Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-01-30
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 30/01/1998 (ANA)
- Greece's current accounts deficit shrinks
- Volatile money markets hit Athens bourse
- US envoy voices support for Athens' Kosovo initiative
- Greek shipowners announce environmental prize
- New tenders for Egnatia Motorway
- Development minister urges tourism quality improvement
- INTRACOM agreement with Northrop Grumman
- Massive amounts of carcinogen Benzole in Athens' air
- SEB says fewer profit-making companies in '96
- Progress report on Athens 2004 to be presented at Nagano Games
- AMTECH '98 opens
- Ukraine protests to Greece over detained airliner
- Belgian Nobel laureate in Thessaloniki
- Cyprus to probe allegations of mass executions by invading Turks
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Greece's current accounts deficit shrinks
Greece's current accounts deficit shrunk 39.1 percent in October last year
to 406 million US dollar from 666.8 million the same month in 1996, the
Bank of Greece said yesterday.
The central bank said that the country's current accounts shortfall rose by
7.2 percent to 4.54 billion dollars in the first ten months of 1997
compared to a deficit of 4.24 billion in the corresponding period in
Greece's trade deficit widened by 2.4 percent to 15.49 billion dollars in
the period January-October 1997 from a shortfall of 15.13 billion in the
same period in 1996.
The Bank of Greece also said that the invisible revenues balance showed a
surplus of 10.94 billion dollars in the first ten months of 1997, up from a
10.89 billion surplus in 1996.
The country's foreign exchange reserves rose to 13.3 billion dollars in
December from a 11 billion figure in October last year.
The Bank of Greece attributed a rise in foreign reserves to a return of
foreign capital in the Greek market following a turbulent period in
Volatile money markets hit Athens bourse
Greek equities remained under pressure to end lower for the fourth
consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday.
Traders said market sentiment was hit by persistent volatility in the
domestic money market and high interbank rates.
The general index closed 0.78 percent down at 1,380.13 points, reversing an
early 1.13 percent advance.
Most sector indices lost ground. Banks fell 0.69 percent, Insurance eased
0.84 percent, Investment ended 0.09 percent off, Constructions dropped 1.86
percent, Industrials eased 0.55 percent, Miscellaneous eased 2.07 percent
and Holding fell 1.45 percent . Leasing bucked the trend to end 0.95
The parallel market index for small cap companies fell 1.36 percent. The
FTSE/ASE index ended 0.90 percent down at 755.18 points. Trading was thin
with turnover at 11.4 billion drachmas.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 132 to 80 with another 26 issues
Nematemboriki, Balkan Export, Xylemporia, Radio Athina and Ideal scored the
biggest percentage gains, while Ermis, Eskimo, Dane, Agrinio Metalplastics
and Technodomi suffered the heaviest losses.
National Bank of Greece ended at 19,290 drachmas, Ergobank at 13,200, Alpha
Credit Bank at 14,350, Delta Dairy at 2,680, Titan Cement at 13,125,
Intracom at 14,005 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 5,
US envoy voices support for Athens' Kosovo initiative
US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns said yesterday that Washington
supported all initiatives by Greece aimed at defusing tension in Serbia's
troubled province of Kosovo.
Mr. Burns was speaking in Thessaloniki where he had talks yesterday morning
with Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos.
Greece earlier this month offered to host a meeting between Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic, Albanian Premier Fatos Nano and the leader of
the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, Ibrahim Rugova, to help resolve the Kosovo
Commenting on the Greek initiative, Mr. Burns said the Greek government had
great experience in the region "and we work with Greece to limit tension in
Kosovo and constructively with the Belgrade government to persuade it to
defuse the tension".
"We therefore support every Greek initiative which could help in this major
problem," the ambassador said.
The US envoy praised Greece's role in the Balkans, underlining that Athens'
"presence in Albania at a political and economic level is positive, as is
(its participation) in economic developments in the Former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)".
Asked to comment on Turkey's continuing provocations in the Aegean, Mr.
Burns said the US was the friend of both Greece and Turkey and expressed
the hope that the two countries would be able to resolve their problems.
Underlining the growing importance of Thessaloniki in the greater region,
Mr. Burns said he intended to upgrade the US consulate in the northern
Greek port city.
Greek shipowners announce environmental prize
The Greek Shipowners Union has decided to award a bi-annual environmental
prize worth 10,000 US dollars to any Greek individual or organisation for
its work on protecting the sea environment, starting 1998. The award, in
memory of the late shipowner George P. Livanos, will be granted for any
action, survey, scientific result, literature or artistic work referring to
the protection of the sea environment.
