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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-09-24

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, 24/09/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Commercial Bank of Greece hopes to sell Ionian in four months
  • Half a million people so far declare real estate for land register
  • Greek stocks end flat in volatile trade
  • OA: Flight schedule unaffected from civil aviation employees strike
  • Thessaloniki picked as Balkan entry point for Chiquita bananas
  • Hostage stand-off ends in bloodshed
  • Milosevic meeting with Greek business delegation
  • Mediterranean nations' culture ministers to meet on Rhodes
  • Final phase of 'Parmenion '98' concludes
  • Mass infringements of Athens FIR by Turkish warplanes recorded
  • US arms sale to Greece
  • Athens, Piraeus public hospital physicians join strike
  • Infertility problems, high rate of abortions
  • Sofia conference targets int'l stolen car smuggling activity
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Commercial Bank of Greece hopes to sell Ionian in four months

Commercial Bank of Greece hopes to privatise Ionian Bank, its subsidiary, in four months using a sale consultant and a phased process to set a market price for the bank.

State Commercial Bank governor Konstandinos Georgoutsakos told a news conference yesterday that JP Morgan, an international investment house, would act as consultant in Ionian's 51 percent sale.

The three-step privatisation plan would be delayed if JP Morgan recommended a slow-down due to any turmoil in domestic or world markets, Mr. Georgoutsakos said.

The plan follows a recent abortive tender for the bank on the Athens Stock Exchange in the wake of a long-term strike by workers. No consultant was used in the sale.

In the latest plan's first phase, JP Morgan will prepare a sale prospectus after a detailed investigation of Ionian's finances and legal status carried out with an international auditor and law office.

In the second phase, the consultant will approach potential buyers in Greece and abroad, requesting indicative, non-binding bids.

And in the third phase, JP Morgan will ask a small number of interested investors to submit final bids, then negotiating with each in turn in order to secure the highest price for Ionian's stock.

The new sale process would separate Ionian's buyout price from its stock market value, an entanglement that helped to scotch the first attempted sale, and ensure transparency, Mr. Georgoutsakos said.

He justified the method used in the first sale as being in line with the times.

Half a million people so far declare real estate for land register

Around 500,000 owners of real estate have registered their properties for a national land register being created in Greece for the first time, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis said yesterday.

The registration rate for areas being catalogued was around 90 percent, Mr. Laliotis said.

Albania and Greece are the only European countries without a land register.

The register, which is expected to start phased operations in 2004, aims to protect state land from encroachment, formalise private ownership rights, and provide revenue for the state.

To receive deeds of ownership, applicants will pay duty of 10,000-300,000 drachmas in line with the value of the property, with the majority expected to pay 20,000-30,000 drachmas. The process is due to start in two years, Mr. Laliotis said.

Revenue from the duty and an extra administrative fee will be used to finance operation of the register.

The next phase of the project budgeted at 42 billion drachmas will involve properties in 447 local authorities, or 16 percent of the country's total urban area, 10 percent of total farm land and seven percent of other land.

Greek stocks end flat in volatile trade

Greek equities ended mixed to higher on the Athens Stock Exchange in light to moderate trade yesterday reflecting a lack of fresh incentives and directions.

The general index rose 0.04 percent to end at 2,141.06 points amid price fluctuations.

Turnover rose to 42.5 billion drachmas boosted by block trades.

Sector indices were mixed. Banks fell 0.38 percent, Insurance rose 0.75 percent, Investment dropped 0.59 percent, Leasing was 1.26 percent off, Industrials increased 0.68 percent, Construction eased 0.63 percent, Miscellaneous rose 1.40 percent and Hold ing was 0.83 percent down.

The parallel market index for small cap companies dropped 1.69 percent, and the FTSE/ASE 20 blue-chip index fell 0.14 percent to 1,291.23 points.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 146 to 80 with another 23 issues

National Bank of Greece ended at 39,980 drachmas, Ergobank at 23,600, Alpha Credit Bank at 21,620, Ionian Bank at 10,230, Hellenic Telecoms at 6,615, Delta Dairy at 3,150, Intracom at 11,350, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,550 and Titan Cement at 18,000 drachmas.

OA: Flight schedule unaffected from civil aviation employees strike

All Olympic Airways and Aviation flights will be carried out as normal during rolling 24-hour strikes called by civil aviation employees, beginning today through Sunday, an OA statement read.

Civil aviation employees are protesting against planned changes in the institutional framework of work regulations, being introduced by the government. They are also demanding that two bills due to be submitted to Parliament be scrapped. They charge that the bills provide for the establishment of a company that would regulate airports and civil aviation.

