|Monday, 11 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-03-26
From: The Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada <email@example.com>
 Nation celebrates Greek Independence Day
Athens 26/03/1998 (ANA)Greece and Hellenism yesterday celebrated the 177th anniversary of the Greek War of Independence against Ottoman rule with parades and ceremonies.
In Athens, President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos took the salute at a military parade, in the presence of Prime Minister Costas Simitis, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and other political party leaders.
In a statement at the end of the parade, President Stephanopoulos said "the Greek people, who are being subjected to economic sacrifices to maintain the fighting streng-th of the armed forces, can feel satisfied that these sacrifices are being fully uti lised."
In similar statements, Mr. Simitis referred to a "strong Greece", having a role and a voice, adding that this is achieved by combat-ready armed forces with a strong morale, a stable economy and thanks to social justice.
According to Mr. Simitis, the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) will convene on Monday to continue discussions on armaments for the armed forces which, as he said, are proceeding.
Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis said "I think that with the universal effort between the people,government and parties, we will succeed in promoting the country's development course and safeguard our external front..."
On his part, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos underlined the excellent standing of the forces that appeared in the parade and said "the seriousness, determination and strength, not only of the armed forces, but of the Greek people in their entirety, constitute at present a guarantee for the country's positive course towards prosperity, progress as well as peace, security and stability in the region."
Earlier, an annual church service was held at the Athens Metropolitan Cathedral, while President Stephanopoulos laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier afterwards.
 ... MessagesIn his message to the nation on Tuesday, Mr. Simitis said that the fortitude, vitality and fighting spirit of the Greeks today was being channeled to the creation of a contemporary and strong Greece to successfully and efficiently face the challenges of the 21st century.
Mr. Simitis said Hellenism throughout the world was celebrating the anniversary of the 1821 revolution in a spirit of national pride. The Greeks, he said, had proven with their daring and determination that achievement of the impossible was possible.
Today, Mr. Simitis said, Greeks are waging a battle for Greece to have a presence and voice and to participate equally and actively in the decision-taking centre of the European Union's "hard-core".
They were fighting for a Greece that guaranteed economic stability and development with its national currency entered in the EU's Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM), and ensured the competitiveness of its economy in the public and private sectors through con solidation of the efficiency of public organisations and utilities by providing qualitatively upgraded services and facilitating the endeavours of Greek private enterprises with prestige and presence on the international markets, he added.
The Greeks, he continued, were working for a Greece that, with social justice as its criterion, would provide social welfare and protection to vulnerable population groups that had real needs.
"They were building a Greece with an active and constantly expanding presence in the Balkans, as its policy over the past four years had rendered it the exclusive stabilising factor in the wider region, and a Greece that fought for respect of internatio nal law and adherence to the international treaties and contributed decisively to peace and stability in the region," Mr. Simitis said.
Greece, he added, also looked to "the most vital and creative part of the nation, the Greeks abroad, who were waging battles to ensure the inalienable national rights and who constantly support the country's tireless efforts to consolidate a climate of peace, friendship and cooperation".
Greeks, Mr. Simitis said, were working for a Greece that knew how to struggle and create, because it did not want to be left behind and because the Greek people, with their sacrifices in a difficult period, were determined to successfully and efficiently meet the challenges of the 21st century.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos in his message to the armed forces said that "retaining a strong, modern and efficient armed forces was the guarantee for freedom, democracy and the unobstructed progress of the country in an environment of historical challenges".
In his message, main opposition New Democracy leader Kostas Karamanlis said that Greeks today were seeking a new renaissance to throw off the "modern-day servility".
"This new renaissance presupposes and demands the search for and advancement of large goals, the demand of an important role for Greece in the united Europe, the formulation of a modern state that stands at the side of its citizens, reinstatement of the values and citizens to the forefront, the flourishing of education and culture, liberation of the productive forces of the citizens, the consolidaton of a climate of security, dignity, confidence, solidarity and competition," he noted.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in its message, said that Greece was preparing to participate in the NATO "rapid deployment" multinational force, and was even seeking to have Thessaloniki designated as the force's base, "disagreeing with other gove rnments that each wanted the headquarters on their own territory".
In addition, KKE said the PASOK government was presenting itself as the "intermediary" for the formulation of the terms of entry into NATO of the other Balkan countries.
The KKE called on the Greek people to raise a voice of "protest and condemnation" against the "impe-rialists' intervention in the Balkans, the Aegean, the wider region of the southeastern Mediterranean".
It called on the people to demand of the government and political parties to refuse any participation by Greece in the "imperialistic intervention", to fight for the bases in Souda, Araxos and Aktio to be removed, and to react against the establishment of a new multinational force in the Balkans.
 ... Iranian message
TEHRAN 26/03/1998 (ANA/IRNA)Iranian President Mohammad Khatami addressed a message to his Greek counterpart Kostis Stephanopoulos yesterday congratulating him, the nation and the government on the occasion of Greek Independence Day.
