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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-01-15

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

From: The Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada <grnewsca@sympatico.ca>

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 1390), January 15, 1998

Greek Press & Information Office
Ottawa, Canada
E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [01] Burns says upgrading of Greek-US relations his priority
  • [02] ... Opposition reaction
  • [03] Greece, India agree to support each other's UN bids
  • [04] Athens reacts to latest Turkish provocations over Aegean
  • [05] ... Turkish violations
  • [06] ... Apostolakis
  • [07] ... Reppas on airspace
  • [08] ... ND calls for campaign to brief int'l community
  • [09] Athens' protest for Greek sexton's murder in Turkey
  • [10] ... Foreign ministry condemns sexton's murder
  • [11] Draft bill on Olympics organizing committee to be tabled soon
  • [12] Simitis optimistic over Greek economy's future
  • [13] Simitis-Arsenis meeting
  • [14] Solidarity meeting of Greek, Turkish journalists slated
  • [15] Suspect expected to be charged for bomb attack
  • [16] Papantoniou says 1999 may see abolition of objective tax criteria
  • [17] Information center for undocumented workers opens
  • [18] Tsohatzopoulos to attend ESP conference
  • [19] US Secretary of Commerce to visit Athens
  • [20] Establishment of agency to promote agricultural products
  • [21] Bank of Greece reports capital inflows after intervention
  • [22] Drachma not overvalued, report says
  • [23] Greek stocks end mixed in directionless trade
  • [24] Parliament's budget committee debates tax bill
  • [25] Economic News in Brief

  • [01] Burns says upgrading of Greek-US relations his priority

    Athens, 15/01/1998 (ANA)

    US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns made his first public address yesterday since assuming his post in December, saying he will work toward modernizing and upgrading relations between Greece and the United States, casting problems of the past to oblivion.

    Addressing an event organized by the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce at the Athens Concert Hall, he also referred to what he called an outright distortion by many Greek media outlets of his recent statements regarding Greek national airspace.

    "A number of newspapers and later television and radio commentators alleged that I had proposed some kind of Aegean compromise that would reward sovereignty of the Kaloyeri islets to Greece in exchange for a reduction of the air space that Greece has long claimed. In fact, I neither said that nor would I ever imagine it. The two issues are not and should not be linked. The story had no basis in fact. But the result was a debate that could only sow suspicion, create distrust and detract from discussion of the real issues. We have serious issues to debate.

    Let's not waste our time and efforts on imaginary ones," he emphasized.

    Mr. Burns termed a "challenge for our countries is to create an enduring peace between Greece and Turkey and to help achieve a united Cyprus", adding that "we Americans want to see a peaceful, stable eastern Mediterranean where the potential for conflict is eliminated and the people of the region can live in permanent peace."

    He went on to say that "clearly, Cyprus and Greek-Turkish differences are among the most difficult and complex diplomatic problems anywhere in the world", while offering assurances that US President Bill Clinton, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and special presidential mediator Richard Holbrooke "will do what they can to help."

    "We do understand the history and emotion that lie behind these issues. And we stand prepared to offer our good offices should the countries involved so desire," he said.

    "But neither we (the US) nor any other country wants, can or should impose solutions. In the final ana-lysis, the peoples of this region must themselves settle their differences, and they must do so peacefully," he said, adding that "peace will not be possible, however, without a decision by all sides to take ambitious steps, even risks, to resolve the current impasse."

    Referring to examples, Mr. Burns spoke of the end of apartheid in South Africa, the end to civil war in El Salvador and the start to peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

    "Greeks and Turks, and Greek and Turkish Cypriots, can also find a way to overcome misunderstanding and division through courage, creativity, commitment and compromise," he said.

    Mr. Burns praised business associations between the two countries (Greece and Turkey) which he said showed courage in developing bilateral relations "providing that inspiration" for governments to follow "the long walk toward peace."

    Mr. Burns said five challenges must be met "if Greece and the US are to achieve an effective and modern agenda needed to solidify and enhance our relationship."

    Upgrading bilateral relations. "Unfortunately, we permitted our relationship to deteriorate for too long", he said and proposed for their improvement that the two governments "should commit to a much more active exchange of visits and meetings between our cabinet-level officials" - since 1993 only two US cabinet secretaries have visited Athens.

