Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-04-26
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 26/04/1998 (ANA)
- 1915 Armenian genocide remembered in Athens, Thessaloniki events
- Bulgarian army commander due for talks
- PASOK secretary blasts 'early elections' rumours
- Olympic Airways pilots urged to end overtime ban
- Defence Minister in FYROM visit
- General Bank decides share capital increase
- Tourism representatives discuss merger trend in industry
- Albanians arrested for series of shop burglaries
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
1915 Armenian genocide remembered in Athens, Thessaloniki events
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos today said that Greeks were
better aware than any other western peoples of the price paid by the
Armenians and its historic significance, addressing an event in Athens
marking the 83rd anniversary of the Armenian genocide by Turkey.
He said Greek-Armenian relations were developing rapidly, were of a defence-
oriented nature, and were not aimed against any third country, while at the
same time they covered a broad raange of activities and sectors, including
economic cooperation, which focussed on the materialisation of Greek
investments in Armenia.
Tsohatzopoulos called on Greek businessmen to invest in and cooperate with
Armenia, following the example set by various state agencies.
"Today, in the wake of globalisation of the economy and the effort of
international organisations to create an environment of security and peace,
Greeks and Armenians all over the world have a duty to develop and
cooperate closely," the minister said.
Parliament president Apostolos Kaklamanis, speaking at the same event, held
under the aegis of the Municipality of Athens, outlined the ties of
friendship between the two peoples and their common struggles for freedom,
democracy and protection of human rights.
"We believe in peace, and are fighting for the smooth and peaceful
coexistence of all nations," Kaklamanis said.
He added, however, that "as long there is a threat and that threat is
manifested in a violent and unprovoked manner, as long as Turkey continues
its barbaric occupation of northern Cyprus and refuses to comply with the
rules of international law and act like a civilised country, we are obliged
to be vigilant and reinforce our defence shielding".
In a similar event in Thessaloniki, the Armenian National Committee of
Greece called on the international community to recognise the genocide of
1.5 million Armenians on April 24, 1915 by Turkish troops in Asia
The Greek parliament recognised the genocide two years ago.
Armenian National Committee speakers also called for the withdrawal of
Turkish troops from and lifting of the blockade on Armenia and Karabakh,
and also for the withdrawal of the Turkish troops from Cyprus.
Bulgarian army commander due for talks
The chief of Bulgaria's army general staff, Lieutenant General Ginio Tonev,
on Monday begins a three-day visit to Athens and talks with Greek
counterpart Lt.-Gen. Manoussos Parayoudakis.
Defence Ministry sources told the ANA the two men would discuss issues of
mutual interest focusing on bilateral relations and developments in the
Tonev would also visit formations, infantry units and archaeological sites
while in Greece.
PASOK secretary blasts 'early elections' rumours
Ruling party PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis on Saturday slammed rumours
of early elections, intimating that the reports originated from inside the
ruling party from those who hoped to consolidate their positions of
Speaking at a party meeting of prefectural and local committees, Skandalidis
painted a picture of internal jostling for power that he said was
endangering the party's hold on the government and the government's
Reports said that Skandalidis's comments were indirect references to
officials close to the prime minister. Skandalidis called for the
"effective transfer of decision-making to collective bodies (of the
He said that government practice was often lacking in social dialogue,
ideological and political preparation and in policy-planning.
He also criticised the "internal opposition" in the ruling party, which, he
said, was working as though it wanted to create a new leadership within the
Political developments are expected to be on the agenda of the meeting to
be chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday of the inner
cabinet and the PASOK executive bureau. The party's Central Committee meets
Olympic Airways pilots urged to end overtime ban
Olympic Airways today urged its pilots to end an overtime ban that has led
to daily flight cancellations and delays, crippling the ailing national
OA's management said in a statement that it had no wish to formally reduce
the airline's operations, but continuing disruption meant that a new flight
schedule would have to be drawn up based on commercial and financial
The pilots' union has so far indicated it will stick to its original strike
plan and order one or more stoppages during the week, probably on Wednesday
Meanwhile Transport and Communications Minister Tasos Mantelis said the
government will not intervene in the operational and commercial plans of
Olympic Airways. He was speaking to a delegation of the airline's pilots
who met him today to set out their objections to the curtailment of flight
routes and their reasons for refusing to work overtime.
The minister emphasised that the recently approved law on restructuring and
streamlining the airline must be implemented, and that the changes
introduced to the bill at the last minute were made on the recommendation
of the OA employees' unions. He urged pilots to sort out problems with
management so that the carrier's operation could return to normal.
The OA management on Saturday did not rule out the possibility of
suspending operations if flight schedules do not return to normal.
The airline's flight attendants' union, meanwhile, has reportedly withdrawn
its threat to start work stoppages on Monday.
Defence Minister in FYROM visit
Greek Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Saturday that a Balkan
peacekeeping force, whose creation was being discussed by regional leaders,
should have the right to act in any country facing a crisis, including its
Tsohatzopoulos was speaking at a news conference in the Former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) after talks with his counterpart, Lazar
FYROM believes that the multi-national force should not intervene to keep
the peace in countries that take part in the group, an ANA report from
The final decision on the peacekeeping force's sphere of activity will be
taken in September at a meeting in Skopje, FYROM's capital, the report
Turning to Kosovo, the two ministers agreed that borders in the Balkans
should remain intact, and that a solution to the crisis should be sought
through an immediate, unconditional start to talks between the two
The talks should aim to secure the greatest degree of autonomy feasible for
Kosovo within the framework of the Yugoslav Federation.
