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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-01-03

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

January 3, 2004

CONTENTS

  • [01] US president sends letter urging action on Cyprus issue, PM replies
  • [02] Deputy press minister says PM will make announcements to media on January 7
  • [03] Tsohatzopoulos declares support for PM's initiatives to Athens daily
  • [04] Foreign minister refuses comment on return from Paris
  • [05] ND leader calls for off-the-agenda debate in Parliament
  • [06] ND spokesman says deliberations in PASOK 'decorative changes in showcase'
  • [07] Constantopoulos: developments in PASOK an 'admission of failure'
  • [08] Papariga meets Cyprus president, political party leaders
  • [09] Greek weekly economic review
  • [10] ASE makes a very positive start in 2004
  • [11] State Council postpones ruling on suspension of Acropolis Museum's construction

  • [01] US president sends letter urging action on Cyprus issue, PM replies

    Athens, 01/03/2004 (ANA)

    In an exchange of letters shortly after Christmas, United States President George Bush and Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis agreed that 2004 will be a historic opportunity to achieve a solution to the Cyprus problem, in view of the island's formal accession to the European Union.

    Bush also called on all sides involved to return to the negotiating table following the ''elections'' in the occupied north of the island republic. In his reply on Friday, Simitis expressed satisfaction with the continued active interest in the Cyprus issue displayed by the U.S. and said he shared Washington's views on the importance of achieving a solution.

    In a letter dated December 26, Bush underlined that the United States had long believed that it was important to achieve a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem, that would benefit both sides on the island and also the security interests of Greece and Turkey.

    ''At this moment, there is a window of opportunity to achieve a solution, so that a united Cyprus can join the European Union. We must not allow this window to close,'' he said.

    He called on all sides to return to negotiations, pointing out that United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan had volunteered to reactivate the solution process provided all sides declared their political will to finalize the UN plan for a Cyprus solution and to hold a referendum on this at a specific date.

    He urged Simitis to follow this approach, which was also unanimously adopted by the Security Council, and to encourage Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos to do the same.

    Stressing that the time for action had come, Bush reiterated U.S. support for the process but noted that it was up to the leaders of the sides involved, particularly the leaders on the island, to achieve a comprehensive and permanent agreement.

    ''Cooperating, we can write a history that will benefit Greece and Cyprus, but also Turkey and the international community,'' he concluded.

    In his reply, Simitis agreed that Cyprus' imminent official accession to the EU had created a new drive for a comprehensive solution and said the Greek government welcomed ''the desire that was recently expressed by the majority of Turkish-Cypriots for a solution of the Cyprus problem and in favor of the benefits of EU accession, despite the pressure on them to support the existing status quo''.

    He noted that the EU had repeatedly asked the sides involved, especially the Turkish and Turkish-Cypriot sides, to strongly support the efforts of the UN Secretary General to resume talks based on his proposals, as well as a need for a comprehensive settlement in agreement with UN Security Council resolutions on the basis of the detailed proposals put forward by Annan.

    ''As you rightly pointed out, President Papadopoulos has made it absolutely clear that he is ready to return to the negotiating table at any time that Mr. Annan deems fit,'' Simitis added, while pointing out that valuable time had been lost because of the continued intransigence of Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and his reluctance to engage in substantial and constructive negotiations, as well as a lack of political will in Ankara to exert the level of pressure needed to bring results.

    ''I fully concur with your view that the coming year is a historic opportunity for Cyprus. My government is fully aware of the importance of finding a solution to the problem on the island and of the positive consequences that this will have for peace and stability in the wider region. We will continue not to stint efforts to achieve this goal,'' Simitis said.

    [02] Deputy press minister says PM will make announcements to media on January 7

    Athens, 01/03/2004 (ANA)

    Deputy Press Minister Telemahos Hytiris said on Friday Prime Minister Costas Simitis will be making announcements to representatives of the mass media on January 7.

    Hytiris said that Simitis will meet President Kostis Stephanopoulos at the Presidential Mansion at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, at 11 a.m. Simitis will chair a joint meeting of the ruling PASOK party's Government Committee and Executive Bureau at the Maximos Mansion, while at about 1-1.30 p.m. the prime minister will be making his announcements to the media.

