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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-02-05

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 1408), February 5, 1998

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


CONTENTS

  • [01] ND crisis deepens after expulsions finalized
  • [02] ... Reactions
  • [03] Greek Parliament delegation concludes visit to Sofia
  • [04] Kranidiotis meets with British leadership
  • [05] Simitis backs Pangalos' remarks on The Hague solution for Ankara
  • [06] ... Comments on Imia
  • [07] ... No request on assistance regarding Iraq
  • [08] Meeting of defense ministers in FYROM postponed
  • [09] Resolution for Kurds' political asylum
  • [10] Pangalos off on tour of Central America
  • [11] Turkish diplomat thanks merchant marine for efforts
  • [12] Athens 2004 organizing committee presented at Nagano Games
  • [13] Conference of Greek, Turkish journalists
  • [14] Political parties' funding
  • [15] Improved protection for Akrotiri site on Santorini
  • [16] Prince Charles to be patron of British Archaeology School
  • [17] School program targets rising incidence of gum disease
  • [18] Farmers block nat'l highway for one hour
  • [19] ... Fishermen to block port
  • [20] ... Court appeal
  • [21] Greek, Italian officials focus on euro
  • [22] OECD industry committee convenes in Paris
  • [23] Rising interest rates hit Greek stocks
  • [24] Transport ministry to hire private consultants
  • [25] Greece acts to improve merchant marine education system
  • [26] Finance ministry's measures to facilitate taxpayers
  • [27] Macedonia-Thrace Bank staff begin 48-hour strike
  • [28] Gov't promises bill on compound interest issue
  • [29] Petrol prices rise
  • [30] Industrial transformation bureau in Xanthi

  • [01] ND crisis deepens after expulsions finalized

    Athens, 05/02/1998 (ANA)

    A crisis within the ranks of the main opposition New Democracy party, prompted by an ND disciplinary council decision to expel three senior deputies and suspend another three, deepened yesterday after the first three were removed from the party's Parliamentary group while the others were suspended for a year.

    ND leader Costas Karamanlis finalized the expulsions and the suspensions from ND's Parliamentary group in a letter to Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.

    The six deputies had abstained from a parliamentary vote on a controversial amendment regarding labor relations in public sector enterprises and utilities (DEKOs), disregarding the party line of voting against the amendment.

    "With their stance, they effectively placed themselves outside the party," Mr. Karamanlis said after a roll-call vote early Tuesday night.

    ND's disciplinary council was urgently convened on Tuesday by Mr. Karamanlis, and early yesterday decided on the expulsion of George Souflias, Stephanos Manos and Vassilis Kontoyiannopoulos from the party, and a one-year suspension for Petros Tatoulis, Nikos Kakkalos and Anastasis Papaligouras. It took no disciplinary action against a seventh deputy, George Panayotopoulos, who did not show up for the parliamentary session due to illness.

    Mr. Souflias, 56, who held several ministerial posts under various ND governments, including the national economy, tourism and education portfolios, had contested the party leadership at ND's last congress last March.

    Mr. Manos, 59, also held several ministerial posts, including the national economy, finance, industry and energy, and town planning and environment portfolios. He had initially contested the party's leadership, but eventually threw his support behind Mr. Souflias.

    Mr. Kontoyiannopoulos, 55, a former education minister, had also supported Mr. Souflias' candidacy. All three abstained from the vote, while Mr. Tatoulis and Mr. Kakkalos walked out of the vote and Mr. Papaligouras did not show up. Mr. Tatoulis, Mr. Kakkalos and Mr. Papaligouras had also supported the Souflias candidacy.

    Mr. Panayotopoulos, 68, who had served in the past as minister of transport and minister of commerce, had backed Mr. Karamanlis' candidacy.

    In statements yesterday the three expelled deputies harshly criticized the decision, while there was speculation on the prospects for the founding of a new political formation, fueled by Mr. Souflias' unclear reference to "the other party".

