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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-06-05

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Greece,Turkey agree to implement Papoulias-Yilmaz agreement
  • [02] Simitis meets with several leaders on sidelines of BSEC conference
  • [03] Joint Greek-US military exercise concluded
  • [04] G. Papandreou calls for Mediterranean 'nuclear-free zone'
  • [05] Palestinian representation denies claims of land sales by Jerusalem Patriarch
  • [06] High-ranking Greece-Slovenia talks focus on Balkan security,Kosovo
  • [07] Geitonas at UN
  • [08] U.S. prosecution of Rashid not an issue for Athens
  • [09] Avramopoulos begins official visit to Skopje
  • [10] Int'l Environment Day today
  • [11] Greenpeace says gov't reneged on promise regarding genetically altered products
  • [12] London mayor in Thessaloniki
  • [13] Fayum exhibition
  • [14] Greek presence at int'l book fair
  • [15] Coul again declares Ionian strike illegal,unions in turmoil
  • [16] OA unions react against OA privatisation rumours
  • [17] Conference seeks ways of improving combined transport in SE Europe
  • [18] Greek stocks end slightly down in rangebound trade
  • [19] EFG Eurobank completes share capital rise
  • [20] Government says talk of tax hikes premature
  • [21] Greenpeace: Greece can lead Europe in using renewable energy sources
  • [22] CSF plans for Epirus, Ionian islands discussed at meeting
  • [23] ECOFIN council meets today
  • [24] Concern over environmental impact of 2004 projects

  • [01] Greece,Turkey agree to implement Papoulias-Yilmaz agreement

    BRUSSELS 05/06/1998 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    NATO Secretary General Javier Solana yesterday announced that Greece and Turkey had agreed to fully implement accords signed in 1988 concerning rules of conduct related to military activities in the Aegean and, when pos sible, to supplement them.

    "The Secretary General of NATO, Dr. Javier Solana, is pleased to be able to announce that in the course of his continuing talks with the Permanent Representatives of Greece and Turkey on Confidence-Building Measures both sides have informed him of their intention to implement fully the agreements reached in 1988 between the then Foreign Ministers Papoulias and Yilmaz (the Memorandum of Understanding signed on 27 May 1988 in Athens and the Guidelines for the Prevention of Accidents and Incidents on the H igh Seas and International Airspace, signed on 8 September 1988 in Istanbul)," the statement said.

    "The two sides have also declared their willingness to continue their talks with the Secretary General in order to clarify where necessary and to strengthen and complement where possible the set of confidence- building measures which the 1988 agreements provide for and which constitute a framework of agreed rules of behaviour regarding national military activities in the high seas and the international airspace aimed at re ducing tension and avoiding dangerous incidents. In this context the Secretary General and the two countries intend to explore the opportunities for greater mutual information and coordination offered by the emerging NATO air command and control system (A CCS).

    "In the 1988 Memorandum of Understanding both countries have recognised the obligation to respect the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of each other and their rights to use the high seas and international airspace of the Aegean. Today's statement is a manifestation of the political will of the two governments to continue to respect these principles and to carry out in good faith the range of confidence building measures that have been agreed as well as those that may further be agreed in the talks between the Secretary General and the two countries, and as such it constitutes an important interim result of these talks."

    Tsohatzopoulos : LJUBLJANA (ANA - M. Savva) - The agreement on CBMs in the Aegean does not involve issues of national sovereignty and does not contain such arrangements, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said later from Slovenia.

    He was replying to reporters' questions on the second day of a two-day official visit to Ljubljana.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said Mr. Solana's statement was quite explicit, agreeing that the agreement was an important "interim result" of talks between Greek and Turkish ambassadors at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

    The declaration indicates that political will exists to make use of the Papoulias-Yilmaz memorandum, he said, while adding that "the commitment remains, however, regarding implementation of this agreement".

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said only the implementation and realisation of the agreement would allow for "a series of problems" to be overcome.

    On his part, Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis from Yalta said that Mr. Solana's statement "is positive. Greece stands by the Papoulias- Yilmaz agreement...We hope Turkey will cooperate in the continuation of talks for CBMs, respecting these princ iples without introducing new elements in contradiction with International Law or international treaties regarding relations between our two countries."

