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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-09-18

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] Athens presents its positions,initiatives for Albania
  • [02] Government to launch drachma, euro privatisation bonds on Sept. 25
  • [03] Tourist arrivals to Greece seen rising 12 pct in 1998-minister
  • [04] Bank of Piraeus seeks to raise share capital by Dr 86 bln
  • [05] Greek stocks end lower,dragged down by markets abroad
  • [06] Xiosbank plans to acquire brokerage
  • [07] Astir Vouliagmeni hotels show 51 pct rise in profit Jan-Aug
  • [08] Fight over term 'feta' resurfaces
  • [09] Kinnock in Athens for talks
  • [10] FBI director holds talks with Romeos in Athens
  • [11] Simitis meetings with Cypriot political leaders
  • [12] Simitis letters to ministers
  • [13] Simitis given guided tour of Athens Concert Hall construction
  • [14] Gov't says latest Schengen executive committee decision positive
  • [15] Landslide closes Corinth Canal
  • [16] Samaranch to open conference women's athletics
  • [17] Study claims less sexual enjoyment for Greek males
  • [18] Spyridon greets Pangalos in NY
  • [19] Europarliament resolution calls on Turkey to remove its troops from Cyprus
  • [20] Finnish president Ahtisaari visits Crete before departing
  • [21] Conference focuses on drug use in Greece
  • [22] Commission poll finds majority of EU citizens in support of euro
  • [23] ND again criticises gov't over EU absorption rate

  • [01] Athens presents its positions,initiatives for Albania

    Athens 18/09/1998 (ANA)

    Greece is "keenly interested in a smooth and democratic evolution in Albania, its economic recovery and the protection of human rights as well as the strengthening of democratic institutions," Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said yesterday.

    Presenting Athens' positions and initiatives on a bilateral level and within the framework of international organisations towards normalisation in the neighbouring country, Mr. Papandreou said Greece, as current Council of Europe president, has promoted the organisation's involvement in the Albanian issue.

    He also said that during Tuesday's extraordinary meeting of the CoE's permanent representatives, Greece received a mandate to undertake initiatives on Albania in cooperation with other international and European organisations such as the OSCE, the EU and the WEU.

    He said that the most likely development is a joint visit to Albania in the next few days by the foreign ministers (or their deputies) of the countries currently holding the presidency of the OSCE (Poland), the EU (Austria) and the WEU (Italy),as well as EU Commissioner for foreign relations Hans van den Broek. Latest ANA reports stated that Mr. Papandreou was likely to participate in the mission, as the president of the Council of Ministers at the CoE, which will most probably be held on Saturday.

    Mr. Papandreou said OSCE, EU and WEU officials are already in Albania to examine the situation on the spot. When diplomats will have completed their work, the kind of initiatives to be undertaken at political level will be decided, he added.

    Mr. Papandreou said that he had a telephone conversation on the issue with the EU's Council of Ministers' president and Austrian Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schuessel and his Italian counterpart Pierro Fascino.

    Replying to a question on the joint initiative by German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel and his Italian counterpart Lamberto Dini - who have presented a series of proposals to the EU on Albania - Mr. Papandreou said that Greece was in favour since it had either tabled or supported many of the proposals itself in the past.

    He remined that at the WEU's ministerial session in Rhodes (when Greece held the presidency), Athens had supported the strengthening of the WEU's police force in Albania (MAPE), as well as the strengthening of the ability to guard borders in the Balkans and particularly in relation to Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    Asked to comment on statements by former Albanian president Sali Berisha accusing Greece of involvement in the Albanian turmoil, Mr. Papandreou said that Greece has never interfered in Albania's internal affairs, adding that it is not the first time that Mr. Berisha "makes statements of a similar content."

    "We have proved in much more difficult circumstances than today's our responsibility and determination to work for the welfare of the neighbouring country," Mr. Papandreou said.

