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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-01-30

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, 30/01/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • 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
  • Weather
  • 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 1996.

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 autumn.

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 percent up.

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 unchanged.

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, 320.

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 problem.

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 Greece.

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 life.

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 defence systems.

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 system.

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," he said.

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 Wednesday.

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 Salonika.

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 statement added.

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 Aerosweet's.

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 last week.

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 Feissel.

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 invasion.

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 his regiment.

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 1974.

WEATHER

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- 5C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

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

(C.E.)


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