Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-12-11
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 11/12/1998 (ANA)
- Simitis underlines unemployment problem at EU summit
- Pangalos to visit FYROM on December 22
- Tsohatzopoulos opens conference on weapons research, technology
- Amnesty International protests executions in US
- Russia's Zyuganov: S-300s pose no threat to any third country
- Albanian horsemen raid mink farm
- Sex, arrests and videotapes
- DEPA: Greece not obligated to receive Russian gas in '98
- PMs of Greece, FYROM to address Balkan economy conference in '99
- Foreign currency shipping inflows rise 2.3 pct Jan-June
- Stocks end flat, seen consolidating above 2,500 pts
- Contract for customs service's computerisation with Bull, Intrasoft
- Hellenic Bank branch opens in Athens
- Commission to take recourse over dangerous substance directive
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Simitis underlines unemployment problem at EU summit
Prime Minister Costas Simitis stressed on Friday at the European Union
summit in Vienna that unemployment was the biggest problem facing both
Europe and Greece, according to an ANA despatch from the Austrian
National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, who is accompanying the
premier, told reporters that Simitis was the first to speak at this
morning's first session of the two-day summit.
He said Simitis had asked that a strong message should emerge from the
summit underlining that the EU was determined to implement policies aimed
at resolving the problem of unemployment.
According to Papantoniou, Simitis referred in particular to the major
problem of unemployment in Greece and the particularities of the Greek
labour market which is substantially different from those of its EU
These particularities include the movement of the rural population to urban
centres, the low percentage of participation of women in the labour market -
despite a sharp increase in recent years, and the high number of immigrants
living in Greece for economic reasons which, as a percentage of the
country's total work force, is comparable to the percentage of foreign
workers in Germany in the 1950s and 1960s.
Simitis noted that in addition to the sum of 250 billion drachmas allocated
from EU funds, Greece will in 1999 be spending a further 500 billion
drachmas to combat unemployment.
The premier expressed Greece's full support for the signing of an
Employment Pact to supplement the Stability Pact.
Simitis told the summit that by the end of 1998, Greece will have satisfied
all the criteria for participation in EMU apart from inflation, the target
for which will have been attained by the end of 1999, so that the country
will be ready for full accession on January 1, 2001.
Pangalos to visit FYROM on December 22
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos will visit the Former Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia (FYROM) on December 22, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas
announced on Friday in Vienna.
The spokesman said Skopje had expressed interest in beginning bilateral
contacts between the new government and Athens and despite initial
difficulties regarding the fixing of a date, it had been agreed that
Pangalos pay a one-day visit to FYROM on December 22.
Reppas is accompanying Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Pangalos and National
Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou at the European Union summit in the
Tsohatzopoulos opens conference on weapons research, technology
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday opened the third
symposium on western European armaments research and technology, taking
place in Athens.
He stressed to delegates at the two-day event the need for a common
European defence industry, noting that European defence could not be
founded only on private defence industries but needed the participation of
the countries, too.
Referring to the coproduction of the Eurofire jetfighter by four countries,
he said it was by no coincidence that the Eurofighter was becoming a
"European prospect" as more countries would join the original four,
intimating Greece's interest.
Amnesty International protests executions in US
The Greek section of the human rights organisation Amnesty International
(AI) yesterday staged a symbolic protest outside the US embassy in Athens
to denounce the ongoing execution of convicted murderers in several of that
country's 50 states.
During the protest, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of UN Human
Rights Day, the president of AI's Greek section, Kostis Papaioannou, handed
a letter of protest to an embassy employee which was addressed to US
ambassador Nicholas Burns.
The protesters, dressed in black, hung an effigy of the Statue of Liberty
to underline their charge that human rights are being "executed" in the
Similar protests were meanwhile being held in other countries around the
world to press for the abolition of the death penalty in the US.
According to AI, which in October launched a one-year campaign for penal
reform in the United States, nearly 500 people have been executed in the US
since the death penalty began to be re-enforced in 1977.
