|Friday, 19 July 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-06-06
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Commission notes improvement in Greek economy, reiterates that vigilance necessaryLUXEMBOURG (ANA - M. Spinthourakis) - National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday expressed satisfaction over findings on the Greek economy, contained in the European Commission's report on the basic orientations of the economic policies by th e 15 member-states, adopted by the EU's finance ministers' council (ECOFIN) yesterday.
"The comments on the progress of the Greek economy to date, especially as regards the de-escalation of inflation and fiscal rehabilitation are particularly positive, and fully in line with the climate of recognition of the progress, as recorded in the S ummit Council statement on the euro in Brussels on May 2," he said during a press conference after the end of the Council's sessions.
The 18-page report will be discussed by the heads of state and government on the first day of the forthcoming summit meeting at Cardiff.
"Greece has made substantial progress in reducing the large imbalances in its public finances over recent years. Its deficit declined to 4 per cent of GDP in 1997 and is projected to below the Maastricht Treaty reference value in 1998, while the public debt ratio, after remaining stable since 1993, started to decline in 1997," the report states.
"Greece should continue its budgetary consolidation efforts, notably through the rigorous implementation of measures announced by the government when the drachma joined the Exchange Rate Mechanism, in order to secure its smooth and orderly participatio n and to realise the government's intention to join the euro zone by 2001.
"These measures include a further reduction in primary expenditure, extention of privatisation plans, extensive rationalisation of the public sector, and reform of the social insurance system in the medium term," it continues.
The report makes particular mention of the need to bring down inflation.
"Substantial progress has been made in the direction of reducing inflation in recent years," it notes, adding that the drachma's incorporation into ERM would further facilitate a de-escalation of inflation.
"For the countries that do not initially adopt the single currency, the need for stability-oriented macroeconomic policies will be equally strong. The close and deep economic and monetary interdependence between the euro- zone countries and the non-euro zone member-states and the need to ensure further convergence and a smooth functioning of the single market will require that all member-states are included in the coordination of economic policies," the report further notes.
Referring to the other issues discussed by the Council, Mr. Papantoniou said they included Agenda 2000, where Greece's position was that enlargement negotiations should envisage an overall, rather than a point-by-point agreement.
With regard to the Community budget, Mr. Papantoniou said that Greece, together with Spain and Portugal, insisted on the need for increasing its resources above the 1.27 per cent of GDP limit applying today.
He also said that Greece disagreed with the search for new corrective mechanisms which aim to redistribute each country's participation in the budget's own resources, as favoured mainly by Germany. Further, he reported that he also disagreed with the ap parent trend towards reducing the Community's structural funds, saying that they served to strengthen economic and social cohesion in the Union.
Finally, Mr. Papantoniou stressed the importance of the acceptance by the Council of the Commission's proposal regarding venture capital in the assumption of hi-tech and high-risk investment by small and medium-size firms. Athens News Agency
 Simitis welcomes BSEC's new international statusYALTA (ANA - A. Kourkoulas) P Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday welcomed the outcome of a Black Sea Economic Cooperation pact (BSEC) summit, which formally upgraded the five-year-old regional grouping to international status.
The 11 members of BSEC signed a charter at the summit in Yalta, Ukraine, allowing the group's elevation to an official international organisation.
The BSEC is comprised of Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Georgia, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Greece.
Mr. Simitis told reporters after attending the signing ceremony that Greece, the only BSEC member in the European Union, would work to strengthen ties between the group and the 15-nation bloc.
Following talks on the summit's sidelines, Mr. Simitis quoted his Russian counterpart, Sergei Kiriyenko, as saying he was still interested in a project to build a pipeline carrying Russian oil from the Bulgarian port of Burgas to Alexandroupoli.
Disagreements among parties involved in the key project have so far stalled progress.
Mr. Simitis said he had not met Turkish President Suleyman Demirel in Yalta because neither side had requested a meeting.
However, the two men had exchanged views on the BSEC summit in a conversation at a dinner hosted by Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, while Mr. Simitis had stressed the need for bilateral problems to be resolved peacefully within the framework of inter national law. Athens News Agency
 Mantelis in AlbaniaTransport and Communications Mi-nister Tassos Mantelis will pay an official three-day visit to Albania beginning Monday.
The purpose of his visit is to focus on bilateral cooperation in the transport and communications sector, following the signing of a cooperation protocol between the two states last December.
