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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-02-24

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 1424), February 24, 1998

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


CONTENTS

  • [01] Greece hails UN-Iraq agreement
  • [02] G. Papandreou
  • [03] Gov't expresses confidence in drachma in light of reported decision by Moody's
  • [04] Pangalos criticises Turkey-Israel military ties
  • [05] Clinton tentatively endorses Iraq deal
  • [06] Athens: No definite proposal for Greek-Turkish non-aggression pact
  • [07] Cem
  • [08] State Dept.'s Miller on Pangalos' proposal
  • [09] Gov't on negotiations with FYROM
  • [10] Vartholomeos meets with 'European Expression' members
  • [11] Reppas on ND problems, Tsohatzopoulos' stance vis-a-vis youth organisation
  • [12] Romeos to meet with Bulgarian, Romanian counterparts
  • [13] Premier: PASOK youth organisation issue not on executive bureau agenda
  • [14] G.Papandreou: EU awaits Turkish Cypriot reply to invitation for accession talks
  • [15] French officials deny claim of opposition to Cypriot entry
  • [16] Kranidiotis in Nicosia for talks
  • [17] Italian Navy vessels in Piraeus
  • [18] London exhibition on Byzantium
  • [19] Access to Acropolis blocked tomorrow by strikers
  • [20] IOBE study focuses on viability of social insurance system
  • [21] Greek stocks plunge on fears of lower national credit rating
  • [22] Greek gov't seeks to ease mutual fund jitters
  • [23] Greece's Xiosbank hikes mortgage rates by 50 basis pts
  • [24] Greek population shows minor decline
  • [25] Gov't measures for employment
  • [26] Simitis,EBEA president meet on economy
  • [27] Conference on equality in Athens
  • [28] Heart transplant in Thessaloniki

  • [01] Greece hails UN-Iraq agreement

    Athens, 24/02/1998 (ANA)

    Athens views the agreement over weapons inspections reached between UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the Iraqi leadership in Baghdad as a "positive development", government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

    He also noted Greece's efforts to ensure that all avenues were explored in order to avoid an outbreak of war.

    Mr. Reppas expressed the view that the current process would be successful and that hostilities would be averted.

    After 11th-hour talks between Mr. Annan and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein over the weekend, the two sides yesterday signed an agreement on UN weapons inspections, something that both sides hope will remove the threat of US-led military action against Iraq .

    "In my view, the terms of this agreement, which have been concluded in writing, are acceptable and remove a major obstacle to the full implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions.

    "I will report to the Security Council immediately upon my return to New York on TuesdayÉI hope it will be acceptable to all members to the Council", the UN secretary general told a joint news conference in Baghdad with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz.

    Mr. Annan said there were "no time limits or deadlines" in the agreement, but added: "I think it is important that we do our work in a reasonable period".

    The UN chief later left Baghdad for Paris on his way to New York to brief the UN Security Council today on the agreement, details of which have not yet been released.

    Opposition: Meanwhile, the main opposition New Democracy party and the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) expressed satisfaction over the agreement, while Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga stressed the need for an end to t he embargo imposed on Iraq and the prevention of military intervention by Washington.

    "The agreement reached in Baghdad today is a cause for satisfaction. What remains to be done is its implementation in a way guaranteeing its substance. Namely, the effective control of the chemical weapons possessed by Iraq, as well as their destruction . And this lies exclusively with the regime of Saddam Hussein, which must sincerely cooperate with the UN's inspector-representatives," ND spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said.

    Ms Papariga said a criterion for developments "is an end to the murderous embargo against the people of Iraq, together with the prevention of military intervention by the United States."

    She said that "there must be no complacency. On the contrary, great vigilance is required".

    The Coalition of the Left and Progress stressed the need for the agreement to be approved by the Security Council and spoke of a "hopeful development."

    [02] G. Papandreou

    Brussels (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    In addition, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said efforts by Mr. Annan in Iraq were successful, adding that the European Union's Council of Foreign Ministers was very satisfied with the signing of the agree ment for a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Iraq.

