposals ended in an impasse in Ankara on Friday due to the intransigent stance of the Turkish side. It was agreed that a date for the next meeting would be determined through diplomatic channels providing developments allowed it.
 Prodi voices preference for a united Cyprus to enter
EU BRUSSELS 26/02/2003 (ANA-A. Simatos/CNA)European Commission President Romano Prodi expressed here Tuesday his strong preference for accession of a united Cyprus to the European Union (EU).
In a statement on Cyprus, Prodi called all parties concerned to step up efforts to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem, reiterating that the acquis should not be an obstacle to a settlement.
''President Prodi repeated today his strong preference for the accession of a united Cyprus to the EU. In view of the imminence of February 28, he gives full support to the final push of the UN and calls all parties concerned to step up their efforts to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem,'' the statement said.
''Respect of this date,'' it remarked, ''would allow sufficient time for the planned referendum to be held on March 30'' and would also ''allow the united Cyprus to meet the imperative deadline of April 16 as regards the signature of the Accession Treaty.''
It quoted Prodi as saying ''the acquis should not be an obstacle to a settlement,'' adding that the Union is ''ready to accommodate the terms of a settlement in the Treaty of Accession in line with the principals on which the EU is founded.''
''President Prodi recalled the Commission's willingness to organize an international Donor Conference to secure financial means for the implementation of the UN plan,'' the statement concluded.
 ND leader meets with Thomas Weston
Athens, 26/02/2003 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday received U.S. State Department on coordinator on the Cyprus issue Ambassador Thomas Weston, who arrived in Athens from his visit to Ankara.
In statements to the press Weston said that the present opportunity for the resolution of the Cyprus issue is a historic one, noting that the next ten days will be critical for the future of Cyprus.
He added that he departed from Ankara more optimistic following negotiations, than ever before in the past.
According to sources, Karamanlis reiterated his standing positions that the resolution of the Cyprus problem should be functional, viable and in accordance with the European Union acquis communautaire and the decisions of the United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Foreign Minister George Papandreou will meet with U.S. State Department on the Cyprus issue Ambassador Thomas Weston on Wednesday.
 DM meets with U.S. president's Middle East affairs adviser, reports say
Athens, 26/02/2003 (ANA)Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou held brief talks with U.S. President George W. Bush's special adviser on Middle East affairs General Antony Zinni on Tuesday, press reports said.
The talks were held on the sidelines of the two-day conference being organized by the University of California at a downtown Athens hotel.
Earlier, Papantoniou had made an address to the conference which is focusing on the issue of security in the Middle East.
The conference is being held in camera and minutes are not being recorded.
 Greek academic detained in U.S. complains at his treatment
Athens, 26/02/2003 (ANA)Athens Polytechnic professor Venios Angelopoulos on Tuesday accused United States authorities of treating those being questioned in connection with terrorist crimes like ''prisoners'' after he was personally detained and held for five hours upon his arrival at a U.S. airport two weeks ago.
At a press conference in Athens on Tuesday, along with other academics appearing in his support, Angelopoulos demanded that personal information and fingerprints taken from him by U.S. authorities be destroyed or deleted with the intervention of the Greek government.
They also demanded to know if the professor's personal details had been given to U.S. authorities at any time and by whom, if files on him are still being kept and if he would be allowed to enter the U.S. in the future.
Also present at the press conference were Athens Polytechnic Chancellor Themistocles Xanthopoulos and the president of the teaching staff association Yiannis Maistos, who expressed support for their colleague and their ''exasperation with the flagrant violation of every sense of legal culture, international relations and protection of human rights''.
Describing his experiences, Angelopoulos claimed that U.S. authorities treated those detained in relation to terrorist issues as ''prisoners'' - transporting them in handcuffs and chained legs - and complained that he had been fingerprinted, forced to disclose personal information, provide a photograph and a sample signature that were then sent to be crosschecked against U.S. files.
At another point, he said that his interlocutors appeared to have information about his activity against the military junta that ruled Greece between 1967-1974 and about his personal contacts.
