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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-06-23

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] Cyprus developments dominate Simitis-Holbrooke talks
  • [02] New communications centre inaugurated at foreign ministry
  • [03] Gov't will not bow to unions in privatisation plan, Papantoniou says
  • [04] Greek stocks slump, shrugging off Ionian sale approval
  • [05] Olympic Airways seeks EU's approval for share capital rise
  • [06] OA-Cypriot Airways cooperation announced
  • [07] Public works tenders to go on Internet
  • [08] Rate on 3-year Greek bonds rises after commission scrapped
  • [09] Greece backs granting Havana observer status in Lome talks
  • [10] Listed Papastratos makes new deal with Philip Morris
  • [11] Macedonia-Thrace Bank, Piraeus Bank to bid for Cretabank
  • [12] Services sector dominates EU's economy
  • [13] Bourse listing for Corinth Piping Co.
  • [14] Greece details latest Turkish threats in letter to the UN
  • [15] Press report of Turkish plan to install new Aegean radar system
  • [16] Searched Maltese-flagged vessel belonged to Turkish national
  • [17] Tsohatzopoulos touches on Kosovo crisis at NATO meeting
  • [18] Military experts meet on multinational Balkan force
  • [19] Photo exhibition on Andreas Papandreou inaugurated
  • [20] Clerides: Stephanopoulos' visit to Cyprus 'symbolic'
  • [21] Israeli ambassador on Crete
  • [22] Daughter 'Grecia' for Venezuelan ambassador
  • [23] Monument for the fallen during '74 Cyprus invasion
  • [24] Thessaloniki hosts international conference on Jewish law
  • [25] Republic of Korea wreath-laying ceremony at Tomb of Unknown Soldier
  • [26] Pangalos hosts dinner for Nat'l Human Rights Committee
  • [27] Papariga condemns gov't action vis-a-vis recent rallies, strikes
  • [28] Fire brigade responsible for forest fire prevention
  • [29] Ecumenical Patriarch to visit Mt. Athos later this year
  • [30] Alistratis cave open to tourists
  • [31] Greek, Italian commercial federations sign cooperation protocol
  • [32] Premier to tour Aspropyrgos refinery,shipyards tomorrow
  • [33] Labour relations clause on raising work hours during peak periods scrapped
  • [34] Mother of 3 poisoned children also consumed pesticide

  • [01] Cyprus developments dominate Simitis-Holbrooke talks

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis held talks yesterday with newly appointed US ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke, who arrived in Athens earlier in the day.

    The meeting, which lasted 40 minutes, was also attended by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns.

    According to government sources, the meeting was requested by Mr. Holbrooke, who leaves Athens this morning on a regional tour taking in Belgrade, Kosovo and Skopje.

    The architect of the Dayton peace accords, Mr. Holbrooke before his appointment as Washington's ambassador to the UN was a special US Presidential emissary for Cyprus.

    Diplomatic sources said Mr. Simitis and Mr. Holbrooke reviewed developments in the Cyprus problem, Greek-Turkish relations and Greek-US relations.

    Also discussed was cooperation between the two countries in the Balkans. No statements were made after the meeting.

    Sources said Mr. Holbrooke "will visit certain other countries in the region over the next few days", before returning to Athens to be the guest speaker at the American College of Greece graduation ceremony at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Faliro on Friday.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said later it was natural that Mr. Holbrooke's meeting with Mr. Simitis would cover all the developments in the region.

    Mr. Reppas said that the agenda of the meeting had not yet been determined but that the US official had requested a meeting with the prime minister and "we can assume they will discuss the Cyprus issue, Greek-Turkish relations and relations with the US ."

    Mr. Reppas said the prime minister had agreed to the meeting in light of Mr. Holbrooke's new appointment to the United Nations.

    He added that US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's visit to Greece would probably be postponed to autumn at her request.

    Later in the evening, Mr. Pangalos and Mr. Kranidiotis hosted a dinner in Mr. Holbrooke's honour.

    According to diplomatic sources, recent developments regarding the Cyprus issue, Greek-Turkish relations, the Kosovo crisis as well as the general situation in the Balkans were discussed at the dinner, also attended by US ambassador Burns.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] New communications centre inaugurated at foreign ministry

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos inaugurated new installations of the Information Service's Communications Centre at the foreign ministry yesterday morning.

    The centre hopes to become the gateway for entry of information from news agencies, the Greek electronic mass media as well as certain foreign ones having particular importance for the country so readouts can reach computers quickly.

    Consequently, the foreign ministry's needs for speedy access to open electronic information will be covered to a considerable degree.

