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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-09-29

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Simitis congratulates Schroeder for German election victory
  • [02] Gov't signs restructuring plan for state railway
  • [03] Drachma's ERM-2 entry allows room for anti-inflationary policy
  • [04] Petrol tanker truck owners' strike causes shortage in Thessaloniki
  • [05] Bourse okays IPO by Lambrakis media group
  • [06] Greek stocks end lower in scant trade
  • [07] Selonda Fisheries seeks to join bourse's main market
  • [08] International Centre for Black Sea Studies holds first meeting
  • [09] Xiosbank formally launches new branch in northern Greece
  • [10] EET meeting on EU common currency
  • [11] Simitis, FM leadership discuss Athens' bid for UN Security Council spot
  • [12] Officer confesses to taking air force computer discs
  • [13] CoE not currently considering Yugoslabia's inclusion: G Papandreou
  • [14] Karamanlis calls PASOK-backed local gov't candidates 'party proxies'
  • [15] Canadian environmentalist denounces plans for nuclear plant in Turkey
  • [16] Protagonist in bloody hostage incident buried,thorny questions remain
  • [17] Papaioannou inaugurates new IKA branch
  • [18] Two-day conference on "EU after the Amsterdam Treaty"
  • [19] Aegean, Cyprus map exhibition
  • [20] Tsohatzopoulos: No NATO action in Kosovo without UN Security Council decision

  • [01] Simitis congratulates Schroeder for German election victory

    Athens 29/09/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis spo-ke with German chancellor-elect Gerhard Schroeder shortly after midnight on Sunday, while he sent the German political leader a congratulatory telegram expressing his pleasure at the latter's election victory, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Monday. In his cable, Mr. Simitis said the two governments could work together on social policy in Europe to combat unemployment and in laying the foundations for a European common foreign policy, Mr. Reppas added.

    He said Mr. Simitis sent similar messages to the victorious SPD party leader Oskar Lafontaine and Greens party leader Joschka Fischer.

    According to preliminary official results of Sunday's German elections, SPD led the polls with 40.9 per cent of the vote and, together with Greens (6.7 percent) could form a "red-green" coalition with a 21-seat majority.

    The Greek government spokesman said Mr. Simitis and Mr. Schroeder had agreed to meet at the earliest convenient date, adding it was too early to discuss the specifics of Greek-German cooperation but that there was a convergence on policy programmes and there was already a base of creative cooperation between the two countries.

    He expressed his conviction that Bonn's foreign policy would continue to contribute to the European Union's progress and to the creation of conditions for cooperation in Europe as a whole.

    Mr. Reppas also said the government had the greatest regard for outgoing Chancellor Helmut Kohl, whose presence at Germany's helm was decisive for the country's reunification and for the efforts to unify Europe.

    Cooperation between Mr. Kohl's Germany and Greece was "excellent", Mr. Reppas said.

    Opposition leaders : Main opposition leader Costas Karamanlis, speaking to his New Democracy party MPs, also noted Mr. Kohl's contribution, saying he was "one of the few great leaders of the time", playing a leading role in the European Union and being supportive of Greece's national issues.

    ND honorary president Constantine Mitsotakis said yestersday that he believes Germany's new government under Gerhard Schroeder will not greatly change the country's foreign policy line.

    Mr. Mitsotakis forecast that as Mr. Schroeder is "less" European-minded than his predecessor, changes should be expected in Germany's EU policy. He further said that the results of the elections took him by surprise.

    Finally, Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas also sent congratulations to Mr. Schroeder.

    "...We wish you every success in your government work, for the benefit of Europe and its citizens," he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Gov't signs restructuring plan for state railway

    Athens 29/09/1998 (ANA)

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday signed a restructuring plan for Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE), the second loss-making public utility to undergo an overhaul.

    The management contract, also signed by Transport Minister Tassos Mantelis and OSE's board, aims to restore profitability through a management overhaul, modernisation, and rationalisation including a write-off of debts estimated at 600 billion drachmas.

    Industrial relations will also be reformed, including the use of transfers to better utilise staff. Regular funding is to be ensured for the organisation's investment programme.

    Mr. Mantelis said that OSE's priority was to modernise its network with emphasis on the Athens-Thessaloniki line, reducing the trip's duration from five hours and fifty minutes to four hours and twenty minutes in 2001.

    He said rail fares would rise in line with market conditions in the next few years, and freight transport would be improved by seeking joint ventures with foreign companies.

