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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 97-05-30

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

From: The Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada <>


Greek Press & Information Office
Ottawa, Canada
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  • [01] Greece urges even further enlargement of NATO
  • [02] Gov't presents bill for central bank autonomy
  • [03] Burns confident of new impetus in Cyprus problem
  • [04] Tension between Athens, Ankara 'psychological', Turkish general reportedly says
  • [05] European socialists to meet in Sweden
  • [06] Commission report cites need for transitional period for Greek telecoms sector
  • [07] Tsohatzopoulos meets with Serapheim
  • [08] ND leader Karamanlis visits Mystra
  • [09] Greek-Turkish relations
  • [10] Political party funding announced
  • [11] Political Spring holds first congress
  • [12] Kranidiotis in Bulgaria today
  • [13] Visit to Commission headquarters
  • [14] V. Papandreou briefs Constantopoulos on DEH issues
  • [15] KKE bill on proportional representation rejected
  • [16] Coroner's report on Peratikos murder completed, investigations continue
  • [17] Condemnation
  • [18] Investigation continues
  • [19] IAAF's Nebiolo confident 'Athens '97' will be a success
  • [20] Agreement to abolish double taxation initialed by Athens, Belgrade
  • [21] NZ minister received by ag under-secretary
  • [22] Eurocourt to consider excessive tax on used cars
  • [23] 180-drachma dividend for OTE shares announced
  • [24] Papantoniou urges price restraint
  • [25] Bank of Greece supports drachma
  • [26] Athens bourse falls on profit-taking
  • [27] EIB to issue more bond loans in drachmas
  • [28] Airports prepare for summer tourist season
  • [29] Balkan interest in Philoxenia trade fair
  • [30] Greek-Bulgarian co-operation on new customs post
  • [31] Simitis, Church discuss taxation
  • [32] Eurocourt rules against Greece on two cases involving Jehovah's Witnesses
  • [33] OTE to process certificate orders
  • [34] Kaklamanis receives Scout officials
  • [35] Explosion damages Greek ship in eastern Sri Lanka
  • [36] Milosevic will not try for Serbian president again - wife

  • [01] Greece urges even further enlargement of NATO

    Lisbon, 30/05/1997 (ANA - I. Vergitsis)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos called yesterday for an even larger NATO expansion that is currently being proposed, citing Bulgaria and Slovakia as potential candidates.

    Mr. Pangalos, who was speaking on the sidelines of the NATO alliance's foreign ministers conference in Lisbon, explained why Greece wants an even further enlargement of NATO.

    "We have stressed that there are two countries which would be difficult to stay outside enlargement. Slovakia is one, and Bulgaria is the other which must be supported now that a serious effort has been undertaken to restructure its economy and it appears that the possibility exists, as was shown in the elections, for Bulgaria's democratic structures to function and allow for a smooth changeover in power," he said.

    Mr. Pangalos also said that the NATO alliance was faced with a problem in organizing its defense structure.

    "A problem exists concerning the organization of defense structure," he said, adding, "we support the proposals tabled which concern in particular the southern flank of the alliance. We side with the proposal together with all the other countries, apart from Turkey, which has some particular view. We will insist, as the other countries will as well, on imposing the view of the majority."

    Commenting on earlier statements by US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns, Mr. Pangalos said Greece had repeatedly tried to have the Cyprus issue internationalized with the largest possible involvement of international factors and, of course, the US is one of them. He said that if the US approached the issue on the basis of UN resolutions and pursued their implementation, because the Cyprus problem lay there, this would be a very positive development.

    "We do not want others to resolve our problems. We want to resolve these issues, which have appeared in our relations with Turkey, provided that both countries agree to abandon every threat of war and force and accept the internationally valid legal framework and process for resolving differences, which cannot be resolved with discussions between them, namely, resorting to third factors to resolve differences, such as the International Court at The Hague," he added.

    During the Sintra conference, Mr. Pangalos held private talks with Ms Albright and met with US State Department official Cavanaugh and former US assistant secretary of state Holbrooke. He also met with Turkish Foreign Under-secretary Onur Oymen.

    Mr. Pangalos said Mr. Oymen told him what he had said in Athens and which he had not grown weary of repeating.

    [02] Gov't presents bill for central bank autonomy

    Athens, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday released the details of a bill that will grant Greece's central bank autonomous status.

    Under the terms of the bill, a five-member monetary policy council will be created including the Bank of Greece's governor and its two deputy governors.

