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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 96-12-17

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada <grnewsca@sympatico.ca>

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 1068), December 7, 1996

Greek Press & Information Office
Ottawa, Canada
E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [01] Gov't stands firm on farmers' protests
  • [02] Gov't spokesman
  • [03] Patra roadblock falls
  • [04] Funds for construction of Elefsina- Spata highway expected this week
  • [05] Seamen, teachers stop work ahead of today's ADEDY 24-hour strike
  • [06] Tsohatzopoulos: NATO headquarters in Greece issue not up for discussion at Alliance meeting
  • [07] G. Papandreou addresses SAE session
  • [08] Ciller threatens EU, Greece
  • [09] Greek reaction
  • [10] Simitis tours western Attica
  • [11] Gov't to unveil chart of national television frequencies next month
  • [12] Best athletes of the year selected by sportswriters
  • [13] Armed forces leadership to honor Olympic medallists
  • [14] 'Express' co-publisher Galaios dies
  • [15] Seminar to consider problems faced by repatriated Greeks
  • [16] Evert responds to internal criticism
  • [17] Another wave of illegals smuggled from Turkey apprehended
  • [18] Syrian freighter runs aground off Peloponnese
  • [19] Venizelos says publishers in the future to decide book prices
  • [20] Christmas bonus deadline announced
  • [21] Business group says decrease of inflation, public debt, necessary for '97 economic success
  • [22] Viotia prefecture mentioned as new landfill site
  • [23] Drilling rights awarded for four regions
  • [24] Credit card use in Greece skyrockets
  • [25] Athens bourse to introduce new index
  • [26] Hellenic Cultural Foundation focuses on International Data Base
  • [27] Thessaloniki to show off Byzantine legacy in 1997

  • [01] Gov't stands firm on farmers' protests

    Athens, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    The government cannot enter into dialogue with protesting farmers under a state of threats and blackmail, Prime Minister Costas Simitis reiterated yesterday, as blockades of national and provincial highways entered their 19th straight day.

    While on a tour of Elefsina, west of Athens, the premier expressed a view that by and large, farmers stood behind the government, as it had adopted a series of measures and provided on the spot solutions to problems.

    "However, demands amounting to 800 billion drachmas cannot be met because Greece will lose the battle of development and social justice. We don't want a society where whoever occupies the road first will get the most money. That's where our objection lies, and the government does not want victors and vanquished," he said.

    The premier said that as soon roads opened and economic life was restored, dialogue would begin immediately, because the government was open to all problems, wishing a steady, long-term development course along with the Greek people.

    Earlier in the day, PASOK's political secretariat, chaired by Mr. Simitis, discussed the latest developments, and there was unanimous agreement that the government should not give in under pressure, not even if farmers marched to Athens with their families. Certain members also expressed an opinion that fatigue should be expected to gradually break down farmers' determination to hold out.

    There was also mention of talks Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas had in the EU Agriculture Ministers' Council in Brussels.

    Sources said the government expects a positive response from Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler to its request for compensation of flood and disease-stricken farmers, as well as cotton growers, for whom there is an additional demands for subsidies to be granted directly to them, thereby, hopefully, rationalizing the whole sector, as was the case with tobacco.

    [02] Gov't spokesman

    Athens, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    "The government has exhausted all the margins of possibilities in satisfying the demands of farmers," acting government spokesman Yiannis Nikolaou told reporters.

    Reports that the government was reconsidering or discussing certain demands only served to maintain the blockades, Mr. Nikolaou added. "The government is aware of the existing problems facing the farmers, especially in the regions of Karditsa, Trikala and Farsala which suffered from a freak storm recently," Mr. Nikolaou said.

    But, he added, the government "considers the greatest problem to be the future of Greek farming in general."

    Mr. Nikolaou lashed out against the main opposition New Democracy party and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).

    He said he was holding the KKE entirely responsible for the crisis and said there was complete lack of communication with KKE officials. Concluding, Mr. Nikolaou said the government did not intend to remain inert but ruled out the possibility of use of force to deal with the crisis.

    In Thessaloniki, Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos said yesterday that he was confident that the blocks would be lifted in the next few days and that the farmers of northern Greece realized that a continuation of the road blocks meant a vast problem to the national economy and that public opinion was against them.

