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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-07-21

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, 21/07/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Athens calls for implementation of UN resolutions in Cyprus
  • Tirana requests Athens' mediation for end to Kosovo violence
  • US initiative to defuse tension in Cyprus
  • Greece proposes new coastal road link to Albania
  • New Orthodox Metropolitans appointed in Albania
  • Greek expatriate politicians arrive for conference
  • Tzoumakas requests more EU money for forests' protection
  • More fishermen in Greece per capita than rest of EU
  • Intrakom, Alpha Credit cooperation
  • Strintzis Lines share capital increase
  • Unemployment jumps to 9.8 percent in June
  • Greek stocks surge for third session, again post new record
  • State telecom workers to strike over new float
  • Auction of 15-yr bonds brings lower rate
  • Gov't sees tourism to Greece rising 15 pct in 1998
  • Insurance firms merge
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Athens calls for implementation of UN resolutions in Cyprus

Greece said yesterday that it was time for the international community to contribute to implementation of United Nations resolutions regarding the division and continuing occupation of a third of the Cyprus Republic.

Speaking on the 24th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of the island, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said it was time for the impasse in the resolution of the problem to be overcome.

Mr. Reppas said the presence of Turkish government officials, fighter planes and warships in the occupied sector of Cyprus on the anniversary of the invasion was a "sign of Turkey's weakness".

"It does not only confirm that (Turkey) illegally occupies a section of the island but also proves that Turkey has no intention of contributing to a solution," Mr. Reppas said.

Tirana requests Athens' mediation for end to Kosovo violence

Albania requested from Athens yesterday to mediate in efforts to end violence in the troubled Serbian province of Kosovo, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos told reporters here after meeting with his Albanian counterpart Pask al Milo.

"Mr. Milo asked the Greek government to exercise its influence on Belgrade to defuse the crisis and work towards a settlement of the crisis," Mr. Pangalos said, adding that this was Greece's position.

"A solution has to be found through dialogue," he said, adding that Mr. Milo had agreed with this approach.

"It is imperative that acts of violence cease," Mr. Pangalos added, stressing that he would meet with representatives of the Kosovo Albanians later in Tirana.

Mr. Pangalos said that acts of violence must stop and there should be an open dialogue in search of a solution acceptable to all sides.

Mr. Pangalos reminded that Greece had raised the issue of Kosovo with the European Union four years ago which, however, "always shows a disposition of delay."

"The EU has grave responsibilities for not tackling the problem in time," Mr. Pangalos added.

US initiative to defuse tension in Cyprus

The US government will take an initiative to defuse tension on Cyprus, the president of the European Union (EU) Council said here yesterday.

Austrian FM Wolfgang Schussel told a Europarliament Foreign Affairs Committee meeting that the EU has agreed on this initiative.

He revealed that the decision was taken at a meeting in Washington last Friday between the EU troika's political affairs chiefs and their US counterparts.

The EU troika is made up of the former presidency (Britain), the current presidency (Austria) and Germany, who will take over the next six-month rotating EU presidency in January.

Mr. Schussel said that they had agreed "to make every effort to discourage the arms race" in Cyprus and that "the Americans would take action to defuse tension."

Greece proposes new coastal road link to Albania

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday proposed the construction of a new road to link the northwestern Greek port of Igoumenitsa to Trieste via Albania in order to boost investments and exports.

At the start a two-day visit to Tirana, Mr. Pangalos told Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo that the Greek government would work to secure European Union financing for the joint project. The new road would run along the Dalmatian coast.

The two officials also discussed the construction of three new border posts on the Greek-Albanian border and the creation of a free-movement zone along a 25-kilometre stretch of the border.

Accompanying Mr. Pangalos to the neighbouring country is a 16-member delegation of Greek businessmen who are due to have talks with members of the Albanian government on spurring business links.

Across-the-board cooperation between Greece and Albania was robust and many commitments under bilateral protocols had been met, Mr. Pangalos told reporters.

New Orthodox Metropolitans appointed in Albania

The first official members of the Autocephalus Albanian Orthodox Church's Holy Synod held their inaugural meeting here Saturday, after the enthronement of Metropolitan Ignatios of Berat, Vlore and Kaninis.

During the historic meeting, the Holy Synod decided to accept the resignations of Metropolitans Alexandros of Gjirokaster and Christodoulos of Korce, who were rejected by the Albanian government as they were not Albanian nationals.

It should be noted that Ignatios is an Albanian national and speaks Albanian.

In their place, the Holy Synod appointed Albanian nationals Ioannis Peluci, 43, and Kosmas Kirio, 77.

