|Wednesday, 18 September 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 01-05-22
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>May 22, 2001
 Papandreou and Powell discuss bilateral relations, Balkans and Cyprus
WASHINGTON, 22/05/2001 (ANA - T. Ellis)Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou discussed on Monday bilateral relations, the Balkans, Cyprus and Turkey with his U.S. counterpart Colin Powell at the State Department.
"We have excellent relations with Greece," Powell told reporters after an hour-long working luncheon with Papandreou.
"We discussed a series of bilateral issues, the situation in the Balkans, 'Macedonia', Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia and I look forward to our forthcoming meeting next week in Budapest. It was my great pleasure to have you here George," Powell said.
"We had a very constructive and useful discussion. Our relation is very warm. Greece and the U.S. are cooperating very closely in the Balkans. We talked on the broader cooperation between the U.S. and the European Union in the Balkans and the perspective of incorporating the whole region in the EU," Papandreou said.
"We talked, of course, about Cyprus and Turkey, as well as the Middle East and I would like to congratulate him on his initiative today which is very important. Greece supports absolutely what Secretary of State Powell said about the Middle East and we hope that there will be an immediate end to violence and a resumption of peace talks. Thank you, therefore, once again Colin," he added.
Powell earlier called for an immediate, unconditional cessation of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, while presenting the Mitchell Commission report providing a solution to the Middle East crisis.
Greek diplomatic sources said Papandreou and Powell discussed cooperation in the Balkans, with emphasis on the crisis in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), the Cyprus issue, relations with Turkey and terrorism.
Papandreou favored support by the international community for the government of Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica and, in this context, he stressed the need for a decrease in pressures for his predecessor Slobodan Milosevic being referred to the International Court at The Hague.
The two also discussed the future of Kosovo, while Papandreou said a clear message should be sent to all that the U.S. and the EU do not support the province's independence.
Papandreou further called for the assistance of the U.S. on the issue of FYROM's name and the U.S. side showed understanding, as it had done again in past months, the sources added.
Balkan reconstruction was another issue examined, as well as the need for the stability pact to proceed at a faster pace.
On his part, Powell called for more efforts to be made to combat terrorism.
The two men also reviewed Greek-Turkish relations, while Papandreou explained Ankara's recent negative stance which prevented the Greek navy chief from visiting Turkey via Rhodes, saying that certain circles in the Turkish military establishment are creating problems for the policy of Greek-Turkish rapprochement.
On the question of Cyprus, Papandreou called for Washington's support for the unimpeded course of Cyprus's accession to the EU, as well as for pressure to be exerted on Ankara to have Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash return to UN-sponsored proximity talks.
Powell expressed support for the UN secretary general's good offices and the need for a resumption of talks after general elections are held in Cyprus on May 27. He also expressed support for the decision taken at the EU Helsinki summit and referred to the need for all to contribute to the lifting of the existing deadlock.
Regarding Turkey's role in the creation and operation of the European Army, Powell stressed the need for a mutually acceptable solution to be found by the EU and NATO, while Papandreou said the EU summit clearly decided in Nice that duties belong to the 15 member-states, while cooperation will exist with candidate countries, but without them having a say in decision-making.
Powell further stressed the need for pro-European forces to be strengthened in Turkey.
 Papandreou and Vice President Cheney confer on Yugoslavia, Kosovo
WASHINGTON, 22/05/2001 (ANA - M. Savva)Foreign Minister George Papandreou held hour-long talks at the White House on Monday with U.S. Vice President Richard Cheney saying his talks with U.S. officials were proof of close relations between Greece and the U.S. and of the two countries' close cooperation in regions of crisis.
"We had the opportunity of discussing all individual issues in Yugoslavia, Kosovo, the action of extremist groups in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), as well as the accession of Cyprus to Europe with or without a prior solution to the political problem of Cyprus. We all hope for a solution before accession but this does not constitute a precondition for the accession of Cyprus to the EU. Steadfast insistence on decisions taken at Helsinki is the main conception governing the policy of all of us," Papandreou said.
"We have requested the contribution of the U.S. to the effort to have Turkey adopt European principles which will contribute substantively to the country's stability and which have particular importance for the progress of Turkish society," he added.
Papandreou, who earlier in the day met with Secretary of State Colin Powell, said he pointed out to his interlocutors that the Cyprus issue remains "the cornerstone to have our good relation made permanent both at bilateral level, as well as in the framework of NATO".
