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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-09-05

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] Prime Minister inauguarates TIF, pledges gov`t will tackle unemployment
  • [02] Tsohatzopoulos speaks on PASOK's anniversary
  • [03] Burns says US wants a federation in Cyprus
  • [04] Gov't on Yilmaz statements
  • [05] ND reaction to Denktash
  • [06] Kurd arrested on Kos
  • [07] Kranidiotis optimistic over Greece's bid for UN Security Council non- permanent seat
  • [08] Greece briefed on Kozloduy nuclear plant security
  • [09] ND leader says municipal elections will have political nature
  • [10] Swissair officials in Athens express condolences over crash victims
  • [11] CoE to launch solidarity campaign
  • [12] IOC official concludes Athens talks
  • [13] Mitsotakis antiquities collection to settle in Hania
  • [14] Consumer price inflation slips to 5.0 pct in August yr/yr
  • [15] Greek stocks slide again in wake of global turmoil
  • [16] Domestic money, forex markets calm despite Russian crisis
  • [17] National Bank of Greece opens new branch in Channel Islands
  • [18] Passenger traffic at regional airports rises in Jan-Aug
  • [19] US embassy to hold two international conferences in Greece

  • [01] Prime Minister inauguarates TIF, pledges gov`t will tackle unemployment

    Athens, 5/9/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis pledged last night that his government will place particular emphasis on combatting unemployment.

    Inaugurating the 63rd Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), he said that this would be achieved thr-ough the funding of subsidised employment and self-employment programmes of the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) for 60,000 young people aged bet ween 20 and 27, the implementation of vocational training programmes for another 20,000 young people, as well as with new subsidised employment experience programmes with enterprises for 3, 500 young and unemployed university graduates.

    Mr. Simitis said that the guidelines of this policy are the steadfast continuation of modernising initiatives and the structural chan-ges the government is carrying out in the economy, as well as the systematic development of the new social state with t he creation of a new social insurance system for tho-se who are actually in need.

    Mr. Simitis also sent a message of confidence on the country's national issues, saying that we "are stepping firmly with our political arguments, with our alliances and with boosting our defences", adding that "we have nothing to fear if we rally together and if we plan tomorrow and our strategy soberly, defending peace and stability."

    He said that the government focused on the prevention of a feeling of uncertainty and insecurity over tomorrow, as well as on the effort to create a better life for the citizen and the shaping of a society of work and creation.

    Mr. Simitis pledged to head personally an effort to create a society which will promote individual and social responsibility and which will not tolerate trade union attitudes and neither phenomena of taking the law into one's own hands.

    He said it was a struggle requiring the active and responsible support of all and called on the Greek people to participate in the struggle "to win the struggle for a powerful Greece together."

    Mr. Simitis defended government policy over the past year, saying that the country was not in the position it had been 12 months ago and added that even those who were distrustful and grumbled were well aware of this. This was the sole indirect blow dir ected at the opposition.

    Placing particular emphasis on the crisis of the times, he said that thanks to the successes of the government's economic policy and thanks to the big and decisive step in our course towards Economic and Monetary Union Greece faced the international cri sis with the minimum cost possible and without being swept away by its current.

    Mr. Simitis also reminded that without the course followed in the past two years, the country would have faced the consequences of this turmoil alone and with much worse conditions instead of being incorporated in the processes of the European Union.

    "The message we are sending is that Greece has one sole course: to become strong and competitive and we have already achieved successes in this course," he said.

    "However, we must boost the defences of the country even better, make our economy even more stable and for this reason there will be no hesitation and no retreat in achieving the success of these targets to enable Greece to reach a level of performances in the year 2000 which will be a guarantee for its future," he added.

    Mr. Simitis reiterated the volition of both his government and himself to have Thessaloniki and northern Greece in general be promoted to a powerful economic and cultural centre in southeastern Europe.

