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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-10-30

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] Simitis announces minor reshuffle,calls for confidence vote
  • [02] The new cabinet is as follows:
  • [03] EU, NATO accession prospects dominate Slovenian PM Drnovsek's talks in Athens
  • [04] Athens: Ankara's response to EU memo `hypocritical,misleading,but expected`
  • [05] Athens supports NATO verification mission over Kosovo
  • [06] Greek, Bulgarian MPs promote upgraded bilateral cooperation
  • [07] Greece calls for 'balanced EU policy' on asylum, immigration issues
  • [08] First official Athens 2004 meeting held
  • [09] Eurocourt convicts Greece over large family benefits
  • [10] Policeman discovers satchel with US$30,000
  • [11] Decrease of EU funds for Greek education
  • [12] Archimedes' palimpsest sold at auction, Jerusalem Patriarchate to press court action
  • [13] Tsatsos honoured by Bonn
  • [14] Kurds housed in Cretan hotel
  • [15] Inner cabinet meeting on possible distribution of 3rd Community Support Framework
  • [16] Decisions on budget taken
  • [17] Equities drop
  • [18] Eurobank increases pre-tax profits by 164 per cent
  • [19] DIPEK agreement with Bulgaria's Foreign Investment Agency
  • [20] Albio-Viokarpet group reports increase of profits
  • [21] Better prospects for Folli-Follie
  • [22] 19 per cent hike in EU nations' mutual fund assets
  • [23] Participation of foreign investment firms in Secondary Electronic Securities Market discussed
  • [24] ETEBA interest rates
  • [25] Draft bill envisions write-off of OSE debts
  • [26] EU-wide inflation rate drops in Sept., increases in Greece
  • [27] Greece's trade deficit increases in first half of '98

  • [01] Simitis announces minor reshuffle,calls for confidence vote

    Athens 30/10/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday announced a minor reshuffle, appointing new heads in three ministries and establishing a new ministry to the prime minister and called for a confidence vote on his new government next week.

    The government now comprises 20 ministries, with 19 ministers, 22 deputy ministers and one alternate minister. Yiannos Papantoniou remains in charge of both the national economy and the finance ministry portfolios.

    The most notable change is the ouster of George Romeos at the ministry of public order, who is replaced by hitherto Macedonia-Thrace minister Philippos Petsalnikos.

    George Anomeritis and Yiannis Magriotis, who are cabinet newcomers, will take over the agriculture and Macedonia-Thrace ministries, respectively, while outgoing health minister Costas Geitonas is assuming the new ministry to the prime minister, responsible for relations between the government and Parliament.

    Also outgoing are five deputy ministers, including two in the agriculture ministry, and one each in labour and social security, transport, and health and welfare.

    In a letter to Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, Mr. Simitis has asked for a convening of the plenum for a debate and the provision of a confidence vote to the new government.

    The debate will start on Sunday and is expected to end with a confidence vote on Tuesday evening.

    "The government enjoys the Parliament's confidence only if it receives an absolute majority of all deputies. This is the premier's and the government's position," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said in announcing the reshuffle.

    The new ministers and deputy ministers will be sworn in at 11 a.m. this morning.

    Opposition reactions : Commenting on the reshuffle, main opposition New Democracy party spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said it amounted to no significant change.

    "It has taken the prime minister a long time to proceed to a reshuffle of compromises and retractions. It is a move of panic," he said.

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said in a statement that the reshuffle represented an attempt by the prime minister to defuse the growing popular discontent and to prepare the people to accept the new anti-popular measures it is planning.

    The Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) said the prime minister's move was an admission of the government's inability to change the policy which caused social discontent and led the country to a stalemate.

    Democratic Social Movement(DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas said the reshuffle was "the other side of the same coin", and would not enable the prime minister to solve either his party's internal problems, nor those of the country, "which required an over turning of the government's harsh neo- liberal policy," as he said.