A US federal judge on Wednesday ordered a stay of execution for Canadian
national Stan Faulder, who was scheduled to die by lethal injection
yesterday, citing concerns about whether he received a fair trial.
Russia's Zyuganov: S-300s pose no threat to any third country
Russia's Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov said yesterday that the
contract between Moscow and Nicosia for the purchase and deployment on
Cyprus of Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missiles must be implemented
because the defensive weapons system posed no threat to any third
Mr. Zyuganov was speaking at a news conference during a two-day visit to
Greece, which began yesterday at the invitation of the Communist Party of
Nicosia's plans to purchase and install the S-300 missiles on the island
republic in an effort to bolster its defenses has drawn criticism from
Washington and European countries, which claim the deployment will merely
serve to increase tension.
Turkey has openly threatened to prevent the deployment.
Noting the "very good" relations between Cyprus and Russia, Mr. Zyuganov
underlined Nicosia's right to choose the weapons systems which ensure its
He expressed the hope that "our countries will withstand the pressure
exerted by the US" in order for the contract to be executed.
Commenting on Russia's policy vis-a-vis arms sales, Mr. Zyuganov said his
country had lost all the major markets which it had gained in the Soviet
In a clear reference to the US, Mr. Zyuganov said that if only one major
arms seller is allowed to dominate the world market, the prices of weapons
will be too high for many countries.
Albanian horsemen raid mink farm
It could have been a scene from a period-piece Balkan epic, as two Albanian
robbers on horseback descended on an isolated Greek mink farm near Kastoria,
horses winnying and guns blazing.
But the attack on the mink farm actually took place just before dawn on
Friday near the border with Albania.
The robbers, armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles, tied up two Albanian
workers at the farm and loaded 1,800 unprocessed mink furs worth 3 million
drachmas onto a mule before galloping off.
Although horses and mules have often been used as pack animals to smuggle
drugs and weapons from Albania into Greece on rough mountain paths, it is
the first time they have been used in a robbery.
Sex, arrests and videotapes
The police have arrested a man and a woman who turned a detached house in
Athens into a brothel where hidden video cameras recorded the sex games of
customers with two young Greek prostitutes.
The two persons arrested, both Greek, were identified as Christos
Moutafidis, 21 and Stavroula Spanea, 36.
The police confiscated 10 video cassettes recording the encounters between
the prostitutes and the unsuspecting customers, as well as nine video
recorders and six television sets.
DEPA: Greece not obligated to receive Russian gas in '98
Greece has not entered any conventional obligation to receive 1.5 million
cubic metres of natural gas in 1998, Public Gas Corp. (DEPA) managing
director Savvas Papaphilippou said yesterday, stressing that Russian gas
currently being received was not meeting envisaged specifications.
He said that despite the cleaning of the gas pipeline in Bulgaria, the
problem with the quality of the natural gas delivered remained.
A protocol on the issue is to be signed with a reprsentative of the
Bulgarian company today.
PMs of Greece, FYROM to address Balkan economy conference in '99
Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his counterpart from the Former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Ljubco Georgievski, will speak at a Balkan
economy conference to be held in Thessaloniki in May 1999.
Association of Northern Greek Industries (SBBE) president Vassilis Takas
told a news conference yesterday that the association's annual conference
would focus on conditions in the Balkans a decade after the opening of
Mr. Georgievski is to speak on May 10, the first day of the conference, and
Mr. Simitis on May 11.
Trade between Greece and FYROM is expected to exceed US$250 million in
Greece is the largest foreign investor in the neighbouring country at 50
Stormy ties between Athens and Skopje have improved in recent years.
Greece opposes the use of the name "Macedonia" by the landlocked republic,
arguing it conceals expansionist designs against its northern province of
Under an interim agreement in September 1995, Greece and FYROM agreed to
hold talks under UN auspices on finding a mutually acceptable solution to
the name issue.
Foreign currency shipping inflows rise 2.3 pct Jan-June
Foreign currency inflows from shipping in January-June rose 2.3 percent to
1,056.9 million dollars from 1,033.5 million dollars a year earlier, the
merchant marine ministry said yesterday.
