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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-09-15

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greece calls on Albanians to show restraint and prudence to overcome latest unrest in Tirana
  • [02] Finnish president begins official visit to Greece
  • [03] Papandreou meets Finland's European Affairs minister
  • [04] Gov't spokesman responds to statements by Turkish FM
  • [05] Greek minister says US does not accept Denktash proposal for Cyprus confederation
  • [06] Athens mayor honours heroic Greek Cypriot teacher
  • [07] French officials arrive in Greece
  • [08] Orthodox Archbishop of Finland visits Patriarchate
  • [09] Greece complies with EU directive regarding JAT embargo
  • [10] FM Pangalos sends condolences to Iranian counterpart over death of diplomats
  • [11] National Centre of Vocational Orientation established
  • [12] Message on occasion of World Peace Day
  • [13] US ambassador conducts meetings with Rhodes officials
  • [14] Ship disembarks 81 illegal immigrants on Peloponnese coast
  • [15] Nat'l congress hears of Greece's serious demographic problem
  • [16] Int'l conference of women journalists opens
  • [17] Tax violations by petrol stations
  • [18] Bourse overhaul bill goes to parliament
  • [19] Government may cut consumer car tax in 1999
  • [20] National Bank of Greece subsidiary plans to enter NY bourse
  • [21] Interest rates in line with macro-economic performance (PK)
  • [22] Greek stocks jump in scant trade aided by markets abroad
  • [23] Greece to hold six-month treasury bill auction today
  • [24] Bank workers union releases statistics on European banks
  • [25] Former prime minister backs Karamanlis' economic policy

  • [01] Greece calls on Albanians to show restraint and prudence to overcome latest unrest in Tirana

    Athens 15/09/1998 (ANA)

    Athens yesterday pleaded for a return to law and order in Tirana, saying self-restraint and calm were necessary to overcome the latest unrest in the Albanian capital.

    "Incidents which we all condemn should not be the starting point for a new crisis," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said, referring to the killing of a leading Albanian opposition figure on Saturday night.

    Mr. Reppas was speaking as reports came in of heightened tension in the Albanian capital as opposition Democratic Party supporters buried Azem Hajdari.

    Mr. Reppas refused to comment on statements by former Albanian president Sali Berisha blaming the Albanian government for the killing, saying any comment would be akin to interfering in Albania's domestic affairs.

    He denied that Greece had taken extra precautions on its borders, saying the existing forces were adequate and prepared to deal with any possible influx of refugees from Albania.

    Mr. Reppas also expressed the government's concern about the ethnic Greek minority in the south of Albania.

    Foreign ministry : The Greek foreign ministry strongly condemned the killing of the Albanian MP but underlined that resorting to violence would do nothing to bring stability to Albania.

    Greece called for the perpetrators of the killing to be arrested and brought to justice, according to the statement by foreign ministry spokesman Theodoros Theodorou. Mr. Theodorou, expressing the ministry's "strong concern" that the protests an d instability would lead to worse for Albania and its people, said Albania's politicians had to show "restraint and prudence".

    "The efforts of the past year to restore to Albania the workings of a democratic state and the creation of conditions of stability will fall by the wayside if the political world (in Albania) as a whole does not show restraint and prudence," Mr. Theodorou said.

    Greece, which has participated in and plans further consolidation and growth of the Albanian economy and has participated in all international initiatives for stabilisation, has justifiable concern for the Greek community residing in Albania and will be watching developments closely, Mr. Theodorou said.

    Defence Minister : National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, expressing his concern last night over developments in Albania, said that the Greek forces stationed there were safe.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that additional security measures have already been taken in the border region and that border forces are on the alert.

    He said that according to latest reports it appears that the situation is coming under control, adding that many foreign embassies and international organisations have requested the assistance of the Greek forces to handle the situation.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos expressed support for a political solution to the problem and expressed the hope that the situation will be normalised soon.

    Party reactions : In a similar announcement, the main opposition New Democracy party expressed concern over the situation prevailing in the neighbouring country saying that the European Union "must intervene politically directly and effectively and provide all the help pos sible to prevent the situation in Albania from getting out of hand again".

    ND called on the government to request an immediate convening of the EU Council of Foreign Ministers to examine the situation.

    Ruling PASOK party Secretary Costas Skandalidis said that what was immediately necessary was for the Albanian government to take control and to impose appropriate measures.