    Political Spring (Pol.An) leader Antonis Samaras said changes in persons for reasons of creating impressions or changing internal balances in the ruling party were devoid of political significance.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] The new cabinet is as follows:

    Athens 30/10/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister: Costas Simitis

    Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation Ministry: Alekos Papadopoulos
    Deputy Ministers: George Floridis, Stavros Benos

    National Defence Ministry: Akis Tsohatzopoulos
    Deputy Minister: Dimitris Apostolakis

    Foreign Ministry: Theodoros Pangalos
    Alternate Minister: George Papandreou
    Deputy Minister: Yiannos Kranidiotis

    National Economy Ministry: Yiannos Papantoniou
    Deputy Ministers: Christos Pachtas, Alekos Baltas

    Finance Ministry: Yiannos Papantoniou
    Deputy Ministers: George Drys, Nikos Christodoulakis

    Development Ministry: Vasso Papandreou
    Deputy Ministers: Mihalis Chrysohoidis, Anna Diamantopoulou

    Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Ministry: Costas Laliotis
    Deputy Ministers: Theodoros Koliopanos, Christos Verelis

    Education and Religious Affairs Ministry: Gerasimos Arsenis
    Deputy Minister: Ioannis Anthopoulos

    Agriculture Ministry: George Anomeritis
    Deputy Ministers: Costas Vrettos, Paraskevas Fountas

    Labour and Social Security Ministry: Miltiades Papaioannou
    Deputy Ministers: Fivos Ioannidis, Christos Protopapas

    Health and Welfare Ministry: Lambros Papadimas
    Deputy Ministers: Nikos Farmakis, Theodoros Kotsonis

    Justice Ministry: Evangelos Yiannopoulos

    Culture Ministry: Evangelos Venizelos
    Sports Deputy Minister: Andreas Fouras

    Merchant Marine Ministry: Stavros Soumakis

    Public Order Ministry: Philippos Petsalnikos

    Macedonia-Thrace Ministry: Yiannis Magriotis

    Aegean Ministry: Elizabeth Papazoi

    Transport and Communications Ministry: Tassos Mantelis
    Deputy Minister: Nikos Salayiannis

    Press and Media Ministry: Dimitris Reppas

    Ministry to the PM: Costas Geitonas
    Deputy Minister to the PM: George Paschalidis

    Athens News Agency

    [03] EU, NATO accession prospects dominate Slovenian PM Drnovsek's talks in Athens

    Athens 30/10/1998 (ANA)

    Slovenia's efforts to join the European Union and NATO as well as bilateral relations with Greece were at the centre of talks yesterday between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his Slovenian counterpart Janez Drnovsek.

    During the talks, Mr. Drnovsek, who arrived here on an official visit yesterday, thanked Mr. Simitis for Greece's support in Slovenia's bid for EU membership.

    Replying to reporters' questions after the meeting, and concerning the efforts of certain EU member-states to make Cyprus' accession prospects dependent on relations between the EU and Ankara, Mr. Simitis said EU enlargement was a joint, political decision which was not open to dispute.

    "There may be some separate problems, but these will be examined," he said, expressing certainty that solutions will be found.

    Stressing that enlargement was a process which required time, Simitis cited the case of Spain which waited in the EU "ante-chamber" for eight years.

    Mr. Drnovsek spoke of the historical significance of enlargement, saying that responsibility for the final outcome lay not only with the 15 member- states but also with the candidate countries which must make appropriate preparations.

    Sources said Mr. Drnovsek expressed concern about the course of EU enlargement to the countries of central and eastern Europe, while Mr. Simitis underlined that Greece's policy was in favour of the Community's expansion to the whole of Europe in order to ensure stability and friendly relations.

    No problems were ascertained in bilateral relations, since both sides agreed that they had the same targets and shared the same values. Contacts have already begun between Greece and Slovenia at the highest level. A few months ago, National Defence Mini ster Akis Tsohatzopoulos visited Slovenia. Mr. Drnovsek, who also met with President Kostis Stephanopoulos.

    All parties, except the Communist Party of Greece, voted in favour of the agreement on Slovenia's association with the European Union.

