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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-06-24

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,FYROM agree on need for peaceful Kosovo resolution
  • [02] Parliament honours memory of Andreas Papandreou
  • [03] Simitis, Prodi to meet on Sunday
  • [04] G. Papandreou in Strasbourg
  • [05] Greek-US talks focus on Kosovo, Reppas says
  • [06] Pangalos receives Moscow Mayor Luzkov
  • [07] Kilkis hosts PfP exercise
  • [08] Pangalos responds to Ankara quip against him
  • [09] Greek ambassador dismisses any notion of Athens-PKK link
  • [10] Onassis Foundation awards for theatrical plays, musical compositions in 2001
  • [11] Three top ND cadres plan July marriages
  • [12] Europarliament delegation concludes visit to Greece
  • [13] New rules for slimming centres
  • [14] US Joint Chiefs of Staff deputy commander Ralston in Greece
  • [15] Coastguard officials find weapons cache aboard detained ship
  • [16] No group claims responsibility for Alpha Credit branch bombing
  • [17] Romeos at journalists' conference
  • [18] Venizelos tour of Austria, Canada, Portugal
  • [19] New ferry route links Thessaloniki-Istanbul-Batumi-Venice
  • [20] German TV programme on Greek fashion
  • [21] Ionian Bank workers ask PM to assure job security in privatisation
  • [22] Bank of Central Greece positioning for privatisation
  • [23] Government to release industrial relations bill today
  • [24] EU funds seminar on Greek, Russian business cooperation
  • [25] Chinese business delegation to visit Athens
  • [26] Greek stocks rangebound in lacklustre trade
  • [27] Government vows to stick to economic policy
  • [28] Piraeus Port Authority orders fines for illegal fishing

  • [01] Greece,FYROM agree on need for peaceful Kosovo resolution

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    The foreign ministers of Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Theodoros Pangalos and Blagoya Hatzinski, respectively, agreed during talks in Athens yesterday that the crisis in the Serbian province of Kosovo should be resolved by peaceful means.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Pangalos said the fact that both sides shared the same view on the Kosovo crisis was no coincidence, adding that "the voice of the countries of the region is the voice of reason".

    "We have lots to gain with a peaceful resolution and much to lose with military intervention," Mr. Pangalos said, calling on "all those sitting comfortably in capitals of the north and west, and who like playing war games" to be "more modest".

    Mr. Hatzinski began his two-day official visit to Greece, the first ever by a FYROM FM, yesterday.

    Mr. Pangalos said Athens and Skopje supported the preservation of the Republic of Serbia's unity and respect for borders in the region, while being determined to discourage any secessionist activity.

    He said that since there are certain peculiarities in the region, the Kosovo Albanians must enjoy all human rights as well as the right of autonomy in their area.

    "But this discussion must end there," Mr. Pangalos added.

    FYROM's foreign minister said the views set out at the discussion on resolving the Kosovo crisis were identical.

    Commenting on the possibility of military intervention in Kosovo by NATO as well as a Russian initiative, Mr. Hatzinski hailed NATO's initiatives, which are "manifesting themselves in the framework of the international community for a peaceful solution to the Kosovo crisis."

    He also hailed the recent decision by NATO defence ministers condemning both the activities of the Albanian National Liberation Army and Serb security forces in the region.

    Mr. Hatzinski said conditions must be created for a peaceful solution to the crisis and lauded NATO's readiness to take measures to avert the possibility of the crisis spilling into his country and Albania. He further said that recent statements in Moscow by Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic were a first step for a peaceful solution to the crisis.

    He added that for talks to succeed "positive positions are necessary from both sides involved" and that this is not the case, because the Albanian side does not accept these talks. Mr. Pangalos said that he fully agrees with Mr. Hatzinski's positions, a dding that this "is not by chance" and that "the voice of countries in the region is the voice of logic. We stand to gain more with a peaceful solution to the crisis and we stand to lose more with war."

    Mr. Pangalos said that "enough blood has been shed due to their amateurishness and countries in the region have experienced many economic consequences, including the Greek people."

