|Thursday, 23 May 2013|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-06-07
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>June 7, 2002
 Greece has great capabilities of cooperation with China, Simitis says
SHANGHAI, 07/06/2002 (ANA - B. Mourtis)Greece has great capabilities and a comparative advantage compared to other countries even bigger than itself and this ''we should utilize together,'' Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis said here on Thursday, at the close of his official visit to the vast Asian country.
Simitis spoke of his intention and that of the government to establish an Asian studies center in Athens, saying that ''we should enrich our knowledge of Asia, as well as of the rest of the world. Therefore, we need specialists''.
He also said that Greek exhibitions will be organized by the ministry of culture in Beijing and Shanghai.
Simitis noted that the Olympic Games are a great opportunity for the country to enable it to realize its aims for better contact with the rest of the world and for the promotion of political and cultural aims.
He provided the example of the Chinese interest in the allotment of a gymnasium for the training of their Olympic team in Athens during the 2004 Olympic Games. Such a request along with others means the hosting of athletes from all over the world in Greece for eight months.
Simitis said that the results of his visit to China were very positive and foresaw the capabilities of the country to play an important role on the international stage, stressing that Greece's political contacts with China should continue, as well as those with other countries.
Therefore, he said, an inter-ministerial committee of Greece and China will be established to deal with development and cultural issues.
Simitis said during his visit he concluded that Greece, due to its history, has a comparative advantage compared to other countries, as it is known in China, adding that the Chinese appreciate and wish for better relations with Greece and the Greek people.
''We utilized this advantage, but we have to continue doing so,'' he noted.
Another conclusion he drew was that present-day developments in China will determine to a great degree all that will take place over the next few years around the world.
''We would be unfair to China if we faced it only on the basis of economic data,'' he said, adding ''it is a great power, a pole of the international system, which contributes to international stability and peace''.
He also stressed that on many international issues that matter to Greece, China has similar positions, noting the cases of the Cyprus problem and the Balkans.
Greece should choose specific goals toward cooperation with China, and this is an issue for the government and the business world, Simitis said.
He added that one such target should be tourist cooperation between the two countries, saying that there are some difficulties regarding this issue stemming from the framework set by the European Union concerning the cooperation in the tourist sector with China.
The premier said that the talks on the issue progressed on the bilateral level, adding that there can be a bilateral agreement with China, which will abide by the EU's framework, but the negotiations will be conducted by Greece.
''The conclusion of such an agreement will be very advantageous for Greece and Greek tourism,'' Simitis said.
He also spoke of the capabilities of exporting agricultural goods from Greece to China and cooperating in agricultural technology, adding that China, like Japan, needs large and specific amounts of products.
Simitis arrives in Shanghai for the last leg of his China visit: Prime Minister Costas Simitis arrived in the Chinese city of Shanghai on Thursday for the last leg of his official visit to the People's Republic of China.
The city is considered to be China's economic and financial hub and the Greek premier's visit there is seen as important for the development of bilateral trade and economic relations with Greece.
The richest city in China, Shanghai has seen double-digit growth for 10 straight years and has China's highest per capital GDP. Much of its success is attributed to its charismatic former mayor Xu Kuangdi, who has since been replaced at Shanghai's helm by 56-year-old Chen Liangyu.
The Shanghai mayor is one of the most influential and high profile posts in China and has often led to higher honors. Both Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji have had the job.
Simitis, who arrived in the city accompanied by Press Minister Christos Protopapas, Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos and Deputy Development Dimitris Georgakopoulos, met with Chen on Thursday and also visited Shanghai's museum, while he is due to address a business conference in the city on Friday morning.
The Greek prime minister's visit to China ends on Friday, with the Greek delegation due to depart for Athens shortly after midnight on Saturday.
 Australia urges continuation of Cyprus negotiations
CANBERRA, 07/06/2002 (ANA - N. Megadoukas)The Cyprus problem was a very difficult issue, and Australia continued to encourage the sides involved to carry on with their negotiations, Australian premier John Howard said Thursday, during a joint press conference with visiting Greek President Costis Stephanopoulos.
"We want a result capable of ensuring Cyprus' integrity and which will be fair for both communities," Howard said, replying to a question concerning the "selective application" of international law in the case of Cyprus.
He further expressed hope that such a result in the Cyprus negotiations would "promote greater harmony between Greece and Turkey".
Howard, who is scheduled to visit Athens next month, declined further comment, noting that as the prime minister of a country that maintained "very friendly relations" with Greece and had a "positive relationship" with Turkey, he did not believe that engaging in criticism would help in any way.
"Australia is a good friend in this matter," Howard said, adding that the Australian foreign ministry's envoy Jim Short would visit Greece later this month during a tour of the region.
The Australian premier opined that it would not assist Short's mission to the region if he began making criticism regarding the selective application of international law, and expressed hope that the Cyprus issue would be resolved in a harmonious and positive manner.
Speaking later at a luncheon in his honor, Stephanopoulos stressed the ongoing occupation of Cyprus "by a country that does not conform with the rules of international law". He added, however, that enlargement of the European Union was imminent, with Cyprus' participation, and reiterated Greece's position in favor of Turkey's European course.
