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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-09-24

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Commercial Bank of Greece hopes to sell Ionian in four months
  • [02] Hellenic Duty Free Shops slumps on no-show by shareholders
  • [03] Half a million people so far declare real estate for land register
  • [04] Greek stocks end flat in volatile trade
  • [05] Greek, Romanian businesses meet to discuss cooperation
  • [06] Ionian Bank forges deal with Diners
  • [07] National Bank, National Mortgage Bank sign merger contract
  • [08] OA: Flight schedule unaffected from civil aviation employees' strike
  • [09] Greece aligns with EU bylaws regarding domestic market
  • [10] Papantoniou, Papademos to represent Greece at ECOFIN meeting
  • [11] Thessaloniki picked as Balkan entry point for Chiquita bananas
  • [12] Hostage stand-off ends in bloodshed
  • [13] Gov't denies reshuffle in the works
  • [14] Milosevic meeting with Greek business delegation
  • [15] Pangalos attends meeting with Balkan counterparts
  • [16] Maediterranean nations'culture ministers to meet on Rhodes
  • [17] Final phase of `Parmenion '98` concludes
  • [18] Mass infringements of Athens FIR by Turkish warplanes recorded
  • [19] Greek FM delegation in FYROM
  • [20] US arms sale to Greece
  • [21] Athens,Piraeus public hospital physicians join strike
  • [22] Skandalidis optimistic over upcoming elections
  • [23] Thessaloniki allow for police patrols of gounds overnight, Sundays
  • [24] Arsenis cites significance of vocational training
  • [25] Italian FM on Cyprus' EU accession
  • [26] Russian ambassador to Greece accepts nomination
  • [27] Infertility problems, high rate of abortions the focus of conference
  • [28] 150 illegals discovered crammed into Lebanese-flagged vessel
  • [29] Sofia conference targets int'l stolen car smuggling activity

  • [01] Commercial Bank of Greece hopes to sell Ionian in four months

    Athens 24/09/1998 (ANA)

    Commercial Bank of Greece hopes to privatise Ionian Bank, its subsidiary, in four months using a sale consultant and a phased process to set a market price for the bank.

    State Commercial Bank governor Konstandinos Georgoutsakos told a news conference yesterday that JP Morgan, an international investment house, would act as consultant in Ionian's 51 percent sale.

    The three-step privatisation plan would be delayed if JP Morgan recommended a slow-down due to any turmoil in domestic or world markets, Mr. Georgoutsakos said.

    The plan follows a recent abortive tender for the bank on the Athens Stock Exchange in the wake of a long-term strike by workers. No consultant was used in the sale.

    In the latest plan's first phase, JP Morgan will prepare a sale prospectus after a detailed investigation of Ionian's finances and legal status carried out with an international auditor and law office.

    In the second phase, the consultant will approach potential buyers in Greece and abroad, requesting indicative, non-binding bids.

    And in the third phase, JP Morgan will ask a small number of interested investors to submit final bids, then negotiating with each in turn in order to secure the highest price for Ionian's stock.

    The new sale process would separate Ionian's buyout price from its stock market value, an entanglement that helped to scotch the first attempted sale, and ensure transparency, Mr. Georgoutsakos said.

    He justified the method used in the first sale as being in line with the times.

    The Political Spring party later issued a statement welcoming the new sale process.

    "(The authorities) have adopted, albeit belatedly, a trustworthy three- phase process of transparency that Political Spring leader Antonis Samaras was the first to suggest," the statement said.

    Commercial Bank of Greece to boost share cap by Dr 7.2 bln : Commercial Bank of Greece is to raise its share capital by 7.2 billion drachmas, its board decided yesterday.

    The scheme involves the issue of free shares, capitalisation of reserves and a readjustment of real estate values.

    A special shareholders' meeting will be called to endorse the share capital rise.

    State bank governor declines to make rate forecasts : Commercial Bank of Greece governor Konstandinos Georgoutsakos yesterday declined to forecast when Greek interest rates would resume their decline.

    Replying to reporters' questions, he said crises in Russia, Japan and Latin America had broken out, impeding any drop in rates.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Hellenic Duty Free Shops slumps on no-show by shareholders

    Athens 24/09/1998 (ANA)

    Hellenic Duty Free Shops SA was badly hit on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday following the postponement of a shareholders' meeting to October a week before the government's second effort to privatise the company.

