Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-09-30
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 30/09/1998 (ANA)
- Greece says Albania must get strong government
- Turkey blamed for inciting Moslems in Thrace
- Good news for consumers as food prices fall
- Largest NATO exercise to be conducted in southern region this year
- US critical on Turkish president's statement
- AEK knocked out of UEFA Cup
- Interest rates to sink to 6.0-7.0 pct by 2001-minister
- Celebrities caught in tax swoop
- Gov't to appoint financial consultant for 2004 Olympics
- Greek 12M treasury bill rates slide to 11.6 pct in auction
- Greek stocks edge up in lacklustre trade
- Gov't writes off Athens urban transport's debts of Dr 913 bln
- Viagra likely to be sold in Greece by Christmas
- Kyriakidis named new tourism chief
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Greece says Albania must get strong government
Greece yesterday urged that the resolution of the Albanian political crisis
after the resignation of Fatos Nano from the post of prime minister had to
come through proper constitutional procedures.
"Democratic institutions in the neighbouring country can and must function
satisfactorily, and I believe that procedures have to be completed in the
framework of legitimacy and the constitutional order, so that Albania may
again acquire a strong governm ent that will face the country's problems,"
government spokesman Dimitris Reppas told reporters during his daily
"Transitions from one person to another do not constitute dramatic
developments as long as democratic institutions function," he added.
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on his part urged the
international community to respect democratic procedures, following the
resignation of Mr. Nano late Monday, expressing his surprise at the
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said democratic procedures and political decisions in
Albania "must be respected" so that "we can offer our undivided support for
stabilisation of the political system".
He also said that opposition leader Sali Berisha "cannot exploit the
situation arising from the resignation of the Albanian prime minister", as
he was accused of trying to topple the government.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the current political crisis could lead to "new
operational procedures in the neighbouring country that will disengage it
from the policies of the past".
Turkey blamed for inciting Moslems in Thrace
Turkey is to blame for the activity of a so-called "Turkish minority
consultative committee" in Thrace which called on Greek Moslems in the
region to vote for minority representatives in forthcoming municipal and
prefectural elections, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on
A Member of Parliament, Galip Galip, the ruling PASOK member for Rodopi,
appears to be among the members of the committee.
Turkey is trying to present a religious minority as Turkish and in this way
to harm the government's policy of equality before the law and the state,"
Mr. Reppas said.
"Such practices are unacceptable... if illegal activity exists then it will
be dealt with as illegal activity," Mr. Reppas said.
Mr. Galip's activities drew the ire of the government earlier this year
after he made statements during a radio interview referring to a "Turkish
minority" in Thrace.
Mr. Reppas said then that Mr. Galip should keep in mind that he was elected
by Greek citizens and that he has taken an oath to Greece's Constitution.
Mr. Reppas added that all related issues have been resolved, and that there
is no such thing as a Turkish minority in Thrace.
Good news for consumers as food prices fall
The retail sales prices of about 250 foodstuffs and consumer goods will
start decreasing as of tomorrow in the wake of recent price decreases in
spare parts and lubricants.
The price decreases, ranging between 3-33 per cent and being applied
gradually in the market until October 15, are taking place following an
agreement between Development Undersecretary Mihalis Chrysohoidis and
representatives of foodstuffs and cleaning products industries.
The agreement was reached in talks held over the past 20 days.
The duration of the retail sales price decreases is three months and six
months for certain products.
The categories of products whose prices will be decreased are cleaning
products, flour, pasteurised milk, yogurt, hard cheeses, coffee, rice,
legumes, pasta products, infants' foods, refreshments, corn flakes,
chocolates and mayonnaise.
Largest NATO exercise to be conducted in southern region this year
Greece, along with Turkey and Italy, will host the largest NATO exercise
conducted in the southern region this year, when Dynamic Mix 98 gets under
It will be the first time that Greece and Turkey have participated jointly
in a NATO training exercise for 13 years, after talks at the NATO level
leading to the two countries' judging that the exercise was in both their
But neither Turkish nor Greek forces will take part in exercises on the
territory of the other country.
Dynamic Mix will involve forces from 11 NATO nations and will be conducted
in the Mediterranean and is designed to improve the Southern Region's
capability to implement NATO strategy and to deal simultaneously with a
crisis and peace support operation.
Exercises will take place concurrently in more than one location, with many
nations participating in different aspects of the same exercise.