Howard also recalled that he had taken up the issue of Britain's return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece with British premier Tony Blair, noting that he had told Blair that Greece's demand was backed by numerous Australians, including the Greek Australian community.
Stephanopoulos thanked Howard for his government's position on this matter.
Australian PM: Pension accord issue to be discussed in Athens: The long-delayed issue of achieving a bilateral pension accord between Australia and Greece is again expected to land on the negotiating table during Australian Prime Minister John Howard's official visit to Athens next month.
Visiting Greek President Kostis Stephanopou-los, on a weeklong tour of Australia and New Zealand, briefly discussed the matter with Howard in Canberra, while Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis, who is accompanying Stephanopoulos, spoke via a "tele-conference" link with Australia's minister for family and community services, Amanda Vanstone, over the same issue - a particularly sensitive subject for the large Greek-Australian community. Vanstone was in Adelaide at the time.
According to reports, Athens wants the matter solved at the political level, something Canberra has objected to in the past. At present, an official reaction by Australia is expected, Greek sources said.
Stephanopoulos and Howard also discussed the issue of Australian firms' participation in Athens 2004-related contracts, whereas it was announced that a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty would be signed during the latter's July visit in Greece.
Greek gratitude towards Australia: President Stephanopoulos, meanwhile, reiterated Greece's appreciation to the Australian people, and especially to the country's veterans, for their help and sacrifices during World War II. He also praised the country for the support and opportunities it has given the thousands of Greeks that immigrated to Australia over the past decades.
The Greek president was also received in Canberra by Australia's Governor General, Rev. Peter Hollingworth, before laying a wreath at Australia's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier memorial.
 DM says Turkish violations more provocative than usual
BRUSSELS, 07/06/2002 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said on Thursday the violations of Greek airspace by two Turkish aircraft over the civil aviation airport in Rhodes were more provocative than usual.
Papantoniou, who is here to attend NATO's two-day defense ministers' summit, said the foreign ministry made all the necessary demarches, while NATO's military leadership was also notified.
Speaking to reporters, Papantoniou avoided any comment on the violations' political repercussions on Greek-Turkish relations, saying only that ''undoubtedly it is a negative element but it is premature to make political conclusions.''
On the first day of the summit, the defense ministers discussed the restructuring of NATO to enable it to respond to the particularities of the struggle against terrorism and attacks with chemical or biological weapons, the functioning of its forces, nuclear weapons, the agreement with Russia and the alliance's enlargement.
Papantoniou said NATO was formed with the logic of facing other countries and not combatting terrorism, which requires small flexible forces and smart weapons and for this reason its adjustment to the new requirements is necessary.
Addressing the summit, the Greek minister spoke of regrouping the alliance's forces on the basis of each member-state's political and national particularities, adding that Greece currently has the highest percentage of defense expenditures, which amounts to 5 percent of GDP compared to 3 percent of the United States and 1-1.5 of European countries.
Papantoniou attributed the amount of defense expenditures in Greece to ''the traditional danger from the east'', adding that his ambition is ''to have it reduced to 4 percent'' to enable the difference to be provided for education, health and support for the social state in general. He also assured his counterparts of Greece's strong participation in the struggle against terrorism.
He also told reporters that at the summit ''an increased conscience for the need for cooperation'' was ascertained among the alliance's members.
On the question of NATO's enlargement to 26 member-states, Greece insisted on maintaining unanimity in taking decisions. Papantoniou said Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) are not ready for accession and for the time being they will be limited to an association agreement, which will speed up accession.
Papantoniou had an ''acquaintance meeting'' on the sidelines of the summit with his new French counterpart Michelle Alliot-Marie and briefed her on the initiatives Greece intends to undertake in the framework of its presidency, as of July 1 and for one year, for European defense.
He also discussed issues concerning the European army with her and explained Greek positions and the reasons for which Greece does not accept the Ankara text.
Athens to lodge demarche with Ankara over airspace violations: Greece will lodge a demarche with the Turkish Embassy in Athens on Thursday over the violations of Greek airspace by Turkish fighter aircraft, government spokesman Telemachos Chytiris announced.
The two aircraft were sighted flying above the civilian airport on the Aegean island of Rhodes.
The spokesman said that Greek Armed Forces General Staff chief, Gen. Georgios Antonako-poulos, had also informed NATO about the violations on Thursday.
Asked whether there was a risk of the tension escalating into a confrontation in the Aegean, Chytiris replied that the ''government is taking everything into account but there is no cause for concern.''
Referring to Turkish reports about violations of Turkey's airspace by Greek planes, the spokesman said that the Turkish side had presented inaccurate facts and that the Greek aircraft had been moving within Greek airspace.
He stressed that disagreements of this nature did not promote a good bilateral climate and said that the Greek government was making efforts to make such problems cease.
Chytiris is filling in for Press Minister Christos Protopapas while the latter accompanies Prime Minister Costas Simitis on an official visit to China.
Sources monitoring a Turkish military exercise that will be taking place in the Aegean until June 14, reported on Thursday that Turkish aircraft had carried out infringements of the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) on 15 separate occasions, which developed into violations of Greek airspace in the northern and southeast Aegean.
They stressed that none of the FIR infringements or airspace violations were linked to the Turkish exercise.
