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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-01-27

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


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
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


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 interbank market.

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 dollar.

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 unchanged.

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 said yesterday.

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 Union.

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 years.

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 market.

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 derivatives market.

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 today.

"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 changed.

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- liberalism.

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 and Iraq.

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 security.

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 jurisdiction.

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 noted.

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 per cent.

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" events.

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 rights.

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 annually.

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 placement.

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 attractive.

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 European Commission.

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


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