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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-08-01

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, 01/08/1998 (ANA)

  • Greece, Cyprus say Turkey must stand by Eurocourt ruling
  • Cabinet approves measures to overhaul social insurance
  • Gov't distances itself from Turkish official's visit
  • Acropolis Museum re-opens
  • Four domestic banks bid for Bank of Central Greece in bourse tender
  • Greek stocks rise again, buoyed by bank privatisation
  • Finance ministry to hold T-bill auction on Tuesday
  • AIDS dental clinic in Red Cross building faces shutdown
  • Greece, Lithuania, Yugoslavia into round 2 of WorldBasket '98
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Greece, Cyprus say Turkey must stand by Eurocourt ruling

    Athens and Nicosia said yesterday that Ankara was obliged to abide by a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decision ordering Turkey to pay about US$640,000 to a Greek Cypriot refugee denied access to her property in Turkish-occupied Kyrenia since the 1 974 invasion of the island republic.

    In a statement issued Thursday, the Turkish foreign ministry claimed that Ankara does not exercise "public authority" in the illegal state, namely, the areas of Cyprus that Turkish troops have occupied since 1974.

    In its ruling on Tuesday, the European Court awarded Titina Loizidou compensation for prevention of enjoyment of her property in the Turkish- occupied coastal town. She is also entitled to moral damages and legal costs. The ruling also does not mean any change in ownership rights for Ms Loizidou.

    The illegal entity, unilaterally declared in the occupied areas of Cyprus in 1983, is recognised only by Turkey, while the UN has called on all states not to facilitate it in any way.

    In Athens, the Greek foreign ministry said that Turkey would place itself outside the European Charter for Human Rights and as a result out of the Council of Europe and the European scene if it refused to abide by the European Court's decision.

    Cabinet approves measures to overhaul social insurance

    The cabinet yesterday endorsed measures that form part of an overhaul of the country's debt-ridden social insurance system whose next phase is due to begin in the autumn.

    Labour and Social Insurance Minister Miltiades Papaioannou told reporters that the initial moves approved today, dubbed the small package of measures, took into account the outcome of months of consultations with employers and workers.

    A new round of talks is expected to begin after the summer in order to forge the large package of measures, which is to tackle the contentious issues of social insurance contributions and eligibility for pensions.

    "We will proceed at a brisk pace," Mr. Papaioannou said.

    The restructuring of the social insurance system is to be drafted as a bill that will be tabled in parliament for debate and a vote.

    The bill will also contain measures to allow the investment of cash by health and pension funds, a move that will benefit financial markets.

    The government's economic leadership, including the central bank governor, are due to meet in coming days to debate provisions that will enable the funds to show healthy returns on investments.

    Finally, the bill will also contain an innovation for the country - social insurance for prostitutes.

    "Our target is to go ahead with these structural changes as soon as possible," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas told reporters after the cabinet meeting.

    The key points of the small package of measures are as follows:

    Mergers involving more than 60 health and pension funds, including the self-employed

    Modernising operations, including extending computerisation

    Creating a watchdog for spending on health

    - Extending checks for evasion in the payment of contributions to all funds. The checks are currently only used for the Social Insurance Foundation, the main state health and pension fund

    Applying disincentives to employment by pensioners

    Allowing males the right to receive their spouse's pension on her death. Currently only the converse applies.

    Gov't distances itself from Turkish official's visit

    The prefect of Edirne began a three-day visit to Greece yesterday and will visit Rodopi prefecture at the invitation of his counterpart.

    Turkish prefect Mehmet Canseven is accompanied by the mayor of Edirne, Hamdi Sedefci, and the presidents of the city's chambers.

    Commenting on his visit, Mr. Canseven said that the prefect of Rodopi, Stergios Stavropoulos, had visited Edirne last October.

    "There are plans for the development of cooperation on social, economic and cultural issues," he noted.

    In a related development, the foreign ministry's information department announced yesterday that the "visit to Komotini by the prefect of Edirne was settled directly between the prefectures of Rodopi and Edirne. The foreign ministry of Greece had no involvement."

    "We believe that for the exchange of visits between elected officials, the time of the visit must be chosen carefully and must be preceded by adequate preparation in cooperation with the foreign ministry,' it was added.

    The announcement went on to say that "the prefect of Edirne is not an elected local administration leader but an appointed senior employee of the Turkish state. Visits by Turkish senior officials do not add anything to contacts between local administration officials nor to rapprochement between local societies".

    Acropolis Museum re-opens

    The Acropolis Museum has opened its doors again after improvements. The museum is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. but on Mondays it will be open to the public from 12 noon to 8 p.m.