    "Some people maybe do not understand that Greece has every interest in supporting democratic legality which is to the benefit of the Albanian people. We have no reason to join games which could lead to interventions," he added.

    Replying to a relevant question, Mr. Papandreou avoided any comment on the issue of the possible lifting of Mr. Berisha's parliamentary immunity, but said that further polarisation (in Albania) must be avoided.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Government to launch drachma, euro privatisation bonds on Sept. 25

    Athens 18/09/1998 (ANA)

    Subscriptions to a state equity-convertible bond launched to aid the government's privatisation drive will start on September 25, Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis told a news conference yesterday. The bonds, called Prometoha, will be convertib le into the equity of firms to be privatised through the bourse from January 1, 1999.

    Handling the issue are National Bank of Greece, Eurobank and Paribas of France - an expert in equity-convertible privatisation bonds.

    Book-building for domestic institutional investors will be held on 25-29 September. The deadline for retail investors to subscribe to the public offer is October 2.

    The bonds in electronic form will have a three-year duration and remain tax- exempt if the original buyer holds them until maturity, or exchanges them for stock in the listed, privatised companies.

    The rate and yield of the bonds will be set on September 29 in line with bids submitted by institutional investors.

    On offer are 170 billion drachmas worth of bonds. Another 50 billion drachmas of paper will be issued if demand is heavy. The issue date is October 9, 1998 with expiry on October 9, 2001.

    The finance ministry will also issue a five-year, fixed-income equity convertible bond in euros with coupon, available only to institutional investors abroad.

    Book-building will be used to set the price of the issue, also totalling 170 billion drachmas (500 million euros), using minimum bids of 100,000 drachmas. Again, another 50 billion drachmas of paper will be available, if demand is heavy.

    Book-building is scheduled for September 25-September 29. The issue date is October 9, 1998 with expiry on October 9, 2003.

    All bond holders will have a preferred option on stock, and a 5.0 percent discount on share prices.

    Each flotation will contain a batch of shares for bondholders, should they wish to exercise their option. The allocation is to be 40 percent of stock of floated companies, and 30 percent of stock in public enterprises sold directly by the government.

    Mr. Christodoulakis said the ministry would not issue new equity convertible bonds in coming years.

    The 340 billion drachmas, or more, to be raised in September's issue would more than cover the stock of firms slated for privatisation, he said.

    The bonds would allow the state advance access to funds that would accrue from its privatisation programme, at the same time offering investors the purchase of equity under favourable terms, or secure their returns directly, Mr. Christodoulakis said.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Tourist arrivals to Greece seen rising 12 pct in 1998-minister

    Athens 18/09/1998 (ANA)

    Tourist arrivals to Greece are expected to increase by 12 percent in 1998 against the previous year, Development Minister Vasso Papandreou told a news conference yesterday.

    Based on preliminary figures for charter flight arrivals until the end of August,traffic was 10 percent higher compared to the same period last year. Figures were not available for cruiseship and other arrivals.

    Ms Papandreou said that 1999 was likely to establish the country as a key international destination, and there was still room for domestic tourism to boost its contribution to gross domestic product.

    The minister rejected claims by the tourism industry that although arrivals were increasing, per capita foreign currency imported by tourists was gradually falling.

    She said that figures from Bank of Greece on foreign currency inflows were unrepresentative as they did not include private foreign currency deposits held by foreigners in Greek banks following the liberalisation of capital movement.

    Foreign currency revenue from tourism was rising, confirmed by a higher occupancy rate in the country's luxury and A class hotels, Ms Papandreou said.

    She quoted international tour operators as saying that improvements to infrastructure, including ports and airports, carried out by the state had helped to boost arrivals in 1997 and 1998.

    The private sector had also played an important part in the effort to upgrade tourism by investing 189 billion drachmas in projects including improvements to accommodation and specialised tourism infrastructure, Ms Papandreou said.

