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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-05-13

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] Pangalos: WEU has basis for creation of European defence identity
  • [02] Simitis-Christodoulos meeting at premier's office
  • [03] WEU statement dominated by Kosovo crisis
  • [04] Sezgin fails to rescind Turkish claims over alleged Greek support for PKK
  • [05] Papoutsis inaugurates Euro-Mediterranean energy conference
  • [06] Gov't conservation plan targets Mount Athos
  • [07] Karamanlis-Burns meeting
  • [08] Premier lauds gov't policy on employment
  • [09] ADEDY strike on May 27
  • [10] Teachers' strikes expected in May, June
  • [11] Kranidiotis,Skandalidis comment on contacts with US officials
  • [12] Athens says lack of information to blame for State Dept. spokesman's Cyprus comments
  • [13] Cohesion Fund's importance for environmental,transport-related projects detailed
  • [14] Europarliament pays tribute to Karamanlis
  • [15] 25 companies interested in oil pipeline feasibility study
  • [16] Eurostat points to higher expenses for Greek households
  • [17] National Bank of Greece to launch new Romanian branch
  • [18] Papantoniou says safeguarding of jobs a precondition for privatisations
  • [19] Commercial Bank of Greece denies hurting Ionian's share price
  • [20] Civil aviation employees begin rolling strikes
  • [21] Greek stocks rally after four-day slump
  • [22] Xiosbank reports 100 pct jump in profits Jan-Apr
  • [23] Hellenic Sugar Industry denies buyout by Coca Cola
  • [24] Delta Dairies denies creation of joint firm with Danone
  • [25] Greece to hold trade fair in Ukraine
  • [26] Greek, Egyptian businesses seek cooperation

  • [01] Pangalos: WEU has basis for creation of European defence identity

    Athens 13/05/1998 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said yesterday that he was "reservedly optimistic" about efforts to forge a European-wide defence structure, at the end of the two-day meeting of Western European foreign and defence ministers on the island of Rhodes.

    "We have the political basis for the creation of a European defence identity, as this is laid out in the Amsterdam Treaty," Mr. Pangalos told reporters at a joint press conference attended by National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and WEU Secretary General Jose Cutilheiro.

    Saying that results of the meeting were positive, Mr. Pangalos stres-sed that the prospect of single European currency, combined with the prospect of a common defence policy were the foundation stones which would realise the vision of a federal Europe.

    Fifty-six foreign and defence ministers from 28 European countries on Monday began the two-day WEU summit, with the participation also of NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, on the island of Rhodes.

    The Rhodes Declaration adopted at the meeting,Mr. Pangalos added, opens the road for the WEU to take command of crisis management on the orders of the European Union and in close cooperation with NATO.

    Mr. Pangalos underlined the significance of the creation of the WEU military committee, during the Greek presidency of the WEU, which will examine how to develop operational activities.

    He said there was agreement from all the ministers attending the summit on the need to add to the present institutional framework of the WEU so as to facilitate the organisation in dealing with crises. The WEU ministers expressed their concern over the increase of violence in Kosovo, Mr. Pangalos said, and of the dangers the crisis held for wider regional stability.

    He underlined that a solution to the crisis should be found with participation of all interested parties through unconditional dialogue between Belgrade and Albanians in Kosovo.

    He welcomed the contribution of a number of groups and organisations working to de-escalate tension in Kosovo, singling out the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Contact Group and the foreign ministries of neighbouring countries.

    The WEU, he added, has already extended assistance to the Albanian police force and to the armed forces stationed on the Yugoslav border.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that the Greek presidency of the WEU had promoted the procedures for the development of the WEU's operational capabilities, both on the level of planning and on the level of specific military activity.

    He stressed the need for WEU links with other countries and the significance the development of the WEU's operational capabilities - always in close cooperation with NATO - had for the European Union.

    He said the Greek presidency's efforts had been crucial in the decision for the WEU and NATO to hold its first ever joint exercise, scheduled for 2000.

    The WEU comprises ten European Union and NATO countries as full members as well as 18 associate members and observer nations from the wider region.

    Mr. Cutilheiro stressed the need for close cooperation between NATO and European defence organisations as well as the importance the separate evolution of the WEU has for a united Europe.

    The WEU, he said, must develop its capabilities to be ready to intervene where the European Union deems fit and where NATO is not prepared to intervene.

    He told reporters that Cyprus' application for membership in the WEU was still being processed at the diplomatic level.