The Civil Aviation Authority has filed a motion with courts to have the strike declared illegal. Sources said a ruling was expected late yesterday.

Thessaloniki picked as Balkan entry point for Chiquita bananas

A recently signed agreement between Greece's Fruita and the well-know multinational Chiquita is expected to turn Thessaloniki's port into a major transit centre for the import of large quantities of bananas towards the Balkans.

The first shipment of some 40,000 cartons of bananas is expected to arrive in Thessaloniki on Friday. Fruita has made arrangements for storage in the port's wharehouses.

Hostage stand-off ends in bloodshed

Twelve persons, including eight police officers, were injured when a hand grenade exploded following a standoff between police and a Greek-Romanian fugitive in a downtown Athens apartment early today.

Police stormed the apartment where 27-year old Greek-Romanian fugitive Sorin Matei broke into the apartment and held a family of three as hostages, threatening to explode the hand grenade.

He was demanding from police a get-away car and 500,000 dollars to release the hostages he held in the small apartment on Niovis street off Acharnon.

According to a police spokesman, Matei, who was under the influence of heroin, pulled the pin from the grenade and fastened it on the trousers of one of the hostages, Amalia Ginaki, 25.

When police stormed the apartment, Matei pushed the girl towards the policemen simultaneously exploding the hand grenade.

The girl was in a critical condition at the Red Cross hospital after surgery which resulted in the amputation of her leg.

Also injured in the explosion were the Chief and Deputy Chief of the Greek police and six other police officers, one of whom lost his right leg.

Less injured was the Greek-Romanian fugitive, the girl's mother and her fiance. Miss Ginaki's younger brother was relesed by Matei earlier.

According to the Secretary General of the Ministry of Public Order Yiannis Papadogiannakis said police stormed the apartment in the belief that the hand grenade was fake.

Milosevic meeting with Greek business delegation

Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic met yesterday with a delegation of the newly established Yugoslav-Greek Business Council, which comprises of distinguished businesspeople from both countries.

The Greek and Yugoslav businesspeople briefed Mr. Milosevic on their plans in the sectors of energy, industry, agriculture, trade, transport and telecommunications as well as on the potential for capital investment in projects.

Highlighted at the meeting was also the process of decentralisation which is in progress in Yugoslavia, a fact which also attracts the keen interest of Greek businesspeople. Mr. Milosevic welcomed the establishment of the council and said that its proper functioning would contribute to both countries' economies.

The Greek side was represented, among others, by the chairman of the Greek section of the council, Mr. Mytilineos, and officials from the dairy company DELTA, the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) and the Titan Cement Co.

Mediterranean nations' culture ministers to meet on Rhodes

Culture ministers from Mediterranean nations meet on Rhodes this Saturday to begin a two-day Euro-Mediterranean conference on EU financing for cultural programmes.

Ministers are also expected to discuss the holding of an 11-nation Mediterranean forum - with the participation of the five EU Mediterranean countries, namely, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, and Greece, as well as non-EU members Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt , Algeria, Turkey and Malta.

Also on the agenda of the Rhodes meeting are the organisation of the Euro- Mediterranean summit for 2001, the cultural olympiad and bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

Final phase of `Parmenion '98` concludes

President Kostis Stephanopoulos, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos as well as military and defence ministry officials along with several foreign dignitaries yesterday observed the final phase of the combined large-scale military exersise "Parmenion '98", held on the eastern Aegean island of Hios.

All three branches of the armed forces are participating in the annual exercise, which began last Thursday and is being directed by National Defence Chief of General Staff Gen. Athanasios Tzoganis.

The aim of the exercise is to train staff officers and military units in the planning and execution of joint operations in a modern warfare environment and in general to enhance the combat efficiency of the armed forces.

The scenario for the exercise on Hios yesterday was the retaking by special forces of the Angelia islets. This phase of Parmenion was conducted by the 96th Battalion with the additional participation of 6,350 reserves and 6, 550 national guards.

"The country's armed forces, as a part of the Greek people, love peace, stability and progress, work towards achieving these for the country as well as for the wider region, through their ability, decisiveness and preparedness," Gen. Tzoganis said on the completion of the exercise.

"They are ready and able to contribute to regional and international peace, participating in peace missions of international organisations and developing peaceful cooperation between various countries." "Greece is a peaceful and peace-loving country and does not desire any involvement with anybody but this does not mean that we are not obliged due to the prevailing situation to have our armed forces at a level of operational and effective readiness," President Stephanopoulos said.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also congratulated the armed forces, saying that the exercise confirmed the battle readiness of the armed forces, and their high level of morale and ability.