He will meet with Albania's president, prime minister, foreign minister as well as his counterpart, and will be received by Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania Anastasios. Athens News Agency
 Athens cautiously calls Solana announcement a 'positive step' in Greek- Turkish relationsForeign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said yesterday that Greece would do everything possible to make even more specific NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana's announcement on a Greek-Turkish agreement to implement a 1988 memorandum.
Mr. 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 possible, to supplement them.
While describing the announcement as "quite general", Mr. Pangalos acknowledged that it contained "a number of new elements".
Asked, meanwhile, about the possibility of his having talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem on the sidelines of the forthcoming meeting of southeast Europe counterparts in Istanbul, Mr. Pangalos said he would most certainly be having "social co ntact" with his Turkish counterpart, while reiterating that he had not received any proposal for a bilateral meeting. Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the agreement reached after talks in Brussels between Mr. Solana and the permanent rep resentatives of Greece and Turkey was a "positive" step, which however, did not go far enough.
"It must be implemented in practice, with respect for the national integrity and independence of each country," he said. Tsohatzopoulos: - National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said later that although Mr. Solana's announcement expressed the common political will of Greece and Turkey to implement the agreement, certain "arran-gements" required further elaboration "as a supplement or prerequisite" for its realisation. He was replying to reporters' questions after talks here with Cyprus socialist party (EDEK) leader Vassos Lyssarides.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos expressed optimism that the necessary "ar-rangements" would be made during the next few weeks. Athens News Agency
 Cyprus welcomes statementNICOSIA (ANA/CNA) - The Cyprus government has welcomed as "a positive event" Thursday's statement in Brussels that Greece and Turkey intend to implement earlier agreements recognising each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The government note d however that the Turkish side must give evidence of its political will to iron out its relations with Greece. "We consider the reaffirmation of the 1988 memorandum of understanding as a positive event. Any move to ease tensions in the Aegean creates a p ositive climate for developments in Cyprus," Government spokesman Christos Stylianides said here yesterday.
The spokesman said the Cyprus question is not linked to this agreement.
Athens News Agency
 TurkeyANKARA (ANA/A. Abatzis) - Turkey yesterday called on Greece to accept the "transformation" of last year's Madrid communique into a legal document.
In July 1997 Athens and Ankara signed in Madrid a joint communique on principles that should govern bilateral relations and good-neighbourliness. A Turkish foreign ministry statement yesterday said that the Solana statement was an important step, adding however, that this development was "a result of Turkey's combined efforts towards a settlement of problems in the Aegean."
The statement, furthermore, refers to a proposal made by Turkish FM Ismail Cem last February enumerating its five points, including: registering of problems; transforming the communique into a legal document; development and implementation of CBMs in th e Aegean in collaboration with Mr. Solana; the immediate resumption of talks between the two countries' "group of experts" and a high-level meeting between each country's foreign ministry.
Athens News Agency
 Malta FM on official visitMalta Foreign Minister George W. Vella began an official visit to Greece yesterday, meeting with his Greek counterpart Theodoros Pangalos and with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.
Mr. Pangalos said after meeting with Mr. Vella that Greece pursued the development of relations with all countries, whether they aspired to join the European Union or not.
Malta's Labour government put on hold the island's application for EU membership and decided instead to seek a special contractural agreement covering free trade and cooperation, including security.
Mr. Pangalos visited Malta early last year and said Malta had Athens' support for EU cooperation.
In his later meeting with Mr. Vella, Mr. Kaklamanis said both Malta and Cyprus, which is now in talks with the European Union on becoming a member, had an important role to play in bringing Europe and the countries of the Middle East closer, by virtue of their geographical position.
Mr. Vella reportedly said Malta was committed to becoming active in European developments, independent of the decision of the government to halt accession procedures.
Mr. Vella, accompanied by Mr. Pangalos, also met President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.
--- The Europarliament's European United Left/Green Left group will hold its rotating six-month session on Corfu next week, with issues to include the situation in the Balkans, the EUYs common agricultural policy and environmental matters.
The session will be attended by participating Eurodeputies from the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos), as well as by Synaspismos leader Nikos Constantopoulos and the chairman of KKEYs Parliamentary group, Oresti s Kolozov. Athens News Agency
 Petsalnikos denies reports of centres for Kosovo refugeesThe government is not at the present time considering establishing reception centres for refugees from the Serbian province of Kosovo, Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos told the state-run ERT-3 radio station in Thessaloniki yesterday.