Tsohatzopoulos, who said Athens was willing to contribute to guaranteeingborders
throughout the Balkans, stressed that inhabitants of the region had every
reason to fear the crisis in Kosovo, and its repercussions.
Although the dispute was an internal matter for Yugoslavia to resolve,
Balkan countries and the international community had the right to
contribute to a political solution to the crisis, he said.
Greece and FYROM both opposed any violence or terrorism as a solution,
Setting up a corridor for Albanians fleeing Kosovo was not discussed at the
talks as Greece and FYROM placed emphasis on initiatives to resolve the
crisis and therefore avoid an exodus, Tsohatzopoulos said.
Finally, the two countries agreed that bilateral cooperation should be
promoted, and the armed forces of the two countries could cooperate to
Tsohatzopoulos said a positive outcome to talks in New York would
contribute to closer cooperation between the two countries that had already
begun with signature of an interim agreement, also in New York.
General Bank decides share capital increase
An extroardinary general assembly of shareholders of the General Bank of
Greece today decided an 8.4 billion dr. share capital increase for the
The share capital increase would be effected with the deposit of cash and
the issue of 4,794,380 new common bearer shares with a nominal value of 1,
770 dr. and purchase price of 4,800 dr. per share.
The total revenues from the increase, according to the president of the
board Y. Daskalakis, was estimated at 23 billion dr. and would be used for
the technological upgrading and futher automation of the bank's services.
Part of the revenues would also be used to finance the expamsion and
improvement of the bank's network of overseas branches, particularly in the
Balkan countries, and to reinforce the activities of the General Bank
Following the successful completion of the "tendering book" process for the
sale of 33 percent of the bank's share capital to Greek and foreign
institutional investors, the bank's main shareholder, the Army Share Fund
(Metochiko Tameio Stratou), now holds a 35.5 percent interest from its
previous 68.5 percent.
After the share capital increase is completed, the General Bank's
shareholders will comprise: Army Share Fund 35.5 percent, institutional
investors, insurance funds and small-scale investors 54.5 percent, and the
Interamerican Group 10 percent.
Tourism representatives discuss merger trend in industry
Representatives of tourist agencies from Greece, Armenia, Malta, Turkey and
Cyprus on Saturday met to discuss how to deal with a growing trend in the
tourism industry that may leave domestic tour operators at the mercy of
larger northern European organisations.
Speakers at the Hellenic Association of Tourist and Travel Agencies (HATTA)
conference on "Expansion: development or threat?" said the travel industry -
the third largest sector in Europe - was being transformed by mergers and
buyouts by strong travel organisations primarily based in northern Europe,
such as Neckermann, TUI, LTU and Alltours.
Speakers said that these groups had the power to place demands on local
hoteliers and tourist agents who could comply or face extinction.
This trend was of immediate concern to the countries of southern Europe,
the main destination of package tours by holidaymakers from the north of
Speakers said 75 percent of organised tours in Europe were in the hands of
only 10 tour operators. In Germany, the biggest market for tourists for the
southern states, just two companies control 75 percent of the market. In
the equally important market of Britain, three companies shared 58 percent
while in Belgium one company held 50 percent. These firms were internationally-
oriented, with interests in charter companies, hotels, shipping and retail
In Greece, the problem is particularly acute as most businesses in the
sector are small by European standards and vulnerable to these operators.
Sixty-four percent of Greek hotels have less than 50 beds, while 86 percent
have less than 100. Ninety-eight percent of hotels have staffs of less than
Nikos Skoulas, the secretary-general of the Greek National Tourist
Organisation, told the conference that the Greek tourist agent was "an
endangered species" and said that what was needed was modernisation,
mergers and consortiums between medium-sized tourist businesses, such as
agencies and accomodation.
He urged Greek tour operators to diversify their product and extend the
tourist season and said Greece could take a leaf out of Turkey's book and
create private charter companies with the participation of domestic
hoteliers and agents.
Otherwise, he said, Greek tourist operators were in danger of becoming
simple handmaidens of foreign tour operators, unable to effectively
influence the demand of tourist services for Greece.
Albanians arrested for series of shop burglaries
Two Albanians were arrested on Saturday on suspicion of conducting up to 15
break-ins of stores in downtown Athens.
Police said Lefteris Moukas, 28, and Spyros Votsos, 23, would steal goods
and pass them on to Greek national Panayiotis Mercouris, 36, who would
transfer them to at least two other people involved in selling stolen
Mercouris was also arrested, while police are seeking another two people
involved in the ring.
Moukas is an escapee from Trikala jail and was found in possession of a
fake passport, while Mercouris has been sentenced to a total of 51 months
in jail on past charges of theft.
Overcast weather is forecast throughout the country Monday, with local
showers. Athens and Thessaloniki will be cloudy, with temperatures of 10-19
C and 7-18 C respectively.
Friday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar 310.794 British pound 517.784
Japanese yen(100) 239.528 French franc 51.584
German mark 172.920 Italian lira (100) 17.502
Irish Punt 436.480 Belgian franc 8.388
Finnish mark 56.990 Dutch guilder 153.700
Danish kr. 45.378 Austrian sch. 24.587
Spanish peseta 2.037 Swedish kr. 40.319
Norwegian kr. 41.614 Swiss franc 208.464
Port. Escudo 1.686 Aus. dollar 202.829
Can. dollar 217.228 Cyprus pound 591.351