 Main opposition leader begins visit to United States
NEW YORK, 07/06/2002 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)The head of Greece's main opposition party, New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis, arrived in New York on Thursday to begin a seven-day visit to the United States and Canada.
While in New York, Karamanlis will attend a reception in his honor organized by the Onassis Cultural Institute on Thursday night. On Friday he will meet Orthodox Archbishop of America Demetrios and visit the Ground Zero site in the city, before attending a meeting of the Greek expatriate community in Astoria on Friday night.
His next stop is Chicago, where he will arrive on Saturday for talks with the leadership of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) and an address to the city's Greek community.
On Sunday, Karamanlis departs for Toronto where he is due to meet with the Orthodox Metropolitan of Toronto and All Canada and Greek-Canadian organizations.
The Greek main opposition leader will head back to the United States on Monday, arriving in Washington for the International Democrat Union (IDU) Party Leaders meeting that will be opened by US President George Bush.
On Tuesday, Karamanlis will meet members of the US Congress and attend a reception in his honor at the Greek Embassy in Washington, where he will also give a press conference. He will have more meetings with members of Congress on Wednesday.
 ND leader discusses illegal immigration with ND Eurodeputies
Athens, 07/06/2002 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis discussed the problem of illegal immigration, the course of Cyprus' European Union accession and the implementation of the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF) with his party's Eurodeputies in Brussels on Thursday. Later, he left for the United States.
''We had a very substantive discussion with the Eurodeputies of New Democracy. It is a common conclusion that 22 years after Greece's accession to the European family many things must be done. For this reason it is necessary for us to move with greater determination in the effort to achieve the targets which had been set from the beginning,'' he said afterwards.
Karamanlis said Greek men and women are entitled to feel safe in their borders, just as all the other European citizens are. He further said that this is of particular importance at a time of a decisive turning point in the development of national issues.
He went on to say that another major priority is real economic and social convergence. He said this means an improvement in the economy's competitiveness, the decrease in unemployment and the combatting of regional and social inequalities should be pursued.
Karamanlis also said the 3rd CSF is of particular importance, adding that the Barnier letter and what it revealed necessitate a much more intense monitoring and noting that it is the last big opportunity for the country.
 Foreign ministry comments on nascent Bosphorus 'name issue'
Athens, 07/06/2002 (ANA)The Greek foreign ministry on Thursday commented on the latest press reports, generated both in Turkey and Greece, claiming that Ankara is pressing for the Bosphorus Strait to be identified from here on as the "Strait of Istanbul".
Foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis merely stressed that what it important, regardless of semantics, are Turkey's obligations as emanating from the 1936 Montreux Treaty governing the vital waterway's status.
The spokesman added that the geographical place-name constitutes a sovereign right of every state, whereas Athens' primary goal, in the case, is to preclude any problem vis-a-vis the smooth implementation of the Treaty from possible name changes.
A Turkish mass daily on Wednesday claimed that a "name dispute" has erupted within NATO between Greece and Turkey over the Bosphorus' name, with the paper saying Ankara wants the heralded waterway separating the Black Sea from the Sea of Marmara officially listed as the "Strait of Istanbul".
According to the newspaper "Hurriyet", NATO has even used the new 'Turkified' name in a document prepared for an upcoming military exercise in Romania.
Quoted military sources, however, said discussions within NATO are still underway over the strait's name, while the "Strait of Istanbul" moniker was reportedly the by-product of an alliance ad hoc committee, a more-or-less temporary solution so the exercise would not be cancelled.
 Foreign minister due in Ravenna for science, religion and environment symposium
Athens, 07/06/2002 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou will go to Ravenna at the weekend to take part in an international symposium on religion, science and the environment taking place under the aegis of European Commission President Romano Prodi.
This was announced on Thursday by foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis, who said Papandreou had been invited to attend the conference by Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.
Beglitis said that Papandreou would next travel to Luxembourg to attend the European Union's General Affairs Council, which will focus on negotiations for the agriculture chapter with EU candidate-countries.
On Tuesday, the Greek foreign minister will be back in Athens for a meeting between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his Spanish counterpart Jose Maria Aznar, head of the EU's rotating presidency.
On Wednesday, Papandreou is due to meet the US State Department's special envoy for Cyprus Thomas Weston.
 Greece calls for more integration, with its proposals to the EU Convention
BRUSSELS, 07/06/2002 (ANA - B. Demiris)The alternate representative of the Greek government to the Convention for the future of Europe Panagiotis Ioakeimidis on Thursday presented Greece's positions on the development of a space of freedom, security and justice in the European Union.
He submitted 10 proposals drafted by the Greek government, stressing that such a space of freedom, security and justice was the permanent demand of European citizens for what he called ''more Europe''.
Among others he proposed the integration and simplification of the judicial and police cooperation, the establishment of a European nationality, the integration of the Charter of Fundamental Rights to the Union's Treaty, the establishment of institutions for the effective protection of the external borders of the Union and the undertaking by Europol of full operational role within the Union.
 EU Commission to announce in Oct. the 10 candidates that are ready
BRUSSELS, 07/06/2002 (ANA - G. Daratos)The final phase of the accession process of the 10 European Union candidate member-states will be conducted during the Danish presidency's mid-course summit on Oct. 24-25.