    "These developments are certainly not positive for the region and surely we must all stand by the Albanian government and the people of Albania to handle this difficult crisis," he said.

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga said that what was going on was not "unrelated to the crisis in Kosovo, the economic crisis and Albania's joining games with spheres of influence."

    She said that the solution to the problem created by Sali Berisha "can only be given by the Albanian people provided he has a specific plan on what he wants to impose and achieve."

    Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos termed moves by Sali Berisha "a coup which will have painful consequences" and called him a "destabilising factor of retrogression and insecurity" who is attempting to revive his "far-right and authoritarian regime."

    Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) party leader Dimitris Tsovolas spoke of "dramatic situations" which entail the danger "of a recurrence of what happened last year, which we all hope will not happen."

    He also called for necessary measures to be taken by the Greek government for the protection of the Greek community in Albania.

    EU statement : BRUSSELS (ANA - M. Spinthourakis) - In a statement, the EU Austrian Presidency yesterday condemned the assassination of Azem Hajdari and called for his assassins to be brought before Albanian justice. At the same time, it also condemned the violent incide nts and called on the Albanian parties, primarily Sali Berisha's Democratic Party, to show self- restraint in their statements and actions.

    "The European Union calls on all the political parties of Albania, particularly the Democratic Party, to show self-restraint in their statements and actions while, in parallel, it calls on the people of Albania to put an end to violence, since it cannot constitute a viable solution to political problems and will not benefit anyone.

    The European Union is ready to help Albania on the course towards security, stability and democracy and believes that all the political parties of Albania will assume their responsibilities to have the above target achieved," the statement said.

    The latest ANA dispatch from Tirana reported that tension in the capital remained high, with armed soldiers taking up positions inside the prime minister's office. Prime Minister Fatos Nano was reported to have told foreig n diplomats that he was ready to tender his resignation if it would contribute to defusing the crisis.

    Mr. Nano was reported to be considering calling for a government of national unity. It was uncertain whether he was still in Tirana, and reports said he was in touch with members of his government through cellular phone.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Finnish president begins official visit to Greece

    Athens 15/09/1998 (ANA)

    Greece and Finland share the same concerns about the tension in the troubled Yugoslav province of Kosovo, Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, beginning an official visit to Greece, said in Athens yesterday. Mr. Ahtisaari, speaking after meeting with Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos, said the UN Security Council should have the final word on the issue and that European partners had to cooperate to deal with the difficulties facing the European Union.

    The two presidents discussed European and international issues, including the crisis in Russia.

    Finland is the only EU country sharing a border with Russia and officials fear that the turmoil there could hurt the Finnish economy and foster instability in the Baltic Sea region.

    The Finnish president said he found it "special" that the two countries on the edges of the European Union could exchange their views on issues of mutual interest. Mr. Stephanopoulos said Greece and Finland were in agreement on many issues and said bilateral relations were "excellent".

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, government, military and municipal officials were on hand at the official reception for President Ahtisaari and his wife at the Presidential Mansion.

    Simitis : Both Greece and Finland have suffered the adverse effects of bipolarity and the experience has made them both more concerned about regional cooperation and peace, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said after meeting with Mr. Ahtisaari. The Greek governm ent, he said, was in favour of cooperation which extended beyond the European Union to solve problems that were not solely EU issues, such as environmental issues.

    Mr. Simitis said Helsinki's proposal for a meeting between the EU, the U.S. and Russia was considered in a "positive light" by Athens.

    The two said they would step up efforts to promote a joint foreign and security policy by the European Union.

    "There has been a great deal of emphasis placed on the economy, but no solutions will be forthcoming if we do not simultaneously support a joint foreign policy," Mr. Simitis said.

    The EU-U.S.-Russia meeting could provide a means to promote this foreign policy, he added.

    The current crisis in Albania was also at the centre of talks.

    Also discussed at the meeting were the Cyprus issue and Turkey's stance. Agreement was reached that international laws and treaties should be applied and that the International Court of Justice at The Hague was the appropriate means to resolve differences.

    Asked whether he had any comments on the problems besetting U.S. President Bill Clinton, Mr. Simitis replied that there was a "general concern" that developments in the U.S. could delay progress in the Mideast and Cyprus problems.