    The decision to postpone yesterday's meeting was taken because of a delay in negotiations to forge a contract governing the operation of Hellenic Duty Free Shops at a new international airport being built for Athens.

    Bids for the purchase of the company, which is already partly floated, are due to be submitted to the bourse on September 30 following an abortive tender in the summer.

    Talks were expected to determine the percentage of Hellenic Duty Free Shops' revenue to be paid to the Greek state and Germany's Hochtief, which is building the airport.

    The amount of revenue is crucial to the firm's sale prospects.

    The shareholders meeting was expected to ratify the deal, which has yet to be made. A repeat shareholders' meeting is scheduled for mid-October.

    Despite the delay, the deadline for bids in the privatisation tender so far remains unchanged.

    But stock market players interpreted postponement of the meeting as a sign of renewed trouble in the sale.

    Hellenic Duty Free Shops has already floated a 20 percent stake on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    The second flotation is being held to offer another 67 percent of stock to a strategic investor.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Half a million people so far declare real estate for land register

    Athens 24/09/1998 (ANA)

    Around 500,000 owners of real estate have registered their properties for a national land register being created in Greece for the first time, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis said yesterday.

    The registration rate for areas being catalogued was around 90 percent, Mr. Laliotis said.

    Albania and Greece are the only European countries without a land register.

    The register, which is expected to start phased operations in 2004, aims to protect state land from encroachment, formalise private ownership rights, and provide revenue for the state.

    To receive deeds of ownership, applicants will pay duty of 10,000-300,000 drachmas in line with the value of the property, with the majority expected to pay 20,000-30,000 drachmas. The process is due to start in two years, Mr. Laliotis said.

    Revenue from the duty and an extra administrative fee will be used to finance operation of the register.

    The next phase of the project budgeted at 42 billion drachmas will involve properties in 447 local authorities, or 16 percent of the country's total urban area, 10 percent of total farm land and seven percent of other land.

    Earlier this month, Mr. Laliotis submitted a bill on the national land register to parliament, allowing the creation of registries.

    Under the terms of the bill, the final registration of real estate will take place five years after the initial statement has been made.

    Unregistered property will be deemed of unknown ownership and become public.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Greek stocks end flat in volatile trade

    Athens 24/09/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities ended mixed to higher on the Athens Stock Exchange in light to moderate trade yesterday reflecting a lack of fresh incentives and directions.

    The general index rose 0.04 percent to end at 2,141.06 points amid price fluctuations.

    Turnover rose to 42.5 billion drachmas boosted by block trades.

    Sector indices were mixed. Banks fell 0.38 percent, Insurance rose 0.75 percent, Investment dropped 0.59 percent, Leasing was 1.26 percent off, Industrials increased 0.68 percent, Construction eased 0.63 percent, Miscellaneous rose 1.40 percent and Hold ing was 0.83 percent down.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies dropped 1.69 percent, and the FTSE/ASE 20 blue-chip index fell 0.14 percent to 1,291.23 points.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 146 to 80 with another 23 issues unchanged.

    Desmos, Sato, Uncle Stathis, Ideal, Chipita, Goody's, Petzetakis, Papoutsanis and Dimitriadis scored the biggest percentage gains.

    Mosholios Chemicals, Kekrops, Etma, Daring, Constantinidis, Xylemporia, Elfico, Sigalas and Boutaris suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 39,980 drachmas, Ergobank at 23,600, Alpha Credit Bank at 21,620, Ionian Bank at 10,230, Hellenic Telecoms at 6,615, Delta Dairy at 3,150, Intracom at 11,350, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,550 and Titan Cement at 18,000 drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Greek, Romanian businesses meet to discuss cooperation

    Athens 24/09/1998 (ANA)

    Greek and Romanian businesses met in Athens yesterday as part of a visit to the country by a Romanian delegation to discuss Greek investments in the Balkan country.

    The meeting, held at the Industry and Commerce Chamber of Athens (EBEA), was addressed by EBEA vice-chairman Dimitris Bertzeletos, who outlined the prospects of bilateral cooperation.