    The three officials will have a six-year term of office.

    [03] Burns confident of new impetus in Cyprus problem

    Lisbon, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns expressed the view in Portugal yesterday that Turkey will overcome its problems and fresh impetus will be given for a settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    Mr. Burns, who will most probably assume the post of US ambassador to Greece in the summer, was speaking to the ANA following a press conference on the issue of NATO enlargement.

    "Turkey is an important ally of the USA and NATO. We are not worried about developments (tension between the military and Erbakan government) and believe that these problems will soon be overcome, which in any case is Turkey's own domestic affair. Turkey is a stable company and remains faithful to its secular democratic tradition," Mr. Burns said.

    Replying to questions on Greek-Turkish differences in the Aegean and the Cyprus problem, Mr. Burns said:

    "The Aegean is a region of great importance for both Greece and Turkey. The USA appreciates the efforts being made by Greece's premier, Costas Simitis, and the Turkish government and we regard both countries as our good friends."

    Asked whether Washington linked the Cyprus problem with Greek-Turkish differences, Mr. Burns said the USA did not considered the two issues to be related and expressed the conviction that a solution to the Cyprus problem would soon be found.

    "Fresh impetus will be given to the Cyprus issue in 1997 and our government, in the framework of efforts being made at the UN and elsewhere, intends to intervene dynamically and contribute to a solution with its initiative.

    "Secretary of State Madeleine Albright personally has a great interest in the Cyprus issue and appreciates the efforts being made by the Cyprus government and the Turkish Cypriot community. We firmly support direct dialogue," Mr. Burns said.

    [04] Tension between Athens, Ankara 'psychological', Turkish general reportedly says

    Istanbul, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    The head of the Turkish general staff's section of Greek-Turkish relations, Gen. Mustafa Ozbey, believes that "the escalating tension between the two countries is altogether psychological and that the crisis must not be used for internal consumption," the "Sabah" newspaper quoted him as saying in a briefing last month. "Against all scenarios of war, the Turkish army is resolved to maintain to the end a peaceful stand in relations with Greece," the paper also quoted the general as saying .

    Meanwhile, a second Carnegie Foundation forum on Turkey, Greece and the US, which took place here on May 27 and 28, found encouraging trends in relations between the two countries, and that dangerous situations prevailing in October last year, when the first forum was held in Washington, have now receded.

    A communiqui issued at the end of proceedings mentioned, in particular, the establishment of a bilateral experts' committee, while meetings between Greek and Turkish businessmen are clear indications of improvement.

    The communiqui added that the Foundation will continue its efforts to constitute a creative catalyst of initiatives originating in the private sector.

    The forum was attended, among others, by former Greek foreign ministers Karolos Papoulias and Mihalis Papaconstantinou, former Turkish foreign minister Emre Gonensay and Hikmet Cetin, former US ambassador to Turkey M. Abramowitz and former US Senator John Brademas.

    [05] European socialists to meet in Sweden

    Brussels, 30/05/1997 (ANA - M. Savva)

    All socialist prime ministers of European Union member-states will meet at the third conference of the European Socialist Party (ESP) scheduled for June 5-7 in Malmg, Sweden, and entitled "Europe: Our Responsibility".

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis will address the conference on the topic of "Europe in a Peaceful World", while contributions are also expected from NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, Austrian Parliament President Heinz Fischler, Petre Roman from the Romanian Democratic Party and Vassos Lyssarides of the Cypriot EDEK Socialist Party.

    National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, who is one of ESP's vice-presidents, will speak on the topic of "A new model of development".

    [06] Commission report cites need for transitional period for Greek telecoms sector

    Brussels, 30/05/1997 (ANA - P. Pantelis)

    A European Commission report presented yesterday has accepted that certain member-states, such as Greece and Spain, have still not completed development of their telecommunications networks.

    The report also indicated that both countries will soon be given transitional periods for such development.

    Transport and Communications Minister Haris Kastanidis last April agreed with EU Commissioner Karl van Miert on certain arrangements for the harmonization of Greek legislation regarding the deregulation of the telecommunications sector, and particularly for enactment of presidential decrees with regard to directives for satellite communications as of August 1, 1997; mobile telecommunication until the end of 1997 and cable television within a year.

    It was also agreed that Mr. van Miert would examine as soon as possible a Greek request for "an adequate transitional period" regarding deregulation.

