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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-06-01

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Premier to chair meeting on the course of privatisations
  • [02] Patriarch addresses Orthodox faithful in Toronto
  • [03] Greek soccer team touches dream
  • [04] Greece, EU maintain unified stance, minister says
  • [05] Kaklamanis holds consultations in Italy
  • [06] ND leader tours Thessaly
  • [07] Greek participation at Lisbon world fair
  • [08] Builbing the city of the future
  • [09] Delon in Athens
  • [10] Development minister inaugurates packaging plant in Volos
  • [11] Greek antiquities smuggler arrested in Germany
  • [12] Assembly on the development of Greek islands
  • [13] Greek javelin thrower achieves best performance of the year
  • [14] TV-inspired attacker arrested
  • [15] French embassy car torched
  • [16] Bomb attack

  • [01] Premier to chair meeting on the course of privatisations

    Athens 01/06/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis will chair a joint meeting of the inner cabinet and the ruling PASOK party's Political Secretariat this morning to examine the course of privatisations and particularly the issue of the Ionian Bank's sale in the wake of strong reaction by employees.

    This week is considered decisive for developments regarding the Ionian Bank as its employees have decided to continue their strike with backing by the Federation of Bank Employee Unions (OTOE).

    During last Friday's cabinet meeting, Mr. Simitis had called for solidarity and accord between the government's members in facing the country's problems.

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, although expressing his agreement on policies followed, asked for a broad discussion in both the government and the party on all issues.

    Justice Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos said that incidents between strikers and riot police last week had been exaggerated for reasons of expediency and added that an issue of legality exists concerning the strikers towards court rulings.

    In an interview with the Kyriakatiki Eleftherotypia newspaper, Bank of Greece Governor Loukas Papademos said that developments in Olympic Airways and the Ionian Bank are not encouraging, adding that the drachma's accession to the euro and political stabil ity will depend on the government's cohesion. He also called for completion of the Ionian Bank's privatisation by the end of the year.

    In an interview with the newspaper To Vima, however, National Bank of Greece Governor Theodoros Karatzas said he is optimistic over developments in the Ionian Bank and that the reactions will soon die down.

    Mr. Simitis is insisting on the policy he has announced. He told the cabinet meeting that the government must not be trapped by the logic of political cost and that political tension in past days cannot intercept the government's course.

    Ionian strike continues : Striking workers at Ionian Bank yesterday vowed to stay off the job in protest at the bank's planned privatisation and threatened to escalate court action if their union's appeal to have the stoppage ruled legal was rejected.

    "The government should countenance the likelihood that if the bank workers' federation is ruled illegal, then unions will ask the General Confederation of Greek Labour to call the strike," Alekos Poularikas, secretary general of the national bank workers' federation (OTOE) said.

    "This means the top unions in the country's trade union movement will have to be taken to court," Mr. Poularikas told a news conference outside Ionian Bank's computer centre in Piraeus.

    Workers at Ionian have staged a strike since May 11, brushing off a court ruling last week that declared the stoppage illegal and slapped a 400,000- drachma fine on union leaders for each day the strike continued.

    Taking part in the news conference were trade union officials from Ionian's staff association, OTOE, and the Athens Labour Centre.

    "The government will day by day find itself in an increasingly tragic impasse and the bank's sale will trigger a major political issue," said Ionian Bank's union president, Yannis Markakis.

    An Athens court is expected to rule tomorrow on whether the appeal is valid that was lodged by Ionian to have OTOE's strike declared legal.

    Mr. Poularikas said demands in the latest OTOE-ordained six-day strike at Ionian and a strike programme for other banks were general, affecting all bank workers.

    Strikes at individual banks are due to climax in two 24-hour nationwide walkouts at all banks on June 12 and 19. The central demand is unification of banks' pension funds. Also addressing the news conference was labour relations expert Alexis Mitrop oulos, who told workers they should ignore any orders to return to work on pain of dismissal as the calls were illegitimate.

    "Sending OTOE to court for the first time since the end of the military dictatorship (in 1974) is a clear example of the government's authoritarianism, " Mr. Markakis said.

    He also claimed that it would be impossible for the government to sell Ionian Bank, which is a subsidiary of state-owned Commercial Bank of Greece, due to complexities beyond the protests by workers that were legal, financial and procedural. Both banks are listed.

    The government promised the European Union it would widen its privatisation plan after the drachma joined the EU's exchange rate mechanism on March 14 to ease entry into economic and monetary union, expected by January 1, 2001. The Internatio nal Monetary Fund has urged the government to privatise banks more aggressively.

    Mr. Markakis said that strikes at the bank totalling 25 days so far, combined with an occupation of its computer centre, showed that workers were united in their protests.

    Development minister : Development Minister Vasso Papandreou said yesterday from Volos, central Greece, that the government was firm in its decision to privatise the Ionian Bank.

