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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-05-27

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Simitis stresses need for speedy diplomatic solution to Kosovo in letter to EU leaders
  • [02] Mitsotakis leaves for Belgrade
  • [03] Gov't to cut direct taxes in January 2000
  • [04] Employment action plan goes to parliament
  • [05] Stocks slump on Kosovo jitters
  • [06] National Bank Group posts 92.1 pct profit jump in Q1
  • [07] Shipping forex inflows up 2.9 pct in 1998
  • [08] Sanyo Holding posts turnover jump in Q1
  • [09] Strike at Hellenic Petroleum
  • [10] Athens Foreign Exchange
  • [11] Athens reiterates position over hosting Kosovars
  • [12] Greek-Czech proposal on Yougoslav crisis presented to EU
  • [13] Papandreou-Albright talks focus squarely on war in Yougoslavia
  • [14] Papandreou, Holbrooke talks in NY focus on Kosovo, Cyprus
  • [15] Poll shows overwhelming Greek opposition to NATO bombings
  • [16] PM says Euro-elections crucial
  • [17] Latest poll shows ND, PASOK gap narrowing
  • [18] Seminar brings Europe's press agencies to Athens
  • [19] Reconstruction of Parthenon's north side approved
  • [20] Book on destruction of Cyprus' cultural sites in Turkish-occupied portion

  • [01] Simitis stresses need for speedy diplomatic solution to Kosovo in letter to EU leaders

    Athens, 27/05/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday sent a letter to his EU counterparts stressing the necessity for a speedy peaceful solution to the Kosovo crisis.

    "It is imperative that diplomatic efforts are intensified. That we have results until the Cologne summit with everyone's cooperation. Each one of us needs to express to the protagonists of the negotiations the need for peace to prevail as soon as possib le...Greece has already done it. It has especially appealed to Yugoslavia to accept the proposal of G8. Problems are not insuperable," he said in the letter.

    "If in Cologne we discuss the war, only to ascertain whether peace procedures are making progress, our disappointment in our ability to manage crises will be all-round. All those forces battling European integration will be strengthened," he added.

    Speaking at a press conference, the prime minister said he did not see any reason for the deployment of NATO groung forces in Kosovo.

    "NATO is preparing, but I do not see such a possibility because negotiations are underway which I think will bear fruit. Most countries do not want ground operations and I believe they would lead nowhere," he said.

    He said the Greek government would continue its initiatives in the search for a solution, always according to national interests.

    "We have kept Greece out of the crisis and said a clear "No" to ground operations," he said.

    He described Greece as a reliable partner with a distinct place in the European Union and NATO, as well as a reliable interlocutor with all Balkan peoples.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Mitsotakis leaves for Belgrade

    Athens, 27/05/1999 (ANA)

    Former PM Constantine Mitsotakis left yesterday for Belgrade on a private visit, where he will meet today with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and senior Yugoslav and Serb officials.

    In an airport statement, Mr. Mitsotakis, honourary president of the main opposition New Democracy party, said his visit was informal and aimed at aiding the peace process to the best of his abilities.

    "It is an informal, private visit, a visit of good-will," he said.

    Mr. Mitsotakis is accompanied by his daughter, ND deputy Dora Bakoyanni, and foreign ministry advisor Dimitris Platis.

    Mr. Mitsotakis said he had briefed the government, NATO and the ND leader on his visit. Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas later confirmed that Mr. Mitsotakis had spoken over the telephone with Prime Minister Costas Simitis regarding the former's visit to Belgrade.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Gov't to cut direct taxes in January 2000

    Athens, 27/05/1999 (ANA)

    The government plans to cut direct taxes in January 2000, aiding households and companies, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday.

    In an interview to Reuters, Mr. Papantoniou said that taxation was very high in Greece, and the government therefore planned to phase in cuts from the start of 2000.

    At the same time, indirect taxes would remain unchanged unless consumer price inflation failed to drop to the government's target of 2.0 percent at the end of the year, jeopardising entry into the euro zone, which is planned for January 1, 2001.

    In that case, reductions would be ordered, Mr. Papantoniou said.

