Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-01-27
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 27/01/1998 (ANA)
- Greece unveils international economic relations targets
- Greek stocks end lower hit by money market turbulence
- Government debt lower than target in 1997
- Premier steadfast on utilities' restructuring, strike today
- Danielle Mitterrand speaks at anti-racism conference in Athens
- Greece rejects Turkish proposal for dialogue before The Hague
- Gov't comments on latest poll published by Athens daily
- Permanent Mount Athos exhibition announced
- Studies centre on Turkish crimes against humanity
- Chilean delegation in Athens for talks on tourism, trade
- Duty Free Shops' bourse floatation nears final stage
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Greece unveils international economic relations targets
Greece's foreign economic policy aims to promote economic relations with
countries in the Balkans, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea areas,
National Economy Undersecretary Alekos Baltas said yesterday.
He underlined that the government's foreign economic policy included the
creation of a common legal framework to promote and protect investment and
avoid double taxation, ministerial meetings, credit facilities programmes
and administration of community programmes.
It also called for participation the Black Sea Cooperation Organisation and
a US-led initiative for cooperation in southeast European states (SECI).
Mr. Baltas presented Greece's first international commerce company, INTRADE
SA, set up to promote business activity in the Balkans, the Black Sea,
central and eastern Europe and the Middle East.
The company plans to open offices in countries in these regions.
INTRADE's start-up capital totals 300 million drachmas.
Shareholders include Commercial Bank of Greece, Hellenic Foreign Trade
Board (HEPO), Ergo, Hellafarm, Orizon, Dodoni, Proodeftiki, Interexport-
Perla Hellinikon Alas, Suphur Hellas, Semeli, Pittas, Heltrab Co, TCL
Agencies, Adelco, Pamona, Kyknos and Florina.
Speaking to the ANA, HEPO President Ioannis Tzen expressed hope that the
new company will be a pilot for the creation of other companies of
international trade within the framework of the relevant law. He also
underlined that the new company's aim is to help small- and medium-sized
enterprises in international presence and in security major contracts.
Greek stocks end lower hit by money market turbulence
Greek equities lost considerable ground on the Athens Stock Exchange
yesterday hit by renewed turbulence in the domestic money market.
Bankers reported capital outflows totalling 120 million US dollars at the
drachma's fixing while interest rates moved higher in the domestic
The Greek currency fell 0.16 percent against the Ecu. It was 0.15 percent
lower against the DMark but strengthened by 0.79 percent against the US
The general index ended 1.40 percent off at 1,427.79 points with most
sector indices losing ground.
Banks fell 2.29 percent, Insurance dropped 1.45 percent, Leasing ended 1.03
percent off, Constructions fell 1.62 percent, Industrials eased 0.95
percent, Miscellaneous ended 0.91 percent down, Holding fell 0.90 percent
and Investments rose 1.77 percent.
The parallel market index for small cap companies fell 0.50 percent.
Trading was moderate with turnover 13.3 billion drachmas.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 155 to 64 with another 15 issues
Alumil, European Credit and Radio Athina scored the biggest percentage
gains at the day's upper limit of 8.0 percent, while Lambropoulos,
Sarandopoulos, Etma and Atemke suffered the heaviest losses.
National Bank of Greece ended at 20,000, Ergobank at 13,650, Alpha Credit
Bank at 14,740, Delta Dairy at 2,650, Titan Cement at 13,685, Intracom at
14,800 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 5,530.
Government debt lower than target in 1997
Greece's central administration debt fell to 119.3 percent of gross
domestic product (GDP) or 30,040 billion drachmas in 1997, down from 120.2
percent or 39,339 billion expected by last year's budget.
The general government's debt also fell by one percentage point below 109
percent of the country's GDP, Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis
Addressing a banking conference in Athens, Mr. Christodoulakis stressed
that the government's debt would fall further to show a clear declining
trend, a precondition for participating in European Economic and Monetary
He predicted that the government's average monthly borrowing requirements
would fall to 867 billion drachmas in 1998, down from 1,052 billion last
year, for a decline of 18 percent.
