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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-05-04

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Simitis expands on Greek policy over Kosovo crisis,NATO
  • [02] Gov't to seek compensation from EU for Kosovo losses
  • [03] Stocks hit new record, boosted by fresh capital
  • [04] Aegek gets OK for share capital rise
  • [05] Mailis shows 50 pct profit rise in Q1
  • [06] Plaesio Computers has 63 pct jump in profit, sales
  • [07] Goody's reports 30 pct rise in Q1 earnings
  • [08] Germanos applies to enter Athens bourse
  • [09] Athens Foreign Exchange
  • [10] Gov't: `Greece as safe,if not safer than most EU countries`
  • [11] Gov't expresses grief over latest bombing of civilian target in Kosovo
  • [12] Athens welcomes implementation of Amsterdam Treaty
  • [13] Japanese FM Komura discusses Balkan developments in Thessaloniki
  • [14] V. Papandreou- Constantopoulos meeting focuses on Euroelection campaign
  • [15] Simitis meets with PASOK youth group secretary
  • [16] 'Ta Nea' poll shows rebound in Simitis' popularity
  • [17] Mitsotakis praise, criticism for Simitis
  • [18] PR campaign aims to improve Greece's image abroad
  • [19] Greek journalists rally against NATO bombs,freedom of the press
  • [20] PM in Florina this weekend
  • [21] British tourist arrivals reported on schedule
  • [22] Eurostat: Greece 12th in social welfare spending among EU states

  • [01] Simitis expands on Greek policy over Kosovo crisis,NATO

    Athens, 04/05/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis told Parliament last night he had another telephone conversation with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder as part of efforts to find a solution to the protracted Kosovo crisis.

    He made the statement during the off-the-agenda debate in the legislature focusing on NATO and the war in Yugoslavia, held at the request of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).

    In his address, Mr. Simitis stressed that the legalising role of the UN is essential in finding a solution to the Kosovo crisis, while any solution to be provided must be within the framework of a unified Yugoslavia in order to be viable.

    Mr. Simitis said it is not necessary for the international force to be deployed in the region to be a NATO force, while he indicated that actions also being discussed within the framework of European Union initiatives for a defusion of the crisis include a pullout of Yugoslav troops from Kosovo, a safe return of refugees to their homes and a simultaneous end to all acts of war.

    Referring to Greece's position on the crisis, he said "our country's position lives up to our values, the collective reactions of the Greek people, as well as to the need for credibility towards other peoples with which we cooperate."

    The Greek PM questioned the correctness of the NATO bombings, saying they produced no results and, more specifically, failed to prevent ethnic cleansing, resulting in hundreds of thousands of refugees and economic destabilisation of Albania as well as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), among others. He also said the bombings rallied the Serbian people behind Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

    On the question of NATO's new role, Mr. Simitis briefed Parliament on discussions held during the three-day events marking the alliance's 50th anniversary and on the new texts signed in Washington.

    He said Greece was not marginalised but, on the contrary, made its double identity understood, as well as its sensitivity over problems in the region.

    He added that Greece is participating in NATO on an equal footing for the first time.

    Mr. Simitis, elaborating on NATO's new role, ascertained the strong opposition of the Greek government to whatever efforts to have NATO proclaimed a "international gendarme."

    "We recognise the importance of organisations for collective regional security and we do not consider it corrent for NATO to turn into a world security organisation," he said.

    He also said NATO cannot act on the basis of its own principles, independent from those established by the UN and cannot intervene when it alone desires intervention.

    Mr. Simitis said he also raised the issue at the NATO summit and underlined the question which the legal basis will be for NATO's new missions.

    The Greek PM said NATO's actions must have legal standing beyond any doubt and that international law is the prerequisite for credibility in all actions.

    Summing up the conclusions of the NATO summit, Mr. Simitis said peace, security, development and cooperation are not an issue solely concerning the 19 NATO member-states in camera, nor is it only an issue of "military mechanisms". Conversely, he said the need was recognised to upgrade the EU's common foreign policy and defence and security policy.

    Adherence to the principle of national sovereignty and the inviolability of existing borders was also reaffirmed, he said.

