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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 97-08-28

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 1274), August 28, 1997

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


  • [01] Rome backtracks on Dini statements over Cyprus
  • [02] Government spokesman
  • [03] ND statements
  • [04] Cyprus reactions
  • [05] Ankara satisfied after Dini-Cem meeting
  • [06] Clerides Gov't the only legal one on Cyprus, US says
  • [07] Holbrooke on Cyprus
  • [08] Edirne prefecture to invite Greek prefects
  • [09] Israel reacts to Pangalos statements
  • [10] Gov't cites ND difference over joint defense doctrine
  • [11] Gligorov rejects reports of compromise name
  • [12] Tsohatzopoulos to meet with US Congressmen
  • [13] Foundation of Hellenic Culture acquires new status
  • [14] Debate continues over controversial education reform bill
  • [15] Simitis meets with Poos today
  • [16] Venizelos in Japan
  • [17] Constantopoulos arrives in Albania
  • [18] New South Wales premier in Athens
  • [19] Two quakes shake Dodecanese islands
  • [20] Simitis, Papantoniou confer on '98 budget targets
  • [21] Sugar industry reviews production, management procedures
  • [22] Gov't optimistic over Softex sale
  • [23] Greek exports to Tunisia increase by 23.2 per cent
  • [24] Elliniki Technodomiki
  • [25] Battered stocks driven down by banks, lose 1.53 pct
  • [26] Greek business development plan absorbs 176 bln in funds
  • [27] Greek workers to stage nationwide strike Oct. 23
  • [28] Greece drafts law to combat loan sharks
  • [29] EBEA calls on Gov't not to miss out on EMU
  • [30] Bank of Attica issue
  • [31] Business mission to Slovenia
  • [32] Noted rebetika singer Bellou dies

  • [01] Rome backtracks on Dini statements over Cyprus

    Athens, 28/08/1997 (ANA)

    Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi reaffirmed yesterday that a solution to the protracted Cyprus problem should be based on United Nations resolutions.

    According to a statement released by the Italian prime minister's office in Rome, Mr. Prodi had a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, in which both men "expressed their common concern on the Cyprus problem, and on this matter the Italian premier underlined that the solution to this problem should be based on resolutions adopted by the United Nations."

    "The two sides will take actions in order that the European Union can proceed, on this basis, in view of negotiations for the island's (Cyprus) accession to the EU," the Italian statement added.

    "The two interlocutors reaffirmed the deep-seated sentiments of friendship and the wish for a stable co-operation between the two countries, citing on this issue the positive common experience in the framework of the multinational force in Albania," the statement also read.

    On Tuesday, Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini was reported as saying, after talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem in Rome, that in Cyprus "there existed two governments and two entities".

    Mr. Dini was also reported as saying that the question "is to see whether in negotiations with the EU, these two entities are recognized as equal".

    The Italian foreign minister's statements provoked a sharp reaction from Athens, which asked clarifications on what it called "outrageous" statements, saying late Tuesday evening that if Mr. Dini's statements were exact "a major issue between the two countries arises".

    Earlier yesterday, the Italian foreign ministry issued a statement saying that Italy recognizes only the Republic of Cyprus.

    The statement "reconfirms that on the issue of the start of negotiations for Cyprus' accession to the EU, Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini stated that they should constitute a positive element in the search for a political agreement, which would be to the benefit of both communities on the island".

    It also notes that "in its international relations, Italy, along with other EU countries, only recognizes the Republic of Cyprus".

    An AFP dispatch from Rome yesterday quoted an Italian foreign ministry spokesman as saying that Italy had not changed its position on the Cyprus problem. The spokesman added Mr. Dini had spoken only of "two entities."

    "There are two communities and the negotiations, which are to start on Cyprus' accession to the EU, offer an opportunity to settle the current situation," the spokesman added.

    [02] Government spokesman

    Athens, 28/08/1997 (ANA)

    In his daily press briefing yesterday, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that Prime Minister Simitis had called his Italian counterpart to express his displeasure over the Dini statements.

    Athens has called for the retraction of the statements at the highest diplomatic level, Mr. Reppas said, adding that there may be a statement from the Italian premier within the day.

    He indicated, however, that the statement by the Italian foreign ministry had gone some way in appeasing Athens.

    Mr. Dini's statements, Mr. Reppas said, were far from reflecting the decisions taken by the competent European Union bodies.

