|Thursday, 20 June 2013|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-06-20
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>June 20, 2002
 Nelson Mandela adds his support to 'Olympic Truce' initiative
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)South African statesman Nelson Mandela on Wednesday lent his signature to a high-profile drive by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Greece to expand and promote the idea of an “Olympic Truce” during the holding of the winter and summer Games. Mandela, the Nobel Peace laureate and veteran crusader against apartheid in South Africa, was also honored for his contributions to world peace during an event held at the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron).
“The Olympic Truce is a highly commendable effort to remind us of the idea of promoting peace … this could not have come at a more opportune time, as we are preparing for the next Olympic Games, and as the world continues to be plagued by violence and warfare,” the former South Africa president said.
“We publicly reaffirm our support for the Olympic Truce initiative,” he stressed.
Mandela was greeted at the event by Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who praised his decades-long struggle for democracy in South Africa as well as his role as an international peacemaker. Papandreou, one of the most prolific proponents of the Olympic Truce idea, also emphasized the importance of establishing an in international cease-fire observed throughout the world during the holding of the Games.
In a phrase that comprised the leitmotif of Wednesday's event, the director of the Olympic Truce Center, Stavros Lambrinidis, noted: "If we can achieve peace for 16 days, maybe one day we can have peace forever."
"Your example shows us that everything is possible, even for world peace," renowned composer Mikis Theodorakis, one of several Olympic Truce ambassadors, told Mandela.
Finally, Athens 2004 organizing committee chairwoman Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki cited what she called Greece's pride at being a messenger for peace via the Olympic Truce initiative.
"The ancient premise can become today's promise," she said.
Mandela's signature joins another 113 by heads of state and governments.
The Olympic Truce initiative materialized in 1998 following a proposal by the Greek government to members of the IOC for the institutional consolidation of the idea in the new millennium.
In December 1999 the IOC announced the establishment of the International Olympic Truce Foundation and the Olympic Truce Center, in cooperation with Greece, with both institutions opening their doors a few months later.
ATHOC president hails statesman Mandela, composer Theodorakis: Athens 2004 Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki praised South African statesman Nelson Mandela and Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis during a speech she gave at an event organized by the International Olympic Truce Center at the Athens Concert Hall on Wednesday.
She said of visiting Mandela that he rid South Africa of apartheid and led the nation again in the ranks of the Olympic Games.
The ATHOC president also invited Mandela to visit Athens in August 2004 for the Olympic Games, stressing that ''we want you to be with us at the time when we will be lighting the Olympic Flame.''
At the same time Angelopoulos-Daskalaki hailed ''the participation of one of the greatest world composers in the effort for the promotion of the idea of the Olympic Truce,'' Theodorakis.
Andreas Papandreou Foundation honors Nelson Mandela: The Andreas Papandreou Foundation honored former South African president Nelson Mandela on Wednesday on the occasion of the sixth anniversary of the death of the late premier and PASOK party founder Andreas Papandreou.
In an address during the dinner given on the occasion, Foreign Minister George Papandreou, a son of the late premier, referred to the ''fear of the new, fear of the different, fear for everything unknown'', adding that ''we can turn our fears into political platforms.''
On his part, Mandela spoke of his common values with Andreas Papandreou, adding that the ideals inspiring his struggle emanated from ancient Greece.
Two films dedicated to the struggles of Nelson Mandela and Andreas Papandreou were also screened during the dinner.
 Defense minister meets with Slovenian counterpart in Ljubljana
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou met in Ljubljana on Wednesday with his Slovenian counterpart Anton Grizold and discussed developments in the Balkans, the prospects of Slovenia's accession to the European Union and NATO and bilateral cooperation between Greece and Slovenia.
The two ministers agreed that the realization of the decisions of the international community in Kosovo, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Bosnia is a one-way road for the substantial solidification of conditions of peace and stability in the Balkans.
