|Saturday, 18 May 2013|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 01-11-08
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>November 8, 2001
 Greece wants concrete EU policy–and funds–for illegal migration
Athens, 08/11/2001 (ANA)Greece will press for a concrete policy in the European Union on illegal migration, as well as extra funds to help cope with the tide of economic refugees that have been pouring through Greek borders in recent years, government spokesman Christos Protopappas said on Wednesday.
"There is also a question of funds, because it is clear that the countries that receive the waves of illegal immigrants have a greater burden, greater costs to implement the policies decided on," he said.
The spokesman said that EU leaders had agreed to add the issue of illegal immigration to the agenda at the EU Summit in December, after Prime Minister Costas Simitis first raised the issue in Ghent.
"Specific proposals and specific initiatives will be sought there, to formulate an integrated European policy on the issue of illegal immigration," the spokesman said, adding that there would also have to be agreement on policy for borders and how these were guarded.
Asked about the fate of over 1,000 Asian immigrants who have been held on board the Turkish-flagged ship "Brenler" on the Ionian island of Zakynthos since Monday, Protopappas said that no political refugees would be deported from Greece to their country of origin.
He also noted, however, that not all the immigrants currently on Zakynthos could possibly qualify as political refugees and that each would be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
The spokesman once again raised the issue of Turkey's responsibilities with respect to the tide of immigrants, as a major transit and source country for economic migrants. He said that Athens insisted that Turkey sign treaties on taking back immigrants to the country they came from.
He said the issue was not on the agenda of talks between Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem, but might nevertheless be discussed.
Meanwhile, the spokesman's statements on Tuesday provoked a strong reaction from Amnesty International, which has mobilized its members worldwide to try to avert the repatriation of the Zakynthos immigrants.
While welcoming the offer of Zakynthos authorities to put up the immigrants for the next fortnight, the international organization highlighted the practically nonexistent facilities for the reception of refugees in Greece, saying that such initiatives did not remove central government's obligation to provide refugees with protection and suitable living conditions.
The group also notes that most of the immigrants come from troubled regions that are either at war or where human rights violations are commonplace, so that many of them would qualify for refugee status.
Earlier on Wednesday, Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis announced that he would recommend the introduction of tougher penalties for people smugglers during an upcoming inner cabinet meeting on illegal migration, scheduled to take place in the next few days.
Anomeritis was just back from a trip to Zakynthos the previous day, where he had presided over a meeting to decide the fate of the mainly Kurdish illegal migrants that have been on the island since Monday, when the ship they were traveling in was towed to safety after it was abandoned in stormy seas by its crew of immigrant-smugglers.
During Tuesday's meeting with Zakynthos local authorities and bodies, it was decided to lease a 500-bed hotel that would initially be used to house families.
Regarding the fate of the immigrants in the long term, the minister pointed out that it was standard practice for immigrants to request political asylum, which meant that each of them would have to be dealt with individually.
Greece, he added, had never denied political asylum to those genuinely entitled to it, but for those who were not entitled the laws would be applied and they would be deported back to their own countries. He explained that Greece did not have the capacity to accept the very large number of illegal immigrants that sought refuge here.
The minister also said there would be an inquiry under oath to investigate claims that a coast guard officer had abused his position with respect to the immigrants.
Anomeritis noted, however, that the behavior of the coast guard overall had been impeccable and that its officers had saved the lives of over 1,000 people.
 Minister denies former US envoy's claim of terrorism suspects list
Athens, 08/11/2001 (ANA)Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis on Wednesday again denied claims by a former US ambassador to Greece that the US provided Athens in the mid '90s with a list of people suspected of involvement with the notorious 'November 17' terrorist organization.
Replying to claims by former US envoy Thomas Niles in a videotaped segment aired during a Greek television program the previous night, Chrysohoidis said "the government has never received such a list, nor accepts such lists".
During an interview broadcast Tuesday night on a news program broadcast by the private MEGA TV channel, Niles, who was the US ambassador in Athens from November 1993 to November 1997, claimed that during his term in Greece he handed over to the Greek government a list of names of people suspected of participating in the N17 group.
Niles also claimed that "distinguished members" of Greek society were behind the elusive terrorist organization and that Washington had indicated to Athens who, in their view, was the author of the terrorist group's proclamations.
