Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-11-27
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 27/11/1998 (ANA)
- Athens support for Italian handling of Ocalan issue
- OA management contract signed between gov't, state-run carrier
- Greece to see better days under EMU, Simitis says
- Hellenic Petroleum posts 100 pct consolidated profit jump Jan-Sept
- Greece no longer at bottom of EU fiscal league, gov't says
- Stocks shed gains in second day of correction
- Greece-FYROM trade to exceed US $250 mln.
- GSEE: 22% of unemployed in Greece higher education graduates
- Simitis-Klima meeting set for Dec. 2, prior to Vienna EU summit
- Greek soldiers in NATO force to be stationed in FYROM
- Students, teachers protest
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Athens support for Italian handling of Ocalan issue
Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday that he supported Rome
extending political asylum to Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah
"Greece is in favour of political asylum being given to Mr. Ocalan," Mr.
Simitis said, adding: "Italy has handled the matter properly." Mr. Simitis
was responding to questions from the foreign press at an annual Foreign
Press Association luncheon hel d yesterday.
The prime minister was harshly critical of the Turkish reaction to the
Italian government's handling of the Ocalan issue, underlining that
European leaders had to evaluate these reactions.
He called them "intense, exaggerated and almost violent".
"(European leaders) must make clear that in relation to Turkey-EU relations
these tactics will not be allowed to pass," Mr. Simitis said.
He noted that Turkey had reacted in a similar fashion recently against the
European Union when it was left off the list of candidate-countries, acting
with the rationale of, "if we are not a chosen country there will be no
For the European Union to mark progress, he said, all EU countries and
third countries should comply with the EU guidelines regarding relations
between countries. He noted that the Luxembourg European Council had set
out a clear framework for the development of Euro-Turkish relations.
"The EU must cooperate with Turkey, which is also to the benefit of Greece,
because we are talking about a neighbour whose participation in European
procedures ensures stability, conditions of cooperation and peace in the
region," he said.
"This cooperation must come under the framework provided by the Copenhagen
criteria - respect for human rights and friendly relations with neighbouring
countries, " Mr. Simitis added.
Greece does not want to exclude Turkey but argues that Turkish-EU
cooperation must be ruled by these principles, he said.
"There is a Kurdish problem and Kurdish minority in Turkey, Iran, Iraq and
Syria," Mr. Simitis said.
"This problem has been brought to the attention of international organisations
in the past and the stance that has been formulated is that there should be
an international meeting on resolving the problem," he said.
OA management contract signed between gov't, state-run carrier
Goals and guidelines for debt-ridden Olympic Airways and OA's subsidiaries
over the next five years are included in a management contract signed
yesterday by the government with the state-run companies' administrations.
Targets include an increase in revenues from an increase in passenger
volume, attraction of more affluent travellers, as well as a decrease in
expenditures through the implementation of new staff regulations.
The main directives and strategies included in the plan are the restructuring
of OA's route network, a "radical" improvement in the state-run national
air carrier's image and services, including the inclusion of new aircraft.
National Ecomony Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Transport Minister Tassos
Mantelis signed the agreement on behalf of the government.
Furthermore, an improvement in the performance and revenues from passenger
movement by better monitoring sales, a decrease in expenditures with the
establishment of a new organisational programme, full utilisation of the
possibilities set out in Law 26 02/98 in programming staff and an increase
in productivity by fully introducing computerised systems.
Another goal is development of OA through its presence at the under-
construction international airport at Spata, among others.
Translating the plan into figures over the 1998-2002 period means an
increase by 21 per cent in flights, an 11.6 per cent in available seats per
kilometre and by 12.5 per cent in aircraft units, an increase in revenues
from airline work in current prices over the five-year period by 25.5 per
cent and a decrease in expenditures for permanent staff by 2 per cent.
The targets of the Olympic Catering subsidiary, as set out in the five-year
operational plan are the company's possible listing with the Athens Stock
Exchange, its transfer to Spata airport in 2001, an aggressive policy in
the air catering sector - which will be deregulated in the EU - completion
of overall quality system processes and its certification by ISO 9002,
canteens and restaurants at the country's largest airports, as well as an
increase in productivity by 40 per cent by the year 2002.
Greece to see better days under EMU, Simitis says
Greece can expect better days following the country's entry into European
economic and monetary union (EMU) by January 1, 2001, Prime Minister Costas
Simitis said yesterday.