    Referring to the meeting between Mr. Yeltsin and Mr. Milosevic, Mr. Pangalos said that the Yugoslav president accepted four out of the five conditions put to him, adding that "the Russian intervention is positive in this sense."

    He said that these four terms were the same ones as he had proposed to Mr. Milosevic during his recent visit to Belgrade, adding that if he had accepted them at the time matters would have been very different today.

    Referring to the fifth term, concerning a pullout of Serb forces from Kosovo, Mr. Pangalos said that it has to be linked to the militant actions of Kosovo Albanians.

    "These two must go together. It is not possible for one to imagine that the Serb security forces will be withdrawn and the armed Albanians will be left free to act at will, and even more so since the Albanian leadership itself and Mr. Ibrahim Rugova him self stress on every occasion that they do not control the actions of the armed militants."

    Bilateral relations : In another matter, both sides prai-sed the progress made in developing bilateral relations, following the signing of an interim agreement in 1995.

    Mr. Hatzinski said that it is the first time that an official from his country is visiting Greece, reminding that Mr. Pangalos visited FYROM for the first time last year.

    On the issue of the neighbouring country's name - the main difference in relations between the two Balkan states - Mr. Pangalos said the matter had been discussed at yesterday's meeting, while it had been agreed that " examination of the issue should re main within the framework of the United Nations". Mr. Hatzinski said the name issue was one of the most sensitive for his country and "cannot be resolved overnight".

    He added that both sides should make efforts "through reciprocal compromises" to arrive at the desired result.

    "We want a solution where both peoples will consider themselves victors," he added.

    Mr. Pangalos reiterated Greece's strong interest in the preservation of the territorial integrity and unity of FYROM and its gradual incorporation into NATO and other western institutions.

    The Greek minister also announced the signing of several bilateral accords and a visit to Skopje next month by Public Order Minister George Romeos for the signing of a bilateral law enforcement cooperation agreement.

    Mr. Hatzinski said that bilateral and multilateral relations have been promoted, in particular, over past years, adding that after the signing of the interim agreement in 1995 both countries have shown tangible interest in the development of bilateral relations.

    "We have excellent results in relations between the two countries over the past two and a half years," he said.

    Mr. Hatzinski referred in particular to the development of political relations as well as the "very close and coordinated cooperation" between the two countries in the framework of international organisations such as the Council of Europe, the UN as well as in the fra-mework of the NATO programme "Partnership for Peace."

    He said that his country offers security and stability for the development of economic cooperation, adding that Greece and FYROM were obliged to help their business people and in this context he and Mr. Pangalos discussed the possibilities of creating " a capable legal basis" to develop such cooperation.

    Mr. Hatzinski announced that both countries are probing the possibilities of signing another agreement on the avoidance of double taxation and protection for investments.

    He also thanked Athens for its "steadfast interest" in maintaining the territorial integrity and sovereignty of FYROM and its assistance in its linkage with NATO and the EU.

    Mr. Hatzinski termed Greece "a machine for the development of relations in the wider Balkan region", saying that all southeastern European countries needed Greece's experiences.

    "With such assistance, we have the hope that we will become members of the EU and NATO one day," he said.

    On his part, Mr. Pangalos said bilateral relations "have developed to an excellent degree" after the signing of the interim agreement. He also mentioned as an example that trade exchanges exceed US$225 million at present, adding Greece occupied third place among FYROM's trade partners.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Parliament honours memory of Andreas Papandreou

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    Parliament yesterday honoured the memory of three-time prime minister and PASOK founder Andreas Papandreou two years after his death, in the presence of family members, close associates and political party leaders.

    In his address, Prime Minister Costas Simitis praised the "creator and protagonist of history" Andreas Papandreou. He said Andreas Papandreou was a charismatic leader, a man who gave shape to the visions of the people, one who transformed the concerns, sensitivities and claims of the progressive side into speech and political prospect.

    Referring to the ideals of freedom, social solidarity and equality that Andreas Papandreou served, Mr. Simitis said "we shall struggle in the same direction over the years to come" and that "we shall continue to implement them under the new conditions."

