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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-06-27

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] Holbrooke calls on Greece, Turkey to find peaceful solutions to differences
  • [02] Stephanopoulos calls int'l community to take action on Cyprus
  • [03] Cyprus protests Turkish threats
  • [04] Pangalos: Greece not alone in blocking EU funds to Turkey
  • [05] SE European military conference ends in Athens
  • [06] Tsohatzopoulos to meet today with Albanian counterpart Hajdaraga
  • [07] Gov't defends Burns' letter over copyright issues
  • [08] Kaklamanis calls for separation of p olitical, media relations at POESY conference
  • [09] Journalists from around Greece, Cyprus meet in Samothrace
  • [10] Bulgarian-Greek meeting on new border crossings scheduled
  • [11] PM receives president of German trade union federation
  • [12] Investigation continues into college student-activist's beating
  • [13] Cabinet discusses new cultural heritage law
  • [14] Eight foreign women detained, forced into prostitution, police say
  • [15] Havel receives Patriach
  • [16] Belgrade marks 200th anniversary of Rigas Feraios' murder
  • [17] Chile to honour Papoutsis
  • [18] Hashish arrests
  • [19] ENIC rejects sale of AEK
  • [20] Rhodes-Yalta twinning
  • [21] Greek tanker blaze in Holland, no injuries
  • [22] Economic News
  • [23] EU Farm Ministers agree on favourable measures for olive oil, tobacco

  • [01] Holbrooke calls on Greece, Turkey to find peaceful solutions to differences

    Athens, 27//6/1998 (ANA)

    US presidential emissary for Cyprus and Washington's ambassador-designate to the UN, Richard Holbrooke, said yesterday night that his country would like to see a reduction in military spending by Greece and Turkey, reiterating a call to both countries to find peaceful solutions to their differences. "Any use of violence will be catastrophic for both countries, "he said during a graduation address at the Deree College of Athens.

    The architect of the Bosnia peace accord wondered if there was an intrinsic reason why there should not be permanent peace on both sides of the Aegean P given the fact that the two countries had no problem in the form of a clash of cultures P and recomm ended international adjudication for the resolution of the Imia islets issue, which brought the two countries to the brink of war in late January 1996.

    "Referral of the Imia issue to the International Court at The Hague is an acceptable, reasonable and appropriate means of settlement," he said.

    Ankara disputed Athens' sovereignty of the rocky, uninhabited Imia islets.

    Mr. Holbrooke expressed regret for the lack of progress in the Cyprus issue, blaming the Turkish side for setting as preconditions the recognition of the self-styled "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" and the rejection of the island-republic's applicat ion for EU membership.

    "The United States will continue urging Cypriot leaders to continue negotiations, because Cyprus must not remain the last divided country in Europe," he said.

    He explained that his country was in favour of Cyprus' EU application, but also equally supported Turkey's hopes for closer ties with Europe.

    Referring to Greek-American relations, he said both countries aimed towards a new, stronger and more sincere cooperation, with a view to consolidating stability in southeastern Europe, where Greece was making a positive contribution.

    He also noted that military cooperation was at a particularly good level and that the modernisation of the Greek armed forces could further contribute to stability in the area. The US also wished to double the volume of bilateral trade in the next five years and boost cooperation in the fight against crime and drug trafficking.

    Offering a note of self-criticism on behalf of his country for its past influence in Greek politics, he said the US should have done more during the 1967-1974 dictatorship by openly supporting the restoration of democracy and the legitimate order.

    "We are close friends and stable allies. We cannot ignore history, but we can also not remain its hostages," he said.

    Referring to the critical situation in Kosovo, he described a village named Kievo, which he visited recently.

    "It is a blockaded village. The only thing you see is armed men and tanks. Perhaps you shall never hear the name of this village again. But at this minute that we are talking, it is the most dangerous place in Europe," he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Stephanopoulos calls int'l community to take action on Cyprus

    NICOSIA, 27/6/1998 (ANA - G. Papachristos, N.Megadoukas/CNA)

    The UN Security Council has not shown the necessary political will and determination to enforce the application of its resolutions on Cyprus by Turkey, President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos str essed here yesterday. Addressing a special session of the Cypriot House of Representatives, the Greek president, who is on a four-day official visit to the island republic since Thursday, called on the international community to look into the substance of the Cyprus problem and abandon never-ending discussions on its procedure.