    "Northern Greece and Thessaloniki are steadily being transformed into a locomotive of development, radiance and cooperation with our neighbours and to levers for a new period of development, prosperity and peace for all the Balkans," he said.

    Providing figures, Mr. Simitis referred at length to the most important infrastructure works being carried out in northern Greece and assured the people of Thessaloniki that in the next few weeks the signing of an awarding contract will go ahead with th e contractor company for the construction of the Metro, as well as the process for ratification by Parliament for necessary initial works to get underway immediately. In parallel, he said that the works for the city's water supply from the Aliakmonas Rive r (budgeted at 30 billion drachmas) with the year 2000 being the horizon for completion, as well as for sewage treatment and drainage (budgeted at 25 billion drachmas) are going ahead.

    Mr. Simitis made special reference to infrastructures on health and education issues for the entire region of northern Greece.

    More specifically, he referred to infrastructures in hospitals which will absorb 67 billion drachmas, the implementation of the programme "Aid at home" which will be applied in 29 municipalities and to the completion of the school housing programme in t he next two or three years to achieve the target of the sole shift.

    Commenting on major projects in northern Greece, Mr. Simitis referred to progress observed in the construction of the Egnatia motorway, saying that many more kilometers (422 km) were either under construction or at a tendering phase, adding that by the end of 1998 asphalting work will be completed over a distance of 66 km.

    Reactions: Responding to Mr. Simitis' speech in Thessaloniki yesterday, main opposition New Democracy party spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos criticised him, saying that one would expect from Mr. Simitis more respect for the judgement of the citizens of the country and of Thessaloniki and this is so "because the lies heard were both gross and self-evident."

    In a related development, groups of working people and unappointed teachers organised gatherings and demonstrations near the location where Mr. Simitis inaugurated the Fair. They dispersed peacefully after the event came to a close and with no incident s taking place.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Tsohatzopoulos speaks on PASOK's anniversary

    Athens, 5/9/1998 (ANA)

    Speaking in Thessaloniki yesterday on the occasion of the ruling socialist PASOK party's 24th anniversary, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said that the main elements of its success was its binding with the people and its identification with the needs and visions of Greece. "PASOK must offer a modern course to the Greek people based on the principles of democratic socialism, while Greece must be in a position to contest things and determine developments," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said in referring to the party's future.

    The PASOK party was founded by the late Andreas Papandreou on September 3, 1974.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Burns says US wants a federation in Cyprus

    Athens, 5/9/1998 (ANA)

    US Ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns said in an interview that his government believes that the thorny Cyprus problem could be resolved by a unified, bi-zonal, bi-communal federation to enable the Cypriot people to live, work and trade together.

    In an exclusive eight-page interview with Mr. Gerassimos Zarkadis, Director of "Hermes", a monthly English-language magazine published by the Athens News Agency (ANA), Mr. Burns said:

    "We believe that the resolution should be one Cyprus, united on a bi-zonal, bi-communal and federal basis, and that the people of Cyprus ought to be able to live together and work together, trade together, so that everyone prospers".

    But he said that such a "dream will not occur unless there is political courage and commitment on both sides, and unless the leaders concentrate on politics and not military means".

    Questioned on the deployment of the Soviet made S-300 missiles in Cyprus, Mr. Burns said that Cyprus "has a right to self-defence, and no one in my government has questioned whether or not Cyprus has a right to defend itself and to prepare itself to, as all countries do, secure its proper defences".

    He said: "We do not believe that introducing the S-300 missile system in Cyprus will advance or improve Cypriot security. It would require the introduction of an expansive missile system to actually improve Cypriot air defence capabilities, and the purc hase (of these missiles) does not do that," and added: "It's a symbolic purchase that does not really have military value for Cyprus". Mr. Burns continued: "We don't believe it's a good idea to bring this particular system onto an island that is already overly-militarised, and you know the United States does not sell ours (weapon systems) to Cyprus, because we believe that the government and all the parties to the conflict should concentrate more on political negotiations rather than military armaments".