The Greek minister also reiterated Greece's support for Slovenia's bid to join NATO and the European Union and he signed an agreement with his counterpart, which includes the provision of military training to Slovenian military personnel here in Greece.
Later on in the day Papantoniou met with Slovenian President Milan Kucan, Deputy Foreign Minister Igna Golob and members of Parliament's defense and foreign affairs committees.
In his talks, Papantoniou notified the Slovenian government on Greece's steadfast position that ''if there will be problems from some countries regarding Cyprus's EU accession process this will also mean on the part of Greece the suspension of EU enlargement processes in general.''
Slovenia is among the countries included in the first wave of accession to NATO and the EU at the end of the year.
He added that ''all of us together should exert our pressures and influence where necessary to distance possible dangers.''
Papantoniou further said ''in no case should Turkish intransigence which has appeared create problems at any other point.''
The Slovenian government faced the Greek position with understanding ''because it is clear that Helsinki leaves no margin whatsoever for misinterpretation and it is good for the Slovenians to know this as well,'' as he said.
Papantoniou was due back in Athens on Wednesday night.
 SE European Cooperation Process adopts Greek proposals
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)Belgrade hosted on Wednesday the conference of foreign ministers of the Cooperation Process of the Southeastern European countries and Greece was represented by the Secretary General of the Greek Foreign Ministry Demetris Dollis.
The joint communique that was adopted by the conference reaffirmed the basic principles that should govern the region that is the inviolability of borders and the respect of the territorial integrity of all countries of the region, the peaceful resolution of differences and the respect of international law.
The Cooperation Process also placed as a priority the so-called lateral issues, on which Dollis focused.
''The promotion of infrastructure projects will boost development in the region and our citizens' living standards. There should be special emphasis on the need to promote transport infrastructure, which will facilitate the movement of persons and goods and connect our region to Central and Western Europe,'' Dollis said during his address to the conference, adding that ''our attention should also focus on the energy sector''.
Based on the Greek memorandum on refugees and displaced persons in the Balkans, the conference adopted the Greek proposal for the necessity of closer regional cooperation for the confrontation of this human tragedy.
This was an issue Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis promoted during the March Summit in Tirana, Albania.
Dollis also spoke of Greece's aid to the countries of the region in infrastructure improvements and for the establishment of democratic institutions, via the Greek plan for the reconstruction of the Balkans.
 Gov't backs proposal for 'flexible military formation' in the Aegean
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)A proposal by Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou for a flexible military formation to deal with potential military encounters lasting up to a few days in the Aegean was absolutely correct, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Wednesday.
Protopapas made the statement in response to questions.
He also referred reporters to a decision by the government's Council for Foreign Policy and Defense (KYSEA), saying that the new organization of the armed forces makes provision for formations such as those proposed by Papantoniou.
 Negotiations continuing on European army issue
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)Tough negotiations are continuing on the European army issue, expected to draw the attention of European Union leaders at the Seville summit later this week. The issue has not been included in the summit's agenda but it is expected to be discussed during the dinner to be given for EU leaders.
The issues to be examined at the Seville summit concern asylum, immigration, illegal immigration, reforming the Council of Ministers, the future of Europe, general economic policy directions, enlargement and common foreign and defense policy.
Referring to the European army issue during a press conference on Wednesday, Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Giannitsis said ''is a solution being found? We shall decide on it. It is not being found? We shall wait until the solution is found.''
Giannitsis said many countries are showing understanding for Greece's positions, while at the same time a solution is being urged based on a common denominator.
He further said the European army issue has never been put to the vote, adding that the main question is not which presidency will resolve the issue but the essence of the issue.
Regarding the issue of immigration, to which Greece attaches great emphasis, Giannitsis said Greece wants immigration to Europe to take on a more organized form.
He also said necessary funds should be found to combat illegal immigration and noted that Greece agrees with border control and the creation of a common border guard body.
Greece also places great importance on the protection of sea borders due to flexibility provided by access by sea. For this reason the development of surveillance, control and information exchange system is necessary.