"We are both working together for permanent stability, to move from perennial crisis to permanent stability in the Balkans. And we both believe in a common framework of the rule of law, democratic procedures, respect of borders, respect of minorities and non-use of violence for solving the problems. so, we are able to go through a number of issues in the Balkans," Papandreou said.
The Greek minister was also due to meet national security adviser Condoleezza Rice later in the day.
 President sees difficulty in resolving Cyprus issue, criticizes Turkish intransigence
Athens, 22/05/2001(ANA)Resolving the Cyprus issue would not be an easy task, President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos warned Monday, at the same time criticizing Turkey's intransigence.
"I do not see an easy resolution of the Cyprus issue, which has taken such a bad path that today we are in the position of begging for what we once rejected," Stephanopoulos said in Rethymno during a tour of Crete, where he attended weekend events commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Crete.
This, he said, was a "unique phenomenon", as "18 percent (of the population, the Turkish Cypriot community) has been elevated, or is trying to elevate itself, into an equal community, while in other countries there are minorities that are much larger".
"We have already accepted the solution proposed by the United Nations. We have accepted a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation, and unfortunately we still face the uncompromising stance of the Turkish side, which does not consent even to dialogue," he added.
Stephanopoulos said, "hope always exists", and Greece was satisfied with the improvement in its relations with Turkey, "but even there difficulties exist due to the unacceptable and groundless demands at the expense of our sovereign rights".
The President expressed optimism on Greece's course, adding that he was prepared to back every effort for progress, prosperity and development regardless of political parties.
Stephanopoulos further expressed great interest in the tourist development of the prefecture, and noted the efforts being made to combat unemployment.
 Defense minister dismisses Turkey's arguments for demilitarization
Athens, 22/05/2001(ANA)During statements on Monday while visiting Crete, Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos described the arguments put forward by Turkey in support of demilitarizing the Dodecannese islands as 'tired'.
The minister was in Iraklion to represent the government during events commemorating the historic Battle of Crete. Replying to reporters' questions on the demands for demilitarization, he stressed that there was no such prospect:
"There is no scenario for demilitarization or anything else. These are stories. The arguments put forward by Turkey from time to time regarding so-called demilitarized zones are tired. They are not based on either international treaties or agreements. This has all been said before...these are tactical moves that lead nowhere."
Tsohatzopoulos then underlined the importance of maintaining a steadfast strategy with responsibility and self-assurance.
"It's just a matter of time when everyone is adapting to an EU course and its values. Through this course we will find many things," he added.
Regarding the message of the Battle of Crete, the minister said it was one of honoring the memories of people who sacrificed themselves.
Ankara has long claimed that the Dodecannese islands are a demilitarized zone, and objects to the movements of Greek military planes over the island group. It was on the basis of this argument that Turkish planes intercepted Greek fighters participating in the NATO exercise "Destined Glory 2000" last year, eventually leading Greece to withdraw from an exercise that had started off as a public relations gala for the process of Greek-Turkish rapprochement, with the first landing by Greek aircraft and troops on Turkish soil in several decades.
Turkey bases its arguments on the 1947 Paris Treaty signed between Greece and Italy - an argument totally rejected by Greece, which says the treaty is both outdated and irrelevant where Turkey is concerned.
The 1947 Paris Treaty effectively annexed the Dodecannese islands in the southeast Aegean from vanquished Italy to Greece, after the former was defeated in the Second World War. Turkey was not a co-signatory of the treaty, which was signed between Greece and Italy and contained no articles prescribing rights toward the interests of third parties. Neither Greece nor Italy have accepted the status of demilitarization prescribed by the treaty for northern Italian borders or the Dodecannese.
In past statements, meanwhile, Tsohatzopoulos has said that Greece has a right to fortify the islands of the southeastern Aegean under United Nations article 51, in defense of its sovereign rights and the security and defense of its people.
The demilitarization argument was revived again on May 10, when the Turkish foreign ministry formalized its position that it refused to clear the flight plan of Greek navy chief Vice-Admiral George Theodoroulakis to the Turkish naval base Aksaz over the Greek Aegean island of Rhodes, since its position was that the island should be demilitarized.
Theodoropoulos was due to travel to the Turkish base to attend a 'change of guard' ceremony in the command of NATO's Mine Counter Measures Force, Mediterranean (MCMFORMED), during which Greek Navy Lieutenant Commander Ioannis Grammatikakis would turn over the command to his Turkish counterpart.
