Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-09-18
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 18/09/1998 (ANA)
- Athens presents its positions, initiatives for Albania
- Government to launch drachma, euro privatisation bonds on Sept.
- Tourist arrivals to Greece seen rising 12 pct in 1998
- Bank of Piraeus seeks to raise share capital by Dr 86 bin
- Greek stocks end lower, dragged down by markets abroad
- Fight over term 'feta' cheese resurfaces
- Kinnock in Athens for talks
- FBI Director holds talks with Public Order Minister
- Simitis given guided tour of Athens Concert Hall construction
- Landslide closes Corinth canal
- Samaranch to open conference women's athletics
- Study claims less sexual enjoyment for Greek males
- Conference focuses on drug use in Greece
- Commission poll finds majority of EU citizens in support of euro
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Athens presents its positions, initiatives for Albania
Greece is "keenly interested in a smooth and democratic evolution in
Albania, its economic recovery and the protection of human rights as well
as the strengthening of democratic institutions," Alternate Foreign
Minister George Papandreou said yesterday.
Presenting Athens' positions and initiatives on a bilateral level and
within the framework of international organisations towards normalisation
in the neighbouring country, Mr. Papandreou said Greece, as current Council
of Europe president, has promoted the organisation's involvement in the
He also said that during Tuesday's extraordinary meeting of the CoE's
permanent representatives, Greece received a mandate to undertake
initiatives on Albania in cooperation with other international and European
organisations such as the OSCE, the EU and the WEU.
He said that the most likely development is a joint visit to Albania in the
next few days by the foreign ministers (or their deputies) of the countries
currently holding the presidency of the OSCE (Poland), the EU (Austria) and
the WEU (Italy), as well as EU Commissioner for foreign relations Hans van
den Broek. Latest ANA reports stated that Mr. Papandreou was likely to
participate in the mission, as the president of the Council of Ministers at
the CoE, which will most probably be held on Saturday.
Mr. Papandreou said OSCE, EU and WEU officials are already in Albania to
examine the situation on the spot. When diplomats will have completed their
work, the kind of initiatives to be undertaken at political level will be
decided, he added.
Government to launch drachma, euro privatisation bonds on Sept.
Subscriptions to a state equity-convertible bond launched to aid the
government's privatisation drive will start on September 25, Finance
Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis told a news conference yesterday. The
bonds, called Prometoha, will be convertib le into the equity of firms to
be privatised through the bourse from January 1, 1999.
Handling the issue are National Bank of Greece, Eurobank and Paribas of
France - an expert in equity-convertible privatisation bonds.
Book-building for domestic institutional investors will be held on 25-29
September. The deadline for retail investors to subscribe to the public
offer is October 2.
The bonds in electronic form will have a three-year duration and remain tax-
exempt if the original buyer holds them until maturity, or exchanges them
for stock in the listed, privatised companies.
The rate and yield of the bonds will be set on September 29 in line with
bids submitted by institutional investors.
On offer are 170 billion drachmas worth of bonds. Another 50 billion
drachmas of paper will be issued if demand is heavy. The issue date is
October 9, 1998 with expiry on October 9, 2001.
Book-building will be used to set the price of the issue, also totalling
170 billion drachmas (500 million euros), using minimum bids of 100,000
drachmas. Again, another 50 billion drachmas of paper will be available, if
demand is heavy.
All bond holders will have a preferred option on stock, and a 5.0 percent
discount on share prices.
Tourist arrivals to Greece seen rising 12 pct in 1998
Tourist arrivals to Greece are expected to increase by 12 percent in 1998
against the previous year, Development Minister Vasso Papandreou told a
news conference yesterday.
Based on preliminary figures for charter flight arrivals until the end of
August,traffic was 10 percent higher compared to the same period last year.
Figures were not available for cruiseship and other arrivals.
Ms Papandreou said that 1999 was likely to establish the country as a key
international destination, and there was still room for domestic tourism to
boost its contribution to gross domestic product.
The minister rejected claims by the tourism industry that although arrivals
were increasing, per capita foreign currency imported by tourists was
She said that figures from Bank of Greece on foreign currency inflows were
unrepresentative as they did not include private foreign currency deposits
held by foreigners in Greek banks following the liberalisation of capital
Foreign currency revenue from tourism was rising, confirmed by a higher
occupancy rate in the country's luxury and A class hotels, Ms Papandreou
The private sector had also played an important part in the effort to
upgrade tourism by investing 189 billion drachmas in projects including
improvements to accommodation and specialised tourism infrastructure, Ms
Bank of Piraeus seeks to raise share capital by Dr 86 bln
Private Bank of Piraeus will propose to shareholders a share capital rise
of 86 billion drachmas in order to carry out investment plans, its board
Distributed will be six new shares for every 10 existing ones at 4,000
drachmas per share, and a small number of shares will be distributed to
company executives and other staff. Four bonus shares will also be
distributed for 10 existing shares.