    The EU Commission has already agreed to an extension of a deadline for deregulation of telecommunications in Ireland, Portugal and Luxembourg.

    [07] Tsohatzopoulos meets with Serapheim

    Athens, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos met yesterday with Archbishop Serapheim of Athens and All Greece for talks on relations between the Church and the armed forces.

    One of the subjects of discussion was the Church's contribution to the National Defense Fund to be set up shortly.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos announced the establishment of the fund on Wednesday, saying its purpose would be to support the massive armaments program of the armed forces which will cost an estimated four trillion drachmas.

    Greek citizens will be invited to make contributions to the fund in order to bolster the country's defense.

    [08] ND leader Karamanlis visits Mystra

    Athens, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis visited the Byzantine ruins of Mystra, outside Sparta, yesterday to attend the "Paleologia '97" events.

    He attended memorial services in Mystra Cathedral and at the monument of the last Byzantine Emperor Constantine Paleologos, who died on the walls of Constantinople as it fell to the Turks on May 29, 1453.

    Mr. Karamanlis called for respect for traditions and history, which should unite rather than divide Greeks, or lead to fanaticism.

    Later in the day, Mr. Karamanlis visited the prefecture of Argos.

    [09] Greek-Turkish relations

    Athens, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    ND deputy president Ioannis Varvitsiotis accompanied Mr. Karamanlis on his visit and referred to the issue of Greek-Turkish relations at a later function marking the events.

    Mr. Varvitsiotis said he feared the government had embarked on "a slippery road".

    "In essence, negotiations (between Greece and Turkey) have begun on two levels - on the technical level with the experts (committees) and on the political level with the frequent contracts of political leaders of the two countries," he said.

    "I fear that the dialogue that has begun, has begun without the Turks accepting the three conditions - respect for international treaties and agreements, respect of our sovereign rights and the avoidance of the use of force. I fear that these conditions have not been accepted by Turkey and this is why we continue to have provocative behavior from Turkey, with proof positive the (weekend's) statements by (Turkish President Suleyman) Demirel as well as those of Turkish foreign under-secretary Mr. Oymen".

    [10] Political party funding announced

    Athens, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    The six largest political parties are to receive funds totaling 10.35 billion drachmas, according to a decision signed on May 22 by Interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos.

    Of this amount, 9.5 billion drachmas comprises regular funding, while 796.9 million are provided as financial aid for research and education purposes.

    PASOK - 3,797,901,423 drachmas New Democracy (ND) - 3,508,758,695 drachmas Communist Party of Greece (KKE) - 719,580,841 drachmas Coalition of the Left and Progress - 678,097,977 drachmas Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) - 619,581,978 drachmas Political Spring - 239,075,001 drachmas.

    For educational and research purposes, PASOK will be granted 316.5 million drachmas; ND 292.4 million drachmas; KKE 59.9 million drachmas; the Coalition of the Left and Progress 56.5 million drachmas; DHKKI 51.6 million and Political Spring 19.9 million drachmas.

    [11] Political Spring holds first congress

    Athens, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    The Political Spring party's first congress since its foundation in 1993 opens today at Athens' Olympic Stadium with the participation of around 1,800 delegates.

    Party leader Antonis Samaras, who is to give the opening address this morning, has reiterated that the party is to remain autonomous, despite rumors that it might merge with the main opposition New Democracy party, particularly after its election defeat last year, when it lost all its ten parliamentary seats.

    [12] Kranidiotis in Bulgaria today

    Sofia, 30/05/1997 (ANA - N. Hios)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis will visit Sofia today at the invitation of the Union of Democratic Forces.

    Mr. Karamanlis will attend a luncheon given in his honor by Prime Minister and UDF leader Ivan Kostov. In addition, he will meet with Parliament President Iordan Sokolov and Defense Minister Georgi Ananiev.

    He will also meet UDF cadres and the president of the party's Parliamentary group, Ekaterina Mihailova, as well as the Bulgarian parliament's foreign policy committee.

    [13] Visit to Commission headquarters

    Brussels, 30/05/1997 (ANA - G. Daratos)

    In a related development, Mr. Karamanlis will pay an official visit to the European Union's institutional bodies in Brussels next week.

    Mr. Karamanlis will attend the session of the European Peoples Party's (EPP) parliamentary group on June 5 and on the same day he will meet French Education Minister Francois Bayrou.

    A private meeting is also scheduled on the same day with European Commission President Jacques Santer.

