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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-11-06

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 06/11/1998 (ANA)


  • Greece to insist on positions vis-a-vis EU funding for Turkey
  • Pay rises in 1999 to match 2.0 pct inflation target
  • Gov't gives parliament bill to overhaul Athens urban transport
  • Gov't to auction 10-year bonds, investors reposition to buy
  • Greek stocks shed gains after late profit-taking
  • Fixed-income mutual fund assets slip in October
  • Tax changes for used automobiles
  • New Macedonia-Thrace minister forecasts 'tourism explosion'
  • Prime Minister Simitis in Poland next week
  • Pangalos strongly criticises PASOK dissidents, ND
  • Draft agreement on 'cultural olympiad' approved
  • Boycott of Izmir expo called due to pseudo-state
  • Cooperation protocol signed with Skopje
  • Panionios qualifies for quarter finals
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Greece to insist on positions vis-a-vis EU funding for Turkey

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos stressed yesterday that Greece will continue to insist on its positions regarding the disbursement of European Union funds to Turkey.

Mr. Pangalos said Greece had never rejected EU funding for Turkey but had simply linked it with specific behaviour on the part of Ankara, both in bilateral relations and efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem.

"There are those who believe that this is unnecessary, but we shall insist on our positions for as long as certain developments are not forthcoming which would induce us to change our view," Mr. Pangalos said during a wide- ranging press conference on a number of foreign affairs issues.

He added that it was "unacceptable, paradoxical and unlawful" for the European Commission to propose funding for Turkey as a "developing" country when the neighbouring state was attempting to become an EU member.

Asked to comment on a statement by Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem, according to which Ankara was "thawing" its frozen dialogue with the EU, Mr. Pangalos said if Turkey had indeed taken such a decision it was positive, while expressing the hope for a change of stance by Turkey on other issues also.

Replying to reporters' questions, Mr. Pangalos said Turkey, like many other countries, had the right at some point to become a full member of the EU, stressing that Greece had always maintained that Turkey had a European vocation.

However, he added, the EU has adopted a specific strategy for enlargement which involves the six candidate countries for which accession negotiations are to commence in a few days, a further five countries which will enter into negotiations at a later date and the European Conference.

In this respect, Mr. Pangalos said, the first problem is that Turkey refuses to participate in the European Conference.

In addition, the foreign minister continued, participation in the EU also presupposes the fulfilment of certain other criteria. In this respect Mr. Pangalos noted that all countries participating in the European Conference had to accept, on the basis of the Agenda 2000, the general jurisdiction of the International Court at The Hague.

Asked by reporters about the armaments of US origin which have been deployed by Turkey in the occupied part of Cyprus, Mr. Pangalos said the issue had already been raised with the US Congress, in view of a US law prohibiting the sale and transport of US arms to the island republic.

Pay rises in 1999 to match 2.0 pct inflation target

Pay rises in the public sector will equal the government's 2.0 percent target for consumer price inflation in 1999, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou was quoted as saying yesterday.

Mr. Papantoniou was speaking to representatives of the ADEDY civil servants' union at a meeting to discuss wages and conditions.

Union officials told reporters that the minister had dismissed the possibility of tax breaks next year, but he pledged to consider indexation of the tax scale and a higher tax-exempt level for 2000.

Mr. Papantoniou also said that the government would not award civil servants an extra payment at the end of 1998 to bridge the gap between this year's pay rises, calculated on the basis of inflation forecasts, and higher-than-expected inflation for the year.

Payment of the corrective sum was common in the past.

Gov't gives parliament bill to overhaul Athens urban transport

Transport and Communications Minister Tasos Mantelis yesterday gave parliament a bill to restructure Athens urban transport that will cut costs and improve operations.

Under the terms of the bill, Athens Urban Transport Organisation (OASA) is to acquire the city's remaining bus, trolley, and metro firms as subsidiaries and take charge of planning, operations and supervision.

Local government will have the right to buy up to 40 percent of OASA, sit on its board and provide auxilliary transport services to complement central routes.

The government will continue to subsidise fares and ensure funding for long- term contracts forged by OASA to purchase 750 buses, 192 trollies and 80 underground carriages.

Lines of the metro currently being built will eventually fall under OASA's jurisdiction.

The restructuring plan aims at cutting costs by 8.0 percent, or 5.0 billion drachmas a year.

Services will increase, especially during peak hours, by around 10 percent. The number of passengers is also expected to rise, boosting revenue.

