|Thursday, 23 May 2013|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 01-11-24
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>November 24, 2001
 IOC pleased with Athens’ progress, warns against let-up
Athens, 24/11/2001 (ANA)Progress for the Athens 2004 Olympics earned a “thumbs up” from a visiting International Olympic Committee (IOC) delegation on Friday, to the relief of the government and Athens organizers (ATHOC) and following two weeks of heated press speculation citing friction between the two sides.
“In general terms we are positively surprised by the progress made since our last visit in September ... the general impression is a positive impression,” said Denis Oswald, the IOC vice-president heading a commission overseeing preparations for the 2004 Games.
While praising the level of progress since his commission’s last inspection two months ago, Oswald nevertheless warned, “there is still a huge amount of work to be done.”
“Accumulated delays still exist,” Oswald said, noting that progress must be continued at an accelerated pace in order to meet test event schedules, with the first – a sailing competition -- coming in August 2002.
Prior to the IOC press conference, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis received the Swiss IOC executive for one hour of talks, a meeting where the Greek premier offered his personal guarantee that all 2004-related projects will be handed over on time. Oswald also had separate briefing by the transport, public works and culture ministers.
Publication of the commission’s September report in the Athens daily “Kathimerini” two weeks ago, peppered with details of delays in venue construction and infrastructure works, triggered the latest round of press scrutiny and an accompanying rumor mill in motion, as reports cited bickering between ATHOC’s leadership and specific cabinet ministers.
At one point several news reports even had high-profile ATHOC head Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki resigning.
“In the meantime (since September), things have been corrected, and the situation is different today,” Oswald said in response to a question.
On her part, Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, credited with heading up the campaign to win the Games for Athens, answered a press question on her future with ATHOC by calling preparations and the hosting of the Games “a once-in-a-lifetime undertaking I was called upon to head up.
“I have never asked for anything, I have never been given anything, I’m doing it for my country ... there is no conflict with the government,” she stressed.
Areas of IOC scrutiny: Oswald said the current 18-member IOC delegation concentrated on five sectors over the past two days, namely, transports, the Olympic village, construction projects, venue operation and accommodations.
Focusing squarely on a problem plaguing Athens for decades, traffic congestion, Oswald said IOC experts have listed higher urban density, a growing number of new vehicles on the Greek capital roads every year and a “lack of discipline by local drivers”, as he put it, as the primary reasons why excellent public transports are necessary for holding successful Olympics.
He pointed to the planned “Stavros” metro juncture in northern Athens as “essential”, saying that PM Simitis is aware of the project’s importance.
In referring to crucial infrastructure works, Oswald, who arrived in Greece on crutches due to a recent knee injury, emphasized that “no project can be cancelled without a viable alternative in its place … It is like a puzzle, if you leave one piece out it must be replaced.”
He added that the latest inspection also ascertained progress in the area of venue construction, although problems remain with the Faliron site, along a coastal strip south of downtown Athens, and at the nearby Hellenikon site, where the canoe slalom event was transferred.
Hellenikon previously served as the country’s largest airport, before the new Athens airport opened east of the Greek capital.
“All the venues are essential for the success of the Games … it is essential that these venues are at our disposal,” he said.
In terms of other venues, Oswald said the IOC was concerned for the Markopoulo equestrian centre because of delays, adding that completion deadlines are “very tight”.
As far as the Athens Olympic multi-complex (OAKA) is concerned, the centerpiece site for the 2004 Games, Oswald said the athletics, swimming and cycling test events will undoubtedly be delayed due to necessary renovations.
Conversely, ongoing work at the Olympic Village garnered only kudos by the IOC executive, who succeeded IOC president Jacques Rogge as the chief of the supervisory commission for the 2004 Games.
“We’re pleased with the progress. Houses are coming out of the ground … the Olympic Village is on track,” he said.
Touching on accommodations, Oswald said 13,000 hotel rooms and 3,000 cruise ship rooms have been booked so far, leaving only a deficit of 3,000 rooms for the extended Olympic family, as well as concerns for visitors planning to attend the Games.
He said new hotels could provide the solution, but only if construction began by March or April 2002 at the latest, otherwise, “they won’t be a solution for 2004.”
Finally, in terms of venue operation, Oswald noted that while still at an early stage, “presented plans are satisfactory”.
“It is clear that a great deal of progress has been made, but we must not rest or relax … time is the most crucial parameter, there is no time to lose, nor can mistakes be made,” Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said in her opening remarks, while emphasizing that 994 days, or, “142 Fridays from today” remain before the Athens Olympic stadium is filled with athletes, spectators and international media.