    The Iraqi issue was the main issue discussed in Brussels yesterday by the "15" EU foreign ministers. Greece was represented by Mr. Papandreou.

    He said the Council called on Iraq to contribute positively towards the sending of humanitarian aid to its destination. Referring to the Greek initiative for the Olympic truce, Mr. Papandreou said although the Olympic truce cannot be considered the main factor of whatever diplomatic success, it was one of the factors contributing to the extension of negotiating time, since the winter Olympic Games in Nagano were underway.

    Talks in Brussels also included the Middle East question, the situation in Kosovo and relations between the EU and Switzerland.

    [03] Gov't expresses confidence in drachma in light of reported decision by Moody's

    Athens, 24/02/1998 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday said he was optimistic that monetary authorities would again be able to foil speculative attacks on the drachma, after the Bank of Greece intervened repeatedly in money markets in order to stabilise the curre ncy's parity.

    The spokesman stressed that the government's policy on the drachma would remain firm and was already bearing fruit.

    Markets were hit by Friday's news that the Moody's credit rating firm was considering lowering Greece's credit rating, now standing at A2 for domestic paper and Baa1 for external debt. Nevertheless, market reaction was described as generally reserved, with bankers reporting capital outflows totalling 230 million Ecus at the drachma's daily fixing - a sum considered to be within reasonable limits.

    The Greek currency fell 0.16 per cent against the Ecu. It was 0.14 per cent off against the deutschmark but stable against the US dollar. Interbank rates remained steady around Friday's levels at 17.5 per cent.

    Generally, the impression among market analysts was that fears about the drachma had been considerably exaggerated and that new speculation about a devaluation was baseless, particularly when it was not certain that Moody's would in the end proceed to reconsider the country's credit rating.The analysts were also pointing out that the firm has downgraded the country's credit rating before, shortly before a speculative run on the drachma in May 1994, from Baa1 to Baa3, only to raise it again to its former level later. The Greek economy's indicators have improved rather than worsened since, they added.

    The Greek government is about to sign a $1 billion intenational syndicated loan soon, and government sources consider that the interest rate to be agreed upon will prove that its creditworthiness has not been hit. They add that the policy of the stable drachma will continue, even at the cost of high interest rates, and the national economy ministry considers tha the 1998 budget can absorb -mainly through the planned privatisations of public utilities- any additional cost arising from higher rates in t he interbank market and state paper.

    Greek equities ended sharply lower off the day's lows on the Athens Stock Exchange in response to Moody's announcement.

    The general index broke the 1,400 support barrier to end at 1,393.46 points, down 2.44 per cent.

    [04] Pangalos criticises Turkey-Israel military ties

    Cairo, 24/02/1998 (ANA/Reuters)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos criticised Turkish-Israeli military ties yesterday and said they represented "an alliance of wrongdoers".

    "Turkey's ties with Israel are not simply just for exercises as some people pretend," Mr. Pangalos told reporters in Cairo after meeting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. "We very well know that this is a strategic alliance and that it is the wrong kind for everybody. This is an alliance of wrongdoers that brings us to a Cold War situation. It is not in keeping with contemporary times," he added.

    Israel and Turkey held their first joint naval exercises in the east Mediterranean in January. The United States also took part in the manoeuvres which are part of a 1996 military agreement between Turkey and the Jewish state.

    Many Arab states, chiefly Egypt and Turkey's neighbour Syria, criticised the manoeuvres, which Turkey and Israel said were only for search and rescue.

    Mr. Pangalos said he shared Arab fears that the exercises could be directed against a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern state.

    "These exercises are not simply meant to save people from the sea in an accident," he added.

    Mr. Pangalos, who arrived in Egypt on Sunday on a three-day visit, said he discussed regional affairs and growing Egyptian-Greek military ties with Mubarak.

    He also met Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa yesterday for more talks on facilitating an Egyptian cooperation agreement with the European Union.