    This system will be further strengthened with the installation of an Internet link at the homes of the ministry's directors, while an "Intranet" system is expected to operate at the ministry soon.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Gov't will not bow to unions in privatisation plan, Papantoniou says

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yannos Papantoniou yesterday pledged that the government would not soften its wide-ranging privatisation plan in order to appease trade unions.

    Mr. Papantoniou also warned opponents of the programme within the ruling PASOK party that it would be hazardous to return to state-oriented economic policies of 1974-1994.

    "It would be a crime if PASOK returned to the economy with the perceptions and practices of 1974-1994," he told Flash radio station in an interview.

    "There will be no concessions or postponements in the privatisation programme."

    The government promised the European Union it would carry out the plan as part of commitments made when the drachma joined the EU's exchange rate mechanism on March 14 to ease entry into economic and monetary union, which the country hopes to join by Ja nuary 1, 2001.

    The International Monetary Fund has also urged the government to privatise its banks more aggressively.

    As an example, Mr. Papantoniou cited the government's tough line in pushing ahead with the sale of Ionian Bank, a subsidiary of Commercial Bank of Greece, despite a spate of strikes throughout the banking sector.

    Ionian's workers returned to work yesterday after striking since May 11 in a bid to force the government to call off the sale of a majority stake in the bank.

    On Friday, Commercial Bank's shareholders endorsed the future sale of its subsidiary, which the government wants carried out through the bourse, despite disruption of the meeting by strikers. Both banks are listed on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Mr. Papantoniou called media reports inaccurate that claimed the government would soften its wide-ranging privatisation plan in order to appease workers.

    "The government is not up against society or workers, the vast majority of whom have consented to the government's structural changes. It is up against small groups with vested interests that even use violence, but they will not have their way," he said.

    "Inevitably there will be clashes ... A part of the problem that is making our job difficult is the fact that a section of these trade unionists belong to PASOK".

    Mr. Papantoniou said the rationale of using political cost as a gauge of whether to adopt policies should be overcome, and dialogue could not serve as a pretext for workers to veto government policy.

    "Consensus is necessary but beyond a certain point, the line will be drawn, " he said.

    "Greece is far behind other European countries in privatisation, and so there is no more room for delay".

    Mr. Papantoniou said the hardest part of the government's privatisation programme would be to restructure public transport, but a balance between viability and consensus could be found.

    Ionian Bank reopens as strikers return to work : Ionian Bank, which is shortly due to be privatised, resumed operations after employees ended a rolling strike that began on May 11, the bank's officials said yesterday.

    Shareholders of Ionian's parent company, Commercial Bank of Greece, on Friday endorsed the sale of Ionian, and workers called off their strike the following day, apparently dropping opposition to the plan.

    Ionian Bank officials said that customers did not seem to have lost confidence in the bank with deposits apparently outpacing withdrawals as the first operations were resumed.

    Ionian's board asked customers for more patience until a backlog of work caused by the strike could be cleared.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Greek stocks slump, shrugging off Ionian sale approval

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities yesterday ended a roller-coaster session substantially lower, brushing off the approval of shareholders at the end of last week for the privatisation of Ionian Bank after a lengthy strike.

    The general index ended 1.38 percent lower at 2,417.97 points after starting the day 2.60 percent up.

    Trading was light to moderate with turnover at 45.7 billion drachmas.

    Sector indices were mixed. Banks fell 2.35 percent, Insurance eased 0.35 percent, Investment dropped 1.16 percent, Leasing was 0.84 percent off, Industrials rose 0.04 percent, Construction fell 0.43 percent, Miscellaneous ended 0.85 percent higher and Holding rose 0.14 percent.

    The parallel market index fell 0.59 percent, and the FTSE/ASE 20 index dropped 2.09 percent to 1,439.87 points.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 133 to 104 with another 19 issues unchanged. Ippotour, Bank of Athens, Mediterranean Invest, Ionian Hotels, Bank of Central Greece and Athinea scored the biggest percentage gains hitting the daily 8.0 percent limit up .

    European Credit, Mouzakis, Vis, Daring, Ergas, Agrinion Metalplastic, Elfico and Keranis suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 39,300 drachmas, Ergobank at 26,550, Alpha Credit Bank at 26,800, Ionian Bank fell to 13,700, Commercial Bank of Greece dropped to 22,405, Delta Dairy at 3,935, Titan Cement at 20,500, Intracom at 10,975 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 7,160 drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Olympic Airways seeks EU's approval for share capital rise

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    A seven-member delegation from Olympic Airways went to Brussels yesterday in order to persuade the European Union to lift its objections to the release of an instalment in a share capital rise for the ailing national carrier.