Management hopes to carry out the share capital increase by the end of the
Market sources believe the bank is raising the cash in order to bid for
Ionian Bank, whose first privatisation tender fell flat this year but is
due to be retendered in the autumn.
Greek stocks end lower, dragged down by markets abroad
Greek equities came under pressure from renewed turbulence in European
markets yesterday, finishing lower.
The general index again retreated below the 2,200-point barrier to close
1.73 percent down at 2,184.45 points. Turnover was 44.3 billion drachmas,
bolstered by block trades.
Sector indices lost ground. Banks fell 1.71 percent, Insurance ended 0.15
percent off, Investment dropped 1.02 percent, Leasing ended 0.14 percent
lower, Industrials eased 1.60 percent, Construction fell 2.16 percent,
Miscellaneous ended 1.49 percent off and Holding plunged 4.16 percent.
The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.15 percent down,
and the FTSE/ASE 20 blue-chip index fell 1.62 percent to 1,324.54
National Bank of Greece ended at 39,830 drachmas, Ergobank at 24,400, Alpha
Credit Bank at 23,110, Ionian Bank at 10,415, Hellenic Telecommunications
Industry at 6,900, Delta Dairy at 3,150, Intracom at 11,605, Hellenic
Petroleum at 2,650 and Titan Ceme nt at 18,500 drachmas.
Fight over term 'feta' cheese resurfaces
The agriculture ministry yesterday announced that a Eurocourt prosecutor
has submitted a proposal, which if accepted, will strip Greece of the
exclusive right to use the word "feta" as a Greek food trademark.
A press release stated that the registration of "feta products as a
trademark of origin was based on Article 17 of European Commission
The press release added that in June 1996 the Commission issued a catalogue
with registered trademarks, including "feta" cheese.
Producers from Denmark, Germany and France have sought recourse at the
Eurocourt against the above decision.
The announcement said a final decision is expected by the end of November.
Kinnock in Athens for talks
European Commissioner for Transport Neil Kinnock began an official visit to
He held talks with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Merchant Marine Minister
Stavros Soumakis as well as Transport and Communications Minister Tassos
Mantelis on the restructuring of state-run Olympic Airways (OA), before
discussing progress on constructi on of Athens' new international airport
at Spata and coastal shipping cabotage.
Mr. Mantelis reassured Mr. Kinnock that OA's restructuring programme is on
schedule, while Mr. Kinnock said that there are favourable conditions for
its survival and development.
He also said that the new radar system for air traffic control will be
operational by Jan. 1, 1999, when relevant personnel complete training on
the new system.
FBI director holds talks with Public Order Minister
Terrorism, money laundering, drug smuggling and illegal immigration
dominated talks in Athens yesterday between visiting FBI Director Louis
Freeh and Greek Public Order Minister George Romeos.
During the meeting, the two men discussed ways of further strengthening
bilateral cooperation between the FBI and Greek Police (El.AS). According
to reports, it was decided to promote a protocol for police cooperation in
order to better combat organised crime.
After the meeting, Mr. Romeos underlined the long-time cooperation between
Greek police and the FBI, stressing that several Greek officers attend the
FBI's academy in Virginia practically every year.
In response to a press question, the FBI director termed members of the
notorious Greek "November 17" terrorist group as "profes-sionals", drawing
a parallel between the Greece-based terrorists and the "Unibo-mber" strikes
in the US.
Simitis given guided tour of Athens Concert Hall construction
Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday visited the construction site
behind the Athens Concert Hall and was given a guided tour. He was given a
guided tour of the site by the president of the Athens Concert Hall
institute, Christos Lambrakis.
The project's estimated time of completion is two years and the resulting
complex of underground facilities will be a multi-faceted cultural,
educational and conference centre.
The premier said that "the completion of the Athens Concert Hall aims at
confronting some of Athens' problems..."
Mr. Simitis added that the project is funded by national and European Union
funds and is included in the government's efforts for cultural development.