    In other moves to expand tourism, a 60-billion drachma development plan for the prefecture of Messinia was ready for endorsement.

    In addition, a 3.7-billion drachma tourism training programme was shortly to be introduced for personnel in the tourist police, Greek National Tourism Organisation and museums.

    Finally, the ministry had received the first phase of market research commissioned from a private company on promoting Greece's tourism product abroad, Ms Papandreou said.

    Greek National Tourism Organisation gets new chief : Mihalis Kyriakidis, tourism advisor to Development Minister Vasso Papandreou, is the new head of the Greek National Tourist Organisation (EOT) after Nikos Skoulas resigned.

    The minister announced the appointment at a news conference yesterday, saying she had accepted Mr. Skoulas' resignation, which was submitted some time ago.

    Mr. Skoulas, who is returning to the private sector, dismissed talk that his resignation was prompted by disagreements with the minister as "imaginary stories by the press". Ms Papandreou thanked him for his work.

    Mr. Kyriakidis told reporters that he had two priorities at the helm of state-run EOT: to upgrade the quality of the Greek tourist product and promote it abroad.

    Ms Papandreou also announced that former culture minister, composer Thanos Mikroutsikos, would become president and managing director of a GNTO subsidiary to organise the annual Athens Festival, an international cultural event.

    She said the subsidiary was being set up, and its statutes should be finalised by next week.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Bank of Piraeus seeks to raise share capital by Dr 86 bln

    Athens 18/09/1998 (ANA)

    Private Bank of Piraeus will propose to shareholders a share capital rise of 86 billion drachmas in order to carry out investment plans, its board announced yesterday.

    Distributed will be six new shares for every 10 existing ones at 4,000 drachmas per share, and a small number of shares will be distributed to company executives and other staff. Four bonus shares will also be distributed for 10 existing shares.

    Management hopes to carry out the share capital increase by the end of the year.

    A date for the shareholders meeting will be announced in coming days.

    Market sources believe the bank is raising the cash in order to bid for Ionian Bank, whose first privatisation tender fell flat this year but is due to be retendered in the autumn.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Greek stocks end lower,dragged down by markets abroad

    Athens 18/09/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities came under pressure from renewed turbulence in European markets yesterday, finishing lower.

    The general index again retreated below the 2,200-point barrier to close 1.73 percent down at 2,184.45 points. Turnover was 44.3 billion drachmas, bolstered by block trades.

    Sector indices lost ground. Banks fell 1.71 percent, Insurance ended 0.15 percent off, Investment dropped 1.02 percent, Leasing ended 0.14 percent lower, Industrials eased 1.60 percent, Construction fell 2.16 percent, Miscellaneous ended 1.49 percent off and Holding plunged 4.16 percent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.15 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 20 blue-chip index fell 1.62 percent to 1,324.54 points.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 183 to 54 with another 17 issues unchanged.

    Bank of Piraeus, Boutaris, Ridenco, Uncle Stathis, Eskimo, Daring, Attikat and Babyland scored the biggest percentage gains.

    Hellenic Mills, Endysi, Remek, Athina, Thessaliki, Minerva, Athinea, Kekrops, Lambropoulos and Marfin suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 39,830 drachmas, Ergobank at 24,400, Alpha Credit Bank at 23,110, Ionian Bank at 10,415, Hellenic Telecommunications Industry at 6,900, Delta Dairy at 3,150, Intracom at 11,605, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,650 and Titan Ceme nt at 18,500 drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Xiosbank plans to acquire brokerage

    Athens 18/09/1998 (ANA)

    Private Xiosbank yesterday informed the Athens Stock Exchange that it plans to buy a large stake in Interact, an established private sector brokerage.

    Xiosbank told the bourse in a letter that the deal would give the bank shares representing 47 percent of Interact's share capital and total voting rights representing 67 percent of share capital.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Astir Vouliagmeni hotels show 51 pct rise in profit Jan-Aug

    Athens 18/09/1998 (ANA)

    Astir Vouliagmeni Hotels yesterday reported a 51 percent rise in its gross profits for the first eight months of 1998 to 2.0 billion drachmas, from 1.3 billion in the same period last year.

