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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-06-13

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

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

June 13, 2003

CONTENTS

  • [01] Simitis meets with Juncker in Luxembourg ahead of EU Thessaloniki Summit
  • [02] Greek and Belgian PMs discuss Thessaloniki EU summit agenda
  • [03] DM raises issue of national airspace violations with Turkish counterpart
  • [04] Turkish FM reaffirms Ankara's desire to preserve good relations with Greece
  • [05] FM and U.S. State Department special coordinator discuss Cyprus issue
  • [06] US Undersecretary of State Grossman calls Cyprus EU accession a huge success
  • [07] FM and U.S. ambassador discuss State Department's report on human trafficking
  • [08] Parliament passes bill for new Attica landfill sites; Greenpeace comments
  • [09] Parliament's transparency committee briefed on money laundering
  • [10] EU Commission proposes favorable arrangements for insular, mountainous regions
  • [11] Press Kití presented by EU Commission Greek office
  • [12] ANA opens new 'free access' webpage on EU Council
  • [13] Hearing over Nazi atrocities in Greece begins before German high court
  • [14] Gov't, opposition react to IMF report
  • [15] EU bid for growth should not bring fiscal slackness, finmin says
  • [16] EU agriculture Council strives for agreement on new
  • [17] Bourse authorities to probe share moves of oil firms set for merger
  • [18] Bank of Greece to lift all consumer credit restrictions June 20
  • [19] Govít sees solution to Halkidiki Mining Co next week
  • [20] Greek FinMin, civil servants' union discuss new payroll system
  • [21] Verelis expects talks with OA's unions to be concluded by end June
  • [22] Greek advertising spending up 18 pct in May, yr/yr
  • [23] Greek stocks jump to new highs on Thursday
  • [24] ND leader Karamanlis' wife gives birth to twin boy and girl
  • [25] Moderate earthquake between Thassos and Limnos islands
  • [26] Newcastle United Greek defender Dabizas breaks arm in car crash
  • [27] Defense witnesses continue testimony in N17 trial
  • [28] Seminar on young drug users organized by public order ministry
  • [29] Turkey has an historic responsibility to press Denktash
  • [30] FM Iacovou discusses Cyprus problem with Cheney and Rice
  • [31] Security Council members express support to Annan's plan

  • [01] Simitis meets with Juncker in Luxembourg ahead of EU Thessaloniki Summit

    LUXEMBOURG 13/06/2003 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who is presiding over the European Union Greek presidency, declared here that he is not interested in the position of European Commission president, during a joint press conference he held with Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker.

    Responding to a relevant question during a press conference here, Simitis made the declaration, while Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, said that ''he would have been an excellent Commission president''.

    Simitis met here on Thursday with Juncker and discussed issues related to the Thessaloniki summit agenda.

    Speaking to journalists during a press conference after their two- and-a-half hour meeting, Juncker welcomed Simitis and lauded the Greek EU presidency's efforts and contribution in resolving difficult issues such as bank deposit interest taxation.

    Simitis, who arrived here as part of the ''24 EU capital tour'' in preparation of the summit, which will be the peak and conclusion of the Greek EU presidency, focused on the summit's agenda.

    The results of the Convention for the Future of Europe, the decisions for the new Intergovernmental Conference, immigration policy, the relations of the European Union with the Western Balkans and developments in Iraq and the Middle East topped the meeting's agenda, while the EU's common foreign and security policy were also expected to be addressed.

    Simitis tabled the wish of the Greek presidency to arrive at a timetable for the Intergovernmental Conference in his talks with Juncker, which the presidency wishes to initiate in October or November and the signing of the new Treaty later in the year by all 25 EU member-states.

    Simitis also focused on conditions in the Middle East, saying that it is not useful to say that the ''road map'' for the Middle East peace process is not in force anymore, every time there is a terrorist action since that would facilitate those who do not wish for a solution to the problem.

    ''If we want a solution we must insist. Pressure should be applied on both sides to stop these reactions and to see the final goal, which is peace, without them trying to gain an advantage because one side or the other does not implement that which was decided.'' Simitis said.

    He added that the Thessaloniki summit will examine EU-US relations, alluding that they are very significant for Europe and for this reason they have to be friendly and based on understanding and the seeking of common ground.

    [02] Greek and Belgian PMs discuss Thessaloniki EU summit agenda

    BRUSSELS 13/06/2003 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    Prime Minister and European Council President Costas Simitis and his Belgian counterpart Guy Verhofstadt discussed the agenda of the European Union's Thessaloniki summit here on Thurs-day and, in general, a considerable convergence of views was reached.

    The two leaders appeared optimistic that they will be receiving a complete plan of the European constitution from Valery Giscard d'Estaing next week which, according to the Belgian prime minister, had been the dream of many Europeans for many decades. Simitis said on his part he is optimistic that the European constitution will be ratified by the Euro-elections in 2004.