    "Greeks and Americans need to clear the air of the suspicion and distrust that have sometimes crept into our relationship. I believe our two governments have effectively resolved that problem during the past few years but it is still prevalent among a few in the Greek press where conspiracy theories and sometimes even outright distortion can be found," he said.

    Mr. Burns said "the second challenge to Greece and the US is to recognize that the business of this Chamber of Commerce - trade, investment and economic co-operation - will be in the future the vital core of our relations."

    He said that "it is disappointing that our two-way direct trade amounts to only US$1.5 billion annually, which places Greece at the bottom of America's trade with members of the European Union."

    "I believe we should challenge ourselves to double US-Greece trade during the next five years and to attract substantially greater American investment to Greece," he added.

    He went on to say that "I am so pleased to announce today that Secretary of Commerce William Daley will be in Athens this weekend to begin this effort. Greece is an attractive market and it should be possible to convince American firms to invest in the energy, environmental services, high tech, defense and tourism sectors here."

    "The Greek government also needs to do its part. It must maintain a level playing field for American firms bidding on contracts so that they can compete fairly with EU competitors," he said, and praised the Greek government on its economic policy in the framework of the Convergence Program.

    "The third challenge for our countries is to create an enduring peace between Greece and Turkey and to help achieve a united Cyprus," he said.

    "The fourth challenge is to reaffirm and reconstruct our commitment to each other's security," he added and announced the arrival in Greece next week of Gen. Dennis Reimer, the US Army Chief of Staff and a member of the joint chiefs of staff to further this co-operation.

    Mr. Burns further said that Greece and the US must work together to combat terrorism and in this context said "that is why it is so encouraging to note the arrest yesterday by Greek authorities of suspected terrorists."

    "The fifth and final challenge for Greece and the United States - the most fundamental and important of all - is to transform our entire relationship from the old to the new, from an antique agenda to a modern and mature one based on mutual respect and enlightened self-interest," he said.

    "No matter how deep Cyprus and Greek-Turkish differences have become, our efforts to resolve them should not deflect us from also broadening our agenda to include enhanced co-operation in the Balkans and the Black Sea littoral and the Middle East, where Greece enjoys many natural advantages. They should not prevent us from finding a way to combine American and Greek expertise in Bosnia to help others make peace. Most important, they should not prevent us from overcoming the stereotypes we have about each other to find a new, higher plane to work together in the future," he added.

    He said that "in my own view, President (Harry) Truman's commitment to protect the Greek people from Communism and the Marshall Plan's help in paving the way to economic recovery were among the most important and positive contributions America has ever made to Greece."

    [02] ... Opposition reaction

    Athens, 15/01/1998 (ANA)

    In a response, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) issued a press release yesterday claiming that Mr. Burns is "a hawk of imperialism, a gauleiter of the multinationals who works for the gradual enforcement of the criminal order of US and NATO issues."

    KKE also said that the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan and the Greek leadership of the immediate post war years derailed the establishment of Communism in Greece.

    The press release added that any action by Mr. Burns will not bend the opposition of the people and the increasing anti-American sentiment in Greece.

    Commenting on Mr. Burns' references to the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, the Coalition of the Left said in a statement that the Greek people had irrevocably turned the page of the civil war.

    "Irrespective of particular political persuasions, Greek citizens today are aware that the intervention of the foreign factor was a source of protracted political anomaly, undermining and, finally, dissolution of democratic institutions," the statement read.

    [03] Greece, India agree to support each other's UN bids

    New Delhi, 15/01/1998 (ANA - M. Megadoukas)

    Greece and India yesterday expressed mutual support for each other's bids for membership on the UN Security Council.

    Speaking to Greek and Indian reporters after completing his official contacts in the Indian capital yesterday, President Kostis Stephanopoulos said Athens supported New Delhi's bid to become a permanent member of the Security Council, and announced that the Indian leadership had assured him of support for Athens' pursuit for a non-permanent member seat on the Security Council.

    Setting out Greek views on international affairs during an address at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute earlier, Mr. Stephanopoulos criticized the inability of the UN to impose its principles, but also the powerful of the earth, "whose interests prevail over the pursuits of international law ".

    He cited the continuing Turkish occupation of Cyprus as a glaring example of such inability.

    He also noted that the EU has, in certain cases, such as that of the former Yugoslavia, adopted hasty and mistaken decisions which are largely due to different interests between member-states, hampering the formulation of common goals and policies.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos stressed that NATO expansion eastwards must not give the impression of a parallel shifting of the boundaries of US influence, or cause concern and suspicion on the part of Russia, whose objections must be given due consideration.