    Four domestic banks bid for Bank of Central Greece in bourse tender

    Four domestic banks bid in a privatisation tender for Bank of Central Greece through the bourse yesterday with Egnatia Bank leading the pack at 17.3 billion drachmas, market sources told the Athens News Agency.

    Ranking second was Aspis Bank with a bid of 16.1 billion drachmas, followed by Bank of Attica at 15.3 billion drachmas, and General Bank at 9.0 billion drachmas, the sources said.

    For sale were 51 percent of the bank's common shares and 20.01 percent of its preferred shares held by its parent company, Agricultural Bank of Greece.

    A formal announcement of the winner of the tender, whose bids were opened at the Athens Stock Exchange, is expected in the first week of August.

    An evaluating committee will also take into account business plans submitted by the bidders.

    The sale is part of the government's wide-ranging plan to privatise state companies and banks in order to tighten up the public sector ahead of Greece's entry into European economic and monetary union, expected by January 1, 2001.

    A recent bourse tender for listed Hellenic Duty Free Shops SA was called off after the government complained that the bids were unsatisfactory. A second tender is likely to be held in the autumn.

    Greek stocks rise again, buoyed by bank privatisation

    Greek equities finished higher for the second straight session yesterday in moderate to active trade, apparently discounting the privatisation of Bank of Central Greece, which was tendered through the bourse on the same day.

    The Athens general share index ended 1.44 percent higher to end at 2,797.41 points. Turnover rose sharply to 61.8 billion drachmas from 49.4 billion drachmas in the previous session.

    Sector indices mostly finished higher. Banking gained 1.22 percent, Leasing surged 3.60 percent, Insurance rose 1.01 percent, Investment jumped 2.10 percent, Industrials increased 2.01 percent, Construction slipped 0.20 percent, Holding edged up 0.65 pe rcent, and Miscellaneous crept down 0.17 percent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies finished 0.31 percent higher.

    Of 262 stocks traded, advances led declines at 140 to 95 with 27 shares remaining unchanged.

    Finance ministry to hold T-bill auction on Tuesday

    The finance ministry will auction six-month T-bills in electronic form on Tuesday through the market's primary dealers with an issue and settlement date on August 7.

    The ministry said in a statement yesterday that the amount of T-bills to be sold in the multiple price auction is 50 billion drachmas, and the commission is 0.25 percent.

    The ministry will also accept non-competitive bids from primary and non- primary dealers to cover up to 20 percent of the total on offer.

    AIDS dental clinic in Red Cross building faces shutdown

    The only dental clinic in Greece for HIV-infected people is facing closure following a Greek Red Cross decision to reclaim the property.

    The clinic, run by the Special Epidemics Control Centre for the past three years, has been housed in a building belonging to the Greek Red Cross, which has now declined to renew an initial agreement for use of the property. The lease expired in mid-June.

    During a press conference, a representative of non-governmental AIDS groups said the refusal by the Red Cross was "surprising".

    The Red Cross maintains that the clinic had been given time to find another building.

    In the past five months the clinic has treated more than 1,000 patients.

    Greece, Lithuania, Yugoslavia into round 2 of WorldBasket '98

    Greece took first place in its group with a third win in a row yesterday over Senegal, 68-57, during the ongoing WorldBasket '98 championship in Athens.

    Lithuania also scored its third win in as many days by overcoming Brazil 66- 62, following their high-profile victory over a non-NBA United States on Thursday.

    The US team reached the second round of the championships after an easy 88- 62 victory over South Korea. Russia came from behind, losing 34-41 at half- time, to beat Puerto Rico 86-73, while the other favourite to win the title, Yugoslavia, thrashed Japa n 99-54.

    Italy also qualified to the second round by beating Canada 79-69 while Australia with a difficult victory over Nigeria 70-64 secured its place in the second round.

    Finally, Spain edged Argentina 68-67 in overtime.

    WEATHER

    Hot, sunny weather is forecast throughout the country with light to moderate winds turning strong in parts of the Aegean. Temperatures in Athens ranging from 27C to 37C, and in Thessaloniki from 24C to 36C.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 293.979 British pound 481.001 Japanese yen (100) 203.548 French franc 49.213 German mark 164.989 Italian lira (100) 16.746 Irish Punt 415.469 Belgian franc 8.004 Finnish mark 54.322 Dutch guilder 146.360 Danish kr. 43.362 Austrian sch. 23.466 Spanish peseta 1.944 Swedish kr. 37.041 Norwegian kr. 38.896 Swiss franc 196.644 Port. Escudo 1.611 Aus. dollar 178.143 Can. dollar 195.484 Cyprus pound 561.472

    (C.S.)


    Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
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