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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-10-07

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, 07/10/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece to meet EMU entry targets in 2000, PM says
  • Greek stocks rally in scant trade
  • Rates on 6M T-bills rise 30 basis points to 12.6 pct
  • Greece ranks top among EU money market mutual funds
  • OA technicians to strike
  • Greece's candidacy for non-permanent seat on UN Security Council
  • Kosovo crisis must be resolved through political dialogue
  • US offers AWACS to Greece
  • 10th Defendory weapons systems exhibition opens in Piraeus
  • Alexander Dubcek's youngest son appointed ambassador to Athens
  • Greek Nat'l Olympics Committee picks water-skiing as 2004 event
  • 'Traditional Orthodox Moscow' exhibition in Athens
  • Greece ratifies convention on human rights, biomedicine
  • New bill on organ transplants
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece to meet EMU entry targets in 2000, PM says

Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday that the government's economic and development policy was bringing tangible results, enabling the country to meet entry targets for European economic and monetary union in 2000.

The government, which wants to join the EU's single currency by January 1, 2001 at the latest, was also successfully handling the repercussions of a global financial crisis on the domestic economy, Mr. Simitis said.

In addition, progress by Greece also meant that the country now had a strong presence in Europe, where it was in a position to influence decisions.

Mr. Simitis was speaking during a visit to the port of Lavrion on the east coast of Attica accompanied by ministers and other government officials.

During his visit, the prime minister inaugurated a new electrical power plant with Development Minister Vasso Papandreou that will operate on natural gas.

Output at the new plant - together with that of the existing network - will boost capacity and reduce the likelihood of power supply problems in greater Athens.

Energy policy was a strategic key to development, and the government had taken steps to ensure the smooth operation of the energy market, Mr. Simitis said.

As examples, he cited Hellenic Petroleum's listing on the Athens Stock Exchange, gradual liberalisation of the electrical energy market from February 2001, reorganisation of the Public Power Corporation, and the participation of experienced private inve stors in the natural gas supply company.

Mr. Simitis said works at Lavrion harbour, which is expected to be linked to Athens' new airport now under construction at Spata, could turn the port town into a supplementary junction for the movement of goods and passengers.

Unemployment in the Lavrion area had already dropped sharply from 24 percent in 1993 to approximately 11 percent, and a programme being implemented by the government would further reduce joblessness.

Forty three investment plans worth a total of 27 billion drachmas were being promoted that would create a further 663 jobs, Mr. Simitis said.

Greek stocks rally in scant trade

Greek equities rebounded on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday, halting a four-day decline that saw the market lose 12.5 percent of its value.

The general index retook the 1,900-point barrier to end 0.81 percent higher at 1,905.06 points. Trading was extremely thin with turnover at 28.3 billion drachmas. Volume was 6,756,000 shares.

Sector indices mostly scored gains.

Banks rose 0.26 percent, Insurance ended 0.28 percent up, Investment increased 0.39 percent, Leasing ended 0.08 percent higher, Industrials surged 1.30 percent, Miscellaneous jumped 2.23 percent, Holding soared 2.87 percent but Construction fell 1.83 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 0.34 percent lower, and the FTSE/ASE 20 blue chip index rose 0.65 percent to 1,142.88 points.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 114 to 112 with another 20 issues unchanged.

Rates on 6M T-bills rise 30 basis points to 12.6 pct

The finance ministry yesterday held an auction of new six-month Treasury bills that saw interest rates rise by 30 basis points to 12.6 percent from 12.3 percent in the previous tender.

Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis attributed the increase to the impact of a deepening international financial crisis.

But the crisis had led to fewer repercussions on Greece than on other emerging economies, Mr. Christodoulakis said.

A steady improvement in the domestic economy coupled with a minor exposure to foreign markets by Greek banks and enterprises had shielded the economy.

October's state borrowing needs totalled 400 billion drachmas, and the sum would be covered by existing state reserves, Mr. Christodoulakis said.

Weekly auctions of state securities would continue along with a possible resumption of auctions for long-term bonds, frozen in the aftermath of the global crisis.

Mr. Christodoulakis said that the state was able to meet its monthly borrowing requirements following an agreement signed with international banks for a credit line totalling 1.25 billion US dollars, and another with Greek banks worth 300 billion drachmas.

He also said that the government's Prometoha equity convertible bond issue had been a success with institutional investors absorbing 90 billion drachmas and private investors another 80 billion drachmas' worth of paper.

The Balladur-type bond was launched in September and allows investors to convert the paper into the shares of firms privatised through the Athens Stock Exchange from January 1, 1999.