    The Romanian delegation's leader, George Cojocaru, detailed the political and economic environment in Romania, and stressed the government's determination to promote its privatisation programme.

    He said Romania welcomed investors, noting that more than 50 percent of the country's external trade was directed towards the European market.

    The Romanian official also urged Greek investors to turn their attention to direct investments in privatisation and manufacturing.

    Greece ranks 11th among foreign investors in Romania with capital totalling 80 million US dollars, half of which was placed in the banking sector and commerce, Mr. Cojocaru said.

    Romania, with a population of 23 million people, ranks second after Poland among former socialist countries in Europe, he said.

    According to Mr. Cojocaru, political stability combined with a steady national currency and government measures to liberalise foreign exchange and domestic prices, except for energy and transport, had created a favourable investment climate in the country.

    The inflation rate had dropped from 300 percent in 1993 to 150 percent in 1997, he said.

    Mr. Cojocaru said that Romania was promoting the creation of a free trade zone in the port of Constanta in the Black Sea, and a river link with Europe.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Ionian Bank forges deal with Diners

    Athens 24/09/1998 (ANA)

    Ionian Bank yesterday announced the start of a cooperation agreement with Diners Club of Greece.

    Ionian Bank, a subsidiary of state Commercial Bank of Greece, will offer Diners Club card owners monthly payment services in Ionian Bank's 225 branches in Greece, effective tomorrow.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] National Bank, National Mortgage Bank sign merger contract

    Athens 24/09/1998 (ANA)

    National Bank of Greece Governor Theodoros Karatzas and National Mortgage Bank Governor Vassilis Rapanos yesterday signed a merger contract, as the latter will be absorbed by the former.

    The development has already been unanimously ratified by the two banks' extraordinary general assembly of shareholders.

    The merger will be formally completed after approval is provided by the development ministry and the Athens Stock Exchange.

    The bank's share capital will amount to more than 182.8 drachmas after the merger and will be divided into 31,528,538 shares each, of a face value of 5,800 drachmas. The merger will allow for benefits such as the development of retail banking, the restri ction of operational costs and a more effective management of resources.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] OA: Flight schedule unaffected from civil aviation employees' strike

    Athens 24/09/1998 (ANA)

    All Olympic Airways and Aviation flights will be carried out as normal during rolling 24-hour strikes called by civil aviation employees, beginning today through Sunday, an OA statement read.

    Civil aviation employees are protesting against planned changes in the institutional framework of work regulations, being introduced by the government. They are also demanding that two bills due to be submitted to Parliament be scrapped. They charge that the bills provide for the establishment of a company that would regulate airports and civil aviation.

    The Civil Aviation Authority has filed a motion with courts to have the strike declared illegal. Sources said a ruling was expected late yesterday.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Greece aligns with EU bylaws regarding domestic market

    BRUSSELS 24/09/1998 (ANA - D. Daratos)

    Greece appears to be aligned with the European Union's requirements regarding the domestic market, according to data unveiled by relevant EU Commissioner Mario Monti.

    Greece together with Sweden, Finland and Germany, are the countries which have incorporated in their national laws most of the about 150 directives and regulations composing the network of the domestic market's operational rules.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Papantoniou, Papademos to represent Greece at ECOFIN meeting

    VIENNA 24/09/1998 (ANA - D. Dimitrakoudis)

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and the governor of the Bank of Greece Loukas Papademos will represent Greece at the informal Council of European Union Finance Ministers (ECOFIN) to be held in Vi enna from tomorrow until Sunday in the framework of the EU's Austrian presidency.

    The main issues to be examined at the informal Vienna Council will be the crisis in Russia, the harmonisation of taxation and the EU's finances in the framework of the "Agenda 2000."

    Greece will participate for the first time in the enlarged sessions of the "11" of the euro which will be held tomorrow afternoon and on Saturday morning with the participation of the four countries which do not belong to the euro's first phase (as of J an. 1, 1999). The issue of the representation of the so-called "euro zone" in international organisations, such as the International Monetary Fund or the Group of 7 (the most developed countries in the world) will be discussed at these sessions.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Thessaloniki picked as Balkan entry point for Chiquita bananas

    Athens 24/09/1998 (ANA)

    A recently signed agreement between Greece's Fruita and the well-know multinational Chiquita is expected to turn Thessaloniki's port into a major transit centre for the import of large quantities of bananas towards the Balkans.

