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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-09-02

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

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

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 02/09/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Government view of allegations of Olympiad irregularities
  • Greece satisfied with Poos' comments on Cyprus issue
  • Meeting on the economy
  • New transport minister sworn in
  • French military chief visiting
  • Defence Minister visiting Britain
  • Decree to abolish Greek language provision for EU foreign teachers
  • Foreign Ministry info bulletin on Amsterdam summit
  • IOC official downplays bomb attack on Greek Committee offices
  • PM to make 1998 policy speech on Friday
  • Wary Greek stocks edge up ahead of PM's 1998 policy speech
  • Greek bourse takes wait-and-see attitude
  • Xiosbank basic lending rate unchanged
  • One-year Treasury bill issue today
  • Stock re-purchases by two steelmakers
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Government view of allegations of Olympiad irregularities

The government said today that any allegations of irregularities in the bidding process for the 2004 Olympic Games should be substantiated.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas was commenting on allegations by International Olympic Committee (IOC) Vice-President Marc Hodler that rules had been broken regarding the bidding for the 2004 Games.

Mr. Hodler told the German Press Agency DPA there had been incidents in the past three weeks which were "pretty rough". The Swiss however, who are responsible for the bidding rules in the IOC, declined to give further details.

The IOC is scheduled to decide in Lausanne on Friday which of the five candidate cities will host the 2004 Olympic Games.

In the running are Athens, Rome, Cape Town, Buenos Aires and Stockholm.

Replying to reporters' questions on the contract which Athens must sign if it is chosen to stage the Games, Mr. Reppas said it had become "the subject of study by scientists".

He said however that it was not the right time to talk about such matters in view of the IOC's decision on Friday.

The spokesman added that "everything else will be discussed on the basis of the high level of organisation (of the Games) and the safeguarding of the public interest".

Greece satisfied with Poos' comments on Cyprus issue

Greece is fully satisfied with the statements by Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jacques Poos in Ankara, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today.

Mr. Poos said after talks with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem that the improvement of Ankara's relations with Greece and the facilitation of negotiations on Cyprus' accession to the European Union were prerequisites for Turkey to improve its relations with the EU.

Luxembourg currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

"The EU member states believe that if Turkey truly wants full membership in the EU, why shouldn't it encourage Cyprus' negotiations, even before it becomes a member itself?," Mr. Poos said.

Asked by journalists meanwhile about reports that soldiers from the British bases on Cyprus were visiting the Turkish-occupied north of the island using papers declaring "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus", Mr. Reppas said the government knew nothing of the matter.

He stressed however that all the EU countries recognised the Cyprus Republic and the government of President Glafcos Clerides as the legitimate government of Cyprus.

"Such matters have no bearing on developments. What is important are official relations," Mr Reppas said commenting on the reports.

Meeting on the economy

National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou today chaired a meeting on the revenues and expenditures of the 1997 state budget.

The meeting was attended by finance undersecretaries George Drys and Nikos Christodoulakis.

The focus of the meeting was the course of revenues and expenditures up to now and the relevant forecasts up to the end of the year.

Also discussed were matters concerning the magnitudes of the new budget for 1998 which will be finalised in the next two months.

New transport minister sworn in

Tassos Mantelis was sworn in as the government's new transport and communications minister in the presence of President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Simitis this morning.

Also taking the oath was Stavros Benos, who replaces Mantelis as undersecretary at the interior, public administration and decentralisation ministry.

Mr. Mantelis was given the transport and communications portfolio by Simitis on Monday, after he accepted Haris Kastanidis' resignation.

Mr. Kastanidis tendered his resignation on Saturday after claiming his work was being undermined.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said later that Kastandis had freely tendered his resignation, stressing that he had not been asked to do so.

Replying to questions, Mr. Reppas said the prime minister had confidence in all his ministers, "as he had in Mr. Kastanidis".

Asked whether the government was concerned that other ministers might wish to resign, Mr. Reppas said the sole concern of the government were the problems which existed and which it wanted to tackle.

On the appointment of Mr. Mantelis, the spokesman said that he had held the post of general secretary at the industry ministry and president of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), noting that "he meets all the requirements for the selection".

