|Tuesday, 21 May 2013|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 01-11-07
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>November 7, 2001
 Greece to align with eurozone, retaining fiscal discipline
BRUSSELS, 07/11/2001 (ANA / M. Spinthourakis)Greece will align its economy with the rest of the eurozone, avoiding a loss of fiscal discipline and rise in deficits, National Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters after a European Union finance ministers' meeting, Christodoulakis said Greece's main advantage was a high rate of growth, estimated at 4.0 percent in 2001; but its drawback was a public debt roughly equal to gross domestic product.
The outlook for growth remained healthy due to EU inflows combined with a decline in interest rates and resulting rise in demand for mortgages, in turn fuelling construction.
Also aiding growth were an acceleration of structural changes to the economy and a decline in inflationary pressures that stemmed from relatively low oil prices, Christodoulakis said.
The minister and his EU counterparts were unwilling to make forecasts for the coming year due to global uncertainty, with some expressing anxiety over the eurozone economy's mid-term outlook.
Another topic on the agenda was Europe's ageing population and its fiscal cost in coming decades.
Greece is likely to be especially hard hit, with the number of people over 65 years of age estimated to total 50 percent of the working population from 25 percent at present, Christodoulakis noted.
 PM stresses EU-related goals during foreign ministry visit
Athens, 07/11/2001 (ANA)Greece's course within the European Union remained a central policy for the government, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Tuesday after a visit to the foreign ministry and a meeting with its political and administrative staff.
The Tuesday morning meeting focused on foreign policy priorities and plans of action, the division of duties among the new team of ministers and general organizational issues.
After the meeting, Simitis noted that the government had to be present every step of the way with positions, proposals and ever ready to "contribute constructively to developments and upgrade the role of Greece."
The premier particularly stressed the need to adequately prepare for the Greek EU presidency in the first half of 2003, so it would be successful in promoting EU enlargement and the accession of Cyprus to the community, as well as bringing specific positions and proposals to the next intergovernmental conference.
Another issue touched by Simitis was security, where he said Greece had to work with its EU and NATO partners for an integrated security system after the tragic events of September 11.
Turning to the Balkans, the premier pointed out that Greece was in a geopolitical region that remained fragile and dangerous. Pushing for policies of peace, cooperation and respect for human rights in southeast Europe remains a strategic priority, he stressed.
He also pointed out the danger that the terrorist attacks of September 11 might "overshadow" the need for Balkan reconstruction.
Greece should also continue to strive for a solution to the Cyprus problems based on United Nations resolutions and for Turkey's EU accession based on the terms and conditions set at the Helsinki Summit, he added.
 UN special rep for Cyprus arrives in Athens for talks
Athens, 07/11/2001 (ANA)The UN chief's special representative for the Cyprus issue, Alvaro de Soto, arrived in Athens on Tuesday following previous stops in Ankara and Nicosia for talks with Greek leadership.
During talks with Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, de Soto said his tour of the three capitals is part of an effort to jump-start proximity talks between the two sides on the island republic.
On his part, Papandreou said the upcoming period is particularly significant for a solution to the Cyprus problem, and of course, for the island republic's European Union accession prospects.
De Soto added that he is returning to New York to brief the UN's leadership over his talks.
Papandreou, meanwhile, referred to what he called "intense discussions" of late within Turkish society itself regarding the Cyprus issue, while he expressed a hope that such deliberations will lead to an added maturity and an accompanying solution regarding an international problem "that has created and creates numerous problems in relations between Greece and Turkey."
 Specific measures for relief of Greek-American families
NEW YORK, 07/11/2001 (ANA / M. Georgiadou, M. Psylos)Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis, responsible for issues of Greeks abroad, announced here on Tuesday night specific measures for the relief of Greek-American families who were affected by the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11.
In an interview he gave at the press office of the Greek Consulate in New York, Magriotis announced a program of visits to Greece next summer by Greek-American children.
The deputy foreign minister said that Greece would do everything possible to embrace the Greeks of the Diaspora.
Magriotis condemned the terrorist attack in the U.S., stating that Greece was aligned in the struggle against terrorism and was at the side of the government and people of the United States.
Magriotis called on the Greek-American community to increase its communication with Greece, particularly in the business world and through cultural exchanges.