    The first shipment of some 40,000 cartons of bananas is expected to arrive in Thessaloniki on Friday. Fruita has made arrangements for storage in the port's wharehouses.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Hostage stand-off ends in bloodshed

    Athens 24/09/1998 (ANA)

    A more than six-hour hostage stand-off in the heart of Athens ended with a handgrenade explosion and pandemonium a little after 11 p.m. yesterday, leaving one hostage and an escaped Romanian convict seriously injured.

    At presstime, the injured hostage was undergoing surgery at an Athens hospital, while one policeman was also seriously injured in the blast.

    Two other hostages managed to flee as police commandos (EKAM) broke into a first-floor apartment where the hostages were held by Romanian-Greek outlaw Sorin Matei. The severely wounded hostage was identified as Amalia Ginaki.

    According to reports after 1 a.m. today, Matei booby-trapped a handgrenade inside the woman's pants and unleashed the pin just before pushing her at oncoming police commandos and high-ranking officers. Another five police officers were injured in the su bsequent explosion. Four people, three members of the Ginakis family and Amalia Ginakis' fiance, had initially been taken hostage by the 27-year-old five-time escaped convict in the apartment off Acharnon street - at the height of Amerikis Square.

    Among the police casualties are the three highest-ranking members of Greek Police's (EL.AS) hierarchy, including commander Athanasios Vassilopoulos, who was slighty injured.

    Matei strung onto the national limelight in early September after fleeing from Halkida officers on an Athens sidestreet, taking one of the would-be arresting policemen hostage before stealing a passing vehicle and keeping police at bay for several hours . He was eventually allowed to slip through a police dragnet in the late evening, eluding unmarked police cars and finally releasing the policeman in Piraeus.

    Yesterday, in earlier telephone contacts with police and the private SKAI television station, he had demanded US$500,000 for his escape and for the release of the hostages. He later released Vangelis Ginakis, 24, one of the four original hostages.

    Before breaking into the Ginakis apartment Matei had escaped from a nearby flat after being located on Tuesday by authorities. In addition, Matei had admitted to police negotiators that he had injected a large dose of heroin just prior to the stand-off.

    The botched attempt to first apprehend Matei was carried out by police commandos at his ground-floor hideout yesterday afternoon, after they first tossed a flash and teargas grenade inside the residence. However, he managed to again escape, this time th rough a skylight to the Ginakis' home.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Gov't denies reshuffle in the works

    Athens 24/09/1998 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday denied that Prime Minister Costas Simitis was planning a reshuffle.

    "The prime minister (at Tuesday night's rally) spoke of the government being judged in 2000...he expressed his satisfaction with the work his ministers are doing. He has not been and is not preoccupied with the issue of a reshuffle," Mr. Reppas said.

    Mr. Reppas said the government had every reason to be pleased with the turn- out and reception at Tuesday evening's rally, saying the many thousands indicated the people's interest in the words and work of the prime minister.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Milosevic meeting with Greek business delegation

    BELGRADE 24/09/1998 (ANA - M. Mouratidis)

    Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic met yesterday with a delegation of the newly established Yugoslav-Greek Business Council, which comprises of distinguished businesspeople from both countries.

    The Greek and Yugoslav businesspeople briefed Mr. Milosevic on their plans in the sectors of energy, industry, agriculture, trade, transport and telecommunications as well as on the potential for capital investment in projects.

    Highlighted at the meeting was also the process of decentralisation which is in progress in Yugoslavia, a fact which also attracts the keen interest of Greek businesspeople. Mr. Milosevic welcomed the establishment of the council and said that its proper functioning would contribute to both countries' economies.

    The Greek side was represented, among others, by the chairman of the Greek section of the council, Mr. Mytilineos, and officials from the dairy company DELTA, the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) and the Titan Cement Co.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Pangalos attends meeting with Balkan counterparts

    NEW YORK 24/09/1998 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos attended a working breakfast yesterday hosted by his Bulgarian counterpart Nadezda Mihailova at the offices of Bulgaria's permanent representation here.

