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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 96-11-26

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

From: The Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada <>

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 1050), November 26, 1996

Greek Press & Information Office
Ottawa, Canada
E-Mail Address:


  • [01] EU-Turkey Association Council meeting bumped to next year
  • [02] Pangalos comments on Ciller meetings
  • [03] Cyprus
  • [04] New Corinth Isthmus bridge inaugurated
  • [05] Greek registry's competitiveness discussed by Soumakis, London-based shipowners
  • [06] Pangalos visits Uzbekistan today
  • [07] Duma speaker due in Athens tomorrow
  • [08] Attempt to convert Byzantine-era cathedral into mosque creates friction within Turkey
  • [09] Athens unaware of possible Clinton visit, Reppas says
  • [10] PASOK youth group delegation ends Belgrade visit
  • [11] Evert calls on ND bodies to support protests against Gov't economic policy
  • [12] Romeos chairs meeting focusing on recent police corruption cases
  • [13] Mitropoulos international competition gets under way
  • [14] Italy honors baritone Zachariou
  • [15] Papantoniou urges restraint on income demands to cut inflation
  • [16] Complaints about investment climate
  • [17] Tsohatzopoulos on economic development and defense
  • [18] Opposition's positions
  • [19] Deputies' basic salary to reach 844,747 drachmas
  • [20] Cost of living, adulterated foods top list of consumers' complaints
  • [21] Consumers' Institute issues warning on unsafe toys
  • [22] Papoutsis stresses challenges facing SMEs in light of globalization
  • [23] V. Papandreou's speech
  • [24] 1997 Europartenariat scheduled to be held in Piraeus
  • [25] Unemployment forecast to fall over the next two years
  • [26] National Bank branch opens in Tirana
  • [27] OGA to function as full-fledged insurance fund as of Jan. 1
  • [28] Ship pilots go on strike
  • [29] Teachers go on 24-hour strike tomorrow

  • [01] EU-Turkey Association Council meeting bumped to next year

    Brussels, 26/11/1996 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    Athens' reaction yesterday prevented any changes to a unanimous July 15 decision by the EU Council of Ministers concerning Greek-Turkish relations and further advancement of EU-Turkish ties.

    The July 15 decision calls for respect by Turkey of human rights, adherence to international agreements and resolution of Greek-Turkish differences. An official reply by Ankara is still pending.

    Additionally, the current Irish European Union presidency decided not to convene a Dec. 6 EU-Turkey Association Council meeting, as strenuously requested by Ankara and several EU member-states.

    Both developments became obvious after the end of long discussions concerning prospects for furthering the 15-member Union's relations with Turkey and during working dinner by the Union's 15 foreign ministers.

    On its part, the Irish presidency said during the council of foreign ministers session that "an exchange of views took place based on the presidency's report", adding that it was decided that "contacts with Turkey will continue with a view to preparing the Association Council at the beginning of next year."

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos told a press conference afterwards that two unofficial documents were at his disposal which, to the best of his knowledge, have been referred to in press reports. He said the one is a report and the other a plan containing conclusions.

    Mr. Pangalos said the documents were not discussed during the dinner and, consequently, no decision was taken on them. He said a long discussion took place on whether the EU-Turkey Association Council should convene on the Dec. 6 date.

    He said the European Union presidency is of the opinion that such a thing would be premature and that a longer and more substantive preparation was necessary to achieve positive results.

    He added it was agreed that in the common position to be presented at the next Association Council, the document concerning relations between Greece and Turkey will be the July 15 document.

    Mr. Pangalos said that he wanted to say on the occasion that Greece wishes for Turkey's greater European orientation and closer co-operation between that country and the EU. However, he said Ankara must realize that such an orientation cannot be compatible with a territorial claim against an EU member-state, and if Turkey wishes to dispute the existing and currently applied interpretation of international conditions concerning the situation in the Aegean, it can only do this in a manner which is generally acceptable between nations, namely, by resorting to the International Court of Justice in The Hague - an international judicial body having jurisdiction over such issues.