"It is true that I have given lists", and that "we told the Greek government who we believed was writing the organization’s proclamations", Niles said, adding: "as far as I am aware, this specific piece of evidence was never investigated by the Greek government".
Niles further claimed that in 1995 the US had given the government "a very good analysis of the various proclamations of the organization, as well as comparisons that were worth studying".
Asked whether, with similar evidence, an arrest warrant would have been issued in the US, Niles replied: "Possibly yes".
Asked whether the "main suspect", according to the US claims, was related to the government, Niles replied "not during that period", but declined comment on whether he meant that there had been a relationship prior to the period in question.
Niles also said that he had met with prime minister Costas Simitis in June 1997, after the assassination of shipowner Costas Peraticos, and "I told him what I believed was the truth about 'November 17': that it is comprised of distinguished members of Greek society" and that "the killers are hired abroad".
"I said the organizers of the group are distinguished members of Greek society and that in their everyday jobs they are not terrorists. The premier said he agreed with me," Niles continued.
Asked why, in his opinion, November 17 had not been broken up, Niles said this was "not due to the intelligence of the terrorists, nor to police incompetence".
"For me, the answer is that there is an element in the system that does not want this to happen, and over the years it has managed to block it. I don't know what it is, but there definitely is something," Niles opined.
Chrysohoidis: Commenting on Niles' interview during the same program, Public Order Minister Chrysohoidis said the former ambassador's comments "are unworthy of comment", adding that the Greek government had never received such a list of suspects, while he questioned the motive that led Niles to "becoming an accuser of Greece," as he said.
The program host, journalist Alexis Papahelas, noted that both Stelios Papathemelis and Sifis Valyrakis, who were the public order ministers during Niles' term at the US embassy, had also denied Niles' claim that the US turned over a list of suspects to the Greek government.
Citing sources at the US embassy, Papahelas said there was no comment on Niles' statement, adding that the embassy source had clarified that Niles was a private citizen and that his views did not represent those of the US government.
Gov't spokesman: Meanwhile, a government spokesman said the former US envoy's statements were "unworthy of comment", during his regular press briefing on Wednesday.
The government cannot deal with fantastic scenarios by former US diplomatic cadres, spokesman Christos Protopappas said, adding that Niles' claims about the content of talks he had with PM Simitis in 1997 were "baseless and laughable".
He also said new US ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller has in no way exercised pressure over the issue of arrests for terrorism-related acts.
Finally, he reiterated that anyone with information on terrorism should contact the proper authorities.
New Democracy: In its response, main opposition New Democracy on Wednesday declined to comment on the substance of Niles' claims, with a spokesman saying only that ND is not aware of such evidence, "nor does it know what information could have been given."
Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos merely added that ND decidedly contributed to the approval recently in Parliament of a new, tougher anti-terrorism bill. He added that the party will also attempt to contribute, within the framework of a national understanding, to efforts at eradicating terrorism.
 State Department comments on statements by Niles
WASHINGTON, 08/11/2001 (ANA - T. Ellis)U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said on Wednesday that views expressed by former U.S. Ambassador to Athens Thomas Niles did not represent those of the United States government.
Boucher was commenting on statements made by Niles concerning the elusive "November 17" terrorist group, during a program of Alexis Papahelas on Greece's Mega TV channel on Tuesday night.
Boucher said that "former ambassador Niles is a private citizen. His views do not represent those of the U.S. government. The U.S. and Greece are cooperating very closely in fighting terrorism."
 Turkish FM Cem arrives on two-day visit
Athens, 08/11/2001 (ANA)Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem arrived in Athens on Wednesday for a scheduled two-day visit and high-level talks with Greece's political leadership.
Cem is due to meet separately with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Foreign Minister George Papandreou -- who greeted him on Wednesday -- during the second day of his visit for talks focusing on international developments and bilateral relations.
In brief statements just after landing at Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, Cem said that during his contacts in Athens he would also outline his government's positions on the conflict in Afghanistan and the Mideast situation.
Both foreign ministers on Wednesday said their talks would focus on bilateral relations and implementation of various bilateral agreements regarding "low impact issues" and international developments following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
A protocol of cooperation between the diplomatic academies of the two foreign ministries, which would provide for three-year training programs, as well as an accord on setting up a joint unit to deal with natural disasters will also be signed.
