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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 96-12-24

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 1074), December 24, 1996

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


CONTENTS

  • [01] Simitis meets with farmers' reps, agricultural policy to be considered by new council
  • [02] Gov't spokesman
  • [03] Opposition
  • [04] Shares of Bank of Attica sold to pension funds
  • [05] Ecclesiastical leaders issue Christmas messages
  • [06] Iran offers to mediate between Greece and Turkey
  • [07] Greece unaware of Iranian mediation proposal
  • [08] Stephanopoulos satisfied with official visit to Egypt
  • [09] Navy inquiry assigns blame to ensign, ferry boat captain for Kostakos' sinking
  • [10] Ombudsman position discussed in cabinet meeting
  • [11] Souflias unhappy with preparations for ND congress
  • [12] EOT circulates album on ancient theaters
  • [13] Handicraftsmen warn of dire future if tourism continues to slip
  • [14] PASOK political secretariat held
  • [15] National defense under-secretary visits Evros checkpoints
  • [16] Record holder to participate in '97 Athletics Championship
  • [17] Four Iraqis suspected of involvement in stolen passport ring
  • [18] Illegal immigrants arrested
  • [19] Important Notice: New ANA Services
  • [20] Interest rate on treasury bills after Jan. 1 to be given in advance
  • [21] New state bond issue announced
  • [22] Labor ministry sets ceiling on dismissals
  • [23] Treasury bill interest rates slip
  • [24] Notice:

  • [01] Simitis meets with farmers' reps, agricultural policy to be considered by new council

    Athens, 24/12/1996 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis and representatives of farmers' unions agreed at a meeting yesterday to commence dialogue on Greek agriculture's structural problems, which will be considered at a newly established "national agricultural policy council".

    The council is scheduled to convene on Jan. 10 and 11.

    According to reports, the prime minister will chair the inaugural session of the council, where he is likely to announce the re-scheduling of agricultural debts so that deliberations of the council are restricted to institutional matters that exclude financial issues.

    Given representatives' agreement that priority must be placed on the creation of appropriate infrastructures, Mr. Simitis said any increase in farmers' real incomes would come about from structural changes and not increased subsidies.

    On his part, Mr. Simitis stressed that the government and farmers must move away from a mentality dominating the past decade, where he said emphasis was placed on income supports. He also made special reference to the need for standardization and improvement in the quality of produce. Priority will also be given to the drafting of a farmers' register, which Mr. Simitis said should be ready by September 1997.

    Additionally, Mr. Simitis later told the Macedonia-Thrace Farmers' Coordinating Committee during another meeting that there was no possibility whatsoever of granting direct income supports to producers, but that the government would exhaust all possibilities for compensation due to recent poor weather.

    "Our intention is to carve out all the basic parameters and options of a national agricultural policy, which will secure directly and on a long-term basis the competitiveness of the agricultural economy, farmers' incomes, better insurance as well as the protection and welfare of the farming class," he stressed.

    The committee raised a number of issues, among others, a readjustment in debts and a reduction in Value Added Tax, etc.

    [02] Gov't spokesman

    Athens, 24/12/1996 (ANA)

    Earlier, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the government would do everything possible to find solutions to farmers' problems within the existing economic policy, while he expressed satisfaction at the normalization of the situation following protesting farmers' decision on Sunday to suspend mobilizations and lift the blockades.

    "The government is satisfied because a sense of realism, prudence and responsibility has prevailed," he noted.

    Commenting on Mr. Simitis' meeting with the leadership of the three main agricultural groups, Mr. Reppas said a new round of systematic dialogue will officially commence on Jan. 10, when the prime minister will announce the government's agricultural policy at the council meeting.

    Stressing the need for understanding, Mr. Reppas said the government has and continues to show good intentions for the finding of a "common language" based on the axis of existing policy.

    Greece started moving again on Sunday as the last of the roadblocks on the nation's highways and rail links were lifted by protesting farmers, ending a 24-day protest that had brought the country to a virtual standstill and dealt a crippling blow to the economy.