    Referring to Greek-Turkish relations, Mr. Stephanopoulos stressed that Greece is under threat of war by Turkey if it exercises its right under the Law of the Sea to extend its territorial waters from six to 12 nautical miles.

    He rejected a Turkish proposal for direct, unconditional dialogue with Athens, saying that such an option "has no chance of success" as the neighboring country "proposes dialogue on differences it manufactures itself".

    The Greek president said he ho-ped that reason and prudence would prevail in Turkey, and that differences would be referred to the International Court at The Hague.

    "Besides, I stressed to my Indian interlocutors (in relation to India's external problems, namely, the Kashmir issue) that efforts for the creation of faits accomplis, the threat or use of military force and terrorist acts are to be fully condemned."

    After visiting the National Museum of India, the Greek president met at the Taj Mahal Hotel with Indian business leaders, to whom he set out the potential for expanding the two countries' economic relations, stressing Greece's course of convergence with other European economies.

    He also noted the role Greece is playing in the deregulated markets of the countries of the Balkans and eastern Europe, as well as the opportunities arising in the framework of the organization of the Olympic Games of 2004 in Athens.

    He also announced that a Greek-Indian agreement for the mutual promotion and protection of investments was in the stage of preparation.

    [04] Athens reacts to latest Turkish provocations over Aegean

    Athens, 15/01/1998 (ANA)

    Turkey seems to forget that it has itself been observing and respecting the present legal status quo in the Aegean for decades, which also includes airspace of 10 nautical miles, foreign ministry spokesman Costas Bikas said yesterday, while commenting on relevant statements by the spokesman of Turkey's foreign ministry.

    Netjati Utkan said in his statement that "Greece wants to realize its expansionist designs in the Aegean and distort international treaties determining the status quo in the Aegean".

    During his regular weekly briefing, the Turkish official also referred to statements by the National Defense Minister Akis Tsoha-tzopoulos with regard to Greece's national airspace and rocky islets in the Aegean, casting doubt on the sovereignty of several Greek islands.

    "There are no islands, islets and rocky islets that belong to Greece other that those which were given to that country by the Lausanne and Paris treaties", he said.

    Mr. Bikas responded that the Turkish foreign ministry needed to study the Lausanne Treaty more carefully.

    On his part, government spokesman Demetris Reppas condemned Turkey's behavior as "provocative and aggressive", noting that the government had taken all the necessary diplomatic action.

    The government, said Mr. Reppas, had protested to the European Union, accusing Turkey of using its armed forces to exercise foreign policy.

    Meanwhile, referring to an incident on Tuesday in which Turkish fighters flew above a helicopter carrying Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Mr. Reppas said this behavior was not honorable, nor was it in keeping with the behavior of a civilized nation.

    "Greece is not worried, but is ready to face any eventuality," he said, accusing Turkey of trying to maintain tension in bilateral relations. He also stressed that Greece was taking steps to de-escalate tension, something which Turkey was not doing .

    Asked what the outcome of Greece's protests regarding Turkey's behavior had been, the spokesman said that these results were reflected in relations between the European Union and Turkey, since a good climate between Greece and Turkey was considered by the EU to be sine qua non.

    In answer to questions on Ankara's intent to represent the illegal Turkish Cypriot pseudo-state at international organizations, the government spokesman said that it is not possible for Cyprus, even its occupied portion, to be represented internationally by another nation, in this case Turkey.

    [05] ... Turkish violations

    Athens, 15/01/1998 (ANA)

    The Turkish air force infringed on Athens FIR regulations yesterday on two instances. Greek radar picked up two Turkish aircraft south of Rhodes and one southeast of Limnos.

    Defense ministry sources said a total of 12 Turkish aircraft entered Athens FIR without submitting flight plans and were intercepted by Greek air force planes.

    Later yesterday it was announced that Hellenic Air Force fighters had taken off to intercept a second group of 20 Turkish warplanes that infringed the Athens' FIR and violated Greek airspace between Hios and Lesvos and Lesvos and Limnos. Between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., six Turkish F-16s, six F-4s and two RF-4s (aerial photography) entered the Athens FIR without warning and carried out 16 violations of Greece's national airspace between Limnos and Hios and between Rhodes and Kos. All were intercepted by 10 Greek Mirage 2000s and F-16s, while in two cases the interceptions developed into engagements.