    Deputy FM Yiannos Kranidiotis said Greece supported enlargement and the inclusion of all Balkan countries in the European Union, considering that this boosted security, stability asnd development in the region.

    The Slovenian premier met later with Parliament president Apostolos Kaklamanis, who assured him of Greece's support to Slovenia's effort to obtain accession to Euro-atlantic organisations.

    Both men found commong ground on the principles that should govern international relations, respect for human rights, and the implentation of UN Council Resolutions for Cyprus. They also expressed support for a peaceful resolution of the Kosovo problem

    Mr. Drnovsek also later met with Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, with whom he discussed possible cooperation between local government organisations of the two countries.

    "Today, we had the opportunity to exchange thoughts and experiences on the problems of the two cities (Athens and Ljubljana) and the solutions to them. I am sure such initiatives will especially useful for our peoples," Mr. Drnovsek added.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Athens: Ankara's response to EU memo `hypocritical,misleading,but expected`

    Athens 30/10/1998 (ANA)

    Athens yesterday described Turkey's reaction to a memorandum submitted by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos to the EU Council of Ministers concerning relations between the EU and Turkey as "hypocritical, misleading, but expected."

    "This stance of Turkey merely harms Turkey itself," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas responded.

    Noting that Ankara "is not willing to bring itself in line with the European community", the Greek spokesman also cited the fact that Turkey was among those countries which did not recognise the jurisdiction of the International Court at The Hague.

    Mr. Pangalos submitted a 48-page memorandum on EU-Turkish relations to the Council of Ministers in Luxembourg on Monday, which included references also to the Cyprus problem, Greek-Turkish issues - including violations of Greek airspace by Turkish warpl anes - and the Kurdish problem.

    According to sources in Brussels, the memorandum was an indirect response to efforts by the European Commission to change the legal basis for releasing EU funds to Turkey which have up to now been blocked by Greece.

    Ankara reacted with an angry tirade against Greece on Wednesday, describing the submission of the memorandum as an "immoral act".

    Replying to reporters' questions on Turkish violations of Greek airspace, Mr. Reppas said the government had no intention of concealing the facts and was not interested in merely creating an impression.

    When there is information on such matters, he said, they are dealt with through diplomatic channels and whether the information is made public depends on considerations related to the national interest.

    Greece on Sunday issued a stern warning to the Turkish leadership that they would be solely responsible for any accident related to military flights over the Aegean.

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos issued the warning while referring to mass violations of Greek airspace by Turkish warplanes over the previous few days, as they tried to prevent Greek fighters and transport planes from participating in a joint Greece-Cyprus military exercise.

    He said the Turkish aircraft had even harassed commercial aircraft belonging to third countries.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Athens supports NATO verification mission over Kosovo

    Athens 30/10/1998 (ANA)

    Greece said yesterday that it would participate in all processes aimed at defusing the crisis in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas made the statement when asked by reporters if Greek military aircraft would participate in NATO aerial surveillance patrols over Kosovo.

    "Greece supports the verification mission in Kosovo and is participating in consultations on the province. Developments in this matter vindicate the Greek position in favour of a political settlement of the problem. Greece will contribute to defusing the situation by participating in all processes related to Kosovo," Mr. Reppas said.

    NATO has undertaken to conduct aerial surveillance over Kosovo to back up over 2,000 "verifiers" on the ground whose task will be to monitor a truce between Yugoslav forces and ethnic Albanian separatists.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Greek, Bulgarian MPs promote upgraded bilateral cooperation

    SOFIA 30/10/1998 (ANA- B. Borisov)

    Greek and Bulgarian deputies yesterday decided to promote cooperation between the two countries' Parliamentary committees on European affairs, which will include at least six-monthly meetings.

    The proposal was submitted by the head of the Greek delegation, Loukas Apostolidis. His Bulgarian counterpart, Asen Agov, expressed gratitude for Athens' steady support for Sofia's course towards joining European institutions.

    Mr. Apostolidis and Bulgarian Foreign Undersecretary Antoanetta Primatarova also expressed their common concern on the situation in Kosovo, but also satisfaction over the apparently positive recent turn of events.