    Transport and Communications Minister Haris Kastanidis added that he believed that reason would prevail and that the blockades would be lifted soon.

    [03] Patra roadblock falls

    Athens, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    Earlier yesterday, farmers dismantled the roadblock on the Patra-Pyrgos national highway junction at Gastouni, but continued to block the new and old Athens-Patra national highways at Aigion, where the main bulk of the local farmers are concentrated.

    [04] Funds for construction of Elefsina- Spata highway expected this week

    Athens, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and the Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (ETEP) Panayiotis Gennimatas yesterday signed an agreement for the first 45 billion drachma tranche of a 265 billion drachma loan to fund the new regional highway linking Elefsina-Stavros-Spata.

    The agreement was signed during a special ceremony at the ministry and the flow of funds is expected to begin in the next days.

    Part of the loan, amounting to 220 billion drachmas, is due to be granted to the consortium which was granted the project, Attiki Odos AE. The consortium, which is headed by the Greek construction company AKTOR, will absorb the funds in gradual installments.

    At the ceremony, Mr. Papantoniou stressed that the highway, the fourth major project following the Spata airport, the Rio-Antirrio bridge and the natural gas network to be funded by a loan from the European Investment Bank, will have "considerable positive environmental effects for Athens."

    Noting the close co-operation between the European Investment Bank and the Greek state in the realization of major public works in Greece, Mr. Papantoniou said the Elefsina-Stavros-Spata-Imittos highway would provide 2,000 permanent jobs and another 5,00 0 additional jobs every year until the year 2003.

    On completion, the highway is anticipated to be used by 207,000 vehicles daily, relieving pressure on the center of Athens and ensuring access to the new international airport at Spata, also under construction.

    Mr. Gennimatas said the construction of the highway was the most technically difficult of projects currently funded by the European Investment Bank.

    He said, however, that the project was more important than the Spata airport project since it was the first to be constructed entirely by Greek technical companies.

    [05] Seamen, teachers stop work ahead of today's ADEDY 24-hour strike

    Athens, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    Greek ports were closed yesterday following a 48-hour strike called by the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) demanding that their tax privileges not be abolished and other fringe benefits.

    The stoppage, which will continue until 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, affects all ferryboat lines, while Greek ships currently abroad will hold 48-hour strikes as soon as they dock at the nearest port between December 16-24.

    The federation is also demanding improvements in the insurance and employment sectors.

    Primary and nursery school teachers marched through downtown Athens yesterday morning at the start of their 48-hour strike to demand more spending on education. The teachers rallied outside the education ministry while representatives met with Education Under-secretary Yiannos Anthopoulos, who pledged to discuss the demands - which includes the setting of a 250,000 drachma minimum monthly salary for new teachers - by the end of the week.

    Labor action comes to a head today with the Civil Servant's Administrative Council's 24-hour strike against the government's economic policy, calculated to coincide with the discussion of the 1997 state budget in Parliament.

    A number of other sectors will join ADEDY's strike and rally to Parliament for wage increases: among them are doctors, state secondary school teachers and customs officials.

    Tax officials on Sunday called off their planned strike following an assurance from Finance Under-secretary George Drys that their bonuses would be exempted from the new wage scale, the first concession by the government on such a demand.

    The General Confederation of Workers of Greece, meanwhile, has called a rally outside Parliament today for 5:30 pm and a three-hour work stoppage. Many labor centers however have called for a 24-hour strike.

    Private sector employees are demanding wage increases on the basis of real inflation and not the forecast 4.5 per cent, parity of pensions with 20 daily wages, a 35-hour working week and measures to combat unemployment and to strengthen social benefits.

    [06] Tsohatzopoulos: NATO headquarters in Greece issue not up for discussion at Alliance meeting

    Athens, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos left yesterday for Brussels in order to participate in the NATO defense ministers' conference, focusing on the Alliance's plans to expand to the east, as well as NATO's relations with Russia. Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the issue of a NATO headquarters in Greece would not be put forward for discussion, since "it is not yet mature for consultations".