    Also attending the session were the foreign ministers of the signatory countries of a joint statement on Kosovo, namely, Albania, Romania, Turkey, Slovenia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    "I believe that we all share the view that efforts should be made to achieve a peaceful solution to the Kosovo issue, to avoid military threats and military intervention...and begin a negotiation process to establish a regime of greater autonomy", Mr. Pangalos told the ANA after the end of the meeting.

    Regarding a UN draft resolution, which was to be discussed by the Security Council yesterday, Mr. Pangalos said the EU had long ago agreed on the draft resolution and only the US remained to approve of it.

    He further added that Russia's agreement on the UN draft resolution had been achieved during a meeting on Monday with new Russian FM Igor Ivanov.

    A meeting between US State Secretary Madeleine Albright, scheduled for last night, was later postponed.

    Mr. Pangalos said he was optimistic that the draft resolution would be approved by the Security Council.

    "The draft resolution is a strong but balanced warning to all sides involved (in the Kosovo issue), and this especially pleases us, as this is the spirit of Greece's approach," Mr. Pangalos said.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Maediterranean nations'culture ministers to meet on Rhodes

    Athens 24/09/1998 (ANA)

    Culture ministers from Mediterranean nations meet on Rhodes this Saturday to begin a two-day Euro-Mediterranean conference on EU financing for cultural programmes.

    Ministers are also expected to discuss the holding of an 11-nation Mediterranean forum - with the participation of the five EU Mediterranean countries, namely, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, and Greece, as well as non-EU members Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt , Algeria, Turkey and Malta.

    Also on the agenda of the Rhodes meeting are the organisation of the Euro- Mediterranean summit for 2001, the cultural olympiad and bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

    Mediterranean festival discussed : VIENNA (ANA - D. Dimitrakoudis) In a related development, the holding of an annual festival for Mediterranean and European television stations and a summit in the framework of UNESCO will be proposed by the EU's Council of culture ministers' president a nd Austrian Undersecretary for European and Cultural Affairs Peter Witman. He will be presiding over the 2nd Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Culture Ministers together with Mr. Venizelos.

    Mr. Witman announced in Vienna yesterday that at the Conference in Rhodes he will propose the establishment of an annual festival of European and Mediterranean TV stations at which an exchange of TV cultural programmes will take place.

    He also intends to propose the holding of a summit between heads of state and government of UNESCO member-states in Vienna in 2002 on the issue of Culture and Development.

    Mr. Witman said that the main issues to be discussed at the conference in Rhodes will be the intensification of cultural dialogue, the promotion of the audiovisual sector and Euro-Mediterranean cooperation. A kind of stock exchange of ideas at ministeri al level is being planned in Rhodes for the achievement of these targets.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Final phase of `Parmenion '98` concludes

    Athens 24/09/1998 (ANA)

    President Kostis Stephanopoulos, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos as well as military and defence ministry officials along with several foreign dignitaries yesterday observed the final phase of the combined large-scale military exersise "Parmenion '98", held on the eastern Aegean island of Hios.

    All three branches of the armed forces are participating in the annual exercise, which began last Thursday and is being directed by National Defence Chief of General Staff Gen. Athanasios Tzoganis.

    The aim of the exercise is to train staff officers and military units in the planning and execution of joint operations in a modern warfare environment and in general to enhance the combat efficiency of the armed forces.

    The scenario for the exercise on Hios yesterday was the retaking by special forces of the Angelia islets. This phase of Parmenion was conducted by the 96th Battalion with the additional participation of 6,350 reserves and 6, 550 national guards.

    "The country's armed forces, as a part of the Greek people, love peace, stability and progress, work towards achieving these for the country as well as for the wider region, through their ability, decisiveness and preparedness," Gen. Tzoganis said on th e completion of the exercise.

    "They are ready and able to contribute to regional and international peace, participating in peace missions of international organisations and developing peaceful cooperation between various countries." "Greece is a peaceful and peace-loving country and does not desire any involvement with anybody but this does not mean that we are not obliged due to the prevailing situation to have our armed forces at a level of operational and effective readiness," President Stephanopoulos said.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also congratulated the armed forces, saying that the exercise confirmed the battle readiness of the armed forces, and their high level of morale and ability, adding that it was "necessary for Greece to send a message of decisiveness, stability and peace in the region.

