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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-05-02

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Athens satisfied with ECOFIN euro recommendations regarding Greece
  • [02] Three separate May Day rallies held in Athens
  • [03] Athens dismisses latest Yilmaz statements as a `provocation`
  • [04] Greek-Turkish women's dialogue on Kos
  • [05] PKK denies Turkish claims, points to murder attempt against pope
  • [06] Pangalos warns that EU enlargement would suffer if problems arise for Cyprus` entry
  • [07] Tsohatzopoulos tells Turkey to seek recourse to The Hague if it doubts Greek sovereignty
  • [08] Paschalidis concludes official visit to London
  • [09] Press minister hails freedom of the press day
  • [10] Constitutional Law Centre delegation concludes Tirana visit
  • [11] US State Department report on terrorism unveiled
  • [12] Several gov't officials propose changing of oath
  • [13] Series of issues discussed at inner cabinet, PASOK political secretariat meeting
  • [14] PASOK deputy's offices attacked
  • [15] Int'l regatta off Cephalonia
  • [16] HELEXPO forum on central Macedonia tourist sites
  • [17] TV documentary on Polk murder
  • [18] Dozens of illegal immigrants rounded up
  • [19] Pangalos quoted as favouring Olympic's immediate closure
  • [20] Economic News

  • [01] Athens satisfied with ECOFIN euro recommendations regarding Greece

    BRUSSELS, 2/5/1998 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou last night expressed Greece's absolute satisfaction over EU finance ministers' recommendation that Greece has achieved "substantive progress" to meet convergence criteria an d participate in the third stage of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) as of Jan. 1, 2001.

    Ahead of an EU summit today, EU finance ministers formally recommended yesterday evening that 11 countries P Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Ireland P launch EMU from Jan. 1, 1999.

    The recommendation will be confirmed at the Brussels summit today.

    The ECOFIN Council's statement concerning Greece was as follows:

    "The Council notes the substantive progress achieved by Greece to meet convergence criteria. The Council expresses its satisfaction over the determination of the Greek government to implement its policy on fiscal restructuring and structural adjustment to enable Greece to participate in the third stage of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) as of Jan. 1, 2001. Then, Greece's progress will be judged in the same way as the member-states which will participate in EMU as of Jan. 1, 1999 were judged."

    Mr. Papantoniou said that it is an important national success and a historic step in Greece's effort to participate in the final phase of EMU.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Three separate May Day rallies held in Athens

    Athens, 2/5/1998 (ANA)

    Several thousand people turned out in central Athens to celebrate the May Day labour holiday, although the trade union front was fragmented by the holding of three separate rallies almost simultaneously in the city's centre.

    What was supposed to have been the major event, the annual rally organised by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) and the Athens Labour Centre attracted only an estimated cro wd of about 2,000 at the Pedion tou Areos square.

    The rally was not followed by the annual march to Parliament. Addressing the rally, GSEE President Christos Polyzogopoulos accused the organisers of similar events "just a few hundred metres away" of harming the unity of the trade union movement.

    He said GSEE had withstood strong attacks "both from within and from outside" but would endure for many decades to come.

    The main demand at the rally was the 35-hour working week without any reduction in wages. Mr. Polyzogopoulos said it was the only way to combat unemployment and criticised the government for trying to "circumvent" labour agreements. Demanding a "sa tisfactory" collective labour agreement for 1998, he called on employers to abandon their "intransigence" and on the government to stop granting employers what he referred to as a peculiar type of "immunity".

    The rally was also addressed by representatives of immigrants' organisations and a representative of the newly elected Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, who underlined the Chur-ch's interest in the unemployed and pensioners.

    The rally was attended by Labour and Social Security Minister Miltiades Papaioannou, Justice Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos, Labour Undersecretary Christos Protopapas and representatives of the ruling PASOK party, the main opposition New Democracy part y and the Coalition of the Left and Progress. Also present were Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos and mayoral candidates Maria Damanaki and Dimitris Beis.