 Pangalos reiterates that Athens, Nicosia fully coordinated on S-300 policy
WASHINGTON 26/03/1998 (ANA - T. Ellis)Speaking to Greek reporters at a press conference here yesterday, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said that before he left for Washington the governments of Greece and Cyprus coordinated their policy on a reply to expecte d pressure from the US for cancellation of a deployment of Russian-made S-300 missiles on the island republic.
Mr. Pangalos said that the proposal/reply that he gave to US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright moved in the framework of the known position of Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, which had left open the possibility of the anti-aircraft missiles' inst allation being cancelled in the event of an agreement on the gradual demilitarisation of Cyprus.
Replying to a relevant question, Mr. Pangalos said that he did not deliver a non-paper to his US counterpart on behalf of Mr. Clerides. He said that after his contacts with relevant US officials these days, he does not discern serious prospects for subs tantive progress, as political instability in Turkey left no powerful and reliable interlocutor in Ankara at present.
Mr. Pangalos disclosed that US officials expressed a desire for him to meet his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem, adding that if the Turks so desire such a meeting could take place in Rhodes in May, as he himself has already proposed.
He said that the presentation of recent proposals by Mr. Cem was a "public relations campaign" which does not constitute serious diplomacy.
He said that he had very warm contacts with US Senators Ted Kennedy and Paul Sarbanes on Tuesday, "who are tested and old friends of Greece".
Later in the day yesterday, Mr. Pangalos attended a church service at Aghia Sophia Cathedral in Washington and afterwards an event organised at the Greek embassy by Ambassador Loukas Tsilas on the occasion of the March 25 Greek national holiday.
He was then due to leave for Chicago and for New York tomorrow.
Addressing a roundtable discussion organised by the World Affairs Council on Tuesday, Mr. Pangalos said Greek foreign policy is characterised by five fundamental principles.
He said the five principles are stability and the preservation of borders, implementation of rules of law with respect for international agreements and the avoidance of the use of force or the threat of the use of force, the resolution of possible diffe rences through international institutions and processes, incorporation of countries in the region in the international institutional framework and the intensification of economic cooperation.
Mr. Pangalos said that possible negative developments in the Balkans could even affect stability in Russia, adding that the handling concerning the crisis in Kosovo must be careful and safeguard the human rights of the Albanians but without leading Serb ia to isolation, since the latter could create destabilisation in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Bosnia.
He said that the second stage of NATO's enlargement must include Bulgaria and Romania and added that the West European Union's (WEU) stance on the crisis in Albania last spring showed that Europe is in a position to intervene and tackle a crisis with su ccess and effectiveness.
Referring to Turkey, Mr. Pangalos said that it belongs to Europe geographically and historically but, on the question of its accession to the EU, this cannot possibly happen in the near future because the EU does not constitute an international organisa tion but a developing federation of states where all members must follow basic rules. He also underlined the great economic, social and political differences existing between Turkey and the EU member-states.
 ... Address at Carnegie FoundationReplying to a relevant question by a Turkish reporter during his address at the Carnegie Foundation on Tuesday regarding Greece's role in Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia, Mr. Pangalos reiterated the proposal/reply on installation of S-300 missiles, saying the Russian missiles would not be needed if Washington or an international organisation guarantees that Turkish aircraft will not fly over Cyprus.
Mr. Pangalos said that his US interlocutors listened attentively to his proposal and stressed the Turks' overwhelming military dominance in Cyprus and the monopolistic control they exercise in Cyprus' airspace,with hundreds of warplanes close to the isl and.
He explained that it was precisely the need to decrease this imbalance which led the government of Cyprus to purchase the S-300 missiles.
Referring to Greek policy in the Middle East, he said Athens maintains balance between the Arabs and the Israelis, adding that Greece is opposed to the defence cooperation between Turkey and Israel because with the possibilities of exchanging information and military technology, which it provides, it could turn against Greece.
 ... GeorgetownFinally, in an address before a large audience at the University of Georgetown's diplomacy faculty entitled "Greece in the European Union", Mr. Pangalos referred, among others, to Greece's course in the EU since 1981 and to its role in the EU's structural changes.
On the question of Cyprus, he said that a solution to the problem does not constitute a precondition for the accession of Cyprus to the EU. He further said it is immoral to give Turkey a lever of influence in the Cyprus issue, rendering Cyprus its hostage.
 Commission says Greece unready to join EMU by Jan. 1, 1999
BRUSSELS 26/03/1998 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)Greece will not be ready to join the European Union's single currency on Jan. 1, 1999 despite progress in tightening its economy, the EU's Commission stated yesterday.
Greece has yet to meet any of the targets contained in the Maastricht Treaty, which aims to align member-states' economies ahead of Economic and Monetary Union, the Commission said in a report released here.