    In addition, Simitis will be having a meeting at his home with Foreign Minister George Papandreou at 7 p.m. on January 6.

    At 1 p.m. on the same day, the prime minister will have a meeting at his home with the party's Central Committee secretary Mihalis Chrysohoidis and Hytiris.

    [03] Tsohatzopoulos declares support for PM's initiatives to Athens daily

    Athens, 01/03/2004 (ANA)

    In an interview with the Athens newspaper ''Eleftherotypia'' published on Friday, Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos declared full support for the initiatives to be announced by Prime Minister Costas Simitis after the holidays to ''reorder the political scene and highlight new forces that will take part in the electoral battle''.

    Tsohatzopoulos, a former contender for PASOK's leadership against Simitis, also conceded that Foreign Minister George Papandreou had a certain ''head start in the issue of succession''.

    According to political analysts, it is almost certain that Simitis will announce moves to put Papandreou at the head of the party prior to the general elections in spring, probably as party president.

    Tsohatzopoulos said that he supported the initiatives being planned by Simitis because they ''truly create a new prospect and new opportunities'' for the party.

    At the same time, he stressed that PASOK would only win the elections if it could successfully project its social policies.

    ''PASOK will be judged by its ability to deal with high prices, unemployment and insecurity,'' he added.

    [04] Foreign minister refuses comment on return from Paris

    Athens, 01/03/2004 (ANA)

    Returning from a brief holiday in Paris on Thursday night, meanwhile, Papandreou refused to comment on developments within his party, telling TV crews that "we will speak on this over the coming days".

    Expressing his best wishes for the New Year, he stressed that 2004 will be a crucial year because of the Olympic Games in the summer.

    The developments are expected to unfold after the prime minister's return from a visit to Korakohori, with announcements expected on January 7.

    [05] ND leader calls for off-the-agenda debate in Parliament

    Athens, 01/03/2004 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis addressed a letter to Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis on Friday, calling for an off-the-agenda debate to take place in Parliament.

    Karamanlis invoked three reasons for the debate to take place :(a) unemployment, poverty, regional inequalities in the country, corrosion of the quality of democracy, (b) the state of education and (c) the state of health which is ''provided through conditions which are unsuitable for every sense of social sensitiveness.''

    [06] ND spokesman says deliberations in PASOK 'decorative changes in showcase'

    Athens, 01/03/2004 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Friday deliberations being observed in the ruling party are ''decorative changes in PASOK's showcase," adding that these deliberations ''have led the government to complete paralysis.''

    Roussopoulos further said ''we are bringing the leaders of PASOK before Parliament to give an account of the problems they have burdened the Greek citizen with: new poverty, the wretched state of health and the compression of incomes. And for ND to promote its new realistic solutions.''

    Responding to this development, government spokesman Christos Protopapas attributed these specific moves by ND to a ''diversion'' and accused it of ''playacting in essence, because if it was really interested in these problems it would also have provided its program and it would also have given its own answers on them.''

    Protopapas further said ''it is clear that ND is functioning under a state of panic related to the impending initiatives by the prime minister and to the new climate being created.''

    [07] Constantopoulos: developments in PASOK an 'admission of failure'

    Athens, 01/03/2004 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party leader Nikos Constantopoulos on Friday said that recent developments within the ruling PASOK party were an admission that government policy had failed.

    Visiting a gypsy camp in Thessalonica, Constantopoulos said that an apparent attempt to engineer a change in PASOK's leadership prior to the general elections in spring smacked of "old party politics".

    "It is clear that the "best suited for premier" in recent opinion polls is fleeing the scene so that he does not have to give answers, to be replaced by the man again shown by opinion polls as best suited to succeed him. I'm wondering what any of this has to do with democratic processes," Constantopoulos said.

    [08] Papariga meets Cyprus president, political party leaders

    Nicosia, 01/03/2004 (ANA- G. Leonidas)

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga, currently on a visit here at the invitation of leftwing AKEl General Secretary Demetris Christofias, was received on Friday by Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos who briefed her on the present phase of the Cyprus issue.

