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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-09-08

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Business circles express satisfaction over PM's TIF speech
  • [02] Greek stocks rise sharply in thin trade
  • [03] Natl Bank of Greece seeks approval Weds for merger with subsidiary
  • [04] Greenpeace protests dumping of toxic waste at ferronickel firm
  • [05] Greece's Attica Aluminium shows 33 pct profit jump in H1
  • [06] Xiosbank announces weekly deposit rates
  • [07] Greece's Citibank announces new forex loan account rates
  • [08] S. Africa businessmen eye Greece
  • [09] Greek-Czech trade exchanges mark spectacular increase
  • [10] Greece, Britain talk about tank production venture
  • [11] Mont Parnes reports mounting profits
  • [12] Employment programmes underway
  • [13] Papoutsis addresses audience on Greece's EMU targets
  • [14] Casino to suspend operations due to debts
  • [15] Bosnian Serbs are implementing Dayton accord faithfully, Pangalos says
  • [16] Papandreou receives Yugoslav ambassador
  • [17] Bulgarian president tells ANA of his country's concern over Kosovo
  • [18] Reppas hits back on opposition
  • [19] ND says PM's Thessaloniki speech not convincing
  • [20] Reppas says municipal elections will not deflect gov'ts course
  • [21] Talks with Ecumenical Patriarchate
  • [22] Swiss president conveys condolences
  • [23] Weekend road death toll
  • [24] Greek investments climb in Hungary
  • [25] Int'l cotton conference opens in Athens
  • [26] State hospital doctors likely to go on strike
  • [27] Public transport work stoppages

  • [01] Business circles express satisfaction over PM's TIF speech

    Athens 08/09/1998 (ANA)

    The country's business world expressed its satisfaction yesterday with Prime Minister Costas Simitis' annual economic speech at the 63rd Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on Saturday night, as well as on the positions he set out on the economy at a press conference on Sunday, while two main trade unions expressed opposition to the government's announced incomes policy.

    Contrary to all opposition parties and certain labour representatives who criticised Mr. Simitis over the government's economic policy for 1999, business circles let it be understood that they heard what they expected from the prime minister, even if th ey would rather prefer speedier rates in the implementation of structural changes.

    The increase at the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday, even moderate at 1.45 per cent, as well as calmness in local money markets are combined with the business world's assessment that the country is firmly on the path towards Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

    However, the circles were reserved on the question of inflation and on the prime minister's call for a hold on prices, since businesses in Greece believe that they have very limited ground to decrease their costs.

    In a related development, Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) President Iason Stratos said yesterday that "decreases in prices are welcome" provided that agreements have previously been reached between the social partners allowing for such a decrease. In other words, provided that working people will have accepted the restraining of their own remuneration.

    Mr. Stratos said that "prices are determined by the market and competition" and stated that there should be no interventions in the operation of free markets.

    In an announcement later, SEB said that the overall positive climate from the prime minister's speech did not become specific with announcements on particular sectors of economic policy.

    Referring to the state budget for 1999, SEB said that specific decisions are necessary which will promote the achievement of a big first-stage surplus, the curbing of the public debt and the decrease in inflation.

    In the public sector in particular, it added, structural changes forged ahead and as a result many issues remain open and the positive repercussions from all the changes brought about has not been felt.

    Stressing that an even greater effort is required, SEB said that state monopolies must be abolished and closed sectors should be opened to competition. This is both the case with electric power, where some steps are being taken in compliance with EU fr ameworks, and natural gas, it added.

    "Public administration must be restructured, to which no specific references were made in the prime minister's speech, and the decision on abolishing a big number of public enterprises and organisations which no longer serve any purpose must be carried out," the statement said.

    "The labour market must be modernised, while the recent bill being promoted in Parliament has left big gaps and did not contribute substantively to an improvement in conditions existing in the sector.

    "Changes in social insurance, which have been announced but have not started being implemented, must be speeded up," SEB concluded.

    In an announcement yesterday, replying to Mr. Simitis' call for restraining or even decreasing prices, the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE) said that "the business world does not have the exclusive responsibility for its course, but that this lies exclusively with the government."

    ESEE stressed that the commercial world has shown responsibility and self- restraint. For this reason, inflation was less than expected after the devaluation of the drachma last March.

    ESEE expressed the need for necessary structural changes to take place soon and expressed dissatisfaction over Mr. Simitis' failure to announce specific measures and policies on the course towards EMU and by not saying what the commercial world expected to hear about its own sector.