French military chief visting

France's Chief of Army General Staff General (Air) Jean-Philippe Douin begins an official three-day visit to Greece tomorrow on the invitation of his Greek counterpart Athanasios Tzoganis.

According to an announcement from the National Defence General Staff, Gen. Douin will meet with the political and military leadership of the national defence ministry and will be briefed on issues of mutual concern.

He is also scheduled to visit military bases and installations.

Defence Minister visiting Britain

Greece's National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos will discuss the Cyprus issue, Greece's relations with Ankara and the prospect of Greek- British cooperation in armaments during his talks today and tomorrow with his British counterpart George Robertson in London.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos is also scheduled to meet with British chief of staff Charles Garthy and visit defence industries as well as meet with members of Britain's Greek community and the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Great Britain.

Decree to abolish Greek language provision for EU foreign teachers

An education ministry draft presidential decree is expected to open the door to European Union citizens allowing them to operate, direct or teach at private foreign language schools.

The draft presidential decree allows for simple knowledge and ability to use the Greek language in oder to be given permission to work and open private foreign language schools in the country. Private lessons are also covered.

Up to now, Greek law required full knowedge of the Greek language for foreign language teachers to legally work in Greece.

Foreign Ministry info bulletin on Amsterdam Summit

The foreign ministry has issued an information bulletin on the results of the EU Amsterdam summit, with a prologue by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

Summing up the assessment of aims and pursuits of the Greek positions, Mr. Papandreou refers to "the promotion of our positions for the Common External and Security Policy, including a reference to the existence of external borders of the Union, support to the islands, the promotion of new provisions for a coordinated policy in the employment sector, the fight against unemployment and social exclusion, the strengthening of provisions regarding social rights, and strengthening the role and the activities of the European Parliament."

Mr. Papandreou stresses that in the second half of 1997, Greece must defend its positions in the forthcoming changes in the EU, particularly on the issues concerning its participation in the third phase of Economic and Monetary Union, its active partici pation in the enlargement process, and monitoring and intervening in the Common Agricultural Policy.

Information on EU issues may be obtained from the following Internet sites:

Foreing Ministry, http://www.mfa.gr

General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad, http://www.mfa.gr/ggae

Alternate Foreign Minister, http://www.mfa.gr/gpap.

IOC official downplays bomb attack on Greek Committee offices

International Olympic Committee (IOC) Director General Francois Carrare has described acts such as the minor bomb attack outside the offices of the Greek Olympic Committee on Sunday night as "coming from madmen".

"...All these attacks are made by mad people, who wish to pass on mad messages and do not express the opposition," he said during yesterday's IOC press briefing at the Chateau de Vidy in Lausanne.

" I do not know what each IOC member will do and to what extent it will be influenced by these terrorist acts. Some may be influenced, some may choose to ignore the incident, some may support the cities where these incidents occurred, wishing to prove they are not influenced by such situations," he added.

The shadowy urban terrorist group "Anti-Power Struggle" early yesterday claimed responsibility for the explosion late on Sunday night outside the headquarters of the Greek Olympic Committee in the central Athens district of Kolonaki.

The explosion caused a small fire which was quickly extinguished. It caused minor, damage but no injuries.

The IOC members who will vote for the 2004 host city on Friday have been reduced by two, bringing the total to 109 out of 111.

The 78-strong Athens delegation will be the smallest among the five candidate-cities.

PM to make 1998 policy speech on Friday

Prime Minister Costas Simitis will open the annual Thessaloniki International Trade Fair on Friday with a speech outlining his government's economic policy for 1998 on Saturday evening.

The trade fair, whose opening is the traditional venue each year for governments to announce policy before drafting the state budget, has attracted individual companies and trade delegations from countries worldwide.

A strong showing is expected at this year's September 6-15 fair by countries from central and eastern Europe and the Middle East.

According to the organisers, the largest delegations from the region are expected from Israel, Lebanon, Bulgaria, Romania and Federal Yugoslavia.

Greek engineering contractors, representing a rapidly expanding sector of the economy, will for the first time take part as a group.

Wary Greek stocks edge up ahead of PM's 1998 policy speech

Greek equities ended moderately higher in cautious trading on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday with investors remaining on the sidelines at the start of a crucial week for the market.

