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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-06-10

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greece to demand inspection of Parthenon Marbles in London
  • [02] McRae takes 45th Acropolis Rally
  • [03] Exhibition to showcase Ukrainian city's Greek heritage
  • [04] NATO military exercise in Black Sea
  • [05] Polish military chief to visit Greece
  • [06] Kaklamanis in Sweden for CoE meeting
  • [07] Six SE foreign ministers issue separate proclamation over Kosovo crisis
  • [08] Pangalos tells Turkish TV CBMs will decrease tension,won't solve problems
  • [09] Athens daily points to Turkish links with US-based PR firms on Kurdish issue
  • [10] ATA meeting focuses on Kosovo, possibility of Athens session on issue
  • [11] European Left parties meet on Corfu
  • [12] Int'l recognition of Pontians' genocide by Turks urged
  • [13] Hannay in Athens in light of forthcoming Cardiff summit
  • [14] Geitonas speaks at UN session called to combat drug problem
  • [15] Simitis stresses that privatisations policy will not be altered Prime
  • [16] Papoutsis-Omirou meeting
  • [17] Gov't on recent Christodoulos statements
  • [18] Elderly farmer faces murder charge
  • [19] Greek cargo ship catches fire in Turkish waters
  • [20] Gov't proposes extension of deadline for foreigners' legalisation
  • [21] Albanian farm strike over
  • [22] Current account surplus grows again in January
  • [23] Greece offers Albania technological aid
  • [24] New court ruling on Ionian Bank strike expected today
  • [25] Greek stocks edge up, await news on Ionian bank privatisation
  • [26] Greek business needs to improve quality assurance - minister
  • [27] ETBA figures released
  • [28] ADEDY presidium meets with Papantoniou
  • [29] Garbage strike continues in Piraeus, possible compromise at hand
  • [30] Korasidis share capital increase
  • [31] Three Greek deputies in Washington for Cyprus issue
  • [32] Reception by outgoing Greek ambassador in US

  • [01] Greece to demand inspection of Parthenon Marbles in London

    Athens 10/06/1998 (ANA)

    Greece will demand an immediate inspection of the Parthenon marbles in London following the disclosure by a British historian that the 5th century BC artworks were damaged during restoration at the British Museum, where they are housed.

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos told a news conference yesterday that Greece would ask UNESCO, or UNESCO's International Council of Museums (ICOM), to set up a committee to inspect the condition of the marbles.

    British historian William St. Clair said in a book released on Sunday that the marbles had suffered major and irrevocable damage in the 1930s when British Museum staff had tried to whiten the friezes to what was mistakenly thought to be their original colour. Copper scrapers and harsh cleaning agents were reportedly used.

    The museum has acknowleded that some of the friezes were cleaned too zealously but denied it had covered up the incident.

    Mr. St. Clair's book "Lord Elgin and the Marbles" says the restoration damage was for years "a strictly internal matter".

    He discovered the damage while doing research in the museum's archives.

    The news is considered to be a strong rebuff to Britain's standing refusal to return the marbles to Greece.

    The British Museum has long said that they were better off in London, far from the ravages of pollution in Athens.

    Last week, British Heritage Secretary Chris Smith used the same argument in response to a Labour MP's call that the marbles be returned to Athens.

    The Greek demand was first put to British government by late actress and culture minister Melina Mercouri and was met with sympathy by the British Labour Party, then in opposition.

    The marbles, dating back to the 5th century BC, were removed from the Parthenon by the British diplomat Lord Elgin with permission from Ottoman occupation administrators.

    Elgin removed the frieze and other parts of the massive Parthenon temple dedicated to the ancient goddess Athena, and sold the artworks to the British Museum in 1816.

    Mr. Venizelos said the campaign for the return of the marbles was the duty of the country, as their rightful owner.

    The minister lauded Mr. St. Clair, saying that although an opponent of the marbles' return, he had "the courage and professional stature to bring to light unique scientific data".

    Mr. Venizelos recalled that Greece had put forward the issue of the poor preservation of the marbles in 1983 in a letter to the British government, "but never received a reply".

    He said he would send a letter to British counterpart Chris Smith renewing Greece's call for the return of the marbles.

    Mr. St. Clair is expected to visit Greece shortly to meet with Greek experts and brief them on the situation.

    "The British claim that the marbles are in the best of hands," Mr. Venizelos said.

    "I would like to politely overlook the information we have about bad lighting and damp in the halls of the British Museum."