    Greek unions oppose 1999 wages policy : Greece's two main union groups yesterday called for fair wages in 1999, claiming that their members' purchasing power had declined this year.

    Speaking at a news conference tradionally held in Thessaloniki after the prime minister's annual economic policy speech, were leaders of the General Confederation of Greek Labour (GSEE), which represents nearly a million workers in the private and public sectors; and ADEDY, the civil servants union.

    The union leaders said they would seek to improve their members' wages through general application of free collective talks.

    GSEE president Christos Polyzogopoulos rejected statements on Saturday by Prime Minister Costas Simitis that wages had risen, saying that higher corporate profits had not been reflected in salaries.

    Next year, GSEE would oppose any moves by the national economy ministry to block the use of collective pay agreements in public enterprises; and it would seek an increase of untaxable income to 2.0 million drachmas along with minimum pensions of 20 dail y wages, Mr. Polyzogopoulos said.

    In addition, GSEE would reject any reform of the insurance system, currently being drafted by the government, that harmed workers, and would stick to the recommendations it had already made.

    GSEE opposed wide-scale flotations on the Athens bourse for state companies, and stated that national growth would not be achieved by lowering production costs and curtailing the welfare state, Mr. Polyzogopoulos said.

    ADEDY president Yiannis Koutsoukos told the news conference that his union would demand payment of a corrective sum to wages at the end of 1998 to compensate for a loss of purchasing power due to below-inflation wage rises.

    He said the union would not allow a repeat of the same phenomenon next year.

    Mr. Koutsoukos also rejected the prime minister's call on businesses to keep prices down in order to help restrain consumer price inflation, which was at 5.0 percent year-on-year.

    He said prices should be kept down through practical measures, legal provisions and regulatory intervention by the government.

    Finally, Mr. Polyzogopoulos said he had proposed holding a conference in 1999 in order to discuss the merger of the tertiary-level GSEE and ADEDY union groups.

    The conference would decide on goals, strategy and the timescale for unification.

    The officials announced that ADEDY's Labour Institute and the Macedonian Labour Institute, which belongs to Thessaloniki Labour Centre, had already joined GSEE's Labour Institute.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Greek stocks rise sharply in thin trade

    Athens 08/09/1998 (ANA)

    Equities finished sharply higher in light trade yesterday following a slide last week due to financial turmoil abroad.

    The Athens general index ended 1.45 percent up at 2,126.87 points after gaining 3.45 percent in early trade, only to fall again on profit- taking.

    Turnover was 39.8 billion drachmas, slightly up on Friday's 34.3 billion drachmas.

    The general index was volatile throughout last week, reflecting the market's vulnerability in market turbulence abroad stemming from Russia's political and financial crisis.

    Foreign institutional investors had dumped Greek stock to recoup losses from other markets.

    Sector indices closed higher across the board yesterday. The heavily weighted banking sector gained 1.31 percent, Insurance jumped 1.74 percent, Investment rose 1.30 percent, Leasing edged up 0.58 percent, Industrials increased 1.59 percent, Construction gained 1.13 percent, Holding surged 2.69 percent and Miscellaneous soared 2.76 percent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 0.64 percent, and the FTSE/ASE 20 blue-chip index ended 1.36 percent up at 1,299.26.

    Of 252 stocks traded, advances led declines at 155 to 65 with another 32 issues unchanged.

    Scoring the biggest percentage gains at or near the 8.0 percent upper volatility limit were Mosholios Chemicals, Aspis Invest, Strintzis Lines, Mouriadis, Radio Athine, Keranis, Ekter, Dane Sea Line and Papaellinas.

    The biggest percentage losers were Klaoudatos, Eskimo, Intertyp, Daring, Commercial Invest, Boutaris, Sportsman, Doudos, Hellenic Textiles and Athinea.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 40,790 drachmas, Ergobank at 25,000, Alpha Credit Bank at 22,410, Ionian Bank at 10,200, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6,700, Delta Dairy (common) at 3,245, Intracom (common) at 10,500, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,650 and Titan Cement (common) at 18, 600.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Natl Bank of Greece seeks approval Weds for merger with subsidiary

    Athens 08/09/1998 (ANA)

    National Bank of Greece, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, will seek shareholder approval tomorrow for a merger with its housing loan subsidiary, Mortgage Bank of Greece.

