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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-12-23

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, 23/12/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Iran, Armenia and Greece sign memorandum of understanding
  • President receives seven new envoys
  • Railway traffic in Athens-Thessaloniki line restored
  • Dismissed PASOK deputies react
  • Budget vote a vote of confidence for gov't
  • Prominent journalists Trogadis, Voulgaris pass away
  • Greek stocks hit by rising domestic interbank rates
  • Cosmote launches mobile network in January
  • State securities dematerialisation begins
  • Pro football clubs post total losses of 23.5 billion
  • Citibank interest rates
  • High court ruling on hotel reservations
  • Three individuals summoned over Delta Chrimatistiriaki fraud
  • EU supports Athens' tourism promotion efforts
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Iran, Armenia and Greece sign memorandum of understanding

Iran, Armenia and Greece yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding providing for cooperation in four general sectors, following a tripartite meeting of the respective foreign ministers in Athens.

The first sector is transport, postal services and telecommunications; the second tourism; the third industry, technology as well as the economy and the fourth is the energy sector.

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and his Iranian and Armenian counterparts, Kamal Kharrazi and Alexander Arzoumanian, respectively, decided also to arrange meetings of experts in these sectors in the first quarter of 1998.

After these initial meetings, implementation of the memorandum will be pursued at the level of foreign ministry secretaries-general or undersecretaries.

The tripartite cooperation began in 1995 and the last meeting at ministerial level took place in Tehran in 1996.

Speaking at a press conference after the talks, Mr. Pangalos said it was the intention of the three countries to further develop their cooperation in other sectors also and, for this purpose, the foreign ministers would meet again some time next year.

He underlined that the cooperation was not a "closed shop" and was not directed against any other country.

During the talks, other issues of interest to the three countries were discussed, including the problem of Nagorno-Karabakh and the situation in Afghanistan.

At a luncheon which followed the signing of the memorandum, Mr. Pangalos briefed his counterparts on Greece's position vis-a-vis Turkey's role concerning Athens. Earlier, Mr. Pangalos had separate meetings with both of his counterparts, who la terin the day were received by President Kostis Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

Mr. Arzoumanian described the bilateral relations between the three countries as "excellent" and that the memorandum signed would facilitate the expansion of their economic cooperation in the region.

Mr. Pangalos said the international community should be grateful to Iran because the country was providing sanctuary for one million refugees from Afghanistan without any international assistance.

Mr. Pangalos also criticised the European Union, saying it had not concerned itself as it should with the problem of Afghanistan, which it continued to treat as a secondary issue.

He said if Iran and Russia undertook an initiative on the Afghan problem, Greece would support it since it believed that both countries had notable diplomatic experience which they displayed in their previous initiative on Tadjikistan.

President receives seven new envoys

Greece's President Kostis Stephanopoulos yesterday received the credentials of seven new ambassadors to Greece, at a ceremony held in the presence of Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis and the secretary-general of the Presidency of the Republic Em manuel Gikas.

The new ambassadors to Greece are: United States, Nicholas Burns; Turkey, Ali Tuygan; Algeria, Kamel Houhou; Jordan, Ahmad Sataa'n Al-Hassan; Saudi Arabia, Ali Bin Majid Kabani; Ukraine Yuriy Sergeov; and Bangladesh, Mohammad Ruhul Amin.

While greeting the new U.S. ambassador to Greece, Mr. Stephanopoulos said: "I do not need to refer to Greek-U.S. relations which are always exceptional".

The president expressed the conviction that Mr. Burns's appointment as ambassador would serve to further strengthen the ties between the two countries.

Railway traffic on Athens-Thessaloniki line restored

Greek Railways Organisation(OSE) personnel successfully dislodged the last railcar from the Athens-Thessaloniki rail line near Lamia yesterday, after coaches and a locomotive collided on Saturday with several boulders that had previously fallen on the tracks.

The intercity train was partially derailed on Saturday morning while travelling from Athens to Thessaliniki.

Dismissed PASOK deputies react

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday dismissed three deputies from ruling PASOK's parliamentary group after they failed to fully support the 1998 budget during the vote in Parliament on Sunday night by qualifying their vote for the budgets of particular ministries.

Moschos Gikonoglou, Vassilis Kedikoglou and Christos Kipouros "selectively supported PASOK policy" during the budget debate, a statement from the prime minister read.

"This stance does not correspond with the requirement of membership in the PASOK parliamentary group. From now on, they will not participate in the PASOK parliamentary group".