Conversely, Cem said a protocol of "re-entry" covering illegal migrants would also be discussed, although it won't be signed before relevant negotiations are completed and three new Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs) signed.
Finally, Cem will attend the opening of an exhibition of his travel photographs Thursday evening at the Municipal Art Gallery, an event co-organized by the Athens and Istanbul stock ex-changes and the Athens-based Benaki Museum.
President of the Republic receives Turkish foreign minister: President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Wednesday received Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem, who was accompanied by Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and held a meeting with him for about 40 minutes.
Welcoming Cem at the Presidential Mansion, Stephanopoulos told him that "besides being an able politician you are a good photographer".
Cem relayed the best wishes of the Turkish president to Stephanopoulos and briefed him that the Turkish president was visiting Tajikistan.
No statements were made after the meeting.
Main opposition ND leader meets with visiting Turkish FM: Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday met with visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem and discussed Greek-Turkish affairs, EU-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue, among others.
In his statements after the meeting, Karamanlis said that ND sup-ports the normalization of bilateral relations and Turkey's European prospects, stressing, however, that both depend on these developments taking place within the framework of international law and international rules, while avoiding on the part of Turkey the threat of the use of violence, which he termed unacceptable.
Speaking on the Cyprus problem, Karamanlis said that there should be a just and viable solution based on United Nations resolutions.
He added - commenting on the recent statements by Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit on the possibility of Turkey annexing the occupied northern part of the island republic if it enters the European Union - that no one can stop the EU accession process of Cyprus with blackmailing dilemmas.
Karamanlis, also, said that he tabled the illegal immigration issue, noting that cooperation between the two countries and strong political will is needed to resolve the problem, which could turn into a major issue.
According to reports, Cem said that there was progress on bilateral issues, noting that problems regarding the issue were resolved and an agreement in confronting the problem of illegal immigration will be signed.
Sources said that this issue was also discussed between Cem and Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos, during their meeting earlier in the day.
Cem was not as hopeful in regards to capabilities for the resolution of the Cyprus issue.
Turkish FM addresses Greek-Turkish business conference: Visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem, addressing the opening of the 4th Greek-Turkish Business Conference on Wednesday night, said Greece and Turkey are increasing confidence and security measures with three new agreements to be signed on Thursday by the two countries' foreign ministers.
"Is there anything worth more than security and work?" Cem queried.
Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou termed Greek-Turkish trade cooperation "diplomacy of businessmen" which paves the way for the solution of major historic problems as well.
Papandreou also compared the course of Greek-Turkish trade transactions with that of France and Germany after the war which paved the way for good neighborliness and political cooperation.
The two ministers underlined the particular importance acquired by Greek-Turkish cooperation at present and after the September 11 terrorist attack in the United States, noting that cooperation between the two countries is continuing unshakably.
Proof of this is this year's amount of transactions between the two countries, which has exceeded one billion dollars and brings Turkey to the top positions among countries having a commercial interest for Greece.
The two sides also placed emphasis on the dynamic development of cooperation in the construction and energy sectors.
 Turkish deputies call for closed-door debate on Cyprus
ISTANBUL, 08/11/2001 (ANA - A. Aretaios)One hundred and twenty-six Turkish deputies from all parties represented in the neighboring country's assembly have requested a closed-door debate on the Cyprus issue.
The request is part of an initiative by former state minister Mehmet Ali Irtemcelik.
In a relevant document, the Turkish deputies said Turkey's decisions regarding the Cyprus issue must be made carefully, as they can affect the country's foreign policy.
Additionally, they stressed that the Cyprus issue is linked with EU-Turkey relations, the semi-official news agency "Anadolu" reported.
"No government can make concessions over the Cyprus issue which would not be accepted by the nation," Irtemcelik said in a written statement.
Roughly one-third of Cyprus' territory is occupied to this day by Turkish forces, following a 1974 invasion ordered by Ankara.
Conversely, the two-thirds portion of the island republic controlled by the internationally recognized government under Glafcos Clerides ranks as among the front-runners for European Union accession.
 PM Simitis meets Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania
Athens, 08/11/2001 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis held a 35-minute meeting on Wednesday afternoon with Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania Anastasios who briefed him on the situation prevailing in the Church of Albania and on problems concerning the restoration of churches in the neighboring country.
Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, who ac-companied Anastasios on his visit, praised him for succeeding, as he said, to establish himself as a religious leader of all Orthodox people.
It was the first time that Christodoulos had such a long meeting with Simitis since last August when Christodoulos announced the number of signatures he had gathered in the Church's informal referendum concerning the listing of religious denomination in police identity cards.
According to reports, the climate at the meeting was good and there was no reference to issues concerning the Church and the State.
Earlier, Anastasios visited the Athens Theological Academy.
 PM briefed on justice ministry issues
Athens, 08/11/2001 (ANA)Justice ministry issues, including Union-wide deliberations over an under consideration EU "anti-terrorism" law, were at the forefront of discussions on Wednesday between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and newly appointed Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos.
Simitis was briefed by the minister on a variety other issues as well, including implementation of new legal provisions, such as doing away with preliminary court proceedings in certain cases and tape recording court proceedings. The last two changes are expected to begin as of Jan. 1, 2002.
Petsalnikos said he briefed Simitis on the "Euro anti-terrorism" law, and in particular, over the committee focusing on Article 36.
"A necessary balance must be found between security and the safeguarding of human and civil rights," the minister said.
 PM makes symbolic visit to Athens Traffic Police
Athens, 08/11/2001 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis made a symbolic visit to the Athens Traffic Police on Wednesday in an expression of the priority given by the government to road safety.
Simitis, who was accompanied by Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis and other government officials, said Greece holds regrettable records in traffic accidents but with the five-year program which has started to be applied since January, 2001, the regrettable records will belong to the past as the program is producing results and accidents are decreasing.
The Traffic Police's commander told Simitis that fatal accidents decreased by 5.8 percent during the first nine months of the current year and serious accidents by 9.7 percent. He added that decreases will be even greater next year.
The commander further said that the Traffic Police's aims include the tackling of violations which are considered serious for the lives and property of people. He also revealed that in view of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games a program is being implemented for the modernization of the police's technical equipment.
 PM Simitis holds talks with PASOK Central Committee Secretary
Athens, 08/11/2001 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis held talks with ruling PASOK Central Committee Secretary Costas Laliotis at the Maximos Mansion on Wednesday night.
Regarding the issues he discussed with the prime minister, Laliotis restricted himself to saying that it was self-evident for the president of PASOK to have a meeting with the Central Committee Secretary once a week. However, he noted that one of the issues he discussed with Simitis was the meeting the Central Committee will have on Friday.
Asked by reporters to comment on statements made by former U.S. Ambassador to Athens Thomas Niles regarding the November 17 terrorist organization, Laliotis said that comments made by Niles and by other retired diplomats, constitute nothing more than groundless scenarios. He added that with regard to terrorism, there should be a firm front and that "a vicious circle should not be maintained" which would lead to the restriction of individual and collective freedoms.
 Papantoniou reaffirms joint defense doctrine after talks with Cypriot counterpart
Athens, 08/11/2001 (ANA)The cornerstone of the Greece-Cyprus joint defense doctrine was that any attack on Cyprus was tantamount to an attack on Greece, Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said on Wednesday.
Papantoniou made the statement after a meeting in Athens with his Cypriot counterpart Socrates Hasikos on the Greece-Cyprus joint defense doctrine, bilateral relations and Turkey's recent threats to annex the Turkish-occupied territories in northern Cyprus.
He also stressed that Greece had to be ready to battle for Cyprus' accession to the European Union, saying that "Cyprus belonged in Europe,' while expressing hope that the island's accession would also act as a catalyst for a final resolution of the Cyprus problem.
The Greek minister criticized Turkey's stance on the issue of Europe's defense identity as "negative" and said Greece was prepared to make efforts to overcome the problems that stood in the way of completing European defense.
On his part, Hasikos said the Cypriot government was on the alert following last week's threats of annexation by Turkey, and had taken all political and diplomatic steps to prevent this happening. At the same time, Hasikos predicted that Turkey would not go through with its threats.
The two defense ministers said they had agreed to intensify the rate of reinforcing Cyprus' defense, since this would act as a deterrent.