The first is the assistant director of the Albanian Church's Theological Academy and a graduate of the Greek Orthodox Church of America Holy Cross School of Theology. The second is the bishop of Appolonia, who had continued to perform his religious duties during the severe persecution of the Hoxha regime.

Greek expatriate politicians arrive for conference

The second session of the World Hellenic Interparliamentary Union started in Vouliagmeni resort, south of Athens, yesterday.

The event is attended by 40 Greek expatriate politicians elected to foreign parliaments and hailing from Australia, Canada, the United States, Ukraine, Albania, Georgia, Romania, South Africa, Kenya, Argentina, Peru, the Netherlands, Sweden, Yugoslavia and Lithuania.

The session was inaugurated by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou who said that issues concerning multi-culturalism were discussed at the session, namely, respect for the culture of each people separately. He added that not only to maintain our right to culture but also to strengthen the tolerance of the foreigner from another.

"It is necessary for us to practically utilise Greek diaspora. Not that it has not had a strong presence in affairs in Greece until now, but we will strengthen the utilisation of Greek potential to enable us to be linked to latest developments at a world level," Mr. Papandreou said.

The morning session was also attended by the organisation's president and Australian State MP Demetri Dollis and the president of the Council of Overseas Hellenes (SAE) Andrew Athens.

The Greek expatriates showed particular interest in Greek national issues, underlined the aggressiveness of Turkey and referred to the issue of a nuclear plant being established in a neighbouring country and the dangers attached to it. They also comment ed on the olympic truce and the Olympic Games.

The second session will be concluded on July 27 since the participants will visit Thrace, Hios and Cyprus as of July 25.

Finally, Mr. Papandreou said an Internet site will be created showcasing issues of concern for expatriate Greek politicians, while an information bulletin regarding Athens' relations with countries in which the expatriate politicians reside will be dist ributed every three months through Greek embassies.

Tzoumakas requests more EU money for forests' protection

Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas yesterday requested larger and more effective EU funding for the protection of European forests from fires.

Mr. Tzoumakas stated his request during the first meeting of the agriculture ministers' council.

The ministers also discussed the issue of quotas, focusing on milk production quotas.

Finally, they dealt with the current farm credits system, and how it will be affected by the introduction of the euro.

More fishermen in Greece per capita than rest of EU

Greece has the highest per capita ratio of fishermen in the European Union, according to yesterday's Eurostat announcement.

Eurostat noted that 1 per cent of the Greek workforce, or about 40,000 individuals, are fishermen, while another 10 per cent are employed in the sector.

Figures also noted that the average per capita consumption of fish in Greece stands at 24 per cent, while the EU average is 22 per cent.

According to the report, seafood production rose by 124 per cent during the 1970-1995 period, while the largest producer is Denmark with 25 per cent of the Union's 8.1-million-ton total.

Intrakom, Alpha Credit cooperation

Two of the most visible business groups in Greece, Intrakom and Alpha Credit, are turning their attention to sectors of the Greek informatics sector, especially in terms of developing products and services in the sports sector.

According to reports, this alliance has already been finalised, utilising know-how in the local software market of Intrasoft and Delta Informatics, a subsidiary of Alpha Credit group, in developing and supporting services for sports events.

Business penetration of the sports market by the two groups will be carried out through the creation of a joint company entitled Infospor. The two companies will participate in the company on a 50-50 basis, without the possibility of small stakes for in dividuals ruled out at a later stage.

Strintzis Lines share capital increase

An unscheduled general assembly of Strintzis Lines yesterday approved an increase in the company's share capital by 2.9 billion drachmas.

To this end, the company which is listed in the Athens bourse, will issue 14,800,000 new shares to be sold at 2,000 drachmas each.

Unemployment jumps to 9.8 percent in June

The jobless rate surged to 9.8 percent in June, or 2.86 percentage points higher than the figure for the same month in 1997, hitting a record high in the summer season when unemployment usually drops.

The nearest figure was 9.83 percent in March, when unemployment is generally high. In summer the rate drops due to seasonal work.

In June, the registered unemployed were 288,299, the highest seasonal figure recorded by the state Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED), which collected the data.

According to OAED's director, Kostas Efstratoglou, the sharp rise appears to be due to a rush to sign on by the unregistered jobless in order to gain eligibility for vocational training programmes and subsidised jobs recently announced by the government .

Greek stocks surge for third session, again post new record

Greek equities sprinted ahead yesterday for the third straight session, easily keeping above former resistance at 2,700 points and setting another all-time high.