    The agreement is held up by EU tariff barriers on Egyptian farm produce, the area in which Cairo says it holds a comparative advantage.

    [05] Clinton tentatively endorses Iraq deal

    Washington, 24/02/1998 (ANA)

    US President Bill Clinton said last night that he tentatively endorsed a deal hammered out by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the Iraqi government to resume weapons inspections in Iraq, saying if implemented it would allow UN teams to scour Iraq for weapons of mass destruction.

    Speaking at a press conference organised at the White House, Mr. Clinton warned Iraq that there would be "serious consequences" if it fails to honour the agreement, adding that the US military force built up in the Persian Gulf would remain in place.

    [06] Athens: No definite proposal for Greek-Turkish non-aggression pact

    Athens, 24/02/1998 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday that there was no definite proposal for a non-aggression pact between Greece and Turkey, adding that although such ideas had been put forward at times in the past, they had not been in the form of official proposals. Mr. Reppas was replying to questions regarding a reported initiative by US special presiential envoy Richard Holbrooke. The spokesman said there was "no specific formula with an explicit content" regarding the signing of a non-aggressi on pact between the two countries.

    "Suggestions such as these began to be made many years before PASOK came into power," he said, adding that while Greece desired rapprochement, it should not be "devoid of substance".

    "Athens' policy allows third parties to perceive how well-intentioned it is...Greece wants the rules of international law and order to be implemented," said the spokesman."

    "If Turkey comes forward and declares it will abide by (these rules) and international law, and that it recognises the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, then new conditions can be created. However, that has not yet happened," he added.

    The government's response to proposals made by Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem would soon be forthcoming, he said, although he declined to give further details. He termed Turkish President Suleiman Demirel's statements on Sunday regarding "grey areas" in the Aegean as a provocation, coming as they did at the same time Turkey was talking about good neighbourly relations and friendship.

    Mr. Reppas also said that the Greek answer to Mr. Cem's five-point proposal towards Athens would be conveyed shortly.

    Greece last week said that Mr. Cem's proposal did not, in fact, contain anything new in Turkey's approach of Greek-Turkish relations.

    [07] Cem

    Ankara, (ANA/Anadolu)

    On his part, Mr. Cem said here yesterday that Turkey had not received an official response from Greece to what he said was a "call for peace from Turkey", adding that "we do not want to receive a random response".

    Speaking at a press briefing, Mr. Cem said his country had presented "concrete proposals" in its peace proposal to Athens.

    "We have received positive reactions from around the world, the foreign ministers of NATO and the EU countries have particularly encouraged our initiative," he said.

    Noting that Turkey had difficulty in presenting its policies abroad, Mr. Cem further said that the latest peace initiative by his country showed that Ankara was seeking reconciliation.

    He also stressed that Turkey had emphasised several important points in its peace proposal to Greece, including:

    - Improvement of the Madrid communique towards implementation as a permanent agreement. - Implementation of confidence-building measures, as proposed to Turkey and Greece by the NATO secretary general. - Putting into effect the two nations' expert committees. - Redefining problems between the two countries and a meeting of high-ranking officials from the two foreign ministries before the end of March.

    [08] State Dept.'s Miller on Pangalos' proposal

    Washington, 24/02/1998 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    Special US State Department coordinator for the Cyprus issue Thomas Miller yesterday said the US considers Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos' recent proposal to Ankara as "positive and creative."

    In an interview published in the Turkish daily "Milliyet" earlier in the month, Mr. Pangalos proposed that Turkey accept the jurisdiction of the International Court at The Hague for any claims it had in the Aegean.

    Mr. Miller also said the US regarded Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem's five-point proposal towards Greece as very interesting and could be termed as an answer to Mr. Pangalos' proposal.

    [09] Gov't on negotiations with FYROM

    Athens, 24/02/1998 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday said that the negotiations between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) are at the same exact point, noting that there is no positive development.

    He added that Greece's policy is stable and could lead to a solution if the other side shows the same attitude.