    Hellenic Post Offices was the first state firm to sign a restructuring arrangement, and Athens Urban Transport Organisation will be the next.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Drachma's ERM-2 entry allows room for anti-inflationary policy

    Athens 29/09/1998 (ANA)

    The drachma's entry in a new European Union exchange rate mechanism with a 15 percent fluctuation band will allow enough margin for the government to implement its anti-inflationary policy, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said ye sterday.

    The move to allow entry into ERM 2 for countries still outside economic and monetary union was endorsed by EU economy and finance ministers who met in Vienna at the weekend.

    The ministers said countries should remain in a state of alert over the global crisis in financial markets with Japan and Brazil as the latest trouble spots.

    Mr. Papantoniou said that the government had not yet decided if and when it would lower consumer taxes on vehicles, cigarettes and alcohol in a bid to help inflation to fall.

    He said any decision to cut the taxes in 1999 would depend on the course of inflation, and on the budget. No other decisions would be taken this year on lowering indirect taxes.

    The government already has decided to lower consumer taxes on petrol and on heating oil aimed at easing inflation.

    Mr. Papantoniou also said that the government had strong reservations about an EU plan to impose an energy tax.

    The tax would undermine the government's anti-inflationary policy, and a transition period had been requested if the tax was imposed.

    Democratic Social Movement sees ERM 2 as threat to inflation : The Democratic Social Movement said yesterday that the drachma's entry into ERM 2 would act as an economic and psychological framework to drive up inflation, not lower it.

    The party said in a statement that it feared entry would have an adverse impact on the economy, and that Greece's EU partners had less confidence in government policy.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Petrol tanker truck owners' strike causes shortage in Thessaloniki

    Athens 29/09/1998 (ANA)

    Handwritten signs saying "No more gasoline" went up in hundreds of filling stations in the northern capital of Thessaloniki yesterday as a strike by tanker truck owners in northern Greece entered its second week.

    A spokesman for filling stations said that supplies had dried up, putting an end to long queues of cars over the past few days outside the few filling stations that still had gas to sell.

    The petrol truck owners are protesting the deregulation of their profession, which will allow major oil companies to extend their activities to distribution.

    The truck owners are due to meet today with transport ministry officials to try to iron out the crisis, which is expected to have an impact on the region's economy if the strike continues.

    The stoppage does not affect public transport and airport operations.

    Later in the day, motorists in the northern city converged on petrol stations as news emerged that the striking tanker truck owners had allowed delivery of a small quantity of petrol by some 35 trucks as a goodwill gesture.

    Thessaloniki has been worst hit by the strike, with petrol supplies down to almost nil since Saturday and drivers forced to search for fuel in neighbouring prefectures.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Bourse okays IPO by Lambrakis media group

    Athens 29/09/1998 (ANA)

    The Athens Stock Exchange has endorsed an application for entry into its main market by the Lambrakis Journalism Organisation, a major publishing and media group.

    The bourse's decision on Friday allows the firm to hold an initial public offer (IPO) and raise its share capital.

    The Lambrakis Group will sell 5,250,000 new common shares, of which five million will be placed on public offer.

    The remaining 250,000 shares are destined for a private placement.

    Funds from the IPO will be used mainly to fund the group's investment programme and pay off part of its short-term loans.

    The group's pre-tax profit in 1997 was 4.012 billion drachmas on turnover of 42 billion drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Greek stocks end lower in scant trade

    Athens 29/09/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities finished slightly lower on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday ahead of a second tender to privatise Hellenic Duty Free Shops this week following the first abortive sale attempt.

    The general index ended 0.06 percent lower at 2,152.35 points, after an early 1.30 percent jump. Trading was thin with turnover at 28.5 billion drachmas on 7,797,000 shares traded.

    Sector indices were mixed. Banks fell 0.14 percent, Insurance eased 0.05 percent, Investment dropped 0.02 percent, Leasing was 0.21 percent off, Industrials fell 0.67 percent, Construction rose 0.02 percent, Miscellaneous ended 1.0 percent higher and Holding increased 1.27 percent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 0.47 percent off. The FTSE/ASE 20 blue chip index fell 0.06 percent to 1,297.45 points.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 122 to 101 with another 23 issues unchanged.

    Thessaliki, Mytilineos, Delta Inform and Alpha Finance were the most heavily traded.

    Metka, St George Mills, Allatini, Mouzakis, Elve, Boutaris, Fourlis, Loulis and Levenderis scored the biggest percentage gains.