    Reactions : BRUSSELS (ANA - M. Spinthourakis) - Greek diplomacy expressed reserved satisfaction and optimism on hearing yesterday's statements by Mr. Solana on CBMs between Greece and Turkey.

    "Of course, we did not discover gunpowder. However, it is a step in the right direction. Namely, in the direction of full observance of what has been agreed over the past 10 years," a Greek diplomatic source said here yesterday at NATO headquarters.

    The source said that much will depend on the substantive effect of Mr. Solana's statement, namely, the practical implementation of the content of the statement on the part of Ankara.

    The first practical result of the statement is expected to be the summer moratorium for national military exercises and activities by both sides - as of July 1 until Sept. 1. This is anticipated by the 1988 Papoulias- Yilmaz agreement, which had been app lied in 1996 following a similar statement by Mr. Solana at the time, but not in 1997 when Turkey made it clear that it would not implement it.

    Greek diplomacy said that what is very positive is the fact that Turkey, through Mr. Solana's statement, is clearly committed to proceed, just as Greece is, with the complete implementation of the Papoulias-Yilmaz agreement which,among others,includes the moratorium.

    What is of particular importance for Athens, the source said, is primarily the practical implementation of the commitment undertaken through the Solana statement by Ankara, together with Greece, that the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of each country will be respected.

    Sources close to Mr. Solana said in Brussels that they consider yesterday's statement, for which the NATO secretary general had worked hard in past months, a very positive and important step, adding that the target of Mr. Solana is to facilitate relations between the two countries.

    Referring to discussions on confidence-building measures from now on, the sources said that much will depend on how the two countries will implement the contents of Mr. Solana's statement.

    The sources concluded that if on the occasion of their arrival in Brussels on Thursday to attend NATO's ministerial session, there is a meeting between the defence ministers of Greece and Turkey, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos and Mr. Sezgin, respectively, this wou ld be a positive development. However, they were not in a position to confirm whether this meeting will take place.

    Turkish reaction : ANKARA (ANA - A. Abatzis) - Turkey maintains that in the event that proposals on CBMs are implemented in their entirety by Greece and Turkey, this will contribute constructively towards resolving bilateral problems. However, the Turkish side believes that through the proposals "harassments and obstacles will disappear in the international waters and international airspace of the Aegean."

    An announcement by the Turkish foreign ministry yesterday said that the announcement of the proposals would have taken place during NATO's conference of Foreign Ministers on May 28-29, but added that "Greece, which initially had reservations, gave a positive reply on June 2."

    The announcement also mentions "the peace proposal made by Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem on Feb. 12 which was rejected on the part of Athens."

    The allegation is also made that "with the acceptance on behalf of Greece of the Solana proposals the proposal made by Ankara on February on the acceptance of proposals for confidence-building measures in their entirety is accepted."

    Lastly, Ankara's announcement said that "Turkey hopes that with the political volition of the two countries to implement all clauses of the 1988 memorandum, harassments and obstacles in international waters and the international airspace will disappear" , adding that the "military exercises to be carried out in the next few days will be an opportunity which will show to what degree the obligations announced by the NATO Secretary General will be observed."

    Opposition : The Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) issued a statement accusing the government "of moving quickly toward secret talks with Turkey, so as to accept the so-called CBMs over the Aegean, despite the continuing provocations by Ankara." Furthermore, the sta tement stated that DHKKI warns the government that it bears total responsibility for all that might follow in the Aegean and Cyprus.

    Multiple Turkish infringements of Athens FIR reported : Fifteen formations of Turkish warplanes yesterday repeatedly infringed on Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) regulations in the central and northern Aegean, sources said. According to reports, 18 F-16s, 10 F-4s and 2 RF-4s (aerial reconnaissance) air craft were identified and intercepted by Hellenic Air Force fighters.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Simitis meets with several leaders on sidelines of BSEC conference

    YALTA 05/06/1998 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis held bilateral meetings here yesterday with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, as well as with the Romanian prime minister, the presidents of Georgia and Azerbaijan, and the prime minister of Mol dova on the sidelines of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation pact (BSEC) summit.

    The 11-nation group is comprised of Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Moldova.