    In contrast, the rally organised in Syntagma Square by trade unionists affiliated to the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) attracted an estimated 6, 000 people.

    It was addressed by GSEE alternate president George Mavrikos and the president of the Social Security Foundation (IKA) pensioners' association Diamandis Mavrodoglou, who both strongly criticised the government and the trade union leadership.

    They urged trade unions to become more militant and not participate in the social dialogue with the government and employers.

    Representatives of immigrants' associations who addressed the rally condemned the resurgence of activity by the extreme-right organisation "Golden Dawn" and urged trade unions to rally in order to give "the fitting reply".

    Trade unionists affiliated to other left-wing parties not represented in Parliament organised a separate rally in Omonia Square, followed by a march to nearby Kolokotroni Square, where they joined groups of ethnic Turks, Kurds, Africans, Albanians and o ther foreign nationals. About 200 members of the Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) neo-fascist group gathered at Stadiou Street in Athens shouting slogans against the state and "zionist traitors". A strong police force had cordoned off the area to prevent possib le clashes with a rival gathering of anti-racist groups.

    A message by the Athens Union of Journalists (ESHEA) on Labour Day said the long struggles of working people were under an unprecedented attack.

    "The right to work, wages, humane conditions of work, and their leisure time are within the aim of the new world order which continuously wants to increase profits at the expense of the creators of all goods and wealth," the message said.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Athens dismisses latest Yilmaz statements as a `provocation`

    Athens, 2/5/1998 (ANA)

    Greece dismissed as an "unaccep-table provocation" statements by Turkish Premier Mesut Yilmaz that Athens was extremely hostile towards Ankara.

    "The statements by the Turkish premier are an unacceptable provocation and confirm once again Turkey's weakness to adjust itself to international legality," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said late Thursday.

    Mr. Yilmaz claimed that the "Greek government's strategic aim is to prevent Turkey's efforts at progress, while irreparably damaging and limiting Turkey's relations with the west".

    "His (Yilmaz's) unfortunate attempt to create impressions against Greece with misleading allegations conflict not only with the rules of good neighbourliness, but ultimately against Turkey's own interests and those of its people," Mr. Reppas said.

    The government spokesman added that Turkey, instead of "contribu-ting in a constructive manner to the creation of a positive climate in the region, choses to maintain tension by launching threats."

    Mr. Reppas said that Greece "always and now, defends its national interests, devoted to the principles and treaties of international law, which are the ideal framework for normalising relations between the two countries."

    In a related development, he said Athens does not permit the operation of organisations which take up arms against the governments of other countries.

    Mr. Reppas was replying to criticism from Ankara that Greece was allegedly offering assistance to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The spokesman clarified, however, that Kurdish organisations lawfully maintained offices in Greece, as they did in many other European Union member-states.

    "Greece condemns terrorism and the use of forceIneither in the past nor in the future will it permit the operation of formations or organisations which engage in armed activities against the governments of other countries. To ensure this, all the approp riate measures have been taken," Mr. Reppas said in a statement.

    "In Greece, as in other countries of the European Union (Italy, Spain, Finland, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Denmark) there are offices of political Kurdish organisations which operate within the framework of the law, owing to the large number of refugees ( in those countries) who are protected by the Geneva Convention," the statement read.

    Mr. Reppas also underlined Turkey's obligation to respect human and minority rights in accordance with the principles of the United Nations and decisions of the European Union. Kaklamanis: Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis also dismissed Mr. Yilmaz's statements as "anachro-nistic, provocative and lacking any historical basis".

    Replying to reporters' questions on Yilmaz's remarks about Greece increasing its territory by 400 per cent, Mr. Kaklamanis said:

    "We've been here for a few thousand years. I don't know how long Mr. Yilamaz's race has been where it is today, nor where it came from exactly."

    He added that the Turkish premier was showing just how interested he was in retaining good neighbourly relations with Greece and, above all, stability and peace in the region. He also noted "Ihow distant the views of the current Turkish leadership are f rom Ankara's European prospects".

