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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-05-22

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, 22/05/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • UN confirms inter-communal basis of Cyprus talks
  • G. Papandreou discusses Clinton statements with Burns
  • Royaumont Initiative coordinator Roumeliotis in US for talks
  • Fatah movement official speaks at Athens University event
  • Ecumenical Patriarch begins official visit to Canada
  • Improvements announced for Athens Airport
  • OA considering billion-dollar loan for new planes
  • Austrian Nat'l economy Minister in Athens today
  • First-ever Greek-Japanese business forum in Athens
  • Greek shipowners' delegation meets with EU commissioners
  • Banner year for tourism on Rhodes
  • EOT leases property to Greek-German tourism consortium
  • 'Thraki '98' exhibition in Komotini
  • Kotsovolos gains control of Radio Athinai
  • Greek stocks gain impetus fuelled by blue chips
  • National Bank of Greece to hold shareholders' meeting Monday
  • Labour minister criticises striking Ionian Bank staff
  • Int'l tender for underground car parks
  • Tax returns from previous years to be checked
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

UN confirms inter-communal basis of Cyprus talks

The UN Security Council stated yesterday that UN efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem should continue through inter-communal talks, not on the basis of acknowledging the existence of two separate states, as the Turkish Cypriot side wants.

The council view was made clear in a five-line reply that its president, Njuguna Mahugu of Kenya, sent to a letter from Secretary General Kofi Annan outlining the results of a visit that the latter's special adviser on Cyprus, Diego Cordovez.

G. Papandreou discusses Clinton statements with Burns

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday received US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns, providing clarifications on the question of a package deal for the Aegean and Cyprus following recent statements by US President Bill Clinton.

Mr. Burns explained to Mr. Papandreou that as far as the US is concerned no issue exists of a "package" on the issues of the Aegean and Cyprus.

The meeting lasted for 50 minutes and no formal statements were made afterwards.

Royaumont Initiative coordinator Roumeliotis in US for talks

Royaumont Initiative coordinator Panayiotis Roumeliotis held talks in Washington over the last two days with US officials on more effective coordination between the group and the US-backed Initiative for Economic Cooperation in Southe astern Europe (SECI).

The Royaumont Initiative is the European Union's initiative for stability and good neighbourliness in southeastern Europe.

The former minister and Eurodeputy met with the US State Department's adviser on southeastern Europe issues Richard Sifter and Assistant Secretary of State on European Affairs Mark Grossman, as well as several academics and scholars from US research fou ndations focusing on developments in the region.

Fatah Movement official speaks at Athens University event

"The world met the 20th century with a debate on a solution of the Jewish issue. Now we are saying farewell to the 20th century, and a solution to the Palestinian problem has still not been found," said Hani al Hassan, a member of the executive committee of the Fatah Movement and an adviser to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat on strategic affairs.

Mr. Hassan was speaking at the opening of a speech in Athens yesterday, at an event organised by the Diplomatic Representation of Palestine and the University of Athens on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the partition of Palestine.

The Palestinian official expressed a view that strategic realities have changed and that it has been proved that the State of Israel is not the solution to the Jewish issue. He stressed that true peace entailed the effective integration of Israel into the Middle Eastern region, which however, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "has not accepted."

Ecumenical Patriarch begins official visit to Canada

Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos today begins an official visit to the United States and Canada, according to Patriarchate announcement.

Vartholomeos will visit Yale University, where he will be awarded an honorary doctorate before beginning a six-city tour of Canada.

Canadian PM Jean Chretien will receive the Patriarch in Ottawa, while London, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg are also stops in this first-ever visit by an Ecumenical Patriarch to Canada.

Improvements announced for Athens Airport

A major modernisation programme is expected to begin in mid-June for Athens Airport in order to conform with European Union Schengen Pact requirements, airport authorities said yesterday.

The six-billion-drachma project includes new loud speaker systems, a hi- tech luggage X-ray system, flight information screens and upgraded facilities for the rapid, safe and effective passenger movement through customs.

Plans also foresee two walkway ramps to allow passengers direct access from their airplane to the terminal, as passengers today are still transported by bus.

OA considering billion-dollar loan for new planes

Olympic Airways' board of directors will shortly consider borrowing $1 billion to pay for four Airbuses and eight Boeing passenger jets, which OA wants to purchase in order to modernise its fleet, reports stated yesterday.

OA has also approved two other loans, $25 million and $75 million, respectively, from Japan's Sanwa Bank to cover current operating needs and for a deposit on the 12 planes.