 PM Simitis meets with Cyprus EU negotiator Vassiliou
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)Prime minister Costas Simitis met Wednesday with George Vassiliou, Cyprus' chief negotiator for the island's EU accession and a former president of the island republic.
After the half-hour meeting, Vassiliou told reporters that the Greek premier was very positive, and well informed on all the details regarding Cyprus' EU accession course.
He said they agreed that "we are on the right path", given that the accession negotiations were nearing completion, with only some matters concerning the agricultural sector remaining.
"We are optimistic that the (EU) enlargement will proceed, and that Cyprus will be among the first countries to accede the EU," Vassiliou said,
However, he added, "we are not optimistic on the course towards resolving the political problem", on which "the Turkish intransigence continues, and is indisputably a reason for worry".
"Let's not forget that Turkey may wish to create an incident, there may be provocations, to which we must respond with prudence and determination," Vassiliou said, adding that Simitis, too, agreed that there was a need for prudence and vigilance.
 Euroforce, Cyprus, issues cannot be lumped into package deal, ND leader says
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)The issues of the European rapid reaction force and the Cyprus issue could not be lumped together in a package deal, main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis said Wednesday, after a meeting with President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos.
Karamanlis met with President Stephanopoulos to brief him on his recent visit to the US and the results of his contacts there on Greek national issues.
Speaking to reporters after the 45-minute meeting, the ND leader called for unanimity and alliance of forces, noting that in his contacts in the US he had set out the Greek positions on the major national issues.
Karamanlis added that when the national positions were defended on the basis of a firm policy line, the positions were understood and this, in the course of time, could bring about positive results.
He reiterated that the Ankara text on the Euro-force could not be accepted, and also that Cyprus must accede the European Union in the first half of 2003, during Greece's EU presidency, independent of whether a solution had been found to the island republic's political problem.
Karamanlis leaves later in the afternoon for Madrid for a meeting of the European People's Party (PPE), the Europarliament grouping to which ND belongs, where he said he would again present the Greek positions.
 FM calls for collective action to safeguard human rights, aid refugees
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday called on everyone to struggle for the protection of human rights and the establishment and function of democratic institutions, in light of the International Day of Refugees, celebrated on Thursday.
''We all should struggle not only for the protection of human rights and the establishment and function of democratic institutions, but we should cooperate to decrease or wipe out the reasons that create more and more refugees in our era,'' Papandreou said.
He noted that refugees around the world are estimated at about 50 million people, of which about 80 per cent are women and children, adding that ''we all of us have the obligation and the duty to confront this catastrophic effect of women's human rights violations''.
 Barnier expresses surprise over furor created by ''an ordinary letter''
BRUSSELS, 20/06/2002 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)European Union Commissioner Michel Barnier on Wednesday expressed his surprise over the events surrounding ''an ordinary letter'' he sent to Greece, which gave rise to criticism and became ''an issue''.
According to a press release issued by the ruling PASOK party, PASOK Eurodeputy Manolis Mastorakis tabled a question concerning the much talked about letter by Barnier, to which Barnier responded that ''he had sent similar letters to other countries as well, which is a regular procedure and that he did not understand the reasons why an issue was made out of it''.
 KKE-sponsored gathering of int'l communist parties next week
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)The situation on the international stage following the Sept. 11 terrorist attack last year is expected to dominate discussions at a conference organized by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) next week in Athens, with some 66 communist and labor parties from around the world expected to attend.
Additionally, issues regarding joint development and initiatives between participating parties will be discussed, a KKE press release stated.
The conference is slated for June 21-23.
 Gov't on bank accounts requested by The Hague tribunal
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)The government on Wednesday announced that all of the requests made to Greece by the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, mostly concerning bank accounts of suspected offenders, have been met.
"Whatever information was requested from us was handed over by the banks to the justice ministry, which then conveyed to the International Tribunal in The Hague," the government spokesman said on Wednesday during his regular press briefing.
