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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-06-18

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Gov't Clinton call to Simitis simply reflects US interest for Greek- Turkish relations
  • [02] Karamanlis meets with Santer,Gil-Robles
  • [03] Ankara unimpressed with Burns interview
  • [04] Clinton call made at request of Blair
  • [05] Greece expresses support for permanent int'l criminal court
  • [06] Premier on Cardiff results
  • [07] Orthodox Churches meet to consider year 2000 celebrations
  • [08] Simitis criticises substitute teachers' protests, KKE cites gov't authoritarianism
  • [09] Albanian Farm Minister Xhuveli details Tirana's privatisations programme
  • [10] EU eivironment ministers agree to reduce air pollutants
  • [11] Amnesty releases 1997 human rights report
  • [12] Popular Fayoum exhibition heads for Athens
  • [13] Trinidad's Boldon equals third fastest 100 metres time at Athens event
  • [14] 'Dream Team IV' a no-show at WorldBasket '98
  • [15] Bakouris details the benefits of self-financing 2004 projects
  • [16] Greece casts doubt on British care of Parthenon Marbles
  • [17] Journalism conference on Samothrace
  • [18] National Defence College cadets graduate
  • [19] Hope for osteoporosis sufferers, experts say
  • [20] Greenpeace charges toxicity in toys
  • [21] Nightclub owner charged in 'white slavery' ring
  • [22] Three arrested in hash haul
  • [23] Athens court refuses to bar bank workers from shareholders meeting
  • [24] Greek stocks surge in bank-led blue chip rally
  • [25] EFG Eurobank completes bourse buyout of Bank of Athens
  • [26] Government working on bill to overhaul bourse entry rules
  • [27] Gov't determined to privatise Piraeus Port Authority-minister
  • [28] Conference on Greek financial markets begins in Athens
  • [29] Crete to host development conference
  • [30] Karatzas predicts slipping interest rates towards end of summer
  • [31] First phase of urban natural gas tender completed
  • [32] New Delta Airlines holiday package for US destinations
  • [33] Gasoline up, diesel down

  • [01] Gov't Clinton call to Simitis simply reflects US interest for Greek- Turkish relations

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    Greece said yesterday that a telephone call earlier this week from US President Bill Clinton to Prime Minister Costas Simitis concerning Athens' relations with Ankara did not constitute pressure or intervention.

    "It was of the nature of friendly advice which reflects the interest of the United States about developments in the region," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said. Mr. Simitis on Tuesday disclosed that he had received a telephone call from Mr. Clinton on Monday night, requesting that Athens consent to the strengthening of the European Union's relations with Turkey, since this would allow Washington to exercise all its influence on Ankara towards normalising Greek-Turkish relations.

    He made the disclosure at a press conference at the end of a two-day EU summit in Cardiff.

    Mr. Simitis said he had told Mr. Clinton it was not possible for Greece to accept any rewording of the Luxembourg summit decisions regarding the EU's relations with Turkey.

    "I told President Clinton that his approach to EU-Turkey relations was not correct and that Greece's position could not be changed," Mr. Simitis said.

    "It is Turkey which must change its stance, accepting for instance Greece's proposal that Ankara refer its claims regarding the Imia islets to the International Court at The Hague," Mr. Simitis said.

    He also said that if tension arose as a result of Greece's refusal to change its stand, as Mr. Clinton suggested, the basic responsibility would lay with Turkey.

    Mr. Simitis noted that Mr. Clinton was not satisfied by his reply.

    Mr. Reppas said the US president's telephone call to Mr. Simitis in Cardiff was quite normal, adding that other leaders had in the past undertaken such initiatives.

    While describing the conversation between the two leaders as "important", the spokesman said neither the call itself nor its content were any cause for concern.

    Underlining that the government remained firm in its stance, Mr. Reppas said Greece's policy was understood in other countries of Europe.

    The spokesman added that Greek-Turkish relations are not at the point Athens wishes to be, but this is due to Turkey, which maintains a climate of tension in bilateral relations.

    Replying to questions, the spokesman said there was no connection between a visit by four Hellenic Air Force F-16 fighters to Paphos airbase on Cyprus on Tuesday and Mr. Clinton's telephone call.