    OA's management has to prove that it is successfully carrying out a plan to restructure the airline before approval can be granted for the government to proceed with the 35 billion drachma instalment, and the release of funds for fleet renewal.

    Approval for the instalment has been delayed for two years due to poor implementation of a 1994 restructuring plan. The government recently announced a new plan to cut costs by 50 billion drachmas annually for five years.

    The delegation to the snap meeting was led by the airline's president, Theodoros Tsakiridis.

    Olympic Airways yesterday announced changes to its regular flight schedule designed to work around the refusal of pilots to work overtime.

    OA's board reduced international flights by 6.6 hours and domestic flights by 9.8 hours to accommodate passengers and pilots, a spokesman said.

    "We are not cancelling OA flights - just reducing them on the basis of existing personnel," the spokesman said.

    The changes for yesterday were a merger of flights 135 for Geneva and 131 for Zurich, and flight 197 for Munich was rescheduled for the evening. Flight 201 for Paris was set for a four-hour delay due to maintenance.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] OA-Cypriot Airways cooperation announced

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    Transport Minister Tassos Mantelis yesterday announced an agreement with his Cypriot counterpart Leontios Ierodiakonou to promote cooperation between Olympic Airways and Cyprus Airways, as well as between OA's Macedonian Airways subsidiary with the island republic's Euro-Cyprus charter company.

    Mr. Mantelis said the agreement was the result of re-negotiation of an older one, which had become inoperative.

    The minister also announced the granting of a licence in the next few days to Cypriot businessman S. Hatjioannou's British-based Easyjet for flights between London and Athens.

    The company plans to run a 9,800-drachma single fare and 19,600-drachma return fare offer for 10 days as of July 10.

    In a related development, Mr. Mantelis also announced the hiring of 67 seasonal staff members by Olympic, saying the national carrier should become competitive as soon as possible in view of the airline industry's deregulation in 1999. He also accused staff of exploiting delays and cancellations in order to negotiate changes in their labour relations.

    Meanwhile, it was announced yesterday that the Ionian Bank and Hellenic Industrial Development Bank (ETBA) were drafting a study for the launching of a satellite to serve Greece, Cyprus and 10 other countries of the eastern Mediterranean and central Europe. The study concerns the finding of capital, which if realised, will allow the launching in some 26 months' time.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Public works tenders to go on Internet

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    State public works tenders are to be announced on the Internet rather than in the daily press, according to speakers at a meeting yesterday on public contracts and community law organised by the Centre for International and European Law in Thessaloniki.

    The meeting was organised on behalf of the British Embassy in Athens.

    Speaking at the meeting, National Economy Undersecretary Christos Pachtas said the target was for 50 per cent of public works to be announced on the Internet by the year 2004.

    The Centre for International and European Law already operates a Tender Contract Monitoring Unit as part of a European Union pilot programme for the entire Community.

    According to figures covering 1997 to the present, 350 state contracts for works and services have been checked, of which only 50 percent were correctly carried out.

    The performance of 20 percent deviated considerably from the conditions stipulated, with the keeping of deadlines being the most common problem.

    Mr. Pachtas said the establishment and operation of the centre was an important innovation at Community level and the feasibility must now be examined of transferring the know-how acquired to other EU member states.

    British Ambassador Sir Michael Llewelyn-Smith underlined the need for European dialogue on the legal framework governing state procurements.

    He also congratulated the national economy ministry for the progress it made in consolidating cooperation between the public and private sectors in Greece.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Rate on 3-year Greek bonds rises after commission scrapped

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    The average rate on three-year Greek bonds rose to 10.03 percent at an auction yesterday, up from 9.63 percent in the previous tender after commissions were scrapped, the finance ministry said in a statement. The ministry said that the difference was due to a government decision to scrap commercial bank commissions with the market now working through primary dealers.

    The move took effect yesterday for the first time.

    In the current auction, the state accepted bids totalling 100 billion drachmas, as planned. Bids submitted totalled 177.5 billion drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Greece backs granting Havana observer status in Lome talks

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    Greece and other European Union member-states support a Cuban request for Havana to gain observer status in negotiations for revision of the Lome convention, Greek Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said yesterday.

    He was speaking after a meeting in Athens with Cuban Undersecretary for Foreign Investments and Economic Partnership, Paul Arturo Talarid Suarez, who asked for Greece's backing.

    The Lome convention is an agreement between the European Union and 71 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific.

    The two officials also discussed the impact of the Helms-Burton law in the US, which Havana says hinders European Union investments in Cuba.