    The spokesman reiterated that Greece regarded the Cyprus issue and the island republic's accession to the EU as crucial issues for Greek foreign policy.

    "Greek-Italian relations would go through a crisis if Italy followed a policy that opposed the European Union policy on the issue," Mr. Reppas said.

    In reply to press questions, the spokesman said that Cyprus' accession course was not in dispute and that the EU decisions on the issue would be implemented.

    The Cypriot government has a standing position that Turkish Cypriots should be represented at accession procedures as part of the Cypriot representation, Mr. Reppas said, and said those continually bringing up the issue were "breaking down unlocked door s". Meanwhile, the Luxembourg EU presidency on Tuesday reiterated the European Union's firm position on the Cyprus-EU accession talks and branded Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's position on the issue "unacceptable".

    On his part, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou described as "provocative and unacceptable" the Dini statements.

    Speaking in Parliament, Mr. Papandreou said Mr. Dini's statements were "completely contrary to EU decisions" and created "a major problem for Rome's relations with the Community".

    Mr. Papandreou stressed that the EU's positions on the Cyprus problem were "crystal clear" and that Greece was awaiting clarifications and explanations from Italy regarding Dini's statements "so that there will be no serious problems in our bilateral relations".

    Mr. Papandreou also dismissed as "ludicrous" statements by Mr. Denktash, who threatened war if Cyprus joined the EU.

    "(Denktash's statements) illustrate the weakness of Turkey's strategy on the Cyprus issue," he added.

    "Turkey has adopted a position which is unacceptable to the international community," he said, while expressing the hope that Ankara would realize "the road which it has chosen leads to a dead end".

    [03] ND statements

    Nicosia, 28/08/1997 (ANA - A. Panagopoulos)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis, who yesterday wound up his visit to Cyprus, said after meeting with Cypriot Speaker of the House of Representatives Spyros Kyprianou that Mr. Dini's reference to "two governments" in Cyprus was "unacceptable".

    "I hope this position of Mr. Dini is due to incomplete knowledge or ignorance (of facts)," he said.

    [04] Cyprus reactions

    Nicosia, 28/08/1997 (ANA/CNA)

    President Glafcos Clerides has expressed the view there has been a misunderstanding from Italian FM Lamberto Dini statement.

    Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kassoulides called on Italy's charge d' affaires to Cyprus, Rafaelle de Benedictis, early yesterday afternoon and requested clarifications on Mr. Dini's statements.

    Asked after an hour-long meeting with Mr. Kassoulides if there was a misunderstanding from Mr. Dini's statement, the Italian official said "the minister never talked about recognition of the Turkish Cypriot community as a state and there is a misunderstanding in the wording, as it was reported by the media".

    Mr. de Benedictis added that this comes out from a press release the Italian foreign ministry circulated earlier yesterday and a second press release after the telephone call later between the premiers of Greece and Italy.

    "There is no change in the Italian position on that," he added, stressing "of course, we recognize only the government of Cyprus".

    The Italian charge d' affaires also said the press release issued yesterday was "quite clear" and noted it "explains that there is no change from the Italian side".

    Replying to a question about the accession talks Cyprus will begin early next year with the European Union (EU), Mr. de Benedictis said "the main message was that during the meeting he made it clear and he recommended Turkey to push Cyprus in favor of the accession to the European Union".

    "What I mean by this is that Italy is supporting Cyprus starting the negotiations according to the European Union's Council decisions. And this is the type of message that Mr. Dini wanted to give", he added.

    The Italian official reiterated it was made "clear to Minister Kassoulides and to all the government that there is no new Italian position and I think that it is also clear that Italy is especially close to Cyprus and it is pressing for the accession talks with the EU".

    Speaking to the press before the meeting between Mr. Kassoulides and Mr. de Benedictis, President Clerides said the clarifications given by the Italian foreign ministry were "very clear" and expressed the view the whole issue was a "misunderstanding".

    What the Cyprus government expects to hear, he added, is why those statements were made.

    [05] Ankara satisfied after Dini-Cem meeting

    Istanbul, 28/08/1997 (ANA - A.Kourkoulas)

    Ankara expressed satisfaction over a meeting in Rome between Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem and his Italian counterpart Lamberto Dini, but appeared cautious and restrained regarding the latter's statements, which sparked strong criticism in Athens and Nicosia. "The statements attributed to the Italian government appear realistic. These thoughts are correct," a Turkish foreign ministry representative told reporters regarding the statements in question.