    [03] Opposition

    Athens, 24/12/1996 (ANA)

    In response, the main opposition New Democracy party expressed its hope that institutional dialogue initiated between government and farmers evolves into a sincere effort for finding an effective solution for problems in agriculture in a spirit of consensus.

    ND accused Premier Simitis of showing "autocratic behavior" during the recent farmers' mobilizations, which the main opposition claimed proved futile both for himself and for the country.

    Meanwhile, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said both the farmers' and seamen's struggles "have been justified in the Greek people's conscience," claiming that the government was defeated politically and ethically.

    KKE also foresees further mobilizations.

    The party's political bureau stated that farmers' protests showed that the government is "dangerous" for the nation.

    [04] Shares of Bank of Attica sold to pension funds

    Athens, 24/12/1996 (ANA)

    The Commercial Bank group has transferred 34 per cent of the Bank of Attica's shares to the Public Works Engineers and Contractors Fund (TSMEDE) for 6.46 billion drachmas and 15.5 per cent to the Deposits and Loans Fund (TPD) for 2.94 billion drachmas.

    The agreement, approved by the boards of Commercial Bank, TSMEDE and TPD, leaves Commercial Bank with about 20 per cent of the Bank of Attica's shares as well as the management for five years.

    Commenting on the sale, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said the first denationalization of a bank in the wider public sector has been successfully concluded.

    [05] Ecclesiastical leaders issue Christmas messages

    Athens, 24/12/1996 (ANA)

    In a Christmas message, Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos refers to the role and the bond between the Fanar and the "cradle of Christ."

    Patriarch Vartholomeos says that there is an "internal relation" between the noiseless blessing of Orthodox theology by the Fanar to the universe and the light shining from the cave of his birth, adding that he means the universality of the Patriarchate in serving the truth of the Church and the freedom of man in the name of Christ.

    In a similar message, Archbishop of Athens and all Greece Serapheim speaks of peace, divine goodwill and the grace Christ brings to the world with his birth.

    Archbishop Serapheim said the heavenly hymn of Christmas instills in our life the spiritual happiness, hope, consolation, love and mercy of God, adding that with the birth of Christ a new age is rising, a new sun, the sun of justice, goodwill, hope and love.

    The Archbishop of Tirana and all Albania Anastasios refers in his message to human rights, an issue which he says is very topical, adding that all the fundamental rights of man, equality and dignity, are established, balanced and harmonized more steadfastly in the Christian perspective.

    [06] Iran offers to mediate between Greece and Turkey

    Dubai, 24/12/1996 (Reuter/ANA)

    Turkey has welcomed mediation proposals by Iran to settle Turkey's disputes with Greece and Syria and Tehran will send a delegation to Athens in the near future, Iran's Foreign Minister Alik Akbar Velayati said.

    Mr. Velayati made his comments to reporters in Tehran, the official Iranian news agency IRNA said late on Sunday.

    "...Velayati said... that Ankara has welcomed Iran's mediation proposal to settle Turkey's disputes with Greece and Syria... He said practical steps will be taken in this regard in a near future," IRNA said.

    "Tehran will launch new efforts with the consent of Turkey, Greece and Syria, said Velayati adding, that delegations will be dispatched to Athens in the near future to discuss with Greek officials on settlement of Greece-Turkey disputes," IRNA added.

    Mr. Velayati said Iran would discuss its mediation efforts with Syrian Vice-President Abdul-Halim Khaddam who is due to visit Iran in January.

    Turkey and Syria have long been at odds over Syria's alleged support for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebel group and sharing the waters of the Euphrates River. Earlier this year they accused each other of moving troops towards their border.

    A Turkish military accord with Israel has also aggravated the row with Damascus.

    [07] Greece unaware of Iranian mediation proposal

    Athens, 24/12/1996 (ANA)

    Greece said yesterday that it was unaware of any specific intention on the part of Iran to mediate between Athens and Ankara.