    Speaking as the Greek FM, Mr. Pangalos said it was obvious to all that Greece was particularly interested in bolstering ties between Cyprus and the WEU, adding that certain countries believed that Cyprus' case differed from that of other EU-candidate countries in central and eastern Europe.

    He said, however, that the course of tightening links between Cyprus and the WEU would run in line with Cyprus's accession to the EU. Mr. Tsohatzopoulos told reporters that he had not received any official invitation to meet his Turkish counterpart

    Ismet Sezgin, who said earlier that he was willing to meet his Greek counterpart "either in Ankara or Athens."

    "Greece's positions on relations with Turkey are well-known," he said.

    Mr. Pangalos, meanwhile, said he had met briefly with NATO Secretary- General Javier Solana and denied that there had been any discussion on confidence-building mea-sures in the Aegean.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Simitis-Christodoulos meeting at premier's office

    Athens 13/05/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis discussed problems concerning the state and Church with Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos at the Maximos Mansion yesterday.

    The meeting was also attended by Education and Religious Affairs Minister Gerasimos Arsenis, Undersecretary to the Prime Minister's Office George Paschalidis, the Metropolitan of Patra Nikodimos and the Metropolitan of Serres Maximos.

    "The way of our cooperation was discussed, the effort we must make to be able to give directions to Greek society and Greece which will make our country more effective in the new world which is being created," Mr. Simitis said afterwards.

    "In past decades, a framework has been created on the role of the state and the Church and on the way of their cooperation. This framework has proved to be effective. I am certain that we will also cooperate within it very well in the future and we will jointly resolve problems faced by our country," he added.

    On his part, the new Archbishop said that "we had the occasion and the opportunity, apart from the courtesy aspect of the visit, to touch on substantive issues concerning the role of the Church and of Orthodoxy in our state and in our nation, in general ."

    "I am in the pleasant position to confirm myself as well that in the person of the prime minister we found, we met the man who assures us on the institutional role of the Church in the nation and the Greek state, on the disposition of solidarity to the Church to enable it to exercise this beneficial role for the progress of our people and for Greece's vindication in European affairs," he added.

    Archbishop Christodoulos assured Mr. Simitis that "there is the disposition, not to say the decision, for us to contribute decisively in this direction. Because it is self-evident and natural that our Church is also interested in the progress and modern isation of our people. When the motherland progresses and when the motherland has a say in, primarily European affairs, then all the people prosper."

    Gov't spokesman : Replying later to press questions, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the framework of cooperation between the government and the Church was discussed during yesterday's meeting.

    Replying to another question, he said that each one has specific duties and roles, adding that the liaison between the Church and state is the education and religious affairs minister.

    Mr. Reppas also said that the government wants excellent cooperation in order to have problems faced by the Church tackled in the best way.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] WEU statement dominated by Kosovo crisis

    Athens 13/05/1998 (ANA)

    In the declaration issued at the end of the WEU's two-day meeting of foreign and defence ministers from 28 countries, the organisation expresses its "strong concern about the increasing violence and growing polarisation" in the troubled Yugoslav province of Kosovo.

    It condemned "the excessive use of force" by Yugoslav and Serb security forces against separatists in the province but also "all terrorist acts".

    At the same time, the WEU reconfirmed its support for the territorial integrity of Federal Yugoslavia, while underlining that "the status quo in Kosovo is unacceptable".

    The WEU ministers declared their readiness to promote a "clear and achievable path" towards Belgrade's full integration in the international community, provided Serbia takes the necessary steps to launch "substantive" talks on Kosovo's political status.

    The union welcomed the efforts of the international community and of the countries of the region for a solution to the Kosovo problem while chastising Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for not creating "the conditions for a meaningful dialogue witho ut preconditions".

    "Insufficient action by Belgrade could only lead to the deepening isolation of Federal Yugoslavia," the declaration said.

    The WEU noted that its Multinational Advisory Police Element (MAPE) in Albania was contributing to stability in the region and said it had instructed the Permanent Council to consider further possible areas for cooperation with the Albanian authorities .

    The ministers expressed their support for the efforts under way in NATO to seek military advice on possible further contributions to security in Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and said they would propose the involvement of WEU military staff in the NATO "assessment machinery".

    In this context, the statement said, the WEU would be ready to examine whether any further contributions were appropriate "for example in the field of military training and restructuring of the Albanian armed forces".