The minister denied a report in a local newspaper according to which new reception centres had begun to be set up for refugees from strife-torn Kosovo.
"The newspaper article does not reflect reality," Mr. Petsalnikos said, adding it was not true that the ministries of the interior and defence had issued instructions regarding the matter, nor that government officials had been meeting to discuss the is sue.
"Greece's official position is that every effort must be made to avert conflagration in the Balkans," Mr. Petsalnikos said. Athens News Agency
 US national rescued off LefkadaA young American national was plucked from the sea off the southern coast of the Ionian island of Lefkada by a passing fishing boat.
Dorian Briselston, 21, told authorities he had fell off a passenger ferry en route to Brindisi from Patra and had been in the water for about three hours before being rescued by the fishing boat. He was taken to a Lefkada hospital for preventative reaso ns, while local port authorities are conducting a preliminary investigation. According to reports, he had his passport and ferry ticket on him when found.
Athens News Agency
 Beer bottles depicting cannabis leaf confiscatedA total of 2,485 bottles of beer were confiscated in the towns of Kavala and Drama for featuring a depiction of a cannabis leaf. Police announced the arrest of seven people, all brought before prosecutors in the two towns. Samples of the beers confiscated have been sent to the state chemistry laboratory in Kavala for analysis. Athens News Agency
 Foreigner suspect investigated for forest firesPolice in Crete are investigating a 50-year-old suspect arrested yesterday on theft charges. Authorities suspect that Mohammed Abrahan, the holder of a Swedish passport, is involved in various forest fires in Greece, as two photographs were discovered at his residence showing such blazes.
Athens News Agency
 Acropolis Rally begins SundayThe 45th international Rally Acropolis begins on Sunday at the foot of Athens' most famous landmark - the "Sacred Rock" - with the participation of 33 foreign and 72 Greek teams.
The main change in this year's rally, which counts in the world drivers' and makers' championship, will be that the two overnight stays will be at Delphi rather than Kammena Vourla. The rally will also have five new special sections, four of whi ch are near Athens and therefore expected to draw large crowds. The participating cars will cover an overall distance of 1031.97 kilometres over three days, which will include 17 special sections totalling 388.76 kilometres. The race will start below the
Acropolis at 8.30 a.m., ending on day one at Delphi.
On Monday, competitors will set out from and return to Delphi after covering a total distance of 336.76 kilometres. The third and last stage of the rally the following day will again be run from Delphi and back again, this time covering a distance of 32 8.73 kilometres.
All competing cars will undergo technical testing at Zappion Gardens in the centre of Athens today. Athens News Agency
 Police step up patrols on Greek-Turkish borderGreek police said on Thursday they had arrested an Iraqi man thought to be a central player in the trade in smuggling illegal immigrants and narcotics from Turkey to Greece.
Police said Ali Mohammad, 26, was arrested at the 20th kilometre on the Alexandroupolis-Komotini road, along with two Greek men and another Iraqi national in a car that was travelling ahead of a truck carrying 19 Iraqi illegal immigrants.
Alexandroupolis Police Chief George Kokkinis said Mohammad had repeatedly ferried illegal immigrants over to Greece from Turkey but had always avoided arrest.
He told the ANA that border police patrols had been stepped up in the region in recent days on reports that some 3,000 illegal immigrants were waiting to cross the border into Greece from Turkey. "Patrols have increased and fifty heavily-armed police ar e conducting nightly patrols along the length of the Evros (River marking the Greek-Turkish border)," Mr. Kokkinis said. Athens News Agency
 Celebrations, protests mark World Environment DayWorld Environment Day was celebrated in Athens yesterday with various events and protests by dozens of environmental groups and organisations.
In the morning, a number of residents and local government officials from the Agia Paraskevi municipality gathered outside the environment, town planning and public works ministry to protest the surface construction of a new ring road the Ymittou area, instead of a tunnel road. They later met with Environment Undersecretary Theodoros Koliopanos to present their objections towards the project.
Earlier, about 400 demonstrators from environmental groups and members of the Coordinating Committee for the Rescue of the Saronic Gulf gathered outside the ministry to protest proposed athletic installations for the Athens 2004 Olympics along the coast .