    "If a delegation from Iran wants to visit Athens, Greece will listen to its views because there is no reason to reject any effort before the fact," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

    Mr. Reppas was responding to questions regarding reports that Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati would send a delegation to Athens in the near future to mediate in disputes with Turkey.

    The reports, carried by the official Iranian news agency IRNA on Sunday, said Turkey had welcomed the mediation proposal.

    "On the basis of our positions we are open to seeing what each initiative is," Mr. Reppas added.

    [08] Stephanopoulos satisfied with official visit to Egypt

    Athens, 24/12/1996 (ANA)

    Speaking to reporters during his flight back to Athens at the end of a four-day official visit to Egypt yesterday, President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos said he was satisfied with the results of his visit to that nation.

    During the visit, Mr. Stephanopoulos held talks with his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak on the Palestinian problem and on Greek national issues.

    Yesterday morning, before leaving for Athens where he arrived last night, President Stephanopoulos was given a guided tour of Luxor, the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, Luxor's cathedral and the city's museum. In response to press questions, Mr. Stephanopoulos said his relations with the government are harmonious.

    He added that there were certain misunderstandings (of statements he made over the past few weeks) due to certain press reports, stressing that he does not wish to place responsibilities on anyone over the distortion of his statements. The president also said he did not have the intention of expressing a view which was contrary to that of the government.

    [09] Navy inquiry assigns blame to ensign, ferry boat captain for Kostakos' sinking

    Athens, 24/12/1996 (ANA)

    A Hellenic Navy inquiry into the ramming and sinking of the missile boat "Kostakos" in early November has revealed serious omissions on the part of both the Kostakos' crew and the crew of the ferry boat "Samaina" which rammed the missile boat.

    Four Kostakos crewmen lost their lives in the accident.

    The report, which was released yesterday, was compiled by a naval committee of experts.

    The Kostakos was taking part in the "Parmenion" military exercise when it was rammed by the Samaina off the coast of Samos in the eastern Aegean.

    According to the report, ensign Mihalis Dimoulkas left his post on the bridge of the missile boat, thus losing visual contact with the Samaina. The report states that ensign Dimoulkas acted on the conviction that the Samaina was sailing at a "safe distance."

    Having left his post, the report maintains, he was not in a position to realize that the Samaina had changed course, and therefore, did not take the necessary steps in order to prevent the accident.

    The report also blamed the Samaina for ineffective use of its radar system, and Samaina captain Matheos Pnevmatikakis for ineffective use of navigational instruments and for excessive speed.

    [10] Ombudsman position discussed in cabinet meeting

    Athens, 24/12/1996 (ANA)

    Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Alekos Papadopoulos said yesterday afternoon that institution of a public administration commissioner or ombudsman, would lead the nation's public administration "out of a state of inertia."

    Mr. Papadopoulos made the announcement after a two-hour cabinet meeting focusing on the responsibilities of the ombudsman - to be selected by Parliament - who will operate as an independent authority in arbitrating problems between citizens and the state.

    "We are probably the last of the Mohicans regarding the establishment of the institution," Mr. Papadopoulos said.

    There is an ombudsman in 75 nations, including 27 in Europe.

    [11] Souflias unhappy with preparations for ND congress

    Athens, 24/12/1996 (ANA)

    Former New Democracy minister and leadership contender George Souflias yesterday expressed displeasure with the way the party's congress early next year was being prepared.

    Mr. Souflias indicated that he might not stand as a candidate for the leadership post, because "in a congress that is not honest and representative, any candidacy is meaningless". He also accused ND leader Miltiades Evert of not honoring agreed procedures.

    Meanwhile, sources said that ND honorary president and former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis is also unhappy with developments in the party, and has let it be understood that he will not attend a congress which he believes will not be honest and representative.

    [12] EOT circulates album on ancient theaters

    Athens, 24/12/1996 (ANA)

    The Greek Tourist Organization (EOT) has unveiled an annual album entitled "Hellas '97", dedicated to Greece's cultural heritage, and ancient theaters in particular.

    The album, which circulated with 150,000 copies in eight languages - Greek, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, and for the first time Russian - includes 55 ancient theaters throughout the country, the majority of whom host performances over the summer season.

