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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-02-26

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] Three Ocalan aides and a Greek officer land safely in Greece
  • [02] Simitis letter to EU counterparts regarding Ocalan issue
  • [03] Papandreou briefs US ambassador on Ocalan affair
  • [04] Gov't dismisses latest Turkish claims citing support of PKK
  • [05] Europarliament draft resolution calls for political solution to Kurdish issue
  • [06] Greece,Bulgaria announce initial support for possible NATO mission in Kosovo
  • [07] British warship arrives in Thessaloniki with equipment destined for Kosovo
  • [08] Tsohatzopoulos: Turkey sliding into `dangerous path`
  • [09] ACS Athens to hold fund-raising concert in March
  • [10] Gov't launches social dialogue on tax reform
  • [11] Stocks post gains on political confidence
  • [12] Hellenic Petroleum more than doubles group profit in 1998
  • [13] Titan Cement Co. reports 30 pct group profit jump
  • [14] Chipita to boost share capital, ally with Delta Dairy
  • [15] Mytilineos has 75 pct profit increase
  • [16] Attica Bank posts 198 pct profit jump in 1998
  • [17] New produce, meat markets in Thessaloniki by mid-2000
  • [18] Athens lauds decision against CAP re-nationalisation
  • [19] More Italian arrivals to Greece noted
  • [20] Tourism to Cyprus rises in January
  • [21] Athens Foreign Exchange
  • [22] Bill on National Resistance (1941-1944)
  • [23] Police in Crete launch manhunt for 21 foreign convicts
  • [24] Romanians arrested while trying to burgle jewellery shop
  • [25] Illegal immigrants arrested on Kos

  • [01] Three Ocalan aides and a Greek officer land safely in Greece

    Athens, 26/02/1999 (ANA)

    Three female aides of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan arrived in Athens last night after being evacuated from the Greek embassy in Nairobi and flown to Greece on a chartered Falcon jet.

    A Greek intelligence service agent, holed up with the three Kurdish women since Ocalan's mysterious transfer to Turkey 10 days ago, was also on the plane, which landed at the Elefsina military airport, west of Athens, at around 10 p.m.

    Press ministry secretary general Nikos Athanasakis said the plane had not landed at the main Athens airport for security reasons.

    The successful evacuation was supervised by Greek foreign ministry secretary general Pavlos Apostolidis, who flew to Kenya on Wednesday night.

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou said the operation was a "humanitarian act", in accordance with the permanent principles of Greece and the European Union.

    He stressed that all relevant consultations, both in Athens and by Mr. Apostolidis and other EU ambassadors in Nairobi, were conducted in full transparency. He also thanked, in particular, the ambassadors of Belgium and Sweden for their assistance, adding that the German presidency of the EU had also shown "sensitivity".

    "The development closes a chapter in our country's efforts with regard to the protection of human rights. Greece will place particular emphasis on this sector, which it considers crucial for stability and peace in the broader region," he said, stressing also that Athens would make every effort for the principles of the rule of law to be applied in Turkey's trial of Ocalan, who is facing treason charges.

    He noted that the sensitivity and moral strength which the Greek people had exhibited in the Ocalan affair gave grounds for particular satisfaction.

    Replying to reporters' questions, he said Washington had played no particular role in the operation to transfer the four from Nairobi, and said he was not aware of anything that Greece had given in exchange for the assurances it required from the Kenyan government.

    Mr. Papandreou said one of the Kurdish women held a Belgian passport, a second possessed Greek political refugee travel documents, while the third had been given assurances that she could be given the same if she so wished.

    Earlier yesterday, Mr. Papandreou told a top-level ministerial meeting that Mr. Apostolidis had secured written guarantees for the safe passage of the four out of the country from Kenyan authorities. He also said President Kostis Stephanopoulos had sent a letter to his Kenyan counterpart, Daniel arap Moi, adding that he himself had been in constant contact with Kenya all day, as well as with the US and Israeli ambassadors.

    "There is a written assurance from the Kenyan side for the safety of the four people who remained in our embassy in Nairobi."