    "This is why there is an urgent need for European foreign policy to play an even more important role," Mr. Simitis said.

    Meetings with party leaders : The Finnish president also had meetings with opposition party leaders Aleka Papariga (Communist party of Greece-KKE), Nikos Constantopoulos (Coalition of the Left-Synaspismos) and Dimitris Tsovolas (Democratic Social Movement-DIKKI), as well as ruling PAS OK party secretary Costas Skandalidis.

    The Greek officials said afterwards their discussions with Mr. Ahtisaari touched upon Greek-Finnish relations and the European Union and its prospects.

    SYN leader Constantopoulos praised Finland's agricultural policy, which he said was a model for other countries, as well as its sincere social dialogue and political system in general.

    Mr. Ahtisaari is scheduled to meet with main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis this morning.

    Official dinner : President Kostis Stephanopoulos hosted an official dinner in honour of his Finnish counterpart Martti Ahtisaari at the Presidential Mansion last night.

    Addressing his guest, President Stephanopoulos highlighted Gre-ek positions on the accession of Cyprus to the European Union, Greek-Turkish relations and the situation in Kosovo, Albania and Russia.

    On his part, President Ahtisaari stressed the need for upgrading European structures in the environment and security structures, as well as the enlargement of Europe to the north and south.

    Referring to the accession prospects of Cyprus, President Stephanopoulos said that such a thing will contribute towards a solution to the problem of Cyprus and will lead to rapprochement between the two communities.

    On the question of Turkish claims, he reiterated Greece's position that if Turkey believes it has any legal difference with Greece it can resort to the International Court at The Hague.

    In his address, President Ahtisaari praised the contribution of Orthodoxy towards contact between the two peoples and stressed the need for further mutual understanding.

    President Ahtisaari further underlined the need for strengthening the European Union to enable it to resolve the continent's problems ranging from protection of the environment to organising its security.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Papandreou meets Finland's European Affairs minister

    Athens 15/09/1998 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou met yesterday in Athens with Finland's European Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Yiohan Ole Norbak, who is accompanying the Finnish president, currently visiting Athens. Issues discussed included bilateral ma tters, EU expansion and speeding up of the common agricultural policy. Mr. Norbak raised the issue relating to a multi-party agreement on investments, to facilitate the movement of capital, while he was briefed by Mr. Papandreou on the Cyprus problem and Greece-Turkey relations.
    Athens News Agency

    [04] Gov't spokesman responds to statements by Turkish FM

    Athens 15/09/1998 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas described yesterday Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem's latest statements as a mere repetition of Ankara's well known positions pointing to lack of political will to work for stability in the region.

    Speaking of 'fantacies' on the part of Turkey, Mr. Reppas said the policy Greece followed was that of security, which meant respect for the borders.

    The Turkish foreign minister, in an exclusive interview with the Turkish daily Yeni Yuzyil published yesterday, said that a recent proposal by Turkey for the establishment of a confederation on Cyprus - which has been rejected outright by Cyprus, Greece and international bodies - was a form of a federation as backed by the legal government of Cyprus.

    "The parameters set by the UN are open to negotiation", said Mr. Cem, adding that the imposition of a formula not accepted by Turkey will be somewhat of a violation of UN parameters.

    Speaking on Greece-Turkey relations, the Turkish minister - who reiterated Ankara's proposal for comprehensive talks on all issues - maintained that the fact that Greece took existing differences with Turkey to the international fora, revealed "that country's feelings of guilt".

    Mr. Reppas said that the Turkish foreign minister's statements were targeted at by-passing his country's domestic problems of democracy, lack of respect for human rights and for international bodies' decisions.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Greek minister says US does not accept Denktash proposal for Cyprus confederation

    LARNACA 15/09/1998 (ANA/CNA)

    Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis said the United States does not accept the proposal by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for the creation of a confederation of two separate states in Cyprus and supports a bizonal, bicommunal federation as a solution to the issue of Cyprus.

    Mr. Kranidiotis was speaking on arrival in Cyprus yesterday. He said that relevant assurances were given by the US coordinator on the Cyprus issue Thomas Miller in a meeting he had in Athens with Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and himself.

    Replying to a question on his meeting with Mr. Miller, Mr. Kranidiotis said that "the American side, at least as Mr. Miller let it be understood, does not accept Turkish proposals on a confederation. On the contrary, it maintains that the basis for a so lution to the Cyprus issue are the resolutions and decisions of the United Nations, which anticipate a bizonal, bicommunal federation."