    According to sources, the cuts in direct taxation will include a rise in the tax-exempt level for wage earners and pensioners to 2.0 million drachmas from 1.355 million drachmas.

    For other categories of income, the tax-free limit will rise to 1.7 million drachmas from 1.055 million drachmas.

    Tax brackets will also be modified, including the introduction of two new categories to aid middle incomes.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Employment action plan goes to parliament

    Athens, 27/05/1999 (ANA)

    The government yesterday gave parliament an employment action plan that aims to boost jobs through job creation and incentives for employers to hire the jobless.

    The plan was forged after talks with employers and unions aimed at achieving consensus.

    The architect of the bill, Labour and Social Insurance Minister Miltiades Papaioannou, is in Brussels attending a social affairs ministers' meeting to debate the European Union's plan to lower unemployment, a problem throughout the 15-nation bloc.

    The EU plan, drawn up by the German presidency, is similar to Greece's national plan, which aims to create 32,000 new jobs and provide financial assistance to 5,000 self-employed youth.

    The Greek bill also offers employers incentives in the form of tax breaks to recruit the unemployed.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Stocks slump on Kosovo jitters

    Athens, 27/05/1999 (ANA)

    Equity prices came under pressure for the second consecutive session yesterday to end sharply lower on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    The general index ended 2.46 percent down at 4,010.93 points, off the day's lows.

    Traders said the market found support just above 4,000 points which was seen as a technical support level in the short-term.

    Turnover shrank to 157.1 billion drachmas.

    Dampening sentiment was uncertainty over the outcome of diplomatic efforts to end the war in Yugoslavia combined with falling international markets and increased volatility in the domestic bond market.

    The banking and leasing sectors came under heavy pressure to end 3.32 and 3.59 percent lower.

    Other sector indices ended as follows: Insurance (+0.31 pct), Investment (- 0.39 pct), Industrials (-1.38 pct), Construction (-0.61 pct), Holding (- 2.57 pct) and Miscellaneous (-1.02 pct).

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 1.46 percent lower, while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips dropped 3.07 percent to 2,405.27 points.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 211 to 73 with another 12 issues unchanged.

    Thessaliki, Viosol and Macedonian Textiles were the most heavily traded stocks.

    A total of 14 issues ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit up, while another three ended at the day's limit down.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 22,500 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 22, 150, Ergobank at 28,590, Ionian Bank at 17,100, Titan Cement at 29,050, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,715, Intracom at 22,840, Minoan Lines at 9,400, Panafon at 7,745 and Hellenic Telecoms at 6,890.

    Bonds calmer in portfolio restructuring : Bonds were calmer yesterday after edginess in the previous session with investors enjoying some profit taking and restructuring their portfolios. Limited buying interest was seen.

    Electronic trade totalled 54 billion drachmas from 80 billion drachmas in the previous session and 36 billion drachmas on Monday.

    The ten-year-bond was trading at 103.80, showing a yield of 5.77 percent. The yield spread with German bunds was 172 basis points from 175 basis points a day earlier and 163-165 over the previous week.

    In the foreign currency market, trade was lacklustre. At the central bank's daily fix, the euro was set at 325.370 drachmas from 325.310 in the previous session.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] National Bank Group posts 92.1 pct profit jump in Q1

    Athens, 27/05/1999 (ANA)

    The National Bank of Greece Group posted pre-tax profits of 81.9 billion drachmas in the first quarter, up 92.1 percent on the same period of 1998, governor Theodoros Karatzas said yesterday.

    Addressing the bank's annual general meeting, Mr. Karatzas reported that the parent company's net pre-tax profits were 61.1 billion drachmas, showing a rise of 65.7 percent from a year earlier.

    He attributed the major increase in profitability seen in the parent company and the Group to lower operational costs and greater activity in financial markets. Mr. Karatzas added that the bank's share price on the Athens Stock Exchange jumped 202.5 percent in 1998, outperforming the market's general index, which gained 85 percent.