    Shareholders of Mortgage Bank, which is also listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, on August 20 approved the merger, which, in practice, means absorption of the subsidiary by the parent company.

    A previous National Bank shareholders meeting on August 20 called to endorse the merger was postponed after failure to muster a quorum.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Greenpeace protests dumping of toxic waste at ferronickel firm

    Athens 08/09/1998 (ANA)

    Greenpeace activists from Greece and abroad yesterday occupied a toxic waste loading unit belonging to Larco, a ferronickel producer, on the island of Evia in a bid to stop the slag being dumped into the sea, police said.

    The activists disembarked from the "Sirius", a Greenpeace ship, took over a loading crane, and unfurled a banner in Greek and English reading: "No toxic waste in the sea - Stop dumping now".

    A spokesman for the activists told the Athens News Agency that Greenpeace was demanding an immediate halt to the dumping of toxic waste in the area by Larco, whose customers are Europe's main stainless steel producers.

    Greenpeace had called on the government to revoke dumping permits in line with international and national law.

    The spokesman, Costas Domvros, said that dumping millions of tonnes of toxic slag in the sea around Evia was "a crime that is being perpetuated, and the practice entails dangers not only for the aquatic environment but also for public health".

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Greece's Attica Aluminium shows 33 pct profit jump in H1

    Athens 08/09/1998 (ANA)

    Attica Aluminium posted consolidated pre-tax profits of 2.3 billion drachmas in the first half against 1.7 billion a year earlier, up 33 percent, it said in a statement yesterday.

    Consolidated sales were 10.0 billion drachmas in the first half from 8.4 billion in the same period of last year, the statement said.

    Investments in fixed assets in January-June were 1.5 billion drachmas. The company is transferring its operations to the northern border prefecture of Evros, building a new plant there.

    The Attica Aluminium Group comprises Alte, Metron Atene, Multipack and Iris.

    Alte, an engineering contractor, posted first half pre-tax profits of 1.3 billion drachmas, up from 1.2 billion a year earlier. Its sales were 6.0 billion drachmas from 4.4 billion in first-half 1997, the statement said.

    Alte is a member of a French-Greek consortium led by Bouygues that will build a metro from scratch for the northern city of Thessaloniki.

    Finally, Metron and Iris are due to merge in order to enable them to bid for major infrastructure projects.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Xiosbank announces weekly deposit rates

    Athens 08/09/1998 (ANA)

    Private Xiosbank, which is listed on the Athens bourse, announced that rates on its Alma deposit account for the week were 10.47 percent on an annualised basis, effective yesterday.

    Interest on the account is paid weekly, Xiosbank said in a statement.

    The base rate for business loans this week remains unchanged at 18.5 percent, the statement said.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Greece's Citibank announces new forex loan account rates

    Athens 08/09/1998 (ANA)

    Greece's Citibank announced its weekly rates on foreign currency loan accounts, effective yesterday.

    The rates are as follows:

    • US dollar, 8.84 pct
    • Japanese yen, 3.87 pct
    • German mark, 6.75 pct
    • Ecu, 7.44 pct
    • Dutch guilder, 6.65 pct
    • French franc, 6.78 pct
    • Pound sterling, 10.84 pct
    • Swiss franc, 4.91 pct
    • Belgian franc, 6.75 pct
    • Italian lira, 8.33 pct

    The bank's base loan rates remain unchanged from last week.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] S. Africa businessmen eye Greece

    Athens 08/09/1998 (ANA)

    Businessmen and Greek expatriates from South Africa are interested in investing in Greece and discussions have already got underway with Greek companies for cooperation in the foodstuffs and chemicals sectors.

    Greek businessmen are showing similar interest in investing in this country and the first to be announced is that by the Filippou Group of Companies (FAGE).

    Such interest has increased following contacts held in South Africa by Greek businessmen who participated in a trade mission organised by the Federation on Industries of Northern Greece, whose President, Vassilis Takas, has been South Africa's honourary consul in Thessaloniki for years.

    The value of South Africa's exports to Greece has increased from 7.2 billion drachmas in 1994 to 18 billion drachmas last year, while Greek exports amounted to 3 billion drachmas as against 2.5 billion drachmas four years ago.