    Greece and Cuba have traditionally friendly ties, and have signed agreements on education, the protection and promotion of investments, economic and technological cooperation, and simplified procedures for diplomatic and service visas.

    Two factories are operating in Cuba as Greek-Cuban joint ventures, and 24 Greek shipping companies deliver foodstuffs to the Caribbean island from the European Union.

    However, Greeks living in Cuba total only 30 people. Eduardo Bencomo Zurdos, a banker of Greek origin, is chairman of state-owned bank Banco Financiero.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Listed Papastratos makes new deal with Philip Morris

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    Papastratos, a tobacco company listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, yesterday signed a long-term agreement with US tobacco giant Philip Morris for the production and distribution of Marlboro cigarettes in Greece. The two companies have been partners since 1975. In a joint statement, they underlined that the new deal did not include any equity participation by Philip Morris in Papastratos and that the two firms had no such plans for the future.
    Athens News Agency

    [11] Macedonia-Thrace Bank, Piraeus Bank to bid for Cretabank

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    Macedonia-Thrace Bank and Piraeus Bank are to submit a joint bid in a tender for the privatisation of Cretabank next Monday.

    The announcement was made yesterday at a shareholders' meeting of Macedonia- Thrace Bank, which is partly privatised.

    Cretabank is being sold as part of the government's privatisation plan. Two earlier tenders were abortive.

    Shareholders of Macedonia-Thrace Bank, which is listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, also approved a share capital increase of 35.7 billion drachmas through the issue of three new shares for two old ones, priced at 3,500 drachmas each.

    The new capital will be used to strengthen the bank's capital adequacy, finance modernisation of its network, boost its presence abroad and establish new financial institutions or buy a stake in existing ones. Bank of Piraeus, which is also listed,will act as underwriter to the issue.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Services sector dominates EU's economy

    BRUSSELS 23/06/1998 (ANA - G. Daratos)

    The services sector dominates the European Union's economy in terms of production, wealth and creation of new jobs, representing 50 per cent of GDP and 45 per cent of employment, EUROSTAT announced.

    According to the Union's official statistical service, commerce is the largest sub-sector, accounting for 13 per cent of GDP and 16 per cent of employment in member-states.

    Greece is bottom of the list on the basis of such indicators, employing only 30 per cent of its manpower in the services sector. According to 1994 data, 434,776 prople were employed in 341,795 commercial enterprises,with a turnover of 83.51 billion Ecu annually. In the same sector, Greece occupies fifth place in terms of gross value added, following Portugal, Italy, Belgium and Spain, with 13.8 per cent.

    The 27,418 enterprises of the Greek hotel and catering sector employed 86, 937 people, with turnover at 2.98 billion Ecu in 1994.

    The country's 14,737 transport enterprises employed 53, 089 people, and accounted for the comparatively lowest turnover among member-states, 3.28 billion Ecu annually.

    A high concentration (97 per cent) of manpower is found in telecommunications enterprises, with each EU-based firm employing on average more than 250 people each. Greece lags behind only Luxembourg in gross value added in this sector, with 3.4 per cent compared to 3.5 per cent, while its 175 enterprises employ 3,111 people and account for a 992-million-Ecu turnover in 1994.

    The Community's 12,600 enterprises in the financial services sector employed 3.5 million people in 1996.

    In Greece, 152 insurance companies had an annual turnover of 1.65 billion Ecu in the same year.

    The Greek banking sector had one of the lowest rates of gross value added, amounting to 3 per cent of the total, when the Community average was in the order of 17 per cent.

    Finally, 18,916 Greek enterprises in the sectors of car hire, rentals of all kinds, information systems, research and development employ 50,034 people, with an annual turnover of 2.86 billion Ecu. Their gross value added is 23.2 per cent.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Bourse listing for Corinth Piping Co.

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    Public registration for the listing of the Corinth Piping Co., owned by the Stasinopoulos group, on the parallel market of the Athens Stock Exchange will take place between July 1-3.

    The company will increase its capital by 7.26 billion drachmas by issuing 1, 452,000 new ordinary shares at a sale price of 5,000 drachmas each. Capital to be obtained will be used to finance the company's investment programme. The company doubled sales in 1997 compared to 1996 - 20.1 billion drachmas from 10.1 billion drachmas) - and its profits reached 1.904 billion drachmas as against 518 million drachmas in 1996.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Greece details latest Turkish threats in letter to the UN

    NEW YORK 23/06/1998 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)

    Greece's permanent representative to the UN has submitted a letter to the Security Council drawing attention to repeated Turkish threats to use force against Greece and Cyprus.