    Keranis, Vis, Halyps Cement, Remek, Lampsa, Sato, Macedonian Spinning Mills, Ideal and Gener suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 39,600 drachmas, Ergobank at 23,920, Alpha Credit Bank at 22,120, Ionian Bank at 10,295, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6,710, Delta Dairy at 3,100, Intracom at 11,120, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,495 and Titan Cement at 17,795 drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Selonda Fisheries seeks to join bourse's main market

    Athens 29/09/1998 (ANA)

    Selonda Fisheries, which is listed on the Athens Stock Exchange's parallel market for smaller cap stocks, has gained the bourse's approval to raise its share capital and seek entry into the main market.

    The bourse's decision on Friday allows Selonda to offer 903,440 new common shares in a rights issue.

    The funds will be used mainly to finance the company's investment programme for its hatcheries, pay off part of its short-term loans, fund buyouts of other firms in the sector, and finance participation in joint ventures.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] International Centre for Black Sea Studies holds first meeting

    Athens 29/09/1998 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis yesterday chaired the first meeting of the International Centre for Black Sea Studies (ICBS), which will conduct research for its parent organization, Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC).

    The eleven members of BSEC are represented at the two-day meeting being held in Vouliagmeni, near Athens.

    They are Azerbaijan, Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Ukraine, Romania, Russia and Turkey.

    BSEC approved a Greek proposal in 1996 for the centre to be housed in Athens.

    The new centre is to research practical means of cooperation in science and the economy among members, and set up links among their academic communities.

    "The ICBS will contribute to promoting the wider goal of BSEC for greater democracy, peace and development in the Black Sea region," Mr. Kranidiotis said in his opening speech to the centre's board.

    The centre will be an independent body, and Greece will help to support it both on an organisational and financial level, also bringing it closer to the European Union, he said.

    The organisation's secretary general, Vassil Baytchev, said that the academic communities of BSEC's member states could play a primary role in cooperation among governments through the exchange of information, joint programmes, and regional cooperation in research and technology.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Xiosbank formally launches new branch in northern Greece

    Athens 29/09/1998 (ANA)

    Xiosbank, a listed commercial bank, has inaugurated a new branch in Veria, northern Greece, its 30th around the country, it said in a statement yesterday.

    The private bank also operates a mutual funds centre and eight foreign exchange offices nationwide.

    Xiosbank aims to raise its branches to a total of 50 by 2000.

    The Veria branch, which was formally launched on Friday and began operating in May, has, in less than four months, attracted capital for management of 3.5 billion drachmas, of which one billion is in the form of deposits.

    The annualised interest on Xiosbank's Alma account is at 10.47 percent this week, with interest paid monthly.

    Also this week, the bank's base business credit rate remains steady at 18.50 percent.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] EET meeting on EU common currency

    Athens 29/09/1998 (ANA)

    Union of Greek Banks (EET) secretary-general Ioannis Manos held a meeting with interested parties' representatives for a briefing on the EU common currency, euro.

    A recent survey by ICAP on behalf of EET showed that the striking majority of citizens, 83 per cent, was in favour of the introduction of the euro, but only five in 10 were informed about the common currency.

    In a separate development, an interbank committee comprised of representatives of all the country's banks, met yesterday for the first time to examine practical matters of concern to banks with regard to the euro.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Simitis, FM leadership discuss Athens' bid for UN Security Council spot

    Athens 29/09/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis chaired a meeting yesterday at the foreign ministry to review progress over Greece's bid to occupy a UN Security Council rotating seat during the 1999-2001 period.

    Other issues discussed included the prime minister's forthcoming meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz in Antalya, Turkey next month at the summit of southeast European countries - the first time Mr. Simitis and Mr. Yilmaz will have met since the first summit in Crete last November.

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos briefed the meeting, attended by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis, on the results of his talks at the United Nations, where he attended the general assembly.

    Mr. Kranidiotis continues the campaign for Greece's seat on the Security Council, leaving on Monday for New York for a heavy schedule of talks ahead of the vote on Oct. 8.

    Mr. Papandreou, meanwhile, begins a two-day visit to Poland today, where he will have meetings with Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek and a number of other officials.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Officer confesses to taking air force computer discs

    Athens 29/09/1998 (ANA)

    An air force first lieutenant has confessed to taking 17 floppy discs, reported missing since last week from an air force base in Vitsi, near Kastoria. He said he later disposed of them a rubbish bin. He is now facing severe disciplinary action.

    A search has been launched to locate the discs.