MCMFORMED covers mine combat readiness operations on the Alliance's southern flank and is usually composed of 4-6 minesweepers and a command support ship. The countries contributing to the force are the United States, Germany, Britain, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Belgium, the Netherlands and Greece.
MCMFORMED was activated in May 1999, with Italy assuming the first yearlong command rotation, followed by Greece.
 Parliament will not approve any EU enlargement excluding Cyprus, Bakoyianni tells Turkey's Cem
ISTANBUL, 22/05/2201 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)The Greek Parliament will not ratify any European Union enlargement, if the Republic of Cyprus is barred from the enlargement, Greek main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputy Dora Bakoyianni told Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem on Monday.
Bakoyianni, who is responsible for ND's foreign affairs policies, met with Cem on the sidelines of the Spring conference of the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly, which took place here.
"I had the opportunity to explain to him (Cem) that there is no chance that the Greek Parliament will give its approval for any other country to enter the EU during the enlargement of the Union, if Cyprus is not part of the enlargement," Bakoyianni said after her 45 minute meeting with Cem.
"We had the opportunity to exchange views on many issues and especially on the Cyprus issue, for which I had the opportunity to develop the Greek positions," she said, adding that a "just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue within the framework of the UN decisions" should be found.
"The course of Cyprus to the EU continues (and this course I believe) is becoming apparent to the Turkish side," she noted.
On his part, and while addressing the conference, Cem described the Cyprus issue as the most difficult problem in Turkey's foreign policy.
"The Cyprus issue is the most difficult problem that Turkey's foreign policy is confronted with," Cem said.
He said he was pessimistic over the development of the Cyprus problem in the event Cyprus becomes a member of the European Union, saying that Turkey would be "obliged to react" if Cyprus becomes a member of the EU before the Cyprus issues is resolved.
Ankara has worked toward Cyprus' barring from EU's enlargement process, arguing that the Cyprus problem has to be resolved before the island republic is admitted to the EU, effectively making Cyprus a diplomatic "hostage" of Turkey.
Responding to questions poised by European parliamentarians, Cem said that "there are no ethnic minorities in Turkey", calling on the Ottoman experience and tradition, which, as he said, recognized only religious minorities.
He did, however, admit that Turkey lags behind in regards to the protection of human rights and stressed that Ankara is expending efforts to cover that void.
He also said that the responsibility of EU-Turkish relations, following the acceptance of Turkey's candidacy to the EU, now rests with Turkey.
 Greece always raising the issue of Turkey's human rights record
Athens, 22/05/2001(ANA)Alternate Foreign Minister Elizabeth Papazoi told Parliament on Monday Greece was constantly raising the issue of Turkey's compliance with its international conventional commitments, adding that the country's representative was due to raise the issue of human rights violations in Cyprus and Turkey during Monday's meeting of the Work Group for Southeastern Europe, in light of the EU-Turkey Association council meeting to be held at the end of June.
Replying to a question by main opposition New Democracy party Deputy Ioannis Varvitsiotis on whether Foreign Minister George Papandreou will raise the issue of Turkey's condemnation by the European Human Rights Court on Cyprus at the next EU summit, Papazoi said it is a framework decision paving the way for more individual cases being filed against Ankara.
She said Greece and Cyprus are closely monitoring the issue and are attributing particular importance to the decision by the European Human Rights Court because, among others, it recognizes the legal government of Cyprus and not the pseudo-Turkish Cypriot state headed by Rauf Denktash.
The European Court of Human Rights two weeks ago found Turkey guilty of massive human rights violations in Cyprus during and after the 1974 invasion of the island republic.
Papazoi further said Greek-Turkish relations are now considered as differences between Ankara and the EU, while the issue of the application of decisions taken by international organizations has also become part of Turkey's partnership relation with the EU.
 Turkish long-time activist accuses Europe for ignoring Turkish human rights plight
Athens, 22/05/2001(ANA)The European Union was the focus of accusations leveled by Turkey's leading human rights campaigner Akin Birdal on Monday in Athens, in his address to a conference entitled "Greece-Turkey-Europe: Human Rights", which was organized by the Greek Union for the Rights of Man and Citizen.
Birdal, an honorary president of Turkey's Human Rights Union, stressed that the European Union granted the status of candidate country to Turkey, despite the fact that his country did not move toward democratization, noting that Turkey not only did not move in the direction of the Copenhagen criteria, but it went further backwards.