    "My government has instructed me to bring to your attention the continuing provocative attitude of the Turkish government and its systematic practice of threatening the use of force in connection with Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus problem," Christos Zacharakis said in the letter, sent after public statements Thursday by Turkish officials containing threats on the occasion of a training flight of four Hellenic Air Force jets to Cyprus.

    "Flights of Greek air force jets to Cyprus have repeatedly taken place in the past upon invitation of the government of Cyprus. It is within this framework that a short training visit of four aircraft was carried out to the airbase of Paphos," he said i n an accompanying aide-memoire, also discounting Turkish claims that the airbase constituted a threat against Turkey.

    "On the contrary, it is Turkey that constantly violates the territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus with numerous overflights and landings of military aircraft on the occupied northern part of the island...it has (also) rushed to reject the propos al made by the Greek Foreign Minister for the establishment of a no-flight zone over Cyprus," Mr. Zacharakis added.

    Athens Newss Agency

    [15] Press report of Turkish plan to install new Aegean radar system

    ANKARA 23/06/1998 (ANA - A. Abatzis)

    Ankara is reportedly planning to announce a tender this autumn for installation of a radar system in the Aegean to monitor Greek movements, according to a report in yesterday's issue of the Turkish daily "Cumhurriyet".

    In a front-page article, the Istanbul-based paper said Turkish defence officials have been considering the plan since 1991, adding that in the fall Turkish defence industry officials will invite tenders from private companies for the construction and in stallation of such a system.

    The aim of this project, according to "Cumhurriyet", is to provide "early warning about threats from Greece and to monitor drug smuggling activity and illegal immigration" in the Aegean.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Searched Maltese-flagged vessel belonged to Turkish national

    NICOSIA 23/06/1998 (ANA/CNA)

    The owner of a Maltese-flagged cargo ship stopped by Turkish authorities last week in the Dardanelles is a Turkish national, according to a report by the Turkish newspaper "Hurriyet" on Sunday.

    The paper identified him as Tadogan Ozmen, the owner of the "Natasha- 1".

    The information was provided by the Turkish minister to the presidency for shipping affairs Burhan Kara.

    Turkish customs officials stopped the freighter early last week, searched it for anti-aircraft missile components that Russia has sold to Cyprus and released it after eight hours, accepting that the cargo was destined for Egypt.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Tsohatzopoulos touches on Kosovo crisis at NATO meeting

    VIENNA 23/06/1998 (ANA - D. Dimitrak oudis)

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday no-ted that three directions must be supported by all for a political solution to be found for the Kosovo crisis. He was speaking to reporters at the sidelines of the 15th NATO working meeti ng, focusing on the issue "Security Challenges for a New NATO."

    According to Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, activities by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) must be condemned by everyone, while pressure must be applied to Yugoslav President Slo-bodan Milosevic so he will turn toward a political solution.

    He also noted that the leader of the Kosovo Albanians, Ibrahim Rugova, must be supported in creating an official body to represent the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo in their quest for autonomy.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also warned what he called the "mindless" elements of KLA that it is not possible to demand a different standard than those applied to other minorities in other countries of the region, since such changes of Balkan borders "will lead to disaster."

    Furthermore, the Greek defence minister said Athens retains good relations with its neighbouring Balkan countries and makes efforts toward economic and cultural cooperation, although it will not support the creation of axis', since such a move will lead to conflict.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos yesterday met Albanian Prime Minsiter Fatos Na-no, Austrian Defence Minister Werner Fasslabend and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, US Gen. Wesley Clark.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Military experts meet on multinational Balkan force

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    Military experts from seven countries of southeast Europe began a five-day meeting in Athens yesterday to discuss procedural matters related to the creation of a multinational peacekeeping force to prevent conflict in the Balkans.

    The decision to set up the force was taken at a meeting of the defence undersecretaries of eight countries of southeast Europe and the United States in Tirana last month.

    The Athens meeting is being attended by delegations from Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Italy, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Romania. Representatives from the USA and Slovenia are attending as observers.

    The meeting will focus on issues concerning the organisation and structure of the force's headquarters as well as legal and financial matters.

    Issues related to the location of the headquarters and which country has command will be discussed at a meeting of defence ministers of the participating countries in FYROM in September.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] Photo exhibition on Andreas Papandreou inaugurated

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis last night inaugurated a photo exhibition at the Zappeion Hall focusing on the life of PASOK founder and three-time prime minister Andreas Papandreou.

