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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-08-04

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 04/08/1998 (ANA)


  • Burns says recent tension in Greek-US relations over
  • Devastating fire on Mt. Penteli attributed to arson
  • President calls for more women candidates in upcoming local polls
  • Excessive heat claims lives of 11 senior citizens
  • Gov't bill to ease entry into Athens bourse, boosting expansion
  • Egnatia Bank wins tender for Bank of Central Greece
  • Commission approves ECU 60 mln for projects in Greece
  • World Basketball Championship
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Burns says recent tension in Greek-US relations over

US Ambassador in Greece Nicholas Burns said that the recent tension in Greek-US relations was over, as shown by his meetings last week with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and yesterday with Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis.

Mr. Burns said he had an "excellent" meeting with Mr. Kranidiotis at which a range of issues was covered, including Greek-Turkish relations, bilateral relations with the US and the Cyprus problem.

In statements to the ANA, Mr. Burns said Washington and Athens were working very closely "on all these problems and that was the basis for our discussion today".

Mr. Burns said his meetings with Mr. Pangalos last Thursday and with Mr. Kranidiotis yesterday "effectively put to a close the recriminations between our two governments over what we thought were unwarranted comments made about President Clinton".

Mr. Pangalos drew criticism from the US State Department when he charged that President Clinton's election campaign promises concerning a solution to the Cyprus problem had proved to be "a gross lie".

Mr. Burns said his meetings with Mr. Pangalos and Mr. Kranidiotis were "evidence" that the United States and Greece "can and will work together well in the future".

Devastating fire on Mt. Penteli attributed to arson

The prefect of Eastern Attica said yesterday that the devastating fire ravaging since last Sunday night around Mt. Penteli was the result of arson.

During a press conference the prefect said that his office had received three anonymous telephone calls warning that the areas of Dionyssos, Stamata and Penteli would be set ablaze.

Officers of the fire department said that arson could be proved by the fact that the Sunday fires started from the location Koukounari which is in the middle part of the mountain, while yesterday, residents of the areas that are threatened by the blaze said that they saw fires starting simultaneously at ten different points.

When strong winds yesterday morning started blowing in the area, the blaze from Koukounari spread to Dionyssos and for many hours firemen backed by local residents and hundreds of troops and two choppers unsuccessfuly tried to prevent the flames from re aching the forest of Old Penteli.

According to fire department officials, the damage was extensive because strong winds yesterday morning strengthened the blaze and at the same time hampered the efforts of two fire aircraft attempting to make drops of flame- retardant liquid.

A children's hospital and a military medical unit were evacuated, four houses and five cars suffered damages, while ten fire-fighters that had been marooned in the flames with two fire-trucks were saved the last minute by their colleagues.

Until late last night, the fire was still in progress and fire department officials said that it was difficult to identify the exact location of either small or large fire fronts because late in the night the fire choppers stopped flying.

Forestland damaged by the blaze is located in Stamata, Dionyssos, Agios Petros, Agios Stephanos, Rodopolis and Old Penteli.

In a related development, the leadership of the Central Archaeological Council and the secretary-general of the Culture Ministry visited the site of the Archaeological Museum of Marathon, which was threatened by the forest fire.

President calls for more women candidates in upcoming local polls

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos called on all political parties yesterday to raise their women candidacy quota in the upcoming local administration elections.

During a meeting of the president with the Greek Women's Political Association yesterday, Europarliamentarian Anna Karamanou (PASOK) thanked Mr. Stephanopoulos for his sensitivity on the correct function of the democratic institutions in the country and remarked that Greece is deprived of the imagination, the ideas and the productive thought of women.

"The absence of female creativity from the democratic institutions and especially from the elected local administration posts is tragic," Ms Karamanou said.

New Democracy parliamentary representative Elsa Papadimitriou, also attending the meeting, maintained that the Greek Parliament is significantly lacking not only in numbers, but also in ways of thinking. "It is not merely about decreasing the democratic deficit, it is mainly about using the creativity and the ability of the 51% of the Greek people," she said.

Excessive heat claims lives of 11 senior citizens

Eleven senior citizens died last weekend in Thessaloniki from what doctors believe was from their exposure to excessive heat.

The victims, who died at the hospitals where they were taken, averaged above 65 years of age and they had been suffering from chronic cardiovascular and respiratory ailments.

Assistant forensic medicine professor Mr. Matheos Tsougas, who performed the autopsy on the bodies, said that all evidence led to suspicions of excessive heat behind the deaths.