    [06] ... Apostolakis

    Athens, 15/01/1998 (ANA)

    Greece will not tolerate any violation of its sovereign rights, National Defense Under-secretary Demetris Apostolakis reiterated yesterday with regard to yesterday's violations of Greek air space by Turkish air force jets.

    "Turkey is trying to overstep the limits. Our reaction will be very forceful," he said after addressing air force academy cadets in Tatoi.

    He added that there was still a danger of conflict (in the Aegean) and that the Greek armed forces were al ways prepared to deal with any provocation on the part of Turkey.

    [07] ... Reppas on airspace

    Athens, 15/01/1998 (ANA)

    Meanwhile, Mr. Reppas stressed that Greece would not change its positions regarding its territorial limits and its sovereign rights just because a third party had a different opinion. He was commenting on statements on Tuesday by US Ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns. He was asked whether these statements were a reversal of the US position. Mr. Burns yesterday denied he had linked the question of Greek sovereignty in the Aegean with the country's airspace limits, as had been reported in the press last weekend.

    [08] ... ND calls for campaign to brief int'l community

    Athens, 15/01/1998 (ANA)

    The main opposition New Democracy party and the Political Spring party issued announcements yesterday calling on the Greek government to brief the international community on attacks against the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Turkish provocations against Greece. "It is unacceptable and at the same time regrettable that Turkey is continuing to behave like a pirate nation. It is not enough that it has not yet denounced the event concerning the sexton's hideous murder and sacrilege, it is continuing to provoke foolishly," ND spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said.

    "The Turkish government is unfortunately appearing to be offering asylum to the perpetrators of terrorist acts against the Patriarchate. The government must promote this reality, in all its dimensions, in world society. Because, at last, international apathy must come to an end and all must remember that the Patriarchate belongs to the entire world," an announcement by the Political Spring party said.

    [09] Athens' protest for Greek sexton's murder in Turkey

    Athens, 15/01/1998 (ANA)

    Greece yesterday lodged a written protest with the Istanbul prefectural authorities over recent attacks against Greek institutions and Orthodox churches as well as Turkish officials' refusal to see the Greek consul general, foreign ministry sources said.

    The demarche was sent by the Greek Consul General to the Istanbul Prefecture after Consul General Fotis Xidas was "unable to come into contact with the Prefect of Istanbul" last night, the sources said. In the demarche the Greek authorities stressed their "concern over the repeated incidents against foundations of the Greeks of Turkey and the refusal of the Turkish authorities to receive the Consul General or the Consul of Greece".

    In the latest incident, an ethnic Greek sexton at the Aghios Therapon Church in Istanbul was found dead on Tuesday in a church well after an unexplained fire at the church. He was found with a cracked skull after the fire was extinguished.

    Greek government spokesman Demetris Reppas yesterday expressed the government's condemnation over the fire as well as other such incidents in Turkey against Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate staff and property, whose causes have continuously remained unexplained. He also accused Turkish authorities of inefficiency.

    The Orthodox churches in Istanbul, and particularly churches in areas without a large Greek community, have been the target of systematic attacks by a gang that steals icons and other ecclesiastical objects, the sources said.

    Questioned later on the issue, Mr. Reppas declined to attribute responsibility to the Turkish political leadership, saying it would be premature to say that it was even indirectly involved.

    Nevertheless, he observed that the climate of fanaticism being cultivated by the behavior of Turkey's political leaders perhaps facilitated circles that were trying to create tension in relations between the two countries.

    Mr. Reppas noted, however, that a strong demarche had been lodged with Turkey's ambassador in Athens, who was summoned to the foreign ministry today.

    [10] ... Foreign ministry condemns sexton's murder

    Athens, 15/01/1998 (ANA)

    In a statement issued last night, the Greek foreign ministry expressed its abhorrence at the murder of the Greek sexton, which, it said, followed a series of attacks against the Ecumenical Patriarchate for which no one had been apprehended.

    "The Greek government is obliged to stress that the Turkish authorities, which have the responsibility and duty to protect, have never apprehended anyone responsible for any of these attacks, and expresses its concern for the absence of interest and security measures that would avert them," the statement read.

    It noted that such criminal acts took place in the context of a climate of tension and aggression which Ankara consciously cultivated, mentioning in particular a Turkish foreign ministry statement attacking Greek society, which pre-ceded the latest incident.