    "A peaceful solution to the Cyprus problem and the enforcement of legality is of primary importance to Greece," Mr. Stephanopoulos said. He noted that if Ankara abandons its intransigent stance and contributes towards a Cyprus settlement "this wil l be an important step for confidence-building between Greece and Turkey."

    "This is the existing relation between the Cyprus problem and Greek-Turkish differences," he said, stressing that no Greek would ever accept a settlement of relations between the two states (Greece and Turkey) with the Cyprus problem unresolved.

    It was in this context that the political decision for a joint defence pact between Cyprus and Greece was taken, Mr. Stephanopoulos added, pointing out that this aims at the protection of Cyprus.

    The Greek president remarked that in the case of Cyprus, which is the victim of invasion and occupation of a large part of its territory, the right to defence is imperative. "To the rationale of a peaceful dialogue we offer the proposal for demili tarisation, to insanity and aggression it is our duty to develop our defensive strength," he added.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos made special reference to the large number of Turkish Cypriots emigrating from the northern Turkish-occupied part of the island due to harsh living conditions, noting that they are being replaced by Turkish mainland settlers.

    The Greek president also made a note of the deliberate destruction of the island's cultural heritage by the Turkish-occupation regime in an effort to erase Cyprus' classical, Hellenistic and Byzantine history. Speaking on Cyprus' course for accessio n to the European Union, Mr. Stephanopoulos said this will create the conditions for continuing development and help overcome mistrust between the two communities.

    "Cyprus' accession to the EU serves the common interests of both Greek and Turkish Cypriots and will secure the viability of a future Cyprus federation," he remarked. Describing as "unacceptable" Turkey's demand to impose its position on the Euro pean states with regard to Cyprus' accession to the EU, Mr. Stephanopoulos said:

    "Ankara should realise that Europe will not be humiliated and succumb to blackmail and that a Cyprus solution is a condition not only for settling its relations with Greece, but also for the future of its European prospects."

    Visit to Kykkos Monastery: President Stephanopoulos also visited Kykkos Monastery on the Troodos mountain range and paid his respects at late Archbishop Maka-rios' III tomb at Throni.

    Describing his visit to the Kykkos Monastery as a "religious and national pilgrimage", the Greek president stressed that Greece will never desert Cyprus.

    Deserting Cyprus would be like deserting Greece, he said, while reaffirming to Greek Cypriots that the Greek people are always by their side. "I cannot tell you when Cyprus will be liberated. I hope it will be soon," he said and pointed out: "What I can tell you with certainty is that 'when' will never be 'never'."

    Mr. Stephanopoulos laid a wreath at the tomb of the late Cyprus president. Earlier yesterday he visited the Archaeological Museum in Nicosia escorted by Communications and Works Minister, Leontios Ierodiakonou.

    Meeting with political leaders: President Stephanopoulos later met leaders of Cyprus' political parties at his hotel in the presence of Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos met successively with Democratic Rally (DHSY) President Nicos Anastasiades, the Secretary-General and Parliamentary representative of the leftwing AKEL party, Dimitris Christofias, and Andreas Christou, the president and Parliamentary representative of the Democratic Party (DHKO) Spyros Kyprianou and Tasos Papadopoulos, the president and third deputy president of the socialist EDEK party Vassos Lysarides and Koulis Mavronikolas, the president and first deputy president of the United D emocrats George Vassiliou and Mihalis Petrou and the president and deputy president of the New Horizons party Nikos Koutsou and Stratos Panagidis.

    President Stephanopoulos also had separate meetings with the former Cypriot foreign minister and presidential candidate in the past elections George Iakovou as well as the general coordinator of the Ecologists of Cyprus, Kyriakos Tsimilis.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Cyprus protests Turkish threats

    NICOSIA, 27/6/1998 (ANA/CNA)

    Cyprus' permanent representative to the UN Sotos Zackheos strongly protested to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan over the letter of the Turkish permanent representative which contains a "direct threat against Cyprus".

    At the same time, Mr. Zackheos protested strongly "the new violations of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkey".

    In a letter to Mr. Annan, Mr. Zackheos recalls that 47 Turkish military aircraft entered the Nicosia Flight Information Region (FIR) "in violation of international air traffic regulations" in a period of five days.

    "Such unauthorised intrusions into the Nicosia FIR and the national airspace of the Republic of Cyprus are in complete disregard of the Charter of the UN, as well as the provisions of the Security Council resolutions on Cyprus", Mr. Zackheos said.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Pangalos: Greece not alone in blocking EU funds to Turkey

    NICOSIA, 27/6/1998 (ANA)

    Greece is not alone in blocking the release of European Union funds earmarked for Turkey, since democracy, values and principles are important for many countries, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said yesterday.

