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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-01-17

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 1392), January 17, 1998

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


CONTENTS

  • [01] Ankara's provocations an effort to present EU-Turkish difference as Greek-Turkish
  • [02] ... G. Papandreou
  • [03] ... ND
  • [04] Turkey claims Greece violates Madrid communiqui
  • [05] Conference on the "Agenda 2000
  • [06] Government adopts proposals on social welfare reform
  • [07] NATO expansion tops talks between Solana, Th. Georgiou
  • [08] Athens to host Balkans conference this June
  • [09] Stephanopoulos in Bombay
  • [10] Gov't on Stephanopoulos' statements
  • [11] Simitis: Gov't work, good image the responsibility of all ministers
  • [12] Greece willing to help resolve Kosovo issue: Papandreou
  • [13] Debate on abolition of Article 19
  • [14] Acclaimed actor Demetris Horn dies at the age of 77
  • [15] European news agencies hold bi-annual meeting in Brussels
  • [16] Cypriot-flagged vessel sinks off Canada
  • [17] Kranidiotis visit to CoE headquarters
  • [18] Anarchists violence mars student protest
  • [19] KKE criticism of Washington
  • [20] Protest outside US embassy
  • [21] US Commerce Secretary in Athens for talks on bilateral trade
  • [22] Greek stocks rebound at the end of the week
  • [23] Olympic Airways lowers cost of transatlantic flights
  • [24] Retail sales volume up 0.9 pct in October 1997
  • [25] Bank of Greece offers banking to illegal immigrants
  • [26] Commission asks for clarifications on public utilities' procurements
  • [27] Fisherman, sponge divers given extension for rendering VAT
  • [28] Drama interested in natural gas

  • [01] Ankara's provocations an effort to present EU-Turkish difference as Greek-Turkish

    Athens, 17/01/1998 (ANA)

    Greece yesterday attributed the recent increase in Turkish provocativeness in the Aegean as an effort to present what is essentially a European-Turkish difference, namely, lack of respect for international law by the latter, as a bilateral problem between Athens and Ankara.

    "Following the European Union summit in Luxembourg and the conditions set by Europe, Turkey found itself under pressure. So, Ankara is trying, in view of the next meeting of EU foreign ministers, to present a Euro-Turkish issue - respect for international law - as a bilateral dispute, and this is why it is following the tactics which we see," foreign ministry spokesman Costas Bikas said.

    "Greece is responding with determination and cool-headedness," he added.

    Mr. Bikas said the ministry had on Thursday and yesterday briefed several ambassadors accredited to Athens on Turkey's intentions.

    The head of the foreign ministry section for Greek-Turkish affairs, Ilias Klis, yesterday briefed the US and British ambassadors, Nicholas Burns and Sir Michael Llewellyn Smith, respectively.

    Mr. Bikas said Mr. Klis had yesterday invited the other EU ambassadors in Athens for a briefing.

    [02] ... G. Papandreou

    Athens, 17/01/1998 (ANA)

    Regarding Greek-Turkish relations, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said in a radio interview that the major priority for Athens was not to allow Ankara to create tension in the Aegean, as well as to deal with Turkish provocativeness through diplomatic means at the same time.

    Regarding an incident on Thursday near the Imia islets in the eastern Aegean, which were approached by two Turkish fishing vessels accompanied by a Turkish patrol boat, Mr. Papandreou said that according to all indications Turkey wanted to create tension.

    "The Greek answer is the interception of any violations (of airspace) on one hand, and on the other, not to allow Turkey to attain its goal, namely, create a conflict and clashes," he added.

    "Of course, the (territorial) limits stand, national sovereignty is inviolable, and Greece is always ready to reply effectively whenever needed. But up to the present moment, I think it has been coolheadedness that has enabled us to deal effectively with this or any other provocation, and our moves on a diplomatic level have contributed to the sending of a sound message to Turkey on what the international community expect of it," the alternate foreign minister said.

    Regarding the issue of recent statements by US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns concerning national airspace limits and territorial waters, Mr. Papandreou said it was of minor importance and exaggerated by part of the Greek press.