Birdal, whom far rightists targeted after accusations of links to Kurdish rebels, was shot and critically wounded by two gunmen in his office in 1998.
"The EU is a simple viewer to all that happens in Turkey," he said, adding that instead of implementing all its commitments towards the EU, as every other country, it haggles continually.
He said that both the EU and Turkey are accepting this fact, as the EU does not want Turkey to become one of its members and Turkey's political leadership does not wish to see Turkey's European course being successful.
"Appalling things are happening in Turkey. Prisoners, that are people who are wards of the state, often lose their lives. Europe follows all that in silence," he said.
He spoke of Germany and Sweden's lack of reaction to atrocities in Turkey, saying that they maintain their silence for reasons of political expediency.
Birdal said that Turkey has enacted 152 laws, 713 articles of different laws and 11 governmental decisions against free speech and anyone can be convicted for expressing different views to those officially accepted.
Current Turkey's Human Rights Union President Yiavuz Onen also addressed the conference.
Leftist Greek leader meets with Turkey's human rights leader: Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) Nikos Constantopoulos on Monday met with Turkey's Human Rights Union honorary president Akin Birdal in Athens and discussed relevant issues.
Following the meeting, Constantopoulos said that the way to the future passes through the road of respect and protection of human rights, the widening of democracy, social protection and peaceful co-existence.
"We want Turkey to be a member of the united Europe via the causeway of democracy, peace and co-existence with all European countries," Constantopoulos added.
He said that Synaspismos remains close to those who struggle for human rights in Turkey, criticizing Europeans for their stance regarding human rights conditions in the neighboring country saying that some Europeans pretend that they do not see and hear.
The peoples with harsh struggles as if they turned their backs to history, as if they scorned the conquests of civilization gain it, he said.
On his part, Birdal said that he and Synaspismos have many points in common and visions for the region, such as peace, democracy and human rights. The two, he added, underlined the need for peaceful coexistence of the two peoples.
Former FM criticizes press approaches to Greek-Turkish relations: Former foreign minister Mihalis Papaconstantinou on Monday criticized journalists, with a few "honored exceptions", addressing a conference on journalistic approaches to Greek-Turkish relations.
The was conference organized by the Union of European Journalists' Greek department on the occasion of a training program for young journalists by the U.S. international Center for Journalists in cooperation with the Union of European Journalists' Greek and Turkish departments. The program is being financed by the U.S. State Department.
Papaconstantinou referred to Turkish culture, condemned the fact that Moslems in the Attica region have no place for worship, and called on public opinion and journalists to avoid prejudices.
The secretary general of the Union of European Journalists' Greek department Thanassis Papandropoulos called for mutual understanding and an "approach" between the two peoples and the condemnation of all who highlight crises and "artificial" crises between Greece and Turkey.
 Main opposition leader calls for total computer literacy in Greece
Athens, 22/05/2001(ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Monday accused the government for its policies on new technologies and called for a countrywide program to combat computer illiteracy, during the sixth annual "Meeting of Athens".
The meeting began on Saturday in the Greek capital, with this year's main subject of discussion entitled "Towards a New Economy: The Information Revolution".
Karamanlis said that the current executive's policy for education is one of unending reconstruction, while efforts to follow European Union directions for a dynamic economic development in Greece remain simple wishes.
He also accused the government of "kneeling before vested economic interests" and called for "the gates of the new business activities to open wide and to establish clear cut regulations common for all".
"It is an urgent need to set as our policy guide the participation of all to the information society and to the crop of the new economy," Karamanlis said.
His concrete proposals included funding programs for the support of economically weak students, so that everyone may acquire their own computer, the upgrade of telecommunication services, the increased participation of the public sector in digital services and the promotion of incentives for research and development.
The three-day series of events were kicked-off during a ceremony on the historic Pnyx Hill across the Acropolis in central Athens before shifting on Sunday and Monday to a downtown hotel. The Athens Polytechnic's electrical engineering and computer science departments in cooperation with the Federation of Greek IT and Telecommunications Companies (SEPE) sponsored the event.
Other speakers on the itinerary included Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Montenegro President Milo Djukanovic, Euro-MP and former European Commission president Jacques Santer, former French premier Raymond Barre and MIT computer science lab director Michael Dertouzos.
 Alexandria Patriarch Petros' visit results in Simitis, Christodoulos meeting
Athens, 22/05/2001(ANA)An anticipated meeting between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Greek Church leader Christodoulos lasted for 15 minutes on Monday, as the latter accompanied Alexandria and All Africa Patriarch Petros during his meeting with the Greek premier.