    National Bank of Greece intends to pursue its policy of selling off subsidiaries and holdings outside the financial sector; restructure its assets in favour of loans; and expand selectively in the Balkans, Mr. Karatzas said.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Shipping forex inflows up 2.9 pct in 1998

    Athens, 27/05/1999 (ANA)

    Shipping foreign exchange inflows totalled 1.38 billion US dollars in 1998 from 1.34 billion in 1997, an increase of 2.9 percent, Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis said yesterday.

    Mr. Soumakis said that a total of 1,117 shipping companies spent 353 million US dollars in operational expenses last year, down 1.5 percent from 358 million dollars in 1997.

    Other expenses (taxes, payrolls, ship maintenance) increased by 6.6 percent to 1.006 billion dollars in 1998. Registered staff in shipping companies totalled 10,533 persons last year - 8,884 Greeks and 1,653 foreigners - up from 10,292 in 1997.

    Mr. Soumakis said that 680 shipping companies managed 3,844 ships under Greek or foreign flags, while another 459 companies were active in shipping business outside ship management.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Sanyo Holding posts turnover jump in Q1

    Athens, 27/05/1999 (ANA)

    Sanyo Hellas Holding yesterday reported a 320 percent increase in its turnover in the first quarter of 1999 to 6.9 billion drachmas from 1.6 billion drachmas in the same period of last year.

    The company attributed the jump to its conversion into an SA company and the consolidation of its subsidiaries' results.

    The parent company's profits totalled 290 million drachmas from 181 million in the first quarter of 1998, an increase of 60 percent.

    Sanyo Holding includes Sanyo Hellas Trading, Sanyocom, Bartex, Club Electric and Exploinvest.

    The company plans a 12 billion drachma share capital increase to be approved by a general shareholders' meeting on June 2.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Strike at Hellenic Petroleum

    Athens, 27/05/1999 (ANA)

    Workers at state-run Hellenic Petroleum yesterday said they were beginning a five-day strike.

    The strike will affect both refinery and distribution facilities, raising fears that petrol and diesel supplies will decrease at gas stations around the country.

    The workers are protesting plans to shut down operations at four units, which means a reduction of about 250 positions.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens, 27/05/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: May 26, 1999

    Parities in Drachmas

    Banknotes             Buying  Selling
    US Dollar             305.040 312.112
    Can.Dollar            208.419 213.252
    Australian Dlr        198.846 203.457
    Pound Sterling        488.917 500.253
    Irish Punt            409.830 419.332
    Pound Cyprus          556.274 569.171
    Pound Malta           729.898 760.311
    Turkish pound (100)     0.069   0.072
    French franc           49.205  50.346
    Swiss franc           202.328 207.019
    Belgian franc           8.001   8.187
    German Mark           165.028 168.854
    Finnish Mark           54.285  55.544
    Dutch Guilder         146.465 149.861
    Danish Kr.             43.422  44.429
    Swedish Kr.            35.887  36.719
    Norwegian Kr.          39.176  40.084
    Austrian Sh.           23.457  24.001
    Italian lira (100)     16.670  17.056
    Yen (100)             250.133 255.932
    Spanish Peseta          1.940   1.985
    Port. Escudo            1.610   1.647
    Foreign Exchange      Buying  Selling
    New York              305.040 312.112
    Montreal              208.419 213.252
    Sydney                198.846 203.457
    London                488.917 500.253
    Dublin                409.830 419.332
    Nicosia               556.274 569.171
    Paris                  49.205  50.346
    Zurich                202.328 207.019
    Brussels                8.001   8.187
    Frankfurt             165.028 168.854
    Helsinki               54.285  55.544
    Amsterdam             146.465 149.861
    Copenhagen             43.422  44.429
    Stockholm              35.887  36.719
    Oslo                   39.176  40.084
    Vienna                 23.457  24.001
    Milan                  16.670  17.056
    Tokyo                 250.133 255.932
    Madrid                  1.940   1.985
    Lisbon                  1.610   1.647
    Athens News Agency

    [11] Athens reiterates position over hosting Kosovars

    Athens, 27/05/1999 (ANA)

    The government yesterday reiterated that it did not intend to receive refugees from Kosovo, stressing that Greece was the only country which had provided effective humanitarian aid to the war-torn Serbian province.