    Response on warnings of 'tension' : Commenting later on the fears expressed by Mr. Clinton to the Greek premier of a rise in tension in the region, Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis said he did "not wish to believe that Turkey is being encouraged to increase tension", and expresse d the hope that "level-headedness would prevail for the good of the Turkish people". Referring to the results of the Cardiff summit and Greece's stance, Mr. Apostolakis said that "Greece has a firm stance and does not wish to raise tension in the region".

    "It is Turkey that must make the first, positive steps. Our views are in agreement with International Law and we have proposed recourse to the competent courts (The Hague) for the settlement of the Greek-Turkish problem," Mr. Apostolakis added.

    On his part, main opposition New Democracy honorary president and former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis said that "as things have developed, Mr. Simitis could not have adopted a different stance."

    "...but the question is whether it was unavoidable to reach this point."

    Commenting on President Clinton's telephone call to Mr. Simitis, Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos said yesterday that the US aimed to assume a the role of a permanent arbitrator in Greek- Turkish relations.

    He added that Greece and Cyprus should avoid being trapped into scenarios of planned tension in the area, and that the government should promote further steps towards de-escalating tension in the Aegean, as well as support Turkey's European orientation within the framework defined by the acquis communautaire and the Luxembourg summit decisions last December.

    Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas said the revelation was curious and unusual.

    "We cannot know what political or other expediency such a revelation conceals, because whatever is said between state leaders is not usually revealed..." he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Karamanlis meets with Santer,Gil-Robles

    STRASBOURG 18/06/1998 (ANA - Christos Haralambopoulos)

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday met with Europarliament President Jose-Maria Gil-Robles and European Commission President Jacques Santer.

    Mr. Karamanlis said after his meeting with Mr. Santer that they discussed issues related to the EUYs enlargement and Cyprus' EU accession negotiations. Asked by reporters to comment on Prime Minister Costas Simitis' reactions to US President Bill Clinto n's intervention earlier this week on behalf of Turkey's EU prospects, Mr. Karamanlis said: "The prime minister expressed the steadfast Greek positions."

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Ankara unimpressed with Burns interview

    ISTANBUL 18/06/1998 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    "The status of 'geographical formations in the Aegean' is a bilateral problem that must be solved between the two countries, and not an issue that concerns third countries," Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Netzati Utkan said yesterday. He was replying to statements by US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns, published this past week by an Athens daily. The US ambassador essentially dismissed the latest Turkish claims disputing Greek sovereignty over four small, populated islands in the eastern Aegean.

    "These comments do not influence the situation" he said, adding that Turkey has developed its stance on the issue of "islands, islets and rocky islets in the Aegean which do not belong, according to international treaties, to Greece," as he claimed.

    Furthermore, Mr. Utkan said "the proposals we made to Greece are also known since last February and March."

    In a related development, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit stated: "If it were possible, from a legal standpoint, we would give the money to Greece," commenting on Greece's continuing veto of a European Union financial protocol to Turkey.

    Mr. Ecevit thanked the British presidency for its efforts and noted that a 1963 agreement gives Turkey the right of full EU membership.

    On his part, Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem said that the Cardiff summit included "positive developments" for Turkey, saying Ankara will respond to the good will shown by some EU member-states.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Clinton call made at request of Blair

    WASHINGTON 18/06/1998 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    US White House spokesman Mike McCurry revealed yesterday that US President Bill Clinton's telephone call to Prime Minister Costas Simitis during the Cardiff summit was made at the request of British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

    Mr. Clinton asked the Greek premier for a revision of Athens' stand towards Ankara.

    "Prime Minister Blair thought the president's exchange of views with the Greek premier would be helpful to achieve a desirable outcome of the meeting in Wales," he said.

    "...we have always supported Turkey's aspirations with respect to the European Union. We welcome the agreement at Cardiff, announced yesterday following the president's phone call, to implement a strategy to prepare Turkey for membership," he added.

    Asked whether President Clinton pressured Mr. Simitis to make concessions to Turkey, Mr. McCurry said:

    "That's not correct. I think you're referring specifically to the issue of Customs Union funds. That subject came up only briefly, and the president indicated he well understood that those funds were in a status of being blocked".

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Greece expresses support for permanent int'l criminal court

    ROME 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis expressed support yesterday for the creation of a permanent international criminal court, having jurisdiction for adjudicating major offences - genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, serious violations of the Gene va humanitarian conventions, etc.