    Mr. Simitis said that PASOK's historical leader managed to give a governmental orientation to the forces of change and progress, to put an end to politics as an affair just for the few and the chosen ones, to achieve national reconciliation, to reformul ate the country's foreign relations, to passionately defend the idea of convergence among EU member- states and to contribute to international peace.

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis said Andreas Papandreou's success was that he expressed a political sector which had not been shaped, while his most important creation was PASOK. His anti-west and socialist approach have been over turned, but this does not belittle Andreas Papandreou's achievement to turn conflicting groups into a unified entity, he added.

    Mr. Karamanlis said that ND disagreed with many of Andreas Papandreou's choices but recognises many of his political actions, such as the combatting of social inequality, the creation of a welfare state and a multifaceted foreign policy.

    "We remember and honour a great protagonist of the Greek political scene who had fanatical friends and strict critics. However, for all he was a powerful presence," Mr. Karamanlis said.

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga was critical in her address. She said Andreas Papandreou is praised as a great and charismatic leader and visionary but "we judge a historic personality based on the question at the services of whom did he place his abilities and perspicacity."

    Ms Papariga said KKE faced the founder of PASOK on the basis of objective factors, combined of course, with the criteria it maintains to date so as to judge the role of a government and a leader towards the popular movement.

    Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos recognised the leading role played by Andreas Papandreou in Greece's political life. He said that his positive aspects were his decisive contribution in consolidating the system of democrat ic alternation of power and giving a political power prospect to the progressive majority of the Greek people.

    He added that Andreas Papandreou's contribution was also positive in that the first steps were made for the formation of a considerable social state in Greece and in completing measures to restore democratic legality and a state of justice.

    Mr. Constantopoulos said what Andreas Papandreou failed to do was to "clash in time with rapid developments in the international environment and prepare Greece for them."

    Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas referred to the glamour, greatness and passion of Andreas Papandreou.

    "Being a genuine popular leader...he was a visonary. And being a great teacher that he was he knew how to convey the vision to others," he said.

    Mr. Tsovolas added that "the fact that he never conceived to sacrifice the people for whatever price" resulted in the people paying him back by giving him an unprecedented 40 per cent in the "difficult" summer of 1989.

    However, Mr. Tsovolas' phrase that "the people do not tolerate that the real victimisers of Andreas and PASOK appearing as his critics because today this serves their communication policy" drew reactions from deputies of the ruling party.

    The special meeting of Parliament's plenum was concluded with a minute's silence for Papandreou.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Simitis, Prodi to meet on Sunday

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis will have a brief meeting with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi on the island of Corfu on Sunday, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

    Mr. Reppas said the two premiers would then leave together for Frankfurt to attend the official appointment of the governor of the European Central Bank on Monday.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] G. Papandreou in Strasbourg

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou will travel to Strasbourg today to attend a Council of Europe (CoE) Parliamentary Assembly meeting, as Greece currently holds the presidency of the CoE's ministerial council.

    Before attending the meeting, Mr. Papandreou is scheduled to meet with the Parliamentary Assembly's president.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Greek-US talks focus on Kosovo, Reppas says

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    The main focus of talks between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and new US ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke in Athens on Monday was the crisis in the Serbian province of Kosovo, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

    In his new capacity as ambassador to the UN, Mr. Reppas said, Mr. Holbrooke asked for the Greek government's support in efforts to find a solution to the Kosovo problem.

    Mr. Holbrooke was in Athens for one day before leaving this morning on a tour of the region which will take him to Belgrade, Kosovo and Skopje.

    Mr. Reppas said the Cyprus problem and Greek-Turkish relations were also reviewed at the meeting "without there being any development".

    Asked by reporters whether Greece would take part in any military operations in Kosovo, Mr. Reppas reiterated that "Greece is prepared for every eventuality", while underlining that a prerequisite for any military action in the region was the necessary legal basis "which is none other than a UN Security Council resolution".

    State Dept. : WASHINGTON (ANA - T. Ellis) - Meanwhile, US State Department spokesman James Rubin yesterday said that Mr. Holbrooke was to discuss in Athens issues usually discussed between the two countries.