    [13] Handicraftsmen warn of dire future if tourism continues to slip

    Athens, 24/12/1996 (ANA)

    The Union of Popular Art Handicraftsmen of Attica is sounding the alarm over the viability of traditional popular art workshops.

    An announcement by the union said the manufacturers of popular art items have experienced the worst year over the past 20 years, with a 40 per cent decrease in turnover and the direct result of many workshops closing down.

    The branch attributes the ominous messages to a considerable decrease in the number of tourists who visited Greece in 1996, stressing that the viability of popular art workshops depends directly on tourism.

    [14] PASOK political secretariat held

    Athens, 24/12/1996 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday chaired a PASOK political secretariat session, which discussed the party's political planning for the first half of next year.

    After the meeting, central committee Secretary Costas Skandalidis categorically denied reports alleging he was thinking of resigning, saying, "there has been neither intention, nor thought, nor discussion on this topic".

    [15] National defense under-secretary visits Evros checkpoints

    Athens, 24/12/1996 (ANA)

    National Defense Under-secretary Dimitris Apostolakis toured military checkpoints yesterday in the Evros prefecture on the occasion of the Christmas holidays.

    Mr. Apostolakis, accompanied by the commander of the Fourth Army Corps, Lt. Gen. Dimitris Dimou, visited checkpoints in Kipoi, Soufli and Orestiada, where he gave gifts and talked to servicemen.

    He conveyed the personal interest of both the premier and the government to the military, adding that it is manifested with both positive interventions in the armed forces' salary scale and with approval of a newly upgraded armaments program.

    [16] Record holder to participate in '97 Athletics Championship

    Athens, 24/12/1996 (ANA)

    Noted Russian athlete Svetlana Masterkova, who distinguished herself in the Atlanta Olympiad last summer, will participate in the World Athletics Championships Athens '97.

    The 28-year-old Olympic gold medallist in the 800 and 1,500 meters, and world record holder in the 1,000 meters and the mile, assured members of the organizing committee of her participation in the 1997 championships.

    "My target is the gold medal in the 800 meters, and the possibility of taking a shot at the world record cannot be ruled out," she said, adding that she will not have the opportunity of repeating her double success in Atlanta since the time that the two events will take place does not suit her intentions, unless the program changes and the 800 meters race occurs before the 1,500 competition.

    [17] Four Iraqis suspected of involvement in stolen passport ring

    Athens, 24/12/1996 (ANA)

    A Serres prosecutor has requested the immediate deportation of four Iraqis believed to be members of an international ring dealing in stolen passports.

    The four - identified as Aziz Mohamed, 28, Hussein Simpik, 33, Hamid Siad, 28 and Rashind Halil, 34 - were arrested by police and customs officials at the Greek-Bulgarian border after being found in possession of stolen passports.

    The four are also wanted by Interpol regarding the theft of 100-150 passports from public services and travel agents in Belgium in 1993.

    [18] Illegal immigrants arrested

    Athens, 24/12/1996 (ANA)

    Port authorities on the island of Symi yesterday arrested 10 Iraqi immigrants.

    The nine men and one woman told police they had paid a Turk $2,000 each to bring them to Greece in his vessel.

    Two Bulgarian citizens of Turkish origin were arrested also yesterday in the mountainous region of Drama by an army patrol.

    The two Bulgarians were identified as Murat Chavdarov, 55, and Malin Charkinov 19.

    Police later said the two had repeatedly entered Greece in the past through the Greek-Bulgarian border and had raided houses in the small villages of the Greek mountainous region.

    [19] Important Notice: New ANA Services

    Athens, 24/12/1996 (ANA)

    Following the conversion of the Athens News Agency (ANA) into a Sociiti Anonyme (A.E.) which rendered it an independent organization, the ANA will from now on welcome professional half-page or full-page advertisements in its daily English and French Bulletin.

    Advertisements will be accepted from embassies, banks, commercial and maritime companies, chambers of commerce, advertising companies, airlines, organizations, professional associations, educational and research institutions in Greece and abroad as well as international bodies.

