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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-01-28

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 1401), January 28, 1998

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


  • [01] Gov't unveils amendment in DEKO law; 24-hour strike held yesterday
  • [02] ... Supreme Court orders investigation into strike
  • [03] ... Gov't says political cost not consideration in DEKO change
  • [04] Greece will persist with 'step-by-step' approach vis-a-vis Turkey
  • [05] ... Athens to protest Turkish patrol boats in Greek waters
  • [06] Kinkel: Ankara should refer its differences with Athens to The Hague
  • [07] Pangalos: Ankara must recognize The Hague's jurisdiction
  • [08] ... Ankara reiterates it wants 'dialogue', before The Hague
  • [09] EU, Russian officials meet
  • [10] Tsohatzopoulos signs defense co-operation agreement with Slovakia
  • [11] ... Meeting with Havel
  • [12] Papadopoulos briefs premier on new civil service code
  • [13] Simitis receives delegation of persons with special needs
  • [14] Simitis meets 10 PASOK deputies
  • [15] More cars torched overnight
  • [16] Danielle Mitterrand calls for action on illegal immigrants
  • [17] Greek human rights delegates attend Turkish policemen's trial
  • [18] Athens-Skopje talks continue over name issue
  • [19] Robles in Athens tomorrow
  • [20] Saudi Arabia awards King Faisal prizes
  • [21] Fouras-Bakouris meeting yesterday
  • [22] Romanian soccer coach may take over in Athens
  • [23] European pro soccer league representatives meet in Athens
  • [24] 1998 declared 'Quality Year' by V. Papandreou
  • [25] Greek stocks hit by rising interest rates
  • [26] European Commission ear marks 420 mln ECUs for SMEs
  • [27] Internet users grow rapidly in Greece
  • [28] Greece's cable industry outlook positive, report says
  • [29] Agrotica '98 trade fair opens today
  • [30] OTE profits announced
  • [31] Tzoumakas-Burns meeting on agricultural issues
  • [32] EOT promotional tour in Canada
  • [33] Papastratos sells its share of Makro
  • [34] Cold snap causes traffic problems around Greece

  • [01] Gov't unveils amendment in DEKO law; 24-hour strike held yesterday

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    The government proposed an amendment in its proposed draft bill for labor relations governing public enterprises and utilities (DEKOs) during a meeting yesterday, at the same time as most employees at public transports, utilities and state banks were on strike.

    The meeting was held between National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, Labor Minister Miltiades Papaioannou, Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis and the presidium of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), the trade union umbrella organization that called yesterday's 24-hour strike.

    The amendment is as follows:

    Firstly, the amendment will concern only state-subsidized but loss-making and problematic DEKOs, according to Mr. Papantoniou.

    Despite the fact the amendment's text will contain a general description and not reference in name, Mr. Papantoniou made it clear that the amendment concerns the Athens Urban Transport Organization (OA-SA), Olympic Airways, the Greek Railways Organization (OSE) and the Greek Post Offices (ELTA).

    Secondly, all DEKOs are provided with a six-month period of negotiations to change regulations. Mr. Papantoniou stressed that this element underlines the government's political volition for an agreement.

    "We hope for consensus," he said.

    For Olympic Airways, in particular, this period is limited to two months because the restructuring program is underway and the government believes that the perennially loss-making state-run company is entering a state of intense international competition, which does not allow for delays.

    Thirdly, if negotiations are concluded without an agreement being reached, the government reserves the right to take crucial decisions itself with a legislative settlement through Parliament. Legislative settlement can only be achieved once for each company and henceforth regulations will change with collective negotiations.

    GSEE President Christos Polyzogopoulos said the fact that many DEKOs are excluded from the amendment is positive and attributed this to the mobilization by employees and GSEE itself.

    However, Mr. Polyzogopoulos stressed that the amendment is rejected by the trade unions even with this reformulation because it leads to governmental intervention in free collective negotiations.

    "We will continue our struggle to ensure that the controversial clause is not implemented in practice," Mr. Polyzogopoulos said.