In April-June inflows from shipping were 561.9 million dollars from 529.5
million dollars in the same period of 1997, up 6.1 percent, the ministry
said in a statement.
Stocks end flat, seen consolidating above 2,500 pts
Equities finished slightly lower on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday,
again showing signs of consolidating above previously stubborn resistance
at 2,500 points despite volatility during trade.
The general index ended 0.19 percent lower at 2,536.88 points. Trade was
moderate with turnover sharply down at 66.5 billion drachmas from 86.6
billion drachmas a day earlier. Volume was 15,558,000 shares.
Fuelling trade was heavy demand for state-run National Bank of Greece,
which had announced sharp rate cuts on Wednesday after the central bank
lowered three key rates. Yesterday it announced that it would seek
shareholders' approval for a stock split.
Other commercial banks followed suit in the race to cut rates, including
listed Ergobank, Xiosbank and Commercial Bank of Greece.
The FTSE/ASE-20 blue chip index nosed up 0.04 percent to finish at 1,571.85
Outperforming the general index was the parallel market for smaller cap
stocks, which closed 1.10 percent higher.
Sector indices finished mixed.
Banks rose 1.31 percent, Leasing dropped 0.47 percent, Insurance jumped
2.35 percent, Investment crept up 0.18 percent, Construction edged up 0.13
percent, Industrials slumped 1.33 percent, Miscellaneous increased 0.11
percent, and Holding dropped 1.36 percent.
Of 272 shares traded advances led declines at 122 to 120 with 30 unchanged.
Contract for customs service's computerisation with Bull, Intrasoft
The government yesterday signed a contract for upgrading the computerisation
of Greece's customs services with the Bull and the Athens-based Intrasoft
companies, which will provide the hardware and software products,
respectively. The project is expected to be completed in about a year's
Customs officials said after a signing ceremony that the new system will
enhance effectiveness by minimising tariff evasion and instituting better
control of substances harmful to public health.
Finance Deputy Minister George Drys added that the tax bureau's "Taxis"
system was already in operation in 100 taxation bureaus, and promised that
it would cover the entire number by the end of 1999.
Hellenic Bank branch opens in Athens
Interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos inaugurated the first branch office
of the Cyprus-based Hellenic Bank in Athens yesterday.
Speaking at a ceremony, the president of Hellenic Bank Ltd., Panos Galanos,
expressed optimism over the bank's successful course in Greece, underlining
that the common language and culture and the unbreakable historical and
cultural ties between Greece and Cyprus will contribute in this direction.
Commission to take recourse over dangerous substance directive
The European Commission announced that it has started the process of
lodging a recourse, through an avis, against Greece, Belgium and Portugal
for failing to implement two EU directives concerning dangerous substances.
The first is the European Commission's Directive 54 (1996) which has
amended the Council of Ministers' directive 548 of 1957 and refers to the
classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous chemical substances.
The second is the European Parliament's and Council of Ministers' Directive
56 of 1996 which also amends directive 548 of 1967.
Directive 548 is one of the first directives on the environment and is
aimed at a rapprochement between national legislations on new chemical
substances and to secure a high level of protection for human health and
The European Commission also sent an avis against Germany for failing to
implement Directive 56 of 1996.
Cloudy with possibility of light snowfall on Friday in northern Greece. Few
clouds with sporadic rainfall in the rest of the country and light snow in
mountainous areas of central Greece. Winds variable, moderate to strong.
Athens partly cloudy with possible showers and temperatures ranging from 5C
to 12C. Thessaloniki also partly cloudy with temperatures ranging from 0C
Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 276.361
British pound 459.236 Japanese yen (100) 234.826
French franc 49.608 German mark 166.358
Italian lira (100) 16.794 Irish Punt 413.168
Belgian franc 8.065 Finnish mark 54.705
Dutch guilder 147.525 Danish kr. 43.680
Austrian sch. 23.633 Spanish peseta 1.954
Swedish kr. 34.313 Norwegian kr. 36.670
Swiss franc 204.416 Port. Escudo 1.621
Aus. dollar 171.418 Can. dollar 179.790