    Referring to the alliance's new structure and the activation of headquarters, Mr. Simitis said that all of NATO's headquarters without exception, including that of Larisa, have been activated by the decision taken by NATO's Council on March 1. He defend ed the country's participation in the new structure, saying that in this way its strategic targets set from the beginning are achieved and that national interests are defended more effectively.

    Mr. Simitis said that had the government adopted the positions of opposition parties it would have created spectacular impressions for a few hours but, in the long run, it would have created serious problems which would have worsened the country's inter national position.

    Concluding his address, Mr. Simitis said that in the current turmoil prevailing in the Balkans, Greece showed that it has its own view and voice, it can be a factor of peace and a pole of stability and proved that it has strength of spirit.

    Opposition : In response, Communist Party Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga called on the Greek people to "resist and show insubordination" toward the plans of what she termed the "new NATO".

    "We must resist and take all the risks for the defence of borders and peace, instead of accepting peace 'with a gun to our head'. If we bow our head then others will decide what sacrifices we will make and what crimes we will tolerate," she emphasised.

    The KKE leader said the new NATO dogma means the "open and without pretext intervention" in the domestic affairs of other countries, something she said "tears apart every meaning of national independence and abandons the principle of the inviolability of borders.

    "We are not interested in what Mr. Simitis 'whispered' into the ear of Mr. Clinton, but what the Greek government signed without the consent of the Greek people"

    On his part, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis said there is a great danger of the crisis engulfing the Balkans.

    "The landscape is more worrying than even the humanitarian tragedy in Yugoslavia, it is a great danger for the destabilisation, and in that case there will be more victims and tragedies in the region," Mr. Karamanlis said.

    He also accused the premier of "double talk", and said that ND's stance was clear, while he accused the prime minister of "whispering without courage and with fear."

    He added that Mr. Simitis does not want unanimity on such a serious crisis issue, while he reiterated ND's proposal for a meeting of political party leaders and called on the government to accept the creation of a national foreign policy council.

    Mr. Karamanlis said ND supports a cease fire in Yugoslavia, respect for human rights, a presence of a UN peacekeeping force or one by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

    He also said that his party supported the inviolability of borders and was against the creation of an independent state in Kosovo.

    Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos said "the new Yugoslav tragedy proved that the NATO bombings not only failed to solve the Kosovo crisis, but exacerbated and complicated it while the 'new order of things' under US guardianship is not an order of peace."

    "Peace and security may only be built on the basis of borders' inviolability and respect for human and minorities' rights, while the globalisation of the market does not resolve society or democracy's problems," Mr. Constantopoulos said, calling European governments "non-existent" regarding the Yugoslav issue, but merely "accesories in this historic crime". Finally, Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) president Dimitris Tsovolas said the NATO alliance's founding charter, which doesn't anticipate an attack against a sovereign third nation, excludes member-states from participating in military operations against Yugoslavia.

    He added that acceptance by EU nations of the new NATO dogma creates an issue of "abolishing national sovereignty" and of elevating NATO into the role of an "international gendarme".

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Gov't to seek compensation from EU for Kosovo losses

    Athens, 04/05/1999 (ANA)

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, who predicted that the Yugoslav crisis was "nearing its end", yesterday called on Greek businesses to maintain the country's presence in the Balkans.

    He also told the representatives of 57 businesses invited to a meeting on helping to rebuild Yugoslavia that Greece would seek compensation from the European Union for losses suffered by the economy due to the war.

    The two sides agreed to set up a working group to coordinate the participation of Greek enterprises in the reconstruction of Serbia, and then in development of the broader region.

    Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) president Iason Stratos told the meeting that the working group needed technical backing.

    Theodoros Karatzas of the Union of Greek Banks called for simplification of the institutional framework in Balkan states, particularly those directly harmed by the Kosovo crisis, in order to eliminate obstacles met by Greek investors.

    A ministry official told the Athens News Agency that reform of the institutional framework could be aided by accelerating the harmonisation of national laws in Balkan countries with the EU, a matter that could also be brought up before the EU's economics ministers.

    Mr. Papantoniou said that a mini "Marshall Plan" for reconstruction of the Balkans would cost 10-20 billion US dollars.

    He added the plan would affect next year's budget but that the government would try to seek funds from the EU's Third Community Support Framework.

    The minister announced that the inner cabinet would meet on Thursday to discuss economic losses from the Kosovo crisis, past and future.

