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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 97-08-20

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

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

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 1267), August 20, 1997

Greek Press & Information Office
Ottawa, Canada
E-Mail Address:


  • [01] EU officials reluctant to comment on direct Cyprus talks
  • [02] Russia condemns Turkish stance
  • [03] Vartholomeos calls for peaceful coexistence between Greece, Turkey
  • [04] Reports say Athens rejected Turkish request for NATO exercise
  • [05] New Democracy condemns Gov't over state of economy
  • [06] Australian Greeks want ministry established
  • [07] First world congress on Olympic education in schools
  • [08] Pipeline cities in Greece, Bulgaria to be twinned
  • [09] Bomb explodes outside Papathemelis' office in Athens
  • [10] Austrian embassy car bombed
  • [11] Crew safe in Dakar after mutiny on ship
  • [12] US airman missing from Souda base
  • [13] Turks jailed for bringing in illegal immigrants
  • [14] Aegean plates moving to southwest, seismology congress told
  • [15] U2 tickets go on sale for Thessaloniki super-concert
  • [16] National Bank capital increase
  • [17] National Bank of Greece to merge insurance subsidiaries
  • [18] Greek current account deficit may narrow - analysts
  • [19] Greek stocks slip in lackluster trade
  • [20] Greece to privatize key paper manufacturer
  • [21] Greek products to travel to Skopje fair

  • [01] EU officials reluctant to comment on direct Cyprus talks

    Brussels, 20/08/1997 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    EU officials yesterday appeared reluctant to be drawn into the aftermath of failed direct talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash last week in Switzerland.

    In statements to ANA, a representative of the Luxembourg rotating presidency of the EU Council of Ministers interpreted this reluctance as a waiting-and-see attitude, in view of today's discussion of the Cyprus problem in United Nations Security Council , and also as due to the fact that the diplomatic staff of many member-states had not yet been briefed on the Montreux talks.

    "It is not the right period, or our role for that matter, to add fuel to the fire," a Luxembourg foreign ministry spokesman responded when questioned on who was responsible for the failure of the direct talks.

    "It is certain, however, that the issue will be discussed by Foreign Minister Jacques Poos with his Greek counterpart Theodoros Pangalos, when he visits Athens on August 29 in the framework of his tour of Community capitals," he said.

    Commenting on the "association agreement" signed by the self-styled Turkish Cypriot pseudo-state with Turkey, Luxembourg presidency sources described it as a "negative development", noting it was immaterial from the aspect of international law, as it was co-signed by a 'state' not recognized by the international community.

    Regarding negotiations with Cyprus for full membership, the spokesman said EU decisions will stand.

    This was also confirmed by a Commission spokesman, who said negotiations would start within 1998, but also stressed the need for a settlement of the Cyprus issue.

    The same spokesman also reminded that the decision to start accession negotiations with Cyprus six months after the end of the Intergovernmental Conference was reached at the same time as the agreement for a customs union with Turkey.

    [02] Russia condemns Turkish stance

    Nicosia, 20/08/1997 (ANA - G. Leonidas)

    Russia yesterday blamed Mr. Denktash for the lack of progress in last week's direct talks on the Cyprus issue, held in Switzerland.

    A spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry said Mr. Denktash's behavior in Switzerland disappointed the international community, which was awaiting results.

    Spokesman Valeri Nedrouskin also charged that the Turkish side is resorting to threats of annexing occupied Cyprus as well as placing conditions, such as ending Cyprus accession talks with the EU and cancellation of the sale of the Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missiles.

    Asked about the missile sales, the Russian official reiterated his country's determination to proceed with the sale agreement, despite Turkish warnings and threats.

    [03] Vartholomeos calls for peaceful coexistence between Greece, Turkey

    Athens, 20/08/1997 (ANA)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos concluded a three-day visit to the eastern Aegean island of Hios yesterday with a message of hope that relations between Greece and Turkey be characterized by "peaceful coexistence in the Aegean, good neighborly relations and creative co-operation".

    "It is my heartfelt wish that the difficulties of the last few days will be overcome and that the spirit of Madrid will come to pervade relations between the two neighboring and allied states and peoples of Greece and Turkey, until all pending problems are resolved," the Patriarch said.