    Also, for a small fee, the above groups may channel their Press Releases (PRs), announcements or photographs - in Greek, English or French - to the ANA's more than 100 media subscribers throughout Greece and Cyprus via the recently introduced ANA on-line PR's service.

    For details on and arrangements for the advertising and/or PRs on-line service, please contact the ANA Marketing Department, tel: 6400580, fax: 6400024 between 10:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

    [20] Interest rate on treasury bills after Jan. 1 to be given in advance

    Athens, 24/12/1996 (ANA)

    The 7.5 per cent interest rate on state treasury bills to be issued as of January 1, 1997, onwards will be received in advance. This means a buyer will have to pay the value of securities he will buy, plus the amount of tax corresponding to interest, according to a document issued by Finance Under-secretary George Drys.

    The document explains that the advance receipt of the 7.5 per cent tax will take place irrespective of whether the investor is a private individual or a legal entity, a union of people or property group, a local resident or a foreigner, without nationality or place of stay or residence or headquarters being examined and regardless of whether a bilateral agreement exists on the avoidance of double taxation.

    Moreover, interest stemming from treasury bills issued in 1996 and maturing in 1997 remains tax-free. However, the 7.5 per cent tax on treasury bills which will be renewed as of January 1, 1997, onwards will be received in advance.

    On the question of treasury bills maturing as of January 1, 1997 onwards and are silently renewed, the withholding of tax corresponding to interest resulting over the period which the renewal will last will take place at the time of their paying off.

    Regarding state bonds, it was explained that tax will be withheld at the time interest shares are cashed and always concerning issues made after January 1, 1997.

    Concerning bonds issued until December 31, 1996, interest is not subject to taxation throughout their entire duration and until the time of their maturity.

    Lastly, in the cases of both treasury bills and bonds the beneficiaries' tax commitment for this income is exhausted with the advance payment or withholding of the 7.5 per cent tax.

    [21] New state bond issue announced

    Athens, 24/12/1996 (ANA)

    Tendering will take place at the Bank of Greece on December 27 for the sale of state bonds in drachmas, in the form of natural and electronic titles, and with a fluctuating interest rate, a seven-year duration and a date of issue showing December 31, 1996 .

    The issue amounts to 200 billion drachmas. The interest rate for the bonds is set for the first interest-bearing period (31.12.96 to 31.12.97) at 12.60 per cent, namely equal to the base interest rate of 11.20 per cent plus a fixed marging of 1.40 per cent over the entire duration of the loan.

    Tendering will also take place at the Bank of Greece on December 27 for the sale of Greek state bonds in drachmas, in the form of natural and electronic titles with a stable interest rate, a three-year duration and a date of issue showing December 31, 1 996.

    The interest rate for these bonds is set at 10.70 per cent and the offering is estimated at 100 billion drachmas.

    [22] Labor ministry sets ceiling on dismissals

    Athens, 24/12/1996 (ANA)

    Labor and Social Security Minister Miltiades Papaioannou has set a ceiling of 2 per cent and a maximum of 30 people in staff dismissals permitted every month for enterprises employing more than 50 individuals.

    The labor ministry explained that dismissals over this limit are considered mass firings. The order concerns the first half of 1997.

    [23] Treasury bill interest rates slip

    Athens, 24/12/1996 (ANA)

    The finance ministry announced that as of yesterday, Dec. 23, new interest rates have been set for treasury bills. Specifically, 10.2 per cent for three months, 10.50 per cent for six months and 11.2 per cent for one year.

    It was also announced that the New York-based Moody's credit ratings assessment firm has upgraded Greece's credit rating.

    This boost strengthens the country's reliability in capital markets and will considerably help in a further decrease in the cost of lending, the finance ministry's announcement stated.

    [24] Notice:

    The "Bulletin" will not be published on Wednesday and Thursday. It will again circulate on Friday. The Bulletin's staff wish readers a Merry Christmas.

    End of English language section.


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