At that time the EU's Commission is expected to announce those of the candidate member-states that are technically and administratively ready to enter the Union and participate in the EU elections in 2004.
Cyprus is also vying for accession among the 10 countries.
European Commissioner Guenter Verheugen made a relevant announcement during a discussion, here on Thursday, concerning the enlargement of the EU.
Verheugen also said that at the Copenhagen Summit in December, the 15 EU leaders will conclude the decision of the Council of Brussels with a second decision, a political one this time, which will recognize the right of accession of the 10 candidates and will call on them to sign the acts of accession.
He added that some 250 negotiation chapters set at Laeken were or will be closed by June's summit in Seville, while the remaining 10 chapters will be closed by October.
These statements by Verheugen do not include even an indirect mention of the resolution of the internal political problem of the Republic of Cyprus. Consequently, Cyprus will enter the EU irrespectively of a solution to its political problem.
 Ecumenical Patriarch meets Albanian president, premier aboard ship in Durres
TIRANA, 07/06/2002 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Albanian President Rexhep Meidani and Prime Minister Pandeli Majko on Thursday visited Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on the passenger ship ''Phaestos Pallas'', which was anchored at the port of Durres, Albania.
The two men were present at the inaugural events of the 4th Ecology Symposium organized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the protection of the Adriatic Sea environment.
Meidani and Majko had a long meeting with Vartholomeos and then sat at a dinner held by the Patriarch on the ship.
The Albanian authorities received the Patriarch with special honors during his passage from Albanian territory, while on Wednesday evening the Patriarch visited the ecclesiastical school of the Resurrection of Christ located in the St. Vlasios Monastery in Durres, where the Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania Anastasios held a diner in honor of Vartholomeos, celebrating the ten year anniversary since its establishment.
 US report on prostitution 'unfair' to Greece, gov't says
Athens, 07/06/2002 (ANA)A United States State Department report ranking Greece in the worst category for prostitution and the trafficking of women was dismissed as 'unfair and subjective' by government spokesman Telemachos Chytiris on Thursday.
He stressed that the government was making efforts to deal with the problem, regardless of the Washington report.
The spokesman further claimed that the report contradicted itself in various places. He noted that, on the one hand, it criticized the Greek government for not taking adequate measures to deal with the problem while in other places it referred to specific government measures against prostitution, such as increased inspections, a campaign to educate public opinion, special training in police academies and a bill on sexual crimes that will soon be tabled in the Greek Parliament.
He also slammed the report as 'unacceptable' in certain areas, stressing that some countries that were a source for women traffickers were placed in the top category, while Greece - which had to contend with the problems caused by these other countries - was placed in the bottom category.
 Justice minister announces new measures for prison system
Athens, 07/06/2002 (ANA)The government plans to set up a special body for inspecting and monitoring prisons, while a new set of rules and guidelines for the prison system will be ready within June, Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos announced on Thursday.
He was responding to Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos in Parliament, who charged that 'a new power structure...that operated like the mafia' had developed within and outside the prison system and pointed to recent flamboyant escapes from prison, such as that of US national Peter Sedom.
Petsalnikos urged Constantopoulos to submit any evidence he had for his claims with the courts and public prosecutors, while pointing out that Greece did not rank particularly high compared to other European countries for the percentage of escapes by prisoners. He cited Denmark as an example, where the rate of prison escapes was 2.83 per cent compared with 1.25 per cent in Greece.
Petsalnikos later held a press conference where he presented the justice ministry's draft bill for a prison inspection and monitoring body, which will be tabled in Parliament within the next few days.
The new body will have nine members, all of whom must have an absolutely unimpeachable record, and will be led by a retired justice.
Positions on the new body will be closed to anyone who is a member of a board of directors, a trade union organization or has worked as a staff member for any minister, general secretary, political party or MP.
The aim of the new body will be to carry out regular and surprise inspections in prisons throughout the country at any time of the day or night in order to monitor prison conditions and levels of security.
 Frigate ''Spetses'' to replace ''Psara'' in Gulf region's ''Enduring Peace'' mission
Athens, 07/06/2002 (ANA)The Greek Navy's frigate ''Spetses'' sailed for the Persian Gulf on Thursday to replace the frigate ''Psara'' and participate in the multinational force's mission codenamed ''Enduring Peace''.
The vessel will remain in the region for three months and will be entrusted with controlling sea routes and communications, as well as conducting search and rescue operations.
 Deputies object to article 12 of 'political funds' bill
Athens, 07/06/2002 (ANA)Deputies from all parties expressed objections on Thursday, during the discussion on the bill regarding the funding of parties, on whether article 12 sets restrictions for the renewal of political staff.
Ruling PASOK party rapporteur Eftychios Damianakis referred to the possibility of a candidate's election rally being presented by a television channel without having requested this and be penalized for exceeding the number of appearances permitted.
On the question of article 21 (control committee for the finances of parties and candidates), he said only fellow candidates and not every citizen should resort to the control committee.
