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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-05-21

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, 21/05/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis calls on industrialists to share burden for EMU entry
  • EU welcomes drop in Greek deficit, endorses project funds
  • Greece has the best quality bathing beaches
  • First vote in parliament on Constitutional reform
  • Pangalos satisfied with first part of State Dept. clarification
  • KKE to host int'l conference of communist parties
  • Russian consulate in Irakleion
  • Alexander the Great's burial site the subject of Veroia conference
  • Study on Greek book market released
  • Advertising in the ANA Daily Bulletin
  • Significant decrease of Greek businesses in Bulgaria
  • Crime increase related to illegal immigration
  • Gov't vows to sell Ionian Bank
  • Greek chambers in Egypt to be subsidised
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Simitis calls on industrialists to share burden for EMU entry

The government told industrialists and business leaders yesterday that they now bore a greater share of responsibility in the country's push towards participation in European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

"Your responsibilities for progress in the economy are now greater than ever. Whether Greece will be able to play a more important role depends on you," Prime Minister Costas Simitis said in his address at the annual general assembly of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB), held at a downtown Athens hotel.

He urged their attention on three crucial targets: to act responsibly as regards prices, so inflation may fall to 2 per cent by the end of 1999; maintain and increase employment, and finally, to boost the productivity and competitiveness of their firms.

Mr. Simitis stressed that "the government is resolved to secure Greece's participation in the historic change of the euro, planning its action programme on a four-year basis and with a view to displaying the benefits to the Greek people at the end of its term."

National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, in his address, called for more dynamic initiatives, more investment and mergers or strategic alliances.

EU welcomes drop in Greek deficit, endorses project funds

The European Union has welcomed the government's success in cutting its 1997 deficit, allowing the release of funds for Greek projects.

In a letter released yesterday by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, the Commission welcomed a drop in 1997's general government deficit to 4.0 percent of gross domestic product from 7.5 percent a year earlier.

The funds mentioned in the letter, which was sent on May 4, are from the EU's Cohesion Fund.

"The Commission wishes to congratulate the Greek government on these results. It will continue to endorse new projects, or the stages involved in step-by-step projects," the Commission said in the letter.

The national economy ministry also released a deficit-curbing recommendation from the EU's economy and finance ministers who met on May 2 ahead of a summit that launched the euro, the EU's single currency.

Greece has the best quality bathing beaches

Holidaymakers seeking the cleanest bathing waters in the European Union should head for Greek and Italian beaches or Irish and Austrian lakes, according to the European Commission's 1997 bathing water report.

Nineteen out of 20 Greek coastal sites and 18 out of 20 Italian sites were classed as having excellent quality bathing waters in the report, released on Wednesday. Over 17 out of 20 freshwater sites in Ireland and Austria met these standards.

All countries in the 15-nation bloc bar Ireland and Finland recorded better results for sea beaches than freshwater sites.

Britain avoided any potentially unhelpful observations on its freshwater bathing areas by again declining to provide data on any inland sites, though it promised to do so next year.

Results for Sweden and Finland were poor for both coastal and inland sites but this was partly because the EU's newest members did not yet have adequate monitoring systems.

First vote in parliament on Constitutional reform

The first vote on the revision of clauses contained in the Constitution was concluded in Parliament last night with individual differentiations but no surprises.

Out of the main clauses, the one on the election of the president of the republic was considered eligible for change, with 165 votes to 118 and one vote listed as present. The clause subject to change anticipates the separation of the election of the president from the dissolution of Parliament with 180 votes.

The proposal for a change in the religious oath taken by Parlimentary deputies and members of the government was rejected with 258 votes against, 23 in favour and three present votes.

Pangalos satisfied with first part of State Dept. clarification

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos told reporters yesterday that he agreed with the first part of the US State Department's clarification of US President Bill Clinton's recent statements regarding Cyprus and the Aegean, namely, rejection of a "package so lution".

He added that Greece's interlocutors should be pursuaded that there are no interests involved, and that there are two sides: one that acts in accordance with legality, and another violating the rules.

It is this latter side that should conform with international legality, he said.

KKE to host int'l conference of communist parties

The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) will organise an international conference in Athens of 59 communist and workers' parties from 50 countries between Friday and Sunday.

The meeting will focus on the better coordination and development of common action, aimed at "processing a common strategy against imperialism," according to a KKE announcement

Orestis Kolozov, a member of KKE's political bureau and the party's Parliamentary representative, said that the meeting is taking place on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the founding of KKE and the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Communist Manifesto.

The agenda includes developments in the European Union, the role of the West European Union and NATO and the role played by various organisations such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Russian consulate in Irakleion

Moscow's ambassador to Athens Valentina Matvienko paid a courtesy call to Irakleion Mayor Costas Aslanis yesterday on the occasion of the reopening of a Russian consulate in the city.

The new consulate will cover Crete, while Nikos Daskalantonakis will act as the honorary consul. He accompanied Ms Matvienko on her visit to the mayor's office.

Ms Matvienko was due to attend the inauguration of the Fayum exhibition at the Agios Markos Basilisa last night. She will also participate in events commemorating the Battle of Crete.

Alexander the Great's burial site the subject of Veroia conference

Two Egyptian archaeologists are to submit conflicting views on the exact location of Alexander the Great's burial place in Alexandria during a major conference entitled "From Macedonia to the World", scheduled in Veroia from May 27-30.

Professors Fawzi El Fakharani and Mahmud El Saadani, have carried out extensive research on the subject. They differ on whether Alexander's tomb is located in the royal Ptolemaic necropolis or in the area of the Roman- era theatre, where the city's ancient centre had been located.