    The next day Mr. Karamanlis will meet EU Commissioner Marcelino Oreja, who is responsible for institutional affairs, culture, media and the Commission's relations with the European Parliament. He will be accompanied by European Parliament Vice-President George Anastasopoulos.

    On the same day, Mr. Karamanlis will visit EU Commissioner Mario Monti, responsible for the internal market, financial services, customs and taxation while accompanied by the president of his party's parliamentary group at the European Parliament, Efthymios Christodoulou, and afterwards EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler, accompanied by ND Eurodeputy George Dimitrakopoulos.

    EPP President Wilfried Martens will give a luncheon in Mr. Karamanlis' honor on June 6.

    [14] V. Papandreou briefs Constantopoulos on DEH issues

    Athens, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    Development Minister Vasso Papandreou visited Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos in Parliament yesterday and briefed him on the way the Public Power Corp. (DEH) operated in light of EU deregulation in the electric power market. After the 30-minute talks, Ms Papandreou said she briefed Mr. Constantopoulos on the issue of opening the domestic power market and the need for the country to proceed with adjusting DEH to the new conditions with a bill to be ratified by the end of the year.

    Ms Papandreou also briefed Mr. Constantopoulos on the issue of a DEH plant in Florina and on how the utility reached this proposal. She said relevant data is at the disposal of all the parties for their information.

    On his part, Mr. Constantopoulos referred in general to the issue of major project contracts and procurements in crucial sectors.

    [15] KKE bill on proportional representation rejected

    Athens, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    Parliament yesterday rejected a draft law submitted by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) for the establishment of a proportional representation electoral law. The proposal was also backed by the Coalition of the Left and Progress and the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI).

    Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Under-secretary Lambros Papadimas said the government rejects the draft law proposed by KKE because it is not preoccupied with an amendment in the electoral law for the time being. He said the issue of the electoral law will be discussed in the framework of revising the Constitution and did not rule out the possibility of a permanent settlement of the electoral law by the Constitution.

    Two PASOK deputies, Parliament Vice-President Panayiotis Kritikos and George Katsimbardis, expressed support for the proportional representation electoral system.

    KKE Parliamentary representative Dimitris Kostopoulos said reinforced and majority electoral systems did not prevent dictatorships, while past and present electoral systems were used for sharing power among the ruling classes. The main opposition New Democracy party stressed that stable governments necessitate a reinforced proportional system which suits the country.

    [16] Coroner's report on Peratikos murder completed, investigations continue

    Athens, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    A coroner's report yesterday on the fatal shooting of shipowner Costas Peratikos on Wednesday in Piraeus showed that he was hit by four bullets - two each in the chest and pelvis.

    Peratikos was ambushed by three armed gunmen, believed by police to be members of the November 17 terrorist group, who shot him as he walked from his office in central Piraeus to a nearby garage. Police found .45 caliber shells at the scene of the attack.

    The November 17 group used a .45 caliber pistol in 11 of its previous attacks, according to reports.

    Piraeus coroner Demosthenis Boukis has handed over to the police counter-terrorist unit two bullets which he removed from Peratikos' body. Two of the shots passed through his body.

    [17] Condemnation

    Athens, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    The government and opposition parties yesterday condemned and expressed their abhorrence at the murder of Peratikos.

    "We are determined, using all means, to safeguard the smooth operation of democracy in the country," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos stressed the need for terrorism to be fought in Greece "with determination, seriousness and methodically".

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) condemned the murder, whi-le at the same time attributing responsibility to the governments of PASOK and ND for "the continuing existence of the phenomenon of terrorism".

    "For 22 years, terrorists have operated with great ease (in Greece), while PASOK and ND merely express their abhorrence," KKE said, charging that "foreign secret services act with impunity in our country and their interconnection with the domestic security services is well known."

    [18] Investigation continues

    Athens, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    Meanwhile, police continued their investigation into the murder without any solid leads.

    For the moment, they are concentrating their efforts on the depositions of 20 eyewitnesses to the attack, five of whom literally came face-to-face with the assassins. According to police sources, however, the sketches of the suspects made on the basis of the descriptions given by the witnesses differ from "identikit" pictures made up in the past following similar attacks.

    The same sources said the police were concerned that the shadowy organization November 17 may have recruited new, relatively younger members.

    Identification of the suspects will also be made difficult by the fact that they were wearing disguises, as evidenced by the false mustache, wig and a pair of sunglasses found in the vehicle abandoned by the killers.