    The head of the Greek delegation also met with Socialist Party leader Georgi Parvanov.

    "With a fraternal party we have many things to say, we have common concerns and aims," he said, while Mr. Parvanov also expressed his esteem for Greece's support of Bulgaria's European course.

    Mr. Apostolidis invited the Bulgarian political leader to attend the European Socialist Party summit on social issues, scheduled to take place in Athens in the spring.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Greece calls for 'balanced EU policy' on asylum, immigration issues

    VIENNA 30/10/1998 (ANA - D. Dimitrakoudis)

    The European Union is in need of a balanced policy of asylum and immigration which will take into account the responsibilities stemming from international law and human rights, Foreign Ministry Secretary General Stelios P errakis said here yesterday at an informal EU justice and interior ministers' meeting.

    Mr. Perrakis, during his address, said Greece does not only have reservations but it refuses to accept the attempted change of the refugee status, as it has been defined by the Geneva Convention of 1951.

    He stressed that the Union should not move to overturn this universal status quo, which is in force in all countries that have signed the agreement.

    The FM secretary general requested the "softening" of the wording of the relevant document prepared by the Austrian EU presidency, which seem to support the mechanisms of arresting or confronting the illegal immigration and refugee flow.

    Mr. Perrakis proposed that the EU create policies of incorporation of legal immigrants within the Union's societies as well as action within societies the illegal immigrants come from, in the form of economic cooperation for the development of those regions, the funding of democratic institutions, peace and stability, so as to take away all the reasons for movement.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] First official Athens 2004 meeting held

    Athens 30/10/1998 (ANA)

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos yesterday presided over the first official meeting of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games committee at the Zappeion Hall.

    Mr. Venizelos, after the meeting, said that the meeting was useful for providing an essential and useful exchange of opinions between the members of the committee.

    The minister said that "we have control and are aware of time...we are within the timetable of the Olympic Games contractual agreement."

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Eurocourt convicts Greece over large family benefits

    BRUSSELS 30/10/1998 (ANA - P. Pantelis)

    The European Court ruled against Greece for legislation or administrative practices that the country maintains in terms of distinction due to nationality for the granting social benefits anticipated for large families.

    The European Commission had raised the issue at the European Court with a recourse against Greece following reports by EU citizens living and working in Greece. The European Court ruled that benefits for large families indeed constitute social benefits which must also be enjoyed by citizens of EU member-states with the same preconditions that apply for local residents

    The court rejected Greece's argument that the precondition of nationality is justified for the realisation of demographic targets.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Policeman discovers satchel with US$30,000

    Athens 30/10/1998 (ANA)

    In the midst of a growing furor over recent disclosures of police corruption, a 38-year-old law enforcement officer found a travel satchel containing 30,000 dollars in US currency at Athens' international airport and turned it in, refusing a legal finders ' fee.

    An airport spokesman yesterday said officer Constantinos Yienerakis was patrolling the restricted area in the arrivals terminal Wednesday afternoon when he saw a black satchel abandoned in a telephone booth.

    The spokesman said Mr. Yienerakis cautiously removed the satchel and took it to a remote area in fear it might be a bomb, and opened it to find that it was full of packets of dollars.

    He immediately turned the satchel over to the airport police authorities. A short while later, an employee of a shipping company showed up in search of the satchel, saying he had withdrawn the money from the bank branch at the airport but had lost the satchel.

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos yesterday received 40 members of European Journalists' Union, who are participating in today's two-day conference on the protection of human rights.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Decrease of EU funds for Greek education

    BRUSSELS 30/10/1998 (ANA - G. Daratos)

    The European Commission has cut funds amounting to 141 million ecu (about 48 billion drachmas) from European Union programme subsidies for education in Greece.

    The clarification was made by the official responsible for social affairs, EU Commissioner Padraig Flynn, in reply to a relevant question by Coalition of the Left and Progress Eurodeputy Alekos Alavanos.

