Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-07-08
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 08/07/1998 (ANA)
- Athens rejects Turkish demand for demilitarisation of the islands
- First local gov't elections on October 11, after reforms
- Austrian FM to present Vienna's EU priorities in Athens
- Greek objections to military solution in Kosovo outlined in US
- Street named for poet Seferis in Izmir district
- Greek Parliament delegation in Algeria
- Simitis meets Portuguese counterpart Guterres in Lisbon
- Government repeats determination to privatise
- Gov't to release urban transport overhaul plan
- Greek equities jump 2.59 pct in bank-led buying spree
- Greeks lowest paid in EU, Eurostat says
- Two domestic engineering contractors merge
- Maillis buy-out of Spain's Incoplastic
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Athens rejects Turkish demand for demilitarisation of the islands
Athens yesterday rejected as "unacceptable" a latest Turkish demand calling
for demilitarisation of Greece's eastern Aegean islands, saying it
"dynamites" bilateral relations.
The demand was contained in a demarche handed to Greece's ambassador in
Ankara on Monday.
In Athens, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas dismissed the demand as
"historically unacceptable and groundless", particularly in view of "the
behaviour of Turkey's leadership, which once again dynamites the relationship
between the two countries".
By adopting this practice, Mr. Reppas said, Turkey is not contributing to
peace and stability in the region and is compromising itself. Noting that
Ankara had not honoured past commitments, the government spokesman said
Athens could not remain indiffere nt and had no choice but to organise its
In later statements, a Greek foreign ministry spokesman said the Turkish
demand was "apparently made for domestic consumption."
The spokesman said Ankara had often sought to create and maintain a climate
This policy, he added, constitutes a violation of agreements and commitments
which Turkey has recently undertaken, not only towards Greece but also
towards either countries and international organisations. He referred to
the Madrid communique of July 1997 and the agreement for implementation of
confidence-building measures (CBMs) in the Aegean.
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday from the US
that Ankara's idea to lodge a verbal protest with Athens over the presence
of military forces on eastern Aegean islands by invoking the Lausanne
Treaty "was unfortunate."
Speaking in Washington, where he is on an official visit, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos
said it was "original" that a country, which "officially ignores its
commitments emanating from international law and international treaties, is
attempting to exploit the incre ased defence capacity on the Greek islands
to shun its own responsibilitiesIwhich created this capacity."
"Turkey itself has repeatedly made it clear that it is questioning the
status quo in the Aegean. Therefore, when a country questions the national
sovereignty of its neighbour, according to what logic will it demand the
principles of the UN safeguarding the right to self defence not to have
effect," he said.
First local gov't elections on October 11, after reforms
Interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos yesterday released a circular for the
Oct. 11 municipal elections, the first to be held after the merger of
communities around Greece into larger regional municipality entities. The
election will produce 900 mayors and 133 community presidents around the
country, while an unprecedented number of candidates is expected to vie for
the newly established municipalities.
The ministry has sent instructions for election procedures detailing the
The ministry also announced that repeat elections for those municipalities,
where none of the candidates has secured more that 50 per cent of the vote,
will take place on Oct.18.
It should be noted that Greece's local government was divided into
thousands of communities during the early part of this century by then
premier Eleftherios Venizelos.
Austrian FM to present Vienna's EU priorities in Athens
Austrian Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schussel is to pay a
short visit to Athens tomorrow to present the priorities of the Austrian EU
During his stay in the Greek capital, the Austrian FM will meet with
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and main opposition ND leader Costas
Karamanlis. Before leaving Athens for Vienna, he will also give a press
The Austrian foreign minister's visit is part of a customary tour by the
president of the EU Council of Ministers to member-states' capitals at the
beginning of every rotating presidency.
The first priorities during Austria's term include the opening of accession
talks with the six countries in the first group of candidates for the EU
enlargement - Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia, Estonia and
Greek objections to military solution in Kosovo outlined in US
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday expressed strong
opposition to a military solution for the Kosovo crisis, underlining that
the impasse should only be resolved through political and diplomatic
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos was speaking on the issues of Cyprus and Kosovo during
an interview given to CNN in Washington, one of the stops on his ongoing
official visit to the United States.