    Also watching the exercise were former premier Constantine Mitsotakis, deputy Parliament President Panayiotis Kritikos, former New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert and a number of MPs.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Mass infringements of Athens FIR by Turkish warplanes recorded

    Athens 24/09/1998 (ANA)

    Six formations of Turkish warplanes infringed on Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) regulations yesterday, while several fighters also violated Greek national airspace.

    According to reports, four Turkish F-16s, six reconnaisance RF-4 warplanes and four F-4 "Phantoms" made 11 infringements of air traffic regulations in the Athens FIR. Three violations of national airspace north of the islands of Hios and Lesvos were als o reported.

    In all cases, the Turkish aircraft were recognised and intercepted by Hellenic Air Force F-16s and Mirage-2000s, while in two cases interceptions developed into engagements. Four of the Turkish formations were armed, reports state.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] Greek FM delegation in FYROM

    SKOPJE 24/09/1998 (ANA - M. Vihou)

    A Greek foreign ministry delegation headed by the ministry's secretary said that talks it held here were "constructive".

    FM Secretary Pavlos Apostolidis said that there was a common ascertainment both on the great progress achieved by the signing of the interim agreement and the mutual will for cooperation to go ahead.

    On the question of the state's name which is still pending, he said that a solution must be found because this will contribute to the achievement of a series of agreements desired by the two sides and the satisfaction of the ambitions of FYROM.

    He added that parallel to the negotiations in New York, the two sides will work for an improvement in relations to help in resolving the remaining difference.

    Mr. Apostolidis said that relations between the two countries have been improved even further with the present government in Skopje. The three-hour talks also focused on problems in the wider region and the need to strengthen regional cooperation and the common conception on handling these problems was ascertained.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] US arms sale to Greece

    WASHINGTON 24/09/1998 (ANA/AFP)

    The United States announced on Tuesday the sale of missiles, missile launchers and rockets to Greece, worth 245 million dollars.

    According to a US Pentagon announcement, the purchase concerns 18 launching systems, 146 long-range rockets and 81 guided regular missiles, as well as other military equipment of various types.

    The specific purchase "will not have any repercussion neither on the balance of forces in the region nor on the efforts of the US to have a solution found to the Cyprus issue through the course of negotiations," the announcement said.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] Athens,Piraeus public hospital physicians join strike

    Athens 24/09/1998 (ANA)

    Physicians at public hospitals in Athens and Piraeus joined their colleagues in Thessaloniki yesterday, saying they would continue their two- week strike to press for more government funding for duty rosters and pay increases.

    A representative of the doctors admitted that Health Minister Costas Geitonas' move to increase spending on duty rosters by 8 per cent was positive but said they were still waiting to hear whether this applied to all hospitals before they called off the ir strike.

    On Tuesday, doctors at public hospitals in Thessaloniki decided to extend their strike to next Monday. Yesterday morning they occupied the offices of the city's Hippocrateion Hospital for three hours in a symbolic protest. They plan another occupation, at the George Yennimatas Hospital, and the Centre for Infectious Diseases today.

    Doctors want payment for being on call to be increased by 60 per cent of the daily rostered-on pay as well as increases for rostered duty pay, a 10 per cent increase in starting wages and bonuses for specialists.

    Hospitals' debts fail to decrease : In a related development, debts owed by the country's hospitals are estimated at around 70 billion to date, despite settlement of deficits since Jan. 1997, and the fact that hospital fees increased by 30 per cent, according to the Panhellenic Federation o f Public Hospital Employees (POEDHN).

    During a press conference yesterday, POEDHN representatives also charged that a health ministry plan for 3,500 new hirings in 1997 and a further 2, 000 in 1998 has still not been implemented.

    They added that Mr. Geitonas refuses to sign a decision for the appointment of 29 hospital managers, all selected from a total of 207 candidates.

    The reason for this, POEDHN representatives claimed, may be related to opposition by hospital presidents, who fear that appointed managers could succeed in areas, such economic management of hospitals, where they themselves have failed.

    POEDHN further announced that it will call a meeting of all health sector unions for a discussion of hospitals' problems, while industrial action early next month has not been ruled out.