    Replying to reporters' questions on the Kosovo crisis, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas also clarified that no decisions had yet been taken about the size of the Greek contingent to participate in any eventual peacekeeping force in Kosovo.

    The spokesman took the opportunity to once again declare Greece's opposition to any use of NATO ground forces in Kosovo.

    Asked whether the Hellenic Navy vessel "Erato" was taking part in NATO operations in the Adriatic, Mr. Reppas replied that the minesweeper had been on patrol for quite some time and had not been sent to the region because of the Kosovo crisis.

    Tsohatzopoulos : Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday attributed the delay in diplomatic efforts to resolve the Kosovo crisis to "competition among interests" which had broken out behind the scenes "irrespective of the principles on the basis of which military intervention in Yugoslavia was decided".

    He also underlined that "everything has its limit and responsibility will be sought once the crisis is over".

    Commenting on NATO's decision on Tuesday to increase the number of its troops stationed on Kosovo's borders to nearly 50,000, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said this was the peacekeeping force which would be deployed in the Yugoslav province once agreement had bee n reached by Yugoslavia and the Alliance subject to the approval of the UN Security Council.

    The 14,000 NATO troops currently in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), he said, would be incorporated in this peacekeeping force to support it and ensure stability in the region.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos expressed the view however that NATO's decision provided no guarantee of a solution to the Kosovo crisis, adding that the rate at which the peacekeeping force is assembled should be on a par with efforts for a diplomatic settlement.

    The minister was speaking to reporters after observing an infantry exercise codenamed "Kontzias '99", in a bay of the same name on the southern coast of Limnos, in the NE Aegean.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Greek-Czech proposal on Yougoslav crisis presented to EU

    BRUSSELS, 27/05/1999 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)

    Greece and the Czech Republic yesterday presented a joint proposal for an end to the bombing of Yugoslavia to EU member-states' representatives. Diplomatic sources said elements of the Greek proposal will be used in combination with parts of other plans, such as that of Italy. Meanwhile, NATO r epresentative Jamie She told reporters here that "Greece is a faithful ally and we believe that this will continue also in the future", while he praised Nicosia for not allowing a Yugoslav minister without portfolio from entering the island republic.
    Athens News Agency

    [13] Papandreou-Albright talks focus squarely on war in Yougoslavia

    WASHINGTON, 27/05/1999 (ANA - I. Afentouli/T. Ellis)

    US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright appeared unwavering over the five conditions set by NATO as an essential prerequisite for a ceasefire, after holding 90-minute talks with Foreign Minister George Papandreou he re yesterday, which focused primarily on the Kosovo crisis.

    Ms Albright distanced herself clearly from the position of other allies, including Greece and the Czech Republic, which are calling for a temporary ceasefire to enable the Yugoslav government to accept a UN Security Council decision defining the framework for a diplomatic solution to the Kosovo crisis.

    According to diplomatic sources, Ms Albright made it clear to the Greek delegation that different views and ideas can be put forward, however, the alliance's undivided front must not be affected.

    On his part, Mr. Papandreou outlined Greek positions, placing emphasis on the particularity of a country such as Greece, which is located in the Balkans and is both a member-state of NATO and the European Union.

    He said the Greek government supports NATO's decisions and actions. However, due to its special condition, it cannot participate in military operations and instead of this it only offers logistical support.

    "We will continue to do so," Mr. Papandreou said and condemned the policy of ethnic cleansing in the region.

    On the question of NATO forces passing through Thessaloniki, Ms Albright appeared to understand the Greek government's disposition to stop it temporarily due to the Euroelections. The period of time Greece is requesting is 10 days before the elections.

    Ms Albright referred to Greece's special weight in the region and said that the US supports Greece's efforts on restructuring the Balkans after the war is over.

    However, she avoided making any prediction on the duration of the war, underlining that if Belgrade does not accept the five conditions set by NATO, the bombings will not stop. She said the alliance's 19 member-states are cooperating closely and with de termination to have the conditions accepted by Yugoslavia.