"We are ready to deal with any threat Turkey might make as it sees the rapid progress in the Cyprus' accession course," Hasikos said.
Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit had said last week his country could annex the Turkish-Cypriot territories in northern Cyprus, held with the assistance of troops supplied by Turkey, if the island republic joined the European Union.
Turkey invaded the northern third of the island in 1974 in response to a coup aimed at uniting Cyprus with Greece.
The EU and Greece responded by saying that Cyprus would join the EU even if a political settlement reuniting its two halves were not found before entry negotiations finished in late 2002.
 Deputy FM holds successive meetings with ambassadors
Athens, 08/11/2001 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Zaphiropoulos had successive meetings on Wednesday with the ambassadors of Spain and Venezuela, Eduardo Junco and Lisan Steden Balliache respectively, and with the Charge d'Affaires of Tunisia, Mohamed Ali Naft.
During the meetings, views were exchanged on the possibility of broadening the economic and trade relations which Greece maintains with the three countries.
The meeting with the Spanish ambassador also dealt with the issue of illegal immigration.
Zaphiropoulos briefed Junco that a letter has already been sent to their counterparts in the Mediterranean countries, proposing the start of a dialogue for finding ways to curb the wave of economic immigrants to their countries, through the economic development of Mediterranean countries as a unified region.
 Greek police and security forces to conduct map exercise
Athens, 08/11/2001 (ANA)A map exercise code named "Trojan Horse 2001", testing plans and procedures of the security forces of the country, will take place behind closed doors at a central Athens hotel on Thursday and Friday.
Greek Police (EL.AS.), the Fire Department, the Coast Guard, the Greek National Intelligence Service (EYP) and the emergency medical response service (EKAB) officers will participate in the exercise, which will simulate events that occurred in the past in efforts to better prepare for the future by training officers and upgrading the existing plans.
Several other state agencies were called to participate as observers, along with the leadership of the public order ministry and the aforementioned security forces.
 Public works minister calls ND criticism "unacceptable"
Athens, 08/11/2001 (ANA)Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou on Wednesday accused main opposition New Democracy (ND) for attitudes of "blind conflict and petty party political exploitation regarding public projects", stressing that such an attitude was "unacceptable".
Papandreou's criticism came in the wake of continued statements by ND cadres, who criticized the government over problems created to the infrastructure of the country during the recent rain and storms that hit the country.
"The infrastructure projects that were completed in the country over the past few years are huge. The PASOK government, since 1993 created the appropriate framework for the speedy realization of projects and in parallel for the control of their quality and the allocation of responsibility in the cases of poor workmanship," she said.
"It is unacceptable that the main opposition slides to attitudes of blind conflict and petty party exploitation, negating everything," Papandreou said.
She went on to describe that the problems on the Malakasa, Attica stretch of the highway that was flooded during the storms, stemmed from the project being tendered and completed between 1990 and 1993, when ND was in power.
 Greek EU Commissioner proposes new employment policy
BRUSSELS, 08/11/2001 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)The European Commission on Wednesday approved a proposal of Greek Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou on employment and the social policy of the European Union.
Diamantopoulou's proposal focused on the strengthening of the local dimension in the European strategy for employment, cal-ling for ways to further develop employment on a local level and presents the actions for the use of experience and the support for the transfer of the best possible practice on a European level.
The Commission stressed, in its announcement that there is need for political will, experimentation and the exchanges in correct practice strategies, while correct use of structural funds and especially those of the EQUAL initiative would be instrumental for success on this front.
 ND leader says public not sufficiently briefed on the euro
Athens, 08/11/2001 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Kostas Karamanlis on Wednesday night expressed the opinion that the public has not been sufficiently briefed on the new euro currency which will be introduced in the country from January 1.
Karamanlis was addressing a meeting organized by the Constantine Karamanlis Democracy Institute in cooperation with the General Secretariat and parliamentary group of the ND.
Karamanlis noted that Greece's accession to the Economic Monetary Union (EMU) and the impending circulation of the euro constitutes a positive development. He added that a crucial element in the period that follows constitutes the timely and rational utilization of the funds of the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF) under conditions of complete transparency, as well as the speeding up of preparations for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
 ND leader says education a potential strategic advantage
Athens, 08/11/2001 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday chaired a meeting of party deputies involved in the education sector and stressed that "education constitutes a potential strategic advantage for Greece and its culture and is the top substantive structural change."