Austrian Nat'l Economy Minister in Athens today

Austrian National Economy Minister Johannes Farnleitner is set to arrive in Athens today on an official visit in view of Austria's upcoming EU presidency.

Mr. Farnleitner will meet with Development Minister Vasso Papandreou, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, Labour and Social Services Minister Miltiades Papaioannou and Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis.

He is also expected to brief the Greek leadership on the Austrian presidency's initiatives, which according to press reports will centre around the promotion of EMU as well as employment and energy issues.

It should be noted that Greek exports to Austria decreased by 9 per cent in 1997 for a total of 1.7 billion Austrian shillings, while imports from Austria increased by 7.8 per cent, totalling 3.2 billion shillings.

First-ever Greek-Japanese business forum in Athens

The first Greek-Japanese business forum was held in Athens yesterday at the initiative of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB), the Association of Greek Banks, and the Keindaren Japanese Confederation of Economic Organisation.

Among the topics up for discussion was the establishment of a Greek- Japanese economic and commercial chamber.

Addressing the event, SEB President Iason Stratos said Greece's expected participation in EMU, the Olympic Games of 2004 in Athens, and the country's strategic position as a bridge between the EU, the Balkans and the Mediterranean, significantly increas ed its attractiveness for investment.

Greek Investment Centre director L. Valetopoulos told the Japanese delegation that the current period was the most appropriate for investment in Greece, as large infrastructure projects were in the stage of completion and there were conditions of politi cal and economic stability.

Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT) head Nikos Skoulas said an increase in the number of Japanese tourists was expected again this year - as part of the overall 12-15 per cent projected increase - after last year's fall.

Greek shipowners' delegation meets with EU Commissioners

Union of Greek Shipowners (EEE) President Yiannis Lyras yesterday detailed the issues discussed by an EEE delegation at European Commission headquarters in Brussels.

During a press conference, Mr. Lyras noted that the EEE delegation met with EU Commissioners Sir Leon Brittan, Neil Kinnock and Padraig Flynn, as well as sector officials for an exchange of views on shipping competitiveness.

They also discussed safety issues and environmental protection, new shipbuilding policies as well as cabotage regulations.

According to Mr. Lyras, the net worth of the Greek merchant fleet stands at US$40 billion, a sector that employs 30,000 on vessels and 15,000 individuals on shore. Mr. Lyras also expressed a hope that conditions and policies will improve, allowing vessels owned by Greek interest to return to the Greek register - an issue of national importance, as he added.

Banner year for tourism on Rhodes

Tourist arrivals on Rhodes are expected to reach record levels in the next few days, with tourists from various European and Middle East countries arriving on charter flights alone estimated at 28,000 tourists.

Specifically, as of yesterday and until Sunday, 170 charter flights are scheduled. A significant number of tourists are expected to be transported by Olympic Airways.

Tourist officials project tourist arrivals will increase by 18 per cent on Rhodes this season compared to last year.

EOT leases property to Greek-German tourism consortium

Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT) head Nikos Skoulas yesterday signed an agreement leasing a 190-hectare area in Kyllini, western Peloponnese, to a Greek-German tourism development consortium.

The consortium, Loutra Kyllinis SA, comprising the Grecotel group - the largest hotel management concern in Greece - and TUI, Germany's biggest tour operator, undertakes to invest 13.8 billiion drachmas for building renovations, new facilities of an in tegrated 1,500-bed capacity that will include hydrotherapy and sports installations, a golf course and conference centre.

The 44-year lease will includes an annual lease of 200 million drachmas. The consortium was the only bidder for the project.

Mr. Skoulas expressed his satisfaction with the deal, saying "the contract constitutes the largest to date agreement in the framework of exploiting EOT's real estate holdings."

'Thraki '98' exhibition in Komotini

A total of 161 exhibitors from Greece and abroad will participate in this year's national trade exhibition "Thraki '98", organised by HELEXPO at the Exhibition Centre of the Industrial Region in Komotini on May 27-31.

Greek businesspeople and handicraftsmen having declared participation come from Athens, Thessaloniki, Komotini, Xanthi, Orestia-da, Chrysoupoli, Kavala, Didimotiho and Trikala.

Foreign participants arrive from Germany, Italy, the US, Britain, Spain, Sweden, Bulgaria and Romania.

Kotsovolos gains control of Radio Athine

Kotsovolos, a subsidiary of listed Fourlis, has acquired control of Radio Athine, which sells electrical and electronic goods, through a four-billion drachma buyout of 51 percent of its rival's shares.

Kotsovolos, which made the announcement yesterday, reported profits of 1.2 billion drachmas on turnover of 47.5 billion drachmas in 1997. It has 29 stores.

