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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-11-08

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

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


NEWS IN ENGLISH

ATHENS, Greece, 08/11/1996 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Athens Stock Exchange suspends trading for the day
  • Athens angrily rejects Turkish charges of 'aggressive exercises'
  • Still no sign of four missing seamen
  • Defence, foreign ministries discuss better coordination
  • Greek development group join UN Mediterranean committee
  • Main opposition ND: Party Congress as soon as possible
  • Premier pledges full support for '97 World Athletic Championships in Athens
  • Transport Minister: Commission expected to approve increase in OA's equity capital

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Athens Stock Exchange suspends trading

    The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) suspended trading today for the first time in its history following a decision of the Union of Stock Exchange Members (SMEXA) to abstain.

    The brokers have called on the National Economy Ministry to guarantee correct operation of the system of clearance of transactions, claiming that the Titles Deposittory, which is responsible for clearing transactions, owes 2.6 billion dr. to bortkerage companies, and therefore the brokers lack cash to meet the demands of their clients.

    SMEXA president Mr. Kontalexis is expected to meet later with National Economy and Finance Minister Yannos Papantoniou.

    The SMEXA move was prompted by the inability of the Delta S.A. brokerage firm to cover cash obigations to the Depository of 1.3 billion dr.

    Dimitris Karagounis, president of the Union of Shareholders, told the ANA that the present conditions preaviling on the ASE were the result of bad operation of the Depository which, ''by delaying delivery of shares, nurtured devaluatory speculation'.

    He said the full extent of the problem was disclosed after in-depth checks were made following the intervention of the Union.

    ''It is beter for the ASE to close for a few days in order to fully clarify the situation and for the exemplary punishment of all the brokerage firms that have contravened the legislation governing the stock market,'' Karagounis said.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that there was ''no problem with the country's economy nor any problem which might cause concern for the stock exchange''.

    Replying to reporters' questions, Reppas added that the stock exchange was experiencing certain problems associated with its adaptation to the new institutional framework, stressing that the stock exchange itself was able to deal with these problems.

    Commenting on calls for the government to guarantee securities being traded on the stock exchange, Reppas said that the government was doing all it could within the existing institutional framework ''which it cannot go beyond''.

    The spokesman called on all parties involved in the operation of the Athens Stock Exchange to assume their responsibilities.

    Meanwhile, the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party strongly criticised the government, charging ''a total lack of supervision over the operation of the stock exchange''.

    ''The case of Delta is just another characteristic example of the sick climate prevailing on the stock exchange,'' ND spokesman Prokopis Pavlopoulos said.

    Pavlopoulos laid responsibility for what he called ''the total lack of protection of investors, particularly small investors'' on the government and above all on National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou.

    At a meeting later today between National Economy Ministry General Secretary Apostolos Fotiadis and representatives of brokerage firms, it was decided that investors hit by Delta's inability to meet its obligations -- which eventually amount to 2.6 billion drachmas rather than the 1.3 billion drachmas initially estimated -- would be reimbursed from the brokerage firms' Guarantee Fund.

    Fotiadis however impressed upon the brokerage representatives that the government would under no circumstances undertake to make good losses in the case of future violations.

    Greece rejects Turkish charges of 'aggressive exercises'

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today that Athens ''angrily'' rejected statements by Turkish Assistant Foreign Undersecretary Inan Batu claiming that the recent military exercise ''Nikiforos-Toxotis'', held with the joint particpation of Greek and Cypriot forces, was ''clearly aggressive'' in nature.

    Reppas added that the presence of Greek forces on Cyprus was the result of an official invitation from the legitimate government of the island republic.

    ''Unlike the presence of Turkish forces in the occupied northern part of the island which is the result of an invitation from an occupation regime and is in violation of international law,'' Reppas said.

    Still no sign of four missing seamen

    A search of the wreck of the missile boat ''Kostakos'' using robots equipped with cameras has so far failed to reveal the fate of four crew members missing since the vessel sank after being rammed by a passenger ferry on Monday night.

    The remote-controlled cameras have filmed most of the sunken missile boat which was located yesterday at a depth of 151 metres about one kilometre from the coast of Samos.

    Navy divers were due to be sent down to examine the seabed around the wreck this afternoon.

    Meanwhile, a Hellenic Navy committee of experts is continuing to gather data concerning the circumstances surrounding the sinking of the ''Kostakos'' in order to draw up a report of its findings as soon as possible.

    In a statement, the General Navy Staff clarified that it was unable to make public any information before the committee has completed its task.

    Defence, foreign ministers examine better coordination

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and National Defence Minister Akis Tsohadzopoulos had talks today on ways to better coordinate action by the two ministries.

    The 45-minute meeting was also attended by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, Foreign Undersecretary Christos Rozakis and National Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Pangalos said that the two ministries already had a coordinating body which, following today's talks, was expected to function even more efficiently.

    Tsohadzopoulos said that the country's foreign policy was linked with Greece's defence strategy and underlined the importance of the so-called ''defence diplomacy''.

    He said other issues concerning national defence had also been discussed, as well as Greece's participation in defence organisations, developments in the European Union's joint foreign policy and security policy.