    "Turkey's provocations do not concern this particular issue. We have infringements even within the six-mile limit, and there has been, more generally, a provocative stand for many years with particular intensity recently and after Luxembourg. I think this is the essential issue and not whether the airspace is 10 (nautical) miles and territorial waters six," he concluded.

    [03] ... ND

    Athens, 17/01/1998 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos yesterday said escalating Turkish provocativeness requires a steadfast and resolute policy as well as diplomatic handling.

    Criticizing the government, he said "instead of denouncing Turkey's attitude internationally, it limits itself to low-key reactions, either with demarches to Ankara or a mere briefing of the US and the EU."

    Mr. Spiliotopoulos added that it is time the government abandons this tactic, "which does not intercept, but makes Turkey even more audacious."

    [04] Turkey claims Greece violates Madrid communiqui

    Istanbul, 17/01/1997 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    The Turkish foreign ministry yesterday accused National Defense Under-secretary Demetris Apostolakis of having an aggressive attitude, while it claimed that Greece violated the Madrid communiqui.

    An announcement by the Turkish foreign ministry stressed that recent statements by Mr. Apostolakis on Turkish violations of Greek airspace and restraint shown by Greek pilots "clearly show the aggressive attitude of Greece towards Turkey."

    "Greece is violating the Madrid communiqui," the announcement said, claiming that it had been decided in Madrid that the two countries will solve their problems in friendly and peaceful ways.

    "We are expecting Greece to behave in accordance with international laws," the announcement said.

    The Turkish foreign ministry also denied charges that measures are not being taken in Turkey for the protection of ethnic Greek-owned buildings and that a perpetrator of attacks against Greek foundations has never been arrested.

    In a written statement, the Turkish foreign ministry reiterated its regret over a fire at a holy well in Istanbul, along with the robbery and murder of a church sexton, saying that all Turkish officials will do their duty as always.

    After expressing its regrets over the elderly sexton's murder and the vandalizing of the Agios Therapon church, Ankara complained over what it said was the expected trial in Greece of pseudo-mufti Mehmet Emin Aga.

    Turkish stressed: "we wish Greece to respect religious freedom and its international promises."

    [05] Conference on the "Agenda 2000

    Athens, 17/01/1998 (ANA)

    A conference on the "Agenda 2000", the framework for discussion of changes involved in the enlargement of the European Union, will be held in Iraklion today for secretary generals of the country's regions.

    The meeting is being organized by the foreign ministry and the Region of Crete.

    The keynote address is to be given by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

    Another conference on the same issue is to be held during the afternoon for producer and other associations.

    [06] Government adopts proposals on social welfare reform

    Athens, 17/01/1998 (ANA)

    The Greek cabinet yesterday gave the green light for drafting of new legislation for the restructuring of social welfare funds.

    A cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis endorsed proposals on home employment schemes for the elderly in 102 municipalities, transfer of kindergartens under local authority control and their evening operation. The new legislation will aim at a more efficient operation of state foundations through their cut back from a current total of 1990 to less than 900.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis said that social welfare in Greece had developed in an unbalanced manner in recent years resulting to further burdening the system and leading to a more inefficient operation.

    Our target, said Mr. Simitis, is to better organize our national social welfare system through expanding and improving services to citizens. Health and Welfare Minister Costas Geitonas stressed that funding for the program has been secured in this year's budget and already approved by the cabinet.

    [07] NATO expansion tops talks between Solana, Th. Georgiou

    Brussels, 17/01/1998 (ANA - P. Pantelis)

    NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana and the Greek president of the Atlantic Union Accord, Th. Georgiou, discussed issues concerning NATO enlargement during their meeting at NATO's headquarters here yesterday.

    It is the first time Mr. Solana holds an official meeting with the President of the Atlantic Union Accord and it is the first time the Union has elected a Greek president.

    The Paris-based Atlantic Union Accord constitutes a network of international communication and co-operation. At present it represents 32 non-governmental organizations from NATO member-states and associated countries.