According to the Athens professor, he had been questioned about his acquaintance with suspected November 17 terrorist Alexandros Giotopoulos and people that might have known him, with particular emphasis on whether he knew the lawyer representing Giotopoulos in the upcoming trial.
He also claimed to have been offered money to jog his memory when he failed to remember names and people.
 PM to meet environment minister, communication team this week
Athens, 26/02/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis will meet Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou on Wednesday at 14:00 to prepare for a cabinet meeting the following day, government spokesman Christos Protopapas announced on Tuesday.
On Friday at 13:00, the prime minister will chair an informal meeting of the government's communications team.
 FinMin urges tight incomes, pricing policy for public sector enterprises
Athens, 26/02/2003 (ANA)Public sector enterprises and organization must follow a very tight pricing policy, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with the heads of all public sector enterprises and organizations, Mr Christodoulakis stressed that the meeting discussed public sector enterprises' incomes and pricing policies in 2003.
According to ministry sources, Mr Christodoulakis urged all public sector enterprises to strictly adhere to the government's incomes policy in the wider public sector.
 De Palacio welcomes Greece-Turkey natural gas pipeline deal
Athens, 26/02/2003 (ANA)EU Energy Commissioner Loyola de Palacio on Tuesday expressed her satisfaction over the signing on Sunday of a Greek-Turkish agreement to build a natural gas pipeline, worth 250 million euros, extending from Karakabey in Turkey to Komotini in Greece.
In a written announcement, Mrs. de Palacio stressed that the agreement would significantly contribute in ensuring the supply and service of the European market's energy needs.
The EU Commissioner also noted that completion of the project would also contribute in securing natural gas supplies in satisfactory prices and quantities, in view of increased demand in the European Union.
Mrs. de Palacio welcomed "the progress made by the governments of Greece and Turkey, which with the support of the European Commission developed a fundamental trade cooperation between companies in the natural gas sector".
The announcement also stressed that the European Commission has underlined in a White Paper on energy supply security the strategic significance of interconnecting Greece and Turkey in natural gas networks.
The Commission funded, with 4.3 million euros, the visibility study for the construction of a natural gas pipeline between Greece and Turkey.
The project, dubbed Interconnector Turkey+Greece, envisages a 280-km pipeline running between the two countries, 80 kilometers on the Greek side and rest in Turkey, with the two countries’ state-run natural gas providers, DEPA and Botas, taking the lead role in construction.
 EU to focus on funding economic reform in Balkans this year
Athens, 26/02/2003 (ANA)The European Union is to focus mainly on financing economic reform in the Balkans in 2003 as many infrastructure projects have been completed, the European Service's deputy general secretary, Constantine Manolopoulos, said on Tuesday.
Funds for Balkan reconstruction from the Service in 2003 totalled 316.5 million euros, Manolopoulos told a conference in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.
''Our priorities are changing, the work we are doing is being revised in the direction of reinforcing economic growth in states in the region,'' he said.
Balkan programs run by the Service from 1996 to the end of 2003 will total 1.966 billion euros, Manolopoulos added.
The conference on Greek companies and reconstruction of the Balkans was arranged by the Kalofolias Group and Express daily financial newspaper.
 Olympic organizers sign deal for 3 more cruise ships
Athens, 26/02/2003 (ANA)A high-profile deal to reserve three new cruise ships, all expected to host visitors for the 2004 Games, was signed on Tuesday by Athens organizers (ATHOC) and the Royal Olympic Cruises (ROC) line.
Two of the vessels, the “Olympic Voyager” and the “Olympia Explorer”, built in 2000 and 2002, respectively, are able to host 836 passengers in 420 luxury suites. A third cruise ship, the “Olympia Countess” offers a more economical hospital package.
Athens organizers have promised a small flotilla of cruise ships in an upgraded and beautified Piraeus port by August 2004, one of the alternatives to meeting pressing hospitality needs during the upcoming Olympic Games.