    Mr. Souflias described the decision as not in tune with the party's charter, as politically unacceptable and morally impermissible, winding up a series of pre-determined decisions by a small group which arbitrarily replaced established organs and procedures.

    "New Democracy supporters are watching with surprise this group which, with ample imprudence, is creating another party as it suits them," he said.

    He added, however, that he would fight on, as always, for the good of the party and its victory.

    Mr. Manos also said the decision was in contradiction of the party charter, unjustifiable and above all unfair.

    He said he expected that the decision will not be devoid of benefits.

    "Those who expelled us knocked down the party's barrier of unity... The damage will be repaired one way or another. It's a long way away and much effort will be required," he said.

    Mr. Kontoyiannopoulos did not rule out the establishment of a new party and his participation, when questioned.

    He said the decision to expel him shows the weakness of the party's leadership in responding to the challenges of tomorrow which cannot be pursued through inertia and confusion. He also noted he was a founding member of the party, and had served as minister in all governments the party had formed.

    "No one can write-off my contribution. I am a part of the great liberal side, and I am not saying good-bye to its supporters, we are forging ahead even stronger".

    He ended by saying that New Democracy had to back any hesitant steps the government made and press it to make even bolder ones.

    Commenting on the expulsions and suspensions, ND honorary president and former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis said "a small group of would-be guardians prepared and executed persecutions in a manner alien to our democratic party. The great progressive party of the 47 per cent should not and will not be shrunken to the limits of that small group. I want to believe that the new party leader, whom no one has undermined nor disputed, will comprehend this reality".

    Former prime minister George Rallis also expressed disapproval, regretting the fact, as he said, that the leadership of the party had led it to a rift.

    He noted that the controversial amendment had been in the right direction.

    [02] ... Reactions

    Athens, 05/02/1998 (ANA)

    Commenting on the developments in ND, government spokesman Demetris Reppas ruled out the possibility of the Greek political scene becoming like that of Italy, with major political parties splintering into smaller ones.

    The spokesman said ND was the victim of its "anachronistic and old-style party past" and attributed what he described as the "fluidity" within its ranks to the vagueness of its policy and the weakness of its program.

    Asked whether the government was in contact with the expelled deputies, Mr. Reppas said the government was not interested if they held views close to certain government positions.

    "The government does not intend to send any message to them, nor to take any initiative for consultations with them," he added.

    Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said "no one should be glad for what is happening in New Democracy today. It is regrettable. Disagreements within parties should be treated with democratic means".

    Communist Party of Greece Secretary General Aleka Papariga said the expulsions from ND and the situation in PASOK has given rise to a free debate on the immediate future of the country's political future.

    She added her party was looking forward to a broad front of communists and non-communists with a view to effecting substantial changes, beginning with this autumn's municipal elections.

    The Coalition of the Left press office predicted broader realignments in the country's political map.

    "The model of the two party system cannot express the processes and quests taking place in society and political life today. With a background of intensifying social unrest, the need for changes in political life and system is strengthened," the statement read.

    Political Spring (Pol.An) party spokesman Akis Gerontopoulos said the latest developments confirmed the view that internal party differences were greater than those between parties.

    [03] Greek Parliament delegation concludes visit to Sofia

    Sofia, 05/02/1998 (ANA - B. Borisov)

    Members of a delegation of Parliament's foreign affairs committee said at the end of a visit here yesterday they were convinced that both the Bulgarian Parliament and the government had a strong desire to further develop bilateral relations with Greece.

    In statements to the ANA in Sofia at the end of a three-day visit, the head of the delegation and chairman of the committee, Lefteris Veryvakis, said its members were leaving Bulgaria "completely satisfied".

    He was speaking after talks with Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov.

    During talks, Mr. Veryvakis reiterated Greek support for Bulgaria's bid to join the European Union and NATO.

    Mr. Veryvakis also announced an agreement providing for regular meetings every six months between Greek and Bulgarian deputies as part of efforts to upgrade co-operation between the parliaments of the two countries, particularly in the areas of security and defense.

