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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-10-20

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, 20/10/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Local gov't elections spell concern for PASOK, satisfaction for ND
  • Four new ambassadors accredited to Athens
  • Skandalidis letter to PASOK prefectural committees
  • New diplomats sworn-in
  • Faye Dunaway in Athens for 'Maria Callas' film project
  • Bank of France head Trichet: Greece has made 'significant progress'
  • Greek equities end lower
  • 'Economist'-sponsored conference in Athens
  • EIB loans target Greek health sector
  • Lambrakis Press group's bourse listing between Oct. 20-23
  • Ericsson, Intrakom deny end of joint cooperation
  • Greek firm's olives lauded at Paris food exhibition
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Local gov't elections spell concern for PASOK, satisfaction for ND

The outcome of local government elections has caused concern to PASOK's leadership, as the ruling party lost at least 16 prefectures, including the traditional municipal strongholds of Patra, Larissa and Ioannina.

In response, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the result "fell short of expectations".

However, he said the result of the elections was not a defeat for the government, which was not being judged during the poll.

"The outcome did not presage any change in the government's policies", he said.

A series of meetings between government and party bodies started yesterday, while various ways will be sought to take the edge off public dissatisfaction expressed during the recent elections.

Prime Minister Costas Simitis is scheduled to chair today's joint meeting between a government commission and the political secretariat of PASOK, the party's Parliament group is scheduled to hold a meeting tomorrow, while a Cabinet meeting will be held on Friday and the party's central committee at the end of the month.

Conversely, the main opposition New Democracy party appeared satisfied from the outcome, while top party cadres said ND will continue its "constructive opposition" tactics "leaving populism and demagogy aside".

According to the interior ministry, ND carried 27 of the 54 prefectures throughout the country, while PASOK had carried 25 prefectures, the Coalition of Left and Progress (Synaspismos) took one prefecture in Hania, Crete, and independents one - former PASOK MP and minister Georgios Petsos in Pella prefecture.

PASOK-backed candidates carried 433 of a total of 900 municipalities throughout the country, ND-backed candidates carried 368, Communist Party of Greece (KKE)-backed candidates 24, Synaspismos-backed candidates 12, Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI)-ba cked candidates five, Political Spring-backed candidates three, and independents carried 55 municipalities.

The ministry said that candidates backed by ND or ND in cooperation with other opposition parties had carried 45 municipalities that previously had PASOK-backed mayors, while candidates backed by PASOK or PASOK with opposition parties other than New Democracy had carried 33 municipalities that previously had ND-backed mayors. Abstention and blank/invalid votes soared to 42.4 percent in prefectural polls and 38 percent in municipal polls in Sunday's run-off local government elections, the interior ministry said yesterday morning.

The ministry said that, with 98 per cent of election results in, voter participation for the prefectural authorities stood at 67.1 per cent, while blank and invalid votes accounted for 9.5 per cent.

In the poll for municipal leaders, voter participation stood at 69.6 per cent while blank and invalid votes accounted for 7.6 per cent.

Four new ambassadors accredited to Athens

Several new ambassadors accredited to Athens presented their credentials to President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos at noon yesterday.

New ambassadors to Athens hailed from the Netherlands, Paul Brauer; Norway, Jan Vesel Hegg; Cameroon, Pascale Bilboa Tag; Gambia, D'jogu Saer Bach, and Liberia, James Scott.

The ceremony was attended by Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis and the Secretary General of the Presidency of the Republic, Ambassador Emmanuel Gikas.

Skandalidis letter to PASOK prefectural committees

Ruling PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis is to address a letter to all PASOK prefectural committees to urge them to cooperate with ruling party deputies in proceeding with a political evaluation of last Sunday's local government election results.

The decision was taken during yesterday's meeting between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Mr. Skandalidis, which focused on elections results as well as decisions to be taken for party's planning.

Conclusions to be drawn will be presented by Mr. Skandalidis at an executive bureau meeting on Oct. 29, in preparation for a PASOK central committee meeting, postponed for Nov. 5-6.

The PASOK secretary said the party was pushing ahead with its planning, adding that the evaluation of election results and "messages" will be made before PASOK's spring congress.

New diplomats sworn-in

Eighteen new foreign ministry diplomats were sworn-in yesterday during a ceremony attended by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos as well as Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.

In a short address, President Stephanopoulos wished the new diplomats good luck in their careers.

Mr. Pangalos said working for the foreign ministry entailed hard work and a wide range of responsibilities, stressing however, that the ministry was undergoing restructuring in order to efficiently respond to demands in a changing world.

He added that improvements in the quality of diplomatic services has led more women to join, with the current percentage of female diplomats reaching 17.5 per cent.

Faye Dunaway in Athens for 'Maria Callas' film project

Noted Hollywood actress Faye Dunaway arrived in Athens yesterday to secure the rights for the soundtrack of a new feature film production centred on the life of legendary opera diva Maria Callas.

Ms Dunaway, who is producing and starring in the film, visited the Plaka district yesterday.

Bank of France head Trichet: Greece has made 'significant progress'

The visiting governor of the Bank of France, Jean-Claude Trichet, yesterday noted that Greece has made "significant progress" over the past few years that this "has been acknowledged by all."

Mr. Trichet was speaking at a reception held in his honour by the Greek- French Chamber of Commerce in Athens.

The top French banking official also said there is no issue of a "Europe of two tiers," saying that the four countries currently not part of the 'euro zone' - Britain, Sweden, Denmark and Greece - will soon join.

Mr. Trichet, who in four years is set to succeed Wim Duisenburg as the head of the European Central Bank, also defended the implementation of the euro and Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

Greek equities end lower

Greek equities ended fractionally lower on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday in what traders described as a normal correction following the market's 17.3 percent jump last week.

