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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-10-16

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Group of businesses to freeze 1999 prices in anti-inflation drive
  • [02] State gas corporation signs preliminary deal with Shell
  • [03] Greek stocks sprint through 1,900-point barrier
  • [04] Greek absorption of EU funds up this year
  • [05] Growth in primary budget spending slows to 6.5 pct in Jan-Oct
  • [06] Tourist arrivals from the Netherlands seen rising next year
  • [07] Ionian Invest posts 103 pct profit jump in Jan-Sept
  • [08] Greek exporters send delegation to Algeria
  • [09] Positive conclusions for EU farmers in reports focusing on reshaped CAP
  • [10] EU-funded projects in Greece show considerable work deficiencies: Wulf- Mathies
  • [11] Nobel prizewinner Sen to speak at Athens event
  • [12] Disturbing figures released by UNICEF regarding int'l poverty, malnutrition
  • [13] Pangalos lauds Greek-Russian relations in meeting with outgoing envoy Matvienko
  • [14] Armenia denies Turkish minister's claims regarding PKK's Ocalan
  • [15] Simitis-Klima talks in Athens
  • [16] Tsohatzopoulos: Athens' positions regarding Kosovo 'confirmed'
  • [17] Irish official speaks at UN's office in Athens on refugee issue
  • [18] Holy Synod plenum investigating church finances concludes
  • [19] PASOK,ND canvass for votes in light of Sunday's second round
  • [20] Draft plan for Turkey's EU financing unveiled,draws reactions
  • [21] Commission sponsors round-table discussion between bankers, SMEs

  • [01] Group of businesses to freeze 1999 prices in anti-inflation drive

    Athens 16/10/1998 (ANA)

    A group of businesses in foodstuffs, beverages and household goods yesterday agreed to implement zero average weighted price increases in 1999 as part of a government-sponsored policy to lower inflation and protect wages.

    Thirty sector representatives assured Development Minister Vasso Papandreou and Development Undersecretary Mihalis Chrysohoidis that they would hold the prices of goods at current levels.

    Ms Papandreou expressed the government's satisfaction at a recent move by firms to lower the prices of 300 goods in foodstuffs and household goods following an agreement forged with the government.

    She said that combatting inflation was crucial and pledged that the government would take any measures needed to win this battle.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] State gas corporation signs preliminary deal with Shell

    PARIS 16/10/1998 (ANA/D.Tsalapatis)

    Greece's Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding with Shell International Gas Ltd to explore the feasibility of supplying Europe with natural gas from Turkmenistan via Greece.

    If the project is eventually carried out, Greece will become a key player in the energy sector in the next century by acting as an intermediary in the movement of gas.

    The memorandum was signed by DEPA's managing director, Savvas Papaphilippou, and Wim Hein Grasso, chief executive officer of Shell International Gas Ltd, a subsidiary of oil giant Royal Dutch/Shell.

    A feasibility study will be conducted to provide the technical and financial data involved in supplying Greece with Shell's natural gas from Turkmenistan and other central Asian countries, and then transporting it elsewhere in Europe.

    Shell has already signed an exclusive exploration and production agreement with the government of Turkmenistan. The deal with DEPA is part of a broader plan to supply gas to Turkey and western Europe.

    The feasibility will be examined of supplying natural gas and liquified gas to Turkey and other countries in the region via DEPA's installations on Revithousa, a small island near Piraeus.

    Revithousa is currently used for storing liquid gas supplies from Russia and Algeria. A final deal with Shell would lead to expansion of the unit in order to house supplies from Turkmenistan.

    Experts from the two companies are expected to meet in Athens next week to begin discussing the plan.

    DEPA falls under the aegis of the development ministry.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Greek stocks sprint through 1,900-point barrier

    Athens 16/10/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities ended higher yesterday for the third consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange pushing the market above 1,900 points.

    The general index ended 3.39 percent up at 1,918.28 points with turnover at 38.4 billion drachmas. Volume was 10,528,000 shares.