 Athens calls for int'l probe over bin Laden, T/C pseudo-state link
Athens, 07/11/2001 (ANA)Athens stressed on Tuesday that recent press reports citing a connection between Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden and the Turkish Cypriot pseudo-state, propped up since 1983 in the island's Turkish-occupied north, should be investigated by international authorities.
During a regular press briefing in Athens, government spokes-man Christos Protopappas also told reporters that "all matters dealing with Cyprus' EU accession prospects will be pointed out to the Turkish foreign minister".
Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem is expected in Athens on Wednesday for a two-day official visit.
On his part, Protopappas was replying to a question regarding recent statements by Turkish Premier Bulent Ecevit, who again claimed that the only solution to the Cyprus problem revolves around the existence of two separate states on the east Mediterranean island republic.
Protopappas also dismissed another oft-repeated allegation aired by Turkey's military establishment, namely, that a wholly visibly refugee camp southeast of Athens and near small port of Lavrio acts as a training base for Kurdish rebels, something Athens has scoffed at for years.
Finally, asked if the issue of conditions at Turkish prisons will be brought up during Cem's visit, the spokesman said that although Athens clearly supports Turkey's European orientation, it believes that the neighboring country's course towards Europe must also include a respect of human rights.
 Protopappas criticizes EU 'mini-summit' hosted by Blair
Athens, 07/11/2001 (ANA)Initiatives such as the dinner given by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, to which only some European Union leaders were invited, did not promote efforts for a common foreign and defense policy, government spokesman Christos Protopappas said on Tuesday in response to questions.
Protopappas said that Greece wanted Europe to have its own voice, which would be achieved through a common foreign and defense policy.
He refused to answer questions on whether Greece might consider some sort of initiative on this issue, saying only that these were all problems that were discussed and resolved through community organs.
 Simitis unveils bust of late alternate FM Kranidiotis in Athens
Athens, 07/11/2001 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday unveiled a bust of late alternate foreign minister Yiannos Kranidiotis at the courtyard of the foreign ministry in Athens, following his visit to the ministry.
The premier once again spoke of the personage of the late minister, whom he called "a man with his thoughts turned to the future ... a citizen of an international multi-cultural society, where understanding, cooperation and respect for human rights and international law was his rule of thumb. He was an intellectual, but also a man of action".
Simitis once again spoke of the contribution of Kranidiotis to the European orientation of Cyprus and its accession course, as well as his devotion to the vision of an integrated Europe and his agony for the resolution of the Middle Eastern problem.
"With today's unveiling, we honor once again his memory and we continue, symbolically, his presence in this space, were he struggled with faith in a strong and European Greece," Simitis said.
The initial idea for the creation of the bust belongs to former foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos, who promoted it along with current Foreign Minister George Papandreou.
 KYSEA to convene Nov. 15 to select new Armed Forces chief
Athens, 07/11/2001 (ANA)The Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA) will convene on November 15 to select a new Chief of the National Defense General Staff (GEETHA), the country's new national defense minister Yannos Papantoniou announced Tuesday after a meeting with premier Costas Simitis.
During the meeting, the two men also examined issues concerning review of the country's defense strategic, Greece's EU presidency in the first half of 2003, the conscription term in Greece, and the developments in the military operations in Afghanistan.
Papantoniou reiterated that the possible dispatch of Greek forces to Afghanistan had been ruled out, adding that in the framework of the struggle commenced by the international community against international terrorism, Greece provided a variety of facilities to the US forces.
On the issue of reduction of the conscription term, Papantoniou said the agreed timetable would be adhered to.
Papantoniou further said that he had assured the prime minister that the Greek Armed Forces were ready to confront any threat at any time.
 Campaign launched in solidarity for war refugees
Athens, 07/11/2001 (ANA)Non-governmental organizations on Tuesday launched a major campaign in solidarity for war refugees.
In view of the new wave of refugees from Afghanistan to Greece and Europe, representatives of the Greek section of Amnesty International and of other non-governmental organizations, in a press conference they gave at the Athens Union of Journalists (ESHEA), stressed yet again the need for asylum, medical care and shelter for war refugees.
They stressed that the state should grant political asylum to refugees, and apart from asylum, also offer medical care and shelter to the refugees.