    [10] Vartholomeos meets with 'European Expression' members

    Istanbul, 24/021998 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos yesterday stressed the importance of Europe in shaping the next century, in talks with visiting members of the 'European Expression', a non-governmental organisation of Greek intellectuals .

    The delegation, which included MP Manolis Kefaloyiannis and Euro-MP Costas Hatzidakis, is in Turkey at the inviation of Turkey's Liberal Party.

    [11] Reppas on ND problems, Tsohatzopoulos' stance vis-a-vis youth organisation

    Athens, 24/02/1998 (ANA)

    Ruling PASOK's supremacy in the present political arena doesn't stem from the current crisis with the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said in an interview published in yesterday's edition of the Athens daily "Eleftherotypia".

    Mr. Reppas added that PASOK's positive course could not be overshadowed by the crisis in the PASOK youth organisation, saying that the stance adopted by Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos over developments in the youth organisation "neither brought ab out a crisis nor averted one".

    Asked whether Mr. Tsohatzopoulos was a likely contender for PASOK's leadership at the 1999 congress, Mr. Reppas, who is also the press and media minister, stressed that the defence minister's high popularity was related to his post as a minister and as a high-ranking cadre at the side of Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    Mr. Reppas also expressed his conviction that PASOK-backed Athens mayoral hopeful Maria Damanaki, a one-time Coalition of the Left and Progress leader, "had all the advantages to do well in the municipal elections".

    [12] Romeos to meet with Bulgarian, Romanian counterparts

    Athens, 24/02/1998 (ANA)

    Public Order Minister George Romeos will meet with his Bulgarian and Romanian counterparts, Bogomi Bonev and Gavril Dezu, in Thessaloniki between March 6 and 8.

    The meeting aims to forward cooperation between the three nations to better combat organised crime, terrorism, drug and arms smuggling as well as money laundering.

    [13] Premier: PASOK youth organisation issue not on executive bureau agenda

    Athens, 24/02/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis said the issue related to the crisis in the PASOK youth organisation was not in the agenda of a meeting of the ruling party's executive bureau yesterday.

    He made the statements during a break at the meeting, as it was expected to continue late into the night.

    The premier said the issue would be examined at another meeting, on the basis of a proposal by the PASOK political secretariat.

    Replying to relevant questions, the premier said PASOK's cohesion had not been at risk after the crisis in the youth organisation, adding that the party's ability to work on differences and problems should not seem strange.

    Asked about the fact that 30 party deputies had attended the weekend's youth organisation congress, Mr. Simitis replied it was not a problem at all.

    The meeting covered municipal and prefectural elections, whereas the youth organisation issue was referred to the March 10 meeting.

    Additionally, in-party election processes will be completed by March 8.

    [14] G.Papandreou: EU awaits Turkish Cypriot reply to invitation for accession talks

    Brussels, 24/02/1998 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said yesterday it was up to the Turkish Cypriots to respond to an invitation by Cyprus President Glaf cos Clerides to participate in EU accession negotiations.

    Mr. Papandreou was speaking to Greek reporters after yesterday's EU Council of Ministers session, which included a briefing of the 15 member-states on the result of last week's presidential elections in Cyprus.

    On March 31, the EU will initiate separate negotiations with Cyprus, Estonia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia.

    The president of the European Council, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, told his colleagues he would be meeting President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash in a last attempt to bring Turkish Cypriots to the EU-Cyprus negotiating table.

    According to reports, the Clerides-Cook meeting will take place in London on March 12, on the sidelines of the European Conference. The date of Mr. Cook's meeting with Mr. Denktash has not been fixed yet, but it is expected to be before March 31 when the accession negotiations start.

    The Cyprus government has proposed Turkish Cypriot participation, provided that the Turkish Cypriot side accepts the principle of Cyprus' accession to the EU and that the Turkish Cypriots are part of the Republic's negotiating team. The Turkish Cypriot side has turned down the invitation.