    [02] ... Supreme Court orders investigation into strike

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    Meanwhile, Supreme Court Prosecutor Panayiotis Demopoulos yesterday began a preliminary investigation into yesterday 24-hour strike by public transport, utilities and state-run banks.

    Mr. Demopoulos' investigation will examine whether the strikes were lawfully called and whether state services have been provided with a skeleton crew, as required by law.

    Yesterday's strike affected all public transports, including Olympic Airways flights and inter-city rail links, state-run banks, and all public utilities. It is the second strike called in a week over a provision in the government's tax bill that allows a change in the status of workers at public sector organizations within the framework of their reform.

    Mr. Demopoulos' order, sent to the heads of Athens and Piraeus appeals courts, stresses that legal action will be taken in the event violations are ascertained.

    The government said on Monday that a reworded version of the provision, clarifying that the reforms related only to ailing and heavily indebted public organizations, had been decided upon by the entire government, approved by the prime minister and would not be changed.

    [03] ... Gov't says political cost not consideration in DEKO change

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Demetris Reppas said later that the government hoped that the contentious provision on job relations between state and workers at ailing DEKOs would receive the agreement of workers as it had already been accepted by public opinion.

    "The government is proceeding with structural changes but believes that these can no longer be delayed for fear of the political cost," Mr. Reppas said.

    He said that the aim of reducing deficits could not be separated from the issue of revitalizing loss-making companies and that the government's overriding goal was participation in Economic and Monetary Union.

    "It is inconceivable that Greece remain out of decision-making centers which affect not only Europe but the entire world," Mr. Reppas said. He said that recent opinion polls showing a drop in the government's popularity were of little importance.

    The only "opinion poll" of importance, he added, were national elections "which will return a result in line with the government's efforts to make the country strong".

    [04] Greece will persist with 'step-by-step' approach vis-a-vis Turkey

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    The policy of a "step-by-step" rapprochement with Turkey is Greece's answer for a normalization of Greek-Turkish relations, government spokesman Demetris Reppas said yesterday in reply to criticism by main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis .

    The ND leader made statements on foreign policy following a meeting with President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

    "Turkey is called upon to harmonize itself with the international legal order and accept the appropriate rules of behavior. It is called upon to recognize the jurisdiction of the International Court at The Hague, as envisaged by the political framework of the Luxembourg summit," he added.

    Earlier, Mr. Karamanlis had accused the government of having no strategy and of "attempting to secretly alter its policy, as it appears to have decided to refer all issues - which Turkey unilaterally and arbitrarily has raised in an attempt to change the status quo in the Aegean - to the International Court at The Hague".

    Mr. Karamanlis stressed that issues that touch upon the country's national security and sovereign rights cannot be judged by the International Court or any other arbitration body, citing the security of the Aegean islands as an example.

    He called on the prime minister to clarify whether the positions expressed by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos recently in an interview with the Turkish daily "Milliyet" constitute an official and binding policy of the government, adding: "If this is so, how is it possible for Mr. Simitis to lead a government when so many ministers, including the defense minister, disagree with these positions?"

    He remarked that if "it is a definite decision for the country to move along this policy, then this means that things have been agreed in advance which find the majority of the Greek people in disagreement, and this means that the government is shouldering huge national and historical responsibilities".

    He added that if all these are in the context of supposed moves of goodwill, it is particularly important to understand "that we cannot risk the country's sovereign rights, or that when there is no response from the other side, the only thing we can do is show weakness and end up in an escalation of (Turkish) appetites and pressures".

    [05] ... Athens to protest Turkish patrol boats in Greek waters

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    Meanwhile, Athens intends to lodge a demarche with Ankara over violation of the rules of safe passage by two Turkish torpedo boats, spotted inside Greek territorial waters between the Greek islands of Kalymnos and Kalolymnos.

    Mr. Reppas said that Greece's ambassador in Ankara, Demetris Nezeritis, would lodge a demarche with the Turkish government over yesterday's incident.

    He added such an incident was not common and described Turkey's behavior as "dangerous" for peace and stability in the region.

    The diplomatic steps which will be taken will highlight the issue, the spokesman added.