New tenders for Egnatia Motorway
Five new projects will be tendered next month for works on the Egnatia Road,
a road network linking the western with the eastern borders of northern
The five projects, budgeted at 60.5 billion drachmas will cover a total
length of 45.4 km of road works.
Development minister urges tourism quality improvement
Improving tourism services was a vital precondition to strengthen Greece's
share in the global tourism market and to better prepare the country for
the 2004 Olympic Games, Development Minister Vasso Papandreou told a
tourism exhibition yesterday.
Speaking at the inaugurating ceremony of the annual Xenia tourism
exhibition, Ms. Papandreou said that improving quality should cover all
aspects of tourism services and urged Greek businessmen and citizens to
seek better quality in the production proce ss as well as in daily
INTRACOM agreement with Northrop Grumman
The Greek telecoms group INTRACOM yesterday announced its dynamic entry
into the vast defence industry market with a Team Agreement with the US
firm Northrop Grumman providing for the joint production of electronic
In particular, the cooperation agreement will focus on the joint production
of the E-2C Hawkeye flying radar which will be used by the Greek army and
is an area in which Northrop has become highly specialised. The 440 million
dollar programme involves the manufacture of six Hawkeye flying radar
aircraft. INTRACOM is expected to undertake between 20 and 25 per cent of
the overall programme.
Of the 114 such radar systems currently operational around the world, the
Hawkeye is used by the US Navy as its principal early air warning
Massive amounts of carcinogen benzole in Athens' air
Disturbing figures on air pollution in Athens and on the health of
residents was publicised yesterday, according to which Athenians inhale
12.9 micrograms of benzoline per cubic metre of air, more than the maximum
level indicated by the World Health Organisation.
According to the initial results of data obtained by the inter-European
programme, the amount of benzoline inhaled by Athenians is double in
relation to other European cities and three or four times greater if Athens
is compared to such cities as Copenh agen. The data was disclosed at a
press conference by Athina Linou, an assistant professor at the Athens
University's medical faculty.
Benzoline is an organic compound which is primarily produced by the burning
of gasoline. High dosages can lead to diseases which are the forerunners of
leukemia. The cause of the increase in benzoline in the environment is
considered the use of unleaded gasoline by cars without catalytical
converters and the poor maintenance of cars equipped with such converters.
The research programme is the biggest programme of environmental registration
promoted by the European Union with the purpose of collecting necessary
data and submitting it to the Commission to enable a relevant directive to
be issued by the end of 1999 .
SEB says fewer profit-making companies in '96
The Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) yesterday announced that profit-
making enterprises decreased to 3,957 in 1996, down from 4,070 in 1995.
According to SEB, this translates into a loss of 7,000 jobs in 1996, mainly
from the loss-making enterprises.
Progress report on Athens 2004 to be presented at Nagano Games
"Athens knows how to keep its promises," will be the central slogan of the
Greek delegation at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, where the
delegation will present a file on the progress of infrastructure projects
in the Greek capital in view of the Olympic Games of 2004, Sports
Undersecretary Andreas Fouras said yesterday.
"We are fully ready to present within half-an-hour all we have done so far.
We shall show them that projects are progressing, the metro stations, the
Spata (airport) building installations, and all the other necessary works,"
Mr. Fouras added the organisation of the Olympic Games of 2004 in Athens
would not present any serious economic problem, although this aspect of the
event was not the government's primary concern.
"The budget is 400 billion drachmas ($1.4 billion). We'll receive 230
billion from television rights, while the 90 billion needed to construct
the Olympic village will not be lost either, as these houses will be sold
after the Games. Also, do not forget the amounts we shall get from the
tickets and the rights from the Olympic Signs. There is not economic
problem," he said before going on to stress that Greece's real aim was "a
return to the Olympic ideals."
"The children who are 12 years old now must be brought up with the Olympic
idea. Woe betide if we only think and talk about the financial side of the
Games," he added.
Referring to the Athens 2004 organising committee, he said its term would
be seven years, and its members, according to the relevant law, could be
replaced in the same way they were appointed.
Meanwhile, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas stressed yesterday that the
government placed priority on transparency and proper management of funds
in general, and those relating to the 2004 Games in particular.
AMTECH '98 opens
The Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce's "AMTECH '98" exhibition opened
yesterday at the Intercontinental Hotel in Athens.
US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns inaugurated the exhibition on
Mr. Burns said that Greek-US trade is of significant importance and added
that the goal is to double trade within the next five years.
The exhibition features 49 firms involved in the sectors of computers,
telecommunications and office automation systems, among others.
