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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-04-08

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, 08/04/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Pangalos: Decisions on Aegean CBMs "must be taken now"
  • WEU military chiefs' conference ends
  • Turkish military chief calls for dialogue with Athens
  • Elder Karamanlis hospitalised
  • Premier lauds Britain's stance on Greece, Cyprus
  • New Foreign Ministry Internet pages
  • Gov't softens provisions on OA restructuring bill
  • WWF calls for protection of Strophadia islets
  • Gov't endorses Dr 351 bln public procurements plan for 1998
  • Greeks back food boycott, consumer watchdog says
  • 20 percent of Hellenic Petroleum on the bourse
  • Tourist Panorama '98 begins today
  • IOBE study sees recession in Greek fur industry
  • Greece outlines economy to US investors
  • Greek stocks slip on profit-making
  • Peloponnese Bank launches operation
  • Greece's black economy accounts for a third of GDP-EU
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Pangalos: Decisions on Aegean CBMs "must be taken now"

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said yesterday that talks within the framework of NATO on the adoption of confidence-building measures (CBMs) in the Aegean had progressed to the point that "decisions must now be taken."

"If the Turkish side does not try to create faits accomplis on other matters pertaining to national sovereignty, we shall be able to adopt favourable measures which will improve the climate in relations between the two countries," Mr. Pangalos said, citing as an example of such measures the extension of a summer moratorium on military exercises in the Aegean from two to four months

Mr. Pangalos, when asked to comment on special US presidential envoy Richard Holbooke's use of the term "Cyprus" instead of "The Republic of Cyprus," he said that he has also used the term often.

Furthermore, Mr. Pangalos said the important point is Mr. Holbrooke's reassurance that the US government recognises only the Republic of Cyprus.

The minister stated that the US view, of giving up the effort to reach a solution of the Cyrpus problem, is only natural, in case that there will be no progress. He called, however, on the US to pressure Ankara on the matter.

Mr. Pangalos noted that it is not important what Mr. Holbrooke meant on the issue of the Cyrpus-EU relations, since this is a matter involving the European Union and the European countries.

He added that it would be good that such allusions were fewer and the US should activate the independent arguments they have so as to bend Ankara's intransigence.

Mr. Pangalos, commenting on the proposed warplanes fight moratorioum over Cyprus, said he never spoke of such a moratorioum, rather he proposed a non- flight zone as it exists over Iraq with provision of who will have the responsibility of enforcement and control.

Mr. Pangalos said that his proposal was misunderstood and he repeated that US State Department spokesman James Rubin's comment was not connected to his proposal.

He added his belief that his idea has not lost every possibility of being adopted.

WEU military chiefs' conference ends

A meeting of national defence general staff shiefs from Western European Union (WEU) member-states, associate members and observer nations came to a conclusion yesterday afternoon, held under the chairmanship of Greek military chief Gen. Athanasios Tzoganis.

Greece holds the organisation's rotating six-month presidency.

The meeting, at an Athens seaside hotel, focused on issues concerning the upgrading of the WEU's operational capabilities and the strengthening of relations between the WEU, NATO and the European Union.

In parallel, the presence of the WEU group in Albania was decided for an extra year, until April 12, 1999. The group is responsible for training Albania's police forces.

The advantages were also presented from the possible participation of the WEU's Military Committee President in NATO's Military Committee. It was considered that this would contribute to and strengthen cooperation between the WEU and NATO in common opera tional and military issues. Participation must be guided by the object and not by processes. The 18 military chiefs were briefed on the development of a series of issues such as the harmonisation of mechanisms and crises management processes.

Other issues were the principles and clauses for the creation of headquarters, for an operational and regular force, which will implement the WEU's missions.

The preconditions for the participation of candidate countries in NATO, namely the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, in the WEU's work concerning cooperation with NATO.

Proposals made by military chiefs will be raised for approval at the conference of foreign affairs and defence ministers, to be held on Rhodes on May 11-12.

Turkish military chief calls for dialogue with Athens

Turkish military chief Gen. Ismail Hakki Karadayi said yesterday that all problems between Athens and Ankara could and should be resolved through bilateral meetings and well-intentioned dialogue.

Gen. Karadayi was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the WEU meeting. The Turkish general had a meeting on Monday with his Greek counterpart, Gen. Tzoganis, which provided an opportunity for an exchange of views on bilateral and military issues.