 OTE telecom in talks for buyout of Serbian mobile phone firm
BELGRADE 26/02/2003 (ANA)Athens-quoted Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) is in talks with Telekom Serbia for acquisition of the corporation's mobile phone subsidiary and its management, the managing director of OTE International, George Skarpelis, said.
The negotiations were being held with PTT Serbia, the firm's main shareholder, Skarpelis told a conference in Belgrade.
OTE, a heavily traded stock on the Athens bourse, is an active player in the Balkan telecoms market with an aggressive policy of investment and expansion in the region.
The conference was sponsored by OTE International and Athens-quoted EFG Eurobank Ergasias.
 Intralot in lottery supply contract in FYROM
Athens, 26/02/2003 (ANA)Intralot on Monday announced the signing of a six-year contract with Lotarija na Makedonija, the lottery organization of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), for the supply, installation, support and operation of an integrated on-line lottery system.
Under the contract, Intralot will install an on-line terminal system around the country for the operation of lottery, soccer bet, bingo and other on-line lottery games in FYROM.
Operation is expected to begin by the end of 2003. Intralot will receive a percentage of the organization’s turnover.
FYROM's lottery market is rapidly growing and Intralot expects turnover to exceed 40 million euros annually. Lotarija na Makedonija, following the modernization of its systems will be able to participate in a trans-Balkan lottery games organization.
 National Bank of Greece launches Bulgaria's first credit card
Athens, 26/02/2003 (ANA)National Bank of Greece, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, recently issued Bulgaria's first credit card through a subsidiary in the neighboring country, UBB bank.
The deputy governor of National Bank, Andreas Vranas, told a conference in the northern port city of Thessaloniki on Tuesday that the move had proved a great success.
UBB also offered Bulgarian customers consumer loans by means of third party sales outlets, Vranas added.
The conference on Greek companies and reconstruction of the Balkans was arranged by the Kalofolias Group and Express daily financial newspaper.
 Euro-Court: Funds must pay pensioners' overseas medical expenses
BRUSSELS 26/02/2003 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)Insurance funds in European Union member-states must cover the medical expenses of pensioners traveling to another EU country, without linking this to the way with which the patients' ailment was revealed, according to a European Court ruling on Tuesday concerning the case of a Greek pensioner who had to be treated in Germany.
The Greek pensioner had to receive hospital treatment for cardialgia during a trip to Germany. He called on the German medical treatment fund to cover his expenses directly and then claim them from the relevant Greek insurance fund, in accordance with EU regulation 1408/71.
According to the European Court, the mere fact that a pensioner is suffering from a chronic ailment, which he was aware of before traveling abroad, does not prevent him from enjoying treatment required by the development of the state of his health during his stay.
 40% of Greek youths find jobs outside their educational field, Eurostat says
BRUSSELS 26/02/2003 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)A large percentage of Greek youths land jobs that are not corresponding to their field of education, according to a European Union wide study conducted by Eurostat and released on Tuesday.
Some 40 per cent of Greek youths find jobs they were not trained for, thus bringing Greece to second highest position after Italy (47 per cent) among European Union member-states.
These percentages decrease as the educational level increases according to the study, resulting in university graduates to be more likely to find a job in their chosen field of study.
 Deputy FM Loverdos communicates with Serb urban planning minister Sumarac
Athens, 26/02/2003 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos, who is currently visiting Beirut, communicated by phone on Tuesday with Serb Minister of Urban Planning and Civil Engineering, Dragoslav Sumarac concerning the course of the implementation of the Greek Balkan Economic Reconstruction Plan.
A foreign ministry announcement said Loverdos and the Serb minister expressed their full satisfaction on the submission of the Serbian Republic's proposals within the framework of the Greek plan, which includes eight projects with main priority the reconstruction of Axis 10 of the trans-European road network.
This issue was also discussed between Loverdos and Serbia's Assistant Minister of International Economic Affairs, Gordana Lazarevic - in the context of a conference which was held recently in Kavala, northern Greece - where the project was included in the reconstruction of the motorway which would link Belgrade with Nice and the borders of the Former Yugoslav Republic (FYROM).