    [04] Kranidiotis meets with British leadership

    London, 05/02/1998 (ANA)

    Foreign Under-secretary Yiannos Kranidiotis paid a one-day visit to London yesterday at the invitation of Sir David Hannay, the special representative of the European Union's presidency on the Cyprus issue and the personal envoy of British P rime Minister Tony Blair on Euro-Turkish relations.

    Mr. Kranidiotis also met Under-secretary of State for European Affairs Doug Henderson and the British Foreign Ministry's political director Mr. Greenstock.

    His talks focused on Cyprus' accession course to the EU, the formula for the Turkish Cypriots' participation in the delegation to conduct accession negotiations and developments in relations between the EU and Turkey, also in light of Sir Hannay's recent meeting in Ankara with Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz.

    According to reports, the British officials expressed their interest to Mr. Kranidiotis on the proposal the government of Cyprus will submit for the Turkish Cypriots' participation in the group to conduct accession negotiations. However, they do not raise this issue as a precondition for their start.

    The British officials conveyed the assessment to Mr. Kranidiotis that Turkey will not accept the invitation to participate in the European Conference and briefed him on the British presidency's intention to convene an EU-Turkey association council in May.

    [05] Simitis backs Pangalos' remarks on The Hague solution for Ankara

    Athens, 05/02/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis last night backed Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos' recent statements calling on Ankara to take recourse to the International Court of Justice at The Hague on any claims it had vis-a-vis Greece.

    Speaking in Parliament, the premier said that in 1993, when Greece accepted the general jurisdiction of the International Court - with reservations on defense and security issues - it had also approved of the Court's rules.

    Mr. Pangalos had made the statements to the Turkish daily "Milliyet".

    Mr. Simitis further said the government had been observing this new reality since then.

    He added that Greece was calling on Turkey to embrace the same principles of international practice, and to work on its foreign relations in accordance with international law.

    According to the prime minister, acceptance by Greece of the jurisdiction of the International Court was an exceptionally important fact, which further "buffered our proposal for a step-by-step rapprochement.

    "There is no change in our policy," he said.

    [06] ... Comments on Imia

    Washington, 05/02/1998 (ANA - A. Ellis)

    A US official, who has first-hand knowledge of the Imia crisis, yesterday said that "during the difficult hours of the crisis at Imia/Kardak the actions of the political leaderships in both countries were directed by their national interests."

    On his part, US State Department spokesman Jim Foley stated that "we followed the events very closely at that time in 1996, and we were in close contact with the two governments in order to help defuse a volatile situation and prevent the outbreak of violence."

    [07] ... No request on assistance regarding Iraq

    Athens, 05/02/1998 (ANA)

    Meanwhile, the government said yesterday that Assistant US Secretary of State for European Affairs, Mark Grossman, had not requested Greek assistance in any military operations which may be carried out against Iraq.

    Government spokesman Demetris Reppas said Greece was in favor of the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions, was opposed to the use of weapons of mass destruction and desired a peaceful solution to the crisis.

    Mr. Grossman had talks here on Monday with National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, who stressed that all diplomatic efforts must be exhausted for a peaceful settlement of the Iraq problem.

    [08] Meeting of defense ministers in FYROM postponed

    Skopje, 05/02/1998 (ANA - M. Vihou)

    A meeting between the defense ministers of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Greece, Albania and Bulgaria has been postponed, at least temporarily.

    The meeting was initially scheduled to take place in the town of Ohrid in FYROM on Feb. 7-8 and afterwards on Feb. 14.

    The relevant development was announced yesterday by the spokesman of the FYROM defense ministry, which said that "a reply had not yet been received from the Bulgarian defense ministry, which complicated activities on organizing the ministerial meeting."

    Positive replies had been given by Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and his Albanian counterpart Sabin Brokaj, while Bulgarian Defense Minister Georgi Ananiev had not given a reply until yesterday.