    In a short speech, Mr. Simitis spoke about Andreas Papandreou, emphasising his qualities as an individual, and describing the late PASOK leader as a warm person that had the ability to get his message across to people.

    "There is a great man behind a great work," he concluded, adding that Andreas Papandreou "will continue to inspire us".

    Athens News Agency

    [20] Clerides: Stephanopoulos' visit to Cyprus 'symbolic'

    NICOSIA 23/06/1998 (ANA - G.Leonidas)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos' visit to Cyprus has "substantial symbolism," Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides stressed yesterday.

    In an interview with Athens News Agency, Mr. Clerides pointed out that the visit underlines the close relations between the two countries and the excellent cooperation between Athens and Nicosia.

    The Greek president's visit takes place in a very critical period for Cyprus, during which "we need greater possible support, and Greece is our most loyal supporter", Mr. Clerides added.

    The Cyprus president stressed Greece's significant support for the island republic's EU accession cour-se and in strengthening Cyprus' defence through the joint defence doctrine. Mr. Stephanopoulos is scheduled to arrive on June 25 for a four-day official visit, the first visit by a Greek head of state since the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960. During his stay, Mr. Stephanopoulos will meet with Mr. Clerides, the president of the House of Representatives Spyros Kyprianou and the Archbishop of the Autocephalus Orthodox Chur-ch of Cyprus Chrysostomos. He will also have meetings with party leaders and address a special session at the Cypriot House of Representatives.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis, National Economy Undersecretary Alekos Baltas and other officials.

    Coalition of the Left and Progress Euro-MP Alekos Alavanos will tour Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia between June 22-30 as chairman of the European Parliament's committee for Cooperation with the parliaments of Trans-Caucasia. During his tour Mr. Alav anos will hold talks with presidents Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia, Haydar Aliyev of Azerbaijan and Robert Kocharyan of Armenia, as well as the foreign ministers and parliamentary representatives of the three countries.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] Israeli ambassador on Crete

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    Israeli ambassador in Athens Ran Curiel began his first official visit to Crete yesterday.

    In Irakleio, Mr. Curiel met local officials and Archbishop of Crete Timotheos. Issues discussed included cooperation with Israel in the farm sector, water resources management, tourism and cultural exchanges.

    Mr. Curiel also briefed local authorities on available know-how by Israel regarding agricultural product standardisation, adding that Israeli experts could participate in a seminar on water resources management.

    Speaking during an interview, he referred to the Middle East problem, expressing optimism that peace will eventually prevail. Mr. Curiel is also scheduled to visit other major sites on the island.

    Athens News Agency

    [22] Daughter 'Grecia' for Venezuelan ambassador

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    Venezuelan Ambassador to Greece Pedro Nicolas de Valencia Vivas and his wife, have decided to name their newly-born daughter "Grecia" in honour of his current post.

    Baby Grecia Tamara Nicole was born at the Mitera maternity hospital on Tuesday, June 16, weighing in at 4.25 kilos.

    Ambassador Valencia and Mrs. Tamara Perez de Valencia are also the proud parents of two young boys.

    Athens News Agency

    [23] Monument for the fallen during '74 Cyprus invasion

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    The Greek Association of the "1974 Fighters in Cyprus -ELDYK" yesterday announced the creation of a monument to their fallen comrades, lost during the 1974 Turkish invasion of the island republic.

    "We hope that within 1998 the war record of all - killed in action, POWs, wounded ect. - will be recognised by our homeland," the announcement added.

    Athens News Agency

    [24] Thessaloniki hosts international conference on Jewish law

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    Prominent Jewish lawyers and legal experts from Europe and the US gather in Thessaloniki on Thursday for a four-day international conference to commemorate the Jewish community of the city almost totally wiped out in the Holocaust and to mark the contribu tion of Jewish lawyers, jurists and intellectuals to Greek law.

    Organisers of the conference, to be held from June 25-28, said a total of 180 Jewish lawyers and jurists from the US, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Sweden, Australia and Argentina will be attending.

    The conference is part of a series of congresses being held in various European cities in memory of thousands of Jewish lawyers, jurists and intellectuals who perished in the Holocaust during World War Two with Thessaloniki heading the list.

    Items on the agenda include "Port-raits of Jewish lawyers and Jurists", "Family Law of Greek Jews: Transition from Jewish Law to the Greek Civil Code", "Jewish presence in Greek Law and Constitution" and "Laws concerning Jewish communities in Greece."

    The conference will end with a round-table discussion on "Anti-semitism and the denial of the Holocaust towards the 21st Century".

    The conference will be opened by Justice Ministers Evangelos Yannopoulos and Culture Minister and law professor Evangelos Venizelos, and the President of the Thessaloniki Bar Association.