According to Loverdos, the first release of funds for the project is expected to be given in the first half of this year.
 Cross transactions planned with Istanbul, Tel Aviv bourses
Athens, 26/02/2003 (ANA)The Athens Stock Exchange and Istanbul and Tel Aviv bourses plan to install technology that will allow cross transactions among the three markets as part of a plan to draw foreign investors to southeastern Europe and the southeastern Mediterranean.
At a meeting of representatives of the three exchanges in Athens on February 20-22, another move decided was to launch an index spanning the three countries' high capitalization quoted firms by the end of 2003; and a benchmark index to be devised by an international specialist.
In addition, the three countries' stock depositories agreed to create an electronic link for their systems by June 2004.
 Greek stocks plunge to five-year lows on Tuesday
Athens, 26/02/2003 (ANA)A negative climate in international markets, due to worries over a possible war in Iraq, hit the Greek market on Tuesday pushing share prices to their lowest levels in five years.
The general index dropped 2.42 percent to end at 1,623.34 points, its lowest close in the last five years, with turnover a low 97 million euros.
The Textile, IT Solutions, Banks and Wholesale sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (5.52 percent, 4.33 percent, 3.98 percent, 3.97 percent and 3.58 percent, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks dropped 2.67 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index fell 2.44 percent, the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index plunged 3.05 percent, while the wider FTSE/ASE 140 index ended 2.67 percent off.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 320 to 20 with another 21 issues unchanged.
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 111.6 mln euros Tuesday
Equity Index Futures:
Day's Market Turnover: 111.6 mln euros
Bond Market Close: Buyers match sellers on Tuesday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
 Gov't denies reports of friction between culture minister, ATHOC chief
Athens, 26/02/2003 (ANA)The government on Tuesday flatly denied reports of friction between Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and the head of the Athens 2004 Olympics Organizing Committee (ATHOC) Gianna Angelopoulos, saying that nothing could disturb the good relations between the government and the organizing committee for the 2004 Games.
Referring to statements by Venizelos, whose ministry is in charge of coordinating the overall effort to prepare for the Games, government spokesman Christos Protopapas noted that these concerned the answers that had to be given to International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge on the issues the latter had raised.
These answers were there and had to be given, he added, while noting that it was common practice to put pressure on Olympics host-cities.
Protopapas stressed that preparations for the Olympics were proceeding well and any problems were being dealt with as they arose, while he reiterated that Athens would be ready on time and would organize the best Olympic Games ever held in cooperation with ATHOC.
 Premier unveils bill mandating milder legal treatment of narcotics users
Athens, 26/02/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday announced that the government will introduce a bill in Parliament in 2003 that will be differentiating the legal system's treatment of narcotics users from that of traffickers.
Speaking after a meeting of the inter-ministerial committee for the combating of narcotics use, he stressed that the user will be treated as an ill person and not as a criminal.
The new bill will include a clause mandating that conviction on charges of narcotics use will not be included in a person's criminal record to facilitate that person's re-incorporation in society.
Both the premier and Health and Welfare Minister Kostas Stephanis assessed that the measures implemented over the past few years have produced results. To prove this point, Simitis quoted statistics showing that deaths from narcotics use decreased by 30 per cent within 2002, compared to 2001.
Stephanis stressed that a decrease in such deaths was recorded for the first time and can be associated with increased expenditures for the combatting of narcotics use over the past three years.
Simitis stressed that law enforcement officials will continue their efforts to curb drug trafficking, while the government will also focus on prevention through the intensive dissemination of information to both educators and students.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) in an announcement stated that ''with his statements the premier attempted to essentially bypass the major issue of the government's responsibility concerning narcotics''.
''KKE continues to be strongly concerned about this major issue. It calls on the people and on youth to condemn every kind of dependency and to demand that the programs of prevention be implemented, as well as those of therapy for dependency and the users' re-incorporation in society,'' the KKE's press release said.