    Later in the evening, Mr. Simitis was due to meet with his Bulgarian counterpart, while today he is expected to meet new Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko. A meeting with Turkish President Suleyman Demirel has not been anticipated, diplomatic sources said.

    Meanwhile, replying to questions by the Turkish press during his flight to Simferopol, Crimea yesterday, Mr. Demirel said that no meeting has been scheduled between himself and Mr. Simitis.

    The charter of BSEC countries will also be endorsed during the summit meeting today.

    After the first day of sessions, Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis made the following statement:

    "Greece has an interest in the area. Firstly, because it has historical ties and traditional friendships with the peoples of the region. Secondly, because there is a strong economic and trade interest in this region of Europe - a region with tremendous prospects for development, especially in the energy sector."

    Signing of BSEC charter : The meeting in Crimea will be dominated by today's signing of the charter which will convert a regional cooperation institution already existing for five years into an official international organisation.

    Leaders of BSEC countries took the opportunity yesterday to hold bilateral contacts and talks at the official residence where they are being hosted.

    In a related development, observers said the Turkish delegation is making every effort to make its presence felt at the Yalta summit, feeling that this regional cooperation - which started at Turkey's initiative - is in danger of turning into what Turki sh commentators describe as a "Greek- Russian axis."

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Joint Greek-US military exercise concluded

    Athens 05/06/1998 (ANA)

    The US embassy in Athens yesterday announced the conclusion of a joint Greek-US military exercise in the Volos region, central Greece.

    According to the announcement, contingents from all three services of the Greek armed forces cooperated with US Navy and US Marine detachments as well as four US Sixth Fleet warships in this exercise, "Alexander the Great - '98", conducted between June 1-4.

    In addition, National Defence General Staff Chief Lt. Gen. Manousos Paragioudakis and US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns observed the final stage of the exercise, which included an amphibious landing on the island of Skyros.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] G. Papandreou calls for Mediterranean 'nuclear-free zone'

    PALERMO 05/06/1998 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday called on 26 of his colleagues at a Euro-Mediterranean conference here to back a proposal for declaring the Mediterranean a "nuclear-free zone". Reports stated that the proposal receiv ed a positive response as did a proposal for the so-called "Olympic Truce", an idea also primarily promoted by Mr. Papandreou.

    Furthermore, during the meeting it was confirmed that a September ministerial meeting on cultural issues will take place, with Mediterranean and European non-governmental organisations, in Delphi in October. The ministers also discussed the Middle East problem. Ministers declared their intent to meet again on Rhodes in September.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Palestinian representation denies claims of land sales by Jerusalem Patriarch

    Athens 05/06/1998 (ANA)

    The diplomatic representation of Palestine in Athens yesterday categorically denied statements on Wednesday by Palestinian author Basha Abu Sharif, namely, that Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Diodoros has sold Church property to Israeli developers.

    "Mr. Basha Abu Sharif does not represent President (Yasser) Arafat and has no authority, either by President Arafat or by any other official Palestinian authority to discuss relations of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem with the Palestinian National Authority, or on any other issue, during his private visit to Greece," the Representation's announcement said. Mr. Sharif had told reporters in Athens that Diodoros had sold land in Jaffa and was in negotiations to sell property belonging to the Pro fitis Elias Monastery to an Israeli company.

    "The Diplomatic Representation in Athens condemns these statements against Patriarch Diodoros of Jerusalem, which harm the excellent historic relations which link the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Palestinian National Authority," the statement read.

    The announcement also denied remarks by Mr. Sharif that the representation of Palestine in Athens had sent a relative file to the Greek foreign ministry.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] High-ranking Greece-Slovenia talks focus on Balkan security,Kosovo

    LJUBLJANA 05/06/1998 (ANA - M. Savva)

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday that NATO is now assuming the role of a very broad collective security organisation, which newly emerging Balkan states could join.

    "The new character of NATO, which is no longer a military organisation but an institution of very broad influence aiming at collective security, provides the possibility to newly founded states in the region to join in," he said during a joint press con ference at the presidential palace with his Slovenian counterpart Alojz Krapez and Foreign Minister Boris Frlec.

    Earlier, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos held talks with the two ministers and Slovenia's president, Milan Kucan. The high-level meetings, the first between the two countries, were decribed as particularly substantive, creating favourable conditions for a climate of stability and peace at the two ends of the Balkans.