    During the conference, the delegates will visit the recently inaugurated Holocaust Memorial in Thessaloniki, the Simon Marks Jewish museum, the restored Jewish Quarter and synagogue in Veria, and the royal Tombs of Vergina and Pella, birthplace of Alexander the Great.

    Athens News Agency

    [25] Republic of Korea wreath-laying ceremony at Tomb of Unknown Soldier

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    The embassy of the Republic of Korea in Athens yesterday announced a wreath- laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens this Thursday at 11 a.m.

    The ceremony is in honour of those Greeks who lost their lives 48 years ago during the Korean War.

    Marking the 48th anniversary of the beginning of the 1950-1953 Korean War, Republic of Korea ambassador to Athens Byung Yong Soh issued a press release expressing Seoul's gratitude to Greece and Greek soldiers who lost their lives during the conflict.

    Athens News Agency

    [26] Pangalos hosts dinner for Nat'l Human Rights Committee

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday held a dinner for members of the National Human Rights Committee, headed by former Athens University rector Mihalis Stathopoulos.

    Discussion focused on issues regarding the coordination of the committee's activities, as well as its contribution to international celebrations for the 50-year anniversary of the International Declaration of Human Rights, scheduled for the end of the year in New York.

    Athens News Agency

    [27] Papariga condemns gov't action vis-a-vis recent rallies, strikes

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga yesterday criticised the way the government has responded to several recent demonstrations and mobilisations by workers.

    Ms Papariga told a gathering of KKE supporters in the western Athens district of Aegaleo that the government was implementing "terrorist-like methods" in its efforts to deal with rallies and protests, while she predicted that "the government's authorita rian policy will mount" in the coming weeks.

    Athens News Agency

    [28] Fire brigade responsible for forest fire prevention

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    The fire brigade's headquarters is the responsible body for immediately combatting forest fires, while participation and assistance is provided by all the state's civil forces.

    As has already been decided during meetings held at various levels, Greek Police (EL.AS) will again this year patrol forest areas.

    Joint motorised patrols have been created to monitor forests in the Attica region on a round-the-clock basis. They will be supervised by the fire brigade in cooperation with the agencies involved, namely, military authorities and police.

    Athens News Agency

    [29] Ecumenical Patriarch to visit Mt. Athos later this year

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, spiritual leader of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians, will pay a two-day visit to the Mt. Athos monastic community in northern Greece in October, it was announced yesterday in Thessaloniki.

    The Patriarch will arrive by yacht at the all-male monastic community on October 24 for celebrations marking the 1,000th anniversary of the founding of the Xenophon Monastery, returning to the Holy See on October 26, a Mt. Athos spokesman told ANA.

    During his visit, the Patriarch will meet at Karyes with President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who will also be attending the celebrations, the spokesman said.

    Athens News Agency

    [30] Alistratis cave open to tourists

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    One of Europe's largest and most beautiful caves, the Alistratis Cave in Serres, which is believed to date back two million years, was opened yesterday to visitors and researchers in the presence of government, local government and parliamentary officials

    The prehistoric cave, covering an area of 25,000 sq.m. with an estimated three kilometres of underground passages, has been described by the Greek Speleology Society, involved in its exploration since 1975, as a "rare geological phenomenon of exceptional beauty". The calcified bones of small and larger prehistoric animals have been discovered on the surface, and authorities believe that simultaneous exploration will not obstruct the tourist exploitation of the cave.

    Paleontologists believe the solubility of the limestone in the area facilitated the development of the cave, with its network of smooth, high- ceilinged passages and chambers. The entrance to the cave comprises a large natural hollow eight metres high an d of exquisite beauty.

    Several passageways branch out from the main cave into several larger high- ceilinged chambers rich in stalactites and stalagmites. The exploration and exploitation of Alistratis Cave is a project partially funded by the European Union under the 1994-99 Regional Operational Programme for Central Macedonia.

    Sources said the cave's location was favourable to attracting visitors, as it was only 250 metres from the Serres-Drama rail line and an Alistratis Cave Station was to be built soon to facilitate tourists' direct access.

    The cave is also just 500 metres from the Aggitis River Gorge, a popular tourist destination for mountainclimbers that attracts thousands of eastern European visitors throughout the year.

    Athens News Agency

    [31] Greek, Italian commercial federations sign cooperation protocol

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    A protocol of bilateral cooperation was signed yesterday between the National Federation of Greek Commerce (ESEE) and the Italian Confederation of Commerce, Tourism and Services (CONFCOMMERCIO).