    Press circles in Skopje attribute this primarily to a recent worsening in relations between Sofia and Skopje and also due to the postponement of Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov's visit to FYROM in April.

    According to the announcement by the FYROM defense ministry, the meeting was aimed at implementing an open dialogue between neighboring countries with the purpose of exchanging views on such issues as the illegal crossing of borders, weapons smuggling, international terrorism and organized crime, as well as better relations between countries in southeastern Europe, in the spirit of the meetings held in Madrid and Sofia.

    [09] Resolution for Kurds' political asylum

    Athens, 05/02/1998 (ANA)

    A group of organizations and groups yesterday presented a resolution calling for the granting of political asylum to Kurdish refugees in Greece.

    The resolution noted that the Kurds are forced to flee for political and not economic reasons, thus the granting of work permits does not constitute a solution.

    The General Confederation of Workers of Greece, the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council and the Athens Bar Association signed the resolution, among others.

    [10] Pangalos off on tour of Central America

    Athens, 05/02/1998 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos left yesterday on a 10-day tour of Central American countries to promote Greece's candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the United Nation's Security Council for the 1999-2000 period as well as to promote bilateral relations.

    Mr. Pangalos will visit Bermuda, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, and Barbados and the west African country of Senegal before returning to Athens on Feb. 14.

    Mr. Pangalos was to arrive in Bermuda yesterday after a brief refueling stopover in Portugal, before going on to Mexico City on Thursday.

    On Friday, Mr. Pangalos will hold separate meetings with Mexican Trade and Commerce Minister Heminio Blanco, Foreign Minister Rosario Green and chairman of the Mexican Congressional Committee on Foreign Relations, Fernando Solana Morales. He will also be received by President Ernesto Zedillo, while in the afternoon Mr. Pangalos and Ms Green will sign a memorandum of political consultations and attend the signing of the final act of the third conference of the Joint Greece-Mexico Educational and Cultural Committee.

    Mr. Pangalos will spend the weekend in Mexico on a private itinerary, including visits to archaeological sites and museums, before traveling to Costa Rica on Monday where he will told talks with Foreign Minister Dr. Fernando Naranjo Villalobos.

    On Tuesday, Feb. 10, he will meet his Nicaraguan counterpart Emilio Alvarez Montalvan before attending the ninth EU-San Jose ministerial conference, comprising representatives from the EU member-states, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, El Salvad or and Colombia, a conference which aims at closer co-operation between the EU and Central America.

    On Wednesday, he flies to Panama where he will attend the 8th ministerial conference of the EU-Rio Group, comprising representatives of EU member-states, Peru, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, which targets closer co-operation between the EU and Latin America.

    Mr. Pangalos will also inaugurate a Greek cultural center in Panama on Wednesday evening.

    The Panamanian government last April donated a 50-hectare plot in the "City of Knowledge" to the nation's ethnic Greek community for the construction of a Hellenic Cultural Center.

    The center is part of an ambitious project called "City of Knowledge", comprising an international center of training, promotion of scientific and technological research, and innovation in areas considered strategic for the development of the sciences, economy, culture, sustainable development and democracy.

    After the conclusion of the two-day EU-Rio Group conference on Thursday, Feb. 12, Mr. Pangalos will fly to Barbados for a one-hour stopover before embarking on the last stop on his tour in Senegal on Friday morning on a private itinerary.

    He leaves Senegal at noon, Saturday (Feb. 14) and will return to Athens, where he is due to arrive at 10:30 p.m.

    [11] Turkish diplomat thanks merchant marine for efforts

    Athens, 05/02/1998 (ANA)

    Turkey's Consul General in Greece, Yasar Togo, has expressed "heartfelt thanks" to the Search and Rescue Center of the Merchant Marine Ministry for the gigantic operation launched to save the crew of a Turkish-flagged freighter which sank off Evia in December.

    In a letter to the center, Mr. Togo also expressed gratitude for the efforts made to find a Turkish seaman who was missing after the ship went down on December 10.