    The talks also centred on the crisis in Kosovo, as both sides concurred on the need for respect of the right to autonomy for the ethnic Albanian majority, as well as to avoid any change of borders in the Balkans and to promote a dialogue leading to the ultimate resolution of the problem.

    Slovenian officials expressed a positive view of the creation of a Balkan peacekeeping and crisis prevention force, as discussed in recent summits in Sofia and on Crete.

    "It is especially significant for us to discuss such issues, because the current crisis points are here, in Bosnia Herzegovina, Kosovo, Cyprus and the Aegean, where Turkey's aggressive behaviour and its refusal to respect international law is leading to destabilisation," said Mr. Tsohatzopoulos.

    He added that Slovenia's future participation in NATO could provide the conditions for security and peace for all countries in the region, stressing that Greece also fully backs its application to join the European Union.

    "Slovenia is a country quickly forging ahead with a course of convergence with Europe," he said, adding that it was also necessary for Bulgaria and Romania to join the next wave of NATO enlargement.

    In addition, initial agreement was forged to sign a bilateral defence cooperation pact that will include the holding of joint exercises, during Mr. Krapez's planned visit to Athens in the next few months.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos later visited a military base and the Hellenic Navy frigate "Macedonia", which is participating in a NATO naval force in the Adriatic, as well as the Turkish frigate "Kara-Deniz", also part of the same force. The NATO commander heading the force later hosted a reception in the Greek minister's honour aboard the vessel.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Geitonas at UN

    UNITED NATIONS 05/06/1998 (ANA)

    Health Minister Costas Geitonas on Tuesday will address a summit of the UN general assembly on the issue of narcotics.

    Mr. Geitonas is expected to meet with Archbishop of America Spyridon the same day, while his plans include visits to Greek patients being treated at New York City area hospitals.

    US Olympic Committee honorary president Leroy Walker yesterday met at Zappeion Hall with Stratis Stratigis and Costas Bakouris, the president and managing director of the 2004 Olympic Games organising committee, respectively. The two sides discussed iss ues concerning an international athletic conference scheduled for September 1999 in Athens as well as the 2004 Olympics.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] U.S. prosecution of Rashid not an issue for Athens

    Athens 05/06/1998 (ANA)

    The Greek government said yesterday that it was "not annoyed" about the arrest by U.S. authorities of Mohammad Rashid, a former PLO off icer convicted in Greece of planting a bomb in 1982 on a U.S. airliner.

    "The authorities of each country do what they must and we feel we have handled the issue responsibly here," Mr. Reppas said in reply to press questions.

    Justice Department officials in Washington said on Wednesday that the U.S. had brought Rashid to Washington to stand trial for the bombing of a Pan American airliner over Hawaii in which a Japanese teenager was killed.

    Rashid was tried on the same charges and sentenced to 18 years imprisonment by a Greek court in 1992 for premeditated murder.

    In 1993 his sentence was reduced to 15 years, and a parole court shortly ruled that he could be freed after serving 8.5 years, but must be expelled immediately. His time in detention before his sentencing was calculated as part of his sentence. Rashid's release and deportation from Greece in 1996 drew the displeasure of the U.S., with then State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns (and present Ambassador to Athens) saying that Rashid "is a terrorist who deserves to be behind bars" and that it was "inexplicable to us why he would have been allowed to leave Greece before serving his just sentence...This is an incomprehensible move."

    In Washington on Wednesday, Rashid pleaded not guilty at an initial court appearance to charges that carry a maximum sentence of life in prison. Rashid protested that he had already been tried on the charges he now faced in the United States.

    Justice Department officials declined to give details of how or where Rashid, referred to by one official as "a fugitive terrorist," was captured. They said he had been flown to Washington on Wednesday morning.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Avramopoulos begins official visit to Skopje

    SKOPJE 05/06/1998 (ANA - M. Vihou)

    Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos yesterday began a two-day official visit to Skopje, the capital Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), at the invitation of the city's mayor Risto Penov.

    Mr. Avramopoulos, who is accompanied by a group of Greek business people, will meet with the president of the neighbouring country Kiro Gligorov, Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski as well as opposition party leaders.