As a result, the base would be lacking for entry into the single currency, the report said.
In the 12-month period ending on January 1998, average consumer price inflation stood at 5.2 per cent and long-term interest rates averaged 9.8 per cent, both exceeding levels set out in the Treaty.
The fiscal deficit remained swollen on the basis of a target agreed by the EU's council of ministers on Sept. 26, 1994, which was still in place, the report said.
At the same time, the drachma had managed to hold its ground against other European currencies despite speculative attacks.
"In the last two years the drachma has been relatively stable against European currencies (incorporated) in the Exchange Rate Mechanism, although it did come under sporadic pressure that was dealt with through temporary rate hikes and intervention in the foreign exchange market," the report states.
The drachma joined the ERM on March 14, when it was also devalued by 14 per cent.
The Commission also said that Greece had adapted its national legislation for EMU, including granting autonomous status to the Bank of Greece, the country's central bank.
The other country in the 15-member EU that had yet to meet criteria was Sweden, according to the same report.
Replying to reporters' questions, Commission President Jacques Santer welcomed the progress Athens had achieved in tightening its economy.
"Greece's economy is on the right track and the Greek government has the political will to implement policies needed for the drachma's entry into the single European currency," Mr. Santer said.
Economic indicators in recent years showed that the economy was improving. Strict adherence to the country's economic convergence programme would enable entry into the single currency in the near future, he said.
The Commission's report was optimistic about the Greek economy's future, saying the country had managed in recent years to effect a major reduction in imbalances that had long dogged public finances.
The fiscal deficit in 1997 was higher than the rate set in the Maastricht Treaty for entry into the euro, or single currency.
But in 1998 the deficit was expected to meet the target, which was a decline to below three percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
Inflation was expected to resurge in the short term due to the drachma's devaluation this month, but it would then resume its downward trend.
The report made the following economic forecasts:
- Consumer price inflation will fall to 3.6 per cent in 1999 from 4.5 per cent in 1998 and 5.5 per cent in 1997 (the EU target is that inflation should not exceed by more than 1.5 per cent an average of the three lowest rates among member-states, which are currently France at 1.2 per cent; Ireland at 1.2 pe rcent and Austria at 1.1 per cent).
- The fiscal deficit will drop to 2.0 per cent of GDP in 1999 from 2.2 per cent in 1998 and 4.0 per cent in 1997 (the EU target is 3.0 per cent of GDP)
- The public debt will decline to 104.5 percent of GDP in 1999 from 107.7 per cent in 1998 and 108.7 per cent in 1997 (EU target is 60 per cent of GDP)
- The rate of growth will rise to 4.0 per cent of GDP in 1999 from 3.8 per cent in 1998 and 3.5 per cent in 1997 (rate of EU's GDP growth is seen at 3.0 per cent in 1999, 2.8 per cent in 1998 and 2.7 per cent in 1997)
- Unemployment will drop to 8.7 per cent in 1999 from 9.2 per cent in 1998 and 9.5 per cent in 1997.
 ... Papantoniou praises Commission report on Greek economyNational Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou praised a report yesterday by the European Commission on the progress of the Greek economy.
"The report by the European Commission shows the considerable progress achieved by the Greek economy over the past four years," he said, adding that in essence the report takes as a foregone conclusion Greece's accession to Economic and Monetary Union ( EMU) as of Jan. 1, 2001.
Mr. Papantoniou said the report's predictions on the course of the Greek economy in 1998 and 1999 approach the predictions made by the government more than at any other time in the past, and expressed in the convergence programme.
"I wish to add that the achievement of these targets and the fulfilment of accession criteria still demands a great effort and primarily stability and consistency in implementing our economic policy," he said.
 ... ND reactionIn response to the Commission statements, main opposition New Democracy party spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos sharply criticised the government and Premier Costas Simitis, saying that Greece's inability to join the first group of EU member-states in EMU and the recent drachma devaluation pointed to a "tragic divergence" by the Greek economy, despite "serious and lengthy sacrifices by the Greek people."
He also referred to what he called the Simitis government's "incompe-tence" and "lies".
 ... ChristodoulouIn a related development, ND Eurodeputy Efthymios Christodoulou said the precondition for the euro's success is the participation of all EU member-states, while in order for the drachma to join the common currency the government must negotiate and clarify now accession terms.
Mr. Christodoulou was speaking after the presentation of the convergence report at the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Committee, of which he is a member, by Mr. Santer and EU Commissioner Yves Thibaud de Silguy.
Mr. Christodoulou said Greece must secure the terms and preconditions with which it will join the common currency in the future as of now, because the stability agreement applied together with the common currency renders the convergence criteria even mo re difficult.
"Today's presentation of the convergence report, with impressive results for all EU member-states, confirms that the economic cycle between them is proceeding towards disappearance now, resulting in better synchronisation of economic development and the strengthening of European integration," he said.