    Military officials are puzzled as to what led first lieutenant to take the computer discs.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] CoE not currently considering Yugoslabia's inclusion: G Papandreou

    Athens 29/09/1998 (ANA)

    The Council of Europe (CoE) is not seriously considering Yugoslavia's inclusion in the organisation at this time, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said yesterday during a meeting of the CoE's council of ministers and parliamentary assembly, held on the island of Santorini.

    Mr. Papandreou, representing Greece, the present CoE presidency holder, said the organisation had to continue its efforts to bring an end to hostilities and in support of dialogue between the two sides.

    Last week, Council of Europe parliamentary assembly President Leni Fischer threatened to bar Yugoslavia's application for the Council of Europe if Belgrade did not desist from military action in Kosovo.

    Belgrade applied for Council of Europe membership on March 19. Mr. Papandreou added that the Council of Europe would be represented at a conference on the freedom of the media to be held in Belgrade next week and that the organisation had to ke ep a watch on developments in Kosovo. He said he would take into consideration a proposal from the Albanian representative at the Council of Europe that Kosovo Albanian journalists participate in the meeting.

    Also on the agenda of yesterday's session were accession prospects for countries of the Caucasus, such as Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan and progress in the campaign to remove land mines.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Karamanlis calls PASOK-backed local gov't candidates 'party proxies'

    Athens 29/09/1998 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis, addressing a joint session of ND's Parliamentary group and central committee yesterday, said that "the candidates supported by PASOK are merely ''party proxies' of the current government."

    He added that they will "not fight for what their districts deserve to acquire".

    Mr. Karamanlis said the government is worried about the outcome of the elections, adding that "European Community resources have been spent to promote the "so called government's work".

    The ND leader referred to his party's candidates and the criteria used for their nomination, saying that in many cases nominees were not selected based on narrow partisan criteria but on their ability to assist local communities and, if elected, they would be the natural allies of the government that ND is going to form if elected.

    Mr. Karamanlis asked his party's cadres to promote ND's position in order to build a "trustworthy relationship between the party and the citizens..."

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Canadian environmentalist denounces plans for nuclear plant in Turkey

    Athens 29/09/1998 (ANA)

    A Canadian environmentalist yesterday sounded the alarm for Greece and other countries in the region, warning that an accident at a projected nuclear plant on the southeastern Turkish coast could be catastrophic for Greece.

    Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL) is one of the companies bidding for the contract to build a nuclear power plant at Akkuyu, in the southern Turkish province of Mersin, north of Cyprus.

    "Greeks have to act quickly and raise their voices to the Canadian government and to governments of other countries trying to sell (nuclear) reactors to Turkey. The nuclear plant at Akkuyu must be cancelled," environmental activist David Martin said at a news conference.

    Other speakers also underlined the possibility of Turkey continuing its nuclear energy programme by developing nuclear weapons, as was the case with India and Pakistan.

    Also of tremendous concern is the fact that the planned site of the plant is located extremely close to an active seismic fault.

    The director of Turkey's Dokuz Eylul University's geophysics faculty, Attila Ulug, told a conference in Istanbul earlier this year that Ankara's effort to proceed with construction of a nuclear plant on the southern Asia Minor coast without a seismologi cal study was "abso-lutely irresponsible and criminal". The warning from the high-ranking Turkish professor came just days after a devastating earthquake struck the southeastern region of Turkey.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Protagonist in bloody hostage incident buried,thorny questions remain

    Athens 29/09/1998 (ANA)

    A Greek-Romanian fugitive elevated into Greece's "most wanted criminal" over the past month after two televised hostage dramas and accompanying police ineptitude was buried yesterday afternoon, 48 hours after his mysterious death at the Korydallos prison infirmary.

    Matei Sorin's burial at the Aghii Anargyri cemetery brought his personal cycle of armed robberies, drug abuse and repeated prison escapes to an end, five days after a hand grenade explosion violently ended a standoff in central Athens - a blast that left a 25-year-old hostage fighting for her life in a local hospital and most of Greek police's leadership injured from the grenade's shrapnel.

    A team of four coroners ruled on Sunday that Sorin died by choking on his own gastric fluids, pointing to the fact that he was under heavy sedation and bound continuously in a supine position. The 26-year-old repeat felon had sustained injuries to the head and chest. The four coroners also criticised the decision to transfer him from Nikaia State Hospital to the prison. One of the coroners had been appointed by Sorin's family.

    On the day he died, he was scheduled to give a statement to a prosecutor assigned the inquiry into the details of the raid, which left a total of 12 people injured.

