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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-12-29

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, 29/12/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Nicosia to adopt final decision on S-300s after Athens meeting
  • President Stephanopoulos to bestow New Year distinctions
  • Operation of illegal immigration from Bulgaria to Greece
  • Police must clear the roads of protesting students
  • Elval aluminum foil sector to be undertaken by Symetal
  • 'Blind' landing system to be installed at Thessaloniki airport
  • Greek stocks test the 2,700 level
  • Attica Enterp buys majority stake in Cronus Airlines
  • Ionian Bank to offer euro products and services
  • Changes in Greek Tourism Organisation
  • Air Greece to add two Fokker aircraft to its fleet
  • Info Quest participates in increases of Unifon's share capital
  • New electric power line starts operating in Athens
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Nicosia to adopt final decision on S-300s after Athens meeting

Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides is holding talks with Prime Minister Costas Simitis in Athens today on Nicosia's plans to install Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missiles on the divided island.

The plans have been criticised by the United States and European countries which fear deployment will increase tension.

In an interview published in yesterday's edition of the Athens daily "Apogevmatini", Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said "new conditions" had been created "in light of which the S-300 issue must be reassessed".

The conditions referred to by Mr. Pangalos were two resolutions on Cyprus passed last week by the UN Security Council and a statement by US President Bill Clinton.

Mr. Pangalos also mentioned Mr. Clerides' fixed objective, namely the demilitarisation of the island and the political settlement of the Cyprus problem.

The Security Council adopted the two resolutions unanimously and without debate on Tuesday, one renewing for six months the UN Peacekeeping Force in the island republic and the second calling on Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to respond positively to efforts by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's resident representative in Cyprus, Ann Hercus, to secure agreement on measures to reduce tension and build confidence between the two communities.

Mr. Clinton said on Wednesday that he was committed to ending the "tragic division of Cyprus" and urged Cypriots to do their part to support international efforts to end the dispute.

In the statement, issued by the White House immediately after the approval of the two resolutions, Mr. Clinton vowed to "take all necessary steps to support" them.

Mr. Pangalos stressed in the interview that the final decision regarding the S-300 will be taken by Mr. Clerides and Cyprus' National Council but also "seriously taking into consideration Athens' views".

Mr. Clerides is expected to convene the National Council immediately after returning from Athens today.

Speaking at an army post on the Greek-Turkish border yesterday, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said the issue of whether the missiles would eventually be installed in Cyprus or, as some reports suggest, Crete, was "a technical matter" which would be dealt with jointly by the governments of Greece and Cyprus.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that that during today's meeting between Prime Minister Simitis and Cyprus President Clerides "all the parameters of the issue will be examined," and following the meeting the National Council of Cyprus will convene anew and the "final decision will be taken, guided by the national interest."

President Stephanopoulos to bestow New Year distinctions

President Kostis Stephanopoulos will bestow distinctions on a number of distinguished Greeks and foreigners on the occasion of the New Year.

The list of the Greek citizens includes Professor Constantinos Despotopoulos who will be awarded the Grand Commander of the Order of Phoenix, Cycladic Museum owner Dolly Goulandri, painters Ioannis Moralis and Dimitris Mytaras as well as banker Lazaros Efremoglou, who will be awarded the Commander of the Order of Phoenix.

The Commander of the Order of Honour will be bestowed on Thomas Michael Cox and Edward O'Hara from Great Brittain and Dr. Luc Hoffmann from Switzerland. The Commander of the Order of Phoenix will be awarded to D. Reinsch and R. Wuensche both from Germany and Robert Fagles from USA, while the Gold Cross of the Order of Honour will be awarded to Guy Sanier and Henri Tonnet both from France.

Operation of illegal immigration from Bulgaria to Greece

In the small Bulgarian town of Petrici about 300 people make a living as "guides" to groups of illegal immigrants passing the Greek-Bulgarian boarder almost daily, according to the chief of Bulgaria's border police Colonel Kiril Kirilov.

In an interview with the credible daily Trount, Col. Kirilov provided shocking data regarding the entire operation of illegal immigration from Bulgaria to Greece and other European countries.

In the past two months alone police have broken four rings specialising in transportation of illegal immigrants, while in the area of Petrici, 172 people have been arrested and sentenced this year for transporting illegal immigrants.

The price for the "service" ranges between 200 and 500 German marks per head.