In statements afterwards, the powerful Archbishop of Athens and All Greece emphasized that the meeting was "customary" in nature.
However, Christodoulos later reiterated that he awaits an answer from the government over a request issued last June for a face-to-face meeting with Simitis, following a souring of Church-state relations in light of a decision to exclude religious affiliation from state-issued ID cards.
The government's decision last year to issue new ID cards sans the religious affiliation on grounds that it constitutes a violation of citizens' privacy concerning personal data caused a firestorm of opposition from the powerful Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greece.
The Greek Church is at present collecting signatures nation-wide in order to force a referendum that would allow citizens in the predominately Orthodox country the option of listing their religious preference on IDs.
The latest twist in the months-long ID card furor came last December with a recommendation by the Council of State against the listing of citizens' religious affiliation.
According to Christodoulos, the controversial issue of Church-state relations wasn't discussed, as topics related to problems faced by the Alexandria Patriarchate dominated the brief meeting, including a promise by Athens to financially aid the Patriarchate.
Petros also bestowed the Grand Cross St. Mark Medal on the Greek prime minister.
Earlier, during a service at a central Athens cathedral, Petros echoed positions previously enunciated by Christodoulos on the issue of Church-state relations, while also indirectly commenting on the recent visit to Athens by Pope John Paul II.
 Athens mayor receives former French premier Raymond Barre
Athens, 22/05/2001(ANA)Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos on Monday received former French Prime Minister Raymond Barre in Athens' City Hall and discussed issues relating to the future of the European Union and new policies.
Following their meeting Avramopoulos called Barre - who was elected mayor of Lyon in the past - a great politician who contributed to the European Union's political course.
He added that younger men and women have a lot to learn from his experience and wisdom.
 Israeli envoy: Violence should not be rewarded with concessions
Athens, 22/05/2001(ANA)The Israeli ambassador in Athens on Monday reiterated his government's position of "not rewarding" the Palestinian side for the eight-month-long cycle of violence in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and even Israel proper.
The briefing came as the latest news from the Mideast on Monday reported that two Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, whereas Israeli helicopters rocketed what the military said was a makeshift mortar factory. The Palestinian Authority described it as a workshop for spare car parts.
Ambassador Ran Curiel claimed that two Palestinian "goals" from the recent violence, namely, a "Kosovo" model of international intervention in the region and a "weakening of Israeli society through terrorism" to soften it up for compromise, have both failed.
Additionally, he reiterated that Israel rejects a "right to return" provision in a peace deal with the Palestinians, saying this would amount to "suicide" for his country.
Curiel added that a "cooling off" period, followed by Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs) and the implementation of existing agreements should serve as a blueprint for reinvigorating the now comatose peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.
The latest round of violence, complete with "suicide attacks" against Israeli civilians and unprecedented fighter plane strikes by the Israeli air force against Palestinian targets, precedes the formal publication of an international commission's findings, already widely available by various media sources, on how to stop eight months of Israeli-Palestinian fighting.
"In terms of Israel, it has nothing to gain from the violence ... they won't impose their conditions on us through violence," Curiel said, adding that Europe must also make it clear to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat that "this is not the way to go".
Regarding an international outcry over the use of excessive force by the Israeli Defense Forces in quelling and retaliating against attacks in the West Bank and Gaza, Curiel responded by mentioning 12 suicide attacks aimed recently at Israeli targets, before asking: "How would you here in Greece respond?"
 Ministers, PASOK deputies, citizens wish PM well on his name day
Athens, 22/05/2001(ANA)Ministers, deputies and cadres of the ruling PASOK party, as well as many citizens, visited the Maximos Mansion on Monday to wish Prime Minister Costas Simitis well on his name day.
Simitis also received hundreds of telegrams, including ones from Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, the Archbishop of Tirana Anastasios and former Prime Minister George Rallis.
Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos wished Simitis all the best during their meeting on the occasion of the visit made by the Patriarch of Alexandria Petros.
Simitis also exchanged best wishes with President Kostis Stephanopoulos and main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis who also had their name day.
 Papantoniou comments on inflation after meeting Christodoulakis
Athens, 22/05/2001(ANA)The government is closely monitoring oil price fluctuations, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said after a meeting at the economy ministry on Monday.
Papantoniou said the government will take all necessary measures to contain market prices and said that the repercussions on inflation were the "least severe" than for all other EU member-states.