    The company's profit to earnings ratio rose from 29 percent to 36.5 percent, and income totalled 5.4 billion drachmas from 4.5 billion in the same period last year, marking a 20 percent increase.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Fight over term 'feta' resurfaces

    Athens 18/09/1998 (ANA)

    The agriculture ministry yesterday announced that a Eurocourt prosecutor has submitted a proposal, which if accepted, will strip Greece of the exclusive right to use the word "feta" as a Greek food trademark.

    A press release stated that the registration of "feta products as a trademark of origin was based on Article 17 of European Commission regulation 2082/92."

    The press release added that in June 1996 the Commission issued a catalogue with registered trademarks, including "feta" cheese.

    Producers from Denmark, Germany and France have sought recourse at the Eurocourt against the above decision.

    The announcement said a final decision is expected by the end of November.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Kinnock in Athens for talks

    Athens 18/09/1998 (ANA)

    European Commissioner for Transport Neil Kinnock began an official visit to Athens yesterday.

    He held talks with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis as well as Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis on the restructuring of state-run Olympic Airways (OA), before discussing progress on constructi on of Athens' new international airport at Spata and coastal shipping cabotage.

    Mr. Mantelis reassured Mr. Kinnock that OA's restructuring programme is on schedule, while Mr. Kinnock said that there are favourable conditions for its survival and development.

    He also said that the new radar system for air traffic control will be operational by Jan. 1, 1999, when relevant personnel complete training on the new system.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] FBI director holds talks with Romeos in Athens

    Athens 18/09/1998 (ANA)

    Terrorism, money laundering, drug smuggling and illegal immigration dominated talks in Athens yesterday between visiting FBI Director Louis Freeh and Greek Public Order Minister George Romeos.

    During the meeting, the two men discussed ways of further strengthening bilateral cooperation between the FBI and Greek Police (El.AS). According to reports, it was decided to promote a protocol for police cooperation in order to better combat organised crime.

    After the meeting, Mr. Romeos underlined the long-time cooperation between Greek police and the FBI, stressing that several Greek officers attend the FBI's academy in Virginia practically every year.

    In response to a press question, the FBI director termed members of the notorious Greek "November 17" terrorist group as "profes-sionals", drawing a parallel between the Greece-based terrorists and the "Unibo-mber" strikes in the US.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Simitis meetings with Cypriot political leaders

    NICOSIA 18/09/1998 (ANA - G. Leonidas)

    An itinerary has been prepared for Prime Minister Costas Simitis' meetings with Cypriot political leaders over the next few weeks.

    According to reports by ANA, Mr. Simitis will hold separate meetings tomorrow with Democratic Rally (DHSY) leader Nikos Anastasiades and left- wing AKEL party Secretary General Dimitris Christofias.

    Immediately after visiting Athens, Mr. Anastasiades and Mr. Christofias will leave for New York where Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides and the leaders of the other political parties will already have arrived, for contacts on the sidelines of the UN's general assembly.

    Mr. Simitis will meet with United Democrats party leader George Vassiliou on Sept. 25 and Democratic Party (DHKO) leader Spyros Kyprianou on Oct. 7. He has already met with the leader of the socialist EDEK party Vassos Lyssarides.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Simitis letters to ministers

    Athens 18/09/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis has addressed letters to all his ministers, outlining the priorities of the government's work until June 1999.

    Acting government spokesman Yiannis Nikolaou said that with the letters the prime minister aims at placing emphasis on resolving day-to-day problems and combatting bureaucracy, while proving that the government is functioning with classification and priority targets and has a programme and a plan to carry out its work.