    That statement was part of creating "this climate of racism and bigotry against anything Greek or Orthodox," the Greek foreign ministry said.

    "We believe that the Turkish government must overcome the rationale of secret decrees and face the whole situation in accordance with its declared European orientation," the statement concluded.

    [11] Draft bill on Olympics organizing committee to be tabled soon

    Athens, 15/01/1998 (ANA)

    The issue of board members for an organizing committee to oversee preparations for the 2004 Athens Olympics was not brought up during yesterday's inter-ministerial meeting, according to Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos.

    Discussion focused on a draft bill on the formation of the Athens Olympics organizing committee. The draft bill will be tabled in Parliament within the week, after being handed to opposition parties. The two-hour meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis and also attended by the undersecretaries of the National Economy, Christos Pachtas; Environment, Town Planning and Public Works, Christos Verelis and Sports, Andreas Fouras.

    Mr. Venizelos further said that it was the government's aim that all required infrastructure projects be constructed under self-finance schemes, while the safeguarding of transparency was a top priority.

    He added that the company that will undertake the construction of the projects will be under constant administrative audit by a three-member committee of the government's Audit Council. Mr. Simitis will brief President Kostis Stephanopoulos on the draft bill and other relevant legislation under which the 2004 Olympic Games organizing committee will operate.

    [12] Simitis optimistic over Greek economy's future

    Athens, 15/01/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis appeared optimistic over the future of the Greek economy during the cutting of the traditional New Year's pie "pitta" at the Foreign Press Correspondents' headquarters late yesterday afternoon.

    "We can look forward to the future with confidence. We will achieve our targets and Greece will play the role which we have planned and will join the European Union on an equal footing," he said.

    "Upheavals in the international economy, the problems which we all face in our day-to-day life and tension in Greek-Turkish relations must not create the impression for us that we are not moving ahead. We are proceeding steadfastly on the course we have set out despite whatever difficulties we encounter," he added.

    Referring to the economy in particular, Mr. Simitis said "the performances of our economy are better from year to year. Our competitiveness and productivity are improving and at the same time a program of projects is underway in the country which it h as never before witnessed and will have many positive repercussions on employment."

    The "pitta" was cut by Press Minister Demetris Reppas in the presence of foreign and Greek press correspondents and representatives of the political, military and church leadership.

    [13] Simitis-Arsenis meeting

    Athens, 15/01/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis held a 90-minute meeting with Education Minister Gerassimos Arsenis yesterday, focusing on issues concerning the government's work as well as internal PASOK party issues.

    The meeting was part of the premier's contacts with senior members of the ruling party and the government.

    "It was a useful meeting. Naturally, we discussed issues concerning the education ministry's work. However, we were given the opportunity to discuss a series of other issues also concerning the government's work and the party," Mr. Arsenis said afterwards.

    [14] Solidarity meeting of Greek, Turkish journalists slated

    Athens, 15/01/1998 (ANA)

    The second annual solidarity meeting of Greek and Turkish journalists will be held in Izmir, Turkey between Feb. 6-8 on the issue "The Media and Nationalism", according to an announcement yesterday by the group Journalists in the Aegean and Thrace for Peace.

    The first meeting was held last year on the island of Hios, on the first anniversary of a crisis over the Imia islets which brought the two nations to the brink of armed conflict.

    It was decided to repeat the conferences every year, either on a Greek island of the Aegean or a town on the Asia Minor coast in order to examine issues related to the role of the press, particularly the Turkish daily "Hurriyet", in fueling the Imia crisis.

    Questions to be examined at this year's meeting include the press and minority groups in Greece and Turkey, anti-nationalist movements in both countries, Greek-Turkish tension and the role of "third parties", as well as the role of front-page headlines in creating tension between Turkey and Greece.

    [15] Suspect expected to be charged for bomb attack

    Athens, 15/01/1998 (ANA)

    Police said yesterday that they had proof that a self-styled anarchist, arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of involvement in several bomb attacks, had written a confiscated note warning of an explosive device at the development ministry last year.

    The note was read to the Athens daily "Eleftherotypia" by telephone by an as yet unidentified person.

    Nikos Maziotis was expected to be charged later yesterday with possession of weapons, explosive material and seditious printed material. Police said ballistic tests would be carried out on a .38 caliber pistol also found at Maziotis' residence to determine whether it had been used in any criminal activity.