    He urged financial markets to be ready for any eventuality and declined to forecast when the the war would end.

    The government's plan for the Balkans is divided into political and economic sections.

    Under the political framework, Greece is working for a diplomatic solution to end the Yugoslav conflict and is ready to help develop the economies of Balkan countries, Mr. Papantoniou said.

    "We are in a position to help because we are a strong country ... Greece is the only country that has no political expediency in the Balkans," he said.

    The minister added that next year's budget would feel the impact of the plan, which envisages increased funds to damaged Balkan countries as bilateral aid; more support for businesses active in the wider Balkan region; higher export credits and the crea tion of two funds, together worth three billion drachmas, to support Greek exports, services and investments in neighbouring countries.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Stocks hit new record, boosted by fresh capital

    Athens, 04/05/1999 (ANA)

    Equity prices soared to new records yesterday reflecting the market's confidence in a diplomatic solution to the Yugoslav crisis.

    Traders said the market had begun to discount positive developments in Kosovo last week.

    Hefty new capital entered the market as investors who had remained on the sidelines in recent weeks opened positions in an optimistic market.

    The general index ended 188.91 points, or 5.22 percent higher to post a new record of 3,806.33 points, exceeding its previous all-time high of 3,774.29 on March 19. It was the 23rd record this year. Analysts said breaking the 3, 800-point level had opened the way to 4,000 points.

    Turnover was 157.304 billion drachmas and volume 31,560,261 shares.

    The construction sector was at the focus of trade with 28 shares ending at the daily 8.0 percent limit up.

    Sector indices scored major gains.

    Banks jumped 5.36 percent, Leasing soared 6.15 percent, Insurance surged 6.09 percent, Investment was 3.82 percent higher, Construction jumped 8.0 percent, Industrials rose 5.61 percent, Miscellaneous increased 5.63 percent and Holding ended 4.61 percen t up.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 6.80 percent up while the FTSE/ASE 20 index rose 4.97 percent to 2,356.21.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 288 to six with another five issues unchanged. Macedonian Textiles, Thessaliki, Strintzis and Hellenic Technodomi were the most heavily traded stocks.

    A total of 103 shares hit the day's 8.0 percent limit up.

    Among them were General Bank, Bank of Central Greece, Altec, Aktor, Avax, Aegek, Michaniki, Varyte, Sigalas and others.

    3A, Nimatemboriki, Benroubi, ANEK, Aspis Invest and Xylemporia ended lower.

    Alpha Credit Bank, National Bank and Commercial Bank led the day's turnover.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 22,100 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 23, 000, Ergobank at 28,180, Ionian Bank at 18,800, Titan Cement at 25,600, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,590, Intracom at 21,900, Minoan Lines at 7,690, Panafon at 8,550 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,290.

    Bonds nose up in slim trade (PK) : Bond prices gained around 15 basis points in the secondary market with turnover again low.

    Electronic trade was 19 billion drachmas.

    The new ten-year-bond was trading at 104.20, showing a yield of 5.72 percent. The yield spread with German bunds was 183 basis points.

    In the foreign currency market, the drachma edged up against the euro in slim trade.

    At the central bank's daily fix, the euro ended at 325.460 drachmas from 325.790 drachmas in the previous session.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Aegek gets OK for share capital rise

    Athens, 04/05/1999 (ANA)

    Aegek, a listed engineering contractor, will seek to raise 24.9 billion drachmas through a share capital increase.

    A shareholders' meeting yesterday approved the move to hold a share capital increase of 12.460 billion drachmas through the issue of 20,767,500 new common shares at a nominal price of 600 drachmas and an offer price of 1, 200 drachmas each, leading to the total rise.

    Half of the new capital - 12.5 billion drachmas - will be used for acquisitions and equity holdings.

    Aegek has already signed a deal to acquire a 51 percent stake in Ekter, another engineering contractor.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Mailis shows 50 pct profit rise in Q1

    Athens, 04/05/1999 (ANA)

    Mailis yesterday reported a 45 percent increase in sales and a 50 percent rise in pre-tax profits for the first quarter of 1999 compared with the same period last year.

    A company statement said the results were satisfactory despite slower demand in many European countries in the first two months of the year.