During the meeting, the two ministers discussed issues concerned with the share flotation of the Public Power Corporation (DEH in Greek), while Papantoniou said that everything was ready for the share flotation to go ahead.
 Report urges govít to speed up infrastructure reform
Athens, 22/05/2001(ANA)The Greek government should speed up infrastructure reforms a report by the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Monday.
IOBE, in its quarterly report on the economy, noted that the government faced increased uncertainties in its efforts to draft its economic policy following developments in a plan to reform the country's social security system.
"The government's handling of the issue proves that crucial decisions were still taken on party-partisan criteria," IOBE said.
"It seems that it will be extremely difficult for the government to promote other significant initiatives on the economy, thus creating a negative climate of uncertainty and worry," the report said.
IOBE, however, stressed that economic policy had and still has the chance to benefit from several favorable conditions (the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, a Third Community Support Framework) to efficiently promote the reforms needed to achieve real convergence with other European Union economies.
The Institute recommended a change in the current fiscal policy aimed to cut public spending and increase revenues. IOBE also noted that it was sticking with its earlier forecast of a decline in the inflation rate later this year in the country.
 Greece unveils 180-bln-drachma energy investment program
Athens, 22/05/2001(ANA)Greek Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Monday unveiled a Third Community Support Framework program envisaging new investments, totalling 180 billion drachmas, on energy saving, electricity-heating co-production and reserving conventional energy, The program included: renewable energy sources (solar, geothermic, hydro-electric) investments, worth 60 billion drachmas, energy saving and co-production worth 40 billion, wind power energy, worth 75 billion and information systems, worth five billion drachmas.
Christodoulakis said the program was aiming to boost the country's energy sufficiency, reduce energy tensions and its dependence from imported energy sources and to protect the environment.
Renewable Energy Sources currently account for 9.5 percent of total energy production in Greece. The government aims to raise its market share to 12.5 percent in the next three years to 20 percent by 2010.
The development ministry proposals also envisage the implementation of a 2.0 percent duty in favor of local authorities that will host such investments in their territory.
Christodoulakis said subsidy rate was set at a maximum of 50 percent. He announced a second round of an investment program, worth a total 360 billion drachmas.
Commenting on the privatization of Public Power Corporation (PPC) - Greece's electricity utility - Christodoulakis said the government would soon unveil a new institutional framework along with completion of a restructuring plan, to pave the way for its flotation.
A final decision would be based on consultants' recommendations and a situation in international markets.
 Greek, FYROM economy ministers discuss Balkan aid
Athens, 22/05/2001(ANA)Greek National Economy Deputy Minister Yiannis Zaphiropoulos met with visiting Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Economy Minister Besnik Fetai on Monday to discuss the implementation of a Greek plan for the reconstruction of the Balkans and particularly the section covering FYROM.
A national economy ministry statement said that the two sides discussed ways to speed up implementation of the Greek plan following approval by the Greek parliament, expected next month.
Zaphiropoulos said the Greek government would continue supporting FYROM's efforts to overcome a crisis situation in the country, while Mr. Fetai noted that there was absolutely no danger to Greek businesses with activities in FYROM.
 Labor minister launches formal invitation for negotiations with unions
Athens, 22/05/2001(ANA)Greece's Labor and Social Security Minister Tassos Giannitsis on Monday sent a letter to GSEE, the country's largest trade union umbrella, inviting them to a round of negotiations over a plan to reform Greece's social security system.
Giannitsis recommended a meeting with trade unions in the next 10 days.
"We will meet everyone, the government and political parties, but that does not mean the start of a dialogue," GSEE's chairman Christos Polyzogopoulos told reporters.
Trade unions' stance on the government's invitation is expected to be formally decided on Wednesday.
In his letter, Mr. Yiannitsis, reiterated a Prime Minister's pledge that the state would continue to financially support security funds.
The government new position on the issue, although a clear retreat from its initial positions, was still far from trade unions' demands for a more clear pledge to accept a tri-partial funding of the system.
 Employees continue takeover of Corinth Canal company facilities to protest concession to foreign firm
Athens, 22/05/2001(ANA)Employees of the Corinth Canal on Monday entered the fourth day of a takeover of the company's building facilities to protest the concession of the Canal's operation to the private British firm Sea Containers.
Canal employees on Friday staged an unannounced takeover of the building facilities.
Meanwhile, reactions to the finance ministry's decision to concede the Canal's operation to a foreign firm was slated for discussion in parliament following the tabling of a relevant question by 16 MPs of the main opposition New Democracy party.