    "Of course there are reactions, but what is important is that the Ionian Bank and the banking system become competitive," she said.

    From Katerini, northern Greece, Labour Undersecretary Christos Protopapas said that the negative reactions to the bank's planned privatisation were a "highly political" issue, attributing them to political forces which "use the Ionian Bank's problem in order to annul the country's course towards EU economic and monetary union".

    Papademos : The Ionian Bank's planned privatisation should be finalised by the end of the year, Lucas Papademos, the governor of the Bank of Greece, told an Athens Sunday newspaper yesterday.

    "The government decided to sell out the Ionian Bank not to increase the public sector's revenues but to accelerate the restructuring of the banking sector and its adaptation to new conditions of intensified antagonism. It is for this reason that the bank's privatisation should be completed by the end of the year," the country's central bank chief told the Sunday Eleftherotypia in an interview.

    Mr. Papademos also warned that the course of the country towards European economic and monetary union depended on the government's cohesion.

    Mr. Papademos said that the drachma will come under continuous pressure in the near future, depending on the consistency in implementing announced policies.

    He said that developments over the planned privatisation of Ionian Bank and the restructuring of Olympic Airways, were "not encouraging", stressing that the confidence of international markets should not be taken for granted as it could be withdrawn at a ny time. Mr. Papademos, underlining that there was little scope for change in economic policy, added:

    "The main scope of the (current) economic policy, our country's accession to European Monetary Union in 2001, is generally accepted by the vast majority of the Greek people... the question is if there are alternative ways to achieve it. My opinion is th at latitude is very limited."

    He added that, in a common currency environment, Greek banks will survive competition by their much larger European counterparts only if they cut operational costs, apply improved internal control mechanisms and develop international partnerships.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Patriarch addresses Orthodox faithful in Toronto

    TORONTO 01/06/1998 (ANA - I. Frangouli)

    Ten thousand Orthodox faithful gathered in the Maple Leaf Gardens stadium in downtown Toronto yesterday to attend a mass officiated over by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos with the assistance of 10 Orthodox priests and Met ropolitans.

    Addressing the crowd, he thanked the Greek community in Toronto for the warm welcome and called on the people to rally round the clergy.

    Attending a dinner afterwards, the Ecumenical Patriarch referred to the Greek community in North America and spoke of the crisis in relations between the clergy and the people which is due to external factors.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Greek soccer team touches dream

    BUCHAREST 01/06/1998 (ANA)

    Greece's Under-21 national soccer team lost 1-0 to Spain in the European Championships final here last night.

    Although the Greek team was said to be superior throughout the match, it was unlucky, and was not awarded three penalties.

    Spain's goal came in the 65th minute by an error of the defence.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Greece, EU maintain unified stance, minister says

    Athens 01/06/1998 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said in Katerini yesterday that Greece and the European Union are maintaining a unified stance and have identical views on the issues of Cyprus, the Imia islets, issues raised by Turkey in the Aegean, the country's territorial integrity and democratic institutions in Turkey.

    Replying to questions by the press on the EU's position towards the financial protocol to Turkey, Mr. Papandreou said that no change in position has occurred neither from the EU nor Turkey.

    He added that Greece's 14 partners believe that the EU could give the financial protocol to Turkey on the assumption that if after this it does not move towards satisfying conditions set by the EU, then it is exposed and more intense pressures will be created.

    However, he said that Greece believes that Turkey must make these necessary moves beforehand.

    Mr. Papandreou also expressed regret over recent nuclear testing by India and Pakistan.

    He visited Katerini yesterday to attend a conference on the EU organised by the ruling PASOK party's Prefectural Committee of Pieria.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Kaklamanis holds consultations in Italy

    Athens 01/06/1998 (ANA)

    Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, who arrived in Palermo yesterday, held private meetings with the presidents of the Italian and French parliaments Mr. Violante and Mr. Fabius respectively.

    The meetings were held in the framework of better cooperation between the parliaments of the European Union's Mediterranean countries and the preparation of the agenda for today's conference of Parliament Presidents of Mediterranean countries.

    In his address today, Mr. Kaklamanis is expected to refer to the need of establishing a permanent dialogue between the Parliaments of all Mediterranean countries, as agreed during yesterday's conference in Athens.

    He will also refer to the role played by parliaments in the development of political, economic and cultural cooperation for promoting the Euro- Mediterranean partnership relation.

    Mr. Kaklamanis arrived in Palermo via Naples where he met with representations of Greek expatriates at the local Greek Consulate building. He briefed them on national problems, stressing the need for the utilisation of all the possibilities of Greeks ev erywhere for the promotion of just Greek causes.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] ND leader tours Thessaly

    Athens 01/06/1998 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis visited the prefecture of Karditsa on Saturday in the framework of a four-day tour of Thessaly, central Greece, stressing the non-existence of agricultural policy on the part of the government a nd the incompetence of the Agriculture Minister to live up to occasions.