Mass infringements of Athens FIR by Turkish warplanes recorded

Six formations of Turkish warplanes infringed on Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) regulations yesterday, while several fighters also violated Greek national airspace.

According to reports, four Turkish F-16s, six reconnaisance RF-4 warplanes and four F-4 "Phantoms" made 11 infringements of air traffic regulations in the Athens FIR. Three violations of national airspace north of the islands of Hios and Lesvos were als o reported.

In all cases, the Turkish aircraft were recognised and intercepted by Hellenic Air Force F-16s and Mirage-2000s, while in two cases interceptions developed into engagements. Four of the Turkish formations were armed, reports state.

US arms sale to Greece

The United States announced on Tuesday the sale of missiles, missile launchers and rockets to Greece, worth 245 million dollars.

According to a US Pentagon announcement, the purchase concerns 18 launching systems, 146 long-range rockets and 81 guided regular missiles, as well as other military equipment of various types.

The specific purchase "will not have any repercussion neither on the balance of forces in the region nor on the efforts of the US to have a solution found to the Cyprus issue through the course of negotiations," the announcement said.

Athens, Piraeus public hospital physicians join strike

Physicians at public hospitals in Athens and Piraeus joined their colleagues in Thessaloniki yesterday, saying they would continue their two- week strike to press for more government funding for duty rosters and pay increases.

A representative of the doctors admitted that Health Minister Costas Geitonas' move to increase spending on duty rosters by 8 per cent was positive but said they were still waiting to hear whether this applied to all hospitals before they called off the ir strike.

On Tuesday, doctors at public hospitals in Thessaloniki decided to extend their strike to next Monday. Yesterday morning they occupied the offices of the city's Hippocrateion Hospital for three hours in a symbolic protest. They plan another occupation, at the George Yennimatas Hospital, and the Centre for Infectious Diseases today.

Doctors want payment for being on call to be increased by 60 per cent of the daily rostered-on pay as well as increases for rostered duty pay, a 10 per cent increase in starting wages and bonuses for specialists.

Infertility problems, high rate of abortions

Approximately 300,000 married couples in Greece cannot have children, according to a Thessaloniki University medical professor.

Speaking during a press conference yesterday, organised by the "Ky-veli" society, obstetrics professor Vassilis Tarlatzis said that around 200,000 abortions are performed annually in Greece, double the number of births.

According to Dr. Tarlatzis, Greece's high infertility rate - 15 per cent as opposed to Europe's 13 per cent - can be attributed to a large extent to the increased number of abortions, as well as to men's problems, mainly infections affecting the reproductive system.

Modern methods to assist couples facing infertility problems are available in Greece and results are encouraging.

However, low coverage by private and social security funds prevent couples from seeking assistance.

The average amount given for such a case by funds does not exceed 120,000 drachmas, while expenses can amount to about one million drachmas.

Sofia conference targets int'l stolen car smuggling activity

Six international crime gangs involved in stealing cars, primarily from northern Greece, before selling them abroad have been broken up by police in Thessaloniki recently.

Between the period from Greece's joining the Schengen Pact until today, 30 Bulgarian nationals have been arrested at the Promahonas border checkpoint attempting to leave or enter Greece in a stolen vehicle.

The data was provided by Thessaloniki police during an international conference on combatting car smuggling. The conference came to a close in Sofia yesterday with proposals for closer cooperation between police authorities in this sector. The conference was attended by police and insurance company representatives from 23 countries. One point noted in particular during the conference was that while police authorities performed their duty in solving cases of stolen cars, legislation is lagging in this sector.

WEATHER

Mostly fair weather will prevail throughout Greece on today with scattered cloud in the east and south of the country. Winds northerly, northeasterly, light to moderate, turning strong in the Aegean Sea. Athens will be sunny with few clouds and temperatures between 17-27C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 15-25C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 288.454 British pound 485.207 Japanese yen (100) 212.040 French franc 50.927 German mark 170.738 Italian lira (100) 17.322 Irish Punt 427.254 Belgian franc 8.286 Finnish mark 56.169 Dutch guilder 151.672 Danish kr. 45.112 Austrian sch. 24.345 Spanish peseta 2.023 Swedish kr. 36.668 Norwegian kr. 38.390 Swiss franc 206.748 Port. Escudo 1.667 Aus. dollar 166.160 Can. dollar 188.778 Cyprus pound 578.336

(C.E.)


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