    The beginning and the end is the same in all letters. At the beginning of his letters, the prime minister said that on the basis of proposals in discussions held to date, finalises the priorities of government policy in the sector of each minister's res ponsibility from autumn until June 1999.

    Mr. Simitis ends his letters by saying that he wishes to point out that attention must be focused on issues of the citizen's day-to-day life, contact with public services and upgrading the quality of life.

    Priorities set to National Economy and Finance Minister Minister Yiannos Papantoniou are macroeconomic policy, structural changes, privatisations, the budget, the course of the second Community Support Framework and planning for the third Community Support Framework, the plan for joining Economic and Monetary Union, the promotion of visible mechanisms to crack down on tax evasion, computerisation at the Finance Ministry, the campaign against extravagance in the public sector and public utilities and the defence industry.

    A publication should be issued for each region listing projects in each region based on the second Community Support Framework and the country's major development projects.

    The priorities for Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos include the EU's major policies (EMU, pre-accession aid, relations between the EU with Cyprus, the Balkan countries and countries in eastern Europe and central Asia), the development of bilateral political relations (Greek-Turkish relations, relations with Cyprus and Balkan countries and bilateral agreements with countries in central and eastern Europe) and cooperation with international organisations.

    Lastly, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos' priorities are progress in the armaments programme, decisions taken by the Government Council of Defence and Foreign Affairs KYSEA, the promotion of bills,the settlement of pending issues,training issues at military academies, civilian staff, defence industry and the new structure of the armed forces.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Simitis given guided tour of Athens Concert Hall construction

    Athens 18/09/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday visited the construction site behind the Athens Concert Hall and was given a guided tour. He was given a guided tour of the site by the president of the Athens Concert Hall institute, Christos Lambrakis.

    The project's estimated time of completion is two years and the resulting complex of underground facilities will be a multi-faceted cultural, educational and conference centre.

    The premier said that "the completion of the Athens Concert Hall aims at confronting some of Athens' problems..."

    Mr. Simitis added that the project is funded by national and European Union funds and is included in the government's efforts for cultural development.

    On his part, Mr. Lambrakis said the addition to the existing structure include a parking lot for of 750 vehicles, an electronic music library and two conference rooms, one with 1,750 seats and a second with 500 seats.

    The new buildings will all be 35 metres underground, with a park above ground.

    National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, Development Minister Vasso Papandreou, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis and Cutlure Minister Evangelos Venizelos were also present.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Gov't says latest Schengen executive committee decision positive

    Athens 18/09/1998 (ANA)

    European Affairs Secretary General Stelios Perrakis told the ANA that the latest decision by the Schengen Treaty's executive committee, convened in Germany, on the creation of an ad hoc committee of experts was particularly positive.

    The committee will visit Greece shortly to check whether the country's external borders and infrastructures at the country's airports fulfill Schengen preconditions.

    Mr. Perrakis, a representative of Greece at Schengen's executive committee, said that on the basis of decisions taken at the meeting, the special experts who will visit Greece will prepare a report which will have to be examined by the executive committee at the next session in December.

    This development confirms that time schedules agreed will be honoured which anticipate the lifting of controls at the country's external borders and the full implementation of Schengen agreements by Greece as well during 1999.

    Mr. Perrakis further said that preparations on infrastructures at five airports (Athens, Thessaloniki, Irakleio, Rhodes and Corfu) have gone ahead at a satisfactory rate, while preparations are also proceeding at the remaining external borders (land and sea). It is reminded that Greece has been partially implementing, with regard to the visa policy and the Schengen Informatics System (SIS), the Schengen Treaty since December 1997.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Landslide closes Corinth Canal

    Athens 18/09/1998 (ANA)

    The Corinth Canal was closed at noon yesterday due to a landslide. The canal will be opened to shipping again as soon as restoration work is completed.
    Athens News Agency

    [16] Samaranch to open conference women's athletics

    Athens 18/09/1998 (ANA)

    International Olympics Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch will declare open the third European conference on "Women-Athletics- Cooperation", set to begin in Athens on Sept. 25.