ND spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos criticized government policy as being problematic and said there is a lack of classrooms, libraries and teachers which has been a permanent phenomenon during PASOK governments.
He noted that expenditures for education in Greece are the lowest among European Union countries, as are teachers' salaries and expenditures for each pupil and student.
Roussopoulos further said that the constitution anticipates that education is free but the expenditures of households for preparatory schools amount to 773 billion drachmas a year. He added that there has been no progress in the informatics lesson at schools which, as he stressed, had been established by the ND government in 1990.
Roussopoulos also mentioned that 2,530 teachers' jobs still remain vacant, while the distribution of books had been continuing at junior and senior high schools until Tuesday.
 Greece has not incorporated EU pollution directive, SYN Eurodeputy says
BRUSSELS, 08/11/2001 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)Greece has not abided by two European Union directives on air pollution, Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) Eurodeputy Mihalis Papayiannakis said on Wednesday, invoking a relevant response provided for the European legislative body by European Commissioner Margo Walstrom.
According to Papayiannakis, the Commissioner, in her response to a question tabled by him, said that the case of incorporating the directive on complete pollution control into the Greek national legislation was pending before the European Communities' Court.
 Debate on metropolitan government to begin at interior ministry
Athens, 08/11/2001 (ANA)A full-fledged discussion on local government in metropolitan areas would begin next week, following the presentation of a study conducted by Athens' Panteion University on the issue, Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis told Greece's main municipal authorities union on Wednesday.
The minister said the interior ministry would set up a cross-party committee, while at the same time initiating dialogue with local authority organizations.
Skandalidis was responding to questions put by the board of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE).
The minister said the dialogue would initially focus on metropolitan centers that had lagged behind on this level, such as in the Attic basin.
He clarified, however, that any decision made would not change the present system before the next local government elections.
Skandalidis also announced that 70 million drachmas in compensation were to be released on Wednesday for damage incurred during storms over the weekend and Monday in northeast Attica.
 Gov't lowers growth targets for 2001, 2002
Athens, 08/11/2001 (ANA)The government is to revise downward its original growth target for 2001 to 4.1 percent from 4.6 percent, and for 2002 to 3.8 percent from 4.0 percent, National Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Wednesday.
Christodoulakis was speaking after a meeting with the prime minister on the content of talks by European Union finance ministers, and on the budget for next year, which is destined for parliament on November 21.
In addition, a growth target of 3.8 percent will be adopted for 2002 against 4.0 percent, sources said.
The move would mean further cuts in spending of about 100 billion drachmas against forecasts in the draft budget in order to cover a slowdown in revenue from the anticipated deceleration in growth.
Christodoulakis attributed the downward revision to a global slowdown that he said would not show signs of easing until the second half of 2002.
 Current accounts deficit falls to Euro 4.38 bln in Jan-Aug
Athens, 08/11/2001 (ANA)Greece's current accounts deficit shrunk by 225 million euros in the January-August period, compared with the same period in 2000, to 4.38 billion euros, the Bank of Greece said on Wednesday.
The central bank attributed the fall to a fall in the trade deficit - with the exception of fuel - and to an increase in the services and transfers surplus. The incomes deficit, however, almost double in the first eight months of the year.
The financial services surplus fell to 3.12 billion euros in the Jan-Aug period, from 5.6 billion last year, despite significant capital inflows in August in the domestic bond market. The Bank of Greece said this development reflected huge outflows in other investments due to a gradual release of commercial banks' foreign currency deposits to the central bank, higher debt repayment of the general government and to a statistical change in the country's foreign currency reserves in line with European Central Bank's guidelines.
More analytically, a limited trade deficit in the first eight months of 2001 was attributed to a significant increase of export revenues, reducing the trade deficit by 385 million euros, while net fuel imports rose by 260 million euros.
Direct foreign investments showed a net inflow of 700 million euros in the January-August period, reflecting the inflow of capital in the takeover of Interamerican by Eureko NV in July 2001. Net portfolio investment inflows totalled 8,120 million euros in the first eight months of 2001 at the end of August.