    He was arrested along with 17 other people in dawn raids by police early on Tuesday morning. Police said they found a significant quantity of explosive material in the raids, including 9.5 kilos of explosive material at Maziotis' Kamatero home.

    Police released all but two of the group after questioning. The two men detained are to be charged with offenses that are unrelated to the activity of urban guerrilla groups.

    Maziotis is thought to be the ringleader of urban guerrilla "Mili-tant Guerrilla Formation", which has claimed responsibility for a number of bomb attacks since its appearance in 1996.

    Documents found at the suspect's home, including a 120-page diary and 15 computer diskettes, will also be examined by experts in the hope of shedding more light on his possible links with other organizations.

    Anti-terrorist police said earlier they were investigating possible links between a suspected terrorist arrested yesterday and the elusive "Revolutionary Popular Struggle" (ELA) urban guerrilla group.

    [16] Papantoniou says 1999 may see abolition of objective tax criteria

    Athens, 15/01/1998 (ANA)

    The finance ministry will be in a position to abolish the objective tax criteria and go ahead with tax breaks for wage-earners and pensioners at the end of 1999, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou told a Parliamentary committee, which yesterday continued debate on the government's new tax bill.

    The minister added that an "administrative revolution" will occur in the next two-year period, saying that in 1998 the economy will enter a new phase.

    Mr. Papantoniou described criticism that the bill was aimed at "raiding" the incomes of salaried workers and pensioners as a lie, saying that out of an estimated revenue of 250 billion drachmas, only 30 billion will be collected from taxes on citizens.

    And most of them, he added, concerned increased taxes on luxury living, mobile phone holders and smokers.

    The minister insisted that what the tax bill was mostly hitting was capital, businesses and tax evasion.

    The three main points in the government's tax policy, according to the minister, are the freezing of indirect taxes, eradication of tax evasion and imposing more taxes on big capital.

    The debate on the tax bill continues today.

    [17] Information center for undocumented workers opens

    Athens, 15/01/1998 (ANA)

    An information center for illegal immigrants disseminating information on the state's recently announced registration and legalization procedures was opened in central Athens yesterday.

    Its main purpose will be to forward applications by would-be immigrants for legal status (the "White Card") and to act as a liaison between immigrants and labor unions.

    In a statement, Labor and Social Security Minister Miltiades Papaioannou urged all employers and labor unions to support the process of registering and legalizing undocumented foreign workers.

    The center, located at Ipirou 8 and 3rd September Sts, will offer information in nine languages - Polish, Russian, Arabic, Albanian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Romanian, English and French.

    General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) President Christos Polyzogopoulos, in an address at the opening ceremony, said the legalization process for undocumented workers would strike a blow at what he called racist attitudes as well as lead to a healthier situation in the labor market.

    [18] Tsohatzopoulos to attend ESP conference

    Athens, 15/01/1998 (ANA)

    The European Socialist Party's (ESP) presidium will convene in Strasbourg tomorrow. The ruling PASOK party will be represented at the meeting by ESP Vice-President and National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos as well as Foreign Under-secretary Yiannos Kranidiotis.

    Among others, the issues to be discussed are coordinating the activities of the European Council, latest developments in southeastern Europe, and the Balkans in particular, preparing a conference on culture, set for Vienna in 1998, and preparing the ESP's congress.

    [19] US Secretary of Commerce to visit Athens

    Washington, 15/01/1998 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    US Secretary of Commerce Richard Daley is to visit Athens next Saturday for talks with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and ministers on the need to boost trade between the two countries, currently standing at US$1.5 billion.

    Mr. Daley, the first secretary of the Clinton administration to visit Athens, said in a press conference here yesterday that he will also promote the participation of US firms in tenders announced by the Greek government for state procurements.

    He also named the sectors of telecommunications and environmental protection as areas of investment potential.

    Mr. Daley will leave for Turkey on Sunday.

    [20] Establishment of agency to promote agricultural products

    Athens, 15/01/1998 (ANA)

    A draft law forwarded by Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas to competent bodies for consideration envisages the setting up of a sociiti anonyme, entitled "Agroprom", which will undertake the promotion of agricultural products and foodstuffs abroad.

    Shareholders in the new organization will be bodies in all stages of production and distribution, as well as the Greek state with 15 per cent.

    The company will also provide figures to the public sector, which may use it to undertake structural interventions (subsidies, protection of dynamic crops, new products and crops).