    He had held police at bay for hours and threatened to detonate a hand grenade in the central Athens apartment off Acharnon avenue, in which he was holding three hostages.

    Only family members and a few onlookers attended the funeral, while a single wreath was laid on his coffin by his mother.

    Yiannopoulos : Referring to the conditions under which Matei Sorin died at Korydallos, Justice Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos said yesterday that his ministry will "do its duty in shedding light on the case".

    "Regardless of one's feelings about a cruel criminal, the state's functions should be exactly the same as in the case of citizens", said Mr. Yiannopoulos, adding that citizens should enjoy the state's protection and services, whatever they may be.

    Mr. Yiannopoulos further clarified that his ministry had given no instruction for the fugitive's transfer from Nikaia State Hospital to the central prison's infirmary, and that from the information available so far he did not hold Nikaia doctors responsible.

    Victim fights to stay alive : Meanwhile, hopes to save the life of Amalia Ginaki, 25, the hostage who was severely injured in the grenade incident, are reportedly fading.

    Ms Ginaki is being hospitalised at the Erythros Stavros (Red Cross) hospital in Athens, where doctors on Sunday decided not to perform a third operation as internal bleeding was temporalily controlled.

    She has lost her right leg, had most of her right hip removed, while she has also sustained severe abdominal injuries.

    Ms. Ginaki, who was planning to wed next week, continues to run a high fever.

    Asked by reporters whether the woman had any chance of recovery, physicians avoided giving a direct answer.

    Gov't : In a separate development, the government yesterday denied reports that Prime Minister Costas Simitis was considering combining the interior and public order ministries or a more general reshuffle in the wake of the botched police raid last week.

    "Nothing like this is being considered by the prime minister," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas told reporters.

    Mr. Reppas reiterated that the government did not consider Sorin's death to have any political implications, adding that the inquiry currently under way would examine the gamut of issues brought up by the incident.

    He asked reporters to refrain from drawing conclusions before the inquiry was completed, while he denied that the government had been informed of the police's plans to raid the apartment on the assumption that the hand grenade was a fake, saying this ha d also been denied by the chief of police.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Papaioannou inaugurates new IKA branch

    Athens 29/09/1998 (ANA)

    Labour and Social Insurance Minister Miltiades Papaioannou stressed yesterday that "IKA (the Social Insurance Foundation) is the heart of the national insurance system, advancing constantly in organisational and operational restructure."

    He spoke at the opening of a new IKA branch office in Patra.

    "Starting in 1999, the monthly allowance to socially weaker groups will be increased from 12,000 to 18,000 drachmas, in addition to the regular pension, a decision reflecting actual social solidarity during these economically difficult times," he added.

    Mr. Papaioannou also said that as of Jan. 1, 1999, all unemployed youths will receive medical insurance coverage.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Two-day conference on "EU after the Amsterdam Treaty"

    Athens 29/09/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis will open sessions of a two-day conference in Athens on Thursday focusing on the topic of "The European Union after the Amsterdam Treaty".

    The conference, set at the foreign ministry's amphitheatre, is organised by the Tsatsos Foundation in collaboration with PASOK's Eurodeputies group.

    The main topics to be discussed at the conference will be "Europe as a political vision" and necessary institutional changes, as well as "EMU and employment after the Amsterdam Treaty" and "joint European Union policy and the European citizen."

    Athens News Agency

    [19] Aegean, Cyprus map exhibition

    Athens 29/09/1998 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos inaugurated yesterday an exhibition with 14th to 18th century maps of the Aegean and Cyprus.

    The exhibition will last until Oct. 5 and includes 140 rare maps of the era.

    The maps highlight the unique Hellenic identity of the Aegean through the centuries.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] Tsohatzopoulos: No NATO action in Kosovo without UN Security Council decision

    Athens 29/09/1998 (ANA)

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos stressed yesterday that there can be no military action by NATO in the Serbian province of Kosovo unless there is a previous UN Security Council decision, as well as a new political decision by NATO member-sta tes.

    Speaking at a event organised by the Institute of Strategic and Development Studies - Andreas Papandreou (ISTAME) last night, the Greek defence minister called on the international community to take into account Greece's particular historical and geogra phic position in the Balkans.

    Greece "cannot take part in a military action against neighbouring peoples, " Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

    He further reiterated that Athens was in favour of a political solution to the Kosovo crisis, while he stressed that a non-autonomous Albanian ethnic community in Kosovo was inconceivable.

    He also described a decision for the establishment of a multinational peacekeeping force in the region as an effective tool to achieve peace and stability.

    Athens News Agency

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