    Sector indices scored gains. Banks rose 4.77 percent, Insurance ended 1.19 percent up, Investment was 1.86 percent higher, Leasing increased 4.25 percent, Industrials rose 2.47 percent, Construction ended 4.35 percent up, Miscellaneous ended 3.44 percent higher and Holding rose 2.22 percent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 3.11 percent up, and the FTSE/ASE 20 blue chip index rose 3.96 percent to 1,145.24 points.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 210 to 30 with another 14 issues unchanged.

    Strintzis Lines, Mytilineos, Teletypos and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation were the most heavily traded stocks.

    Attikat, Alte, Hellenic Duty Free Shops, Loulis, DIS, Alcatel, Bank of Attica, Ideal, Ionian Hotels, Euromedica and Teletypos hit the daily 8.0 percent limit up.

    Lanakam, Kekrops, Macedonian Plastics, Desmos, Ekter, Zampa, Giannousis, Yalko, Radio Athina and Coumbas suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 33,470 drachmas, Ergobank at 21,800, Alpha Credit Bank at 18,800, Ionian Bank at 9,500, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6,245, Delta Dairy at 3,135, Intracom at 9,300, Titan Cement at 16,175, Hellenic Petrole um at 2,320 and Minoan Lines at 5,180 drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Greek absorption of EU funds up this year

    Athens 16/10/1998 (ANA)

    The national economy ministry said yesterday that the absorption by Greece of European Union funds this year had risen and was approaching the technically feasible maximum by the end of 1998.

    By the end of the current year, 8,898 MECU were expected to be absorbed compared to 7,213 MECU in 1997, the ministry said.

    The 1998 figure corresponds to 63.8 per cent of total funds allocated to Greece under the Second Community Support Framework, and 83.6 per cent of the initially estimated amount for the period 1994-98.

    The ministry statement contained an excerpt from an EU report dated July 21, 1998 according to which Greece had made great progress in application of the Community's structural funds since 1994.

    After a slow start, the report noted, Greece's performance had improved significantly in most sectors.

    In addition, GDP growth stood at 3.5 per cent in 1998 - much higher than the EU average - "and unemployment, despite a slight increase, remains lower than the EU average", the report said.

    "In reality, the Greek rate of absorption of EU structural funds is now higher than the average of all member-states," it said.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Growth in primary budget spending slows to 6.5 pct in Jan-Oct

    Athens 16/10/1998 (ANA)

    The growth of primary spending in the budget slowed to 6.5 percent in the first 10 months of 1998, nearing a target of a 6.3 percent annual increase, the finance ministry said in a statement yesterday.

    Budget spending increased by 7.9 and 8.1 percent in the first seven and eight months of 1998 respectively.

    The finance ministry also said that the growth in spending on interest fell to 6.3 percent in the first nine months of the year from 7.0 percent in the eight-month period.

    The ministry expects growth on spending on interest to fall to 3.9 percent in January-October and to 1.8 percent in December, hitting this year's budget target.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday that the government had not yet concluded discussions on drafting next year's budget, and he was optimistic that the deficit target would be fulfilled by the end of the year.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Tourist arrivals from the Netherlands seen rising next year

    Athens 16/10/1998 (ANA)

    A 10-15 percent increase is expected in the number of visitors to Greece from the Netherlands next year, according to speakers at a conference of Dutch travel agents held on Corfu.

    By the end of 1998, 550,000 Dutch visitors are expected to have visited Greece, which would represent a 12 percent increase over 1997, the speakers said.

    Taking part in the conference were 350 representatives of travel agencies in the Netherlands.

    The Greek National Tourist Organisation was represented by its secretary- general, Michalis Kyriakidis.

    The five-day conference ended on Wednesday.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Ionian Invest posts 103 pct profit jump in Jan-Sept

    Athens 16/10/1998 (ANA)

    Ionian Invest, a subsidiary of the Ionian Bank group, yesterday reported a 103 percent increase in its net profit to one billion drachmas in the first nine months of 1998 compared with the same period last year.