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Greek-Turkish women's dialogue on Kos

    Athens, 2/5/1998 (ANA)

    A Greek-Turkish women's dialogue started on the island of Kos and will continue over the weekend in the city of Halicarnassus (Bodrum).

    The event comes in the wake of recent provocative statements by Ankara disputing Greek sovereignty of four small islands in the eastern Aegean.

    With the slogan, "its is more difficult for one to struggle for peace rather than war", 15 Greek women and 15 Turkish women are holding talks on various issues.

    The Greek delegation is headed by Margaret Papandreou, the ex-wife of the late Andreas Papandreou.

    Issues discussed on Kos concern equality between the sexes, employment, unemployment, as well as illiteracy.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] PKK denies Turkish claims, points to murder attempt against pope

    Athens, 2/5/1998 (ANA)

    A Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) spokeswoman said on Thursday in Athens that the murderers of late Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme have been known for sometime now.

    PKK spokeswoman Semsi Kilc noted that TurkeyYs "organised defamation attacks" against PKK through the press "have gained new momentum with Semdin Sakik", the recently captured PKK commander.

    She added that the latest Turkish claims levelled at the PKK are attempts at "covering up" Turkish military losses during its campaigns against the National Liberation Front of Kurdistan (ERNK).

    The spokeswoman added that Europe must search for who killed Palme at the "decision-making centre of the almost fatal attack against the Pope; of bombing attacks against Armenian monuments; arson attacks against the forests of Greece and the murder of C ypriot citizen Theofilos Georgiades."

    Commenting on accusations that PKK bribed the Turkish daily Sabah's columnists Mehmet Ali Birant and Cengiz Kandar, she said it is a policy of the Turkish state to undermine persons, such as the two aforementioned journalists.

    Ms Kilc added that Mr. Birant was an adviser to the Turkish state during the Gulf War and that Mr. Kandar was an adviser to late prime minister Turgut Ozal on the Kurdish issue.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Pangalos warns that EU enlargement would suffer if problems arise for Cyprus` entry

    Athens, 2/5/1998 (ANA)

    Foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos on Thursday there would be no European Union enlargement if anyone created a political problem over Cyprus' accession.

    "If a political problem is created in Cyprus' accession course, this would undermine the smooth operation of the EU itself and consequently, there will be no enlargement," Mr. Pangalos said in an interview with the Athens daily "Elefthe-rotypia" on Thur sday.

    Cyprus, he said, was part of a package with the other membership candidates. Negotiations would be held separately with each candidate and each candidate would be judged on the basis of its pros and cons, the minister added.

    "But if someone creates a political issue over Cyprus, this would create a political issue of the Community's function in its entirety. Therefore, there would be no smoothly operating Community and, consequently, there would be no enlargement. We shall not obstruct one or the other country. Simply, the Community will stop functioning," Mr. Pangalos said.

    He also said that Turkey's attitude was causing problems internationally, since all countries, except France, recognised that Ankara was violating international law, avoiding international courts and displaying intransigence on the Cyprus issue.

    Turkey, he said, had been following a consistent policy for many years that aimed at a general political negotiation on altering the existing status quo in the Aegean.

    "And, it is also well-known that in the framework of that strategy, Ankara regularly makes its moves," he said, noting that two such moves were its dispute of Greece's sovereignty of Imia islet, and Gavdos island.

    At the same time, Mr. Pangalos noted, Ankara proceeded with the introduction of the concept of "grey zones" in the Aegean, in the context of which emanates its recent demarche disputing Greek sovereignty of four inhabited Greek islands in the Aegean: Pserimos, Agathonissi, Farmakonissi and Fourni.

    As for why Ankara decided to make such a move on the eve of a critical EU Council of Ministers meeting that was to decide on releasing EU funds to Turkey, and as the US was trying to convince Greece that some gesture was needed so that a basis for disc ussion could be found, "I think it is something that we will find out in the far future".