    The Belgian side reiterated the need for an increase in the European Commission's powers and an extension of the principle of a special majority in procedures for adopting EU decisions.

    Simitis stressed the importance of consultations to take place to handle the issue of illegal immigration and for European defense, for which a special report will be provided by EU High Com-missioner Javier Solana.

    On the question of the European Commission's members having the right to vote in the future, the two prime ministers stated that all countries should have a commissioner, while Simitis said he knows by experience that a Commission composed of 25 persons presents operational problems which must be resolved.

    Regarding the question of strengthened cooperation between certain EU member-states alone on defense issues, the Belgian prime minister said it should be allowed by the European constitution, adding that otherwise strengthened cooperation on defense issues will take place outside the EU's framework.

    The Greek prime minister said it would be good for strengthened cooperation to develop within the EU's institutional frame-work.

    [03] DM raises issue of national airspace violations with Turkish counterpart

    Athens, 13/06/2003 (ANA)

    Defense Minister and European Union Council President Yiannos Papantoniou raised the issue of national airspace violations in the Aegean by Turkish warplanes, and their possible re-percussions, with NATO secretary Lord Robertson and his Turkish counterpart Vezdi Gonul during the NATO alliance's regular spring conference which got underway in Brussels on Thursday.

    Papantoniou pointed out to Gonul that Turkish provocations have increased in frequency, compared to past years, and that Turkish air force pilots insist on engagements and dog fights which creates serious risks for an accident to take place, which in turn could have grave consequences between the two countries and for stability in the region.

    ''I requested from the Turkish defense minister to take this indication by Greece into serious consideration, which is taking play simply and only to safeguard peace in the sensitive region of the southeastern area of the Mediterranean,'' he said.

    Relations between the alliance and the EU were discussed during a dinner with NATO ministers on Wednesday and the Greek presidency's contribution in promoting the relevant agreement was recognized, but primarily covering shortages in weaponry systems which enabled the European army's first mission in Skopje, in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as well as its full activation in 2003 in accordance with Europe's initial target.

    Papantoniou said the functioning of the European army will be one of the main issues to be highlighted during the Thessaloniki summit as a great success for the Greek presidency.

    Referring to issues discussed during the conference of NATO defense ministers, Papantoniou expressed satisfaction over the preservation of the air force operation centre in Larissa with a Greek commander and double staff and despite the decrease in headquarters from 26 to 16 with the alliance's new structure.

    ''The initial proposal for the reallocation of headquarters excluded Greece completely since according to the new structure they will exist in only 10 of NATO's 26 member-states. We started from unfavorable negotiating positions and, following a difficult process of contacts at various levels between Brussels and the United States, the final outcome fully satisfies our national interests,'' he added.

    The defense minister also said Greece gained a second Naval Prevention Operation Centre in past days with a laborious process, which will be responsible for conducting operations against terrorism all over the Mediterranean and which might be established in Souda.

    [04] Turkish FM reaffirms Ankara's desire to preserve good relations with Greece

    ISTANBUL 13/06/2003 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    Preserving the good climate that had been achieved in Greek-Turkish relations was one of the key goals of the Turkish government, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul stressed in statements to CNN television on Thursday.

    Responding to claims from the Greek side that the Turkish military and the Turkish government had a different stance, Gul stressed that the ''Greek government's interlocutor is the Turkish government and there cannot be a distinction between the government and General Staff.''

    [05] FM and U.S. State Department special coordinator discuss Cyprus issue

    Athens, 13/06/2003 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou held talks on Thursday with visiting U.S. State Department special coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston and said they discussed the next stages of the process, adding that the message from the U.S. coordinator is the steadfast adherence of the United States to the need to solve the problem of Cyprus.

    Weston is currently on a tour of European capitals and the Athens, Ankara and Nicosia triangle.

    ''There is an impetus which started with the accession course of Cyprus and which is also imprinted now on the faces of the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots who met and communicated recently, refuting those who had claimed that they cannot live together,'' the foreign minister said, adding that this shows the need for an intensification of efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue.

    Weston spoke on his part of a ''very good exchange of views'' and of ''positions which are very close'', regarding the next steps to be taken.

    He also referred to the latest report by the UN secretary general, as well as to the unanimous resolution endorsed by the Security Council, saying that these elements, as well as the presence of Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou in Washington, confirm the firm involvement of the United States in efforts to achieve a settlement, and offered assurances that its interest and commitment in this direction has in no way been restricted.

    [06] US Undersecretary of State Grossman calls Cyprus EU accession a huge success

    WASHINGTON 13/06/2003 (ANA T. Ellis)

    US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Mark Grossman on Thursday told the International Coordinating Committee ''Justice for Cyprus'' (PSEKA) here that the signature of the Ac-cession Treaty between the European Union and Cyprus was a huge success.