    Its internal share value rose 51.6 percent in January-September, exceeding a 43.3 percent rise in the Athens Stock Exchange over the same period.

    Ionian Invest also reported that its portfolio capital gains totalled 880 million drachmas in September 30, up from 563 million in the same month in 1997.

    Equity investments accounted for 79.7 percent of its portfolio with 7.4 percent in bonds and 12.9 percent in floating funds.

    Ionian Invest ranks fifth among Greece's total 16 investment firms based on its assets.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Greek exporters send delegation to Algeria

    Athens 16/10/1998 (ANA)

    The Hellenic Foreign Trade Board is arranging a business delegation to Algeria on November 21-24 as part of an agreement with the country's chamber of commerce and industry.

    Attracting Greek firms is Algeria's wide-ranging privatisation programme.

    Among sectors to be represented in the delegation are foodstuffs, building materials and computers.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Positive conclusions for EU farmers in reports focusing on reshaped CAP

    BRUSSELS 16/10/1998 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    European Union Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler was reassuring in messages to EU farmers, contained in the conclusions of a report he presented here yesterday on the results of reshaping Common Agricultural Polic y (CAP) and its repercussions on farmers' income.

    According to the report, farmers' income is expected to increase in EU member-states until the year 2005, while the increase (compared to the 1992- 1996 period) will reach 25 per cent in the event that the Commission's proposals are endorsed on reshaping

    CAP in light of enlargement (Agenda 2000) and to 36 per cent if the present situation remains which, however, the Austrian Commissioner termed unacceptable.

    In Mr. Fischler's view, if the Commission's proposals are accepted on the new revision of CAP in light of enlargement, the EU's agricultural expenditures will increase, after 2005, by 4.2 billion ECU, guaranteed prices will decrease between 15 per cent and 30 per cent, while the benefit for consumers will be a decrease in foodstuffs prices by about 2 per cent.

    Mr. Fischler was also reassuring with the farmers of the EU's less developed countries, including Greece. Commenting on the Commission's recent proposal to save funds through the partial re-nationalisation of CAP, the Commissioner said that this proposal virtually constituted a labour issue, adding that the process of having finalised proposals adopted by the Council of Ministers must take the parametre of the EU member-states' cohesion into serious consideration.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] EU-funded projects in Greece show considerable work deficiencies: Wulf- Mathies

    BRUSSELS 16/10/1998 (ANA - P. Pantelis)

    Jointly funded European Union projects in Greece display considerable work deficiencies, according to a special adviser for the Greek state (ESPEL), New Democracy Euro-MP Antonis Trakatellis said.

    His statement followed a reply to a question that the ND Euro-MP tabled for EU Commissioner Monika Wulf-Mathies, responsible for regional policy, structural funds and the cohesion fund.

    "Ms Wulf-Mathies noted that the first quarterly report by ESPEL, an independent body for the control of project quality and created at the European Commission's demand, and taken as a sample, includes ascertainments which appear adequate to show that, in general, a certain quality problem exists - bad quality of materials and inadequacy of control systems and primarily the lack of a testing laboratory concerning the workshops and the lack of protocol testing," he said.

    Mr. Trakatellis said that his question which indicates work deficiencies in public works, was submitted on June 25 and the Greek authorities' order to ESPEL to proceed with the carrying out of substantive controls and not merely sampling was given on July 1, 1998 and after the Commission had stressed the delay in the necessary control.

    In a new question to the Commissioner, Mr. Trakatellis requests that the complete list of projects and their work deficiencies be publicised, as well as relevant bodies responsible for carrying out the projects.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Nobel prizewinner Sen to speak at Athens event

    Athens 16/10/1998 (ANA)

    This year's Nobel prizewinner in economics, Amartya Sen, will be in Athens on Tuesday to speak at an event organised by the Andreas Papandreou Foundation.

    Prof. Sen, who received the Nobel prize on Wednesday, will speak on the topic of "The Political Element of Economic Development: A tribute to Andreas Papandreou."

