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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-02-28

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 1428), February 28, 1998

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


CONTENTS

  • [01] Tough negotiations underway over EU enlargement, Cyprus
  • [02] Kranidiotis-Hannay meeting in Cyprus focuses on EU accession talks
  • [03] Meeting with van den Broek
  • [04] Joint Inner Cabinet-PASOK political secretariat meeting
  • [05] Gov't: Anyone worried about Aegean tension should focus on Turkey
  • [06] Navy orders four destroyers from Skaramangas shipyards
  • [07] Pangalos-Burns meeting
  • [08] Greece-FYROM meetings at UN
  • [09] Draft law envisions abolishment of election booklets
  • [10] Mitsotakis on latest ND developments
  • [11] PASOK political secretariat on ND's internal situation
  • [12] US State Dept. report on worldwide drug-trafficking
  • [13] Serapheim's condition unchanged
  • [14] Alia discharged from hospital
  • [15] Greece submits '98 economic forecasts to EU
  • [16] Greek economy is stable, minister says
  • [17] Greek stocks pick up steam after jittery week
  • [18] Greek central bank leaders sworn in for new term
  • [19] Bank of Attica reports profit jump for 1997
  • [20] AGET Heracles reports 40 pct profit jump for 1997
  • [21] Europarliament plan for prevention of accidents
  • [22] Floating exhibition to promote Crete
  • [23] Roussel's lawyer cleared of slander charges
  • [24] Unlucky gambler dies of self-inflicted wounds

  • [01] Tough negotiations underway over EU enlargement, Cyprus

    Brussels, 28/02/1998 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    Athens is reportedly experiencing strong diplomatic pressures over Greek-Turkish relations by many European Community countries and, according to all indications, these pressures are expected to heighten.

    Pressures concern the issue of allowing for the normalization of relations between the EU and Turkey, and more specifically, the issue of activating a financial protocol for Turkey, which Greece is blocking.

    Many EU countries, including the British presidency, are using the Cyprus issue as a lever, believing that in this way they will oblige the Greek side to lift objections on the issue of financially aiding Turkey.

    Such pressures became clear in Brussels yesterday during the discussion at a Council of Ministers group at the diplomatic and experts level, which is responsible for EU enlargement. The British presidency presented the plans concerning the EU's opening positions during the meeting concerning the start to inter-governmental consultations with the five candidate-countries from central and eastern Europe and Cyprus, due to take place in Brussels on March 31.

    The plan on Cyprus was not satisfactory for the Greek side since, in essence, it mentioned that the accession of Cyprus to the EU necessitates the creation of an bi-communal and bi-zonal federation.

    The Greek side rejected the plan and expressed reservations over all the plans (even those concerning eastern countries).

    Greek diplomats believe that the opening position of the "15" on Cyprus must correspond to the spirit and letter of relevant decisions taken on Cyprus at the Luxembourg summit, saying the proposal by the British presidency lies outside this framework.

    The issue is expected to be discussed at the Committee of Permanent EU Representatives, at the ambassadorial level, possibly at the informal session of EU foreign ministers in Edinburgh in three weeks' time. If there are no developments by then, it might be the main issue at the Foreign Ministers' session which will precede the official start to accession negotiations at the end of March.

    Pressures are also intensifying on the Greek side to consent to the activation of the fiscal mechanism for Turkey which is anticipated by the agreement concerning customs union between Turkey and the EU.

    The European Commission is expected to discuss on Wednesday a report which, based on decisions taken at the Luxembourg summit, it must deliver to the Council of Ministers on strengthening the agreement on customs union between Turkey and the EU.

    The Greek side, however, argues that for activation of the protocol procedure, based on previous Council decisions, Turkey is required to make steps of goodwill in the direction of normalizing Greek-Turkish relations. These steps have not been taken and, consequently, Greece does not have the possibility of consenting to the release of EU funds to Turkey, a Greek diplomatic source said in Brussels.