The employees' coordination committee, which was to meet later Monday to decide on whether to continue the action, stated the workers were prepared for a showdown with the ministry over its decision, and has refused to meet with representatives of Sea Containers for a briefing on the British firm's intentions.
The takeover has halted all marine traffic through the Canal.
 CSFB to announce OA's candidate buyer by end of week
Athens, 22/05/2001(ANA)Credit Suisse First Boston, a consultant to the Greek government on the sale of Olympic Airways, is expected to announce the results of an international tender by the end of the week, reliable sources said on Monday.
Axon Airlines, a consortium led by Cyprus Airways and Restis Group of Companies have expressed interest in buying a majority stake in Greece's national carrier.
 Greek stocks end cautiously higher on ASE
Athens, 22/05/2001(ANA)Equity prices ended Monday's volatile session off their day's lows as a wave of early profit taking halted an initial strong advance on the Athens Stock Exchange.
Traders said foreign institutional investors limited their presence in the Greek market-keeping turnover at lower levels and noted that a rise in the general index reflected gains in blue chip stocks, like National Bank, Alpha Bank, Hellenic Telecoms and Panafon. The wider market and smaller capitalization stocks in particular, ended lower.
The index ended 0.40 percent higher at 3,178.97 points, off the day's highs of 3,241.16 points. Analysts said the market has found resistance at the 3,240 level in the short-term. Turnover was a low 199.27 million euros, or 67.9 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.91 percent higher at 1,872.87 points, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index eased 0.55 percent to 360.89 points.
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended at 308.84 points, off 0.82 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 232 to 92 with another 360 issues unchanged.
Mouriadis, Halyps Cement, Active, 3A, Dromeas, Paperpack, Kreka, Desmos and Levenderis scored the biggest percentage gains, while Barba Stathis, Xifias, Balafas, ANEK Lines, ETMA, Spider and Hellenic Sugar suffered the heaviest losses.
National Bank, Alpha Bank, Hellenic Telecoms, Coca Cola HBC and Panafon were the most heavily traded stocks.
Equity futures nose up, roughly tracking Athens bourse: Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished slightly higher on Monday, roughly tracking their underlying indexes.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 0.91 percent up, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 0.55 percent lower.
Traded were 9,832 contracts on turnover of 76.6 million euros.
Bond prices rise in thin trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Monday finished higher in light trade with players focusing on five-year paper.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.52 percent from 5.51 percent a trading day earlier.
The yield spread over German bunds was 45 basis points from 50 basis points in the previous session.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 975 million euros (332.3 billion drachmas) from 1.4 billion euros (485.5 billion drachmas) in the trading day before.
Buy orders accounted for the bulk of turnover.
 Legal framework on biological products completed
Athens, 22/05/2001(ANA)Two ministerial decisions completing the legal framework for biological agricultural and stockbreeding products have been signed, while Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis said on Monday the legal status necessary for biological products exists in the country for the first time.
The organization responsible for checking biological products issued a regulation assessing and supervising organizations controlling biological products, the unified sign recognizing biological agricultural products, the catalogue on cost recognition and all necessary application forms.
 President Stephanopoulos on Crete for last Battle of Crete events
Athens, 22/05/2001(ANA)Events commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Crete will culminate on Monday at the city of Iraklion, in the presence of President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.
Stephanopoulos arrived in Iraklion's Aghios Minas Cathedral at 10:30 a.m. from Rethymno, accompanied by Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Deputy Defense Minister Dimitris Apostolakis and local officials.
The president was met at the cathedral by Canon Kyrillos Kogierakis and then attended a service for the Battle of Crete officiated by Crete Archbishop Timotheos. Author Antonis Sanoudakis then delivered an address on the epic battle.
After the service, the president visited the local prefectural headquarters and was shown around an exhibition dedicated to the Battle of Crete, while he also had the opportunity to talk with representatives of local authorities.
The president then went on foot to the Battle of Crete monument in the city, where he and representatives of the Allied governments laid wreaths after the end of a memorial service.
Stephanopoulos then visited the Iraklion Town Hall, where he was met by Mayor Costas Aslanis, who presented him with the latest editions of the Municipal Library and a pen as a personal gift.
The Battle of Crete took place in May 1941 when Australian, New Zealand, British and Greek forces that had retreated to the island of Crete fought alongside the local population against the invading Nazi forces. Crete was the last part of Greece to come under German occupation, and losses were heavy on both sides during the famous battle, in which Germany deployed the largest number of paratroopers in World War II.