    The American ambassador however stressed that "even if the missile system would be introduced, and we're hoping it will not, certainly Turkey would not then have the right to strike against it. We have said that many times, publicly as well as privately , that we don't believe in the use of force or that the threat of the use of force is warranted in this".

    Mr. Burns pointed out that there was a possibility to resolve the issue of the S-300s... and said: "We are working with the governments of Cyprus, Turkey and Greece towards that end".

    In his interview the American envoy emphasised his government's continuous involvement in efforts for a settlement of the Cyprus issue, although, as he said, it was "ex-ceedingly difficult".

    "We will remain involved in that effort, centrally involved," he said, adding that Mr. Richard Holbrooke, will remain President Clinton's special representative in Cyprus, despite his nomination to the post of US ambassador to the United Nations.

    Mr. Burns noted that the people in Cyprus "can be assured of several things about the United States. We adhere to all UN resolutions on Cyprus. We believe in the UN framework for Cyprus. We have not abandoned that. I know there's been some recent criti cism and perhaps some of the readers of your magazine (HERMES) are familiar with it, that basically argues that the United States has abandoned its policy and is now following a policy in support of one party in the conflict, namely Turkey".

    Commenting on Greek-Turkish relations, the American diplomat said: "There are a number of ways by which Greece and Turkey can resolve the problems between them" and citing the question of Imia (islet) as an example said: "It's certainly up to Greece and

    Turkey to decide how that problem should be resolved...and one of the ways to resolve that problem would be to refer it to an objective, independent mediator, such as the International Court of Justice in The Hague, and certainly the US believes that wou ld be a very positive possible way to solve this problem".

    In another point of his interview in the September issue of "HER-MES", Mr. Burns referred to Gre-ece's role in the wider Balkan region and praised its positive efforts in Kosovo by saying that "the United States very much encourage an extension of Gree k interest and Greek involvement in the affairs of southeast Europe".

    "We very much support that role by Greece," he added.

    The American ambassador noted that "political anti-Americanism" in Greece, caused by US support for the 1967-74 military dictatorship, which he thought that "in hindsight was a very grave mistake," was "declining" and felt that this was a "healthy trend ".

    Referring to the current Greek government, the American ambassador said: "We have developed, together, effective working relations between the United States and Greece and we've agreed strategically. Prime Minister (Costas) Simitis, Foreign Minister (Th eodoros) Pangalos, Defence Minister (Akis) Tsohatzopoulos, and I, have all agreed on the need to strengthen the relationship".

    Turning to criticism expressed against him by what he called "just a few people and for the most part people who are rather extreme in their views" Mr. Burns said: "I won't be the last American ambassador to be criticised. I don't let that bother me, a t all and I don't lose sleep over it.

    "I think Greece is a great country and we have a very fine relationship which is improving".

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Gov't on Yilmaz statements

    Athens, 5//9/1998 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday called on the international community "to reach final conclusions" from Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz's recent sta-tements threatening that Turkey would annex the northern part of the Republic of Cyprus which it occupies since the 1974 invasion.

    Mr. Reppas noted that the statements are a repetition of past Turkish positions, so the "international factor must weigh these statements and come to final conclusions on the issue".

    Turkey's forces illegally occupy more than one-third of the island republic since the invasion.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] ND reaction to Denktash

    Athens, 5/9/1998 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos yesterday called for "the activation of Greek diplomacy, so as to isolate internationally every attempt by Turkey to transform Cyprus into its protectorate".

    Mr. Spiliotopoulos, in light of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's proposal for a confederation in Cyprus, said "Ankara and Denktash were taking a further step. Following the occupation of northern part (of the island republic) they are attempting t o turn the Republic of Cyprus into a hostage of the Turkish Cypriots."