    Asked to comment on Turkey's effort to enter the Western European Union (WEU) "through the back door," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said Turkey was an associate member of the WEU and could not be treated the same as full members.

    "If this is attempted I will reiterate the positions I had put forward to the recent WEU defense and foreign ministers summit in Belgium," he said.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos noted the need for an institutional framework to draw the line between associate members and the 10 members comprising the basis of the Union in order to ensure that control regarding political decision-making is retained by the 10 members.

    [07] G. Papandreou addresses SAE session

    Athens, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday stressed the need to consolidate the common features of Hellenism, namely language, culture and tradition, in an address to the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE), currently holding its session in Thessaloniki. Elaborating on the current international climate which is being determined by social and economic globalization, Mr. Papandreou warned that "if we do not consolidate now the common features of Hellenism, the powers of absorption and incorporation by other prevalent forces will tend to eliminate those things which cannot be sustained."

    Reiterating the Greek state's support for the SAE, Mr. Papandreou said the World Council of Hellenes Abroad is expected to significantly promote the Greece's foreign causes.

    On his part, SAE president Andrew Athens said SAE is celebrating its one-year anniversary, adding: "... we've begun speaking with one voice, a strong voice, for our national issues overseas..."

    [08] Ciller threatens EU, Greece

    Istanbul, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    "If Europe does not accept the hand of peace which we are extending, and Turkey remains out (of the EU) then Greece should really fear," Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller said in Ankara yesterday.

    Ms Ciller made the statement upon returning to Turkey from Dublin where she attended the EU summit. "Has Greece pondered on the kind of threat Turkey's might pose in the event Turkey remains out of Europe?," Ms Ciller said, adding that "Greece is fearing our military might. It is a justified fear, yet we are a peace-seeking country," the Turkish foreign minister claimed.

    Meanwhile, Turkish press reports said that Ms Ciller lashed out against the European Union because it excluded Turkey from future EU enlargement plans.

    Specifically, the European Union summit accepted an EU foreign ministers' declaration of July 15 as a basis for furthering relations between the EU and Turkey.

    The declaration calls on Turkey to refrain from using or threatening the use of force and to have recourse to the International Court at The Hague with regard to its territorial claims against Greece.

    "Leaving Turkey out of the European Union will constitute a great injustice and historic error for the European Union," Ms Ciller said.

    "Enlarge the European Union and NATO without Turkey's consent, if you can," she added.

    According to the presidency conclusions, the 15 EU leaders invite the presidency "to continue its efforts following the Council's declaration of July 15, 1996 to promote an acceptable solution to the situation in the Aegean area in accordance with established international norms and to pursue contacts with the Turkish government, with a view to an early (EU-Turkey) Association Council."

    [09] Greek reaction

    Athens, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said in response to Ms Ciller's statements that he found it difficult to comment.

    "I find it difficult to comment on what Ms Ciller said. What she said betrays irritation and loss of coolheadedness not akin to a responsible politician of a country with democratic procedures," he said.

    Asked if the Turkish foreign minister would be sent a diplomatic reply, Mr. Pangalos answered, "What can one reply?".

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who attended the EU summit in Dublin, described Ms Ciller's reaction to the results of the summit as spasmodic.

    "It is a pity that after a sincere discussion in Dublin, Ms Ciller is reacting in a spasmodic way. It was Europe that extended its hand and expects a sincere effort on the part of Turkey to respect the force of law, rather than threatening with the force of arms," he said.

    Speaking at the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) session in Thessaloniki, Mr. Papandreou also said that it was confirmed in Dublin that "negotiations for Cypriot entry into the European Union will start six months after the end of the Intergovernmental Conference." He added that the Dutch presidency would continue efforts on the basis of the July 15 EU Council statement to obtain settlement on outstanding issues with regard to Turkey, and stressed that the 15 member-states will place emphasis on the monitoring of the state of human rights in Turkey.

    Meanwhile, main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert said Ms Ciller's statements were revealing of Turkey's long-term strategic planning, and that a "tough answer is required, not only from the Greek government, but also from the Europe an Union, the United States, and the whole of the developed and civilized world".

    He expressed the view that Turkey, through Ms Ciller, was not threatening just Greece, but Europe too, noting that her statements ought to be distributed and read by all the governments of countries which desired and struggled for peace.