    Earlier in the day, Mr. Cem said his Italian counterpart's statements were "positive," but expanded mainly on relations between Turkey and the European Union, making very little reference to the controversial Dini statements.

    [06] Clerides Gov't the only legal one on Cyprus, US says

    Washington, 28/08/1997 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    The United States recognizes only the government of Cyprus Republic President Glafcos Clerides as the only legal government in Cyprus, US State Department spokesman James Rubin said yesterday.

    "The United States recognizes the government of Nicosia as the legal government of Cyprus. Despite this, we are keeping touch with both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders," the spokesman said.

    He declined comment on the process of Cyprus' accession to the European Union (EU), saying that this was entirely an EU issue.

    "The EU leaders have worked to guarantee that both the Turkish Cypriot and the Greek Cypriot community can participate in the accession process. We welcome and encourage such efforts," he added.

    [07] Holbrooke on Cyprus

    Nicosia, 28/08/1997 (ANA - G. Leonidas)

    Special US presidential emissary for Cyprus Richard Holbrooke said yesterday that Washington wants to make every effort to solve what he called the "complicated" Cyprus problem.

    Speaking to a US radio network, and in answer to a question on Turkish Cypriot Rauf Denktash's threats of war if the island republic is admitted into the European Union, Mr. Holbrooke said he didn't think Mr. Denktash "went that far in his statement."

    He reiterated his intention to visit the area late this year.

    [08] Edirne prefecture to invite Greek prefects

    Istanbul, 28/08/1997 (ANA)

    The Edirne prefecture in Turkey plans to officially invite the cross-border prefects from the Evros and Rodopi to a meeting in October focusing on improved inter-border co-operation, the Turkish news agency Anadolu reported yesterday.

    The invitation plans, approved by the Turkish foreign ministry, follow a visit to Greece two months ago by the Edirne Commerce and Industry Chamber.

    [09] Israel reacts to Pangalos statements

    Athens, 28/08/1997 (ANA)

    The Israeli foreign ministry yesterday reacted strongly regarding comments by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, following his meeting with Arab League Secretary-General Abdel Meguid on Monday.

    That meeting covered the Middle East situation and Greece's relations with the Arab world.

    Referring to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Mr. Pangalos said that he condemned terrorism, but that it was "also not right to carry out reprisals against non-combatants".

    The European Union, he added, had the means at its disposal to exert pressure on Israel and "should use it".

    Israel said the Greek foreign minister's statements were "unfortunate and detrimental to the peace process" and that it was certain the statements did not reflect the positions of the "overwhelming majority of European Union members".

    "We completely and categorically reject these arguments," the Israeli foreign ministry statement said.

    "Mr. Pangalos' statements reflect a one-sided view and are incompatible with Greece's expressed willingness and intention to contribute to the peace process."

    The measures taken after the "criminal terrorist act" at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem on July 30 - in which 15 people were ripped apart in a suicide bomb attack - "were necessary for the protection of non-combatants from other terrorist action s" and were not aimed at harming the civilian population nor at undermining the authority of the Palestinian Authority, the statement added.

    [10] Gov't cites ND difference over joint defense doctrine

    Athens, 28/08/1997 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday said that there was a disagreement between the government and the main opposition New Democracy party regarding policy over the joint defense doctrine between Greece and Cyprus.

    He said this disagreement should not be portrayed as crucial party opposition, especially since the parties agree to a large extent on current Greek policy regarding the Cyprus issue.

    Mr. Reppas said the joint defense doctrine was contributing much to the common cause between Greece and Cyprus.

    Turning to Turkish Cypriot threats regarding the placement of Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missiles by the Cypriot government, Mr. Reppas said that the Cyprus government's decision would not be affected by such threats.

    The spokesman further dismissed a Turkish Cypriot press report alleging that Greece had agreed to the purchase of the same Russian-made weapons systems.

    [11] Gligorov rejects reports of compromise name

    Belgrade, 28/08/1997 (ANA - M. Mouratidis)

    A compromise solution of adopting the name 'Novamakentonia' for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is not acceptable, having been proposed during the tenure of the Mitsotakis government in Greece and been rejected, FYROM President Kiro Gligorov told the 'Ekonomska Politika' magazine recently.

    "The granting of a name to a country by way of a decision of the UN Security Council would be a phenomenal and unprecedented act for a people," Mr. Gligorov said.

