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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-01-21

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, 21/01/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Premier: Greece won't be drawn into conflict with Turkey
  • Greek Defence Minister: Turkish designs in Aegean must cease
  • Tsohatzopoulos to attend defence ministers' meeting in FYROM
  • Study unveiled on Greek pharmaceutical consumption, prices
  • Bianco extradition considered, political asylum requested
  • Actress handed suspended sentence in murder conspiracy case
  • Symposium emphasises Greek-Italian business cooperation
  • Seminar on business prospects in Cyprus
  • Farmers threaten new protests
  • State revenues fall slightly short of estimates
  • Gov't orders new OA board to restructure
  • Greek shipping company plans IPO in NYSE
  • Greek equities end higher, pace slows
  • Interbank market returns to normal conditions
  • Tokyo to get a taste of traditional Greek cuisine
  • "Hera's Treasure" displayed in Athens
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Premier: Greece won't be drawn into conflict with Turkey

Greece will not be drawn into the trap of armed confrontation with Turkey, which is bent on eliciting benefits by presenting the two countries as locked in a state of continuous dispute, Prime Minister Costas Simitis stressed yesterday.

"Turkey wishes to present an image of the two countries to the eyes of the international community as being in an uninterrupted state of dispute, expecting to draw benefits from the mediation of third parties," he told a group of ruling PASOK deputies representing the Peloponnese and western Greece.

"Turkey is seeking a confrontation, but we shall not fall in its trap. It (also) exercises foreign policy for the sake of internal consumption and in order to counterbalance its unstable internal situation. And that is where the danger lies. A politically unstable Turkey is likely to play a further destabilising role in the region," he added.

"Precisely because Greece knows better than anyone else, it will never be drawn in by any of Turkey's designs. Whatever is said and written at times, and particularly in the current period, about war is groundless," he emphasised.

Referring to Greece's presence in the Balkans, he stressed that the policy of peace, friendship and cooperation is already in the stage of implementation with tangible results, and will continue.

"Greece has already acquired stature as the stabilising factor par excellence in the area of southeastern Europe and the broader region," he said.

Regarding the economy, the prime minister reiterated that the government would unwaveringly defend the current parity of the drachma, having set as a matter of foremost priority the consolidation of stability that will lead to the country's equal participation in EMU.

Greek Defence Minister: Turkish designs in Aegean must cease

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said the "Aegean and Greece go together", while touring national guard outposts on the islands of Samos, Ikaria, Fourni and Agathonisi and in response to recent Turkish provocations.

"Turkey's position is inconceivable. We advise it to stop attempting to change anything in the Aegean. Borders are registered in international agreements and by international law. Consequently, the neighbour is slipping with these acts of threatening and is condemned as an invader," he said.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said Turkey must stop training its soldiers on how to capture Samos, Kos, Rhodes and the Aegean islands in their entirety.

"Turkey is trying with its strategy to show that it plays a decisive role in the region and the international community must preoccupy itself with the US$150-million armaments programme in a country having 100 per cent inflation," he added.

Referring to Greece's armaments programme, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said it is trying to cover gaps and delays concerning the 1990-1995 period. He also said that Turkey's participation in the European Conference must be accompanied by respect for international law, borders, a just solution to the Cyprus issue and all that applies to other countries.

Tsohatzopoulos to attend defence ministers' meeting in FYROM

The head of the Greek liaison office in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Ambassador Alexandros Mallias, delivered the official acceptance by National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos to participate in a meeting of defence ministers from FYROM, Bulgaria, Albania and Greece.

The meeting is scheduled to be held in the city of Ohrid in February at the initiative of FYROM.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos' letter mentions that although Greece desires to participate, however, it is unable to do soon Feb. 7, the proposed date, and expresses the hope that the meeting will be held in February.

Albania and Bulgaria have not replied officially to the invitation so far, although the defence ministers of the two countries had expressed themselves positively in principle during the NATO conference in Madrid several months ago.

Study unveiled on Greek pharmaceutical consumption, prices

The National Institute of Labour (EIE) yesterday announced that expeditures for pharmaceuticals rose by 243 per cent between 1990 and 1996.

The EIE study was commissioned to determine pharmacists' work conditions as well as the pharmaceutical industry's operating conditions.

According to the study, the increase is due to three reasons:
a 29 per cent increase in consumption.
a 53.7 per cent increase of prices.
a shift in prescriptions from inexpesive to expensive drugs.