    The minister said he would not at present reveal the contents of the letter to be sent to his British counterpart.

    Sources said one of Greece's proposals in return for the return of the marbles would involve permanent cooperation on exhibitions between the British Museum and Greek museums.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] McRae takes 45th Acropolis Rally

    Athens 10/06/1998 (ANA)

    British driver Colin McRae, right, with his co-driver Nicky Crist won the 45th Acropolis Rally yesterday, the second checkered flag at the international competition for the Scottish driver.

    McRae, driving a Subaru, had won the 43rd Acropolis Rally in 1996. France's Didier Auriol (in a Toyota) was second, clocking in 20 seconds behind the Scotsman.

    Finnish driver Juha Kankkunen, in a Ford, came in third while the leading Greek driver was Leonidas Kyrkos (Ford) in eighth place.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Exhibition to showcase Ukrainian city's Greek heritage

    Athens 10/06/1998 (ANA)

    The Greek cultural institute in Odessa will organise an exhibition on the 2, 500-history of the Ukrainian city of Belgorod from June 11 to July 31, according to a presidential decree.

    Exhibits from the Odessa Museum scheduled for display include gold and silver coins, clay stamp rings, pottery, marble inscriptures and statues of the ancient goddess Athena.

    Belgorod was built on the remains of the ancient Greek colony of Tyros, founded by Greek settlers during the second colonisation period around 600 BC. The colony later developed on the city-state model, complete with democratic institutions and its own minted gold coin.

    The height of Tyros' wealth and power was between 500 BC and 300 BC, while it declined during the Hellenistic period before being destroyed by invading Goths and Huns. The exact same site was rebuilt during the middle ages under its current name.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] NATO military exercise in Black Sea

    Athens 10/06/1998 (ANA)

    A multinational military exercise codenamed "Cooperative Partners '98" will take place in the Black Sea region off Romania from June 12-26, within the framework of the Partnership for Peace programme. Taking part in the exercise will be planes, ships and troops from Greece, France, Italy, Turkey, the US, Bulgaria, Georgia, Ukraine and Romania.

    Greece will participate with the tank carrier "Samos", the frigate "Macedonia", the minesweeper "Evniki", four F-16s and one C-130 transport plane.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Polish military chief to visit Greece

    Athens 10/06/1998 (ANA)

    Polish military chief Gen. Henryk Szumski will arrive in Athens on Monday for a two-day official visit at the invitation of his Greek counterpart, Gen. Athanasios Tzoganis.

    The two military chiefs will discuss military issues of common interest, while Gen. Szumski will also meet Defence Undersecretary Dimitrios Apostolakis as well as visit the Armour Training Centre at Avlona, Attica.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Kaklamanis in Sweden for CoE meeting

    STOCKHOLM 10//06/1998 (ANA - N. Servetas)

    Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis will be in Stockholm later this week to attend the Council of Europe's assembly of national parliament presidents.

    The meeting, to be held June 12-13, will examine the challenges faced by national parliaments as democratic institutions take root in Europe and how national parliaments can contribute to the United Nations. The assembly, held every two years, is expected to draw representatives from some 40 countries and from international organisations. Greece presently holds the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of Europe.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Six SE foreign ministers issue separate proclamation over Kosovo crisis

    ISTANBUL 10/06/1998 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    A separate proclamation by six southeastern European foreign ministers, excluding the Yugoslav minister, issued here at the end of a meeting expressed "profound concern" over the situation in Kosovo.

    The text processed by the political directors of the six countries - Albania, Bulgaria, FYROM, Romania, Turkey and Greece as well as Bosnia and Croatia with observer status - also expressed "regret over the discontinuation of negotiations between the si des" and concluded by saying that "in light of experience acquired in the near past, timely actions of the international community are crucial in such escalating crises."

    The text, on which the Albanian delegation insisted, sets out the advanced isolation of Yugoslavia in the Kosovo crisis, diplomatic sources stated.

    The joint communique for the meeting, at the insistence of Yugoslavia, included no reference to developments in Kosovo, despite the fact that this issue dominated discussions.

    With the solution of multiple texts, an impasse threatening the meeting was averted.

    Diplomatic sources said that the Turkish delegation also worked persistently in the same direction.

    The Yugoslav delegation refused all talk on Kosovo, considering the situation there to be "an internal matter for Yugoslavia".

    Sources added that Mr. Pangalos was instrumental in orchestrating a successful and non-acrimonious end to the meeting, while he told reporters on Monday that he had made "a friendly overture" to his Yugoslav counterpart to listen to his counterparts' op inions on the situation in Kosovo.