    The Greek President held a private meeting with NATO's Secretary-General. It was followed by a working meeting with Alternate Secretary-General S. Balazzino and the Atlantic Union Accords' five vice-presidents from corresponding organizations of the US, France, Britain, Belgium and Bulgaria.

    The main issue in discussion was the Atlantic Union Accord's contribution to NATO enlargement and its ratification by national Parliaments. Moreover, preparation for the celebration of NATO's 50th anniversary to be held in the US in April with the accession of the three new member-states Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

    Mr. Georgiou also met with the chief of the Allied Forces in Europe US Gen. Wesley Clark and West European Union (WEU) Secretary-General Jose Cutilheiro. Mr. Georgiou referred to the Atlantic Union Accord's orientation towards the WEU, NATO's European arm, whose Presidency is held by Greece during the present six-month period.

    [08] Athens to host Balkans conference this June

    Strasbourg, 17/01/1998 (ANA)

    The European Socialist Party (ESP) will hold a Balkans Conference in Athens in June, in a follow-up to a similar conference in Thessaloniki last April that examined issues of security, stability, economic development and the creation o f European institutions in the Balkans.

    The Thessaloniki conference drew the participation of socialist, social democrat and labor parties from all Balkan countries for the first time.

    The issue of security and stability in the Balkans was at the center of discussions in Strasbourg yesterday by the ESP Presidium, which unanimously adopted the Athens proposal by Greek National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos (representing the ruling PASOK party) and Foreign Under-secretary Yannos Kranidiotis (a member of the Presidium).

    The Presidium also approved a proposal by the two Greek representatives to host a European Conference on employment, social security and welfare state issues in Greece next summer.

    Mr. Kranidiotis further briefed the ESP Presidium on the positive results of the southeastern European heads of state and government conference held early December in Crete, and on the "continuing, unacceptable and provocative attitude of Turkey" after the EU summit in Luxembourg.

    [09] Stephanopoulos in Bombay

    Bombay, 17/01/1998 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos continued his week-long tour of India in Bombay yesterday where he met with local authorities and was guest of honor at a reception given by the Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Indian Chamber of Commerce.

    The president called for more trade between the two countries and stressed Greece's position of influence within the Balkans, as well as its close relations with the countries of the former Soviet bloc.

    Economy Under-secretary Alexandros Baltas, who is accompanying the president along with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, said that within 1998 the institutional framework for co-operation between the two countries would be ready.

    He said existing agreements on the avoidance of double taxation, the protection of investments and the civil aviation agreement would be renewed.

    Today the Greek delegation is to visit Bombay's Elephant Island and then fly to Calcutta, the last stop on the president's tour of India.

    [10] Gov't on Stephanopoulos' statements

    Athens, 17/01/1998 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Demetris Reppas yesterday refused to comment on President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos' statements about the possibility of an armed conflict in the Aegean, although he indirectly agreed with him.

    Mr. Reppas said that the president has sensitivities relating to all issues, but being the first citizen of the country he is interested about the integrity of the nation and Greece's national dignity.

    Seen in that light, the president's statement was as always on target, Mr. Reppas added.

    [11] Simitis: Gov't work, good image the responsibility of all ministers

    Athens, 17/01/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis said the effectiveness of the government's work and the government's good image is the responsibility of all the ministers.

    Mr. Simitis was addressing a cabinet meeting yesterday, shortly before a discussion on welfare issues began, which was the focal point of the meeting, according to an announcement by government spokesman Demetris Reppas.

    He said all ministers are politically responsible for tackling problems on the basis of the government's policy statements. He added that there are no successful or failed ministers but a successful or failed government.

    He further said that a common position by all ministers is imperative for the promotion of the government's work to enable it to be supported by the Greek people.

    Mr. Simitis said clientele relations existed which must be abolished, particularly in connection with transfers of civil servants and military officials. He made an appeal for these phenomena to be faced with objective processes to enable the government 's credibility to be enhanced.

    "A state of law must prevail and results to be achieved for the benefit of the citizens," he said.