The spokesman, Christos Protopapas, said he had spoken with both the Bank of Greece governor and the justice minister over the matter.
 Memorial service held for Andreas Papandreou
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)A memorial service for three-time premier and PASOK founder Andreas Papandreou was held on Wednesday, the six-year anniversary of his death, at the Athens First Cemetery.
Besides members of Papandreou's family, including his widow Dimitra and his sons George and Andreas, several top government and party officials, led by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, attended the service.
Other officials at the memorial service included Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, PASOK secretary Costas Laliotis, several Cabinet members, labor leaders, numerous deputies and PASOK supporters.
In his statements afterwards, Simitis noted that Andreas Papandreou outlined several major national goals regarding national independence, popular sovereignty and social freedom. He also said Greece at this point in time is more robust than ever, as it is participating in the EU's decision-making core, while the quality of democracy has dramatically improved as well.
On his part, Kaklamanis said "the messages, the struggles and the other (political) inheritances, apply to us, to the nation and to all of the people."
 Parliament ratifies social security bill in principle
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)A Parliament plenum ratified the social security bill in principle on Wednesday with 144 votes in favor and 131 against, while 25 deputies were absent from voting.
After the result was announced, main opposition New Democracy party Parliamentary representative Nikitas Kaklamanis announced that his party was abstaining from the discussion on the bill's individual articles ''refusing to participate in the deception of the Greek people on the so-called reforming of the social security system.''
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) also walked out of the discussion. KKE secretary general Aleka Papariga had announced during the morning session that her party would walk out at the end of the discussion on principles.
Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos said his party was voting against the bill because it believed that it was making the implementation of a social policy difficult.
Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas accused ND of applying a ''policy of parliamentary truancy’’, which discredits it in two ways since the main opposition party is refusing to propose improvements or set out its positions, while at the same time it is declaring that as a government it will not abolish the bill.
Reppas added that in a society progress results not only from agreement but from disagreement as well and results from those present and not those absent.
Papariga: Communist Party of Greece (KKE) secretary general Aleka Papariga, addressing Parliament during the debate on the social security bill on Wednesday, said her party will vote against it and will abstain from the discussion on its individual articles.
''We shall not participate in the discussion on individual articles. It's a provocation. I cannot remember any other bill, which has been surrounded with so many lies and demagoguery in the logic of white or black. In other bills, the government recognizes the bill's general policy at least. Today, nothing,'' she said.
Papariga said 50 years of accumulated deficits demand an evaluation as to who is to blame for over 25 trillion drachmas owed to social security funds by the state and employers.
She attributed the bill to ''reactionary capitalist restructuring taking place in western Europe'' and the logic of ''three pylons'' governing legislation in other countries. Namely, the pylon of private insurance, that of supplementary insurance with contributions by working people and the pylon of state insurance ''which in the future will pass through a poorhouse which is to be created.''
 Finance Minister defends pension reform bill to opposition critics
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis defended the government's bill for the reforming the pensions system in Parliament on Wednesday, lashing back at opposition party critics by accusing them of ''conservative counter-attacks'' and of ''conniving with trade unions'' to take over his ministry.
He was referring to Tuesday's surprise occupation of the National Economy ministry building by 300 protestors, who hung out a five-story long banner calling on the government to withdraw the bill.
The banner - reading ''Withdraw the anti-worker bill which destroys pension rights'' - was clearly visible from Parliament opposite the ministry building.
Taking the stand during the first reading of the bill, the minister accused the main opposition of seeking to ''debilitate the workforce and pensioners as part of its strategy for demolishing the social insurance system, when and if New Democracy was given a chance.''
Earlier, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) had announced it would join New Democracy in walking out from the article-by-article debate on the bill, while independent MP Stephanos Manos had urged Christodoulakis to resign in protest, following the example of Prime Minister Costas Simitis when he was finance minister under the government of Andreas Papandreou.