    Eleven crew members of the 996-ton "S. Ugurlu", sailing from Thessaloniki to Italy with a cargo of magnesium ore, were rescued in the operation.

    Mr. Togo noted that "this exemplary effort" of the Search and Rescue Center and the coast-guard officers of Kymi, Evia "contributes further to the strengthening of friendly relations between Greece and Turkey".

    [12] Athens 2004 organizing committee presented at Nagano Games

    Nagano, Japan 05/02/1998 (ANA - P. Pervolaris)

    "Apart from the Olympic Games, democracy was also born in ancient Greece. It is a great responsibility and challenge to organize games according to the principles of the Olympic Charter and the terms of the contract,"

    Sports Under-secretary Andreas Fouras said in a video recording yesterday, shown as part of an official presentation on the Athens 2004 Olympic organizing committee at the current Winter Olympics.

    Mr. Fouras also stated that "we have placed particular weight on efficiency and transparency, as well as the scheme of the organizational committee," that the legal framework is ready, and that Greece is geared to a national effort to achieve the success of the Games.

    The presentation, comprising video recordings and speeches, was warmly received by the international Olympic Committee (IOC), whose president Juan Antonio Samaranch expressed confidence that "Greece will organize the best Olympic Games of all times".

    Earlier, Alternate Foreign minister George Papandreou re-introduced to IOC members a Greek proposal for establishment of an international truce for the duration of the Games.

    The proposal has envisaged the establishment of an ancient Olympia-based international forum. The proposal has also been warmly received by Mr. Samarach, who invited Mr. Papandreou to discuss co-operation between the IOC and the Greek government.

    [13] Conference of Greek, Turkish journalists

    Athens, 05/02/1998 (ANA)

    "The Journalists of the Aegean and Thrace for Peace," organized a second meeting between Greek and Turkish journalists, which will be inaugurated on Friday and will begin sessions on Saturday.

    More than 250 journalists, politicians and intellectuals from Greece and Turkey will participate at the conference, which will take place in Izmir.

    The four discussion sections are:

    - "The media and minorities in Greece and Turkey" - "The first page of the newspaper. The trigger or the reason for Greek-Turkish tension." - "Anti-nationalist movements in Greece and Turkey" - Greek-Turkish tension and the role of third parties."

    [14] Political parties' funding

    Athens, 05/02/1998 (ANA)

    Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Alekos Papadopoulos yesterday approved a decision giving political parties represented in the Parliament and Europarliament a total of 10.24 billion drachmas in financial aid.

    The regular annual subsidy is 9.453 billion drachmas while the rest of the money is allocated for research and educational purposes.

    PASOK will receive 3.754 billion drachmas, New Democracy 3.468 billion drachmas, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) 711 million drachmas, the Coalition for the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) 670 million drachmas, the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) 612 million drachmas and Political Spring 236 million drachmas.

    [15] Improved protection for Akrotiri site on Santorini

    Athens, 05/02/1998 (ANA)

    The Central Archaeological Council (KAS) yesterday approved plans for a four-billion-drachma structure to cover the unique prehistoric settlement of Akrotiri, on the island of Santorini.

    The previous structure, build some 30 years ago by the initial excavating team is in disrepair.

    The new roof will be made of local volcanic materials.

    KAS members raised objections over the durability of the building material, but according to a study, the structure will be made of durable material.

    [16] Prince Charles to be patron of British Archaeology School

    Athens, 05/02/1998 (ANA)

    Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, has agreed to become Patron of the British School at Athens, in succession to the Duke of Edinburgh, Patron since 1952, the British Embassy in Athens announced yesterday.

    It quoted Gerald Cadogan, Chairman of the School, as welcoming the news as "a wonderful boost to the School that will give it new vigor now that it is 111 years old", while addressing the School's Annual Meeting.

    The Prince also agreed to be the Patron of the School's forthcoming Appeal for financial reinforcement, to be launched in Athens and London later in the year.

