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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-11-25

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Greece seen qualifying for euro entry
  • [02] Fuel price to rise again this week
  • [03] Greek stocks hit by inflation worries
  • [04] Bonds rally on ratings upgrade
  • [05] Tax evasion rises in October
  • [06] Merchant marine minister raps shipowners
  • [07] ANEK Lines buys two more ferries
  • [08] Interamerican, Athens Medical in alliance
  • [09] Athens Foreign Exchange
  • [10] Accusations fly at Parliament debate over transparency
  • [11] FM Papandreou meets with Cypriot party leader Anastasiades
  • [12] Athens reiterates demand over adherence of accession criteria for Cyprus
  • [13] Athens conference focuses on protection, respect of human rights
  • [14] NATO's Robertson reschedules trip to Greece
  • [15] Joint Greek-British naval exercise scheduled
  • [16] Gov't again dismisses KKE claims regarding Friday's riots
  • [17] World record in weightlifting by Bulgaria's Boevski
  • [18] Fouras requests 460 billion dr. for 2004 Olympics
  • [19] EU youth ministers' council concludes
  • [20] Commission proposals adopted to fight discrimination
  • [21] Euro-Parliament committee approves Morillion reports on EU-Turkey relations
  • [22] Figures show more film aficionados in Thessaloniki
  • [23] Five nations sign initial air traffic agreement in Athens
  • [24] Correction

  • [01] Greece seen qualifying for euro entry

    BRUSSELS, 25/11/1999 (ANA/M. Spinthourakis)

    A report released yesterday by the European Union's executive Commission indicated that Greece has all but met the criteria for entry into the 11- member euro zone with the inflation target - the final stumbling bloc - within reach.

    In a report on the EU economy, the Commission noted that average annual harmonised inflation in Greece this year would be 2.1 percent.

    Under the Maastricht criterion, the country has to attain an inflation rate of no more than 1.5 percentage points above the average harmonised inflation rate of the three best performers, which is expected to be 0.6 percent in 1999.

    EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pedro Solbes said that he was not worried by the impact of a global rise in oil prices on Greek inflation, with other countries expected to suffer more.

    The report forecast a Greek growth rate of 3.4 percent in 1999, 3.8 percent in 2000 and 3.9 percent in 2001.

    Average annual harmonised inflation would fall to 1.9 percent in 2000 and remain there in 2001 from 2.1 percent in 1999.

    Unemployment would stand at 9.4 percent in 1999, 9.0 percent in 2000 and 8.6 percent in 2001.

    The country's fiscal deficit would be 1.9 percent in 1999, dropping to 1.6 percent in 2000 and 1.2 percent in 2001.

    Finally, the public debt would total 104.5 percent of gross domestic product this year, 103 percent in 2000 and 100.3 percent in 2001, the Commission's report said.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Fuel price to rise again this week

    Athens, 25/11/1999 (ANA)

    The price of fuel is to rise in the domestic market this week in line with a global increase in oil prices, the development ministry and Hellenic Petroleum said in a statement yesterday.

    Under indicative rates reviewed weekly, super gasoline is to rise by three drachmas a litre to around 229.9 drachmas a litre, and heating oil will rise by 4.4 drachmas a litre for amounts over 1,000 litres.

    The price rises took effect at midnight and will remain in place for a week.

    Ministry slaps hefty fine on oil traders : The development ministry announced yesterday that it had slapped fines totalling 25 million drachmas on six oil trading firms for failing to inform the authorities of their sale prices.

    The firms were KMoil, ETEKA, Mediterranean, Tot Hellas Silkoil and Sunoil.

    Another three companies received warnings along with all liquid gas trading companies, the ministry said.

    The firms are expected to inform the ministry regularly of their prices under a ruling introduced earlier this year.

    Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos told the Competition Commission that the fuel market was applying harmonised rates and practices.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Greek stocks hit by inflation worries

    Athens, 25/11/1999 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended sharply lower yesterday pushing the general index below the 5,400 level on worries over the impact of rising oil prices on the inflation rate.

    Traders said talk that the Capital Markets Committee had begun surprise inspections of brokerage firms also undermined sentiment.

    The general index ended 2.72 percent down at 5,381.76 points, off the day's lows of 5,310 points. Turnover was 316 billion drachmas.