Friday’s more-or-less positive IOC report comes roughly a year and a half after the Lausanne-based organization issued a direct warning to Athens to get 2004 preparations moving and to overcome bureaucratic obstacles, a development that led to a shakeup of ATHOC’s leadership and Angelopoulos-Daskalaki’s appointment.
A government reshuffle last month also created several new deputy minister posts with specific 2004-related duties and responsibilities.
 PM confers with visiting IOC Coordinating Committee chief on 2004 projects
Athens, 24/11/2001 (ANA)Prime minister Costas Simitis met Friday with visiting IOC Coordinating Committee chief Denis Oswald to discuss progress in preparations for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
During the one-hour meeting, which was also attended by culture minister Evangelos Venizelos and Athens 2004 Coordinating Committee (ATHOC) president Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, the premier assured the IOC official that the Games-related projects -- events venues and infrastructural projects alike -- would be completed on time
Oswald appeared satisfied after his exchange of views with the premier and earlier meetings with ministers.
Venizelos said after the meeting that the climate was "positive" and that all was going well, and there were no "yellow or red cards" as rumored in the press prior to Oswald's visit.
 IOC has noted progress in Olympics preparations, Venizelos says
Athens, 24/11/2001 (ANA)The progress made in preparations for the 2004 Olympics since the IOC's last visit in September had been noted by IOC officials this time round, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos told reporters on Friday.
Speaking after a meeting with IOC Coordinating Committee chief Denis Oswald, also attended by ATHOC chief Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki and other government ministers, Venizelos said that Committee members had come away with "a balanced and positive picture".
Among the projects undertaken by the General Secretariat for Sports, only that of moving the racetrack to Markopoulos still posed potential problems, Venizelos said, and this might be solved by suspending the operation of the racetrack until the works at its current venue in Faliron were complete.
Another issue discussed was organizing the timing of test events with international sports federations so that any problems that might be arise could be corrected.
Environment and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou, whose ministry is in charge of the bulk of support infrastructure projects related to the Games, was also present at the meeting with Oswald and afterward said that the deadlines were tight but would be met.
"I think we are doing well - organizing the Olympic Games is a complicated and difficult enterprise but we will make it," she said.
Papandreou said that some of the roads being built by the ministry for 2004 presented problems, especially those passing through Athens residential areas, but that there were workable alternative solutions that would be effective for the duration of the Olympiad.
Construction of sports facilities undertaken by the environment ministry was proceeding on schedule though further delays would have to be avoided, she said, especially at the Hellenikon site since a new event, the slalom, had been transferred there.
She stressed, however, that the delays chiefly affected when test events would be held, not whether facilities would be ready in time for the Games.
Transport Minister Christos Verelis, whose ministry also has a role in Olympics projects, met with Oswald separately on Friday, due to a prior commitment.
 FM Papandreou hails Russia-NATO agreement
Athens, 24/11/2001 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Friday hailed the agreement for the upgrading of relations between Russia and NATO, during NATO General Secretary George Robertson's visit to Moscow.
Papandreou said in a written statement the agreement marked a new era for peace and cooperation in Europe. He noted that it was a major development, which will have positive effects in international relations and will decisively contribute to the creation of a new climate of mutual trust.
"We believe that with this agreement new conditions are being created for the common confrontation of the major international and regional problems," he said, adding that "Greece and the Greek government hail with satisfaction this agreement."
The foreign minister said that Greece has repeatedly supported, within the framework of NATO, the need for the enlargement, upgrading and strengthening of relations with Russia "because we believe that it constitutes a very important partner in Europe and the international scene."
In parallel, the European Union looks forward to cooperation with Russia through the procedures of the common foreign, security and defense policy, Papandreou said.
He noted that during his recent talks with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell as well as with other EU and NATO counterparts, he had the opportunity to stress the need for further developing relations with Russia as a basic prerequisite for the consolidation on a global level relations of peace, security and cooperation.
 ESP and PASOK conference on Future of Europe begins in Athens
Athens, 24/11/2001 (ANA)International terrorism, illegal immigration and ways of handling them, as well as the European army, were the main issues discussed at the Zappeion Hall in Athens on Friday during the first session of a conference on the future of Europe jointly organized by the European Socialist Party's parliamentary group and the ruling PASOK party's parliamentary group at the European Parliament.
Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou spoke of the recent decisions by the European Council on the European army, by which the contribution of European countries for its creation is being enlarged, while its objectives include the handling of terrorism. The percentage of Greece's participation in the European army in manpower will reach 6.5 percent.
Former Luxembourg foreign minister Jacques Poos said diplomacy should be linked with military power and reiterated that NATO constitutes the EU's main military partner.
U.S. Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller, referring to the relation between the European army and NATO, reiterated that the main concern is that whatever emergency should not harm the common perspective under NATO's umbrella.
He said that a military solution to the handling of terrorism is the last option, while all other options should be exhausted before a military solution.
Miller said that in Afghanistan options contain diplomatic, economic and military solutions. He further stressed that emphasis should be placed on the subjective causes of terrorism such as poverty, which in turn leads to emigration, but noted that there are not always adequate funds to tackle it.
The U.S. envoy also said that the "bin Ladens" are not poor people. They are people who have lived in favorable conditions and their attacks are aimed at the way of life enjoyed by all of us.
Health Minister Alekos Papadopoulos said the issue of public health should be handled collectively by the EU, as has already been scheduled according to the latest decision taken by the European Council.
Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen in a message stressed the need for cooperation among member-states to control Europe's external borders, as well as the need for the creation of new jobs and a European social model in the future.
In his message, Foreign Minister George Papandreou said that once again external events, such as those on September 11, raised the dilemma whether Europe will speed up and deepen the unification process, or ignore this challenge as well with the visible result being the loosening of apparatuses and possibilities of cooperation and joint action.
Papandreou said that the "successful completion of the enlargement process has a particular importance for reasons which are not linked to the self-evident significance of the accession of Cyprus alone".
PASOK's Central Committee secretary Costas Laliotis said that through the present dialogue "we want to highlight that the European socialists and PASOK are maintaining the initiative and the necessary energy and effectiveness in claiming and safeguarding the interests of all citizens in new Europe."
Former Italian PM D'Alema calls for more European unity: Former Italian prime minister Massimo D'Alema, in a message to a conference on the future of Europe organized by ruling PASOK eurodeputies on Friday, said that Europe must play a protagonist role in the handling of international crises.
D'Alema said that due to the "dramatic international crisis we are going through," it was necessary for Europe to be more united and be in a position to play a greater role, alongside the United States, in efforts to establish "a more just world order."
He referred to the need for strengthening the European Union's institutions, stressing that "at long last a common defense policy should be born" and for foreign policy to be "a really common one."
D'Alema underlined that "the West has a share of responsibility in that it did not spot in time the danger of Islamic fundamentalism which does not only turn against us but also against the whole Islamic world," and sited as an example the West's support to Osama bin Laden's group when it was fighting against the Soviets in Afghanistan.
 Parliament debate focuses on illegal immigration problem
Athens, 24/11/2001 (ANA)The growing problem of illegal immigration dominated Parliament debate on Friday following a tabled question by main opposition New Democracy and a response by the public order minister.
On his part, Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis emphasized that the government has made significant progress in the areas of border control as well as absorbing migrants into Greek society.
Chrysohoidis said 4,500 border guards have been hired over the past two years, while 360,000 illegal migrants have been deported. He also noted that a relevant Schengen Pact committee overseeing implementation has praised Athens’ efforts.
Conversely, six ND deputies charged that the government is unable to cope with the increasingly growing number of migrants attempting to enter Greece.
They also charged that a two-year rapprochement with neighboring Turkey – a traditional disembarkation point for thousands of mostly Third World migrants attempting to sneak into the European Union – has failed to bear any results on this particular issue.
Other charges aired by the main opposition include poor coordination among state services in receiving illegals; a lack of training and equipment for border guards; lack of a comprehensive study on exactly how many non-EU foreign nationals the country can absorb, as well as what they said are lenient prison terms for individuals convicted of migrant smuggling.
In reeling off a number of concerns, the ND deputies also referred to the miserable, as they stressed, conditions in which many illegal immigrants find themselves, many of whom are apparently finding shelter in Athens’ few parks of late.
Chrysohoidis responded that Greece’s extensive coastline and numerous islands are difficult to secure, whereas new legislation is expected to stiffen sentences for convicted migrant smugglers.
In his address, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) deputy Nikos Gatzis said ND has made several correct assertions, while at the same time ignoring the reasons leading such people to leave their homelands. He also claimed that a further expansion of the “new order”, as he said, in the Third World will lead to an exacerbation of the problem.