    The crews of the two Turkish vessels also fired weapons into the sea in contravention of the rules of safe passage, and after the two vessels entered Greek territorial waters on Monday, west of the Imia islets. The two Turkish vessels fled the area and headed back towards Turkish waters after a Greek missile boat patrolling the area informed the two vessels' skippers of the violation of the maritime safety rules, asking them to exit Greek waters.

    [06] Kinkel: Ankara should refer its differences with Athens to The Hague

    Bonn, 28/01/1998 (ANA - P. Stangos)

    German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel yesterday expressed support for a proposal by his Greek counterpart Theodoros Pangalos' calling for Turkey to refer all issues it considers as problems or differences with Athens to the International Court at The Hague, thereby accepting the Court's obligatory jurisdiction.

    Mr. Pangalos' statements were published in an interview with the Turkish daily "Milliyet".

    "There must be progress in the relations between Greece and Turkey and an attainable way in this direction is the invitation addressed by Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos to the Turkish government to seek recourse at the International Court at the Hague," he said, after a joint press conference with his visiting Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem.

    He added that he had impressed this position "with intensity" to Mr. Cem, accompanying it with "an appeal to the Turkish government to re-think it".

    The issue of The Hague was side-stepped by Mr. Cem, with the familiar position of "first bilateral dialogue and then we see".

    Mr. Cem, who insisted that the European part of the discussions took place on an "exclusively bilateral" level, in order to make it clear that Ankara's decision to suspend political dialogue with the EU still applied, confirmed that Turkey did not wish to participate in the European Conference in London on March 12, claiming that the Luxembourg summit last December had discriminated against Turkey.

    Mr. Kinkel rejected this latter claim, saying that "the European Union is not responsible for the problems which Turkey has created, such as the occupation of northern Cyprus in violation of international law, and the problem with the Kurds".

    He insisted that "despite understanding Turkey's disappointment over the Luxembourg summit's decisions, European Union proposals were honest and responded to the real situation".

    In his introduction, Mr. Kinkel said the EU decision to open membership negotiations with Cyprus was a given, and that he had asked Mr. Pangalos to contribute to the representation of the Turkish Cypriot side in the Cypriot delegation in negotiations.

    [07] Pangalos: Ankara must recognize The Hague's jurisdiction

    Brussels, 28/01/1998 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    Turkey must realize that "we have entered a new era", in which it must adapt to by recognizing the jurisdiction of the International Court at The Hague, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos told reporters here yesterday, shortly before returning to Athens.

    Mr. Pangalos stressed that Turkey would at some point have to fall in line with the new international situation and recognize the competent international bodies.

    He was returning to Athens after attending a European Union General Affairs Council in the Belgian capital on Monday.

    Commenting on statements by Turkish Foreign Ministry official Necati Utkan, who said Ankara would not be willing to take recourse to the International Court at The Hague over the issue of its disputing the extent of Greek airspace, Mr. Pangalos said the issue was not what each Turkish official said on one or the other matter with regard to The Hague, "but Turkey's adjustment to international law".

    Mr. Pangalos noted that Turkey had for a number of years disputed that Greece's national airspace was 10 nautical miles "even though for four decades, from 1931 to 1973, Ankara accepted this limit without protest".

    By continuing to dispute the extent of Greek airspace, Mr. Pangalos said, Turkey was merely exacerbating a problem which it itself had created.

    [08] ... Ankara reiterates it wants 'dialogue', before The Hague

    Istanbul, 28/01/1998 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    On its part, the Turkish foreign ministry stressed that the first step in the direction of resolving problems between Greece and Turkey is a "constructive and sincere" dialogue.

    Mr. Utkan underlined relevant statements by Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit to the daily "Milliyet" and reiterated that "a climate of dialogue must be created first and only then can methods of solving problems be decided."

    Mr. Utkan reminded that Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz had recently said that "the implementation of a separate method to resolve each problem is not realistic."

    [09] EU, Russian officials meet

    Brussels, 28/01/1998 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    The European Union's Council of Foreign Ministers and Russian officials yesterday conducted their first co-operation conference.

