NEWS IN DETAIL
Search continues for missing Ukrainian airliner with 73 aboard
Rescue teams supported by Greek air force planes, army units and local
farmers resumed their search at dawn today for a missing Ukrainian airliner
with 73 people on board that vanished minutes before landing at Thessaloniki,
Greece's northern airport.
The Russian-built Yakovlev 42 disappeared from radar screens at 21.15 local
time while at an altitude of 3,200 feet as it flew over the northern Greek
town of Veria, according to Thessaloniki control tower authorities.
Two Hercules C-130 planes flew over the region of Pieria mountains, Imathia
and Kozani covered with snow shooting flares. They were joined by two
Shinuk helicopters at the break of daylight.
On the ground, police assisted by local farmers in tractors and commando
units combed the area, many parts of which "is inaccessible and the snow is
1.5 metres deep ", an air force spokesman said.
Coastguard patrol boats, fishing boats and tugboats also searched the sea
region around Thessaloniki and Katerini.
The airliner carried 42 Greeks, four of them women, and 20 foreigners,
among them eight women and two children. Most of the Greek passengers were
either businessmen or workers returning to Greece for the Christmas and new
year holidays. The foreigners are Ukrainians or Russians.
Parliament begins debate on '98 budget
Parliament last night began debating the 1998 budget with ies' general
rapporteurs, in the presence of Prime Minister Costas Simitis and party
The vote on the budget will be held on Sunday midnight.
Premier Simitis yesterday threw down the gauntlet to critics within his
ruling PASOK party just a few hours before a Parliamentary debate on the
budget, parts of which have been criticised by several PASOK deputies.
Addressing PASOK's Parliamentary group, Mr. Simitis said that approval of
the budget, he said, was a key step in the implementation of the (economic)
programme approved by the Greek people.
Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) President Iason Stratos, said the
budget this year is more positive than in previous years, but a great
effort would be required in order to secure both the revenues and the
cutbacks in expenses envisaged.
He claimed that taxation this year went up 20 per cent, and is expected to
rise a further 29 per cent in 1998.
Clinton reiterates interest in Greek-Turkish relations, Cyprus
US President Bill Clinton said the United States wished to do everything it
can to resolve Greek-Turkish differences.
Speaking at a press conference at the US State Department here on Tuesday,
President Clinton stressed that "it is terribly important for us to do
everything we can to resolve differences between Turkey and Greece".
The US president said the differences between the two countries "are deeply
held, historic and I am convinced, ultimately irrational."
He said he believed that "to allow the potential that Greece and Turkey
both have for future economic growth and cooperation, political cooperation
and security cooperation to be broken on the rocks of their differences
over Cyprus and other territorial differences in the Aegean, is in my view,
a grave error."
"I want a resolution of the Cyprus issue very badly. You have evidence on
that when I asked Mr. (Richard) Holbrooke to head our efforts to try to
resolve it," he said.
Mr. Clinton said about the situation in Greek-Turkish relations that "this
is a case where not only does the United States need to be on good terms
with Greece and Turkey, they need to be on good terms with each other.
If they could sort of take off their blinders about each other and look at
what they're really up against for the next 30 or 40 years in their
neighborhood in terms of opportunities and threats, this world would be in
considerably better shape moving in to a new century," he added.
Stephanopoulos named honorary citizen of Odessa, Mariupol
President Kostis Stephanopoulos yesterday was declared an honorary citizen
of the city of Odessa.
The Greek president, who was on a three-day visit to the Ukraine, arrived
in the historic city yesterday, the second stop on his official trip.
Before leaving Odessa for Mariupol, Mr. Stephanopoulos visited the museum
of the "Society of Friends" and the offices of the Hellenic Culture
Arriving in the city of Mariupol, in the Azov Sea, the Greek president was
extended a warm welcome by the city's ethnic Greek population, the largest
in the Ukraine.
Mr. Stephanopoulos was named also a Mariupol honorary citizen by the city's
mayor and an honorary professor by the institute's dean, ethnic Greek
professor Konstantin Balambanov.