 Cyprus in front line for EU entry, Greek commissioner says
Athens, 24/11/2001 (ANA)Greek European Union Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou, addressing a conference organized in Athens on Friday by the PASOK party on the "Future of Europe", said Cyprus is in the front line regarding the achievement of criteria for its EU accession.
Diamantopoulou said that in the EU commission's recent report explicit reference is made for Cyprus that the final decision on accession will not be affected by whether or not the political problem has been resolved, but only by the achievement of economic and political criteria applied for all countries.
She also referred to the EU's report on Turkey, which, as she pointed out, is negative in its entirety despite the elements of progress achieved.
Turkey, she added, does not fulfill either economic or political criteria to enable talks on its accession to start and there is a long path for it.
Diamantopoulou said the EU's enlargement will not take place with political criteria, political decisions will not be taken on which countries will join or leave and added that the governments of candidate countries should be aware of this in order to proceed speedily with changes and reforms.
 Turkish National Assembly discusses Cyprus issue
ISTANBUL 24/11/2001 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)A four-hour debate on the Cyprus issue at the Turkish National Assembly on Friday was concluded without surprises or tensions.
The debate was asked by 126 deputies concerned over the consequences that the Cyprus issue might have in Turkey's relations with the EU.
The debate was attended by Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, deputy prime ministers, party leaders and many parliamentary deputies, while Foreign Minister Ismail Cem briefed the National Assembly on the Cyprus issue.
"Some deputies, primarily independent, criticized the government and its policy over the Cyprus issue, but we shall not find out what was said precisely because the debate was held in camera," influential journalist Mehmet Ali Birand said in a statement to the Greek NET television station.
Birand also said that "public opinion, which has lost its interest in the Cyprus issue, has begun to be interested in its solution."
Despite the dissatisfaction of many deputies who found the debate "boring", analysts believe that it constitutes a "positive step."
"The debate shows that, following the latest developments on the Cyprus issue and in (Turkey's) relations with the EU, these issues are being handled seriously by Ankara," journalist Cenkins Cadar told NET.
The debate's records will remain confidential and will by published in 10 years time.
 Gov't spokesman says terrorism report an old one
Athens, 24/11/2001 (ANA)Government spokesman Christos Protopappas said on Friday a report on terrorism published, on the same day, in the newspaper "Ta Nea" was an old one.
He said it is a report prepared at times by relevant services and at various levels.
Protopappas denied that the publication of the report constituted a harbinger of the arrests of suspects for terrorist acts. He added that there was no such case and that an investigation is already being conducted to ascertain how the report was leaked out.
He further said that by the content of the report alone it was evident that in no way was it a government report on the issue of terrorism.
In a statement while leaving Parliament, Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis said, "the report is one of many. Certainly, the issue is being investigated for us to see in what way it was leaked. We are handling the issue with responsibility in the framework of democratic legality."
U.S. Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller, commenting, on the sidelines of a conference on the "Future of Europe", on the newspaper's report and on recent statements by former U.S. Ambassador to Athens Thomas Niles, reiterated that they were personal views by Niles, which he has set out in the past as well.
Miller said that he himself was the representative of the U.S. government in Greece, there was excellent cooperation with the public order minister and very good cooperation in the framework of the common struggle in combatting terrorism. He also reiterated that he feels safe in Greece.
 Foreign ministry delegation visits foreign nationals charged as spies
Athens, 24/11/2001 (ANA)A high-ranking delegation from the foreign ministry on Friday visited members of a group of British and Dutch nationals being held at Korydallos prison, after they were remanded in custody on charges of espionage.
The 12 British nationals and two Dutchmen – members of an aviation enthusiasts’ club - were arrested after they were caught taking photographs of a Greek airbase in Kalamata.
Greek government spokesman Christos Protopappas said on Thursday that they had been warned before their arrest by Greek authorities not to photograph military installations.
A foreign ministry spokesman had told reporters on Thursday that Foreign Minister George Papandreou would visit the sole female detainee in the group but Papandreou later cancelled the visit to avoid giving the appearance of interfering with justice.
The group of 14 tourists, described as “plane spotters”, were arrested near the southern Peloponnese port city of Kalamata two weeks ago before being formally arraigned late last week, and after authorities ascertained that they had taken photographs of planes and facilities of several airbases around southern Greece.
All 14 have denied the espionage charges.