    Both Mr. Pangalos and his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem stressed that the success of the meeting indicated that the conditions existed for peaceful cooperation and the creation of an effective framework to promote regional stability.

    Gov't says no Kosovo refugees in northern Greece : There are no refugees from Kosovo in northern Greece but there is a comprehensive plan to deal with such an eventuality, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

    Mr. Reppas said the plan had not yet been put implemented and neither had any special measures been taken on the Greek borders.

    Asked whether Greece was willing to participate in a possible military "presence" in Kosovo, Mr. Reppas said that such an issue had not been raised at any level and that a position would be taken when it was.

    He reiterated the government's call on both sides to avoid the use of force or terrorist actions and to allow room for dialogue.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Pangalos tells Turkish TV CBMs will decrease tension,won't solve problems

    ANKARA 10/06/1998 (ANA - A. Abatzis)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said yesterday that confidence-building measures (CBMs) in the Aegean were extremely necessary to decrease and eliminate useless displays of military force.

    In an interview in Istanbul with the private Turkish television channel "NTV", the Greek minister said the measures "will not resolve problems, they can simply secure us co-existing with the problems."

    Replying to a question on Ankara's position of "the Madrid communique being transformed into a legal document", he said that the "Madrid communique contains certain general principles", adding that he does not see the reason why this should happen and raised the question. "why should we feel the need for a certain legal document apart from international law itself?"

    Replying to another question, he said the proposal by his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem for "a special meeting on the issue of Greek-Turkish relations" was useless.

    He said that Mr. Cem "wants negotiations without previously defining the legal framework", adding that such negotiations cannot take place "if we do not define beforehand where we will take recourse to in the event of disagreement."

    On the question of Turkey's relations with the European Union, Mr. Pangalos said that "the decision in Luxembourg was taken unanimously and no question of a Greek veto was raised", before stressing "that certain European countries are hiding behind Greece."

    Referring to the Cyprus issue, Mr. Pangalos said that the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash "negotiated for 20 years to acquire certain things and then stopped negotiating." Mr. Pangalos also reiterated that the "international community no longer acc epts Denktash as an honourable interlocutor."

    Mr. Pangalos further said that "the votes of 200,000 Turks cannot be equal to the votes of 500,000 Greeks, which may mean that the Turks should have fewer rights, but clearly they cannot control half the administration."

    Gov't on Demirel's 'two states' comment : In a related development, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday that Turkish President Suleyman Demirel's recent comments about "two states" in Cyprus are simply an indication of Turkey's weaknesses.

    Mr. Reppas said the phenomenon of veiled threats from Turkey was "an old one".

    "These recent comments are simply a repetition," he said. The international community has realised that there is no political will on Turkey's side to improve the climate in Greek-Turkish relations and to achieve stability in the region, he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Athens daily points to Turkish links with US-based PR firms on Kurdish issue

    Athens 10/06/1998 (ANA)

    Turkey has employed several US-based public relations firms in a campaign to link the activities of the separatist Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) with Greece, the mass circulation Athens daily "TA NEA" reported yesterday.

    Citing US Justice Department figures, the paper estimates that Turkey paid six firms (with Arnold & Porter and Fleishman- Hillard Inc. figuring prominently among them). In particular, "TA NEA" reproduced a document showing a payment of $425,000 to Flei shman-Hillard for the provision of services which included "the formulation and distribution of press releases, fact sheets, media advisories and statements dealing with issues such as PKK "terrorism", human rights in Turkey and events invloving US-Turkey relations".

    The Athens daily also notes the appearance of reports in the international press last year containing "confessions" of an alleged repentant Kurdish former guerrilla, identified only as "Hazar".

    In one such report in the British newspaper "Observer", Hazar claimed to have undergone training in a camp in Greece.

    Not long afterwards, TA NEA reports, Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem and his ambassador to NATO Onur Oymen sent a letter to the alliance's secretary general, Javier Solana, attempting to present Greece as having relations with PKK.

    Early in 1998, "Time" magazine claimed "without supporting evidence", according to the Greek paper, that "Greece trained and financed PKK members."

    In the same report, "Hazar" was reported as claiming to possess a computer disc with evidence on relations between PKK and the notorious Greek terrorist organisation "November 17".

    Athens News Agency

    [10] ATA meeting focuses on Kosovo, possibility of Athens session on issue

    BRUSSELS 10/06/1998 (ANA)

    The Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA) council meeting, which ended yesterday, discussed the Kosovo crisis and the possibility of an international conference on the issue in Athens.