    Mr. Flynn said in his reply that a decrease was decided in the European Social Fund's participation in the business programme under the name of "Education and initial training" in Greece by about 190 million ecu and a simultaneous increase in the region al fund's contribution by 49 million ecu. In all, this means a net decrease in the region of 141 million ecu.

    Mr. Flyn further said that cutbacks were decided from the programme "Education and initial training in Greece" because the average absorption rate for EU funds is in the region of 28-29 per cent, while economic commitments which must be made by by Decem ber 31, when the present programming period ends, do not allow for great margins of absorption by Greece of an amount currently totalling 1.35 billion ecu, the largest part of which will remain unused.

    Education ministry : An announcement by the education ministry on the above issue said that "as it has been repeatedly stressed, the revision of EPEAEK agreed on July 21, 1998 with the criterion of strengthening programmes for equipment and infrastructures in the education sy stem has not decreased but on the contrary it has reached a net increase amounting to eight billion drachmas and more specifically from 588.7 billion drachmas it has reached 596.7 billion drachmas."

    The announcement went on to say that "as stressed in the past, the EPEAEK does not participate in the additional allocation of funds which resulted from the recent change in the drachma parity and Mr. Flynn's observation refer precisely to this point."

    "On the question of absorption percentages for EU funds, it is noted once again and always in accordance with the official informative system of EPEAEK that absorption now as at Oct. 29, 1998 amounts to 40.2 per cent of the total budget and it is antici pated that it will exceed 50 per cent by the end of the year," it added.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Archimedes' palimpsest sold at auction, Jerusalem Patriarchate to press court action

    NEW YORK 30/10/1998 (ANA/AFP)

    A 12th century palimpsest containing several of Archimedes' theories was sold yesterday to an American collector in a New York auction for just more than US$2.2 million, a spokesman of the Christie's auction house said.

    Earlier in the day, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos announced that Greece would take part in the auction, following a New York court ruling on Wednesday that claims of ownership by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which requested that the auction be postponed, were baseless.

    The auction was to begin at bid price of $800,000 to $1.2 million, while Athens as well as its institutional sponsors vowed to support all efforts of the Patriarchate to recover the manuscript, the minister said.

    Mr. Venizelos said that after the auction the Patriarchate will continue its efforts to recover the document.

    The Patriarchate of Jerusalem took Christie's to court claiming the manuscript was part of its library, which was transferred to Istanbul and later to Athens for safekeeping.

    The court ruled that Christie's had the right to auction the manuscript for a French family, which claimed to own it for the last 75 years since one of the family's ancestors bought it from Orthodox monks in Istanbul.

    According to the ruling, French law applied in the case, under which a person who holds any object for more than 30 years becomes its rightful owner.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Tsatsos honoured by Bonn

    BRUSSELS 30/10/1998 (ANA)

    PASOK Eurodeputy Dimitris Tsatsos was on Wednesday was honoured by Germany's permanent representation in Brussels for his academic work in Germany and in recognition of his achievements in bringing the German and Greek cultures close together.
    Athens News Agency

    [14] Kurds housed in Cretan hotel

    Athens 30/10/1998 (ANA)

    The 270 Iraqi Kurds detained on Wednesday aboard a Lebanese-flagged fishing boat have been given shelter at a Xenia hotel near Hania, local officials said yesterday.

    The coastguard discovered the illegal immigrants, including 130 children, crammed into the hold of the vessel after being alerted by the skipper of a trawler, who saw a large number of people on the deck of the 25-metre "Santa Maria" as it was sailing off the southwest coast of Crete.

    The coastguard in the small port of Paleochora sent a patrol boat which located the Lebanese vessel shortly afterwards.

    Apart from the 270 Iraqis, the coastguard arrested two Syrians who were in charge of the vessel and are believed to have arranged for their illegal transportation.

    According to reports, the "Santa Maria" set sail 11 days ago from a Syrian port en route to Italy or France.

    The illegal immigrants were given first aid treatment before being taken to the hotel, where local authorities, doctors and social workers have been visiting them. Many of the children were suffering from dehydration.