    [02] Kranidiotis-Hannay meeting in Cyprus focuses on EU accession talks

    Nicosia, 28/02/1998 (ANA - G. Leonidas/CNA)

    Visiting Foreign Under-secretary Yiannos Kranidiotis had a working breakfast here yesterday morning with special British envoy for Cyprus Sir David Hannay.

    According to sources, the meeting, which was also attended by British High Commissioner David Madden and Greece's ambassador in Nicosia Kyriakos Rodousakis, focused on current developments with regard to Cyprus' European Union accession talks, scheduled to begin at the end of March.

    Mr. Kranidiotis arrived here last Tuesday for five days of talks with the government, as well as political party leaders and other officials, including foreign ambassadors. Contacts included a meeting with EU member-states' ambassadors in Nicosia.

    Speaking after a meeting with National Guard Commander Lt. Gen. Nikolaos Vorvolakos, the Greek foreign under-secretary underlined that the joint defense doctrine, signed between Greece and Cyprus in 1993, backed diplomatic efforts for a settlement of the long-running Cyprus problem.

    Mr. Kranidiotis yesterday had a meeting with former Cypriot foreign minister and presidential contender in the last election George Iacovou, with discussion between them focusing on latest developments on national issues and Cyprus' EU admission course.

    Mr. Kranidiotis was the main speaker last night at an event organized by the Cyprus-European Institute on Cyprus' EU prospects. Mr. Kranidiotis said that Cyprus' entry in the EU constitutes a historic choice which, when materialized, will create the conditions for the safeguarding of the future of the Cypriot state. The island republic's entry will alter the balance of power and co-operation in the southeast Mediterranean region.

    [03] Meeting with van den Broek

    Brussels, 28/02/1998 (ANA - G. Daratos)

    Meanwhile, Mr. Kranidiotis is scheduled to arrive here on Tuesday for a meeting with EU Commissioner for External Affairs Hans van den Broek. The Greek official is expected to brief the EU Commissioner on the outcome of his meetings in Cyprus during his visit there.

    Mr. van den Broek will travel to Nicosia two days later, on Thursday, for official talks. His agenda will include Cyprus' EU admission talks and possibly the expected installation in Cyprus of the Russian-made S-300 defense missiles, as well as the way Turkish Cypriots could participate in accession talks.

    [04] Joint Inner Cabinet-PASOK political secretariat meeting

    Athens, 28/02/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis chaired a joint meeting of the Inner Cabinet and PASOK's political secretariat yesterday, which focused on the planning of government policy over the next six months.

    Government spokesman Demetris Reppas said issues were also discussed concerning changes in technical issues for the election process as well as the government's policy on the mass media.

    Mr. Reppas referred for details on the first issue to the contents of an interview by the relevant minister, Alekos Papadopoulos, but stated categorically that in no way does it concern the possibility of a change in the election system. He said that for changes being promoted, the government will pursue the greatest possible consensus between parties.

    Mr. Reppas further said that there is no question of an early election since the completion of technical processes requires time and, consequently, it is one more reason for all to be convinced that elections will take place in 2000.

    [05] Gov't: Anyone worried about Aegean tension should focus on Turkey

    Athens, 28/02/1998 (ANA)

    Anyone concerned about increasing tension in the Aegean should intervene and seek a solution with those causing the problem, in other words, with Turkey, government spokesman Demetris Reppas said yesterday.

    Mr. Reppas was commenting on statements by US Assistant Secretary of State Mark Grossman, who called the situation in the Aegean "dangerous". It is Ankara's behavior that is maintaining the tension, Mr. Reppas said.

    [06] Navy orders four destroyers from Skaramangas shipyards

    Athens, 28/02/1998 (ANA)

    National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday announced an order by the Greek navy for four destroyers from the Hellenic Shipyards at Skaramangas.

    Speaking during a visit to the shipyards, the minister reiterated the government's decision to increase the Greek defense industry's share of the armed forces' procurements program, which in 1997 stood at 40 percent, compared with the previous 3.5-4 percent.