    ATA council president Theodosios Georgiou noted the concern of the council- members, saying "the council totally supports NATO's efforts, which aim at a peaceful solution of the Kosovo crisis and the area's stability."

    Athens News Agency

    [11] European Left parties meet on Corfu

    Athens 10/06/1998 (ANA)

    Deputies belonging to the European Unified Left and the Green Left of northern European countries began their conference in Corfu yesterday.

    Greece is represented by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos).

    Synaspismos leader Nikos Constantopoulos spoke during the opening of sessions. Issues to be discussed include the role of agriculture in Europe's south, the environment and island development, as well as the situation in the Balkans.

    Mr. Constantopoulos proposed that the group undertake an initiative for the launching of a forum between Greece, Turkey and Cyprus for rapprochement and a resolution of issues of regional concern.

    He also announced that a European Mediterranean forum of parties, non- governmental organisations and intellectuals will take place in Greece in December at Synaspismos' initiative.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Int'l recognition of Pontians' genocide by Turks urged

    UNITED NATIONS 10/06/1998 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)

    The World Council of Hellenes Abroad's (SAE) North and South America branches yesterday handed to the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights a resolution and a memorandum regarding the genocide of the Black Sea Greeks (Pontians) by Young Turk forces and Turkish irregulars after World War I.

    The resolution and memorandum were produced at a conference which took place in New York last week.

    The documents contain official proof of the genocide, while efforts for the international recognition of the mass killings and deportations by the Geneva-based Permanent Committee on Human Rights will continue.

    Finally, expatriate Greek leaders announced the creation of a permanent committee for the international recognition of the genocide, based in New York, while a separate resolution requests of Greece and Cyprus to introduce the subject in the teaching ma terial of their schools.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Hannay in Athens in light of forthcoming Cardiff summit

    Athens 10/06/1998 (ANA)

    Britain's special envoy for Cyprus, Sir David Hannay, yesterday told Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis of the British EU presidency's desire to see an "improved version" of December's Luxembourg summit decisions regarding Euro-Turkish relations a t the forthcoming Cardiff summit, sources said.

    The British official arrived in Athens as part of Britain's preparatory consultations with EU members in view of the upcoming summit. The two men held a broad discussion on the Cyprus issue, Euro-Turkish relations, and the priorities of the British pres idency.

    Sir David also reiterated his country's position in favour of the unblocking of EU funds for Turkey, which Greece has made conditional on progress in Greek-Turkish relations, the protracted Cyprus problem and human rights issues in Turkey.

    These issues will be the subject of a broad meeting at the foreign ministry tomorrow, to be chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who will also discuss them with his British counterpart Tony Blair in London on June 13.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Geitonas speaks at UN session called to combat drug problem

    UNITED NATIONS 10/06/1998 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)

    Health Minister Costas Geitonas yesterday addressed a special session of the United Nations' general assembly regarding the international drug problem, which ends today with the adoption of a political declaration.

    Mr. Geitonas told the UN session, in which various world leaders gathered to pledge their unity in creating a drug-free world, that "undoubtedly, the fundamental prerequisite for a successful struggle against drugs is that our nations, big or small, rich and poor alike, should take their proper share of responsibility in this common endeavour and provide the United Nations, which remains mankind's best hope, with the necessary means to carry out the relevant mandate that we, the member-states, entrusted to this organisation."

    Mr. Geitonas went on to say that "we also believe that drugs' problem cannot be successfully tackled if socio-economic ills, such as poverty, unemployment, racial discrimination, xenophobia, social exclusion and other are not combatted and eradicated."

    "The fight against drugs is an issue of high priority on the political agenda of the Greek government. We consider drugs to be a social evil of the most serious proportion as it mainly threatens our youth, our country's most valuable asset. There is a national approach vis-a-vis the drugs problem in Greece. Therefore, at the initiative of the Greek premier, Mr. Costas Simitis, a permanent parliamentary Committee on drugs has been established, in which all political parties in the Greek Parliament are re presented," he said.

    "Greece, due to its geographical position in the sensitive region of southeastern Europe, its extended coastline and its almost 3,000 islands, suffers consequences such as increase of illicit trafficking and abuse of narcotic drugs," he added.