    British Ambassador to Athens Sir Michael Llewellyn Smith, who is Vice-President of the British School at Athens, warmly welcomed "this development which will encourage and hope the School in realizing its development plans".

    [17] School program targets rising incidence of gum disease

    Athens, 05/02/1998 (ANA)

    Between 60 and 65 per cent of Greek children suffer from tooth decay - one of the highest rates in Europe, according to Athens University's Laboratory of Preventive Dentistry.

    Despite the fact that the incidence of tooth decay has been on the decline in Greece in recent years, particularly in urban centers, gum disease continues to afflict six out of ten Greek children.

    Before 1982, according to data published by the laboratory, 12-year-old children had at least four teeth affected by tooth decay, while in the period 1982-1992, the average number of bad teeth had fallen to two.

    Ironically, according to the laboratory, one of the main reasons for the poor level of dental hygiene has been the improvement in the standard of living which unfortunately resulted in the per capita annual consumption of sugar rising from 13 kilos in 1 960 to over 60 kilos in the present decade.

    The figures were made known at a press conference yesterday given by representatives of the Dental Association of Attica which, in co-operation with Athens University, has organized a "Preventive Dentistry Week" for February 9-13, during which dentists will tour primary schools in Attica to inform children about the importance of dental care.

    A similar program was implemented in 1996 for children between the ages of six and 12, resulting in an improvement in dental hygiene of the order of 14 per cent and a 15 per cent increase in visits to the dentist.

    [18] Farmers block nat'l highway for one hour

    Athens, 05/02/1998 (ANA)

    Protesting farmers in central Greece, whose tractors have remained parked along both sides of the Athens-Thessaloniki national highway since Monday, yesterday blocked traffic on the roadway for one hour between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.

    The move is being seen as an indication that protesters are determined to intensify mobilizations by setting up road blockades, a tactic used extensively early last year.

    Yesterday's blockades were set up on four points: Velestino, Viokarpet, outside Volos and Socratous.

    At the same time, area farmers were briefed on the latest developments by members of the Panthessaly Coordinating Committee (PASE), the group mostly behind the protests in central Greece.

    Meanwhile, new tractors arrivals are expected to join the vehicles already parked alongside the national highway.

    PASE members criticized both the government and other social groups for not showing concern over protesting farmers' demands.

    Two rallies are scheduled to be held today in Karditsa and Trikala, while a meeting last night between PASE and the Larisa Labor Center was considering whether to call a massive rally in the city, probably tomorrow.

    In a related development, a low turnout by farmers was recorded earlier at a protest rally yesterday in Thessaloniki prefecture.

    The prefecture's agricultural associations are planning a series of gatherings in central village squares around the region to inform farmers of future demonstrations against the government's agricultural policy.

    However, only a small number of farmers responded to a call to deploy tractors and other farm machinery along highways in the region, particularly the roads bet-ween Thessaloniki and the Evzonoi border post.

    [19] ... Fishermen to block port

    Athens, 05/02/1998 (ANA)

    A mobilization is also scheduled today at the Alexandroupoli port by local fishermen, in protest over legal action taken by the Social Security Foundation (IKA) with regard to social security contributions for foreign workers.

    Protesters will dock 20 fishing boats in the port's entrance to block traffic.

    A delegation of fishermen met Evros Prefect Giorgos Dolios yesterday, who later described their demand as rightful.

    A spokesman said that social security contributions for foreign workers had been paid promptly to the Seamen's Pension Fund (NAT), while IKA was arguing that they should be paid again and with interest, on the virtue of an amendment in social security regulations in 1996.

    [20] ... Court appeal

    Athens, 05/02/1998 (ANA)

    Finally, the Confederation of Democratic Farmers' Associations of Greece (SYDASE) has petitioned the Supreme Court to stop trials of farmers charged with offenses related to previous protest actions.