    One explanation could be that "Turkey at this time does not really want to enter into dialogue with the international community and prefers a stance of isolation, intransigence and faits accomplisIwith the occasional stipulation of outlandish and unac ceptable demands", Mr. Pangalos said.

    Or, he added, it could be that the Turks disagreed among themselves and undermined each other, in other words some wanted dialogue and rapprochement with the EU and some others were hastening to block them.

    The essence, the foreign minister stressed, "is that we have a country that lacks seriousness, acts in an unacceptable manner in relation to the international rules, and which must be confronted by the international community as a whole."

    "Turkey's attitude is creating a serious international problem", Mr. Pangalos said.

    With the exception of France "all the others (countries), without exception, have recognised" the above, he added.

    And the French stance "is difficult to explain, because it cannot be explained in political terms," Mr. Pangalos said. "Apparently, some parties have immense interests, some parties have forged a strategy in which Turkey holds such a position that allie s and centuries-old friendships P such as that between France and Greece P are literally thrown into the garbage with total indifference to the consequences of the attitude of the current French government".

    "But from there on, they follow a tactic which is inspired by and followed by certain circles, which says that we should make a gesture towards Turkey in the hope that Turkey will respond," Mr. Pangalos added.

    At the latest foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels, Mr. Pangalos said, "I put the question to my colleagues: Can one of you say to me that you have any indication or information that Turkey will respond to this gesture (release of EU funds under the f inancing protocol)?"

    "And they all remained silent," he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Tsohatzopoulos tells Turkey to seek recourse to The Hague if it doubts Greek sovereignty

    Athens, 2/5/1998 (ANA)

    International law and the Treaty of Lausanne clearly define the Greek sovereignty of islands and islets in the Aegean, Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Thursday. Speaking at a flag-raising ceremony for the frigate "Psarra", the second of thre e being constructed by the Skaramanga Shipyards, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that if Turkey had any doubts about the sovereignty of islands in the Aegean then it should refer to the International Court of Justice at The Hague to get a clear answer.

    "There is nothing up for negotiation" in the Aegean, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said, adding that The Hague was also the appropriate venue for the delineation of the Aegean's continental shelf.

    He added that talks about confidence-building measures in the Aegean could bring agreement on "behaviour which would not create tension".

    "This is possible if there is political will," he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Paschalidis concludes official visit to London

    LONDON, 2/5/1998 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)

    Undersecretary to the Prime Minister's Office George Paschalidis concluded an official three-day visit here on Thursday with talks at the Foreign Office with the head of the political planning department, followed by a wor king lunch with two advisers from the education and employment ministry.

    During his stay, Mr. Paschalidis had a series of meetings with British officials and members of the new labour government.

    In a statement at the end of his visit on Thursday, Mr. Paschalidis said that he was impressed by the British officials' hospitality and the transparency with which he was faced in his talks.

    "My working visit to London coincided with the first anniversary of the Labour Party in power. We exchanged experiences on governmental operation, views and new ideas... with a concept of a collective approach to things and with the centre of gravity a lways on support for the prime minister, the prime minister's work on government issues, the link between the prime minister and Parliament and the European experience of social dialogue," he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Press minister hails freedom of the press day

    Athens, 2/5/1998 (ANA)

    Press and Media Minister Dimitris Reppas, commenting on the International Day of Freedom of the Press on Sunday, stated yesterday that the securing of the freedom of the press proves the democratic sensitivity of a modern state. The National Federation of

    Journalists Union (POESY ) in its announcement stated: "The International Day of the Freedom of the Press coincides with the recent sackings of journalists Mehmet Ali Birant and Cengiz Kandar and targets the punishment and terrorising of press members in the neighbouring country."

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Constitutional Law Centre delegation concludes Tirana visit

    TIRANA, 2/5/1998 (ANA - P. Haritos)

    A delegation from Greece's Constitutional Law Centre "Dimitris Tsatsos" concluded a three-day official visit here yesterday. Eurodeputy Dimitris Tsatsos was invited to Tirana for the second time by the President of Albania's constitutional preparation committee, Sabri Gondo.