The representatives noted that in all European Union countries, movements are gathering momentum in solidarity to the refugees and are taking initiatives to support them.
The movements at the press conference included The Network of Social Support and Immigrants, SOS Racism and Doctors of the World.
They asked of the state to grant asylum to all refugees, put an end to deportations and create refugee centers.
It was also noted that a differentiation should be made between the economic immigrant and the refugee.
 Premier rejects ND arguments of non-briefing on Olympic Games preparations
Athens, 07/11/2001 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis in a letter to main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Tues-day rejected all arguments of ND, about the non-briefing of the opposition and Parliament over the preparations for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
Simitis stressed that on Nov. 13 there will be a relevant discussion in Parliament and at that time all issues will be tabled.
"The preparation of the Athens Olympic Games is a case of all Greek society and all political forces ... I regret that the Olympic preparation becomes an instrument for petty political expediencies" Simitis noted in his letter.
Simitis also noted that the government and the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) provided de-tailed briefings at the end of September in light of the ratification of the latest legislation related to the Olympic Games.
ND spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos responded to the prime minister saying that "it is of course the right of the premier - something we leave up the Greek people to judge - to choose this barren refusal in every effort for national understanding. What he should not do, however, is to pretend to be the judge and jury in a case for which he bares full responsibility".
 PM holds talks with interior minister
Athens, 07/11/2001 (ANA)Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis said on Tuesday night, after holding talks with Prime Minister Costas Simitis at the Maximos Mansion, that a third tenure will not be given to prefects who have already been elected twice.
Speaking to reporters afterwards, Skandalidis said that Simitis approved the program he presented to him on his ministry, as well as the priorities of the work he intends to do.
Skandalidis also announced that one of the first bills he will be tabling for discussion and ratification in Parliament will be one concerning the upgrading of political protection to enable its apparatus to be modernized and to be in a position to meet the requirements of modern-day society.
 Alternate FM hosts dinner for EU member state ambassadors to Athens
Athens, 07/11/2001 (ANA)Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Giannitsis on Tuesday hosted a dinner at the foreign ministry for the ambassadors of European Union member states to Athens.
Giannitsis briefed the ambassadors on current developments and the Greek positions on issues regarding his portfolio.
The Greek minister focused on terrorism issues, matters relating to the future of the European Union, enlargement, Balkan issues as well as issues of illegal immigration and organized crime.
 Greek alternate FM meets with Romanian deputy FM
Athens, 07/11/2001 (ANA)Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Giannitsis on Tues-day met with Romanian Deputy Foreign Minister Christian Diaconescu, with whom he discussed European Union-Romanian issues, bilateral affairs and regional cooperation.
During the meeting the two men discussed the upcoming visit of Romanian President Ion Iliescu, scheduled for Nov. 21 to 23.
They noted the positive trend of economic and trade relations and the important role of Greek investments in Romania.
Giannitsis underlined Greece's stable support for Romania's accession course to the European Union, as well as Romania's candidacy for entry in NATO.
On his part, Diaconescu spoke of the abolition of visas for Romanian citizens to the Union and thanked Greece for its stance on that issue.
 Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania gives press conference
Athens, 07/11/2001 (ANA)Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania Anastasios, currently on an official visit to Greece, in a press conference on Tuesday night avoided taking a position on the dispute between the Church of Greece and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
He said that the word "dispute" is not a desired one, stressing that "the Orthodox are a family which can have different ideas."
Anastasios expressed the hope that sober solutions would be found, noting that "we should not add fuel to the flames."
The archbishop, whose visit to Greece comes to an end on Friday, also answered reporters' questions regarding the holding of a religious conference under the auspices of Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos in December, as well as to a similar one at the initiative of Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos. Anastasios said that such types of conferences have taken place many times, without these, however, solving the problems.
He noted however that such conferences must take place in order to contribute in overcoming misunderstandings, which does not mean that the problems are solved.
Earlier in the day, during a meeting he had with Foreign Minister George Papandreou as well as at the dinner which the minister hosted in the archbishop's honor, discussion centered on the issue of the holding of an international conference of the various religious faiths.
