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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-11-13

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, 13/11/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Albanian PM apologises to Greece for criminal immigrants
  • Upgrading of already close Greek-Albanian ties
  • Farmers to hold mass protest rally in December
  • News agency conference raises 'Macedonian' name problem
  • Shipwrecked Italian rescued by navy helicopter
  • Pangalos to travel to South Africa
  • Patriarchate, Halki issues raised with Amnesty International
  • Economic aid to countries hit by 'Mitch'
  • Delta and Chipita form strategic alliance
  • Rampant drachma jumps on demand from abroad
  • Agricultural Bank of Greece offers loans for Panafon IPO
  • Apostolopoulos Group breaks into health insurance
  • Profile of Internet users in Greece
  • National Bank participation in Panafon share purchases
  • 35-per cent buyout of Rom Telecom by OTE finalised
  • Olympiakos beats Alba Berlin
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Albanian PM apologises to Greece for criminal immigrants

Visiting Albanian prime minister Pandeli Majko on Friday apologised to Greece for the trouble caused here by "criminal elements" from his country.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with parliament president Apostolos Kaklamanis, Majko appealed to the Greek people to care about the Albanians "who may seem to be poorly dressed, and even appear not to be very cultured" but who, "believe me, have a rich soul and a culture that cannot be separated from the Greek culture".

"When you read in the front pages of some newspapers bad things (about the Albanians), the (Greek) people should show understanding and not identify all the immigrants working in Grece with the criminal elements," Majko said.

"If they have caused disturbance, I am here to apologise to you on behalf of a pride that I am certain you will aptly understand, in the name of a neighborliness that is not just of today, and in the name of a goodness that will never end," he added.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said later that "the apology "does the Albanian premier honour and shows that he acknowledges the problem which we must all tackle in its proper dimensions".

Upgrading of already close Greek-Albanian ties

Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his Albanian counterpart Pandeli Majko yesterday expressed satisfaction over talks in Athens and declared their determination to further strengthen already close cooperation between the two countries.

The two premiers initially had a short private meeting, followed by talks with the participation of a number of Greek and Albanian ministers.

During yesterday's talks,the two sides signed a five-billion-drachma loan agreement within the framework of a bilateral agreement already signed, which provides for a Greek loan to Albania of 20 billion drachmas.

A joint declaration was also signed providing for the construction of a national theatre in Tirana.

Farmers to hold mass protest rally in December

Greek farmers will hold a protest rally in Larissa, central Greece on December 8 to underline their opposition to the government's agricultural policy and press demands.

The rally is expected to be attended by thousands of farmers mainly from central and northern Greece.

Prior to the rally, on November 24, farmers will gather outside the Larissa Court Building where 200 colleagues will be on trial charged with offences stemming from large-scale protests last year.

The protests last year by farmers - against new tax laws, in support of demands for cheaper fuel and higher prices for their products - caused unprecedented chaos in Greece, hampering road and rail transport between the north and south, preventing lorries from delivering vital supplies and on occasion forcing factories to shut down due to shortages of fuel and raw materials.

Farmers' representatives last week warned the government they were prepared to block roads again this year if their demands were not met.

The farmers are now demanding a higher production ceiling for cotton crops and government intervention in Brussels to prevent what they claim will be a 30 per cent reduction in cereal crop prices this year if the European Union does not alter its regulations.

News agency conference raises 'Macedonian' name problem

The Greek government said on Friday that it was not possible for the news agency of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to take part in the forthcoming conference of the Association of Balkan News Agencies (ABNA) in Sofia if its title included the word 'Macedonian'.

Replying to reporters' questions, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the Thessaloniki-based MPA agency was already using the designation 'Macedonian' in its title, adding that it was not possible for another agency to participate in the conference "under a false name".

Greece has been locked in a long and at times bitter dispute with its Balkan neighbour over the latter's use of the name 'Macedonia' - the name of a northern Greek province - with Athens saying it implies territorial ambitions against Greece.