    ''This is a huge success for the people of Cyprus, but also for the US'', Grossman said, adding that Washington continued to believe that a political solution for the Cyprus issue was possible by May 2004.

    Cyprus has been partitioned for almost 30 years since the 1974 Turkish invasion and occupation of the northern part of the island republic. A breakaway Turkish-Cypriot regime in the north, recognized only by Ankara and supported by Turkish occupation troops, was self-proclaimed in November 1983.

    UN-brokered marathon talks held in The Hague between Cyprus president Tassos Papadopoulos, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for reuniting the divided island republic collapsed on 10 March following the Turkish Cypriot side's rejection of fundamental points in the UN chief's peace plan.

    The Cyprus Republic, along with nine more countries, at an Accession Ceremony held in Athens on 16 April signed an Accession Act with the Union toward full EU membership in May 2004.

    ''In Copenhagen and in The Hague we came closer than ever to a solution, but it is sad that Mr. Denktash did not allow it'', Grossman said.

    He was the guest at a PSEKA event where he was honored for what speakers at the event called ''his contribution toward the implementation of US policy on the issue, with which Washington assisted in developments toward 16 April''.

    Grossman, who has in the past served as US ambassador to Ankara, said the Kofi Annan peace-plan offered a unique opportunity for a political solution and expressed the hope that the ''united Cyprus can and should join the EU''.

    Finally, the US diplomat assured participants at the event that ''they could count on the US government for continuing efforts toward a solution''.

    [07] FM and U.S. ambassador discuss State Department's report on human trafficking

    Athens, 13/06/2003 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou expressed the government's intense skepticism over Greece being ranked in the third worst category regarding the illegal trafficking of people, in a U.S. State Department report, during talks with U.S. Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller on Thursday.

    In a statement after the meeting, Papandreou said Greece has proved in practice its will to take measures to confront the problem and has even helped other countries facing a similar problem.

    ''We are on the other side of the bank and not there where the report ranked us,'' the foreign minister said.

    Papandreou said this phenomenon is also on the increase due to Greece's bordering a region where certain illegal activities thrive such as prostitution, illegal immigration and drug smuggling.

    ''Greece is at a geographical crossroads which makes it more vulnerable,'' Papandreou said, adding that ''we have the obligation to improve efforts to tackle the problem, not because of the report or because we are being advised by certain countries, but because we have a special duty towards these people. However, we in no way accept the classification attributed to us by the report.''

    Asked whether encouragement by Miller for the signing of a relevant presidential decree constitutes ''crude intervention in our domestic affairs'', Papandreou reminded that ''we belong to an international community where we discuss everything'' and said, as an example, that EU countries discuss with the United States the abolition of capital punishment.

    ''One should not fear discussions,'' Papandreou said but reiterated that there is a problem with the category in which the report has ranked Greece.

    Miller said afterwards that the tabling of such reports by the State Department is required by law in his country. He also said a series of factors determine classification.

    Greek gov't chagrined at 'utterly unfair' US State Dept report: Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Thursday said Athens protested strongly over an ''utterly unfair'' report released by the United States State Department, in which Greece was called to task for not preventing the proliferation of trafficking in women.

    Protopapas said the report released on Wednesday had made "unacceptable assessments" that failed to acknowledge the Greek government's serious efforts in this matter and the cooperation between the Greek justice, public order and defense ministries with non-governmental organizations to combat human traffic-king.

    [08] Parliament passes bill for new Attica landfill sites; Greenpeace comments

    Athens, 13/06/2003 (ANA)

    The Greek Parliament on Thursday passed an amendment ordaining the sites of new landfills and refuse processing areas in Attica, in a roll-call vote requested by the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology.

    The bill was supported only by ruling PASOK MPs and opposed by all opposition parties and four MPs from the ruling party, while 35 parliamentarians were absent.

    According to the environmentalist group Greenpeace and the Ecological Recycling Society (OEA), however, the 'battle for the rubbish' in Attica was being fought on the wrong front.

    It said a radical and final solution to the problem could only be achieved through the immediate implementation of programs to reduce and reuse packaging, composting and the recovery and recycling of materials and products.

    In a press conference on Thursday, Greenpeace director Nikos Haralambidis and OEA president Philippos Kyrkitsos said that the volume of rubbish destined for burial should be minimized before the new landfills were constructed and put into operation in order to reduce both the quantity of refuse and the hazards it presented.

    They estimated that this could feasibly be reduced by 80 per cent within the next five years if all the bodies involved were committed to this goal.

    They also rejected the incineration of refuse as ineffective and dangerous, since it released dangerous toxins into the atmosphere and produced a high toxic residue that required special management.