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Athens mayor honours heroic Greek Cypriot teacher

    Athens 15/09/1998 (ANA)

    Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos gave an award of honour of the city of Athens to the heroic teacher of the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus Eleni Foka yesterday.

    The ceremony was held at the Town Hall after the city's administrative council reached a unanimous decision to honour her.

    In an address, Mr. Avramopoulos said that "Athens stands by and will stand by Eleni Foka and all the struggling Cypriot brothers of ours, whose flamboyant teacher is a symbol, waiting for the day of freedom, the day of vindication and the triumph of jus tice over the injustice of spirit, over barbarity."

    Visibly moved, Ms. Foka thanked the Athens mayor for the honourary award and said that "these honours belong to the struggling enslaved Greeks of Karpasia. I am receiving the honourary distinctions on their behalf."

    Athens News Agency

    [07] French officials arrive in Greece

    Athens 15/09/1998 (ANA)

    A four-member delegation of the French-Greek Friendship Senatorial Group led by Marc Massion has arrived in Athens for a week's visit and talks with Greek officials on bilateral and other issues. The delegation will also visit Crete and Delphi.
    Athens News Agency

    [08] Orthodox Archbishop of Finland visits Patriarchate

    ISTANBUL 15/09/1998 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    The Orthodox Archbishop of Finland Ioannis heading a delegation to the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate yesterday participated at the liturgy of the discovery of the Holy Cross, at Phanari.

    The Finnish ambassador to Ankara held a formal dinner in honour of Archbishop Ioannis and Lutheran Archbishop John Vikstrom who was accompanied by his Orthodox counterpart.

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos attended the dinner as well.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Greece complies with EU directive regarding JAT embargo

    Athens 15/09/1998 (ANA)

    There is no question of Greece not complying with European Union directives, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

    Mr. Reppas was replying to a question regarding the EU's directive to impose an embargo on flights by Yugoslav national carrier JAT.

    Mr. Reppas added that Greece had set out its doubts about the effectiveness of the measure.

    The European Union ban on flights by Yugoslav carriers to punish Belgrade for its policy in Kosovo was supposed to come into effect last week. Britain said last week it would not implement the ban for 12 months.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] FM Pangalos sends condolences to Iranian counterpart over death of diplomats

    Athens 15/09/1998 (ANA)

    Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday sent a telegram of condolences to his Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharrazi over the death last month of nine Iranian diplomats in Afghanistan.

    "We strongly condemn this act of violence. It is always with repugnance when one is called upon to witness murderous acts and unjustified barbarity, " Mr. Pangalos's message said.

    Iran on Saturday started three days of national mourning for the nine Iranian diplomats killed when Taleban Islamic militia forces seized the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif last month.

    Mr. Pangalos, who visited Tehran last week, extended condolences to the Iranian government and the families of the diplomats on behalf of himself and the Greek government.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] National Centre of Vocational Orientation established

    Athens 15/09/1998 (ANA)

    Education Minister Gerassimos Arsenis and Labour Minister Miltiadis Papaioannou announced yesterday the establishment of the National Centre of Vocational Orientation (EKEP), a body whose aims will be to provide coordinated employment councelling and related services in both educational and vocational terms. According to the two ministers, EKEP is the first joint body by the two ministries, to materialise their cooperation in tackling unemployment by providing employment opportunities.

    Apart from Athens, EKEP will have branches across the country, while EKEP offices will operate also in a large number of schools.

    Mr. Papaioannou said that 'life-long learnig' will be the government's main option in the following years, as this is regarded imperative in providing employment opportunities to the workforce. He added that a worker/employee will have to change profession an estimated five times in their working life. Both labour and education ministries will be responsible for the organisation and operation of EKEP, which will be administered by a board to be appointed in two weeks.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Message on occasion of World Peace Day

    Athens 15/09/1998 (ANA)

    Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis yesterday issued a statement in light of today's celebrations of World Peace Day, stressing the importance of the United Nations in preserving peace.