    On the general situation in Albania, the WEU said although significant progress had been achieved in recent months, much still remained to be done. The ministers also recognised the readiness of the Albanian government "to promote national reconciliatio n and strengthen democratic institutions so as to ensure full respect for human rights and other international norms".

    They also welcomed the "timely" initiative of the Greek presidency to propose and organise a working visit of the members of the Council to the MAPE mission in Tirana in late February.

    The WEU ministers reiterated their conviction that NATO continued to be the basis for collective defence and remained the essential forum for consultation among allies. The statement said the WEU was an essential element for developing a single Europe an defence identity within the Alliance and ministers reiterated their commitment "to continue efforts to enhance institutional and practical cooperation with NATO".

    In this regard, they welcomed the "substantial progress" achieved during the Greek presidency, citing in particular WEU-NATO consultation arrangements, the organization in the coming months of a NATO-WEU workshop and seminar to further develop procedure s for consultation and the decision to hold a joint Crisis Management Exercise with NATO in the year 2000.

    In addition, the ministers underlined the significant progress achieved in further reinforcing the WEU through the development of its operational role.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Sezgin fails to rescind Turkish claims over alleged Greek support for PKK

    Athens 13/05/1998 (ANA)

    Turkish Defence Minister Ismet Sezgin yesterday again touched on Ankara's recent controversial claims that Greece was supporting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an allegation strongly rejected by Athens.

    Mr. Sezgin was responding to a Greek television station's questions on the sidelines of the two-day Western European Union (WEU) ministerial summit on the eastern Aegean island of Rhodes.

    Specifically, he was asked to comment on statements in Ankara yesterday by the Turkish military's second-in-command, Gen. Cevik Bir, who repeated the accusation that Greece is supporting the PKK.

    "When a NATO member-state supports the terrorist organisation PKK, whose aim is to break up the Turkish state and establish a Marxist-Leninist state, this is not becoming political morality nor good-neighbourly relations," Mr. Sezgin said.

    "We hope that Greece's stance is not one of support of terrorism," he added.

    Mr. Sezgin charged further that Greek legislators had been visiting "this terrorist group", and this, too, was contrary to political morality.

    Asked whether Turkey continued to claim four inhabited Greek islands, Mr. Sezgin replied that "they are geographical formations" and reiterated Ankara's position that such disputes between the two countries should be resolved through dialogue.

    Greece's position is that if Ankara believes there is a problem, it should refer such "disputes", which Athens views as unilateral demands on the part of Turkey, to the International Court at The Hague.

    Ankara recently disputed Greek sovereignty of four inhabited islands in the eastern Aegean - Fouroi, Agathonisi, Farmakonisi and Pserimos.

    Turning to the WEU itself, Mr. Sezgin the organisation had "not managed to take the necessary steps", attributing this to a lack of political will in developing the union's operational capabilities.

    Gov't spokesman : Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, replying to statements made by Mr. Sezgin to the Athens daily "Ta Nea" and published yesterday, said Greek foreign policy with respect to Turkey was crystal- clear, particularly regarding Athens' desire for a step-by-s tep approach to problems in relations between the two countries.

    "It is well known that Ankara wants across-the-board negotiations concerning the Aegean," Mr. Reppas said, adding that the Greek government was effectively countering this demand.

    Mr. Reppas expressed regret at the policy adopted by Turkey, to which he attributed responsibility for the level of bilateral relations, and the hope that the neighbouring country would change its policy.

    ND reaction : In a response, the main opposition New Democracy party accused the goverment that its tactics on the issue of Greek-Turkish relations caused harm to the country's interests.

    "The goverment is committing a tragic mistake in leaving unanswered the provocative and in every way unacceptable statement of the Turkish defence minister," said ND spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos.

    Sezgin departs : In a related development, Mr. Sezgin ordered "a Turkish coffee and a Greek brandy" at a streetside cafe on the island after a walk through the city's medieval quarter, where he also visited the Ibrahim Pasha mosque. The Turkish defence minister left for the Asia Minor coast at 5 p.m. by private yacht and escorted by a Greek coast guard patrol boat.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Papoutsis inaugurates Euro-Mediterranean energy conference

    Athens 13/05/1998 (ANA)

    European Union Commissioner Christos Papoutsis yesterday inaugurated the Euro-Mediter-ranean Energy Cooperation conference in Athens. In an address, Mr. Papoutsis said "the need for the promotion of Euro-Mediterranean cooperation in the energy sector has led us to the creation of an action- plan...which includes specific proposals for immediate application..." He added that cooperation of Mediterranean nations in the energy sector is vital for the future development of the region in the "spirit and the letter" of the Barcelona Agreements.
    Athens News Agency

    [06] Gov't conservation plan targets Mount Athos

    Athens 13/05/1998 (ANA)

    Environment and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis yesterday presented details of a comprehensive 20-billion-drachma plan, already underway, for rescuing, restoring, maintaining and protecting the all-male monastic community of Mount Athos and its trea sures.