Parliament ratifies Friendship and cooperation pact with Albania
Parliament yesterday ratified a friendship, cooperation, security and good-
neighbourly pact with Albania, as deputies from ruling PASOK, main
opposition New Democracy and the Coalition of the Left and Progress voted
Deputies from the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Democratic Social
Movement (DHKKI) voted against.
A second address by Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis in
Parliament clarified that is was a mistake on the part of the General
Accounting Office to refer to "minorities" in a relevant report.
Mr. Kranidiotis also said that Athens did not recognise any issue
concerning property claims by "Tsamides" - an Albanian Moslem minority now
living in the neighbouring country.
He stressed that there was no property issue either from a political or
Discovery of petrified palm forest on Lesvos
A petrified palm forest was recently unearthed on the island of Lesvos,
according to an announcement on Tuedsay by Athens University professor
The professor announced that the petrified forest, in the island's west-
central Antissa region, was covered by petrified volcano lava, with the
trunks of the ancient trees preserved in an upright position. Also
preserved were their roots and leaves.
Professor Velitzelos believes the importance of the discovery lies in the
fact that it reveals that a large number of plants were part of a
complicated ecosystem that existed there as many as 20 million years ago.
It also proves the region's subtropical climate, with temperatures much
higher than today's, a fact that gives scientists unique details about the
flora, ecological conditions, volcano and earthquake activity which
contributed to the formation of today's region.
The director of the Natural History Meseum of Lesvos, Dimitris Zouros, said
further digs will be carried out in the region to bring to light the
remaining petrified forest.
GSEE, ADEDY nationwide strike today
A General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the Civil Servants'
Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) 24-hour general strike was called
for today, as Parliament debates the 1998 budget.
According to GSEE and ADEDY, the budget reflects the government's continued
policy of austerity, reductions of social benefits and tax increases for
workers and pensioners.
Negotiations between trade unions and the employers are expected to begin
Trade unions demand a 6 per cent increase in wages, while employer
federations consider a 2.5 per cent increase as a starting point for the
Cretabank up for sale again
The liquidator of state-run Cretabank, formerly the Bank of Crete,
yesterday announced that a third international tender for the sale of the
bank would be held no later than early April 1998.
The liquidator told a news conference that under the new tender there would
be no minimum bidding price as in the previous two tenders while the
evaluation procedure for bids would be determined no later than the end of
January by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and
the Governor of the Bank of Greece Lucas Papademos.
The deadline for the submission of bids is expected to be May 31, 1998. The
liquidator clarified that although there would be no minimum bidding price
this did not mean that the bank would be sold for a price which was not
deemed to be in the interests of the seller.
He added that the bad debts of the Bank of Crete, that is, loans now
considered incapable of collection, totalled 32-33 billion drachmas, of
which 18 billion drachmas corresponded to the period up to 1988.
Greek exports to Russia increasing
Greek exports to the former Soviet republics are doing especially well,
having recorded a steady rise in the past few years, according to figures
released by the EU bureau of statistics.
The Russian market appears to be of great interest, owing to its large size,
while results have been encouraging.
However, Greece is in an adverse position as far as the trade balance
between the two countries is concerned, mainly due to import of Russian
Greek exports to Russia in 1996 reached Ecu282.3 million, while in the
first quarter of 1997 the figure stands at Ecu120.7 million.
The top Greek exports to Russia are fur products, followed by citrus fruit.
There is also increased demand for Greek tobacco, which amounted to Ecu22.5
Other Greek exports include steel products, machinery and bauxite.
Greek stocks rangebound, block trades bolster turnover
Greek equities moved in a tight range yesterday on the Athens Stock
Exchange to end mixed to lower but trading shot up due to large block
The general index closed 0.04 percent lower at 1,514.65 points.
Trading was heavy with turnover at 31.8 billion drachmas. National Bank of
Greece and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation traded huge blocks of
611,900 and 300,290 shares respectively.