On the question of deployment of the Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missiles
in Cyprus, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that if the two communities on the
island republic discuss between them their common future a solution can be
Invoking statements by the US ambassador-designate to the UN, Richard
Holbrooke, several weeks ago, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos reminded that Turkey and
Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash "are not ready to discuss the common
prospect of Cyprus, they do not accept the initiatives of the UN and Mr.
Holbrooke, which means that the Turkish side does not want anything to
change in the situation which it created by sending its occupation forces
to the island 25 years ago."
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos was asked how Greece can see an exit from the Kosovo
crisis, to which he replied:
"The only way to resolving the crisis is through political and diplomatic
initiatives. The international community has good experience from resolving
the Bosnian issue and we must realise that the problem of Kosovo is
different. A military solution is not indicated here. The international
community must pressure both sides, both (Yugoslav) President Milosevic and
the 'Kosovo Liberation Army' to accept the sole political solution, which
is extensive autonomy for the region without a change in borders. This is
the principle which we must follow in the Balkans," he said.
Street named for poet Seferis in Izmir district
A street in the seaside district of Vourla, near Izmir,was named yesterday
after Greek Nobel laureate George Seferis, a move honouring the poet and
diplomat who was born and spent his childhood here.
Vourla Mayor Mustafa Kapkip, who unveiled a plaque in a special ceremony,
noted that the initiative not only honoured the memory of Seferis, but took
place within the spirit of understanding and mutual respect for the two
A delegation from Greece also attended the ceremony, including Seferis'
niece, Despoina Mylona.
Greek Consul in Izmir Andreas Fryganas said the naming of a street after
Seferis "showed that cultural values can be higher than political
confrontations, especially in the current period of tension..."
Greek Parliament delegation in Algeria
A six-member delegation of Parliament's foreign affairs and defence
committee arrived in Algeria yesterday at the invitation of the North
African country's popular national assembly president, Algerian ambassador
in Athens Kamel Houhou announced yesterday .
The visit is conducted within the framework of inter-Parliamentary
exchanges and the strengthening of Greek-Algerian relations.
The delegation headed by deputy Elias Papadopoulos will meet with several
Simitis meets Portuguese counterpart Guterres in Lisbon
Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday met with his Portuguese counterpart
Antonio Guterres and discussed issues of common interest as well as the
Mr. Simitis stated afterwards that "we discussed bilateral issues and EU
matters, 'Agenda 2000' and institutional issues."
"We have the same opinions and common goals. We both wish for European
cohesion, an agricultural policy which will help Mediterranean countries,"
Mr. Simitis said that regarding Cyprus and Greek-Turkish relations, both he
and Mr. Guterres believe that international law should prevail.
Referring to Kosovo, Mr. Simitis said that efforts should aim at avoiding
war and that any intervention in the Yugoslav province should be decided by
the UN Security Council in advance.
Mr. Guterres said "Portugal is very positive toward enlargement. We believe
that enlargement is a necessary element of the European structure. We
agreed totally on the decisions which have been arrived at for the
initiation of accession talks with the six candidate-countries, including
Government repeats determination to privatise
Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis yesterday repeated the
government's determination to keep to its plan to partly or wholly
privatise state enterprises and banks, and restructure the economy.
"We cannot attain satisfactory levels of competitiveness if we fail to
release the economy's strengths, which are hostage to outmoded practices
and attitudes," Mr. Christodoulakis told an assembly of the Hellenic-German
Chamber of Trade and Industry.
"Intervention by the government always aims to accelerate privatisation,
revitalise loss-making public enterprises, reform social insurance and
ensure flexibility in the labour market," he said.
The government was working to reduce the state's presence in sectors where
it was not needed, and in sectors that had no strategic significance for
He also called on Greek enterprises to take mergers and acquisitions
seriously in order to survive in growingly competitive international
markets. Smaller firms were at a disadvantage, he said.
Gov't to release urban transport overhaul plan
The government will announce by the end of the month a restructuring plan
for Athens urban transport, including a debt write-off scheme, National
Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday. Mr.
Papantoniou said the plan had three parts.
"The first part concerns finances in terms of the state, subsidies and
debt. Existing debts (of the Athens Urban Transport Organisation) are to be
written off as part of the revitalisation plan".
The second part covers a restructuring and improvement in services, and the
third industrial relations, Mr. Papantoniou said.