    Ms Albright avoided any comment on efforts underway to have Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic brought before the International Court of Justice.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Papandreou, Holbrooke talks in NY focus on Kosovo, Cyprus

    NEW YORK, 27/05/1999 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou held talks with US presidential envoy on Cyprus and SE Europe Richard Holbrooke after his arrival here on Tuesday.

    Afterwards, he said his meeting with Mr. Holbrooke was "useful and informative", adding that they discussed the Cyprus issue and the problem of Kosovo "of course."

    Mr. Holbrooke said he had the opportunity of conveying his views to Mr. Papandreou on the Kosovo issue.

    "We also discussed the situation on the Cyprus issue, of course. We also talked about NATO. I analysed American positions on Kosovo. However, it was a private discussion," he said.

    Mr. Holbrooke underlined that it was Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic who took the decisions which led to the bombings.

    "He was well aware when I was with him eight weeks ago that if he did not accept the basic principles we put to him the result would be bombings. He had no doubt about this. He led things to the point they are today," he added.

    Replying to a question on whether he sees any prospects of progress on the Cyprus issue, Mr. Holbrooke said "the US remains steadfastly committed and are in frequent contact with all sides, but I would be misleading you at this stage if I told you that I see some signs of progress."

    Responding to the same question, Mr. Papandreou said that some discussions took place and the G8 group might take certain initiatives.

    "As you are aware, we believe that the entire process of Cyprus' accession to the European Union has created a new dynamism. We hope that the Turkish Cypriot side will realise that it is an opportunity to start cooperating with the Greek Cypriot communi ty and participate in the negotiating group. Indeed, new prospects are being created for cooperation in the framework of the EU."

    Addressing Greek reporters on the purpose of his visit to China earlier in the week, on consultations he had there on Kosovo and on the major importance of Greece's bilateral relations with this great country which "are traditionally good, particularly useful and necessary."

    He stressed the coincidence of views observed on various issues such as the need for the problem of Kosovo to be resolved with a Security Council decision, in the framework of Yugoslavia, without a change in borders.

    Mr. Papandreou said that among the targets of discussions with the Chinese officials "was to give a briefing on our country's role in the wider region and, in particular, on our movements on Kosovo in the diplomatic and humanitarian sector and, of cours e, on the sector of preparations for the day after, on the so-called Stability Pact."

    "The Chinese insisted on the issue of a ceasefire before any decision by the Security Council. Of course, they want to play a constructive role in shaping a resolution. They said that they always wanted the UN's involvement and continue to want it. They stressed, however, that they will note vote for any decision without a ceasefire," he said.

    Mr. Papandreou pointed out that the Russians have set the same condition but with less intensity, adding that "this makes the Greek, the Greek-Czech proposal more timely now for a ceasefire for a period of time which will allow for the adoption of a UN resolution."

    Referring to the Greek-Czech initiative, Mr. Papandreou said the two countries, being NATO member-states, have cooperated for about a month on formulating a series of thoughts which they consider useful for a diplomatic solution to the problem.

    "These proposals are, of course, supplementary for the decisions of NATO and the G8. They also include the idea of a temporary ceasefire, the creation of a dynamism at diplomatic level and the endorsement of a UN resolution in particular. We put these i deas to NATO and they will be discussed between the alliance's permanent representatives these days. They are specific positions and thoughts and we hope they will provide NATO with some specific movements which it will be able to make to help in resolving the problem," he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Poll shows overwhelming Greek opposition to NATO bombings

    Athens, 27/05/1999 (ANA)

    Almost 100 per cent of respondents in a recent poll vehemently condemned the NATO bombings of Yugoslavia and oppose the prospect of ground operations in Kosovo, while an overwhelming majority believe US President Bill Clinton should be tried as a war criminal. According to a survey conducted by ICAP Hellas on behalf of Panteios University, 99.5 per cent of those polled oppose the bombings and 99.3 per cent the prospect of ground operations.

    The poll, carried out on behalf of the university's psychology department between April 29 and May 5 among a sampling of 1,000 people in Athens and Piraeus, showed that 69.7 per cent want Mr. Clinton to be put on trial for war crimes; 38.9 per cent call ed the US leader the "biggest winner" of the war.