Main opposition New Democracy party rapporteur Manolis Kefaloyiannis praised the fact that the interior minister accepted that there should only be free radio and television time for parties and, referring to article 12, said that the possibility of candidates appearing allows parties to promote all their important members.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) rapporteur Antonis Skyllakos said that not only equal treatment among deputies but also that between parties should also be consolidated. He added that the possibility of parties commenting on statements by ministers should be secured.
Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos once again referred to the amendment allowing the funding of parties by businesses belonging to them, warning that ''we shall face malfunction problems.''
The discussion on the bill was completed with the ratification of an amendment acquitting about 1,300 candidate deputies in the last general elections from sanctions concerning election expenditures.
 Parliament President Kaklamanis to attend Madrid conference
Athens, 07/06/2002 (ANA)Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis departs on Friday for Madrid where he will attend a conference of Parliament Presidents of EU member states.
Kaklamanis will address the conference on Saturday.
 Kaklamanis meets with his Panamanian counterpart Arosemena
Athens, 07/06/2002 (ANA)Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis received his Panamanian counterpart Reuben Arosemena on Thursday, part of the latter's tour of Greece and other European states.
Greek-Panamanian relations expectedly dominated the agenda of talks, while Arosemena - the president of Panama's legislative assembly - briefed his counterpart on the Central American country's democratic course and its ongoing efforts at economic modernization.
On his part, Kaklamanis pointed out the significant defense expenditures Greece is obliged make every year due to what he called "the problems created by Turkey".
 Bakoyianni unveils name for her municipal race coalition
Athens, 07/06/2002 (ANA)High-ranking New Democracy deputy Dora Bakoyianni on Thursday unveiled the name of her election coalition for the Athens municipal race, namely, "The Athens of Tomorrow".
"This isn't a slogan, or a catch-phrase, or an advertisement, but simply, a real commitment that we will all work together, diligently and with a perspective for the future," she said in a press conference held in the Greek capital.
The main opposition deputy also referred to the upcoming 2004 Olympics, saying the Games are an opportunity to showcase the Greek capital to billions of people watching the Olympics on their television sets.
 Memorial service for Brig. Saunders on Saturday
Athens, 07/06/2002 (ANA)A brief wreath-laying ceremony and memorial service in remembrance of Brig. Stephen Saunders, the slain British embassy defense attache, will be held on Saturday -- the second anniversary of his assassination by a notorious urban terrorist group.
The defense attaché’s widow, Heather, the British ambassador to Athens, David Madden, along with several Greek ministers, officials and representatives of the Greek and British armed forces, will lay wreaths in Saunders' memory on Saturday near the spot he was murdered by the "November 17" terrorists on June 8, 2000.
At 11 a.m. a service in memory of Stephen Saunders will be held at the St. Paul's Anglican Church in downtown Athens. The service will be conducted by the Rev. Malcolm Bradshaw in the presence of a representative of the Greek Orthodox Church, ministers and officials, according to a press release issued by the British embassy in Athens.
Brig. Stephen Saunders was gunned down by an assailant riding atop a motorcycle on a traffic-congested Athens avenue as he was driving alone to the British embassy in central Athens. The gunman was the passenger on the motorcycle, with an accomplice driving.
 Greece welcomes EU approval for state aid to shipyard
BRUSSELS, 07/06/2002 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Thursday welcomed a move by the European Union's competition committee that approved 29.5 million euros in state aid to
Hellenic Shipyard in order to fund a voluntary early retirement scheme for 250 workers before the firm's privatization.
Tsohatzopoulos was in the Belgian capital to attend a meeting of EU industry ministers that discussed measures to back the EU's shipbuilding industry sparked by fierce competition from Korean yards that offer construction below cost.
At the same time, the EU is to launch a probe into another round of state aid that was awarded to Hellenic in the form of tax relief to offset losses from previous years.
The relief appeared to be incompatible with EU legislation on shipyards, the Commission said in a statement on Wednesday.
A contract was signed last month for the sale of Hellenic Shipyard to Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) AG and Ferrostaal Aktiengesellschaft, both of Germany, at a price of 47.1 million euros.
The buyer was Greek Naval Shipyard Holdings SA, a subsidiary of the two German firms created to undertake purchase of the formerly state-owned shipyard. Greek Naval has a share capital of 41 million euros.
The sale price comprises 6.1 million euros for the stock in Hellenic, formerly known as Skaramangas Shipyard, and 41 million euros to increase the shipyard's share capital.
The German buyers have said that their first modernization plan for the shipyard totals 15 billion drachmas, due for immediate implementation.
New Democracy deputy Nikolaos Tsiartsionis has claimed that talks with the company's buyer lacked transparency; and that the state was set to lose 200 billion drachmas from the sale.
Rival Greek Elefsina Shipyard has sought recourse at the EU over what it calls unfair competition from Hellenic.
Elefsina lodged a complaint with the EU's competition committee charging ''major distortion and breaches of competition rules by Hellenic Shipyard.''
In the complaint, Elefsina stated that illegitimate state subsidies had been given to Hellenic, and that a privatization tender for the firm contained irregularities. The firm claimed that the facts had been made known to authorities but no action was taken.