    Kenya, he said, had been keen to see an end to the issue.

    Mr. Papandreou said he held talks with his European Union counterparts, including British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine and Germany's Joschka Fischer.

    All, he said, had confirmed their support over the issue.

    Two cars from the Kenyan foreign ministry led the motorcade to the airport, with another four containing Kenyan police following.

    The Swedish consul was present at Nairobi airport, while the Belgian ambassador followed the cars with the four people to the airport.

    The Falcon jet left the Nairobi airport at approximately 3:50 p.m. local time.

    Commenting on the evacuation, the Coalition of the Left expressed particular satisfaction, "participa-ting in the sense of relief of the entire Greek people".

    Belgian assistance : BRUSSELS (ANA - Y. Zitouniati) - The Belgian foreign ministry expressed satisfaction for the outcome of the operation.

    A spokesman clarified, however, that Belgium's participation was limited to "consular assistance", as one of the three Kurdish women held a Belgian passport. Press reports, however, said she had refused to use it, insisting that all three women depart together.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Simitis letter to EU counterparts regarding Ocalan issue

    Athens, 26/02/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday sent his European Union counterparts a letter calling on the EU to deal with the Kurdish issue that has arisen in the wake of Turkey's capture of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan in a spirit of "humanitarianism and with respect for human rights."

    "The Ocalan matter is an issue which the European Union is obliged to deal with in a humanitarian spirit and above all with respect for human rights," the letter says.

    Mr. Simitis' letter explains Greece's unwilling involvement in what has come to be known as the Ocalan affair.

    "Abdullah Ocalan, after he failed to secure refuge in another country, illegally entered Greece. This occured despite the fact that my government had clearly underlined that for many important reasons our country was not the most appropriate to extend him political asylum. Extending political asylum, due to the nature of Greek-Turkish relations, would have transformed the Ocalan matter into an additional Greek-Turkish dispute.

    "The government, faced with the fact of the illegal presence of Mr. Ocalan on Greek territory, had no other option but to help him leave Greece for a country which could give him political asylum, in accordance with the established process and rules of international law. For this reason, Greece undertook great efforts under extremely adverse conditions.

    "Unfortunately, our efforts failed. As everybody knows, Ocalan was arrested under as yet undetermined and legally dubious circumstances. To my great regret, Greece was not able to promptly inform its partners in the European Union in relation to these developments, due to the extremely sensitive nature of the entire matter and the declared reluctance of certain member- states to involve the Union in this issue.

    "It is nevertheless my steadfast conviction that the European Union should have already dealt with this issue, from the first moment that Mr. Ocalan entered the Union's territory, in Italy. Political and humanitarian reasons, but also the respect for fu ndamental human rights, demanded a more decisive stance.

    "Today it is an obligation of the European Union to exert its influence to ensure a fair and open trial for Mr. Ocalan. A trial in accordance with the rules of due process, by an indepdent court, with the ability (for Mr. Ocalan) to choose his own lawyers and, of course, in the presence of international observers. The related declaration adopted by the last EU General Affairs Council is a step in the right direction."

    "The EU, while unequivocally condemning all forms of terrorism, must use all the means at its disposal to pursue every initiative designed to assist the Kurdish population in gaining full respect for their fundamental rights and to contribute towards finding a political solution to the Kurdish problem," the premier's letter read.

    Simitis arrives in Bonn for unofficial EU summit : BONN (ANA - P. Stangos) - Prime Minister Costas Simitis arrived here last night to participate in an unofficial summit of EU leaders, scheduled for today in the town of Petersberg.

    The summit will focus exclusively on the "Agenda 2000" programme.

    However, at the luncheon at noon today, where it is customary for issues of a political nature to be discussed, the issue of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan is expected to be discussed, as well as the Kurdish issue in general, despite initial reservation s set out by the German EU presidency over a danger of "Ocalanising" the session.

    According to reports by the German presidency, this issue will be included in the "package" of issues to be discussed at the luncheon, together with developments in Kosovo in the wake of the Rambouillet talks.