    [09] Parliament's transparency committee briefed on money laundering

    Athens, 13/06/2003 (ANA)

    Eight billion drachmas had been confiscated in 30 cases brought to the attention of the public prosecutor's department by the Committee for the prevention and control of money laundering in 2001-2002, Parliament's Institutions and Transparency Committee was told on Thursday by the former head of the committee, P. Nikoloudis.

    With reference to a bill that would soon be presented in Parliament on speeding up procedures for the prevention and control of money laundering, Nikoloudis said this would introduce measures to control the movement of money through casinos, while a member of the capital markets commission would henceforth man the committee in order to represent the Greek stock market.

    He said the lack of controls for the state lottery and football pools were a weakness of the bill, since these might also be a means of laundering illegal gains.

    Contraband cigarettes had for the first time ousted the drug trade as the dominant criminal activity, while geographically the focus had shifted from the northeast borders to the western coast, MPs were told. Nikoloudis said that large sums deriving from the trade in contraband cigarettes had been invested in stocks on the Athens bourse in 2000-2001, though this method had declined in 2002 after these groups were discovered.

    He also admitted that prostitution and the trade in women was a problem in Greece and that part of the sums confiscated originated from the discovery of such rings.

    The greatest quantity of illegal money was laundered through offshore companies, Nikoloudis added, but he said this was a problem for the international community and not one that should or could be dealt with by the committee.

    [10] EU Commission proposes favorable arrangements for insular, mountainous regions

    BRUSSELS 13/06/2003 (ANA/V. Demiris)

    The European Commission is forwarding to Convention on the Future of Europe and the governments of EUís 15 member-states a set of new, favorable arrangements for islands and mountainous regions within the EU, in order to be included in the new EU Constitution.

    The arrangements form the basis of the positions adopted by the European Parliamentís Committee for Regional Policy, and the relevant proposals had been tabled by Greek Euro-MP Costas Hatzidakis (ND).

    The objective of including these arrangements into the draft EU Constitution is to recognize the serious geographic disadvantages facing insular and mountainous regions, and at the same time establish the need for taking special measures in the context of the cohesion policy, as well as other EU policies.

    [11] Press Kití presented by EU Commission Greek office

    Athens, 13/06/2003 (ANA)

    A ĎPress Kití containing useful material on European Union enlargement and the ten new member-states to enter the Union in May 2004 (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia), as well as on the three candidate countries (Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey), was presented on Thursday to journalists by the European Commissionís representation in Greece.

    The press kit comprises a two-page leaflet on each new country containing various useful statistics, e.g. economy, population etc.

    The representation also presented the European Unionís Internet portal, Europa, which contains a large variety of information regarding the Union and its policies and bodies.

    In an introduction to the edition, the head of the Commissionís representation, G. Markopouliotis notes that the prospect of an EU 25 or 27 or even more member-states later on, sets the conditions where a viable economy, a pluralistic democracy, peace, a state of justice, human rights and the environment would be the common reference point for approximately 500 million people.

    Markopouliotis further notes that the Commissionís Greek office has a duty to dynamically and effectively contribute to keeping Greek citizens informed on the EU enlargement course and objectives.

    [12] ANA opens new 'free access' webpage on EU Council

    Athens, 13/06/2003 (ANA)

    The Athens News Agency (ANA) opened a special webpage on Thursday, at its free site: www.ana.gr, providing information and news regarding the European Union. In addition, visitors may express their opinion on significant topics to be discussed during the Thessaloniki EU Council, to be held in Halkidiki, June 20-21.

    The specific webpage is also linked to a special Macedonia-Thrace Ministry site, which contains detailed information and instructions for people who are planning to visits Thessaloniki in view of the EU Council.

    The new ANA webpage covers various EU Council-related subjects, and contains details by the Macedonia-Thrace Ministry on the reception of groups planning to stage protest demonstrations, as well as current news in both Greek and English, a photo album of previous EU Council held in Greece, a weekly ANA e-magazine on the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and an e-mail link to contact ANA.

    Citizensí opinions would be posted on the same site the following day after submission, after any offensive language used has been taken out.

    The webpage will be regularly updated with photos and other EU Council-related material.

    [13] Hearing over Nazi atrocities in Greece begins before German high court

    BERLIN 13/06/2003 (ANA - P. Stangos)

    As the hearing of a compensation claim for atrocities committed by Nazi troops in the Greek village of Distomo commenced before Germany's high court - or Bundesgerichtshof - in Karlsruhe on Thursday, the issue of German war reparations entered the ''final stretch'' in the German justice system.

    Greek-Swiss citizen Argyris Sfountouris and his three sisters have filed for compensation over a massacre in Distomo on June 10, 1944 in which 250-plus villagers were killed and the entire village torched by a company of SS troops as a reprisal for the actions of the Greek resistance. Sfountouris was four years old at the time and his entire family was killed.