Talks are under way between employers and unions to discuss industrial
relations in connection with the bill. Yesterday's meeting was attended by
Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis, Labour and Social
Security Minister Miltiades Papaioannou, and management representatives.
Greek equities jump 2.59 pct in bank-led buying spree
Banks again led the Athens Stock Exchange higher yesterday reflecting the
market's optimism over privatisation and mergers and acquisitions in the
The general index ended 2.59 percent higher at 2,597.31 points with
turnover at 74.8 billion drachmas. Sector indices scored gains. Banks
soared 4.66 percent, Insurance rose 1.51 percent, Investment ended 0.82
percent higher, Leasing rocketed 8.0 perc ent, Industrials jumped 2.33
percent, Construction was 2.18 percent up, Miscellaneous ended 2.11 percent
higher but Holding bucked the trend to end 1.23 percent off.
The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 0.78 percent.
National Bank of Greece ended at 46,480 drachmas, Ergobank at 30,300, Alpha
Credit Bank at 27,590, Ionian Bank at 16,790, Delta Dairy at 3,920, Titan
Cement at 22,310, Intracom at 12,790, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,885 and
Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 8,610 drachmas.
Greeks lowest paid in EU, Eurostat says
The average wage earner in Greece earns about half as much as a highly paid
employee, who, in turn, earns 2.6 times more than an industrial worker,
Eurostat said in an annual report on wage inequalities released yesterday.
The European Union's statistics agency said that wage inequalities in
Greece reflected the EU's average although the country remained at the
bottom of the league in wages expressed in constant Ecu prices.
A low-paid worker in Greece earns 772 Ecus a month (in 1995 prices), an
average-paid worker 996 Ecus, and a highly paid worker 2,603 Ecus. Spain
ranked second from the bottom.
Luxembourg recorded the highest wages in the EU, followed by Denmark and
The biggest wage discrepancies were reported in Italy and Luxembourg.
Higher paid workers (executives and specialised staff) in the two countries
earned almost four times more than their lower paid compatriots, and almost
three times more than average wage earners.
Wage inequalities were also major in France and Spain. The Netherlands and
Sweden recorded the lowest discrepancies.
Two domestic engineering contractors merge
Domestic engineering contractors, Evklidis and Etane, announced yesterday
that they would merge with the benefits of the move showing in 1999
The new company, Etane-Evklidis SA, is expected to show a 1998 turnover of
10 billion drachmas, net pre-tax profits of 1.5 billion drachmas, and
unfinished orders of around 20 billion drachmas.
The new company plans to leave the Athens Stock Exchange's parallel market
for smaller cap stocks in 1999 and join the bourse's main market. It also
wants to modernise and expand domestically and abroad.
The two firms are already operating in Albania and Romania.
Maillis buy-out of Spain's Incoplastic
The Maillis company has bought off the Spain-based Incoplastic firm, the
largest producer of plastic tape in Spain, with a plant in Barcelona and
exports of 30 per cent of its production.
Through Maillis' purchase of 86 per cent of Incoplastic, the Greece-based
company achieves entry into the Iberian peninsula market.
Maillis recently increased its share capital by 13 billion drachmas to fund
investments at its production units in Oinofyta, Attica and Alexandroupoli
as well as for possible buy-outs.
Its rate of increase in annual sales is expected to amount to 17.5 billion
drachmas by 2000, when sales are expected in the region of 50 billion
drachmas. Unified sales totalling 22 billion drachmas and profits of 3.6
billion drachmas are expected in 1998.
Fine weather is forecast in most of Greece today. Western, central and
northern Greece are expected to be overcast while rain or storms are
forecast in the afternoon for the northern Ionian Sea, Epirus and
Macedonia. Winds westerly, southwesterly, light to moderate. Fine weather
in Athens with temperatures between 21-36C. Possibility of rain in the
afternoon in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 19-33C.
Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 300.665
British pound 491.576 Japanese yen (100) 216.196
French franc 49.501 German mark 165.862
Italian lira (100) 16.837 Irish Punt 417.632
Belgian franc 8.045 Finnish mark 54.560
Dutch guilder 147.173 Danish kr. 43.539
Austrian sch. 23.583 Spanish peseta 1.955
Swedish kr. 37.236 Norwegian kr. 39.087
Swiss franc 197.577 Port. Escudo 1.622
Aus. dollar 185.454 Can. dollar 204.253
Cyprus pound 565.440