    The publicising of the letter addressed by Mr. Simitis to his 14 counterparts on the handling of the Ocalan issue on behalf of Greece, and responsibilities corresponding to the EU for the promotion of a political solution to the Kurdish issue, together with the relevant resolution ratified yesterday by a European Parliament plenum in Brussels played a role in having the issue included in the luncheon's agenda.

    In no way must specific results be expected on the "Agenda 2000", the main issue at today's informal summit, since it constitutes exclusively a session for registering the conflicting positions and interests and probing the country's margins of "flexibi lity" to enable compromise solutions to be promoted, as well as the target of achieving an agreement on the reforming of the EU's finances, Common Agricultural Policy and structural- regional policy as a total "package" at the extraordinary summit in Berli n on March 24-25.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Papandreou briefs US ambassador on Ocalan affair

    Athens, 26/02/1999 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou met yesterday with US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns during which, according to sources, Mr. Papandreou briefed the US envoy on Greece's efforts to secure safe passage for four individuals holed up at the Greek emba ssy in Nairobi.

    Three aides of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan and a Greek intelligence service agent were holed up at the Greek embassy in Kenya since early last week. Greece earlier this week decided to grant political asylum to the three women.

    Diplomatic sources said that during the 50-minute meeting Mr. Papandreou briefed Mr. Burns on recent developments and on his ministry's efforts to secure safe passage to Greece for the aides and the agent.

    The Greek FM also briefed Mr. Burns on Greece's views on the Ocalan issue, reiterating that Athens did not want the issue to be turned into a Greek- Turkish affair but should be handled in light of the need for respect of human rights.

    The two men also discussed recent developments in Kosovo, given the imminent agreement between Serbia and Kosovo's Albanian separatists, the sources said. Sources said Mr. Burns handed to Mr. Papandreou a letter of congratulations from US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, in which she expresses a desire to meet with the new Greek FM in the near future on the sidelines of an international meeting, possibly the NATO summit in Washington in April.

    Alternate FM Yiannos Kranidiotis met with Mr. Burns on Wednesday for a review of recent developments in the Ocalan case and at the Greek embassy in Nairobi, as well as an exchange of views on the Kosovo issue and the Cyprus problem.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Gov't dismisses latest Turkish claims citing support of PKK

    Athens, 26/02/1999 (ANA)

    Greece yesterday dismissed the latest volley of charges from the Ankara government over its role in the Ocalan affair, stressing that Turkey should best deal with its problems, such as the rights of the Kurdish people.

    "These charges are baseless," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said in response to questions about Turkish claims that Greece aided Abdullah Ocalan's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

    Mr. Reppas rejected charges that Greece had handed over Ocalan to Turkey after the Kurdish rebel leader left the Greek embassy in Kenya. "These insinuations are disdainful and do Greece an injustice," he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Europarliament draft resolution calls for political solution to Kurdish issue

    BRUSSELS, 26/02/1999 (ANA - C. Haralambopoulos)

    The European Parliament recognised the international dimension of the Kurdish problem and the dangers it entails for peace and security in the region in a joint draft resolution, ratified by its plenum yesterday.

    While expressing regret over the fact that European Union member-states failed to reach a timely agreement on the Ocalan case, the Europarliament also called on EU member-states to shape a common position on the Kurdish issue as soon as possible and for

    Turkish authorities to commit themselves to pursuing a political solution to the issue, while making the same appeal to Kurdish organisations.

    In the EU Parliament's view, a political solution to the Kurdish issue must include respect for the territorial integrity of Turkey, democratisation and the strengthening of the society of citizens, recognition and the granting of guarantees for the rights (political, cultural, language and educational) of the Kurds, economic and social development in the region and free participation in the April elections for all existing democratic political parties, including HADEP, as well as an end to the harassment and imprisonment of their leaders.

