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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-09-18

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, 18/09/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Athens presents its positions, initiatives for Albania
  • Government to launch drachma, euro privatisation bonds on Sept. 25
  • 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
  • Weather
  • 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 Albanian issue.

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. 25

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 gradually falling.

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 movement.

Foreign currency revenue from tourism was rising, confirmed by a higher occupancy rate in the country's luxury and A class hotels, Ms Papandreou said.

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 Papandreou said.

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 announced yesterday.

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 year.

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 points.

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 regulation 2082/92."

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 Athens yesterday.

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 ground.

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 completed.

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 association "Kallipateira".

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 on television".

And when they do get around to sex, researchers said, they were often dissatisfied.

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 said.

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 conference.

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, he said.

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 positive response.

The same figures show that 49 per cent of Europeans support Cyprus' accession to the European Union, while 29 per cent were against that prospect.

WEATHER

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.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

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

(C.E.)


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