According to the study most pharmacies in Greece are one-person operations, while in western Europe most are cooperatives of two or more individuals.

Finally, the study noted that most Greek drug companies are technologically dependent to their European counterparts, since only the last stage of production usually takes place in Greece. Only 8.6 per cent of Greek medicines are exported.

Bianco extradition considered, political asylum requested

An Athens Appeals Council yesterday began deliberations on a request by Italian authorities for the extradition of Enrico Bianco, 45, wanted in the neighbouring country on robberies and weapons possession charges.

Mr. Bianco was arrested last month by police in Preveza after a tip by Interpol.

The Italian national has maintained his innocence throughout, saying his is being persecuted for political crimes in the 1980s and not for committing other felonies. He has also requested political asylum in Greece.

Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) Eurodeputy Michalis Papayiannakis, a defence witness, told the appeals court that it was true Bianco had committed only political crimes.

The hearing continues today.

Actress handed suspended sentence in murder conspiracy case

A three-member Athens misdemeanor court yesterday handed down a two-year suspended sentence on actress Vasia Panagopoulou for conspiring to murder her former husband, stage director Apostolos Doxiadis.

Another two out of the total of four defendants in the case received the same sentence, while the fourth was acquitted.

Two judges voted in favour of her conviction, while a third opted for acquittal.

Symposium emphasises Greek-Italian business cooperation

Greece in 1999 will satisfy all convergence criteria for inclusion in the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), offering major opportunities as well as challenges, Bank of Greece Deputy Governor Nikolaos Garganas told participants during the second day of a Hellenic-Italian business symposium in Athens.

The event is organised by the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Athens.

The president of the Italian Association of Industries, Giorgio Fossa, said it will be to the benefit of both Greek and Italian industry to support initiatives and contacts among European and Mediterranean basin entrepreneurs.

"Greek and Italian industrialists have a significant mission to carry out, together with their colleagues from Europe's Mediterranean countries, namely, to contribute to the economic acceleration of the south Mediterranean states..." he said.

Theodosia Antoniadou-Tziveli, a Greek businesswoman based in Italy with one of that country's top fashion firms, told participants it was imperative for both countries' businesspeople to cooperate and take initiatives on the international scene.

Seminar on business prospects in Cyprus

The International Institute of Economic Relations in cooperation with the Cypriot Commerce Bureau of Athens organised a one-day conference entitled "Prospects for Business Activities in the Republic of Cyprus."

Conference speakers concentrated on the geo-political advantages of Greece and Cyprus in the region.

Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis and Cypriot ambassador to Athens Haralambos Christoforou addressed the conference.

They noted the fact that the island republic's economic growth will aid efforts for a viable solution of the Cyprus problem and support its accession to the European Union.

Farmers threaten new protests

Farmers in the prefecture of Thessaloniki said yesterday they would blockade the Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace building in the city for two days starting February 2 to protest funding arrangements, price levels for farm products and the trials of farmers arrested in previous demonstrations.

The decision to blockade the ministry was confirmed at a meeting yesterday of the Federation of Farmers' Associations of Thessaloniki.

Federation president Dimitris Parlapanis said the demonstrations would be a warning. Any further action, he said, would depend on the government's response.

Also on February 2, members of the Malgara-Kimina Farmers' Association are planning to park their tractors along the Athens-Thessaloniki highway, although they will not block the highway itself, according to the association's president Costas Anestidis.

State revenues fall slightly short of estimate

The 1997 state budget recorded an increase in revenues of 13.4 per cent, slightly lower than the projected 15.6 per cent, according to official figures released by the finance ministry.

The balance between the two figures translates into 340 billion drachmas.

In the 12-month period between January-December 1997 collected revenues increased by 15.65 per cent, while revenues from customs duties rose by 8.77 per cent. Revenue from other sources posted an increase of 13.69 per cent.

Gov't orders new OA board to restructure

The government yesterday told the new board of Olympic Airways to draft a fast restructuring programme within two months and then implement it.

Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis, speaking during the inauguration of the national carrier's new board, headed by managing director Theodoros Tsakiridis, urged OA to seek a strategic partner abroad and to promote measures for the co mpany's timely transfer of operations to a new Athens Airport at Spata.

Mr. Mantelis also asked a private consultants firm to draft a new company staff regulation and an operational restructuring programme.

He urged the new board to strengthen the role of OA's subsidiaries and exploring new sectors of possible profitability.

