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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-10-04

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, 04/10/1998 (ANA)

NEWS HEADLINES

  • Analysts watch bourse anxiously after previous plunge
  • Economists edgy about impact of global market turmoil on Greece
  • Greece, Romania, Bulgaria to cooperate over Balkans
  • PM says local elections won't affect economic policy
  • Defence min calls for talks between Yugoslavia, Kosovo Albanians
  • Greece to set up diplomatic academy
  • Taxi drivers debate improving service, defence against mugging
  • Suspected antiquities dealers arrested
  • Author Zografou dies
  • Costakis art collection to Thessaloniki
  • Foreign workers acquiring equal rights in Greece
  • Mutual fund assets jump in September
  • US tax officials to advise Greek colleagues
  • Advertising in the Daily Bulletin
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Analysts watch bourse anxiously after previous plunge

    Analysts are anxiously watching the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday after equities plummeted to their lowest levels since March 19, again hit by a deepening crisis in international markets.

    On Friday, the general index ended 7.32 percent lower at 1,892.62 points, plunging below the 2,000- and 1,900-point barriers in a single session.

    It was 12.12 percent off in one of the market's worst weeks ever, but remained 27.91 percent up from the beginning of 1998.

    The Athens general index has lost 33 percent since its record peak on July 21 of 2,825.52 points.

    Trading was active with turnover at 50.057 billion drachmas on 10,091,000 shares traded.

    The week's turnover shrank to 184.61 billion drachmas to post a daily average of 36.9 billion, down from 38.1 billion the previous week.

    International stock markets have tumbled since the beginning of October, a month known for historic crashes on Wall Street in 1929 and 1987.

    Analysts said that foreign investors were scrambling out of emerging markets around the world to seek safe havens in US, British and German bonds.

    Emerging markets have shown losses ranging from 20 percent to 80 percent since mid-July.

    Foreign investors in Greece have dumped stock to help recoup losses incurred elsewhere in the world, analysts said.

    Traders said the current situation would raise hurdles in the government's plan to float a third stake in Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at the end of October.

    Economists edgy about impact of global market turmoil on Greece

    Three of the country's leading economists interviewed by the Athens News Agency outlined their views on the economic outlook as follows:

    Tassos Yannitsis, the prime minister's economic advisor, said that a lasting decline in stock markets, including the Athens bourse, would lower the value of many investors' assets, in turn leading to a drop in consumption and investments, and, eventually, recession.

    "The international situation is fairly serious (exacerbated by) great uncertainty in the global economy, resulting in the fact that no-one actually knows what conditions we will have to face if the crisis continues, " Mr. Yannitsis said.

    He said the G-7 group of countries were unlikely to find a solution to the problem, and the climate in markets would deteriorate through a self- perpetuating, mechanistic impetus.

    "Markets, in the final analysis, will move far less on the basis of real economic developments," he said.

    George Alogoskoufis, head of the New Democracy party's economic affairs section, urged Greece's entry into economic and monetary union to help buffer the repercussions of the crisis abroad.

    "(For Greece), the only shield is to handle the question of (European Union) convergence in a more reliable fashion and be considered a real euro country," Mr. Alogoskoufis said.

    A long-term decline in the Athens Stock Exchange would bring investors major losses, reduce consumption and demand, bring recession, slow GDP growth, lower state revenue and widen the public deficit, he said.

    Panayotis Thomopoulos, a deputy governor of the Bank of Greece, said he feared that a long-term international crisis would finally hit the real economy, that is, productive enterprises.

    According to initial estimates, the rate of GDP growth would slow or remain stationary instead of rising sharply, Mr. Thomopoulos said.

    He hoped G-7 would find measures to tackle the crisis that would curb nervousness and signs of panic in international markets, often stemming from market psychology.

    Much speculative capital had left Greece, and foreign institutional investors were seeking long-term investments aimed at future profits, Mr. Thomopoulos said.

    Foreign currency outflows yesterday were minor at around 100 million dollars. "Today, the Bank of Greece's foreign currency reserves stand at nearly 18 billion dollars, a sum that allows the central bank a wide margin for action," Mr. Thomopoulos said.

    Greece, Romania, Bulgaria to cooperate over Balkans

    Greece, Bulgaria and Romania have agreed to contribute to efforts to ease the repercussions of crises in the Balkans, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos on Saturday told reporters covering a meeting of top-level delegations of the three countries at the weekend.

    "Those who make decisions regarding the Balkans are many, but it is the three (countries) that will pay the bill," he said after an initial meeting of the delegations, led by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, and the Bulgarian and Romanian Presidents Petar Stoyanov and Emil Constantinescu respectively.

    Mr. Simitis stressed in his opening address that the tripartite cooperation was an important lever for progress in resolving the region's political problems and involved innovative ideas in international affairs, particularly in the present period of increasing interdependence and globalisation.

    "This cooperation is based on the principles of the inviolability of borders, the non-interference in internal affairs, and respect for international law. For this reason, Greece has stressed the need for the entry of Bulgaria and Romania in the European Union and NATO, because we believe there will be greater stability and security in the region when all countries are able to participate in these two European and international organisations," he said.