    He presented his proposals on improvements in clauses to be included in the country's new constitution, which is being processed by the committee.

    Mr. Tsatsos met with the committee responsible for preparing the constitution and was briefed on clauses which have already been set out. The Foundation's permanent representative, G. Katrougalos, has undertaken to study and process whatever proposals o r clarifications are made by the Foundation to the committee in two weeks' time.

    Meetings weere also held with Albanian Parliament President S. Gjinushi and President Rexhep Mejdani. Mr. Tsatsos also held talks with Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha and presented him with a series of alternative solutions that could possibly be d iscussed with the government.

    Mr. Berisha promised to examine the proposals, while a more permanent cooperation is expected to be established in the framework of exchanging views during Mr. Tsatsos' next visit.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] US State Department report on terrorism unveiled

    WASHINGTON, 2/5/1998 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    This year's report by the US State Department on terrorism concerning 1997 includes reference to attacks on Greek targets. No mention is made of recent attacks against US-based targets since they occurred after Jan. 1, 1998.

    "Leftist and anarchist groups" made a series of terrorist acts, primarily using firebombs and other bomb mechanisms of limited effect, it said.

    The report mentions a bomb explosion at the office of Development Minister Vasso Papandreou and the murder of shipowner Costas Peratikos last May.

    The report further stressed that efforts by the Greek government to tackle internal terrorism produced limited results. It added that no member of the November 17 terrorist organisation has ever been arrested, adding that on Dec. 1 a Greek court overtur ned a 10-year prison term imposed on Georgios Balafas and acquitted him.

    The report refers to the activities of "Kurdish nationalist organisations in Greece", including the PKK, adding that they enjoy widespread sympathy by the Greek people. Special mention is also made to the signing by 157 members of Greek Parliament of a resolution in support of an invitation being extended to PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan to pay an official visit to Greece.

    The report on Turkey points to attacks by the Dev Sol organisation against the installations of Turkish security services, an increase in terrorist activity by fanatical Islamist organisations and to the fact that in 1997 actions by the PKK have decreas ed compared to the previous year "partly due to the Turkish army's operations in northern Iraq."

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Several gov't officials propose changing of oath

    Athens, 2/5/1998 (ANA)

    Several leading government officials have signed a proposal to change the wording of the oath taken by members of Parliament when they are sworn in, as part of revisions to Greece's Constitution currently being considered.

    The letter, signed by 52 ruling PASOK deputies and one main opposition New Democracy deputy, recommends changing the oath from swearing in the name of the "Holy and Indivisible Trinity of One Essence" to swearing in the name of "the Greek people and the nation".

    Among the signatories to the letter are Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis, Finance Undersecretary George Drys, and former FM Karolos Papoulias.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Series of issues discussed at inner cabinet, PASOK political secretariat meeting

    Athens, 2/5/1998 (ANA)

    Constitutional revision, the armed forces' armaments programme, the course of major public works projects and a number of other current political developments were the focus of Thursday's marathon meeting between the inner cabinet and ruling PASOK's polit ical secretariat. Prime Minister Costas Simitis was reported to have come out in favour of removing a provision in the Constitution which dissolves Parliament if in procedures to elect a new president of the republic a majority vote is not reac hed.

    Mr. Simitis was also reported to have denied that there were plans to change the electoral law, although according to sources, he said that if the government decided to change the electoral law it would come into effect after the next elections.

    Development Minister Vasso Papandreou, sources added, broached the issue of high-level government leaks to the press, allegedly attributing them to close associates of the prime minister.

    Mr. Simitis is reported to have told his ministers and party officials to use the phone and to speak to him directly.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] PASOK deputy's offices attacked

    Athens, 2/5/1998 (ANA)

    A homemade firebomb yesterday was detonated outside the entrance of PASOK deputy Lambros Kanellopoulos' political office, causing minor damages, authorities said.