Shipwrecked Italian rescued by navy helicopter

An Italian national was picked up from the rocky coast of an Aegean island on Friday by a Greek navy helicopter during a massive search and rescue operation which was launched when his speedboat sank.

Flavio Fatsiolo, 31, had been waiting for help on the shore of Sikinos for about two hours after swimming to the small island when his speedboat - "Torpedine" - sank after taking on water while he was travelling in the area between Ios and Folegandros.

Before the boat went down, Fatsiolo managed to send an SOS to the Merchant Marine Ministry's Operations Centre which in turn notified all ships in the area, coast guard lifeboats, Greek navy vessels and the helicopter.

Fatsiolo was spotted on the rocky beach by the captain of a coast guard patrol boat who notified the helicopter which then flew him to Folegandros.

Pangalos to travel to South Africa

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos begins an official two-day visit to South Africa on Thursday.

His visit will be marked by a variety of cultural events, including two concerts conducted by Mikis Theodorakis of his musical adaptation of Odysseus Elytis' epic poem "Axion Esti".

Mr. Pangalos has said that proceeds from the concerts would be donated to South African President Nelson Mandela's charity to help impoverished children.

Mr. Mandela has said he will attend the Greek composer's concerts.

Patriarchate, Halki issues raised with Amnesty International

Archbishop of America Spyridon yesterday met with the director of Amnesty International USA, Steve Rickard, and the group's advocacy director for Europe and the Middle East.

During the meeting, Spyridon raised several issues regarding the recent persecution against the Theological School of Halki and the dismissal of its supervising board by Turkish authorities, as well as the safety of Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.

Amnesty International expressed its concern and indicated an intention to pursue these issues as well as the broader matter of religious freedom for minorities in Turkey.

Economic aid to countries hit by 'Mitch'

The foreign ministry yesterday announced that it will donate US$125,000 to four Latin American countries devastated last week by Huricane "Mitch". The announcement Athens granted this emergency aid as a symbolic gesture of solidarity to the suffering people of Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

In addition, $35,000 will be allocated through the group "Doctors of the World".

Delta and Chipita form strategic alliance

Two major Greek dairy and food products firms, Delta Dairy and Chipita International SA, have agreed to form a strategic alliance aimed at promoting Delta's activities in southeast European markets.

The agreement offers Delta Dairy the right to buy a 15 percent stake in Chipita Bulgaria and the option to participate in any Chipita's future business expansion in foreign markets with an equal stake.

Delta already participates, with a 15 percent stake, in the buyout of two foreign food manufacturers - Star Foods in Poland and Star Foods in Romania.

Rampant drachma jumps on demand from abroad

The drachma jumped in the domestic market yesterday on demand seen mostly from abroad, dealers said. The Bank of Greece intervened, purchasing around 40 million marks in order to curb the drachma's sharp rise.

According to dealers, investors abroad are seeking drachmas to open positions in Greece, signalling confidence in the country's economy.

The mark stood at 167.755 drachmas after the central bank's daily fix against 167.50 drachmas before the intervention.

The Ecu was 329.800 drachmas at the fix and the dollar at 283.000 drachmas.

The drachma is currently 7.1 higher than its central parity in the European Union's exchange rate mechanism, aiding the government's drive to bring down consumer price inflation.

At the same time, the parity has created an imbalance in the market, contributing to the maintenance of high interest rates.

In addition, a climate of uncertainty has been created as to how, exactly, the drachma will return to normal levels, traders said.

Intense buying interest was seen in the bond market, mainly from abroad, driving turnover up to 18 billion drachmas.

Agricultural Bank of Greece offers loans for Panafon IPO

State-owned Agricultural of Greece is offering loans at 18 percent for members of the public who wish to buy into an initial public offer (IPO) this month by Panafon, the mobile telephone operator.

The bank said in a statement yesterday that buyers could obtain a personal loan for the purchase of up to 500,000 shares in Panafon.

The loans are obtainable on demand, with no documentation required.

For the purchase of stock up to one million drachmas, a tax clearance statement is required.

Repayment is monthly in up to 24 installments.