    The announcement noted that lack of essential mechanisms to impose the rule of International Law, in conjunction with the tremendous economic and social problems ravaging most of the planet's regions lead to new uncontrolable regional conflicts, insecur ity and instability, as well as to the expansion of the terrorist phonomenon in new forms.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] US ambassador conducts meetings with Rhodes officials

    Athens 15/09/1998 (ANA)

    US ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns, who is since last Sunday evening on a visit to Rhodes island, had meetings yesterday with prefect Yiannis Paraskevas, Rhodes mayor Giorgos Yiannopoulos and tourist business representatives.

    In a short statement he made here, Mr. Burns underlined Rhodes' potential to accomodate more American visitors, especially after the operation of a new casino in November.

    His discussion with the local officials touched upon the visit to the island by ships of the US Sixth Fleet. Mr. Burns announced that more US warships are expected to visit Rhodes at the end of the month, when he will also travel there again.

    Asked whether the visits of the US warships to Rhodes meant the rejection on the part of the US of a recent demarche lodged by Ankara with Washington requiring the banning of sailing to the Dodecanese islands as this was in "violation of international treaties on demilitarisation of the specific islands", Mr. Burns said the US maintained its relations with both Greece and Turkey and worked for the region's peace.

    "Visits by US warships have been taking place for many years to Piraeus, Souda (Crete), Mykonos, Thessaloniki and Rhodes, and will continue to be made", Mr. Burns added.

    Other issues discussed with local officials included US tourism investments on Rhodes.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Ship disembarks 81 illegal immigrants on Peloponnese coast

    Athens 15/09/1998 (ANA)

    The captain and six members of the crew of the passenger vessel "Valentina" have been arrested on suspicion that the vessel disembarked 81 illegal immigrants on the northeast Peloponnese coast on Sunday.

    Ten of the illegal immigrants, arrested on Sunday by Drapetsona police, said they were part of a group of 81 Egyptian nationals brought to Greece from Alexandria by the Valentina, for a fare of $2,000 each. They had been dropped off in the Pelop onnese, where another vessel brought them to Drapetsona, they said. Another 12 members of the group were arrested in Piraeus later on Sunday.

    Port authorities detected the Valentina sailing 15 nautical miles southeast of the island of Astypaleia and coast guard patrol boats then requested the ship's captain to dock at the port of the island of Karpathos.

    Initially, according to reports, the ship's captain refused and said he would continue on to his destination of Libya.

    Following permission from a Piraeus prosecutor, coast guard officials boarded the boat and arrested the captain and six crew, all Ukrainian nationals, and another man identified as the ship's surveyor.

    Another 16 crewmembers - again all Ukrainian nationals - remained on the boat under surveillance pending investigations of the charges by authorities.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Nat'l congress hears of Greece's serious demographic problem

    Athens 15/09/1998 (ANA)

    The Fifth National Congress of Large Families on Family and Demography ended Sunday evening in Alexandroupolis, with the participation of 250 delegates.

    During the sessions, it was stressed that the demographic problem the country is facing, with the low birth rate, was the number one danger and must be dealt with in immediate and radical measures.

    Participating Alexandroupolis Metropolitan Anthimos noted that all large families should enjoy the state's assistance in order to prosper and serve as an example for new married couples, as this was the panacea to overcome the low birth rate.

    The meeting was organised by the Supreme Confederation of Large Families of Greece (ASPE), the Central Association of Large Families of Evros and the Alexandroupolis Bishopry, while participants included representatives from similar Cypriot organisations.

    A number of resolutions were passed by delegates, requring legislative, moral and economic support by the state and the taking of concrete measures to improve the low birth rate.

    Another resolution requested that a Demography and Family Ministry be established to take care of relevant issues.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Int'l conference of women journalists opens

    Athens 15/09/1998 (ANA)

    This year's annual meeting of the International Association of Women Journalists and Writers opened yesterday at a Lagonisi hotel, on the topic: "The value of education in journalism in the 21st cetury".

    The meeting, attended by 85 participants from around the world, including the European Network of Greek Women Journalists, will examine issues relating to the profession's code of ethics, Internet in the era of globalisation, and education requirements for journalists.

    In an address during last night's opening session, Secretary General for Press Nikos Athanasakis said that in spite of globalisation, information services were in the hands of monopolies.

    As far as education is concerned, Mr. Athanasakis stressed that apart from tertiary education, journalists should have a more general education and culture.

    The prevailing condition in Greece's press and electronic media was presented to foreign guests by the president of the European Network of Greek Women Journalists Irini Nikolopoulou, who also referred to public and private schools for journalists in Greece.