    The event will be held at the Old Parliament Building.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Disturbing figures released by UNICEF regarding int'l poverty, malnutrition

    Athens 16/10/1998 (ANA)

    The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) yesterday called for a new attempt to end the "spiral of poverty around the world", as it noted.

    In light of the international day of feeding the world's hungry, UNICEF released a host of statistics on the issue.

    According to UNICEF, 55 million Europeans live on half their national the per capita income, while in developing countries 1.1 billion people live on less than a dollar a day.

    Abject poverty is characterised by substandard living conditions in relation to basic human needs, i.e. food, water quality, clothing and shelter.

    According to the same statistics, worldwide family planning would cost US$6 billion, basic food supplies $13 billion, clean water $9 billion and basic education $6 billion - a total of $34 billion - at the same time worldwide golf costs totalled at $40 billion and wine consumption $85 billion.

    UNICEF's aims are a reduction of infant mortality by one third and undernourishment by half.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Pangalos lauds Greek-Russian relations in meeting with outgoing envoy Matvienko

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday described Athens' bilateral cooperation with Moscow as being of "strategic importance", noting that Russia's parti cipation in several international organisations was of "decisive significance".

    He also recalled a coincidence of views between Athens and Moscow on the Yugoslav problem.

    He was speaking to reporters after a farewell visit by Russia's outgoing ambassador to Greece, Valentina Matvienko, who recently accepted her nomination as a deputy premier in charge of social policy in Russian Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov's new cabi net.

    Mr. Pangalos assured Ms Matvienko of his and the Greek people's sincere sentiments of respect and friendship towards her, and praised her activities during her term in Greece.

    He said he had invited Ms Matvienko to visit Greece in her new capacity, noting that he himself was scheduled to visit Moscow on Oct. 21, when he would have extensive talks with members of the new Russian government.

    Mr. Pangalos wished Ms Matvienko every success in her new duties, adding that the responsibilities she was undertaking were such that we would "not want to be in her place for even 24 hours".

    Ms Matvienko expressed her gratitude to Mr. Pangalos personally and the Greek government and people for their friendliness.

    She said she was leaving Greece with a "heavy heart", and promised to do all in her power, in her new post, to further develop Greek-Russian relations and for the materialisation of many of the plans she did not have time to advance while ambassador to Greece.

    Ms Matvienko said there was a "new momentum" in Russian-Greek relations recently that was due to joint efforts in that direction.

    She said Greece would always be of "primary importance" for Russia, and called for reinforcement of the cooperation between the two countries on the international scene.

    The outgoing ambassador said her government placed great importance in Mr. Pangalos' upcoming visit to Moscow, with respect to the promotion of bilateral relations as well as for reinforcing their cooperation in efforts for the resolution of internation al problems.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Armenia denies Turkish minister's claims regarding PKK's Ocalan

    Athens 16/10/1998 (ANA)

    The Armenian embassy in Athens yesterday issued a press release flatly denying a Turkish minister's recent claims that Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan was in Armenia.

    Turkish Minister of State Metin Gundere on Sunday claimed that the most successful Kurdish separatist leader had left Syria for Armenia, while at the same time lodging threats against Armenia.

    According to the press release, the Armenian ministry of foreign affairs expressed its deep concern over the Turkish minister's statements, adding that Yerevan believes that such propaganda by Turkish officials only serves to aggravate conditions in the region, and that Armenia is opposed to any policy based on the use or threat of use of force.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Simitis-Klima talks in Athens

    Athens 16/10/1998 (ANA)

    Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima paid a lightning visit to Athens yesterday afternoon for talks with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, in view of an upcoming inform al EU summit scheduled in Austria for Oct. 24-25.

    Austria currently holds the six-month rotating EU presidency.

    The informal summit will deal with the future of the European Union after introduction of the euro, the EU's planned single currency. The summit will also deal with issues such as the EU's role on a global level, internal security (combatting of crime and drug trafficking), employment, and social and foreign policy.