Manos argued that the bill, if passed, would make any future correction of the system that much more difficult.
Christodoulakis defended the bill as a ''contract of cohesion and trust for the next 30 years'' that would overcome all problems, while predicting that it would be favorably received by international organizations.
He said it succeeded in doing three basic things: giving incentives to remain in work rather than retiring, ensuring the system's viability and greater social solidarity by lowering the gap between minimum and higher pensions.
The bill also redressed the injustices of the past, with more equal treatment of pensioners with respect to the size of pensions and also by not placing the full burden of paying for the system on those who had recently entered the workforce, he added. While announcing that her party would not participate in the article-by-article debate, KKE general secretary Aleka Papariga called on the government to explain where the money owed by the state to the social insurance funds had gone.
''Fifty years of accumulated deficits demand an evaluation of who is to blame for the more than 25 trillion drachmas owed by the state and by employers to the funds...This amounts to theft, it's not simply going into the red," she added.
She also lashed out at the main opposition, pointing out that it was trying to present a pro-worker image by walking out of the debate on the bill, while at the same time criticizing it as "timid" to employer groups.
Commenting on ND's planned departure, government spokes-man Christos Protopapas accused the main opposition of fleeing and not presenting its positions in Parliament because it simply had none.
Pensions bill falls short of being true reform, ruling PASOK MP claims: The government's bill for pensions and social security fell short of being a true reform and was closer to an adjustment that presaged full-scale reform, ruling PASOK MP Giorgos Daskalakis told Parliament during the debate on the bill on Wednesday.
He also criticized the government for causing a rift within the trade union movement, PASOK's traditional allies, and warned that the party would suffer if it lacked a broad base of support.
Speaking before the assembly, Daskalakis pointed to violent incidents among workers during Tuesday's general strike against the pensions bill and warned his party that "when a mass movement is lacking the countdown begins. This is worrying, since it concerns the country and its progress."
Earlier, Daskalakis had also accused the government, the parties and the trade unionists of being responsible for the public's general confusion about what the bill actually proposed.
He added that weakness and inadequacy did not allow national dialogue and national agreement on this major issue.
 Greek-Romanian Forum highlights good bilateral relations
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)A procedure for granting development aid to Romania, in the framework of a Greek plan for the economic reconstruction of the Balkans, was at the final stage, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Andreas Loverdos said on Wednesday.
Addressing a Greek-Romanian Economic Forum, held in an Athens hotel, Mr. Loverdos said that the Greek plan was recently approved by parliament and that it envisaged offering financial aid worth more than 70 million euros to Romania.
He noted that a meeting, to be held at the foreign affairs ministry on Friday, would make a first evaluation of proposals to be funded in Romania. The meeting will also be attended by Greek ambassador to Romania, the Greek trade attache and other embassy officials.
Loverdos said that the Romanian side (from the six countries that have submitted their proposals) was the most energetic and expressed his frustration with other Balkan countries' delayed reaction to the Greek plan.
Romanian ambassador to Greece, Mr. Caius Traian Dragomir, noted that the forum highlighted a good climate in bilateral relations, while Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Cristian Colteanu urged Greek businessmen to invest in Romania and underlined a series of significant economic developments in his country.
''Romania is a member of the World Trade Organization, it has signed a series of contracts to create free trade zones and has a big domestic market. Its economic progress is reflected also on its high growth rate, currently at 5.3 percent,'' Mr. Colteanu said.
Greece is among the biggest foreign investors in Romania, with invested capital exceeding 2.0 billion US dollars in the period 1990-2001.
More than 2,000 officially registered companies are currently operating in Romania with a Greek participation, covering all sectors of the country's economy.
The telecommunications sector accounts for the biggest part of Greek investments in Romania, with Hellenic Telecommunications Organization holding a 35 percent equity stake in Romtelecom, an investment valued at 675 million US dollars, while Cosmorom and Intrarom - a member of Intracom Group - are also active in the country's mobile telephony sector.