    Referring to the continued occasional use of the ancient Macedonian symbol of the Vergina Sun by several ultra-nationalists in FYROM, he said the "Macedonian" inhabitants of the country should "not be bound by hypotheses that they are direct descendants of Alexander the Great."

    He did, however, express doubts that the symbol was discovered on a sarcophagus at Vergina.

    [12] Tsohatzopoulos to meet with US Congressmen

    Athens, 28/08/1997 (ANA)

    National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos will meet today with members of a delegation from the US Congress visiting Greece.

    The Congressmen are Michael Bilirakis, Randy Cunningham, Ron Klink, John L. LaFalce, Dan Schaefer and Michael Pappas.

    [13] Foundation of Hellenic Culture acquires new status

    Athens, 28/08/1997 (ANA)

    Parliament passed a bill yesterday granting the Foundation of Hellenic Culture a status comparable to the British Council and the Goethe Institut.

    The bill was supported by all wings in Parliament, where Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said the foundation would "become the main agency of the Greek state for realizing Greece's cultural policy overseas while also promoting the Greek language".

    The foundation was founded by 38 well-known Greeks in 1992 under the aegis of the president of the republic and the supervision of the foreign ministry.

    [14] Debate continues over controversial education reform bill

    Athens, 28/08/1997 (ANA)

    A certain rapprochement of views between the ministry of education and teachers was noted during yesterday's Parliamentary committee hearings on the controversial educational reform bill, regarding the issue of substitute teachers in public schools.

    Education Minister Gerassimos Arsenis said he was open to dialogue, and prepared to adopt a broad interpretation of the articles of the bill to take account of teachers' views, as well as certain modifications, but was insistent the bill will be voted through next week.

    Main opposition New Democracy deputy Ioannis Varvitsiotis said a basic condition for the abolition of the system of teaching appointments was the establishment of a fully meritocratic system, which however, could not be discerned through the minister's announcements.

    Teachers' Union (OLME) President Nikos Tsoulias expressed opposition to the abolition of the system of teaching appointments in state schools based on seniority of graduation, and said teachers would soon decide whether to resort to strike action.

    Parents' union representatives, on the contrary, expressed concern whether schools will open as scheduled, and expressed support for the abolition of the system of teaching appointments, which they described as anachronistic.

    [15] Simitis meets with Poos today

    Athens, 28/08/1997 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis will have talks today with the current president of the European Union, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jacques Poos. Mr. Poos is visiting Greece in the framework of a tour of European Union capitals.

    Mr. Simitis is also due to have talks with Public Order Minister George Romeos, Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos and Interior and Public Administration Under-secretary Tassos Mantelis.

    Also on Mr. Simitis' agenda today is a meeting with the presidency of the Northern Greece Association of Greek Industries.

    The meeting will take place in view of Mr. Simitis' visit to the Thessaloniki International Fair where he will outline the targets of the government's economic policy for 1998.

    On Friday, Mr. Simitis will chair a Cabinet meeting on Balkan policy.

    [16] Venizelos in Japan

    Athens, 28/08/1997 (ANA)

    On the first day of his official visit to Japan yesterday, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos yesterday met former prime minister Toshiro Kaifu, president of a committee organizing Japan's participation in events for the Thessaloniki Cultural Capital.

    [17] Constantopoulos arrives in Albania

    Gjirokaster, 28/08/1997 (ANA - P. Barkas)

    A Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) delegation, headed by party leader Nikos Constantopoulos, yesterday began a three-day visit to Albania at the invitation of the country's Socialist Party.

    Mr. Constantopoulos said upon arrival at the airport today that "Greece has a lot to offer in the struggle for life, in which Albania is engaged for its reconstruction and its position in Europe".

    Socialist Party secretary Pantelis Maikos described the Synaspismos leader as a "symbol of good relations between the two countries".

    The two politicians stressed that these relations ought to be promoted independently of political and ideological positions.

    Mr. Constantopoulos will also have meetings with new Albanian President Rexhep Mejdani, Prime Minister Fatos Nano, party leaders and representatives of the ethnic Greek minority.

    [18] New South Wales premier in Athens

    Athens, 28/08/1997 (ANA)

    The premier of the Australian state of New South Wales, Bob Carr, will visit Greece on Sept. 3 for talks with Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, an Australian embassy announcement said yesterday.

    New South Wales is the most populous state of Australia and its capital, Sydney, will host the 2000 Olympic Games.