    November 17 had warned on several occasions that they were targeting people such as Peratikos.

    In a statement claiming responsibility for the unsuccessful rocket attack on prominent businessman Vardis Vardinoyiannis, the organization warned that shipowners and other businessmen wishing to acquire ailing enterprises without paying off the companies' accumulated debts would be punished. The late shipowner's funeral will be held on Saturday at 12 noon at the First Cemetery of Athens.

    [19] IAAF's Nebiolo confident 'Athens '97' will be a success

    Athens, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) President Primo Nebiolo said yesterday he was certain that Athens would have no problems in organizing this year's World Athletics Championships to be held August 1-10.

    Mr. Nebiolo arrived in Athens yesterday to chair a three-day IAAF council meeting which ends on Saturday. During his stay, he will also have the opportunity to be briefed on preparations for the "Athens '97" world championships - the major international athletic event this year.

    "Greece has a tradition of organizing major events with excellence. I am certain that this year will be no different," Mr. Nebiolo said.

    Mr. Nebiolo was met at Athens international airport by Sports Under-secretary Andreas Fouras, who assured the IAAF chief that "Athens '97" would be a success.

    [20] Agreement to abolish double taxation initialed by Athens, Belgrade

    Belgrade, 30/05/1997 (ANA - M. Mouratidis)

    Representatives of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's finance minister and the Greek finance ministry initialed an agreement here on Wednesday concerning the avoidance of double taxation.

    An announcement by the federal press secretariat said the agreement will contribute to developing economic co-operation between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Greece because it settles an important issue concerning the double taxation of private persons and legal entities of the two countries. The agreement also secures common criteria for determining the right to tax certain categories of income and property.

    The agreement, as well as the agreement on encouraging investments, already initialed, are expected to be signed soon, possibly during the upcoming visit to Greece by Federal Prime Minister Radoje Kontic in June.

    [21] NZ minister received by ag under-secretary

    Athens, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    The International Trade and Forestry Minister of New Zealand, Lockwood Smith, focused his visit to Greece on measures adopted by Greece to adjust its agriculture sector to new competition and free market conditions over the next decade.

    Mr. Smith met Agriculture Under-secretary Vassilis Geranidis, who referred to structural problems in Greek agriculture, such as modernization and economic incentives for young farmers.

    The two officials also exchanged information on the situation prevailing in the stockbreeding sector.

    [22] Eurocourt to consider excessive tax on used cars

    Brussels, 30/05/1997 (ANA - G. Daratos)

    The European Court's hearing in Luxembourg against Greece for excessive taxation of imported used cars from other European Union member-states was concluded yesterday.

    The European Commission accuses Greece of violating Article 95 of the Treaty for taxing imported second-hand cars from EU countries more strictly than second-hand cars in Greece.

    The article rules that no member-state can impose, either directly or indirectly, internal taxes of whatever nature on the products of other member-states above those which burden, either directly or indirectly, similar national products and which taxes lead indirectly to the protection of other products.

    According to reports, the general prosecutor will publicize his proposals at the end of June and the European Court is expected to issue its final decision on the case in about mid-October.

    [23] 180-drachma dividend for OTE shares announced

    Athens, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    The Hellenic Telecommunications Organizations (OTE) will pay out a 180-drachma dividend per share or 76 billion drachmas in total, the organization's general assembly decided yesterday.

    Profits for 1996 amounted to 250 billion drachmas, compared to 203.7 billion in 1995, and turnover shot up from 593 to 679.5 billion.

    According to managing director P. Lambrou, OTE's investments until the year 2000 are expected to reach 1.2 trillion, while turnover for that year is forecast at 1.5 trillion. The organization has invested 35 billion in a mobile telecommunications subsidiary, which is expected to start experimental operation in Thessaloniki in August, and cover 60 per cent of the population by December.

    Digitalization of telephone exchange centers has reached 43 per cent, while the number of applications for new telephones fell from 132,000 in 1995 to 78,000 last year. Investment in fixed capital reached 178 billion, and will reach 242 billion this yea r.

    Meanwhile, the density of telephones has reached 51 per 100 inhabitants.

    Operating costs stood at 66.8 per cent of revenues, while fixed assets are covered by own and long-term capital by 89 per cent. The circulating liquidity ratio stood at 105.2 per cent, and that of debt liability at 31.5 per cent. Own capital amounts to 56.7 per cent of total, while the profitability of own capital after tax was 22.9 per cent.