    Local residents flocked to the hotel with clothing and food, while the army has been providing meals.

    The two Syrians were charged with illegal immigration and aiding in the transport of illegal immigrants and were bound over for trial today.

    The two were identified as Mustafa Al Abdu Fata, 46, the captain of the boat, and Mohamed El Kampsa, 28.

    Fata denied all the charges and said he had picked up the 270 people off the coast of Crete from a boat that had suffered a mechanical failure.

    Each of the illegal immigrants had paid 7,000 US dollars for their fare, with the children paying half of 3,500 dollars each.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Inner cabinet meeting on possible distribution of 3rd Community Support Framework

    Athens 30/10/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis will chair a meeting today of the inner cabinet to discuss the distribution of funds anticipated under the 3rd Community Support Framework.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the meeting would be attended also by Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas, Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou and National Economy Deputy Minister Christos Pachtas, who is responsible for the administration of EU funds.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Decisions on budget taken

    Athens 30/10/1998 (ANA)

    The government has reached its decisions on next year's budget, Finance Deputy Minister George Drys told reporters yesterday.

    "The revenues leg in next year's budget is closed," Mr. Drys said.

    He implied that a package of tax measures aimed at containing inflation would include a 20-25 percent cut in vehicles' sales tax and a reduction in the value added tax (VAT) of Public Power Corp.'s (DEH) bills from 18 to 15 per cent.

    The new measures combined with an earlier government decision to lower special fuel taxes will cost 180 billion drachmas annually to the state budget.

    Mr. Drys said that today's inner government committee meeting will discuss only matters relating to a EU Community Support Framework programme.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Equities drop

    Athens 30/10/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities ended lower as short-selling halted a two-day rally on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday.

    Traders said the market was disappointed by a Bank of Greece decision not to lower its intervention rate by 25 basis points, as hoped.

    The general index ended 1.65 percent down to 2,105.01 points, with turnover at 38.9 billion drachmas. Volume was 9,823,000 shares.

    Sector indices suffered losses. Banks fell 1.37 percent, Insurance eased 0.42 percent, Investment dropped 0.84 percent, Leasing plunged 4.49 percent, Industrials fell 1.93 percent, Construction ended 2.22 percent off, Miscellaneous fell 0.33 percent and Holding dropped 3.70 percent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 0.27 percent higher.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 170 to 63 with another 18 issues unchanged.

    Strintzis, Metrolife, Mytilineos and Duty Free Shops were the most heavily traded stocks.

    Alcatel, Euromedica, Metrolife and Rocas hit the daily 8.0 percent limit up, followed by Dimitriadis, Tasoglou, Lanacam, Daring and Bank of Central Greece which scored big gains.

    Alcar-Aemet, Boutaris, Nematemboriki, Barba Stathis, Aspis Bank, Macedonian Spinn Mills, Attikat and Doudos suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 38,400 drachmas, Ergobank at 24,105, Alpha Credit Bank at 21,380, Ionian Bank at 10,450, Hellenic Telecoms at 6,345, Delta Dairy at 3,280, Intracom at 10,900, Titan Cement at 17,100, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,340 and Minoan Lines at 6,030.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Eurobank increases pre-tax profits by 164 per cent

    Athens 30/10/1998 (ANA)

    EFG Eurobank's pre-tax profits increased by a spectacular 164 percent to 13.7 billion drachmas in the first nine months of 1998 compared with the same period last year.

    A bank statement said yesterday assets rose 79.3 percent to 1,030 billion drachmas, deposits increased 88.8 percent to 773 billion, lending rose 62.1 percent to 370 billion and equity capital totalled 190 billion drachmas, a rise of 312.9 percent from 1997.

    EFG Eurobank, a member of Latsis group, also published a total of basic financial figures for the three banks owned by the group (Eurobank, Bank of Athens and Cretabank).

    Nine-month assets totalled 1.78 trillion drachmas, deposits totalled 1.44 trillion, lending was 707 billion and equity capital totalled 241 billion drachmas.