    He said the threat of force, mobilization of military means and efforts to impose "hegemonic behavior" over neighboring countries cannot be accepted by the international community in modern times.

    [02] Pangalos comments on Ciller meetings

    Brussels, 26/11/1996 (ANA)

    Furthermore, Mr. Pangalos noted that Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller, despite meeting EU Council of Foreign Ministers president and Irish Foreign Minister Dick Spring four times recently, refused to present Ankara's positions on its relations with Athens, as well as if Turkey intends to resort to the The Hague over its territorial differences with Greece - as in the case of the Imia islets for example - or whether in general Ankara intends to build good neighborliness relations with Greece based on the principles of international law, international agreements and practice.

    Mr. Pangalos further said a note Ms Ciller sent to the EU Council stresses that Greek-Turkish relations constitute a bilateral issue and that the EU should not get involved in them.

    He said this Turkish position is unacceptable and cannot be accepted by the EU, adding that Turkey must realize that it cannot use the threat of force and put forward claims against an EU member-state.

    Mr. Pangalos also announced that the Irish EU presidency intends to invite, at its own initiative, Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan to a dinner shortly after the end of the summit, due to take place in Dublin in mid-December.

    In a related issue, when asked by a reporter whether Athens condemns or praises a dinner invitation extended towards Mr. Erbakan by Dublin and whether Mr. Simitis will attend the dinner, the foreign minister said that "the Turkish prime minister is not being invited by the council, but by the presidium, as has occurred in the past.

    "Consequently, my opinion is of secondary importance. I think that under the existing situation, it is very difficult for there to be discussion with the Turkish prime minister on Greek-Turkish relations, on Turkey's role in seeking a solution to the Cyprus problem and the human rights situation in Turkey.

    "I can not predetermine what my prime minister will decide. It is an invitation for state leaders and he will decide to what extent he will participate in the dinner and to what extent the country will be represented. In any case, we will use this opportunity to express to the Turkish government the way in which we see the problems," Mr. Pangalos said.

    Replying to a question concerning the council's decision for the EU-Turkey Association Council not to be convened, Mr. Pangalos said this was not a "comprehensive refusal", and stressed that Athens is "very interested in having the greatest success possible in our efforts to bring Turkey closer to Europe."

    "However, Turkey must accept Europe's manner of functioning and must also accept certain international rules of behavior," he said.

    [03] Cyprus

    Brussels, 26/11/1996 (ANA)

    Replying to another question, he expressed his regret over the freezing of Malta's entry into the EU, but said "this cannot concern Cyprus.

    "First of all because Cyprus is an independent country and its application simply co-existed with that of Malta, and secondly, because we listened with great attention to Malta's foreign minister today, who told us of a series of mainly economic reasons for which they do not consider that they should continue the course of their country's full entry into the EU.

    "This does not apply to Cyprus. As you know, Cyprus is a 'Maastricht country', which is to say that at this time, along with Luxembourg, if we were to implement Maastricht tomorrow morning, they would be the only two countries which meet the requirement s, if we read the commitments in a very formal manner.

    "I believe that negotiations with Cyprus will last only a few months, and will be the easiest entry negotiations the European Union has conducted," he concluded.

    [04] New Corinth Isthmus bridge inaugurated

    Athens, 26/11/1996 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday inaugurated the new Corinth Isthmus bridge and a 14-kilometer auxiliary route projected to ease traffic in the area.

    The premier said the 31-billion-drachmas project was an "important and critical link in the Patras-Thessaloniki-Evzones highway axis."

    "The inauguration today underlines efforts to complete a number of modern highways linking the Greek road axis to the European road axis," Mr. Simitis said, adding that the project was part of the Inter-European networks.

    "This project is firmly linked to the country's social and economic development," he said.

    Mr. Simitis noted that Greece should use all available sources from both within the country and the European Union to achieve development, modernization of the economy and social cohesion. On his part, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis said the project was very important and contributed to the completion of the road axis network.

    [05] Greek registry's competitiveness discussed by Soumakis, London-based shipowners

    London, 26/10/1996 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)

    Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis met with several Greek shipowners here yesterday for the first time since assuming his minister's portfolio. He later described the meeting as "an amazing and substantial experience."