 Romania's Iliescu on Crete
Athens, 24/11/2001 (ANA)Romanian President Ion Iliescu thanked Athens for its support towards his country’s European Union prospects on Friday from Irakleio, Crete, his last stop in Greece before returning to Bucharest.
Iliescu, at the head of a large Romanian delegation, arrived on Crete’s largest city for a series of meeting with local political and business officials, following his talks in Athens with Greece’s leadership.
In statements to reporters at the prefectural hall, the Romanian president said his country would meet EU criteria for accession by 2007.
He returns to Bucharest after three days in Greece on Friday afternoon.
 ND leader blasts gov't after surprise visit to IKA branch
Athens, 24/11/2001 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Friday severely criticized the government after paying an unannounced early-morning visit on an IKA state social security foundation branch in Nikea, near Piraeus.
Karamanlis, accompanied by a TV camera crew and journalists, paid a surprise call on the IKA medical offices in Nikea at 7:30 a.m. Friday, and later criticized the government on its policy, accusing the government of "apathetically watching the same unacceptable situation" and "sufficing itself with 'big words' on social sensitivity".
In reality, he continued, the provision of health services to IKA-insured citizens remained "Third World-like", with the victims being the IKA-insured, the non-privileged citizens, but also the IKA employees themselves "who make superhuman efforts for (providing) the best".
Karamanlis noted that four years ago, in November 1997, prime minister Costas Simitis, during a visit to an IKA branch in Neos Kosmos, had himself said that the dignity of the citizen was undermined in each IKA queue, and that the social systems were judged by the every-day civilization they displayed.
"But four years later, (we have) the same government, the same prime minister, the same people, and the same unacceptable situation," Karamanlis added.
The main opposition leader said that the lack in doctors, medical and administrative personnel in IKA represented about 40 percent of the organic positions, resulting in unacceptable hard-ship for the citizens with respect to both service and quality of services provided.
 KEP founding congress begins in Thessaloniki
Athens, 24/11/2001 (ANA)The founding congress of the Free Citizens Movement (KEP) began in Thessaloniki on Friday.
On the occasion of the start of the two-day congress, KEP leader and Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos said at a press conference that his party was "different from other parties" in that "it is a new one and its policy comes from the future."
He excluded the possibility of KEP cooperating with other parties in the municipal and parliamentary elections.
Referring to the eventuality of his party cooperating with other parties in the post-election period, Avramopoulos said that KEP "can cooperate with the same ease" both with the Panhellenic Socialist movement (PASOK) and the New Democracy (ND) party.
He said that his party had 5,500 to 6,000 members and predicted that the figure will double after the congress "when the doors will open wide."
Taking part in the congress are about 3,500 members.
Avramopoulos is scheduled to deliver his main speech at the congress at 12.30 on Saturday. The sessions will come to a close in the evening.
 Labor minister wants to see EU social policy agenda
Athens, 24/11/2001 (ANA)Labor and Social Security Minister Dimitris Reppas said on Friday that he wanted to see the creation of a European Union social policy agenda that would also aim at economic renewal.
Reppas told a conference of the ruling PASOK party on the future of Europe that the agenda would underscore a commitment by all EU member states and institutions to modernization and improvement of the European social model, linking economic performance with social progress.
 Deputy FM attends Central European Initiative summit
Athens, 24/11/2001 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Ioannis Magriotis represented Greece at the summit of the Central European Initiative, presided by Italy, in Trieste on Friday, in the presence of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Greece was represented at the summit in its capacity as presiding country of the Adriatic and Ionian Initiative.
Addressing the summit, Magriotis referred to the specific activities of the Greek presidency of the Adriatic and Ionian Initiative in the combatting of organized crime and terrorism, as well as to efforts for strengthening relations between the parliaments of the member-states.
He noted the parallel course of activities by the two regional initiatives, covering on the one hand Central Europe and on the other the Adriatic and the Ionian.
 Greece to establish embassy in People's Republic of Korea
Athens, 24/11/2001 (ANA)According to a Foreign Ministry draft presidential decree, which has been submitted to the Council of State for processing, a Greek embassy will be established in the People's Republic of Korea.
 Drys predicts EU cotton price of 241 GRD per kilo
Athens, 24/11/2001 (ANA)The European Union's price for cotton in the coming year is expected to be around 241 drachmas (0.71 euros) per kilo, Agriculture Minister George Drys announced during a press conference on Friday.
The official price is due to be announced on Monday.
The minister said that 1,146,787 tones of cotton had been harvested in Greece in 2001 and that this quantity had been reported to the appropriate EU committee, which would announce cotton prices next week.