    On the question of Ocalan's trial, the Parliament expects the Turkish authorities to provide guarantees for humanitarian treatment for Ocalan, to ensure that a public and fair trial will be carried out and anticipate the presence of international observers at the trial.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Greece,Bulgaria announce initial support for possible NATO mission in Kosovo

    SOFIA, 26/02/1999 (ANA - B. Borisov)

    Greece and Bulgaria were willing to support the potential NATO peace operation "Unified Guardian" in Kosovo, even in the event that the two sides sign a peace agreement at the end of negotiations in France, Deputy Defence Minist er Dimitris Apostolakis and his Bulgarian counterpart, Velizar Salamanov, said yesterday.

    After meeting with Bulgarian Defence Minister Georgi Ananiev, the two deputy ministers held a joint press conference.

    Mr. Apostolakis said that Bulgaria's contribution of armour and artillery to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) was a "goodwill gesture" and will in no way affect the excellent relations between Greece and Bulgaria, or affect the region.

    He also said Greece does not foresee any danger in the region nor does it perceive any country in the region as a threat.

    Mr. Apostolakis also said Greece "downgrades all issues which might set us apart and we stress issues which unite us. I am sorry, however, to say that the only country with which we were not able to normalise our relations is Turkey, but the responsibil ity for that does not belong to Greece."

    Both ministers said Greek-Bulgarian relations in the defence sector were excellent.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] British warship arrives in Thessaloniki with equipment destined for Kosovo

    Athens, 26/02/1999 (ANA)

    The British warship "Sea Sentorium" arrived at the port of Thessaloniki yesterday carrying vehicles, armoured personnel carriers and containers destined for Kosovo. The French warship "Foudre" also arrived in Thessaloniki on Wednesday.

    According to information from military sources, the arrival of two US warships at Plaka Litohorou has been postponed for a fortnight. The ships are carrying about 2,500 American troops, armoured personnel carriers and helicopters.

    The postponement of their arrival is probably linked to political developments on the Kosovo issue and the fortnight given to the two sides to discuss terms of the political agreement reached at Rambouillet.

    Containers started being unloaded first at the port of Thessaloniki which contain military equipment for general use. The vehicles carrying the equipment are already headed for the borders with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). The mili tary unit accompanying the mission arrived in Thessaloniki by air on Wednesday and is composed of 135 men and 23 women.

    At the same time containers are continuing to be unloaded from the French ship which carried trucks and other vehicles as well as tanks which are being sent to FYROM.

    Movement will continue at the port of Thessaloniki over the following days, military sources said, since the whole operation of transporting the NATO military force through Thessaloniki will last for about two months.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Tsohatzopoulos: Turkey sliding into `dangerous path`

    Athens, 26/02/1999 (ANA)

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday accused Turkey of using wrong tactics and falling into a dangerous path in verbally escalating tension with Greece on the pretext of the Ocalan issue, for the purpose of concealing its own responsibi lities.

    Speaking at the Elefsis Shipyards during the delivery of the tank carrier "Lesvos" to the Hellenic Navy, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that Turkey, which occupied the northern sector of the Republic of Cyprus, used its military strenth and violence to invade neighbouring states and used state violence in order to achieve calm domestically, was in no position to accuse Greece of being identified with terrorism.

    "Turkey totally lacks the credibility to charge Greece of having any relationship with terrorism," he said.

    "It is Turkey which is being judged in the Ocalan case. It is Turkey that must prove that it is in a position to apply international law and respect human rights if it desires a prospect of convergence with the European Union and cooperation with the ne ighbouring peoples," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

    Greece, he added, "has actively proved its determination to combat terrorism, from which it has had many victims".

    At the same time, Greece "is a democratic country which, like all the European countries, has the non-negotiable right to defend hu-man rights," the defence minister said.

    Addressing himself to the Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos reminded that when Mr. Ecevit was imprisoned under the Evren military regime, Greece was rallying for freedom in Turkey.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos reiterated Greece's unwavering solidarity with the Kurdish people.

    The defence minister further reiterated that Greece's defence mechanism was in full readiness and guaranteed the country's security.

    He called on Turkey to show reason and avoid the tactic of tension. Former foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos was also present at the ceremony.