    Smaller capitalisation stocks were badly hit with their index closing 3.77 percent lower.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-2.19 pct), Leasing (-2.61 pct), Insurance (-3.51 pct), Investment (-3.54 pct), Construction (-4.88 pct), Industrials (-2.92 pct), Miscellaneous (-3.76 pct) and Holding (-2.06 pct). The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 2.26 percent lower at 2,632.75 points.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 295 to 28 with another five issues unchanged.

    A total of 52 shares ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit down, while another seven at the day's limit up. Eskimo and General Warehouses were the most heavily traded stocks.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 2,550 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 23, 790, Commercial Bank at 21,980, Titan Cement (common) at 36,200, Hellenic Petroleum at 4,550, Intracom at 13,395, Minoan Lines at 9,130, Panafon at 4, 160 and Hellenic Telecoms at 6 ,200.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Bonds rally on ratings upgrade

    Athens, 25/11/1999 (ANA)

    Bonds in the domestic secondary market rebounded yesterday on news that Standard & Poor's, the international ratings agency, had given Greece a credit upgrade.

    The news, which broke around 1400 hours, halted a sell-off that totalled around 20 billion drachmas in turnover.

    The downspin was followed by about 33 billion drachmas' worth of buy orders.

    The market ended with most securites showing gains of 30 to 40 basis points, recouping the bulk of losses from two sessions ago when bonds shed around 50 basis points on inflation jitters.

    In the market were domestic players with investors abroad keeping out.

    In the previous session, the stagnant bond market had received a shot of adrenalin with a 19 billion drachma purchase of paper by the Bank of Greece Workers Social Insurance Fund.

    Yesterday, the benchmark 10-year bond was trading above 99.05, showing a yield of 6.57 percent from 6.61 percent in the previous session and 6.62 percent on Monday.

    The yield spread over German bunds was 138 basis points from 151 basis points a day earlier and 154 basis points on Monday.

    Electronic turnover in the secondary bond market was 53 billion drachmas from 56 billion drachmas in the previous trading session and 24 billion drachmas at the start of the week.

    Drachma shrugs off upgrade : Drachma trade in the domestic foreign exchange market yesterday brushed off the upgrade for Greece by Standard & Poor's although the drachma again nosed up against the euro.

    In the previous session, the drachma had edged up against the euro with demand a day earlier prompting the central bank to intervene to curb its ascent.

    At yesterday's central bank daily fixing, the European single currency was set at 328.700 from 328.800 drachmas a day earlier and 329.000 drachmas on Monday.

    The dollar jumped against the drachma in line with the US currency's ascent in global markets.

    The dollar was set at 321.140 drachmas from 318.320 drachmas on Tuesday.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Tax evasion rises in October

    Athens, 25/11/1999 (ANA)

    More than half of self-employed taxpayers, such as doctors, lawyers, engineers and artists, inspected by the financial crimes squad in October were found to have breached tax legislation, the finance ministry said yesterday.

    In the same month, one out of three companies inspected is accused of tax evasion, the ministry said in a report.

    In October, a total of 1,150 breaches of law were reported out of a total of 2,081 inspections made on the self-employed, or 53.30 percent, while 1, 934 companies were accused of tax evasion out of a total of 5,821 inspections, or 33.22 percent.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Merchant marine minister raps shipowners

    Athens, 25/11/1999 (ANA)

    Merchant marine minister Stavros Soumakis yesterday called on Greek shipowners to take a clear position on whether or not they wanted a quality Greek flag and Greek seamen.

    Mr. Soumakis said the shipowners must take a specific position on the competitivenss of the Greek fleet. "The (Greek) shipowners do not want Greek seamen on their ocean-going ships, but won't come out and clearly say so," he said during his weekly pr ess briefing.

    The minister said withdrawals from the Greek shipping registry this year were minimal, noting that the Greek registry had ceased to be a "target- flag".

    Mr. Soumakis said certain domestic shipowners who did not want Greek seamen in their crews "must realise that quality and cheap labour are not compatible".

    Athens News Agency

    [07] ANEK Lines buys two more ferries

    Athens, 25/11/1999 (ANA)

    ANEK Lines, a Greek passenger shipping company, yesterday announced the purchase of two new ferries from the Japanese market for an undisclosed sum.

    "With the purchase of the two ferries we are accelerating the renewal plan of our fleet which is becoming established as a dominant force in the European ferry shipping industry," S. Zampetakis, ANEK's chief executive said.

    The first ferry is seven years old and travels at a maximum speed of 25 knots. It is expected to be put into operation next June.

    The second ship is three years old, and travels at 27.5 knots. It is expected to be fully operational by 2001.