    He also noted that the US will not stop efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, following Mr. Holbrooke's new assignment.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Pangalos receives Moscow Mayor Luzkov

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday underlined the need for a stronger Russian presence in the Balkans to provide "greater balance" in the region, following a meeting with the mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzkov.

    Mr. Luzkov, who is also a member of the Russian Senate, expressed concern about developments in the Balkans and particularly in Kosovo, saying that the Yeltsin-Milosevic meeting had been definitive for developments.

    Mr. Luzkov, a close associate of Russian President Boris Yeltsin, said Russia was against the idea of military intervention, use of force and unilateral actions from any military alliance, "including NATO".

    "The outcome of these situations are deaths and the violation of rights, such as sovereign right," Mr. Luzkov said.

    If the international community is to be taking decisions regarding the fate of countries, then these decisions must be taken in conditions of peace and in a spirit of negotiations, he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Kilkis hosts PfP exercise

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    Military contingents from six European countries are currently engaged in a joint exercise codenamed "Prometheus '98" in the Kilkis prefecture in northern Greece within the framework of the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme.

    The scenario provides for the distribution of humanitarian aid and the consolidation of peace and security in a region "somewhere in the Balkans" under extremely difficult conditions - including a strong earthquake and terrorist activity with thousands of dead and missing.

    Taking part in the exercise, which will culminate on June 30 with real fire, are military units from three NATO countries - Greece with 292 men, Italy with 29 and the Netherlands with 39 - and three PfP member states, Armenia with 17 soldiers, Bulgaria with 32 and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) with 17.

    The Greek contingent is made up of troops of the 33rd Brigade which is part of the 2nd Mechanised Division of the 2nd Army Corps. Under the new structure of the Greek armed forces, the corps is the army's rapid reaction force, to which all peace mission s outside the country are assigned.

    The main objective of the exercise is to strengthen the operational cooperation between NATO member states and PfP countries, particularly with regard to the undertaking of joint peace missions.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Pangalos responds to Ankara quip against him

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday responded to criticism from Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Necatin Utkan by saying the Turkish official clearly had an advantage over his Greek counterpart, as the latter was not a "psychoanalyst".

    Mr. Utkan had earlier criticised Mr. Pangalos, saying he suffered from a "complex" and charging that his behaviour towards Turkey was "insolent and brash".

    "The Turkish foreign ministry spokesman appears to have duties which our spokesman does not, since he is not a psychoanalyst," Mr. Pangalos said.

    He added that it was unacceptable for such methods to be adopted in international relations.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Greek ambassador dismisses any notion of Athens-PKK link

    ANKARA 24/06/1998 (ANA - A. Abatzis)

    Greek ambassador in Ankara Dimitris Nezeritis yesterday again dispelled claims of an Athens-PKK link, saying anyone can come to "Greece and investigate whether a Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) camp exists in Greece."

    He noted that the "Greek government does not allow and will never allow the activities of any organisation's representation that exerts violence against another government."

    Speaking at a journalist's union in the Black Sea city of Samsun, he said that from time to time claims of Greek involvement with the PKK have appeared in the Turkish press.

    "I asked of the Turkish foreign ministry information about the locations of the supposed camps in Greece, but no answer was given to me," he added.

    As for the visits of Greek deputies to a PKK camp in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, Mr. Nezeritis said such a move does not have a binding effect on the government.

    Finally, in answer to relevant questions, the Greek ambassador said "Greece does not want to be in conflict with a country six times its size," while on the issue of the S-300 anti-aircraft missiles in Cyprus, he noted: "this is a problem between Cyprus and Turkey and not between Greece and Turkey."

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Onassis Foundation awards for theatrical plays, musical compositions in 2001

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    The Onassis Foundation has proclaimed the second international competition for the writing of an original theatrical play for the year 2001.

    It will also establish a first international competition, again for 2001, for a musical composition for dance and choreography. The foundation said in a statement yesterday the works must be submitted no later than Dec. 31, 1999. The awards will be pr esented in Athens in autumn 2001. First place for the theatrical play comes with an award of 150,000 dollars. Second place 100,000 and third place 75,000 dollars.