Anastasios also referred to the situation prevailing in Albania, stating that already something unprecedented has occurred. He said the Orthodox Church helped the Muslims and these actions, which are in the spirit of Orthodoxy, are known to the Arab people.
The archbishop also spoke of the struggle for peace and justice and the development of peoples.
 ND continues attack on Laliotis over flooded highway furor
Athens, 07/11/2001 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy on Tuesday stepped up its attack on former public works and town planning minister Costas Laliotis, following Sunday's flooding on a key stretch of the Athens-Lamia national roadway.
In chairing a meeting of ND's sector heads, party leader Costas Karamanlis charged that the government had both the funding and enough time to complete works in the Malakasa district, north of Athens, but instead it produced lacking and shoddy result.
On his part, ND spokesman Thodoris Roussopoulos said Greece resembled a "Third World" country over the past three days due to the problems caused by the heavy rainfall, while he dismissed the government's criticism that the Malakasa portion was completed by a ND government of 1990-93.
 Deputy press minister on public radio and television
BRUSSELS, 07/11/2001 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)Deputy Press Minister Telemahos Chytiris, addressing the Culture and Audiovisual Issues Council here on Monday, stressed the great importance attributed by Greece to public radio and television as a factor of each country's cultural development and of maintaining lingual and cultural multiformity.
Focusing on state subsidies and their ability to fulfill their mission in the social benefits sector, Chytiris referred to the significance of the Amsterdam Protocol on public audiovisual services which anticipates that member-states may determine the mission of public radio and television and the way it will be financed.
Chytiris also stressed the need for state subsidies for films originating from countries with a small geographical and lingual dimension.
 DHKKI refuses cooperation with PASOK in local elections
Athens, 07/11/2001 (ANA)Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas on Tuesday rejected the proposal of ruling PASOK party Secretary Costas Laliotis to meet and to discuss the prospects of cooperation between the two parties in the municipal and prefectural elections.
"DHKKI does not see why it should choose between the one or the other conservative side (ruling PASOK or main opposition New Democracy party), for this reason it refused to respond to the proposal of Mr. Laliotis, and the Greek people who follow us, will judge us all," Dimitris Tsovolas said.
 Mutual funds' assets stable at Dr 8.13 trillion
Athens, 07/11/2001 (ANA)Greece's mutual funds' assets totalled 8.13 trillion drachmas in October, stable at the previous month levels, official figures showed on Tuesday.
A monthly report by the Union of Institutional Investors said, however, that October figures did not reflect the trend in sub-categories of mutual funds, with equity funds' assets rising significantly last month and money funds' assets recording the biggest fall.
Domestic equity mutual funds' assets rose 8.68 percent to 1.6 trillion drachmas, foreign equity funds' assets increased 7.09 percent to 85.6 billion and international equity funds' assets totalled 32.3 billion drachmas, up 7.09 percent.
Equity mutual funds' increased their market share to 21.21 percent in October from 19.45 percent the previous month.
Assets also increased in the combined mutual funds' sector, with domestic funds' assets at 1.2 trillion drachmas, up 5.64 percent, foreign at 2.1 billion, up 3.0 percent, and international at 60.8 billion drachmas, up 5.02 percent. The sector increased its market share to 14.95 percent in October from 14.07 percent in September.
Domestic bond mutual funds' assets rose 2.07 percent to 1.7 trillion drachmas, foreign rose 0.8 percent to 122.8 billion and international increased 9.48 percent to 85.2 billion drachmas. The sector increased its market share to 23.26 percent in October from 22.71 percent the previous month.
Domestic money mutual funds' assets, however, fell 7.83 percent to 3.3 trillion drachmas, foreign eased by 2.78 percent to 2.9 billion and international rose 26.27 percent to 13.6 billion drachmas. The sector lost a market share to 40.59 percent in October from 43.77 percent the previous month.
A total of 265 mutual funds operated in Greece at the end of October, with the number of mutual funds management companies remaining at 25.
EFG Mutual topped the list in the domestic market with assets of 1.47 trillion drachmas and a market share of 18.06 percent
Domestic equity mutual funds' return was a negative 28.8 percent in October from 34.26 percent the previous month, foreign funds' return was -24.3 percent from -28.1 percent, and international funds' return was -25.7 percent from -29.6 percent, over the same period.
