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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-04-29

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, 29/04/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • New Archbishop of Athens and All Greece elected
  • Bank of Greece annual report in parliament for first time
  • Greece dismisses latest Turkish provocation in the Aegean
  • EU programmes in the Aegean
  • Tsohatzopoulos meets Slovakian parliamentarian
  • Bulgarian official says new formula needed for oil pipeline
  • Skandalidis-Burns meeting
  • Tzoganis winds up Yugoslav visit
  • Simitis says gov't will guarantee effective social policy
  • OTE share sale to institutional investors
  • OA, pilots reach agreement on overtime, summer schedule
  • Toll post officials to stage Mayday weekend strike
  • Papantoniou rejects talk of new devaluation
  • Greek stocks rebound to gain 6.31 pct
  • Northern Greece uses EU funds for Internet tourism access
  • Development ministry aims to improve competitiveness in 1998
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

New Archbishop of Athens and all Greece elected

Metropolitan Christodoulos of Dimitrias and Almyros (Volos region) was yesterday elected Archbishop of Athens and All Greece in the third and final round of voting by the Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greece's Holy Synod.

Christodoulos was elected by the country's 77 Metropolitans to succeed Archbishop Serapheim, who died earlier this month.

In a speech after his election and amidst applause by a crowd that had gathered outside the Athens Metropolitan Cathedral, the new Archbishop reassured the clergy and laypeople that he felt strong enough to serve the interests of the Church and its open ing towards the people, especially the younger generations.

Christodoulos also said he will make efforts to acheive closer relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Christodoulos was born in Xanthi in 1939 and studied law and theology in Athens. After serving for seven years as a secretary for the Holy Synod, he was elected Metropolitan of Dimitrias in 1974.

He made a name for himself due to his work with young people and his "openings" to the scientific world, workers, families and the poor.

The new Archbishop adopted and implemented a wide-ranging programme to combat unemployment, drug abuse and the spread of AIDS. Christodoulos speaks several languages, is a lecturer in canon law at Thessaloniki University and has often appeared on television to discuss ecclesiastical matters.

Bank of Greece annual report in Parliament for first time

Bank of Greece Governor Lucas Papademos yesterday submitted the Bank of Greece's annual monetary policy report to Parliament and the Cabinet for the first time, a move complying with its new autonomous status.

"This is an act of democratic control," said Mr. Papademos, after handing the report to Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.

Submitting the report to Parliament marked the beginning, in practice, of the central bank's autonomous status, in line with European Union regulations, Mr. Kaklamanis said.

The governor says in his report that the effective control of inflation, with a view to bringing it down to under 2 per cent by the end of 1999, and the attainment of monetary stability were the basic aims of the central bank's monetary policy.

The report urges the government to apply a restrictive monetary policy and implement measures for structural reform. A substantial reduction in inflation requires greater flexibility in the labour market, but also a reserved pricing policy by firms and greater market competition, the report stresses.

Greece dismisses latest Turkish provocation in the Aegean

Greece yesterday dismissed the la-test Turkish provocation in the Aegean as a continuation of Turkey's policy, aimed at trying to create an issue of supposed "grey areas" in the Aegean.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas was commenting on Turkey's dispute of Greek sovereignty of four Greek islands in the eastern Aegean.

About one month ago, Turkish authorities notified a Greek diplomat assigned in Ankara that they questioned Greece's sovereignty of the islands Fournoi, Agathonisi, Farmakonisi and Pserimos.

Turkey disputed Greece's sovereignty of the four islands during a meeting on March 26 in Ankara between the Greek embassy diplomat and a Turkish foreign ministry official. During the course of the meeting, called so Athens could lodge a formal protest to Ankara about violations of Greek airspace by Turkish aircraft, the Turkish official raised the issue of Greek helicopters landing on five islands, which he referred to by using Turkish names.

The Greek diplomat asked him if he was implying whether the islands in question were Turkish, only to receive the reply that they had Turkish names.

It turned out that four of the islands were in fact Greek, inhabited and part of Greece by virtue of the Treaty of Lausanne (1923) and the Treaty of Paris (1947).

EU programmes in the Aegean

The Aegean ministry yesterday announced a series of projects for Aegean islands, including a programme of environmental tourism on 14 rocky islets and partly funded by the European Union.

Infrustructure projects on Pserimos, Agathonisi and Farmakonisi, costing 1.6 billion drachmas, will be constructed by the ministry with majority funding from the EU's Interreg II programme.

On her part, Aegean Minister Elisabeth Papazoi said Ankara was 15 years late in lodging complaints about EU funding of works on these populated islets.