Referring yesterday to what he called his "informal" meeting with Gen. Tzoganis, Gen. Karadayi said they had both expressed their "positive stance" regarding possible future meetings.

On the results of the WEU meeting, Gen. Karadayi said Turkey would be taking part in exercises scheduled by the organisation's headquarters on equal terms with the other WEU states.

Turkey is an associate member of the WEU. Only EU countries can become full members.

The meeting also focused on the WEU's role as the potential defence arm of the EU, its involvement in NATO planning and the use of NATO equipment in peac ekeeping and humanitarian missions.

Elder Karamanlis hospitalised

Former president of the republic and main opposition New Democracy founder Constantine Karamanlis was admitted yesterday into an Athens hospital with a respiratory infection at 4:30 p.m.

According to reports, the decision to hospitalise Mr. Karamanlis, 91, was taken after a cold last week developed into a slight chest pain and persistent cough.

ND leader and nephew of the statesman, Costas Karamanlis, said "all will go well" after his visit at the Hygeia Hospital. Former ND leader Miltiades Evert, after visiting the former president said that he is in good spirits and the fever has subsided.

Premier lauds Britain's stance on Greece, Cyprus

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday stressed what he called Britain's support of Cyprus' European Union accession, adding that in general terms, London follows a pro-Greece and pro-Cyprus policy.

The premier's statements came at the end of a European Union socialist prime ministers' conference here, where Mr. Simitis met and discussed the Cyprus issue, among others, with his British counterpart Tony Blair.

In comments regarding the conference, he said that it examined socialist PMs' possibilities on affecting EU policy. He added that there was a common consensus on combatting unemployment.

Mr. Simitis said that the conference agenda included the possibility of increasing employment in the EU.

He noted that there were disagreements on both issues and noted that those focused on the difference of opinion between the EU's north and south, as well as between those who favoured harsher fiscal policies and those who where not willing to take furth er measures in that direction.

The Greek prime minister also noted that neither the EU as a group, or Greece by itself, can survive without international cooperation against the international speculative capital.

New Foreign Ministry Internet pages

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday unveiled his ministry's new Internet 'bulletin', entitled "Cyber thesis." Mr. Pangalos also congratulated foreign ministry spokesman Costas Bikas for his initiative and for overseeing the creation of the site.

The page is written in English and is directed mainly at politicians, businesspeople and opinion-makers overseas. Additionally, there is also a special page listing the stock markets of southeastern Europe.

Gov't softens provisions on OA restructuring bill

Transport Minister Tassos Mantelis last night introduced milder provisions to a controversial draft bill on restructuring Olympic Airways, during a debate in Parliament.

According to the provisions, all previous collective bargaining agreements and labour regulations are abolished upon publication of the law in the government gazette, rather than by decision of the company's board, thereby extending the life of provisions currently in force.

He also withdrew a stipulation that OA employees have to state within five days whether they accept the new labour regulations.

Meanwhile, the airline's employees are staging a 24-hour strike tomorrow to protest against the restructuring bill along with civil servants and workers covered by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE).

Parliament will vote on the bill the same day.

Covered in the proposals are general provisions in the airline's regulations; flexible working hours for ground staff; a wage freeze for 1998-2000 at 1997 levels; a cut in a staff meals allowance backdated to April 1; and a commitment by ground staff to provide 40-64 hours of free labour annually in 1998-2000.

According to reports, the representatives of the Flight Attendants Union were set to sign a draft agreement with the airline today, after agreeing on proposals regarding the composition of aircraft crews and accepting the curbing of meal benefits.

Meanwhile, the 24-hour strike of employees of the Civil Aviation Unions Federation (OSPA) ended at midnight yesterday, while at the same time a 24- hour strike was due to start for Olympic Aviation stewards.

According to Olympic Airways planning, 64 domestic and 34 international flights will be carried out today. Twenty-one domestic and two international flights will be cancelled. Passengers scheduled to travel today must communicate with the offices of Olympic Airways first.

According to data provided by the airline, over the period between Easter Wednesday and Easter Sunday 36,000 seats have been booked for international flights and 39,000 seats for domestic flights so far.

WWF calls for protection of Strophadia islets

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Hellas yesterday cited the need for protection of the natural and cultural environment of the Strophadia islets, located south of the Ionian island of Zakynthos.

