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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-10-22

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, 22/10/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Athens to take Commission to Eurocourt over aid package to Turkey
  • Commission report: Greek economy on track to enter 'euro zone'
  • FYROM coalition partners back closer relations with Greece
  • Kranidiotis in Sofia for BSEC meeting
  • PM tells PASOK deputies he'll `follow the course` towards EMU
  • Karamanlis: ND would win if elections were held today
  • Nobel prize-winner Amartya Sen meets with G. Papandreou
  • Greece-Cyprus military exercise begins
  • Greek equities end up
  • Greece gets tough on false advertising
  • Petrol prices decrease slightly
  • Special OA fares to Frankfurt, Munich
  • Audit reveals widespread tax evasion among NE Greece businesses
  • Olympiakos tops Ajax 1-0, Panathinaikos loses to Lens 1-0
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Athens to take Commission to Eurocourt over aid package to Turkey

Greece immediately announced yesterday that it would refer the European Commission to the European Court for a decision earlier in the day to approve a 150-million-ecu package of economic aid to Turkey.

"We shall refer the European Commission to the European Court and our recourse to that body will be immediate and without delay," according to a foreign ministry statement.

The Commission's plan, put forward by External Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek, circumvented a standing Greek veto through the adoption of a new regulation terming Turkey a "developing country", which requires only a special majority for approval by the EU's Council of Ministers.

The government also indirectly confirmed reports yesterday that Prime Minister Costas Simitis had sent a letter to Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima protesting the Commission's plan to neutralise Greece's veto on the issue.

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos on Tuesday sent a letter to his Austrian counterpart, Wolfgang Schuessel, asking him to intervene to prevent the adoption of the European Commission proposals on the release of Community funds for Turkey, which Athens considers to be legally unfounded.

Commission report: Greek economy on track to enter 'euro zone'

The Greek economy is on track to participate in the European single currency, according to the European Commission's half-yearly economic forecasts for the next two years released yesterday.

The European Union's executive expects Greece to fulfill the Maastricht Treaty criteria to enter the final phase of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in the year 2000.

The Commission's report projected that inflation would fall to 4.8 percent this year, 2.9 percent in 1999 and 2.4 percent in 2000.

Inflation in the 11-nation Euro-zone was seen rising from 1.5 pct this year to 1.6 pct next year and 1.7 pct in 2000.

Greece's public deficit is expected to drop to 2.4 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) this year, to 2.1 pct next year and to 1.9 pct in 2000.

Greece was expected to achieve annual growth rates of 3.4 percent this year, 3.5 pct in 1999 and 3.8 pct in 2000, higher than the Euro-zone's average forecast of 3.0 pct, 2.6 pct and 2.9 pct, respectively.

Unemployment in Greece was forecast to fall from an expected 9.4 percent of the workforce this year to 9.1 percent in 1999 and to 8.9 percent in 2000.

Greece's current accounts deficit was seen holding steady at 2.4 percent of the country's GDP this year, 2.3 pct in 1999 and 2.3 pct in 2000. The 11- nation Euro-zone was expected to show a 1.9 pct surplus on average.

FYROM coalition partners back closer relations with Greece

The leaders of a centre-right coalition in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) - between the VMRO-DPMNE and the Democratic Alternative parties - told Greek reporters in Skopje that they both view development of bilateral relations with Athens in a very positive way.

The coalition has taken a clear lead in the first round of general elections last Sunday in the neighbouring country.

Democratic Alternative leader Vasily Tupurkovski appeared particularly dissatisfied with the present level of relations, stressing that "every effort will be made for the development of bilateral relations" as soon as the coalition comes to power. He also said he appreciates the fact that Greece is a European Union member and can play an important role for calm in the Balkans.

VMRO-DPMNE leader Ljupcho Georgievski expressed support "for the spirit of the meeting in Crete and the policy set out by (Greek Prime Minister Mr. Costas) Simitis on overall Balkan cooperation. Only in this way will we become a proper part of Europe and resolve our problems in a more realistic way."

Greece objects to the use of 'Macedonia' as the name of the neighbouring country, saying it implies expansionist designs against its northern province of the same name. After the signing of an interim agreement between the two countries in 1995, negotiations are currently being carried out under UN auspices to find a solution to former Yugoslav state's name.

Kranidiotis in Sofia for BSEC meeting

Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis leaves today for Sofia to attend the 12th ministerial summit of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation pact (BSEC).

The legal parametres of BSEC's transformation from a multination forum into an international organisation will be discussed at the meeting.