    Addressing a diplomatic conference in Rome, Mr. Kranidiotis said that Greece has every interest in supporting the creation and independent operation of such a court and its authorisation with the widest possible jurisdictions.

    He added that what is of particular importance for Greece among war crimes are those concerning the use of force to change the composition of a population in occupied territory, as well as crimes against monuments of religious and cultural heritage. The conference will be concluded on July 17.

    Mr. Kranidiotis, in his capacity as alternate secretary of the ruling PASOK party's international relations department, met the international relations secretary of the Democrats of the Left party Uberto Ranieri for talks on relations between the two pa rties, a manifesto of the European Socialist Party and prospects of cooperation in light of the 1999 Euro-elections.

    Mr. Kranidiotis and Mr. Ranieri also discussed the situation in the Balkans and the issue of Cyprus, while Mr. Ranieri said that Turkey cannot create obstacles for Cyprus' European Union accession course and that it must make efforts to resolve the poli tical problem.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Premier on Cardiff results

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis told Parliament yesterday that Greece has emerged more powerful from the European Union's Cardiff summit. He was replying to a question by ruling PASOK feputy Manolis Benteniotis.

    "There was no change in course on the issue of Turkey and the decision taken in Luxembourg was confirmed. The decision is based on international law and the principles governing cooperation between European countries," he said.

    Mr. Benteniotis said that the fact that the decision taken in Luxembourg was not revoked was extremely important.

    Mr. Simitis also referred to economic issues, saying that a recovery of the economy is discernible and this means the quicker achievement of criteria set by Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Orthodox Churches meet to consider year 2000 celebrations

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    Representatives of Orthodox Churches met in Thessaloniki yesterday within the framework of preparations to celebrate the year 2000.

    In a written address by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, read out at the meeting, it was stressed that celebrations for the year 2000, apart from their Orthodox and Christian dimension in general, constitute an important opportunity for the promotion of the milleniums of Hellenism.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Simitis criticises substitute teachers' protests, KKE cites gov't authoritarianism

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday used strong language to criticise attitudes of protesting substitute teachers over recent exami-nations for permanent appointments to public schools, as well as their clashes with police.

    "No one has the right to illegality, as well as trying to impose their views on the majority. Such behaviour does not promote democracy, but fascism," he said in reply to a Parliament question tabled by Communist Party of Greece deputy Orestis Kolozov.

    The premier said the gradual abolition of the system of permanent appointments based on seniority in graduation aims at recruiting educators eager to work.

    "This is a measure that will help pupils," he added.

    Mr. Kolozov described the government as authoritarian, accusing it of trying to defame working people.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Albanian Farm Minister Xhuveli details Tirana's privatisations programme

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    Albanian Agriculture Minister Luf-ter Xhuveli yesterday visited the Association of Industries of Northern Greece, where he set out his country's programme of privatisations.

    He reported that Tirana aimed to extend cooperation in tobacco production and viticulture with Greek investors, given that Greece was Albania's largest trading partner in his sector of responsibility.

    The list of privatisations which he presented include a tobacco factory, a beer brewery, a milk processing unit, a winery, and a flour and bread mill.

    Along with his Greek counterpart Stephanos Tzoumakas, he will inaugurate a Greek-Albanian exhibition of farm produce, equipment and foodstuffs in Tirana on Sept. 20.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] EU eivironment ministers agree to reduce air pollutants

    BRUSSELS 18/06/1998 (ANA - P. Pantelis)

    The European Union will decrease emissions of air pollutants by 8 per cent between 2008 and 2012, according to decisions reached by the EU environmental ministers' council yesterday.

    The ministers allocated the maximum allowed emissions among the 15 member- states and set stringent standards on air quality during the two-day conference, which aimed at fulfilling EU promises during the Kyoto summit on the environment.

    The allocation was based on emissions levels of 1990 and will demand reductions to the tune of 28 per cent by Luxembourg; 21 per cent by Germany and Denmark; 13 per cent by Austria; 12.5 per cent for Britain; 7.5 per cent by Belgium; 6.5 per cent by Ita ly and 6 per cent by the Netherlands, while France and Finland are required to retain 1990 levels.