    [07] Pangalos-Burns meeting

    Athens, 28/02/1998 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns yesterday met and discussed preparations for the Greek minister's visit to the US, a foreign ministry announcement stated.

    Meanwhile, the US ambassador met with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, who spoke out against what he called the "terrible pressure" being exerted by the US on the European Union regarding the participation by Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus-EU accession negotiations as well as Turkey's future in the EU. Mr. Kaklamanis stressed that Greece would not give in to any form of blackmail or to any interference by third parties.

    Finally, Mr. Burns met with Justice Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos and discussed the further development of Greek-American relations.

    [08] Greece-FYROM meetings at UN

    United Nations, 28/02/1998 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)

    An announcement here by a UN spokesman yesterday referred to the last two meetings between Greece's permanent representative to the United Nations and his Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) counterpart on Feb. 23 and 25.

    Greek Ambassador Christos Zaharakis met with FYROM representative Ivan Tosevski during the two meetings, held under the auspices of special UN mediator Cyrus Vance.

    The announcement said "the two sides continued to exchange views in accordance to Article 5 of the Sept. 13, 1995 interim agreement, deciding to meet again at a date to be jointly fixed."

    [09] Draft law envisions abolishment of election booklets

    Athens, 28/02/1998 (ANA)

    Voters will no longer use election booklets but will vote by merely showing their identity card during the next general elections.

    In addition, voters lists will be abolished under their present form and will henceforth be identified with municipal registration lists.

    Each voter will be provided with a special individual number to prevent the possibility of double voting, while people living in a different place from the municipality where they are registered will be able to vote in their place of residence.

    Several radical changes in the elections process which will be fully modernized are the product of a draft law by the interior ministry, which was discussed by the Inner Cabinet yesterday and presented by Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Alekos Papadopoulos at a press conference.

    Mr. Papadopoulos will address a letter to political party leaders next week, briefing them on the main clauses being promoted and will convene an inter-party committee for an overall examination of the issue of election processes.

    Clauses concerning election lists, election booklets and the individual number will not be applied in local elections this coming October since the completion of the process will require quite some time.

    Administrative sanctions anticipated in the event of failure to exercise the right to vote will also be abolished (e.g. passports will be issued as normal even if someone has not voted).

    On the question of voting by people not living in their place of registration, Mr. Papadopoulos said the ministry's proposal is that such citizens should vote in their place of residence but will select parties and candidates from the constituencies where they are registered. For example, a voter registered in Irakleio, Crete and living in Athens will vote at one of the special polling stations which will be created for such voters in Athens but will have to select between party tickets from the Irakleio constituency.

    Referring to the issue of opinion polls, Mr. Papadopoulos said they will be prohibited a week ahead of elections, while in cases of people from a different constituency of registration voting on Saturdays, exit polls will not be permitted on that day.

    On the contrary, exit polls will be permitted on Sundays but their publication will be forbidden by law before polling stations close.

    [10] Mitsotakis on latest ND developments

    Athens, 28/02/1998 (ANA)

    "I am not interested in election lists or the presidency of the republic. As I have already stated, I would only become president if the election was made directly by the people. What I am interested in is the future of our party", former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis said yesterday in reply to relevant statements by main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis.

    On his part, Mr. Karamanlis declined to comment on Mr. Mitsotakis' statements, indicating he did not wish to continue a public confrontation with the party's honorary president.

    However, several of Mr. Karamanlis' aides were quoted as saying that the ND leader was firm on his positions. Party deputies who spoke with Mr. Karamanlis said the ND leader believes the issue ended.

    [11] PASOK political secretariat on ND's internal situation

    Athens, 28/02/1998 (ANA)

    During an Inner Cabinet meeting with the ruling PASOK party's political secretariat yesterday, reference was made to current developments in the main opposition New Democracy party.

    Government spokesman Demetris Reppas said it was ascertained that ND is unable to determine its ideological and political orientation.

    Replying to a relevant question, he said the government is not preoccupied whether there is ground for a new political body to be created because, as he said, it is not known where developments in ND will lead to.