    Reppas : Greece is on heightened alert in the eventuality that Turkey takes advantage of the Ocalan capture to change the balances in the region, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said, responding to reporters' questions about the defence minister's comments.

    He added that 15 leading members of the ruling party, including the prime minister and Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, will be attending the European Socialist Party summit in Milan on Monday and this will provide an opportunity for talks between all party cadres.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] ACS Athens to hold fund-raising concert in March

    Athens, 26/02/1999 (ANA)

    The American Community Schools of Athens (ACS) unveiled a programme yesterday for an upcoming concert at the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron), part of a fund-raising campaign for a new performing arts centre at its Halandri district campus.

    The March 7 concert will feature traditional music, dances and performances by artists from various countries represented at the schools, including Canada, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Israel, Italy, Japan, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden and the United States. The concert is also supported by the embassies of the United States, Canada, France, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain and Sweden.

    "The March benefit is a very important endeavour for the school and for all. The lack of a performing arts centre was a noticeable gap," US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns said in a brief opening address at a press conference at the Megaron.

    Mr. Burns, along with his wife Elizabeth Baylies-Burns, the school's board president, touted ACS' standing among international primary and secondary schools in Greece and its role as a cultural and educational bridge between Greece, the United States as well as the international communities of Athens.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Gov't launches social dialogue on tax reform

    Athens, 26/02/1999 (ANA)

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday presented 19 proposals on tax reform aimed at supporting low and middle incomes.

    Mr. Papantoniou was inaugurating a social dialogue on the government's plans for the overhaul beginning next year.

    But the General Confederation of Greek Labour (GSEE), an umbrella trade union group representing nearly a million workers in the private and public sectors, stayed away from the presentation.

    The representatives of 30 groups due to take part in the talks were present. They have until March 30 to present their proposals.

    The government will submit its final recommendations on June 4, and take final decisions by the end of August, incorporating the measures into a tax bill to be sent to parliament in October.

    Mr. Papantoniou said that the government planned three major changes along with others to emerge on the completion of dialogue.

    The steps are raising the tax-free threshold, amending tax brackets to ease the burden on low and middle incomes, and increasing tax breaks for families with children. Mr. Papantoniou did not give figures.

    Another government proposal is the abolition of base assessed tax for merchants and the self-employed and its replacement with a new system.

    The minister dismissed talk of reintroducing this year a government- sponsored car withdrawal scheme, and of changing the tax status of share transactions.

    GSEE is due to meet on March 9 to decide on its stand over the social dialogue on tax.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Stocks post gains on political confidence

    Athens, 26/02/1999 (ANA)

    Share prices continued moving upwards yesterday as the market regained confidence in the country's political and therefore economic stability.

    The general index ended 3.04 percent, or 99.38 points up at 3,369.43 points.

    Traders said buying interest focused on banks and particularly National Bank of Greece, which ended 7.3 percent up near the daily 8.0 percent limit up on news of its planned share capital increase.

    Massive buy orders caused temporary problems in the Athens Stock Exchange's electronic trading system early in the session.

    Turnover was 142.2 billion drachmas and volume 24,657,476 shares.

    Sector indices scored gains. Banks soared 4.23 percent, Leasing rose 1.39 percent, Insurance ended 4.69 percent up, Investment increased 3.53 percent, Construction ended 2.42 percent higher, Industrials rose 2.82 percent, Miscellaneous ended 0.89 percent up and Holding rose 0.24 percent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 2.23 percent up while the FTSE/ASE 20 index ended 2.82 percent higher at 2,109.68 points.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 199 to 79 with another 15 issues unchanged.

    Thessaliki, Ergo Invest, National Bank and Agricultural Insurance were the most heavily traded stocks.

    Agricultural Insurance, Kalpinis, Aluminium de Grece, Aspis Invest, Alpha Finance, Desmos, Ideal and Vernikos Yachts scored the biggest percentage gains hitting the daily 8.0 percent limit up.