Gov't to auction 10-year bonds, investors reposition to buy

The finance ministry is to auction 150 billion drachmas worth of 10-year bonds in electronic form on Tuesday, re-opening the original March 26, 1998 fixed-income paper at 8.60 percent annually.

The re-opening and settlement date is November 13, and no commission is payable.

Competitive bids will be submitted by the market's primary dealers. Also acceptable are non-competitive bids for up to 20 percent of the total.

The secondary bond market corrected slightly yesterday ahead of the auction with investors liquidating some holdings in order to take part in Tuesday's auction.

Greek stocks shed gains after late profit-taking

A wave of profit-taking in the last half hour of trade pushed share prices sharply lower on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday.

Traders said the market reacted negatively to the central bank governor's apparent unease about a recent cut in lending rates by several commercial banks.

The general index ended 1.95 percent off at 2,254.37 points with turnover at 52.8 billion drachmas.

Sector indices mostly suffered losses.

Banks dropped 3.03 percent, Insurance fell 3.10 percent, Investment eased 1.81 percent, Leasing ended 1.23 percent off, Industrials fell 0.82 percent, Holding ended 0.68 percent down, but Construction and Miscellaneous bucked the trend to end 0.84 and 0 .38 percent up respectively.

The day's volume was 12,807,000 shares.

Mytilineos, Strintzis Lines, Teletypos and Hellenic Petroleum were the most heavily traded stocks.

National Bank of Greece ended at 41,980 drachmas, Ergobank at 25,550, Alpha Credit Bank at 23,405, Ionian Bank at 12,200, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6,420, Delta Dairy at 3,800, Intracom at 13,190, Titan Cement at 17,950, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,370 and Minoan Lines at 6,500 drachmas.

Fixed-income mutual fund assets slip in October

The assets of domestic fixed-income mutual funds totalled 1.5 trillion drachmas at the end of October, down 0.12 percent from the previous month, while the sector's average yield was 9.25 percent from the start of the year, the Union of Institutional Inve stors said yesterday.

Poseidon mutual fund was at the top of the table with annual returns of 15.05 percent, followed by Metrolife with 14.09 pct, Interamerican 12.21 pct, Frontida 12.12 pct and International 12.12 pct.

The assets of foreign fixed-income mutual funds fell 4.16 percent to 121.2 billion drachmas to yield an average 7.55 percent from the beginning of 1998.

Nationale Nederlanden topped the list to yield 13.63 pct, followed by Ionian at 10.79 pct, Alpha 10.45 pct, Alico-Eurobank 10.41 pct and Alpha JPY 10.24 pct.

The assets of international fixed-income mutual funds fell 3.74 percent to 25.41 billion drachmas to yield an average 7.57 percent from the start of the year.

ATE International topped the list with an annual return of 12.23 pct, followed by Halcyon at 11.55 pct, Helvetia 10.30 pct, General 9.05 pct and Aspis 8.69 pct.

Tax changes for used automobiles

The tax status for new and second-hand cars is on the table and changes are being prepared with the purpose of decreasing the final price paid by the consumer.

The finance ministry's target is to have changes in taxation finalised as soon as possible so that, if possible, the relevant bill will be tabled in Parliament early next week. The bill's clauses will be valid from the day following its tabling. Consequ ently, it is expected that cars, both new and second-hand, will become cheaper as of next week.

Deputy Finance Minister George Drys held talks with the Federation of Automobile Importers yesterday and briefed it on government plans which will lead to a decrease in the price of new cars on an average of 5 per cent. He was also due to meet with representatives of the federation of second-hand automobiles later in the day.

New Macedonia-Thrace minister forecasts 'tourism explosion'

New Macedonia-Thrace Minister Yiannis Magriotis, inaugurating the 14th Philoxenia exposition at the International Trade Fair in Thessaloniki yesterday, forecast "an explosion of tourism activity".

He expressed a view that the tourism flow will increase due to Greece's expected EMU accession.

The minister called the port, airports, railway and highways infrastructure improvements "inflexible options" and added that "the state and the proffesionals in the tourism section must jointly work on creating a complete program of tourism development ".

The secretary general of the National Greek Tourism Organisation (EOT) Mihalis Kyriakidis said that the "expansion of the tourism season and the development of alternative forms of tourism are priorities set by the government..."

Prime Minister Simitis in Poland next week

Prime Minister Costas Simitis will pay a two-day visit to Warsaw on November 9-10 at the invitation of his Polish counterpart Jerzy Buzek, it was announced yesterday.