    The conference continues today.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Tax violations by petrol stations

    Athens 15/09/1998 (ANA)

    The Economic Crime Squad (SDOE) yesterday announced the names of persons and companies that were found to violate tax as well as other laws in trafficking and usage of heating oil and other petrol products, during August.

    SDOE's announcement noted that 519,143 litres of heating oil and 197,440 litres of other petrol products were used improperly in violation of tax laws.

    The announcement included tax violations in 16 petrol stations for selling 461,677 litres without issuing sales receipts.

    Also it noted that 57,466 litres of heating oil were sold for other than its intended use, thus evading taxation.

    Finally, the announcement noted that nine companies were found in violation of the law in trafficking and using 137,440 litres of other petrol products.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Bourse overhaul bill goes to parliament

    Athens 15/09/1998 (ANA)

    The government yesterday submitted a bill to parliament that eases restrictions on entry into the Athens Stock Exchange, allowing better investment prospects for many firms currently barred from the market due to stringent listing requirements.

    The authorities have held consultations with market players to hear feedback before submitting the bill, which helps to modernise the stock market and harmonise it with other exchanges in Europe. The talks have led to changes in some of the rules ori ginally contained in the bill.

    The overhaul is expected to lead to more listings for firms with growth potential, spur large domestic or multinational firms to seek entry, and upgrade the role of the capital markets commission.

    A number of major companies have welcomed the new rules, among them Panafon, the mobile telephone operator.

    The firm was unable to join the bourse under the old rules as it failed to show five straight years of profitability.

    The main points of the amended bill before a parliamentary debate and vote are as follows:

    • Application for listing requires the publication of balance sheets for three consecutive years, which need not show profitability. The current requirement of five straight years of profitability has been scrapped. For evaluation are a firm's asset com position and its mid-term prospects for profitability.
    • The asset composition of applicants has to be satisfactory on the basis of the latest balance sheet, with a floor for equity capital of 2.0 billion drachmas from one billion currently in force. Before consultations, the bill originally set 1.5 billion drachmas.
    • A 25 percent share capital increase is no longer mandatory for entry into the bourse.
    • A company's share distribution on listing will be acceptable if at least 25 percent of share capital is sold to the public, or there are at least 2, 000 shareholders.
    • The price of a share can vary for sale to different categories of investors. It can also be fixed or fluctuate within a range of 15 percent either way.
    • The underwriters of initial public offerings will have the right to intervene in the market in order to support a stock's price for three months from the company's date of entry. Before consultations, the time period was six months.
    • For entry into the bourse's parallel market for smaller cap stocks, companies must have a minimum shareholders' equity of 500 million drachmas and have published two balance sheets before entry, the latest showing profits.

    They will also have to post high enough profits in the fiscal year before entry to allow payment of a dividend equivalent to six percent of their stock's price.

    Firms already listed on the parallel market will have to increase their share capital to 500 million drachmas within the next three years.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] Government may cut consumer car tax in 1999

    Athens 15/09/1998 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday that the government may reduce a consumer tax on cars in 1999, economic conditions permitting.

    "The government is considering the issue, and there are talks going on. It would be premature to say any more," Mr. Reppas said in reply to a question.

    On Sunday, National Economy and Finance Minister Yannos Papantoniou said that the government may lower taxes in 1999 in order to help inflation to fall, in turn easing entry into European economic and monetary union.

    The minister was apparently referring to indirect taxes on consumer goods.

    The government has set January 1, 2001 as the latest entry date into the European Union's single currency, but is having trouble meeting convergence criteria on inflation.

    Consumer price inflation was 5.0 percent in August, slightly down on 5.1 percent in July. Combined with other economic criteria, the rate needs to drop to roughly 2.4 percent before Greece can join EMU.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] National Bank of Greece subsidiary plans to enter NY bourse

    Athens 15/09/1998 (ANA)

    Atlantic Bank, a US subsidiary of state-run National Bank of Greece, plans to join the New York Stock Exchange and expand its branch network both within the city and into neighbouring states.

    National Bank of Greece governor Theodoros Karatzas told a news conference yesterday that Atlantic Bank also planned to set up a brokerage and a holding company.

    The news conference was held to outline the activities of the New York based bank following its decision to hold a board meeting in Greece for the first time.