    South Africa exports fresh fruit, lubricants, coal, steel products, frozen fish and live animals to Greece, while Greece exports cotton, olive oil, aluminium, fruit, tomatoes, tobacco, cereals and textiles to South Africa.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Greek-Czech trade exchanges mark spectacular increase

    Athens 08/09/1998 (ANA)

    Trade exchanges between Greece and the Czech Republic have been increasing spectacularly in past years, according to data announced yesterday during a press conference on the occasion of the Czech Republic's participation in the 63rd Thessaloniki Internat ional Fair (TIF), which revealed that Greek exports doubled over the past seven years and amounted to 57 million dollars in 1997.

    However, the Czechs are so far exporting products of a higher value than what they are importing from Greece. The Czech Republic's exports to Greece totalled 86 million dollars last year and this is primarily due to the many industrial products which the Greek market is absorbing from that country.

    However, this trend is being reversed since, as it was stressed during the press conference, Greece is also exporting industrial products to the Czech Republic and as of last year these products exceed in value the traditional Greek agricultural products which that country imported.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Greece, Britain talk about tank production venture

    LONDON 08/09/1998 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)

    Sir Collin Chandler, President of the big British weapons industry "Vickers" looks forward to the fact that its possible cooperation with the Greek war industry Hellenic Vehicles Industry (ELVO) will provide the new joint venture unit with possibilities for major commercial activity in markets in the Middle East and the Balkans.

    Following his recent meetings in Greece with members of the Greek government, and National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos in particular, Sir Chandler said that negotiations are in their final stage for the conclusion of a cooperation agreement with ELVO and explained the reasons why his company decided to invest in Greece.

    "The reasons urging us to invest in Greece are, firstly, the great ties existing between Britain and Greece and, secondly, the fact that Greece, being a member of the European Union, is, as we are ascertaining, more competitive. What we want to achieve is to bring to ELVO our technology on big tanks and, in parallel, to use ELVO's knowledge in light vehicles. Our plans include the joint production of the modern Challenger 2 tank. We will also exploit Vicker's strength in the geographical spheres of British influence and Greece's influence in other geographical areas," he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Mont Parnes reports mounting profits

    Athens 08/09/1998 (ANA)

    Turnover at the Mont Parnes casino has increased compared to last year and the Greek Tourist Organisation (EOT), to which the casino belongs, attributes this development to restructuring efforts with the ultimate target of carrying out a partial flotation of the casino.

    Over the January-August period this year, turnover at the "Mont Parnes" casino totalled 34.5 billion drachmas compared to 25.8 billion drachmas during the corresponding period last year (an increase of 34 per cent).

    In addition, the mixed profit percentage increased slightly from 22.6 per cent to 22.8 per cent. In August this year, turnover amounted to 4.2 billion drachmas as against 3.1 billion drachmas in the same month last year (an increase of 33 per cent) and the percentage profit to 23.3 per cent as against 22.3 per cent last year.

    About a tenth of the casino's turnover came from slot machines which have more than doubled the mixed profit percentage of table games (43.5 per cent on turnover compared to 18.1 per cent over the eight-month period).

    EOT Secretary General Nikos Skoulas said that the casino's indicators will continue to improve and their trend is to become comparable to those of private casinos which function under a different status.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Employment programmes underway

    Athens 08/09/1998 (ANA)

    Labour Minister Miltiadis Papaioannou announced yesterday that the new OAED Employment Promotion Centres (KPA), will be in operation across Greece by 2000. The minister was speaking during the inauguration of the Thessaloniki KPA centre, the second such c entre, under the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED), to operate in the country.

    Referring to the government's policy on tackling unemployment, part of which was the KPA centres, Mr. Papaioannou said that in 1998-2000 the government will allocate 500 billion drachmas on training and employment programmes.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Papoutsis addresses audience on Greece's EMU targets

    Athens 08/09/1998 (ANA)

    Greek European Union Energy Commissioner Christos Papoutsis said that the best option for the Greek economy's course towards Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) is the implementation of a mixed stabilisation and development policy. Speaking in Thessaloniki last night at an event organised by the city's Trade Society, Mr. Papoutsis expressed the conviction that if Greece continues its efforts the target of its participation in EMU in the year 2000 is attainable, adding that this effort must not be limited to satisfying criteria set for Monetary Convergence.

    In parallel, he said, the implementation of measures are necessary which will promote the restructuring of the economy, real economic convergence and the achievement of social cohesion.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Casino to suspend operations due to debts

    Athens 08/09/1998 (ANA)

    Halkidiki's Porto Carras casino will be forced to suspend operations for 20 days, after the Council of State rejected an application by the casino's board to revoke a relevant decision by the appropriate committee supervising the operation of casinos.