Based on this production, he added, the minimum price for cotton would be 210 drachmas per kilos from Dec. 16, up from 193.5 drachmas per kilo the previous year. The final price is expected to be set at 241 drachmas per kilo and the difference would be paid in August 2002.
In response to questions, Drys said that the final price received by cotton farmers would range between 271-286 drachmas per kilo, with 241 drachmas given by the EU and 35-45 drachmas per kilo from the markets.
Meanwhile, farmers in northern Greece continued to threaten more radical action if final cotton prices failed to match their expectations.
A tractor roadblock cut off traffic on the Thessaloniki motorway for about 15 minutes on Friday, in a gesture that farmer unions described as "symbolic" and a taste of what was to come if the price announced on Monday fell short of their demands.
Despite bitter cold and rain, more and more farmers and tractors gathered at rallying points and prepared for more dynamic protests next week.
Movement of Free Citizens (KEP) leader Dimitris Avramopoulos, in Thessaloniki for his party's founding congress, opposed the blocking of national highways by farmers as a protest but blamed the government for the current situation. Commenting on Drys' announcement, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) described the new EU procedures as "catastrophic" while noting that the minimum price paid to farmers in advance would have been 240 drachmas per kilo under the old rules, instead of 210.
The party also accused the minister of pulling final prices "out of his hat" in order to appease farmers fighting for old rules to be kept.
 Papandreou comments on land register board's resignations
Athens, 24/11/2001 (ANA)The board members of Ktimatologio SA, the company set up by the government to carry out the national land register project, had resigned in order to make things easier for the government after the allegations of mismanagement against them, Environment Minister Vasso Papandreou said on Friday.
Papandreou, whose ministry is also in charge of town planning and has overall responsibility for the land register project, said that the board's decision to resign and extricate the government from a difficult position with respect to the European Union was "to their credit".
The national land register was a major domestic undertaking and would precede efficiently, the minister added, while she strongly supported the record of her predecessor, Costas Laliotis, in the ministry.
In October, European Commissioner Michel Barnier had called for the return of 100 million euros in Community funds because of various delays and irregularities in compiling the land register. He also ruled out more funding from Brussels to complete the current land register phase.
Barnier cited what he called a “lack of transparency” in carrying out the project, which had come in for intense scrutiny from the Commission.
Barnier said that only one-fourth of 1994-1999 targets had been met - with only 8,440 sq. kilometers registered instead of 35,000 sq. kilometers – at a cost of 276 million euros instead of an initial estimate of 130 million euros.
The French Commissioner proposed stricter rules and fund management procedures if the project were to get funds from the 3rd Community Support Framework and stressed that any future EU funding will cover only new land register contracts, with an emphasis on results and a larger share of funds supplied by the Greek state.
 Greek diplomats outline funding for Bulgaria
SOFIA 24/11/2001 (ANA/B.Borisov)Two senior Greek diplomats on Friday outlined a plan by Athens to help finance infrastructure projects in Bulgaria and modernize the neighboring country's education system as part of the stability pact for southeastern Europe.
Holding the news conference in the Bulgarian capital were Greece's ambassador in Sofia, Michalis Christidis, and the embassy's commercial attache, Demosthenes Parnassas.
The event was part of contacts between executives of 34 Greek banks and other companies that operate in Sofia with representatives of Bulgarian businesses and local government to discuss boosting Greek investments in industry and tourism in Varna.
 Athens bourse okays IPO prospectus for Public Power Corp.
Athens, 24/11/2001 (ANA)Athens bourse authorities on Friday approved a prospectus from the state-owned Public Power Corporation to hold an initial public offer (IPO) next month for entry into the main market.
For privatization through the bourse will be 15 percent of the company's stock, most of which is to be offered in the IPO scheduled for December 4-7.
About 10 percent of total stock for sale will be in the form of existing shares belonging to the state, with roughly five percent to emerge from a share capital increase and one percent to act as a 'green shoe' price stabilizer.
On offer are 12,000,000 new common shares and 23,000,000 existing stocks, of which 3,700,000 are destined for private placement.
The state also has an option of offering up to 2,320,000 existing shares for underwriters to help stabilize the stock price; and up to 4,680,000 existing shares to cover surplus demand.
A road show to present the company to institutional investors will begin on Monday.
Domestic retail investors will be offered a discount on the share price of up to three percent and one free share for every ten held for at least six months.
The decision on the IPO date was taken on Thursday by National Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos.