    Before his departure to Skopje, Mr. Avramopoulos stressed that the mission is within the framework of efforts for the better acquaintance and cooperation of the region's peoples.

    He also noted that he briefed both Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis on his scheduled visit.

    Furthermore, he clarified that he would not discuss political or national issues, but rather focus on local self-government issues and possibilities for cooperation between local governments of the region.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Int'l Environment Day today

    Athens 05/06/1998 (ANA)

    In light of today's International Environment Day, President Kostis Stephanopoulos yesterday said "the planet earth is seriously threatened by the overturn of the ecological balance."

    He added that those nations with better developed infrastructures must realise the dangers which are threatening us.

    Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis noted "there is a collective responsibility toward future generations to preserve and ensure the preconditions of life on earth."

    The ruling PASOK party issued an announcement stating that it remains "faithful to the idea of self-sustained development and the goal of quality of life and the environment."

    In his message on the occasion, main opposition New Democracy party Deputy Vangelis Meimarakis said: "Ecological problems are aggravated to such a degree that any further neglect or indifference will render them crucial for the course of life on the pla net, while extremely unfavourable repercussions exist both in the economic development and the quality of life of modern societies."

    The Coalition for the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) noted that "triumphant talk and announcements of new plans are not fitting..."

    The General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) promised to intervene on issues, such as the traffic problem, air pollution and quality of life...

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Greenpeace says gov't reneged on promise regarding genetically altered products

    Athens 05/06/1998 (ANA)

    The international environmental advocacy group Greenpeace yesterday accused Environment Undersecretary Theodoros Koliopanos of bowing to pressure by agro-industrial firms and not keeping a promise to prevent the introduction of genetically altered product s in Greece. On its part, the ministry issued a press release yesterday stating that Greece's policy on the issue is characterised by caution and is based on scientific data as well as "conside-rations for the distant future".
    Athens News Agency

    [12] London mayor in Thessaloniki

    Athens 05/06/1998 (ANA)

    The Lord Mayor of London, Richard Nichols Alderman, arrived in Thessaloniki yesterday morning on a two-day visit at the invitation of the Hellenic- British Chamber of Commerce.

    Mr. Alderman visited the Minister of Macedonia-Thrace Philippos Petsalnikos, acting Thessaloniki Mayor Dimitris Dimitriadis and the Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

    Mr. Petsalnikos briefed Mr. Alderman on the role played by Thessaloniki, as well as Macedonia-Thrace in general, for developing cooperation between countries in southeastern Europe.

    On his part, Mr. Nichols agreed on the role Thessaloniki is called upon to play as a metropolitan centre in the area of southeastern Europe. He also briefed the minister on the upcoming visit to northern Greece by British counsellors to focus on possibi lities of better economic cooperation.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Fayum exhibition

    Athens 05/06/1998 (ANA)

    An exhibition of 72 ancient Fayum portraits,which opened on May 20 at the Agios Markos Church in Irakleio, has been visited by hundreds of visitors.

    These portraits on coffins, dating from the 1st to 4th century AD, were found in the Al Fayum region of Egypt and combine Hellenic and Egyptian styles.

    The exhibition, which also includes three mummies, will open in Athens at the Benaki Museum on June 24.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Greek presence at int'l book fair

    Athens 05/06/1998 (ANA)

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos yesterday promised that a Greek presence at the 2001 international book fair will be both "impressive and effective."

    He also announced an international competition for the creation of a Greek pavilion and several measures to better promote Greece's book sales abroad.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Coul again declares Ionian strike illegal,unions in turmoil

    Athens 05/06/1998 (ANA)

    The General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) yesterday backed the continuation at least until Wede nsday of a strike by Ionian Bank staff, despite a court ruling declaring the strike illegal.

    The ruling by the Athens court of first instance applies to a walkout from June 1 to June 6, called by the Federation of Bank Employees' Unions (OTOE) to protest against Ionian Bank's privatisation. GSEE's board decided to back the strike by a nine to six majority, despite initial indications that it might refraim from taking a position on the issue.

    According to union sources, the majority of PASOK-aligned trade unionists in GSEE argued that the umbrella group could not debate calling a fresh strike if no request was received from OTOE. Nevertheless, they were outvoted by an alliance of all opposi tion-party affilitated members.