Mr. Kranidiotis will brief the participants on progress to date for the establishment in Athens of the International Centre of Black Sea Studies. The various BSEC work groups at the meeting will examine issues such as the signing of a multilateral agreement for the combatting of organised crime, and cooperation in the sectors of tourism, the environment, energy and transport.

The summit's sessions will be concluded with the signing of a Greece-BSEC agreement for the setting up in Thessaloniki of the headquarters of the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank.

PM tells PASOK deputies he'll `follow the course` towards EMU

Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday that he was determined to carry on with policies leading Greece into Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), despite setbacks in recent local government elections.

"Our primary concern is the progress of the country, not our image," the prime minister told a meeting of the ruling PASOK party's Parliamentary group.

He said that the country was going through a phase that "does not allow for games, manoeuvering and petty political expediencies", noting that "anyone who claims that there is another road other than cooperation with the EU is disregarding reality".

He conceded, however, that the outcome of the polls had fallen short of expectations, and indicated a decline that should concern PASOK.

The results, he said, reflected a dual displeasure over "an inefficiency in aspects of the government's policy" and over "mistakes in the party's operation".

He said it was only natural that there were mistakes and omissions in the government's policy, but added his conviction that the core of that policy had the consensus of the majority of the Greek people.

General elections, he reiterated, would take place as scheduled in the year 2000, at the end of the government's term in office, at which time it will have fulfilled its platform commitments and will succeed in being re- elected.

Afterwards, in addresses, several PASOK deputies blamed "internal opposition" for the lower than expected results of municipal and prefectural elections.

Several deputies criticised what they called a lack of support to official PASOK candidates by government members and the PM's advisers.

In his response, Mr. Simitis appeared against proposals for immediate measures.

Karamanlis: ND would win if elections were held today

Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis stressed yesterday that Prime Minister Costas Simitis has not received the "political message" sent by voters during recent municipal and prefectural elections.

The ND leader said the premier "is looking for excuses over the (election) outcome."

In an interview with the private "Flash" radio station, Mr. Karamanlis said the government has not met expectations because the country's course towards accession to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and structural changes are "being delayed dramatically."

Mr. Karamanlis said that the overwhelming majority of citizens want the country to participate on an equal basis in the European family and are not reserved towards the national target.

Analysing the results of the local elections, Mr. Karamanlis said that the overwhelming majority of citizens, regardless of political affiliations, want major changes to be made in the state and public extravagance restricted.

He said that ND is the first party in voters' preferences and would win if elections were held now. He did not rule out the possibility of the government holding early elections and did not conceal his concern over the possibility of the government chan ging the electoral law.

Nobel prize-winner Amartya Sen meets with G. Papandreou

This year's Nobel prize winner in economics, Indian theorist Amartya Sen, met yesterday with Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou during his visit to Greece, with both men discussed the future of the Andreas Papandreou Foundation.

After the meeting, Prof. Sen praised ruling PASOK's founder and three-time Greek prime minister, saying "Andreas Papandreou was a multi-faceted leader, a man of many abilities and complex interests".

The Greek alternate foreign minister, the eldest son of the late Andreas Papandreou, noted that the opinions of the Indian-born, London-based professor were useful and creative, as the foundation "can play an important role of contributing to the...practice of democracy and social justice in the region."

On Tuesday evening Prof. Sen spoke on the academic work and political contribution of Andreas Papandreou at the Old Parliament.

"To speak about Papandreou's scholarly involvements would yield, as they say in India, a 'Mahabharata'...which I should explain, is a Sanskrit epic, rather like the 'Iliad' or the 'Odyssey', but seven times the length of the Iliad and Odessey put together, " he said.

The speech centered on "Political Elements in Economic Development: A Tribute to Andreas Papandreou". It was Prof. Sen's first speech since receiving the award.

Greece-Cyprus military exercise begins

A Greek armed forces exercise, codenamed "Toxotis", began yesterday in the sea region between Greece and Cyprus.

"Toxotis" is being held in conjunction with the already in process Cypriot National Guard exercise "Nikiforos", within the framework of the two countries' joint defence doctrine.

Participating in "Toxotis" will be frigates, a destroyer, a missile boat, a submarine, naval support aircraft and helicopters and a number of air force planes.

The combined exercises are aimed at testing the effectiveness of Cyprus' air defence and its anti-aircraft weapons. The scenario also includes a search and rescue mission some 30 nautical miles west of the western coastal town of Paphos, firing by aircraft on mock targets as well as parachute jumps.

The exercises will be concluded on Oct. 25 with a military parade in Larnaca.