    First prize for the musical composition is 100,000 dollars, second place 75, 000 and third place 50,000 dollars. The theatrical plays must be written in either Greek, English, French, Italian, Spanish or German. For more information, contact the Onas sis Foundation, Aeschinou 7, Athens - tel. 33.10.900 or at Internet site: www.onassis.gr

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Three top ND cadres plan July marriages

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    Three high-ranking New Democracy ( ND) cadres, including the main opposition's president, have announced weddings next month. The news was announced yesterday during a meeting of the partyYs heads of sectors. According to reports, ND leader Costas Karam anlis will marry Natasha Pazaiti on July 19, in Proti, Serres prefecture.

    On July 9, senior deputy and former minister Dora Bakoyianni and businessman Isidoros Kouvelos will marry at Akrotiri, Hania. Last in the line is deputy Manolis Kefaloyiannis, who only said he will hold his wedding at the Ecumenical Patriarchate. All th ree are expected to hold private weddings.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Europarliament delegation concludes visit to Greece

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    A visiting eight-member delegation of the European Parliament's political freedoms and domestic affairs committee gave a press conference in Athens yesterday, detailing their observations from their stay in Greece.

    The visit was aimed at meeting government officials and for briefings on a range of issues, including cooperation in the judicial sector, crime fighting, drug and AIDS prevention, human rights, illegal immigration, the corrective system, etc.

    "The EU's solidarity towards Greece is neither at the level it should be, or at the level other European countries would expect if they were in (Greece's) position", the Irish member of the committee, Mr. Andrews, commented. His French counterpart, Mr. Buffetaut, underlined that "Greece is not a caboose on the EU train, it plays an important role in the union".

    Mr. Andrews observed that the image EU officials had of Greece changed considerably during their visit, further stressing that any country violating human rights does not fulfill EU admission conditions. Greece's borders are the borders of the European Union, he noted.

    The delegation, whose three-day visit ends today, held meetings with various ministers and undersecretaries.

    The head of the committee, Ms d'Ancona, underlined that her opinion of a transitory status of Albanian nationals in Greece changed dramatically, as she became aware that they arrived to stay. The Greek member in the Europarliament committee, Eirini Lam braki, said an on-site inspection by the delegation gave them the chance to ascertain progress by Athens in several sectors of domestic policy. The delegation's visit ends today.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] New rules for slimming centres

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    Slimming institutes will from now on have to comply with a new set of operation rules, announced by the health ministry yesterday, if they want to avoid suspension of licences

    Health Minister Costas Geitonas announced a decision by the ministry according to which all slimming and diet centres should have appropriately qualified personnel and should have a fully equipped clinic for first aid.

    The ministry also banned the sale or administration of any medicine or other substances of a pharmaceutical nature, as well as products not approved by the National Pharmaceuticals Organisation (EOF).

    Mr. Geitonas said the ministry took the decision in order to make up for an existing legislative loophole, which allowed such businesses to operate without control.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] US Joint Chiefs of Staff deputy commander Ralston in Greece

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    US Air Force Gen. Jozeph Ralston, the deputy commander of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, yesterday began an official courtesy visit to Greece, at the invitation of the nation's top military staff.

    Gen. Ralston met yesterday afternoon with National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, while tomorrow he will meet with National Defence General Staff Chief Gen. Athanasios Tzoganis.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Coastguard officials find weapons cache aboard detained ship

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    Coastguard officials yesterday discovered a shipment of rockets and mortars on board a Romanian-flagged cargo vessel, which has been prohibited from sailing for nearly a year because of debts.

    The "Sempes" has remained docked at a pier off Drapetsona, Piraeus, because its shipping operator has not paid debts to third parties. Acting on information, coastguard officials boarded the vessel yesterday morning and discovered among the cargo of plastics 925 wooden crates containing military supplies, chiefly rockets and mortar bombs, and thousands of rounds.

    According to unconfirmed reports, the military equipment was destined for Mauritania.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] No group claims responsibility for Alpha Credit branch bombing

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    No group has yet claimed responsibility for a bomb which damaged an Alpha Credit Bank branch in Athens on Monday night, although police yestertoday said they believed the attack was the work of the notorious "November 17" terrorist group.