    The three banks operate a total of 175 branches in the country.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] DIPEK agreement with Bulgaria's Foreign Investment Agency

    Athens 30/10/1998 (ANA)

    The Inter-Balkan and Black Sea Business Centre (DIPEK) has signed a cooperation agreement with Bulgaria's Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) to represent the Bulgarian agency in Greece.

    The deal, signed by the managing directors of the two agencies, Haralambos Tsarouhas and Ilian Vasilev, will offer information to Greek and foreign businessmen on investments and procedures in the neighbouring country's privatisation programme.

    A FIA's member will visit Greece each quarter to directly brief businessmen on privatisations and other developments in Bulgaria.

    DIPEK, based in Thessaloniki, is in contact with other investment agencies in Romania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and has already signed a cooperation protocol with Yugoslavia's World Trade Center.

    DIPEK is on the final stages of issuing business guides for Albania, FYROM and Ukraine and launching a data bank through the Internet.

    It is organising an event in Athens in November for the development of its offices in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] Albio-Viokarpet group reports increase of profits

    Athens 30/10/1998 (ANA)

    Albio-Viokarpet group of companies reported a 31 percent increase in its pre-tax profits in the first nine months of 1998 to 1.7 billion drachmas, from 1.3 bln the same period last year.

    The parent company's net sales totalled 12.3 billion drachmas compared with 10.1 billion last year, a 22 percent increase.

    Exports jumped by 53 percent to 4.5 billion drachmas, up from 2.9 bln in 1997.

    Group sales rose 10 percent to 20.2 billion drachmas and exports increased 26 percent to 7.9 billion.

    The group's pre-tax profits increased by 24 percent to 2.1 billion drachmas.

    The company attributes its spectacular results to the launch of a new aluminium unit, Albio.

    The metallurgical sector accounted for 70 percent of the group's turnover, with the other 30 percent coming from the spin mills sector.

    Albio-Viokarpet recently acquired a 39.8 percent share in Exalco SA, raising its stake from 54.4 to 94.2 percent, to enter into the aluminium sector.

    The customs bureau will hold a week of training next week for 20 employees of the customs authority of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and five employees from the Ukraine authority.

    The seminars are being held in cooperation with the national economy ministry and in the framework of training extended to Black Sea and Balkan countries hoping to best combat the illegal movement of goods between Greece and other countries.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] Better prospects for Folli-Follie

    Athens 30/10/1998 (ANA)

    Folli-Follie reported higher than expected results for the first nine months of 1998, with sales rising to 4.1 billion drachmas, from 2.6 bln in the same period last year, and pre-tax profits totalling one billion drachmas, from 604 million in 1997.

    Exports rose by a spectacular 109 percent to 2.35 billion drachmas in the same period. Exports to south-east Asia increased by 114 percent to 1.3 billion drachmas, with equal increases recorded in exports to the US and Europe.

    Exports now account for 58 percent of the company's sales, exceeding initial forecasts.

    Folli-Follie's turnover in the first nine months of 1998 increased by 61 percent compared with the same period last year.

    A company statement said its new shop launched in the commercial centre of Athens a few days ago was already reporting the highest revenues for the company in Greece. It said the company was considering opening another shop in the same area before the e nd of the year to meet increased demand.

    Folli-Follie will launch a share capital increase scheme worth 3 billion drachmas. The rights issue will offer five new shares for every 20 old ones at 3,000 drachmas each.

    The new capital will be used to increase sales to export markets.

    Folli-Follie expects sales to exceed 7.5 billion drachmas and pre-tax profits more than 2 billion drachmas this year.

    Athens News Agency

    [22] 19 per cent hike in EU nations' mutual fund assets

    Athens 30/10/1998 (ANA)

    Assets of European Union member-state mutual funds increased by 19 per cent in the first half of 1998, amounting as at June 30 this year to 2,082 billion ecu compared to 1,750 billion ecu as of Dec. 31, 1997.