According to the Bulgarian police, there are two routes for entering Greece, a short and dear one -about two hours- through the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), and a long and cheaper one - about 10 hours- through the mountains.

Col. Kirilov said that most of those who took the risk to go through the illegal journey to Greece this year were gypsies.

Police must clear the roads of protesting students

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said yesterday that "the law had to be applied" in regard to students blocking roads to protest education ministry reforms.

"The police must clear the roads," Pangalos said in an interview with daily Apogevmatini.

Summary road blocks and occupations of schools have been the major characteristics of the weeks-long movement by students at high schools to have the education ministry change its tack on the changes.

Students are protesting a number of issues, including teacher shortages, education ministry changes to grading and examinations at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels, the introduction of open university type programmes, and changes to procedures for appointing new teachers.

The foreign minister lashed out at opposition Communist Party of Greece, claiming that it was behind the continuing protests and occupations. He also blamed teachers for inciting students to protests and occupations, in "revenge", he said, for their "de feat" over the issue of how appointments to schools are made.

Elval aluminum foil sector to be undertaken by Symetal

During a general meeting yesterday Elval (Viochalko Group) shareholders decided that the company's paper and aluminum foil sector becomes an autonomus operation and be undertaken by Symetal, an aluminum foil processing subsidiary company. The development means that Elval will now hold 99.9 per cent of Symetal's share capital, whose financial results will be incorporated in Elval's unified economic records.

'Blind' landing system to be installed at Thessaloniki airport

Thessaloniki's international airport was once again yesterday morning closed due to fog, with one flight from Athens to Belgrade via Thessaloniki cancelled and three others from Athens to Stuttgart, Munich and London going ahead without making the scheduled stopover.

Greece's second biggest airport is plagued by problems due to fog in winter every year. It is hoped that a modern electronic system which enables "blind" landings will solve the problem.

The ILS 2 system, which is due to be installed in 1999, will safely guide aircraft from the ground in conditions of zero visibility to within 30 metres above the runway. The pilot will then be able to safely land the aircraft.

The present ILS system is an older version which is ineffective in conditions of thick fog.

Greek stocks test the 2,700 level

Greek equities ended the first trading session following a three-day Christmas holiday moderately up on the Athens Stock Exchange.

The general index ended at 2,670.61 points, up 0.57 percent, sharply off the day's highs which saw the index temporarily breaking the 2,700 level.

Turnover was 94.2 billion drachmas with volume at 14,606,000 shares.

Sector indices were mixed. Banks rose 1.05 percent, Leasing soared 2.63 percent, Insurance ended 1.01 percent up, Investment surged 2.04 percent, Construction fell 0.30 percent, Industrials were 0.30 percent down, Miscellaneous eased 0.10 percent and Ho lding jumped 2.96 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 0.31 percent up, while the FTSE/ASE 20 index rose 0.82 percent to 1,686.70 points.

Bank of Athens, Marfin Invest, Parnassos, Bank of Central Greece, Macedonian Spin Mills, Papoutsanis, Thessaliki, Klaoudatos and Etma suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 62,000 drachmas, Ergobank at 31,290, Alpha Credit Bank at 28,880, Ionian Bank at 15,100, Hellenic Telecoms at 7,100, Delta Dairy at 3,935, Intracom at 12,450, Titan Cement at 20,350, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,200 and Minoan Lines at 6,360.

Attica Enterp buys majority stake in Cronus Airlines

Attica Enterprises, owners of Superfast Ferries a sea line company operating in the Greece-Italy line, yesterday announced a deal to purchase a majority stake in Cronus Airlines, a private Greek airline.

The purchase will be completed through Attica Enterprises' participation in an equity capital increase scheme by Cronus Airlines to be launched following a legal and financial inspection of the company.

Attica Enterprises aim to expand transport services, domestic and abroad, through the developing of an international air and sea transport network.

Cronus Airlines was founded in 1994 and is a member of IATA.

The airline operates 126 regular flights per week in Greece and abroad and offers charter flight services. It employs 400 workers and operates 14 ticket offices.

Cronus Airlines transported almost 500,000 passengers in 1998, an increase of 100 percent compared with 1997. It expects this year's sales to rise to 15 billion drachmas from 8 billion last year.

Ionian Bank to offer euro products and services

Ionian Bank announced a new euro-linked series of products and services to be offered to clients from January 1, 1999.