Meanwhile, various events were organised in schools and other centres to mark the day, while a two-day "Celebration for the Environment", organised by the ministry, culminated last night at the Peace and Friendship indoor stadium with a concert. Laliotis: -- "World Environment Day is not just once a year. It is a daily concernIof recollection and responsibilityI" Environment Minister Costas Laliotis said in a message. He was speaking in Thessaloniki yesterday morning, where he attended the inauguration of a n ew building of the Goulandris Museum's Centre of Natural Habitats P Wetlands. Mr. Laliotis further streesed that there had been a decades- long policy deficit with regard environmental policies in Greece, but noted that efforts to fill the gap had now been turned into a common goal.
Athens News Agency
 Tsohatzopoulos meets with Cyprus' LyssaridesNational Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopolos yesterday held talks with Cyprus socialist EDEK leader Vassos Lyssarides, focusing on the Cyprus problem. Afterwards, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos underlined the "need for a continuous reinforcement of a policy of credib ility as well as Greece and Cyprus' defences" in order to with current international mediation initiatives for a Cyprus settlement. On his part, Mr. Lyssarides said the present phase of the problem was "very crucial". Athens News Agency
 Greek, FYROM representatives meet in NYUNITED NATIONS (ANA - M.Georgiadou) - GreeceYs permanent UN representative met here Wednesday with his Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) counterpart to exchange views within the context of Article V of a 1995 interim agreement between Greece and FYROM.
Greece's Christos Zaharakis and FYROM's Ivan Tosevski's meeting was held under the auspices of UN mediator Cyrus Vance.
An announcement issued yesterday by the UN secretary general's spokesman said the two parties agreed to hold a new meeting after the summer.
Athens News Agency
 Avramopoulos meets with GligorovSKOPJE (ANA - M. Vihou) - Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) President Kiro Gligorov and Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski received visiting Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos yesterday, underlining FYROM's willingness for closer ties with Gree ce.
Mr. Avramopoulos' visit here aimed at looking into cooperation prospects at a local government level.
He also met with his counterpart of Skopje Risto Penkov, whom he invited to visit Greece.
During Mr. Avramopoulos' contacts with FYROM officials, discussions did not touch on the controversial issue over the republicYs name. Athens News Agency
 Joint FTSE Int'l, ASE conferenceA joint FTSE International and the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) will host a two-day conference on Greece's new financial markets on June 17-18.
The conference will focus on the changes occurring in both the Greek and international financial markets. Among the subjects to be tabled are services, products and trends resulting from the final phase of the Economic Monetary Union with additional iss ues of interest, such as the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Among the speakers will be senior members of the government, representatives of financial institutions and businesses from Greece and abroad.
Athens News Agency
 Report on Yakovlev air crash out soon, Mandelis saysThe Greek authorities have completed a report on the December 17 crash of a Ukrainian Yakovlev-42 aircraft that cost the lives of all 72 people on board and will be handing it to the Ukrainian and Russian governments shortly for comments, Transport and Co mmunications Minister Tassos Mandelis said on Thursday.
Mr. Mandelis said Russian and Ukrainian experts would examine the report. He was speaking in Thessaloniki after relatives of the people killed in the crash held a news conference to express their concern over the delay in the issuing of the report.
Mr. Mandelis said the report, with the Russian and Ukrainian recommendations on the findings, will be submitted to the Greek supreme investigative council for air accidents and denied there had been delay, saying the report had been completed in the six -month time frame set by law.
The Russian-made Yakovlev-42 aircraft, which had been leased to the Ukrainian-Israeli airline AirSweet, crashed into a mountainside in Pieria west of its destination of Thessaloniki on December 17.
Mr. Mandelis refused to reveal the findings in the report but press sources said it attributed responsibility for the accident to a combination of technical factors and human error. Athens News Agency
 Smoking cited as primary cause of coronary diseaseThe modern lifestyle and smoking are cited as the main causes of coronary disease P the number one cause of deaths in Greece P according to experts attending the first cardiological congress in northern Greece.
Ohio State cardiology professor H. Bountoulas said that in Greece over the past 20 years coronary disease, a progressive condition, has been an increasing cause of death for both men and women.