    Athens News Agency

    [22] Skandalidis optimistic over upcoming elections

    Athens 24/09/1998 (ANA)

    Ruling PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis appeared highly optimistic yesterday over the expected outcome of October's local government elections. Speaking after last night's meeting of the central local elections committee, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Mr. Skandalidis said that Tuesday's Kallithea speech by Mr. Simitis showed that PASOK supporters were rallying together in view of the elections.
    Athens News Agency

    [23] Thessaloniki allow for police patrols of gounds overnight, Sundays

    Athens 24/09/1998 (ANA)

    Thessaloniki University's senate yesterday night unanimously voted to allow police patrols of campus grounds during overnight hours, public holidays and on Sundays.

    Senate members stressed that the decision does not mean annulment of the university's asylum policy, or the first step towards scrapping the practice.

    Earlier, a group of about 40 students disrupted the meeting to protest against the proposal to allow police and judicial authorities access to the school's grounds.

    The proposal had been brought to the senate by the university's deans following the murder of a man and serious injury of another in a fight between Albanian illegal immigrants on the grounds on Sunday.

    The fight broke out during a soccer match between a group of Albanians, who had been living for the past three months in a building under construction for the school.

    Police and judicial officials are barred from entering university grounds except on the express approval of university authorities.

    University Rector Mihalis Papadopoulos said Sunday's incidents were not unique, and that many university professors had complained about vandalism of school property and grounds, while there were a number of cases involving illegal immigrants making the grounds their homes.

    "This impunity must stop," Mr. Papadopoulos said, adding that it was impossible for the university's 39 unarmed guards to effectively police the university's 40 hectares. The practice of university asylum has been the focus of some criticism in rec ent years, particularly during the November 17 annual commemoration of the Polytechnic students' uprising against the military junta, where street rioters in both Athens and Thessaloniki take refuge from police in university grounds.

    University property has also often been vandalised during the riots, often by non-students involved in the violence.

    Past efforts to lift asylum, either partially or in whole, have been fiercely opposed. In 1995, then-public order minister Stelios Papathemelis dropped plans to abolish the practice following strong protests.

    His plans drew a 'louder' protest from the Revolutionary Popular Struggle terrorist group, which placed a bomb at the Athens School of Business to protest plans to abolish asylum. The bomb caused extensive damage but no injuries.

    Athens News Agency

    [24] Arsenis cites significance of vocational training

    Athens 24/09/1998 (ANA)

    Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis said that it has been estimated that in the 21st century a person will change jobs six or seven times on average during an average career, adding that this means that the issue of vocational training will always be top ical.

    Mr. Arsenis was speaking yesterday at the inauguration of a European conference on vocational education and training at the dawn of the 21st century being held in the Lasithi prefecture by the Vocational Education and Training Organisation (OEEK) in cooperation with UNESCO.

    Referring to Greece, Mr. Arsenis said "we have started to implement new education", but added that changes need time and one should learn from the other's experience.

    On the question of the conference of UNESCO on the issue of vocational education and training, which will take place in Seoul next year, Mr. Arsenis expressed his view that "the contribution of this conference will not only be the the offer of a unified

    European platform of educational reform but the offer of a differentiated programme with converging targets for the development of countries and their social cohesion."

    Athens News Agency

    [25] Italian FM on Cyprus' EU accession

    UNITED NATIONS 24/09/1998 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)

    Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini said here yesterday that Cyprus was one of the six best-prepared EU candidate countries.

    Speaking during a press conference on the sidelines of the 53rd UN General Assembly, Mr. Dini added that "Cyprus cannot enter the Union as a divided nationICyprus must become a member as a whole island.

    "We are expecting and hoping that a UN formula will lead to a federal state, " the Italian FM stressed.

    Athens News Agency

    [26] Russian ambassador to Greece accepts nomination

    Athens 24/09/1998 (ANA)

    Russia's ambassador to Greece, Valentina Matviyenko, has accepted a nomination as a deputy premier in charge of social policy in Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov's new cabinet, Russian diplomatic sources said here yesterday.

    The 49-year old Ukrainian-born envoy is expected to meet President Boris Yeltsin yesterday to "formalise her appointment".

    "It's a ceremonial matter," sources told ANA.

    Although the new cabinet has not yet been announced, Ms Matviyenko would become the first woman deputy prime minister in post-Soviet Russia.

