Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-11-10
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 10/11/1998 (ANA)
- Formal negotiations for 6 EU candidate-states begin today
- Latest Turkish provocation against Halki academy draws rebuke
- European unification dominates Simitis' talks in Poland
- NATO's Naumann in Greece
- Upgrading of Omonia Square announced
- Retail car prices to drop avg 5.5 pct Monday after tax cut
- Alico, EFG sign buyout of Bulgarian Post Bank
- Investors submit bids for three out of five state Xenia hotels
- Heavy demand seen for Ecu in forex trade
- Trade between Greece, China rises 26.7 pct in January-August
- Greek stocks slip, still fail to take 2,300 pts
- More participations at this year's 'Philoxenia'
- Two-day conference on Internet sales
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Formal negotiations for 6 EU candidate-states begin today
The European Union will open formal enlargement talks today with Cyprus and
five other European nations, expected to be among the first wave of
countries to join the Union early in the next century.
EU foreign ministers yesterday reaffirmed their commitement to an eastward
expansion but many warned that the upcoming negotiations could be long and
They also avoided mention of a specific date at which candidates would
become full members of the Union.
Greece was represented at the session by Alternate Foreign Minister George
During yesterday's session and within the framework of endorsing common
positions which EU member-states will present in the negotiations with
candidate countries today, France, Germany and the Netherlands signed and
tabled a joint declaration on Cyprus , warning of "particular difficulties"
linked to the opening of accession talks with the island republic. Italy
also signed the declaration.
Greece tabled a counter-statement concerning the process for the accession
of Cyprus to the EU.
A political solution to the division and partial occupation of Cyprus must
be found as a matter of urgency as the only way which would resolve
problems that will arise in the country's accession course, the statement
by France, Germany and the Netherlands said.
"They draw in particular attention to the fact that the division of the
island poses fundamental problems for the operation and the coherence of
the Common Foreign and Security Policy," the statement said.
It also declares that member states note that it has not been possible so
far to make progress towards a political solution which would end the
continuing division of Cyprus.
Responding to the joint statement, Mr. Papandreou pointed out in a
statement he tabled to the Council that any action or statements inconsistent
with the EU Luxembourg decisions pose a threat to the entire process of
Mr. Papandreou also called on the EU to act in a positive manner to achieve
Turkish Cypriot participation in the accession process and encourage the
Cyprus peace effort.
Mr. Papandreou reminded his EU partners that the government of Cyprus has
put forward specific proposals to include Turkish Cypriots in the accession
negotiations but "unfortunately these attempts have yielded no results so
Furthermore, Mr. Papandreou reiterated that what Athens' statement stresses,
in his opinion, is that there will never be a Greek Parliament to approve
accession of countries to the EU if Cyprus was not among them.
Mr. Papandreou added that Cyprus' accesssion is an issue of moral and
Latest Turkish provocation against Halki academy draws rebuke
Greece yesterday stressed that the Halki School of Theology issue exceeded
the bounds of Greek-Turkish relations and has become a human rights
Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis, commenting on a decision by
the Turkish government to abolish the supervisory committee of the school,
said that "it should be stressed that the issue goes beyond the narrow
framework of Greek-Turkish relations, since it is a problem of respect of
human rights and r eligious freedoms in Turkey, and as such, it has
provoked the reaction of other governments and international organisations."
He added that the Greek government follows closely the developments
regarding the operation of Halki, which was ordered closed by Ankara in
Recently, the Turkish government decided to dismiss the remaining members
of the committee, claiming financial mismanagement and anti-Turkish
Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos lashed out on Sunday against the state of
human rights and religious freedoms in Turkey, interpreting the indignation
of the small ethnic Greek community in Istanbul over the "high-handed
abolition of the school's commi ttee."
Mr. Kranidiotis also responded by issuing a demarche to the Turkish
ambassador in Athens.
Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos yesterday stressed that
the dismissal of the supervising board aims at transferring the school's
property to the Turkish state.
The Archbishop spoke during the feast day of Agios Nectarios on the island
of Aegina, saying "the measure aims atIgrabbing someone else's property."
European unification dominates Simitis' talks in Poland
Prime Minister Costas Simitis began a two-day official visit in Poland
yesterday with a meeting with his Polish counterpart Jerzy Buzek.
Afterwards, Mr. Simitis said that "the pursuit of Europe's unification and
the expansion of security networks for peace and cooperation in Europe and
elsewhere is a belief shared by both".