    [10] Simitis tours western Attica

    Athens, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis toured the Elefsina region yesterday, making special reference to problems concerning western Attica, adding they are the result of a conservative conception and class discriminations.

    He noted that many problems exist, and said that not all can be resolved but they should be classified in order.

    Mr. Simitis further said the interior ministry is providing credits of 12,000 drachmas per capita (double those of other regions in Attica) and referred to infrastructure projects (Stavros-Elefsina motorway, Schisto motorway, Aigaleo regional motorway, sewage treatment, etc.) and also referred at length to the issues of development, employment and environmental protection. While in the area, he also took the opportunity to comment on European developments, primarily on the prospect of European unification and Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), in the wake of the upcoming Dublin summit.

    Replying to a question on whether joining EMU was beneficial for the country, Mr. Simitis replied it is beneficial in both the economic and political sectors.

    In terms of the economy, he said it would be beneficial because what is beneficial is a strong economy and a strong currency and the absence of inflation, a high cost of living and deficits. Otherwise, he added, there will be instability, an increase in interest rates and an image of retrogression and disaster. It will also be beneficial at a political level, because the country will participate in the nucleus taking important decisions.

    Mr. Simitis said this course will be difficult, but added that the government has the conviction that it is serving the interests of the Greek people and is not motivated by ideological prejudices.

    [11] Gov't to unveil chart of national television frequencies next month

    Athens, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    Transport and Communications Minister Haris Kastanidis announced yesterday that his ministry will unveil a chart of the country's television frequencies on Jan. 15.

    Speaking at a press conference at the Macedonia-Thrace ministry in Thessaloniki, Mr. Kastanidis said television frequencies will be unified for the entire country, adding that the government is committed to "absolutely enforcing" the chart.

    The minister also presented the chart of radio frequencies for Thessaloniki prefecture, saying that 33 such frequencies are anticipated, of which seven will be provided for the state-run network (ERT), while 26 licenses will be granted to area radio stations.

    [12] Best athletes of the year selected by sportswriters

    Athens, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    Greek Olympic gold medallists Pyrros Dimas, Akakios Kakiasvilis, Nikos Kaklamanakis and Yiannis Melissanidis, Olympic silver medallist Niki Bakoyianni and the Panathinaikos basketball team won top positions in the annual referendum conducted by sports writers and organized for the 43rd consecutive year by the Panhellenic Federation of the Sports Press (PSAT).

    The four gold medallists were placed at the top of the ticket by a unanimous decision by the board and with the consent of sportswriters participating in the vote.

    High jumper Niki Bakoyianni was voted the best Greek woman athlete in 1996 with 1,517 votes.

    The Panathinaikos basketball team (this year's European champion) was voted team of the year with 902 votes against 804 for the national waterpolo team, and 800 for the national basketball team.

    A total of 312 professional sportswriters and photographers from around Greece participated in the voting.

    [13] Armed forces leadership to honor Olympic medallists

    Athens, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    Greece's Olympic medallists from the 1996 Atlanta games will be proclaimed armed forces reserves officers at a special ceremony to be held at the Armed Forces Officers Club in downtown Athens on Friday.

    National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos will award the Olympic champions with the Commendation of Merit and Honor medals.

    The event will be attended by the armed forces leadership, government officials and sports representatives.

    [14] 'Express' co-publisher Galaios dies

    Athens, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    Veteran journalist, writer and publisher Spyros N. Galaios has died at the age of 70.

    Galaios was the longtime co-publisher of the daily economic newspaper "Express." A working journalist since 1951, he became a member of the Athens Journalists Union (ESHEA) in 1956 and launched Express in 1962 with a small group of associates.

    He was also involved in the publication and writing of several books and plays.

    A funeral service will take place at the Athens First Cemetery this afternoon.

    [15] Seminar to consider problems faced by repatriated Greeks

    Athens, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    A one-day seminar entitled "Social Exclusion and Repatriation: Goals and Prospects," will be held at the Athens Panteion University of Political Science tomorrow.