    The four-day conference is expected to draw 105 participants from 40 countries. Of that number, 89 will be women.

    "In Greece, there has never been a better time for women's sports...(participation) has never been so high," Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras said.

    He said new legislation was being prepared that would foster the participation of women in all forms of sports, obliging sports federations to have 20 per cent of their boards made up of women, a move welcomed by the the athletics association "Kallipateira".

    "We need more initiatives aiming at increasing the participation of women in sport," Kallipateira president Agapi Vardinoyianni said. The event is organised by the Greek Sports General Secretariat and Kallipateira.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Study claims less sexual enjoyment for Greek males

    Athens 18/09/1998 (ANA)

    The pace and pressures of modern life are chipping away at the Greek male's enjoyment of sex and many may resort to the viagra pill for a solution, according to researchers at Greece's Sexology Institute.

    Presenting the latest study on the sexual habits of Greeks, conducted on 300 men aged 20-35, considered the most sexually active group, researchers said they were surprised at figures that showed four in ten men had had little or no sexual contact in the past six months and that half were not in a steady sexual relationship.

    "Modern men do not even have time for fantasies," one researcher said. "They have to carry the weight of their careers create a family and they seem to be all at sea in a jumble of obligations. And at the same time they have to live up to the ideal image of the lover protrayed in magazines and on television".

    And when they do get around to sex, researchers said, they were often dissatisfied.

    The researchers said the results of the study confirmed the intense interest in viagra, the "wonder pill" for male sexual dysfunction.

    "We believe that even these young educated men who took part in the study will try to cover their insecurities behind the 'blue pill'," one said.

    Viagra is not yet available in Greece but the European Union's approval of its sale has opened the door for its importation, after Greek authorities give the go ahead.

    In other findings of the survey, three in four said they preferred the missionary position in making love and the most popular part of a woman's body were the breasts.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Spyridon greets Pangalos in NY

    NEW YORK 18/09/1998 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)

    Archbishop of America Spyridon yesterday met with F oreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.

    Spyridon, after his hour-long meeting here with Mr. Pangalos, said that among other issues they discussed Greece's relations with its neighbours, modern Greek society and the condition of the Greek expatriate community in the United States.

    Mr. Pangalos said "I reiterated an invitationIand we hope to soon have the honour and the pleasure, both the government and the people of Greece to receive his eminence..."

    The Greek minister also said that he will have a series of meetings with his counterparts from around the world on the sidelines of the United Nations' general assembly.

    He added that on Wednesday "we had our first meeting today (yesterday) I will meet with them again and we are conducting this pre-election campaign for our candidacy to the Security Council."

    Mr. Pangalos added: "We will meet (US Secretary of State Madaleine) AlbrightIwe will meet with the new Russian foreign minister...we will meet with the ministers of the Gulf countries and the ministers of the Rio group and Latin America."

    When asked if he will meet with Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem, Mr. Pangalos said that there is no reason to see him separately, since Mr. Cem has not requested such a meeting.

    He added that "I had asked to see him last time. In any case we will meet in Antalya in a few weeks."

    Spyridon, responding to a question, said that the US president "was elected for a four-year term and in my personal opinion - not that of the archdiocese - is that he should finish the term for which the American people elected him, independent of private or personal problems, that he may be facing."

    Athens News Agency

    [19] Europarliament resolution calls on Turkey to remove its troops from Cyprus

    BRUSSELS 18/09/1998 (ANA - H.Haralambopoulos)

    The European Parliament yesterday called upon Turkey to contribute towards a Cyprus settlement and to proceed with the withdrawal of troops from the island in a bid to promote demilitarisation.

    The resolution accompanies a report by British Euro-MP McMillan Scott concerning the development of relations between Turkey and the European Union, (EU), within the framework of the customs union between the two. An amendment by Greek Euro-MP Alekos Alavanos supported by the majority of Euro-MPs was included in the resolution.