Addressing a Foreign Press Association luncheon, he said that the
government's policies would ensure Greece's participation in the euro, the
EU's future single currency.
"We will be able to achieve what we are seeking, as we are to some extent
doing now," Mr. Simitis said.
EMU entry would bring a 35-hour working week, transformation of the tax
system, lower taxes, a more effective employment policy, and increased
national funding to tackle unemployment, he said.
The prime minister rejected the possibility of a political deal to ensure
the country's entry into EMU: "There is no such leeway."
Replying to a reporter's question, the prime minister said that Greece had
not joined the first wave of EMU members because it was not ready,
attributing the failure to conflicting policies in 1990-1993.
He described the economy's progress as very satisfactory, forecasting a 3.5
percent rate of growth in 1998 and consumer price inflation of 4.1-4.2
percent at the end of the year, down from a budgetary target of 4.5
Falling inflation would bring down interest rates, as expected, but the
pace of the rate decline would have to match that of inflation, he
Finally, the impact of a recent global financial crisis on the domestic
economy would be minimal because of the country's limited financial ties
with southeast Asia and Latin America, two sources of the crisis.
Hellenic Petroleum posts 100 pct consolidated profit jump Jan-Sept
The Hellenic Petroleum Group defied a slump in international oil prices to
report a spectacular 100 percent increase in its consolidated profits for
the first nine months to 32.6 billion drachmas against the same period last
The Group's chairman and managing director, Eleftherios Tzellas, told a
news conference yesterday that the results for January-September showed
that the company was achieving its business targets for the year and fully
implementing its investment programme.
The programme includes construction of a propylene unit in Thessaloniki,
which has already begun; investment in another unit nearing completion in
Komotini; and the acquisition of Mamidakis Oil on Wednesday, which has
given Hellenic Petroleum seven new storage facilities and 593 new gas
stations around the country.
Pre-tax profits of the parent company, listed Hellenic Petroleum SA, more
than doubled to 26.2 billion drachmas in January-September from 9.7 billion
Pre-tax profits of its retail subsidiary EKO-ELDA totalled 5.4 billion
drachmas and those of its research subsidiary ASPROFOS totalled 1.05
billion drachmas in the first nine months of 1998.
The group's turnover, however, fell to 523 billion drachmas from 550
billion last year, hit by a sharp fall in international oil prices in
Mr. Tzellas also announced that Hellenic Petroleum is to prospect for oil
in Iran at 14 sites around the country, and the terms of the project will
be set during a visit to Tehran with Development Minister Vasso Papandreou.
"We will find out what terms of cooperation the Iranian government has set,
and then we will decide which international consortiums we will work with,"
Mr. Tzellas said.
Finally, Mr. Tzellas signed an agreement yesterday with Mailis, also listed
on the Athens bourse, to cooperate in the production of self-adhesive tapes
by Straptech - a Mailis subsidiary - using BOPP film manufactured by
Ekofilm - a Hellenic Petroleum subsidiary - as a raw material.
In addition, Mailis' subsidiaries will promote the sale of Ekofilm's Bopp
film in eastern and western Europe.
A new plant in Komotini for production of the adhesive tape is expected to
launch operations in 1999.
Total investments for the project are 11.4 billion drachmas.
Greece no longer at bottom of EU fiscal league, gov't says
Greece is no longer at the bottom of the European Union's fiscal league,
Deputy Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis yesterday told a parliamentary
committee processing the 1999 budget.
It no longer has the highest fiscal deficit in the 15-nation bloc and
coming generations will have a lower debt repayment burden, Mr. Christodoulakis
said during the third day of budget discussion.
He said that international markets, the toughest critics, had shown
confidence in Greece's prospects of participating in European economic and
monetary union by January 1, 2001, seeing Greece as a safe bet as EMU's
Mr. Christodoulakis underlined that a fiscal restructuring process
contained in 1999's budget was aimed not just at joining the euro but also
at preparing the country for a highly competitive global economy.
Stocks shed gains in second day of correction
Equities ended lower for the second consecutive session on the Athens Stock
Exchange yesterday, correcting after a recent surge.
The general index ended 0.87 percent lower at 2,455.16 points in moderate
turnover of 49.2 billion drachmas. Volume was 12,136,000 shares.
Sector indices suffered losses.