Domestic combined funds' return was -14.1 percent in October from -18.4 pct the previous month, foreign was -11.4 percent from 14.1 percent and international return was -9.7 percent from -12.5 percent over the same period.
Domestic bond funds' return was +4.7 percent, from 3.0 percent, foreign was +5.2 percent from 4.1 percent and international was 5.9 percent from 3.9 percent.
Finally, domestic money funds' return was 3.2 percent in October from 2.7 percent in September, foreign was 2.4 percent from 1.9 percent, and international was 4.0 percent from 3.4 percent, over the same period.
 Credit expansion slows to 18.2 pct in August
Athens, 07/11/2001 (ANA)Credit expansion slowed to 18.2 percent year on year in August against a 19.7 percent rate of increase a month earlier, the Bank of Greece said in a statement on Tuesday.
The deceleration was due to a decrease in loans to the public sector, which slowed to 14.3 percent from 15.4 percent in July; and in borrowing by the private sector to 24.7 percent from 27.4 percent a month earlier.
Sharply declining were deposits in repos, which grew by 56.2 percent in August to 1.07 trillion drachmas against a rate of increase of 84 percent in July, the statement said.
Mortgages totalled 4.7 trillion drachmas in August, up 34.9 percent against the same month of the previous year; and against a rise of 38 percent in July, it added.
 Companies seem unprepared for euro, survey shows
Athens, 07/11/2001 (ANA)Two in 10 companies in Greece say they are in the final stage of transition for introduction of the euro as a physical currency on January 1, having taken 76 percent to 90 percent of steps needed for the change, according to a survey released on Tuesday. Carried out by PricewaterHouseCoopers Hellas with ICAP, the survey showed that three out of 10 firms were in the second phase of transition with a completion rate of 51 percent to 75 percent of changes.
Most companies have not used consultants to aid in the transition project, the report added.
 Economic sentiment down 0.2 percent in Greece
Athens, 07/11/2001 (ANA)The economic sentiment index eased 0.2 percent in Greece in October from the previous month, reflecting a decline in the consumer and retail sectors but an advance in the manufacturing and construction sectors, the European Commission said on Tuesday.
The economic sentiment index is a composite index based on the sentiment indices in the consumer, manufacturing, construction and retail sectors.
Eurozone economic sentiment, however, fell to its worst levels since 1997 in October. The monthly survey was the first con-ducted after the September 11 attacks in the US and underscored widespread recession fears.
 Car sales up 11 percent in October
Athens, 07/11/2001 (ANA)New car sales rose by 11 percent in October from the previous month, official figures by the Federation of Car Importers-Dealers showed on Tuesday.
Sales totalled 20,453 in October, exceeding a total of 18,331 sales in September, signaling a return of the domestic market to normality after the shock of a 16 percent drop in sales in the September/August period.
October figures were 1.6 percent higher compared with the same month in 2000.
 Bulgaria eager for oil pipeline to Greece, despite delays
Athens, 07/11/2001 (ANA)A senior Bulgarian government official said in Athens on Tuesday that his country was eager for construction of an oil pipeline from Burgas to Alexandroupoli, Greece, that would carry Russian oil.
Bulgaria's deputy regional growth and public works minister, Hassan Hassan, was speaking after a meeting in Athens with the secretary general of the development ministry, Dimitris Kaloudiotis.
Hassan said a meeting of Greece, Bulgaria and Russia would be held on the pipeline project in Sofia on November 19-20 that could accelerate the long-delayed project.
 ASE considers trading of ETFs
Athens, 07/11/2001 (ANA)The Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday said it was considering prospects of creating and listing of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) in the Greek bourse.
An ASE statement, commenting on recent press reports, said that ETFs were a significant investment tool in most developed international capital markets.
ETFs are equity mutual funds that usually follow the structure of a stock market index, meaning that they are index funds allowing investors to create portfolios based on the structure of an index.
The difference between ETFs and other mutual funds is that they are listed and traded in the stock market.
 Profit taking ends rally of prices on ASE Athens, 07/11/2001 (ANA)Equity prices ended Tuesday's session off their day's highs as a wave of profit taking partly reversed an initial rally on the Athens Stock Exchange.
The general index ended 0.13 percent higher at 2,593.42 points, reflecting a recovery in the telecommunications sector and gains in certain blue chip stocks.