"They were individuals with serious and chronic respiratory problems. This fact, together with high temperatures and humidity, created the basis for suspicion that they died due to the weather conditions during the past few days," said Mr. Tsougas and c alled the incident unusual.

Recently, temperatures in Thessaloniki soared to 38 Celcius while the discomfort rate index reached 29.5 with 26 being the normal maximum.

Doctors consider these weather conditions intollerable for patients with chronic cardiovascular and respiratory problems, advising against exposure to them and to remain inside air-conditioned environments.

Relative guidelines have also been provided by all prefectures as well as by the health ministry.

Gov't bill to ease entry into Athens bourse, boosting expansion

The government yesterday released a bill that eases restrictions on entry into the Athens Stock Exchange, allowing expansion of the bourse and better investment prospects for many firms currently barred from the market due to stringent listing requirements.

"The bill modernises the stock market and harmonises it with other stock exchanges in Europe," National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, who supervises the bourse, told a news conference.

Many companies were likely to seek listing from the autumn after the bill, which has been given to trade groups for comment, becomes law, Mr. Papantoniou said.

The bill is due to be given to parliament in September or October for debate and a vote.

Egnatia Bank wins tender for Bank of Central Greece

Egnatia Bank was yesterday declared the winner of a tender through the bourse to sell a controlling stake in Bank of Central Greece as part of the government's wide-ranging privatisation plan.

The board of directors of the parent company, Agricutural Bank of Greece, announced that it had accepted Egnatia's bid in the tender held on Friday.

The sale is part of the government's programme to partly or fully privatise state companies and banks in order to tighten up the public sector before Greece's entry into European economic and monetary union, expected by January 1, 2001.

On the auction block were 51 percent of common shares in Bank of Central Greece and 20.1 percent of preferred stock.

Egnatia, one of four domestic banks that took part in the tender, offered the highest bid at 17.3 billion drachmas.

Ranking second was Aspis Bank with a bid of 16.1 billion drachmas followed by Bank of Attica at 15.3 billion drachmas, and General Bank at 9.0 billion drachmas.

The purchase will give Egnatia a network of nearly 50 branches following the acquisition of Bank of Central Greece and its 24 branches.

Egnatia's assets will rise to 294.6 billion drachmas, deposits to 238.9 billion, loans to 163.7 billion, and equity capital to 24.2 billion drachmas. The number of staff will exceed 1,100 after the purchase.

Listed Egnatia Bank is to raise its share capital by the same or more as the price it will pay for Bank of Central Greece.

Commission approves ECU 60 mln for projects in Greece

The European Commission yesterday approved more than ECU 60 million for transportation and environmental projects in Greece, to be funneled through the Cohesion Fund.

The Commission approved ECU 27.6 million for the road network in Greece, which is allocated for the construction of the Egnatia motorway, connecting the western port of Igoumenitsa with the Evros prefecture Greek-Turkish border crossing at Kipi.

The more than 600 kilometre highway is part of the European network of highways and will facilitate East-West trade.

The Commission allocated ECU 2.1 million for the Soufli liquid waste plant and ECU 1.9 million for the Kastoria liquid waste plant, while for similar projects the Commission approved ECU 4.2 million for the community of Sarti, Chalkidiki, ECU 1.8 mill ion for the island of Leros and ECU 3.6 million for the municipality of Keratea, Attica.

World Basketball Championship

The second round of the World Basketball Championship entered its second day in Athens yesterday, with Italy bringing about the most stunning surprise of the championship by beating fancied Yugoslavia 61-60.

Results: Puerto Rico-Canada 94-81 Lithuania-Argentina 84-75 Australia-Brazil 75-63 Italy-Yugoslavia 61-60 Russia-Greece 60-48 United States-Spain 75-73


Hot, sunny weather is forecast throughout the country today with light to moderate winds turning strong in parts of the Aegean. Temperatures in Athens ranging from 27C to 37C; and in Thessaloniki from 24C to 36C.


Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 294.227 British pound 477.727 Japanese yen (100) 201.812 French franc 49.148 German mark 164.746 Italian lira (100) 16.699 Irish Punt 414.656 Belgian franc 7.990 Finnish mark 54.205 Dutch guilder 146.122 Danish kr. 43.231 Austrian sch. 23.414 Spanish peseta 1.940 Swedish kr. 36.869 Norwegian kr. 38.755 Swiss franc 195.930 Port. Escudo 1.610 Aus. dollar 177.563 Can. dollar 194.134 Cyprus pound 557.802


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