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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-10-26
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>
NEWS IN ENGLISH
ATHENS, GREECE, 26/10/1999 (ANA)
NEWS IN DETAILOlympic Airways releases new business plan
Olympic Airways yesterday announced a new business plan to renew the airline's fleet, build up flights, retrain and recruit staff, and liquidate idle assets.
Rod Lynch, OA's chief executive officer, said the national carrier needed expansion to generate its own revenue.
It should also focus on punctuality and give a positive image to passengers, he added.
The plan envisages the sale of OA's ageing fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft and its replacement with 25-30 new aircraft in the next 5-7 years.
In addition, the national carrier will expand and build up its flights to international destinations.
Referring to OA's staff, Mr. Lynch underlined the need for retraining, and for the recruitment of about 1,000 employees, mainly in technical departments.
He said the carrier's maintenance base would be gradually relocated to a new airport for Athens being built in Spata.
He added that Olympic Catering was a goldmine in the hands of the carrier, and indicated that other subsidiaries may be listed on the stock market as well.
The business plan envisages the sale of Olympic Airways' idle assets, which could be sold and the revenue re-invested.
He noted that OA's New York building had remained vacant since 1982.
Gov't borrowing seen lower in 1999
State borrowing in 1999 is seen dropping by one trillion drachmas against the previous year, the finance ministry said in a statement yesterday.
Total borrowing is estimated at 10,400 billion drachmas against 11,468 billion drachmas in 1998 and 13,295 billion drachmas in 1997, the statement said.
In addition, annual borrowing as a proportion of gross domestic product will decline to 27 percent in 1999 against 45 percent of GDP three years ago.
The ministry attributed the decline in state borrowing to a containment of fiscal deficits and the gradual replacement of short-term securities with long-term bonds.
More privatisation by January
The national economy ministry aims to complete its ambitious privatisation programme by January 2000 through the sale of minority stakes in Athens Water and Drainage Company (EYDAP), Hellenic Industrial Development Bank (ETBA), Hellenic Petroleum, Thessal oniki International Trade Fair, Hellenic Vehicle Industry and Hellenic Aerospace Industry.
National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, ministry secretary general George Papaioannou and chief ministry economic advisor Yiannis Stournaras agreed at a meeting yesterday to speed up privatisation by the end of the year.
The officials also decided on the relocation of the Athens Horse Racing Track to Markopoulo, east Attica, and the conversion of its current facilities into a sports centre ahead of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games to be hosted by Athens.
The facility will become a conference and exhibition centre after the Games.
Electricity unit starts production
A new 50MW hydroelectric unit belonging to the Public Power Corporation has begun operations on the Nestos River as part of the Platanovryssi project for the area.
The station's other 50MW unit is due to come into operation in coming months, ending the first phase of works in the Nestos Hydroelectric Complex, which also includes an operational 300 MW station at Thisavros.
Tax squad sets Nov-Dec. targets
The government's financial crimes squad has set six priority areas for checks in November and December, the finance ministry said in a statement yesterday.
The targets are sales of heating oil, the discrepancy between real turnover at night clubs and the sums declared to tax authorities, corporate Value Added Tax payments, video game arcades, movement of goods domestically and abroad, and the self-employed , including public figures.
The financial crimes squad, which is run by the ministry, in January to September carried out 71,102 spot checks in retail trade firms and service providers.
Stocks edge down in profit-taking
Equity prices yesterday ended the first session of the week moderately lower, pushing the general index below the 5,600 level.
The index ended 0.40 percent down at 5,577.89 points, reversing an early advance of 1.68 percent. Turnover was 375.1 billion drachmas.
Other sector indices ended as follows: Banks (+0.21 pct), Leasing (+0.29 pct), Insurance (-0.34 pct), Investment (+0.62 pct), Construction (+0.85 pct), Industrials (-1.26 pct), Miscellaneous (+1.78 pct) and Holding (-2.38 pct).
The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks rose 1.59 percent while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chips and heavily traded stocks eased 0.30 percent to 2,785.62 points.
National Bank of Greece ended at 21,700 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 22, 300, Commercial Bank at 23,600, Titan Cement (common) at 34,970, Hellenic Petroleum at 5,300, Intracom (common) at 14,450, Minoan Lines at 10,300, Panafon at 4,100 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,120.
Lambrakis, Sigma ally for Internet trade
Lambrakis Press SA, Sigma Securities and software company Comsys SA yesterday announced the creation of a new company to offer stock market transactions through the Internet on www.sigma.gr
The new company will also offer on-line coverage of daily transactions on the Athens Stock Exchange, research and analysis, money market data and information on the Athens Derivatives.
Independent Euro-defence policy discussed
It was necessary to boost the European Union's ability to advance an independent European defence policy in order to tackle the security problems in the region, the Greek and French defence ministers said yesterday in Athens.
Greece and France also shared 'close' views on the security problems in southeastern Europe, Greece's National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said after talks with visiting French counterpart Alain Richard.
Mr. Richard told reporters after the meeting that Greece would in the coming years play a leading role in the confrontation of security problems in the region, and lauded Athens' efforts in that direction.