    However, the least developed countries of the Union will be allowed to increase their levels. Therefore, Greece was allocated a possible 25 per cent increase of emissions; Portugal 27 per cent; Spain 15 per cent; Ireland 13 per cent.

    Developed, but environmentally advanced Sweden was also allowed a possible 4 per cent increase.

    It should be noted that the 1997 Kyoto summit for the protection of the environment decided to reduce air pollutants, thought to be responsible for the "greenhouse effect", without reducing the development potential of less- developed nations.

    Furthermore, ministers decided to impose stricter air quality standards.

    Environment Undersecretary Theodoros Koliopanos represented Greece.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Amnesty releases 1997 human rights report

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    Amnesty International yesterday released its 1998 annual report listing abuses of human rights in 141 countries, including five in Europe where victims died of torture at the hands of security forces and state authorities.

    The report by the London-based group was presented in Athens by representatives of the Greek branch of AI.

    In references to Greece, the report notes that although new legislation was introduced enabling alternative forms of compulsory military service, about 250 conscientious objectors who have refused to serve in the armed forces for religious reasons have been imprisoned.

    The report also cites the case of Hara Kalimiri who was convicted by a Greek court for having founded and running a private worship centre for Buddhists in Chalkidiki without state permission.

    Another reference in the report concerns the trial of members of the Greek branch of the environmental organisation Greenpeace who were put on trial after a protest action "for causing and inciting hatred among citizens".

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Popular Fayoum exhibition heads for Athens

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    The doors closed yesterday on a unique exhibition of Early Christian art in Crete that has been visited by 24,000 people on the island since it opened in May.

    The exhibits, displayed in the basilica of the Aghios Markou church in the Cretan city of Iraklion, include mummies, funerary portraits - including a number of the rare and haunting portraits found at the oasis of Fayoum - death masks, Coptic textiles and icons.

    Organisers said the response to the exhibition had been "impressive". There had been an impressive turnout, particularly from schools and, they said, on one occasion, an entire village near Rethymno had organised a visit to the exhibition.

    Called "From the Fayoum Portraits to the beginning of Byzantine icon art", the exhibition covers the period from the time of Christ to the 7th century A.D.

    The items on show come from Greece's Benaki Museum, the British Museum, London's Petrie Museum, Ukraine's Museum of Eastern and Western Art and private collections from Greece and abroad.

    It will be on display as of next week at Athens' Benaki Museum before travelling to the Museum of Byzantine Civilisation in Thessaloniki for the final leg of its show.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Trinidad's Boldon equals third fastest 100 metres time at Athens event

    ATHENS 18/06/1998 (ANA/Reuters)

    World 200 metres champion Ato Boldon of Trinidad equalled the third fastest time over the 100 metres when he clocked 9.86 seconds at an international meeting here yesterday.

    Only Olympic champion Donovan Bailey of Canada, who set the world record of 9.84 at the 1996 Atlanta Games and American Leroy Burrell, who set the previous world mark of 9.85 in Lausanne four years, have run faster.

    The Trinidad and Tobago native finished 0.07 of a second ahead of Namibia's Frankie Fredericks.

    Colin Jackson, Britain's world 110 metres hurdles record holder, clocked 10.31 in the 100 metres sprint and won his specialty event in 13.15.

    He said he was "not happy" with his times at the meeting, held at Athens' Olympic stadium.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] 'Dream Team IV' a no-show at WorldBasket '98

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    The United States' "Dream Team IV" basketball team will not participate at the WorldBasket '98 championships in Athens this summer, according to an announcement by the US Basketball Association.

    The 13th WorldBasket '98 will take place from July 29 to Aug. 9. The latest version of the "Dream Team" turned into a nightmare when the USBA refused to bow to demands from several professional players during contract negotiations. A team of US college players will represent the USA.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Bakouris details the benefits of self-financing 2004 projects

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    Self-financing of infrastructure projects for the 2004 Olympics will have a positive impact on both the quality and timely completion of such works, according to Costas Bakouris, the 2004 organising committee's managing director. Speaking at conference en titled "Private Financing for the 2004 Olympic Games", Mr. Bakouris said the state budget alone stands to gain around one billion dollars and 130,000 new jobs from the Games. Furthermore, he added that the quality of hotels, restaurants and shops in the g reater Athens area will be upgraded. The event was organised by the Hellenic- British Chamber of Commerce.
    Athens News Agency

    [16] Greece casts doubt on British care of Parthenon Marbles

    LONDON 18/06/1998 (Reuters/ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)

    Greece yesterday cast doubt on Britain's controversial stewardship of the Parthenon Marbles and stepped up d emands for an independent inquiry into damage caused during a 1930s cleaning operation.