    Mr. Simitis said discussions on intraparty issues are of no interest to citizens who are interested in the effectiveness of the government's work and the resolution of problems.

    According to reports, Justice Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos maintained that the government's communication policy is bad. Mr. Reppas agreed with this remark, replying to a relevant question, saying among others that he himself is not satisfied with the way the people receive the government's work.

    [12] Greece willing to help resolve Kosovo issue: Papandreou

    Athens, 17/01/1998 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou told Parliament yesterday that Greece would be willing to host Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano and the leader of the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, Ibrahim Rugova, within the framework of any effort to resolve the Kosovo problem.

    Mr. Papandreou was replying to a question tabled by main opposition New Democracy deputy Ioannis Varvitsiotis following the recent student uprising in Pristina and the activities of the self-proclaimed "Liberation Army of Kosovo".

    The minister said Greece's position on the problem was identical to the official position of the European Union, namely that it rejected the option of independence for Kosovo and respected the borders of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, coupled with prospects for wider autonomy for the province.

    According to Mr. Papandreou, the recent student demonstrations in Pristina arose from the non-implementation of an education agreement between Mr. Milosevic and Mr. Rugova.

    Mr. Papandreou strongly criticized the wave of "terrorist, criminal activities" by the self-proclaimed "liberation army of Albanian speakers of Kosovo" and condemned "the logic of using violence" in the region.

    He also noted Greece's substantial contribution with regard to the first meeting in 50 years between the leaders of Albania and Yugoslavia, Mr. Nano and Mr. Milosevic, on the sidelines of the recent summit on Crete.

    [13] Debate on abolition of Article 19

    Athens, 17/01/1998 (ANA)

    Maintenance of Article 19 of the Citizenship Code violates basic democratic principles and does not contribute to the integration of the Moslem minority into mainstream Greek society, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said in a radio interview yesterday.

    "The philosophy of Article 19 was mistaken, and in practice harmful to Greek interests. First of all, as an image in an international environment, where human rights are on the chessboard.

    "Secondly, we want to help in the smooth integration of the Moslem population in Greek society, so that they feel as citizens of this country. This policy (of Article 19) did not contribute in this direction and created all the supports for Turkish propaganda to utilize them and differentiate them from the Greek public life in general," he said.

    The Coalition of the Left welcomed in a statement the announced abolition of Article 19, adding that the 'sensitive' Thrace region would be better protected through the formulation of conditions of equality and rights before the law for the minority, and with development without discrimination for all citizens.

    Conversely, Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras described any decision of the government to abolish Article 19 as "an act of recklessness".

    [14] Acclaimed actor Demetris Horn dies at the age of 77

    Athens, 17/01/1998 (ANA)

    One of Greece's most talented and celebrated stage and cinema actors, Demetris Horn, died yesterday afternoon at an Athens clinic from a heart attack. He was 77.

    Born in Athens in 1921, the son of well-known playwright Pantelis Horn, he studied drama at the Greek National Theater's Drama School from 1937 to 1940.

    His acclaimed theatrical performances included Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night", "Richard II", "Richard III" and "Hamlet", as well as Moliere's "Don Juan", Chekhov's "Ivanov", Pirantello's "Henry IV", and Schaffer's "Sleuth", while his Greek cinema credits include Michael Cacoyiannis' "Sunday Awakening" and "The Girl in Black".

    Horn was appointed director of the state-run Greek Radio and Television (ERT) network in 1974, and established the Goulandris-Horn Foundation for the study of Greek civilization with his wife Anna in 1980.

    A funeral service with the attendance of only close family and friends and without eulogies will be held, according to the veteran actor's last wishes.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis and other prominent political figures made statements on Horn's death.

    Mr. Simitis said the late actor, with an unrivaled acting abilities and integrity, would remain a shining example for all younger generations of Greek actors.

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who is in Stockholm, said Horn had linked his name and significant talent with a whole era.

    New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis said Horn's recognition and reputation has surpassed the borders of the country, and his contribution to the country's cultural life was tremendous.