The EU's executive Commission has approved the purchase, saying that regulatory approval was given, as the acquisition of Hellenic by the two corporations did not breach rules of fair competition. Earlier this year, HDW, the largest shipyard in Germany, was acquired by One Equity Partners, a subsidiary of Bank One of the US. The yard's new owners have said the buyout will not affect plans for Hellenic Shipyards.
Thyssen Krupp, a metals and shipyard company, is now a member of the HDW group, replacing Babcock.
Under its new owner, HDW has said that Hellenic Shipyards is seen as a major factor in the German company's future European strategy.
 Christodoulakis unveils aims of tax reform plan
Athens, 07/06/2002 (ANA)Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Thursday said the government's tax reform plans would have three basic aims, to simplify the system, to strengthen employment and investments and to seek a more fair distribution of tax burdens.
Addressing a seminar on taxation in Athens, Mr. Christodoulakis said a simpler tax system would result to speedier procedures and attracting capital.
The government would also seek to strengthen employment, business activity and investments to boost growth, through its proposals, Mr. Christodoulakis said.
He stressed that the government would also seek a more fair distribution of tax burdens through the abolition of different taxation for various income categories.
 Gov't studying measures to tax offshore firms
Athens, 07/06/2002 (ANA)The government is studying measures to tax offshore companies that own property in Greece, the finance ministry's special secretary for financial crimes, Dimitris Batzelis, told a tax officers' seminar on Thursday.
Among measures being considered are the imposition of an annual ownership tax that would act as a disincentive to the creation of offshore firms for the purpose of owning real estate and avoiding tax.
In addition, offshore firms that obtain property in Greece would be obliged to keep books for inspection by the tax department.
Another key measure would be a requirement for offshore firms involved in the capital market to appoint a stock exchange representative, who would take legal responsibility for any violations of bourse legislation.
Batzelis said that more than 2,500 offshore firms were operating in Greece that each owned a single piece of real estate.
Citing examples, he noted that 75 offshore companies owned one piece of real estate each in the well-to-do Athens suburb of Philothei; and in the jet-set island of Mykonos, 260 firms held one piece of real estate each.
The aim of creating the companies was tax avoidance by owners of the real estate, and avoidance of means declaration, Batzelis added.
 Rift in largest trade union group over pensions reform
Athens, 07/06/2002 (ANA)The head of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), Christos Polyzo-gopoulos, on Thursday challenged members of the umbrella trade union group who oppose the government's pensions reform bill to state if and how workers would be hurt under the plan.
At the same time, Polyzogopoulos acknowledged the legality of a decision by GSEE's plenary to stage a 24-hour strike on June 18 with the ADEDY civil servants union in order to protest against the bill containing the pensions overhaul.
The GSEE president, who belongs to a ruling PASOK party aligned faction in the trade union federation, backs the terms of the bill.
Other tendencies within the organization, which represents nearly a million workers in the private and public sectors, have rejected the terms of the bill. The factions are aligned with opposition parties.
Against the bill is the GSEE's deputy president, Alekos Kalyvis.
On Thursday, he asked in a statement why a number of trade unionists backed the government bill, also hiding the truth of its contents from workers.
On Wednesday, ADEDY President Spyros Papaspyros said civil servants wanted the bill withdrawn. Pensions should be assessed at 80 percent of salaries, and retirement should be allowed on completion of 35 years of service, regardless of age.
 Shipping minister meets gov't officials from Hong Kong, Bahamas
Athens, 07/06/2002 (ANA)Merchant Minister George Anomeritis on Thursday help separate talks with the finance minister of Hong Kong, Sandra Lee, and the shipping minister of the Bahamas, Glengs Hanna-Marnin.
The meeting with Lee focused on forging a bilateral shipping and tax agreement.
Hanna-Marnin announced that the Bahamas intended to set up a shipping authority bureau in Greece. Registered in the Bahamas shipping register are 182 Greek-owned vessels.
 Government, IKA sign debt rescheduling contract
Athens, 07/06/2002 (ANA)The Greek government on Thursday signed a contract with Social Security Foundation (IKA) for the rescheduling of the state's debt to IKA, totalling 1.3 trillion drachmas.
The contract was signed by Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, Labor and Social Security Minister Dimitris Reppas and IKA's governor Miltiadis Nektarios.
Mr. Christodoulakis said that the agreement envisaged payment of 500 billion drachmas this year, and noted that the rescheduling was one of the most significant parts of a new funding plan, envisaging regular payment of up to 1.0 percent of the country's GDP to IKA.
Mr. Reppas expressed his satisfaction because the deal "solves a big issue of the social security system and creates preconditions for a viable and strong system."
He added that the agreement would also improve confidence in the Greek economy.
IKA's governor said the deal was proof of the government's commitment to the country's social security system.
Under the deal, the state will transfer to IKA state bonds worth 1.3 trillion drachmas, along with a relative interest for the years 2003-2004.
Mr. Christodoulakis and Mr. Reppas said total payment would not exceed 1.3 trillion drachmas, as workers would prefer to retire after reaching their 67th year of age instead of 65.
They also said that third parties' debt to IKA totalled 500 billion drachmas.
 Greek stocks rally for second consecutive session
Athens, 07/06/2002 (ANA)Greek stocks ended with substantial gains for the second consecutive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, pushing the general index above the 2,300 level.