    PM says local elections won't affect economic policy

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Sunday that the government would not ease its tight economic policies in order to secure political gains from nationwide local elections this month.

    The cornerstone of policy remained attaining entry into the European Union's economic and monetary union by the target date of January 1, 2001, Simitis said.

    The prime minister was replying to reporters' questions in Delphi on the sidelines of talks he is holding this weekend with the presidents of Bulgaria and Romania.

    Simitis rejected allegations in several Sunday newspapers that economic policy was a hostage to election politics as Greece still had leeway of one year to meet the five economic criteria needed for EMU entry.

    "The priority of EMU entry is decisive in any decisions taken," Simitis said.

    Joining the euro, the EU's future single currency, would help to ensure economic stability and contribute to attaining greater social justice, he said.

    Defence min calls for talks between Yugoslavia, Kosovo Albanians

    Greek National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Sunday called on Yugoslavia and Albanians in Kosovo to begin talks in order to avert a military intervention by NATO in Kosovo.

    Calling on Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Kosovo Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova to begin talks, he said: "They should proceed immediately with the start of dialogue to allow broad autonomy in Kosovo within the framework of Yugoslavia's existing borders."

    "I am optimistic that the logic of dialogue will prevail and that there will be a political solution," said Tsohatzopoulos, speaking in the northern city of Thessaloniki.

    Greece to set up diplomatic academy

    Greece's foreign ministry is to set up a diplomatic academy to recruit newcomers into the service and provide courses for existing staff at all levels.

    The academy will also arrange seminars for Greeks and non-Greeks on foreign policy and international relations.

    A draft presidential decree allowing its creation has been sent to the Council of State for study.

    A senior foreign ministry official will be appointed to head the academy, which is to be staffed by diplomatic service employees, ambassadors, lecturers in higher education, and other specialists.

    Eligible to sit the academy's entrance exam are degree-holders with a working knowledge of computers.

    Taxi drivers debate improving service, defence against mugging

    Greek taxi owners were due to hold a national congress in the northern city of Kavala on Sunday to debate improving services to passengers and defending themselves from mugging.

    Taxi drivers have repeatedly come under fire from the public for overcharging, refusing to drive to unprofitable destinations and rudeness.

    In August, a taxi driver was arrested after charging an Australian tourist 25 times the standard fare for a ride from Athens airport to the city centre - news that was carried worldwide.

    Tranport Minister Tassos Mantelis said last month that taxis whose drivers overcharged passengers would have their vehicles taken off the road, and he asked local authorities to help check for abuse.

    The cab owners, who often also drive the vehicles, have invited the transport ministry to send representatives to the congress.

    Also on the agenda is improving the image of taxi drivers, including a code of conduct aimed at tourists, and service for the elderly and people with special needs.

    At the same time, taxi drivers are frequently the victims of assault by muggers attempting to steal their takings.

    Delegates to the congress will debate protection measures including the installation of a plate glass divider between driver and passengers.

    Suspected antiquities dealers arrested

    Athens police have arrested two businessmen for possession of 19 items of great archaeological value.

    Constantinos Thanasoulas and Christos Lapainitis had purchased the items, dating to the Neolithic period (7000 to 4000 BC), from Ali-Ibrahim Musli and Stamatis Panagiotidis, who had brought them from the Thracian city of Xanthi, and were also arrested.

    A search in Thanasoulas' home also produced an electronic scanner used for locating hidden treasures, as well as maps of Mounts Olympus and Athos in Macedonia.

    Author Zografou dies

    Well-known Greek author Lili Zografou died on Friday in Crete at the age of 76, following a week-long hospitalisation after suffering a massive stroke.

    The Cretan-born Zografou was holidaying on the island when she suffered the stroke on Sept. 25, and was rushed to the Irakleio University Hospital. She died of an oedema resulting from the stroke.

    The woman who in the preface of her last book described herself as an "ardent anti-feminist for the simple reason that I am happy to have been born a woman" was born in 1922 in the seaside village of Milato, Lassithi, where she spent her childhood.

    She wrote numerous articles for newspapers and periodicals and was the author of biographical and historical treatises, prose, theatrical plays and novels.

    Zografou published her first work in 1949, a collection of short stories titled "Agapi" (Love), before travelling extensively in central and eastern Europe.

    The central theme of her 24 stories was the contemporary woman and her problems and struggles for independence.

    One of her most popular novels, the 1994 "I Agapi Argise Mia Mera" (Love Came a Day Late), was translated into French and has been turned into a script for a television series that will air in Greece this autumn.

    Lily Zografou was married three times and has one daugher, who was born during the Nazi occupation of Greece while she was in prison, the poetess Rena Hatzidaki.

    "If I could be 20 again, I would set out from the mountaintops as a guerrilla, a pirate, to open up the eyes of those who unprotestingly accept their fate and of those who willingly turn a blind eye," she once wrote.