Banks fell 0.96 percent, Leasing dropped 1.75 percent, Insurance ended 0.38
percent off, Investment plunged 2.37 percent, Construction dropped 2.42
percent, Industrials eased 0.56 percent, Holding fell 0.69 percent, but
Miscellaneous bucked the trend to end 0.36 percent up.
The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 0.02 percent
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 133 to 105 with another 24 issues
Greece-FYROM trade to exceed US $250 mln.
Trade between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)
is expected to exceed US$250 million in 1998, while Greek investments in
the neighbouring country amount to $50 million, first among foreign
investors in FYROM.
The figures were announced by Greek ambassador in Skopje Alexandros Mallias
at a press conference on the occasion of the 2nd exhibition of Greek
enterprises - scheduled for Dec. 2-5.
This year's exhibition will be attended by 82 Greek enterprises specialising
in animal fodder, door and window frames, textiles, ready-made clothes,
marble, electrical equipment, chandeliers, plastic pipes, foodstuffs and
beverages, toys, agricultural machinery, furniture and batteries.
GSEE: 22% of unemployed in Greece higher education graduates
The General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) Labour Institute's
director said that 22 per cent of unemployed people in Greece are
university and technical institute graduates.
Speaking at a conference on "The University and Employment" yesterday,
Savvas Robolis said that this percentage strengthens the view of those who
maintain that there must be a change in the university's orientation
towards providing vocational education and its direct linkage with the
labour market's short-term needs. Referring to the total percentage of
unemployment, he said that unemployment will increase gradually until the
year 2000, adding that according to a report by the OECD in a country with
a 10 per cent unemployment rate 6 per cent is due to the structural crisis,
2 per cent to changes in professions and 2 per cent to the relation
between the educational system and the labour market.
Simitis-Klima meeting set for Dec. 2, prior to Vienna EU summit
The preparation and issues at the Vienna European Council, to be held on
Dec. 11-12, will be discussed in Athens on Dec. 2 between Prime Minister
Costas Simitis and Austrian Chancellor and European Union President Viktor
The latter is touring the capitals of the remaining 14 EU member-states as
of Wednesday for the same reason.
Mr. Klima considers the employment policy, the euro and the "Agenda 2000"
as issues of primary interest at the Vienna European Council, with which
the Austrian EU presidency will be concluded.
Greek soldiers in NATO force to be stationed in FYROM
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos told Parliament yesterday
that Greece would participate with a contingent of 40-45 soldiers in a N
ATO force to be stationed in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
The contingent will be set up to protect more than 2,000 OSCE observers in
the Yugoslav province of Kosovo.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the NATO force under French command would comprise
a total of 250 troops and had nothing to do with "NATO's supposed
intervention in Kosovo" as borne out by the fact that it will be based in
Reminding the House that Greece had insisted right to the end that a
peaceful solution and the avoidance of military intervention was possible
in Kosovo, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said this was eventually attained by virtue
of the agreement reached between Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and
US special envoy Richard Holbrooke. "As a force for peace, security and
stability in the region, Greece is assuming an active role within the
framework of OSCE resolutions, because peace is an issue which is of
primary concern to Greece and not only the countries directly involved,"
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.
Students, teachers protest
Three banks and six vehicles suffered extensive damage on Thursday as more
than 7,000 students and teachers marched through the city centre to protest
education ministry changes to schooling.
Police said anarchist youths who joined the march threw stones and planks
and set fire to a parked car on central Syntagma Square, despite the strong
Another five cars on Panepistimiou street were damaged aftrer being
attacked by the anarchists with clubs.
Cloud and rainstorms will prevail throughout Greece on Friday. Winds will
be variable, moderate to strong. Light rain in Athens where temperatures
will range between 11-16C, turning to storms at night. Similar weather in
Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from 8-12C.
Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 283.891
British pound 470.188 Japanese yen (100) 232.029
French franc 49.646 German mark 166.458
Italian lira (100) 16.811 Irish Punt 413.664
Belgian franc 8.069 Finnish mark 54.794
Dutch guilder 147.669 Danish kr. 43.787
Austrian sch. 23.674 Spanish peseta 1.958
Swedish kr. 34.760 Norwegian kr. 37.763
Swiss franc 201.669 Port. Escudo 1.625
Aus. dollar 180.827 Can. dollar 186.278
Cyprus pound 563.456