 Stocks slump in sell-off
Athens, 24/11/2001 (ANA)The Athens bourse finished sharply lower on Friday, tracking depressed sentiment in markets abroad, with players dumping paper.
The general share index shed 2.65 percent to end at 2,674.98 points. Turnover was 203.3 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 2.35 percent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization paper 3.62 percent lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap equities 4.58 percent down.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 343 to 13 with 8 issues remaining unchanged.
The most heavily traded shares were Spider, Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, National Bank of Greece and Naoussa Textiles.
Equity futures drop in edgy trade: Equity futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday fell in highly volatile trade with contracts shifting between premium and discount, traders said.
Changing hands were 8,629 contracts on turnover of 52.7 million euros.
The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips shed 2.35% percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks lost 3.62 percent.
Bond prices nose up in brisk trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Friday finished higher in heavy trade focusing on ten-year paper.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of around 5.01 percent, and the yield spread over German bunds was 41 basis points.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 2.4 billion euros.
Buy orders accounted for the bulk of turnover.
 Turkish authorities cooperate with Greek coastguard on migrant-smuggling incidents
Athens, 24/11/2001 (ANA)The Turkish authorities responded to two calls by the Greek Coastguard over the past 24 hours on intercepting vessels smuggling illegal immigrants from the Turkish coast towards Greece, Greek merchant marine ministry sources said Friday.
They said that in the first incident, a Greek Coast Guard patrol spotted the US-flagged yacht "Melissa" inside Greek territorial waters heading for the island of Samos. After ascertaining that the boat and its Turkish captain were transporting 96 illegal immigrants and that the vessels and its passengers were not at risk, the Greek patrol informed the Turkish captain that he was carrying out an illegal activity.
But when the Turkish captain ignored the warning, the patrol boat forced the Melissa to sail back to the midway point between Greek and Turkish waters and, invoking a recent protocol between Greece and Turkey, asked the Turkish Coast Guard to intercept the boat.
The sources said that a few minutes later a Turkish patrol boat immobilized the yacht and escorted it back into Turkish waters.
In a second incident at dawn Friday, a Turkish 8-metre wooden fishing boat was spotted heading for the Greek coast on the southeastern side of Kos island. After it was ascertained that the boat carried 20 illegal immigrants, the same procedure of communication with the Turkish Coast Guard was followed, and a Greek patrol boat held the fishing boat on the midway point for about an hour until a Turkish patrol arrived to escort it back to the Turkish coast.
Merchant marine minister George Anomeritis said that following the signing of the protocol between the two countries regulating the issue of returning illegal immigrants to the country from where they set out, Turkey "has been responding positively".
 Greece, Turkey to table resolution on natural disasters
NEW YORK 24/11/2001 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)The 56th session of the United Nations General Assembly will discuss on Monday afternoon a draft resolution for the taking of measures and decisions for the prevention and confrontation of natural disasters, which will be jointly tabled by Greece and Turkey.
On November 22, 1999, following the killer earthquakes which struck Greece and Turkey, the 51st session of the UN General Assembly approved decision A/54/30 for the creation of a Joint Group for the Confrontation of Natural Disasters, which was proposed by Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem.
The permanent representatives of Greece and Turkey will address the General Assembly plenum on Monday.
 Twelve Afghan illegal immigrants arrested on Hios
Athens, 24/11/2001 (ANA)Hios coast guard officers patrolling waters around the island intercepted 12 Afghan illegal immigrants on Thursday morning as they attempted to row to the island of Hios in three small inflatable dinghies of a type usually sold as beach toys.
The group, all men, were taken into custody and the coast guard has initiated an inquiry.
 UN secretary on eradication of violence against women
Athens, 24/11/2001 (ANA)UN secretary general Kofi Annan, in a message on World Day for the eradication of violence against women on November 25, underlines that women's rights will be one of the UN's main priorities in Afghanistan.
The message, together with the appeal for the implementation of international treaties on the issue, was conveyed by the programs manager of the UN's Information Centre in Athens Mirka Gontika in a joint press conference given on the occasion with Equality secretary general Efi Bekou.
Gontika said one in three women today is the victim of violence at least once in her life. She said the form of violence known most in developed countries is family violence and in countries capable of providing reliable research results, 20 percent of women have been victims of such violence.
 Concert for Palestinian people on Monday
Athens, 24/11/2001 (ANA)Greek singers and composers will be giving a concert at the indoor Olympic stadium in Athens on Monday November 26 in a show of solidarity for the Palestinian people and their struggle for the creation of an independent state.