    The development follows Porto Carras' failure to pay debts of 1.4 billion drachmas owed to the Greek State, the Hellenic tourism Organisation (EOT) and the local government.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Bosnian Serbs are implementing Dayton accord faithfully, Pangalos says

    Athens 08/09/1998 (ANA)

    Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik said yesterday that general elections scheduled for this weekend would provide the Bosnian Serb republic with the wherewithal to implement the 1995 Dayton peace accords which ended the Bosnian war.

    "With a new government, the Serb Republic of Bosnia is well on the way to implementing the Dayton accord," Mr. Dodik said in Athens, following a working meeting with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.

    In the elections, Bosnians will choose members of the three-man state presidency. They will also elect deputies for the state parliament and the two entities' assemblies, as well as a president in the Serb entity.

    Noting that the Serb republic was faithfully and conscientiously implementing the accords, Mr. Pangalos said he hoped the international community would recognise this effort.

    Mr. Dodik and Mr. Pangalos said they were very satisfied with the level of bilateral relations. Mr. Dodik said he had invited Mr. Pangalos to Banja Luka for a visit, he said, which would have "exce-ptional significance" for the promotion of bilateral relations.

    Mr. Pangalos, noting that there was cooperation in the energy sector and prospects for more in a series of privatisations in the Serb republic, said two meetings - one in Athens and the other in Banja Luka - were being planned to provide businessmen from both sides with an opportunity to explore avenues for cooperation.

    Mr. Dodik mentioned that the 25 million dollars in aid from Greece was being used to construct a school and a Serbian hospital in the city of Sarajevo.

    Pangalos : Mr. Pangalos said Greece was still against the planned European Union ban on flights by Yugoslav carriers, agreed as a sanction over Kosovo.

    Greece late August was the only country to object to the implementation of the ban.

    At a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Salzburg over the weekend, Mr. Pangalos said the Greek side had set out its positions.

    "We explained that when this decision was taken two months ago, the conditions were entirely different. The situation today is different on four basic points," Mr. Pangalos said.

    He said what had changed in the two months was that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic had indicated willingness to begin talks, which was not being reciprocated by the Kosovo Albanians.

    He also said Mr. Milosevic had accepted the international community's condition of wider autonomy for Kosovo, although the leadership of the Albanian community continued to seek independence, which is unacceptable to the international community.

    The Serbian government has stated it is prepared to stop offensives while the Kosovo Liberation Army has not said any such thing but has announced it is ready to expand the conflict, he said.

    He said that in his recent meeting with representatives of the KLA in Tirana they said "with great civility and calm that for the moment they are involved with Kosovo but that they intended to become involved later with the Albanians of the Former Yugos lav Republic of Macedonia and with those in Greece."

    "My conclusion was that we are not talking about particularly logical politicians," Mr. Pangalos said.

    He said that the Greek proposals for a an increase in the number of international observers, an end to hostilities and the beginning of unconditional talks for the finding of a formula for wider autonomy for Kosovo were accepted in both Belgrade and Tirana and, he said, among many European Union foreign ministers.

    "This indicates that the atmosphere in the European Union has matured enough for a more objective discussion about the problem of Kosovo," he said.

    Mr. Pangalos said he would be meeting his Yugoslav counterpart Zivadin Jovanovic in Athens on Thursday.

    On his part, Mr. Dodik said the Salzburg decision to ban JAT flights was "the worst" and did not help a resolution of problems in Yugoslavia or Kosovo.

    He agreed with Mr. Pangalos that there had to be an end to hostilities as soon as possible, adding that it was the right of each state to defend its territorial integrity.

    "I informed Mr. Pangalos," he said, "that it was not realistic for the Serbian forces to withdraw from Kosovo while the Kosovars remain armed".

    Asked whether he knew of the whereabouts of Radovan Karadzic, Mr. Dodik said he did not, adding that at the end of WWII Germany had not handed over its citizens accused of war crimes.

    Mr. Pangalos, commenting on the issue, said: "There must be institutions, bodies which will work, but work for all."

    "Some are punished and persecuted while others pass by unpunished...This must stop," he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Papandreou receives Yugoslav ambassador

    Athens 08/09/1998 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou received the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Dragan Vucicevic at the Foreign Ministry yesterday for talks on the ban on Yugoslav civil aviation flights to European Union countries and on issues of mutual concern.