The general index ended 0.62 percent lower to 2,027.80 points in thin turnover of 38.7 billion drachmas. Volume was 9,491,000 shares.

Sector indices were mixed. Banks rose 0.23 percent, Insurance ended 1.35 percent higher, Investment fell 1.23 percent, Leasing soared 8.0 percent Industrials fell 1.78 percent, Construction ended 0.39 percent up, Miscellaneous gained 1.79 percent and Ho lding eased by 1.69 per cent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies fell 0.30 percent.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 155 to 81 with another 16 issues unchanged.

'Economist'-sponsored conference in Athens

The "Economist" is organising a two-day conference in Athens on tax information in the European Union and Greece's tax policy, on Oct. 29- 30.

Finance Undersecretary George Drys, main opposition New Democracy shadow minister Georgios Alogoskoufis, Germany's Finance ministry secretary- general Hans-Georg Hauser, and the EU's tax director Maria Rehbinder will address the conference.The two-day conference will discuss European Commission's proposals on corporate taxes, restructuring Greece's tax system ahead of next year's budget and accounting reforms.

EIB loans target Greek health sector

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has approved a loan-framework of 70 million Ecus (23.7 billion drachmas) to finance projects in Greece's health sector.

The loan, the first ever earmarked by EIB for Greece's health sector, aims to implement small and medium-sized investments in programmes already adopted by a Second Community Support Framework in the period 1994- 99.

These programmes are included in a wider project aimed to combat imbalances and improve efficiency in health services in Athens and Thessaloniki, as well as other Greek cities suffering from lack of quality medical services.

EIB's involvement in the health sector was decided in a European summit in Amsterdam in June 1997.

Lambrakis Press group's bourse listing between Oct. 20-23

Public registration for an increase in the Lambrakis Press group's share capital and its listing with the Athens Stock Exchange will be held between Oct. 20-23.

A total of 5,250,000 new shares of a face value of 200 drachmas each and a sale price of 3,500 drachmas per share will be issued. Of those, 250,000 shares are reserved for the group's staff and close associates. The total number of shares, after the inc rease in share capital, will amount to 25 million - 79 per cent of which will belong to the Lambrakis family.

Receipts from the issue are expected to amount to 18.4 billion drachmas the greatest part of which will fund coverage of the 1998-2000 investment programme and the balance the company's short-term loaning.

Information on the group's activities in general, the increase in share capital and listing with the Athens bourse was presented at a downtown Athens hotel yesterday by the group's president, Christos Lambrakis, National Bank Governor Theodoros Karatzas , and Alpha Credit Bank director Yiannis Kostopoulos, among others.

Mr. Lambrakis offered assurances that the "share majority will not sell shares at the stock exchange" but did not rule out the possibility of the sale of a package of shares to a possible future investor and associate.

The Lambrakis group owns 17 publications and possesses five printing units. Apart from the publishing sector, it is also active in the industrial- printing and tourist sector.

Out of a total turnover for 1997, the publishing sector (receipts from circulation, advertising and products offered) participated with a 64 per cent stake (27.3 billion drachmas); the printing sector with 24 per cent (10.2 billion drachmas) and the tourist sector with 12 per cent (five billion drachmas).

The first investment programme amounting to 13 billion drachmas was carried out over the 1993-1997 period, while the investment programme for the 1998- 2000 period anticipates investments totalling 16.5 billion drachmas.

The group forecasts a turnover amounting to 49.7 billion drachmas in the 1998 fiscal year and pre-tax profits of 4.1 billion drachmas - already covered according to the group's economic director.

The National Bank is the underwriter and main sponsor of the issue, the main sponsor is Alpha Credit Bank, ETEBA is the issue adviser, while the remaining sponsors are Commercial Bank, Bank of Piraeus, Ergobank, EFG Eurobank, Agricultural Bank, and General Bank, among others.

Ericsson, Intrakom deny end of joint cooperation

An agreement between Ericsson and Intrakom is fully valid, a joint communique by the two companies reiterated yesterday following an article in the Sunday edition of the Athens daily "Kathimerini", entitled "Divorce between Intrakom and Ericsson."

"There was no thought and, even more, the possibility of a change in the position of Ericsson as one of Intrakom's major shareholders was never discussed," it was added.

Intrakom stated that the article "is misleading and false in its entirety and its target can only be the prestige and the name of Intrakom..."

Greek firm's olives lauded at Paris food exhibition

The Greece-based Olympia firm was awarded a gold medal yesterday for its "Xenia-heros" brand olives during a Paris food exhibition.

This year's participation boasts 4,715 exhibitioners from 87 countries. Greece is represented by 112 pavilions covering a total of 1,800 square metres, an increase of 11 per cent since 1996, seventh place on a "significant presence" list headed by Italy and Spain.

WEATHER

Mostly fair weather is expected throughout Greece on today with scattered cloud in the western and northern regions. Possibility of rain in the northern Ionian, Epirus, western mainland Greece and western Macedonia. Winds variable, moderate to strong. Partly cloudy in Athens with temperatures between 15-25C. Mostly fair in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 13- 23C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 276.659 British pound 471.498 Japanese yen (100) 241.215 French franc 50.915 German mark 170.703 Italian lira (100) 17.255 Irish Punt 425.667 Belgian franc 8.275 Finnish mark 56.155 Dutch guilder 151.364 Danish kr. 44.902 Austrian sch. 24.269 Spanish peseta 2.009 Swedish kr. 35.571 Norwegian kr. 37.260 Swiss franc 210.056 Port. Escudo 1.669 Aus. dollar 174.994 Can. dollar 179.354 Cyprus pound 577.661

(C.E.)


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