    The court is to issue its final decision on the compensation demanded by the Sfountouris family from the German state in two weeks time, after hearing the presentation of the case by a judge and the arguments of lawyers representing the plaintiffs earlier on Thursday.

    The case has already been thrown out by two lower courts on the grounds that international law does not permit individuals to sue a foreign state but only one state to sue another. The two previous cases were heard in Bonn in 1995 and then in Cologne in 1997.

    The case was then frozen for six years until a final decision had been reached by Greek courts on the issue - Sfountouris had filed his suit simultaneously in both Greece and Germany.

    According to analysts, the chances that the court will find in favor of the plaintiffs are judged to be extremely slim, given the precedent that such a decision would set for the German State, opening the floodgates for similar cases by other victims of Nazi wartime atrocities throughout the world.

    [14] Gov't, opposition react to IMF report

    Athens, 13/06/2003 (ANA)

    The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) report on the Greek economy met with a mixed reception from the government and main opposition New Democracy on Thursday, with one side hailing it as "confirmation of strong growth in Greece over the past four years" and the other as a "slap in the face for the government's policies".

    Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas said the report verified that strong growth had led to an increase in employment but "fell outside the framework of the government's ideas for social policy" in other areas. He stressed that the government considered the pensions reform issue to be closed and said that certain measures had achieved a new balance in the labor market.

    He ruled out any change in the government's economic policy, saying that this was the policy that Greeks had voted for.

    ND Economic Affairs Coordinator George Alogoskoufis, by contrast, accused the government of a "revenue-raking policy studded with communications gimmicks" that failed to address the structural weaknesses of the economy, such as low competitiveness and unemployment.

    While noting that ND's policies differed from those proposed by the IMF, he pointed out that many of the points raised in the report were correct.

    For the main opposition, the country's low competitiveness was not a problem caused by labor costs but one caused by low productivity, quality problems, imperfect operation of free com-petition, as well as an ineffective public sector and contradictory tax system, he said.

    [15] EU bid for growth should not bring fiscal slackness, finmin says

    Athens, 13/06/2003 (ANA)

    The European Union's desire to spur growth should not bring fiscal slackness in its wake, Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Thursday.

    Outlining moves made by Greece as rotating president of the EU, Christodoulakis said that easing fiscal discipline should only be used to cure circumstantial ills.

    Among successes of the Greece's six-month presidency of the bloc, which ends on June 30, were securing agreement on adoption of a package of tax measures, and contributing to creation of a framework for an energy tax in the EU, the minister said.

    Turning to the domestic economy, he added that the government wanted to further lower the public debt.

    [16] EU agriculture Council strives for agreement on new

    CAP LUXEMBOURG 13/06/2003 (ANA/M. Kourmousis)

    The European Unionís Agriculture Ministers Council continued here on Thursday with the Greek presidency's first compromise proposal having created great hope that a new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will be achieved in coming days.

    The proposal anticipates a more flexible application of penal-ties, strengthened measures for the environment, guaranteed milk quotas for 2007-2008 as well and a commitment by both the Council and the Commission that the present status concerning olive oil, tobacco and cotton will not change until 2013.

    A decision for the new CAP would include a clause envisaging that Greece would receive approximately 16.14 billion euros by 2013 for its primary products, olive oil, tobacco and cotton.

    However, as it was expected, France and Germany jointly proposed that CAP remains unchanged by 2006, which provoked a strong reaction by Agriculture and Fisheries Commission Franz Fischler, who said that it was not possible for two member-states to go ahead and strike an agreement and then have it imposed on the remaining 13 member-states.

    Greek Prime Minister and current EU Council President Costas Simitis, who arrived in Luxembourg here are part of his final tour of EU capitals, was briefed by Agriculture Minister George Drys on development regarding the new CAP.

    [17] Bourse authorities to probe share moves of oil firms set for merger

    Athens, 13/06/2003 (ANA)

    Athens bourse authorities are to probe share movements of heavily traded Hellenic Petroleum SA and Petrola Hellas SA before the announcement last month of a merger between the two oil firms, the market's head, Panayotis Alexakis, said on Thurs-day.

    Addressing a conference arranged by KPMG, Alexakis was apparently responding to a speech made earlier by the chairman of the Marfin Group, Andreas Vyenopoulos, who had said that both stocks had behaved oddly before the announcement.

    Under the merger plan, state owned Hellenic Petroleum is to absorb private sector Petrola.

    Two senior bankers - the deputy managing director of EFG Eurobank Ergasias, Nikolaos Karamouzis, and the deputy governor of the National Bank of Greece, Apostolos Tamvakakis - told the conference that their banks had not taken part in such transactions, and had not benefited from announcement of the planned merger.

    [18] Bank of Greece to lift all consumer credit restrictions June 20

    Athens, 13/06/2003 (ANA)

    The Bank of Greece on Thursday announced it was lifting all restrictions in the consumer credit market by Friday, 20 June.