    Mr. Pangalos was speaking to reporters in Cyprus, where he is accompanying President Kostis Stephanopoulos on an official four-day visit.

    He was replying to press questions concerning the exerting of pressure on Greece to lift its veto on EU funds to Turkey.

    "There is the logic of the major powers with economic interests which Greece does not accept, because the EU is a community of peoples, not of major economic interests," Mr. Pangalos said.

    He added that there was also the logic which connects private and public interests, from the point of view that if the funds are disbursed they can be used for major works in Turkey.

    "This logic too is of no interest to us. They who are putting pressure on us do not even dare acknowledge what they are doing before the parliaments of their countries or to the press," Mr. Pangalos said.

    He said that while Turkey wanted to discuss economic issues, it did not accept criticism of its political system nor discussion of human rights issues, international law, "what it is doing in neighbouring countries and what it is doing to its own people ".

    "This perception cannot be accepted and in this respect, Greece is not alone," Mr. Pangalos said.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] SE European military conference ends in Athens

    Athens, 27/6/1998 (ANA)

    A two-day meeting of military experts from seven SE European countries concluded in Athens yesterday with optimism voiced on the eventual creation of a multinational force to prevent Balkan conflicts.

    Attending the meeting, which dealt with procedural issues concerning the formation of a multinational force in southeastern Europe were delegates from Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Romania, Turkey and Ital y. The United States and Slovenia had observer status.

    A joint communique said participating countries expressed satisfaction over progress achieved to date and agreed on future cooperation. The next meeting of military experts is scheduled to be held in Rome in early September. The meeting will pav e the way for a defence ministers' conference in the same month in FYROM.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Tsohatzopoulos to meet today with Albanian counterpart Hajdaraga

    Athens, 27/6/1998 (ANA)

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos will meet today in Thessaloniki with his Albanian counterpart Luan Hajdaraga as part of the latter's working visit to Greece.

    The two ministers will meet at the Armed Forces Officers' Club.

    According to sources, the focus of discussion will be issues related to security in the region, particularly the crisis in the Serbian province of Kosovo, as well as bilateral matters.

    Later today, Mr. Hajdaraga will visit the Vergina archaeological site where the Macedonian royal tombs were discovered.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Gov't defends Burns' letter over copyright issues

    Athens, 27/6/1998 (ANA)

    The government said yesterday that a letter sent by US Ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns to the National Radio and Television Council could not be considered "intervention" in Greece's domestic affairs.

    "The US Ambassador is not ordering or imposing anything. It is not intervention," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said when asked by reporters to comment on the letter.

    In the letter, Mr. Burns asks the council to grant licences to radio and television stations soon, in order to resolve issues related to intellectual property rights.

    "In his capacity as ambassador, Mr. Burns is expressing his views and reiterating a longstanding request of the United States," Mr. Reppas said.

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) charged that Mr. Burns's letter constituted "provocative intervention".

    KKE press spokesman Makis Kopsidis also criticised the government for what it called its "provocative stance in the face of Mr. Burns's unprecedented provocation".

    "With its silence, the government is lending its consent to this latest US intervention, once again paving the way for the country to be turned into a modern-day protectorate of the United States," Mr. Kopsidis said.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Kaklamanis calls for separation of p olitical, media relations at POESY conference

    Athens, 27/6/1998 (ANA)

    Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis yesterday proposed the formation of a legal framework to combat the intertwining of political and media interests.

    Mr. Kaklamanis' proposal at the National Federation of Journalists Unions' (POESY) second national conference included strict sanctions for media owners and politicians alike.

    The vice-president of the international union of journalists, Linda Foley, addressed the conference along with National Radio-Television Council president Georgios Kassimatis and representatives from around Greece.

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputy Prokopis Pavlopoulos noted that "democracy and the power of the state cannot exist without the press, which it must support."

    Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas stressed the "great democratic deficit, commited against the majority of the people."

    Political Spring representative and former Athens Journalists' Union (ESHEA) president Dimitris Mathiopoulos noted the "need for the journalistic profession to stand on its own legs" and accused the government that the state has taken no measures to sup port it.

    In response to the above comments, Press and Media Ministry secretary general Nikos Athanasakis defended the government's policies regarding the press, especially in regard to the legal framework for the digital television broadcast licences.