Traders said a decision by the International Olympic Committee on September 5 on whether Athens would host the 2004 Olympic Games was one factor dampening sentiment.

On the same day, the prime minister was due to make a speech on the socialist government's fiscal and incomes policy for 1998 at the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair, news crucial to the future of the Greek market.

The general index closed 0.77 percent higher at 1,529.27 points after losing 1.64 percent early in the session.

Sector indices were mostly higher. Banks rose 1.22 percent, Leasing fell 0.33 percent, Insurance ended 0.26 percent up, Investment increased 0.35 percent, Industrials rose 0.91 percent, Construction was 0.05 percent higher, Holding jumped 2.75 percent a nd Miscellaneous fell 0.36 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies eased by 0.09 percent.

Trading was moderate and turnover was 9.9 billion drachmas.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 109 to 78 with another 22 issues unchanged.

Athinea, Xylemporia, Kreka and Levenderis scored the biggest percentage gains, while European Trust, Daring, Eskimo and Maxim suffered the heaviest losses of the day.

National Bank of Greece ended at 33,500 drachmas, Ergobank at 16,930, Alpha Credit Bank at 18,750, Delta Dairy at 3,930, Titan Cement at 14,450, Intracom at 11,800 and OTE at 6,250.

In the domestic foreign exchange market the US dollar rose substantially against the drachma, while the DMark was fractionally lower.

Greek bourse takes wait-and-see attitude

A drop in stock prices and a decline in trading volume were the main features in August on the Athens Stock Exchange compared with the previous month, according to a monthly market bulletin by Ionian Bank.

The Ionian Bank's composite index for the market fell by 5.01 percent in the month, while the volume of trading shrank to 204.257 million drachmas from 278.248 million in July, a drop of 26.59 percent.

The bank said that the Athens bourse had adopted a wait-and-see attitude, a stance limiting price movements. Its composite index moved in a 55-point range during the month.

Economic policy developments, a spectacular rise in the US dollar's parity against the drachma and a decision on whether Athens will host the 2004 Olympic Games were the main cautionary forces in the market.

Xiosbank basic lending rate unchanged

Xiosbank has granted 5,300 housing loans since its founding totalling 23 billion drachmas, a bank statement said yesterday.

The bank's basic lending rate for firms will remain unchanged this week at 17.50 per cent, while the Xios Alma deposit account rate will also remain unchanged at an annualised 9.92 per cent, with monthly payment of interest.

One-year Treasury bill issue today

The finance ministry today will issue a new series of one-year treasury bills, bearing a 9.50 per cent interest rate, with a 7.5 per cent tax on interest-bearing earnings.

Treasury bills are freely transferrable and can be purchased either in drachmas or foreign currencies.

They will only be available today through the Bank of Greece or commercial banks.

Stock re-purchases by two steelmakers

Two steelmakers, Viohalko and Halkor, decided to purchase 10 per cent of their own shares from the Athens Stock Exchange. The move is in accordance with current legislation and was taken at the two companies' general assemblies.

Viohalko will buy more than 2.8 million shares at a ceiling price of 6,350 drachmas each. Halkor shares will be purchased at a ceiling price of 2,680 drachmas each and the company will buy almost 2.8 million shares.

WEATHER

Fine weather throughout the country today with some local cloudiness in Thrace and central Macedonia and the northern regions. Winds northerly light to moderate turning strong in the Aegean Sea. Athens will be sunny with temperatures ranging from 20-30C. Same in Thessaloniki with a few clouds in the afternoon and temperatures between 19-28C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 283.226 Pound sterling 455.606 Cyprus pd 530.224 French franc 46.352 Swiss franc 189.566 German mark 156.012 Italian lira (100) 15.990 Yen (100) 234.479 Canadian dlr. 203.896 Australian dlr. 207.011 Irish Punt 420.112 Belgian franc 7.557 Finnish mark 51.832 Dutch guilder 138.523 Danish kr. 40.970 Swedish kr. 35.821 Norwegian kr. 37.686 Austrian sch. 22.170 Spanish peseta 1.850 Port. Escudo 1.543

(M.S.)


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