    The "Athos" Plan, presented at a press conference in Athens, will run up to the year 2000, and also includes projects for accommodation of some of the 350,000 visitors annually, as well as fire protection, road infrastructure and the upgrading of natural sites.

    After a lengthy period of dwindling numbers of monks, there are now 2,000 monks in 20 monasteries, while 1,500 people work on the projects.

    The peninsula also boasts a mosaic of natural habitats and biodiversity, with 1,450 rare plants, 350 species of mushrooms and 150 species of rare birds.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Karamanlis-Burns meeting

    Athens 13/05/1998 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis and US Ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns yesterday discussed Greek-Turkish relations, developments over the Cyprus issue and bilateral relations between Greece and the United States.

    Mr. Karamanlis initially had a private meeting with Mr. Burns and afterwards talks included Marietta Yiannakou, Vassilis Manginas and Petros Molyviatis.

    According to reports, the US appears to be realising that the Turkish side is responsible for the lack of progress on the Cyprus issue.

    Among others, talks included next month's visit by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Mr. Karamanlis' visit to the US, probably scheduled for autumn. No statements were made afterwards.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Premier lauds gov't policy on employment

    Athens 13/05/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis, during the inauguration of an "Employment Promotion Centre yesterday, noted that "today we have a complete employment policy and funds never before allocated for that purpose."

    Mr. Simitis also said that the government will focus on the nucleus of unemployment, namely, youth, women and the long-term unemployed.

    Labour and Social Security Minister Miltiades Papaioannou and General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) President Christos Polyzogopoulos addressed the conference as well.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] ADEDY strike on May 27

    Athens 13/05/1998 (ANA)

    The Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) yesterday announced a 24-hour strike on May 27, participating in the nationwide strike called on the same day by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE).

    ADEDY opposes privatisation of public services and state-run agencies, while it wants protection of incomes with real increases for 1998, safeguarding of labour relations and the tackling of social insurance problems.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Teachers' strikes expected in May, June

    Athens 13/05/1998 (ANA)

    The Union of (public) Secondary School Teachers' (OLME) board yesterday decided by a majority vote to propose three strikes this May and in June, in protest of a new law regarding the hiring of educators through nationwide examinations.

    OLME's general assembly will decide on May 23 on the proposed 24-hour strike for May 27, a 48-hour strike for June 1 and 2, during the final testing period for pupils, as well as for June 11 and 12, dates set for the examinations for the hiring of teachers.

    The council, in reaction to the gradual abolition of the college graduation list-based hirings, also proposed a rally in Athens on June 1 and in the rest of the country on June 2.

    PASOK-affiliated representatives disagreed with the proposed actions.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Kranidiotis,Skandalidis comment on contacts with US officials

    WASHINGTON 13/05/1998 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis,who is touring the US with Foreign Undersecretrary Yiannos Kranditiotis, stated yesterday that the substantive exchan ge of views with the US administration and Congress on issues of interest to Greece had "surpassed all expectations."

    At a joint press conference in the Greek embassy here, the two men said there was a clear improvement in Greek-American relations and pointed out that the US accepted the need for the existence of a specific legal framework for resolving differences with Turkey and had publicly stated their support for referring differences to the International Court at The Hague.

    Regarding Cyprus, they expressed satisfaction that the US recently attributed responsibility to Ankara for the continuing deadlock and assured that they would not recognise an independent Turkish-Cypriot state.

    They said that for the first time the US seemed to accept Greek positions, stating that the two sides were not equally responsible for the present situation.

    "We stressed that Greece has made all the goodwill gestures so far, and if Turkey conttributes to a gradual demilitarisation of the island or to a substantial progress in the talks, the installation of the (Russian-made S- 300) missiles on Cyprus could be postoned or annuled," said Mr. Kranidiotis.

    He said the US State Department had asked Greece to exercise pressure on Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic regarding the Kosovo crisis.