    Mr. Reppas said that what is of interest to the government is success in its work and this effort must not be weakened by developments on a specific issue.

    [12] US State Dept. report on worldwide drug-trafficking

    Washington, 28/02/1998 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    The US State Department yesterday afternoon released its annual report on worldwide drug-trafficking.

    In reference to Greece, the report stated that illegal narcotics produced in the Near East and south Asia pass through the country towards eastern Europe, due to Greece's geographical characteristic - i.e. islands, extensive and remote coastlines.

    The State Department report further underlines the co-operation between US and Greek law enforcement agencies on drug interdiction. It also notes that the Greek government displays interest in dealing with the issue of money laundering.

    As for Turkey, the report states that organized crime rings in the neighboring country control most of the heroin-trafficking towards western Europe, while indicating that a significant number of illegal drug laboratories have been raided in Turkey.

    [13] Serapheim's condition unchanged

    Athens, 28/02/1998 (ANA)

    A bulletin issued yesterday afternoon by physicians treating Archbishop Serapheim of Athens and All Greece at an Athens hospital said the prelate's condition was essentially unchanged, although he was apparently in good spirits after kidney dialysis treatment.

    The 85-year-old Archbishop was taken to Laiko Hospital last Tuesday with a severe viral infection, complicated by a kidney disease that has plagued him for the last few years.

    Doctors say they are "neither optimistic nor pessimistic" about the Archbishop's condition, although they are concerned that the cause of the infection has not yet been pinpointed. Results of more pathological tests were expected yesterday or today.

    Yesterday's visitors to Serapheim included the main opposition New Democracy party's honorary leader Constantine Mitsotakis and Political Spring leader Antonis Samaras, as well as the widow of late premier Andreas Papandreou, Demetra Liani-Papandreou.

    [14] Alia discharged from hospital

    Athens, 28/02/1998 (ANA)

    Albania's former communist president Ramiz Alia was discharged from a Thessaloniki hospital yesterday after recovering from quadruple by-pass surgery.

    Mr. Alia had been in intensive care in a Tirana hospital following a heart attack a month ago and was transferred to Thessaloniki's Georgios Papanikolaou Hospital two weeks ago.

    His expenses were paid for by an anonymous Thessaloniki businessman.

    Doctors told the ANA that the former Albanian leader was in good health and that he left the hospital accompanied by two relatives.

    The former Albanian leader suffered his first heart attack six years ago while in an Albanian prison.

    He had been sentenced to an eight-year prison sentence in 1992 for abuse of power and violation of the people's rights after assuming power following the death of dictator Enver Hoxha in 1985. He was later freed after an appeals court ruling only to be rearrested and charged with killing or ordering the deportation of dissidents who tried to flee the country illegally. He escaped from jail along with hundreds of others during an armed uprising in March last year and was finally cleared of all charges in October.

    [15] Greece submits '98 economic forecasts to EU

    Athens, 28/02/1998 (ANA)

    Greece yesterday submitted its economic forecasts for 1998 to the European Union ahead of a decision by the 15-nation bloc in May on which candidates are to participate in the single currency next year.

    The general government deficit is forecast to fall to 855 billion drachmas this year from 1.3 trillion in 1997, representing 2.4 percent of the country's gross domestic product from 4.0 percent last year.

    The public debt is forecast to rise to 37.9 trillion drachmas at the end of 1998 from 35.8 trillion last year, or 106.7 percent of GDP.

    Germany, Italy, France and Finland announced better-than-expected 1997 deficit figures that should ensure a timely launch of EMU with 11 founding members. German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the last surviving architect of the 1991 Maastricht Treaty still in office, said the news showed the euro would be as stable a currency as the deutschemark and would start on time on January 1, 1999.

    Analysts say the figures announced by 10 countries this week showed a remarkable pattern of control of public borrowing and inflation, especially in southern European economies with a history of chronic deficits.