    Mr. Cook also confirmed that Turkey will not participate in the European Conference because of the conditions the Luxembourg summit set out for Turkey. Nevertheless, he said he intends to send the invitation to Turkey.

    Addressing yesterday's session, Mr. Papandreou stressed that Turkey's recent behaviour and the escalation of provocations, either through military exercises or various statements does not allow Greece to consent to the activation of the EU financial aid protocol for Ankara.

    Mr. Papandreou also briefed his colleagues on Greece's view of a recent five-point proposal by Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem, to which, he said, his Greek counterpart Theodoros Pangalos would reply soon. He stressed that for Greece the major issue continued to be the acceptance by Turkey of the general jurisdiction of the International Court at The Hague.

    A community diplomat told ANA that there was no question of the negotiations with Cyprus not starting on schedule, but it was debatable how they would develop if the issue of Turkish Cypriot participation, of which there was clear mention in the conclus ions of the Luxembourg summit, was not resolved.

    Commenting on this view, a Greek diplomatic source noted that one way or antother, the negotiations would be relatively long-term, and it was premature to forecast how they would develop.

    [15] French officials deny claim of opposition to Cypriot entry

    Paris (ANA)

    France adheres to the decisions of the Luxembourg summit regarding Cyprus' course towards accession, high-ranking sources said, confirming that this position was reiterated to Turkish President Suleyman Demirel during his recent visit to the French capital.

    The French sources replied to a question regarding reports from Istanbul, according to which officials accompanying the Turkish president expressed the view that he had obtained from France three guarantees impeding Cypriot accession to the EU, namely, the participation of Turkish Cypriots in the negotiating delegation, the non-installation of Russian-made S-300 missiles by the Cypriot government, and the suspension of the Greek veto on EU financial to Turkey.

    The same sources said that, in particular, the issues of the missiles and the Greek veto were not discussed during the Turkish president's visit.

    [16] Kranidiotis in Nicosia for talks

    Athens, 24/02/1998 (ANA)

    Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis leaves for Cyprus today on a six-day visit to discuss President Glafcos Clerides' visit to Athens next month.

    Mr. Clerides is due in the Greek capital on March 10.

    Mr. Kranidiotis will discuss the president's forthcoming visit, as well as matters regarding Cyprus' accession course to the European Union and the participation of Turkish Cypriots in membership talks.

    Tomorrow, Mr. Kranidiotis will meet with President Clerides, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides and House President Spyros Kyprianou.

    During his six-day visit, Mr. Kranidiotis will also meet political party leaders, the primate of the Church of Cyprus Archbishop Chrysostomos and the commander of the National Guard.

    He will have talks with Britain's representative for Cyprus Sir David Hannay, who will be visiting the island, US ambassador Kenneth Brill as well as EU special envoy to the Middle East Miguel Moratinos.

    [17] Italian Navy vessels in Piraeus

    Athens, 24/02/1998 (ANA)

    Three Italian Navy vessels are expected to arrive in Piraeus on Thursday as part of their participation in a Mediterranean training exercise.

    The cruiser "Mimbielli", the anti-submarine warfare frigate "Maestrale" and the logistics vessel "Vesuvio" will dock in Pireaus until March 3. The public may board the vessels daily beginning on Friday.

    Three Russian military officer-inspectors are to visit the II Army Corps in Veria within the context of implementation of confidence- and security-building measures in accordance with the 1994 Vienna Text.

    [18] London exhibition on Byzantium

    Athens, 24/02/1998 (ANA)

    A exhibition on Byzantium showcasing coins and photographic materials will open Friday in London as part of the "Greece in Britain" series of cultural events.

    The exhibition focuses on the travels to the east and west by Emmanuel II Paleologos, the father of last Byzantine Emperor Constantinos XI Paleologos. It will be housed at London's Greek Cultural Centre.

    In addition, a concert at St. Paul's Anglican Church, under the auspices of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, is scheduled for March 4.