    He added that this effort is a blatant violation of international legality and United Nations resolutions on the Cyprus problem.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Kurd arrested on Kos

    Athens, 5/9/1998 (ANA)

    Police are investigating the activities of a Turkish national of Kurdish origin who was arrested on the eastern Aegean island of Kos on Thursday while he was preparing to transport two Turks with his inflatable boat. Temel Sehmuz and his compatriots Isami l Toprak, 23 and Suat Sefer 26, were found in possession of forged passports.

    Sehmuz came to Greece four years ago and requested political asylum claiming to be a political refugee. Police investigation revealed that Sehmuz used the forged passport during several trips from Greece to Turkey.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Kranidiotis optimistic over Greece's bid for UN Security Council non- permanent seat

    DURBAN, 5/9/1998 (ANA)

    Greek Deputy Foreing Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis, who is currently here attending the 12th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, has expressed his satisfaction over his contacts on the sidelines of the conference with regard to promoting Gre ece's bid for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council, as well as the promotion of Greek positions on foreign policy issues.

    During his stay here, Mr. Kranidiotis had more than thirty meetings with heads of state and foreign ministers of the Non-Aligned Movement member- states, incuding Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat.

    Regarding Greece's bid for the Security Council seat, Mr. Kranidiotis told the press "it was a strenuous effort to which we are responding in dignity", adding that the chance was given to Greece to win a place in the world and boost its bilateral relati ons with all the countries.

    Commenting on the results of the Durban Non-Aligned Summit, the Greek official observed that the movement was undergoing a crisis which coincided with a reorganisation of the world system.

    "The Non-Aligned Movement has a role to play, both in the reorganisation of international bodies, where it can act as a 'pressure group'", representing the interests of its 113 members, and in the intensification of dialogue between north and south.

    Last Wednesday, Mr. Kranidiotis met with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, with discussion between the two men focusing on the possibility of an international initiative to ease off tensions and reduce armaments on Cyprus with a view to the island's full demilitarisation, in accordance with UN resolutions.

    He briefed Mr. Annan on Greece's positions on the Cyprus problem, while he asked from the UN to play a more active and dynamic role in impementing relevant decisions and resolutions.

    Mr. Kranidiotis said after the meeting that the UN secretary general assured him that the Cyprus issue was amongst UN priorities.

    A final communique issued by the 12th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement included a resolution on Cyprus, in which member-states hold the Turkish side responsible for the current stagnation in intercommunal talks.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Greece briefed on Kozloduy nuclear plant security

    SOFIA, 5/9/1998 (ANA - B. Borisov)

    Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov said Bulgaria's obligation to brief Greece regularly on the security situation at the Kozloduy nuclear plant results from relevant intergovernmental agreements between the two countries.

    Mr. Kostov was replying to a question by an opposition deputy in Parliament yesterday concerning the briefing of Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis on security issues at Kozloduy during Mr. Kostov's recent visit to Athens.

    "In this sector, we must declare clearly to our neighbours that security is also paramount for our very selves towards the production of electric power. And we must confirm it continuously with relevant actions and gestures, since similar gestures contr ibute towards the creation of a climate of confidence in bilateral relations," Mr. Kostov said.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] ND leader says municipal elections will have political nature

    Athens, 5/9/1998 (ANA) Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis said that prefectural and municipal elections in October will have a political nature.

    Mr. Karamanlis, who started a tour of the Arcadia prefecture yesterday morning, accused Prime Minister Costas Simitis that while initially saying that these elections will have a political nature and will characterise the government he was now retractin g.

    At 9 a.m. Mr. Karamanlis visited the Metropolitan of Mantineia and Kynouria Alexandros and went to the prefectural offices afterwards to meet Prefect Panayiotis Yian-nopoulos and the members of the Prefectural Council.

    Mr. Karamanlis called on all forces, regardless of political convictions, to rally together for the success of the new local administration institution which ND supports.