    Nikolaos Garganas, the central bank's governor, signed an act envisaging the abolition of a 25,000 cap on consumer and personal loans and the lifting of other restrictions in the credit market.

    A Bank of Greece statement said the decision was part of a plan to harmonize monetary policy in the euro system, based on the principle of open market economy with free competition.

    The central bank said that the decision was based on a pan-hellenic survey showing that Greek households' average debt was smaller compared with the eurozone average (22.3 percent, 47 percent, respectively).

    [19] Govít sees solution to Halkidiki Mining Co next week

    Athens, 13/06/2003 (ANA)

    Greek Economy and Finance Deputy Minister Christos Pahtas on Thursday said he was certain that the Halkidiki Mining Company will continue its operations under a new management.

    Mr Pahtas made these comments after meeting with a representative of foreign investors interested in participating in the new business group. The Greek minister stressed that a new management would offer a viable solution to the area and stressed that talks would continue throughout next week.

    Mr Pahtas, however, declined to name the foreign investors interested to participate in a joint venture with Larco, Themeliodomi and local authorities. He said that a sum of around 22 million euros were needed for the mine to resume operations and noted that another 250 million euros were needed to complete the investment.

    [20] Greek FinMin, civil servants' union discuss new payroll system

    Athens, 13/06/2003 (ANA)

    The Greek government and the union of civil servants ADEDY are expected to finalize details of a new payroll agreement in the public sector in a meeting June 20, ADEDY chairman S.Papaspyrou said on Thursday.

    Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, Mr Papaspyrou stressed that the union's position was to integrate all benefits to a new payroll system and said a proposal by the Greek FinMin for a gradual integration of a performance bonus with the basic salary was a positive step.

    Mr Papaspyrou also said that a procedure of collective talks with the government on pay rises to civil servants were expected to be completed by early July.

    Mr Christodoulakis, speaking to reporters, said that a new payroll system in the public sector aimed to establish a new relation between wages and hierarchy in the sector and to offer incentives for a more efficient public administration.

    [21] Verelis expects talks with OA's unions to be concluded by end June

    Athens, 13/06/2003 (ANA)

    Greek Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis on Thursday expressed his optimism over completion of a dialogue with Olympic Airways' unions for the creation of a new Olympic Airways (NOA) by the end of the month.

    In exclusive comments to ANA, Mr Verelis said he hoped to have a positive conclusion of talks by the end of June offering a permanent solution to a problem that has burdened the Greek people with several hundred billion of drachmas and has led to the intervention of the European Commission.

    The Greek minister said there was agreement with Olympic Aviation pilots and that there were a few points of disagreement with OA's pilots and cabin crew unions.

    Mr Verelis was adamant that everything would move smoothly with a New Olympic Airways even if OA's pilot and cabin crew rejected the government's plan. ''We have taken all necessary measures for NOA to operate smoothly,'' he stressed.

    Mr Verelis said that a total of 70 million euros were needed for NOA's operation in early stages and said that this money would come from commercial banks.

    [22] Greek advertising spending up 18 pct in May, yr/yr

    Athens, 13/06/2003 (ANA)

    Advertising spending to Greek TV and radio stations, magazines and newspapers totalled 192.7 million euros in May 2003, up 17.95 percent compared with the same month in 2002, with ad spending totalling 704.5 million euros in the January-May period, up 7.07 percent from the same period last year, a report by Media Services said on Thursday.

    Television maintained its leadership in the market, attracting 91.4 million euros in advertising spending in May, or 47.44 percent of total spending, followed by magazines (68.5 million euros or 35.55 percent), newspapers (23.6 million euros or 12.26 percent) and radio stations (9.1 million euros or 4.75 percent).

    Antenna TV led the market with 29.3 million euros or 32.05 percent of the total market, followed by Mega, Alpha, Star, Alter and ET1 (26.96 percent, 14.57 percent, 12.69 percent, 8.09 percent and 3.41 percent, respectively).

    [23] Greek stocks jump to new highs on Thursday

    Athens, 13/06/2003 (ANA)

    Greek stocks rose to new multi-month highs on Thursday with the general index breaking above the 1,900 level reflecting increased buying interest in the Athens Stock Exchange.

    The index rose 1.67 percent to end at 1,928.19 points, with turnover an improved 203.4 million euros.

    The Publication, Insurance, Bank and Wholesale sector scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (10.49 percent, 5.12 per-cent, 3.61 percent and 3.09 percent, respectively), while Emporiki (7.14 pct), National (3.78 pct) and Alpha Bank (3.64 pct) were lead gainers in the bank sector.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 2.14 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 0.68 percent higher, the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index rose 2.50 percent and the wider FTSE/ASE 140 index ended 1.93 percent up.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 268 to 61 with another 34 issues unchanged.