    Tsohadzopoulos added that both ministries were occupied on a daily basis with Turkish aggression in the Aegean.

    Replying to reporters' questions, Pangalos said that his recent proposal to NATO requesting intervention by the Alliance in instances of Turkish aggression against Greece was also discussed.

    He stressed that the proposal was nothing new, since Greece had repeatedly put forward the request, only to be given the NATO reply that ''there is no provision for this''.

    ''Now that the nature of NATO is changing and is being converted into a broader security mechanism, we are requesting the existence of some mechanism for the settlement of claims,'' Pangalos said.

    Several replies had already been received from Greece's partners, Pangalos said, noting that they were ''not at all disappointing''.

    Greek development group becomes member of UN Mediterranean committee

    Minister for the Aegean Elisabeth Papazoi today described as ''an important success'' for Greece the selection of the Chamber Group for the Development of the Greek Islands as a member of the United Nations Committee for the Viable Development of the Mediterranean.

    The committee will examine strategy for the protection of the Mediterranean environment, plan cooperation among the countries of the region and draw up programmes on specialist issues such as depopulation.

    It is made up of representatives from the 20 Mediterranean countries, the European Union, non-governmental organisations for the environment, social and financial agencies and local government networks.

    Papazoi said that the selection of the Chamber Group meant that the specific problems facing Greece's islands could be projected and measures taken which reflected the particular nature of the country's islands from the viewpoint of number and size.

    The Chios-based Chamber Group represents the country's 19 island Chambers.

    The first meeting of the UN's Mediterranean Committee will take place in Morocco in December.

    ND political council decides on party congress as soon as possible

    The main opposition New Democracy party's political council, which convened yesterday afternoon, arrived at a compromise solution on the controversial issue of the procedure to be followed for next year's party congress, deciding to hold it as early as possible "March or April" with an expanded composition.

    Deputy party leader Ioannis Varvitsiotis was entrusted with the task of exploring existing possibilities towards that goal, while no leadership issue was raised during the session, and with ND leader Miltiades Evert reiterating his recent public commitm ent that on the first day of the congress he would table a proposal for election of the party leader by congress delegates.

    Concerning the meeting, recent leadership contender George Souflias said discussion had been "very good", while former premier Tzannis Tzannetakis said there had been full agreement.

    Addressing a meeting of the party's council of regional committee presidents earlier, Mr. Evert remained firm in his position regarding party elections saying that "I will not under any circumstances, and in any capacity I may have, violate the charter."

    Noting that "everyone should respect the rules governing the operation of the party," Mr. Evert said that the unity of New Democracy was of primary importance.

    ND entered a new phase of crisis following its defeat in recent general elections, which gave PASOK another four-year mandate.

    Premier pledges full support for `97 World Athletics Championships in Athens

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday met with the president of the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF), Primo Nebiolo, to discuss next year's World Athletics Championships which will be held in Athens from Aug. 1-10.

    "Mr. Simitis promised that he would provide us with all assistance and assured that the Greek government would do everything possible for the faultless holding of the world championships," Mr. Nebiolo told reporters immediately after the meeting.

    "Perhaps Athens holds the most important card," Mr. Nebiolo said.

    Mr. Fouras said that for the first 10 days of August 1997, Athens would be "the sports capital of the planet", adding that "we have the full support of the prime minister and the government in general."

    Transport Minister: Commission expected to approve increase in OA's equity capital

    Transport and Communications Minister Haris Kastanidis said in Brussels this week that the European Commission was soon expected to approve an increase in the equity capital of Olympic Airways, from 12 to 23 billion drachmas.

    He added that OA's board of governors was to decide yesterday on the signing of a contract with the MacKenzie Co. for the drawing up of its administrative structure plan within four months.

    The European Commission asked Athens in July for additional measures in the company's financial recovery plan, such as a change in its taxation status and the system for hiring seasonal staff.

    Mr. Kastanidis also said that his European Union counterparts would decide on increases in toll charges and the creation of free "rail corridors" across countries in the Union until Dec. 18.

    He added that he had told his counterparts in their Council meeting yesterday that any increases could not burden equally all transporters in the Union, and that account should be taken of differences in distances.

    Mr. Kastanidis said that the proposal, which was accepted by EU Transport Commissioner Neil Kinnock, would secure competitive prices for Greek produce.

    Greece, he added, as the only Balkan EU member, must promote, both at bilateral and at a European level, the creation of an inter-related economic cooperation region in the Balkans.

    He made the comments during the fourth two-day seminar in Thessaloniki, this time on the subject of "Businesses in a Market Without Borders."

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE (Buying)

    U.S. dlr 236.096 Can. dlr.177.032, Australian dlr. 184.958 Pound sterling 387.773, Irish punt 389.380, Cyprus pd 513.459, French franc 46.307, Swiss franc 186.565 Belgian franc 7.600, German mark 156.622 Finnish mark 51.941, Dutch guilder 139.614 Danish Kr. 40.749, Swedish Kr. 35.799, Norwegian Kr. 37.250, Austrian Sh. 22.258, Italian lira (100) 15.574 Yen (100) 211.048 Spanish Peseta 1.859, Portuguese Escudo 1.548.

    (M.P.)


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