It will be the largest NATO exercise conducted in the region this year,
with approximately 17,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. Approximately
5,000 troops, 62 ships and 170 aircraft will participate, as well as all
NATO headquarters in the Sout hern Region. It will be directed and
coordinated by the Commander-in-Chief Allied Forces Southern Europe
The area of the exercise include the south and eastern Mediterranean, the
Ionian Sea, northern Greece, southeast Turkey and southern Italy.
The final phase of Dynamic Mix will be held in southeast Turkey. At the
same time, U.S. and Turkish forces will conduct a small-scale aeronautical
exercise in international waters between the Greek islands of Chios and
The U.S. and Turkish authorities will be obliged to submit flight plans, in
line with Dynamic Mix regulations. If they do not, they will be intercepted
by Greek fighters.
Turkey has also scheduled a national landing operation to take place at the
same time as the NATO exercise.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said later that the exercise would be
conducted in a different region to that selected during last year's Dynamic
"These appear to be the changes that have been made this year and allowed
Turkey to participate in this (year's) exercise," Mr. Reppas said.
Mr. Reppas said Turkey had raised objections to some of the regions in
which Dynamic Mix 97 was to be conducted and had abstained from participating.
US critical on Turkish president's statement
The US yesterday adopted a critical stand on a public statement by Turkish
President Suleyman Demirel on August 26 questioning the sovereignty of 132
Greek islets in the Aegean, and stressed the need for disputes to be
resolved peacefully through international fora.
"We view such public comments as unhelpful. Unilateral assertions of
sovereignty do not advance prospects for the peaceful resolution of these
disputes. We continue to stress to both Turkey and Greece the importance of
establishing a process to resolve d isputes peacefully, through such
mechanisms as the International Court of Justice or similar fora, based on
the principles of the rule of law."
This US position was disclosed by US Assistant Secretary of State for
European Affairs Marc Grossman in a letter to Andrew E. Manatos, president
of the National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes, responding to the September
8 inquiry of Mr. Manatos.
AEK knocked out of UEFA Cup
AEK Athens yesterday bid farewell to its participation in this season's
UEFA Cup competition, after drawing 3-3 at home with Arnhem Vitesse.
The Dutch side, which was ahead 1-3 in the 50th minute with two headers by
Greek-born Nikos Machlas in the 11th and 17th minutes and one by Roiser in
the 50th, had its goalkeeper sent off and played the second half with 10
men. They qualified 6-3 on aggregate. Nikolaidis (13, 75) and Kopitsis (67)
scored for the Greeks.
Interest rates to sink to 6.0-7.0 pct by 2001-minister
Interest rates will fall to 6.0-7.0 percent by 2001, National Economy and
Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou predicted yesterday.
He said after a meeting with domestic bankers that their institutions
should reduce operational costs and overhaul their portfolios, limit their
profit margins, or be willing to lose their market share.
Celebrities caught in tax swoop
Three of Greece's most popular entertainers and a renowned plastic surgeon
are on a list of 20 major tax evaders released by the national economy and
finance ministry yesterday.
Cypriot-born pop singer Anna Vissi, her husband Nikos Karvellas, a singer
who also composes most of Vissi's songs, popular singer Notis Sfakianakis,
and Andreas Foustanos, who has performed cosmetic surgery on Greek
entertainers and socialites, were said by the ministry to owe the state
hundreds of millions of drachmas in taxes from undeclared income.
The list also includes doctors, lawyers, university professors, accountants
and notary publics around the country.
National Economy and Finance Minister Yannos Papantoniou, who released the
list of names and amounts owed, said the instances of tax evasion were
uncovered during audits conducted by the financial crimes squad. He said
the audits were continuing, and further lists would be released at regular
According to the list, Ms Vissi will have to pay the Greek state over 140
million drachmas in delayed taxes and fines, and Mr. Karvellas more than
167 million drachmas.
The audits on Mr. Sfakianakis and Mr. Foustanos are continuing.
Gov't to appoint financial consultant for 2004 Olympics
Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday endorsed a ministers' proposal to
appoint a financial consultant for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, who will
be selected on November 27.
The prime minister chaired a meeting on the Olympics attended by Culture
Minister Evangelos Venizelos, National Economy Undersecretary Christos
Pahtas, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Undersecretary Christos
Verelis, and Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras.
The officials debated ways of financing construction projects for the
Olympic Games in order to alleviate the burden on state coffers.