"more states should join the European Union and NATO as soon as possible",
"The procedure for EU enlargement must go on, but in a way that rules,
limits and regulations are clear to all. Greece will contribute to that
effort because European unification will not be feasible if these
negotiations do not arrive at a conclusion," he added.
Poland is one of the six candidate-states for EU accession.
He also reiterated that Athens was making efforts to resolve labour and
pension concerns of Polish workers in Greece.
Mr. Buzek expressed satisfaction about the support provided by Greece to
Poland on his country's desire to join NATO and the EU, saying that the two
leaders discussed economic issues as well as cultural and technological
A cooperation agreement on research and technology issues was signed by
Deputy Development Minister Anna Diamantopoulou and her Polish counterpart.
Mr. Simitis had an earlier meeting with Polish President Aleksander
Kwasniewski, focusing on economic cooperation issues.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos met with his Polish
counterpart Bronislav Geremek to focus on issues of European unification.
The Greek prime minister, replying to reporters' quetions ruled out early
elections in Greece and said that "protest and different views existing in
Greece were always within the framework of democracy, therefore creating no
NATO's Naumann in Greece
The chairman of NATO's military committee, Gen. Klaus Naumann, arrived in
Athens yesterday for an official two-day visit. He will be received today
by National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos.
Issues expected to be discussed during the meeting will centre on the
alliance's new structure, especially the establishment of a NATO land sub-
headquarters in Larissa, as well as the overall security in the region.
Gen. Naumann is also scheduled to me et with national defence general staff
chief, Gen. Athanasios Tzoganis.
Upgrading of Omonia Square announced
The central government yesterday unveiled plans to change traffic
circulation and to upgrade the area around Omonia Square in central
In an announcement, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister
Costas Laliotis said major changes to the way traffic flows in the area
would arise from a study by Attiko Metro, the state-run company overseeing
construction of the Athens metro .
Mr. Laliotis said changes would widen pavements on major streets. Measures
are expected to come into effect by the end of 1999.
The underground sections of the metro at Omonia Square will feature glass
bricks, allowing light to enter the areas. Billboards in the square - a
longtime characteristic of Omonia - will be removed and rundown escalators
leading to the present Omonia st ation will be replaced.
Retail car prices to drop avg 5.5 pct Monday after tax cut
Consumers will be able to buy new and imported second-hand cars for an
average 5.5 percent less starting on Monday under a government bill that
eases indirect taxes in order to lower inflation.
Deputy Finance Minister George Drys told a news conference that the tax
reduction on new cars of up to 900 cc would lead to a 6.0 percent drop in
retail prices compared with their current price.
For cars up to 1,400 cc the price reduction is expected to be 7.0 percent;
for cars up to 1,600 cc, 6.22 percent; up to 1,800 cc, 6.19 percent; up to
2000 cc, 6.0 percent; and for cars of 2,001 or more cc, 4.9 percent.
Major price reductions are also expected for used cars built from 1996 that
are equipped with the latest anti-pollution technology.
Alico, EFG sign buyout of Bulgarian Post Bank
Alico/CEH Balkan Holdings Ltd signed an agreement in Sofia yesterday for
the purchase of a 78.23 percent stake in Bulgarian Post Bank (BPB) from
state-owned Bulgarian Bank Consolidation Company.
The group is a joint venture of American Life Insurance Company (Alico), a
member of American International Group (AIG); and Private Financial
Investments Holding (PFIH), a member of EFG Bank Group, itself the parent
of EFG Eurobank.
Each group holds a 50 percent share in the venture whose investment cost is
38 million US dollars.
BPB was founded in April 1991 and quickly developed into one of the
country's main banks, operating the second largest network in Bulgaria with
a total of 125 branches and 1,650 employees.
The bank has signed an agreement with Bulgaria's post office company to
provide services at 2,800 of the latter's outlets around the country.
BPB's assets were 406 million DMarks on October 31. Its loans portfolio
totalled 100 million marks, and deposits totalled 338 million marks.
Most of BPB's assets and liabilities are in foreign currency.
Alico and EFG Eurobank executives will gain seats on BPB's new board,
including Eurobank chairman Yiannis Gontikas and general director Christos
Sorotos. Alico's chairman, Kendall Nottingham, also has a seat. The new
board agreed to raise the bank' s share capital by 20 million US dollars in
the next 12 months in order to fund development.
Investors submit bids for three out of five state Xenia hotels
Investors submitted bids for three out of five state Xenia hotels yesterday,
which was the deadline in the government's tender for sale of the units in
the chain owned by the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO).
Tourism entrepreneur Manos Tsatsakis of Manos travel agencies offered 223
million drachmas for the Xenia located on the island of Patmos, the sole
bidder for the unit.