    Mesohoritis, Macedonian Spinning Mills, Tasoglou, Halyps Cement, Sportsman, Levenderis and Sato suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 21,435 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 33, 400, Ergobank at 23,900, Ionian Bank at 16,775, Titan Cement at 22,150, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,675, Intracom at 21,270, Minoan Lines at 7,580, Panafon at 9,700 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,940.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Hellenic Petroleum more than doubles group profit in 1998

    Athens, 26/02/1999 (ANA)

    Hellenic Petroleum's consolidated pre-tax profits more than doubled in 1998 to 40.2 billion drachmas from 15.7 billion the previous year, the state- owned company said in a statement yesterday.

    The parent company's pre-tax profits more than tripled to 32.7 billion drachmas from 9.1 billion in 1997.

    The profits of EKO-ELDA, a commercial subsidiary, totalled seven billion drachmas while Asprofos SA, a research company, posted profits of 1.1 billion.

    Refinery sales totalled 10.6 million metric tonnes, marking a 3.5 percent increase from 1997. EKO-ELDA's sales were unchanged at 4.0 million metric tonnes.

    The group's 1998 turnover totalled 659 billion drachmas, down from 744 billion in 1997. The fall was attributed to a sharp drop in international oil prices last year.

    The group's operating profit rose by 25 percent to 63.1 billion drachmas from 50.4 billion in 1997.

    The improved operating profit reflected higher refinery sales, improved refinery efficiency and higher refinery margins, the company said.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Titan Cement Co. reports 30 pct group profit jump

    Athens, 26/02/1999 (ANA)

    Titan Cement Company, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, yesterday reported a 30 percent jump in consolidated profits before tax and minorities to 36.5 billion drachmas in 1998 from 28.1 billion drachmas a year earlier.

    Consolidated turnover rose to 159.8 billion drachmas, up 15.1 percent on the previous year, Titan said in a statement.

    The parent company's pre-tax profits totalled 27.2 billion drachmas in 1998, up 18.6 percent, on turnover of 102.6 billion, up 5.6 percent.

    Management will propose a dividend of 400 drachmas per share, up from 320 drachmas the previous year, the statement said.

    A total of 540 million drachmas will be divided among four hundred Titan executives.

    The company last year spent 18.5 billion drachmas on investments.

    According to management, the year's profit rise was mostly due to the group's activities abroad, especially increased profitability in its US operation and the incorporation of results by newly acquired subsidiaries Plevenski Cement of Bulgaria and Ceme ntarnica Usje of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Chipita to boost share capital, ally with Delta Dairy

    Athens, 26/02/1999 (ANA)

    Chipita International, a listed snacks manufacturer, received approval from shareholders yesterday to raise its share capital by 12.2 billion drachmas in order to fund activities in Europe.

    In addition, shareholders endorsed a strategic alliance with blue chip Delta Dairies in eastern Europe, electing Delta's managing director, Dimitris Daskalopoulos, to Chipita's board of directors.

    The snack makers' consolidated profits in 1998 rose 58 percent to 3.2 billion drachmas against the previous year.

    Consolidated sales were 35 billion drachmas, up 31 percent. Exports to Germany in 1998 totalled 7.0 billion drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Mytilineos has 75 pct profit increase

    Athens, 26/02/1999 (ANA)

    The Mytilineos Group, a listed metals trader, yesterday reported consolidated 1998 profits of 4.2 billion drachmas, up 75 percent from the previous year.

    Turnover jumped 30 percent to 70 billion drachmas against the previous year. Sales from activities abroad accounted for 75 percent of total turnover, up from 50 percent in 1997.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Attica Bank posts 198 pct profit jump in 1998

    Athens, 26/02/1999 (ANA)

    Attica Bank yesterday reported a 198 percent rise in its 1998 pre-tax profits to three billion drachmas, while provisions rose to 1.3 billion drachmas from 457 million in 1997.

    The bank's assets totalled 197.2 billion drachmas, a 40.7 percent rise from the previous year. Deposits rose 44.5 percent to 153.9 billion drachmas and lending increased 41.8 percent to 116 billion.