    Later in the day an unidentified person called an Athens daily claiming that the group "anarchist patrol" was responsible for the attack, at 120 Solonos St.

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos later condemned the attack.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Int'l regatta off Cephalonia

    Athens, 2/5/1998 (ANA)

    The Ionian island of Cephalonia has announced that it will stage its first International "Inshore Regatta" in August, immediately after the Ionian Sailing Rally which finishes in the island's capital, Argostoli.

    The "Argostoli Cup '98-Juan de Fuca", to take place August 17-19, will be under the auspices of the merchant marine ministry. It is named in honour of 16th century Cephalonia-born navigator and explorer Ioannis Fokas or Juan de Fuca, also known as Apost olos Valerianos.

    Ioannis Fokas was born in the Cephalonian town of Valeriano around 1550 and left the island at an early age. He sailed with the Mexican armada for more than 40 years. In 1592 he discovered a channel of water dividing Vancouver Island and North America, which was named the Strait of Juan de Fuca in his honour.

    The organisers said that the three-day race, which will be accompanied by numerous other athletic and cultural events, including dinghy racing, scuba- diving, water skiing and windsurfing, hopes to evolve into a main sailing event in the wider eastern Mediterranean.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] HELEXPO forum on central Macedonia tourist sites

    Athens, 2/5/1998 (ANA)

    HELEXPO is organising a four-day correspondents' forum on Monday in Thessaloniki to promote tourist attractions of central Macedonia.

    Reporters from Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Budapest, Moscow and Belgrade were invited to attend the forum.

    HELEXPO president Antonis Kourtis said that the exhibition agency has worked in the past to promote tourism in the region by taking part in several international tourism exhibitions.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] TV documentary on Polk murder

    Athens, 2/5/1998 (ANA)

    Greek state television (ET-1) will broadcast the four-part series "The Polk File on the Air" this May, according to a press release.

    The series will investigate American correspondent George Polk's murder in Thessaloniki in May 1948. The programme is an attempt to exonorate late Greek journalist Gregorios Staktopoulos, a one-time Polk aide .

    It should be noted that Staktopoulos was convicted of murdering Polk based on shaky evidence and was later pardoned after having served jailtime.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Dozens of illegal immigrants rounded up

    Athens, 2/5/1998 (ANA)

    The coast guard rounded up 69 illegal immigrants in two separate sweeps and arrested a Turkish national for clandestinely transporting them from neighbouring Turkey, the merchant marine ministry said yesterday.

    A ministry spokesman told ANA that a group of 52 illegal immigrants, 46 from Afghanistan, four from Rwanda and two Somalis, were arrested soon after landing on the Dodecanese island of Symi on Thursday.

    It said the boat's runner, Osman Goge, 39, who brought them over from the Turkish coast was sentenced by a court in the nearby island of Rhodes to 19 years and four months in jail, allowing him to buy off 10 years from his sentence for 1,500 drachmas p er day. The court also fined him 5.6 million drachmas. In another coast guard operation, a patrol boat arrested 17 Iraqi immigrants of Kurdish origin early Friday, as they landed at the Karlovasi site on the island of Samos. The Turkish smuggler managed to escape.

    Meanwhile, police in Thessaloniki arrested 35 illegal immigrants over the past two days, including 17 Albanians, two Russians and one Ukrainian. All have been detained pending deportation.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] Pangalos quoted as favouring Olympic's immediate closure

    Athens, 2/5/1998 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos was quoted on Thursday by an Athens daily as saying that state-run Olympic Airways must be immediately shut down, adding "no reasonable person" would fly with the ailing carrier.

    "We can't go on like this for even another week. It's over. The employees have dealt the fatal blow," Mr. Pangalos, a former transport minister, told the Athens daily "Eleftherotypia" in an interview.

    Olympic Airways has been in the red for the past 20 years and has lost about 65,000 passengers this month because of flight cancellations, work stoppages and strikes. OA unions have strongly protested a new restructuring plan that includes a three-year wage freeze and more flexible working hours without extra pay.