    Mr. Geitonas further said that "we are at a crossroads in the fight against drug control. The challenge is before us and we should meet it. This time, there would be no excuse if we failed. We do not have the right to disappoint our children and grandch ildren, who are looking forward to hearing fromus, back home, not only that we have laid the foundation stone of the building, during this historic gathering, but that we are, indeed, resolved to build worldwide a drug-free society."

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Simitis stresses that privatisations policy will not be altered Prime

    Athens 10/06/1998 (ANA)

    Minister Costas Simitis last night reiterated the government's determination to proceed with its privatisations programme without making any amendments to announced policy.

    Mr. Simitis was speaking during a break of a ruling PASOK executive bureau meeting.

    The premier noted that the issue over privatisations has worried public opinion lately, and that it was the government's choice to remove entrepreneurial responsibilities burdening the role of the state, especially when such enterprises operate more ef fectively in private hands.

    He further referred to Ionian Bank as not being an essential bank for the operation of the state's strategy, as the bank retains only 5 per cent of the domestic banking market.

    The state's potential, he said, should be invested in major concerns, not in a small bank, duty-free shops or the horse track. It is not the state's business to sell perfumes of cigarettes, he stressed.

    Mr. Simitis also attacked the main oppostion New Democracy party for what he called its contradictory stance, as ND is in favour of Ionian's privatisation while at the same time its affiliated trade union, DAKE, has expressed its opposition.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Papoutsis-Omirou meeting

    BRUSSELS 10/06/1998 (ANA - M.Spinthourakis)

    Cyprus Defence Minister Yiannakis Omirou was received here yesterday by EU Commissioner Christos Papoutsis for talks on issues concerning Cyrpus' EU accession.

    Mr. Omirou will participate today at a European Socialist Party meeting.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Gov't on recent Christodoulos statements

    Athens 10/06/1998 (ANA)

    Greece's citizens and authorities are respectful of Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday while commenting on recent statements by the Archbishop.

    Specifically, Mr. Reppas referred to threats against the Archbishop's life, reiterating assurances given by the police department's leadership.

    In a related development, a spokesman for Christodoulos, Archimandrite Ignatios made it clear in an interview yesterday that statements by the Archbishop on Monday, saying he did not wish to become a head of state or a prime minister, had been made in response to recent press articles.

    The spokesman further stressed that the Archbishop's relations with authorities were excellent, adding that in spite of a number of anonymus calls threatening his life, he personally felt secure.

    The Archbishop himself, who was asked while leaving his office about the threatening phonecalls, only said: "I'm not afraid".

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Elderly farmer faces murder charge

    Athens 10/06/1998 (ANA)

    A 70-year-old farmer goes on trial in Xanthi today, charged with killing a 17-year-old Albanian illegal immigrant he blamed for damaging a fence to his vineyard.

    Theoharis Eminidis tried to hide the body of Meko Gasmed in a cornfield but was seen by villagers in Platanotopo, Kavala, who contacted police.

    Police said Eminidis told them had blamed Albanians in the region for damage to the fence surrounding his vineyard and the irrigation supply.

    Eminidis said he challenged a group of young Albanians and was threatened by Gasmed with a knife, responding by shooting him twice in the chest with his hunting rifle.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] Greek cargo ship catches fire in Turkish waters

    ISTANBUL 10/06/1998 (Reuters/ANA)

    Turkish firefighting craft battled a fire that broke out on board a Greek registered cargo vessel yesterday just as it passed through the crowded Bosphorus waterway bisecting Istanbul.

    "Three firefighting vessels, one rescue ship and two coastguard craft are trying to extinguish the fire," a coastguard official said.

    He added that there had been no injuries among the ship's crew, which the Anatolian news agency said numbered 20.

    Television pictures showed dense black smoke billowing from the Marianna as vessels pumped jets of water into it.

    The official said the ship was carrying steel sheeting, but the fire had taken hold of tar-covered beams in the holds. The cause of the blaze was not clear.

    The ship had been towed a safe distance out into the Sea of Marmara, away from houses and historical palaces that line the shores of the narrow Bosphorus waterway.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] Gov't proposes extension of deadline for foreigners' legalisation

    Athens 10/06/1998 (ANA)

    A deadline for work-permit applications legalising undocumented foreign workers has been extended to Dec. 31, according to two draft presidential decrees tabled at the Council of State (CoS).

    Meanwhile, according to the draft decrees, undocumented foreign workers with short-term work-permits and their employers will not be prosecuted, while all related court cases will be suspended.

    The draft amendments include a proposal that underaged children and the spouse of the permit-hol-der not be deported for the duration of the permit's validity.