Mr. Venizelos said work on major projects for the Games was proceeding on
target, as confirmed in statements to the media by the International
Olympic Committee's monitoring group, which visited the installations a few
Greek 12M treasury bill rates slide to 11.6 pct in auction
Interest rates on Greek 12-month treasury bills fell sharply to 11.6
percent in a finance ministry auction yesterday from 13.2 percent in the
Spurring the decline were the drachma's entry into a new European Union
currency grid (ERM-2) for countries remaining outside economic and monetary
union, and tighter convergence targets in a new Greek programme for the EU,
The state collected 236 billion drachmas from the auction, which originally
offered 200 billion drachmas worth of T-bills. Submitted were bids
totalling 390 billion drachmas.
Greek stocks edge up in lacklustre trade
Trading on the Athens Stock Exchange was flaccid in light trade yesterday
ahead of news on US interest rates and a new effort to privatise Hellenic
Duty Free Shops through the bourse today.
The general index ended 0.34 percent up at 2,159.75 points with turnover at
33.6 billion drachmas, including block trades of eight billion drachmas, on
7,470,000 shares traded.
Sector indices were mixed. Banks fell 0.16 percent, Insurance dropped 0.57
percent, Investment ended 0.09 percent off, Leasing ended 1.38 percent down,
Industrials rose 0.46 percent, Construction fell 0.38 percent, Miscellaneous
increased 0.13 percent and Holding jumped 1.46 percent.
The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.32 percent higher
reflecting a shift by investors to small or medium-sized companies in the
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 126 to 92 with another 30 issues
Gov't writes off Athens urban transport's debts of Dr 913 bln
The government is to write off debts of 913 billion drachmas posted by the
Athens Urban Transport Organisation (OASA) as part of a restructuring plan
for the loss-making company.
National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Transport
Minister Tassos Mantelis yesterday signed a management contract with OASA
that also includes the transfer of long-term procurement deals directly to
The biggest long-term contract signed by the company is the purchase of 750
new buses by 2001.
The management contract calls for a 35 percent reduction in the real cost
per ticket per passenger. The state currently covers the shortfall between
the real cost of approximately 200 drachmas of a ticket and the price paid
by passengers, which is 120 drachmas.
The government will continue to pay a subsidy, to be worked out at the
beginning of each year.
Viagra likely to be sold in Greece by Christmas
Viagra is likely to be available in Greece in time for Christmas,
representatives of Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company producing the male
impotence wonder drug, said yesterday.
The firm will submit an application to the commerce ministry in coming days
in order to have Viagra's retail price set, which is expected to be 3,500-4,
500 drachmas, the representatives told a news conference to present the
Medical experts warned people who intended to buy Viagra abroad or on the
black market before Christmas to consult their doctors first.
"Viagra is not a stimulant and will not arouse desire where there is none,"
one doctor present said, with others warning that those with conditions
including heart or liver problems should not take the drug.
Viagra is only available on prescription, and it is not yet clear whether
Greece's health funds will pay for use of the drug.
The company said it would begin briefing pharmacists on the drug soon. The
package will also carry a certificate of authenticity to fend off any
attempts at imitation.
The doctors said that Viagra was bound to be as successful in Greece as
elsewhere, adding that 447,000 Greek men over the age of 40 were estimated
to suffer from sexual dysfunction.
Kyriakidis named new tourism chief
Mihalis Kyriakidis officially assumed his duties yesterday as Secretary
General of the National Tourist Organisation of Greece (EOT). He succeeded
Nikos Skoulas who had resigned. The ceremony was attended by Development
Minister Vasso Papandreou and EOT President Yiannis Stefanidis.
Mr. Kyriakidis, 47, worked at the European Commission from 1991 until 1996
and was a member of the Permanent Greek Delegation at the EEC from 1986
In September 1996 he assumed the management of the Industrial Ownership
Organisation. He was also a member of EOT's administration and an adviser
for Ms. Papandreou on tourist issues.
Fine weather in most parts of Greece today with few clouds and scattered
storms in Thrace, the eastern Aegean islands and the Dodecanese. Weather
will improve from the afternoon. Winds variable, moderate to strong. Athens
sunny with temperatures from 20-26C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures
Wednesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 285.964
British pound 489.056 Japanese yen (100) 213.042
French franc 50.969 German mark 170.892
Italian lira (100) 17.272 Irish Punt 427.076
Belgian franc 8.283 Finnish mark 56.123
Dutch guilder 151.523 Danish kr. 44.928
Austrian sch. 24.299 Spanish peseta 2.011
Swedish kr. 36.516 Norwegian kr. 38.589
Swiss franc 206.162 Port. Escudo 1.668
Aus. dollar 170.574 Can. dollar 189.472
Cyprus pound 574.884