    [19] Access to Acropolis blocked tomorrow by strikers

    Athens, 24/02/1998 (ANA)

    The federation of culture ministry employees (POSYPPO) will block access to the Acropolis tomorrow in protest to a decision by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos to transfer five employees from the site to other posts.

    The federation announced that the archaeological site will be blocked from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

    In a written statement, POSYPPO also hinted that the transfers were connected to what it claimed were restoration work contracts on the Acropolis monuments by private consulting firms.

    [20] IOBE study focuses on viability of social insurance system

    Athens, 24/02/1998 (ANA)

    The Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) yesterday presented a study entitled the "Future of the Social Insurance System in Greece."

    One of its authors, researcher Nikos Leandros, said Greece's insurance system is currently deadlocked and is not viable in the long run. He predicted 2005 as the year of its collapse.

    The main factors considered responsible for the crisis, according to the study, are the demographic factor and the swelling of the debts owed by funds which can be estimated at 200 per cent of GDP.

    Mr. Leandros supports a change of the system with a new twin-pylon status. The first will be compulsory for a main pension and will have a distributive character and tripartite funding. The second will also be compulsory for an auxiliary pension and will have a capitalising character and will be funded by both the employee and the employer.

    The premier's adviser, Platon Tinios, also made an address during the presentation, appearing to support Chile's so-called trizonal system, adding that it has been implemented by other countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Colombia and Peru.

    [21] Greek stocks plunge on fears of lower national credit rating

    Athens, 24/02/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities ended sharply lower off the day's lows on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday, hit by news that the US credit rating agency Moody's intended to downgrade the country's credit rating.

    The general index broke the 1,400 support barrier to end at 1,393.46 points, off 2.44 percent. It was 5.0 percent down at the start of the session.

    Sector indices lost substantial ground. Banks dropped 3.02 percent, Insurance fell 1.25 percent, Investment eased 1.04 percent, Leasing plunged 4.39 percent, Construction ended 3.46 percent off, Industrials fell 2.10 percent, Miscellaneous ended 1.52 pe rcent down and Holding fell 1.38 percent.

    The parallel market index, however, ended 0.50 percent higher reflecting an appetite for smaller issues with greater profit potential.

    Trading was heavy with turnover at 19.3 billion drachmas.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 161 to 38 with another 28 issues unchanged.

    Kambas, Elfico, Eskimo and Ergas scored the biggest percentage gains, while Papoutsanis, Aemet, Bank of Athens and Constantinidis suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 20,120 drachmas, Ergobank at 13,850, Alpha Credit Bank at 14,790, Delta Dairy at 2,760, Titan Cement at 12,915, Intracom at 14,440 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 5,350.

    The Bank of Greece intervened repeatedly in money markets in order to stabilise the drachma's parity. Markets were hit by Friday's news that Moody's was considering lowering the country's credit rating from A2 for domestic paper and from Baa1 for foreign debt. Bankers reported capital outflows totalling 230 million Ecus at the drachma's daily fixing.

    The Greek currency fell 0.16 percent against the Ecu. It was 0.14 percent off against the DMark but stable against the US dollar.

    Interbank rates remained steady around Friday's levels at 17.5 percent.

    [22] Greek gov't seeks to ease mutual fund jitters

    Athens, 24/02/1998 (ANA)

    A senior Greek government official yesterday sought to reassure edgy markets that no crisis existed in mutual funds in the wake of liquidations in state paper last week.

    "There is no reason for concern about mutual funds," national economy ministry secretary general G. Papaioannou told a gathering to review the Athens' bourse's performance in 1994-1997.

    "Certain positions in state paper were liquidated recently. This was simply a reverberation of turmoil in previous weeks and not a signal of some so-called turmoil in the offing.

    "Investors must realise that state paper enjoys a high level of confidence and will continue to do so. These are investments that have safe and attractive returns," Mr. Papaioannou said.

    [23] Greece's Xiosbank hikes mortgage rates by 50 basis pts

    Athens, 24/02/1998 (ANA)

    Xiosbank,which is listed on the Athens bourse, yesterday announced a rise in its mortgage lending rate by 50 basis points to 15 percent.