    Ms Matviyenko was holidaying in Russia for the past month when she was first offered the culture ministry but rejected it, the sources said, "until Mr. Primakov named her for the new post which she accepted". The sources said that Ms Matviyenko would not be returning to Greece.

    "She has already given instructions to the embassy to send her clothes and other private items to Russia," the sources said.

    Ms Matviyenko, an active member of the Communist Party youth league Comsomol, has been serving in Greece since October 1997.

    She and her husband, a retired doctor, have been living in St. Petersburg.

    Athens News Agency

    [27] Infertility problems, high rate of abortions the focus of conference

    Athens 24/09/1998 (ANA)

    Approximately 300,000 married couples in Greece cannot have children, according to a Thessaloniki University medical professor.

    Speaking during a press conference yesterday, organised by the "Ky-veli" society, obstetrics professor Vassilis Tarlatzis said that around 200,000 abortions are performed annually in Greece, double the number of births.

    According to Dr. Tarlatzis, Greece's high infertility rate - 15 per cent as opposed to Europe's 13 per cent - can be attributed to a large extent to the increased number of abortions, as well as to men's problems, mainly infections affecting the reprod uctive system.

    Modern methods to assist couples facing infertility problems are available in Greece and results are encouraging.

    However, low coverage by private and social security funds prevent couples from seeking assistance.

    The average amount given for such a case by funds does not exceed 120,000 drachmas, while expenses can amount to about one million drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [28] 150 illegals discovered crammed into Lebanese-flagged vessel

    Athens 24/09/1998 (ANA)

    The coastguard yesterday confiscated a Lebanese-flagged wooden vessel with more than 150 Iraqi illegal immigrants of Kurdish origin on board, as it sailed south of the island of Crete and just prior to disembarking them at a remote bay.

    A spokesman for the coastguard said the four-member crew of the vessel, identified as the "Alak", were also arrested.

    Acting on a tip from fishing vessels in the region, the coastguard tailed the vessel, seizing it at around 6 a.m., as it approached the bay of Kali Limenes, south of Crete.

    The illegals, 56 men, 31 women and 80 children, among them several infants "were packed like sardines on board a 20-meter long wooden boat," a spokesman said.

    "Most of them, mainly the children, were in a dramatic condition and were taken to a local medical centre for first aid treatment," he said. They had been in the sea for almost a week since the boat sailed from the Lebanese port of Abta on Sept. 18.

    According to another report, one of the women on board, who was pregnant, had a miscarriage and, as an eyewitness said, the baby was thrown overboard.

    The illegals and the crew were taken to Irakleio for questioning, prior to deportation procedures beginning.

    Reports said the vessel was initially headed for Italy.

    More arrests : In a related development, coast guard authorities on the island of Kythira reported picking up another eight illegal immigrants who tried to disembark at the port of Kapsalia on Tuesday.

    The eight - five Iraqis, two Egyptians and one Algerian - said they had been at sea in their small fishing boat for four days since leaving Beirut.

    They said that they were actually headed for Italy in the fishing boat, which they had hired from a Lebanese national. All eight are being detained pending deportation.

    Finally, a Greek national was arrested yesterday after police found him transporting five Albanian illegal immigrants in his car.

    The five Albanians said they had paid 80,000 drachmas to an accomplice of the man for the trip from Kozani to Veria, northern Greece.

    Athens News Agency

    [29] Sofia conference targets int'l stolen car smuggling activity

    SOFIA 24/09/1998 (ANA - B. Borisov)

    Six international crime gangs involved in stealing cars, primarily from northern Greece, before selling them abroad have been broken up by police in Thessaloniki recently.

    Between the period from Greece's joining the Schengen Pact until today, 30 Bulgarian nationals have been arrested at the Promahonas border checkpoint attempting to leave or enter Greece in a stolen vehicle.

    The data was provided by Thessaloniki police during an international conference on combatting car smuggling. The conference came to a close in Sofia yesterday with proposals for closer cooperation between police authorities in this sector.

    The conference was attended by police and insurance company representatives from 23 countries.

    One point noted in particular during the conference was that while police authorities performed their duty in solving cases of stolen cars, legislation is lagging in this sector.

    Athens News Agency

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