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said that this conference between the EU and Russia signaled a new era of closer co-operation and trust, despite problems which still exist within the framework of the EU and Russia's willingness to strengthen its bonds with the Union.

    In a related development, the EU foreign ministers yesterday met with Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo, within the framework of the EU-Albanian Political Dialogue.

    Mr. Pangalos noted Albania's special role in Balkan co-operation within the framework of the interbalkan conference summit, to be held in Turkey.

    [10] Tsohatzopoulos signs defense co-operation agreement with Slovakia

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and his Slovakian counterpart J. Siltek signed a defense co-operation agreement, the first between the two countries.

    The two ministers discussed armament and defense industry issues within the framework of the co-operation agreement.

    According to press reports, Greek officials are interested in the 155mm "SUZANA" mobile artillery system, which has an effective firing range of 37 kilometers.

    Mr. Siltek thanked Mr. Tsohatzopoulos for Greece's support in Slovakia's effort to enter the European Union, as well as Greece's stance during the Albanian crisis.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos today will observe military exercises and will later meet with several high-ranking Slovakian ministers.

    [11] ... Meeting with Havel

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    Earlier yesterday, before leaving the Czech Republic, the Greek defense minister was received by President Vaclav Havel, whom he reassured of Greece's firm political backing for his republic's accession to NATO and in negotiations with the EU.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also briefed the Czech president on Greece's efforts to promote co-operation between the two countries in order to meet common problems on a NATO and EU level.

    He further pointed out that 1998 will be a crucial year for Greek-Czech relations, announcing at the same time that Prime Minister Costas Simitis, as well as Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis will visit the Czech Republic, probably within the year.

    Other meetings Mr. Tsohatzopoulos had included with Czech PM Tosovski and the leader of the senate, Mr. Pitnar.

    The Greek official's visit to Prague was marked by the signing of a military agreement between the two states.

    According to sources, Greece has an interest in purchasing a light fighter jet, the L-159, built by the Czech weapons industry.

    [12] Papadopoulos briefs premier on new civil service code

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    Interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos yesterday briefed Prime Minister Costas Simitis on a new civil service code, implementation of a law on the mergers of municipalities, and decentralization.

    It was decided that the state would hire 150 environmental scientists in addition to 375 specialized personnel to be appointed in the regions, so as to prevent delays in large and small projects.

    Discussion also included problems that have arisen because certain ministries have not proceeded to the recording of responsibilities that will be assigned to the regions and local government organizations.

    [13] Simitis receives delegation of persons with special needs

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday met with a National Federation of Persons with Special Needs (ESAEA) delegation to discuss related issues.

    Mr. Simitis discussed with delegates several economic issues and the establishment of centers for support to persons with special needs in 22 prefectures.

    Specific problems of hemophiliacs and kidney patients were discussed as well. ESAEA delegates requested that pension increases keep up with inflation and discussed hiring practices in the public sector.

    [14] Simitis meets 10 PASOK deputies

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis had lunch with 10 PASOK party deputies at the Maximos Mansion yesterday.

    The deputies attending the luncheon were Messrs. Akrivakis, Georgakopoulos, Zambounidis, Katsanevas, Levoyiannis, Niotis, Piperias, Ilias Papadopoulos, Stavrakakis and Haralambous. The meeting was part of contacts inaugurated by the premier with all of PASOK's deputies in an effort to achieve mutual briefing and better contact in the party. According to reports, discussion was dominated by issues concerning government policy and the situation prevailing in the party.

    [15] More cars torched overnight

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    Another five vehicles were attacked by makeshift bombs on Monday night, including two vehicles belonging to the environment ministry.

    A group calling itself "Revo-lutionary War" claimed responsibility for the attack on the ministry cars in Kallithea in an anonymous telephone call to Skai radio station.

    Police said they suspected 'Revolutionary War' to be a group for past bomb attacks but claiming responsibility under different names.

    The other three cars were torched by makeshift bombs in separate incidents in Glyfada, Maroussi and Nikaia.