    In his address, ESHEA President Aristides Manolakos discussed the union's efforts to restore the credibility of the profession, which he said has been "dangerously shaken".

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Journalists from around Greece, Cyprus meet in Samothrace

    Athens, 27/6/1998 (ANA)

    The three-day seventh National Journalists Conference began on the island of Samothrace yesterday morning with the participation of about 300 journalists from Greece and Cyprus.

    The conference was inaugurated by the Prefect of Evros Georgios Dolios.

    Messages from Press Minister Dimitris Reppas, Macedonia and Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos, main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis and the party's press spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos were also read out.

    Public Order Minister George Romeos focused on the issue "The role of the mass media against xenophobia."

    Mr. Romeos initially clarified that "we must make up our minds that we will live in a multicultural environment and the mass media are called on to play a creative role in shaping the new era." He said that on the part of the state, the main axis must b e the acceptance of foreigners to the degree and with such conditions that their dignified life is secured.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Bulgarian-Greek meeting on new border crossings scheduled

    SOFIA, 27/6/1998 (BTA/ANA)

    A meeting between Bulgarian and Greek representatives on the new Makaza, Roudozem-Xanthi and Gotse Delchev-Drama border crossings has been scheduled to take place shortly in Athens.

    Issues concerning roadlinks between the two countries will be discussed at the meeting, the Bulgarian Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works' press office said on Thursday.

    The Bulgarian representatives will press for issues pertaining to the specification of the intersection points and elevations and levels of the Makaza and Roudozem-Xanti border crossings to be tackled so that work can then focus on the drafting of their designs, raising funds and the actual implementation of the projects.

    Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Public Works Petko Evrev will head the Bulgarian delegation to the meeting.

    Among those attending will be also Bulgarian deputy ministers of the interior and of transport Boiko Mirchev and Petko Tabakov respectively.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] PM receives president of German trade union federation

    Athens, 27/6/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis held talks yesterday with the president of the German Trade Union Federation (DGB), Dieter Shulte, who was accompanied by General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) President Christos Polyzogopoulos.

    According to the two umbrella trade union presidents, views were exchanged on the settlement of work time and issues concerning the labour market, as well as on existing forms of employment in Greece or Germany.

    "The most important conclusion drawn from the talks we had with the premier is that we can exercise an employment policy in Europe only with the trade unions and not against the trade unions," Mr. Shulte said.

    Papaioannou: Later, Mr. Shulte met Labour and Social Insurances Minister Miltiades Papaioannou.

    The meeting was also attended by Labour Undersecretary Christos Protopapas and Mr. Polyzogopoulos.

    Talks focused primarily on employment policies being applied in Europe through the National Action Plans based on the European Union's guidelines.

    Views were also exchanged on the participation of working people in the European company which, as the minister said, Greece supports at the relevant EU bodies.

    Issues discussed by Mr. Shulte during his visit were the economic and labour situation in both countries, Europe's economic condition, EMU, problems with the EU's expansion and the Union's programme for boosting employment.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Investigation continues into college student-activist's beating

    Athens, 27/6/1998 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday that apprehension of the culprits behind the savage beating of three university students and teachers' activists earlier this month was a "matter of honour" for police.

    He added that authorities had grounds to suspect that the attack, which took place across from the main Athens court complex off Evelpidon avenue and which left one man seriously injured, was the work of the Chryssi Avgi (Golden Dawn) ultra-nationalist organisation. The government spokesman said the group was responsible for similar incidents in the same area.

    A committee of solidarity for the activists claimed they could prove links between police and Chryssi Avgi, as well as of attempts to suppress evidence leading to the possible arrest of the attackers.

    Meanwhile, an Athens prosecutor yesterday filed a lawsuit against anyone responsible for leaking confidential police information relating to the ongoing investigation surrounding the attack.

    The development followed publication yesterday of a considerable amount of details of the investigation by the "Pontiki" weekly satirical newspaper.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Cabinet discusses new cultural heritage law

    Athens, 27/6/1998 (ANA)

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos yesterday presented new draft legislation on the protection of the country's cultural heritage to a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    The new legislation has been prepared to replace the law presently in force which dates back to 1932 and is based largely on provisions enacted in 1892.

    "The main principle is the state's full protection of the country's cultural heritage, but we need the assistance of citizens, without which we shall be unable to attain the overall final goal," Mr. Venizelos told reporters after the three-hour meeting.