    News of the court ruling coincided with a fraught meeting of OTOE leaders over the brawl with the government, which has refused to reconsider privatising the bank.

    Workers at Ionian have staged a rolling strike since May 11 in protest at the decision to sell a majority stake in the bank rather than merge it with state-owned Commercial Bank of Greece, its parent. Both banks are listed.

    Under the latest court ruling, workers were ordered to halt the strike and barred from staging any further stoppages carrying the same demands. The court also slapped a one-million drachma fine on union leaders for each day the strike is prolonged.

    Liable to the fine are the president of Ionian Bank's staff association, Yiannis Markakis, and its general secretary, Stavros Nikolaou.

    Earlier yesterday OTOE voted to endorse a proposal by its president, Dimitris Kouselas, to continue its backing for the strike until Saturday while refraining from asking GSEE to call a new strike.

    Ionian's union will now have to decide whether to continue a strike ruled illegal, or bow to the court's decision, weakening opposition to the privatisation attempt.

    Rejected was a proposal by Ionian's union president, Yiannis Markakis, to call a three-day strike next week. The proposal was back-ed by trade unionists aligned to the Communist Party of Greece and Coalition of the Left.

    As a result, Ionian union representatives stormed out of OTOE's meeting and staged an unofficial occupation of the union group's offices in protest an earlier refusal to ask GSEE to call a strike.

    Last month, unions shrugged off a court ruling that declared an earlier stoppage illegal and made the two Ionian union leaders liable to fines of 400,000 drachmas for each day that stoppage continued.

    On Tuesday, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou told unions that redundancies could be avoided after privatisation by incorporating the bank's existing labour regulations into any sale contract; but the sale itself would go ahead.

    According to the government, no change to the law will be required to insert the regulations, which allows for massive severance pay, into the contract.

    Ionian's workers have stayed off the job but union lawyers are studying the government's proposal, which came in the wake of an earlier offer of a two- year freeze on lay-offs.

    Gov't aims for mid-July deadline for bids in Ionian's sale : The government hopes to set a deadline for bids for the sale of Ionian Bank in the middle of July with a call for expressions of interest due to be published late in June, sources said yesterday.

    The proposal to sell Ionian first has to be endorsed at a meeting of Commercial Bank of Greece's shareholders on June 19.

    The sources were speaking after a meeting of National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou with deputy ministers, Ionian's management and a PASOK trade union official on a timescale for the bank's sale.

    Likely to be used is a bidding process through the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] OA unions react against OA privatisation rumours

    Athens 05/06/1998 (ANA)

    Reacting to last Wednesday's developments in the Olympic Airlines (OA), Federation of Civil Aviation Associations (OSPA) president M. Perros yesterday said "the privatisation scenarios of Olympic Airlines will not pass."

    It should be noted that the president of the Association of Civil Aviation Pilots (EXPA) Ioannis Athanasopoulos said on Wednesday that investors had approached the association proposing to assist its members in buying OA shares.

    Meanwhile, OA employee union presidents decided to convene, while they requested of National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou to intervene and clarify the government's position on the issue.

    In Brussels, OA president Theodoros Tsakiridis is working for the release of the 35 billion drachma increase in share capital - part of the European Union OA restructuring plan. According to press reports, Mr. Tsakiridis has discussed the hiring of pilo ts from EU member-states in case EXPA does not honour its part of the agreement during the height of the summer season.

    Answering relevant questions, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that the restructuring programme of OA is the only government option and called everyone to join forces toward that goal.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Conference seeks ways of improving combined transport in SE Europe

    Athens 05/06/1998 (ANA)

    Delegates taking part in a conference yesterday on combined transport in southeast Europe presented proposals aimed at radically improving cargo movement in the region.

    The boldest proposals were made by the European Commission's representative, Jean Peter Pol, and by Greece's transport and communications ministry, organiser of the conference in Thessaloniki.

    The Commission's representative proposed opening up railway lines to strategic investors in southeastern Europe, an idea already implemented in central Europe.

    Under the concept, a state railway like Hellenic Railways Organisation could lease the management and operation of routes to private investors, improving cargo transport.

    Profitable lines would include routes between Thessaloniki and Istanbul, or Thessaloniki and Munich.