    Attica Bank's network rose to 37 branches. The bank aims to open six more branches in the short term.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] New produce, meat markets in Thessaloniki by mid-2000

    Athens, 26/02/1999 (ANA)

    The building of new facilities in Thessaloniki's central market are expected to be completed by mid-2000, housing both the main produce and meat market.

    The current markets will be transferred from the city's centre.

    Macedonia-Thrace Minister Yiannis Magriotis made the announcement while visiting the market in the morning.

    He said a timetable for the project's completion will be strictly adhered to, whose budget totals some 2.25 billion drachmas, provided through state and European Union funds.

    Mr. Magriotis also referred to the positive repercussions emanating from Turkey's customs union with the EU, when asked to comment on statements by well-known Turkish businessman Rahmi Koc who, in his capacity as president of a Turkish-Greek commercial group, called on Turk entrepreneurs to cease cooperation with Greek firms following the Ocalan affair.

    The Greek minister said that after the customs union between the EU and Turkey, Greek exports to the neighbouring country quadrupled, while imports from Turkey remained frozen, resulting in the balancing of the trade balance between the two countries.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Athens lauds decision against CAP re-nationalisation

    BRUSSELS, 26/02/1999 (ANA - P. Pantelis)

    Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis yesterday said a decision by the EU's agriculture ministers yesterday to reject Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) co-financing by member-states and re-nationalisation was positive for Greece.

    Mr. Anomeritis said co-financing was not supported by any EU farm minister, including Germany's minister and president of the Council, who expressed personal views mostly agreeing with his colleagues.

    France, which takes the "lion's share" from CAP, as well as Greece, would stand to lose 550 million euros annually. As such, it opposed co-financing from the beginning.

    Regarding annual agriculture expenses it was recommended that they be stabilised between 40.5 and 43 billion euros, while concerning assistance to producers there were two proposals, one submitted by France and a second by Austria, both projecting a red uction of expenses through a gradual reduction of the immediate assistance to producers, both exempting a number of minor producers who will continue receiving the entire assistance.

    If an agreement cannot be reached by Friday morning, talks will break-off in order to resume during the weekend or on Monday.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] More Italian arrivals to Greece noted

    Athens, 26/02/1999 (ANA)

    An upward trend noted in recent years in the arrivals of Italian tourists to Greece is expected to continue this year, with more affluent Italian holiday-makers forecast.

    A turn is also recorded among Italian tourists with preference to qualitative and theme-oriented tourism.

    Those were the conclusions derived from contacts National Tourism Organisation (EOT) secretary general Michalis Kyriakidis had with representatives of the largest Italian tour operators, on the sidelines of the "International Tourism Fair BIT '99" in Mi lan.

    It was found that Italians show increased interest in conference tourism and Greek cuisine and culture. Tourism sector representatives expressed satisfaction with the improvement noted at the level of services and installations of general and specialised tourism infrastructure.

    Greece already is among the seven most popular destinations for Italian tourists. EOT is participating with a large pavilion in the BIT fair, which opened yesterday and ends on Sunday.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] Tourism to Cyprus rises in January

    NICOSIA, 26/02/1999 (ANA/CNA)

    The number of tourists who visited Cyprus last month rose by 6.4 per cent compared to that of January 1998, reaching 57.7 thousand.

    According to the official Department of Statistics and Research, 74.7 per cent of them arrived from the European Union (EU) member-states).

    Specifically, almost half (49.1 per cent) of the tourists who visited the island in January arrived from the UK, 9.1 per cent from Germany, 5.9 per cent from Greece and an equal percentage from Russia.

    Tourism is Cyprus' most important industry, providing around 20 per cent of the island's GDP.