    Consolidated sales totalled 6.7 billion drachmas, up from 4.6 billion in the same period of 1998, while consolidated pre-tax profits rose to 1.36 billion from 904 million a year earlier.

    Consolidated results included two acquisitions in France and a new stretch film production unit in Alexandroupolis, northern Greece, despite a slight delay in the project which is expected to be fully operational in the second quarter of 1999.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Plaesio Computers has 63 pct jump in profit, sales

    Athens, 04/05/1999 (ANA)

    Plaesio Computers yesterday reported a spectacular 63 percent rise in sales and profits in the first quarter of 1999.

    Sales totalled 3.8 billion drachmas, up from 2.3 billion in the same period of last year, while profits rose to 272 million from 199 million a year earlier.

    The company aims to promote Internet sales this year, ensuring delivery within 24 hours with a large variety of products.

    Plaesio Computers has already entered the subscription mobile telephone market through a deal with Cosmote, one of the country's three operators.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Goody's reports 30 pct rise in Q1 earnings

    Athens, 04/05/1999 (ANA)

    Goody's, a fast food chain, yesterday reported a 30 percent rise in pre-tax profits and 15 percent increase in consolidated turnover in the first quarter against the same period of last year.

    Consolidated results include the parent company's fast food and Flocafe operations, Hellenic Catering, Select, Floca, Intertaste, Balkan Restaurants and smaller enterprises.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Germanos applies to enter Athens bourse

    Athens, 04/05/1999 (ANA)

    Germanos yesterday applied to join the main market of the Athens bourse and raise its share capital by 11 percent.

    The firm will hold an initial public offer (IPO), planning to use the new funds to finance investments, extend its network of stores, reduce borrowing and boost operating capital.

    A lead underwriter of the IPO and its coordinator is EFG Eurobank. The other lead underwriters are Ergobank and Telesis Securities.

    Germanos manufactures and sells batteries aimed at the retail sector and industrial and defence sectors. It also has mobile phone retail outlets.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens, 04/05/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: May 3, 1999

    Parities in Drachmas

    Banknotes             Buying  Selling
    US Dollar             304.544 311.605
    Can.Dollar            208.459 213.292
    Australian Dlr        201.604 206.278
    Pound Sterling        490.881 502.263
    Irish Punt            409.943 419.448
    Pound Cyprus          559.151 572.115
    Pound Malta           725.774 756.015
    Turkish pound (100)     0.072   0.075
    French franc           49.219  50.360
    Swiss franc           200.260 204.903
    Belgian franc           8.003   8.189
    German Mark           165.074 168.901
    Finnish Mark           54.300  55.559
    Dutch Guilder         146.505 149.902
    Danish Kr.             43.438  44.445
    Swedish Kr.            36.218  37.058
    Norwegian Kr.          39.134  40.042
    Austrian Sh.           23.463  24.007
    Italian lira (100)     16.675  17.061
    Yen (100)             254.617 260.520
    Spanish Peseta          1.940   1.985
    Port. Escudo            1.610   1.647
    Foreign Exchange      Buying  Selling
    New York              304.544 311.605
    Montreal              208.459 213.292
    Sydney                201.604 206.278
    london                490.881 502.263
    Dublin                409.943 419.448
    Nicosia               559.151 572.115
    Paris                  49.219  50.360
    Zurich                200.260 204.903
    Brussels                8.003   8.189
    Frankfurt             165.074 168.901
    Helsinki               54.300  55.559
    Amsterdam             146.505 149.902
    Copenhagen             43.438  44.445
    Stockholm              36.218  37.058
    Oslo                   39.134  40.042
    Vienna                 23.463  24.007
    Milan                  16.675  17.061
    Tokyo                 254.617 260.520
    Madrid                  1.940   1.985
    Lisbon                  1.610   1.647
    Athens News Agency

    [10] Gov't: `Greece as safe,if not safer than most EU countries`

    Athens, 04/05/1999 (ANA)

    Greece is at the same level as other European Union countries with respect to security and public order, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday when asked to comment on a US State Department report regarding terrorism worldwide.

    Mr. Reppas added that "others" were also working in Greece within the framework of international conventions aimed at combatting terrorism.

    "Therefore," the spokesman said, "the issue of effectiveness is not a matter which concerns exclusively the Greek authorities."