    Mr. Karamanlis once again stressed the danger of the provinces being abandoned with disastrous social and national results, unless immediate and necessary measures are taken in support of producers.

    Mr. Karamanlis said that Prime Minister Costas Simitis is the sole prime minister from European Union countries who does not support the interests of Greek farmers at relevant EU bodies. He said that when he becomes prime minister he will personally tend to agricultural issues at EU level.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Greek participation at Lisbon world fair

    LISBON 01/06/1998 (ANA)

    Greece's pavilion in Lisbon Expo '98 World Fair was visited yesterday by EU Energy Commissioner Christos Papoutsis who was mostly responsibe for the organisation of the 'Oceans' exhibition, as it is called.

    Greece's ambassador to Lisbon George Gennimatas told the ANA that Greece's presence is impressive, underlining the importance, as he said, of the increase in Greek exports to Portugal. He added that in the near futrure, a cooperation protocol will be si gned betweeen the two countries' foreign trade boards.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Builbing the city of the future

    LISBON 01/06/1998 (ANA - C. Kalountzoglou/I. Vergitsis)

    European Union Energy Commissioner Christos Papoutsis referred to urbanisation, energy conservation and new technologies in an address at the European Commission's 17th General Department on Saturday title d "Building the city of the future: the energy dimension."

    "Eight out of 10 citizens in Europe live in cities. It is a fact which unavoidably urges governments to revise their policies with the criterion of conserving energy, with new technologies provided for this purpose being a tool. The key to paving the way for the new opportunities being presented is the deregulation of the energy market," he said.

    The conference was organised in Lisbon on the occasion of EXPO '98, the biggest and last world exhibition of the century preoccupied with oceans and seas.

    Apart from Mr. Papoutsis, the conference was attended by Portuguese Finance Minister Pina Mora and the Mayor of Lisbon Joao Soares (son of former President of the Republic Mario Soares).

    Other participants were local administration representatives from EU member- states and special scientists on the energy and environment sectors.

    Mr. Papoutsis said in his address that EXPO '98 constitutes a unique example of a city (because in essence it is a small city) which has managed to utilise new technologies to conserve energy.

    The use of new technologies, the encouragement and support of new pioneering concepts on life in cities are the tools which will lead to further economic development and the social convergence of European citizens, they will improve their quality of life and help in preserving their cultural heritage.

    "EXPO is a big and ambitious programme which proves the possibilities we have over the next millenium and it is undoubtedly the most suitable place for this conference to take place," Mr. Papoutsis said in a statement to the Athens News Agency (ANA).

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Delon in Athens

    Athens 01/06/1998 (ANA)

    Famous French film star Alain Delon was yesterday in Athens to film for national television ERT an episode of a TV series on the close of 20th century.

    The 63-year-old star, who posed in front of the cameras at Acropolis, did not fail to pay tribute to Frank Sinatra who recently left us.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Development minister inaugurates packaging plant in Volos

    Athens 01/06/1998 (ANA)

    Development Minister Vasso Papandreou concluded a three-day tour of the prefecture of Magnisia in Volos yesterday, inaugurating a packaging plant owned by VPI SA, a unit producing packaging plastic for foodstuffs, beverages and refreshments.

    It concerns a joint investments programme amounting to 16 billion drachmas carried out by Hellenic Petroleum SA (formerly the Public Petroleum Corporation) and the 3E company. It will employ 100 people.

    The specific investment, constituting pioneering cooperation between the public and private sectors, proves the possibilities of this cooperation which is leading to the strengthening of local production for the benefit of Greek enterprises and the econ omy in general.

    Ms. Papandreou referred to the issue of programme agreements on the occasion of her visit to two industries in Magnesia (METKA SA and IMAS SA), which have signed programme agreements with the Public Power Corporation (DEH) amounting to 36 billion drachmas.

    "I visited two industries in Volos which have concluded programme agreements with DEH. These industries constitute a very good example on how the programme agreements have helped the Greek economy, as well as enterprises to develop,to make investments,import high technology and go ahead with very important exports of products. It would be very useful for New Democracy, and its president Costas Karamanlis in particular, to visit these enterprises, see their development and how cooperation between public and private enterprises, through programme agreements, functions for the benefit of Greek industry and enterprises, as well as for the employees," she said.

    Ms. Papandreou said that the Development Ministry, apart from the financing of investment programmes for enterprises in Magnesia amounting to 12 billion drachmas is going ahead with the establishment of a Biotechnical Park, as well as a Technological Pa rk, which will primarily help in the development of small and medium-size enterprises. She said that tendering for the creation of the Technological Park will be proclaimed by the end of August.