    Senior police officials said the bomb - comprised of a timing mechanism made of two clocks and a large amount of explosive material - is a November 17 trademark, used in previous attacks.

    They said that the attack was probably directly linked to the sale of state- run Ionian Bank. Alpha is considered a front-runner to purchase a majority stake in Ionian.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Romeos at journalists' conference

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    Public Order Minister George Romeos will be a guest speaker at this year's 7th National Journalists' Conference, to begin tomorrow on the island of Samothrace.

    Mr. Romeos, a former journalist, will be speaking on the "role of the mass media in combatting xenophobia", organisers told a news conference yesterday.

    The conference will examine three wider issues: the media, racism and xenophobia; new technology and the media; and ethics and trade union activity in journalism.

    Greek Radio will broadcast the proceedings of the conference live to 19 regional stations in the aim of highlighting the issues of concern to journalists at the moment.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Venizelos tour of Austria, Canada, Portugal

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos will visit Austria, Canada and Portugal in the near future.

    The minister will visit Vienna to participate at the "Future of European Cultural Cooperation" conference, organised by the European Socialist Party.

    Later on in Canada, Mr. Venizelos will brief UNESCO members on the issue of the Parthenon Marbles.

    Finally, the minister will visit Lisbon as part of a Greek delegation, headed by premier Costas Simitis, which will represent Greece at the EXPO '98 "Greek Day."

    Athens News Agency

    [19] New ferry route links Thessaloniki-Istanbul-Batumi-Venice

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    Ferry boat connections linking Thessaloniki with the ports of Istanbul, Batumi, Georgia, and Venice were inaugurated yesterday.

    The route will be conducted by the vessel "Memed Abashidze", which features a 450-bed capacity and can transport 280 cars. The vessel belongs to the Georgia-based Gesco Lines.

    Routes to Odessa are also scheduled.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] German TV programme on Greek fashion

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    Germany's "Channel One" will present a special programme on Greek fashion at the initiative of the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board.

    A German TV crew and three reporters have already visited the country. Filming covered a period of five days at selected spots both within and outside Attica. Filming included representative models from the 1999 winter collections of Greek enterprises participating in a programme for the promotion of Greek clothes in the German market.

    The programme aims at promoting Greek fashion in the German market.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] Ionian Bank workers ask PM to assure job security in privatisation

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    Workers at Ionian Bank, who ended a long-term strike this week called to protest the bank's privatisation, yesterday asked Prime Minister Costas Simitis to assure that no jobs would be lost in the sale.

    The government has already pledged that Ionian's future buyer will have to honour the terms of collective agreements signed by management and workers.

    Shareholders of state-owned Commercial Bank, Ionian's parent company, on Friday endorsed the sale of a majority stake in the bank through the Athens Stock Exchange.

    The government, which is expected shortly to announce details of the sale, has weathered a storm of strikes in the banking sector over Ionian's sale.

    It has promised the European Union to implement a wide-ranging privatisation plan, including sloughing off state banks.

    In a letter to Mr. Simitis, Ionian's staff association restated the pledges on job security made by National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on June 2.

    On that day, Mr. Papantoniou announced the job security offer to the governor of Commercial Bank of Greece, and to officials of the General Confederation of Greek Labour, the national bank union federation and Ionian's staff association.

    Athens News Agency

    [22] Bank of Central Greece positioning for privatisation

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    State-owned Bank of Central Greece, a listed subsidiary of Agricultural Bank of Greece, is proceeding smoothly with its 1997-1999 development plan aimed at flotation on the Athens bourse, its senior executives said yesterday.

    The bank's managing director, Giorgos Zygoyiannis, told shareholders that lending rose 20 percent to 80.8 billion drachmas in 1997, and deposits increased 18 percent to 129 billion drachmas in the same period.

    Under a government privatisation plan, Agricultural Bank of Greece will sell a 56 percent stake in the Bank of Central Greece through the stock market in the summer.