Radio Athine, which has 10 retail outlets, posted 1997 profits of 770 million drachmas on sales of 11.8 billion drachmas.

Kotsovolos said in a statement that the two chains' networks would operate independently and remain in direct competition.

Greek stocks gain impetus fuelled by blue chips

Greek equities ended substantially higher on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday driven by a wave of buying in blue-chip stocks.

The general index ended 1.06 percent up at 2,573.98 points.

Sector indices scored gains across the board.

Banks rose 0.26 percent, Insurance was 1.58 percent up, Investment increased 0.21 percent, Leasing rose 0.31 percent, Industrials jumped 1.73 percent, Construction ended 1.22 percent higher, Miscellaneous soared 3.58 percent and Holding rose 2.38 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 3.22 percent higher.

Trading was moderate with turnover at 62.3 billion drachmas.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 175 to 61 with another 27 issues unchanged. Intracom, Intrasoft, Sysware, Aloumil, Elve, Flexopack, Macedonia-Thrace Bank of Folli-Follie scored the biggest percentage gains, hitting the day's 8.0 percent limit up.

General Warehouses, Balkan Export, Macedonian Mills and Duty Free Shops suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 52,200 drachmas, Ergobank at 27,000, Alpha Credit Bank at 32,100, Delta Dairy at 4,680, Titan Cement 25,650, Intracom at 17,901 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 8,995.

National Bank of Greece to hold shareholders' meeting Monday

National Bank of Greece, the country's largest commercial bank, will hold a repeat shareholders' meeting on Monday.

On the agenda are a share capital rise of 26.2 billion drachmas and the distribution of free shares from a capitalisation of reserves that shareholders will be asked to endorse.

The last annual general meeting, which was scheduled for May 6, was inquorate.

National Bank of Greece, which is active in the Balkans, is a blue chip on the Athens Stock Exchange.

Its governor, Theodoros Karatzas, announced on Tuesday that the bank had successfully carried out a private placement of 2.5 million shares through bookbuilding to institutional investors at home and abroad.

The price to emerge was 46,900 drachmas a share against 51,995 drachmas on the day of the announcement, when the stock gained 2,245 drachmas.

Labour minister criticises striking Ionian Bank staff

Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou yesterday criticised trade union leaders of Ionian Bank for calling an indefinite strike over the government's plan to privatise the bank through the Athens bourse.

Mr. Papaioannou said that the decision to sell the bank was final and that the government was seeking participation by workers, who are still on strike, in the privatisation scheme.

He charged the union leaders with pursuing a policy of deadlock that aided neither the bank nor the workers' own interests.

Labour Undersecretary Christos Protopappas said that safeguarding jobs after the bank's privatisation was on the negotiating table, and it would be unfortunate to leave the question open.

Int'l tender for underground car parks

The public works ministry has called an international tender for the construction of three underground car parks in Athens.

Deputy Public Works Minister Christos Verelis said yesterday the three self- financing garages in Kolonaki Square, Eyiptou Square and Kaningos Square would house 1,350 cars each.

The tender was likely to be completed by mid-September, and the deadline for construction of the garages was three years, Mr. Verelis said.

Tax returns from previous years to be checked

Tax authorities will check tax returns filed in 1993-1997 that were cleared but not checked, according to a finance ministry circular released yesterday.

The checks on income and Value Added Tax are expected to be condensed but stringent.

For returns filed in 1987-1992, tax payers will be given the option of a payment based on the number of years tax forms were cleared but not checked, occupation and turnover, the circular said.

If tax payers reject the option, which is contained in a 1992 law, they will be subject to the same checks to be carried out on 1993-1997 declarations.

The checks will be random, and the tax due will also contain fines and charges, payable in installments.

The new ruling applies to amounts less than two billion drachmas. Higher amounts will undergo normal procedures.

WEATHER

Fair weather will prevail in most parts of the country with scattered showers in central and northern Greece. Winds westerly, light to moderate. Mostly fair weather in Athens with temperatures between 14-28C. Possibility of light rain in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 13-25C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 302.014 British pound 491.060 Japanese yen(100) 223.012 French franc 51.009 German mark 171.065 Italian lira (100) 17.344 Irish Punt 430.548 Belgian franc 8.289 Finnish mark 56.274 Dutch guilder 151.781 Danish kr. 44.890 Austrian sch. 24.311 Spanish peseta 2.013 Swedish kr. 39.194 Norwegian kr. 40.412 Swiss franc 204.838 Port. Escudo 1.667 Aus. dollar 189.968 Can. dollar 208.598 Cyprus pound 580.320

(C.E.)


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