It is considered the most crucial battle of World War II, as it delayed the German attack on Russia long enough for the Wehrmacht to be caught in the Russian winter.
 Importance of cooperation in audiovisual sector underlined
STOCKHOLM, 22/05/2001 (ANA)Deputy Press Minister Telemahos Hytiris on Monday underlined the importance placed by Greece on cooperation in the audiovisual means sector with European Union candidate countries, particularly those in the Balkans and Cyprus.
He was speaking at an informal meeting of EU ministers on cultural and audiovisual means taking place in Fallun, Sweden, on May 20-22. Apart from Hytiris, Culture Ministry secretary general Lina Mendoni is also participating.
Hytiris also referred to permanent cooperation existing between news agencies in the region and to Greece's presence in the Balkans regarding the use and exploitation of possibilities provided by the informatics society.
He also focused on special programs presented by Greek television and radio stations on issues concerning European policy and enlargement, as well as special radio news broadcasts in the languages of candidate countries.
Hytiris said real European unification will be brought about with the speedy accession of candidate countries, provided they harmonies their legislation and fulfill general criteria applied in the EU.
 EU ranks Greece's beaches first in clean water quality among 15 member states
Athens, 22/05/2001(ANA)Greece has the cleanest coasts in Europe, according to an annual European Union report on the quality of swimming waters at Greek coastline in 1999.
According to data, 98.8 percent of Greek beaches are suitable for swimming since they satisfy strict regulations set by Greek and European Union legislation.
A total of 1,862 swimming spots were examined in Greece and 1,846 were found to be suitable, while only 16 failed to meet suitability conditions.
Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis said that in 2000 a program for controlling the quality of swimming waters was implemented and was once again successful.
"The conclusions of the annual report for the quality of waters of Greek coasts and their suitability for swimming for 2000, reaffirm once again, the very good quality of waters in 98.8 per cent of our beaches and allow Greece to rank first among European Union member-states," Laliotis said.
Controls took place systematically every 15 days in more than 40 prefectures throughout the country.
 Gov't says it has intention of instituting mandatory civil weddings
Athens, 22/05/2001(ANA)The government on Monday stressed that any debate over the possibility of enacting legislation to mandate civil marriages in the country is only a "theoretical discussion" that "doesn't deal with the government's intentions".
A government spokesman was responding to questions during his daily press briefing over recent comments by the head of the state-appointed Personal Data Protection Authority, Costas Dafermos, who said he favors mandatory civil wedding ceremonies. At present, people in the country can either get married at Town Hall or choose an ecclesiastical ceremony at recognized churches, cathedrals, mosques or synagogues, depending on their religious affiliation.
Spokesman Dimitris Reppas added that there has been no discussion by the government over such an issue.
 Athens 2004 president says Games positive for Greece and Balkans
Athens, 22/05/2001(ANA)Athens 2004 Organizing Committee President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said on Monday the Olympic Games would have a positive effect both for Greece and the Balkans.
"We shall show the modern image of both our country and the remaining Balkan ones. We are being given a unique opportunity which we should benefit from," she told a conference organized by the Kokkalis Foundation on the theme "Athens, the center of International Athletics: A chance for regional cooperation and development".
Referring to difficulties being faced in preparing the Olympiad, she said "the voyage until 2004 will be difficult. However, things are getting better day by day and this is very optimistic."
"We have broken all records regarding the sponsorship program of the Olympic Games, since we have covered 93 percent of our target. Sydney had 100 sponsors and we only want 40," Daskalaki said.
Apart from ministers and representatives from 15 countries, Olympic Games medallists Kachi Kachiasvili, Leonidas Kokas, Stelios Migiakis and Nikos Kaklamanakis attended the conference, among others.
In his address, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said the 2004 Olympiad would give the opportunity for big investments, adding that without the sports nucleus and the strengthening of the Olympic ideal Greece will be unable to fulfill its commitments in light of 2004.
"Greece has the element of geniuses and it is a country wanting preparation to create a bridge of peace and international understanding. We want 2004 to send the message of culture and peace everywhere," he said.
Venizelos said an estimated 120,000 jobs will be created through the course of preparation for the Olympiad and that this preparation will move at three levels: sports and cultural infrastructures, life in the city and the country and at the level of Greece's image and communication in the course towards 2004.