    On Monday, a hitherto unknown group said to support American 'Unabomber' Theodore Kacynski claimed responsibility for a bomb attack against the offices of multinational computer company Hewlett-Packard in downtown Thessaloniki.

    The blasts caused damage to the Hewlett-Packard offices and the video club on the floor and to the building's facade. Police said a third explosive device, which did not explode, was found on the fourth floor in the offices of the Interamerican insurance company. Thessaloniki police told the ANA that patrols had been stepped up around "possible targets" after the recent spate of car bombs and torching in Athens.

    Some 1,000 police officers have been added to patrols in the Athens area, as police believe the torching were random attacks by anarchists hoping to throw police off the trail of accomplices of Nikos Maziotis, arrested on suspicion of involvement in an urban guerrilla group.

    Maziotis, 27, was charged with possession of weapons, explosive material and seditious printed material after a police swoop on a number of Athens homes. Police found a significant quantity of explosive material in the raids, including 9.5 kilos at Maziotis' Kamatero home.

    The finds, police say, link Maziotis with the urban guerrilla group Militant Guerrilla Formation (MAS), which has claimed responsibility for a number of bomb attacks since its appearance in 1996.

    [16] Danielle Mitterrand calls for action on illegal immigrants

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    Danielle Mitterrand, currently visiting Greece in her capacity as president of the "France Libertes" Foundation, yesterday called for a European policy on immigrants that would work towards their eventual return to their homelands.

    Ms Mitterrand is the widow of the late French president Francois Mitterrand.

    "The question is not whether western states want to or are able to have these people (in Europe), but to give them the opportunity to return to their homes without any problems," she said in a press conference.

    "France Libertes" has been involved in the problems of the Kurdish people, which Ms Mitterrand said were chiefly due to economic factors.

    "For 15 years we have been condemning the genocide being perpetrated against the Kurdish people, which we believe is due to economic factors since the land in their area is rich in water resources and therefore has attracted the attention of powerful interest groups. Our mission today is to attack the true cause of this catastrophe, to protect the people and to offer them our solidarity, letting them know they are not alone," she said.

    Ms Mitterrand also attributed the increasing problem of racism to economic factors.

    "We must counter the world dictatorship of money with the world democracy of peoples. Measures taken by European states to limit unemployment should not be turned against immigrants, since it is policies such as these that result in racism. Unemployment originates in a policy that seeks a cheap work force. There should be a united front of workers, including foreign workers, against such a stance," she said.

    Ms Mitterrand on Monday addressed a meeting of the Institute for Strategic and Developmental Studies (ISTAME) - Andreas Papandreou.

    Yesterday she met with President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and she also had a brief meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    [17] Greek human rights delegates attend Turkish policemen's trial

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    A number of Turkish police officers facing charges in connection with the death of 22 people in Istanbul's Gazi suburb, told a court in Trabzon recently that they knew nothing about the killings, since they only used water to disperse a gathering.

    However, photographs produced at the trial showed police firing on the crowd.

    The report was given yesterday during a press conference in Athens by Synaspismos member Zoe Spiliopoulou and Athens Bar Association representative Zoe-Maria Miliou, who visited Turkey recently as part of a delegation of the European Human Rights Commission.

    They said an attack, in which 22 people were killed and another 35 injured, was launched by police on protesting Gazi residents for a previous attack on two coffee-shops by the extremist group "Gray Wolves", an attack that claimed five victims.

    The two Greek delegates said that although the hearing continues, the court has acquitted many of the accused police officers.

    [18] Athens-Skopje talks continue over name issue

    United Nations, 28/01/1998 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)

    UN-sponsored talks between Athens and Skopje on the issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) official name were repeated yesterday at Greece's permanent UN representation here.

    The talks lasted two hours and were attended by special UN mediator Cyrus Vance, his deputy Matthew Nimetz, Greece's permanent representative at the UN Christos Zaharakis and his FYROM counterpart Ivan Tosevski.

    Mr. Nimetz and Mr. Zaharakis declined any comment after the meeting, unlike Mr. Tosevski, who replied to a relevant question on whether progress was attained with "certainly... We will meet again on Thursday".

