THE NEWS IN DETAIL
Greece in the grip of a heatwave
Greece is in the grip of a heatwave this weekend, with temperatures in
parts soaring above 40 degree Celcius.
State emergency services are placed on alert to deal with the effects of
the heatwave, including heatlh problems and forest fires. Parts of air
conditioned public buildings have been made available for people to take
refuge from the sweltering heat.
Many Athenians and other urban center residents have taken to the beaches
and the mountains to escape the heat, causing heavy traffic on the regional
road network. As a result, a high number of motor accidents was recorded,
with the death toll for the weekend standing at 20 on Sunday afternoon.
Traffic police have announced special measures to facilitate motorists'
safe return to the big cities.
Meanwhile, two forest fires broke out in the nortwestern Epirus region,
attributed mainly to the high temoperatures. Forest Service workers and
firefigthing aircraft are battling to contain the blazes near Konitsa and
Ioannina, which have so far burnt 500 acres of pine forest.
Weather forercasting services say that the heatwave will begin to subside
this evening while tomorrow temperatures are expected to drop further.
Development Minister says new tourism model needed
The tourism sector was the focus of Development Minister Vasso Papandreou's
address to a ruling PASOK party meeting on the island of Rhodes.
Mrs. Papandreou said that tourism in Greece was running in a vicious
circle. Although tourist arrivals have increased, income crated by tourism
has actually dropped as hotels offer great discounts to foreign operators,
Presenting a national strategy for the sector, the minister said that the
current model of mass tourism needs to be replaced or added to with
additional forms of tourism such as ecological, cultural, marine, rural,
religious etc. She also stressed the need for the development of infrastructure
with facilities such as golf courses, thalassotherapy centers, conference
Mrs. Papandreou also undrlined the need for more luxury hotel accomodation
to assist the growth of "quality tourism", saying that first category and
luxury hotel beds accounted for only 27 per cent of the total, compared to
43 per cent which is the case for Rhodes.
Tempi railway tunnel opens
A five-kilometre tunnel that will reduce the Athens-Thessaloniki train
journey time from five to four hours, has officially been opened. The Tempi
tunnel is one of the main infrastructure projects linked to the Greek
Railways Organisation's (OSE) new double-track high-speed railway line
between Athens and Thessaloniki.
A new tunnel at Bralos, central Greece, to be built in early 2000 will
further decrease the train journey between the country's two major cities
to two-and-a-half hours.
Sofia pledges return of manuscript
Bulgarian President Peter Stoyanov has confirmed that a rare 18th century
manuscript stolen from the monastic community of Mt. Athos would be
Stoyanov arrived on Mt. Athos on on Friday on the final leg of a three-day
official visit to Greece. He visited the Aghios Zografos monastery, where
he assured the monks that the manuscript currently on display at a museum
in Sofia would be returned.
Coalition rejects PASOK overtures
Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos has
rejected a proposal by Prime Minister Costas Simitis for a new political
bloc to cover the centre-left in Greece.
Constantopoulos said "a new power bloc" envisaged by the premier was not
compatible with the government's belief in securing a parliamentary
majority, and power being held by a single party. He said it was no good
for the government to talk about a new political bloc ''while taking non-
Consumer inflation up in June
Greek consumer price inflation rose in June for the first time this year,
edging up to 5.5% year-on-year from 5.4% in May, the National Statistics
Service said. June's rise in the consumer price index was due to increases
of 0.6% in foodstuffs, 1.6% in apparel and footwear, 0.4% in housing
(mainly rents) and 0.3% in transport (chiefly passenger ship fares).
OA domestic fare increases
National carrier Olympic Airways has approved an average price increase of
approximately 7% on most domestic flights, citing a 43% hike in fuel costs
and competition from other means of transport.
At the same time, OA has announced a system of discounts for specific
passenger categories, including a 20% discount for children between 1-12
years of age and young people between the ages of 12 and 24. Families of at
least three will be entitled to a discount of 25-40%.
Greece braces for energy deregulation
Development Minister Vasso Papandreou said yesterday that Greece was
preparing legislation to comply with a European Union ordained liberalisation
of the energy market. Speaking at a conference on energy organised by the
Public Power Corporation's employees union, Papandreou welcomed an EU
decision allowing Greece an extension until February 2001 to lift controls
in order to reshape its laws and practice.
Charter arrivals up, but problems remain hoteliers say
Tourist arrivals by charter flights are on the rise, the Panhellenic
Federation of Hoteliers said.
Using figures from arrivals at airports throughout Greece in June, the
federation warned that the increase did not preclude a drop in prices
offered by tour operators.
The largest increase was reported at the airport of Irakleio, Crete, where
arrivals rose 20 percent in June, compared to the same month last
At other destinations, tourist arrivals increased in Samos by 7.5 percent
and in Corfu by 1.0 percent but decreased in Mytilini by 0.9 percent.
Despite the increase, however, the hoteliers' federatoin warned that long-
term infrastructure inefficiencies in tourism had led to a drop in prices
and an increase in lower-income tourists.
Greek equities finish higher, propelled by blue chips
Stock prices recovered during the last trading session of the week to
finish up 1.38 percent helped by strong buying interest in blue-chips,
particularly in the industrial sector.
The general index closed at 1,514.18 points - up 0.43 percent on the week -
with all sector indices scoring gains. Trading was moderate with 12.8
billion drachmas changing hands.
Banks rose 1.54 percent, Holding was 1.76 percent up, Insurance increased
1.29 percent, Industrials rose 1.63 percent, Construction was 0.87 percent
up, Investment increased 0.81 per cent, Investment ended 0.40 percent up
and Miscellaneous increased 0.29 percent.
Greece gets new interbank system in September
A new interbank settlement system will be introduced in Greece in September
by DIAS SA Interbank Systems, Bank of Greece deputy governor Panagiotis
The new system, called DIASTRANSFER, will provide speedy and safe capital
transfer services among banks either by crediting bank accounts or by cash
payments to beneficiaries, said Thomopoulos, who is also president of
DIASTRANSFER will simplify interbank transfer procedures, enabling
settlement within the day.
DIAS is expected soon to introduce a new interbank payments system called
DIASDEBIT that will cover, in the first phase, consumer payments to public
The company's electronic clearing system on bank cheques, used by 35 banks
in Greece, handles more than 50 percent of transactions in the country.
The weekend heatwave seems to be over with northern Greece expecting local
cloud and the chance of scattered thunderstorms. Strong to very strong
northerly winds are forecast for the west and the north. Tomorrow Monday
most of the country can expect almost fine weather except for the north
where local cloud with the chance of local showers and thunderstorms are
forecast. Athens tomorrow will be fine but will cool down slightly with
temperatures 23-35C. Thessaloniki will be initially almost fine but later
local cloud will bring about the chance of a thundrstorm in the near
mountains. Temperatures 20-32C.
Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 274.169
Pound sterling 458.641 Cyprus pd 530.581
French franc 46.416 Swiss franc 186.546
German mark 156.443 Italian lira (100) 16.075
Yen (100) 239.796 Canadian dlr. 198.975
Australian dlr. 206.371 Irish Punt 417.731
Belgian franc 7.579 Finnish mark 52.511
Dutch guilder 138.974 Danish kr. 41.071
Swedish kr. 35.248 Norwegian kr. 37.398
Austrian sch. 22.231 Spanish peseta 1.850
Port. Escudo 1.550