    The Greek transport ministry's special secretary, Ioannis Maniatis, presented proposals aimed at simplifying and integrating procedures in cargo transport. Mr. Maniatis also recommended abolishing price differentials, promoting the issue of multiple visas for drivers working for registered transport companies and adopting a unified standard of weighing cargo in border controls.

    He said he hoped that the proposals would be adopted in a protocol of understanding among southeast European states at a conference to be held in October. Greek Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis said that developing combined transport was vital to the creation of a free transport market in the European Union.

    For the same reason, promoting the measures in southeastern Europe would benefit trade and economies in the region.

    Combined transport was a priority in Greece's trade policy, Mr. Mantelis said.

    The conference ends on Saturday.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Greek stocks end slightly down in rangebound trade

    Athens 05/06/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities ended a lacklustre session mixed to lower yesterday reflecting nervousness over complications in the government's plan to sell a majority stake in state-owned Ionian Bank.

    The general index ended 0.54 percent down at 2,567.21 points after spending most of the day in a narrow band of trade.

    Ionian's union is studying a new proposal by the government that would avoid redundancies when the bank is privatised by incorporating its labour regulations into a sale contract.

    The workers have been on strike since May 11 in a call to the government to merge Ionian with its main shareholder, Commercial Bank of Greece, a move the authorities say would lead to 3,100 redundancies.

    Both banks are listed, and Ionian is due to be privatised through bidding on the bourse.

    Sector indices were mixed. Banks fell 0.67 percent, Insurance rose 0.46 percent, Investment was 0.64 percent up, Leasing dropped 0.16 percent, Industrials fell 1.0 percent, Construction ended 0.46 percent off, Miscellaneous rose 0.38 percent and Holding eased 0.44 percent. The parallel market index for small cap companies increased 1.49 percent. The FTSE/ASE 20 index fell 0.69 percent to 1,530.04.

    Trading was light-to-moderate with turnover at 55.1 billion drachmas.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 149 to 100 with another 20 issues unchanged.

    Kalpinis, Benroubi, Seafarm Ionian, Vis, Loulis, Halcor, Lavipharm, Boutaris and Athens Bank scored the biggest percentage gains hitting the daily 8.0 percent limit up.

    Mediterranean Invest, Kekrops, Demetriadis, Fourlis, Endysi and Metka suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 41,925 drachmas, Ergobank at 27,100, Alpha Credit Bank at 31,900, Delta Dairy at 4,385, Titan Cement at 22,000, Intracom at 23,000 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 8, 780.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] EFG Eurobank completes share capital rise

    Athens 05/06/1998 (ANA)

    Greece's EFG Eurobank,which is listed on the Athens bourse, yesterday announced completion of a share capital increase by 60 billion drachmas, raising shareholders' equity to 130 billion drachmas.

    The new capital will allow more rapid growth in the bank's activities, EFG Eurobank said in a statement.

    Banking sources took the statement to mean that private EFG Eurobank may bid in the privatisation of state banks.

    The bank's board expects this year's profits to more than double from 8.6 billion drachmas in 1997.

    Already in 1998, deposits have doubled against last year, and loans are up by 50 percent, the bank said.

    EFG Eurobank, a member of the Latsis Group, will have a branch network of 65 branches by the end of the year.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] Government says talk of tax hikes premature

    Athens 05/06/1998 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday dismissed as premature press reports suggesting that wage earners and pensioners will pay taxes higher by 21.2 percent this year.

    The reports were based on an estimate collated from data in 30 percent of 1997 tax statements already processed by the authorities.

    Mr. Reppas said that it would be an error to jump to conclusions from the data so far, and final figures should be awaited from the National Statistics Service.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] Greenpeace: Greece can lead Europe in using renewable energy sources

    Athens 05/06/1998 (ANA)

    Greece is able to cover 20 per cent of its energy requirements using renewable sources such as water, aeolic and solar energy, according to a proposal presented yesterday by the Greek branch of the environmental organisation Greenpeace.

    The proposal, entitled "National Policy Proposal on Renewable Energy Sources" which was presented at a press conference, stresses that Greece is in the advantageous position of having enormous potential in all sources of renewable energy.