    Cyprus along with Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Estonia and the Czech Republic started substantive accession negotiations with the EU in November.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens, 26/02/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: February 25, 1999

    Parities in Drachmas

    Banknotes            Buying  Selling
    US Dollar            290.051 296.776
    Can.Dollar           193.142 197.620
    Australian Dlr       182.057 186.278
    Pound Sterling       465.050 475.832
    Irish Punt           406.416 415.839
    Pound Cyprus         550.481 563.244
    Pound Malta          713.624 743.358
    Turkish pound (100)    0.070   0.073
    French franc          48.795  49.927
    Swiss franc          201.262 205.928
    Belgian franc          7.935   8.118
    German Mark          163.653 167.448
    Finnish Mark          53.834  55.082
    Dutch Guilder        145.246 148.613
    Danish Kr.            43.051  44.049
    Swedish Kr.           35.664  36.491
    Norwegian Kr.         36.807  37.661
    Austrian Sh.          23.216  23.801
    Italian lira (100)    16.531  16.914
    Yen (100)            240.590 246.168
    Spanish Peseta         1.923   1.968
    Port. Escudo           1.596   1.633
    
    Foreign Exchange     Buying  Selling
    New York             290.051 296.776
    Montreal             193.142 197.620
    Sydney               182.057 186.278
    London               465.050 475.832
    Dublin               406.416 415.839
    Nicosia              550.481 563.244
    Paris                 48.795  49.927
    Zurich               201.262 205.928
    Brussels               7.935   8.118
    Frankfurt            163.653 167.448
    Helsinki              53.834  55.082
    Amsterdam            145.246 148.613
    Copenhagen            43.051  44.049
    Stockholm             35.664  36.491
    Oslo                  36.807  37.661
    Vienna                23.216  23.801
    Milan                 16.531  16.914
    Tokyo                240.590 246.168
    Madrid                 1.923   1.968
    Lisbon                 1.596   1.633
    
    Athens News Agency

    [22] Bill on National Resistance (1941-1944)

    Athens, 26/02/1999 (ANA)

    A bill regarding a museum exhibition and the files of the National Resistance during 1941-1944 was introduced in Parliament yesterday by deputy Panayiotis Kritikos, meeting with initial agreement in principle by all parties, but not approved by all deputi es.

    Ruling PASOK and the Coalition of Left and Progress deputies voted in favour, while main opposition New Democracy (ND), Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) deputies voted against.

    New Culture Minister Elizabeth Papazoi said May 9 will be declared a National Resistance holiday, with a relative monument to be raised in Athens, while a deadline for recognising national resistance fighters was moved to Dec. 31, 1999.

    Athens News Agency

    [23] Police in Crete launch manhunt for 21 foreign convicts

    Athens, 26/02/1999 (ANA)

    Police on the island of Crete have launched a manhunt to locate 21 foreign convicts who escaped from the Neapolis prison in Lassithi, police said yesterday.

    They said it was discovered during the morning roll call that a Romanian and 20 Albanian prisoners were missing.

    The escapees had been incarcerated in a corridor in the northwest wing of the prison that had been turned into a cell.

    Police said the convicts had used a saw-blade to cut the cell's bars.

    Most of the convicts were serving long sentences, they said. The prison, designed to hold 60 inmates, currently houses 140 convicts.

    Athens News Agency

    [24] Romanians arrested while trying to burgle jewellery shop

    Athens, 26/02/1999 (ANA)

    Three Romanian nationals were arrested early yesterday as they tried to burgle a jewellery shop in the Kolonos suburb in western Athens, police said.

    They said Nikosov Nastazen, 31, Nicolae Valean, 28 and Stefan Dohorea, 29, were arrested after the alarm went off in a jewellery shop they broke into, while a fourth accomplice escaped.

    The detainees entered the jewellery shop after digging a hole in the wall between the shop and an abandoned two-storey house they had broken into.

    The three were found with burglary tools in their possession.

    Athens News Agency

    [25] Illegal immigrants arrested on Kos

    Athens, 26/02/1999 (ANA)

    Twelve illegal immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq were arrested yesterday on a remote beach on the island of Kos, local harbour authorities said.

    The immigrants told the harbour authorities that they had been transported from the Turkish coast in a green speedboat driven by a Pakistani, and disembarked at dawn on a beach in the Psalidi area.

    The immigrants said they had paid an unidentified Turk 2,000 dollars each.

    Athens News Agency

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