    "We replied that Greece already plays a role in relation to Belgrade, while also being active with regard to the granting of autonomy status to Kosovo within Serbia," he said.

    Regarding recent Turkish charges that Greece allowed the operation of Kurdish terrorist organisations on its soil, the two Greek officials said Athens was cooperating with the US on fighting terrorism, and that Kurdish organisations had similar presence in other European countries.

    The Greek side also pointed the serious problem arising from the large number of illegal immigrants landing on Greek shores from Turkey.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Athens says lack of information to blame for State Dept. spokesman's Cyprus comments

    Athens 13/05/1998 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday said that statements by US State Department spokesman James Rubin placing equal responsibilities on the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides for failure in progress during a recent US initiative focusing on the Cyprus problem was due to inadequate information.

    The spokesman said that, according to reports, US special envoy Richard Holbrooke's assistant, Thomas Miller, spoke of Turkey's responsibilities and pointed out that Mr. Miller also referred directly to Turkey and not to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denk tash.

    Mr. Reppas said that the words of the US officials placing responsibilities on Turkey were just and objective, adding that Mr. Rubin's statements have evidently been retracted.

    Miller says Rubin not well-informed : WASHINGTON (ANA/CNA) - On his part, US State Department special coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Miller said Mr. Rubin "was not well-informed" when stating that Mr. Holbrooke blamed both sides on Cyprus for the recent failure in efforts for a settlement. Mr . Miller said the State Department spokesman had been on a tour of Asia and Europe, accompanying US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and was therefore not well-informed concerning the issue.

    Mr. Rubin had said that during Mr. Holbrooke's recent visit to Cyprus, Mr. Denktash's demand for recognition of his illegal regime was a key problem to efforts for a settlement, and that the European Union had to rescind its willingness to have Cyprus join the EU.

    "But I do not think he left the other parties blameless," Mr. Rubin added.

    The State Department spokesman also claimed Mr. Miller had made clear not Mr. Denktash, but Ankara, was to blame for the obstacles in Cyprus.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Cohesion Fund's importance for environmental,transport-related projects detailed

    Athens 13/05/1998 (ANA)

    Interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos yesterday singled out the importance of the EU's Cohesion Fund for projects in the sectors of the environment and transport networks.

    "The setting up of the Cohesion Fund, whose interventions are aimed at the implementation of projects in the environmental sector, as well as those of intra-European networks and transport infrastructure, is one of the biggest innovations in the Europea n Union Treaty," he said in his address at a conference in Athens on the environmental dimension of projects financed by the Fund in Greece.

    The conference was sponsored by the Goulandris Natural History Museum and the Cohesion Fund. Niki Goulandri, president of the museum, said that the more than 100 projects currently in progress in Greece did not cover the country's entire needs, but deal t with a large number of crucial environmental, health, and cultural problems.

    "The protection of biodiversity is not simply necessary for aesthetic or purely romantic reasons, but arises from the need for rational and sustainable management of natural resources, that is from the need for the very survival if mankind itself," she said.

    She cited the solution, by 95 per cent, of the problem of water supply in Greece, the tackling of the problem of solid waste, and the study and implementation of pilot programmes in these sectors on the islands of Aegina and Santorini.

    Cohesion Fund director J.F. Verstrynge presented an account of the activities of the Fund to date, providing economic data for the sectors of the environment and transport.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Europarliament pays tribute to Karamanlis

    STRASBOURG 13/05/1998 (ANA)

    Representatives of all the political groups in the European Parliament yesterday paid tribute to the late Greek president and prime minister Constantine Karamanlis, at a special memorial service held at the Parliament building.

    Constantine Karamanlis died April 23 at the age of 91. Greek Eurodeputies from opposition New Democracy and other parties attended the service as did the president of the European Peoples' Party Wilfred Martens, and a number of other dignitaries from the Parliament.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] 25 companies interested in oil pipeline feasibility study

    Athens 13/05/1998 (ANA)

    Twenty-five engineering companies have requested applications for the tender for the study and design of the Bourgas-Alexandrou-polis oil pipeline, according to a Bulgarian News Agency (BTA) dispatch from Athens. The dispatch, citing a meeting of the tripartite engineering committee supervising the project in Athens last week, said companies from the U.S., Canada, Japan, Russia, Britain, Italy and Germany were among those interested in the project.

    The talks clarified Bulgaria's and Greece's procedural requirements on the issue which will facilitate the work of the expert evaluating committee in choosing the engineering company to conduct the feasibility study.