    Bank of Central Greece's board of directors decided not to pay a dividend for 1997 but to use profits to provide one billion drachmas in provisions aimed at a speedier restructuring of the bank's portfolio.

    The bank plans to expand its loan products, including new consumer and housing loans.

    It also wants to develop private banking and set up a mutual funds management company.

    Athens News Agency

    [23] Government to release industrial relations bill today

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou is today expected to release a bill revising industrial relations.

    No changes to alter the spirit of the bill have been made, which concerns the eight-hour working day and its flexible use in order to improve the competitiveness of enterprises, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

    Workers had shown that they could offer their services beyond set shifts at times when the workload was heavy, which is why the government had withdrawn a provision allowing employers to order a nine-hour working day without consultations, Mr. Reppas said.

    He was replying to questions on the bill at his daily briefing.

    Athens News Agency

    [24] EU funds seminar on Greek, Russian business cooperation

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    The European Union is funding a seminar on expanding economic and business ties between Greece and Russia to be held on July 3.

    The seminar will be held at the offices of the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board.

    A seminar on the same subject will be held in Russia.

    Athens News Agency

    [25] Chinese business delegation to visit Athens

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    A Chinese business delegation will meet executives of Greek enterprises on July 6 to sound out cooperation in foodstuffs, industrial products, building materials and electronic goods.

    The delegation comprises members of China's trade promotion board.

    Hosting the meetings at its premises will be the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board.

    Athens News Agency

    [26] Greek stocks rangebound in lacklustre trade

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities moved in a tight range on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday reflecting a lack of fresh incentives and a reluctance to push the market higher.

    The general index closed 0.26 percent lower at 2,411.68 points with sector indices ending mixed. Turnover was light to moderate at 43.4 billion drachmas.

    Banks fell 0.20 percent, Insurance dropped 2.28 percent, Investment ended 1.24 percent off, Leasing plunged 4.32 percent, Industrials eased 0.51 percent, Construction rose 0.55 percent, Miscellaneous soared 3.36 percent and Holding ended 0.05 percent u p.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 0.99 percent, and the FTSE/ASE 20 index ended 0.15 percent up at 1,442.15.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 115 to 112 with another 28 issues unchanged.

    Attica Bank, Bank of Athens, Euromedica, Bank of Piraeus, Bank of Central Greece, Macedonia-Thrace Bank, Remek and Vis scored the biggest percentage gains hitting the daily 8.0 percent limit up.

    Tzirakian, Eskimo, Alcar, Demetriadis, Commercial Invest, Zampa, Sato and Sysware suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 38,975 drachmas, Ergobank at 26,100, Alpha Credit Bank at 26,930, Ionian Bank at 12,810, Delta Dairy at 3,935, Titan Cement at 20,500, Intracom at 11,000 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 7,160 drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [27] Government vows to stick to economic policy

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday reiterated that the government's economic policy will be implemented without any changes.

    He was speaking at a ruling PASOK party political secretariat meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis. Officials at the meeting discussed the timetable for a government restructuring programme in the public sector.

    Mr. Papantoniou had a brief private meeting with the prime minister before the session.

    Also attending the meeting was Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou.

    PASOK Secretary General Costas Skandalidis acknowledged that there were differing views within the party, and requested more understanding for the positions of certain trade unionists.

    He noted that there was unanimous support for the government's strategic goals.

    Athens News Agency

    [28] Piraeus Port Authority orders fines for illegal fishing

    Athens 24/06/1998 (ANA)

    Piraeus Port Authority yesterday imposed fines of 71 million drachmas for 318 violations of fisheries legislation around the country perpetrated between January 1 and May 31, 1998.

    The breakdown of violations was as follows:

    • 143 fishing violations by professionals penalised with fines totalling 36.5 million drachmas and the confiscation of licences from vessels and persons
    • 164 fishing violations by amateurs penalised with fines of 25.35 million drachmas and the confiscation of licences from vessels and persons
    • 11 violations for possession or fishing using explosives or toxic substances penalised with fines of 9.45 million drachmas and the confiscation of licences for ships and individuals.

    Athens News Agency

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