Mr. Mantelis asked the new board of directors to set long-term commercial targets in managing the company.

Greek shipping company plans IPO in NYSE

Royal Olympic Cruise Lines Inc. has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission concerning an initial public offering of 5.95 million shares of its common stock in the New York Stock Exchange, a company spokesman told the AN A yesterday.

The lead underwriters of the U.S. tranche of the offering will be Lazard Freres & Co. LLC and Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corporation. Lead managers of the international tranche will be Lazard Capital Markets and Donaldson,Lufkin & Jenrette International.

The registration statement concerning the securities has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission but has not yet become effective.

These securities may not be sold nor may offers to buy be accepted prior to the time the registration statement comes effective, the spokesman said.

The Piraeus-based Royal Olympic Cruises offers destination-oriented cruises in the Mediterranean, Baltic and Black Seas and in Central and South America, served by a fleet of six cruise ships with an aggregate capacity of 3,154 births.

It was set up in 1995 by Epirotiki Cruise Line and Sun Line Cruises.

Greek equities end higher, pace slows

Greek equities remained on an upward course yesterday for the third consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange although the pace of advance was substantially slower than in the previous two sessions.

The general index closed 0.31 percent higher at 1,440.31 points, off the day's highs.

Traders said the market was gradually regaining its confidence but noted that worries persisted over the situation in the domestic money market.

Sector indices were mixed. Banks rose 0.66 percent, Insurance fell 0.80 percent, Leasing was 1.49 percent up, Investment dropped 0.62 percent, Constructions plunged 3.33 percent on heavy profit-taking, Industrials increased 0.89 percent, Miscellaneous e ased 0.75 percent and Holding fell 1.04 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 0.94 percent off, while the FTSE/ASE index closed 0.34 percent up at 791.55 points.

Trading was moderate with turnover at 16.4 billion drachmas.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 140 to 71 with another 24 issues unchanged.

Lambropoulos, General Warehouse, Macedonian Plastics, Thessaliki and Singular scored the biggest percentage gains, while Levenderis, Desmos, Radio Athina and Ippotour suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 20,750 drachmas, Ergobank at 13,650, Alpha Credit Bank at 14,150, Delta Dairy at 2,805, Titan Cement at 13,700, Intracom at 15,140 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 5, 565.

Interbank market returns to normal conditions

Interest rates in Greece's interbank market dropped substantially yesterday in what bankers described a normalisation of the market after recent strong turbulence.

The overnight rate fell below 11 percent for the first time in several weeks, while short-term interest rates were around 15-15 percent.

In the domestic foreign exchange market, the drachma was mixed.

The Greek currency rebounded against the U.S. dollar but was slightly lower against the DMark and the Ecu.

Bankers noted that there were no significant movement of capital in the market.

Tokyo to get a taste of traditional Greek cuisine

Cretan delicasies are on the menu in Japan next month as part of a campaign to promote the Greek island as a tourist destination and within the framework of a Tokyo exhibition entitled "Greek Food & Wine Fair".

The event includes two weeks of traditional Cretan cuisine to be hosted by the Japanese capital's Dalichi Hotels. The events are organised by the Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT) in cooperation with Swissair and the Elounda Beach Hotel in Crete.

"Hera's Treasure" displayed in Athens

An exhibition featuring "Hera's Treasure", on loan from a museum of Crotona in southern Italy, was inaugurated yesterday evening by Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos at Athens' Arts Centre.

The exhibition, to last until Feb. 15, is jointly hosted by the Athens municipality's cultural organisation and the Italian Educational Institute of Athens.

The ceremony in Athens was also attended by Crotona Mayor Pascuale Senatore.

WEATHER

Rain is forecast for most parts of Greece today. Snow in the north and possibly in the mountainous regions of central Greece. Winds southwesterly, strong to gale force. Rain also expected in Athens with temperatures between 10-14C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 7- 11C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 287.085 Pound sterling 468.918 Cyprus pd 532.684 French franc 46.680 Swiss franc 191.749 German mark 156.290 Italian lira (100) 15.894 Yen (100) 222.416 Canadian dlr. 199.471 Australian dlr. 190.385 Irish Punt 393.011 Belgian franc 7.577 Finnish mark 51.665 Dutch guilder 138.706 Danish kr. 41.043 Swedish kr. 35.543 Norwegian kr. 37.884 Austrian sch. 22.221 Spanish peseta 1.845 Port. Escudo 1.529

(C.E.)


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