Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-01-23
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 23/01/1998 (ANA)
- Greece's priorities during its WEU presidency discussed
- Britain: 'discussion continuing' over Parthenon Marbles
- Int'l conference on 2004 Olympics
- US army chief begins Greek visit
- Changes in high school history books
- News bulletins in foreign languages
- 24-hour strike called a success by trade unionists
- Conference on Greece's course toward EMU
- Tax draft bill ratified in principle, objections raised
- No cuts in funding for Egnatia motorway, Santer says
- Supreme Court says compound interest on bank debts illegal
- Bourse decision for new shares issue
- Baltas says gov't sticking to 'hard drachma' policy
- Banks lead Greek stocks higher
- Agrotica '98 opens january 28 in Thessaloniki
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Greece's priorities during its WEU presidency discussed
Visiting Western European Union (WEU) parliamentary assembly President Luis-
Maria de Puig met with Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday, before
holding talks with Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Athens'
priorities during its six-month WEU rotating presidency.
Mr. de Puig is on a two-day visit to Greece.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos noted that the two men were in agreement on the issues
to be pushed ahead during a WEU summit, scheduled this May in Rhodes.
He said decisions to be reached at the summit should lead to an increasingly
upgraded role for the WEU and the European Union.
In a statement after his arrival on Wednesday, Mr. de Puig said that "odd
as it may seem, in an organisation such as the WEU, a small country like
Greece often has bigger possibilities than a larger country to secure a
consensus and be able to convince on important issues it will desire to
Replying to questions, he said the issue of a 10-mile limit for Greek
airspace had not been discussed at the parliamentary assembly and that he
did not know all the details of the issue.
However, Mr. de Puig said "we support" Greece's internationally recognised
rights and he reiterated Mr. Simitis' statement that Greek-Turkish
relations must be settled through the acceptance of international
Later, Mr. de Puig met with Foreign Ministry Secretary General on EU
Affairs Stelios Perrakis and discussed legal and budget issues between the
two organisations and met separately with main opposition New Democracy
party leader Costas Karamanlis and Parliament President Apostolos
Mr. Kaklamanis said Ankara was waging a war of nerves with Europe and
"reacting like a spoiled child to the conditions set by the European Union
for a country to join the European family".
Greece, he continued, is well aware that this tactic may cause "certain
Britain: 'discussion continuing` over Parthenon marbles
Greece and Britain are having a "continuing discussion" of the question of
the Parthenon Marbles, Culture and Sports Secretary Chris Smith said here
Athens is asking for the return of the ancient marble friezes, lifted from
the Parthenon in the early 19th century by Lord Elgin and shipped to
England. They later became the property of the British Museum in London,
where they are displayed today.
Mr. Smith repeated a statement used by various British officials over the
years, saying he was concerned that the marbles' eventual return to Athens
would open a "Pandora's Box" of demands by other countries for the return
of artifacts currently in British museums.
Int'l conference on 2004 Olympics
A two-day international conference entitled "Olympic Games, City and
Environment" opened at Athens' Zappeion Hall yesterday, organised by the
World Network of Environmental Science and Technology in cooperation with
the International Institute of Environmental Research and the Athens daily
The opening session was attended by Environment, Town Planning and Public
Works Minister Costas Laliotis, who stressed in his speech that the 2004
Olympics had the potential to create a huge and timeless surplus for Greece
in many sectors.
The minister said that many projects were already underway, while the
required studies and plans were ready for others.
Mr. Laliotis also replied to a demonstration by the Greenpeace group
outside the conference building. "They are not the only ones to have
(environmental) concerns", he said.
Some of the banners held by group members read: "To be or not to be...in
Athens in 2004", and "New great idea, new great catastrophe".
The environment was also the main theme in a message to the conference by
the Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who said that initiatives of global
dimensions were needed in order to overcome the ecological crisis.
The premier said that the quality of the Games will not be judged only on
minimising the negative impacts, but also on the improvement in the
character and infrastructure of Athens through appropriate projects.
EU Commissioner Christos Papoutsis, through a message to participants,
proposed that a special energy centre for the Games be established in
Athens with EU funds to study new energy needs and propose solutions on
administration and energy saving.
If his proposal is accepted, said Mr. Papoutsis, then the energy centre
could be ready to operate within 1998.
Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras spoke on economic administration for
the organisation of the Games, stressing that the relevant draft bill
proved the government's insistence on complete transparency.
The government yesterday announced the names of the members of the
organising committee of the Athens Olympics.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas announced that Costas Bakouris,
director of the European section of a large US firm, was appointed managing
Members of the committee include Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos and
International Olympic Committee members (IOC) Nikos Filaretos and Lambis
According to Mr. Reppas the organising committee will soon be turned into
the board of the societe anonyme company to be formed in accordance with a
law passed by Parliament.