Other experts placed emphasis on cutting back smoking and cholesterol intake, as well as the systematic consumption of aspirin, as factors contributing to prevention of heart diseases. Athens News Agency
 Ionian's administration again seeks court order to declare strike illegalIonian Bank's administration took legal action yesterday requesting that a strike until Wednesday by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) be declared illegal and abusive, as was the case with previous strikes called by the bank's employee s' union and the Federation of Bank Employee Unions (OTOE).
The new development had in essence been announced in advance through statements by government spokesman Dimitris Reppas and is expected to be adjudged on Tuesday.
The bank's employees, according to their union president Yiannis Markakis, appear prepared to continue the strike at least until June 19 when the Commercial Bank's general asembly will be convened to decide on the sale of the Ionian Bank's majority pack age of shares.
A nationwide general assembly of Ionian Bank employees will take place at the Piraeus Labour Centre at 5 p.m. on Tuesday where final decisions will be taken. GSEE's executive committee will convene on the same day and will be called on to provide covera ge for whatever decisions are taken by the union.
Commenting on the majority reached at GSEE on Thursday concerning Ionian, GSEE President Christos Polyzogopoulos said in interviews with radio stations that the majority was a conjunctural majority.
GSEE Secretary-General G. Manolis referred to the latest legal action, saying the government is sliding towards authoritarianism and warned that if there is a court condemnation of a strike called by GSEE, it is possible that strikes might be called wit h claims against authoritarianism.
Commenting on the issue of the Ionian Bank yesterday, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the position observed by trade unionists during GSEE's vote on Thursday was was totally unjustified. He said that a small section of unionists who are oppose d to the interests of the bank's employees are employing delaying tactics.
Mr. Reppas said that the government has safeguarded jobs in the best possible way and called on employees to turn up for work and avoid political intrigues.
Mr. Reppas left open the possibility of the Ionian Bank's administration resorting to justice again to have possible new strikes declared illegal and abusive. Replying to a relevant question, he said that he believes that the bank's administration will follow the path of legality as it has done until now. Papantoniou: -- LUXEMBOURG (ANA - M. Spinthourakis) - Commenting on developments at the Ionian Bank during a press conference at the end of the ECOFIN Council in Luxembourg, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said that a "motley alliance" has been created by e lements and forces whose main pursuit is to thwart the progress, development and modernisation of the Greek economy.
He added that these forces are not in a position to prevent the developments scheduled in connection with the Ionian Bank and that developments will go ahead as normal.
Mr. Papantoniou also called on employees who love the bank and desire to safeguard its good course and prospects not to fall victim to various political intrigues and to work for the bank's well being. Athens News Agency
 Consumer price inflation holds steady at 5.3 pctConsumer price inflation in May held steady at 5.3 percent year-on-year from April, the Greek National Statistics Service (GNSS) said yesterday.
Inflation is expected to resume its downward trend in June after absorbing the impact of a 13.8 percent devaluation when the drachma joined the European Union's exchange rate mechanism on March 14.
"The repercussions of the devaluation are over and in June it (inflation) will begin its decline," GNSS secretary general Nikos Karavitis told journalists. Athens News Agency
 Drachma jumps against foreign currencies this weekThe drachma jumped against most foreign currencies this week, still rising after its mid-March entry into the European Union's exchange rate mechanism (ERM) and accompanying 13.8 percent devaluation.
The drachma's rise from the previous week was 1.74 versus the US dollar, 0.89/Ecu, 0.80/DMark and 1.03 percent/pound sterling.
Its increase against the same currencies since the March 14 devaluation was 9.36 versus the US dollar, 6.40 percent/Ecu, 6.0/DMark, and 10.18 percent/pound sterling.
Bankers said that the drachma was usually firmer in the summer months because of foreign exchange inflows from tourism.
They expected the Bank of Greece, the country's central bank, to allow the drachma to slip in the autumn in order to align with its central ERM parity. Athens News Agency
 Greek stocks end flat on profit-takingGreek equities ended the week slightly lower on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday with investors opting to liquidate their profits ahead of a long holiday weekend. The market is closed on Monday.
Players also are waiting to see how the government will handle a new strike at Ionian Bank called for next week to protest against its privatisation, traders said.
The general index closed 0.17 percent down at 2,562.82 points to show a 1.09 percent loss on the week.
Workers at Ionian, which is a subsidiary of state-owned Commercial Bank of Greece, have staged a rolling strike since May 11 to protest against the plan to sell a majority stake in the bank through the bourse.
Two court rulings have declared the stoppages illegal.