    In view of this, any targets set to exploit this advantage should be well above the European average, according to Greenpeace.

    Among the organisation's proposals are institutional and legislative changes to promote the exploitation of renewable energy sources, the allocation of public land for related investments, incentives for consumers to use renewable energy, the setting of an example by the public sector through its use of such sources in public buildings and briefing of consumers and productive classes on forthcoming developments in the energy sector.

    The head of Greenpeace's Greek branch, Stelios Psomas, said adoption of the organisation's proposal would help lessen reliance on conventional fuel while at the same time reducing air pollution.

    According to Mr. Psomas, implementation of the proposal would also create 40,700 new jobs.

    Athens News Agency

    [22] CSF plans for Epirus, Ionian islands discussed at meeting

    Athens 05/06/1998 (ANA)

    A meeting focusing on the regions of Epirus and the Ionian islands was held yesterday in Ioannina, with particular attention paid to preparation of a development plan for 2000-2006 - the third Community Support Framework.

    The meeting was chaired by National Economy Undersecretary Christos Pachtas who said that in the allocation of funds of the 3rd CSF particular attention will be paid to Epirus, the poorest region in the European Union, as well as the northern Aegean.

    Athens News Agency

    [23] ECOFIN council meets today

    BRUSSELS 05/06/1998 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    EU member-states' finance ministers are meeting in Luxembourg today for the last time during the current British presidency to prepare an agenda of discussions on EMU at the forthcoming Cardiff summit.

    Greece will be represented by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou.

    Greek diplomatic sources said the text on the basic orientations which ministers will discuss contains positive references to the Greek economy, and that an updated convergence programme for Greece would be among the first to be submitted to the Commiss ion, before the end of the month.

    Athens News Agency EU ministers approve auxiliary pension proposal

    BRUSSELS 05/06/1998 (ANA)

    EU Social Affairs Ministers yesterday approved a directive allowing all those temporarily working in another member-state to receive an auxiliary pension.

    The directive affects more than 500,000 people in the EU.

    Ministers also approved a plan for a common European passport, "euro-pass", for every apprentice, student, or salaried person who wishes to receive further training in another EU country.

    Athens News Agency

    [24] Concern over environmental impact of 2004 projects

    Athens 05/06/1998 (ANA)

    A senior official with the Olympic Games Organising Committee yesterday admitted to "serious concern" over the environmental impact of planned sporting facilities to be constructed for the 2004 Olympic Games.

    "I don't know what the truth is," Costas Bacouris, the managing director of the Organising Committee said at a press conference called yesterday by four environmental groups.

    The press conference was called to highlight what the groups say are "serious environmental problems" for Attica if the construction of sporting facilities and installations go ahead.

    Mr. Bacouris said he was concerned by the figures presented at the press conference, saying that he had received completely different information.

    According to a study by the Athens Polytechnic earlier this year, four square kilometres of forest and farmland, 500,000 square metres of coastal land and 60,000 square metres of land already being converted into parks around Attica will make way for sports installations for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

    The groups support the study's proposals that the rowing centre, scheduled to be sited at Schinia, on the northern Attic coast, be located on the Ioannina lake in northern Greece or even on the Yliki lake in Boeotia, in order to preserve the natural hab itat around Schinia, one of the most important coastal wetlands.

    The groups are also against the construction of seven stadiums at Faliro, on the coast south of Athens, suggesting that these be located in other areas such as Drapetsona, the Agioi Anargyroi army camp or a cove near the old abattoirs near the Karaiskaki stadium.

    Mr. Bacouris however refused to be drawn on whether there would be changes to sites, saying only that he was "concerned about the issue".

    Venizelos: gold medal for organisation : Earlier, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said that Greece was "bidding for a gold medal" with its organisational procedures for the Olympic Games.

    "We are doing very well and are within the time frame set by the International Olympic Committe... We have already received two studies from the six working groups on the works - one related to the sailing center at Agios Kosmas and the other the Olympic village," Mr. Venizelos, the head of the interministerial committee on the Games, said.

    He added that Prime Minister Costas Simitis had named a committee of "personalities" to add its contribution to the preparation of the Olympic Games. The committee includes French film director Jules Dassin, Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis and author Antonis Samarakis.

    Athens News Agency

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