Traders said buying activity focused on blue chip stocks, particularly in the bank, telecommunication and cement sectors.
The general index ended 1.26 percent higher at 2,319.68 points, with turnover a moderate 88.9 million euros.
The Cement and Telecommunication sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (2.35 percent and 2.03 percent, respectively), while the IT Solutions and Food-Beverage sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses (1.54 percent and 0.39 percent, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 1.26 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 0.76 percent higher and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 0.24 percent up.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 182 to 120 with another 55 issues unchanged.
The most heavily traded shares in value were Titan Cement Co, Mohlos, Coca Cola HBC, and Hellenic Telecoms.
Equity index futures at discount: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday ended lower in light to moderate trade.
Turnover was 62.8 million euros.
The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips gained 1.26 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks rose 0.76 percent.
Trade in derivatives rises in May: The number of contracts traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange rose by 9.0 percent in May to total 582,970 from 534,986 in the previous month, market authorities said on Thursday.
The average daily number of trades in futures and options rose by 20.0 percent to total 15,341 contracts from 12,738 in April, authorities said in a statement.
Bond prices mixed in brisk trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Thursday finished mixed in active trade focusing on five-year paper.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.48 percent, and the spread over the corresponding German bund was 29 basis points.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 2.4 billion euros.
Buy orders accounted for just over half of trade.
 Olympic Games Coordination Committee meets on Thursday
Athens, 07/06/2002 (ANA)The fourth meeting of the Coordination and Cooperation Committee between the state, ''Athens 2004'', the National Olympic Committee (EOE) and athletes was held at the offices of the Organizing Committee on Thursday, confirming close cooperation between these bodies.
Among others, the meeting was attended by ''Athens 2004'' (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos Daskalaki, sports secretary general Nikos Exarchos and the President of Greek Participants in Olympic Games George Andreadis.
In another development, Daskalaki addressed a cooperation invitation to ambassadors and diplomats serving in Athens during a special event held at the Zappeion Mansion. It is the first of a series of scheduled informative events by the Organizing Committee for diplomatic missions in the country.
Daskalaki spoke of the entire spectrum of Olympic preparation and made special reference to security issues regarding the Games. She said very good cooperation exists between all agencies involved to achieve the highest level of security, which is a priority for the Organizing Committee.
 PASOK delegation briefed by ATHOC organizers
Athens, 07/06/2002 (ANA)Athens 2004 organizers (ATHOC) briefed a high-level delegation from ruling PASOK on Thursday on the latest Olympic preparations.
On her part, ATHOC president Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki stressed that "several significant steps" have been taken recently in terms of preparation, whereas the emphasis now falls on the prime minister's promotion of all the dimensions governing the Games' preparation, a necessary component, as she said, in "bringing Greek society closer to the national effort".
"We must all take care to promote wide-ranging policies and social accords, discovering and showcasing what unites us, and not what separate us," PASOK secretary Costas Laliotis, the head of the delegation, told reporters afterwards.
On her part, Angelopoulos-Daskalaki noted that the PASOK cadres were well informed over Olympic preparations, while noting that ATHOC has passed from the planning phase into the implementation phase.
 Culture ministry announces 16-mln-euro project for Heraklion Museum
Athens, 07/06/2002 (ANA)Greece's Culture Minister on Thursday signed a contract with a consortium by AVAX SA-ATE Gnomon SA-EKTER SA-Greek Refrigeration SA for repair, renovation, expansion and landscape works at the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, Crete, worth 16.75 million euros.
The Heraklion museum is one of the most important museums in Greece and the biggest museum of the Minoan Era in the world.
The main building was designed by architect Patroklos Karantinos and was built gradually from 1935 to 1955. It is considered as one of the masterpieces of the modern movement in architecture in the world.
The project is expected to be completed in around three years.
 Ecumenical Patriarch to inaugurate Byzantine art exhibition in Venice
Athens, 07/06/2002 (ANA)An exhibition dedicated to Byzantine and post-Byzantine art at Venice's Campo dei Greci will be inaugurated by Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew next Tuesday.
It is titled 'Approaching Byzantine Man through the eyes of a Collector' and is comprised of 217 objects dating from the 2nd to the 19th centuries AD. It has been organized jointly by the Museum of Byzantine Civilization in Thessaloniki and the Hellenic Institute of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies in Venice and is scheduled to run until October 31.
The artifacts in the exhibition are derived from the collections of Georgios Tsolozidis, which include 3,000 objects dating from 6000 B.C. until the 19th century A.D.
On Wednesday, meanwhile, there will be a conference attended by Greek and Italian academics on the sidelines of the exhibition, with the theme ''Exorcising Evil: Faith and Superstition in Byzantium.''
 Events projecting Chinese culture to be held in Athens from June 8-11
Athens, 07/06/2002 (ANA)Events aimed at presenting and projecting Chinese culture through cinema and music will be held at the multiplex ''Athinais'' in Votanikos, n ear the center of Athens, from June 8-11.
The program includes the screening of four Chinese films at the ''Athinais'' cinema and two performances of the Gui Yang Opera of Beijing. The films are ''The Road for Home'', ''The Cyclist of Beijing'', ''The Emperor and the Murderer'' and ''Tiger and Dragon''.