    The bank left unchanged its deposit and business lending rates at 11.57 percent and 20 percent respectively. Xiosbank has approved mortgage loans totalling 20 billion drachmas to more than 5,000 clients.

    [24] Greek population shows minor decline

    Athens, 24/02/1998 (ANA)

    Greece's population is basically stagnant with a slight downward push, the European Union's statistics service said.

    In 1997 births were 98,200 and deaths 98,700, showing a drop in population of around 500 people.

    Births were down 3.3 percent against 1996 and deaths were 1.8 percent lower.

    The largest demographic decline in the EU was in Germany and in Italy (-0.5 percent), and the largest rise in Ireland (+0.5 percent).

    The European Union's average was up 0.09 percent in 1997.

    [25] Gov't measures for employment

    Athens, 24/02/1998 (ANA)

    Labour Undersecretary Christos Protopapas yesterday announced measures for support to the unemployed during an event focusing on "unemployment and the policies of employment in Greece."

    Mr. Protopapas said the government's main goal is to promote a bill on the "adjustment and regulation" of work relations, within the context of collective bargaining agreements and the pace of inflation along with the rate of productivity.

    The 12 points of the government's programme include:

    - Economic restructuring programmes and measures for public utilities and enterprises (DEKOs). - Changes on development legislation. - A two-year agreement-framework for wage increases equal to inflation and the rate of productivity. - Changes in the system of continuing employee education-training. - Programmes funded by both the European Union and the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED). - Restructuring of OAED and initiation of an "Employee Card" system. - A bill for changing work relations. - Protection against wholesale layoffs - Measures for areas with high unemployment. - Equal employment opportunities for men and women. - Measures against social disenfranchment. - Registration/legalisation of illegal immigrants

    Mr. Protopapas said that if changes do not succeed then fear of "blind social explosions" will be justified.

    [26] Simitis,EBEA president meet on economy

    Athens, 24/02/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis had a brief meeting yesterday with Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) president Yiannis Papathanassiou.

    The Premier told reporters after the meeting that they had discussed the state of the Greek economy from the busines community's perspective, and agreed to closer cooperation between the Chamber and the government to speed up solutions to the problems of the trade and industry sectors.

    Asked for the business community's view of the present state of the economy, Mr. Papathanassiou said:

    "Our views are firm. The structural changes necessary to break out of this vicious circle must be advanced as soon as possible."

    [27] Conference on equality in Athens

    Athens, 24/02/1998 (ANA)

    PASOK Eurodeputy Angela Kokkola said yesterday that the issue of equality among men and women concerns the quality of life, while all are obliged to work in this direction.

    Ms Kokkola was speaking at a conference organised at Zappeion Hall by PASOK's Parliamentary group at the Europarliament on the issue of "Action on Incorporating Equality of Opportunities in EU Policies and Targets in Their Entirety."

    The conference was also attended by Public Order Minister George Romeos, EU Commissioner Christos Papoutsis, Justice Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos, the premier's wife Daphne Simiti, representatives of women's organisations, Eurodeputies etc.

    The conference was inaugurated by the head of PASOK's Parliamentary group at the European Parliament Paraskevas Avgerinos.

    [28] Heart transplant in Thessaloniki

    Athens, 24/02/1998 (ANA)

    A heart transplant operation was reported underway at the Georgios Papanicolaou Hospital in Thessaloniki last night.

    The transplanted organ was donated by a young man from Athens whose name was not disclosed at his relatives' request.

    The organ was transported and arrived in Thessaloniki at 8:30 p.m. from Athens in a military aircraft and was taken to the hospital. The organ was to be transplanted in a 63-year-old pensioned furniture-maker from Thessaloniki.

    A group of surgeons headed by Panayiotis Spyrou began the surgery at 9 p.m. yesterday, while it was expected to last into the early morning hours.

    End of English language section.


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