    Athens said on Friday it would launch an international advertising campaign to underline that the country was among the safest in the world for tourists, in the wake of a US announcement to its citizens about travelling to Greece.

    "The campaign will promote Greece's safe image around the world. Greece is not only a factor of stability and peace in the region but is also an extremely safe destination for tourists," Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos said in Parliament.

    Mr. Venizelos, who is also responsible for tourism issues, said a bomb attack on an Athens hotel last week, which killed a Greek woman and injured another person, had directly targetted the Greek tourist industry.

    The attack was claimed by the "Revo-lutionary Cells" urban guerrilla group who said it was to protest the US-led NATO bombings of Yugoslavia.

    The US State Department on Thursday issued a public announcement informing its citizens of a certain anti-American sentiment in Greece prompted by NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia.

    US officials underlined that the announcement was not a travel advisory - which effectively warns citizens not to travel to certain destinations - but an announcement which underlined the need for greater vigilance by US citizens travelling to Greece.

    It added that the US embassy in Greece was not aware of any specific threats against US tourists or residents in Greece.

    Mr. Venizelos said he regretted Washington's reaction and said the aim of the attack "was precisely to provoke such an announcement from the US"

    "No government should contribute to actions which create a climate which is completely false," he said.

    "Greece is as safe as any other European Union country and, according to crime statistics, one of the safest in the EU," he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Gov't expresses grief over latest bombing of civilian target in Kosovo

    Athens, 04/05/1999 (ANA)

    The Greek government yesterday called the bombing of a bus in Kosovo by a NATO warplane, which killed 34 civilians, as "the sole consequence" of war.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas expressed Athens' grief for the victims of Saturday's rocket attack on the bus full of civilians as it crossed a bridge north of Pristina, stressing that "we should not merely restrict ourselves to such an expression ."

    He also said the attack should make the need to find a diplomatic solution more imperative.

    The government spokesman described as "a very positive act" Belgrade's decision to release three US soldiers held captive for 32 days.

    The three were released on Sunday on the orders of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and handed over to US political activist Jesse Jackson.

    Replying to reporters' questions, Mr. Reppas said Greece had abstained from the EU decision to impose an embargo on Yugoslavia but would nevertheless adhere to it.

    Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis yesterday met with the secretary general of the European Commission's Humanitarian Office (ECHO) for talks on issues regarding humanitarian aid in dealing with the crisis in Yugoslavia.

    Mr. Kranidiotis briefed Alberto Navaro Gonzalez on the recent Greek activities in the region, while the ECHO head recognised Athens' role.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Athens welcomes implementation of Amsterdam Treaty

    Athens, 04/05/1999 (ANA)

    Athens yesterday welcomed the recent implementation of the European Union's Amsterdam Treaty.

    "Greece hails the implementation of the Amsterdam Treaty on May 1, a significant mark in the evolutionary process toward Europe's unification," Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis said.

    "Greece decisively contributed, with particular emphasis, in the promotion of the social character of the European Union (EU), the inclusion of a new chapter in the Employment Treaty, incorporation of the Social Protocol Treaty, increased protection of human rights, support of the European Parliament's role, as well as the strengthening of democratic principles. Greece's main concern during the talks was the citizen's approach and active participation in the European Union ", Mr. Kranidiotis said.

    "Through the new treaty we also processed issues of special interest, such as including the respect for EU territorial integrity and outer borders in the targets of the Common Foreign Security Policy, the expression of political solidarity and the estab lishment of special measures for the development of islands," he added. "The recent coincidence of the Yugoslav crisis proves the absolute necessity for a deeper reform with bolder steps, as for example, the provisions for European defence and security", he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Japanese FM Komura discusses Balkan developments in Thessaloniki

    Athens, 04/05/1999 (ANA)

    Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura arrived in Thessaloniki yesterday for talks focusing on joint Greek-Japanese initiatives on the reconstruction of the Balkans and facilitation of investments.