    Mr. Papandreou reiterated Greek positions on the issue of Kosovo and assured Mr. Vucicevic of steadfastness in Greece's position.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Bulgarian president tells ANA of his country's concern over Kosovo

    LISBON 08/09/1998 (ANA - I. Vergitsis)

    Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov told the Athens News Agency here yesterday that he was worried over developments in the Serbian province of Kosovo but did not openly approve of a NATO intervention in the region.

    The Bulgarian president was speaking to the ANA on the sidelines of Lisbon's EXPO '98, on the occasion of September 6, a day that the World Ocean Exhibiton dedicated to Bulgaria.

    Speaking to the ANA, Mr. Stoyanov expressed once more his country's strong will to become a member of NATO, as well as the European Union.

    Asked whether he felt safe with the current Kosovo crisis, Mr. Stoyanov said not only Bulgarian politicians but his country's entire society was especially concerned about what was currently taking place in the Albanian- speaking Serbian province. He cited two sources of discomfort for Bulgaria: one being the humanitarian aspect of the problem and the other was the fact that his country's borders were only a mere 100 km away from the troubled region.

    He said a possible deterioration of things in Kosovo could have an impact also on Bulgaria.

    Invited to express his predictions over the development of the Kosovo crisis, he declined to do so, saying that no European leader had made an official proposal for a permanent solution to the problem. He added he believed the crisis should be resolved in a very careful and explicit way, taking into account future dimensions and perspectives.

    Replying to another question as to what the impact of Balkan nations' common will to enter the EU was likely to be, the Bulgarian president said that the majority of Balkan countries wishing to join the union should realise that their accession will minimise the importance they are currently placing on their borders. He added that it was for that reason that Balkan nations should go ahead with certain reforms and thus approach EU accession criteria.

    "The problems we are facing", he said, "cannot be resolved in the sound of 'Kalasnikov' rifles".

    Asked about his opinion on relations between Sofia and Athens, the Bulgarian president said he took great pleasure to say that relations between the two nations were excellent. He added that, naturally, there were some pending issues, but the main targe thad been achieved, namely, mutual trust, respect and understanding.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Reppas hits back on opposition

    Athens 08/09/1998 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas launched a stinging attack on all oppositon parties yesterday, instigated by opposition criticism of Prime Minister Costas Simitis' Thessaloniki speech last Saturday.

    Mr. Reppas, who was especially harsh on main oppostion ND party leader Costas Karamanlis, saying that his own speech was a patchwork of insults, expressed his disappointment over opposition criticism, which he described as a confrontation at insults level.

    The spokesman said that the government was prepared to encounter all likelihoods in the event that the world's financial crisis continued, stressing that it had all the means and mechanisms to confront any adverse development, but however asked for no assumptions to be made.

    He further observed that the inflation rate was at an unprecedented low level for the past few years, and that this was benefitting low incomes.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] ND says PM's Thessaloniki speech not convincing

    Athens 08/09/1998 (ANA)

    A meeting of the main opposition New Democracy party heads of sectors was held yesterday to examine Prime Minister Costas Simitis's mainly economic speech last Saturday during the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), as well as party leader Costas Karam anlis' visit to TIF next weekend.

    Spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said after the meeting that the prime minister did not manage to persuade for his persistence on a policy that had failed, despite of the fact that he tried to appear reliable and frank.

    He added that the government's policy led the country's economy not to the desired convergence, but to deviation, stressing that unemployment had risen to 10 per cent, while the inflation rate was running up to five per cent.

    Mr. Spiliotopoulos charged that the government was unable to go ahead with the necessary structural changes, citing as an example the recent annuled tender for the sale of the state-controlled Ionian Bank.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] Reppas says municipal elections will not deflect gov'ts course

    Athens 08/09/1998 (ANA)

    The results of the municipal and prefectural elections will not deflect the government's course towards the targets it has set, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

    Mr. Reppas conceded that the elections, due to take place in October, will have a political significance but, as he said, the government's work will be judged in its entirety in the year 2000 (when the next general elections are due in the country).

    However, Mr. Reppas expressed the view that dissatisfaction for the government's work will not be expressed in these elections because, as he said, the results are tangible.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] Talks with Ecumenical Patriarchate

    Athens 08/09/1998 (ANA)

    Talks between the Ecumenical Synod of Constaninople and the Church of Greece focusing on the establishment of the secretary of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Athens and the inauguration of the Greek Church in Brussels will start tomorrow, the head secretary of the Holy Synod told yesterday.