    The experts of the three countries discussed the draft statutes for the establishment of a Transbalkan oil company. The Russian delegation was led by an expert from the foreign ministry and included experts from the energy ministry and of Gazprom.

    The representatives of the three countries decided more talks will be held on some key issues related to the founders' interest, the way of taking decisions on the amount of the capital and on the company management once after the three governments have expressed their official stands.

    Greek company to invest in Bulgaria textiles sector : KURDJALI, Bulgaria (BTA/ANA) - The Fanco Greek company will invest three million Deutschemarks in the textile industry in Kurdjali, southeastern Bulgaria, up to the year 2001, the company's president Tanos Hatsiskakis said recently.

    Under the five-year business plan, the Greek company will totally reconstruct the existing premises by end-1998 and by 2001 will double the number of jobs, which now total 200.

    The plans of the Greek company are closely linked to the upcoming opening of the road through the Makaza pass at the Bulgarian-Greek border.

    The Kurdjali-based office is expected to become a centre covering all Fanco subsidiaries in the Balkan and Eastern European countries. A subsidiary, Bulfanco, has already been set up by Fanco.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Eurostat points to higher expenses for Greek households

    BRUSSELS 13/05/1998 (ANA)

    Expenses incurred by Greek households for educating children, health care, alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, clothing and footwear are higher than corresponding expenses in other European Union member-states, according to data unveiled yes terday by Eurostat, the European Union's statistical service.

    Conversely, Greek households' expenses for cultural events and entertainment are the lowest.

    Statistical information refers to 1994 and concerns Belgium, Greece, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden.

    According to Eurostat, 24 per cent of Greek households' expenses concern housing and utilities, such as water and electricity; 17.8 per cent for food and non-alcoholic drinks; 12.9 per cent for clothing and footwear; 9.3 per cent for transport; 6.7 per cent for the purchase of furniture and household equipment; 5.2 per cent for health care; 5.1 per cent for hotels, cafes and restaurants; 3.9 per cent for cultural events and entertainment; 3.4 per cent for alcoholic beverages and tobacco products; 2.2 per cent for education and 1.6 per cent for communications.

    On the other hand, Greece has the highest percentage, 2.2 per cent, compared to the other countries, in expenses for the education of children.

    Greece also has the highest percentage of self-consumption. Namely, one in two Greek households consumes foodstuffs from its own cultivations or its own trade.

    Moreover, young households with a median age of under 30 in Greece have the highest percentage of expenses compared with the other member-states. Lastly, in Greece, Spain and Italy, expenses for foodstuffs, primarily milk, cheese and eggs, increase spec tacularly with the birth of children, while in the countries of the north household budgets are steadier.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] National Bank of Greece to launch new Romanian branch

    Athens 13/05/1998 (ANA)

    National Bank of Greece Governor Theodoros Karatzas leaves for Bucharest tomorrow to launch a new branch in the Romanian capital.

    The inauguration of the branch, which has already begun operations, will be attended by National Bank executives from Athens and Greek businessmen active in the Balkans.

    Mr. Karatzas recently told a shareholders meeting that consolidating National Bank's presence in the Balkans was one of his prime targets.

    The state-owned bank, which is a blue chip on the Athens Stock Exchange, plans to become an international force in the region, acting as an intermediary between global investors and Balkan markets, beyond serving Greek businesses.

    Following the launch of one branch each for the Bulgarian, Albanian and Romanian capitals, National Bank plans to open a further two branches in Albania, and its first in Belgrade.

    When the new Albanian branches open in Durres and Korce, probably in 1998, National Bank will become the largest foreign bank operating in the neighbouring country.

    The bank handles traditional services in the Balkans, including capital transfers, trade transactions, financing and foreign exchange.

    In Bulgaria, its branch has expanded into stock market transactions, and is expected to set up dealing rooms in Romania and Albania.

    National Insurance, a member of the National Bank group, has created a Greek-Romanian general insurance firm, Sosietate Comerciala de Asigurare Reasiguare-Romana Garanta SA.

    National Bank for Investments and Industrial Development, another member of the group, already has an office in Bucharest, and a new office is due to open shortly in Sofia, the Bulgarian capital.

    National Bank of Greece (Cyprus) has an extensive network of branches. The parent bank also has a branch in Cairo, which plans to penetrate new sectors of the local market when it becomes fully computerised.

