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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 01-11-02
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
NEWS IN ENGLISH THE VOICE OF GREECE
2/11/2001 11:04:00 рм
More Bank mergers may follow says government spokesman Turkey to send forces in Afganistan First army and police group trained on biological and chemical threats graduates Simitis calls Pasok to strengthen its bonds with the society Farmers opposed to EU abolishing of subsidies 3,50% rise in the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday Marathon participation expected high
 More Bank mergers may follow says government spokesmanPrime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday welcomed a planned merger between the country's two largest banks, state-run National Bank of Greece and private Alpha Bank. "This is an event with massive political, economic and social significance," Simitis told a cabinet meeting.
Mr. Simtitis also stressed the need for the employees positions to be safeguarded, and additionally wished for more working positions to be created.
Technical details of the merger plan are to be released later this month. However, it was decided yesterday that the new Executive President of the new consortium will be Theodoros Karatzas and Governor Yiannis Kostopoulos.
National Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis told the meeting that a merger between the two banking giants would have a favourable impact on the economy. The move, which is subject to approval by regulatory authorities, would not appear to create a monopoly as it did not impede the entry of other companies into the banking sector, Christodoulakis said.
The new bank to emerge would be classed as medium-sized among European credit institutions, ranking 25th in terms of capitalisation, the minister noted. "It will greatly reinforce the country's economy along with the Greek banking system and its competitiveness within the single European market," Christodoulakis said.
On a relative devolpment, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said that other mergers might follow with the participation of state banks like the Agricultural Bank and the Commercial Bank of Greece.
From their side, the New Democracy party and the Greeek Communist party observed that the merger attempt would be judged in practice, while the Coalition of the Left Wing and Progress party expressed its concern over employment and the employees' rights.
 Turkey to send forces in AfganistanUS air strikes on Afghanistan resumed on Friday, the Muslim day of prayer. B-52 heavy bombers struck the strategic Tutakhan hills north of Kabul at least twice on Friday morning. The White House earlier confirmed that bombing would not be suspended during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins in mid-November.
Several Islamic leaders had voiced fears that a continuation of the raids during Ramadan - a month-long period of fasting for Muslims around the world - could cause major unrest in their countries. At the start of the air campaign, the US had eased off operations on Fridays to respect religious sensitivities. US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said on Thursday that the US "could not afford" to pause for Ramadan.
In the meantime, according to American officials, due to the Taleban fire and adverse weather conditions yesterday, the American special forces that wished to infiltrate in Afganistan abandoned their attempt. From his side, Osama Bin Laden called on the Muslims of Pakistan to launch a holy war against the Americans.
On a relative development, Turkey - the only Nato member state with a majority Muslim population - has said it will send special forces to join the US-led war on terror in Afghanistan. "Our government has decided to deploy a special forces unit of around 90 members for the mission," a government statement said.
The Turkish troops will carry out a range of duties including supporting the troops of the anti-Taleban Northern Alliance and securing humanitarian aid. Last month, Turkey's parliament gave blanket approval for troop deployment abroad.
Greek Foreing minister Yiorgos Papandreou, who is on a diplomatic tour, is going to meet today with Pakistan's President Mousharaf and then will visit New Delhi and Tehran.
At the same time, the US House of Representatives has backed a new bill to tighten airport security checks in the wake of the 11 September terror attacks. The measures, backed by President George W Bush, will set stricter standards for private security firms, but will not make baggage screeners government employees - as the Senate had wanted The vote came as the governor of California warned of possible bomb attacks on the state's major bridges. And in another move designed to strengthen US laws, President Bush has proposed making it a crime to buy, build or acquire biological weapons for terrorist attacks. Finally, an envelope containing anthrax bacteria was delivered to the most popular newspaper in Pakistan yesterday
 First army and police group trained on biological and chemical threats graduatesThe first group of Greek Armed Forces and Police Special Forces officers completed their training in confronting biological and chemical threats. Thirty seven Armed Forces officers and seven police officers, who completed their training hosted a demonstration of their new abilities in the communications training army camp at Haidari, near Athens, during which they conducted an exercise in finding chemicals and neutralizing them
 Simitis calls Pasok to strengthen its bonds with the societyThe first meeting of the new Pasok Executive Bureau took place yesterday, giving the greeen light to Mr. Laliotis for the "reformation" of the party.
The Prime Minister Costas Simitis stated that Pasok should get more involved in the countrys affairs and should strengthen its bonds with the society. Farmers opposed to EU abolishing of subsidies Concern has risen among farmers, following the European Union's decision to abolish subsidies for the cultivation of tobacco. As a result, farmers are to stage mobilizations in November, since the Confederation of Greek Cooperatives expects that 10% of the farmers will be affected by this decision.
 3,50% rise in the Athens Stock Exchange yesterdayWith the banking sector in the leading role and specifically, the stocks of the National Bank of Greece and Alpha Bank recording gains of 4.98% and 8.18% respectively, the Athens Stock Exchange experienced a very satisfactory session yesterday. The general index recorded significant gains of +3.50% at 2.554,55 points, while the volume of transactions was at 293 million Euro or 100 billion drachmas.
 Marathon participation expected highA total of 1.500 athletes men and women, 700 Greeks and 800 foreigners, will participate in the 19th International Marathon Race that will take place in Athens on Sunday. The signal for the race to set off will be given by 1988 Olympic marathon runner medalist from Portugal Roza Mota.