Vassilis Kedikoglou expressed surprise yesterday over Mr. Simitis' decision to dismiss him from the party's Parliamentary group.

Mr. Kedikoglou reminded that Mr. Simitis himself, when the late Andreas Papandreou was in power, violated a collective party decision and voted against defence expenditures contained in a state budget.

Commenting on his dismissal from PASOK's parliamentary group, Evros deputy Christos Kipouros made the following statement:

"As I had announced in advance, in my address during the debate in parliament on the budget, I would not vote for funds concerning the Egnatia motorway. This was necessitated by my duty as a representative of a region of Thrace and on an issue which does not merely concern Thrace but, by extension, concerns the entire country.

"The government claims that the Egnatia motorway is being implemented and completed. However, reality is completely different...I could not remain silent," he said.

In a related development, former PASOK minister Anastasios Peponis reacted strongly to Mr. Simitis' decision to dismiss the three from the party's Parliamentary group.

Mr. Peponis said the prime minister doubts their right to express individual reservations.

He said that the decision was reminiscent of the mentality of a victor against the vanquished, while even the intention of controlling PASOK and turning it into a party subjected to a specific group appears.

Budget vote a vote of confidence for gov't

Prime Minister Costas Simitis said early yesterday that the passing of the 1998 state budget by Parliament confirmed that the economy was continuously improving and that efforts had to be intensified "so that Greece can participate on an equal basis in the process of European integration".

Parliament late on Sunday night passed the budget by 163 to 136 votes.

"The passing of the budget confirms that the majority of Parliament approves of the policy we are following... the policy for a strong Greece," Mr. Simitis said.

"In the years to come, we shall unswervingly continue this course because Greece must have an even stronger voice and play an important role. We need to have a strong economy and the aim of our economic policy is to secure precisely this," the premier added.

Prominent journalists Trogadis, Voulgaris pass away

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas expressed the sorrow of both the government and himself personally yesterday over the deaths of longtime journalists Pantelis Trogadis and Costas Voulgaris, saying they were two distinguished journalists.

Mr. Reppas said Pantelis Trogadis offered his services from various positions with vigour.

Trogadis died Sunday afternoon of a heart attack at the age of 65. He was born in Stimanga, Corinth, and had been a reporter with several newspapers and broadcast media outlets both abroad and in Greece.

Trogadis had also served as the Athens News Agency's correspondent in Strasbourg from 1987 to 1990. His last post was as director of Greek Radio's (ERA) Fifth Programme.

The management and employees of the Athens News Agency expressed their sympathy to his family.

Mr. Reppas said veteran "Kathimerini" columnist Voulgaris helped readers understand things and to approach issues preoccupying us with calm.

Voulgaris was best known as the writer behind the "Paratiritis" (Observer) column. He died on Saturday at the age of 69 after a short hospitalisation.

Greek stocks hit by rising domestic interbank rates

Greek equities came under strong pressure on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday to end substantially lower.

Traders said the market was worried over developments in the governing PASOK party, rising interest rates in the domestic money market and extreme volatility in international markets.

Bank of Greece's sources reported outflows totalling 320 million Ecus at the drachma's fixing in the domestic foreign exchange market. Bankers said the incident should not be a cause of concern and stressed that foreign investors were changing their sho rt-term positions in the market ahead of the Christmas holidays.

The general index closed 2.04 percent down at 1,461.21 points.

Trading was extremely heavy with turnover at 51 billion drachmas reflecting transactions of large blocks of shares.

Sector indices lost ground. Banks fell 2.24 percent, Insurance eased 0.63 percent, Leasing dropped 1.82 percent, Investment was 1.44 percent off, Constructions fell 2.94 percent, Industrials ended 2.09 percent down, Miscellaneous fell 2.81 percent and H olding dropped 2.08 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies lost 1.59 percent while the FTSE/ASE index ended 1.92 percent down at 834.65 points.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 177 to 33 with another 19 issues unchanged.

Etma, Boutaris, Dane and Desmos scored the biggest percentage gains at the day's upper limit of 8.0 percent, while Keranis, Mesochoritis, Ridenco and Viosol suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 24,990 drachmas, Ergobank at 14,500, Alpha Credit Bank at 16,180, Delta Dairy at 3,240, Titan Cement at 12,800, Intracom at 13,105 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 5, 800.

Cosmote launches mobile network in January

Cosmote, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation's mobile phone subsidiary, will start operating on the axis Athens-Thessalonica-Patras by the end of January.