    SYDASE President Yiannis Pittas submitted the plea yesterday, saying that the government should realize that these trials did nothing to resolve either the agricultural problem or the protest actions.

    He predicted that demonstrations would intensify over the next few days and spread throughout the country.

    [21] Greek, Italian officials focus on euro

    Athens, 05/02/1998 (ANA)

    A visiting Italian delegation, headed by Ambassador Vatani, met Greek Foreign Ministry General Secretary for EU affairs, Stelios Perrakis, yesterday in Athens. Talks between the two sides focused on the course towards the common European currency, the euro, and prospects for its implementation. Discussions were also attended by officials from the Bank of Greece, the national economy ministry and the PM's office.

    [22] OECD industry committee convenes in Paris

    Paris, 05/02/1998 (ANA - O. Tsipira)

    The Organization for Economic Development and Co-operation's (OECD) industry committee convened here yesterday, with one conclusions stating that "the role of small and medium-sized enterprises appears to be decisive in the future, both in the production of wealth and the creation of jobs."

    The session's primary target was focusing on new policies for industry during globalisation and current major technological changes, while it was the first time the session was held at ministerial level.

    Greece was represented by Development Under-secretary Anna Diamantopoulou.

    In her address, Ms Diamantopoulou spoke of the role played by small countries in the globalisation of the economy and particularly difficulties faced by the governments of these countries.

    "For small countries to survive and respond aggressively and not defensively to this international competition, they must not also incorporate international rules but also proceed with special innovative programs for their own business world to enable them to compete with other countries and other markets which are much larger and more powerful," she said.

    Referring to Greece's efforts, Ms Diamantopoulou spoke of the new operational program for industry which has been underway over the past three years, budgeted at one trillion drachmas.

    However, special interest was created by reference to the program "enterprise networks" which, compared with other countries, is believed to have been developed particularly in Greece.

    It is a system for creating groups of enterprises (20-30) on a horizontal level, enabling enterprises to receive aid with a common development target, such as exports. The Greek "enterprise networks" program is considered a pilot program at the European level.

    [23] Rising interest rates hit Greek stocks

    Athens, 05/02/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities came under pressure yesterday to end substantially lower on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Traders said the market was hit by a new rise in interest rates at Tuesday's auction of Treasury bills.

    The general index closed 1.37 percent lower at 1,413.52 points.

    Sector indices ended lower. Banks fell 1.47 percent, Insurance dropped 0.51 percent, Leasing eased 2.36 percent, Investment ended 0.23 percent off, Constructions plunged 3.04 percent, Industrials were 1.68 percent down, Miscellaneous eased 1.59 percent and Holding fell 0.29 percent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 0.66 percent, while the FTSE/ASE index dropped 1.30 percent to end at 781.83 points.

    Trading was moderate with turnover at 14.8 billion drachmas.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 140 to 64 with another 29 issues unchanged.

    Sea Farm Ionian soared 27.10 percent on its debut in the market. Viokarpet and Macedonian Mills scored the biggest percentage gains, while Technodomi, Thrace Plastics, Desmos, Tasoglou and Demetriadis suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 20,145 drachmas, Ergobank at 14,150, Alpha Credit Bank at 14,840, Delta Dairy at 2,980, Titan Cement at 13,425, Intracom at 14,510 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organization at 5,545.

    [24] Transport ministry to hire private consultants

    Athens, 05/02/1998 (ANA)

    Greece's transport ministry will hire private consultants to monitor the process of public enterprises' operational programs, Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis said yesterday.

    Mr. Mantelis said public enterprises would be split into five basic groups. The first will include public transport companies, the second Greek railways, the third Olympic Airways and its subsidiaries, the fourth Hellenic Telecommunications Organization and the fifth the post office.

    Hiring of private consultants was considered a necessity in order for ministry to have a tactical briefing on an bi-monthly or a quarterly base on the course of public enterprises' programs.

    Mr. Mantelis said private consultants' annual fees will range from 30 to 40 million drachmas.