    Bond Market Close: Buyers outstrip sellers on Thursday

    Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond

  • Yield: 3.67 pct

  • Spread over German bund: 10 bps

  • Day's Market Turnover: 3.5 bln euros

  • Most Active Bond: 10-year, expiring Jan 2013 (705 mln euros)

    Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 128.7 mln euros Thursday

    Equity Index Futures:

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

  • Underlying Index: +2.14 percent

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

  • Underlying Index: +0.68 percent

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (933)

  • Total turnover in derivatives market: 128.7 mln euros

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Closing rates of June 12 2003

    Parities in euro

    For. Exchange Buying Selling

    US Dollar 1,182 1,155

    [24] ND leader Karamanlis' wife gives birth to twin boy and girl

    Athens, 13/06/2003 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis became the proud father of twins early Thursday after his wife gave birth to a healthy boy and girl at a private maternity hospital in Athens.

    Natasha Pazaiti-Karamanlis gave birth to a boy weighing 2,450 grams and a girl weighing 2,470 grams shortly after 1:30 a.m. by caesarian section.

    Mother and infants were all reported in good health.

    Government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Thursday ex-pressed the government's best wishes to the main opposition leader and his wife on the birth of the new babies.

    Protopapas said he would convey congratulations from Prime Minister Costas Simitis to the happy couple, while the prime minister would contact Karamanlis in person later in the day.

    Simitis is currently abroad on a European tour to prepare the final summit under the Greek EU presidency.

    [25] Moderate earthquake between Thassos and Limnos islands

    Athens, 13/06/2003 (ANA)

    A moderate earthquake measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale was recorded early Thursday in the northern Aegean Sea between Thassos and Limnos islands, but no damage was initially reported.

    According to the Athens National Observatory's Geodynamic Institute and the Thessaloniki Aristotelion University's Geo-physics Laboratory, the earthquake was recorded at 3:10 a.m. with its epicenter in the sea region between Thassos and Limnos.

    [26] Newcastle United Greek defender Dabizas breaks arm in car crash

    Athens, 13/06/2003 (ANA)

    British football club Newcastle United's Greek defender Nikos Dabizas broke an arm in a car crash early Thursday in Athens, but was otherwise uninjured.

    Dabizas, who has been called up by Greece national team coach Otto Rehhagel for the Euro 2004 Group Six qualifiers, broke an arm when his two-seat sports car swerved off course at 6:00 a.m. on Athens' coastal Posidonos Boulevard near Glyfada and rammed into a traffic light.

    Dabizas, who is one of five players put on Newcastle United's transfer list earlier this month, managed to get out of the car before it burst into flame.

    Traffic police were investigating the conditions of the crash, but sources said Dabizas may have been speeding and thus lost control of the car.

    The accident occurred hours after Greece beat Ukraine 1-0, bringing it to the top of its Euro 2004 qualifying Group Six with 12 points, followed by Spain with 11 points, Ukraine with 9 points, trailed by Armenia with 4 points and Northern Ireland with 2 points.

    Dabizas, 29, was the first Greek to play in an English FA Cup final in 1998, two months after he joined Newcastle from Olympiakos Piraeus for 2.13 million dollars.

    [27] Defense witnesses continue testimony in N17 trial

    Athens, 13/06/2003 (ANA)

    The trial of 19 alleged members of the terrorist group ''November 17'' continued on Thursday with the testimony of witnesses called by the defense.

    First on the stand was a member of the Network for the Defense of Social and Political Rights, Nikos Yiannopoulos, who testified on behalf of Dimitris Koufodinas.

    Koufodinas stands accused as the operations chief and one of the key hitmen of the terror group.

    He described the defendant as a ''fighter with noble motives'' and said that N17 was a ''Leftist organization'', while asserting that it had not harmed Greek society.

    Koufodinas' decision to join N17 was not a departure from his previous ideas but an ''ideologically and politically explainable'' choice, the witness added.

    Also taking the stand in defense of Koufodinas was the journalist Petros Giotis, who said N17 had 'noble motives' and that its action was ''politically legitimized in the eyes of both its members and the revolutionary Left''.

    The witness also praised Koufodinas' decision to give himself up to the police as an ''act of moral greatness''.

    According to the witness, however, he was only personally acquainted with Yiannis Serifis among the prisoners.

    The court was adjourned early on Thursday after one of the judges complained of suddenly feeling indisposed.

    [28] Seminar on young drug users organized by public order ministry

    Athens, 13/06/2003 (ANA)

    A seminar organized by the Public Order Ministry in the context of the Greek EU Presidency on Thursday and Friday is looking into ways to rescue young illicit drug users, with participants including representatives from EU member-states and non-EU nations.

    The meetings objectives are to find ways to prevent young users against dependence on drugs, to promote new scientific practices in prompt prevention, to encourage professionals in the areas of health, education, public order and justice to co-ordinate their prevention efforts and to locate the problems in availability of information, awareness and encouraging young users to seek help.