    She further said that another project which will be of great help for the region is natural gas. The first industrial region of Volos will be provided with the new fuel on July 15. Contracts have already been signed for the provision of certain industries in the region with natural gas. Other industries are expected to make necessary changes to enable them to use the new fuel which will contribute to a decrease in their operational cost and to the protection of the environment.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Greek antiquities smuggler arrested in Germany

    BONN 01/06/1998 (ANA/ P. Stangos)

    German police in cooperation with their Greek counterparts on Friday arrested in the town of Sarrelouis a 46-year-old Greek national on charges of smuggling, according to officials in Bonn. Michael Kotsaridis, a restaurant own er, was found in possession of 453 antiquities dating back to the 4th century B.C., while the highlight of the collection is a 5-foot copper statue, which is almost intact.

    Kotsaridis, who was attempting to reportedly sell the artifacts for US$5 to US$ 7 million to museums, was officially charged with the crime of receiving stolen goods.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Assembly on the development of Greek islands

    Athens 01/06/1998 (ANA)

    The 8th General Assembly of the Greek Islands Development Chamber of Commerce Group reached a unanimous decision in noting problems faced by insular areas, created individual committees on tourism, transport, trade, etc. with the purpose of coordinating a ctions to minimise whatever problems might arise at present.

    The group's meeting started on Friday and came to a close in Vathi, Samos, at noon yesterday.

    The 19 chambers participating in the group issued a resolution calling on the Greek Parliament to create a Parliamentary Committee for Islands to monitor the course of economic and social cohesion between the country's insular and mainland regions.

    It also called on the government to upgrade the Ministry of the Aegean and make it a Greek Archipelago Ministry.

    The 8th General Assembly was attended by Minister of the Aegean Elizabeth Papazoi.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Greek javelin thrower achieves best performance of the year

    Athens 01/06/1998 (ANA)

    Greek javelin thrower Costas Gatsioudis threw the 88.13 javelin metres during the 14th Vardinoyianneia Games in Rethimno, Crete, yesterday, achieving the best performance of the year in the world.

    Gatsioudis, who achieved this feat in his second throw, proved that he is in excellent condition and is one of the best javelin throwers in the world.

    "I think that the throw was expected. Nobody can ever know what he can do in a European tournament. Conditions play a very big role. I am getting all the more closer to 90 metres. I will participate in the Bruno Zauli Games, the Helsinki meeting and the Tsiklitireia tournament," Gatsioudis said afterwards.

    Two national records were broken at the games on Saturday by Katerina Thanou and Thaleia Iakovidou. Niki Xanthou also jumped 6.73 metres in yesterday's women's long jump event and won first place.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] TV-inspired attacker arrested

    Athens 01/06/1998 (ANA)

    A youth was arrested in Thessaloniki yesterday in connection with a string of molotov bomb attacks against public buildings and vehicles in the northern city since 1997, in what appeared to be a case of TV-inspired copy cat crimes.

    The unemployed youth, identified as Petros Kokkas, 22, confessed to five attacks, including one using gas cannisters, when police detained him for questioning following months of surveillance.

    Mr. Kokkas, who lives in Thessaloniki, told police he made the molotov bombs himself and then planted them after watching news reports on TV about terrorist attacks.

    According to police, the youth suffered psychological problems after involvement in a car crash.

    One person was slightly injured in the five attacks Mr. Kokkas claimed to have carried out, only three of which led to fires or explosions.

    One attack slightly damaged a branch of National Bank of Greece in May last year, and another destroyed the interior of a Mercedes parked on premises of Thessaloniki's Aristotelian University.

    Police were alerted to Mr. Kokkas' activities in January this year when they were called to investigate a plastic bag containing two molotov bombs and a stash of empty bottles found in the entrance to the university's medical school, which police later discovered he used as a base for operations.

    Mr. Kokkas, who comes from the northern town of Edessa, is due to be charged by a public prosecutor.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] French embassy car torched

    Athens 01/06/1998 (ANA)

    A car belonging to the French embassy in Athens was the target of an arson attack on Saturday night in the suburb of Papagou.

    The diplomatic car, whose registration plate was CD 19-17, was set alight by means of a home-made incendiary device placed beneath it consisting of two gas cannisters and a flask of gasoline.

    A group calling itself "Arsonists of Conscience" yesterday assumed responsibility for the attack with an anonymous phone call to Flash, a private Athens radio station.

    The blaze was extinguished by firemen.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Bomb attack

    Athens 01/06/1998 (ANA)

    A bomb attack against the office of Social Insurance Undersecretary Nikos Farmakis occurred in downtown Larisa late on Friday night.

    Three gas cannisters were placed outside the front door of the office and the ensuing explosion created a panic among residents in the apartment building and passers-by.

    It is the first attack against a member of the government to take place in the provinces.

    Athens News Agency

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