Sector indices ended mixed. Banks fell 0.64 percent, Insurance rose 1.29 percent, Investment dropped 2.67 percent, Leasing increased 0.85 percent, Industrials were 0.80 percent up, Construction eased 1.61 percent, Miscellaneous ended 1.11 percent higher and Holding fell 0.36 percent.
The parallel market index rose 0.51 percent, and the FTSE/ASE 20 index fell 0.38 percent to 1,524.20. Trading was moderate with turnover at 52.4 billion drachmas.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 125 to 124 with another 18 issues unchanged. Athens Bank, Alco Hellas, Sfakianakis, Papahellinas, Kalpinis, Yalco, Benroubi and Boutaris scored the biggest percentage gains hitting the day's 8.0 percent limit up.
Ridenco, Radio Athina, Lanakam, Sarandopoulos, Vis, Levenderis, Elfico and Rocas suffered the heaviest losses.
National Bank of Greece ended at 41,300 drachmas, Ergobank at 26,920, Alpha Credit Bank at 31,495, Delta Dairy at 4,370, Titan Cement at 22,490, Intracom at 23,700 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 8, 690. Athens News Agency
 Turnover drops on Athens bourse this weekShrinking turnover and a shift in investment interest to shares in the construction sector were the main features this week on the Athens Stock Exchange.
The majority of investors remained on the sidelines awaiting a solution to a nearly month-old strike at listed Ionian Bank, which the government has said it will privatise. Others opted to restructure their portfolios.
Stock analysts said yesterday that foreign investors had reappeared in the Greek market, placing fresh funds in the construction sector.
Analysts expect a new rally in prices after the Ionian Bank crisis is resolved, citing expectations that consumer price inflation will resume its decline and listed companies show higher profitability.
According to estimates, average pre-tax profits for the first quarter of 1998 were 48.8 percent higher than the same period last year.
The general index was 1.09 percent lower in the week. It stood 73.21 percent higher against the beginning of the year.
Turnover totalled 303.4 billion drachmas to total a daily average of 60.7 billion drachmas in the week, down from 89.1 billion the previous week. Athens News Agency
 Greece to take part in EU economy meeting next weekThe European Union's General Affairs Council will meet on Monday and Tuesday in Luxembourg to hammer out a funding agreement for the 15-nation bloc in 2000-2006.
Greece will be represented by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who is expected to request a rise in funding for the EU.
The government believes that funds equivalent to 1.27 percent of the EU's gross domestic product are not enough to meet ambitious targets including expansion, and should be reviewed, Mr. Papandreou told reporters yesterday.
Negotiations are likely to be tough on the EU's fiscal policy due to the fact that Germany, the biggest contributor to EU coffers, is entering a pre- election period, according to EU sources.
Decision-making would be easier after the autumn national elections in Germany, which becomes the EU's rotating president on January 1, 1999, the same sources said.
Mr. Papandreou said that Greece was eager to see overall debate of institutional issues at the next EU summit, which will be held on June 15- 16 in Cardiff at the end of the UK's rotating presidency.
The government was against restricting debate to isolated items, such as the number of commissioners or numbers of votes, he said. Athens News Agency
 Farm minister calls for overhaul of EU fisheries policyAgriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas yesterday called for radical adjustment of the European Union's common fisheries policy in order to resolve problems facing the industry.
Addressing Pesca, an annual fisheries conference, held in Thessaloniki, Mr. Tzoumakas noted a lack of willingness among EU member-states to tackle problems facing the fishing industry, an attitude he said had created a climate of uncertainty in the sect or.
Acknowledging that the fishing industry was an important social and economic sector, Mr. Tzoumakas nevertheless urged industrial societies to readjust their relationship to the sea in order to prevent the extinction of endangered marine species.
He also called for changes in the fishing fleet, in particular a reduction in the power of fishing vessels' engines; and improvements to production and distribution in order to combat fraud, bribery and illegal supply.
Athens News Agency
 Bonino presents EU policy in fisheries sectorEuropean Union Commissioner Emma Bonino (Italy) presented in Thessaloniki the main targets of the EU's policy in the fisheries sector, in light of a revision of structural funds after 2000 and during the conference.
Speaking to reporters, Ms. Bonino said that the primary problem in the fishing sector at present is an imbalance between fishing activities and the small fish reserves currently existing in seas surrounding the EU.