Mr. Christodoulakis also pointed out that public debt's composition
improved in 1997 in terms of average duration of state securities. Long-
term issues accounted for 60 percent of domestic debt in 1996, rising up to
75 percent last year along with a rise in average duration from 4.5 to 5.5
He presented the finance ministry's decisions on a new regulation for the
operation of primary dealers in the Greek bond market to start before the
end of the month and measures to streamline the country's bond derivatives
Mr. Christodoulakis said primary dealers should comply five basic criteria:
first, present minimum own capital up to 30 billion drachmas, second,
operate their own dealing room and back office, third, constant presentation
at the country's primary state securities market, fourth, guarantee
absorption of a minimum 3.0 percent annually of international issues and
fifth, cover at least 2.0 percent annually of all state securities
Premier steadfast on utilities' restructuring, strike today
Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday appeared determined to proceed with
changes and restructuring in state-run utilities' (DEKOs) labour relations,
amid increasing reactions by trade unions, culminating in a 24-hour strike
"Measures for DEKOs are a structural change. The Greek people have paid
hundreds of billions to these enterprises to operate", the premier told
reporters yesterday, before attending an annual reception hosted by the
Piraeus Chamber of Commerce and Indus try.
The premier stressed that the country's inclusion in Economic and Monetary
Union (EMU) and Greece's equal participation in a united Europe required
constant structural changes on the way the state and society functioned.
"Employees at these enterprises (DEKOs) should realise that Greece's
interest is their own interest as well, that stability and development were
the target serving the interests of everyone", the PM said.
The 24-hour strike by DEKOs and state-owned banks will go ahead, the
General Confederation of Workers of Greece president said yesterday,
warning that the unions would withdraw from "social dialogue" with the
government if proposed legislative provisions changing the status of
workers were not withdrawn.
At a press conference yesterday, GSEE President Christos Polyzogopoulos
spoke of "an anti-democratic reversal of enormous political significance"
and urged National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou to
consider "where he was leading the ruling party".
Mr. Papantoniou has said the changes had been decided upon by the entire
government, had been approved by the prime minister and would not be
Danielle Mitterrand speaks at anti-racism conference in Athens
The president of the France Liberte Foundation, Danielle Mitterrand, told a
"Racism Against Democracy" conference yesterday that the words every anti-
racist must have in mind are "knowledge, tolerance and solidarity."
Ms Mitterrand, a guest of the Strategic and Development Studies Institute -
A. Papandreou (ISTAME), focused on the new form of racism developing in
modern democracies which is related to market globalisation and neo-
She said the modern market economy is leading four fifths of mankind to
desperation, adding that democracy does not protect the citizen but submits
to the laws of the market.
Referring to the Kurdish issue, Ms Mitterrand said France Liberte is
proceeding with demarches, is trying to shed light on the problem and
denounces acts of barbarism taking place against the Kurds both in Turkey
Ms Mitterrand said Europe cannot support the so-called Turkish republic,
which is a military dictatorship in reality.
Prime Minister Costas Simitis is to meet today with Ms Mitterrand.
Greece rejects Turkish proposal for dialogue before The Hague
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday rejected a proposal by
Turkey to hold a bilateral political dialogue before referring Greek-
Turkish differences to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
"We will not discuss issues that have already been settled on the basis of
international treaties or international law," said Mr. Reppas. Referring to
statements by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos on Sunday that Greek-
Turkish differences could be solved by seeking recourse to international
arbitration, Mr. Reppas said that Greece's policy of a "step-by-step"
approach to these issues still held as it was the "correct policy".
He said that Mr. Pangalos had simply indicated to Turkey that if it
believed it had any disputes with Greece it should refer those issues to
the International Court rather than resort to "aggressive and provocative"
military action. Greece, he added, would present its own positions on each
of the issues which Turkey might raise, particularly those related to
Any discussion of those issues before Turkey recognised the jurisdiction of
the International Court, he said, would be held "in a vacuum". However, Mr.
Reppas did not think it likely that Turkey would in fact accept that
In response to a question, Mr. Reppas stressed that Greece's airspace and
the fortification of Greece's Aegean islands were not among the issues that
could be discussed at The Hague.
Gov't comments on latest poll published by Athens daily
The government said yesterday that the confidence of the Greek people in
the ruling PASOK party would be renewed at the election booths, after
completion of its four-year mandate.
"Today's (yesterday's) poll documents the preferences of public opinion at
a particular point in time," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas
He made the comment in response to press questions on the results of an
opinion poll published in Athens daily 'Ta Nea' yesterday. The poll showed
that Prime Minister Costas Simitis and the government generally had dropped
in popularity, with Mr. Simitis garnering only 36.4 per cent popularity,
compared to 59.2 last May, with 54.9 per cent of those interviewed saying
they had a negative opinion of him, compared to 36.1 per cent in May.
Mr. Simitis' popularity amongst PASOK voters also fell, from 82.3 per cent
in November 1997 to 67.3 per cent.
Main opposition leader Costas Karamanlis also dipped in the popularity
stakes, garnering 43.2 per cent compared with 54.1 in September 1997.
Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos continued
to maintain his lead as the most popular politician with 62.3 per cent,
followed by Dimitris Tsovolas, the leader of the Democratic Social Movement
with 52.2 per cent.
The positive opinion of the government fell from 25.2 per cent of those
polled in August to 15.8 per cent in yesterday's poll, while opposition New
Democracy noted a small increase in its positive opinion, up 3 percent from
10 per cent in November.
However, those dissatisfied with ND increased from 49.4 per cent to 55.1
Permanent Mount Athos exhibition announced
Halkidiki Prefect Vassilis Vassilakis yesterday announced the establisment
of a permanent Mount Athos exhibition in the Halkidiki town of Ouranoupoli
by the year 2000.
Mr. Vassilakis said the The Holy Mount Museum will give women the ability
to enjoy this unique cultural heritage.
He added that the idea for the exhibition matured when the public turned
out in great numbers to see the "Treasures of Mount Athos" exhibition, held
in Thessaloniki within the framework of the "Cultural Capital '97"
Studies centre on Turkish crimes against humanity
A centre for the study of Turkish genocides and crimes against humanity is
to be founded by the Washington-based American Hellenic Institute
Foundation, a Foundation spokesman told the ANA.
The centre will focus on the study of specific events in modern Turkish
history from the 19th century onwards that have been designated as
genocides and crimes against humanity.
Studies will include the 1915-1922 genocide against the Armenians, the 1922
destruction of Izmir and the massacre of its Greek and Armenian inhabitants,
the 1974 invasion of Cyprus and the ongoing occupation of one-third of the
island republic by Turkish troops, and the violation of the Kurds' human
Chilean delegation in Athens for talks on tourism, trade
A high-level delegation from Chile led by Economy and Energy Minister
Alvaro Garcia is currently visiting Greece to discuss cooperation in the
tourism sector as well as investment, trade, exchange of know-how.
At a meeting yesterday, Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT) Secretary
General Nikos Skoulas said that 1.5 million Greeks travel abroad every year,
while the number of tourists from Latin America to Greece is steadily
increasing. Mr. Garcia, noting Chile's economic growth rate of 7 per cent,
said that the number of Chileans travelling abroad rose by 11 per cent
He characterised Greece as a model for tourism development and urged Greek
businesses to invest in Chile's tourism industry. Athens and Santiago
signed a bilateral tourism cooperation protocol in 1994.
Duty Free Shops' bourse floatation nears final stage
Procedures for the floatation of the Duty Free Shops (KAE) on the Athens
Stock Exchange are nearing their final stage.
Public subscription for the 7,625,000-share issue, managed by the
Commercial Bank of Greece, will take place between Feb. 17 and 20, while
100,000 of the shares will be distributed to employees by private
The price of shares has been set at 3,200 drachmas, while the P/E ratio,
which is lower than six, is considered to make the issue particularly
Twenty billion drachmas of the raised capital from the planned share
capital increase and the floatation, estimated at 24.4 billion drachmas,
will be used for the repayment of a loan with which the company bought a 50-
year concession from the Greek state, until the year 2047.
The concession concerns duty free shops that already exist or are planned
at international airports, stations and ports, in which 1.66 billion will
be invested in 1998. Six new outlets have been planned next year, and a
further nine in 1999.
KAE managing director Mr. Tzinieris said an aggressive dividends policy
would be followed, with distribution reaching 86 per cent of profits.
Management considers that the abolition of duty free shops for intra-EU
travel in 1999 will not pose a serious problem for the company, given
Greece's extensive land borders with non-EU countries.
The likelihood is also being pointed out of a five-year postponement of the
abolition due to the delay in the drawing up of a relevant study by the
An important role will also be played by the company's expansion to charter
terminals and the return of VAT to foreign tourists before departure,
rather than by post as hitherto.
Cloudiness and low temperatures will be the main characteristics of today's
weather in Greece with rain mainly in the south and light snowfall in the
mountainous regions. Winds northeasterly, strong to gale force. Light rain
or sleet in Athens with temperatures between 3-6C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki
with temperatures from 0-4C.
Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 279.784
Pound sterling 467.272 Cyprus pd 534.688
French franc 47.031 Swiss franc 193.852
German mark 157.530 Italian lira (100) 15.955
Yen (100) 222.178 Canadian dlr. 192.944
Australian dlr. 188.143 Irish Punt 396.443
Belgian franc 7.635 Finnish mark 52.048
Dutch guilder 139.788 Danish kr. 41.353
Swedish kr. 35.557 Norwegian kr. 37.863
Austrian sch. 22.384 Spanish peseta 1.858
Port. Escudo 1.540