    Mr. Komura, heading a large Japanese delegation, met with Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos in the northern Greek port city. Mr. Komura arrived in Greece from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), and briefed Mr. Venizelos on his contacts with FYROM's political leadership. He also announced Tokyo's decision to allocate US $200 million toward the Kosovo refugees' needs as well as restoration of the region in general. The two ministers reviewed bilateral relations with particular empha sis on tourism, export trade and cultural relations.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] V. Papandreou- Constantopoulos meeting focuses on Euroelection campaign

    Athens, 04/05/1999 (ANA)

    Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou and Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos discussed conditions for conducting the pre-election campaign in the runup to the June 13 Euroelections, during their meeting at the Minis try yesterday.

    Mr. Constantopoulos said afterwards that he requested a ceiling for election expenditures and control of finances for Euroelections to avoid extravagance and inequalities between parties and candidates.

    In addition, he said there should be equality between parties in political advertising time with state-run and private mass media. The issue will be raised at the National Radio and TV Council.

    Lastly, an established practice framework should be shaped and applied with the primary purpose of stopping state advertising from the mass media of projects which are part of the Community Support Framework.

    It was announced that Ms Papandreou addressed letters yesterday to leaders of political parties represented in both the National and European Parliament, calling on them to appoint representatives for the setting up of an inter-party committee for the Euroelections, which will operate at the interior ministry.

    A presidential decree for the Euroelections is expected to be published on May 12, when the pre-election period will officially start.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Simitis meets with PASOK youth group secretary

    Athens, 04/05/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis discussed details over the participation of the PASOK youth group in the ruling party's campaign for next month's Euroelections with youth group secretary Nikos Mademlis yesterday.

    Mr. Simitis expressed satisfaction over the performance of the party's student group (PASP) in last week's student elections, adding that it was achieved at a crucial juncture for PASOK. A discussion followed on upgrading the youth wing's participation in the party's campaign.

    On his part, Mr. Mademlis said Greek public opinion and youth have a positive opinion over the government's position on developments in Yugoslavia and reiterated the PASOK youth wing's opposition to any involvement by Greece in the war.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] 'Ta Nea' poll shows rebound in Simitis' popularity

    Athens, 04/05/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis is still the top choice for premier, according to an opinion poll published yesterday in the Athens daily "Ta Nea".

    Mr. Simitis was polled the most adequate politician for premiership with 36.6 per cent against 33.9 per cent for main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis.

    The poll, conducted by V.PRC, said 64.2 per cent of those questioned believed the PASOK government should complete its four-year term in office regardless of the results of Europarliament elections, scheduled in June.

    The poll showed that 25.6 per cent considered the government's operation as satisfactory, up from 13.8 per cent in a similar V.PRC poll in January, while the premier's popularity also jumped some 20 percentage points to 45.1 per cent.

    The most popular political party leader was Synaspismos' Nikos Constantopoulos with 57.8 per cent, followed by Democratic Social Movement president Dimitris Tsovolas with 50.4 per cent, Mr. Karamanlis with 46.1 per cent, Mr. Simitis with 45.1per cent, Political Spring's Antonis Samaras with 22.8 per cent and the Communist Party of Greece's Aleka Papariga with 21.1 per cent.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Mitsotakis praise, criticism for Simitis

    Athens, 04/05/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis received a 'back-handed compliment' from an unexpected quarter yesterday, when former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis praised him for being the "best prime minister the ruling socialists could provide."

    "Mr. Simitis is the best PASOK has and as a prime minister he has many pluses," Mr. Mitsotakis said in an interview published in the Athens daily "Ta Nea".

    However, Mr. Mitsotakis added that the PASOK premier has failed to convince he can handle crisis situations.

    "He stalls, gets into difficulty and many times fails...but I can't see who in PASOK would be in a position to do any better," the main opposition New Democracy party's honorary president said.

    "I am not anybody's crutch. I want the right policies to be applied and it is this that I will support".

    Referring to Costas Karamanlis, the president of New Democracy, Mr. Mitsotakis refused to answer a question on whether he was mature enough to become prime minister.

    "He is a young person with talent, and much ability but still untried, new and lacking in experience. Time will tell what he can do," Mr. Mitsotakis said.

    Athens News Agency Athens 04/05/1999 (ANA)

    National Defence General Staff Chief Gen. Manousos Paragioudakis departs for Brussels tomorrow to attend the official ceremony of the transfer of duties by NATO military committee president Gen. Klaus Naumann to Adm. Guido Venturoni.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] PR campaign aims to improve Greece's image abroad

    Athens, 04/05/1999 (ANA)

    The press and media ministry will allocate some one billion drachmas for a 12-month campaign aimed at changing the image of Greece overseas, a ministry official said yesterday.