    A sweeping 78.6 per cent found Greek media coverage of the Yugoslav conflict to be objective.

    In addition, 56.3 per cent of those polled felt Athens should have exercised its veto in NATO to avert the bombings, while 18.2 per cent believed exchanges should have been demanded regarding Cyprus and the Greek minority of Albania; 16.6 per cent felt financial exchanges should have been sought for participation in the NATO operations.

    A slim 8.3 per cent endorsed the Greek government's handlings and urged it to display greater willingness towards Washington.

    Another 52.1 per cent considered the Serbs to be the friendliest people towards Greeks, followed by Italians with 14.7 per cent and Russians with 12.4 per cent. Northern Greece Northern Greece residents appear to be largely supportive of the government's handling of the Yugoslav crisis and less supportive of opposition parties' approaches to the issue, an opinion poll conducted in northern Greece shows.

    The poll, conducted by K-Research on 1200 voters registered to vote in the Macedonia and Thrace regions, said the government's handling of the crisis received the support of 38 per cent of respondents.

    Main opposition New Democracy received 29.8 per cent support and leftist parties 24.9 per cent. The poll was conducted over the period May 17- 24.

    The majority of northern Greek residents said they felt some degree of concern about the effects of the Kosovo crisis on Greece with only one in a 100 saying they were completely unconcerned.

    Nine in 10 believed that the atmosphere had been polluted by toxins and carcinogens released by NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia and two in three believed the waters of the Axios River have been polluted.

    Forty per cent said they had heard reports that US citizens resident in the Macedonia region had been told to evacuate by June 20. Three in 10 believed this rumour.

    Half feared that Greece would be dragged into the war.

    Interestingly enough, 31 per cent believed that the developments in the Balkans were related to the writings of St. John the Divine, who wrote the Book of Revelations, to the writings of 16th century French astrologer Nostradamus or to others who have p rophesised the end of the world.

    The Kosovo crisis has also been a factor in how the northern Greeks see the European Union, with 93 per cent saying they had been disappointed with how European leaders have handled the crisis.

    Some 16 per cent said they "no longer" desired Greece to be fully integrated into the European Union, compared to 28.6 per cent who did.

    The majority, 52.2 per cent, said they desired full integration but said they were not as certain as they were before the Kosovo crisis broke out.

    Twenty per cent said Greece's participation in NATO was necessary, 64 per cent said it was a "necessary evil" and 13.1 per cent said Greece should withdraw from the Alliance.

    Nine in 10 (90.8 per cent) said they believed NATO to be an instrument of the United States' foreign policy and not an organisation which respected the views of its members.

    Of the personalities involved in the Kosovo crisis, Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic scored support in the order of 30.4 percent and a negative rating of 69.6 percent.

    Approval ratings for Western leaders were disappointing, to say the least: German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, 7 per cent; NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, 3.4 per cent; British Prime Minister Tony Blair, 1.3 per cent and US President Bill Clinton , 0.8 per cent.

    The language respondents were asked to describe the four leaders was reported to be "colourful".

    Athens News Agency

    [16] PM says Euro-elections crucial

    Athens, 27/05/1999 (ANA)

    The June 13 Euroelections are a crucial election contest for Greece's prospects in the European Union, as the larger the popular endorsement of the government's work, the speedier it will be brought to a successful end, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday.

    "The June 13 elections pose the dilemma whether the stability of the country will be secured or whether a new round of upheavals will open...The larger the acceptance our policy has, the faster we shall succeed," he said in a press conference in Zappeion Hall.

    "Greece is changing face, daily life is improving and from now on everthing will go better because we shall complete the country's accession to EMU, will modernise the Greek economy and increase the prosperity of all citizens," he added.

    He stated confidence PASOK would retain its popular lead as opinion polls showed a clear improvement.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Latest poll shows ND, PASOK gap narrowing

    Athens, 27/05/1999 (ANA)

    Two opinion polls unveiled yesterday showed that the ruling party was closing on the lead that the opposition New Democracy has on it. A poll published in the daily "Eleftherotypia" gave PASOK 27.4 per cent to New Democracy's 29.5 per cent, just three weeks before the European Parliament elections.