    National Bank calls new shareholders' meeting : In a separate announcement, National Bank said yesterday it had rescheduled its shareholders meeting for May 22 after the original assembly was declared inquorate on May 6.

    On the agenda are a share capital increase of 26,194,308,000 drachmas, and the distribution of free shares from a capitalisation of reserves.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Papantoniou says safeguarding of jobs a precondition for privatisations

    Athens 13/05/1998 (ANA)

    National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday that the safeguarding of existing jobs was a basic and fundamental condition of the government's policy in all potential privatisations.

    Speaking at a conference organised by the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) on the subject, the minister stressed the government's resolve to proceed with the privatisation of a majority stake of Ionian Bank, a Commercal Bank subsidi ary, despite reactions from employees, who are out on an indefinite strike in protest of the plan.

    He said the merging of Ionian with its parent company would have resulted in the loss of 3,000 jobs and the closure of about 150 branches.

    Mr. Papantoniou said the privatisation programme had two basic aims: The drawing of capital through the stock market, with a view to modernising them in order to compete effectively in the new international economic environment, and the upgrading of the ir management. As an example, he cited the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), which has drawn 400 billion drachmas from two small flotations of its stock, and will now complete the digitalisation of its network.

    He set three basic preconditions for a successful privatisation: The streamlining of their activities, their conversion into societes anonymes, and the safeguarding of conditions of full transparency in the procedures of the sale.

    Mr. Papantoniou today will announce a timetable for the privatisation of 11 public utilities and organisations after a ministerial meeting.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] Commercial Bank of Greece denies hurting Ionian's share price

    Athens 13/05/1998 (ANA)

    Commercial Bank of Greece yesterday denied allegations it had manipulated shares of Ionian Bank on the Athens bourse, driving down its price through a mass sell-off.

    State-owned Commercial Bank owns over 60 percent of Ionian, which the government has said it will privatise in the near future through bidding on the stock exchange.

    The market saw a mass sell-off of Ionian's shares in recent sessions, leading to a price slump of nearly 25 percent.

    "From the day Ionian Bank's sale was announced no transaction (by Commercial) has been effected involving Ionian's shares," Commercial Bank of Greece said in a statement.

    In an interview to Flash radio station, the parent bank's general director George Mihelis categorically denied that his bank was part of a scheme to reduce Ionian's market value in order to ease the sale to private buyers. A jump on the Athens share index propelled Ionian's value to 400 billion drachmas, therefore raising the price of the 51 percent stake the government wants to sell to around 200 billion drachmas.

    The banking market saw the share as overvalued, which is when talk began that the government favoured a manipulated slide in Ionian's share price in order to facilitate the bank's privatisation.

    When Ionian's sale was announced, its price slumped as investors dumped shares instead of buying, as expected.

    The share price then began a slide.

    From 13,650 drachmas on May 6 it fell to 13,525 on May 7, 12,443 on May 8, and 11,448 on May 11.

    Yesterday, the stock edged up to 11,690 drachmas, gaining 2.0 percent.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] Civil aviation employees begin rolling strikes

    Athens 13/05/1998 (ANA)

    Civil Aviation Authority employees said yesterday they were launching four days of rolling work stoppages in order to protest against a delay in the receipt of backpay.

    The strikes will be held daily at 1200-1600 local time until Friday.

    The union may call off the stoppages because the government has no objection to payment of the outstanding overtime pay, which has been delayed by red tape, sources said.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] Greek stocks rally after four-day slump

    Athens 13/05/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities strongly rebounded on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday reversing a sharp four-day decline that saw the market drop by 10.5 percent.

    The general index ended 3.40 percent higher at 2,438.39 points with most sector indices scoring gains.

    Banks soared 5.19 percent, Insurance was 2.42 percent up, Investment rose 4.80 percent, Leasing surged 5.48 percent, Industrials ended 1.25 percent up, Construction fell 0.65 percent, Miscellaneous ended 4.69 percent up and Holding rose 3.36 percent.

    The parallel market index ended 1.76 percent higher. The FTSE/ASE 20 index rose 4.16 percent to 1,460.19 points.

    Trading was heavy with turnover at 54.9 billion drachmas.

    State Ionian Bank, which is slated for privatisation through the bourse, recovered by 2.0 percent to end at 11,690 drachmas.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 172 to 70 with another 19 issues unchanged.