    According to data of the European Union of Institutional Investors, publicised yesterday by the Greek Union of Institutional Investors, as at June 31 this year, there were 17,289 mutual funds in the EU of which 6,074 concerned shares, 5,953 bonds, 3,482 were mixed and 1,653 were for the management of availables.

    Among EU countries, Italy has the biggest increase in mutual fund assets (with a 65 per cent increase), followed by Finland (43 per cent), Belgium (40 per cent) and Portugal (32 per cent). The increase for Greece was 11 per cent.

    Athens News Agency

    [23] Participation of foreign investment firms in Secondary Electronic Securities Market discussed

    Athens 30/10/1998 (ANA)

    Finance Deputy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis yesterday met with primary dealers at the General Accounting Office, in order to discuss the possibility of foreign investment companies participating in the Secondary Electronic Securities Market.

    The issue of the sale of Greek state long-term securities to small investors was examined during the meeting. Toward that aim the Union of Greek Banks agreed to distribute a circular to that effect towards all commercial banks.

    Athens News Agency

    [24] ETEBA interest rates

    Athens 30/10/1998 (ANA)

    The interest rate for the National Investment Bank for Industrial Development's (ETEBA) new bonds issued in October 1998 will amount to 11.5 per cent annually over the period between Nov. 1, 1998 and Oct. 31, 1999. Interest obtained from bonds is taxable.

    For every annual renewal the interest rate of bonds issued by ETEBA at the time of renewal is valid. This possibility is provided for four renewals. The provision of new annual bonds by ETEBA will take place at its offices and at the branch offices of the National Bank.

    Athens News Agency

    [25] Draft bill envisions write-off of OSE debts

    Athens 30/10/1998 (ANA)

    A draft bill restructuring the Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE) was unveiled yesterday, with the government stating that OSE employees must forward possible objections in 15 to 20 days' time in order to be discussed and for the draft bill to be tabled in early December.

    According to the bill, the state will write-off debts owed by the debt- ridden organisation, amounting to 550 billion drachmas.

    Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis stressed that OSE had been "neglected" over a period of years, resulting in infrastructure shortages. He also noted existing difficulties due to Greece's terrain, as well as the fact that for Greek rail connections to reach EU countries they must pass through a number of non-member states.

    Moreover, the bill states that the departure of about 2,800 OSE employees is estimated in the next five years due to pensioning or the transfer of surplus staff to other organisations out of a total of about 11,000 employees at present.

    Athens News Agency

    [26] EU-wide inflation rate drops in Sept., increases in Greece

    BRUSSELS 30/10/1998 (ANA - P. Pantelis)

    The annual inflation rate decreased last September among the 15 European Union member-states from 1.3 per cent in August to 1.2 per cent, while for the 11 'euro countries' it decreased from 1.2 per cent to 1 per cent.

    In Greece, however, annualised inflation increased from 4.7 per cent to 5 per cent.

    According to a monthly bulletin issued by the Community's statistical service (Eurostat), the highest inflation rates are in Greece with 5 per cent, Ireland (2.8 per cent) and Portugal (2.2 per cent). The smallest percentages were recorded in Sweden (-0 .1 per cent), France (0.5 per cent) as well as Germany and Austria (0.6 per cent).

    The annual inflation rate in Switzerland remained steady at 0.1 per cent, while in the United States it decreased to 1.5 per cent.

    Athens News Agency

    [27] Greece's trade deficit increases in first half of '98

    BRUSSELS 30/10//1998 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    Greece's trade balance showed a deficit of 6.9 billion ecu in the first half of 1998, compared to a 6.4-billion-ecu deficit in the corresponding period in 1997.

    Specifically, imports totalled over the same period 11.5 billion ecu as against 11 billion ecu in the first half of 1997. Exports in both the first half of 1998 and the first half of 1997 remained steady at the level of 4.6 billion ecu.

    A larger deficit (in absolute prices) was shown in the first half of 1998 by Britain (18.8 billion ecu) and Spain (7.8 billion ecu), while in Germany a surplus of 34.4 billion ecu was created over the same period.

    Athens News Agency

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