    ANEK Lines has ordered the construction of two high-speed ferries in Norway worth 63 billion drachmas. Each ferry will be able to carry 2,000 passengers and 800 vehicles or 140 lorries at a speed of 28 knots.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Interamerican, Athens Medical in alliance

    Athens, 25/11/1999 (ANA)

    Interamerican and Athens Medical yesterday announced a wide-ranging business alliance to create, in the first phase, Eurosite, a multi-medical site in Paeania, east Attica.

    The new company will have an initial capital of 10 billion drachmas equally distributed between the two partners.

    The deal also envisages a share-swap scheme with the participation of Athens Medical in the equity capital of Euroclinic and Interamerican Assistance with a 20 percent stake in each.

    Interamerican will buy an 80 percent controlling stake in La Vie, the insurance company in the Apostolopoulos Group.

    George Apostolopoulos and Dimitris Kontominas, the chairmen of Athens Medical and Interamerican respectively, told a joint press conference that the Eurosite project would cost 50 billion drachmas.

    The project will begin next March and is expected be completed by the end of 2002.

    The multi-medical site will include a general hospital with 350 beds, a maternity clinic with 150 beds, and a paediatric clinic with 100 beds. It also includes a conference centre.

    The partnership deal envisages joint business projects in the Balkans, east Europe and the Middle East.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens, 25/11/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: November 24, 1999

    Parities in Drachmas

    Banknotes             Buying  Selling
    US Dollar             318.571 325.957
    Can.Dollar            216.732 221.757
    Australian Dlr        201.227 205.893
    Pound Sterling        515.046 526.988
    Irish Punt            414.024 423.623
    Pound Cyprus          565.440  578.550
    Pound Malta           742.298 773.227
    Turkish pound (100)     0.057   0.059
    French franc           49.709  50.862
    Swiss franc           203.821 208.547
    Belgian franc           8.083   8.271
    German Mark           166.717  170.583
    Finnish Mark           54.841  56.112
    Dutch Guilder         147.965 151.395
    Danish Kr.             43.842  44.859
    Swedish Kr.            37.904  38.783
    Norwegian Kr.          39.886  40.811
    Austrian Sh.           23.697  24.246
    Italian lira (100)     16.840  17.231
    Yen (100)             304.673 311.737
    Spanish Peseta          1.960   2.006
    Port. Escudo            1.627   1.665
    Foreign Exchange      Buying  Selling
    New York              318.571 325.957
    Montreal              216.732 221.757
    Sydney                201.227 205.893
    London                515.046 526.988
    Dublin                414.024 423.623
    Nicosia               565.440 578.550
    Paris                  49.709  50.862
    Zurich                203.821 208.547
    Brussels                8.083   8.271
    Frankfurt             166.717 170.583
    Helsinki               54.841  56.112
    Amsterdam             147.965 151.395
    Copenhagen             43.842  44.859
    Stockholm              37.904  38.783
    Oslo                   39.886  40.811
    Vienna                 23.697  24.246
    Milan                  16.840  17.231
    Tokyo                 304.673 311.737
    Madrid                  1.960   2.006
    Lisbon                  1.627   1.665
    Athens News Agency

    [10] Accusations fly at Parliament debate over transparency

    Athens, 25/11/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis sternly criticised the main opposition New Democracy party during an off-the-agenda debate in Parliament yesterday, which was called by ND over the topic of "transparency in public life."

    Mr. Simitis said it was unacceptable for a party to try to turn its own deadlocks into "deadlocks for the country", adding that PASOK's government has nothing to do with intertwined interests because "we define our course on the basis of our positions a nd the strength of the people."

    In his address, which included information on the ruling party's intentions in coming months, Mr. Simitis lashed out at what he called ND's scandal- mongering by referring to measures taken by the government in the transparency sector, on the one hand, and with tough criticism of the Mitsotakis government's reputation (1990-1993), as well as of the 1989 coalition government, on the other.

    One of the most important announcements was that of a measure aimed at control by an independent body of the economic activities of political figures at the Athens Stock Exchange. It comes a few days after a proposal was made by ND deputies who requeste d a ban on transactions by ministers.

    Moreover, the strengthening of sanctions on public officials who prepare so- called "photographic" auctions, the "freezing" of the assets of people charged with corruption through the judicial system, the suspension for a specific period of time of the right to hire one-time public officials in the private sector after their resignation, the protection of minority shareholders in company buy-offs and the preparation of a "partnership management" code and the initiation of a special auditing apparatus for local administration finances.