Sector indices were mixed. Banks fell 0.27 percent, Insurance rose 0.06
percent, Leasing dropped 0.44 percent, Investment eased 0.57 percent,
Construction was 0.45 percent off, Industrials increased 0.28 percent,
Miscellaneous eased 0.06 percent and Hol ding was 0.30 percent down.
The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 0.96 percent up,
while the FTSE/ASE index dropped 0.11 percent to 865.84 points. Broadly,
decliners led advancers by 117 to 93 with another 20 issues unchanged.
Singular, Dave, Intertyp, Thessaliki and Desmos scored the biggest
percentage gains at the upper 8.0 percent volatility limit, while
Demetriades, Etma and Viosol suffered the heaviest losses. National Bank of
Greece ended at 26,090 drachmas, Ergobank at 15, 100, Alpha Credit Bank at
16,600, Delta Dairy at 3,265, Titan Cement at 13,000, Intracom at 6,095 and
Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6,095.
Greek telecom bids in Moldova
Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) is to take part in the
second phase of an international tender for sale of a minority stake in
Moldova's state telecom.
OTE will bid for the full 40 percent share of Mold Telekom being offered.
Also of interest to OTE is a scheme by National Bank of Greece to redesign
its communications and networks in a tender due to be called on December
23. OTE will bid for the project, which is budgeted at 1.5-2.0 billion
Greek civil aviation head joins board of European trade group
The head of Greece's Civil Aviation Authority, Dionysis Kalofonos, was
yesterday unanimously elected a board member of the Paris-based European
Civil Aviation Organisation (ECAC).
Mr. Kalofonos was proposed by representatives of countries including
Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Poland, Estonia, Romania,
Hungary and Slovakia.
ECAC, which has 36 member-states, forges and implements strategy for
European air transport. It is the main European organisation to belong to
the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO).
Greek telecom hands telegram services to Hellenic Post Offices
Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), which is listed on the
Athens bourse, will hand over telegram services to Hellenic Post Offices on
January 1 as part of a cost-cutting plan, OTE said yesterday.
Under the terms of a contract to be signed by both state firms, OTE will
save on personnel and reduce its deficit from telegrams by 4.1 billion
drachmas. The cost of a telegram will drop by 20 percent.
The decision to transfer the loss-making business was taken by OTE's
No action against Greece over toy advertising ban
Greece was ultimately vindicated over a ban on the television advertising
of children's toys, imposed from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The issue had been raised with the European Commission following accusations
by toy manufacturers, which claimed that the ban on advertising was
contrary to the free circulation of products in a domestric market,
something that favours Greek products at the expense of products from other
European Union countries.
Greece argued that the choice was up to parents and not children, who are
not in a position to distinguish between "good" and "dangerous" toys.
Prolonged discussions were held with the Commission, which had even
activated the process of resorting to the European Court against Greece.
However, the issue was discussed at the Commission's weekly meeting on
Tuesday. Greek arguments, apart from EU Commissioner Christos Papoutsis,
were supported by Commission President Jacques Santer.
The issue was put to the vote and the Commission ultimately decided to
discontinue the process of taking action against Greece, something that
essentially shelves the issue.
Local rain is forecast in most parts of the country today with snowfall in
the mountainous regions of central and northern Greece. winds variable,
strong to gale force. Light raifall in Athens and snowfall in Mt. Parnis
with temperatures between 3-8C. Rainfall and sleet in Thessaloniki with
temperatures from 0-4C.
Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 275.756
Pound sterling 456.022 Cyprus pd 532.426
French franc 46.670 Swiss franc 192.567
German mark 156.314 Italian lira (100) 15.941
Yen (100) 217.893 Canadian dlr. 193.837
Australian dlr. 182.101 Irish Punt 404.240
Belgian franc 7.575 Finnish mark 51.792
Dutch guilder 138.701 Danish kr. 41.013
Swedish kr. 35.734 Norwegian kr. 38.152
Austrian sch. 22.219 Spanish peseta 1.845
Port. Escudo 1.528