The Athens general share index ended 1.18 percent higher at 2,770.91 points, and the FTSE/ASE 20 index gained 1.58 percent to finish at 1,691.20 points. Trade was moderate with turnover at 58.9 billion drachmas. Buying interest centred on construction stocks with the sector index finishing 5.96 percent higher.

Most other sectors recorded gains. Banks rose 2.55 percent, Leasing rose 0.20 percent, Insurance jumped 3.19 percent, Investment edged up 0.02 percent, Industrials dropped by 0.64 percent and Holding gained 3.01 percent.

Bucking the trend was Miscellaneous, which fell 1.57 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies finished 1.33 percent up.

National Bank of Greece ended at 50,000 drachmas, Ergobank at 33,920, Alpha Credit Bank at 29,990, Ionian Bank at 17,950, Commercial Bank of Greece at 29,350, Delta Dairy (common) at 3,850, Intracom (common) at 12,500, Titan Cement (common) at 23,300, H ellenic Petroleum at 2,710 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 8,510 drachmas.

State telecom workers to strike over new float

State telecom workers will stage a 24-hour nationwide strike on Thursday to protest against a third flotation for Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) due in the autumn.

The latest float on the Athens Stock Exchange would bring the total of stock sold in OTE up to a maximum of 45 percent, paving the way for a majority privatisation in the future, OTE's union said in a statement yesterday.

OTE had no need to sell stock as it could fund investments from its equity capital. The sale was aimed solely at raking in extra funds, the statement claimed. The union called on parliament, political parties and other groups to protest against the flotation.

National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said recently that an amendment would have to be voted through parliament allowing the sale of more stock.

He also said the third float would mark the end of share sales to private investors.

Auction of 15-yr bonds brings lower rate

The finance ministry yesterday auctioned 250 billion drachmas' worth of fixed income 15-year bonds in a reopening sale for a May 20, 1998 issue.

Primary dealers offered bids worth 593.8 billion drachmas, which meant the issue was oversubscribed by 2.4 times. The ministry accepted 280.8 billion drachmas in bids, over its original target.

The average weighted rate for the bonds was 7.42 percent, lower than the coupon's 7.50 rate. It was also lower than 7.70 percent in May's auction.

The average weighted price in yesterday's auction was 100.61 against 98.08 in May.

Banks received no commission for taking the paper due to a recent change in the law.

Gov't sees tourism to Greece rising 15 pct in 1998

Tourism to Greece in 1998 has exceeded early forecasts with arrivals expected to rise by about 15 percent against last year, Development Minister Vasso Papandreou said yesterday.

Ms Papandreou, whose portfolio includes tourism, dismissed what she called "whining" by hoteliers and travel agents who feared a decline in arrivals.

There was a 22 percent increase in the number of Britons who had chosen Greece for their holidays this year, and a 28 percent increase in the number of Belgian tourists, she said.

A major tour operator, TUI of Germany, had reported a 21 percent increase in bookings to Greece from 1997, and ministry figures showed the number of German tourist arrivals would increase by 12 percent.

Also up on last year's figures were the number of Italian (+7%) and Dutch (+14%) tourists, Ms Papandreou said.

Greece was clearly reaping the benefits of a downturn in tourism to Turkey but the Greek tourist industry should not rest on its laurels. Better quality and a diversification of products were needed, she said.

Insurance firms merge

The European Credit and Eurogroup insurance companies announced that they will go ahead with a merger through the absorption of the latter by the former.

According to European Credit officials, "the merger... is the first step in our declared strategic option to play a leading role...between healthy companies in the insurance sector as well as in the wider fiscal sector."

Following the merger, European Credit will strengthen its portfolio since Eurogroup has a portfolio totalling 1.6 billion drachmas.

WEATHER

The forecast for today is sunny with temperatures ranging from 18-36 in the west, 17-34 in the rest of the country and 21-32 on the islands. Athens will be warm with moderate to strong winds and temperatures between 22-34C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 20-32C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 293.305 British pound 482.211 Japanese yen (100) 211.266 French franc 49.118 German mark 164.672 Italian lira (100) 16.693 Irish Punt 414.061 Belgian franc 7.983 Finnish mark 54.163 Dutch guilder 146.037 Danish kr. 43.206 Austrian sch. 23.394 Spanish peseta 1.939 Swedish kr. 37.142 Norwegian kr. 39.986 Swiss franc 195.221 Port. Escudo 1.609 Aus. dollar 183.708 Can. dollar 197.289 Cyprus pound 561.889

(C.E.)


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