    It calls upon Turkey to contribute towards the resumption of bicommunal talks on the basis of UN resolutions and high level agreements reached in 1977 and 1979, for a bizonal, bicommunal federation. Turkey is also asked to take concrete steps regarding the withdrawal of troops from Cyprus so that the general demilitarisation of the island can be promoted.

    A paragraph proposed by the Liberal group was also added, expressing concern over Turkey's stance in relation to efforts for a Cyprus settlement, pointing out that it complicates even more relations with the EU.

    The European Parliament resolution also refers to Greek-Turkish relations, the Kurdish problem, the human rights situation in the country and Turkey's application for accession to the EU.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] Finnish president Ahtisaari visits Crete before departing

    Athens 18/09/1998 (ANA)

    National Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis yesterday escorted Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari to Crete.

    The Finnish delegation flew to the island by military helicopters.

    After their arrival, Mr. Apostolakis escorted the delegation to the Knossos site and the Irakleio Archaeological Museum. The delegation left for Helsinki later in the day.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] Conference focuses on drug use in Greece

    Athens 18/09/1998 (ANA)

    Experts said yesterday that there were some 80,000 drug addicts in Greece while the age at which Greeks first try drugs was falling to as low as 10 years long. The numbers of drug addicts aged under 18 rose about 15 per cent in the 1994-1998 per iod, totalling 61 per cent of registered addicts compared to 48 per cent in the 1990-1994 period. Many cases of 10- and 11- year-olds were documented, specialist Mattheos Tsoungas told a news conference.

    In Thessaloniki alone, with a population of about one million, there are 10, 000 addicts and there have been 30 drug-related deaths since the beginning of the year, Mr. Tsoungas said.

    He is the president of the organising committee for the First National Conference of Forensic Scientists and Toxicologists, scheduled to begin on Friday with the participation of more than 150 Greek and foreign experts.

    Mr. Tsoungas said however that the figure of 30 drug-related deaths did not include those addicts who died of AIDs or hepatitis or those killed in road accidents while under the influence of drugs.

    A study to be revealed in full at the conference also shows that 10 percent of users first tried drugs while in the military during compulsory service, he said.

    Seventy-two per cent say that began their drug use through the influence of their friends and curiousity with a smaller amount saying addiction and use arose through family problems.

    Athens News Agency

    [22] Commission poll finds majority of EU citizens in support of euro

    BRUSSELS 18/09/1998 (ANA - G. Daratos)

    A large majority of Europeans support the euro, according to a European Commission public opinion poll.

    According to the poll, 60 per cent of EU citizens that responded said they fully support the new currency, up from 50 per cent last year.

    Italians are the most ardent supporters at 83 per cent, 79 per cent of Luxemburg's citizens favour the euro, while 67 per cent of Greeks had a positive response.

    The same figures show that 49 per cent of Europeans support Cyprus' accession to the European Union, while 29 per cent were against that prospect.

    Athens News Agency

    [23] ND again criticises gov't over EU absorption rate

    Athens 18/09/1998 (ANA)

    The main opposition New Democracy party yesterday criticised the government of what it called "unac-ceptable alchemies" aimed at giving a false impression concerning the absorption of European Union funds from the second Community Support Framework.

    ND spokesman Aristidis Tsiplakos said that "with accounting tricks the National Economy Ministry is trying to beautify the situation prevailing in the sector of progress in projects included in the second Delors Package, as well as low absorption over which the government has great responsibilities."Mr. Tsiplakos said that from the end of 1997 the government has changed the accounting system, including the Public Investments Programme, of not only the percentage of national participation (about 40 per cent), as it had done until then, but the entire budget for the projects, namely 100 per cent of the expenditure, and as a result an increase of 150 per cent is presented compared to past years without there being increased absorption of funds.

    Athens News Agency

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