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou visited the 5th Century B.C. friezes, taken from the Parthenon about 200 years ago, in order to see for himself the result of overzealous scrubbing by British Museum staff 60 years ago.

    Mr. Papandreou said a book published this month by British historian William St. Clair, claiming the cleaning had damaged the ancient honey- coloured patina of the marbles, had "created a sense of concern from our government and the Greek people as well as historians and archaeologists around the world.

    "We feel we must address these concerns, which have to deal with credibility and confidence over the stewardship of the marbles," Mr. Papandreou told reporters.

    "These revelations refute the British argument that the marbles are given good protection. The damage is visible," he added.

    Greece has tried for years to get back the marbles, lifted from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin before Greece independence from Ottoman rule. He sold them to the British Museum in 1816.

    Britain has repeatedly refused Greece's requests, saying they were safer at the British Museum than in the smog of Athens.

    The museum has acknowledged that some damage was caused by cleaning in 1937 but says the matter was made public at the time and staff were disciplined.

    It has also offered to organise an international conference next year to examine the sculptures and discuss the condition and treatment of relevant monuments since the 1930s. But Greece wants an independent inquiry involving the British and Greek governments.

    "This is also a question about restoring confidence and credibility that I think is necessary for any stewardship of such an important historical monument," said Mr. Papandreou.

    "That is linked to, but a different issue from, the one of the return of the marbles, which of course, remains a desire for the Greek people," he added.

    He stressed that the close cultural cooperation between Britain and Greece was necessary for the return of marbles to Greece, and reminded of an older Greek idea, involving their return in exchange for a permanent and alternating exhibition of important Greek antiquities in Britain.

    Dr. D. Williams, the head of the museum's Greek and Roman antiquities who guided Mr. Papandreou, told reporters that the sculptures had indeed been damaged, but that damage was not as great as described by Mr. St. Clair.

    Greece on Tuesday lodged an official protest with Britain over the damage inflicted on the marbles and demanded that they be examined by an international committee of experts.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Journalism conference on Samothrace

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    An annual journalists' conference will take place on of Samothrace at the end of the month.

    The Evros prefectural administration and various journalists' associations are the co-sponsors of this year's conference, the second year in a row that it will take place at this northern Aegean island.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] National Defence College cadets graduate

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos was present at the graduation ceremony for National Defence College cadets at the Armed Forces Officers Club yesterday.

    Some 50 officers and senior civil employees of the National Defence Ministry were honoured. The ceremony was attended by National Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis, National Defence General Staff Chief Gen. Athanasios Tzoganis and other officials.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] Hope for osteoporosis sufferers, experts say

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    Osteoporosis afflicts more than 200 million people - mainly women - around the world but scientists now hope that a new drug could bring substantial relief from the crippling condition.

    Three years of extensive clinical tests of Miacalcic, a new treatment, had shown a 37 percent reduction in bone fractures when combined with daily dosages of vitamin D and calcium, U.S. Professor C.H. Chestnut told the 2nd International Conference on Os teoporosis, held in Athens over the weekend.

    What sets Miacalcic apart from other treatments, Dr. Chestnut said, was that it had not presented any of the side-effects common to such treatments and that it had also had an analgesic effect, providing pain relief to sufferers. The tests, called "Proo f", have involved 1,175 post-menopausal women with an average age of 68, each of whom had suffered from one to five bone fractures.

    "In the U.S. alone there are more than 20 million women with osteoporosis and the cost of therapy is in excess of 13 billion dollars," Dr. Chestnut said.

    Recently, the European Union expressed its concern over the spread of the condition and called for the need to deal with the condition and related problems more effectively. In Greece, the condition affects more than 400, 000 women.