    Mr. Venizelos said discussion would soon begin with opposition parties on the draft legislation, since the government wished to secure the broadest possible consensus.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the draft law covers "very important matters" and even regulates issues such as relations between the state and collectors.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Eight foreign women detained, forced into prostitution, police say

    Athens, 27/6/1998 (ANA)

    Police in Thessaloniki have pressed charges against three persons for detaining eight foreign women against their will and forcing them to engage in prostitution. The young women from Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria were discovered in a house in Melis sochori, near the northern city.

    Their passports had been taken from them by Georgios Strongylis, 37, a resident of Nikea, Attica and Constantine Lazaridis, of Thessaloniki, a nightclub owner.

    The police said the women were forbidden to leave the house except to go to Lazaridis' nightclub and work as prostitutes.

    When they did leave the house, they were always accompanied by muscleman Yiannis Tzambos, who according to initial reports is a Bulgarian national.

    The case is similar to one uncovered ten days ago when 15 foreign women were found in a house in Liti, Thessaloniki.

    They too had had their passports taken from them and were being forced to work as prostitutes.

    - The well-known "Gala of the Stars" dance group will perform at the Herod Atticus Theatre on Monday and Tuesday, featuring classical, contemporary and modern dances.

    Members from the famed Bolshoi, the National Canadian Ballet and the New York ballet company will be among the many performers featured in the troupe.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Havel receives Patriach

    VIENNA, 27/6/1998 (ANA - D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Czech President Vaclav Havel yesterday received Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos at the Presidential Mansion here.

    The Patriarch, who is officially visiting the Czech and Slovakian Orthodox Church, also met yesterday with the Orthodox Metropolitan of Slovakia and of the Czech Republic Dorotheos.

    Vartholomeos is expected today in Presov - the centre of Orthodoxy in the Czech Republic.

    It should be noted that this is the first-ever visit of any Ecumenical Patriarch in these central European nations.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Belgrade marks 200th anniversary of Rigas Feraios' murder

    BELGRADE, 27/6/1998 (ANA - M. Mouratidis)

    Events honouring the pre-revolutionary visionary Rigas Feraios were held here yesterday at the initiative of the Greek embassy's press office and on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Rigas' execution by Ottoman auth orities.

    The events, organised by the Society of Serb-Greek Friendship, the Rigas Feraios Society of Greeks in Serbia and the society for preserving traditions of liberation wars of Serbia until 1918, will be held before the Neboisa Tower in Belgrade, where Riga s and his close associates were strangled.

    The events will be attended by Serbian and Belgrade officials, Serbian Patriarch Pavle, an inter-party committee from the Greek Parliament and a delegation from the municipality of Velestino, Rigas' birthplace.

    The events were given extended coverage in the Yugoslav press, while the president of the Society of Serb-Greek Friendship, Dusan Kanazir, said at a press conference that Rigas' ideas are still valid today because the Balkan peoples are struggling to de velop a climate of friendship and cooperation and are trying to avert a new Balkan war.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Chile to honour Papoutsis

    Athens, 27/6/1998 (ANA)

    The ambassador of Chile in Athens, Marcia Covarrubias, will award the "Orden Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins" medal on Monday to European Commissioner Christos Papoutsis in the name of the Santiago government.

    Mr. Papoutsis will be honoured for his contribution to the re-establishment of democracy in the Andean country.

    Meanwhile, Mr. Papoutsis will address a PASOK prefectural-level committee on Sunday at a special event in memory of PASOK founder Andreas Papandreou.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Hashish arrests

    Athens, 27/6/1998 (ANA)

    Three British nationals were arrested at Macedonia Airport in Thessaloniki yesterday on charges of possessing small amounts of hashish.

    The three were identified as Joseph Spencer McCrory, 27, Sihion Pace, 25, and William Cluff Hartinb, 28. All three are from London.

    The first suspect was found in possession of six grams of hashish, the second with 6.4 grams and the third with 0.4 grams.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] ENIC rejects sale of AEK

    Athens, 27/6/1998 (ANA)

    The London-based ENIC company, the majority holder of the AEK Athens football club, stressed yesterday that there was no question of the club changing hands in order to secure its participation in the UEFA Cup tournament this year.

    "In no way will we sell AEK," said ENIC managing director Daniel Levy.

    In addition, Mr. Levy expressed optimism that a decision taken by UEFA will change and that AEK and Slavia Prague, another ENIC-owned team, will participate as normal in the 1998-99 UEFA Cup.