In the banking sector, Alpha Bank, Commercial Bank, National Bank, Piraeus Bank and EFG Eurobank Ergasias have developed their own networks or are participating in Romanian banks.
The food-beverage sector has also attracted increased Greek interest, as well as the retail sector.
 National Bank says state' equity stake reduction gradual
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)National Bank on Wednesday firmly rejected press reports that Greece's Public Securities Company (DEKA) plans to sell a bloc of National Bank's shares in the stock market. DEKA currently holds a 6.0 percent equity stake in the bank.
A bank statement said that a procedure to reduce the state's equity stake in National Bank would be made in due time and it would be fully transparent.
The decision to reduce the state's participation in National Bank and Commercial Bank was announced by Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis in March.
 Greek tourist market rises, official figures show
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)The Greek tourist market is steadily increasing despite a crisis in the international market following the September 11 tragic events in the US, J. Brackenberry, president of the International Federation of Tour Operators told a conference held by the World Tourism Organization.
Mr. Brackenberry noted that a World Cup tournament, currently in Japan and Korea, would have negative impact on all European destinations in June and predicted that 2002 would be a negative year for almost all destinations and particularly for Spain, Egypt and Cyprus. He stressed that the countries that could benefit this year were those easily accessed by car.
 Seamen's strike extended for two more days, ends Saturday
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)The Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) on Wednesday called another 48-hour strike that will end at 6:00 on Saturday, leaving Greek-flagged ships and ferries docked in ports around the country throughout the week.
Particularly acute are the problems for the Greek islands, where hundreds of tourists are now stranded and there are shortages in basic supplies.
The problems are expected to get worse this coming weekend, which coincides with a bank holiday, since thousands of Athenians have booked trips to the islands.
The strike has been called to press four demands made by Greek seamen.
Commenting on the strike during a press conference, Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis said the government was prepared to satisfy the PNO's demands but needed some time to incorporate them in the new bill that would be tabled in Parliament.
 Gov't to abolish proof-of-income taxation
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)The government is to abolish an unpopular tax on goods including automobiles and yachts as proof of income, the finance ministry's secretary general, George Kanellopoulos, said on Wednesday.
Kanellopoulos told the Alpha News radio station in an interview that the tax was unfair as 95 percent of people who paid it had incomes of less than 3.8 million drachmas and were taxed merely because they owned an automobile or a second home in their village of origin.
 Athens bourse to help set up stock exchange in Belgrade
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)The Athens bourse is to help set up a stock exchange in Belgrade in a project budgeted at 1.8 million euros that is due for completion at the end of 2002.
The electronic trading system used at the Athens Stock Exchange will be installed in Belgrade under the terms of a contract signed on Wednesday that was incorporated in a memorandum of cooperation between the two countries' governments.
The Athens bourse will offer support services after installation of the trading system.
The project is to be carried out by the bourse and by another member of the Athens-quoted Hellenic Stock Exchanges holding company - Systems Development and Capital Market Support SA.
The new arrangement will mean that the stock exchanges have a technical link in place, enabling further projects including incorporation into a Balkan exchange, if created.
In addition, Greece-based stockbrokers and underwriters will be able to expand their operations into the Belgrade market due to the link.
 Greek stock plunge near year's lows on Wednesday
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)Greek stocks plunged near their year's lows on Wednesday as investors continued closing positions in the market unnerved by a volatile climate in international markets.
The general index ended 0.97 percent lower to 2,193,43 points, although it managed to cut its 1.7 percent intra-day loss with the help of a wave of selective buying in medium capitalization stocks and for Hellenic Telecommunications Organization’s stocks. OTE ended the day 0.62 percent higher.
National Bank's share dropped 3.64 percent lower hit by reports, although official denied, over the sale of a 6.0 percent stake in the bank by the Public Securities Company (DEKA).