    Even Greece, which will not qualify for the first wave of EMU, has slashed its deficit and inflation in a race to catch up with the founders by the time euro banknotes and coins come into circulation in 2002.

    Perhaps the most impressive effort has been Italy's last-minute dash for fiscal rectitude, launched at a time when Rome was widely considered a non-starter for EMU. Rome has cut its deficit to gross domestic product ratio from 10 percent to 2.7 percent in just four years.

    [16] Greek economy is stable, minister says

    Athens, 28/02/1998 (ANA)

    A Greek international syndicated bond issued in the US market was an answer to recent negative surveys on the Greek economy, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday. "Economic stability is an undisputed reality," he said.

    Mr. Papantoniou was commenting on recently published surveys by international firms on the country's creditworthiness and other analysis suggesting that the Greek currency was overvalued. He said the terms of the syndicated bond issue were extremely favorable, a proof of confidence felt by international capital markets in the Greek economy. "There is a climate of confidence that cannot be undermined by any private surveys," Mr. Papantoniou said.

    Mr. Papantoniou urged Greek investors to remain calm and maintain a positive attitude on the future of the economy.

    [17] Greek stocks pick up steam after jittery week

    Athens, 28/02/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities yesterday rebounded during the last trading session of a volatile week on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Traders said that renewed bargain-hunting and other speculative buying for shares in banks and Hellenic Telecommunications Organization led the market higher after its two-day decline.

    Analysts noted that the market remained wary in the aftermath of Moody's decision to place Greece under surveillance for a possible downgrade of its credit rating, and talks of a widespread liquidation in bonds by foreign institutional investors.

    However, a wave of robust 1997 results reported by commercial banks and higher profits by large industrial groups aided the market's recovery.

    The general index closed 1.20 percent higher at 1,419.22 points to show a 0.63 percent fall on the week. Sector indices scored gains across the board. Banks rose 2.12 percent, Insurance was 0.16 percent up, Leasing increased 0.86 percent, Investment w as 0.59 percent higher, Construction rose 0.07 percent, Industrials edged 0.24 percent up, Miscellaneous increased 1.13 percent and Holding was 0.54 percent up.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies fell 0.46 percent for a weekly gain of 6.61 percent.

    The FTSE/ASE blue chip index rose 1.73 percent to 788.41 points, down 0.22 percent from last Friday.

    Trading was heavy with turnover at 32.7 billion drachmas including a block trade of 1.3 million shares in Mortgage Bank.

    The week's turnover totaled 99.5 billion drachmas for a daily average of 19.9 billion, up from 13.3 billion last week.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 132 to 84 with another 23 issues unchanged. Benrubi, Allatini, Papoutsanis and Ergas scored the biggest percentage gains at the daily 8.0 percent upper volatility limit, while Singular, Balkan Export, Doudos and Pairis suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 20,500 drachmas, Ergobank at 14,350, Alpha Credit Bank at 15,400, Delta Dairy at 2,845, Titan Cement at 13,600, Intracom at 14,340 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organization at 5,700.

    [18] Greek central bank leaders sworn in for new term

    Athens, 28/02/1998 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece Governor Lucas Papademos and his two deputies were yesterday sworn in for a six-year term of office, remaining at the helm of the country's central bank.

    The bank's two deputy governors are Panayotis Thomopoulos and Nikolaos Garganas, both of whom will sit with Mr. Papademos on the Monetary Policy Council, a body being created to forge policy.

    The renewal of their term coincides with moves to allow the central bank autonomy under the terms of European Union economic and monetary union. The swearing-in ceremony was held before President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos. Also attending was National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou.

    [19] Bank of Attica reports profit jump for 1997

    Athens, 28/02/1998 (ANA)

    Greece's Bank of Attica yesterday reported 1997 profits before tax and provisions of 1.378 billion drachmas against 896 million a year earlier, up 54 percent.

    The bank, which is listed on the Athens bourse, posted pre-tax profits for the same period of 1.021 billion drachmas against 177 million in 1996.