    [24] Papantoniou urges price restraint

    Athens, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    Greek National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou welcomed moves to restrain prices by domestic manufacturers and importers as an aid to curbing inflation.

    Businesses had disciplined their finances knowing that the socialist government and the central bank, both in agreement on foreign exchange policy, would neither devalue the drachma nor allow it to slide, Mr. Papantoniou told a news conference.

    Replying to a question, Mr. Papantoniou said a further drop in consumer price inflation and lower deficits could, in the future, lead to a reduction in tax on cigarettes and alcohol.

    [25] Bank of Greece supports drachma

    Athens, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    The Greek drachma remained under pressure for the third consecutive day in the domestic money market with foreign currency outflows totaling 825 million US dollars on Thursday as the Bank of Greece intervened to support the ECU/drachma rate.

    Outflows in the drachma's three-day fall were estimated at 1.5 billion dollars.

    According to market sources, the drachma's slide was not linked to developments in the Greek economy but reflected negative developments abroad after the German central bank rejected a plan to revalue gold reserves in order to cover a huge budget gap this year.

    The tension could undermine the creation of European Economic and Monetary Union, analysts said. Also, political worries in France ahead of the second round of general elections and currency turmoil in Thailand and the Czech Republic had contributed to the negative impact on the Greek currency.

    [26] Athens bourse falls on profit-taking

    Athens, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    Stock prices came under heavy selling pressure to lose substantial ground on the Athens Stock Exchange as traders preferred to liquidate many of their gains from the previous day.

    The general index closed 1.92 percent lower at 1,682.88 points with most sector indices losing ground. The parallel market's index lost 1.78 percent. Banks fell 2.73 percent, Leasing was 2.23 percent down, Investment eased 2.15 percent, Industrials dropped 1.85 percent, Construction declined 1.86 percent, Holding was 0.58 percent off, Miscellaneous plunged 3.76 percent; but Insurance bucked the trend to end 0.46 percent up.

    Trading was heavy and turnover was 29.6 billion drachmas.

    Broadly, declining issues led advancing ones by 168 to 57 with another 26 issues unchanged.

    Riopesca, Piraeus Leasing and Agrinio Metalplastic scored the biggest gains, while Chalyps Cement and Viokarpet suffered the heaviest losses of the day.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 38,000 drachmas, Ergobank at 20,000, Alpha Credit Bank at 21,300, OTE at 6,900 and Titan Cement at 29,000 drachmas.

    [27] EIB to issue more bond loans in drachmas

    Athens, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    The European Investment Bank (EIB) signed a two-year lending program with the Hellenic Investment Bank for Industrial Development (ETEBA) for a drachma bond issue worth 200 billion drachmas.

    According to the agreement, signed by EIB's Vice-President Panayiotis Yennimatas and ETEBA's managing director Dimitris Pavlakis, EIB will issue debt paper including floating rate notes, fixed interest issues and zero coupon bonds, providing investors with a variety of options.

    ETEBA, Hellenic Industrial Development Bank (ETBA), HSBC Midland, Eurobank, Bayerische Vereinsbank, National Bank of Greece, ABN-AMRO, Alpha Credit Bank, Barclays and Citibank will act as intermediaries in the offerings.

    The framework agreement provides EIB with an improved legal status for future drachma bond issues by simplifying procedures and helping to integrate the Greek capital market into the European financial sector. Speaking after the signing, EIB's Vice-President said that Greek interest rates would continue to fall, a development necessitating the provision of new medium-term quality, risk-free solutions for investors.

    Mr. Yennimatas stressed that EIB was not competing with the Greek state and that funds raised would be used to finance medium-term productive investments in the country.

    EIB has already issued four Marathon bond issues in drachmas maturing in March 1999 and 2000, totaling 85 billion drachmas.

    [28] Airports prepare for summer tourist season

    Athens, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    Renovations at nine main airports in Greece, including Athens and Thessaloniki, will be completed in time for this year's tourist season, Transport Minister Haris Kastanidis said.

    At a regular press briefing, Mr. Kastanidis said 52 billion drachmas had been allocated for improvements at the airports of Corfu, Ikaria, Iraklion, Kos, Mykonos, Paros and Rhodes.

    Certain projects had already been completed and opened to the public, such as an extension of the waiting area for Rhodes and Corfu and a new runway for Mykonos. Athens and Thessaloniki airports were allocated 3.49 billion drachmas and 3.2 billion drachmas, respectively.

