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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-05-30

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

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

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 30/05/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • 'November 17' claims responsibility for Greek shipowner's murder
  • Greece urges even further enlargement of NATO
  • Gov't presents bill for central bank autonomy
  • Burns confident of new impetus in Cyprus problem
  • Athens, Belgrade accord abolishing double taxation
  • Eurocourt to consider excessive tax on used cars
  • 180-drachma divident for OTE shares announced
  • Bank of Greece supports drachma
  • Athens bourse falls on profit-making
  • EIB to issue more bond loans in Drachmas
  • Balkan interest in Philoxenia trade fair
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

'November 17' claims responsibility for Greek shipowner's murder

The 'November 17' terrorist organisation has claimed responsibility for the murder of Greek shipowner Costantine Peratikos in an eight-page letter sent to the Athens daily Eleftherotypia published today.

Peratikos,42, the elder of two sons of prominent shipowner Michalis Peratikos was ambushed and shot four times at close range in a busy street in Piraeus port city on Wednesday as he went to get his car from a garage. He was dead before being rushed to a nearby hospital.

The elusive urban guerrilla group said it had tried to assassinate Peratikos twice in the past but without success.

Peratikos was accused by the group of mismanaging the troubled Elefsis Shipyards, near Piraeus, which the family took over in 1992 and closed it in 1995 accumulating a debt of an estimated 27 billion drachma.

The gurrilla group described the sale as a "major scandal". It said that their "action (to kill Peratikos) had been planned since June 1995 when the Elefsis Shipyards were operating under the ownership of the Peratikos shipping group."

'November 17' has killed 21 Greek and foreign politicians and diplomats ever since it emerged in 1975.

Meanwhile, police continued their investigation into the murder without any solid leads.

For the moment, they are concentrating their efforts on the depositions of 20 eyewitnesses to the attack, five of whom literally came face-to-face with the assassins. According to police sources, however, the sketches of the suspects made on the basis of the descriptions given by the witnesses differ from "identikit" pictures made up in the past following similar attacks.

The same sources said the police were concerned that the shadowy organisation November 17 may have recruited new, relatively younger members.

Greece urges even further enlargement of NATO

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos called yesterday for an even larger NATO expansion that is currently being proposed, citing Bulgaria and Slovakia as potential candidates.

Mr. Pangalos, who was speaking on the sidelines of the NATO alliance's foreign ministers conference in Lisbon, explained why Greece wants an even further enlargement of NATO.

"We have stressed that there are two countries which would be difficult to stay outside enlargement. Slovakia is one, and Bulgaria is the other which must be supported now that a serious effort has been undertaken to restructure its economny and it appe ars that the possibility exists, as was shown in the elections, for Bulgaria's democratic structures to function and allow for a smooth changeover in power," he said.

Mr. Pangalos also said that the NATO alliance was faced with a problem in organising its defence structure.

Commenting on earlier statements by US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns, Mr. Pangalos said Greece had repeatedly tried to have the Cyprus issue internationalised with the largest possible involvement of international factors and, of course, the US is one of them. He said that if the US approached the issue on the basis of UN resolutions and pursued their implementation, because the Cyprus problem lay there, this would be a very positive development.

"We do not want others to resolve our problems. We want to resolve these issues, which have appeared in our relations with Turkey, provided that both countries agree to abandon every threat of war and force and accept the internationally valid legal framework and process for resolving differences, which cannot be resolved with discussions between them, namely, resorting to third factors to resolve differences, such as the International Court at The Hague," he added.

Gov't presents bill for central bank autonomy

National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday released the details of a bill that will grant Greece's central bank autonomous status.

Under the terms of the bill, a five-member monetary policy council will be created including the Bank of Greece's governor and its two deputy governors.

The three officials will have a six-year term of office.

Burns confident of new impetus in Cyprus problem

US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns expressed the view in Portugal yesterday that Turkey will overcome its problems and fresh impetus will be given for a settlement of the Cyprus problem.

Mr. Burns, who will most probably assume the post of US ambassador to Greece in the summer, was speaking to the ANA following a press conference on the issue of NATO enlargement.

"Turkey is an important ally of the USA and NATO. We are not worried about developments (tension between the military and Erbakan government) and believe that these problems will soon be overcome, which in any case is Turkey's own domestic affair," Mr. Burns said.

Replying to questions on Greek-Turkish differences in the Aegean and the Cyprus problem, Mr. Burns said:

"The Aegean is a region of great importance for both Greece and Turkey. The USA appreciates the efforts being made by Greece's premier, Costas Simitis, and the Turkish government and we regard both countries as our good friends."

Asked whether Washington linked the Cyprus problem with Greek-Turkish differences, Mr. Burns said the USA did not consider the two issues to be related and expressed the conviction that a solution to the Cyprus problem would soon be found.

Athens, Belgrade accord abolishing double taxation

Representatives of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's finance minister and the Greek finance ministry initialled an agreement here on Wednesday concerning the avoidance of double taxation.

An announcement by the federal press secretariat said the agreement will contribute to developing economic cooperation between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Greece because it settles an important issue concerning the double taxation of private persons and legal entities of the two countries. The agreement also secures common criteria for determining the right to tax certain categories of income and property.

Eurocourt to concider excessive tax on used cars

The European Court's hearing in Luxembourg against Greece for excessive taxation of imported used cars from other European Union member-states was concluded yesterday.

The European Commission accuses Greece of violating Article 95 of the Treaty for taxing imported second-hand cars from EU countries more strictly than second-hand cars in Greece.

The article rules that no member-state can impose, either directly or indirectly, internal taxes of whatever nature on the products of other member-states above those which burden, either directly or indirectly, similar national products and which taxes lead indirectly to the protection of other products.