The IT Solutions and Construction sectors were the only ones to score gains (0.37 percent and 0.06 percent, respectively), while the Banks, Cement and Metals sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (2.08 percent, 1.33 percent and 1.16 percent).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 1.32 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 0.42 percent lower and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index dropped 0.80 percent.
Turnover was an improved 114.5 million euros, while decliners led advancers by 234 to 64 with another 54 issues unchanged.
The most heavily traded shares in value were Hellenic Telecoms, National Bank of Greece, Football Pools Organization, Public Power Corporation, and Alpha Bank.
Equity index futures mixed: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday finished mixed.
Turnover was 116.3 million euros.
The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips shed 1.32 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks lost 0.42 percent.
In individual stock futures, players focused on National Bank of Greece and Alpha Bank.
Bond prices down in active trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Wednesday finished mixed in heavy trade focusing on five-year paper.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.28 percent, and the spread over the corresponding German bund was 30 basis points.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 2.1 billion euros.
Sell orders accounted for just over half of trade.
 2004 preparations again the focus of gov't-ATHOC meeting
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)The latest in a series of high-profile meetings between the government and Athens 2004 organizers (ATHOC) regarding preparations for the upcoming Olympics took place on Wednesday, a week before yet another International Olympic Committee (IOC) team arrives here for an inspection.
Prime Minister Costas Simitis again chaired the meeting, where pending deadlines for various projects and preparations were discussed, including delayed works at the Hellenikon site (old Athens airport district).
Simitis will, in fact, meet with the IOC executive in charge of overseeing the Athens 2004 Games, Denis Oswald, on June 27.
Other issues, including the classical Marathon route, road works, Olympic hospitality, media centers, as well as the Greek capital's operational plan during the Games, were discussed.
 PM, Public order minister discuss security plan for Olympic Games
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis held a one-hour-long meeting on Wednesday afternoon with Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis. According to sources, they started examining the final security plan for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
According to sources, the final security plan will be presented next week to International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordinating Committee President Denis Oswald.
The whole plan was not discussed at the meeting. Simitis will receive Chrysohoidis again immediately after the prime minister returns from Seville and in any case before Oswald's visit to Greece which is scheduled for June 26.
 Minister speaks at House of Commons on preparations for 2004 Olympic Games
LONDON, 20/06/2002 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)Deputy Press and Mass Media Minister Telemahos Chytiris gave a speech at the House of Commons on Tuesday night on preparations for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and on the objectives of the Games.
Chytiris, who is responsible for Communications regarding the Athens Olympic Games, stressed that the Olympic Games infrastructure, which is progressing smoothly according to the time frame, is radically changing the image of Athens.
''Athens is really changing, radical interventions, such as the re-planning of public spaces, are transforming the capital, improving both its image and the quality of life of the citizens,'' he said.
He added that ''a big city, historic and modern, is preparing to offer its hospitality to thousands of visitors during the Games.
The Greek deputy minister also underlined that security was of top priority. ''We appreciate very much the advice and help given by our British friends in the confrontation of all forms of terrorism,'' he said, adding that ''we are all aware of the dangers of terrorism and we are cooperating with many countries, among them the United States. We are leaving nothing to chance.''
Chytiris meets with Caborn in London, focus on Athens 2004 Games: Deputy Press and Media Minister Telemachos Chytiris on Wednesday met with Minister of State for Sport Richard Caborn and briefed him on the preparations for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
Closing his visit here, Chytiris said that he noted a great interest and a positive orientation concerning the Olympic Games of Athens in England.
''The orientation of the English was very positive toward Greece concerning the Olympic Games,'' he said, adding that he invited Caborn to visit Athens, who on his part stated the willingness of the British side to aid the Greek side in preparing for the Games.
Chytiris also said that their agenda included such issues as doping control and security.
 IOC marketing director speaks in Athens
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)The president of the International Olympic Committee's marketing division, Gerhard Heiberg, said on Wednesday that he saw exceptional progress in implementing preparation programs for the Athens 2004 games. Heiberg was addressing a sponsors conference held by the event's Athens organizers, who are headed by Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki.