 Pangalos: Belgrade leadership at fault over Kosovo, new borders unacceptable
BONN 26/03/1998 (ANA - P. Stangos)In an interview broadcast by a German radio station on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos pla-ced the main responsibility over the crisis in Kosovo on Yugoslavia's leadership, stressing that "it should have agreed alrea dy to expanded autonomy and should have already implemented the educational agreement."
In the interview, given in light of yesterday's Contact Group meeting, in which Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou represented Greece, Mr. Pangalos underlined the Kosovo Albanians' "absolutely unacceptable" demand for independence, which even moderates like Ibrahim Rugova are seeking.
"There must be no change of borders in the Balkans because such a thing would blow apart existing stability and would constitute a danger for peace," he said.
Mr. Pangalos "agreed" that the Yugoslav side negotiates only under pressure, adding that Yugoslavia's leadership always reacts with delay.
"It would be important for the integrity of Yugoslavia and its incorporation in the international community, if they were to take measures in Kosovo as soon as possible. Immediately, in the next few days," he added.
Called on to comment on the repercussions of a possible open conflict between the Albanians and the Serbs, Mr. Pangalos stressed the "common denominator" existing between Greece and Germany which lies in their interest in avoiding a new wave of Albanian refugees flowing into their countries.
"We already have 300,000 Albanians in our country and for this reason our possibilities to receive more refugees are very limited. And many of them will continue their course and will try to find their relatives in Germany," he said.
 G. Papandreou-Grossman meeting in Bonn
BONN 26/03/1998 (ANA)Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou discussed here yesterday the latest developments in Kosovo as well as Greek-Turkish relations with US Assistant Secretary of State on European affairs Marc Grossman.
Mr. Papandreou again briefed the US official on Athens' standing proposal for referring the Aegean continental shelf's delineation to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
Mr. Papandreou also held off-the-agenda talks with German Foreign Undersecretary Friedrich von Pletsch for over an hour at the end of the conference on Kosovo yesterday.
Talks between the two men centred on the "Agenda 2000", Greek-Turkish relations, Turkey's accession prospects and the Cyprus issue.
 NATO commander meets with Tzoganis on Tuesday
Athens 26/03/1998 (ANA)The commander of NATO forces in Europe, US Gen. Wesley Clark, met with National Defence General Staff Chief Gen. Athanasios Tzoganis on Tuesday, accompanied by the US ambassador to Athens.
Ensuing 30-minute talks focused on current issues concerning the alliance.
According to reports, current NATO were discussed, as well as the alliance's new structure and training issues.
 Yugoslabian defence minister Bulatovic concludes Greek visit
Athens 26/03/1998 (ANA)Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis on Tuesday stressed the need for stepped-up efforts towards a speedy solution to the Kosovo crisis, while he pointed out Greece's ability of contributing to better understanding between the two sides involved.
Speaking to reporters after talks with visiting Yugoslav Defence Minister Pavle Bulatovic, Mr. Kaklamanis said "steps should be made as soon as possible to seek a political solution, and for a message of commencement of dialogue to be sent..."
Stressing that the Kosovo problem was an "internal affair of Yugoslavia", Mr. Kaklamanis said that the rights of Albanians and minorities of Kosovo needed to be consolidated, "but in no instance should a solution provide for the creation of a separate s tate entity".
Such an eventuality, he added, would not concern only Yugoslavia, because it would comprise a "poor precedent for all countries in the Balkans, where national and religious minorities abound".
Mr. Kaklamanis also referred to the fear of a repetition of the Bosnian crisis in other areas of the Balkans, and wished better days for the Yugoslav people so that, in a calm environment, they could prepare the course that would lead them to the Europe an structures.
Mr. Bulatovic briefed Mr. Kaklamanis on the situation in Kosovo, and attributed the blame to what he called "foreign powers", which he said were encouraging the Albanian-speaking community to seek the establishment of an independent Kosovo state.
"My country considers the situation in Kosovo an internal problem and is willing to provide not only the Albanian community but all the minorities living in Yugoslavia with all the guarantees for civil rights and freedoms, in accordance with the interna tional treaties and the country's constitution," Mr. Bulatovic said.
He said the development of the situation hinged on whether the representatives of the Albanian community would enter into talks with the Yugoslav government.
Mr. Bulatovic also renewed an invitation to Mr. Kaklamanis to formally visit Belgrade from the president of the Yugoslav parliament.
 ... Bulatovic in ThessalonikiMr. Bulatovic was in Thessaloniki later Tuesday, accompanied by his Greek counterpart, Akis Tsohatzopoulos, on the last leg of his official three-day visit to Greece.
After a tour of the Third Army Corps headquarters, Mr. Bulatovic said his visit there "underscores the very close friendly relations" between the two peoples as well as between the armed forces of the two countries.
"It is a friendship which was forged in the past in very difficult conditions when our ancestors showed admirable heroism in the struggles for freedom..." he said. Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the visit confirmed "in the most emphatic way the relations between the two countries and their desire for cooperation, so that peace and stability in the Balkans may find fresh impetus".
Mr. Bulatovic was scheduled to visit a monastery on Mount Athos but instead, due to bad weather, visited the royal Macedonian tombs at the Vergina archaeological site.
He also toured the exhibition of Mount Athos treasures at the Byzantine Museum in Thessaloniki before flying back to Belgrade from the Macedonia international airport in the evening.
 Hellenic Children's Museum honoured
Athens 26/03/1998 (ANA)The Hellenic Children's Museum was chosen to receive a 1997-99 International Partnership Among Museums (IPAM) award, granted by the American Association of Museums in order to participate in an exchange programme with the International Children's Art Muse um in San Francisco. The two museums will jointly develop an educational programme entitled "Play it Again", which will feature toys made from recycled materials.
Children and their families, as well as school classes, are invited to participate either by bringing their recycled creations to the Children's Museum or by making their toys using materials available at the Museum in the Recycling Centre and the Mater ial Shop.
The Children's Museum, a collaboration between the Municipality of Athens' Cultural Organisation and the Hellenic Children's Museum(HCM), is located at 14, Kidathineon St. in Plaka. A collection of toys will travel to San Francisco in June with Gertrud Dorothea Schier, director of the recycle department of the HCM, and to be exhibited at the International Children's Art Museum, along with the toys created by San Francisco children.
In October, the exhibition will travel to Athens to be displayed at the Children's Museum.
The goals of the "Play it Again" programme are to reproduce new toys using "recycling materials", to invent new toys using recycling materials, to understand left-overs (recycling materials) as characteristics of consumption habits, and to communicate with other children on the basis of the toys, without using language.
Since the IPAM programme's establishment in 1980, the HCM is the first museum in Greece selected for participation.
 ESHEA warns against wave of `xenophobia, racism` by some mass media
Athens 26/03/1998 (ANA)The president of the Athens Journalists Union (ESHEA) yesterday condemned what he termed "a delirium of xenophobia and racism" by some Greek mass media outlets and a few journalists, following a dramatic increase in criminal activity throughout the country over recent weeks.
"Democratic citizens have found themselves captives of a delirium of xenophobia and racism by some mass media and a few journalists due to the increased criminal acts, which they are trying to impute unilaterally and primarily to Albanian illegal immigr ants. They (mass media and journalists) are manipulating official data...and are cultivating fear throughout the country, which is the safest in Europe, thus promoting mass persecution," Aristidis Manolakos said in a statement.
"The overwhelming majority of journalists cannot but condemn this reckless behaviour" on the altar of television ratings, Mr. Manolakos concluded.
 ... Albanian embassy statementIn a related development, the Albanian embassy in Athens issued an announcement stressing that an "anti-Albanian campaign" by certain Greek media is contrary to the positive climate in political relations and the historic bonds between the Albanian and the Greek people.
It said that an impression is created that crimes committed in Greece are only perpetrated by Albanians and consequently an unrealistic opinion is created against Albanians in general, which sometimes leads to extremist, racist and xenophobic reactions.
Lastly, the announcement stresses that Albania fully supports measures taken by the Greek government against an upsurge in crime, but does not agree with the propaganda of certain media, which "mars the Albanians' image."
 ... Village reacts with several measuresMeanwhile, in response to what they called a surge in crime over the past few weeks, the residents and community council of a small village in Pieria prefecture announced yesterday that they are implementing radical measures regarding illegal immigrants in their area, including a dusk-to-dawn curfew targetting transient aliens.
Specifically, besides the nightime curfew on illegals' movement within the village's boundaries, community leaders of Palio Keramydi said the village's stadium will now be the only assembly point for anyone wishing to find work or be hired.
Futhermore, Palio Keramydi's leaders said that residents of the village that employ illegal immigrants are responsible for recording their foreign workers' exact identity information, as well as responsible for their health coverage and living standards . They also emphasised that local residents employing undocumented workers will also be held responsible for the actions of the latter.
Meanwhile, the president of the community, Vassilis Kourkoutas, warned that a "secret security force" has already been established by village residents to monitor the implementation of the measures.
On their part, prefectural and police authorities in Pieria prefecture called the decisions "illegal."
 Romeos says recent crime wave not as alarming as presented
MELBOURNE 26/03/1998 (ANA - S. Hatzimanolis)A recent crime wave in Greece is not as widespread as it is being presented, nor as alarming, Public Order Minister George Romeos said on Tuesday, adding that it was a temporary phenomenon.
Mr. Romeos, in Australia to attend the Greek-Australian "Antipodes" festival, attributed the rise primarily to the ongoing process of legalisation of illegal immigrants in Greece.
In an interview with the ANA, he said that within the context of the process, which enables illegals who arrived in Greece by late 1997 to apply for temporary residence and work permits, "there was a tolerance towards all illegal immigrants in Greece".
Unfortunately, he added, "this tolerance was exploited" by some of those illegals, as statistics point to the rise in crime as being chiefly due to foreigners, particularly Albanians.
Mr. Romeos said stepped-up measures were introduced last week, including a major mobilisation of police and that the situation was under control.
"We have re-commenced the process of deporting all those (illegal aliens) who do not have permanent residence and who don't have work, back to their own countries," the minister said.
Expressing optimism over the success of the measures, Mr. Romeos pointed out that even with the recent spate of crimes, Greece continued to have the lowest crime rate in the European Union.
 Venizelos receives Palestinian Authority counterpart
Athens 26/03/1998 (ANA)Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos held a meeting with the culture minister of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Abdel Ramso, at his office on Tuesday. A discussion was held on cultural cooperation between the two sides, with particular emphasis being placed on Euro-Mediterranean cultural cooperation.
 High-level meeting focuses on market's smooth operation
Athens 26/03/1998 (ANA)National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on Tuesday chaired a meeting aimed at ensuring the smooth functioning of the market during the next few days, following a recent 14 per cent devaluation of the drachma.
The meeting was attended by Development Minister Vasso Papandreou, Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou, Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis, Development Undersecretary Mihalis Chrysohoidis and other officials.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr. Papantoniou said the general view was that developments had been positive since the drachma's devaluation, following the national currency's incorporation into the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) of the European Monetary System.
He said the Greek market was behaving in a much more mature manner than what the country had been accustomed to.
"There is cool-headedness, calm among the general public and in the business world. There are, however, indications of speculation and profiteering, which the government is determined to stamp out," Mr. Papantoniou said, referring to stepped up inspecti ons of the market.
Ms Papandreou later chaired a meeting attended by representatives of supermarkets and the foodstuffs industry, after which she told reporters that it was the common objective of the development ministry and producer classes to safeguard the positive res ults anticipated from the drachma devaluation and to increase the competitiveness of Greek production.
"It is a wonderful opportunity for Greek producers to increase their share of the domestic market," Ms Papandreou said, adding that measures would be taken in this direction which would be to the benefit of producers, workers and consumers.
 Greek stocks end lower on profit-taking
Athens 26/03/1998 (ANA)Greek equities came under pressure from profit takers on Tuesday, ending a six-day rally on the Athens Stock Exchange.
Traders said the fall in prices was a normal correction for the market, which saw the general index surge 26.89 per cent in the previous six sessions.
The index ended 1.43 per cent lower to 1,922.86 points, and trading remained heavy with turnover at 67.5 billion drachmas.
Dealers expected share prices to resume their upward trend after Wednesday's public holiday, when the bourse is closed.
Sector indices were mixed. Banks fell 0.24 per cent, Insurance rose 0.76 per cent, Investment dropped 2.21 per cent, Leasing eased 1.80 per cent, Industrials fell 2.07 per cent, Construction was 0.50 per cent up, Miscellaneous dropped 2.88 per cent and Holding was 1.75 per cent off.
The parallel market index ended 1.49 per cent higher while the FTSE/ASE index dropped 1.24 percent to 1,134.98 points.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 126 to 118 with another 20 issues unchanged.
Agrinio Metalplastic, Korfil, Etma and Mesohoritis scored the biggest percentage gains at the daily 8.0 percent limit up, while Hadzioannou, Ideal, Demetriadis and Klaoudatos suffered the heaviest losses.
National Bank of Greece ended at 34,900 drachmas, Ergobank at 20,300, Alpha Credit Bank at 23,470, Delta Dairy at 3,530, Titan Cement at 20,645, Intracom at 17,600 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 7,800.
 OA unions see progress in restructuring talks
Athens 26/03/1998 (ANA)Olympic Airways employees said on Tuesady they were pleased with the first round of talks with management, regarding a five-year restructuring plan to save the ailing national carrier.
OA trade union chairman Mihalis Perros said that a first positive step in talks was made and negotiations would continue.
Earlier on Tuesday, a three-hour work stoppage by OA workers to protest the revitalisation plan had no impact on flights, as skeleton staff, whose presence is compulsory by law, were able to cope.
Under the new government plan, OA must find ways to save 50 billion drachmas a year for five years, or face closure.
According to sources, OA workers will accept a three-year wage freeze at 1997 levels and the re-allocation of personnel, including the transfer of 1,000 supervisors to posts with a higher workload.
However, they are not likely to accept the abolition of collective labour agreements.
 DEKO employees to call 24-hour strike against restructuring
Athens 26/03/1998 (ANA)Greek unions will call a 24-hour nationwide strike to protest against the government's plan to restructure state-run utilities and enterprises (DEKOs).
The strike, which is to be called by the General Confederation of Greek Labour (GSEE), is likely to be staged on April 9.
Among GSEE's demands are that Olympic Airways, whose management has announced a severe cost-cutting scheme, should respect collective labour agreements.
Civil servants are also due to call a strike early in April over reforms slated for the public sector.
Greece has pledged to privatise many state companies as part of plans to tighten up the economy for European economic and monetary union.
 Alpha Leasing to boost share cap to Dr 30.1 billion
Athens 26/03/1998 (ANA)Alpha Leasing, a listed subsidiary of Alpha Credit Bank, plans to increase its share capital to a total of 30.1 billion drachmas through a combination of new shares and cash payments.
An annual general shareholders' meeting on Tuesday agreed to offer two million shares at 1,500 drachmas each to existing shareholders as one new share for three old.
The meeting also decided to issue four million new shares at a nominal value of 3,000 drachmas per share.
The share capital increase will start in the second week of April.
Alpha Leasing's net profits fell to 4.15 billion drachmas last year from 7.097 billion in 1996. The company will pay a 500 drachma dividend, down from 650 drachmas the previous year.
 20 Greek companies among Europe's top 500
Athens 26/03/1998 (ANA)Twenty Greek companies are included in the list of Europe's 500, the organisation which assesses Europe's 500 most dynamic and fast developing companies every year stated.
For reasons of comparison, it is noted that from Austria and Belgium 18 companies have been selected and from Sweden 17.
The official announcement and rewarding of the 500 companies took place at Europe's 500 conference held in Munich from March 19-21. One of the main speakers was EU Commissioner Martin Bangemann.
The main criterion for a company to join Europe's 500 is the Birch indicator which measures the increase in turnover combined with the increase in human potential. Another criterion is the company's stable profit-making over many years.
 'Economist' conference in Athens
Athens 26/03/1998 (ANA)The "Economist" publishing group will organise an international conference on April 8 and 9 in Athens on the topic of "Welcoming the New Business Age".
EU Commission President Jacques Santer, former US secretary of state Lawrence Engleberger and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch are tentatively expected to speak at the conference.
 UN envoy confirms Cyprus peace talks cannot now resume
ATHENS 26/03/1998 (ANA/CNA)A top UN envoy for Cyprus has suggested that the Security Council would not be willing to change the basis on which the Cyprus peace talks are held.
In an interview with CNA, UN Secretary General's special advisor for Cyprus, Diego Cordovez, also said that the Turkish Cypriot leader is only considered as politically equal to the president of the Cyprus Republic during bicommunal negotiations.
He reiterated that for the time being negotiations to settle the Cyprus problem cannot resume.
Mr. Cordovez was in Cyprus last week for meetings with President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, in a bid to break the deadlock and resume the peace process.
Mr. Denktash said he would not return to the negotiating table unless there was recognition of his illegal regime, unilaterally established in 1983 in the areas occupied by Turkey since 1974. "
The talks have been conducted until now as intercommunal and this was a decision by the two community leaders which has been endorsed by the Security Council," Mr. Cordovez said, adding that the Security Council wants intercommunal talks to continue.
He said "we are not asking anything about recognition (of the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime), we are asking if the status of the negotiations should be changed."
Asked what he believes the Security Council stand towards Mr. Denktash's demand will be, Mr. Cordovez said "my informal initial consultations indicate the Council would not change (its position)."
He pointed out this is what he told Mr. Denktash.
Mr. Cordovez said the Turkish Cypriot leader's position will be the main issue Mr. Denktash will discuss during a meeting with Kofi Annan, on Friday, in Geneva.
The UN envoy also said Mr. Denktash will not meet other foreign government envoys for Cyprus because "he does not want to acknowledge, so to speak, anything connected with the intercommunal talks." "He maintains that the special representatives are accredited to the intercommunal talks, so he doesn't want to meet them," he explained.
Mr. Cordovez said the Turkish Cypriot leader only wants to hold consultations with him and that Mr. Denktash supports the Secretary-General's good offices mission.
Asked if President Clerides and the Greek government made it clear they would never recognise the Denktash regime, the UN envoy replied: "Yes, very strongly".
Mr. Cordovez, who chaired two rounds of fruitless talks between the two leaders last year, pointed out President Clerides and Mr. Denktash are considered as politically equal only during negotiations.
"What I said to Mr Denktash is that he must remember that the only context in which there is political equality between the two (is when) I treat them as absolutely equal," he said.
Mr. Cordovez added "we are very, very strict in this, maintaining the political equality of the two sides. And this is the only context in which he is considered an equal of Mr Clerides."
According to the UN envoy, Mr. Denktash bases his claim for recognition on the fact that negotiations are held between the two community leaders on an equal footing, but under all other circumstances Mr. Clerides is considered the President of Cyprus.
Asked if he believes there can be progress on the Cyprus issue after this complication, Mr. Cordovez said "at present no".
"At present we cannot resume this. In other circumstances I would try alternative methods, including some system where they appoint delegates, but these are negotiations which really have to be conducted by Mr Clerides and Mr Denktash."
He added that "so long as we have disagreement we cannot move, but of course the process continues."
Mr. Cordovez warned that "the one thing that Mr Denktash has to be careful of is not to cut his links with me."
He refrained from passing judgement on the Turkish Cypriot leader's demand, but said he told Mr. Denktash that "if this is his position we have a difference of what so far has been accepted by the two sides and it has to be referred to the Security Coun cil and see how it will react."
Asked if the Security Council is able to take a position on this matter, Mr. Cordovez stressed that it has "already taken a position in the past."
"The question is whether they will maintain that position or change it," he added, noting that he has informally raised this issue with the Security Council three times.
Mr. Cordovez clarified, however, that "we have not asked the Security Council to pronounce itself" and admitted that the Council does not have a mandate on questions concerning the recognition of states.
The UN special advisor would not comment on a proposal by President Glafcos Clerides for Turkish Cypriot participation in the Republic's accession talks with the European Union (EU).
He said the EU process "has added a lot of new elements into the negotiations of the peace settlement." "Now Rauf Denktash is in a very sort of rigid attitude of not joining under any circumstances the EU, certainly not before Turkey joins," he added.
The Turkish Cypriot leader has turned down President Clerides' proposal for participation in the EU talks, described by the British rotating EU presidency as "courageous, realistic and fair."
Mr. Cordovez pointed to the Turkish Cypriot leader's position on the EU application and the government's negotiations with the EU as an example of what Mr. Denktash maintains to be a consequence of the fact that his illegal regime is not recognised.
Asked to comment on the fact that the UN and its members only recognise one legitimate government in Cyprus, with which it negotiates, Mr. Cordovez said "Denktash does not accept this".
The UN envoy, who was on the island for meetings last week and left Athens for a two-day visit to Ankara, also said he will meet foreign government envoys for the Cyprus issue today, in Geneva.
He said he now works "very very closely together" with foreign government envoys.
"I am happy to say that they are all supporting very strongly my mission. I told them at the beginning that each one can contribute something."
 ... Denktash rules out dialogueNICOSIA (ANA/CNA)
Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has made it clear that no UN resolution would make him return to the negotiating table.
The Turkish Cypriot leader told the Turkish Cypriot newspaper "Kibris" on Tuesday he would outline his views to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, on Friday, at their meeting in Geneva.
Mr. Denktash also said he did not believe the Security Council would modify its attitude towards the Turkish Cypriots and adopt a resolution in their favour.
The Turkish Cypriot leader is also seeking to secure international recognition of his self styled regime in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus, declared unilaterally in November 1983.
"We have made it clear that we are ending the talks. Why should we talk, since the accession process is continuing' If they insist too much we shall bring back to the foreground integration with Turkey," Mr. Denktash told the Turkish daily "Milliyet."
Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion, applied for full EU membership in July 1990. Accession talks between Cyprus and the EU will start end of March.
 Cyprus celebrates March 25
NICOSIA 26/03/1998 (ANA/CNA)Greek Cypriots yesterday joined in celebrations commemorating Greek Independence Day.
A church service was held in Nicosia yesterday morning, conducted by the primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus, Archbishop Chrysostomos.
President Glafcos Clerides, House President Spyros Kyprianou, Greek ambassador Kyriakos Rodousakis, ministers, party leaders as well as military and police officials attended the church service.
March 25 marks the 1821 revolution for Greece's independence from Ottoman rule.
In a speech, Ambassador Rodousakis assured the Cypriot people of Athens' support and solidarity.
He said Greece would continue to support Cyprus' entry into the European Union, a development which will act as a catalyst for the solution of the protracted Cyprus problem.
The church service was followed by a parade in downtown Nicosia.
Taking part were pupils, students, war veterans and various organisations.
President Clerides was flanked by Archbishop Chrysostomos, while the Greek ambassador took the salute outside the Greek embassy.
In statements after the parade, President Clerides and Archbishop Chrysostomos praised the struggle of the Greek nation against the Ottoman rule, saying the Cypriot people draw strength to carry on the struggle against the Turkish troops occupying the island's northern third for 24 years now.
Ministers took the salute of similar parades held in other towns in the free areas of the island republic.
Both Mr. Clerides and Archbishop Chrysostomos sent congratulatory messages to Greece's President and Prime Minister, Kostis Stephanopoulos and Costas Simitis.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.
In a televised message to the Cyprus people Tuesday night, Ambassador Rodousakis stressed that Greece and Cyprus would continue their efforts to strengthen the island's defences against Turkish aggressiveness.