    As every year, these bilateral talks aim at strengthening the relationship between the two churches, the communication and cooperation on questions concerning the Orthodox Church and the Christian Church in general.

    Athens News Agency

    [22] Swiss president conveys condolences

    Athens 08/09/1998 (ANA)

    Swiss President Flavio Cotti yesterday sent a message of condolences to the families of the victims of Swissair Flight 111 which crashed off the Canadian coast early on Thursday.

    In a telegram to his Greek counterpart, Kostis Stephanopoulos, the Swiss president expressed his grief over the loss of the 229 lives aboard the aircraft.

    Two Greek citizens - Chronoula Bonanou-Economopoulou, 42, from Patras, and Nikos Kefalidis, 55, a U.S.-based businessman - were travelling on Greek passports. Another 12 passengers of Greek origin, with families resident in Greece, were on board the il l-fated airliner.

    Athens News Agency

    [23] Weekend road death toll

    Athens 08/09/1998 (ANA)

    The death toll from road accidents during the weekend was once more tragic, with 21 people dead and 272 injured, of whom 33 seriously, in 218 car accidents across the country from last Friday afternoon to Sunday evening.

    Traffic police officials said most accidents occurred in the provincial road network.

    Athens News Agency

    [24] Greek investments climb in Hungary

    Athens 08/09/1998 (ANA)

    As increased investtments by Greek enterpreneurs are being made in Hungary, Greece has climbed to the 13th place in the list of the neighbouring country's foreign investors, with invested capital currently amounting to US$60 million.

    According to data given during a press conference yesterday on the occasion of Hungary's official participation at the 63rd Thessaloniki International Fair, trade between the two countries has also risen considerably, reaching in 1997 the record mark of US$134 million.

    Athens News Agency

    [25] Int'l cotton conference opens in Athens

    Athens 08/09/1998 (ANA)

    An international scientific conference entitled "New boarders in cotton research", opened in Athens yesterday morning, organised by the Agriculture Ministry, the Cotton Organisation, the National Institute of Agricultural Research and the Panhellenic Conf ederation of Agricultural Cooperatives (PASEGES).

    The conference which is the second of its kind, was declared open by Agriculture Minister Stefanos Tzoumakas.

    During the four-days of the event, scientists in the field of agricultural research will present 360 papers on improving varieties, biotechnology, cultivation methods, physiology, quality of cotton, environmental protection, etc.

    In a short address to participants, Mr. Tzoumakas referred to various data in relation to the production of cotton, stressing that Greece was among the ten top producers of cotton in the world, producing about 75 to 80 per cent of the European UnionYs t otal cotton produce.

    The president of the Cotton Organisation, Panagiotis Mylonas, referred to the objectives in the sector of the cotton industry in Greece, such as improvement in corp output, better quality, reduction in production cost and environmental protection through a reduction in chemicals used in cotton fields.

    During their stay in the country, participants from 40 countries will also have the chance to visit cotton fields, processing and textile plants, as well as archeaological sites.

    Athens News Agency

    [26] State hospital doctors likely to go on strike

    Athens 08/09/1998 (ANA)

    State hospitals across the country are likely to remain without doctors for five days, as the Federation of Hospital Doctors (OENGE) has decided to call a strike from Sep. 11 to 15.

    The action is taken in protest at a decision by the ministries of health and finance to cut up to 50 per cent of allocations for hospitals' duty days.

    The two ministries turned a deaf ear to reactions both by OENGE and hospital boards, and approved 130 million drachmas for Evangelismos hospital duty days, while the relevant programme submitted by the hospital's board was asking for 230 million drachmas.

    However, it is possible that the decision be revised, as Health Minister Costas Geitonas has said that he will re-examine the proposals submitted by hospital boards.

    Athens News Agency

    [27] Public transport work stoppages

    Athens 08/09/1998 (ANA)

    Trolley drivers announced a work stappage from 10:00 in the morning to 4:00 in the afternoon tomorrow, protesting at the government's restructuring measures in public transport.

    During the stoppage, they will hold a general meeting to be followed by a protest march to the ministries of transport and national economy.

    Employees with the Athens-Piraeus metro (HSAP) and green urban bus service also called a work stoppage on the same day and for the same reason from 11:00 to 4:00.

    Athens News Agency

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