    In the meantime, Mr. Vance invited all participants at yesterday's talks to a dinner tomorrow. However, it has not been announced yet whether the dinner will follow talks earlier on the same day.

    [19] Robles in Athens tomorrow

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    European Parliament President Jose Maria Hill Robles will start a three-day official visit to Greece tomorrow at the invitation of Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.

    Mr. Robles will hold talks with the country's leadership as well as with party leaders. His agenda of talks includes Greek-Turkish relations, Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), relations between the European Union and Turkey and relations between the Parliaments of member-states and the European Parliament.

    [20] Saudi Arabia awards King Faisal prizes

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    Saudi Arabia has chosen Senegal's president, two Arabs and three Western scientists to receive its 1997 King Faisal International Prizes.

    Five prizes, each worth 750,000 riyals ($200,000) have been awarded annually since 1981.

    A statement said Senegal's President Abdou Diouf received the prize for services to Islam for "defending Islamic causes at international forums and for encouraging Arabic and Islamic education in his country".

    British mathematician Andrew Wiles, a professor at the University of Princeton in the United States, was awarded the mathematics prize for solving a famous 17th century mathematical problem, the statement said.

    In 1994, Prof. Wiles, 44, found proof of "Fermat's Last Theorem", which had challenged a number theorists for 350 years.

    Americans Robert Purcell and John Gerin, both from the Washington D.C. area, shared the medicine prize.

    The prize for Islamic studies was shared by Yahya Mahmoud bin Jnaid, of Saudi Arabia, and Abdul-Sattar Abdel-Haq al-Halouji of Egypt, while the prize for Arabic literature was not awarded because studies presented did not meet the selection committee's criteria.

    [21] Fouras-Bakouris meeting yesterday

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    Sports Under-secretary Andreas Fouras and "Athens 2004" Managing Director Costas Bakouris had their first official meeting yesterday.

    "At our meeting, which lasted two and a half hours, I informed Mr. Bakouris on priorities for the Organizing Committee of 2004, namely, new sports legislation, public works for the Olympics, as well as related sports issues."

    He that "Mr. Bakouris is looking into the details and this is a fact which is very pleasing to me..."

    Mr. Bakouris did not comment on the meeting.

    In a related development, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis yesterday expressed his support for the Olympic Games Committee, during an event at the Technical Chamber of Commerce (TEE).

    On his part, TEE President Costas Liaskas said that the committee's work will be judged by its results.

    [22] Romanian soccer coach may take over in Athens

    Bucharest, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    Romania's national soccer coach, Anghel Iordanescu, is due in Athens on Friday for talks with the Greek soccer federation (EPO), reportedly to finalize a deal under which he will take over the Greek national team which hopes to qualify for the finals of Euro 2000. According to sources, the 48-year-old soccer coach has already agreed to take over the Greek national team and is coming on Friday to arrange last-minute details and sign a contract.

    The sources added that Mr. Iordanescu himself confirmed his trip to Athens during a conversation yesterday with a Romanian journalist. He reportedly told the journalist that he would only cancel the trip if so notified by the Greek soccer federation.

    The same sources said Mr. Iordanescu would be signing a two-year contract which would come into effect on August 1 this year, that is, after the World Cup finals in France.

    A Romanian soccer official meanwhile told the ANA that even if he wanted to, Mr. Iordanescu could not leave the Romanian national team immediately, since he had signed a contract with the Romanian federation (FRF) under which he must first fulfill all the Romanian team's World Cup obligations.

    [23] European pro soccer league representatives meet in Athens

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    The 3rd meeting of representatives of organizing authorities responsible for European professional soccer leagues was held at a downtown Athens hotel yesterday, attended by a high-ranking UEFA committee which was headed by its Secretary General Gerhard Aigner.

    The meeting was also attended by Greek Federation of Professional Soccer Teams (EPAE) President Stelios Sfakianakis, among others.

    Mr. Aigner stated that "everything that is related to television rights must function on the basis of what is applied in the charter of UEFA and rules governing the European Union."

    [24] 1998 declared 'Quality Year' by V. Papandreou

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    The development ministry has declared 1998 as a 'Quality Year', which will include a series of actions aimed at increasing awareness among the public and organizations.