    [25] Greece acts to improve merchant marine education system

    Athens, 05/02/1998 (ANA)

    Greece's merchant marine ministry yesterday announced measures to modernize and upgrade the merchant marine education system.

    Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis presented, during a press conference, a draft bill to be submitted in parliament soon.

    Mr. Soumakis also detailed measures taken by the ministry to improve the quality of merchant marine education in the country.

    The measures included a modernization of syllabus according to the latest international standards STCW '95, an increase of laboratory studies, installation of GMDSS simulators on danger and security systems and improvements in merchant marine schools facilities.

    [26] Finance ministry's measures to facilitate taxpayers

    Athens, 05/02/1998 (ANA)

    Greece's finance ministry has decided measures to facilitate this year's tax statements procedure.

    Finance Under-secretary George Drys said yesterday that the measures were justified due to a lack of infrastructure at tax collecting agencies which caused problems to taxpayers every year.

    The measures included the creation of different tax collecting services for pensioners and hired workers and the self-employed, extending working hours for tax collecting agencies and daily inspection of tax agencies.

    The finance ministry will also operate a four-digit telephone service to inform taxpayers on tax statement matters.

    [27] Macedonia-Thrace Bank staff begin 48-hour strike

    Athens, 05/02/1998 (ANA)

    Employees of Greece's Macedonia-Thrace Bank begin a 48-hour strike today protesting the government's plan to partly privatize the Thessaloniki-based bank by selling 27.5 percent of its stock.

    Bank employees will stage a demonstration outside the bank's headquarters in downtown Thessaloniki and hold a press conference.

    Employees union spokesman George Gougoilis told the ANA that the bank's 1,600 employees "will not accept its privatization", and stressed the bank's "importance for the development of Thessaloniki and northern Greece and its contribution to economic co-operation among the Balkan countries".

    [28] Gov't promises bill on compound interest issue

    Athens, 05/02/1998 (ANA)

    National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou will table a bill in Parliament in 15 days to settle the issue of compound interest for loans, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said last night, replying to a relevant question by Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Demetris Tsovolas.

    Mr. Simitis clarified that the settlement will concern future loans and a period of six months from the non-payment of interest. He added that for past loans a decision has not been finalized by the national economy minister since necessary data has not been collected and due to repeated changes in the compound interest status in past years.

    Mr. Simitis further said that people receiving loans must be safeguarded since they are not in a position to impose terms in negotiations with banks.

    On his part, Mr. Tsovolas said the compound interest status has turned into "legal usury" and has led many small and medium-sized urban and agricultural enterprises to closure.

    "The state is obliged to resolve the issue finally and with a retroactive effect," Mr. Tsovolas said and called on the premier to order the termination of current compulsory measures.

    [29] Petrol prices rise

    Athens, 05/02/1998 (ANA)

    The retail sales prices of gasoline will increase as of today and for a week due to changes in international prices.

    According to announcements by the Public Petroleum Corp. (DEP) and the development ministry, the retail sales prices of gasoline will increase by 1.40 drachmas per liter, while those of diesel and heating oil by 2 drachmas per liter. Consequently, the retail sales price of heating oil will be set at 87.40 drachmas per liter.

    Super gasoline will cost 214.40 drachmas per liter in the Attica area and Thessaloniki prefecture and unleaded gasoline 198.30 drachmas per liter.

    [30] Industrial transformation bureau in Xanthi

    Athens, 05/02/1998 (ANA)

    An industrial transformation bureau has started to function in Xanthi, northern Greece, and is aimed at supporting investment potential, attracting new investors, registering and utilizing potential, contributing to the prefecture's development in general .

    The bureau has been included in the framework of the Industrial Operational Program aimed at the functioning of local industrial change bureaus.

    Commenting on the industrial change bureau's operation, the Prefect of Xanthi Panayiotis Saltouros stressed that in this way the possibility of co-operation will be provided at a local, regional, national and European level for the development of the region.

    End of English language section.


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