    "We will not sell AEK. We are taking all necessary action to change UEFA's decision. We are a company investing in soccer. I would like to clarify once again that ENIC is not responsible for AEK's possible exclusion. UEFA took this decision and we will do everything to have both teams participate in the tournament. Both AEK and Slavia Prague deserve it," he said during an interview with the private SKAI television station.

    Mr. Levy also disclosed that UEFA is observing an intransigent stance and is refusing to meet with ENIC representatives.

    "ENIC requested a series of meetings with UEFA since June 19 and they never received us. We tried to resolve the problem, but the federation did not want dialogue," he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] Rhodes-Yalta twinning

    Athens, 27/6/1998 (ANA)

    Yalta and the City of Rhodes will be twinned, the mayor of the island's capital announced yesterday after a meeting with a delegation from the Ukraine.

    The Ukrainian delegation was in Rhodes within the framework of the European Unions' "TACIS" programme designed to aid Crimean cities in promoting tourism with the help of Greek specialists.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] Greek tanker blaze in Holland, no injuries

    Athens, 27/6/1998 (ANA)

    A Greek-flagged tanker caught fire as it was loading fuel at the port of Rotterdam in The Netherlands, Greek Merchant Marine Ministry sources said yesterday.

    They said the fire, which broke out yesterday in the engine-room of the tanker "Astro Gamma" from causes as yet unknown, had been immediately extinguished by the local fire brigade.

    The sources said the 42-member crew, of which 17 were Greeks, were all safe and accounted for, citing the Rotterdam port authorities.

    Athens News Agency

    [22] Economic News

    Athens, 27/6/1998 (ANA)

    Greece to issue convertible bonds in privatisation drive: The Greek finance ministry will launch convertible bonds of three- and five-year terms linked to shares in public enterprises due to be floated on the Athens Stock Exchange from January 1, 1999.

    The ministry said in a statement yesterday that the move aimed to attract retail investors and institutional investors into the privatised stock.

    Registration for the convertible bonds is due to begin in September.

    Private Aspis Bank to seek bourse entry in the summer: Private Aspis Bank will hold an initial public offer in late July or early August in order to gain listing on the main market of the Athens Stock Exchange.

    The bank's chairman, Eustathios Papageorgiou, told a shareholders meeting yesterday that most of the new capital would be used to expand the bank's network and upgrade its information systems.

    Aspis Bank will also use part of the capital to strengthen its stake in Aspis Brokerage and Aspis Mutual Funds, Mr. Papageorgiou said.

    The bank reported pre-tax profits of 237 million drachmas in 1997, up from 23 million drachmas the previous year.

    Deposits increased to 51 billion drachmas in 1997 from 26 million drachmas a year earlier.

    Its profits in January-May 1998 totalled 180 million drachmas, and the bank's target for the year is 400 million drachmas.

    Aspis Bank operates 12 branches around the country and plans to open five new ones within the year.

    It aims to evolve into a major financial institution, offering a wide range of competitive products to customers particularly in housing loans.

    Ionian Bank tries to shrink June 30 shareholders' meeting: An Athens court is expected to rule today on a petition by the management of state Ionian Bank, which is due for privatisation this summer, to limit the number of bank workers attending a shareholders' meeting on June 30.

    The petition comes in the wake of a rampage at a shareholders' meeting on June 19 of Ionian's parent company, Commercial Bank of Greece.

    The meeting was finally reconvened and Ionian's sale endorsed after workers believed to be from both banks overturned furniture and smashed glass.

    The same court had rejected a petition to limit the number of workers at the meeting filed by Commercial Bank's management.

    The Athens court of first instance yesterday heard Ionian management's arguments for limiting attendence to five representatives each from the Bank Workers' Mutual Aid Fund and Ionian's Staff Association at the shareholders' meeting, due to be held at the Hilton Hotel at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

    Management said that 125 bank workers had applied to attend the shareholders' meeting, and their presence could lead to friction and violent incidents of the kind that had marred Commercial Bank's meeting at the Caravel Hotel.

    Ionian's security supervisor, Nikon Arkoudeas, told the court hearing that many of the workers who stated they would attend Ionian's meeting had also been present at Commercial Bank's stormy shareholders' session.

    Arguing on behalf of the bankworkers was the Ionian Staff Association's special secretary, who said the 125 workers would attend as shareholders and representatives of social insurance funds in order to hear from Ionian's president how the sale was to b e conducted.