    The plan is part of the government's programme for restructuring the public sector economy, especially state-run utilities, in order to qualify for Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) by 2001.

    Mr. Pangalos said that as transport minister in 1994 he had told then prime minister Andreas Papandreou that loss-making OA had to be closed.

    "And I think that it is (still) the only solution. There is no other solution," he said.

    Mr. Pangalos called the operation of all public companies "a scandalous example of the squandering of public monies, which has led the economy itself to a dead-end."

    "Olympic is a black hole that has sucked in 700 billion drachmas from the Greek people. Have we realised this?" Mr. Pangalos said. Earlier last month, against a backdrop of union protests and internal party dissent, the government passed through

    Parliament a restructuring bill for Olympic.

    The bill called on Olympic to save approximately 42 billion drachmas a year for five years. Initially, it had called for cuts of 50 billion drachmas a year, but last minute concessions were added.

    Work stoppages and union unrest have continued since the bill was passed.

    Mr. Pangalos said it was "obvious" that party considerations had led the government to water down its original plans to radically shake up Olympic.

    "For me, the basic issue is the stance we take on public enterprises, both for the country's economic course and society as well as for political life, " Mr. Pangalos said.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] Economic News

    Athens, 2/5/1998 (ANA)

    Greece able to join euro by 2001 - central bank: Greece's participation in the euro by 2001 is feasible following a major improvement in economic indicators, the Bank of Greece said in its annual report on monetary policy on Thursday.

    The report cited improvements including lower inflation and a falling public deficit stemming from the implementation of a strict anti-inflation monetary policy, now within the framework of the European Union's exchange rate mechanism.

    Speaking at a press conference, central bank governor Lucas Papademos said the country needed a speedy implementation of economic structural reforms and adherence to the government's economic policy.

    Achieving the goal of EMU participation in 2001 also needed social consensus, Mr. Papademos said.

    The central banker underlined that containing consumer price inflation below a target of 2.0 percent set for 1999 required a strict implementation of monetary and fiscal policies, and a tight incomes policy.

    In addition, meeting the goal meant that wage increases should not exceed 4.5 percent.

    Mr. Papademos urged the government to speed up its privatisation programme and defended a trend of banking mega-mergers in Greece, saying that this would ensure their position in the domestic and foreign market.

    He called for the abolition of a special bank services tax, a move that would lead to lower interest rates.

    Mr. Papademos once again dismissed talk of a new drachma devaluation and reaffirmed the central bank's commitment to limit the drachma's fluctuation band to 2.5 percent within the ERM.

    He predicted that interest rates would start falling from the start of 1999.

    Greek stocks end higher on optimism over EU summit: Greek equities ended on Thursday higher for the third consecutive session reflecting the market's renewed optimism on the eve of a European Union summit in Brussels.

    The general index ended 4.37 percent up at 2,621.44 points with most sector indices scoring gains.

    Banks jumped 5.54 percent, Insurance was 1.87 percent up, Investment rose 4.63 percent, Construction increased 1.15 percent, Industrials rose 4.18 percent, Miscellaneous ended 1.93 percent higher, Holding rose 1.31 percent but Leasing bucked the trend t o end 1.28 percent down. The parallel market index for small cap companies edged 0.54 percent higher.

    Trading was heavy with turnover at 121.2 billion drachmas.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 173 to 72 with another 12 issues unchanged.

    Alpha Credit Bank, Ionian Bank, Macedonia-Thrace Bank, Bank of Athens, Etem, Lambropoulos and Mouriades scored the biggest percentage gains at the day's 8.0 percent limit up.

    Eltrak, General Warehouse, Radio Athina and Levenderis suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 55,300 drachmas, Ergobank at 29,600, Alpha Credit Bank at 33,156, Delta Dairy at 4,490, Titan Cement at 26,300, Intracom at 19,600 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 9, 000.

    Greek bourse rallies in week, recouping most gains: The Athens bourse on Thursday ended a volatile week with substantial gains, recovering most of a 12 percent downward correction that started late last week.