According to reports, the general prosecutor will publicise his proposals at the end of June and the European Court is expected to issue its final decision on the case in about mid-October.

180-drachma dividend for OTE shares announced

The Hellenic Telecommunications Organisations (OTE) will pay out a 180- drachma dividend per share or 76 billion drachmas in total, the organisation`s general assembly decided yesterday.

Profits for 1996 amounted to 250 billion drachmas, compared to 203.7 billion in 1995, and turnover shot up from 593 to 679.5 billion.

According to managing director P. Lambrou, OTE`s investments until the year 2000 are expected to reach 1.2 trillion, while turnover for that year is forecast at 1.5 trillion.The organisation has invested 35 billion in a mobile telecommunications subsidi ary, which is expected to start experimental operation in Thessaloniki in August, and cover 60 per cent of the population by December.

Digitalisation of telephone exchange centres has reached 43 per cent, while the number of applications for new telephones fell from 132,000 in 1995 to 78,000 last year. Investment in fixed capital reached 178 billion, and will reach 242 billion this yea r.

Meanwhile, the density of telephones has reached 51 per 100 inhabitants.

Bank of Greece supports drachma

The Greek drachma remained under pressure for the third consecutive day in the domestic money market with foreign currency outflows totalling 825 million US dollars on Thursday as the Bank of Greece intervened to support the ECU/drachma rate.

Outflows in the drachma's three-day fall were estimated at 1.5 billion dollars.

According to market sources, the drachma's slide was not linked to developments in the Greek economy but reflected negative developments abroad after the German central bank rejected a plan to revalue gold reserves in order to cover a huge budget gap th is year.

The tension could undermine the creation of European Economic and Monetary Union, analysts said. Also, political worries in France ahead of the second round of general elections and currency turmoil in Thailand and the Czech Republic had contributed to the negative impact on the Greek currency.

Athens bourse falls on profit-taking

Stock prices came under heavy selling pressure to lose substantial ground on the Athens Stock Exchange as traders preferred to liquidate many of their gains from the previous day.

The general index closed 1.92 percent lower at 1,682.88 points with most sector indices losing ground. The parallel market's index lost 1.78 percent. Banks fell 2.73 percent, Leasing was 2.23 percent down, Investment eased 2.15 percent, Industrials dropped 1.85 percent, Construction declined 1.86 percent, Holding was 0.58 percent off, Miscellaneous plunged 3.76 percent; but Insurance bucked the trend to end 0.46 percent up.

Trading was heavy and turnover was 29.6 billion drachmas.

Broadly, declining issues led advancing ones by 168 to 57 with another 26 issues unchanged.

Riopesca, Piraeus Leasing and Agrinio Metalplastic scored the biggest gains, while Chalyps Cement and Viokarpet suffered the heaviest losses of the day.

National Bank of Greece ended at 38,000 drachmas, Ergobank at 20,000, Alpha Credit Bank at 21,300, OTE at 6,900 and Titan Cement at 29,000 drachmas.

EIB to issue more bond loans in drachmas

The European Investment Bank (EIB) signed a two-year lending programme with the Hellenic Investment Bank for Industrial Development (ETEBA) for a drachma bond issue worth 200 billion drachmas.

According to the agreement, signed by EIB's vice-president Panayiotis Yennimatas and ETEBA's managing director Dimitris Pavlakis, EIB will issue a debt paper including floating rate notes, fixed interest issues and zero coupon bonds, providing investors with a variety of options.

ETEBA, Hellenic Industrial Development Bank (ETBA), HSBC Midland, Eurobank, Bayerische Vereinsbank, National Bank of Greece, ABN-AMRO, Alpha Credit Bank, Barclays and Citibank will act as intermediaries in the offerings.

The framework agreement provides EIB with an improved legal status for future drachma bond issues by simplifying procedures and helping to integrate the Greek capital market into the European financial sector. Speaking after the signing, EIB's vice-president said that Greek interest rates would continue to fall, a development necessitating the provision of new medium-term quality, risk-free solutions for investors.

EIB has already issued four Marathon bond issues in drachmas maturing in March 1999 and 2000, totalling 85 billion drachmas.

Balkan interest in Philoxenia trade fair

Greece will invite firms from Balkan countries to take part in its international Philoxenia tourism trade fair as part of a plan to widen the scope of the annual event, a state tourism official said on Thursday. The trade fair, due to be held by state-run Helexo on November 6-9 at its exhibition centre in Thessaloniki, last year attracted 308 exhibitors representing 22 countries, and 12,604 visitors. Tourism industry officials and local government representatives from around the country met to discuss the 1997 trade fair, whose publicity will be undertaken by the Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT).

Special efforts would be made to attract representatives from state and local bodies in Balkan countries, taking advantage of Thessaloniki's status this year as cultural capital of Europe, speakers at the meeting said.

In 1995 Philoxenia became a member of the European Union of International Tourism Trade Fairs, which is due to hold an exhibition in Thessaloniki on June 12-13.

WEATHER

Scattered cloudiness and a further drop in temperatures is forecast for most parts of Greece today with the possibility of intermittent rain in the northern regions. Winds will be northerly, light to moderate. Athens will be partly cloudy with temperatures between 14-24C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 13-20C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 270.737 Pound sterling 443.424 Cyprus pd 532.704 French franc 47.033 Swiss franc 191.029 German mark 158.918 Italian lira (100) 16.052 Yen (100) 232.664 Canadian dlr. 196.158 Australian dlr. 207.477 Irish Punt 408.248 Belgian franc 7.698 Finnish mark 52.675 Dutch guilder 141.276 Danish kr. 41.733 Swedish kr. 35.057 Norwegian kr. 38.232 Austrian sch. 22.587 Spanish peseta 1.878 Port. Escudo 1.569

(C.E.)


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