During the past 15 years, she said, infrastructure projects had been executed in the region with national and EU funding.

Tsohatzopoulos meets Slovakian parliamentarian

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos held talks with the president of the Slovakian Parliament's defence committee, Imrieh Andrejeak, on the prospect of Slovakia's accession to NATO and the European Union.

Other talks focused on developments in the Balkans and the situation in Kosovo in particular.

In a statement, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos reiterated Athens support for the prospect of Slovakia's accession to these organisations.

Another issue concerned the creation of regional security institutions, particularly in regions where there is no NATO structure or other security institutions that can constitute additional pressure in tackling flashpoints, such as the Balkans.

Both Mr. Tsohatzopoulos and Mr. Andrejeak praised the very good level of relations between Greece and Slovakia.

Bulgarian official says new formula needed for oil pipeline

Deputy Bulgarian Prime Minister Yevgeni Bakartziev said yesterday that his country, Greece and Russia would have to seek a new formula for promoting construction of the Burgas to Alexandroupolis oil pipeline. He made the statement to Bulgarian national radio, in view of an upcoming new round of negotiations in Athens early next month. He added that major questions remained regarding the feasibility of this strategic plan, chiefly the fact that following the privatisation of almost all large Russian oil companies, Russia could not guarantee the minimum 15 million tonnes of oil on an annual basis necessary to make the project economically viable.

Skandalidis-Burns meeting

Ruling PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis met with US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns yesterday afternoon on the occasion of the former's upcoming visit to the United States, at the head of a PASOK and government delegation.

In a statement afterwards, Mr. Skandalidis said that Mr. Burns offered his good services for better organising the delegation's contacts with US contacts.

Mr. Skandalidis said that the question of Turkey's dispute of Greek sovereignty for certain islands was raised at the meeting.

He added that he was satisfied by the reply he received from Mr. Burns on the positions set out.

Tzoganis winds up Yugoslav visit

Greece's Chief of General Staff General Athanasios Tzoganis yesterday wound up a three-day official visit to Belgrade in which he met with Yugoslav Defence Minister Pavle Bulatovic.

The Greek military chief yesterday also met with his Yugoslav counterpart, General Momcilo Perisic and discussed the military and political situation in the region, as well as the latest developments in Kosovo.

According to an official statement from the Yugoslav side, there was agreement on many issues and both men also agreed that a political resolution of problems was the best way to safeguard peace and security in the region.

Views were also exchanged prospects for cooperation and developing ties between the armed forces of both countries. Both men said that cooperation to date between the armed forces had been "very good".

Simitis says gov't will guarantee effective social policy

The government aims to establish a thorough, modern and effective social net of protection, which will not be dependent on the achievement of high rates of economic growth, but will be a condition for better living standards for all, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday.

Speaking at a Parliamentary debate on the government's social policy, called for by the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos), Mr. Simitis said he was against a shrinking of the welfare state, but also against a proliferation of 'pork barrel' programmes.

"A central point of our effort for social justice is a fairer economic policy," he said, stressing that the government was increasing social welfare without greater economic cost. He pointed out that Greece devotes 21 per cent of GDP on social spending, and questioned the Synaspismos claim that Greece is at the bottom of the list in the EU as regards social spending.

The prime minister said the inflation rate was now at the lowest level of the last 25 years, real incomes had risen by 3 per cent and pensions by 7.2 per cent during the 1994-97 period.

He acknowledged that unemployment had risen "marginally" by 0.6 per cent in the last four years, but said the government planned to subsidise 50,000 jobs for young people aged 20-27 at a cost of 90 billion drachmas, with supplementary training progra mmes for 20,000 jobless, costing 30 billion, and subsidies for 12,000 positions for the long-term unemployed.

OTE share sale to institutional investors

Yesterday's procedure of selling 16 million shares of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) to institutional investors with the block trading method met with difficulties, since the state decreased the sale price to 8,400 drachmas,instead of 8,700 drachmas which it had announced as the minimum price possible.

Fourteen million shares were ultimately sold at the above price and the remaining two million will be provided to the state-run utility's employees.

Conversely, the National Bank of Greece announced that the "flotation was completed successfully by the Greek state...to Greek and foreign institutional investors."

The bank also notes that the quantity of shares not sold was intentionally held back for OTE employees, as part of the utility's long-term programme of providing incentives.

OA, pilots reach agreement on overtime, summer schedule

Olympic Airways' management and the pilots' union yesterday reached agreement on the issues of overtime work and on meeting the needs of the national carrier's summer schedule.

It is now expected that the recent labour unrest will come to an end and that flights will resume as normal.