    The seminar, organized by the General Secretariat of the Overseas Greeks and Panteion, will consider social marginalization of groups in the Greek society with special characteristics, such as repatriated ethnic Greeks from former Soviet Union countries and Albania, as well as repatriated political refugees.

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Labor Under-secretary Christos Protopapas are expected to address the event.

    The first event of the Greek-Asian Council of Development and Commerce occurred last night in a downtown Athens hotel in the presence Development Under-secretary Mihalis Chrysohoidis, several ambassadors, business leaders and other government officials.

    [16] Evert responds to internal criticism

    Athens, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert appeared displeased yesterday over criticism from intraparty critics, who claimed he is dragging his feet in announcing conditions of the party's congress in the first half of 1997.

    Mr. Evert, who chaired a joint meeting of the political council and executive committee yesterday, according to ANA reports, said that "if there is one who wants to put an end to the pending issue concerning the congress that is I, but it is not possible to have all these things discussed at a time when we have the farmers mobilizations and the budget. I am not prepared to accept accusations which are unfounded and I will call on you after the debate on the budget, on the basis of the Varvitsiotis proposal, to define the way in which the congress will be conducted."

    However, the issue dominating the meeting was the position the party will observe on the budget. ND will only vote in favor of defense expenditures, although it has reservations on certain amounts, and intends to criticize Prime Minister Costas Simitis of unreliability, authoritarianism and a mistaken economic policy and that while he is tough with farmers he is conciliatory towards trade unionists affiliated to his PASOK party.

    On the question of the farmers' protests, ND believes that the main roadblocks remain steadfast and that the farmers will not quit their positions unless their primary claims are satisfied.

    Mr. Evert said the premier is obliged to have a dialogue with the farmers, adding that ND is by their side.

    Former Prime Minister George Rallis was not invited to attend since Mr. Evert is extremely displeased with his attitude and his distancing from the policy he is applying.

    [17] Another wave of illegals smuggled from Turkey apprehended

    Athens, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    Only hours after a Turkish national was sentenced to a prison term by a Rhodes court for attempting to smuggle illegal immigrants into Greece, authorities on Saturday announced the detaining of 39 Iraqis on the islet of Diavates - near the eastern Aegean island of Symi.

    The Iraqis - 18 men, eight women and 13 children - told police that they were dropped off on the islet with a boat embarking from the nearby Turkish mainland.

    Earlier, a Rhodes court on Saturday sentenced Yugzu Zafe, 36, to five years and eight months in prison after finding him guilty of illegally embarking nine Iraqi illegal immigrants on Symi.

    He was also fined 2.3 million drachmas.

    [18] Syrian freighter runs aground off Peloponnese

    Athens, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    A Syrian-flag freighter ran aground at dawn yesterday at Cape Aghia Marina on Elafonissos island off the southern coast of the Peloponnese, and its 11-member crew was safe, Piraeus Harbor Authorities said.

    They said the "Devon Livestock 2", was en route to Romania and was not carrying cargo.

    The crew - two Egyptians, four Romanians and eight Syrians - was picked up by the nearby freighter "Peter Metz" and transferred to a Coast Guard vessel which took them to shore.

    A tugboat was trying to dislodge the "Devon Livestock 2", which had set sail from Libya two days ago.

    A total of 146 illegal immigrants found working on farms in the Kavala prefecture were deported to their countries, authorities said.

    The group was made up of 107 Albanians, 12 Bulgarians, eight Russians and 17 Bangladeshis.

    [19] Venizelos says publishers in the future to decide book prices

    Brussels, 17/12/1996 (ANA - G. Daratos)

    Publishers will determine the price of their books in the future and the price will be the same throughout the country, according to Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who attended the Council of Culture Ministers meeting in Brussels.

    Mr. Venizelos explained that "the single price for a book which we will initiate in Greece (a measure which will be extended at European Union level) should not conflict with the rules of EU competition" (article 85 of the Treaty) and means an end to continuous sales applied by certain bookshops.

    He said the arrangement is taking place on the basis of article 128, Paragraph 4 of the Treaty as well, according to which "the EU takes cultural aspects into consideration when it takes action by virtue of other clauses contained in the present treaty. "

    Mr. Venizelos also briefed his counterparts on programs concerning the Cultural Capital Thessaloniki.