France is also due to submit an offer for supplying the new tanks for the Hellenic Armed Forces, the deadline for which tender ends on November 15.
Mr. Richard also met with Foreign Minister George Papandreou.
Mexican FM begins official visit, contacts with G. Papandreou
Mexican Foreign Minister Rosario Green began an official visit to Greece yesterday, discussing bilateral and regional issues with his Greek counterpart George Papandreou.
Mr. Papandreou and Ms Green signed two bilateral agreements during the visit, one on furthering police cooperation and one on judicial issues.
Relations between the two countries, Mr. Papandreou said, are excellent. He also thanked Ms Green for Mexico's support over the issues of Cyprus and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Greece, he added, would continue to work hard to bolster Mexico's relations with the European Union.
Another two agreements between Greece and Mexico are also being considered - one on protection of investments and one on the avoidance of double taxation.
Karamanlis on democratisation processes in Yugoslavia
Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis said democratisation can only be achieved with smooth processes in the Yugoslav federation, otherwise, the possible provocation of a civil war remains open.
Mr. Karamanlis was speaking yesterday at a meeting focusing on the issue of "The Future of the Balkans After the Crisis in Kosovo", organised by the Constantine Karamanlis Institute of Democracy in cooperation with the American Enterprise Institute and the German Marshall Fund Research Institute.
The event was attended by politicians, diplomats and university professors from the United States, Serbia, Britain the Netherlands and Greece.
It was the first time after NATO's intervention in Yugoslavia that a 12- member delegation of Serbian politicians and scientists met informally with US politicians and representatives of scientific foundations.
"We should insist on the principle of the inviolablity of borders," Mr. Karamanlis said, adding that otherwise "we will be opening Pandora's box in the region."
G. Papandreou denies report of endorsement of Turkish EU candidacy
Foreign Minister George Papandreou has categorically denied a media report that Greece will unconditionally endorse Turkey's candidacy for EU membership at the Helsinki summit in December.
"It is a fake report, raising questions regarding the aims and the expediencies it serves," he said.
The report was carried by Turkey's new CNN-Turk television channel. Mr. Papandreou said there was no change in the position Greece had repeatedly and clearly expressed on the issue.
Gov't on Turkish proposal for co-hosting 'Euro-soccer'
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday called Turkey's proposal for the co-hosting of the 2008 European soccer championship with Greece a "good idea", adding that it is not a political issue.
Mr. Reppas noted that several details should be cleared up, adding that Greece will expect proposals of both the Greek and Turkish soccer federations.
'Fall back' this Sunday at 4 a.m.
Clocks turn back one hour at 4 a.m. on Sunday Oct. 31, marking the end of daylight savings time.
Winter time will be in force until March 26, 2000, when clocks will again be turned forward an hour.
Five EU members, and Greece, to Eurocourt on environment issues
The European Commission decided yesterday to activate the process of referring six European Union member-states to the European Court for violating EU legislation concerning environmental protection.
The Commission decided to send an "avis" to Greece, France, Luxembourg, Ireland, Austria and Portugal for failing so far to include EU directive 96/82/CE in their national legislation which concerns the tackling of dangers emanating from substances which are harmful to man and the environment.
Both Greece and the other countries have not yet notified the Commission of the measures they have taken to harmonise their national legislation with that of the EU on this issue.
Greenpeace protest over toxic waste at steel mill
Members of environmental group Greenpeace rolled out 10 barrels in front of the environment ministry in Athens yesterday in a symbolic protest over the lack of measures against toxic waste at the Hellenic Steel Industry's plant in Aspropyrgos.
The protesters, dressed in gas masks and carrying a banner, said the ministry and the government, in general, have been lax in ensuring adequate safety measures at the plant.
Greenpeace claims that the waste produced at the plant continues to contain high levels of dioxin, a carcinogen. Tests on the waste show dioxin levels 18,500 times higher than the levels found in Belgian chickens earlier this year.
Police cite existence of Canadian cocaine ring into W. Europe
Authorities said yesterday they were working closely with European counterparts on suspected involvement of several Canadian nationals in the trafficking of cocaine from Latin America into Greece and western Europe.
According to reports, Canadian Kelvin Hibert, 25, was arrested on Oct. 19 as he arrived in Athens. Customs police at the airport found two kilos of cocaine on him.
A number of arrests of Canadians in other European capitals, particularly Amsterdam, have police agencies apparently convinced that the Latin American drug trade is using European or Canadian nationals to import drugs into the continent.
WEATHERMostly fair weather with scattered cloud will prevail throughout Greece today. Winds variable, light to moderate. Fine weather in Athens with temperatures between 17-27C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 15- 25C.
Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 307.361 Pound sterling 509.432 Japanese yen (100) 290.656 French franc 49.883 German mark 167.301 Italian lira (100) 16.899 Irish Punt 415.472 Belgian franc 8.111 Finnish mark 55.033 Dutch guilder 148.482 Danish kr. 44.025 Austrian sch. 23.779 Spanish peseta 1.966 Swedish kr. 37.656 Norwegian kr. 39.579 Swiss franc 204.600 Port. Escudo 1.632 Can. dollar 207.427 Aus. dollar 199.491 Cyprus pound 566.690 Euro 327.211(C.E.)
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