 Justice ministry delegation tours jailhouse 'N17' courtroom
Athens, 26/02/2003 (ANA)A justice ministry delegation on Tuesday inspected a specially modified jailhouse courtroom at the Korydallos prison where nearly two dozen “November 17” suspects are expected to be tried early next month.
“Meting out justice is a very, very important state function. An impeccable procedure will shed light on a case that for three decades caused so much grief and pain and for three decades caused such great problems for our country,” Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos.
The courthouse will be housed in the women’s facility at Athens-area Korydallos, the largest penitentiary in Greece, It terms of space, seating for 65 defense attorneys, 65 attorneys for the families of victims, 120 journalists, 30 observers and 120 seats for the public.
Defendants will be seated behind bullet-proof glass, whereas card phones will be set up behind the outside the hall. Another 800 attorneys and journalists are expected to be housed in a prefabricated press hall outside the courthouse.
The trial is scheduled to start on Monday, March 3.
Broadcast coverage: Meanwhile, the chairman of the quasi-state-run National Radio-Television Council (ERS) on Tuesday said he backs the idea of television coverage of proceedings, while noting, however, that he was expressing only his personal views.
ERS chairman Ioannis Laskaridis, a former Supreme Court vice-president, stressed that television allows for 'quite an expanded open court."
"Judges are more careful when cameras are in the court ... the Constitution mandates openness," he said.
 Draft bill cuts tenure for conscientious objectors
Athens, 26/02/2003 (ANA)A draft bill foresees a reduction of conscription duty for conscientious objectors as well as linking their non-combat tour of duty with relevant service of other categories of conscripts.
The bill is expected to be tabled in Parliament over the next few days.
Military duty without bearing arms will be based on a 12-month tour of duty increased by two-thirds, depending on one’s category. The maximum tenure will be 20 months.
Alternative or community service in place of military service will be double the regular conscription service, with a maximum of 24 months foreseen.
All conscientious objectors will also serve in the army.
On a yearly basis, however, only a tiny number of young men declare themselves as conscientious objectors.
 Report on media-linked blackmail case finds grounds for prosecution
Athens, 26/02/2003 (ANA)The public prosecutor investigating a high-profile extortion scandal involving members of the media has apparently found that there are grounds for bringing criminal charges against specific individuals.
In a report several pages long that was submitted to his superiors on Tuesday, public prosecutor Dimitris Papaggelopoulos describes a series of events and claims there is evidence to support criminal charges.
The report and case file will now be examined by Primary Court Chief Prosecutor Sotiris Bagias, who is expected to decide on any further action within the next two days.
Papaggelopoulos was assigned to the preliminary inquiry of the case on January 13, after reports came to light that a well-known newspaper publisher may have blackmailed business people, high-ranking members of the clergy and others by threatening to expose them or by using a hit by the terrorist group ''November 17'' as a threat.
 Venizelos chairs informal EU Council on sports
Athens, 26/02/2003 (ANA)An informal European Union Sports Ministers Council was held in Brussels on Tuesday at the initiative of the Greek EU Presidency, chaired by Greece’s Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and attended by Sports Deputy Minister George Lianis.
The agenda included the coordination of the EU member-states' stance on doping ahead of a global conference on doping to be held in Copenhagen next week. The EU’s sports ministers also looked into the formulation of a common stance toward the legal base for sports in the future European Constitution.
With regard to doping, EU ministers – in the presence of EU Education and Culture Commissioner Viviane Reding – reassured their single stance on the need for a persistent and effective struggle against drugs, sending a clear message to the sporting family and European communities that both professional and amateur sports must be free of doping.
The majority of EU member-states welcomed a proposal put forth by the presidium of the Convention on the Future of Europe, in accordance to which sports is among the areas where the EU can take supportive action.
Discussion also touched upon the possible inclusion of a future clause on sports in the European Constitution, an issue that will be examined in detail at a later stage by the Convention on the Future of Europe.