    Dr. Chestnut said there had been progress in both treating and diagnosing osteoporosis with more effective testing, such as of bone density indicators in blood and urine, as opposed to the "traditional" diagnostic technique of measuring bone mass.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] Greenpeace charges toxicity in toys

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    Children's toys currently circulating on the Greek market contain levels of toxic substances ranging from 20 to 50 per cent, according to a study conducted by the Greek branch of the environmental organisation Greenpeace. The organisation select ed random samples of toys made from soft PVC and sent them for analysis to an independent laboratory in Germany.

    The results showed that the toys contained high levels of toxic phthalic compounds which can cause serious damage to the liver and kidneys.

    Greenpeace members yesterday held a demonstration outside the Health Ministry in Athens to demand the withdrawal of the toys from the market.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] Nightclub owner charged in 'white slavery' ring

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    A 42-year-old nightclub owner in Liti, Thessaloniki, was charged yesterday with several counts of pandering and for imprisoning at least 15 foreign women, some minors.

    Stavros Argyropoulos was arrested yesterday after a 15-year-old Bulgarian female on Tuesday fled from the bar he manages, informing police of the women's plight.

    According to police reports, the 15 women (from Bulgaria, Russia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) were locked up in the suspect's residence and were only let out to work at the nightclub, often forced to have sex with customers.

    The women charged that the suspect withheld their passports and also threatened their lives.

    Athens News Agency

    [22] Three arrested in hash haul

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    Three young Greek men were yesterday arrested in Iraklion, Crete after being found in possession of five kilos of hashish which police believe was smuggled into the country from neighbouring Albania.

    They were identified as Emmanuel Papadakis, 23, Yiannis Papadakis, 19 and Constantine Klinakis, 20.

    They were arrested shortly after disembarking from a ferry-boat from Piraeus and getting into a taxi. At a road-block near the harbour exit, police found five kilos of hashish, 1.3 grams of cocaine and 18 tranquiliser pills in a travel bag.

    The three claimed that the narcotics were for their own personal use but they were later charged by a public prosecutor with purchasing, possession, transporting and use of illicit narcotic substances.

    They are due to appear before an investigating magistrate in Iraklion today.

    Athens News Agency

    [23] Athens court refuses to bar bank workers from shareholders meeting

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    An Athens court yesterday rejected a petition by state-owned Commercial Bank of Greece seeking to limit attendance by bank employees at a shareholders meeting that was called to endorse the sale of Ionian Bank, its subsidiary.

    Commercial Bank's management filed the petition in order to contain any disruption of the meeting tomorrow by bank employees attending in their capacity as shareholders. They are expected to oppose Ionian's sale.

    Workers at Ionian Bank have staged a rolling strike since May 11 to protest the privatisation, despite court rulings declaring the strike illegal; and other banks have held one-off stoppages in solidarity.

    Both parent company and subsidiary are listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, and Ionian is slated for a majority privatisation through the bourse.

    Brushing off protests, the government has pledged to stick to its wide- ranging privatisation programme in order to aid entry into the European Union's economic and monetary union by 2001.

    In the tussle over the shareholders' meeting, Commercial Bank's management had cited space as a problem, claiming that a hall in a central Athens hotel where the meeting is to be held was too small; it housed 600 people but 720 wanted to attend.

    Limiting the number of workers to five for each union group would resolve the space problem and reduce friction, management said.

    The Athens court of first instance overruled the petition, saying the hall in question housed 1,200 people and an adjoining room could also be used, allowing attendance by 900 more shareholders.

    It also rejected management's fears of friction among shareholders, saying the bank's owners shared a common purpose. The meeting could not be called off due to possible friction or differences.

    Management's petition was aimed at curbing intervention by Commercial Bank's Staff Association Mutual Help Fund and its Employees Fund; Ionian Bank's Staff Professionals Fund; and the Federation of Bank Employees Unions.

    The same court is due to rule today on two actions brought by Ionian's management to have strikes last Tuesday and Friday ruled illegal.

    Government denies redundancy plan in Ionian Bank sale : National economy ministry officials yesterday dismissed rumours that the government was planning mass lay-offs in state-owned Ionian Bank whose imminent privatisation has led to nationwide strikes by bank workers.

    The officials said they were optimistic that a settlement could be found in the dispute, involving Ionian's staff group, the national bank unions federation (OTOE), and General Confederation of Greek Labour, which represents nearly a million public and private sector workers.