During his stay, Mr. Simitis will have talks with Mr. Buzek on bilateral and international issues.

He will also meet with Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and have talks with the speakers of Poland's house of representatives and senate and political party leaders.

Pangalos strongly criticises PASOK dissidents, ND

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday lashed out against both his own ruling party's dissidents and the main opposition.

He announced that in PASOK's next congress he will raise an issue of amending the party charter regarding the elections of members to the central committee and executive bureau.

Referring particularly to the executive bureau, he said: "It should be a small and flexible organ of seven to nine members", and not include "politicians who aim to turn PASOK into a minority" - an apparent reference to dissidents.

"Those who disagree must tell us what they propose, otherwise, they constitute phenomena of mental retardation and must be expelled," he added.

Commenting on the 11 dissenting deputies who questioned the expediency of the recent vote of confidence in Parliament, Mr. Pangalos said "those who do not support the party belong in the madhouse".

He also referred to certain of his fellow party members who spoke in "demagogic and abstract terms, which appealed like a flute to the ears of citizens, and resembling the language of Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos."

"In the end, Mr. Avramopoulos has created a school. And the ladies' and gentlemen's school of 'Mr. Nothing' is continuously enrolling new members," he blasted.

Further stoking the fire, he described New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis as "a bad, provincial imitation of Mr. Avramopoulos."

Reacting to the foreign minister's barrage, ND spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said: "With his delirium today, Mr. Pangalos proved two things: First, what insults really are?...Some-thing useful for Mr. Simitis, who does not know the term...and second, that his words belong to the competence of a psychiatrist".

Draft agreement on 'cultural olympiad' approved

Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos expressed satisfaction over the unanimous decision taken by UNESCO's executive committee approving a draft agreement between UNESCO and Athens regarding the "cultural olympiad", in accordance with several Greek proposals.

The unanimous approval by the 29th UNESCO Conference in Paris in 1997 of a proposal presented by Mr. Venizelos and the establishment of the International Cultural Olympiad Foundation with International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch, UNESCO general director Federico Major and Mr. Venizelos as the founders.

Greece's success lies in the fact that the "cultural olympiad" is not a series of cultural events accompanying the Olympic Games, as was the case so far, but a permanent institution based in Greece.

Boycott of Izmir expo called due to pseudo-state

The Commercial and Industrial Chamber of Thessaloniki yesterday called on members to abstain from the 68th Izmir International Trade Fair, as the so- called "Turkish republic of northern Cyprus" is the honoured "country" at the exhibition.

The Turkish Cypriot pseudo-state was illegally formed in the Turkish- occupied part of Cyprus in November 1983.

Only Turkey, whose forces occupy the area since an invasion in 1974, recognise the entity.

Cooperation protocol signed with Skopje

A cooperation protocol was signed in Skopje yesterday between the statistical service of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and the National Statistics Service of Greece (ESYE).

The protocol was signed on the part of FYROM by the statistics service's head, Dodco Gerasimovski, and on the part of Greece by ESYE Secretary General Nikos Karavitis.

It stresses a common interest of both sides to develop cooperation in the direction of a greater exchange of information and to strengthen relations between the two countries' statistical services.

Panionios qualifies for quarter finals

Panionios Athens qualified for the quarter-finals of the European Cup Winners' Cup, beating Apollon Limassol 1-0 last night. In the first leg, played in Nea Smyrni two weeks ago, Panionios defeated Apollon 3-2. The only goal of the match played at Tsirion Stadium was scored in the 18th minute by Antonis Sapountzis.


Fine weather with scattered cloud is forecast throughout Greece today with the possibility of rain in the northwest in the afternoon. Morning fog in mainland Greece. Winds, southwesterly, light to moderate, turning strong in the Ionian Sea. Few clouds in Athens with temperatures between 13-24C. Overcast in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 12-22C.


Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 277.829 British pound 460.804 Japanese yen (100) 236.354 French franc 49.836 German mark 167.127 Italian lira (100) 16.894 Irish Punt 416.243 Belgian franc 8.102 Finnish mark 55.004 Dutch guilder 148.220 Danish kr. 43.959 Austrian sch. 23.750 Spanish peseta 1.966 Swedish kr. 35.684 Norwegian kr. 37.571 Swiss franc 203.752 Port. Escudo 1.630 Aus. dollar 175.921 Can. dollar 183.004 Cyprus pound 562.861


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