    Papariga held talks earlier in the day with Christofias and discussed with him developments in the Cyprus problem and the possible reactions by Turkey and the international community.

    In statements after the meeting Papariga stressed that despite the electoral procedures in Greece, the political parties were obliged to continue their support for a settlement of the Cyprus problem as soon as possible and thus, as she said, the Cyprus issue would be at the forefront during the election campaign.

    On his part, Christofias said that the KKE leader showed particular interest in developments in the Turkish Cypriot community, adding that they jointly supported a bicommunal federation which should be functional. Christofias further said that they agreed to the need for new initiatives to be taken to confront the ''neo-liberal attacks'' from within the European Union.

    Parariga also held meetings with Democratic Party (DIKO) Deputy President Nicos Kleanthous, Socialist Movement EDEK leader Yiannakis Omirou, United Democrats leader George Vassiliou and a delegation from the Ecologists-Environ-mentalists Movement.

    [09] Greek weekly economic review

    Athens, 01/03/2004 (ANA)

    The Athens Stock Exchange ended 2003 with a net gain of 29.46 percent ending a three-year trend of significant losses, with two-thirds of listed stocks recording gains while another 130 stocks ended with losses. The Bank index ended the year 57.98 percent higher.

    The board of the Greek bourse on Friday announced it has rejected the listing applications of 60 out of a total 73 companies seeking to enter the market this year.

    The Greek mutual funds' market reported moderate returns in 2003, with certain categories of mutual funds' yields ending the

    year below time deposit interest rates. Official figures showed that 27 domestic money funds reported returns below 2.5 percent, turning to negative if annual inflation was considered.

    Domestic bond funds' returns were slightly better, while domestic equity funds returned to positive returns after three years of heavy declines.

    The Greek government is expected to submit to parliament a draft legislation on electronic communications, integrating five new European directives in the sectors of telecommunications, interactive television, networks, etc.

    General Bank's staff union reacted to a procedure followed in finding a strategic partner for the Greek bank and criticized Economy and Finance ministry's policy in promoting Societe Generale's bid. The union said that the French bank's proposal did not ensure workers' rights.

    Hellenic Telecommunications Organization announced large price cuts in telephone calls from its fixed-line network to mobile telephony networks, to an average 10 percent.

    Hellenic Tourist Real Estate SA is expected to launch its initial public offering, aimed to list its shares in the main market of the Athens Stock Exchange, in January. The company will offer 33,000,000 shares, or 27.331 percent of its equity capital through a public offering and a private placement.

    [10] ASE makes a very positive start in 2004

    Athens, 01/03/2004 (ANA)

    Greek investors welcomed 2004 with a buying spree in the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday pushing the general index above the 2,300-point resistance level during the first trading session of the New Year.

    The index ended at 2,313.64 points, up 2.21 percent, reflecting strong gains in all sector indices.

    The Publication, Textile and IT sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (9.98 percent, 5.04 percent and 4.94 percent, respectively). The investment index lagged the general strong upward trend to end 0.70 percent higher.

    Turnover was an improved 151.3 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 2.08 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index jumped 3.73 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index soared 4.30 percent.

    Broadly, advancers outnumbered decliners by 311 to 24 with another 24 issues unchanged.

    Equity Index Futures:

  • FTSE/ASE-20 (high cap): At premium

  • Underlying Index: +2.08% percent

  • FTSE/ASE-40 (medium cap): At premium

  • Underlying Index: +3.37 percent

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 1.165 bln euros

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Closing rates of January 2 2003

    Parities in euro

    Banknotes

    Foreign Exchange Buying Selling

    US Dollar 1,269 1,240

    [11] State Council postpones ruling on suspension of Acropolis Museum's construction

    Athens, 01/03/2004 (ANA)

    The Council of State has called on the culture ministry to inform it, in order to assess the danger of harm being caused to antiquities by the construction of the Acropolis museum, whether a building license has been issued, if a contractor has been installed and when the time will be set for scaffolding to be placed in the red zone where archaeological findings exist.

    The Council has also postponed a final ruling on the suspension application concerning the construction of the new museum to enable the culture ministry to convey the specific information to it within a period of six days to facilitate a final decision to be taken on the application.


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