    "The aim of the campaign is to create a favourable climate which will allow us to pursue our national interests," ministry secretary-general Yiannis Nikolaou told participants at a conference for expatriate Greek media in Thessaloniki.

    The press ministry's information campaign will be directed to policy makers in the US, Germany, Britain and France, as well as other countries.

    Participants at the conference said Greece's image abroad could be a great deal better and blamed this state of affairs on a lack of clear information regarding Athens' positions on matters of current affairs, such as the Yugoslav crisis.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] Greek journalists rally against NATO bombs,freedom of the press

    Athens, 04/05/1999 (ANA)

    Hundreds of Greek journalists rallied in central Athens outside their union's offices yesterday to mark International Press Freedom Day, demanding an end to NATO bombings in Yugoslavia.

    The demonstrators also demanded an end to what they termed the "murderous attacks against journalists" and paid tribute to the victims from a recent NATO missile attack against the Serbian state television building in downtown Belgrade.

    "This day is one of mourning and respect for the 500 journalists who died in the 'reporting battle' between 1988-1998 and the 36 victims of the past four months, of which 27 were in Yugoslavia," a statement read.

    Journalists further demanded a return of Kosovar refugees to their homes and an immediate commencement of dialogue for a political solution to the Kosovo crisis.

    Kaklamanis cites double standard between Kosovo, Cyprus :Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis yesterday praised the Greek correspondents who have covered "in the best possible way" the events in Yugoslavia.

    Speaking to the media representatives, who presented him a resolution after their rally, Mr. Kaklamanis said "... certainly, for each crime there are causes and pretences. The behaviour of the Milosevic regime in Kosovo was a problem...(but) an existing problem is not approached through bombardment, through more violence...through actual or fictional NATO bombing mishaps".

    He added that "for 25 years no action has been taken regarding the continuing drama of 200,000 refugees caused by the Turkish 'Attila' in Cyprus."

    Athens News Agency

    [20] PM in Florina this weekend

    Athens, 04/05/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis is scheduled to visit Florina on Sunday to attend an appointment ceremony for a new force especially hired and trained for border patrols.

    He will speak at an event in Florina and will travel to the Krystallopigi border post at the Greek-Albanian border before returning to Thessaloniki.

    On Monday the PM will escort his Portuguese counterpart Antonio Guterres to the Mount Athos monastic community.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] British tourist arrivals reported on schedule

    Athens, 04/05/1999 (ANA)

    The arrival of some 1,600 British tourists at Thessaloniki's 'Mace-donia Airport' yesterday with charter flights has apparently raised optimism among tour operators that the ongoing Kosovo crisis won't affect tourism to Greece.

    Tourist agents in northern Greece have said that the number of British holidaymakers expected up until October are in line with last year's figures, while no cancellations have been reported.

    The entire group of British tourists headed to Halkidiki, the verdant peninsula east of Thessaloniki famous for its sandy beaches and high- quality accommodations.

    "We are expecting charter flights every Monday, Thursday and Friday, with 1, 600, 600 and 700 tourists respectively each time," according to a local representative of the well-known British-based Thomson tour operator.

    The same tour agent said German tourists were also expected to arrive in similar numbers.

    Athens News Agency

    [22] Eurostat: Greece 12th in social welfare spending among EU states

    BRUSSELS, 04/05/1999 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    The European Union's 'Euro-stat' service yesterday released a report on social welfare expenditures in the 15 member-states. Greece ranks 12th with 23.3 per cent of its GDP allocated to the sector in 1996.

    The report noted that the EU average stood at 28.7 per cent of GDP or 5,120 Purchasing Power Units.

    The overall expediture in the Union fell by 0.3 per cent compared to 1993, when it reached at 29 per cent, but rose by 3.3 per cent compared to 1990.

    In Greece, 49 per cent of expenditures for social welfare were funneled to pensions, 34.9 per cent to health services, 4.3 per cent to combat unemployment, 8.3 per cent for family care and 3.5 per cent in rent subsidies.

    Athens News Agency

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