Turnover was a moderate 69.83 billion drachmas or 204.95 million euros.
The Banks and Holdings sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses (-1.20 percent and -1.03 percent, respectively), while the Telecoms, and Cement sectors scored the biggest gains (2.18 pct and 1.19 pct, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.37 percent lower, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 0.07 percent down and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index eased 0.15 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 215 to 113 with another 36 issues unchanged.
The most heavily traded shares were Alpha Bank, National Bank of Greece, Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, Intracom and Axon Holding.
Equity futures nose down: Equity futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday moved into negative territory after starting at a premium, traders said.
Changing hands were 6,974 contracts on turnover of 44.4 million euros.
The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips shed 0.37 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks lost 0.07 percent.
Bond prices mixed in heavy trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Tuesday finished mixed in heavy trade focusing on five-year paper.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 4.78 percent, and the yield spread over German bunds was 47 basis points.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 2.1 billion euros.
Buy orders accounted for around half of turnover.
 The projects will be Greece's reply to IOC official's claim of delays
Athens, 07/11/2001 (ANA)"We will give our response with our projects and the progress that is now apparent at the worksites," culture minister Evangelos Venizelos said Tuesday, commenting on a report by IOC executive Denis Oswald warning that several construction projects for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens were behind schedule.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Athens Organizing Committee (ATHOC) chief Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, the minister described Oswald's report as a "useful" document, but added that he would reply in detail at a press conference on Wednesday.
In late September, during his first visit to the Greek capital as the head of IOC coordinating commission supervising preparations for the Athens Games, Swiss IOC executive Denis Oswald called for accelerated work on the sites under-construction and for better cooperation by all parties involved -- namely ATHOC, various ministries and other state agencies.
Replying to questions, Venizelos explained that, under the agreement signed with the IOC, in tandem with every project undertaken by Greece there must also be an alternative, or contingency, plan for the eventuality of an unforeseen problem arises in the construction of the project proper.
On his meeting with Angelopoulos, the minister said that he would have weekly meetings every Tuesday with the ATHOC chief to look over the weekly progress in preparations, adding that their close cooperation up to now would become even more frequent.
Venizelos also said that the press would be briefed regularly so as to avoid "a recycling of rumors and scenarios".
The minister further announced that on November 13 he would brief the appropriate parliamentary committee on the Olympics preparations, at the request of main opposition New Democracy party, which he accused of "violating open doors" in claiming insufficient briefing of parliament, given the government's commitment to brief the House on progress every three months. He recalled that the last briefing had been in September, during the debate on the Olympics bill.
Gov't comments on latest IOC concerns over 2004 Games: The government emphasized on Tuesday that ongoing progress towards completing various Olympics-related projects will serve as the best answer to whether they will finish on time.
Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, under whose jurisdiction the Athens 2004 organizing committee (ATHOC) comes under, made the remarks in relation to a recent report by International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president Denis Oswald.
In his report, the Swiss IOC executive said many of the construction projects scheduled for the 2004 Games are at a critical juncture and in danger of not being completed.
Oswald heads an IOC coordinating committee focusing on the Athens Games, a spot previously held by current IOC chief Jacques Rogge.
The minister none-the-less called the report "useful", following a morning meeting with ATHOC president Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, while he added that a more detailed response would come on Wednesday during a press conference.
Regarding the issue of "alternative plans" for certain venues, a proposal aired by newly appointed Public Works and Town Planning Minister Vasso Papandreou, Venizelos said every project must have an alternative plan in case unforeseen problems arise, a procedure envisioned by the IOC as well.
Finally, he said a meeting with Angelopoulos-Daskalaki will be scheduled every Tuesday to gauge progress for the Games' preparations.
 Anomeritis in Zakynthos to deal with 1000-plus illegal migrants
Athens, 07/11/2001 (ANA)Merchant marine minister George Anomeritis was to arrive on the Ionian island of Zakynthos on Tuesday evening to meet some 1,000 illegal immigrants that are being held there.
The issue of the 1000-plus immigrants - who by all accounts were originally bound for Italy - was discussed at the interior ministry on Tuesday morning by Anomeritis, Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis and Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis.