    Karamanlis : On his part, main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis accused the government of phenomena of "decomposition and corruption," adding that while PASOK had been in power for 20 years, Mr. Simitis was now declaring that he was studying an d adopting measures, under pressure from the main opposition.

    Referring to public projects, he said the Athens metro should have been ready in 1997, the Egnatia motorway across northern Greece will be ready in 2004 instead of 2000, and most other projects are also facing delays as money is being wasted.

    "Half the money is going to real works and the other half evaporate in intrasparent procedures," he charged.

    He also raised the issues of establishing an independent authority for public projects and legislation on the exclusion of media owners, saying that "presidential decrees have not been issued and projects are being assigned to those who should have been excluded".

    KKE, Synaspismos, DHKKI : In her address, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga said scandals existed, exist and shall exist for as long as the policy of serving big capital dominates, and as for as long as political power serves specific class interests .

    Ms Papariga said ND's position on the 'videolotto' was hypocritical because it was the same party which planned the private casinos and established the one-armed bandits which PASOK abolished. She also criticised the government because the auction for the videolotto was skewed "in favour of the interests of (Socrates) Kokkalis."

    Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos said his party favoured the monitoring of political figures' stock exchange transactions as well as the exclusion of media owners from major public works.

    Finally, Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas called for the immediate establishment of an inter-party committee for major projects and public procurements.

    He charged both major parties of "promoting the ideology of the unbridled market economy which produces intertwined vested interests, political corruption and widespread decadence".

    Athens News Agency

    [11] FM Papandreou meets with Cypriot party leader Anastasiades

    Athens, 25/11/1999 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou held talks yesterday with visiting Cypriot Democratic Rally(DHSY) leader Nikos Anastasiades during which a consensus of views was ascertained with the aim of promoting the common stance by Greece and Cyprus in light of the upcoming EU Helsinki summit.

    Mr. Papandreou said talks concerned the two countries' targets in light of the Helsinki summit which, in any case, is the issue Mr. Papandreou will discuss with the political parties and the government in Cyprus, where he will arrive today.

    Mr. Papandreou said that apart from possible and different approaches parties may have both in Greece and in Cyprus, there is a consensus and a common stance on major national issues. He said this consensus will be promoted during his Cyprus trip.

    On his part, Mr. Anastasiades conveyed the gratitude and thanks to Mr. Papandreou from Cypriot Hellenism for Athens' steadfast support both over the Cyprus issue and the island republic's EU accession course. He said that apart from developments in Helsinki, he and Mr. Papandreou exchanged views regarding the EU-sponsored proximity talks which start on Dec. 3. He added that the coincidence of positions provide hopeful messages that the Helsinki summit will ultimately be to the national benefit of Greece and Cyprus.

    In Nicosia, Mr. Papandreou will have talks today with Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides. He is to be received by President Glafcos Clerides tomorrow.

    Mr. Papandreou will also meet with parliamentary party leaders.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Athens reiterates demand over adherence of accession criteria for Cyprus

    Athens, 25/11/1999 (ANA)

    Athens said yesterday that it wanted Cyprus' inclusion into the European Union be judged on the basis of accession criteria and not its political problem.

    "The issue of a resolution of the Cyprus issue is not an issue of coercion, " government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said. "It is a duty for all of us, an issue of respect for the resolutions of the United Nations and Greece is determined to use all the means at its disposal to defend the rights of Cyprus." Mr. Reppas said it was "non-sensical" for a country being considered for inclusion in the European Union to be "held hostage" by Turkey, a country which is not even a member of the European Union.

    Relations between Europe and Turkey will be judged at the EU summit in Helsinki and that is the time when the government will deal with the problems, Mr. Reppas said.

    "We are prepared to say yes or no (to Turkey's bid for EU candidate-country status) but this will depend on many factors," the spokesman said.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Athens conference focuses on protection, respect of human rights

    Athens, 25/11/1999 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday said that the protection of and respect for existing borders and the human rights of residents within these borders had to have the same weight as the need to protect minority rights.

    "We aim for and want the security of borders, the respect for borders as well as the respect and ensuring of the human rights of those residents, just as we work within the same framework for (the rights of) minorities," Mr. Papandreou told a foreign ministry conference.

    He pointed to the abuse of human rights on Cyprus, saying that diplomacy had dealt with the Cyprus issue with a double standard. Speakers at the seminar underlined that the efforts of governments to secure human rights around the world at times con cealed other interests.