Hellenic Telecoms (OTE) chairman Dimitris Papoulias said yesterday that the company has already started taking subscriptions and stressed that any delay in launching of Cosmote's services was a result of problems faced by a new TV set up company.

Mr. Papoulias said that the company's next target is extending the mobile phone network to Larisa, Katerini, Halkidiki prefecture and Halkida.

Cosmote is offering free connection to users for the first four months of their subscription.

OTE's chairman said he hoped that a five-year investment programme, totalling 1.3 trillion drachmas, would maintain the company's leadership in the market.

He also said that OTE would promote measures to cut operation costs in order to boost earnings and create a modern and competitive network.

State securities dematerialisation begins

Greek authorities yesterday announced the beginning of a dematerialisation process for state securities such as interest-bearing bills and bonds.

The process will start with the dematerialisation of drachma bonds issued on December 27, 1995 with seven year duration.

The National Bank of Greece noted its customers, holders of the specific bond issues, to confirm the order of dematerialisation of their holdings.

The dematerialisation process of state securities would contribute in modernising Greece's bond derivatives market and trading settlement.

Pro football clubs post total losses of 23.5 billion

Most Greek pro football clubs (PAE) are "loss-making" and "illegal" according to the development ministry.

A document addressed to Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras by the general secretariat of commerce states that several PAEs have not submitted for publication their balance sheet for the fiscal year from July 1, 1996 to June 30, 1997, while most post losses.

It is characteristic that the 18 pro clubs in the Greek first division have total losses amounting to 23.5 billion drachmas.

The development ministry's document gives administrations of PAEs a 15-day limit to submit supporting documents for their balance sheets, as anticipated by law. They also have a two-month period to convene a general assembly of shareholders to decide ei ther to increase their share capital or dissolve the company.

Citibank interest rates

Citibank yesterday announced the following interest rates for accounts in foreign exchange:

US dollar 9.15 per cent; Japanese yen 3.58 per cent; deutschmark 6.92 per cent; Ecu 7.64 per cent; Dutch florin 6.85 per cent; French franc 6.88 per cent; pound sterling 10.90 per cent; Swiss franc 4.79 per cent; Belgian franc 7 per cent and Italian lir e 9.20 per cent.

High court ruling on hotel reservations

The Supreme Court yesterday ruled that in case of partial cancellation of hotel room reservations, all rooms initially reserved and subsequently not used must be paid for in full.

The ruling overturned a decision by a Corfu appeals court that reviewed a case were a travel agency had reserved 250 rooms for 12 days in April 1988 for a high school trip. The appellate court verified that the travel agency did not notify the hotel 2 1 days in advance of the partial cancellation, as required. As a result, rooms worth a total of 2.1 million drachmas went unused.

While the lower court decided to award half the cost of the unused rooms, the Supreme Court awarded the full amount, ruling in favour of the plaintiffs.

Three individuals summoned over Delta Chrimatistiriaki fraud

Individuals and legal entities involved in the Delta Chrimatistiriaki brokerage firm fraud case will be summoned for questioning by a special judicial examiner.

Indictments have already been issued for the president and two executives of the now defunct brokerage firm, with all three given until Jan. 22 to prepare their testimony.

EU supports Athens' tourism promotion efforts

The European Commission fully supports Athens municipality's initiatives for the Greek capital's tourism promotion and development, according to statements by EU Commissioner Christos Papoutsis yesterday after meeting Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos.

"Athens constitutes the gateway to Europe in the tourism sector and the initiative for the creation of an Athens council of tourism with the main aim of strengthening the tourist activity and the role of Athens in the future is in this direction," Mr. Papoutsis said.

WEATHER

Fair weather with spells of sunshine and scattered showers will prevail in most parts of Greece today. Winds westerly, northwesterly, light to moderate. Athens will be sunny with few clouds and temperatures between 7- 17C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 4-10C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 278.117 Pound sterling 462.927 Cyprus pd 532.704 French franc 46.668 Swiss franc 193.648 German mark 156.205 Italian lira (100) 15.922 Yen (100) 212.972 Canadian dlr. 194.015 Australian dlr. 181.333 Irish Punt 404.934 Belgian franc 7.573 Finnish mark 51.693 Dutch guilder 138.657 Danish kr. 41.011 Swedish kr. 35.730 Norwegian kr. 38.192 Austrian sch. 22.214 Spanish peseta 1.847 Port. Escudo 1.529

(C.E.)


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