US army chief begins Greek visit
US army chief General Dennis Rymer began a three-day visit to Greece
yesterday at the invitation of his Greek counterpart, Lieutenant-General
The US military official had successive meetings yesterday with Parayioudakis
and the Chief of the National Defence General Staff, General (air)
At noon he was received by National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos.
The focus of Gen. Rymer's talks was on issues related to bilateral defence
During his stay in Greece, Gen. Rymer will visit army units and a number of
Changes in high school history books
The education ministry has instructed the Paedagogical Institute to proceed
with all necessary revisions to relevent sections in junior high and high
school history books concerning the Asia Minor catastrophe.
Education Undersecretary Ioannis Anthopoulos made the statement in
He was replying to a question by PASOK deputy Yiannis Kapsis. The
undersecretaty added that Greek history will be tough by a 'multiple book',
which will include historical narrations and additional materials from
Mr. Kapsis said students over the years have been given insufficient
information on the economic and cultural prosperity of the Ionia region and
the city of Smyrna before the Minor Asia catastrophe.
News bulletins in foreign languages
Foreigners in Greece will be able to hear news in seven languages as of
Monday, January 26 on the state radio station ERA 2, ERA General Director
Yiannis Tzannetakos announced yesterday.
The news bulletins will be produced by the Voice of Greece (ERA 5) by a
team of 37 Greek and foreign journalists and broadcast on 93.6 and 103.7 FM
daily at 7.03 (in Arabic and Russian), 8.03 (Polish, Albanian and English
and at 9.03 (French and Bulgarian).
24-hour strike called a success by trade unionists
Unionists said yesterday's 24-hour strike by public utilities, banks and
urban transport organisations was an overwhelming success and warned the
government that it should think first before it choses a rift with state-
Sources said the union movement was considering calling another 24-hour
strike next week. But the government reiterated its determination to
proceed with a restructuring of overdebted public enterprises although it
acknowledged workers' right to protest in defending their interests.
General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) president Christos Polyzogopoulos
told a rally in Athens that there was almost total participation in the
strike from the urban transport sector.
The strike caused serious congestion in central Athens as commuters
resorted to their cars to get to work.
Reports said the participation rate in state-run banks and the Greek
telecommunications organisation (OTE) was lower.
GSEE called the strike over a provision in the government's new tax bill
that allows a change in the status of workers at DEKOs in the framework of
their reform. Workers say that the provision directly undermines their
"If the government wants a break with the unions, then it shall have it,"
Mr. Polyzogopoulos said.
National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou reiterated to
unionists presenting him with their demands that the provision applied only
to loss-making or bankrupt public enterprises and corporations (DEKOs).
He said a six-month period of negotiations between DEKO management and
unions was sufficient time to achieve an agreement on changes but said that
the final decision lay with the government.
Mr.Polyzogopoulos, however, said the union movement would not accept
different conditions for workers in loss-making and profit-making
enterprises and warned of increased labour unrest.
Reports said urban transport organisations - one of the sectors that Mr.
Papantoniou says would be affected by the provision - were considering an
Urban transport organisations alone have debts of 850 billion drachmas,
which will be accommodated by legislation to be submitted to Parliament
later in the year.
Conference on Greece's course toward EMU
A conference focusing on Greece's course toward Economic and Monetary Union
(EMU) opens today in Hamburg, Germany, with the participation of several
distinguished Greek and German academics, researchers, economists and
During the two-day event, some 30 participants will examine figures
regarding Greece's economic convergence, as well as the level of readiness
by the country's private sector.
The conference is organised by three important research institutions -
Europa-Kolleg of Hamburg, the Society of Southeastern Europe (Suedosteuropa
Gesellschaft) of Munich and the Edmund Siemers Foundation, as well as by
the Greek consulate in Hamburg an d the German-Greek Association of
An address will be delivered by Foreign Ministry Secretary General for EU
Affairs Stelios Perrakis.
Tax draft bill ratified in principle, objections raised
Parliament approved in principle a government taxation draft bill with 153
votes for and 122 against, after a roll-call vote yesterday.
PASOK deputy Christos Kipouros was present at the vote but abstained.
Before the vote, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou
replied to a question by main opposition ND honorary president Constantine
Mitsotakis regarding labour relations in public utilities (DEKOs).
"There is not going to be any amendment/addition and no essential change in
the clause. It will be a reformulation of the provision that will be
announced next week", the minister said.