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos expressed his sadness at the passing away "of a woman who always expressed, with her writing and attitude, her radical dynamism".

    Costakis art collection to Thessaloniki

    The famed "Costakis collection" of Russian avant-garde works of art will begin arriving in Thessaloniki on Tuesday, a statement from the culture ministry said.

    An official reception for the art works will be held towards the end of next week at the Lazarist Monastery and the city's new Modern Art Museum, the statement added.

    The Cologne-based works of art, collected over thirty years by Georgios Costakis, a Muscovite of Greek descent, will be initially housed at the Lazarist Monastery until the completion of the modern art museum, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said earlier this month.

    Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis officially opens the grounds of the new modern art museum tonight. The ministry has subsidised the landscaping of the grounds by the French-based, Greek-born sculptor Filolaous.

    Mr. Venizelos announced an interim agreement to purchase about half of the Costakis collection in January. He said the interim agreement had been signed for the purchase of the "Western" part of the collection. A substantial part of the Costakis Collect ion is also in the possession of the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow.

    Costakis built up the collection between 1930 and 1960 by exchanging works by western artists for paintings dating from the period 1910-1930 by then unknown Russian avant-garde artists.

    The collection, which now belongs to the grand-daughter of the famous collector, Aliki Costaki, includes works by Malevic, founder of the "Supremacist" school, Tatlin, the founder of "Constructivism", Popova, Rozanova and Mathiushin.

    Foreign workers acquiring equal rights in Greece

    Foreign workers who are in possession of the green work and residence card may now enjoy the same labour and social insurance rights as their Greek colleagues, officials of the Athens Labour Centre (EKA) told representatives of immigrant organisations during a briefing.

    Foreign workers legally employed in Greece now number 380,000, while the process is underway for the granting of the green card to another 100, 000.

    The gross monthly minimum wage for home helps is now set at 164,000 drachmas, of which 10,000 drachmas is deducted for social security. The employers' contribution is 18,000 drachmas.

    Other provisions already in place stipulate the compulsory attendance of primary school by immigrants' children, while those that are over age will receive supplementary tuition in order to be placed in the appropriate grade, the officials said.

    Mutual fund assets jump in September

    The assets of Greece's 181 mutual funds totalled 8.8 trillion drachmas on September 30, an increase of 22.64 percent against January 1, the Union of Institutional Investors said in a statement.

    The market share of mutual funds by category on September 30 was as follows: * Money market funds, 67.42 percent * Fixed-income funds, 19.79 percent * Combined funds, 8.72 percent * Growth funds at 4.07 percent.

    There are 30 mutual fund management firms operating in Greece. The largest managers on the basis of mutual fund assets managed on September 30 were Alpha, Diethniki, Ermis, Ergobank and Alico-Eurobank.

    US tax officials to advise Greek colleagues

    Domestic and US tax officials will work together in order to simplify the system for the receipt, handling and clearance of tax returns in Greece, Finance Undersecretary George Drys said.

    He was speaking after a meeting with the US tax service (IRS) chief, J. Lyons, as part of a long-standing cooperation agreement between the two sides.

    A joint committee will study how tax returns are handled and submit proposals for changes that will make the system simpler and more efficient for both the state and taxpayers.

    The two sides met to review progress and set next year's targets, which are to simplify the handling of tax returns, link the finance ministry's information technology infrastructure, establish a computerised tax administration system, improve organisat ional structure, and look at procedures to monitor vehicles.

    Mr. Drys said that the finance ministry was implementing its policy to create a modern, equitable and efficient tax system in the country.

    Advertising in the Daily Bulletin

    The ANA will from now on welcome professional half-page or full-page advertisements in its daily English and French Bulletin.

    Advertisements will be accepted from embassies, banks, commercial and maritime companies, chambers of commerce, advertising companies, airlines, organisations, professional associations, educational and research institutions in Greece and abroad as well as international bodies.

    Also, for a small fee, the above groups may channel their Press Releases (PRs), announcements or photographs - in Greek, English or French - to the ANA's more than 100 media subscribers throughout Greece and Cyprus via the recently introduced ANA on-line PR's service.

    For details on and arrangements for the advertising and/or PRs on-line service, please contact the ANA Marketing Department, tel: 6400580, fax: 6400024 between 10:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

    Weather

    Fair weather forecast throughout the country on Monday with winds variable, light to moderate. Sunny weather in Athens with temperatures ranging from 16C to 27C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 14C and 24C.

    Foreign exchange

    Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 281.827 British pound 481.318 Japanese yen (100) 210.125 French franc 51.463 German mark 172.509 Italian lira (100) 17.454 Irish Punt 431.123 Belgian franc 8.363 Finnish mark 56.701 Dutch guilder 153.011 Danish kr. 45.390 Austrian sch. 24.528 Spanish peseta 2.031 Swedish kr. 35.621 Norwegian kr. 37.781 Swiss franc 209.223 Port. Escudo 1.684 Aus. dollar 167.946 Can. dollar 181.953 Cyprus pound 580.320

    (C.S.)


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