    He also met with social partners in the prefecture and in a speech he accused the government of supporting and bowing to circles supporting it and further accused it of bad management and termed the past 15 years as lost time for Greece.

    Mr. Karamanlis predicted that the country's two major projects (the Athens Metro and the Athens airport at Spata) will not be completed in 2000 as announced and accused the government of announcing and promising projects which it is unable to carry out.

    "It is a myth and bad hypocrisy that all are the same in our country. This is an alibi for mediocrities and failures and an expression of guilt by those who are aware that they are responsible for the present plight and have the theory of 'they are all the same' as their last line of defence," he said.

    Mr. Karamanlis was replying to all who claim that the New Democracy and PASOK parties are the same, while his statement was also interpreted as an indirect reply to former Prime Minister and ND honourary leader Constantine Mitsotakis who had said severa l days ago that all the parties are weak and unreliable.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Swissair officials in Athens express condolences over crash victims

    Athens, 5/9/1998 (ANA)

    Two Greek nationals and 12 other persons of Greek origin were among the dead on the ill-fated Swissair aircraft that crashed off the coast of Canada early on Thursday, it was reported yesterday. A Greek-American researcher at the University of Chicago was among the victims.

    Maria Tzamarioudaki, 31, from Hania, was returning to Crete to visit her parents and have a week's holiday.

    Tzamarioudaki studied chemistry at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki before receiving her doctorate from New York University. She was employed as a special researcher at the Chicago university.

    Swissair officials in Athens expressed their deepest condolences yesterday to the relatives of the victims of the crash as the company released the list of names.

    Two unidentified Greek relatives of the victims left early yesterday on board a special Swissair flight which was to take grieving relatives to Halifax and the crash site.

    According to the passenger list, two of the victims - Chronoula Bonanou- Economopou-lou,42, from Patras, and Nikos Kefalidis, 55, a U.S.-based businessman - were travelling on Greek passports.

    Another 12 passengers, including Tzamarioudaki, had Greek surnames and were travelling on other states' passports.

    The victims included couple Mark and Cauley Chapman, travelling to Athens to visit Mark's Greek mother, who lives in Avlida.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] CoE to launch solidarity campaign

    STRASBOURG, 5/9/1998 (ANA)

    The Council of Europe (CoE) will launch a campaign on "Europe in the World - the World in Europe: For solidarity and human dignity," on Sept. 10 within the framework of Expo '98.

    Greece will be represented by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and will participate with its own exhibit entitled "Odyssey 1998".

    The purpose of the campaign will be to promote educational efforts, which will promote the idea of the "international citizen".

    Athens News Agency

    [12] IOC official concludes Athens talks

    Athens, 5/9/1998 (ANA)

    International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordinating Committee President Jacques Rog expressed his absolute satisfaction at the end of contacts with the Athens 2004 Organising Committee yesterday and stressed the need for undivided support for organisers b y the state.

    "The Prime Minister assured us that the Organising Committee enjoys the full support of the government, while this was also the case in the meeting we had with the Interministerial Committee," he said.

    Mr. Rog said that he hoped the government will support athletics to facilitate many successes by Greek athletes in the 2004 Olympics to be held in Athens as had been the case with Spanish athletes in Barcelona in 1992.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Mitsotakis antiquities collection to settle in Hania

    Athens, 5/9/1998 (ANA)

    The issue of the collection of antiquities donated to the state four years ago by former Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis has been settled and, following action by the Culture Ministry, will be housed very soon in the old Catholic church next to the Archaeological Museum in Hania or in one of the old preservable Venetian buildings in Hania.

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said yesterday that the collection amounting to 1,081 items will be able to participate periodically in exhibitions referring to specific locations or specific historical periods. He added that Hania will be their pe rmanent base as desired by Mr. Mitsotakis and that a plaque will be placed noting that it is a donation from the Mitsotakis collection.

