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Athens News Agency: News in English, 00-03-02
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Papandreou - Cyprus - Austria02/03/2000 22:38:56
Foreign Minister George Papandreou said on Thursday that the prospects for unimpeded progress towards Cyprus's membership of the European Union, boosted by decisions of the recent Helsiniki summit, opened up new possibilities for a solution of the island's political problem.
"The unimpeded progress towards Cyprus's accession to the European Union opens up new possibilities, even regarding the details of a final solution to the Cyprus problem ... Helsinki becomes a real tool for knocking down this last 'Berlin Wall'," he said at a luncheon hosted by the Foreign Press Association.
Responding to questions on Greece's attitude towards Austria, whose new government included ministers from the extreme Right wing Freedom Party, Papandreou said that as with that country's other EU partners, this would depend on the strict application of the principles to which Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel had committed himself.
 Spain-Culture-Medal02/03/2000 21:41:43
MADRID (ANA) - Spanish Deputy Culture Minister Miguel Angel Cortez on Thursday conferred the Medal of Alfonse X the Wise to Greece¢s National Art Gallery Director Marina Lambraki-Plaka, Goulandris Foundation President Doli Goulandri and actor Irene Pappas for their contribution toward culture and the strengthening of cultural bonds between Greece and Spain.
The deputy minister underlined the ?true spring? of bonds between Spain and Greece, saying that both countries were characterised by their ?great contribution? to international culture and tolerance of all cultural expressions.
The Spanish ambassador to Athens and the Greek ambassador to Madrid were among those attending the confirmation of the medal, which is the highest honour bestowed by Spain to foreigners for their cultural achievements.
 Simitis-elections02/03/2000 20:51:36
PASOK seeks a clear mandate in the April 9 general elections so as to form a strong government and promote its 10-point programme planned for the next four years, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Thursday, during a press conference in Athens.
?There is a new social and political majority, which aims for modernisation and the progress of the country...We seek the joining of all forces of progress in the cities and rural areas, in Greece and Hellenism to support the 10 great aims of the 2000-2004 period,? Simitis said.
Simitis outlined the 10 goals, which included faster development rates aiming at raising Greece¢s living standards to 80 per cent of the European Union¢s average in 2004 ; new jobs and training for the unemployed and the creation of 300,000 jobs; a well planned and viable development for rural areas via European Union and Greek government funds amounting to 12 trillion drachmas; educational reform to much the changes in the global economy, as well as social cohesion and solidarity.
He also said that there would be measures to upgrade quality of life and security of citizens, which include better and more efficient public services, changes in city planning, protection of the environment and police measures to reduce crime.
Simitis said amendments to the Constitution would be made to allow for broader consensus among political parties.
Speaking on the Athens 2004 Olympic Games success, which were one of the 10 goals outlined, Simitis said they would provide the opportunity for sports and culture to bloom in Greece and aid the efforts in developing the country¢s economy and citizens quality of life.
The final goal, the premier said, would be to struggle for Greece¢s strong and equal standing in the European Union and the world, which would allow Greece to resolve differences with Turkey and secure Cyprus¢ accession to the Union.
 Simitis-Elections-Tax02/03/2000 19:53:21
Prime Minister Costas Simitis pledged on Thursday that if the ruling PAOSK party won general elections on April 9 it would introduce a two-year package of measures worth 390 billion drachmas to assist farmers and people on low incomes.
Among measures promised by Simitis were an across-the-board increase in tax-exempt income of 400,000 drachmas starting in 2000. Untaxed for wage earners and pensioners would be the first 2.3 million drachmas, up from 1.9 million drachmas.
 Weather Forecast-Friday02/03/2000 17:43:13
Changeable weather is forecast throughout the country on Friday, with cloud, rain or storms. Snow will fall on high ground. The weather will gradually improve during the day, starting from the west.
 Airlink - Istanbul - Thessaloniki02/03/2000 16:46:04
Turkish Airlines will inaugurate regular flights between the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki and Istanbul at the end of the month.
The Turkish national carrier¢s first passenger jet will arrive at the city¢s Macedonia Airport on Wednesday, March 22, carrying executives of the airline and Turkish journalists. A presentation of a flights schedule will follow at a downtown Thessaloniki hotel.