    Former Communist Party of Greece secretary general Harilaos Florakis said a great actor had gone, and equally great was the vacuum left behind in the field of art.

    Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos said Horn's work expressed and beautified an entire era.

    Former president of the republic Constantine Karamanlis said: "I learned of the death of my friend with great pain. He was a great artist and an outstanding man. His place in the history of Greek theater will remain unique."

    Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras said the lights will never go out for Horn's charismatic personality.

    [15] European news agencies hold bi-annual meeting in Brussels

    Brussels, 17/01/1998 (ANA - Spinthourakis)

    The Union of European News Agencies (EUNA) presidium yesterday held its bi-annual meeting here and discussed the preparations for a general assembly of the European news agencies to be held at Oslo this May.

    The meeting also dealt with issues concerning future development of news agencies, such as use of the Internet.

    Athens News Agency General Director and EUNA Vice-President Andreas Christodoulides represented ANA.

    Greek Eurodeputy Katerina Daskalaki was invited to address the General Assembly in May on the European Parliament's report concerning the European press.

    [16] Cypriot-flagged vessel sinks off Canada

    Athens, 17/01/1998 (ANA)

    Canadian coast-guard rescue teams had retrieved the bodies of 15 crew-members of the Cypriot-flagged cargo ship "Flare" last night, which went down in rough seas some 50 miles from Canada's Atlantic coast earlier yesterday.

    Four members from the 25-man crew, three Filipinos and a Romanian national, were rescued from a lifeboat.

    The vessel, traveling without cargo on route from Rotterdam to Montreal, transmitted an SOS at 11 a.m. Greek time, and was then lost from the radio frequencies of other vessels and the Canadian coast-guard.

    All four Greek nationals are reported dead or missing, including the vessel's captain, Zannis Georgoulis.

    [17] Kranidiotis visit to CoE headquarters

    Strasbourg, 17/01/1998 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    Foreign Under-secretary Yiannos Kranidiotis visited the Council of Europe here yesterday for contacts on issues concerning rights linked to the European Accord for the Protection of Human Rights.

    He met Council of Europe Secretary-General Daniel Tarschys, Alternate Secretary-General Hans Kruger, the Director of the Human Rights Department Pierre Ibrere and members of the European Commission and the Human Rights Court.

    Mr. Kranidiotis discussed with them prospects of co-operation between Greece and the Commission and the Human Rights Court, announcing the Greek government's intention to abolish article 19 of the Citizenship Code but without retroactive effect. Legislative settlement will be promoted in Greek Parliament in the next few days.

    He also made a briefing on other decisions taken by Greece aimed at enabling Greece to live up to international obligations it has assumed in the human rights sector.

    Mr. Kranidiotis referred in particular to the new organizing structure in Greece related to issues concerning the handling of cases with the Commission and the Human Rights Court.

    He further discussed the prospects of the Greek Council of Europe Presidency, mentioning that Greece will give priority to human rights issues, as well as to serious migration issues which have been harassing Europe of late.

    [18] Anarchists violence mars student protest

    Athens, 17/01/1998 (ANA)

    An otherwise peaceful protest march by students beginning from the Athens University's main administration building (Propylea) on Panepistimiou street to the education ministry was marred yesterday by the firebombing of a state-owned vehicle.

    According to informed sources, the bomb was placed by anarchists mingling with the protesting students. The march was at all times monitored by a large riot police contingent.

    Shortly after yesterday's incidents in central Athens, a group of youths stopped a Mercedes vehicle being driven near the Polytechnic, before forcing the driver to get out and set fire to the vehicle with a petrol bomb.

    The blaze, which caused serious damage to the vehicle, was put out by firefighters.

    The attacks follow two separate bomb attacks Thursday night in the east Athens district of Zographou, where the Athens University's student dormitories are located.

    In the first incident, a private school bus was seriously damaged by a makeshift firebomb. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

    Meanwhile, a bus belonging to the urban transport company (OASA) parked near Zographou cemetery and the dormitories also sustained serious damage from petrol bombs, allegedly thrown by anarchists.