The singers will include George Dalaras, Christos Nikolopoulos, Eleftheria Arvanitaki, Dimitra Galani and Haroula Alexiou.
The concert will be the biggest event ever to be held in support of the Palestinians and it is being organized by the General Union of Palestinian Doctors and Pharmacists of Greece, together with the Solidarity Committee for the Palestinian people which was set up by representatives of Greek parties.
The proceeds of the concert will be used to purchase medical equipment to be sent to Palestinian hospitals.
"We are certain that when public proclamations, recently including those by President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and an end to the sufferings of our people, are turned into specific steps we shall be optimistic for peace and a solution to the Middle East issue," the Ambassador of the Palestinian Authority in Greece Abdallah Abdallah told a press conference organized on Friday to promote the concert.
 'Luxembourg Group' countries determined to meet timeframe for EU accession
LIMASSOL 24/11/2001 (CNA/ANA)Foreign ministers of six candidate countries negotiating accession to the EU - Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia - reaffirmed on Friday their countries' determination to continue and conclude their internal preparation for accession within the timeframe they set for themselves.
The six ministers, of the six candidate countries negotiating accession on the basis of the conclusions of the 1997 Luxembourg European Council, met for the fifth time in Limassol to assess the current state of the negotiations and consider how to take forward the successful conclusion of the accession process without delays.
Speaking to the press Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides who presided the meeting said there should not be any more delays in the accession process while all six ministers stressed that the process for the reunification of Europe must speed up with determination.
In their joint statement, issued after the meeting the ministers said they expected that the European Council in Laeken would give the necessary guidance for the successful completion of the accession negotiations in line with the recommendations of the European Commission's 2001 Strategy Paper.
They called upon the presidency and the member states to adopt the relevant Common Positions in due time and to avoid any linkages between the negotiations and the EU internal debates and reiterated their strong belief that the success of the negotiations depends largely on the ability of both member states and the candidate countries to show a significant degree of flexibility.
They also recalled "with satisfaction" the conclusions of the Goteborg European Council regarding the enlargement process and expressed the belief that the new international environment calling for a stronger and more effective European Union will contribute towards reconfirmation of the EU preparedness to conclude the negotiations in the year 2002.
The six ministers also welcomed the proposal of the Commission and the intention of the Spanish government to start the drafting of the Accession Treaty and its Annexes.
The ministers welcomed the Commission's intention "to ensure that the Council should discuss financial issues early in 2002 and expect that the final Common Positions should properly reflect the EU's political commitment and the principle of equal treatment between the current and future member states".
They also said they expected their countries to participate as full members in the next Intergovernmental Conference and be invited to participate in the work of the Convention on an equal footing with the current member states. Their next meeting will take place in Poland next May.
 House passes anti-terrorism bill
NICOSIA 24/11/2001 (CNA/ANA)The Plenary of the House of Representatives on Thursday passed the anti-terrorism bill, tabled by Justice and Public Order Minister Nicos Koshis, with a view to ratify the International Convention to Combat the Financing of Terrorism, as part of efforts to assist the worldwide fight against terrorism.
The bill, which was passed with 42 votes in favor and one abstention, that of the Environmentalists' Movement MP Giorgos Perdikes, provides for life imprisonment or a two million pounds fine and/or both such penalties to be imposed on those found guilty of contravening the law and proposes the establishment of an anti-terrorism unit with extraordinary powers and a special fund for the victims of terrorism.
It also provides for the freezing or confiscation of property or revenue of persons who violate the Convention and states that political, ethnic, religious and other such reasons shall not be accepted by a court of law, if put forward by the defendant, either as a motive for the crime committed or as mitigating circumstances.
The Plenary also approved an amendment, which gives the main authority for combating the financing of terrorism to a special unit, without affecting the provisions of any other law.
The unit shall comprise representatives of the Attorney General, the Chief of Police and the Director of the Department of Customs and Excise. Members of this unit shall be appointed by the above officials for a period of at least three years.
It shall collect, classify, evaluate and analyze information in connection with terrorist or terrorism-financing crimes. It will carry out searches, after the issue of a search warrant, and will be able to obtain permission to disclose information.
The Council of Ministers decided to sign the International Convention in January this year. Cyprus along with many other countries has aligned itself with UN resolutions calling on its member states to adopt measures to fight the scourge of terrorism and put a halt toits funding.