According to reports confirmed by Transport Minister Tassos Mantelis, the state-run airline is looking for 25 billion drachmas in order to meet its payroll and fuel costs.

He added that with the revenue expected from the resumption of its normal schedule, OA will be able to meet its operational liabilities.

Pilots, however, expressed a view that recently introduced legislation will not help rehabilitate the loss-making company, which will now require extensive hirings after a mass exodus of staff over the past few weeks.

Toll post officials to stage Mayday weekend strike

Toll-post workers will begin a strike tomorrow due to end on Sunday. Motorists will not have to pay toll fees on roads throughout the country during the long holiday weekend.

Papantoniou rejects talk of new devaluation

National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday dismissed speculation of a new drachma devaluation circulating in financial markets for several days.

Speaking at a press conference after a meeting of the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Mr. Papantoniou dismissed the talk as purely speculative and lacking any concrete base.

He said there were two categories of speculation: the first that Greece was negotiating to join the euro currency in 1999; and the second that the drachma's parity in the European Rate Mechanism would be adjusted at a weekend European Union summit.

Greek stocks rebound to gain 6.31 pct

Greek equities drastically changed course yesterday and ended higher after shedding more than 12.0 percent in the last two sessions.

The Athens general index ended 6.31 percent higher at 2,445.80 points reversing an early 4.0 percent fall, helped by a wave of massive buying orders from foreign and domestic institutional investors late in the session.

Dealers said the market was extremely nervous following talk of a new drachma devaluation linked to a weekend European Union summit to launch the euro.

The government and the central bank have dismissed the rumours in a bid to restore confidence to the market. Trading was heavy with turnover at 98.8 billion drachmas.

Sector indices scored gains. Banks rose 6.61 percent, Leasing was 4.85 percent up, Insurance soared 7.98 percent, Investment rose 5.91 percent, Construction increased 3.67 percent, Industrials jumped 7.53 percent, Miscellaneous rose 6.35 percent and Hol ding was 7.05 percent higher.

The parallel market index rose 4.24 percent, and the FTSE/ASE 20 blue chip index ended 6.19 percent up at 1,472.74.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 198 to 49 with another 15 issues unchanged.

Papastratos, Aluminium of Greece, Titan Cement, Ionian Bank, Ergobank, Alpha Credit Bank, National Bank of Greece and Piraeus Bank scored the biggest gains hitting the day's 8.0 percent limit up.

Sato, Intertyp, Agrinio Metalplastic and Remek suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 52,263 drachmas, Ergobank at 26,330, Alpha Credit Bank at 28,566, Delta Dairy at 4,282, Titan Cement at 25,056, Intracom at 18,900 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 8, 890.

In the domestic money market, the drachma continued losing ground against most foreign currencies.

The Greek currency ended 0.32 percent lower against the Ecu. It was down against the DMark and the US dollar by 0.17 and 0.23 percent respectively.

Interbank rates edged higher following a reported 700 million DMark capital outflow at the central bank's drachma fixing.

Northern Greece uses EU funds for Internet tourism access

The northern prefectures of Kavala, Drama and Xanthi will offer tourism services on the Internet throught a joint European Union funded programme.

MAT-Macedonia and Thrace Tourist Promotion via Internet is a system to promote the tourism sector by offering information and services to participating enterprises.

The system envisages installation of a med server, and three workstations in Thessaloniki, Kozani and Komotini.

Development ministry aims to improve competitiveness in 1998

The Development Ministry plans to focus in 1998 on improving competitiveness in business after a rise in industrial production and exports in the last two years combined with a steady improvement in quality.

Development Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday released a ministry report on 1996-97 and outlined her plans for industry, commerce and tourism.

The ministry's priorities for 1998 are as follows:


Speedier privatisation through a flotation of up to 20 percent in Hellenic Petroleum by June 15
Promotion of ministry investments in a chemicals unit and in renewable energy
Creation of a new legal framework to cover the operation of industries in the Attica region.

WEATHER

Scattered showers and rain storms are forecast for most parts of Greece today. Winds variable, moderate to strong. Athens will be rainy with temperatures between 15-21C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 14-19C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 313.472 British pound 521.832 Japanese yen(100) 238.179 French franc 52.132 German mark 174.592 Italian lira (100) 17.692 Irish Punt 440.547 Belgian franc 8.470 Finnish mark 57.605 Dutch guilder 155.446 Danish kr. 45.799 Austrian sch. 24.840 Spanish peseta 2.059 Swedish kr. 40.513 Norwegian kr. 41.991 Swiss franc 210.378 Port. Escudo 1.706 Aus. dollar 201.837 Can. dollar 217.506 Cyprus pound 596.192

(C.E.)


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