WWF's statement came in the wake of church organisations' complaints of illegal hunting on the islets, which are part of the European Union programme "Nature Network 2000."

Gov't endorses Dr 351 bln public procurements plan for 1998

Greece has adopted a public procurements programme totalling 351 billion drachmas for 1998.

This year's programme, which was announced three months earlier than last year in order to hold tenders by the end of 1998, was formally endorsed by a development ministry committee.

A ministry statement yesterday said that measures had been taken to ensure greater transparency in all contracts exceeding one billion drachmas and a unified process of procurement had been adopted for certain products.

Greeks back food boycott, consumer watchdog says

More than 17 percent of Greeks around the country refused to buy fresh food on the first day of a nationwide boycott to protest against price rises stemming from a drachma devaluation and adverse weather, the Consumer Institute (INKA) said yesterday.

INKA, which called the five-day boycott that began on Monday, reported that in some areas nearly 38 percent of consumers took part in the protest covering meat and farm produce.

"The positive response by consumers to INKA's call for the boycott exceeded even the most optimistic forecast," the watchdog group said in a statement.

A survey showed that nine out of ten consumers agreed with the boycott and seven out of ten thought the results would have a positive effect on prices.

INKA called the boycott in order to force prices down through lower demand.

The sharp price hikes stem from the drachma's devaluation on March 14 and wintery weather conditions in the same month, which also led to profiteering.

20 percent of Hellenic Petroleum on the bourse

Development Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday announced the listing of 20 per cent of the Hellenic Petroleum S.A. company on the Athens Stock Exchange.

She was speaking during a parliamentary committee meeting on public utilities (DEKOs).

Replying to deputies of the main opposition New Democracy party, who called for a 40 per cent participation in the bourse, Ms Papandreou said that relevant legislation sets 25 per cent as the maximum percentage.

Tourist Panorama '98 begins today

The "Tourist Panorama '98" will start at Peace and Friendship indoor stadium in Faliron for the third consecutive year today.

The event is the largest exhibition for domestic tourism.

Exhibitors are estimated to number about 600 - hotels, tourist offices, cruise ships, yachts, etc - while Crete will be the honoured region this year, and will be promoted in a special space.

The exhibition, organised by the Organisation D&G Kalofolias, will be held under the sponsorship of the Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT) and will be supported by practically all of the country's tourist agencies.

The purpose of the exhibition is to bring tourist enterprises and local tourist destinations into immediate contact with the public. To this end, there will be several offers and special prices for visitors.

The "Tourist Panorama" exhibition was visited by 56,000 people and 4,500 commercial representatives last year. It will last until Sunday and will be open to the public from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. today; 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. tomorrow and on Friday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Sunday.

IOBE study sees recession in Greek fur industry

Greece's fur industry is currently in a recessionary phase, plagued by pressures on prices and increased international competition, primarily from South Korea and Argentina, according to a recent sector study by the Economic and Industrial Research Instit ute (IOBE).

IOBE adds that the sector's significance is decisive for the economic, social and demographic development of western Macedonia.

According to the study, most domestic fur-producing units (about 5,000, with the majority being small handicraft manufacturers and home-based businesses) are concentrated in the wider region of Kastoria and Siatista. About 15,000 people are employed eit her directly or indirectly in the trade, accounting for almost 70 per cent of total employment in the region.

The sector produces about two million pieces of readymade fur clothing and accessories, while 90 per cent of this quantity is exported and the remaining 10 per cent is sold in Greece - 8 per cent to tourists and only 2 per cent to Greek nationals.

Total exchange revenues in the sector exceeded 218 million Ecu, according to 1996 figures. The main export markets are Russia, Germany and the United States.

Greece outlines economy to US investors

The Greek stock market is a vehicle for investment opportunities in the Balkans, Athens Stock Exchange president Manolis Xanthakis told an international forum in New York yesterday.

American businessmen and investors have shown growing interest in the Greek economy, particularly after the drachma's entry into the European Union's exchange rate mechanism and a 13.8 percent devaluation linked to entry, both on March 14.

Mr. Xanthakis said that more than 3,000 Greek firms were active in southeastern Europe, many of which were subsidiaries of companies listed on the Athens bourse.