    Greek stocks end lower in week of edgy trade: Greek equities yesterday ended the last trading session of a nervous week substantially lower, reflecting a lack of fresh incentives.

    Traders said institutional investors, some of them foreign, took in their profits in blue chips ahead of the weekend.

    However, they noted that the market had easily absorbed supply.

    Analysts said that a majority of investors remained on the sidelines ahead of the government's sale of state-owned Cretabank. The deadline for bids in the international tender is on Monday.

    The general index ended 1.10 percent down at 2,393.69 points to show a net loss of 2.37 percent in the week.

    Trade was moderate with turnover at 57.8 billion drachmas.

    Most sector indices lost ground. Banks fell 0.67 percent, Insurance dropped 1.27 percent, Investment was 2.33 percent off, Leasing fell 2.22 percent for an 11.11 percent loss in the week, Industrials eased 1.85 percent, Construction was 1.83 percent dow n, Holding fell 1.62 percent but Miscellaneous bucked the trend to end 0.58 percent up, showing a 4.15 percent gain in the week.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 0.43 percent, and the FTSE/ASE 20 index fell 0.81 percent to 1,427.51.

    The week's turnover totalled 298.517 billion drachmas, posting a daily average of 59.7 billion down from 62.12 billion the previous week.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 157 to 94 with another 15 issues unchanged.

    Bank of Athens, Kekrops, Nematemboriki, General Bank, Flexopack, Elfico and Papoutsanis scored the biggest percentage gains hitting the daily 8.0 percent limit up.

    Halyps Cement, Radio Athina, Fanco, NEL, Lanakam, Mohlos and Corinth Mills suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 39,300 drachmas, Ergobank at 25,315, Alpha Credit Bank at 25,305, Ionian Bank at 13,370, Delta Dairy at 3,605, Titan Cement at 20,000, Intracom at 10,450 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 7,550 drachmas. ETEVA reports doubling of assets, drop in profits: National Bank for Investments and Industrial Development (ETEVA), which is a listed member of the National Bank of Greece Group, reported that its 1997 assets had jumped to 191 billion drachmas from 105 billion, but net profits had slumped to 4.98 billion drachmas from 6.87 billion in 1996.

    The bank's management told a shareholders' meeting yesterday that the drop in profits was due mainly to zero income from its Diethniki mutual fund subsidiary and, to a lesser extent, to money market turbulence in October 1997.

    ETEBA also announced a 10 percent rise in its 1997 dividend to shareholders to 550 drachmas a share deriving from a bonus issue of one new share to 10 old in June 1997.

    The bank's deposits jumped to 56 billion drachmas in 1997, up from 2.3 billion drachmas in 1996, due to growing business from retail and institutional investors.

    Deposits totalled 220 billion drachmas in January-April 1998.

    ETEBA's strategy includes expansion in southeastern Europe, where it is already active through its subsidiaries in capital and portfolio management.

    It is thinking of buying a brokerage in Sofia and Bucharest, or setting one up.

    Minoan Lines pulls out of Piraeus Bank bid for Cretabank: Minoan Lines, the country's biggest passenger shipper, said in a statement yesterday that it had pulled out of a group of investors led by private Piraeus Bank that was planning to bid for a controlling share in state-owned Cretabank.

    The deadline for bids in Cretabank's international sale tender is Monday in the government's third attempt to privatise Cretabank since 1996. Two earlier tenders were abortive.

    A business plan submitted by Piraeus Bank in connection with the sale was unprofitable for the shipping company, leading it to withdraw the initial interest it had expressed in bidding, Minoan Lines said.

    But Minoan, which is interested in entering the financial sector, said it would still consider taking part in a bidding group as a minority partner.

    "The firm's interest remains unabated in taking part as a minority partner in a bank-led group that would seek to buy out Cretabank," the statement said.

    It said Minoan's targets in buying a stake in Ionian Bank were the following:

    • Attracting foreign capital into its 500 million dollar four-year investment plan
    • Improving cash management
    • Making better use of its international sales network (more than 50 billion drachmas in the next two years)
    • Upgrading financial services (foreign exchange, travellers cheques, credit card payments), which it offers its customers (1.5 million drachmas in 1997, expected to exceed 2.0 million by 1999).

    China eyes northern Greek, Balkan markets: China, the country to be featured at this year's Thessaloniki International Trade Fair, is interested in northern Greek and emerging Balkan markets.