    [19] Two quakes shake Dodecanese islands

    Athens, 28/08/1997 (ANA)

    Two earthquakes shook the Dodecanese islands early yesterday but police said there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

    The first earthquake, measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale, was recorded at 06.50 local time with an epicenter 330 kilometers southeast of the Greek capital in the sea south of the island of Kos.

    Seismologists at Thessaloniki University said a second quake, again measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale, was recorded, at 09.57 with the same epicenter.

    Speaking to the ANA on the sidelines of the ongoing World Seismology Conference in Thessaloniki, Professor Vassilis Papazachos said the tremors were surface quakes. "The fact that both quakes were of the same strength makes us somewhat cautious. It would be better to wait and see how the phenomenon develops," he said.

    [20] Simitis, Papantoniou confer on '98 budget targets

    Athens, 28/08/1997 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis held talks yesterday with National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on the course of the economy, execution of the 1997 state budget and economic targets for 1998.

    The two men also discussed the main themes of a customary state-of-the-economy speech Mr. Simitis is due to deliver at the Thessaloniki International Fair next month. Also attending the three-and-a-half hour meeting was the premier's economic adviser, Tassos Yiannitsis.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Papantoniou said 1998 would be a crucial year for the Greek economy with respect to the country's entry into the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

    Mr. Simitis' speech in Thessaloniki would be against this background, Mr. Papantoniou said, adding that the speech will set out the targets and outline the government's economic policy for 1998.

    "We must all look in the direction of (economic) convergence in order to attain the targets," Mr. Papantoniou told reporters.

    He declined to be drawn into comment on fiscal policy for 1998, saying:

    "The general framework will be determined by the prime minister and I shall announce the specific elements of economic policy when I table the budget."

    Mr. Papantoniou stressed that bringing inflation down and curtailing the public deficit remained the primary targets of the government's economic policy.

    Meanwhile, well-informed sources yesterday commented on Greece's draft budget for 1998, predicting an inflation rate below 3 per cent, a public deficit equal to 3.5 per cent of GDP, public debt equal to 105 per cent of GDP and a 4 per cent growth rate.

    The sources, revealing the content of the meeting between Mr. Simitis and Mr. Papantoniou, said the main thrust of the government's economic policy for 1998 would be continued cuts in public spending, improving the standard of services by state-run utilities and achieving a timely entry to the Economic and Monetary Union.

    The draft, which is to be debated in Parliament, foresees continued cuts in public spending, more efficient tax collection methods, the privatization of a number of public companies, including the Piraeus Port Authority, Thessaloniki Airport, the Olympic

    Airway's subsidiaries, the Hellenic Post Offices (ELTA) and the Athens Water and Sewage Co. (EYDAP).

    [21] Sugar industry reviews production, management procedures

    Athens, 28/08/1997 (ANA)

    Hellenic Sugar Industry (HSI) board members attended a meeting at the agriculture ministry yesterday on problems of management and sugar production. The state-owned HSI set as its main priority the improvement of the raw product and a simultaneous reduction in cost.

    The HSI board proposed, among others, that production be referred to in tons or unprocessed sugar rather than in stremmata (10 stremmata=one hectare), in cultivation contracts.

    It also proposed that the price quoted to sugarbeet producers fluctuate depending to production percentages, rather than quote a fixed price. Money to sugarbeet should not be given to the producers in lump sums, but one month after delivery and then only 90 per cent of it, turning over the remainder in during February and March, the end of the trading period.

    The Panhellenic Confederation of Agricultural Cooperatives (PASEGES) disagreed on certain proposals, which they will have to discuss again after informing sugarbeet producers of the HSI's proposals.

    [22] Gov't optimistic over Softex sale

    Athens, 28/08/1997 (ANA)

    Development ministry officials are optimistic regarding the sale of the country's largest papermill, Softex, sources said yesterday.

    The same sources said there is both Greek and foreign interest in the purchase.

    Development Under-secretary Anna Diamantopoulou said a few days ago that the first inquiry was made a few days ago, while the deadline expires on Sept. 24. The privatization process of other firms, Kerafina, MEL and Elefsis Bauxite is also reported to be evolving.

    Development Minister Vasso Papandreou has said claims by creditor banks are causing delays in the whole process.

    "There are problems with the banks, leading to major divergence from the privatization program of certain businesses," she said, adding that efforts were being made to minimize the delays.

    She said the Business Restructuring Organization (OAE) has to complete the privatization process for 20 ailing enterprises by early 1998.