"The Athens Olympics are the greatest marketing opportunity (in the communications sector)," Heiberg said.
 Culture minister presents ministry plan within 'Information Society' program
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Wednesday presented his ministry's planned activities within the government's 'Information Society' program at the Byzantine Museum in Athens in the afternoon.
He said the plan aimed to improve services to citizens and the country's economic and cultural prosperity, using technology to make Greek culture a digitally controlled and promotable product.
Among the projects plan are a digital museum of Greek culture, special electronic editions on cultural heritage issues, Greek culture and important people in Greek history and educational programs focusing on Greece's cultural heritage and present-day art.
 Ecumenical Patriarch visits Gavdos
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Wednesday visited the small Greek island of Gavdos, situated south of Crete west of Crete, in the Libyan Sea.
Vartholomeos arrived by a Hellenic Airforce helicopter accompanied by Deputy Defense Minister Yiannis Magriotis and was welcomed by the inhabitants of the small community and the local priesthood.
The Patriarch lauded the citizens of the small border island and called them "jewels" of the island.
During his stay he officiated a memorial service for the late president of the community Theofilos Tsirintanis.
 Greek expatriate press and mass media awards
Athens, 20/06/2002 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Wednesday night presented the annual awards for Greek expatriate press and mass media during a ceremony held at the Old Parliament.
In a brief speech, Stephanopoulos said the expatriate press and mass media help towards maintaining the bonds of the Greek expatriate community with Greece, keeping alive the presence of Hellenism.
The institution of the awards began four years ago, under the aegis of the Press and Mass Media Ministry.
Press and Mass Media Minister Christos Protopapas said the institution of the awards awarded the select representatives of the expatriate press and mass media, which represent ''the main transmitter of communication of the expatriates with the motherland.''
 Government spokesman says peace talks at a very difficult point
NICOSIA, 20/06/2002 (CNA/ANA)The UN-led peace talks, now in their sixth month, are at a very difficult point, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said here on Wednesday.
He said that developments would determine whether UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will decide to submit a report to the Security Council on Cyprus.
''The direct talks are at a very difficult point,'' Papapetrou said, when asked to comment on press reports that the talks have come to a halt with discussions focusing on what to deal with next.
Asked if security concerns, one of the core issues at the talks, are under discussion, the spokesman said ''at present there are no discussions on security.''
President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash have been engaged in direct talks, under UN auspices, since mid January but no progress has been achieved so far.
They were asked by Annan, when he visited Cyprus in mid May, to come to an agreement in principle by the end of June on the four core issues (governance, security, territory, property).
Replying to questions, Papapetrou said he had no information about UN intentions not to submit a report on the course of the talks to avoid apportioning blame.
''Developments at the talks will determine what happens next. If there is a report and what that report will say will depend on developments and on UN expectations about whether the talks can actually move ahead,'' he said.
Clerides and Denktash will have their next meeting on Tuesday.
 Spokesman: Turkey will have to deal with Cyprus
NICOSIA, 20/06/2002 (CNA/ANA)Turkey will have to tackle the Cyprus question whether it wants to or not, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said here on Wednesday, commenting on remarks by Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem.
''Turkey is under pressure and Ankara will always find the Cyprus problem in front of her, in particular in the next few months,'' Papapetrou said, after Wednesday's cabinet meeting.
Cem had said Turkey wishes to compromise on Cyprus but warned that nobody should consider that Ankara is obliged to compromise.
''Whether he feels he should compromise or not, Cem will have to deal with Cyprus,'' Papapetrou said, adding that the mere fact that Cem made such a remark indicates that this matter worried Ankara.
Turkey and its puppet regime in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus insist on two separate states on the island, a position Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash is pushing at the UN-led peace talks, which began in mid January this year.
As a result of this stance, no progress has been achieved at the talks so far.