    The seminarís first day was divided into two parts, with the first one examining epidemiological aspects and use and abuse models among young people.

    The second part examined ways to achieve prompt intervention, with an emphasis on theoretical approaches, with speakers presenting strategies followed in Europe.

    The seminar will continue on Friday, with attendants scheduled to include politicians, judicial and legal professionals and university professors.

    [29] Turkey has an historic responsibility to press Denktash

    LONDON 13/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    British Minister for Europe Denis MacShane said on Thursday that Turkey's government, parliament and military have an historic responsibility to exert pressure on Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to reach an agreement in the context of the UN Secretary General's proposals on a comprehensive political settlement and thereby allow a united Cyprus to enter the European Union.

    Answering questions at the House of Commons, MacShane noted that British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw will meet shortly here with the Turkish foreign minister ''and will continue to press all parties - particularly the Turkish government, Parliament and the military - to accept their responsibilities.''

    ''We firmly believe that the signals from Ankara can unblock the path to a solution under the Annan package, which gives a fair deal to both communities on the island,'' MacShane said, pointing out that ''it is in Turkey's interests for the EU to contain a member state one of whose senior representatives in the European Council of Ministers will be speaking Turkish.''

    He welcomed the partial easing of restrictions on freedom of movement along the divide and the European Commission's trade and aid package for Turkish Cypriots and expressed hope that ''they will lead to a comprehensive settlement based on the UN plan, which remains vital.''

    He said the British government has repeatedly urged the Cypriot government and the other players in the region - the Turkish and Greek governments - to take up Kofi Annan's plan, which is on the table and represents the best way forward.

    ''We want the authorities on the island and in the relevant countries to help to unite Cyprus and to bring a united Cyprus into the European Union next May,'' he added.

    MacShane expressed the belief that there is confidence between the two communities on the island and that ''the breakdown exists perhaps between their political leaders.''

    The British minister also said the measures of the Cyprus government for the Turkish Cypriots ''are a move in the right direction'' noting that ''the main stumbling block remains the position of Mr. Denktash which must be dealt with through direct communication with him. We believe that, again, the Turkish government, parliament and military have a key role to play,'' he added.

    Invited to say what the British government will do about replacing Lord David Hannay, former British special representative for Cyprus, MacShane said ''things must now be done at govern-mental level.''

    [30] FM Iacovou discusses Cyprus problem with Cheney and Rice

    WASHINGTON 13/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    Foreign Minister Georgios Iacovou met here on Wednesday with US Vice President Dick Cheney and US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice with whom he discussed the situation as regards the Cyprus problem.

    Iacovou told CNA that his interlocutors acknowledge that the US has to work with a view to convince Turkey to contribute to the settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    Iacovou said that during the meeting with Cheney he expressed the Cyprus government's views and said that the US needs to act in order to exert pressure on Turkey to show a more conciliatory stance on Cyprus.

    ''Cheney accepted all of our arguments,'' Iacovou said and added that ''the American Vice President asked a lot of questions and said he will talk to President Bush personally'' noting this was important.

    As regards his meeting with Rice, Iacovou said it was ''very interesting'' adding that he outlined all the parameters of the Cyprus problem and explained that the negative stance displayed by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and Turkey led the UN peace effort to a deadlock.

    Iacovou said he pointed out that the US will help Turkey if it really convinces Ankara to change its policy on the Cyprus problem, because only then will Turkey make progress as regards its EU course.

    ''A solution to the Cyprus problem will benefit everybody, including Turkey, I would say it will benefit primarily Ankara. US officials acknowledged that Washington must work in the direction of Turkey,'' he added.

    Iacovou discussed with Rice the Middle East problem. ''She wanted our views on the Middle East issue as well, since we are the most eastern country of Europe and close to the Middle East. She thanked me for our generous and prudent approach to the issue. She also thanked us for our humanitarian position on the Iraqi issue''.

    [31] Security Council members express support to Annan's plan

    NICOSIA 13/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    President of the Security Council, Russia's Permanent Representative to the UN Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday in New York that all Council members support the UN Secretary General's plan for a solution to the Cyprus problem, pointing out that Annan's proposal is the best solution to the problem.

    Speaking after Wednesday's Security Council meeting, Lavrov said that when the Council discussed the report of the Secretary General on Cyprus ''all members expressed their support to the view of the Secretary General, namely, that his plan is still not only on the table but is the best solution to the Cyprus problem.''

    Deputy Spokeswoman for the UN Secretary General Hua Jiang said that at its formal meeting yesterday the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1486 which extends the mandate of the peacekeeping force in Cyprus for six months and also endorses the Secretary General's recommendation that the mission's Civilian Police component be increased by 34 officers.


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