    A Chinese delegation from the Jiangtsu province yesterday signed a memorandum with the prefecture of Thessaloniki aimed at developing long- term cooperation in sectors including textiles, foodstuffs, energy, telecoms, science and technology, town plannin g, environmental protection, and information technology.

    The two sides agreed to seek funding from their governments, the European Union, the private sector and local authorities; and their representatives will meet in Jiangtsu in January 1999 to discuss implementation of the projects.

    Signing the protocol for the Chinese province was its deputy governor, Yu Xindge; and for Thessaloniki, prefect Kostas Papadopoulos.

    Mr. Xindge said Chinese businesses were interested in exchanging products with Greek businesses and creating joint ventures.

    General Bank offers special summer holiday loans: General Bank of Greece is offering summer holiday personal loans of between 500,000 drachmas and one million drachmas from July 1 to August 14, it said in a statement yesterday.

    The loans, which have a repayment term of 12 to 36 months, carry interest of 17.8 percent, a reduction of one percentage point.

    Taxi rates increase: Taxi fares will increase by 6.2 per cent as of July 1.

    According to the transport ministry, the single fare will increase to 66 drachmas from 62 and the double fare to 130 drachmas from 120. The starting rate will remain at 200 drachmas.

    The double fare will be in force from 12 midnight until 6 a.m. An ordinary call for radio taxis will be charged an extra 400 drachmas, while a pre-set appointment will cost 600 drachmas in addition to the fare.

    New Ergobank fund: Ergobank's mutual fund management subsidiary yesterday announced that it will launch its sixth fund on Monday with a minimum investment of 100,000 drachmas.

    The new product offered in the domestic market is an international combination mutual fund.

    Bank of Piraeus share capital increase: An increase in the Bank of Piraeus' share capital by 39.1 billion drachmas was completed yesterday, with the bank's own capital now exceeding 80 billion drachmas.

    The bank's administration aims to use the new capital to speed up the development of the Bank of Piraeus' group with an increase of its branch network, a further increase of its share of the banking market, establishment or buyoff of other firms and the complete automation of the bank's work and transactions. The Bank of Piraeus, after the recent buyoff of 37 per cent of the Bank of Macedonia and Thrace, will submit an offer for the purchase of the Bank of Crete.

    Alpha interest rates for foreign currency: Alpha Credit Bank announced that as of Monday June 29 its minimum loan interest rate per currency in Alpha 605 foreign exchange accounts will be for the US dollar 7.90 per cent, the ECU 6.50 per cent, the German mark 5.75 per cent, the Japanese yen 2.85 p er cent, the Swiss franc 4.40 per cent, the Italian lire 7.45 per cent, the English pound sterling 9.80 per cent, the French franc 5.75 per cent and the Belgian franc 5.95 per cent.

    Mytilineos general assembly postponed: A general assembly of the Mytilineos mining group was not held yesterday as only 60 per cent of the share capital was represented.

    The general assembly was scheduled to examine an increase in the company's share capital.

    Commenting on the recent decrease in the company's share price at the Athens Stock Exchange, company officials said that it is primarily due to the profit-taking of a major foreign institutional investor during yesterday's session.

    Athens News Agency

    [23] EU Farm Ministers agree on favourable measures for olive oil, tobacco

    BRUSSELS, 27/6/1998 (ANA- P. Pantelis)

    The EU Farm Ministers' Council yesterday accepted, after a four-day marathon session in Luxembourg, certain favourable measures for olive oil and tobacco, deciding to ask the Commission to submit new proposals for cotton.

    Greek Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas voted in favour of all the British presidency's compromise proposals, except those for tobacco. Nevertheless, he stated that he found even those considerably improved compared to those of the European Commi ssion.

    The decision provides, in contrast to the initial proposal, for certain rules in the buy-out of individual quotas so as to prevent a mass exodus of tobacco-growers from agriculture. However, the Council did not accept Mr. Tzoumakas' request for an exemp tion from the buy-outs of sensitive areas and special exemption for select varieties. Regarding olive oil, the Council raised the national guaranteed quantity from 389,038 tonnes in the original proposal to 419,529 tonnes, with the amount of support set a t 1, 322.5 Ecu per tonne. It also approved new planting of 3,500 hectares.

    For cotton, the Council invited the Commission to submit proposals for the payment of subsidies directly to the farmers as of the 1999-2000 period.

    On its part, he Communist Party of Greece (KKE) criticised in a statement the decisions of the Council, saying they would result in the uprooting of farmers from the land.

    Athens News Agency

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