    Vartholomeos was referring to a joint communiqui agreed to in Madrid last month between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Turkish President Suleyman Demirel.

    He also directed a special greeting to Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Serapheim.

    [04] Reports say Athens rejected Turkish request for NATO exercise

    Athens, 20/08/1997 (ANA)

    Greece's national defense general staff has reportedly turned down a request by Ankara for participation of a Turkish landing force in a NATO exercise scheduled to take place in the Peloponnese, according to a report in yesterday's edition of the Athens daily "Ta Nea".

    The newspaper said Turkey had tried to include its forces in the NATO exercise "Dynamic Mix", which involves a landing on a coast in Messinia prefecture, southern Peloponnese.

    "Ta Nea" added that Athens does not send Greek troops to participate in similar alliance exercises in Turkey.

    The article noted that Turkey had also requested an air corridor in the Aegean for use by its warplanes without submitting prior flight plans for the duration of the exercise.

    This request was also reportedly turned down by the national defense general staff since the alliance exercise does not involve any air activity in the northern Aegean.

    [05] New Democracy condemns Gov't over state of economy

    Athens, 20/08/1997 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party criticized the government yesterday for what it called the "dismal reality of a black hole" in the budget attributed to divergences in revenues and state expenditures.

    In an announcement, ND said the assessed taxes and uncollected debts totaled 1.6 billion drachmas, while the government was preparing new tax amendments to change recent regulations that were judged to be ineffective.

    The party said the only way to cover "government inability, lack of specific development policy and the absence of coordination" would be to have "immediate infrastructure changes which the government is daily proven too weak to carry out".

    On its part, the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) said the budget has "capsized" and the government's fiscal policy has failed.

    In an announcement on the lag in collecting revenues and the resignation of the General Accounting Office secretary, the party called on the government's financial staff to assume its responsibilities instead of "trying to find scapegoats in the finance ministry mechanism and try to patch up the 'black hole' with unbelievable accounting contrivances".

    Political Spring (Pol.An.) said the economy is becoming destabilized, adding that any new tax collection campaign by the government to cover the deficit in the '98 budget being drafted now would "finish off" the middle class and low-income people.

    "As long as economic policy moves beyond an orbit of development, that's how much the danger will be growing of turning the present economic crisis into an uncontrolled social explosion," the Pol.An. announcement read.

    [06] Australian Greeks want ministry established

    Melbourne, 20/08/1997 (ANA)

    Representatives of Australia's Greek Community have appealed for the establishment of an Overseas Greeks Ministry to cope with the needs of overseas Greeks.

    The presidents of the Greek Communities in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne made the request during an event yesterday on "The Future of Hellenism in Australia."

    The president of Melbourne's Greek Community said the World Hellenism Council (SAE) had not been as effective as expected. He called for the reinforcement of cultural relations between Australia's Greek communities with Greece and other centers of Overseas Hellenism.

    Meanwhile, Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis is to visit Australia to represent the Greek government at the Melbourne Greek community's centenary celebrations.

    Mr. Soumakis is due to arrive in Melbourne on Friday from Sydney.

    On Saturday he will attend celebrations, to be held at the city's Crown Casino.

    Events will be attended by Victorian Premier Jeff Kennet and other officials.

    [07] First world congress on Olympic education in schools

    Athens, 20/08/1997 (ANA)

    The first world congress on the "Introduction of the Olympic and Athletic Education in Schools" will take place in the Peloponnese town of Kalavryta next week.

    The event was announced by Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras yesterday during a press conference.

    The congress will be held at the initiative of the Olympic and Athletic Education Foundation in co-operation with the sports undersecretariat.

    Mr. Fouras said the congress will be held with the participation of 30 university professors from 20 countries who will submit and discuss proposals on the subject.

    [08] Pipeline cities in Greece, Bulgaria to be twinned

    Athens, 20/08/1997 (ANA)

    A delegation from Alexandroupoli is leaving soon for Burgas, Bulgaria, to sign a protocol for the twinning of the two cities on August 30.

    Alexandroupoli mayor Eleftherios Gioftsidis, who heads the delegation, said that the two cities "will not be linked just by the proposed oil pipeline, because it was decided independently of the project's progress to open co-operation in other important sectors as well".