    The anarchists who destroyed the OASA bus also broke windows in the cemetery's chapel and caused damage to a nearby cafe.

    Local residents yesterday expressed their anger at the absence of police in the area despite repeated calls for help. They also allege that shortly after arriving on the scene, a fire brigade crew suddenly left after communicating with headquarters, without extinguishing the fire.

    According to eyewitness accounts, the anarchists emerged from the nearby campus where several college students had attended a concert.

    [19] KKE criticism of Washington

    Athens, 17/01/1998 (ANA)

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga in a statement from Thessaloniki yesterday said that the US is promoting the dispute of Greece's sovereign rights.

    Ms. Papariga is in Thessaloniki for a two-day visit of local industries and workers' unions, as well as the TVX goldmines at Olympiada, Halkidiki.

    [20] Protest outside US embassy

    Athens, 17/01/1998 (ANA)

    Meanwhile, KKE organized a demonstration at Lavrion Square yesterday, attended by some 1,000 protesters who later marched to the US embassy.

    Demonstrators denounced what they called the provocative statements of US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns.

    In a press release, KKE said "the new ambassador is working for the enforcement of the criminal order of the US and NATO."

    Other protests were held in other cities as well.

    [21] US Commerce Secretary in Athens for talks on bilateral trade

    Athens, 17/01/1998 (ANA)

    US Secretary of Commerce William Daley will be in Athens today to participate in talks on boosting trade between Greece and the United States.

    Also participating in the talks, which begin today, will be World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) president Andrew Athens, who arrived in Athens yesterday on the invitation of US Ambassador Nicholas Burns.

    Mr. Daley, the first member of the Clinton administration to visit Greece, told reporters in Washington that he would also promote the participation of US firms in tenders announced by the Greek government for state procurements, while also naming the sectors of telecommunications and environmental protection as areas of investment potential.

    The level of trade between Greece and the US currently stands at 1.5 billion dollars.

    Mr. Athens told the ANA that Mr. Daley, whom he met with earlier this week, would convey the US interest in expanding trade relations with Greece as "the Greek market is an important factor of political and economic stability in southeastern Europe".

    He also said he was awaiting a "positive result" from his request that Mr. Daley also visit the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople.

    [22] Greek stocks rebound at the end of the week

    Athens, 17/01/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities ended the week yesterday on a firm tone rebounding moderately after Thursday's sharp fall to fresh three-month lows on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Traders said the market was encouraged by a recovery in international markets and by a stable condition in domestic money markets which saw capital inflows totaling 70 million US dollars and interbank interest rates move in range.

    Also the drachma was firmer against the ECU and the DMark, but slightly lower against the US dollar. The general index closed 1.24 percent up at 1,411.29 points for a week loss of 4.68 percent.

    Trading was heavy with turnover at 22.5 billion drachmas. The week's turnover totaled 99.934 billion drachmas to a daily average of 20 billion.

    Sector indices were mixed. Banks rose 1.50 percent, Insurance increased 1.69 percent, Leasing fell 0.13 percent, Investment ended 0.79 percent up, Constructions fell 0.72 percent, Industrials were 1.38 percent higher, Miscellaneous surged 3.20 percent and Holding rose 1.09 percent. The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 2.50 percent, while the FTSE/ASE ended at 776.23 points, up 1.20 percent, but off 6.99 percent in the week.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 137 to 78 with another 23 issues unchanged.

    Kambas, Petzetakis, Papoutsanis and Ideal scored the biggest percentage gains at the day's upper limit of 8.0 percent, while Tzirakian, Balkan Export, Fourlis, Sato and Pouliades suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 20,100 drachmas, Ergobank at 13,300, Alpha Credit Bank at 14,490, Delta Dairy 2,750, Titan Cement at 13,705, Intracom 14,660 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organization at 5,575.

    [23] Olympic Airways lowers cost of transatlantic flights

    Athens, 17/01/1998 (ANA)

    Olympic Airways, Greece's national carrier, yesterday announced new lower prices on four transatlantic flights and one European destination.