Turkish Airlines, called ?Havayollari Delvet Isletme Idaresi? in Turkish, was founded in 1933 in Ankara. The carrier¢s first flight linking Greece to Turkey was recorded in 1947.
The Thessaloniki-Istanbul connection was up until recently only flown by Greece¢s state-owned Olympic Airways.
 Bulgarian telecoms privatisation02/03/2000 16:39:35
SOFIA (ANA · B. Borisov) -- Bulgaria¢s transport minister said on Thursday that ?views were converging? over eight issues apparently blocking negotiations between the Sofia government and a Greek-Dutch consortium to privatize the Balkan country¢s state-owned telecoms utility.
In response to press questions, Bulgarian minister Anton Slavinski, the head of Sofia¢s negotiating team for the BTC privatisation scheme, said a relevant report on the OTE-KPN offer would be submitted to the Bulgarian government¢s cabinet next week. He also emphasised that a BTC would be partially sold, while a relative agreement ?will be signed with the best possible buyers.?
Meanwhile, observers in Sofia are also not ruling out the possibility of a decision concerning any BTC privatisation deal being delayed, citing a meeting between the foreign ministers of Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey on Sunday.
 Unifon-1999 results02/03/2000 16:25:14
Unifon on Thursday announced that its pre-tax profits rose 30.97 percent in 1999 to four billion drachmas, while its turnvoer totalled 101 billion drachmas, up 12 percent from the previous year.
The company is implementing an investment programme aiming to expand its e-motion retail stores in Greece to 61 from a current 12, a rise of 20 percent in 2000.
It also plans to open its first retail store in Tirana, Albania. Unifon recently launched its first electronic commerce hub guaranteeing delivery of products within 48 hours.
The company recently acquired a 55 percent stake in Tetoma.com and minority stakes in Acom and Halimourdas SA, 16 pct and 35 pct respectively.
 ADEX-close02/03/2000 16:05:59
Equity futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange continued moving higher on Thursday in line with the stock indices on which they are based.
On the Athens bourse, the FTSE/ASE 20 index ended 1.69 percent higher and the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 2.99 percent higher.
Turnover jumped to 12.3 billion drachmas.
A total of 1,798 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20, showing turnover of 10.3 billion drachmas. Contracts ended as follows: expiring March at 2,873.50, expiring April at 2,913.50, expiring May at 2,930 and expiring June at 2,935.
Futures traded on the FTSE/ASE MID 40 numbered 632, with turnover at two billion drachmas. Contracts closed as follows: expiring March at 826, expiring April at 850, expiring May at 860 and expiring June at 880.
 ASE-close02/03/2000 15:52:53
Equity prices recovered more ground on Thursday, remaining on a rebounding course for the second consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange.
Dealers said buying interest shifted towards smaller capitalisation stocks which have suffered heavily in the last few weeks.
The general index ended at 5,174.18 points, up 2.19 percent, but off the day's highs of 5,219.53 points.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 1.69 percent to 2,849.66 points, while the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index jumped 2.99 percent to 811.40 points.
Turnover was a moderate 205.4 billion drachmas.
The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks soared 6.44 percent to end at 1,178.22 points.
 Kosovo - Incident - Train02/03/2000 15:43:50
A minor incident between the Serbian passengers and ethnic Albanian employees on Wednesday aboard a passenger train in the strife-torn Yugoslav province of Kosovo was reported by the Greek general staff command.
According to military sources on Thursday in Athens, a Greek army lieutenant and eight soldiers aboard the train fired warning shots into the air to prevent a fracas.
Passengers aboard the train at the Letsak station apparently became enraged when the Albanian conductors demanded fares, as no tickets had been issued for the previous days' routes.
The same sources in Athens said such occurrences have become routine.
 Simitis - Gov't - Programme02/03/2000 15:24:22
Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday stressed at a press conference in downtown Athens that his government will set 10 goals for the economy and the social sector over the next four years.
General elections in Greece are set for April 9.
In a direct lead-in to the pre-election campaign, Simitis said a strong government must emanate from the elections in order to negotiate the best possible terms for the country's expected inclusion in Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).
He also reiterated that Athens will submit its application for EMU entry on March 9, before saying his ruling PASOK government achieved its goals over the last four years in power.
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