    [29] Balkan interest in Philoxenia trade fair

    Athens, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    Greece will invite firms from Balkan countries to take part in its international Philoxenia tourism trade fair as part of a plan to widen the scope of the annual event, a state tourism official said on Thursday. The trade fair, due to be held by state-run Helexo on November 6-9 at its exhibition center in Thessaloniki, last year attracted 308 exhibitors representing 22 countries, and 12,604 visitors.

    Tourism industry officials and local government representatives from around the country met to discuss the 1997 trade fair, whose publicity will be undertaken by the Greek National Tourism Organization (EOT).

    "The time has come for Philoxenia to look outwards and become a kind of stock market for tourism, particularly for the Balkans, central and eastern Europe, the southeast Mediterranean and former Soviet countries," Nikos Skoulas, EOT's secretary general, told the meeting.

    Special efforts would be made to attract representatives from state and local bodies in Balkan countries, taking advantage of Thessaloniki's status this year as cultural capital of Europe, speakers at the meeting said.

    The next stage in EOT's plan to enlarge the trade fair is to target participation by firms and countries in western Europe, Mr. Skoulas said.

    In 1995 Philoxenia became a member of the European Union of International Tourism Trade Fairs, which is due to hold an exhibition in Thessaloniki on June 12-13.

    [30] Greek-Bulgarian co-operation on new customs post

    Athens, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    A joint Greek-Bulgarian committee of political agencies and experts met in Nevrokopi near the northern town of Drama to discuss the progress of infrastructure projects under the timetable set for the operation of a new border customs office at Exohi by the end of 1998.

    Kyril Karaivanov, head of Sofia's prefecture who lead the Bulgarian delegation, said that the Bulgarian government supported the policy of opening a new border customs office in Exohi to link the two countries by road.

    Technical supervisors of the projects from both countries reiterated that planning was at an advanced stage and the Bulgarian side would be ready to start work in a month's time. The European Investment Bank has undertaken a study of financing for the project by the Bulgarian side through the PHARE program.

    The Greek delegation said that works on the project were set to begin next month.

    [31] Simitis, Church discuss taxation

    Athens, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis chaired a meeting of cabinet ministers and the Holy Synod Committee to discuss the issue of taxation of the Church's assets.

    The Greek Orthodox Church has reacted strongly to the government's plans and asked for the bill to be withdrawn.

    The chairman of the Holy Synod Committee, Metropolitan Titos of Paramythia, told reporters after the meeting that the prime minister acknowledged the Church's positions and agreed that further taxation of the Church's assets would be a heavy burden to its operations.

    The meeting, also attended by Education Minister Gerassimos Arsenis and Minister to the Prime Minister's office George Paschalidis, also discussed the issue of new identity cards. The Church and the public are worried of the dangers inherent in new electronic filing of citizens' personal data.

    [32] Eurocourt rules against Greece on two cases involving Jehovah's Witnesses

    Strasbourg, 30/05/1997 (ANA/AFP)

    The European Court of Human Rights has condemned Greece for two court cases concerning Greek members of Brooklyn-based religious sect Jehovah's Witnesses, who claimed to have suffered discrimination.

    In the first case, Greece was ordered to pay compensation of 17.5 million drachmas to two religious functionaries of the sect, founded in Pennsylvania during the last century, who served prison sentences for more than a year before being freed without compensation. They had been imprisoned for refusing to do mandatory military service

    In a second similar case of a sect functionary refusing to enlist, who reportedly fell victim to contradictory administrative decisions, the court ordered only a payment of 750,000 drachmas for trial costs.

    Greek legislation recognizes Jehovah's Witness as a "known religion", which gives its religious functionaries or "clerics" the right of exemption from military service. This however, is disputed by some military authorities.

    [33] OTE to process certificate orders

    Athens, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    In an attempt to do away with endless queues at municipal offices, the interior ministry is introducing the practice of telephone applications for birth, marriage and death certificates. Public Administration Under-secretary Tassos Mantelis has asked local government organizations to participate in the new system.

    A special telephone service at the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) will forward applications to the relevant municipal authorities via computer, fax, telex, telegram or telephone, according to facilities available at the particular municipality, which will reply to the applicant by registered post, the cost of which is to be paid on delivery.

    [34] Kaklamanis receives Scout officials

    Athens, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis yesterday received the administrative board of the Greek Scouts Organization, headed by president Ioannis Tzen.