    Furthermore, no permits will issued to individuals convicted and sentenced to prison terms in Greece on criminal or misdemeanor charges, excluding those convicted of illegal entry and work in Greece.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] Albanian farm strike over

    Athens 10/06/1998 (ANA)

    Albanian farm workers and labourers in the district of Vassiliki, Thessaloniki, returned to work yesterday after their three-day strike in support of a 1,000 drachma pay increase failed.

    Inspired by the recent success of their compatriots in Messinia, who received part of their demands, the Vassiliki workers said they were striking to press an increase of their daily wage from 3,000 drachmas ($10).

    Despite support from the local labourers' union, who charged the Albanians had been the subject of "police terrorism", the strikers failed to convince local farmers and employers.

    Community President Stylianos Pipinikas told the ANA that the strike had been overrated. "Those who were striking were the ones who didn't have work, " he told the ANA.

    The Thessaloniki Labour Centre has said that it will be examining the issue in the next few days.

    Athens News Agency

    [22] Current account surplus grows again in January

    Athens 10/06/1998 (ANA)

    The current account surplus grew in January this year, rising for the fourth consecutive month, the Bank of Greece said yesterday.

    The central bank said that the current account showed a surplus of 158 million dollars compared with a surplus of 19.3 million dollars in the same month of 1997.

    It said January's surplus derived from a drop in the trade deficit by 64.2 million dollars combined with an increase in the invisibles surplus by 74.5 million dollars in the same month of last year.

    The country's foreign exchange reserves at the end of January stood at 13.9 billion dollars.

    Athens News Agency

    [23] Greece offers Albania technological aid

    TIRANA 10/06/1998 (ANA/G.Tzortzakis)

    Greece has offered technological aid to Albania, a move Athens says will strengthen its position in the Balkans.

    "The Greek government is willing to offer Albania technological assistance, knowhow and participation in joint ventures," Greek Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis said in Tirana on Monday.

    "Any aid to Albania reinforces Greece's geo-economic position in the Balkans, and the position of Greeks in Albania," Mr. Mantelis said.

    He was speaking after a meeting with officials of the Human Rights Party (KAD), whose members are Greeks in Albania, on the first day of a visit to the neighbouring country.

    On his arrival in Tirana, Mr. Mantelis was met by the Albanian public works and labour ministers, the Greek ambassador and a KAD delegation.

    KAD asked Mr. Mantelis to help Albania develop its road and rail infrastructure.

    It wants the government to encourage state Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation to acquire part of its Albanian counterpart, or set up joint projects.

    The move would create an infrastructure for mobile phones and television. Also discussed was developing a rail link spanning Durres, Tirana, Florina and Thessaloniki.

    Other items on KAD's wish list is the creation of a branch of the semi- private Arsakio school in Athens, which has already been endorsed; access for patients to Greek hospitals; and training for doctors.

    Both sides welcomed the existence of healthy bilateral ties, and frequent visits by senior Albanian and Greek officials to each others' countries. Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis is due to visit Albania in the near future.

    Mr. Mantelis is due to discuss a protocol signed by the two countries' governments in 1997 under which Tirana will acquire 50 decommissioned Greek buses.

    Its current fleet of 75 buses has technology dating back to the 1950s. Hellenic Railways Organisation is also due to send Albania spare parts for its trains.

    In addition, the pact allows for Albanian bus and train mechanics to be trained in Greece.

    Athens News Agency

    [24] New court ruling on Ionian Bank strike expected today

    Athens 10/06/1998 (ANA)

    An Athens court is expected to rule today whether a strike by workers at Ionian Bank, who are protesting its privatisation, is illegal.

    The walkout, which is also due to end today, was called by the General Confederation of Greek Labour after the same court ruled two earlier stoppages illegal.

    Workers at Ionian, a subsidiary of state-owned Commercial Bank of Greece, have staged a rolling strike since May 11 called by the national bank unions federation and Ionian's staff association.

    Yesterday, the Athens court of first instance heard evidence from Ionian Bank's deputy general director, Emmanouil Santorineos, who claimed the strike had brought operations to a near standstill, driving away customers.

    Citing examples of disruption, Mr. Santorineos said forty five thousand civil servants were unable to receive their salaries, which the state pays through the bank.

    The government has refused to backtrack on privatisation. But it offered to incorporate Ionian's labour regulations into any sale contract, effectively barring lay-offs.

    A majority stake in Ionian Bank is due to be sold through a bidding process on the Athens bourse.