National Economy Undersecretary Alekos Baltas outlined major progress made by the economy since 1996, particularly in regional development and in the role played by Thessaloniki in promoting economic relations with neighbouring countries.

He also detailed investment opportunities that have arisen since the country's entry into the ERM.

"Greece offers more opportunities because of its strategic position in southeast Europe and its increasingly profitable relations with its Balkan neighbours," Mr. Baltas told the forum.

Former US ambassador to Greece, Thomas Niles, briefed participants on the economic and political factors influencing the investment climate in southeastern Europe.

State Ionian Bank of Greece was one of the forum's sponsors.

The bank's governor, Haris Stamatopoulos, underlined the progress made in a modernisation and restructuring process for the country's banking system.

The Union of Greek Industry's chairman, Iason Stratos, spoke of a new favourable climate in the country for foreign investments after the government's decision to participate in the single European currency by 2001. The managing director of Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), George Chrissolouris, presented the company's programme to upgrade the national telecoms network and introduce new services.

He also outlined OTE's prospects in the fully liberalised telecoms market by 2001, and its role as a major player in the Balkans.

American economists and analysts praised the country's economic performance and expressed optimism that Greece would participate in European economic and monetary union by 2001, as planned.

Greek stocks slip on profit-taking

Greek equities ended slightly lower on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday as profit-taking halted Monday's fresh record-breaking rise on the general index.

Traders said market sentiment remained positive and that investors were turning to smaller capitalisation stocks.

The general index ended 0.29 percent off at 2,129.08 points. Sector indices were mixed.

Banks fell 0.53 percent, Insurance rose 1.16 percent, Investment was 0.15 percent up, Leasing dropped 1.41 percent, Industrials eased 0.46 percent, Construction rose 2.95 percent, Miscellaneous fell 1.88 percent and Holding was 3.21 percent higher.

The parallel market index for small cap companies fell 1.28 percent while the FTSE/ASE-20 index dropped 0.33 percent to 1,262.74.

Trading was active with turnover at 62.5 billion drachmas. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 124 to 113 with another 31 issues unchanged.

Sarandopoulos Mills, Hellenic Biscuits, Halcor, Varyte, Alte, Delta Informatics, Hellenic Sugar and Attica Aluminium scored the biggest percentage gains at the day's 8.0 percent limit up.

Daring, Bank of Athens, Aspis Invest and Papoutsanis suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 38,400 drachmas, Ergobank at 24,050, Alpha Credit Bank at 25,940, Delta Dairy at 3,700, Titan Cement at 23,475, Intracom at 19,995 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 8, 010.

Peloponnese Bank launches operations

Newly-established Peloponnese Bank opened its doors to the public for the first time, it said in a statement yesterday.

The Tripolis-based bank, set up as a company with a broad share base, aims to focus on investment programmes for development in the Peloponnese.

It also offers a wide range of retail banking products.

Greece's black economy accounts for a third of GDP-EU

Greece's black economy accounts for one third of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), placing the country at the top of the European Union's league, a European Commission statement said yesterday.

The statement said that undeclared financial activity in Greece was estimated at between 29-35 percent of the country's GDP, substantially higher than an EU average of 7-16 percent.

Italy was in second place with a black economy percentage ranging between 20-26 percent of GDP, followed by Spain with a 10-23 percent rate.

The Commission said that the black economy flourished in sectors in which many people worked like tourism, hotels and restaurants, self-employed professions, services, transport and textiles.

Immigrants, pensioners, women and youth were the major categories of the population that were mainly employed in the black economy.

WEATHER

Fine weather is forecast for most parts of the country today with scattered clouds in western, central and northern Greece. Fog in the morning. Winds southerly, light to moderate, turning strong in the Ionian Sea. Partly cloudy in Athens with temperatures between 12-25C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 10-23C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's closing rates (buying): U.S. dollar 318.293 British pound 529.847 Japanese Yen(100) 237.683 French franc 51.608 German mark 173.005 Italian lira (100) 17.528 Irish Punt 436.480 Belgian franc 8.379 Finnish mark 56.990 Dutch guilder 153.601 Danish kr. 45.380 Austrian sch. 24.592 Spanish peseta 2.040 Swedish kr. 39.805 Norwegian kr. 41.616 Swiss franc 207.859 Port. Escudo 1.689 AUS dollar 209.014 Can. dollar 224.529 Cyprus pound 594.208

(C.E.)


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