The issue means the government has access to the privatisation funds before the companies' stock is sold.

Mr. Christodoulakis forecast that an overshooting of primary budget spending this year could be reduced to a 6.3 percent increase from 9.1 percent currently.

Spending on interest would exceed targets by 50 billion drachmas in 1998, he said.

Greece ranks top among EU money market mutual funds

Greece accounted for the lion's share of money market funds in the European Union's mutual fund market on March 31, holding a 65.5 percent stake, according to the European Federation of Investment Funds and Companies (FEFSI).

It was followed by France with 32.9 percent of the market and Spain with 32.2 percent, said FEFSI in data published by the Union of Institutional Investors.

Greece ranked 11th in the 15-nation bloc on March 31 in Europe's total mutual fund market, accounting for 1.3 percent of the total.

OA technicians to strike

Olympic Airways aircraft technicians (EPTAOA) yesterday announced a strike for Oct. 13 and 15 to press demands for the immediate hiring of 102 apprentice mechanics and another 80 trainees.

Technicians said they will walk off the job between 6-9 a.m. and 5-8 p.m. on both days.

EPTAOA representatives said that some 200 people had already left the sector through early retirement plans and another 30 were due to retire this year. Until 2000, another 85 specialised technicians will retire.

Greece's candidacy for non-permanent seat on UN Security Council

If the United Nations is to be reformed, becoming more representative, democratic and transparent, these principles should be adhered to if the impression is to be avoided that there is an informal group of semi- permanent members of the Security Council, or that the Council is a closed club, Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis stressed at the UN yesterday.

He made the statements during a press conference in view of the General Assembly vote tomorrow morning for the election of the 10 non-permanent members of the Council for the 1999-2000 period. Greece, along with The Netherlands and Canada, is contesting one of the two seats reserved for the so-called western group.

Referring to Greece's candidacy, Mr, Kranidiotis stressed the principle of equality, emphasising that all member-states of the UN have the same rights regarding their representation in the various organs, particularly in the Security Council.

He pointed out that Greece has served as member of the Security Council only once (1952-1953), compared to four and five times for The Netherlands and Canada, respectively.

Mr. Kranidiotis also referred to Greece's good relations with so-called Third World countries, adding that due to its geographical position in the Balkans and southeastern Europe, Athens election would provide opportunity for a more active presence of the organisation in this particularly sensitive region.

Replying to a question by CNN on the stand Greece would maintain on the Kosovo issue if it were a member of the Security Council, Mr. Kranidiotis said the positions Athens has adopted in various organisations, such as the EU and NATO, have been similar to those of its partners.

"Our view is that problems are not always faced with the use of force, and we maintain reservations on this idea, along with all the other countries of the region that will be called upon to directly face the consequences," he said.

He referred to a strict message addressed to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic by the tripartite Greek-Bulgarian-Romanian summit meeting in Delphi over the weekend, and expressed a view that diplomatic means for de- escalating the crisis have not yet been exhausted. Finally, responding to a Turkish reporter's question on the current Turkish-Syrian dispute, Mr. Kranidiotis noted that problems in the relations between the two countries are many and do not come from only one direction.

He also referred to a military agreement between Turkey and Israel, which he said, was not only of concern to Syria, but to all countries in the region that hoped the agreement would not be to their detriment and would not upset existing balances.

Mr. Kranidiotis expressed the hope a war between Turkey and Syria would be averted and that the dispute would be overcome through negotiations.

Lastly, he pointed out that Greece and Turkey (which has stated its candidacy for the Security Council in 2001) have entered into a "gentlemen's agreement" not to undermine each other's candidacy.

Kosovo crisis must be resolved through political dialogue

Athens once again reiterated its standing position yesterday that the Kosovo crisis should resolved through political dialogue, while admitting that "the clouds of war appeared to be gathering".

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas also denied that the presence of NATO officials in the northern city of Thessaloniki was linked in any way to a possible NATO strike in the troubled Yugoslav province of Kosovo.

The situation in Kosovo has no bearing on the presence of foreign officials in Greece, he said.

US offers AWACS to Greece

The US Pentagon said on Monday it had approved the potential sale of six airborne warning and control systems to Greece for $380 million.

The prime contractor for the proposed sale of the sophisticated "AWACS" systems would be either Northrop Grumman Corp. or Lockheed Martin Corp., depending on whether Athens buys Northrop E-2C or Lockheed C-130J aircraft.

The proposed package is part of a major upgrade in defence equipment by Greece.