An exhibition of traditional Chinese costumes, jewellery and photographs will also be held. Furthermore, the visitors will have the opportunity to taste authentic Chinese food from the province of Sichuan.
The events are being held with the cooperation of the Greek-Chinese Chamber, under the auspices of the Embassy of The People's Republic of China.
 Exhibition in Basel on 'Aegean: Pictures of Greece'
GENEVA, 07/06/2002 (ANA - N. Roben)On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of its founding, Basel's ''Cultural Circle of the Friends of Greece'' is holding an exhibition at Olden's ARTE conference center on the theme ''Aegean: Pictures of Greece''.
The inauguration of the exhibition was preceded by a dinner and a musical event as well as a speech by the club's president, Greek language professor Catherine Savvidis-Wahli.
The exhibition is comprised of photographs by 11 photographers and shows the cultural character of the Aegean.
The exhibition will remain open for at least one month and is expected to attract about 10,000 visitors.
In cooperation with the Greek Embassy's Press Office and the Athens Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC), material projecting the Athens 2004 Olympic Games was also distributed at the exhibition.
 National Council discusses Cyprus developments
NICOSIA, 07/06/2002 (CNA/ ANA)The Cyprus National Council, the top advisory body to the President on the handling of the Cyprus problem, continued on Thursday discussion on developments in the Cyprus problem.
Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides concluded the briefing he had started at the previous meeting of the body and five out of the eight parliamentary parties, which comprise the Council, expressed their positions.
Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said after the three-hour meeting that the Council would continue its discussion on June 17.
He said that Clerides briefed the Council on the latest developments in the UN-led direct talks on the Cyprus question and mainly on his recent visit to Denmark, where he held talks with Danish Premier Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
Asked whether Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, engaged with President Clerides in direct talks since mid January this year, had shown any signs of compromise on the security issue, Papapetrou said that ''there are difficulties on this chapter too''. He did not elaborate.
Invited to say whether UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro De Soto, attending the talks, had tabled any document on the security aspect, Papapetrou said he could neither deny nor confirm this.
 European officials conclude working visit to Cyprus
NICOSIA, 07/06/2002 (CNA/ANA)Spanish Secretary of State for European Affairs, Ramon de Miguel, whose country is currently holding the EU rotating presidency, paid a one-day working visit to the island on Thursday and had separate meetings with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.
De Miguel, who was accompanied by the Danish Secretary of State Carsten Sondergaard, whose country will hold the EU presidency during the second half of 2002, and the EU's Chief Negotiator with Cyprus Leopold Maurer, refrained from making any statements to the press after his meeting with President Clerides.
CNA has learned that they came here to be briefed on developments in the UN-led peace talks on Cyprus, held between Clerides and Denktash since mid-January this year, and also to convey the message to both sides to do their utmost for a settlement the soonest possible.
"I am very happy to be in Cyprus and I had a very interesting meeting with Mr. Clerides", was all he said after his one-hour meeting with the president, in the afternoon.
The European officials had earlier met with Denktash in the island's areas occupied by the Turkish army since the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974. They also called on the Greek Cypriot side to remain constructive despite the difficulties emerging from the Turkish Cypriot side's stance.
After their meeting with the president and prior to their departure from the island, the European officials met with the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto.
At noon they had a working lunch with Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides.
 Foreign Minister: complacency on EU accession not advisable
LARNACA, 07/06/2002 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides has cautioned about complacency with regard to Cyprus' accession course and stressed the need to continue working until the country joins the European Union.
The minister said that the EU would examine carefully the attitude of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides at the UN-led peace talks, as it is getting ready to issue its decision on the country's EU membership, in accordance with the Helsinki conclusions that said a political settlement would facilitate accession but it is not a precondition for it and all relevant factors will be taken into consideration.
Kasoulides was speaking after his return on Wednesday night from Brussels where he had a meeting with EU Commissioner for enlargement Gunter Verheugen who made it clear that the only ''relevant factors'' the EU is concerned with are the conduct of the two sides at the talks, which began in mid January this year.
The minister's comments come after press reports had suggested that Denmark and the Netherlands are extremely cautious about accepting a divided Cyprus in the EU and following statements by the Danish premier that the Union does not wish to have unresolved border disputes in its ranks.
''We should be cautious and keep our eyes wide open. We should not be complacent with our achievements so far and we shall not stop working hard until we join the EU,'' Kasoulides said on his return from Brussels.
 UN Secretary General to consult with his Special Adviser on Cyprus
NICOSIA, 07/06/2002 (CNA/ANA)UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is to discuss this weekend developments in the Cyprus peace talks with his Special Adviser Alvaro de Soto, who has been conducting direct talks on the island with the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides for the past five months.
The meeting, scheduled for Sunday in Rome, takes place in view of Annan's report on his good offices mission on Cyprus. Alvaro de Soto is expected to brief the Secretary General about the course of the talks, since the latter's visit to the island in mid May.
Annan will be in Rome on Sunday to address the World Food Summit Assembly of the Food and Agriculture Organization.
President Glafcos Clerides will attend the FAO meeting, his Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous has announced.
The top UN envoy on Cyprus plans to leave the island on Friday and return Monday.