 Greek consumers' purchasing power low, report says
Athens, 08/11/2001 (ANA)Greek consumers work considerably more time compared with other European consumers to buy the same amount of food and beverages, an independent report by the country's Consumers' Institute INKA revealed on Wednesday.
This difference will be highlighted more clearly after the circulation of the euro currency, INKA said in its panhellenic price report.
Greek consumers work 95 hours and 46 minutes to buy the same 100 food and beverage products which the German buys with only 48 hours and 35 minutes of work, the Englishman in 57 hours and 10 minutes, the Frenchman in 57 hours and 55 minutes and the Italian in 69 hours and 12 minutes.
The report also revealed that differences in work times reached 102 percent, while differences in wages reached 165 percent.
INKA said that 50.3 percent of Greek consumers did not know any product prices, while 39 percent of consumers said their purchases were based on price differences. The report warned that price ignorance by Greek consumers would worsened from January 1, 2002, with the introduction of the euro because of the creation of an over-optimistic climate in the country.
 Portfolio investment firms show rise in assets
Athens, 08/11/2001 (ANA)Domestic portfolio investment firms showed a rise in their net asset value to 726.7 billion drachmas on October 31 from 629.4 billion drachmas on September 28, up 15.4 percent, the Union of Institutional Investors said on Wednesday.
The index for portfolio investment firms showed an increase of 9.30 percent between September 28 and October 31 against a rise of 10.88 percent on the Athens Stock Exchange's general share index, according to the union.
 Greek bond market rallies in October
Athens, 08/11/2001 (ANA)Greek state bond prices rose spectacularly in October along with a substantial increase in volume in the domestic electronic secondary securities market, the Bank of Greece said on Wednesday.
In its monthly report on the bond market, the central bank said the domestic market benefited from a favorable climate in international bond markets reflecting investors' search for safe havens in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US.
Long-term bonds (10- and 20-year) recorded the biggest monthly increase, ranging from 279 to 493 basis points, with short-term bonds recording increases of 20-135 bps in the month. The 10-year benchmark bond ended at 103.59 in October, up from 100.80 the previous month.
Bond yields fell to record lows in October, with the 10-year benchmark falling to 4.87 percent from 5.24 percent in September, while the spread of the average yield between the 3-year and the 20-year bond rose to 2.24 percent in October from 2.1 percent the previous month and 0.64 percent last year, further steepening the yield curve.
The spread between the 10-year Greek and German Bund bond fell to 45 bps in October from 48 bps in September.
Turnover in the domestic electronic secondary bond market totalled 31 billion euros, a new record, in October. The previous record was 28 billion euros in May.
The report said that buying interest in October focused on long-term bonds (with duration exceeding seven years).
The central bank, however, noted that investors have shifted towards the short- and medium-term yield curve of the market in the wake of the terrorist attacks in the US. Buying interest for short- and medium-term bonds averaged 39.8 percent in the January-August period, rising to 44.9 percent in September and 47.6 percent in October.
The positive climate in the domestic bond market was reaffirmed at the latest five-year bond auction, which saw the average weighed rate falling to 3.97 percent from 4.81 percent in the previous auction in July.
Greek stocks end sharply up, telecoms rally: Renewed talk of new alliances in the telecommunications sector, with the latest scenario bringing together Hellenic Telecoms with Intracom, combined with news of the inclusion of National Bank's, Alpha Bank's and Hellenic Telecoms' shares in the European indices of Morgan Stanley Capital International, created a very positive climate in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday.
The general index ended 1.54 percent higher at 2,633.24 points, with turnover a moderate 65.82 billion drachmas or 193.16 million euros.
The Publication, Telecoms and Textiles sectors scored the biggest percentage gains (2.48 percent, 2.19 percent and 2.17 percent, respectively), with only the Metals sector suffering losses.
Intracom's shares rose 4.05 percent, Hellenic Telecoms' ended 2.36 percent and Panafon rose 3.23 percent.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 1.27 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index rose 1.37 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index rose 1.60 percent.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 257 to 67 with another 36 issues unchanged.
Derivatives Market Close: Equity futures slip in edgy trade: Equity futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday moved slightly lower in brisk, volatile trade, traders said. Changing hands were 10,606 contracts in heavy turnover.
The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips gained 1.27 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks rose 1.37 percent.