    On June 19, shareholders of Commercial Bank will be asked to endorse Ionian's privatisation. Both banks are listed.

    Alpha Credit Bank, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, has shown interest in acquiring Ionian.

    The sale of Ionian is part of a commitment by the government to streamline the public sector and cut state spending.

    The commitment was made to Greece's European Union partners when the drachma joined the exchange rate mechanism on March 14 as a stepping stone to the EU's economic and monetary union.

    Also yesterday, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas told reporters the government would do what it could to have Ionian operating normally before the Commercial Bank's shareholders meeting.

    Accusing trade unionists of diversionary tactics, Mr. Reppas again repeated that the government would go ahead with the sale.

    Employees vote to continue strike : Last night, Ionian Bank employees decided during a general assembly to continue their strike until Friday, placing new demands on the table.

    The general assembly also authorised the employees' representatives to assess developments and decide on new forms of action by June 19, leaving open the possibility - for the first time - to end the indefinite strike and resort to other forms of action and pressure.

    Meanwhile, the General Confederation of Greek Workers' (GSEE) executive committee, which held a meeting yesterday, lodged a strong complaint over legal persecutions of striking Ionian employees, calling a rally for tomorrow afternoon.

    Athens News Agency

    [25] Greek stocks edge up, await news on Ionian bank privatisation

    Athens 10/06/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities ended moderately higher yesterday on the Athens Stock Exchange after a long holiday weekend.

    The general index closed 0.69 percent higher off the day's highs at 2, 580.55 points after posting gains of 1.70 percent early in the session. The market was closed for a public holiday on Monday.

    Traders said investors were on the sidelines awaiting a final settlement in a month-old labour dispute in Ionian Bank and details of the bank's impending privatisation.

    Shareholders of Commercial Bank of Greece, Ionian's parent, will be asked to approve sale of the subsidiary at a meeting on June 19.

    Sector indices were mixed. Banks rose 1.49 percent, Insurance increased 2.03 percent, Investment ended 1.12 percent up, Leasing fell 1.41 percent, Industrials rose 0.31 percent, Construction plunged 2.50 percent, Miscellaneous ended 1.73 percent up and Holding rose 0.04 percent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 0.96 percent.

    Trading was moderate with turnover at 50.3 billion drachmas.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 128 to 116 with another 22 issues unchanged.

    Aeoliki, Doudos, Intracom, Intrasoft, Tzirakian, Galis, Teletypos and Delta Informatics scored the biggest percentage gains hitting the day's 8.0 percent limit up.

    Ekter, Lavipharm, Ridenco, Esha, Vis, Thessaliki and Britania suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 41,305 drachmas, Ergobank at 27,725, Alpha Credit Bank at 32,180, Delta Dairy at 4,370, Titan Cement at 22,000, Intracom at 25,596 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 8, 600.

    Athens News Agency

    [26] Greek business needs to improve quality assurance - minister

    Athens 10/06/1998 (ANA)

    Greek businesses must adjust to new standards of quality in products and services deriving from international markets, Development Undersecretary Anna Diamantopoulou told an industry conference in Thessaloniki yesterday.

    She said that 500 Greek businesses received an ISO 9000 quality assurance certificate in 1997 from only 30 in 1993.

    However, the figure was relatively low compared with other European Union member-states.

    In 1995, quality assurance certificates issued in Greece totalled 222 compared with 1,617 in Ireland, 1,314 in Denmark, 389 in Portugal, 4,814 in Italy and 1,492 in Spain.

    Ms Diamantopoulou stressed that the implementation and development of quality assurance systems in products and services would be a major factor in developing and improving Greek business competitiveness.

    She said that the process had started after long delays and it was proceeding fast helped by funds provided by the development ministry.

    According to EU surveys, businesses using quality assurance systems increased their turnover by 6.0 percent. Remaining firms had felt a negative impact on their turnover.

    Ms Diamantopoulou said that the ministry had earmarked 2.5 billion drachmas to finance a project expanding quality assurance mechanisms in Greece.

    She said that a national certification system would be ready for operation within the year.

    Athens News Agency

    [27] ETBA figures released

    Athens 10/06/1998 (ANA)

    The Hellenic Industrial Development Bank's (ETBA) operational profits totalled 4.3 billion drachmas in 1997. The bank assesses that in 1998 overall profits will exceed six billion drachmas.

    An announcement by the bank stated that its five-year restructuring programme is proceeding satisfactorily and quicker than initial predictions.