    OA's board approved a reduction in ticket prices to New York from 167,000 to 130,000 drachmas, to Boston from 167,000 to 130,000, Montreal from 174,000 to 135,000 and Toronto from 181,000 to 135,000.

    The national carrier also announced a reduction in the cost of round trip to London from Athens and Thessaloniki to 70,000 drachmas.

    [24] Retail sales volume up 0.9 pct in October 1997

    Athens, 17/01/1998 (ANA)

    Greece's retail sales volume rose by 0.9 percent in October 1997 compared with the corresponding period in 1996, a national statistics service statement said yesterday.

    The volume of retail sales was 2.3 percent higher in the period from January to October 1997 from the same period the previous year.

    [25] Bank of Greece offers banking to illegal immigrants

    Athens, 17/01/1998 (ANA)

    The Bank of Greece has lifted restrictions that prohibited illegal immigrants from opening and holding bank accounts with Greece-based financial institutions.

    "Provision of banking services, especially savings accounts, to non-European Union subjects who cannot prove their legal stay in Greece is liberalized," the central bank stated.

    The Bank of Greece said it expected the removal of restrictions to favorably affect Greece's economy and the country's balance of payments as well as facilitate illegal workers.

    The new regulation, set to be activated Feb. 1, will provide safety to an estimated half a million illegal immigrants who up to now were forced to keep their savings in cash form, resulting in increased criminal activity.

    "The workers resorted to the transfer of savings to their home countries, running the risk of capital loss due to monetary instability there," the cental bank said.

    Illegal immigrants wishing to open bank accounts will still need to present formal documentation of their identity (passport) and will be liable to standard controls for money laundering, it added.

    [26] Commission asks for clarifications on public utilities' procurements

    Brussels, 17/01/1998 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    The European Commission has asked Athens for clarifications regarding approximately 200 programmatic agreements for procurements by public utilities from domestic private enterprises before Dec. 31, 1997.

    The clarifications concern contracts in the sectors of water supply, transports, energy and telecommunications.

    The transitional period of Greece's exemption regarding the four sectors from the application of Directive 93/98 expired on the above date.

    [27] Fisherman, sponge divers given extension for rendering VAT

    Athens, 17/01/1998 (ANA)

    The period allowing fishermen and sponge divers to adjust to an obligation to render VAT to the state has been extended for a year, until Dec. 31, 1998.

    Until then, these two categories of professionals will not render VAT receipts to the state.

    The extension is anticipated by a decision signed by Finance Under-secretary George Drys aimed at lifting the deadlock created following vehement reactions from fishermen and sponge divers to the new status, which the government attempted to apply as of this year under pressures from the European Union.

    Reactions culminated in past days with the blocking of ports on several Aegean islands.

    According to the status existing in Greece to date, these two categories are subject to the status governing farmers and do not render VAT to the state.

    The decision notes that efforts will be made to find a joint solution with fishermens' and sponge divers' unions by the end of 1998 so that they can pay a lump-sum VAT as of 1999 on the basis of some turnover to be set in accordance with a vessel's length without the obligation to keep accounting books.

    Fishermen and sponge divers protesting the new tax rules yesterday continued to blockade the ports of Leros, Patmos, Naxos, Kalymnos, Irakleio and Santorini for the fifth consecutive day.

    Before Mr. Drys decision was announced, fishermen's representatives told ANA that the ports of Samos, Karlovasi, Pythagoreio, Fourni, Agios Kyrikos and Evdilos would be blockaded, affecting all ships after the departure at 4 p.m. yesterday of the ferry "Milena".

    Before the new tax regulations, fishermen were included in the same tax category as farmers and were exempt from paying value-added tax (VAT) on their catches.

    [28] Drama interested in natural gas

    Athens, 17/01/1998 (ANA)

    The city of Drama yesterday agreed in principle to promote the use of natural gas and it is willing to participate in the seven-billion-drachma project to the tune of 20 per cent.

    Drama will be connected with a 75-kilometer local network to a natural gas main network through the Kavala Public Natural Gas Enterprise (DEPA) facilities.

    End of English language section.


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