    Mr. Venizelos said that if the housing issue had been brought to his attention earlier it could have been tackled earlier.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Consumer price inflation slips to 5.0 pct in August yr/yr

    Athens, 5/9/1998 (ANA)

    Consumer price inflation in August edged down to 5.0 percent year-on-year from 5.1 percent the previous month, the Greek National Statistics Service (GNSS) said yesterday.

    According to GNSS estimates last month, inflation was expected to fall below 5.0 percent in August.

    August's inflation figure resulted from a price decline in foodstuffs despite an increase in vegetables; and from rises in electricity rates, rents and entertainment products.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Greek stocks slide again in wake of global turmoil

    Athens, 5/9/1998 (ANA)

    Equities remained under pressure in jittery trade to lose more ground on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday, still hit by turbulence in international markets.

    The Athens general index ended 0.98 percent lower at 2,096.38 points to show a net loss of 3.39 percent in the week. Trade was light, shrinking to 34.3 billion drachmas.

    The week's turnover totalled 277.306 billion drachmas to post a daily average of 55.5 billion, down from 59.8 billion the previous week.

    The index has gained 41.68 percent since the beginning of the year, but lost 25.81 percent from its historic high this year of 2,825.52 points.

    The general index was volatile throughout the week, reflecting the market's vulnerability.

    Traders said the market would remain under the spell of uncertainty over the impact of Russian and Asian crises on the global economy.

    The Greek market had largely ignored favourable economic fundamentals in the throes of the global crisis, including an average 30 percent increase in first-half profits by the majority of companies listed on the Athens bourse, analysts said.

    Foreign institutional investors have been dumping Greek stock in the crisis in order to recoup losses from other markets.

    Sector indices lost ground. Banks dropped 1.08 percent, Investment ended 2.10 percent off, Leasing dropped 3.76 percent to show a week's loss of 15.02 pct, Industrials fell 0.68 percent, Construction ended 0.36 percent off but 0.21 percent up in the wee k, Holding dropped 2.30 percent but Miscellaneous bucked the trend to end 0.67 percent up.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 0.40 percent, but the FTSE/ASE 20 blue-chip index ended 1.11 percent up at 1,281.77.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 162 to 73 with another 15 issues unchanged.

    Mosholios Chemicals, Chalyps Cement, Keranis, Aspis Invest, Mouriadis, Mesohoritis, Intertyl, Barba Stathis and Doudos scored the biggest percentage gains.

    Ideal, Boutaris, Yalko, Dane, Ippotour, Development Invest, Ionian Hotels, Alkar-Aemet suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 39,960 drachmas, Ergobank at 24,690, Alpha Credit Bank at 22,000, Ionian Bank at 10,510, Hellenic Telecoms at 6,650, Delta Dairy at 3,060, Intracom at 10,600, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,645 and Titan Cement at 18,400.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Domestic money, forex markets calm despite Russian crisis

    Athens, 5/9/1998 (ANA)

    Domestic money and foreign currency markets remained calm yesterday although market players are still worried over the fallout from Russia's political and financial crisis.

    External pressure on the drachma and domestic bonds evaporated following favourable comments by investment firm Merrill Lynch on the domestic bond market's long-term outlook.

    In the interbank market, the overnight rate fell to 10 percent, and one- month rates dropped to 13-14 percent. Bond prices continued their rebound following a 10 percent drop in the previous two weeks with market attention shifting to 10-year paper.

    The foreign exchange market was calm with no significant inflows or outflows of capital seen.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] National Bank of Greece opens new branch in Channel Islands

    Athens, 5/9/1998 (ANA)

    National Bank of Greece, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, has set up a new branch on Guernsey, one of the UK's Channel Islands, as part of its strategy of expanding abroad.

    The branch will handle all offshore banking transactions and work closely with National Bank of Greece in London.

    The Channel Islands, which have their own economic and tax system, do not belong to the European Union.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Passenger traffic at regional airports rises in Jan-Aug

    Athens, 5/9/1998 (ANA)

    Passenger traffic at nine regional airports rose by 9.8 percent in January- August against the same period a year earlier, led by the Ionian island of Zakynthos marking an 18.7 percent rise.