The Economic University of Athens (ASOEE) will operate an exhibition on
electronic trade applications, a first in the 11-year history of AMTECH.
Ukraine protests to Greece over detained airliner
Ukraine's Foreign Ministry protested to Greece on Thursday over the
detention of a Ukrainian-owned passenger jet in the Greek city of
The Greek authorities confiscated the aircraft, a Boeing 737 belonging to
Ukraine's privately-owned Aerosweet airline, to compensate relatives of a
victim killed along with 69 others last month when a Ukrainian jet crashed
in northern Greece.
"The detention of the Ukrainian plane does not correspond to internationally
accepted norms," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"It (detention) comes even though the official investigation into the crash
of the Yakovlev-42 plane is not finished."
"There have been no conclusions from Greek investigators and the principles
for compensating the victims' relatives has not been settled," the
The Aerosweet Boeing was seized on Wednesday at Salonika airport as it
prepared to fly to the Ukrainian capital Kiev.
The Greek authorities said they would hold the aircraft until Aerosweet
paid $140,000, a sum demanded by a Greek court for compensation.
"The plane is the only property asset of Aerosweet in Greece and this is
why it was confiscated," the Greek police said on Wednesday.
Aerosweet argues Air Ukraine should compensate the victims' relatives, but
Air Ukraine insists that it only leased the plane and that the flight and
tickets -- on which insurance details are printed -- were those of
Belgian Nobel laureate in Thessaloniki
Belgian Professor Ilya Prigogine, who received the 1977 Nobel Prize for
Chemistry, will be presented with an honourary doctorate by the University
of Thessaloniki on February 2.
Prof. Prigogine will be made an honourary Doctor of the General Polytechnic,
Physics and Philosophy-Education departments at a ceremony during which he
will deliver a lecture on "Time, complexity and the laws of nature".
Prof. Progogine, who has been declared an honourary citizen of Athens and
Thessaloniki, has also received the medal of the Parliament of the Hellenes
in the past.
Cyprus to probe allegations of mass executions by invading Turks
Cyprus will investigate allegations that some 100 Greek Cypriot civilians
were executed and buried in a mass grave during the 1974 Turkish invasion
of Cyprus, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said yesterday.
"We have already instructed the various government departments, including
our embassy in Bonn, to make all the necessary actions to collect
information on the basis of which we can move ahead on the matter," Mr.
Kasoulides said before yesterday's Cabinet meeting.
"We take this case very seriously", he added.
The minister was reluctant to reveal whether information contained in the
press report, which surfaced Wednesday in Germany, matches information the
Turkish Cypriot side handed to the Greek Cypriot side about missing persons
The two sides exchanged information about the location of graves of persons
listed as missing for the first time since the 1974 Turkish invasion of
Cyprus, a development brokered by the UN top envoy in Cyprus, Gustave
According to a report in the pro-Kurdish daily "Ozgur Politika", some 100
Greek Cypriot civilians, mostly elderly men, women and children, were
killed and buried near the capital Nicosia during the 1974 Turkish
A 45-year-old Kurd, Mustafa Ongan, told the paper he was seving in the
Turkish army at the time of the invasion, and was brought to Cyprus with
He said Turkish and Turkish Cypriot officers ordered the killing of the
fleeing civilians, who were later buried in a mass grave.
Mr. Ongan, an eyewitness, is seeking international protection in exchange
for detailed information about the location of the grave and says his
admission of the circumstances for the killings 24 years afterwards is the
result of emotional torment he has been suffering ever since.
A total of 1,619 Greek Cypriots and Greeks were listed as missing soon
after the Turkish invasion and occupation of Cyprus' northern third in
Cloud and local showers are forecast for most parts of Greece today, with
possible light snowfall in the mountainous regions. Winds northerly,
northeasterly, moderate to strong, turning to gale force in the southeastern
Aegean Sea. Athens, sunny to partly cloudy with possible rain and
temperatures from 5-12C. Thessaloniki cloudy with temperatures from 0C-
Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 284.555
Pound sterling 467.569 Cyprus pd 533.696
French franc 46.910 Swiss franc 194.616
German mark 157.267 Italian lira (100) 15.927
Yen (100) 227.108 Canadian dlr. 194.829
Australian dlr. 192.091 Irish Punt 393.447
Belgian franc 7.623 Finnish mark 51.937
Dutch guilder 139.525 Danish kr. 41.267
Swedish kr. 35.351 Norwegian kr. 37.767
Austrian sch. 22.343 Spanish peseta 1.853
Port. Escudo 1.537