Anomeritis was to chair a meeting on the fate of the economic migrants once he arrives on the island.
The immigrants arrived on the Turkish-flagged ship "Brenler" that was towed into Zakynthos on Monday after it was abandoned drifting helplessly in rough seas by its crew when the engine-room caught fire.
Some 800 or 900 of the economic migrants are still on board, while another 350 people were taken off suffering from dehydration and other health problems. Of these, 300 are now being held in an indoor gymnasium on the island after receiving first aid and 50 are still in hospital undergoing tests. A number of children and pregnant women were also among the immigrants on board the Brenler.
Doctors have described conditions on board the vessel as "appalling" and several local bodies, citizens' movements and aid organizations are asking that the migrants be allowed to stay on Zakynthos for a couple of days to recover and then be taken to Lavrion or wherever else the government decides.
Meanwhile, the coast guard is holding three suspects for questioning who are believed to be linked to the immigrant smugglers.
Gov't considering return of illegals on Zakynthos to Turkey: Repatriating the 1,000-plus illegal migrants intercepted off Zakynthos this week back to the country from where they disembarked - Turkey -- is one of the ideas Athens is considering, a government spokesman said here Tuesday.
According to reports, most of the migrants on board are Iraqi Kurds, whereas the vessel was reportedly bound for Italy after leaving Izmir, in western Turkey. The freighter's crew reportedly fled in a speedboat when they encountered rough seas, authorities added.
If the repatriation option is selected, spokesman Christos Protopappas said, children in need of medical attention, along with their families, will be temporarily be exempted.
The granting of political asylum also appears unlikely, as Protopappas said the hundreds of migrants do not qualify.
The government spokesman added that Greece will actively promote an initiative on the issue of illegal immigration at an upcoming EU summit, while he also emphasized that Turkey - from where the "Lion's share" of illegals attempting to cross into Greece disembark - must cooperate within a "binding framework".
 Verelis addresses international flight safety seminar
Athens, 07/11/2001 (ANA)Greek-registered aircraft, Greek airports and Greek airspace were safe, Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis stressed on Tuesday, during an address to the 54th international seminar on flight safety held in Athens.
Verelis said that Greece had already passed legislation to ensure flights were safe from criminal actions such as hijacking and introduced tighter controls for monitoring and inspecting air transport at all levels.
The need for increased security to protect against criminal actions was highlighted by the events of September 11 in the United States, Verelis said. This and a strong trend toward strong alliances would bring radical changes to the air transport sector, he added.
 President Clerides says Ecevit aims at raising EU doubts on Cyprus
LARNACA, 07/11/2001 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides said here on Tuesday that with his recent statements on Cyprus Turkish Premier Bulent Ecevit aims "at raising EU doubts on whether the Union should accept Cyprus as its member or not", adding that the Cyprus government is alert on the issue but "we must not exaggerate by underlying that something serious will happen should we accede the EU."
Speaking to the press prior to his departure for New York where he will address the UN General Assembly, meet with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and other officials to discuss the Cyprus problem President Clerides said Ecevit aimed at creating the impression that Turkey would take various measures if Cyprus acceded the EU.
"At first he said that there would be disorder and instability in the Eastern Mediterranean region and afterwards he spoke for annexation (of the Turkish occupied territory to mainland Turkey) and now for annexation or a protectorate," Clerides said and expressed the conviction that the Turkish Premier was trying to raise euro-skepticism on Cyprus accession.
He noted that the Cyprus government was taking all measures required without spreading them.
Invited to comment on Turkish Cypriot leader's Rauf Denktash statements that international law circles deem that the EU cannot accept Cyprus as its member, Cyprus President said that this issue was raised by the EU, which on its part asked for the advice of its councilors, who said there was no impediment for Cyprus accession.
"Thus Mr. Denktash and Mr. Ecevit proclaim something the EU has already looked into and has decided that there is no legal obstacle," President Clerides added.
Answering a question Clerides said that once he returns from New York the National Council (top advisory body to the President on the Cyprus issue) will convene to be briefed on his deliberations in New York and to discuss the Turkish threats.
Invited to say whether the UN-led talks on Cyprus will continue given the negative Turkish stance, President Clerides said "this I will know better after the meeting I will have with UN Secretary General since one of the issues we will discuss is his intentions, should this intransigence go on."