    The action program in all sectors of the ministry's responsibility (industry, energy, commerce, tourism) were presented yesterday by Development Minister Vasso Papandreou during a press conference.

    "Quality is the main strategy in the government's development policy", said Ms Papandreou, who described quality as "a decisive parameter for the country's economic development..."

    She further said that the ministry was already working on the appropriate infrastructure required for drawing up a comprehensive policy on quality.

    The minister said emphasis will be placed on the introduction of quality checks in the market to protect consumers from low-quality products.

    [25] Greek stocks hit by rising interest rates

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities remained under pressure for the second consecutive session yesterday on the Athens Stock Exchange to lose further substantial ground.

    Traders said renewed turbulence in the domestic money market hit sentiment.

    A rise in interest rates at Monday's auction of state bills was interpreted as a sign of a rising trend in money market rates.

    Bank of Greece sources reported new capital outflows totaling 150 million US dollars at the drachma's fixing, while the Greek currency's parity eased by 0.66 percent against the dollar. The drachma was stable against the DMark and the ECU.

    The general index closed 1.23 percent lower at 1,410.23 points with most sector indices losing ground. Banks fell 1.72 percent, Insurance eased 1.51 percent, Leasing dropped 0.44 percent, Investment fell 0.28 percent, Industrials eased 0.60 percent, Constructions plunged 3.08 percent, Holding ended 2.09 percent off but Miscellaneous bucked the trend to end 1.19 percent up.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies fell 0.32 percent, while the FTSE/ASE index ended 1.48 percent down to 769.84 points.

    Trading remained moderate with turnover at 13.2 billion drachmas. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 160 to 49 with another 26 issues unchanged.

    Bank of Athens, Sarandopoulos, Radio Athina, Sato and Dane scored the biggest percentage gains, while Alumil, Technodomi, Levenderis, Viokarpet and Lanakam suffered the heaviest losses. National Bank of Greece ended at 19,650 drachmas, Ergobank at 13, 420, Alpha Credit Bank at 14,500, Delta Dairy at 2,730, Titan Cement at 13,460, Intracom at 14,540 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organization at 5,440.

    [26] European Commission ear marks 420 mln ECUs for SMEs

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    The European Commission, the EU's executive, yesterday adopted proposals for the financial support of investments in small and medium-sized enterprises aimed at creating new jobs.

    The Commission will earmark 420 million ECUs for the program covering the period from 1998 to 2000. The proposals were presented by commissioners Christos Papoutsis, Yves-Thibault de Silguy and Edith Cresson.

    [27] Internet users grow rapidly in Greece

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    The use of Internet is rapidly growing in Greece according to a report by the Institute of Financial and Industrial Research (IOBE) on telecommunications networks.

    The report said that the number of Greek users of the Internet was estimated at 20-25,000, while a big number of users - mainly students - take advantage of free access offered by universities.

    Greek Internet companies turnover totaled 2 billion drachmas in 1996, a figure likely to grow substantially in coming years.

    The report noted that competition would increase in the future and that only a few companies would survive.

    Greek companies were steadily adopting electronic data information systems (EDI).

    More than 100 companies, mainly multinational subsidiaries, have adopted the EDI system, while another 250 were expected to follow soon.

    [28] Greece's cable industry outlook positive, report says

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    Greece's cable industry outlook is positive, but the sector may face increased competition in the domestic market due to the liberalization of public utilities procurement contracts in the European Union, the Institute of Financial and Industrial Research (IOBE) said yesterday in a report.

    Greek cable manufacturers depend largely on orders by Public Power Corporation and Hellenic Telecommunications Organization.

    The two Greek utilities recently signed procurement contracts covering 25 percent of the country's cable industry turnover.

    The report urges cable manufacturers to seek expansion in eastern Europe ahead of an expected massive investment in the telecommunications and energy sectors in the region.

    Currently, almost 40 percent of Greek cable manufacturers production is exported and the industry showed a surplus of 75 million ECU in 1995.