    Mr. Soumakis said he discussed issues of competitiveness, training and adaptation to decisions taken by international organizations. The talks, he added, "led to a very good briefing for me in order for decisions to be taken that will reinforce Greek shipping."

    The main problem broached during discussions was the competitiveness of Greece's registry, which is now becoming vulnerable following the open registry policy being followed by other European Union countries. Mr. Soumakis said he will discuss the issue with the Panhellenic Maritime Federation upon his return to Greece.

    Members of the presidium of Greek shipowners in London expressed their satisfaction with the positions taken by the merchant marine minister, with their president, Ioannis Hatjipateras, describing the minister as being "willing to listen and discuss with us the issues and the problems concerning shipping. And this is what we want, dialogue and understanding."

    Mr. Soumakis ends his visit to London today with a scheduled meeting with his British counterpart and with the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) secretary general.

    [06] Pangalos visits Uzbekistan today

    Athens, 26/11/1996 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos begins a two-day official visit to Uzbekistan today, followed immediately by an official visit to Japan, it was announced yesterday.

    Mr. Pangalos was to leave for Tashkent shortly before midnight last night from Brussels after attending the Council of EU Foreign Ministers meeting.

    [07] Duma speaker due in Athens tomorrow

    Athens, 26/11/1996 (ANA)

    The speaker of Russia's lower house of Parliament Gennady Seleznyov is due in Athens tomorrow for a two-day official visit at the head of a Duma delegation, following an invitation from Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.

    During his stay, Mr. Seleznyov will meet with President Kostis Stephanopoulos and have talks with Mr. Kaklamanis and Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

    The Duma speaker will also meet with main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert, the leader of the Communist Party of Greece's Parliamentary Group Orestis Kolozov, Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos, Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas and Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos.

    Mr. Seleznyov will wind up his visit, which returns the visit paid by Mr. Kaklamanis to Moscow in May, with a joint press conference in the Parliament building on Thursday afternoon.

    [08] Attempt to convert Byzantine-era cathedral into mosque creates friction within Turkey

    Istanbul, 26/11/1996 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    An attempt by the Turkey's directorate of charitable foundations to convert the Byzantine cathedral of Agia Sophia in the Black Sea port city of Trabzon into a mosque is causing the reaction of the Turkish ministry of culture, press reports noted yesterday.

    The same reports say the ministry is claiming property rights over the church, after the directorate issued instructions for its conversion.

    The ruling Refah party has made it clear that "does not consider this initiative necessary."

    [09] Athens unaware of possible Clinton visit, Reppas says

    Athens, 26/11/1996 (ANA)

    The government has no knowledge of any development regarding a visit by US President Bill Clinton to Greece, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday commenting on press reports that Mr. Clinton would be visiting Athens and Ankara next June.

    "Regarding a visit by President Clinton to Athens, the issue remains open," Mr. Reppas said, noting that Mr. Clinton had accepted an invitation to visit Greece extended by President Kostis Stephanopoulos when the two men met in Washington last May.

    [10] PASOK youth group delegation ends Belgrade visit

    Belgrade, 26/11/1996 (ANA - M. Mouratidis)

    A delegation of PASOK's youth group ended a five-day visit to Belgrade yesterday.

    The youth delegation, which had accepted an invitation extended by Socialist Party President Alexander Rastovic, met with youth members of the Yugoslav ruling party and representatives of the Serbian political leadership, while also visiting Serbian municipalities where the Serbian Socialist Party won the recent elections.

    Mr. Rastovic briefed the PASOK youth delegation on the results of deputy and municipal elections in his country, while yesterday, the group met with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who expressed his satisfaction over the successful co-operation between Greece and Yugoslavia.

    Mr. Milosevic asked the delegation to convey his personal regards to Prime Minister and PASOK party president Costas Simitis.

    [11] Evert calls on ND bodies to support protests against Gov't economic policy

    Athens, 26/11/1996 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert yesterday called on all party organizations to support the people in view of protests this week against the government's economic policy.