Apart from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan President Clerides will meet in New York with the Ambassadors of the five UN Permanent Members, UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro De Soto and US State Department's Special Coordinator on Cyprus Thomas Weston. On his way to New York he will stop over to London, where he will meet Britain's representative for Cyprus Lord David Hannay.
Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit told the Turkish daily "Milliyet" that two tracks were possible for an integration of Turkey and the self-styled puppet regime in the occupied territory of Cyprus: "total annexation or establishment of an autonomous status" for the self-declared state, recognized only by Ankara.
Last year Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash abandoned UN-led talks on Cyprus demanding recognition for his self-styled regime in the Turkish occupied part of Cyprus before he returns to the UN-led peace talks.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.
 FM Kasoulides attends Euro-Mediterranean ministerial meeting in Brussels
BRUSSELS, 07/11/2001 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides stressed here on Tuesday the need to prevent and solve regional conflicts and injustices and to give momentum to efforts to bring about lasting peace and stability in the Middle East.
Speaking in Brussels at the Euro-Mediterranean ministerial meeting, which wrapped up on Tuesday, Kasoulides reiterated that Cyprus unreservedly condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestation, adding that Cyprus is a firm believer in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership which as he said can play a complementary role to the efforts to bring peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East.
Referring to the terrorist attacks against the US, he said that they were an attack against humanity and human dignity and noted that "our fight is not against a culture or a religion but against terrorists," categorically rejecting any attempt at linking fanatical terrorists with the Arab or Muslim world.
Kasoulides met on the sidelines of the ministerial meeting, with Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou with whom he discussed developments in the Cyprus question.
From Brussels, Kasoulides will go to London for a meeting with his British counterpart Jack Straw and then fly to New York to meet up with President Glafcos Clerides, who is scheduled to address the UN General Assembly on Sunday and have a meeting with Annan on Friday. He returns on November 21.
Cyprus defense minister to meet Greek counterpart
LARNACA, 07/11/2001 CNA/ANA)
Cyprus Defense Minister Socratis Hasikos left on Tuesday for Athens at the invitation of his newly appointed Greek counterpart Yiannos Papantoniou, with whom he will discuss on Wednesday the Cyprus-Greece joint defense pact, issues relating to the European Army and military equipment programs of the Cyprus Republic.
Speaking before his departure, Hasikos said certain military equipment programs were still pending, adding he would discuss with Papantoniou issues relating to their implementation.
Invited to comment on recent threats by Turkey against Cyprus, if the Cyprus Republic joins the European Union, Hasikos said Greece and Cyprus "have adopted a common line in dealing with such threats." He added Turkey's threats would be among the issues to be discussed with Papantoniou. Replying to a question on Turkey's demand for participation in the decision making body regarding the European Army, Hasikos said the EU has already responded negatively to that demand, adding Turkey would be treated in the same way as any other candidate country. Invited to comment on the Turkish military exercise "Toros" being held in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus, the minister said the Cyprus National Guard (army) monitors military movements, assuring "there is nothing to worry about." Hasikos returns home on Thursday.
Cyprus and Greece agreed in 1993 to adopt a joint defense pact, according to which Greece would provide Cyprus with air, sea and land coverage in the case of a new Turkish offensive against the island.
 French MEP says Turkish attempt to annex occupied areas would consist casus belli for the EU
NICOSIA, 07/11/2001 (CNA/ANA)Jean-Charles Marchiani, member of the European Parliament said here on Tuesday that a Turkish attempt to annex Cyprus' occupied areas to mainland Turkey "would cause the termination of EU-Turkey association relations and would consist casus belli for the Union."
Speaking through an interpreter after a meeting he had with the Chairman of the Parliamentary European Affairs Committee and President of right-wing party DIKO Tassos Papadopoulos, Marchiani who is member of the group "Union for Europe of the Nations" underlined that the European Parliament's Committee of Foreign Affairs and his group were in favor of Cyprus accession in the EU and noted that accession negotiations will soon be concluded.
Marchiani underlined the European Parliament's constant support to Cyprus' accession into the EU and a solution of the Cyprus problem based on UN relevant resolutions and the full respect of human rights.