    Italy is Greece's main supplier in cables. On the other hand, Britain and France are the main exporting markets.

    [29] Agrotica '98 trade fair opens today

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas will today inaugurate the 14th Agrotica international trade fair to be held in Thessaloniki.

    The Agrotica fair is the biggest agricultural trade fair in the Balkans and this year is expected to show increased numbers both in exhibitors as in visitors.

    According to HELEXPO figures, 1,517 Greek and foreign exhibitors will take part in the fair, covering 38,500 square meters, up from 1,500 and 36,807 respectively last year.

    Albania, Bulgaria, France, Spain, Italy, Poland and Tunisia are taking part with state-sponsored pavilions.

    [30] OTE profits announced

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    The total profits of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) are expected to amount to 368 billion drachmas in the 1998 fiscal year, increasing by 64 billion drachmas or 21 per cent compared to the 1997 fiscal year.

    According to OTE's budget, total revenues will increase from 979 billion drachmas, while expenditures for 1998, in the investments sector, will amount to 320 billion drachmas and will show an increase of 73 billion drachmas or 32.2 per cent as against predicted investments in 1997.

    Upon completion of the anticipated construction program in 1998, targets will be achieved such as the installation of 1.2 million lines, 160,000 new telephone lines and the construction of 2,500km of ditches for underground urban and long distance net works.

    Over the same period, an increase is also expected in digital lines by 72 per cent as against 49 per cent anticipated for 1997.

    OTE is expected to present considerable fund surpluses in 1998 which, after the payment of its fund obligations, will amount to 113.8 billion drachmas.

    [31] Tzoumakas-Burns meeting on agricultural issues

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas and US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns yesterday discussed several agriculture-related issues, including the transit of US farm products.

    Mr. Burns requested speedy inspections of US farm products by Greek authorities, while Mr. Tzoumakas said health inspections on quarantined agricultural products is necessary. However, he added that extra personnel will be assigned in cases of advanced notification, so as to speed up the process.

    Both men also noted Washington's willingness to promote research on genetically altered organisms, exploiting results.

    [32] EOT promotional tour in Canada

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    The Greek National Tourism Organization's (EOT) Canadian bureau will organized a 23-city "Showcase Greece" exhibition tour.

    Commenting on the effort, EOT General Secretary Nikos Skoulas said that "Canada is sending us optimistic messages. We are regaining lost ground in the North American markets, beginning in Canada".

    The exhibitions will promote all aspects of Greek tourism, while tour operators will take part with their own exhibition and workshops.

    Some 3,500 Canadian tourist agents are expected participate. The tour begins on Feb. 10.

    [33] Papastratos sells its share of Makro

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    The cigarette-maker Papastratos yesterday announced that it sold its shares of the Makro Cash and Carry outlets, some 10 per cent of the company's total, for 5.5 billion drachmas.

    Over the nine-month period from January to September 1997, 1.51 billion drachmas were spent on fixed asset investments. Revenues amounted to 49.75 billion drachmas over the same period, up from 40.40 billion drachmas over the corresponding period in 199 6, while net sales increased by about 2.5 per cent. Pre-tax results totaled 8.25 billion drachmas, from 7.17 billion drachmas.

    [34] Cold snap causes traffic problems around Greece

    Athens, 28/01/1998 (ANA)

    Heavy snowfall in the country's mountainous regions and gale-force winds in the Aegean caused transport problems yesterday over much of the country, isolating several villages.

    The coast guard banned all coastal shipping as of 10 a.m. from Piraeus and Rafina to the islands of the Aegean, the Dodecanese and Crete, although the Rio-Antirrio ferry was operating as usual.

    Snow chains are required for all vehicles traveling from Florina to Kastoria via Vitsi and Vigla, and between Florina and Nymphaio, Kozani and Ioannina.

    Heavy snow is also falling in the Peloponnese, cutting off villages around Kosmas and Agios Petros, as well the Tripoli-Argos road via Ahladokambos, although the main highways to Tripoli, Kalamata and Sparta are open. Chains are required on mountain roads leading to the Gortynia region of Arcadia.

    End of English language section.

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