The conference, attended by 29 archaeologists from Europe, the Middle East and Asia, will be presented with research data on the ancient conqueror's presence in the East, based on findings from Hellenistic colonies that are maintained to this day, inclu ding Ai Khanoum in central Asia and other ancient sites in Pakistan, Libya, Gaza and Israel.

Study on Greek book market released

The Greek Book Centre (EKEBI) yesterday released the figures from its study on the local book market, noting increased sales for 1997 as compared to previous years.

The study noted that 42 per cent of the books published in Greece are literature related, compared to 1 per cent in Europe, while 39 per cent of Greeks read only one book a year.

Another interesting statistic of the study notes that of the 2,000 bookstores in Greece only about 11.4 per cent are dedicated to book sales, while the rest double stationary stores.

Advertising in the ANA Daily Bulletin

The ANA will from now on welcome professional half-page or full-page advertisements in its daily English and French Bulletin.

Advertisements will be accepted from embassies, banks, commercial and maritime companies, chambers of commerce, advertising companies, airlines, organisations, professional associations, educational and research institutions in Greece and abroad as well as international bodies.

Also, for a small fee, the above groups may channel their Press Releases (PRs), announcements or photographs - in Greek, English or French - to the ANA's more than 100 media subscribers throughout Greece and Cyprus via the recently introduced ANA on-line PR's service.

For details on and arrangements for the advertising and/or PRs on-line service, please contact the ANA Marketing Department, tel: 6400580, fax: 6400024 between 10:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Significant decrease of Greek businesses in Bulgaria

Some 450 Greek businesses out of more than 2,000 once active in Bulgaria remained after the government change in the neighbouring country.

Conversely, Turkish investors, exploiting special incentives and subsidies provided by Ankara, have succeeded in doubling the level of investments in Bulgaria over the past four months, according to data provided in Thessaloniki yesterday by Bulgarian general consul Ilko Sivachev on the occasion of the inauguration of a new consular building.

He said the main reason why Greek businesses abandoned Bulgaria was the fact that most tried to take advantage of the change in the regime and make quick and easy profits without creating long-term investment prospects.

Referring to the problem with the granting of visas created by the Schengen Treaty, Mr. Sivachev said that this issue is creating problems for trade transactions as well as for tourism.

"Thousands of Bulgarians want to visit Greece in the summer, but unfortunately, this is difficult," he said.

Crime increase related to illegal immigration

Public Order Minister George Romeos said yesterday that illegal immigration to Greece had led to an increase in crime, although he denied claims from opposition MPs that it had taken on epidemic proportions. "These are extreme opinions," Mr. Romeos told deputies of the main opposition New Democracy in Parliament during a debate on the ministry's bill to better police Greece's borders.

"There is a problem with criminal activity by illegal immigrants but not to the extent that New Democracy says," he said.

Mr. Romeos was responding to charges that up to 1,000 Albanian illegal immigrants cross into Greece daily and that more than 10,000 former inmates of Albanian jails were in Greece.

"Albanians enter and leave the country whenever they please...take them to detention centres; and there are always isolated islands," ND deputy Apostolos Andreoulakos said.

Gov't vows to sell Ionian Bank

The government said yesterday it would go ahead with a plan to sell Ionian Bank despite a breakdown in talks with the bank's striking workers and a wave of stoppages by other banks.

"The government has taken the decision to sell Ionian and will proceed with the decision, taking into consideration the interests of workers," National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said. Mr. Papantoniou was speaking after a meeting with officials of Ionian's union, the national bank union, and the General Confederation of Greek Labour, which represents nearly a million workers in the private and public sectors.

The officials said the indefinite strike at Ionian would continue after unions rejected a government proposal to launch talks on protecting workers' interests, on the understanding the bank's sale would go ahead.

"The government refused to consider our proposal for a 20-day dialogue to discuss both the decision to sell Ionian and a workers' proposal for a merger with Commercial Bank," General Confederation of Greek Labour president Christos Polyzogopoulos told reporters.

State-owned Commercial Bank is Ionian's parent company. Both banks are listed on the Athens bourse.

Mr. Papantoniou and Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou told trade unionists that Ionian's buyer would be obliged to safeguard jobs for two years.

Other banks are staging rolling strikes with the Bank of Greece due to hold a 24-hour stoppage today.

Greek chambers in Egypt to be subsidised

The Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday decided to offer financial support to Greek commerce chambers in Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt, in order to keep a national business presence in the middle eastern country. The financial support will ena ble the two chambers in Egypt to ease operations for Greek businesses and the Greek community in the country, in turn enabling closer ties with the Arab-speaking world, the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry said in a statement.

WEATHER

Good weather throughout Greece today with the possibility of scattered showers mainly in the north of the country. Winds variable, light to moderate. Fine weather in Athens with temperatures between 14-26C. Overcast, with the possibility of rain, in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 13- 24C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 304.842 British pound 496.397 Japanese yen(100) 224.043 French franc 51.191 German mark 171.671 Italian lira (100) 17.409 Irish Punt 432.214 Belgian franc 8.323 Finnish mark 56.482 Dutch guilder 152.322 Danish kr. 45.039 Austrian sch. 24.413 Spanish peseta 2.024 Swedish kr. 39.420 Norwegian kr. 40.706 Swiss franc 206.148 Port. Escudo 1.674 Aus. dollar 191.253 Can. dollar 210.701 Cyprus pound 581.788

(C.E.)


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