A two-day naval exercise, codenamed "Astrapi", also begins on Thursday in the southern and central regions of the Aegean.

Greek equities end up

Greek equities yesterday ended sharply higher for one more session on the Athens Stock Exchange helped by signs of a significant drop in the inflation rate below 4.8 percent in October, prospects of a successful third flotation in Hellenic Telecommunicati ons Organisation and a wave of interest rates declines in international markets.

The general index ended 1.79 percent higher to 2,087.81 points. Trading was heavy with turnover at 46.2 billion drachmas. Volume was 13,317,000 shares. Sector indices scored gains. Banks rose 2.33 percent, Insurance ended 2.18 percent up, Investmen t increased 2.66 percent, Industrials rose 1.17 percent, Construction jumped 5.36 percent, Miscellaneous ended 0.89 percent up and Holding increased 2.48 percent. Leasing bucked the trend to end 3.36 percent off on profit taking following three days of big gains.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 0.72 percent up.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 158 to 73 with another 18 issues unchanged.

Greece gets tough on false advertising

Consumer complaints over misleading advertisements and fraudulous distance sales are rapidly increasing, according to a Greek development ministry agency.

The ministry's consumers' general secretariat yesterday said that citizens were increasingly filing complaints over misleading tele-marketing and urged consumers to be more careful in transactions where both the supplier and the consumer were not present.

The agency urged consumers to ask for full information on the supplier's identity, specific characteristics of the goods or services offered, price, quantity, transport costs, delivery time, VAT percentage and payment procedures.

Petrol prices decrease slightly

The retail sale prices of gasoline and diesel will decrease as of today and for a week.

According to an announcement by the development ministry, the decrease will amount to 0.40 drachmas per litre for super gasoline, 0.50 drachmas per litre for unleaded, 1.10 drachmas per litre for diesel and 1.30 drachmas per litre for heating oil.

In the Attica region and Thessaloniki prefecture, super gasoline will cost 200.30 drachmas per litre, unleaded 183.90 drachmas per litre and heating oil 68.70 drachmas per litre.

Special OA fares to Frankfurt, Munich

Olympic Airways (OA) yesterday announced special fares for the Athens- Frankfurt-Athens and Thessaloniki-Munich-Thessaloniki flights, targetting business people who wish to return on the same day.

Four flights daily, two from Athens and two from Thessaloniki, are planned.

The new fares, valid from Oct. 25 through March 31 for the one-day travel on the Athens-Frankfurt-Athens route cost 160,000 drachmas (230,000 for business class) and for Thessaloniki-Munich-Thessaloniki 140,000 drachmas (187,000 for business class).

OA also announced a special fare of 130,000 drachmas for a roundtrip ticket from Athens to New York or Boston with a seven days minimum and three months maximum stay, valid from Nov. 1 through Dec. 10.

The above fares don't include airport taxes.

Audit reveals widespread tax evasion among NE Greece businesses

A recent audit by the financial crimes squad revealed that 191 out of 398 businesses checked in northeast Greece were evading taxes.

Tax evasion violations included failure to issue invoices and official receipts, refusal to produce accounting books for audit, maintenance of unofficial ledgers, general violations of the accounting code and late entries of purchases and sales. In 26 cases, unofficial bookkeeping records were confiscated, according to reports.

Relevant reports are being prepared for submittal to tax bureau authorities.

Olympiakos tops Ajax 1-0, Panathinaikos loses to Lens 1-0

Olympiakos Piraeus beat Ajax Amsterdam 1-0 in Athens yesterday in a European Champions League soccer matchup.

The other Greek team in the Champions League, Panathinaikos Athens, lost 1- 0 to RC Lens in an away game for Group E.

Olympiakos and Ajax are in Group A.

WEATHER

Scattered cloud will prevail throughout Greece today. Winds will be northerly, light to moderate, turning strong in the Aegean Sea. Partly cloudy in Athens with temperatures between 15-23C. Overcast in Thessaloniki with possibility of rain in the afternoon and temperatures from 14- 20C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 278.504 British pound 474.116 Japanese yen (100) 240.520 French franc 50.667 German mark 169.870 Italian lira (100) 17.179 Irish Punt 423.584 Belgian franc 8.235 Finnish mark 55.850 Dutch guilder 150.665 Danish kr. 44.684 Austrian sch. 24.146 Spanish peseta 2.000 Swedish kr. 35.837 Norwegian kr. 37.640 Swiss franc 207.115 Port. Escudo 1.653 Aus. dollar 175.202 Can. dollar 181.219 Cyprus pound 573.614

(C.E.)


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