    The ministers responsible for audiovisual means in EU member-states also discussed issues in the field. Greece was represented by Press and Media Minister Dimitris Reppas.

    [20] Christmas bonus deadline announced

    Athens, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    The Christmas bonus must be paid to all working people by Dec. 21, by order of the labor ministry.

    The holiday bonus is equal to a monthly salary for employees paid a salary or 25 daily wages, and applies to all workers having completed one year of tenure at their present employment. Those who have not yet completed this period of work are entitled t o a bonus equal to 2/25 of their salary or two daily wages for every 19-day period of employment.

    The compulsory absence of women from work before and after giving birth is also considered a working period.

    [21] Business group says decrease of inflation, public debt, necessary for '97 economic success

    Athens, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    A reduction in inflation and nominal interest rates combined with a reduction in the public debt, mainly from privatizations whose revenues will reduce the debt, is a key to success for the Greek economy in 1997, according to the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE).

    In a memo on the 1997 budget addressed to the finance ministry's leadership and to political party leaders, ESEE stressed, among others, that the course of the economy requires curtailment of expenditures to decrease public deficits, inflation and inter est rates, as well as to bring the public debt under control.

    [22] Viotia prefecture mentioned as new landfill site

    Athens, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    The prefect and mayors of eastern Attica are reportedly considering the establishment of a new landfill outside Attica prefecture, while at the same time the Ano Liosia municipality is pressing for selection of a new landfill site as soon as possible.

    Specifically, the prefectural council of eastern Attica will convene an extraordinary session on Saturday to discuss the issue, while Grammatiko community president Theodoros Dimitrakis said mobilizations are not necessary.

    Meanwhile, eastern Attica prefect Dimitris Frangos yesterday morning convened a meeting of mayors and community presidents, where he has spoken with his counterpart from Viotia prefecture, Yiannis Stamoulis, who reportedly stated that he does not object to the creation of a new landfill in that prefecture (Ritsona area) on the condition, however, that mayors and community presidents in the region agree. Such consent has not been given so far.

    On his part, Mr. Frangos and the mayors of eastern Attica are invoking a study by the University of Thrace, which did not find any suitable location in eastern Attica and proposed the area of Mavrovouni, Grammatiko only in the event a landfill will have to be created in eastern Attica for other reasons.

    [23] Drilling rights awarded for four regions

    Athens, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    The rights for exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons have been awarded for an equal number of regions to the following four companies and consortiums:

    - Enterprise Oil Ltd. and Union Texas Transnational Ltd. for the northwestern Peloponnese region.

    - Triton International Petroleum Co. for the region of the west Patras Gulf.

    - Triton International Petroleum Co. for the Aitoloakarnania region.

    - Enterprise Oil Ltd. and Union Texas Transnational Ltd. for Epirus.

    The four companies were selected following an international tender for bids by the board of directors of the Hydrocarbons Exploration and Exploitation S.A. (DEP-EKY) and the Public Petroleum Corp. (DEP). According to the terms of the bidding, DEP-EKY will have 12 per cent participation in exploration and exploitation in each of the areas where exploration rights have been awarded.

    In announcing the decision to the press yesterday afternoon, Development Minister Vasso Papandreou said the four consortiums and companies will complete exploration programs in the four regions within the next six to seven years, while the initial investment is estimated at more than US$100 million.

    [24] Credit card use in Greece skyrockets

    Athens, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    Residents in Greece use credit cards at every opportunity, according to figures provided by the Consumers Institute (INKA).

    According to INKA, continuous promotion aimed at consumers to resort to modern forms of loans contributes to this trend, without however, a full awareness of the dangers of economic deadlocks being presented.

    At present, more than 1.15 million credit cards are in circulation, through which about 12-17 billion drachmas a month is loaned. The average charge for every credit card is 140,000 drachmas.

    Clothes and super markets each account for 18 per cent of credit card purchases, followed by jewelry with 6 per cent, electrical appliances at 5 per cent, petrol stations at 4 per cent, department stores 4 per cent and traveling, 3 per cent.

    [25] Athens bourse to introduce new index

    Athens, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) will introduce a new index next year, following an agreement signed between the ASE and FTSE International, it was announced on Friday.