    The two-day conference, entitled 'Human Rights in the Third Millennium', is being held at the foreign ministry's auditorium and is organised by the Andreas Lentakis Foundation for Culture and Education.

    Mr. Papandreou also said the government was fully supportive of the increasingly important role of non-governmental organisations in international developments.

    Speaking at the conference, Danielle Mitterrand said that talk of human rights was being confused by the infringements of these by the very people who present themselves as protectors.

    States are creating their own mechanisms purportedly for the protection of human rights, which are then systematically ignored, she said.

    She cited Turkey as an example, saying it bought weapons which it then used against its own population.

    "We cannot consider ourselves to be good when an entire people is being massacred," she said in reference to the recent crisis in Yugoslavia.

    "Just as the people of Serbia were protesting against their dictator (Milosevic), international forces took the situation into their own hands," she added.

    Citing her late husband Francois Mitterand, she said that he believed that when peoples were left to decide their own fates without foreign intervention, the result was positive.

    The president of the Greek branch of Amnesty International, Dimitris Papaioannou, condemned what he called the "hypocrisy of governments and the mass media" in relation to human rights.

    "This hypocrisy is evident if anyone looks at how issues such as Kosovo and Chechnya are being dealt with," he said.

    National and religious minorities will be discussed during Thursday's session of the conference. Guest speaker will be the president of Turkey's Human Rights Association, Akin Birdal.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] NATO's Robertson reschedules trip to Greece

    Athens, 25/11/1999 (ANA)

    New NATO Secretary General George Robertson will visit Greece in the first half of 2000, and not as reported next Monday, according to reports.

    Mr. Robertson had initially arranged to be in Athens on Monday but following talks with Prime Minister Costas Simitis on the sidelines of an OSCE summit in Istanbul last week, it was agreed to postpone the visit to early next year.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Joint Greek-British naval exercise scheduled

    Athens, 25/11/1999 (ANA)

    A joint Greek and British NATO naval exercise began at dawn yesterday off southwest Peloponnese.

    The exercise, code-named "Argonaut '99", was scheduled to begin on Tuesday, but was postponed for a day due to adverse weather conditions. A military spokesman said the manoeuvre was part of scheduled NATO exercises. In a related development, the Mess inia 'peace committee' and the local youth action for peace said a protest march at the village of Kalo Nero against the staging of the exercise would be held in the afternoon yesterday.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Gov't again dismisses KKE claims regarding Friday's riots

    Athens, 25/11/1999 (ANA)

    Referring to incidents last Friday in downtown Athens during US President Bill Clinton's arrival, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday "all that KKE (Communist Party of Greece) Secretary Aleka Papariga mentioned exist only in the imaginatio n of some people."

    Mr. Reppas said this enables KKE to avoid its responsibilities, adding that all that Ms Papariga claims has nothing to do with reality.

    The KKE leader said on Tuesday that the incidents in downtown Athens were caused by provocateurs with the purpose of incriminating KKE.

    Mr. Reppas criticised what he called the hurling of accusations without any proof.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] World record in weightlifting by Bulgaria's Boevski

    Athens, 25/11/1999 (ANA)

    Bulgaria's Galabin Boevski twice broke the world record for the snatch in the men's 69kg category at the world weightlifting championships yesterday in Athens.

    The athlete lifted 160.5 in the second attempt and 162.5 kg in the third. The previous record belonged to his compatriot Plamen Zeliatskov, from 1998 in Finland.

    Greece's Giorgos Tzelilis and Valerios Leonidis won the silver and bronze medals, respectively, by lifting 155 kg and 152.5 kg.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Fouras requests 460 billion dr. for 2004 Olympics

    Athens, 25/11/1999 (ANA)

    Deputy Minister for Sports Andreas Fouras told a parliamentary committee yesterday that he had asked the finance ministry for 460 billion drachmas for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

    Mr. Fouras made the statements during his appearance in front of the Parliament's educational affairs committee, which is examining the course of work on 2004 Olympic Games projects.

    The minister said that of the 460 billion drachmas, 200 billion would be allocated to regional projects, 130 billion for Olympic Games projects and 60 billion for the Sports Secretariat's operating costs. The remaining 70 billion cover the monies expected to have been raised by an Olympic Games lottery, plans for which were dropped last month.

    2004 Organising Committee President Panayotis Thomopoulos told the committee that an official revision of the budget for the Games would be announced in January.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] EU youth ministers' council concludes

    BRUSSELS, 25/11/1999 (ANA - P. Pantelis)

    The European Union's council of youth ministers was brought to an end with two noteworthy decisions here yesterday.