    Fourlis, Xiosbank, Silver Ores & Baryte, DIS, Sportsman, Hellenic Sugar, Bank of Central Greece, Attica Bank and Bank of Athens scored the biggest percentage gains at the day's 8.0 percent limit up.

    Mohlos, Lanakam and Ionian Invest suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 47,950 drachmas, Ergobank at 26,690, Alpha Credit Bank at 30,490, Delta Dairy at 4,500, Titan Cement at 23,500, Intracom at 18,745 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 8, 400.

    Athens News Agency

    [22] Xiosbank reports 100 pct jump in profits Jan-Apr

    Athens 13/05/1998 (ANA)

    Private Xiosbank posted profits of 2.8 billion drachmas in January-April, up by 100 percent on the same period of last year, its general director, Yiannis Pehlivanidis, told a news conference yesterday.

    Mr. Pehlivanidis also said the bank would work with Plotet & Cle, a Geneva- based bank, in order to expand and upgrade its private banking services.

    Xiosbank's other plans are to set up a life insurance subsidiary, a process it has already begun; and to acquire a brokerage due to a rise in its investment banking activities, Mr. Pehlivanidis said.

    The bank, which is listed on the main market of the Athens bourse, is also monitoring the Greek market for opportunities arising from the sale of state enterprises, mergers and acquisitions, but so far feels the openings are unprofitable, he said.

    Responding to media reports of a link between Xiosbank and a strategic investor, Mr. Pehlivanidis said: "They have approached us. I cannot, however, make any announcement as this would be highly premature."

    The news conference was called to explain a proposal the board will make to shareholders to raise equity by 12 billion drachmas.

    Under the terms of the proposal, share capital would be increased by means of a cash deposit, raising shareholders' equity to 26.5 billion drachmas.

    Shareholders will be asked to endorse doubling of the number of Xiosbank shares in a 1/1 stock split; a rise in share capital by capitalising reserves; and the free distribution to existing shareholders of five new shares for 10 old.

    The increase would then be effected through a cash deposit with preference given to existing shareholders of five new shares to 10 old at a price to be determined by the shareholders' meeting.

    After the increase, Xiosbank will then issue a bond for 10 billion drachmas in order to strengthen its capital base further.

    The board will propose a 1997 dividend of 130 drachmas per share, Mr. Pehlivanidis said.

    Athens News Agency

    [23] Hellenic Sugar Industry denies buyout by Coca Cola

    Athens 13/05/1998 (ANA)

    Hellenic Sugar Industry, which is listed on the Greek bourse, yesterday denied a media report that it was holding talks with Coca Cola about a possible takeover by the US company.

    The denial was made in response to a query by the Athens Stock Exchange following publication at the report in Imerisia, a daily financial newspaper.

    Athens News Agency

    [24] Delta Dairies denies creation of joint firm with Danone

    Athens 13/05/1998 (ANA)

    Delta Dairies, a blue chip company on the Athens bourse, denied yesterday that it was setting up a joint firm in the domestic market with Danone of France, which already holds a roughly 20 percent stake in Delta.

    The Greek firm, which is active in the Balkans, produces yogurt, ice cream, milk and fruit juice.

    It was replying to the Athens Stock Exchange following a report in the Hrimatistirio daily, which specialises in bourse news.

    Athens News Agency

    [25] Greece to hold trade fair in Ukraine

    Athens 13/05/1998 (ANA)

    Greece will organise a trade fair in Kiev on June 8-11 for the third year running in order to promote its products in Ukraine.

    The two previous trade fairs were hosted in Odessa, a Black Sea port.

    Greece is seeking a long-term stake in the Ukrainian market of 54 million consumers and has already signed a bilateral agreement covering mutual support for business activities.

    The trade fair for Greek products will focus on food processing, beverages, building materials and household items.

    Filkeram Johnson SA, SEKAP tobacco industry and Thrace Paper Mills are among major Greek exporters to participate in this year's fair.

    Athens News Agency

    [26] Greek, Egyptian businesses seek cooperation

    Athens 13/05/1998 (ANA)

    Greek and Egyptian businessmen met during seminars on exports and global trade and finance held in Athens and Alexandria by the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board.

    The two sides discussed cooperation in plastics, dairy products, frozen food, fertilisers, software and chemicals.

    The seminars, attended by 20 senior officials in private and public sector companies in Alexandria, were organised with the help of the Hellenic Foreign Trade Centre in Alexandria, Egypt's chamber of commerce, and the Union of Alexandria Businesses.

    Athens News Agency

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