    According to the officials, almost 70 percent of Ionian Bank's staff have returned to work and the government will take measures to ensure normality at Commercial Bank's shareholders' meeting.

    Also yesterday, a ministerial meeting was held with ruling Pasok party officials to discuss procedures ahead of the shareholders' assembly.

    Among officials taking part in the meeting were National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, Justice Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos, Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou, the governors of Ionian Bank and Commercial Bank, and an adviser to the prime minister.

    Mr. Yiannopoulos said after the meeting that riot police would remain at Ionian Bank's computer centre in Piraeus in order to avoid a second occupation by strikers.

    The police raided the centre last month after the occupation froze the bank's on-line and ATM operations.

    Athens News Agency

    [24] Greek stocks surge in bank-led blue chip rally

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities ended sharply higher yesterday for the second consecutive session, recovering after a crisis in Asian financial markets that sparked a mass sell-off on the bourse.

    The general index ended 2.23 percent higher at 2,426.63 points with most sector indices scoring gains. Trading was active with turnover at 65.2 billion drachmas.

    Traders said that investors, foreign and domestic, had returned to the market seeking blue-chips, reflecting their optimism in the Greek bourse's prospects. Banks led the rally, jumping 3.21 percent.

    Analysts said that a plunge on Monday had triggered bargain hunting by many investors in yesterday's session and on Tuesday, when the market gained 3.81 percent.

    Banks surged 3.21 percent, Leasing soared 8.0 percent, Industrials were 0.84 percent up, Construction ended 2.83 percent higher, Miscellaneous rose 1.05 percent, Holding jumped 3.66 percent, but Insurance and Investment bucked the trend to end 0.56 and 0.85 percent down respectively.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 2.13 percent higher. The FTSE/ASE 20 index increased 2.83 percent to 1,448.38 points.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 184 to 58 with another 20 issues unchanged.

    Fourlis, Mediterranean Invest, Alcatel, Macedonia-Thrace Bank, Alpha Leasing, ETBA Leasing, Bank of Athens and Xylemporia scored the biggest percentage gains hitting the day's 8.0 percent limit up.

    Corinth Mills, Etma, Alysida, Ergas, Intracom, Intrasoft and Daring suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 40,350 drachmas, Ergobank at 26,060, Alpha Credit Bank at 27,490, Delta Dairy at 4,000, Titan Cement at 18,875, Intracom at 11,440 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 8, 250.

    Athens News Agency

    [25] EFG Eurobank completes bourse buyout of Bank of Athens

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    EFG Eurobank, a member of the Latsis Group,yesterday completed its buyout of a majority stake in Bank of Athens through a transfer of shares on the bourse.

    Sold through the Athens Stock Exchange in a previously arranged sale were 58.08 percent of Bank of Athens' common shares, which were previously held by Korea's Hanwa group.

    Also transferred to private EFG Eurobank were 51 percent of Bank of Athens' preferred shares, which belonged to state-run National Bank of Greece.

    Total stock sold was 1,083,902 common shares at 8,228 drachmas each, worth 8.9 billion drachmas; and 138,265 preferred shares at 11,675 drachmas, worth 1.6 billion drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [26] Government working on bill to overhaul bourse entry rules

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    Government and bourse officials met yesterday to discuss a bill on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) that will overhaul entry requirements for companies seeking listing.

    Among officials taking part in the meeting were National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, new ASE president Spyros Kouniakis and the ministry's secretary general.

    The bill, which is due to be circulated in the market for feedback, will change eligibility rules for companies to gain entry, and alter the procedures for entry.

    Another meeting is scheduled for next week.

    Athens News Agency

    [27] Gov't determined to privatise Piraeus Port Authority-minister

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis said yesterday that the government would keep to its plan to change the ownership status of Piraeus Port Authority by converting it into an S.A. company ahead of privatisation.

    Mr. Soumakis described as exaggerated a 48-hour strike called by port workers to protest the changes. The strike begins today.

    The government would not backtrack on its plan because the port of Piraeus had to become flexible in order to compete with other ports in the region, he said. "The port just cannot continue to operate in its present form ... Port workers must recons ider the issue and begin dialogue," the minister told a news conference.

    He again assured there would be no redundancies.

    Mr. Soumakis said the port risked losing contracts worth millions of dollars with major shipping companies, and other firms that had expressed interest in operating from Piraeus might call off their plans.