Bond Market Close: Prices rise in brisk trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Wednesday finished higher in heavy trade focusing on 10-year paper.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 4.71 percent, and the yield spread over German bunds was 44 basis points.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 1.7 billion euros.
Buy orders accounted for the bulk of turnover.
 PM holds talks with Olympic Organizing Committee president
Athens, 08/11/2001 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Wednesday night discussed the full clarification of duties and the course of preparations for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games with Athens 2004 Organizing Committee President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki.
The meeting, according to government sources, was held on the preparation of the next Interministerial Committee, which will be very important since the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Coordinating Committee will be visiting Athens on November 21.
It was clarified that the meeting was held earlier because Simitis will be abroad on an official visit next week.
According to Athens 2004 sources, Daskalaki appears to be dissatisfied with the image presented recently, primarily by government circles, on the Organizing Committee's duties which appear to be limited and under tight government control.
Another point puzzling Daskalaki, as her associates disclosed, is that she is losing the exclusive "privilege" of briefing the IOC, which Coordinating Committee President Dennis Oswald might mention during his next visit.
Government sources which have detected Daskalaki's displeasure maintain that the issue will be resolved soon, while stressing that what is important at the moment is the unity of all to enable the country's preparation for the Olympic Games to proceed at speedy and effective rates.
However, rumors of Daskalaki's possible resignation were denied by both the government and Organizing Committee circles.
 Cultural Capitals Network executive committee meets in Santorini
Athens, 08/11/2001 (ANA)The executive committee of the European Cultural Capitals Network, which met last week on the Central Aegean island of Santorini discussed the restructuring of the network.
The committee, which met from Nov. 1 to 4, on Santorini, decided to put to a vote of the General Assembly the new charter of the network, during the meeting of the assembly in Switzer-land at the end of the month.
This new charter proposes the establishment of the network as an institution within the European Union, so that it may contribute as the most valid interlocutor of the European Commission in the forging of future policies regarding the initiative of establishing cultural capitals of Europe.
The committee also decided to name May 5 as "European Culture Day
 British FM says Cyprus question will not be marginalized
LONDON, 08/11/2001(CNA/ANA)Britain wishes to see negotiations on the Cyprus question to take place alongside Cyprus' accession negotiations to the European Union, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said on Wednesday, pointing out that Britain does not approach the latter in terms of the success of the former.
Speaking after his 40-minute long meeting with Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, in London on his way to New York, Straw said Britain's approach on Cyprus' application to join the EU has been consistent, expressing wish "to see Cyprus becoming a member of the EU as soon as the criteria for membership are fulfilled."
Straw said they discussed issues relating to the international fight against terrorism and expressed "deep gratitude to the minister, the government and the people of Cyprus for their support in the coalition against terrorism."
He added, during their meeting they discussed Cyprus' accession negotiations and pointed out that Britain welcomes the fact "that Cyprus is further advanced" in terms of harmonizing with the acquis communautaire, "than any other of the applicant states", stressing that "Cyprus' application has to be dealt with entirely on its merits without preconditions regarding the settlement of the political conflict."
Referring to the Cyprus problem, he said "we both agree it would be better if it could be resolved before Cyprus joins the EU", pointing out that "what we want is to see is the process of negotiations for a settlement of the Cyprus question to take place alongside the negotiations for the accession of Cyprus to the EU, but we do not approach the latter in terms of success of the former."
 Turkish Cypriot political leaders denounce Ecevit's threats of annexation
NICOSIA, 08/11/2001 (CNA/ANA)Turkish Cypriot party leaders denounced here on Wednesday Turkish Premier's Bulent Ecevit recent threats for annexation of Cyprus' northern occupied part to mainland Turkey stressing the need for a settlement of the Cyprus problem prior to Cyprus' accession to the EU.
Husein Angolemli of the Communal Liberation Party, Mehmet Ali Talat of the Republican Turkish Party and Izzet Izcan of the Patriotic Unity Movement told the press after a meeting held between
 President Clerides due to fly to New York for UN meetingsLONDON, 08/11/2001 (CAN / ANA)
Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides was due to fly on Wednesday from London to New York where he will address the UN General Assembly and hold meetings with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the ambassadors of the UN Security Council Permanent Members.
Clerides will also meet UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto and US State Department's Special Coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston.