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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-10-07

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greece to meet EMU entry targets in 2000,PM says
  • [02] Greek stocks rally in scant trade
  • [03] Rates on 6M T-bills rise 30 basis points to 12.6 pct
  • [04] Gov't pledges to keep northern water subsidiaries in state hands
  • [05] Greece ranks top among EU money market mutual funds
  • [06] Trade exhibition by Greek firms in Belgrade
  • [07] Michaniki disputes gov't decision over awarding of Thessaloniki metro project
  • [08] OA technicians to strike
  • [09] Greece promotes candidacy for non-permanent seat on UN Security Council
  • [10] Defence ministers of Russia, Cyprus meet in Athens
  • [11] EU's Bangemann says Ankara must change gov't if it wants to enter Union
  • [12] Gareece emphasises: Kosovo crisis must be resolved through political dialogue
  • [13] Kosovo, Cyprus issue dominate Tsohatzopoulos-Kyprianou talks
  • [14] Final date for KYSEA meeting pending
  • [15] US offers AWACS to Greece
  • [16] 10th Defendory weapons systems exhibition opens in Piraeus
  • [17] Alexander Dubcek's youngest son appointed ambassador to Athens
  • [18] European Conference discusses organised crime,environmental problems
  • [19] Greek Nat'l Olympics Committee picks water-skiing as 2004 event
  • [20] 'Traditional Orthodox Moscow' exhibition in Athens
  • [21] High-ranking meeting on 2004 progress, projects
  • [22] Greece ratifies convention on human rights,biomedicine
  • [23] New bill on organ transplants
  • [24] Gov't eyes scenario pointing to land speculators as behind forest fires
  • [25] Shootout at Greek consulate in Korce leaves outlaw injured

  • [01] Greece to meet EMU entry targets in 2000,PM says

    Athens 07/10/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday that the government's economic and development policy was bringing tangible results, enabling the country to meet entry targets for European economic and monetary union in 2000.

    The government, which wants to join the EU's single currency by January 1, 2001 at the latest, was also successfully handling the repercussions of a global financial crisis on the domestic economy, Mr. Simitis said.

    In addition, progress by Greece also meant that the country now had a strong presence in Europe, where it was in a position to influence decisions.

    Mr. Simitis was speaking during a visit to the port of Lavrion on the east coast of Attica accompanied by ministers and other government officials.

    During his visit, the prime minister inaugurated a new electrical power plant with Development Minister Vasso Papandreou that will operate on natural gas.

    Output at the new plant - together with that of the existing network - will boost capacity and reduce the likelihood of power supply problems in greater Athens.

    Energy policy was a strategic key to development, and the government had taken steps to ensure the smooth operation of the energy market, Mr. Simitis said.

    As examples, he cited Hellenic Petroleum's listing on the Athens Stock Exchange, gradual liberalisation of the electrical energy market from February 2001, reorganisation of the Public Power Corporation, and the participation of experienced private inve stors in the natural gas supply company.

    Projects to upgrade Lavrion : Mr. Simitis said works at Lavrion harbour, which is expected to be linked to Athens' new airport now under construction at Spata, could turn the port town into a supplementary junction for the movement of goods and passengers.

    Unemployment in the Lavrion area had already dropped sharply from 24 percent in 1993 to approximately 11 percent, and a programme being implemented by the government would further reduce joblessness.

    Forty three investment plans worth a total of 27 billion drachmas were being promoted that would create a further 663 jobs, Mr. Simitis said.

    At the same time, steps were being taken to ensure greater assistance for refugees at a camp in Lavrion. Services were being improved, especially medical care.

    The prime minister also visited homes built in September 1997 for workers entitled to cheap accommodation through the Labour Housing Organisation. Construction of the 302 houses had driven rents in Lavrion to fall, Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou told reporters.

    Among ministers accompanying Mr. Simitis to Lavrio were Ms Papandreou, Mr. Papaioannou, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis.

    New Democracy : Main opposition New Democracy spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said that the ruling PASOK party and Mr. Simitis personally were responsible for Lavrion's past economic decline.

    He said Mr. Simitis had served PASOK policies for the port town that lacked what he called ballast, allowing a whole city to wither at the end of the 1980s.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Greek stocks rally in scant trade

    Athens 07/10/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities rebounded on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday, halting a four-day decline that saw the market lose 12.5 percent of its value.

    The general index retook the 1,900-point barrier to end 0.81 percent higher at 1,905.06 points. Trading was extremely thin with turnover at 28.3 billion drachmas. Volume was 6,756,000 shares.

    Sector indices mostly scored gains.

    Banks rose 0.26 percent, Insurance ended 0.28 percent up, Investment increased 0.39 percent, Leasing ended 0.08 percent higher, Industrials surged 1.30 percent, Miscellaneous jumped 2.23 percent, Holding soared 2.87 percent but Construction fell 1.83 percent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 0.34 percent lower, and the FTSE/ASE 20 blue chip index rose 0.65 percent to 1,142.88 points.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 114 to 112 with another 20 issues unchanged.

    Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation, Strintzis Lines, Hellenic Petroleum and Teletypos were the most heavily traded stocks.

    Bank of Athens and Papoutsanis hit the daily 8.0 percent limit up, followed by Mosholios Chemicals, Hellenic Biscuits, Dimitriadis, Benroubi, Britannia, Diekat and Agrinion Metalplastic.

    Dane Sea Line, Sigalas, Doudos, Athinea, Sarandopoulos, Eskimo, Olympiaki Techniki, Greek Aluminium, Aegek and Alte suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 33,980 drachmas, Ergobank at 21,080, Alpha Credit Bank at 18,390, Ionian Bank at 9,495, Hellenic Telecoms at 6,260, Delta Dairy at 2,950, Intracom at 9,145, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,310, Titan Cement at 16,050 and Minoan Lines at 5,390 drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Rates on 6M T-bills rise 30 basis points to 12.6 pct

    Athens 07/10/1998 (ANA)

    The finance ministry yesterday held an auction of new six-month Treasury bills that saw interest rates rise by 30 basis points to 12.6 percent from 12.3 percent in the previous tender.

    Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis attributed the increase to the impact of a deepening international financial crisis.

    But the crisis had led to fewer repercussions on Greece than on other emerging economies, Mr. Christodoulakis said.

    A steady improvement in the domestic economy coupled with a minor exposure to foreign markets by Greek banks and enterprises had shielded the economy.

    October's state borrowing needs totalled 400 billion drachmas, and the sum would be covered by existing state reserves, Mr. Christodoulakis said.

    Weekly auctions of state securities would continue along with a possible resumption of auctions for long-term bonds, frozen in the aftermath of the global crisis.

    Mr. Christodoulakis said that the state was able to meet its monthly borrowing requirements following an agreement signed with international banks for a credit line totalling 1.25 billion US dollars, and another with Greek banks worth 300 billion drachmas.

    He also said that the government's Prometoha equity convertible bond issue had been a success with institutional investors absorbing 90 billion drachmas and private investors another 80 billion drachmas' worth of paper.

    The Balladur-type bond was launched in September and allows investors to convert the paper into the shares of firms privatised through the Athens Stock Exchange from January 1, 1999.

    The issue means the government has access to the privatisation funds before the companies' stock is sold.

    Mr. Christodoulakis forecast that an overshooting of primary budget spending this year could be reduced to a 6.3 percent increase from 9.1 percent currently.

    Spending on interest would exceed targets by 50 billion drachmas in 1998, he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Gov't pledges to keep northern water subsidiaries in state hands

    Athens 07/10/1998 (ANA)

    The government yesterday promised water board strikers in the north that the state would retain at least 51 percent of shares in the subsidiaries of a new company to be set up after the merger of Thessaloniki's water supply and sewage firms.

    A merger bill for the two companies envisages a majority holding by the state, and the protection of industrial rights, Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos told reporters after a meeting with union and local government officials.

    But the water supply workers vowed to continue their strike until a parliamentary vote on the bill. A union general assembly is due to examine the text of the bill tomorrow.

    As a gesture of goodwill, union officials said they would double the number of skeleton staff on duty during the stoppage in order to alleviate inconvenience to the public.

    Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city, has faced water supply problems since Saturday when the workers began rolling 24-hour strikes.

    Workers called the strike to demand that the subsidiaries should be controlled by central government or by local authorities.

    They also want to see local authority representatives sit on the new company's board of directors, with existing work contracts remaining in force until the board is appointed and industrial relations are approved.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Greece ranks top among EU money market mutual funds

    Athens 07/10/1998 (ANA)

    Greece accounted for the lion's share of money market funds in the European Union's mutual fund market on March 31, holding a 65.5 percent stake, according to the European Federation of Investment Funds and Companies (FEFSI).

    It was followed by France with 32.9 percent of the market and Spain with 32.2 percent, said FEFSI in data published by the Union of Institutional Investors.

    Greece ranked 11th in the 15-nation bloc on March 31 in Europe's total mutual fund market, accounting for 1.3 percent of the total.

    The overall market was larger against December 31, 1997. The number of mutual funds in Europe rose to 16,755 from 16,342, and capital increased to 1.946 trillion Ecu from 1.750 trillion Ecu.

    France topped the EU's mutual fund league with a 25.5 percent share of the market, followed by Luxembourg (17.6 percent), Italy and Britain (12.8 percent), Spain (9.4 percent) and Germany (7.7 percent).

    Italy marked the biggest increase in its mutual fund assets with a 37 percent rise against December 31, 1997. It was followed by Portugal at 24 percent, and then Finland and Belgium, both at 23 percent.

    Britain was top in equity funds with an 85.9 percent share of the market followed by Sweden with 78.5 percent, Belgium with 49.4 percent and Denmark with 48.4 pct.

    In fixed-income funds, Austria was ahead with a 59 percent stake, followed by Denmark, Luxembourg and Italy at 50.3, 47.7 and 45.2 percent respectively.

    Ireland topped the list in combined funds at 32.6 percent of the market, followed by Belgium at 27.9 percent.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Trade exhibition by Greek firms in Belgrade

    BELGRADE 07/10/1998 (ANA - M. Mouratidis)

    The first trade exhibition by Greek firms was inaugurated here yesterday, organised by HELEXPO in association with the Belgrade International Fair.

    The exhibition will last through Friday, with the participation of 50 Greece-based firms active in the sectors of foodstuffs, clothing, electrical appliances, chemical products, construction materials, animal feeds and office equipment.

    HELEXPO President Antonis Kourtis, who inaugurated the event said that "Greek businesspeople came to Belgrade in order to present their products with full knowledge of the serious political situation... exhibiting Greek interest in the development of economic cooperation."

    Greece's ambassador to Belgrade, Panayiotis Vlassopoulos, said that "Greek businesspeople have a great interest in cooperating with Yugoslav businesspeople, despite existing problems".

    Yugoslav Foreign Commerce Minister Borislav Bukovic also emphasised the importance of Greek-Yugoslav business cooperation, particularly during hard times.

    The trade fair will also include three cultural events with the participation of groups from Greece.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Michaniki disputes gov't decision over awarding of Thessaloniki metro project

    Athens 07/10/1998 (ANA)

    The "Makedoniko Metro" consortium, led by the FTSE/ASE20-listed construction firm Michaniki, has disputed the government's motives in awarding the Thessaloniki metro project to a French led-consortium, following a cancellation of negotiations with Michani ki.

    Commenting in a statement on a recent television interview by Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis to a state-run channel, Michaniki accused him of "selective memory" and "concealing" issues on the basis of which the contract should have been awarded.

    According to a statement, the offer of the French Bouyques group was, among others, 150 billion drachmas more expensive.

    On Monday, Michaniki lodged an appeal with the Council of State (CoS) disputing the legality of procedures employed in the establishment of a recommendation/advisory committee for assignment of the project.

    The committee is currenty working on a draft contract.

    Last week, Michaniki President Prodromos Emfietzoglou filed a lawsuit against any persons involved in compiling and publicising an unsigned press release by the environment, town planning and public works ministry that attacked the construction firm.

    He claimed the press release was defamatory to him personally and to his company.

    The Thessaloniki metro project was tendered in 1992, while Michaniki won the contract in 1994. The government cancelled negotiations in Nov. 1996, instead opting for the French-led consortium.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] OA technicians to strike

    Athens 07/10/1998 (ANA)

    Olympic Airways aircraft technicians (EPTAOA) yesterday announced a strike for Oct. 13 and 15 to press demands for the immediate hiring of 102 apprentice mechanics and another 80 trainees.

    Technicians said they will walk off the job between 6-9 a.m. and 5-8 p.m. on both days.

    EPTAOA representatives said that some 200 people had already left the sector through early retirement plans and another 30 were due to retire this year. Until 2000, another 85 specialised technicians will retire.

    The new managing director of Macedonia-Thrace Bank met yesterday with reporters, appearing optimistic about the course of the Thessaloniki-based bank.

    Us national David Watson took over his post on June 1,after Bank of Piraeus bought 32 per cent of Macedonia-Thrace Bank. Mr.Watson announced reforms with operational gains set at 600 million drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Greece promotes candidacy for non-permanent seat on UN Security Council

    UNITED NATIONS 07/10/1998 (ANA - A. Podimata)

    If the United Nations is to be reformed, becoming more representative, democratic and transparent, these principles should be adhered to if the impression is to be avoided that there is an informal group of semi- permanent members of the Security Council, or that the Council is a closed club, Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis stres-sed here yesterday.

    He made the statements during a press conference in view of the General Assembly vote at tomorrow morning for the election of the 10 non-permanent members of the Council for the 1999-2000 period. Greece, along with The Netherlands and Canada, is contesting one of the two seats reserved for the so-called western group.

    Referring to Greece's candidacy, Mr, Kranidiotis stressed the principle of equality, emphasising that all member-states of the UN have the same rights regarding their representation in the various organs, particularly in the Security Council.

    He pointed out that Greece has served as member of the Security Council only once (1952-1953), compared to four and five times for The Netherlands and Canada, respectively.

    Mr. Kranidiotis also referred to Greece's good relations with so-called Third World countries, adding that due to its geographical position in the Balkans and southeastern Europe, Athens election would provide opportunity for a more active presence of the organisation in this particularly sensitive region.

    Replying to a question by CNN on the stand Greece would maintain on the Kosovo issue if it were a member of the Security Council, Mr. Kranidiotis said the positions Athens has adopted in various organisations, such as the EU and NATO, have been similar to those of its partners.

    "Our view is that problems are not always faced with the use of violence, and we maintain reservations on this idea, along with all the other countries of the region that will be called upon to directly face the consequences," he said.

    He referred to a strict message addressed to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic by the tripartite Greek-Bulgarian-Romanian summit meeting in Delphi over the weekend, and expressed a view that diplomatic means for de- escalating the crisis have not yet been exhausted. Finally, responding to a Turkish reporter's question on the current Turkish-Syrian dispute, Mr. Kranidiotis noted that problems in the relations between the two countries are many and do not come from only one direction.

    He also referred to a military agreement between Turkey and Israel, which he said, was not only of concern to Syria, but to all countries in the region that hoped the agreement would not be to their detriment and would not upset existing balances.

    Mr. Kranidiotis expressed the hope a war between Turkey and Syria would be averted and that the dispute would be overcome through negotiations.

    Lastly, he pointed out that Greece and Turkey (which has stated its candidacy for the Security Council in 2001) have entered into a "gentlemen's agreement" not to undermine each other's candidacy.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Defence ministers of Russia, Cyprus meet in Athens

    Athens 07/10/1998 (ANA)

    The defence ministers of Russia and Cyprus yesterday expressed a desire to broaden their defence cooperation in order to strengthen the island republic's defences and further promote what both officials said were already excellent bilateral relations.

    Cyprus Defence Minister Yiannakis Omirou and his Russian counterpart, Igor Sergeyev, met on the sidelines of the 'Defendory '98' international trade fair for conventional defence systems, which began in Piraeus yesterday.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Omirou described relations between the two countries as excellent, adding that their bilateral cooperation was based on reciprocity, their common interest in adherence to international law and UN resolutions and international legality.

    Asked by reporters when the Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missiles ordered by Nicosia would arrive on the island, Mr. Omirou replied that this had not been a matter for discussion.

    He said their efforts were aimed at returning the focus of the Cyprus problem to that of invasion and occupation "for it is certainly not one related to the arms programme of the Cyprus Republic".

    On his part, Gen. Sergeyev said "if there are any doubts, we do not go ahead with agreements."

    Mr. Omirou added that the commotion surrounding Nicosia's order for the S- 300s was a "deception" which undermined the actual substance of the Cyprus problem, namely, invasion and occupation.

    He said they had discussed the current political climate in the region and "jointly ascertained that the danger of destabilisation is being created, due to Turkey's behaviour", particularly following Ankara's incursion into northern Iraq and recent escalation of tension in its relations with Syria.

    According to press sources, Gen. Sergeyev will during his stay have talks with Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and meet with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] EU's Bangemann says Ankara must change gov't if it wants to enter Union

    VIENNA 07/10/1998 (ANA D. Dimitrakoudis)

    European Union Commissioner for Industry Martin Bangemann yesterday said that "if Turkey wants to enter the Union it must change government."

    Mr. Bangemann made the statement when he was asked by participating Turkish businesspeople to support their country's accession to the EU.

    The EU Commissioner was speaking at a conference of Austria's industrialists federation.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Gareece emphasises: Kosovo crisis must be resolved through political dialogue

    Athens 07/10/1998 (ANA)

    Athens once again reiterated its standing position yesterday that the Kosovo crisis should resolved through political dialogue, while admitting that "the clouds of war appeared to be gathering".

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas also denied that the presence of NATO officials in the northern city of Thessaloniki was linked in any way to a possible NATO strike in the troubled Yugoslav province of Kosovo.

    The situation in Kosovo has no bearing on the presence of foreign officials in Greece, he said.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis has sent a message to all interested parties calling for self-restraint to avert any pretext for a resumption of hostilities, Mr. Reppas said in response to a question as to whether the Greek premier will be conferring with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

    No other contacts were foreseen for the time being, he added.

    He reiterated Greece's wish that Mr. Milosevic attend a summit of southeast European leaders in Antalya later this month, stressing that he hoped it would give Mr. Milosevic a chance to talk with the new Albanian prime minister regarding regional issues .

    This would be the best path to a resolution of the problems, not conflict, Mr. Reppas said.

    Referring to a forthcoming meeting of NATO foreign ministers, Mr. Reppas said that it appeared that NATO was setting the ground for a political framework in the event of any military intervention in the region.

    Any military action must be preceded by the approval of the UN Security Council, which will provide the legal basis for any intervention, Mr. Reppas stressed.

    Any discussions at NATO would be conducted under the shadow of political initiatives that are currently under way, Mr. Reppas said, so it would be premature to say anything else.

    NATO FMs to meet on Saturday : BRUSSELS (ANA - G. Daratos) - The session of NATO member-state foreign ministers is expected to ultimately take place in Brussels on Saturday and not tomorrow, as had initially been announced for a decision to be taken on measures against Yugoslavia.

    In the worst of cases the foreign ministers could be replaced at the session by the permanent diplomatic representatives of NATO countries.

    This development led to the indefinite postponement of NATO Secretary General Javier Solana's scheduled visit to Turkey and Greece on Friday.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Kosovo, Cyprus issue dominate Tsohatzopoulos-Kyprianou talks

    Athens 07/10/1998 (ANA)

    New friction points in the region, with the main focus on Kosovo, as well as the general situation in the Balkans and developments over the Cyprus issue, dominated talks yesterday between National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and the visiting spe aker of the Cyprus House of Representatives, Spyros Kyprianou.

    Speaking to reporters afterwards, Mr. Kyprianou said they examined defence matters, saying he had received "useful information" that would aid in the formulation of the positions to be tabled with Cyprus' National Council. Mr. Kyprianou was also received in the evening by President Kostis Stephanopoulos.

    Earlier, Mr. Kyprianou met with Coalition for the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos for talks on the latest developmemts regarding the Cyprus issue.

    After the meeting Mr. Constantopoulos reiterated that "this is a very important period", and that the Greek side "must undertake initiatives so as to continually improve its negotiating power..." He added that such action will "make obvious to the interna tional community the true cause of instability, destabilisation and insecurity, which is the Turkish policy."

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Final date for KYSEA meeting pending

    Athens 07/10/1998 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday that it had not yet been decided whether the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) will eventually meet as scheduled on Friday.

    Mr. Reppas said the final decision would be taken following consultations between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and competent ministers.

    Mr. Simitis will meet with National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos tomorrow, he added.

    "If it appears that things have matured with regard to the subject of the KYSEA meeting, which is armaments, then the meeting will take place on Friday," Mr. Reppas said.

    The KYSEA meeting is within the framework of the government's multi-million dollar armaments programme, aimed at maintaining and further improving the defence capability of all three branches of the armed forces.

    The council has already taken a number of final decisions regarding the procurement of weapons systems while others are expected to be taken at the forthcoming KYSEA meeting, including the procurement of long-range anti- aircraft missiles to replace the ancient Nike system and short-range missiles (Shorads) for the army.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said in July that the ministry's target was for all agreements provided under the government's five-year armaments programme to have been approved by KYSEA by the end of 1998, with the exception of new generation tanks.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] US offers AWACS to Greece

    WASHINGTON 07/10/1998 (Reuters/ANA)

    The US Pentagon said on Monday it had approved the potential sale of six airborne warning and control systems to Greece for $380 million.

    The prime contractor for the proposed sale of the sophisticated "AWACS" systems would be either Northrop Grumman Corp. or Lockheed Martin Corp., depending on whether Athens buys Northrop E-2C or Lockheed C-130J aircraft.

    The proposed package is part of a major upgrade in defence equipment by Greece.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] 10th Defendory weapons systems exhibition opens in Piraeus

    Athens 07/10/1998 (ANA)

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday inaugurated the 10th Defendory international exhibition of conventional weapons at the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) exhibition centre.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos first accompanied his visiting Russian counterpart Igor Sergeyev around pavilions of the Greek defence industries, before inspecting Russian weapons systems on display.

    Afterwards, US ambassador Nicholas Burns guided Mr. Tsohatzopoulos around the pavilions of the US defence industries.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also received visiting Senegalese Foreign Minister Cheikh Harnidou Kane and Italian Deputy Defence Minister Gianni Rivera.

    Defence Undersecretary Dimitrios Apostolakis yesterday had successive meetings with his Hungarian and Italian counterparts, Janos Karasz and Mr. Rivera.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Alexander Dubcek's youngest son appointed ambassador to Athens

    Athens 07/10/1998 (ANA)

    Milan Dubcek, the youngest of Alexander Dubcek's three sons, was appointed yesterday as Slovakia's ambassador to Athens.

    Mr. Dubcek received his credentials from out-going Slovakin Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, according to the press agency Tasr.

    The fourty-six-year-old Dubcek is a career diplomat.

    His father, Alexander, led the 1968 reform movement (Prague Spring) in Czechoslovakia. The elder Dubcek was fatally injured in a mysterious November 1992 traffic accident.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] European Conference discusses organised crime,environmental problems

    LUXEMBOURG 07/10/1998 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    The European Conference of European Union member-states and candidate- countries for accession convened here yesterday to examine issues dealing with organised crime and environmental problems.

    The conference was attended by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides.

    Mr. Kasoulides expressed Nicosia's concern over Turkey's plan to build a nuclear plant in the Adana region, an area considered to be extremely seismic, and located close to Cyprus. He also stressed the special sensitivity of the island republic over issues concerning the handling of organised crime.

    Commenting on Monday's decision by the EU's Council of Foreign Ministers on the start of substantive negotiations with Cyprus and the five central and eastern European countries on Nov. 10, as well as references made to Cyprus in the Council's communique, both Mr. Papandreou and Mr. Kasoulides expressed their satisfaction.

    Mr. Kasoulides thanked Athens' diplomacy for its strong position against efforts made by certain EU member-states to link Cyprus' accession to the EU to a solution to the political problem of Cyprus.

    "Some EU member states must realise that any preconditions to Cyprus' accession will not facilitate a settlement to the island's political problem, but on the contrary would serve Turkey's designs," Mr. Kasoulides said.

    Both Mr. Papandreou and Mr. Kasoulides said that Greece and Cyprus did not consider the inclusion of special references to Cyprus in the Council's communique on Monday to be constructive. However, from the moment that a number of countries considered such references to be necessary, consultations leading to the communique could not be avoided.

    During his joint conference with Mr. Kasoulides, Mr. Papandreou also referred to discussions held at the Council on the topics related to Kosovo and Albania. He said that the Greek government is closely watching and supporting efforts by the new Albanian government for democratic stability and called on the opposition to face developments with democratic responsibility.

    On the question of Kosovo, Mr. Papandreou said that Greece is sceptical over a possible military intervention by NATO and has doubts over the effectiveness of such an involvement.

    Schuessel : In another development, Austrian Foreign Minister and EU Council President Wolfgang Schuessel said in Luxembourg yesterday that "the door to the European Conference is open for Turkey and it is up to it to participate."

    He said the Austrian EU Presidency has worked hard to strengthen Turkey's relationship with the EU, while he mentioned that he met Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem in New York several days ago, while Austria is awaiting a visit by Turkish President Suleyman Demirel to Vienna. Mr. Schuessel said that the visit was in exchange for a visit paid to Ankara by the Austrian chancellor two years ago.

    Mr. Schuessel said that in the next few weeks the European Commission will be presenting its proposals for strengthening its European strategy in Turkey.

    "We hope that these proposals will be specific," he said, adding that in this case a "successful" EU-Turkey Association Council could be convened.

    However, Mr. Schuessel clarified that the convening of the Association Council during the six-month Austrian EU presidency must not be considered a foregone conclusion.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] Greek Nat'l Olympics Committee picks water-skiing as 2004 event

    Athens 07/10/1998 (ANA)

    Greece's National Olympics Committee (EOA) yesterday chose water-skiing as one of the two additional events at the 28th Olympiad - Athens 2004.

    The selection will now be put to the Athens 2004 organising committee for joint proposal to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

    The city which hosts the Olympic Games has the right to propose two events of its own choice, final approval then resting with the IOC.

    According to EOA members, water-skiing was chosen as one of the events because of its universal popularity and high-level of competition in Greece.

    The second event will be discussed at the committee's next meeting after proposals have been examined from the country's athletics federations. These proposals must be submitted to EOA by Oct. 23.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] 'Traditional Orthodox Moscow' exhibition in Athens

    Athens 07/10/1998 (ANA)

    The Vouros-Eftaxias Museum of Athens in cooperation with the Moscow History Museum will organise an exhibition on "Traditional Orthodox Moscow" of the last four centuries.

    The exhibition will open in Athens on Oct. 12 and end on Nov. 15.

    Exhibits will include various religious items from the 17th century to date highlighting the cultural bonds of Russia and Greece throughout the centuries.

    Rare books, oil paintings and priceless icons will be included, along with a photographic collection of Crimean cities still recognised by their Greek names.

    Both Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos and the Patriarch of Moscow Alexios II hailed the exhibition in messages.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] High-ranking meeting on 2004 progress, projects

    Athens 07/10/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis chaired a meeting yesterday on the promotion of processes for the delineation of projects related to the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and their legal coverage.

    The meeting was attended by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Undersecretary Christos Verelis, as well as the president of the organising committee Stratis Stratigis and the managing director Costas Bakouris.

    At the end of the two-hour meeting, Mr. Venizelos expressed satisfaction over the course of processes for the major projects concerning the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and reiterated that 2004 is an opportunity to set out an overall national strategy.

    "We are planning the next steps in accordance with the proposals by Mr. Stratigis and Mr. Bakouris. after the selection by the organising adviser and the financial adviser the plans anticipate the full activation of the labour groups helping in the deli neation, as well as in the hiring of technical advisers with international bidding," he said.

    It was alao decided that necessary town planning and building settlements will be promoted as well as environmental studies and the acquisition of land which does not belong to the state.

    Several US Senators and members of Congress participated in the 14th Annual Hellenic Leadership Conference, a press release stated yesterday.

    More than 30 Democrats and Republicans met and discussed issues in depth with Greek-American US Senator Paul Sarbanes.

    Athens News Agency

    [22] Greece ratifies convention on human rights,biomedicine

    STRASBOURG 07/10/1998 (ANA)

    Greece yesterday ratified the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine.

    Athens' permanent representative at the Council of Europe, Prof. Dimitri Constas, handed the instrument of ratification to Council of Europe (CoE) Secretary General Daniel Tarschys yesterday.

    The convention is the first internationally binding legal text designed to protect people against the misuse of biological and medical advances. It aims at preserving human dignity and identity, rights and freedoms, through a series of principles and rules.

    It sets out a great number of major principles and rules which states must recognise and incorporate into their domestic law. The convention does not however prevent a state from giving greater protection vis-a-vis the applications of biology and medicine.

    The convention bans discrimination on the grounds of a person's genetic make-up and allows the carrying out of predictive genetic tests only for medical purposes.

    It regulates medical research according to detailed and precise conditions, especially for people who cannot give their consent. It prohibits creation of human embryos for research purposes and requires adequate protection of embryos where countries all ow in-vitro research. It also prohibits financial gain from the use of any part of the human body.

    The convention requires informed consent, in advance, except in emergencies. Consent can be withdrawn at any time. It further requires treatment to be of direct benefit to those unable to give their consent, such as children and people with mental illne sses.

    Moreover, it sets out the patient's right to be informed about their health, including the results of predictive genetic tests. The right not to know is also recognised.

    Lastly, the convention bans the removal of organs and other tissues which cannot be regenerated from people not able to give consent. The only exception is for regenerative tissue (especially bone marrow) between siblings.

    Athens News Agency

    [23] New bill on organ transplants

    Athens 07/10/1998 (ANA)

    The health ministry yesterday unveiled a new bill on transplant procedures.

    The new bill provides, as an incentive, priority status to people who sign up as organ donors in case they need a transplant in the future. It also includes a requirement for consent from close family members of a deceased individual in the absence of such consent or refusal by individual while they were still alive.

    In the absence of immediate family members or when authorities are unable to contact them within a reasonable amount of time, organs' removal will be decided by an ethics committee from the National Transplants Organisation, which will also keep organ d onor and recipient files.

    With the new bill, the populace will be offered the opportunity to state their wish to become organ donors through special forms that will be distributed to the public.

    More than 1,500 people are currently on a waiting list to receive various organ transplants in Greece.

    Athens News Agency

    [24] Gov't eyes scenario pointing to land speculators as behind forest fires

    Athens 07/10/1998 (ANA)

    The government appears to share the opinions of a senior official at the environment, town planning and public works ministry that this summer's forest fires were deliberately lit by land speculators hoping to clear plot and make a profit ahead of the Ath ens 2004 Olympic Games.

    "Very logical," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas commented when asked his opinion on the claims made by the ministry's secretary-general, Alekos Voulgaris, to a radio station yesterday morning.

    Mr. Reppas said similar statements had been made by a number of government officials, including Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas and that the issues and charges were being looked into.

    Athens News Agency

    [25] Shootout at Greek consulate in Korce leaves outlaw injured

    GJIROKASTER 07/10/1998 (ANA - P. Barkas)

    An outlaw who tried to force his way into the Greek consulate in the Albanian town of Korce was injured in a shootout with a consulate guard.

    The incident occurred at around noon on Monday when the suspect, a 26-year- old man police said is on a list of the most wanted criminals in Albania, pulled a Kalashnikov assault rifle from under his jacket and opened fire on the consulate's main entrance, demanding entry.

    The Albanian guard at the consulate returned fire, seriously injuring the man.

    After a brief disruption, operation at the consulate returned to normal.

    Athens News Agency

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