    Deposits at the end of 1997 were 106.5 billion drachmas, up 25 percent on the previous year, and loans 81.8 billion, marking a 35 percent increase. The bank's assets totaled 140.5 billion drachmas, up 28 percent, and mutual fund assets were 5.8 billion drachmas, posting a 278 percent jump. Deposits and loans maintained their ascent in January-February 1998, company officials said.

    After doubling its capital, Bank of Attica is implementing a five-year business plan, which includes creation of a mutual fund management firm, entry into the bancassurance sector, expansion of the branch network, and improvements to information technology.

    [20] AGET Heracles reports 40 pct profit jump for 1997

    Athens, 28/02/1998 (ANA)

    AGET Heracles, an Italian-controlled cement producer listed on the Athens bourse, yesterday reported sales of 100 billion drachmas for 1997, an increase of 8 percent from the previous year. Its net profits rose to 17 billion drachmas last year from 12.1 billion in 1996, a rise of 40 percent.

    A company statement attributed the jump to cutbacks in operational costs and higher sales in the domestic market. The group's sales exceeded 146 billion drachmas in 1997 with net profits at 18.5 billion.

    The company said a stronger Greek domestic market - it rose by 6.0 percent in 1997 - and a restructuring of Chalkis Cement led to better results for the group. Chalkis Cement reported sales totaling 33.5 billion drachmas, up 19 percent from 1996, and pre-tax profits of 500 million drachmas against a loss of 5.7 billion in 1996.

    The cement group invested a total of 8.7 billion drachmas last year in improving productivity and environmental procedures. The group expects a further improvement in results in the years ahead of the 2004 Athens Olympics.

    [21] Europarliament plan for prevention of accidents

    Brussels, 28/02/1998 (ANA - P. Pantelis)

    The Europarliament's environmental committee yesterday approved an action program for the prevention of accidents in the European Union for 1999-2003.

    A study by New Democracy Eurodeputy Antonis Trakatellis, which initiated the vote, stated that more than 22 million people fall victim to accidents in the Union every year.

    This figure includes self-inflicted injuries and suicides. The study noted that the figures do not include work-related or traffic accidents.

    [22] Floating exhibition to promote Crete

    Athens, 28/02/1998 (ANA)

    A floating exhibition promoting the island of Crete is to sail on March 16 for a 10-day cruise along the Rhine to ports in four European countries - France, Germany, Belgium and Holland.

    The exhibition, organized by the Hotelier's Association of Crete will include daily presentations for travel agencies and receptions for local authorities and the press.

    [23] Roussel's lawyer cleared of slander charges

    Athens, 28/02/1998 (ANA)

    A three-member appeals court yesterday found a Greek attorney representing French businessman Thierry Roussel innocent of slander charges.

    Law school professor Nestoras Kourakis had been counter-sued by the Alexander Onassis Public Benefit Foundation for alleging that board members mismanaged and embezzled Foundation's assets. His statements came amid a lawsuit filed last by Mr. Roussel, the one-time husband of the late Christina Onassis.

    A prosecutor proposed that Mr. Kourakis be found innocent, arguing he had the obligation to defend his client even outside the strict legal framework. In a written statement after the decision, the Foundation's board members said that from the trial transcripts is deduced that Mr. Kourakis did slander their reputations.

    [24] Unlucky gambler dies of self-inflicted wounds

    Athens, 28/02/1998 (ANA)

    A Thessaloniki businessman who shot himself in the stomach 10 days ago died in hospital yesterday. Panayiotis Binomakis shot himself after incurring massive debts to allegedly finance a gambling habit, prompting an outcry over casinos and loan shark operations.

    Official figures released last week showed that the amount spent by Greeks on legal gambling last year was up 23 per cent from 1995. The lion's share went to casinos, which raked in 425.6 billion drachmas, up from 273.8 billion drachmas the previous year.

    Development Minister Vasso Papandreou told Parliament on Wednesday that the government would be reviewing the operating regulations for casinos.

    End of English language section.


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