    The Athens talks were also attended by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

    Mr. Simitis said after the talks that the EU has made great achie-vements towards the single market. But the question remaining was "what will follow European Monetary Union and how Europe can intervene on an international level to secure stability and make progress on major issues such as employment, social policy and internal security so as to have a new European dynamism".

    Mr. Klima noted that the EU has already started accession negotiations with six candidate-countries, including Cyprus. As for another five nations wishing to enter the EU but not on an accession course, the European Commission will present a progress report at the EU summit in December in Vienna, he said.

    Commenting on Turkey's European prospects, the Austrian chancellor said that Ankara has failed to meet the criteria for EU accession.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Tsohatzopoulos: Athens' positions regarding Kosovo 'confirmed'

    Athens 16/10/1998 (ANA)

    Greece's positions concerning the best way to confront the crisis in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo, namely, the seeking of a political solution and avoidance of force, have been confirmed, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos told reporters in Thessaloniki yesterday.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said he had been among those who up until the last minute had insisted "quite emphatically, that all political efforts for a political and diplomatic solution (to the crisis) should first be exhausted".

    He compared this stance to that of "those who pressed for and demanded" the use of military force.

    Prospects for a peaceful settlement in Kosovo increased significantly after a western-backed deal was reached between Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and US presidential envoy Richard Holbrooke earlier this week.

    According to the deal, President Milosevic agreed to withdraw Serbian forces from Kosovo, commence peace negotiations with separatist ethnic Albanians and allow about 2,000 observers into the strife-torn province.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos reiterated that Greece welcomed and supported the agreement and stressed that with its stance, the country had shown itself to be "a reliable factor which guarantees its contribution to stability, peace and cooperation".

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Irish official speaks at UN's office in Athens on refugee issue

    Athens 16/10/1998 (ANA)

    Ireland's refugee council vice-pre-sident yesterday spoke on the issue of "refugees and racism", at the United Nations representation in Greece and in light of the 50-year anniversary of the signing of the Universal Human Rights Declaration.

    "Racism and abuse of power are the primary factors that cause difficulties for the induction of refugees in their host society," Machim Sefindwaz said.

    She added that there are 23 million refugees in the world today and 26 million displaced persons, while 80 per cent of them are women and children.

    Today, the Irish official is expected to visit a refugee camp for Kurds on Mount Penteli, while later in the day she is scheduled to meet with representatives of several non-governmental organisations.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Holy Synod plenum investigating church finances concludes

    Athens 16/10/1998 (ANA)

    The first Holy Synod Plenum under the chairmanship of Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos yesterday concluded three days of discussions, focusing on the issue of Church property and allegations of financial mismanagement between 1989-96.

    Metropolitans in charge of Church finances and property management during the 1989-1996 period said that irregularities committed at the time were not owed to self-serving purposes. In response, a proposal submitted by the Archbishop that the Holy Synod consider the matter ended if the Metropolitans involved apologised, was unanimously approved.

    A Church committee for financial management and supervison of development works was found responsible for unsatisfactory financial control.

    Bishop Leondios was also charged with failure to propose the preparation of budgets and accountability reports as well as failure to properly audit payments.

    The Holy Synod decided that Leondios, who was the general financial superviser and the Bishop of Diavleia will appear before the Permanent Holy Synod.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] PASOK,ND canvass for votes in light of Sunday's second round

    Athens 16/10/1998 (ANA)

    Pre-election activity within the two main political parties in Greece is reaching a fever pitch, in view of Sunday's second round of local government elections.

    Ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy are placing particular emphasis on the largest electoral districts, where no ticket won an absolute majority last Sunday. These include the municipalities and prefectures of Thessaloniki and Piraeus, and the greater prefectural authority of Athens/Piraeus and Kavala/Drama/ Xanthi in the northeast. The ruling party's main concern is to gain the support of voters who backed PASOK dissidents or left-wing candidates in the first round.

    Yesterday, the ministers of defence, Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Macedonia-Thrace, Philippos Petsalnikos, and culture, Evangelos Veni-zelos, as well as a number of PASOK deputies and former ministers, all originating in the Thessaloniki area, attended a press conference in the city for support of incumbent prefect Costas Papadopoulos.