    [21] Bank of Greece reports capital inflows after intervention

    Athens, 15/01/1998 (ANA)

    The Bank of Greece, the country's central bank, intervened once again in the domestic interbank market yesterday by draining liquidity at rates around 20 percent resulting to further capital inflows totaling 260 million ECUs.

    The central bank offered 14-day repos at 20 percent draining more than 300 billion drachmas off the interbank market.

    Despite the intervention the money market remained nervous.

    Overnight interest rates fell as low as 11 percent during the day to finally settle at higher levels.

    The drachma was firmer against the ECU and the DMark but fell by 0.27 percent against the US dollar.

    [22] Drachma not overvalued, report says

    Athens, 15/01/1998 (ANA)

    The Greek drachma is not overvalued and any expectation of a devaluation of the currency is not justified, a National Bank of Greece report released yesterday said.

    The report, conducted by university economics professors Gikas Chardouvelis and Demetris Mallariaropoulos, argues that the valuation of the drachma is nearing levels of long-term balance with 21 foreign currencies which are Greece's main trade partners.

    The survey also sees a significant gap among the current and expected rate of inflation in the country.

    Despite the fact that inflation has fallen steadily in recent years, current inflation rates have proven higher than expected, it says. This development is strengthening anti-inflationary prospects in Greece.

    [23] Greek stocks end mixed in directionless trade

    Athens, 15/01/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities ended mixed on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday reflecting lack of fresh incentives and investors' reluctance to hold long-term positions in the market.

    The general index closed at 1,426.08 points unchanged from Tuesday's close although it started the session 2.0 percent up.

    Sector indices were mixed. Banks fell 1.25 percent, Insurance fell 0.39 percent, Leasing dropped 1.34 percent, Investment increased 0.73 percent, Constructions edged 0.02 percent up, Industrials rose 0.83 percent, Miscellaneous jumped 2.50 percent and Holding ended 1.13 percent up.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 1.54 percent, while the FTSE/ASE index dropped 0.33 percent to 792.21 points.

    Trading was heavy with turnover at 21.3 billion drachmas.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 114 to 101 with another 26 issues unchanged.

    Sysware, Attica Aluminium, Agrinio Metalplastics and Papoutsanis scored the biggest percentage gains at the day's upper limit of 8.0 percent, while Levenderis, Macedonian Plastics and Kekrops suffered the heaviest losses. National Bank of Greece ended a t 21,195 drachmas, Ergobank at 13,280, Alpha Credit Bank at 14,590, Delta Dairy at 2,920, Titan Cement at 13,600, Intracom at 14,100 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organization at 5,720.

    [24] Parliament's budget committee debates tax bill

    Athens, 15/01/1998 (ANA)

    Greece's parliament budget committee yesterday continued debate on a new tax bill before a final debate and vote in the house next month.

    Trade union representatives demanded a withdrawal of certain articles interfering with employment relations and criticized the government for proposing a series of tax measures not directly linked with each other thus imposing further taxes in an unfair manner.

    Greece's chambers representatives also protested the imposition of new taxes and urged the government to submit a four-year tax bill.

    [25] Economic News in Brief

    Athens, 15/01/1998 (ANA)

    - The Public Petroleum Corp. (DEP) yesterday announced a decrease in the price of gasoline for one week. According to DEP, the price of unleaded gasoline will drop by 1.10 drachmas per liter, while diesel will drop by 2.40 drachmas per liter and heating oil by 1.40 drachmas.

    - US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns will today visit the Intrakom facilities in Paiania to discuss the telecoms firm's co-operation with US high-tech and defense industries.

    - The Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce is again organizing the annual "AMTECH" trade fair at a downtown Athens hotel from Jan. 29 to Feb. 1. Some of the largest telecoms and computer firms are scheduled to take part at the exhibition.

    - The price of olive oil yesterday decreased by 100 drachmas pre kilo for consumers, according to a decision by the development ministry. The ministry reached the decision in co-operation with olive oil producers and merchants, according to reports. Any further decrease in February will depend on producers' prices.

    - Greek shipping foreign exchange revenues fell 7.9 percent to 1.53 million US dollars in the first nine months of 1997 compared with the corresponding period in 1996.

    - The Commercial Bank of Greece, a state-controlled bank and one of the biggest in the country, has opened its own website on the Internet to inform clients and consumers on the bank's services and banking products. The bank's address is www.combank.gr.

    End of English language section.


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