On his part, Mr. Lambrakis said the addition to the existing structure
include a parking lot for of 750 vehicles, an electronic music library and
two conference rooms, one with 1,750 seats and a second with 500 seats.
The new buildings will all be 35 metres underground, with a park above
Landslide closes Corinth Canal
The Corinth Canal was closed at noon yesterday due to a landslide. The
canal will be opened to shipping again as soon as restoration work is
Samaranch to open conference women's athletics
International Olympics Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch
will declare open the third European conference on "Women-Athletics-
Cooperation", set to begin in Athens on Sept. 25.
The four-day conference is expected to draw 105 participants from 40
countries. Of that number, 89 will be women.
"In Greece, there has never been a better time for women's sports...(participation)
has never been so high," Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras said.
He said new legislation was being prepared that would foster the participation
of women in all forms of sports, obliging sports federations to have 20 per
cent of their boards made up of women, a move welcomed by the the athletics
Study claims less sexual enjoyment for Greek males
The pace and pressures of modern life are chipping away at the Greek male's
enjoyment of sex and many may resort to the viagra pill for a solution,
according to researchers at Greece's Sexology Institute.
Presenting the latest study on the sexual habits of Greeks, conducted on
300 men aged 20-35, considered the most sexually active group, researchers
said they were surprised at figures that showed four in ten men had had
little or no sexual contact in the past six months and that half were not
in a steady sexual relationship.
"Modern men do not even have time for fantasies," one researcher said.
"They have to carry the weight of their careers create a family and they
seem to be all at sea in a jumble of obligations. And at the same time they
have to live up to the ideal image of the lover protrayed in magazines and
And when they do get around to sex, researchers said, they were often
The researchers said the results of the study confirmed the intense
interest in viagra, the "wonder pill" for male sexual dysfunction.
"We believe that even these young educated men who took part in the study
will try to cover their insecurities behind the 'blue pill'," one
Viagra is not yet available in Greece but the European Union's approval of
its sale has opened the door for its importation, after Greek authorities
give the go ahead.
In other findings of the survey, three in four said they preferred the
missionary position in making love and the most popular part of a woman's
body were the breasts.
Conference focuses on drug use in Greece
Experts said yesterday that there were some 80,000 drug addicts in Greece
while the age at which Greeks first try drugs was falling to as low as 10
years long. The numbers of drug addicts aged under 18 rose about 15 per
cent in the 1994-1998 per iod, totalling 61 per cent of registered addicts
compared to 48 per cent in the 1990-1994 period. Many cases of 10- and 11-
year-olds were documented, specialist Mattheos Tsoungas told a news
In Thessaloniki alone, with a population of about one million, there are 10,
000 addicts and there have been 30 drug-related deaths since the beginning
of the year, Mr. Tsoungas said.
He is the president of the organising committee for the First National
Conference of Forensic Scientists and Toxicologists, scheduled to begin on
Friday with the participation of more than 150 Greek and foreign experts.
Mr. Tsoungas said however that the figure of 30 drug-related deaths did not
include those addicts who died of AIDs or hepatitis or those killed in road
accidents while under the influence of drugs.
A study to be revealed in full at the conference also shows that 10 percent
of users first tried drugs while in the military during compulsory service,
Commission poll finds majority of EU citizens in support of euro
A large majority of Europeans support the euro, according to a European
Commission public opinion poll.
According to the poll, 60 per cent of EU citizens that responded said they
fully support the new currency, up from 50 per cent last year.
Italians are the most ardent supporters at 83 per cent, 79 per cent of
Luxemburg's citizens favour the euro, while 67 per cent of Greeks had a
The same figures show that 49 per cent of Europeans support Cyprus'
accession to the European Union, while 29 per cent were against that
Cloud and scattered showers will prevail thoughout Greece on today. Winds
southerly, southwesterly, moderate to strong. Athens will be sunny with
increased cloud in the evening and temperatures between 17-29C. Thessaloniki
cloudy and rainy with temperatures from 14-24C.
Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 287.174
British pound 484.076 Japanese yen (100) 214.897
French franc 50.800 German mark 170.346
Italian lira (100) 17.240 Irish Punt 426.560
Belgian franc 8.257 Finnish mark 55.969
Dutch guilder 151.062 Danish kr. 44.690
Austrian sch. 24.216 Spanish peseta 2.007
Swedish kr. 36.756 Norwegian kr. 38.351
Swiss franc 206.981 Port. Escudo 1.663
Aus. dollar 168.600 Can. dollar 189.293
Cyprus pound 574.507