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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-09-30

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, 30/09/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • 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
  • Weather
  • 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 briefing.

"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 development.

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 Tuesday.

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 way tomorrow.

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 national interests.

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 (CINCSOUTH).

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 Samos.

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 Mix.

"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 intervals.

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 days ago.

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 previous tender.

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, analysts said.

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 market.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 126 to 92 with another 30 issues unchanged.

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 state control.

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 drug.

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 until 1990.

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.

WEATHER

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 between 18-22C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

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

(C.E.)


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