A bank statement said yesterday that Ionian Bank aims to gradually offer euro bank deposits to its clients.

All Ecu accounts will be automatically transformed into the single European currency on a one-to-one rate while all foreign currency depositors (in Eurozone currencies) will be informed regularly on their accounts balance denominated in euros.

Ionian Bank will also offer business loans in euros from the start of the new year.

Changes in Greek Tourism Organisation

The drafts of Presidential Decrees concerning changes in the Greek Tourism Organisation (EOT) and anticipated by the relevant law 2636/98 were given to the representatives of the organisation's employees' unions by Development Minister Vasso Papandreou ye sterday.

The Presidential Decrees are four and concern the reallocation of EOT's duties at the Development Ministry and regional services, EOT's new organisational programme, overseas offices and the transformation of EOT into an S.A. company.

The employees' unions will examine the Presidential Decrees and will submit their proposals to Ms. Papandreou to facilitate the finalisation of texts and the process of their implementation.

Air Greece to add two Fokker aircraft to its fleet

The Air Greece airline will start the new year by adding two aircraft of the Fokker 100 type to its fleet and expanding its routes.

According to the company's president Constantine Mantouvas, procurement of the two aircraft will change the company's profile, potential and commercial orientation.

The airline will expand both its domestic and overseas networks and in particular to Mytilene, Alexandroupolis, Ioannina, the Cyclades and airports in central and southern Europe.

The company has been operative over the past five years. It possesses three ATR-72 70-seat aircraft, it employs 170 people and its destination network covers Athens, Thessaloniki, Rhodes, Hania and, during the summer period, Santorini.

The number of passengers carried by the airline is expected to exceed 400, 000 this year compared to 330,000 in 1997, while its turnover will reach 6.2 billion drachmas as against 3 billion drachmas.

Info Quest participates in increases of Unifon's share capital

The informatics company Info Quest is participating in increases of Unifon's share capital to maintain its stake in share capital at 15 per cent.

The share capital of Unifon, which is a commercial associate of Panafon, currently amounts to 2.4 billion drachmas and increased in two stages. Initially, it increased by 100 million drachmas in cash and then by the capitalisation of the special reserve s, amounting to 2.1 billion drachmas, which was paid by the new shareholder of Panafon S.A. from the excess value of shares resulting from the first increase and the distribution of free shares.

Panafon also acquired shares by purchasing them from certain other shareholders of Unifon and is now participating in the company's share capital with 25.075 per cent.

New electric power line starts operating in Athens

Development Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday attended a ceremony marking the beginning of the operation of a third high voltage electricity line at Kryoneri, north of Athens.

The new north-south line, whose construction was vehemently opposed by local residents, who claimed it was a health risk, is designed to eliminate the risk of a black-out during times of heavy power demand.

Ms. Papandreou said the government had promised to complete the 25 billion drachma project before the end of the year and that it had met its promise.

The study for the new line, which requires seven additional pylons in the Kryoneri area, was begun in the early 80s.

Construction began in 1985 and was scheduled to be completed in 1991.

But protests from residents in August 1990 delayed the completion of the project until recently.

Kryoneri's residents have been blocking the installation of the pylons for the past two years, and had appealed to the Council of State, the country's highest administrative authority, to stop the pylons being installed. Their appeal was rejected.

The new line will transmit electrical power from northern Greece to the south and, particularly, to the Attica basin, which is home to 38 percent of the country's total population and consumes 36 percent of electrical power.

WEATHER

Greece will be overcast today with sunny spells and the possibility of scattered showers in Crete and the Dodecanese Islands and slightly higher temperatures throughout the country. Northerly winds, light to moderate, in the Aegean and central Greece. Athens will be partly cloudy with temperatures ranging from 4C to 13C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 3C to 6C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 279.476 British pound 468.581 Japanese yen (100) 241.225 French franc 49.679 German mark 166.492 Italian lira (100) 16.868 Irish Punt 413.267 Belgian franc 8.081 Finnish mark 54.828 Dutch guilder 148.031 Danish kr. 43.985 Austrian sch. 23.803 Spanish peseta 1.966 Swedish kr. 34.853 Norwegian kr. 36.571 Swiss franc 204.025 Port. Escudo 1.627 Aus. dollar 170.376 Can. dollar 180.544 Cyprus pound 563.456

(C.E.)


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