    [23] Greek exports to Tunisia increase by 23.2 per cent

    Athens, 28/08/1997 (ANA)

    Greek exports to Tunisia recorded a 23.2 per cent increase last year in relation to 1995, while imports from that country fell by 35.5 per cent, according to data contained in the Association of Exporters of Northern Greece's latest export bulletin.

    Top of the list in Greek exports was cotton, while the import list was headed by fuels.

    In total, Greek exports to Tunisia amounted to ECU 48 million, while imports did not exceed ECU 18 million.

    Cotton exports were valued at ECU 11.4 million, followed by cotton iron products, totaling 50 per cent of all exports.

    [24] Elliniki Technodomiki

    Athens, 28/08/1997 (ANA)

    Elliniki Technodomiki presented a turnover increase of 58.1 per cent for the first half of the year, reaching 14.5 billion drachmas, as against 9.16 billion drachmas last year.

    The construction company's profits showed a 9.6 per cent increase, totaling 1.42 billion drachmas as against 1.29 billion for the same period last year.

    [25] Battered stocks driven down by banks, lose 1.53 pct

    Athens, 28/08/1997 (ANA)

    Greek equity prices yesterday came under renewed selling pressure to end sharply lower on the Athens Stock Exchange, reflecting heavy losses in the banking sector.

    Traders said the market looked extremely volatile ahead of the socialist government's final decisions on drafting next year's budget.

    Also creating nervousness was a vote on September 5 by the International Olympic Committee on whether Athens would host the 2004 Olympic Games.

    The general index ended 1.53 percent down at 1,541.99 points. Banks fell 2.22 percent, Leasing was 0.77 percent up, Insurance dropped 0.84 percent, Investment eased 0.92 percent, Industrials fell 1.41 percent, Construction was 0.77 percent off, Holding dropped 1.27 percent and Miscellaneous rose 0.79 percent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies fell 0.70 percent.

    Trade was more active with turnover at 13 billion drachmas.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 145 to 44 with another 26 issues unchanged.

    Sysware, Lampsa Hotels, Lampropoulos and Xylemporia scored the biggest percentage gains, while Fintexport, Etma, Korinth Spin mills and Attica Bank suffered the heaviest losses of the day.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 34,300 drachmas, Ergobank at 16,815, Alpha Credit Bank at 18,750, Delta Dairy at 3,945, Titan Cement at 14,470, Intracom at 12,200 and OTE at 6,270.

    In the domestic foreign exchange market the US dollar rose 0.31 percent against the drachma while the mark eased by 0.17 percent.

    [26] Greek business development plan absorbs 176 bln in funds

    Athens, 28/08/1997 (ANA)

    The Industry Business Program, a project sponsored by the Greek government, has absorbed 176 billion drachmas from the start of the year until August 20, marking a 20.5 percent absorption rate against nine percent at the end of 1996.

    Development Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday told a news conference that in the three years from the start of the program, 576 business projects and special investments totaling 488 billion drachmas had been promoted.

    Ms. Papandreou said that the ministry had devised a new initiative on a business network called clusters that would encourage co-operation particularly among small and medium-sized enterprises.

    The project, budgeted at 11.7 billion drachmas, will cover 19 networks including 215 Greek businesses from the country's more dynamic sectors of industry - foodstuffs, furniture, clothing, advanced technology, informatics and jewelry.

    The ministry is also sponsoring worker safety projects totaling 2.46 billion drachmas in 12 major industrial firms.

    [27] Greek workers to stage nationwide strike Oct. 23

    Athens, 28/08/1997 (ANA)

    The General Workers Confederation of Greece (GSEE), the country's largest umbrella trade union, has called a 24-hour nationwide strike on October 23 to demand a rise in tax-free income, index-linked taxation and measures to combat unemployment.

    GSSE is also expected to start the process of signing a new collective pay agreement with employers.

    Speaking during a board meeting yesterday, the union's chairman Christos Polyzogopoulos announced the union's annual congress would be held 12-15 March in Kavala, northern Greece, to mark activism by local tobacco workers. GSEE is celebrating its 80th birthday this year.

    [28] Greece drafts law to combat loan sharks

    Athens, 28/08/1997 (ANA)

    Greek Justice Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos yesterday announced he had set up a committee to investigate the illegal loans market and draft a bill to combat the growing phenomenon. The committee, headed by the ministry's secretary general, will have three months to examine the cause of the problem, the workings of the market, and its impact on legitimate commerce. It will then propose the solutions.