Consequently, she added, the main target of Common Fishery Policy is the balancing of these two factors through the decrease in fishing activity and the parallel development of processing and trade.
She said that in this way the problem of a decrease in jobs in the fishery sector will also be tackled, since many workers will move to the processing and trade sectors.
Ms Bonino further said that the EU is promoting, in the form of subsidisation, the replacement of old fishing boats by modern new generation fishing boats with the purpose of creating more effective, competitive and smaller fishing fleets. Athens News Agency
 Intracom nears agreement with Bulgaria in digital dealSOFIA (ANA/B.Borisov) - Bulgaria's state telecoms company and Greece's Intracom, which is listed on the Athens bourse, are near to agreement in a deal to set up 30,000 new digital telephone lines in four Bulgarian cities.
The project, which is to be financed by Deutsche Bank of Germany, will pave the way for an up-to-date telecoms link between Bulgaria and Greece, Bulgarian officials said yesterday.
The plan, currently under discussion by Bulgarian telecoms experts, involves laying a fibre optic cable from the capital Sofia to Petrichi, where it will be connected to a fibre optic cable in Greece.
Private sector Intracom, a telecoms and information technology manufacturer, is already active in the Balkans. Athens News Agency
 Greek trade board to exhibit goods in SkopjeThe Hellenic Foreign Trade Board will exhibit Greek electrical and electronic products in Skopje on June 22-26. As part of the exhibition a business forum is likely to be held with representatives from the two countries taking part. Athens News Agency
 Pilots' union denies seeking stake in Olympic AirwaysThe country's pilots have no interest in buying shares in Olympic Airways following an approach by a consultancy firm claiming to represent prospective investors, a union leader said yesterday.
The government, which is struggling to implement a radical cost-cutting plan for the airline, has never indicated it wants to sell any of the national carrier's stock.
"The purchase of a package of shares does not concern us. We received an invitation from a consultancy office, which we visited in order to learn who had expressed interest and why," Ioannis Athanasopoulos, president of the Civil Aviation Pilots' Union, told a news conference.
The union wanted to find out whether the consultancy office was acting as an agent for the airline's management, the government, a prospective investor or a combination of the three, Mr. Athanasopoulos said.
"We were informed of the proposals, which bore no relation to our objectives, and we just put them in the archive," he said.
Mr. Athanasopoulos, who backs OA's privatisation, said his union was seeking survival of the airline.
He charged unnamed union leaders, who have opposed any plan to privatise OA, with trying to cover up their errors and justify what he alleged was disinformation they gave to the Federation of Civil Aviation Unions.
Mr. Athanasopoulos also blasted past and present governments for mismanagement of the airline. Athens News Agency
 Lack of participation leads to another Macedonia-Thrace Bank general assemblyMacedonia-Thrace Bank will hold a repeat general assembly on June 18 on the question of increasing share capital, since yesterday's extraordinary general assembly of shareholders failed to achieve a mandated 67 per cent participation.
The increase in share capital will amount to 35 billion drachmas with the Bank of Piraeus as sponsor to enable its successful coverage. Old shareholders are entitled to three shares for every two old ones at the price of 3,500 drachmas each.
During yesterday's general assembly, the Bank of Macedonia-Thrace elected a new board, with Mihalis Sallas as president. Athens News Agency
 Gov't responds to ND demand for inquiry into Florina plant contractGovernment spokesman Dimitris Reppas stressed yesterday that a main opposition New Democracy demand for the convening of a committee of inquiry into a Public Power Corp. (DEH) contract for the construction of a power plant near Florina served only politic al expediencies.
He said the government's only criterion in the handling of the issue was the public interest, and that despite past mistakes it had achieved a reasonable price through transparent procedures.
The government spokesman also reminded of a favourable report by an independent auditor regarding the contract.
Earlier, ND spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said ND would table a proposal for the convening of a committee of inquiry in the next few days, arguing that the contract would result in massive losses for the state.
Athens News Agency
 Credits amountingCredits amounting to 10.1 billion drachmas have been earmarked by the environment, town planning and public works ministry for road and flood- prevention projects, as well as for airport upgrades.
Athens News Agency
 The "Bulletin" will not be published on Monday, June 8The "Bulletin" will not be published on Monday, June 8 due to the Pentecost holiday. It will reappear as usual on Tuesday.
Athens News Agency