    Mr. Evert sent a letter to party organizations and members of the ND political and social councils in view of the 1997 budget's submission to Parliament.

    According to Mr. Evert, the low- and middle-income classes will be "crushed under the impending barrage of taxes, while the pensioners, small-to-medium sized business owners, farmers and employees will bear the burden of the new tax measures."

    Mr. Evert called on all party organizations to mobilize in order to force the government to change its economic policy.

    Meanwhile, in an unrelated development yesterday, ND Vice-President Ioannis Varvitsiotis sent a letter to the members of ND's political council elaborating on his proposal for enlargement of the electoral base at next year's congress, which also has the support of Mr. Evert.

    The ND leader has told associates that the Varvitsiotis proposal "was moving in the right direction."

    Mr. Evert announced that he will convene a political council meeting tomorrow and an executive committee meeting on Thursday.

    According to sources Mr. Varvitsiotis has proposed that the electoral base of the congress be enlarged to 3,000 members, up from the 1,245 which participated in the previous Halkidiki congress.

    The extra members, according to the proposal, will be prefectural counselors, candidate mayors, trade union members and the presidents of vocational and scientific fora who are ND members.

    According to the party charter, the congress has quorum with the participation of 1,900 members.

    Meanwhile, deputy Stavros Dimas said he hoped the Varvitsiotis proposal will form the basis for decisions of the party's political council.

    Stressing that the ND charter gives the ability to deputies to question Mr. Evert during the upcoming party congress, Mr. Dimas said that whoever wins the party leadership elections during the congress will also lead the party to general elections.

    [12] Romeos chairs meeting focusing on recent police corruption cases

    Athens, 26/11/1996 (ANA)

    A meeting of high-ranking police officials yesterday chaired by Public Order Minister George Romeos examined recent cases of official corruption, particularly the involvement of police officers in the smuggling of illegal immigrants as well as the recent shooting death of a gypsy man in Livadia by a traffic policeman.

    Announced measures called for the strengthening of police patrols in border regions to counter illegal immigration along with other steps promoted by the foreign ministry.

    Mr. Romeos said there would also be stricter controls on police conduct, adding: "The finding and punishment of the officer who breaks the law is not enough, prevention and the elimination of the mentality which promotes the covering up of such cases is also required."

    Referring to the gypsy man's killing, he said efforts should be made so that there was greater respect for the constitutional rights of citizens, saying the growth of a racist climate within police ranks would not be allowed.

    In a related issue, special measures were discussed to prevent the importation of illegal narcotics from Albania, and the assistance of European Union partners would be sought in that regard.

    [13] Mitropoulos international competition gets under way

    Athens, 26/11/1996 (ANA)

    Yesterday saw the start of the first international competition dedica-ted to the memory of renowned Greek conductor and composer Dimitris Mitropoulos, marking the 100th anniversary of his birth.

    The five-day competition, which is set to become an annual event., is open to orchestra conductors of all nationalities up to the age of 40.

    The competition, organized by the Orchestra of Colors in close collaboration with the Athens Concert Hall and under the aegis of the ministry of culture, will take place before a jury comprising distinguished musicians from the international world of music under the chairmanship of conductor Claudio Scimone.

    Out of approximately 300 entries, the jury has selected 32 candidates in a preliminary round to take part in the finals in a November 28 concert at the Athens Concert Hall that will be open to the public.

    According to Traute Lutz, administrator of the competition, there has been considerable interest from Britain in the competition, and a Briton was among the finalists.

    Three prizes will be awarded. The first prize is accompanied by an eight million drachmas (approx. $30,00) cash award, the second prize five million drachmas ($18,000) and the third prize three million drachmas ($10,000).

    The first prize winner will also be offered paid engagements with the Orchestra of Colors, founded by the late composer Manos Hadzidakis, and the Camerata Orchestra of the Friends of Music for two concerts over the next three years.

    Mr. Lutz said that the response to the competition was so great that by the June 15 deadline for entries about 300 candidates had applied.