10th Defendory weapons systems exhibition opens in Piraeus

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday inaugurated the 10th Defendory international exhibition of conventional weapons at the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) exhibition centre.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos first accompanied his visiting Russian counterpart Igor Sergeyev around pavilions of the Greek defence industries, before inspecting Russian weapons systems on display.

Afterwards, US ambassador Nicholas Burns guided Mr. Tsohatzopoulos around the pavilions of the US defence industries.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also received visiting Senegalese Foreign Minister Cheikh Harnidou Kane and Italian Deputy Defence Minister Gianni Rivera.

Defence Undersecretary Dimitrios Apostolakis yesterday had successive meetings with his Hungarian and Italian counterparts, Janos Karasz and Mr. Rivera.

Alexander Dubcek's youngest son appointed ambassador to Athens

Milan Dubcek, the youngest of Alexander Dubcek's three sons, was appointed yesterday as Slovakia's ambassador to Athens.

Mr. Dubcek received his credentials from out-going Slovakin Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, according to the press agency Tasr.

The fourty-six-year-old Dubcek is a career diplomat.

His father, Alexander, led the 1968 reform movement (Prague Spring) in Czechoslovakia. The elder Dubcek was fatally injured in a mysterious November 1992 traffic accident.

Greek Nat'l Olympics Committee picks water-skiing as 2004 event

Greece's National Olympics Committee (EOA) yesterday chose water-skiing as one of the two additional events at the 28th Olympiad - Athens 2004.

The selection will now be put to the Athens 2004 organising committee for joint proposal to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The city which hosts the Olympic Games has the right to propose two events of its own choice, final approval then resting with the IOC.

According to EOA members, water-skiing was chosen as one of the events because of its universal popularity and high-level of competition in Greece.

The second event will be discussed at the committee's next meeting after proposals have been examined from the country's athletics federations. These proposals must be submitted to EOA by Oct. 23.

'Traditional Orthodox Moscow' exhibition in Athens

The Vouros-Eftaxias Museum of Athens in cooperation with the Moscow History Museum will organise an exhibition on "Traditional Orthodox Moscow" of the last four centuries.

The exhibition will open in Athens on Oct. 12 and end on Nov. 15.

Exhibits will include various religious items from the 17th century to date highlighting the cultural bonds of Russia and Greece throughout the centuries.

Rare books, oil paintings and priceless icons will be included, along with a photographic collection of Crimean cities still recognised by their Greek names.

Both Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos and the Patriarch of Moscow Alexios II hailed the exhibition in messages.

Greece ratifies convention on human rights, biomedicine

Greece yesterday ratified the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine.

Athens' permanent representative at the Council of Europe, Prof. Dimitri Constas, handed the instrument of ratification to Council of Europe (CoE) Secretary General Daniel Tarschys yesterday.

The convention is the first internationally binding legal text designed to protect people against the misuse of biological and medical advances. It aims at preserving human dignity and identity, rights and freedoms, through a series of principles and rules.

New bill on organ transplants

The health ministry yesterday unveiled a new bill on transplant procedures.

The new bill provides, as an incentive, priority status to people who sign up as organ donors in case they need a transplant in the future. It also includes a requirement for consent from close family members of a deceased individual in the absence of such consent or refusal by individual while they were still alive.

In the absence of immediate family members or when authorities are unable to contact them within a reasonable amount of time, organs' removal will be decided by an ethics committee from the National Transplants Organisation, which will also keep organ d onor and recipient files.

With the new bill, the populace will be offered the opportunity to state their wish to become organ donors through special forms that will be distributed to the public.

More than 1,500 people are currently on a waiting list to receive various organ transplants in Greece.

WEATHER

Cloudy weather will prevail throughout Greece today with the possibility of rain in the northern Ionian, Epirus, western central Greece and western Macedonia in the afternoon. Winds variable, moderate to strong, turning gale force in the Ionian. Overcast in Athens with temperatures between 16- 30C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 14-26C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 282.432 British pound 475.069 Japanese yen (100) 212.764 French franc 51.419 German mark 172.375 Italian lira (100) 17.440 Irish Punt 431.917 Belgian franc 8.357 Finnish mark 56.651 Dutch guilder 152.942 Danish kr. 45.348 Austrian sch. 24.503 Spanish peseta 2.029 Swedish kr. 35.311 Norwegian kr. 37.813 Swiss franc 209.590 Port. Escudo 1.682 Aus. dollar 164.603 Can. dollar 182.191 Cyprus pound 582.443

(C.E.)


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