    Among others, it said that achievements included the restructuring of the bank's balance sheet through writeoffs made in 1995 (18 billion drachmas), 1996 (90 billion drachmas), 1997 (59 billion drachmas) as well as predictions for 1998, which from now on cover all of the bank's bad debts.

    Due to these predictions, the development bank shows accounting losses totalling 128 billion drachmas in 1997, as predicted by the restructuring programme.

    In addition, the bank's total liabilities were curbed to about a third (from 1.253 trillion drachmas as of Dec. 31 1995 to 450 billion drachmas as at Dec. 31, 1997.

    Lastly, operational expenses stood at about the same levels as in 1994.

    Athens News Agency

    [28] ADEDY presidium meets with Papantoniou

    Athens 10/06/1998 (ANA)

    Members of the Civil Servants Administrative Council's (ADEDY) presidium visited National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday and presented him with the civil servants' pay and institutional claims.

    ADEDY's presidium requested coverage for losses in the civil servants' incomes due to the increase in inflation following the drachma devaluation last March, as well as a commitment by the government that it will allocate a corrective amount at the end of the year equal to the difference in inflation and the 2.5 per cent increases given through the government's incomes policy for 1998.

    Earlier, Mr. Papantoniou held talks with the Finance Undersecretaries George Drys and Nikos Christodoulakis on the course of the budget's implementation for 1998, as well as the axes for the preparation of the new budget.

    Athens News Agency

    [29] Garbage strike continues in Piraeus, possible compromise at hand

    Athens 10/06/1998 (ANA)

    Piraeus was buried under garbage for a 13th day yesterday as sanitation workers continued their strike, after the sacking of some 800 municipal employees on temporary contracts.

    Municipal workers held a protest rally in the port city earlier in the day before demonstrating outside the interior ministry.

    A development afterwards appeared to offer a solution to the impasse, as Piraeus Mayor Stelios Logothetis and workers' representatives met with a high-ranking Supreme Council for Personnel Recruitment (ASEP). According to reports, ASEP requested from the municipality decisions certifying that 437 sacked workers fulfill all government conditions for permanent hiring.

    Local government authorities, faced with growing mountains of garbage on city streets, ordered special teams to spray the accumulated garbage on city streets to prevent the outbreak of disease.

    Piraeus municipal authorities have threatened to block roads leading to the country's biggest port and adjacent municipalities unless the government rehires the recently dismissed employees.

    The blockade decision was taken last week by the Piraeus municipal council and announced by Mr. Logothetis.

    Piraeus Prefect Christos Fotiou said the mayor should have hired seasonal workers specifically to work on collecting the city's garbage.

    Athens News Agency

    [30] Korasidis share capital increase

    Athens 10/06/1998 (ANA)

    An 8.09 per cent increase in the Korasidis appliance retailer's share capital was decided yesterday by its shareholders' general assembly.

    According to reports, 550,000 new nominal shares will be issued for the investing public through public registration at a price set before the start to the process.

    It was also decided that dividends amounting to 100 drachmas per share will be distributed. Lastly, the company's administration announced an agreement in principle for the purchase of 50 per cent of Micromedia's shares, the firm that represents Sharp products in Greece.

    The Amber S.A. company, a subsidiary of the AGET Iraklis group, has acquired a website on the Internet, specifically at: htpp://www.amber.gr

    Athens News Agency

    [31] Three Greek deputies in Washington for Cyprus issue

    WASHINGTON 10/06/1998 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    Ruling PASOK deputies Lefteris Veryvakis and Stelios Papathemelis, along with main opposition New Democracy deputy Vassilis Manginas are currently here for contacts with US officials on the Cyprus problem. They will also attend a one-day conference on Cyprus, to be held at the US Congress and organised by the American-Hellenic Institute.

    Yesterday, the three deputies met with US Assistant State Secretary Mark Grossman and special US coordinator for the Cyprus problem Thomas Miller, while on Monday they met with Sen. Paul Sarbanes.

    Athens News Agency

    [32] Reception by outgoing Greek ambassador in US

    WASHINGTON 10/06/1998 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    Outgoing Greek ambassador Lucas Tsilas hosted a reception here yesterday on the occasion of his departure for his next posting in Brussels.

    Mr. Tsilas will leave the US capital on June 30 for Brussels, where he will assume the post of Athens' permanent EU representative.

    The current secretary-general of the Greek foreign ministry, Alexandros Filon, will be assigned as the new Greek ambassador to Washington.

    Athens News Agency

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