    In another poll, published in the daily "Ta Nea", PASOK was nearing New Democracy at similar levels, 29.4 to 31.4 per cent.

    The second poll also showed that Prime Minister Costas Simitis was slightly leading New Democracy president Costas Karamanlis in the popularity stakes. Mr. Simitis polled 49.4 per cent and Karamanlis 47.8 per cent; ahead of both of them are Coalition of the Left's Nikos Constantopoulos (56.8 per cent) and Democratic Social Movement leader Dimitris Tsovolas (52 per cent).

    PASOK came out ahead when respondents asked which party was best suited to handle the economy, foreign policy, health and unemployment issues.Respondents said New Democracy would do a better job on education and combatting crime.

    Northern Greece : A poll of attitudes among residents of northern Greece, also released yesterday, showed New Democracy leading in voters' preferences with 31 per cent, and ruling PASOK at 25.3 per cent. The poll of 1,200 registered voters in Macedonia and Thrace was condu cted between May 17- 24.

    The number of those saying they had not decided who to vote for were again at fairly high levels - close to one-fifth of respondents of 18.9 per cent.

    Twenty-five per cent of PASOK supporters in northern Greece said they were undecided, with just 13 per cent of New Democracy supporters saying they were undecided.

    Some 34.6 per cent of respondents said they believed New Democracy would come out the winner in European Parliament elections. Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday met with leaders of several non-governmental organisations (NGOs), congratulating them for their efforts in easing human suffering. He noted their role in the Yugoslav crisis, adding that they complimented the effor ts of the Greek state. He also announced a bill to be tabled this summer giving incentives for the participation and support of NGOs.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Seminar brings Europe's press agencies to Athens

    Athens, 27/05/1999 (ANA)

    An Alliance of European Press Agencies (EAPA) seminar opens in Athens today, focusing on the issues of "Economic, Financial and Business Services in the Digital Era", and "Ownership of News Agencies and Conflicts of Interest".

    The two-day seminar, organised by the Athens News Agency (ANA) at the Astir Hotel in Vouliagmeni, will be attended by the presidents, general directors and other senior staff of 30 European news agencies.

    The 4th annual EAPA seminar will be inaugurated this morning by Press and Mass Media Minister Dimitris Reppas, while National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou will be the guest speaker at a formal banquet tomorrow evening.

    Speakers at the seminar include Oliver Boyd-Barrett, professor of communications at the University of California, the author of numerous books on news agencies and the globalisation of news, as well as senior administrative staff of the international news agencies Reuters, Associated Press, Bloomberg, France's AFP, the German DPA, the Spanish news agency EFE, and others.

    The seminar is sponsored by the National Bank of Greece, the Agrotiki Insurance-Agrotiki Life insurance company, General Bank, Commercial Bank of Greece, the culture ministry, and the National Tourism Organisation of Greece (EOT).

    Athens News Agency

    [19] Reconstruction of Parthenon's north side approved

    Athens, 27/05/1999 (ANA)

    The Central Archaeological Council yesterday approved a study for the reconstruction of the north side of the Parthenon.

    Reconstruction of eight out of seventeen columns on the north side of the ancient temple dedicated to Athena is budgeted at two billion drachmas, and is considered necessary.

    The minimum time required for the project's completion is estimated at five years.

    Archaeologists are also demanding the return of two friezes from the north side of the structure, which are now housed at the British Museum in London.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] Book on destruction of Cyprus' cultural sites in Turkish-occupied portion

    Athens, 27/05/1999 (ANA)

    Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis yesterday presented an illustrated publication detailing the destruction of cultural sites and monuments in the Turkish-occupied portion of the Republic of Cyprus.

    Mr. Kaklamanis said the destruction of artworks and buildings violates intenational law.

    The 235-page publication will be available in Greek, English, French and German editions, and is entitled "Cyprus: The Plunder of a Civilisation."

    Since the 1974 invasion of Turkish forces and the continued illegal occupation of the northern part of the island republic, several churches and archaeological sites were destroyed.

    Athens News Agency

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