    Atlantic Bank of New York (ABNY) is a commercial bank that offers the full range of retail banking services.

    Operating 10 branches in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island, ABNY ranks as New York's 22nd largest bank and among the 400 biggest in the United States out of a total of 9,500 banks.

    On June 30, its assets were 1.4 billion dollars, deposits 997.3 million dollars, loans 550 million dollars and securities and short-term investments 797.7 million dollars.

    Mr. Karatzas also said that National Bank of Greece's strategy was to consolidate its presence as a regional player in the Balkans and establish a more dynamic presence in stock markets in London, Frankfurt and New York.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] Interest rates in line with macro-economic performance (PK)

    Athens 15/09/1998 (ANA)

    Domestic interest rates are in line with the country's macro-economic performance, National Bank of Greece governor Theodoros Karatzas said yesterday.

    Mr. Karatzas, who did not forecast when rates might begin to ease, said that an international financial crisis stemming from Russia was continuing.

    But its impact on the domestic economy was minor because the country had no major risk exposure in the emerging economies that were mostly hit by the crisis.

    Asked to comment on the government's privatisation programme, Mr. Karatzas said that major steps had been taken, and that greater progress lay ahead.

    Athens News Agency

    [22] Greek stocks jump in scant trade aided by markets abroad

    Athens 15/09/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities rebounded strongly on the Athens Stock Exchange in thin trade yesterday helped by a recovery in international markets.

    The general index ended 3.15 percent higher at 2,225.08 points with turnover at 34.4 billion drachmas.

    Sector indices scored gains. Banks rose 2.99 percent, Insurance ended 2.45 percent up, Investment increased 2.10 percent, Leasing surged 8.0 percent, Industrials rose 3.14 percent, Construction was 3.66 percent higher, Miscellaneous ended 4.07 percent up and Holding jumped 4.73 percent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.91 percent higher, and the FTSE/ASE 20 blue-chip index ended 3.08 percent up at 1,351.73 points.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 192 to 44 with another 21 issues remaining unchanged.

    Connection, Papoutsanis, Sanyo, Macedonian Plastics, Alpha Leasing, ETBA Leasing, Intracom and Rokas scored the biggest percentage gains hitting the daily 8.0 percent limit up.

    Sarandopoulos, Mohlos, Mouriadies, Xylemporia, Ridenco, Benroubi and Halyps Cement suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 41,155 drachmas, Ergobank at 24,590, Alpha Credit Bank at 24,350, Ionian Bank at 10,545, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6,935, Delta Dairy at 3,100, Intracom at 11,793, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,680 and Titan Cement at 19,150 drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [23] Greece to hold six-month treasury bill auction today

    Athens 15/09/1998 (ANA)

    The finance ministry will today auction treasury bills worth 60 billion drachmas in the domestic primary dealers' market.

    The dealers will receive a commission of 25 basis points for the six-month T-bills in electronic form.

    The paper will be available to the public from Friday at banks and the Post Office Savings Bank.

    Athens News Agency

    [24] Bank workers union releases statistics on European banks

    Athens 15/09/1998 (ANA)

    Greece ranks 14th in the number of banks operating in the country among 18 European countries, fifth in the number of branches, and fourth in staff levels, the bank workers union (OTOE) said yesterday.

    According to a survey carried out by the union, Greece has 44 banks operating 2,733 branches with 54,629 personnel. The number of inhabitants per branch is 3,754, with each bank having an average 62 branches and 1,242 staff.

    Averages in the 18 countries were 164 for number of banks, 5,525 for branches, and 97,596 for total employees. An average 3,800 members of the population are served at each bank, with each bank having an average 34 branches and 594 employees.

    Athens News Agency

    [25] Former prime minister backs Karamanlis' economic policy

    Athens 15/09/1998 (ANA)

    Former prime minister Constantinos Mitsotakis said yesterday he agreed with the general principles of economic policy presented by New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis in Thessaloniki over the weekend.

    "They are the same as those I have steadily maintained for some time", said Mr. Mitsotakis, who is ND's honourary leader.

    Mr. Karamanlis on Saturday urged the creation of a tight-knit public sector, wide-scale privatisation, the elimination of wasteful state spending, and lower taxes with growth spearheaded by private enterprise.

    Athens News Agency

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