    Mr. Gioftsidis explained that the sectors which both cities could co-operate in are economy, trade, tourism, culture, education and church matters, for which proposals are already being examined by each side.

    The Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline project has been signed between Russia, Bulgaria and Greece, but plans for its construction have been delayed.

    [09] Bomb explodes outside Papathemelis' office in Athens

    Athens, 20/08/1997 (ANA)

    A bomb exploded yesterday in a building near Syntagma Square in downtown Athens, outside the entrance of the fifth-floor office of PASOK deputy and former public order minister Stelios Papathemelis.

    No one was injured in the blast, since an anonymous caller had previously telephoned police to warn of the bomb, which led to the building being evacuated, police said.

    Later in the day, two Athens newspapers said they had received phone calls from unknown callers saying they represented the "Revolutionary Nuclei" urban guerrilla group and warning that the bomb would explode in minutes.

    The bomb was left in a plastic bag outside the office.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas condemned the explosion describing it as "the act of bullying cowards trying to undermine democracy."

    "Our disapproval is complete and our choice firm," he said in a statement, warning that "both the government and the citizens will not allow such phenomena to destabilize the democratic institutions and overturn the smooth course of the Greek society to progress."

    Mr. Papathemelis himself said that the organization also made an advance warning call to his office a few minutes before the explosion. "Revolutionary Nuclei" had also claimed responsibility for an explosion at a port terminal in Piraeus a few months ago.

    The act was also condemned by the public order ministry, the main opposition New Democracy party, the Coalition of the Left, and the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI).

    [10] Austrian embassy car bombed

    Athens, 20/08/1997 (ANA)

    Unidentified persons threw a fire-bomb at a car belonging to the Austrian embassy shortly after midnight Monday, causing damage but no injuries, police said. The fire-bomb was thrown at the car, a red Mercedes, by two persons at 10 minutes after midnight.

    The car, which was parked on the corner of 3rd September and Averof Streets in Athens, had diplomatic plates. The blast caused serious damage to the left side of the car. Police are investigating the incident.

    [11] Crew safe in Dakar after mutiny on ship

    Athens, 20/08/1997 (ANA)

    The fishing boat "Aghios Georgios" docked in Dakar yesterday after a mutiny on 16 August by the ship's 20 Liberian and Sierra Leone crew members forced the master, Dimitris Iliou, to change course and head for the Senegalese port.

    Captain Iliou and the two other Greek officers are reported safe. Merchant Marine Ministry sources said the Greek Consul in Dakar was likely to visit the ship yesterday to deal with the crew members' financial demands.

    [12] US airman missing from Souda base

    Athens, 20/08/1997 (ANA)

    The US embassy in Athens yesterday declined immediate comment on the disappearance of an American satellite communications expert from the US base at Souda on the island of Crete since August 12.

    An embassy spokesman said yesterday they were "seeking further information on the case before making any statement".

    Larry Gonzales, 32, disappeared after returning from work at the Souda base to his hotel at Kallathas in Akrotiri. Local press reports said 24 hours after he went missing he was declared AWOL and police and US secret services launched a search.

    A US embassy press officer confirmed later yesterday that "senior airman Larry Gonzales, based in Souda" had been missing since August 12.

    The officer said he had no further information at the present time and declined to comment on the nature of Gonzales' duties at the US base in Souda.

    Police found his car, a Mini Cooper, abandoned a few yards from his hotel two days after his disappearance, which was removed to the Souda base, the reports said.

    The same reports said that Mr. Gonzales had recently been keeping company with two British women he had met in a bar in Hania. He had reportedly been staying with one of them at her hotel.

    The reports added that FBI agents were due in Crete in the next few days to join the search and investigations.

    Airman Gonzales, along with two others, are reportedly responsible for analyzing satellite messages.

    [13] Turks jailed for bringing in illegal immigrants

    Athens, 20/08/1997 (ANA)

    A Turkish national was sentenced to five years in jail and fined four million drachmas by a Lesvos court yesterday, for illegally bringing into Greece seven Iraqi immigrants, court sources said.

    Hussein Duman was sentenced by a three-member court on the island of Lesvos for clandestinely transporting the illegal immigrants in a boat on August 13.