    The new real time index will be designed by FTSE and calculated by the ASE. Called the FTSE-ASE index, it will be designed to create a basket of stocks representative of the performance of the ASE and suitable for supporting derivative trading. The inde x will seek to capture approximately 60-70 per cent of the available market capitalization of the market and will consist of approximately 20-25 companies.

    FTSE International is a private limited company owned jointly by the Financial Times Ltd. and London Stock Exchange, set up in 1995 to manage and develop the owners' stock and bond index products.

    [26] Hellenic Cultural Foundation focuses on International Data Base

    Athens, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    The Hellenic Cultural Foundation has undertaken an initiative to coordinate the Greek section of the International Data Base, it was announced yesterday.

    The International Data Base (IDB) was begun at the initiative of the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and aims at building an international database of books, newspapers, scientific articles, historic archives, newspapers, magazines, films, as well as political, and social and cultural events.

    A seminar held in Athens last week with the participation of IDB President Deanna Marcum, university professors from the United States and Greece, government officials and representatives from the National Book Center, the Athens Concert Hall and Parliament's Library focused on Greece's active involvement in promoting the political, culture and historic content of the Greek department of the IDB.

    [27] Thessaloniki to show off Byzantine legacy in 1997

    Athens, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

    Greece's second city has been delving into its rich cultural history, spanning more than 2,000 years, to come up with some rare gems for its year as Europe's cultural capital in 1997. An unprecedented exhibition of Byzantine art from the nearby all-male monastic community of Mount Athos, where women are forbidden, is expected to draw more than a million visitors.

    "After two years of preparation, the treasures of our Byzantine tradition, which has been kept alive for centuries, will be displayed for the first time outside Mount Athos," Thessaloniki Mayor Constantine Kosmopoulos told reporters. A total of 589 item s, ranging from gold-leaf icons to rare manuscripts, will be sent from the Byzantine monasteries dotting the Athos peninsula to be shown at the new Byzantine museum from June.

    Thessaloniki, founded in 316 BC and named after Alexander the Great's sister Thessalonikieia, is determined to show off both its unique roots and its new air as a vibrant university city.

    "We want to project Greek culture as continuing to the present, not a relic of the past," said Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos while hosting a tour of the city.

    Events will range from ancient Greek drama to plays by Jean Cocteau and Samuel Beckett; from modern jazz to Puccini's La Boheme and Verdi's Il Trovatore.

    Exhibitions span the work of Caravaggio to sculptures by the surrealist Max Ernst and a retrospective of Hans Arp; from engravings by Goya to contemporary Yugoslav art. "We want to promote Greece through a festival of ideas, not by projecting a silly chauvinism," Panos Theodoridis, the cultural capital's artistic director, told reporters.

    Mr. Theodoridis' vision pays tribute to the medley of religions and ethnic groups that have left their mark on the waterfront city, where St. Paul preached in 50AD.

    "We remember and pay tribute to the historic communities of the Armenians and the Jews, who, along with the traditional communities of the Moslems and Christians, helped the city reach its peak," he said.

    Dotted with Byzantine churches, Ottoman mosques and bath houses, the city became part of Greece in 1913 during the Balkan wars. Its streets combine the charm of an eastern marketplace with the grey solemnity of a western industrial hub.

    Part of the Roman and Byzantine empires, Thessaloniki was ruled at times by Saracens, Crusaders and Venetians until it fell to the Ottoman Turks.

    It is the birthplace of Cyril and Methodius, who converted the Slavs to Christianity in the 800s as well as Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.

    Thessaloniki got its major economic and cultural boost after the settlement of 20,000 Jews expelled from Spain and Portugal in 1492. The Nazis sent 50,000 Jews from the city known as the Second Jerusalem to the death camps. About 2,000 Jews live here to day.

    About 30 European and Middle East countries are sending artists to perform next year. The United States, Canada, Australia and Japan are also participating.

    Thessaloniki fears the year might be such a success that it could have difficulty putting up a huge number of visitors.

    "Thessaloniki does have a problem with hotels," Mr. Venizelos said. "That's why we made arrangements to have cruise ships docked at the port to cover any such needs."

    End of English language section.


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