Objections to provisions in the two first clauses of the draft bill were
voiced by ruling PASOK deputies Anastasios Peponis, Lefteris Verivakis and
No cuts in funding for Egnatia motorway, Santer says
There will be no cuts in Community Support Fund credits for the Egnatia
motorway or natural gas projects, European Commission President Jacques
Santer stressed recently.
The Commission president responded in writting to a memo sent two months
ago by New Democracy Eurodeputy Antonis Trakatelis.
The memo contained a signed petition by 32 main opposition New Democracy
deputies, stating that the Greek government was considering shifting funds
from major projects in northern Greece in order to use them in other,
Supreme Court says compound interest on bank debts illegal
A Supreme Court plenum yesterday ruled the unilateral levying of compound
interest by banks on outstanding debts as illegal.
By a majority vote of 16 to five, the high court overturned an appeals
court ruling, and sent the matter back to it for reconsideration.
Bourse decision for new shares issue
The Athens Stock Exchange board of governors yesterday ruled that all
listed companies wishing to issue new shares will have to open a special
account with a Greek bank, where all prospective shareholders will directly
deposit the money required.
The measure aims to promote transparency, the board said.
Baltas says gov't sticking to 'hard drachma' policy
National Economy Undersecretary Alekos Baltas yesterday said that the "hard
drachma" policy is a basic goal of the government's fiscal policy in order
to "build a correct economy."
Speaking at the Greek-Italian Chamber of Commerce Symposioum, he said that
Greek businesses must create alliances within and outside Greece so as to
play a role in economic globalisation.
The undersecretary noted the role of chambers of commerce and other related
The Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) yesterday
announced that it backs the "hard drachma" policy.
The announcement also said that for the policy to be successful the state
must adjust its fiscal policies.
IOBE, however, is sceptical of the continued pressure on the drachma from
continued international monetary crises, which began last October.
Banks lead Greek stocks higher
Greek equities moved steadily upwards yesterday for the fourth consecutive
session on the Athens Stock Exchange this time helped by strong buying
interest in banks.
The general index closed 0.86 percent higher at 1,451.64 points, led by a
2.47 percent surge in the banking index.
Other sector indices were mixed. Insurance rose 1.18 percent, Leasing fell
0.02 percent, Investment dropped 0.42 percent, Constructions fell 1.44
percent, Industrials were 0.05 percent up, Miscellaneous jumped 2.81
percent and Holding was 0.62 percent higher.
The parallel market index for small cap companies gained 0.72 percent,
while the FTSE/ASE index rose 1.13 percent to 799.10.
Trading was heavy with turnover at 18.4 billion drachmas.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 100 to 99 with another 20 issues
Lambropoulos, Macedonia-Thrace Bank, Ideal, Levenderis and Pairis scored
the biggest percentage gains at the day's upper limit of 8.0 percent, while
Desmos, Dane, Thessaliki and Sato suffered the heaviest losses.
National Bank of Greece ended at 20,800 drachmas, Ergobank at 14,000, Alpha
Credit Bank at 15,250, Delta Dairy at 2,750, Titan Cement at 13,590,
Intracom at 14,900 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 5,
Agrotica '98 opens January 28 in Thessaloniki
Agrotica '98, the biggest agricultural trade fair in the Balkans, will be
held January 28-February 1 in Thessaloniki, the first exhibition by Helexpo
in the new year.
Agrotica, an international trade fair which started 14 years ago, will
present an increased number of exhibitors and will occupy the largest area
in its history.
According to Helexpo, 1,517 Greek and foreign exhibitors will participate
in this year's Agrotica fair on a site of more than 38,500 square metres,
compared with 1,501 exhibitors and 36,807 s.m. respectively last year. A
total of 776 foreign exhibitor s from 35 different countries and 741 Greek
companies will participate, while seven countries - Albania, Bulgaria,
France, Spain, Italy, Poland and Tunisia - will participate with national
Unstable weather in most parts of Greece today with snowfall in the north
and mainland regions. Winds variable, strong to moderate, turning to gale
force in the Aegean Sea. Athens, mostly sunny with possible showers in the
evening and temperatures between 7-13C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki
with temperatures from 3-8C.
Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 283.454
Pound sterling 466.022 Cyprus pd 532.406
French franc 46.807 Swiss franc 192.795
German mark 156.800 Italian lira (100) 15.923
Yen (100) 223.527 Canadian dlr. 195.920
Australian dlr. 186.754 Irish Punt 393.070
Belgian franc 7.600 Finnish mark 51.782
Dutch guilder 139.148 Danish kr. 41.162
Swedish kr. 35.569 Norwegian kr. 37.972
Austrian sch. 22.288 Spanish peseta 1.849
Port. Escudo 1.533