    Another Samos court meanwhile sentenced a 29-year-old Turk to ten years' imprisonment and fined him 25 million drachmas after being found guilty of illegally transporting 50 illegal immigrants from Iraq. Kendir Hajaci was arrested by coast guard officers last Friday while sailing between the islands of Samos and Agathonisi.

    The Iraqis said that they had each paid 1,500 dollars to be taken to Greece. Hajaci denied the charges, maintaining that he had not received any money and was seeking political asylum.

    [14] Aegean plates moving to southwest, seismology congress told

    Athens, 20/08/1997 (ANA)

    The 29th international congress on "Seismology and Physics of the Earth's Interior" opened its work in Thessaloniki yesterday, with announcements on research conducted on the Aegean Sea.

    According to data presented by Greek seismologists, the Aegean Sea's lithospheric plate is moving southwesterly, and during its movement overrides the plate of the eastern Mediterranean by five centimeters per year.

    Data has also shown that the northern Aegean, especially the area of Halkidiki peninsula, shows a plate deformity of 10 mm per year, while in the southern Aegean plate deformity runs to 40 mm.

    This is related to seismic activity in these areas: in the northern Aegean, earthquakes are less frequent, but of greater intensity, whereas in the south, they are more frequent but not as intense.

    Speaking on forecasting systems, the Mexican example was presented by Juan Manuel Esinosa Aranda, general manager of the Earthquake Recording Center.

    He said that Mexico City used a network of seismographers and radio systems that recorded activity along the Guerero fault.

    When a large earthquake begins to be registered, alarms sound at selected areas throughout Mexico City such as schools, subway stations and major buildings, warning people to evacuate and the subway drivers to reduce speed and prevent derailment.

    This system was introduced on an experimental basis in 1991 and established on a permanent basis since. Mr. Esinosa Aranda said over four million people in a city of 18 million people had been warned seconds before the earthquakes of 1995. It can only be applied in areas where earthquakes do great damage at a great distance from their epicenter.

    Other seismologic data showed that the Paphos fissure, where plates meet, is very similar to that of Cephalonia and volcanic activity on the Troodos mountain range is similar to that of Aegean volcanic mountains, allowing models for Greece to be used for Cyprus also.

    [15] U2 tickets go on sale for Thessaloniki super-concert

    Athens, 20/08/1997 (ANA)

    Tickets for a Sept. 26 concert in Thessaloniki by the popular Irish rock group U2 go on sale in the northern Greece city and in Athens today, but only to people who have pre-registered, the Cultural Capital Organization said yesterday.

    Of a total of 50,000 tickets expected to be issued for the concert, 25,887 have been claimed by registration, and 1,400 through the Internet.

    Those who have registered for the concert may pick up their tickets at stands in the XANTH square (Thessaloniki), or 9, Panepistimiou St. in Athens beginning today until August 31.

    Remaining tickets available after the sale by registration and distribution to officials will be sold to the public from stands in Thessaloniki at Aristotelous Square between Sept. 1 and 10.

    The group and concert crews are expected to arrive in Thessaloniki a day before the concert. Their equipment, transported in 72 trucks, will be set up by 450 technicians at pier 2 on Thessaloniki's port.

    Four large screens will be set up at Kalamaria, Stavroupoli, the White Tower (Lefkos Pyrgos) and Aristotelous Square to project the concert.

    Adding to the unusual size of the concert is a yet more uncommon clause that provides for insuring the life of each concert-goer for US10 million dollars in the event of an accidental death during the show.

    [16] National Bank capital increase

    Athens, 20/08/1997 (ANA)

    The National Bank of Greece is set to raise about 90 billion drachmas from the Greek and international money markets in a two-phased move over the next two months.

    The first phase will involve the offer of bank shares held by the state to foreign institutional investors. These shares will be offered without rights in the equity capital increase which will follow, and will be approximately as many as those which will result from the conversion of the old bond loan. Main lead managers will be Merrill Lynch and SBC Warburg.

    The equity capital increase will involve the offer of new for old shares at a rough 1:4 ratio. The increase will be put to a special general shareholders' meeting at the end of September.

    The funds drawn will be used for the bank's strategic expansion in the broader Balkan region, and to finance the modernization of the bank's electronic systems.