 FIBA basketball federation's delegation visiting Greece
Athens, 26/02/2003 (ANA)A five-member delegation of the FIBA basketball federation arrived in Athens on Tuesday to inspect work being done at the Hellenikon indoor stadium, following concern expressed by the Greek Basketball Federation (EOK) regarding the completion of work in time for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
FIBA's honorary secretary general Borislav Stankvic and other members of the delegation are due to have their first meeting with the Greek federation's directorate on Tuesday night.
EOK President Andreas Miaoulis and the President of FIBA-Europe George Vassilakopoulos will be giving a working dinner for the delegation members.
Work at the Hellenikon stadium will be inspected on Wednesday morning, while the last meeting between the two sides will be held on Friday when the final conclusions of the visit will be discussed.
 President-elect Papadopoulos satisfied with Athens talks
LARNACA 26/02/2003 (CNA/ANA)President-elect Tassos Papadopoulos said he is satisfied with the result of his meetings in Athens.
''We have agreed on ways to handle (the developments) and our positions and we also talked about the new memorandum given to us by (UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro) de Soto, which might be part of a third Annan plan,'' he said on his return to Cyprus on Tuesday.
Papadopoulos said during his discussions with Greek political party leaders and the Speaker of the Greek Parliament, ''we discussed the same things, and they reconfirmed their strong support to the positions of the Greek Cypriot side, and assured me that they will stand by Cyprus.''
Regarding the island's accession course to the European Union, Papadopoulos said he discussed the issue with the Greek premier and ''we ascertain that no problem will arise in this course.''
''I have the assurances of all about Greece's firm support in the joint course to achieve the common goals. I am generally satisfied, and I feel stronger, and have greater confidence to handle the developments to come,'' the new president added.
Asked if the memorandum falls within the acceptable framework of the UN Secretary-General's plan and can constitute a basis for negotiations, Papadopoulos said ''it is a memorandum that contains a summary of what we had talked about, what the UN believe could be possible solutions.''
''It is not the Annan plan,'' Papadopoulos said, stressing that ''some points of the memorandum, I believe, will be incorporated in the third plan to be submitted.''
Invited to comment on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's statements in Athens that this is the last chance for a Cyprus settlement, Papadopoulos acknowledged, ''that this is an opportunity, this is not something new, we have said this many times, because it coincides with the deadline for the referendums, if they are declared.''
''On the other hand, there is the accession of Cyprus to the EU, therefore it is an opportunity. Whether it is a unique opportunity, or the last opportunity, that is an issue for each one to judge.''
Papadopoulos ''categorically repeated, that we have not received a plan, we might possibly get one tomorrow.''
To a question what will happen in the event the plan is in the form of ''take it or leave it'', Papadopoulos replied, ''we are ready for negotiation. We are ready to discuss any plan, any provisions which we believe we have to discuss, within the framework that negotiations can be held.''
Regarding Cyprus' accession to the EU, Papadopoulos said it is already ''determined, and I do not see any procedural or substantial way in which the island's accession will be averted, unless there are such developments which will postpone the whole of the enlargement and not only for Cyprus.''
Invited to comment on the British offer to return part of the Sovereign Bases Areas, Papadopoulos said it is ''an encouraging development, which we must welcome. Let's hope that gradually, all the Bases' territory will be returned either to the Republic of Cyprus or the new state which will ensue,'' he said.
Papadopoulos however said the offer was made on two conditions, that there is a solution and the solution is within the timeframe set by Kofi Annan.
Asked if he shares Tayyip Erdogan's view that a solution could be achieved in March, he said, ''Erdogan believes that the (third) plan might constitute a solution, if there are referendums on both sides.
However, there were statements by the Turkish president, which contradicted Mr. Erdogan,'' the new president said. ''Mr. Erdogan's statements were more flexible, but this does not mean acceptance of the Annan plan,'' he added.
''We will study the revised plan, we will give our opinion on it, and the National Council will determine if it will be acceptable or not,'' he added.
He reiterated that on March 1st he will announce his cabinet.
 Straw urges both sides not to let historic opportunity slip away
LONDON 26/02/2003 (CNA/ANA)British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw urged both sides in Cyprus "not to let this historic opportunity to heal the division of Cyprus slip away."