    Mr. Yiannopoulos conceded indirectly that legitimate banks also carry out dubious lending at high interest rates, and indicated that the socialist government may investigate their activities.

    The newly-created committee, which comprises judicial officials and a lawyer, will restrict its activities to loan sharks and illegal financial institutions.

    [29] EBEA calls on Gov't not to miss out on EMU

    Athens, 28/08/1997 (ANA)

    The government must establish and apply an economic policy that will exclude the possibility of Greece's being left out of European unification from the very start, the Commerce and Industry Chamber of Greece (EBEA) said yesterday.

    This was contained in a letter by EBEA president G. Papathanasiou to Prime Minister Costas Simitis prior to the International Thessaloniki Fair (ITF) during the first weekend of September, at the opening of which the prime minister traditionally delivers a state-of-the-economy speech.

    In the letter, Mr. Papathanassiou stressed the need for the government to take new measures in the public sector, social security, state enterprises and other sectors.

    The business sector, he said, expects to hear at the ITF about a policy that would guarantee Greece's inclusion in the first wave of countries accepted into the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), rather than a "beautification" of economic indices.

    EBEA called for support in the modernization of small and medium-sized enterprises by applying a competitive taxation policy, reducing the cost of funding, promoting electronic trade, placing commercial businesses under European Union (EU) programs an d the Development Law, as well as supporting competition with effective supervision and operation of relevant agencies.

    European unification goes into effect in 1999. The government has maintained that Greece will join EMU in the second wave of EU countries in 2001.

    [30] Bank of Attica issue

    Athens, 28/08/1997 (ANA)

    The Bank of Attica general assembly approved a doubling of its share capital through a new rights issue designed to raise 8.5 billion drachmas.

    The new issue will take place on the basis of a one-to-three swap, with each new share priced at 1,150 drachmas.

    [31] Business mission to Slovenia

    Athens, 28/08/1997 (ANA)

    The Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO) is organizing a campaign for the promotion of economic relations with Slovenia, in September and October.

    In co-operation with the Greek embassy in Ljubljana and the Commerce and Industry Chamber of Slovenia, HEPO is organizing a one-day conference on Sept. 8 in Athens, entitled "Business Approach to Slovenia", while a business mission has been scheduled for Oct. 13.

    For more information call (01) 99.82.251 until Sept. 5 at the latest.

    [32] Noted rebetika singer Bellou dies

    Athens, 28/08/1997 (ANA)

    Sotiria Bellou, one of the last well-known singers of a distinctive style of Greek song known as rebetika, died yesterday in hospital after a long bout with cancer of the pharynx.

    She would have been 76 tomorrow. A funeral service will be held at the Athens Metropolitan Cathedral at 2:30 p.m. Friday. She will be buried at the Athens First Cemetery

    Bellou was born in a village near Halkida, Evia, in 1921 to a fairly well-off family. Following a divorce at an early age, she left for Athens, where she held various odd jobs to support herself, one of which was to play guitar and sing at Plaka tavernas.

    During the turbulent years of the Greek civil war she was persecuted and jailed, returning to singing after its end.

    Her career took off when a friend of leading rebetika singer/composer Vassilis Tsitsanis heard her sing and arranged an audition. Their friendship and co-operation lasted many years, during which she established her own reputation, among other things as the first female singer to sing on the same stage as other rebetika performers, traditionally sung only by males.

    With themes such as unrequited love, betrayal, the woes of living on the fringe of society and narcotics, the lyrics of rebetika songs have been called the "Greek blues". Rebetika songs, emanating from the Asia Minor port city of Smyrna (present day Izmir), were popular in Greece in the first half of this century, although the distinctive style slowly disappeared from the music scene as the last great composers and singers died.

    The diminutive Bellou lost her voice to cancer a few years ago. The last years of her life were spent in poverty and she was forced to sell her tapes in Omonia square, to make a living.

    Bellou will be given a state funeral, following a culture ministry decision.

    Condolences stressed her contribution to rebetika, the popularity of her songs today and the fact that she represented the woes and sorrows of the average Greek breadwinner in the during the inter-wars period and just after World War II.

    Messages of condolences were sent by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and its former leader Harilaos Florakis, the Coalition of Left and Progress (Synaspismos), the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI), the PASOK youth wing and Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos.

    End of English language section.

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