    The figures, released yesterday by the Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT) and the Civil Aviation Authority, cover Thessaloniki, Corfu, Rhodes, Kos, Iraklio (Crete), Aktio (Preveza), Hania (Crete), Zakynthos and Kefalonia.

    Tourist arrivals in January-August were 4,177,897 against 3,806,180 in the corresponding period of 1997.

    Following Zakynthos in percentage rises were Kefalonia (18.3 percent), Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport (16.9 percent) and Corfu (15.2 percent).

    The airport with the highest number of passengers again was Iraklio this year with 1,312,262 passengers, up by 6.8 percent.

    The number of charter flights at the nine airports rose in January-August to 31,338 from 28,228 a year earlier, up by 11 percent.

    Showing the highest increase in charter flights was Macedonia Airport at 22.2 percent, followed by Kefalonia (15.8 percent), Corfu (14.2 percent) and Zakynthos (13 percent).

    In August, at the peak of the tourist season, passenger traffic at the nine airports rose by 12.2 percent against the same month of last year, led by the Ionian island of Kefalonia at 25.2 percent.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] US embassy to hold two international conferences in Greece

    Athens, 5/9/1998 (ANA)

    The US embassy is to hold international conferences in Greece next year on infrastructure for tourism and for the 2004 Olympics to be hosted by Athens, commercial attache Patrick Santillo said yesterday.

    Mr. Santillo was addressing a news conference in Thessaloniki before the inauguration of the city's annual international trade fair later the same day.

    Major US companies will take part in the conference on Olympics infrastructure, which the embassy is to organise along with the Hellenic-American Chamber, based in Athens. The conference on tourism is to be held in April next year, he said.

    The conferences form part of a US strategy in Greece next year aimed at tightening business links between the two countries.

    Devised by US Ambassador in Athens, Nicholas Burns, the strategy also involves encouraging US firms to come to Greece and make contact with domestic firms, in order to aid forge business links and boost trade.

    Mr. Santillo said the sectors of interest to US firms, which wish to compete in Europe for procurements deals, were energy, telecommunications, environmental protection, medical equipment and infrastructure projects.

    Replying to a question, he said that US companies were also interested in taking part in Greece's defence procurements programme, both as bidders and as receivers of products and knowhow through offset benefits.

    The US wanted to contribute to upgrading stability in the region through participation in the arms programme, Mr. Santillo said.

    Also attending the news conference was US Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Mary Fran Kirchner, Mr. Burns and US Consul in Thessaloniki Paul Stephenson.

    American investments: American investments in Greece amount to approximately US$1.5 billion, which is equal to one fourth of the total figure of US$5.5 billion of foreign investments in the country, according to US embassy in Athens Commerce Department estimations.

    The same source named some of the most recent investments of US firms in Greece, which include: - a cooperation between Walt Disney Company Greece with 50 Greek firms producing famous Disney figures for both the Greek and foreign markets - US firm ENRON/IWECO's cooperation with a number of Greek companies for the construction of a wind power generation park on Crete - a deal between US's SONOCO with Greece's EVIEN in northern Greece.

    During a press conference given yesterday by the US embassy's Commerce Department, officials presented data relating to trade between the two countries.

    US exports to Greece recorded an increase of 16 per cent in 1997, reaching US$978 million, a development mainly due to the sale of equipment to Greece's civil aviation industry.

    During the same period, Greek exports to the US amounted to US$487 million. Greek products exported to the US include minerals, steel, aluminum, foodstuffs and tobacco.

    Forecasts for this year and for 1999 predict that trade between the two countries will continue to rise, with US exports to Greece to reach US$1, 050 million in both years and Greek exports to the US to amount to US$550 million and US$600 million respectively.

    Athens News Agency

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