In a written statement to the House of Commons on Tuesday, he advocated both sides to "go the last mile to conclude negotiations and secure the settlement."
Straw said the British government's aim remains a "comprehensive settlement in time for a reunited Cyprus to accede to the European Union on April 16.
For this to happen, he said, "the UN has set February 28 as the deadline for a decision on the Secretary-General's proposals."
Straw said on Sunday, February 23, Kofi Annan "put forward ideas to the two sides on how he might revise his December 10 proposals, and is consulting the governments in Ankara and Athens before his historic visit to Nicosia tomorrow."
The British Secretary said President-elect, Tassos Papadopoulos, "has made clear that the change of government underway in Cyprus will not impede the UN timetable."
Noting the UK has "supported the UN throughout this process, and has welcomed the balanced and comprehensive settlement proposals tabled by the Secretary-General, we urge both sides now to secure a settlement."
On the issue of territory, Straw said that it "became clear that both sides attached great importance to adjustment which represented a relatively small percentage of the areas of Cyprus." Therefore, he said, "the government gave urgent consideration to whether it could in some way help to bridge the remaining gap,"
adding a "decision was reached to inform the UN Secretary-General that Britain would be prepared to cede part of the UK's Sovereign Base Areas and this offer has now been included in the UN Secretary-General's ideas of February 23."
Straw repeated the offer consists of 45 square miles, just under half of the total area of the SBAs, which "makes up 1.2% of the area of the new state of affairs in Cyprus. The areas involved would bring a number of Cypriots living near Limassol, and in Dekelia SBA, within the administration of their respective constituent state."
He said the areas involved do not contain military infrastructure, and this offer will not have any adverse impact on the functioning of the SBAs.
Straw reminded that the offer "would only become valid if there were agreement by both sides to the UN proposals" and in the event Cyprus rejects the proposals or the proposals are rejected in a referendum by either side, the offer, along with the rest of the UN proposals, will become null and void."
"We urge both sides not to let this historic opportunity to heal the division of Cyprus slip away; and to go the last mile to conclude negotiations and secure the settlement," he concluded.
 US ambassador says time is now for Cyprus settlement
NICOSIA 26/02/2003 (CNA/ANA)US Ambassador to Cyprus, Michael Klosson, has said Cypriots have ''a tremendous opportunity'' in the period ahead for a Cyprus settlement, but cautioned that a settlement will be a compromise.
Speaking Monday night at a joint gathering of the Rotary Clubs of Nicosia, Salamis and Kyrenia, on the occasion of Rotary Peace Day, Klosson urged both sides in Cyprus to seize ''this unique opportunity,'' noting a settlement would enable all Cypriots to benefit from the accession of a reunified Cyprus to the European Union (EU) in April, and make a lasting contribution to regional security.
In his speech, titled ''Building Peace and Understanding: Challenges the International Community'', Klosson said ''all Cypriots also have a tremendous opportunity in the period ahead. These are momentous times,'' adding, ''the choice is yours. The time is now.''
''I believe that all Cypriots, from one end of the island to the other, have a unique, historic opportunity to resolve the division of the island on terms that are fair and viable,'' he said.
The US diplomat said the UN Secretary General will arrive in Nicosia on Wednesday following his discussions in Ankara and Athens. ''His spokesman has indicated he hopes to bring the search for a comprehensive settlement to a decisive conclusion by February 28, in accordance with his proposal,'' Klosson added.
Noting he will not speak for the Secretary General, ''I will say the United States strongly backs his initiative'' and reminded that President George Bush spoke to Annan last week about Cyprus and reaffirmed his support for the Secretary General's mission and the importance of reaching a Cyprus solution.
He added US Special Coordinator for Cyprus, Thomas Weston, brought the same message in his weekend visit to Cyprus. ''We have left no stone unturned in our vigorous support for the Secretary General's good offices mission,'' Klosson said, stressing ''we believe it holds out the opportunity for Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to achieve a fair and comprehensive settlement.''