Apostolopoulos Group breaks into health insurance

The Apostolopoulos Group yesterday announced its entry into the insurance market through the creation of La Vie Assurance, which specialises in health coverage.

The company's main programme, La Vie Health, will offer clients treatment, check-ups and tests at the Group's clinics and centres, Group president George Apostolopoulos told a news conference.

Coverage by La Vie Health is to include an unlimited number of visits to the Group's outpatients units, tests, check-ups and hospital treatment.

The Apostolopoulos Group has six hospital and diagnostic units with a projected capacity by end-1999 of 1,100 beds.

The Group is expanding its network to the Balkans and also has a centre in Moscow.

Profile of Internet users in Greece

Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation's (OTE) Internet provider OTEnet yesterday announced that 90,000 people use the worldwide web from Greece.

OTEnet organised a one-day conference in Athens on the issue of "Business Activities on the Internet, which focused on the profile of users and the market share of Greek companies on the Internet.

OTEnet officials said that 34 per cent of users are under 30 years of age; 27 per cent are between the ages of 30 and 39; 26 per cent are 40 to 49 and 13 per cent are over the age of 50, adding that 65 per cent of users are men - half of which are single.

OTEnet said 15 per cent of users reside in rural areas; 60 per cent live in Athens and Thessaloniki, while the remaining 25 per cent reside in the rest of Greece's cities.

Some 53 per cent of usage involves work-related activities; 30 per cent entertainment and 17 per cent education.

National Bank participation in Panafon share purchases

National Bank is providing financial benefits for all interested in participating in the process of purchasing Panafon shares. The bank is also the coordinator and underwriter in the sale of Panafon's shares.

National Bank offers personal loans amounting up to one million drachmas with a 20 per cent interest rate.

The possibility of using the right of an overdraw in current deposits accounts for up to 500,000 drachmas with an 18 per cent interest rate.

In order to provide better service for non-constitutional investors, the National Bank undertakes the keeping and management of both Panafon's shares and other shares which are negotiable at the Athens Stock Exchange without any charge.

35-per cent buyout of Rom Telecom by OTE finalised

An agreement for the buyout of 35 per cent of Rom Telecom and its management by the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) was signed yesterday afternoon by the Romanian government and OTE's leadership.

The signing of the agreement sealed a successful auction for OTE, proclaimed by the Romanian government.

The agreement was signed by Romanian Communications Minister Sorin Padis, the president of SOF (National Ownership Organisation) Radu Sarbu and OTE's managing director Georgios Chrysolouris. Also present were representatives of the Greek utility's advis ers, namely, the Morgan Stanley investment house.

The 35 per cent stake in share capital and the assumption of the Romanian telecoms organisation's management is accompanied by terms in the agreement which anticipate OTE's right of vote for an additional 16 per cent of Rom Telecom's capital.

OTE was assisted in its bid by GTE Telecom, a subsidiary of the US GTE Corporation.

With the agreement, OTE substantively enters a market of 22.6 million people, double that of Greece, and with considerable prospects of development in the telecommunications sector.

Olympiakos beats Alba Berlin

Olympiakos of Piraeus overwhelmed Alba of Berlin 94-65 in a Group C Euroleague basketball match in Athens last night attended by 2,000 persons.

WEATHER

Cloud and rain throughout the country today with local storms in western, central and northern Greece. Winds variable, moderate to strong. Athens will be partly cloudy with rain expected in the evening and temperatures between 13-20C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 8-14C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 280.736 British pound 464.772 Japanese yen (100) 226.275 French franc 49.600 German mark 166.413 Italian lira (100) 16.805 Irish Punt 414.596 Belgian franc 8.062 Finnish mark 54.699 Dutch guilder 147.560 Danish kr. 43.747 Austrian sch. 23.644 Spanish peseta 1.955 Swedish kr. 34.819 Norwegian kr. 37.381 Swiss franc 202.011 Port. Escudo 1.622 Aus. dollar 176.472 Can. dollar 180.524 Cyprus pound 560.460

(S.S.)


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