    Traders said the Greek market was nervous at first due to talk that a new drachma devaluation would result from a European Union summit in Brussels this weekend.

    However, analysts remained optimistic over the country's economy. They cited the example of Portugal in 1992 when a government decision to privatise public sector enterprises and implement strict fiscal policy brought the country much closer to European economic and monetary union.

    At the same time, several market analysts forecast that the Greek stock market was bound to post more gains.

    A report by Deutsche Morgan Grenfell and Berenberg Bank forecasts that the Athens bourse will exceed 3,000 points this year.

    The general index ended the week 5.96 percent higher. Banks scored the biggest percentage gains at 7.75 percent followed by Industrials at 6.36 percent, but Construction ended the week 3.18 percent lower.

    The market recorded a 30.69 percent gain in April and has gained 77.18 percent on the start of the year.

    Trading remained heavy with turnover totalling 527.9 billion drachmas for a daily average of 131.9 billion, up from 100.5 billion the previous week.

    Greece's Bank of Piraeus shows 89 pct profit jump in 1997: Bank of Piraeus, a listed Greek private bank, reported a hefty 89 percent increase in its 1997 parent company profits to 6.55 billion drachmas.

    The bank said that its consolidated profits rose 82 percent to 9.734 billion drachmas in the same period. The bank will pay a dividend of 150 drachmas per share to shareholders.

    Michalis Salas, the bank's president, predicted a 60 percent rise in 1998 profits.

    Addressing a general shareholders meeting on Thursday, Mr. Salas announced a share capital increase totalling 20-25 billion drachmas for Macedonia- Thrace Bank in 1999.

    The Bank of Piraeus bought more than 30 percent of Macedonia-Thrace Bank last month. (Continued on page 9)

    (Continued from page 8) Bank of Pireaus will seek 39 billion drachmas from the Athens bourse through a share capital increase.

    The plan includes granting two new shares for every 10 old ones and a share swap programme at 2,500 drachmas each.

    OTE contract for underwater optical fibre link between Greece, Yugoslavia: A contract was signed at the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation's (OTE) head office on Wednesday concerning the laying of an underwater optical fibre link between Greece and Yugoslavia running along the eastern Ionian and Adriatic, as well as a cont ract on its ownership status.

    The owners of the new cable link will be the telecoms authority of Yugoslavia, Italy's Telecom Italia and OTE, each with a one third share.

    According to a relevant announcement by OTE the project will be built by the MARISTEL firm, and is expected to be operational at the end of the year. Its cost will be about 3.5 billion drachmas. The link, between Corfu and the city of Bar, will employ t he most developed technology and will have a large-scale capacity. The link will handle a major part of ever increasing telecommunications between Greece and Yugoslavia, which until now was covered only with cables running through the Former Yugoslav Repu blic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Bulgaria, as well as transmissions between Italy and Yugoslavia.

    Tourism authorities expect 14 pct rise in Canadian tourists: The number of tourists visiting Greece from Canada is likely to rise by 14 percent this year, the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) said.

    GNTO's office in Canada said the figure was part of a rising trend with Canadian tourist arrivals increasing by 20 percent in 1997 and 18 percent in 1996.

    "We are regaining lost ground in North American markets, starting with Canada," GNTO's secretary general Nikos Skoulas said.

    The Greek state travel organisation recently held a series of presentations entitled Showcase Greece 1998 for tourism industry representatives.

    More than 3,500 officials attended the presentations from 23 Canadian cities.

    Canadians have shown special interest in theme tourism, an expanding sector in Greece, Mr. Skoulas said.

    HEPO conference: The Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO) will organise a conference at its headquarters on May 5 on the issue of "Economic Developments in Cyprus and Prospects for Greek Products P Off-shore Companies in International Trade."

    The purpose of the conference is to encourage small to medium-sized enterprises in Greece to exhibit their products for promotion in the wider region of the Middle East, North Africa and eastern Europe.

    Athens News Agency

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