    [17] National Bank of Greece to merge insurance subsidiaries

    Athens, 20/08/1997 (ANA)

    National Insurance and Astir, two insurance firms included in the National Bank of Greece Group, announced yesterday that they will merge in a deal creating a new insurance giant in the Greek market.

    The plan, approved by both companies' shareholders at an extraordinary meeting, is due for approval by the ministry of Development.

    Under the plan, National Insurance will absorb Astir Insurance. National Insurance shareholders will swap 10 old shares for 2.93 new ones, while Astir Insurance shareholders will receive 3.5 new shares for every 10 old ones.

    The new company's share capital is estimated at 14.8 billion drachmas while the company will have a combined stake of more than 20 percent of the Greek insurance market.

    National Insurance's main strategic target will be a rapid expansion of its activities in neighboring countries.

    The company is already present in Romania holding a 51 percent stake in Hellenic Romanian Insurance Company, and is seeking expansion in Ukraine, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Albania, Yugoslavia, Georgia and Armenia.

    [18] Greek current account deficit may narrow - analysts

    Athens, 20/08/1997 (ANA)

    Greece's widening current account deficit may show signs of improvement in the second half of 1997, Alpha Credit Bank said in a monthly report on the economy released yesterday.

    "Exports of goods and tourism as well as inflows from the European Union are expected to recover. Moreover, payments for oil imports will slow," the private commercial bank's economic research division said.

    Another factor that could aid the current account deficit was a roughly five percent depreciation in the drachma since July 1996 that would further boost tourist activity and exports if maintained until end-year, the report said.

    The 1996 deficit was 4.5 billion dollars, or 3.7 percent of gross domestic product against a shortfall of 2.9 billion dollars, or 2.6 percent of GDP a year earlier.

    In January-April 1997 the deficit was 2.3 billion dollars, up from 1.9 billion in the same period of 1996.

    The widening deficit has been attributed mainly due to a higher level of payments for oil imports, which also explains a decline in the trade balance, and to lower receipts from the European Union, the report said.

    However, a decline in interest payments and profits due primarily to a lengthening of maturity on government securities has exerted a favorable influence on the current account, it said.

    [19] Greek stocks slip in lackluster trade

    Athens, 20/08/1997 (ANA)

    Greek equities remained yesterday under pressure for the second consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange to lose further ground despite an improvement in trading conditions.

    The general index closed 0.61 percent lower at 1,613.02 points with most sector indices losing ground. Banks fell 0.73 percent, Leasing fell 1.18 percent, Insurance eased 0.32 percent, Investment dropped 1.03 percent, Industrials fell 0.70 percent, Construction was 0.25 percent off and Holding eased 0.19 percent. Miscellaneous bucked the trend to end 0.16 percent higher.

    The parallel market for small cap firms rose 0.02 percent.

    Trading was moderate and turnover was 11.9 billion drachmas.

    Broadly, declining issues led advancing ones by 108 to 86 with another 18 issues unchanged.

    Epiphania, Heliofin, Ideal and Kekrops scored the biggest percentage gains, while Balkan Export, Naousa Mills, Sato and Vis suffered the heaviest losses of the day.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 36,980 drachmas, Ergobank at 17,835, Alpha Credit Bank at 19,600, Delta Dairy at 4,220, Titan Cement at 14,755, Intracom at 12,900 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organization at 6,595.

    In the domestic foreign exchange market, the US dollar rose spectacularly, reversing a two-day sharp fall to end 2.19 percent higher against the drachma.

    [20] Greece to privatize key paper manufacturer

    Athens, 20/08/1997 (ANA)

    The Industrial Reconstruction Organization (OAE), a Greek state body in charge of restructuring and privatizing nationalized enterprises, yesterday called an international tender for the sale of Athinaiki Paper Mills. The deadline for expressions of inter est is September 24.

    [21] Greek products to travel to Skopje fair

    Athens, 20/08/1997 (ANA)

    The HELEXPO-International Fair of Thessaloniki will organize an exhibition of Greek products in Skopje at the end of November or early December.

    In an announcement, HELEXPO said that it had been holding talks with officials in Skopje and expected to reach an agreement soon.

    End of English language section.

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