    Replying to questions, Mr. Venizelos said that the message of the first round (which gave Mr. Papadopoulos a slight lead over his ND opponent and hopes for the election of PASOK-backed candidate for mayor Thrasyvoulos Lazarides in the second round), was that "the majority of Thessaloniki residents called for a radical change in municipal affairs and judged that the municipal authority could not remain an internal power mechanism in the hands of New Democracy holding the city hostage".

    Asked if the government had received a message from the elections, which showed increased support for opposition-backed candi-dates, Mr. Venizelos claimed that when government policy clashed with vested interests there was dissaffection which produced important messages.

    In Piraeus, the two main contestants, Christos Fotiou and Christos Agrapidis, backed by PASOK and New Democracy, respectively, canvassed the city's neighbourhoods. Mr. Agrapidis posted a surprisingly strong showing in Piraeus.

    In Athens, the head of PASOK-backed "Initiative 2000" ticket for the greater prefecture of Athens/Piraeus, and incumbent prefect Evangelos Kouloumbis met with Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos)-backed candidate and deputy Yiannis Dragassakis, who ended in fourth place last Sunday.

    Mr. Kouloumbis said that "cooperation between the democratic and progressive forces will continue in the next four years," while incumbent Athens prefect Dimitris Efstathiadis, who was also present, said "our origins with Synaspismos in local government are common, and so are our struggles and goals".

    Today, Mr. Dragassakis is meeting with ND-backed candidate for Athens/Piraeus Theodoros Katrivanos, who topped the poll last Sunday.

    In a related development, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday that no question of changing the electoral law has been raised and that the government is not preoccupied with such an issue.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] Draft plan for Turkey's EU financing unveiled,draws reactions

    BRUSSELS 16/10/1998 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    Four months after the EU Cardiff summit's invitation to the European Commission to submit proposals for the funding of 'European strategy' regarding Turkey, EU Foreign Relations Commissioner Hans van den Broek yesterday unveiled a draft plan for Ankara's financing through EU funds.

    The draft plans also follows repeated consultations, mostly backstage, both within the Commission and between the Commission and the Council.

    The plan was discussed yesterday at the department chief level and will be examined again by Wednesday when, according to present scheduling, it will be brought before the Commission plenum, which will convene in Strasbourg for ratification.

    According to sources, during yesterday's first exchange of views on Mr. van den Broek's proposal, the associates of EU Commissioner Christos Papoutsis set out a host of reservations of a legal, institutional and fiscal character and, as characteristical ly mentioned, they assessed the proposal as an effort at "legal acrobatics."

    Commission sources said yesterday that it was pointed out on the part of Mr. Papoutsis that the principal weakness of Mr. van den Broek's proposal lies in the fact that it proposes, in violation of EU principles, the issuing of two regulations on the same issue, evidently aiming at sidestepping the Greek right of "veto", while at the same time it faces Turkey as a developing country according to the one regulation and as a candidate for EU accession according to the other.

    Other diplomatic sources said reactions by the Greek side over the first reading of the van den Broek proposals were clearly negative and, of course, and along the same line with the argumentation put forth by the Greek Commissioner's close associates yesterday.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] Commission sponsors round-table discussion between bankers, SMEs

    BRUSSELS 16/10/1998 (ANA - P. Pantelis)

    EU Commissioner Christos Papoutsis yesterday inaugurated here the third round-table discussion of bankers and small-to-medium-si-zed enterprises (SMEs).

    The current initiative will focus on the financing of SMEs during initial start-up and operation. Such initiatives will support European Union programmes, are projected to create for jobs in the Union.

    The round-table discussion will work toward finding solutions for existing problems, identify best strategies and define new ones.

    Mr. Papoutsis noted that "today (yesterday), marks the beginning of a new phase for the initiativeIand shows the Commission's will to counter the problem of SMEs' access to financing at the highest levels." A final report is expected in November 1999.

    Athens News Agency

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