    A number of parliamentarians were present at the meeting, which decided on the establishment of a Greek Scout-Parliament Union which would represent the country at the second general assembly of the World Scout-Parliamentary Assembly in Manila August 17-22.

    [35] Explosion damages Greek ship in eastern Sri Lanka

    Colombo, 30/05/1997 (Reuter/ANA)

    An underwater explosion on Thursday damaged the engine room of a Greek-flagged ship carrying wheat to the eastern Sri Lankan port of Trincomalee, naval and security officials said.

    They said the explosion occurred when the "Athena" with a cargo of 52,000 tons of Argentine wheat was anchored in the outer harbor at Trincomalee, 240 km (150 miles) northeast of the capital Colombo. It was not immediately known what caused the blast, but navy divers were investigating, a navy spokesman in Colombo told Reuters.

    "There was an underwater explosion and the ship's engine room has been flooded," the spokesman said. No one was hurt and the cargo was intact, he said. "Repairs are being carried out right now. It should be able to move again by this evening or by tomorrow morning at the latest," he said.

    In Athens, the merchant marine ministry's operations room identified the vessel as the 34,638 DWT "Athena" belonging to Piraeus-based Natalca Shipping, saying that the 28 seamen - 13 Greek and 15 foreign nationals - and the wife of the captain were all safe.

    The explosion caused a general black-out on the ship, a representative said.

    Trincomalee is a key naval base where separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels sank two navy boats in April 1995, ending their last round of peace talks with the government.

    On Wednesday, the navy intercepted a flotilla of rebel boats in waters north of Trincomalee, destroying seven boats and killing up to 50 rebels.

    The rebel boats were believed to be taking reinforcements to try to stall an army offensive into the LTTE's northern Wanni stronghold launched two weeks ago, military officials said.

    In August last year, the rebels blasted a Philippine-registered cargo ship with an underwater device, while it was loading mineral sand from a port 37 miles (60 km) north of Trincomalee. Some Sri Lankan crew members were wounded. The defense ministry said troops on Thursday were consolidating their positions in areas captured in a two-pronged thrust into the Wanni.

    "Identified enemy locations are being engaged with artillery and mortars," a ministry statement said.

    Troops have faced fierce resistance from the rebels, who are fighting for an independent homeland for minority Tamils in the mainly Sinhalese Indian Ocean island's north and east.

    Two army divisions, comprising some 20,000 troops, launched "Operation Jaya Sikuru", or "Sure of Victory", from Vavuniya 220 km (135 miles) north of Colombo, on May 13 in a bid to open a supply route to the Jaffna peninsula, 100 km (60 miles) further north.

    The rebels' clandestine Voice of Tigers radio said on Thursday that most of the Wanni's civilian population had been displaced by the offensive and were on the run.

    It said at least 19 people, fleeing by boat, were killed when it capsized off Nachchikudah along the northwestern coast on Wednesday. Five men escaped and swam ashore, the radio said. Military officials said 13 bodies had been recovered.

    The government says more than 50,000 people have been killed in the civil war, now in its 14th year. The rebels say the toll is higher.

    [36] Milosevic will not try for Serbian president again - wife

    Athens, 30/05/1997 (ANA)

    Serb President Slobodan Milosevic will not run for the presidency for a third time, according to statements by his wife, Mirjana Markovic, at a press conference in Thessaloniki yesterday.

    Asked by reporters however whether he would be a candidate for the presidency of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, that is, Serbia and Montenegro, Ms Markovic replied that it was "too early to talk about this".

    Ms Markovic, the founder and leader of the New Left party which participates in the coalition government, is in Thessaloniki on a one-day private visit at the invitation of Kalamaria Mayor Thrasyvoulos Lazaridis.

    Replying to reporters' questions, Ms Markovic said her country was going through a period of reform which was progressing smoothly.

    She added that democratization had progressed to a high degree in the economy and culture of Serbia and described relations between the various ethnic minorities in the new Yugoslavia as "harmonic".

    "You won't find these kind of relations in many countries," she said.

    Asked about relations between ethnic Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo, Ms Markovic said that Belgrade's policy was one of equality before the law, while stressing that Kosovo was part of Serbia "and we shall not allow extremist elements to work towards secession".

    Although Ms Markovic's visit was of a private nature, she arrived in Thessaloniki on the presidential aircraft accompanied by Serbia's press and information minister and visited Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos and Prefect Costas Papadopoulos.

    End of English language section.

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