    "(The firms) want peaceful industrial relations and competitive rates compared to neighbouring ports," Mr. Soumakis said.

    Dockworkers representatives are due to meet today with National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou to discuss the government's privatisation plans for the port authorities of Piraeus and Thessaloniki.

    Athens News Agency

    [28] Conference on Greek financial markets begins in Athens

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    A two-day conference focusing on Greek financial markets began in Athens yesterday organised by Delos Communications with FTSE International and the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE).

    The event is sponsored by National Bank of Greece and Sigma Securities.

    Included on the agenda are debate on financial and economic changes in Greece and Europe, the outlook for financial markets, and the impact of markets abroad on the Greek bourse.

    The conference was opened by new ASE president Spyros Kouniakis, FTSE International's managing director Mark Makepeace, and the general director of Delos Communications, Costis Stambolis, who is also the Financial Times' representative in Greece and Cyprus.

    Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis told delegates that the investment climate in Greece had improved following the drachma's entry into the European Union's exchange rate mechanism on March 14, accompanied by a realignment of the national cur rency against the Ecu.

    Athens News Agency

    [29] Crete to host development conference

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    A development conference will be held in Heraklio, Crete on June 19-21 to discuss the Greek island's development strategy in the new millennium.

    The conference's agenda includes discussion of new partnerships, capitalising on Crete's geographical position as part of the European Union's expansion in the southeast Mediterranean, and promoting the island's participation in central and east Europe an states.

    Athens News Agency

    [30] Karatzas predicts slipping interest rates towards end of summer

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    National Bank of Greece Governor Theodoros Karatzas yesterday predicted a decrease in interest rates towards the end of summer. Mr. Karatzas, speaking at a press conference in Hania at the start of a tour of Crete, referred to the bank's targets, prospect s and policy. He appeared optimistic over the National Bank's course which, as he said, is ready to tackle future challenges with success. He also referred to efforts to modernise the bank and touched on the recent merger with National Mortgage Bank, which increased the number of National Bank branches to 600.

    Mr. Karatzas further mentioned the bank's intention for involvement throughout the Balkans, Cyprus and the Mediterranean.

    Athens News Agency

    [31] First phase of urban natural gas tender completed

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    The first phase of a tender for the natural gas network in the Attica region, Thessaloniki and Thessaly was completed yesterday.

    A total of 17 tenders were submitted, by consortiums and companies. Several major European and US companies are competing, including: Houston Industries, Pacific Int., Ital Gas, Ruhr Gas, Tractebel, BC Gas, SPP, Gelsen Wasser, Gajpron-Promitheas, Vew w ith Deloitte Touche, Over Gas, AMGA, AEM, CPL Concoria, Seabo, Gas de France and MCN Emer Group.

    Athens News Agency

    [32] New Delta Airlines holiday package for US destinations

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    Delta Airlines presented a new vacations package for travel to the United States at a press conference in Athens yesterday.

    The package will be made available in Greece under the name "Delta Vacations," and will offer about 15 versions for 13 destinations in the US.

    Greece is the third European country in which Delta has created similar programmes. A Delta official in Greece said that "the Greek market's recreation sector has huge development potential".

    Delta Airlines, established in 1924 and headquartered in Atlanta, provides daily direct flights from Athens to JFK Airport in New York.

    Patrick Santillo, the commercial attache at the US embassy in Athens, who attended the press conference, offered assurances that the embassy is intensifying efforts to improve bilateral economic and business relations, placing particular emphasis on the travel and tourism industry, which provides opportunities for both countries.

    Athens News Agency

    [33] Gasoline up, diesel down

    Athens 18/06/1998 (ANA)

    Petrol prices will increase slightly as of today and for a week.

    According to announcements by the Public Petroleum Corp. (DEP) and the development ministry, the retail sales prices of gasoline will increase by 0.40 drachmas per litre, while diesel will decrease by 0.70 drachmas per litre. Heating oil will also decre ase by 0.90 drachmas per litre.

    National Tourism Organisation (EOT) President Ioannis Stefanidis represented Greece at the "Pro-tection of Oceans-Seas" conference in Portugal.

    He also participated at a Paris conference by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) tourism committee.

    Athens News Agency

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