    It was first decided to accept a proposal by the European Commission to organise a pan-European youth conference to discuss EU policy on the new generation and to prepare a 'White Paper' for youth. Secondly, it adopted a resolution concerning the sexual exploitation of children.

    Starting from the first half of 2000, a national youth conference will be organised in each member-state and the process will be completed in the second half of the year with the pan-European youth conference in France.

    Greece was represented by New Generation Secretary General Petros Sfikakis.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] Commission proposals adopted to fight discrimination

    BRUSSELS, 25/11/1999 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    The European Commission yesterday adopted three proposals to support the fight against discrimination in the European Union, based on the successful approach regarding discrimation between the sexes.

    These are as follows:

    - A directive banning discrimination in employment on the basis of racial or ethnic origin, religious persuasion, disability, age and sexual orientation.

    - A directive banning discrimination due to racial or ethnic origin in a broader range of sectors -employment, education, the provision of goods and services, as well as social protection.

    - A programme of action designed to support and complement the application of directives through the exchange of information and experiences, and the dissemination of better practice.

    Commenting on the development, Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou said it was a watershed in the building of social Europe.

    "We wish to see a common level of protection against discrimination in the whole of the European Union. We wish to cooperate and and support the efforts of member-states, of non-governmental organisations and social partners," she said.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] Euro-Parliament committee approves Morillion reports on EU-Turkey relations

    BRUSSELS, 25/11/1999 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)

    The Euro-Parliament's foreign relations committee yesterday approved the Morillion reports on a draft regulation by the Council of Ministers referring to measures designed to further the EU-Turkey customs union agreement as well as the economic and social development of Turkey.

    The Committee also approved all amendments tabled by PASOK Euro-MPs Yiannis Souladakis and Petros Efthymiou, according to which the unfreezing of any EU funds to Turkey must be done under specific conditions, and according to the terms of the General Affairs Council decision of Sept. 13, 1999, which approved earthquake aid to that country.

    Another amendment stipulates that Turkey will be judged for EU membership on the same criteria that will apply to all other candidate-countries, and that the European Commission will submit an annual report on Turkey's progress in the fields of democrat ic principles, the rule of law, human rights, fundamental freedoms and respect for international law.

    During the debate, Finnish Foreign Minister Tarja Halonen thanked Greece for its efforts in improving Greek-Turkish relations, which - as she said - facilitates Turkey's closer ties with Europe. She also stated optimism regarding the forthcoming Cyprus talks in the UN, stressing that Turkish PM Bulent Ecevit had entered into more commitments today than in the past, and these should be utilised.

    She assured that Turkey would be treated like all other candidate-countries, particularly as regards human rights, but recognised that it had more distance to cover on this count, due to its democratic deficit.

    Athens News Agency

    [22] Figures show more film aficionados in Thessaloniki

    Athens, 25/11/1999 (ANA)

    More residents of Thessaloniki appear to be movie buffs compared to the rest of the country and Europe in general, according to figures released by the Thessaloniki Film Festival.

    Thessaloniki residents take in an average of 2.4 films a year, compared to just one a year for residents in other Greek regions and an average of two per year for European urban residents.

    The Festival announced yesterday that a record 68,000 tickets were sold for the state-sponsored event this year, its 40th.

    The most popular screenings of the some 150 movies at the festival were the films of noted Spanish director Pedro Almodovar.

    Athens News Agency

    [23] Five nations sign initial air traffic agreement in Athens

    Athens, 25/11/1999 (ANA)

    Civil aviation representatives from Albania, Cyprus, Malta, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Greece signed an initial agreement in Athens yesterday concerning the exchange of radar data aimed at the harmonisation of air traffic systems in Europe.

    The initial agreement comes under the aegis of Eurocontrol and constitutes a prelude to the signing of bilateral agreements between the countries in the region.

    Athens News Agency

    [24] Correction

    Athens, 25/11/1999 (ANA)

    A statement in the Wednesday, Nov. 24 issue of the "Bulletin" was erroneously attributed to Children and Family President Marianna Vardinoyanni.

    In fact, the president of the World Movement of Citizens to Protect Innonence in Danger, Homayra Sellier, made the statement, which noted that "authorities have detected more than 40,000 sites on the Internet to date at which paedophiles can entrap young Internet surfers. This fact demands a joint approach to the problem by all nations, with the implementation of common legislation and measures."

    Athens News Agency

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