Mr. Tsatsakis also submitted the highest of five bids for the Paros Xenia
at 250 million drachmas.
A local hotel bid 326 million drachmas for Itea's Xenia, the highest of
No bids were submitted for the Kalambaka and Andros units.
Heavy demand seen for Ecu in forex trade
Heavy demand was seen for the Ecu in domestic foreign currency trade
yesterday both before and after the central bank's daily fix.
The demand for 100 million Ecu, believed to stem from expiry of a coupon on
Ecu-linked debt paper, was met without intervention by the Bank of Greece,
said dealers, who ruled out speculative motives.
Most foreign currencies closed around Friday's levels at the fix with the
mark at 168.385 drachmas; the Ecu at 331.150 drachmas, slightly up on last
week; and the dollar at 282.130 drachmas.
Trade between Greece, China rises 26.7 pct in January-August
The value of trade between Greece and China increased by 26.7 percent to
248 million US dollars in January-August compared with the corresponding
period last year, the ambassador of the People's Republic of China, Jiang
Quonsen, said yesterday.
Speaking in fluent Greek, the Chinese diplomat told a seminar on Greek-
Chinese relations that bilateral ties were healthy.
He said China's average economic growth neared 10 percent in the last two
decades, while trade totalled 325 billion US dollars in 1997, sharply up
from 20.6 billion in 1978.
The ambassador said that the Chinese currency will remain stable and will
not be devalued in the aftermath of a financial crisis in Asia.
T. Vlassopoulos, director of the national economy ministry's secretariat of
international economic relations, told the seminar that bilateral trade
relations could further improve.
"The institutional framework exists, but the availability of information is
lacking," Mr. Vlassopoulos said.
The seminar, entitled "The financial crisis in Asia and China, and growth
prospects for Chinese-Greek relations", was held by the Institute of
International Economic Relations.
Greek stocks slip, still fail to take 2,300 pts
Greek equities ended slightly lower on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday
after an unsuccessful fourth attempt to break the 2,300-point barrier.
The general index ended 0.23 percent off at 2,250.59 points, dramatically
reversing an early 1.80 percent advance.
Trading was moderate with turnover at 44.5 billion drachmas on 11,560,000
The market remains cautious with players waiting to see if the Bank of
Greece, or central bank, will take any action on interest rates. Sector
indices were mixed.
The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 0.69 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 123 to 111 with another 27 issues
National Bank of Greece ended at 41,900 drachmas, Ergobank at 25,600, Alpha
Credit Bank at 23,210, Ionian Bank at 12,215, Hellenic Telecommunications
Organisation at 6,200, Delta Dairy at 3,600, Intracom at 13,800, Titan
Cement at 17,900, Hellenic Petro leum at 2,365 and Minoan Lines at 6,400
More participations at this year's 'Philoxenia'
Officials at the HELEXPO-Thessaloniki International Fair appeared satisfied
over the weekend with the recently concluded 14th annual international
tourism exhibition 'Philoxenia'.
A total of 346 exhibitors participated in this year's exhibition, while the
number of visitors approached 12,000, a 21.5 per cent increase compared to
last year. In addition, 500 foreign visitors from 36 countries also visited
Visitors' interest focused primarily on travel agencies, hotels and
Two-day conference on Internet sales
The National Society of Business Management (EEDE) - Macedonia branch is
organising an international two-day conference on computer information
systems next week in Thessaloniki.
The conference is entitled "Strategies of Superiority in the Society of
Information - Critical Choices for the Future of a Business". It will focus
on increasing trade via the Internet.
According to EEDE, sales through the international computer web account for
5 per cent of total global sales, while this number is increasing by 60 per
cent on a yearly basis.
Currently, as EEDE noted, 4.5 per cent of employees in the US work with the
Overcast weather with spells of sunshine is forecast for most part of
Greece today. Winds variable, light to strong, turning gale force in the
south Aegean Sea. Partly cloudy in Athens with temeratures between 9-18 C.
Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 2-16C.
Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 279.873
British pound 466.220 Japanese yen (100) 234.132
French franc 49.792 German mark 167.038
Italian lira (100) 16.874 Irish Punt 415.648
Belgian franc 8.095 Finnish mark 54.947
Dutch guilder 148.066 Danish kr. 43.926
Austrian sch. 23.739 Spanish peseta 1.964
Swedish kr. 35.702 Norwegian kr. 37.756
Swiss franc 202.056 Port. Escudo 1.628
Aus. dollar 177.930 Can. dollar 182.449
Cyprus pound 563.456