    During the meeting, the presidents of the two bodies outlined the targets for their cooperation, which include the development of Euro-Mediterranean commercial cooperation, electronic links for information exchange, and jointly implementing EU programmes.

    Athens News Agency

    [32] Premier to tour Aspropyrgos refinery,shipyards tomorrow

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis will visit the Aspropyrgos refinery tomorrow to be briefed on the state of the Hellenic Petroleum S.A. group.

    Mr. Simitis, who will be accompanied by the development ministry's leadership, will visit the Elefsina and Skaramangas shipyards afterwards.

    Development Minister Vasso Papandreou was briefed yesterday by the president and managing director of the Hellenic Petroleum S.A. group on the completion of bourse flotation processes.

    "The entry of the Hellenic Petroleum S.A. company into the Athens Stock Exchange, as well as that of London, was completed with great success, a fact showing the confidence of both Greek and foreign investors in the company, as well as in the Greek econ omy in general," Ms Papandreou said afterwards.

    "It is the first time that a Greek enterprise has such a great demand during its entry into international stock exchanges. In parallel, there is a great distribution of shares among the public at large, since 384,000 citizens have requested to participa te in the issue. This shows great confidence in a dynamic group," she added.

    "The allocation of shares already took place on Sunday and the company's trading debut with 1,900 drachmas per share will start at the end of June or in early July. Small investors purchased the share for 1,800 drachmas, while the institutional invest ors with 1,900 drachmas. Consequently, small investors have already gained 5.6 per cent of the money they invested and I believe that they will gain much more in the future," the President and Managing Director of Hellenic Petroleum S.A. Mr. Tzellas said.

    "Small investors did not have the opportunity to buy many shares because claims reached the amazingly high figure of 384,000. However, I believe that in taking 40 shares and some another 10 additional ones, with a draw provided that there are excess one s left, the value of their shares will increase considerably in the future to enable them to feel satisfied," he said.

    "The employees are participating in the company's share capital now with a 1.5 per cent stake and each of them took the maximum of shares allowed. 90 per cent of employees requested additional shares, while 96 per cent of the total figure participated in the private investment," he added.

    The 384,000 investors who participated in the public registration will receive 40 shares each. In the event that there is a surplus of shares, 10 additional shares will be distributed with a draw.

    It is reminded that the trading debut will start on June 30 at the Athens Stock Exchange and the Hellenic Petroleum S.A. company is making every possible effort to have the allocation of titles carried out as soon as possible.

    Athens News Agency

    [33] Labour relations clause on raising work hours during peak periods scrapped

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    Labour and Social Insurances Minister Miltiades Papaioannou said yesterday that a bill on labour relations, to be presented tomorrow, will not ultimately include a clause providing employers with unilateral "administrative right" to increase working hours to 9 or 10 a day.

    The clause could have been implemented in periods of peak production, over a period of up to two months a year, without paying for overtime work but in return for days off or longer leave of absence.

    Speaking on the radio, Mr. Papaioannou said the controversial clause, which trade unions considered an abolition of the eight-hour workday, was his own choice and is being withdrawn to facilitate creation of a climate of dialogue as well as the passing of the bill's overall policy.

    He said that a climate of calm, understanding and consent must be restored in the country, adding that the government must make its own moves in this direction.

    Athens News Agency

    [34] Mother of 3 poisoned children also consumed pesticide

    Athens 23/06/1998 (ANA)

    Police are now investigating the circumstances surrounding the poisoning of the mother of three young Halkidiki prefecture girls, also being treated in Athens for severe pesticide poisoning.

    Doctors said the woman was herself poisoned with the same substance, showing acute symptoms after her three children had been hospitalised.

    In response, police in Athens are investigating whether the woman herself added the poison to a juice drink she later served her three children, subsequently attempting to kill herself by also consuming the same pesticide, reports state.

    Another likely theory, offered by relatives, might be that after the three young girls accidentally drank the poison, the mother lost control and could not bear the idea that they would die, deciding to die with them.

    The three young girls - aged eight, six and 16 months - have been hospitalised in the intensive care unit of the Aglaia Kyriakou Children's Hospital in Athens for seven days, with doctors only yesterday appearing reservedly optimistic on their chances for survival.

    After the incident last Thursday, when the three children were diagnosed as having consumed the pesticide Gramaxol, their mother, 28-year-old Anna Tsivdari, was admitted into the Evangelismos Hospital, apparently suffering from severe shock. She was lat er transferred to an intensive care unit, although physicians initially failed to diagnose the poisoning.

    Athens News Agency

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