    "Selecting 32 finalists was a very difficult task for the jury, since the overall level of the entrants was extremely high. The final round promises to be very interesting," Mr. Lutz told the ANA last week.

    [14] Italy honors baritone Zachariou

    Athens, 26/11/1996 (ANA)

    Baritone Nikos Zachariou was awarded last night with the medal "Knight of the Italian Republic" by the Italian ambassador in Athens.

    The singer began his career in 1943 in the Greek National Opera House and moved to the Scala of Milan in 1953.

    Other dignitaries that also received awards included businessmen Socrates Bourboulis and Armado Montiano.

    [15] Papantoniou urges restraint on income demands to cut inflation

    Athens, 26/11/1996 (ANA)

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday called on all citizens to curb their income demands so as to contain inflation.

    Addressing the annual conference of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Papantoniou said a reduction of inflation was the "responsibility of not only the government but also of the entire society, and consequently, businessmen, workers and re al estate owners should curb their... demands".

    Mr. Papantoniou reiterated the government's target of holding inflation to 4.5 per cent by the end of 1997, a goal which was stated in the recently drafted 1997 state budget, and called on the business sector to "display self-restraint so as to contribute to reducing inflation". Stressing that the "hard drachma" exchange policy would not change, Mr. Papantoniou said the target was for Greece to be in a position to seek, before the year 2000, its full participation in the European Union's economic and monetary union (EMU), adding that the essential fiscal streamlining was beginning "today".

    He also stressed the need for combating a "clientele state" and wasteful public sector spending "so as to reduce the deficits through a coordinated and socially balanced effort, without placing extortionistic dilemmas upon the working people".

    Mr. Papantoniou further said "contained increases" above the anticipated inflation rate (8 per cent) would be given to the public sector as of January 1, while announcing acceleration of privatization in 1997, the year in which he also said a bill would be tabled in Parliament establishing the complete autonomy of the Bank of Greece.

    The minister also endorsed mergers of banks and enterprises aimed at "increasing their competitiveness". On his part, National Economy Under-secretary Christos Baltas provided assurances that the government was making determined efforts to overcome existing problems for foreign investors.

    Referring especially to US investors, he stressed that the government aimed, on one hand, to increase the investment fund flow from the United States, which was admittedly on a downward trend, while on the other, to promote "triangular" business venture s in the Balkans and the Black Sea region, based on Greek-US co-operation.

    According to Mr. Baltas' figures, the sum of US capital investment in Greece, US$1.25 billion, amounted to one-fourth of the total, with US-based firms employing about 9,000 workers. Regarding trade, the US market is expected to be displaced by that of Bulgaria from fifth place in the list of best customers for Greek exports in 1996.

    [16] Complaints about investment climate

    Athens, 26/11/1996 (ANA)

    Meanwhile, representatives of foreign multi-nationals expressed serious complaints regarding the prevailing climate for foreign investment in Greece, while Greek businessmen were also critical of what they called the lack of "clear solutions in the development sector".

    Alexandros Andriopoulos, the managing director of Levi Strauss Hellas, accused the state of not providing effective protection for industrial and intellectual copyrights, reporting that the annual turnover of imitation brands and products in Greece amounted to 50 billion drachmas, seven billion of which was only for bogus Levi's jeans.

    Giorgos Galanakis, the president of Hayatt Regency Hotel and Tourist A.E., which recently implemented a large casino investment in Thessaloniki, protested that "at a time when prime ministers of the country visited America in search of investors, legislation regarding the sector has been changed three times and new changes are being prepared."

    [17] Tsohatzopoulos on economic development and defense

    Athens, 26/11/1996 (ANA)

    Referring to the connection between economic development and defense, National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said in his address that the defensive capability was not at odds with the success of the economy and the course towards development, but w as a precondition for them.

    "The dilemma posed between armaments or development is a false one," he stressed, adding that defense expenditures in 1997 would reach 4.2 per cent of GDP, and emphasizing that development, the country's modernization and its prospects in Europe guaranteed its deterrent force, which in turn guaranteed the Greek people's prosperity.

    "The defensive capability, diplomatic efforts, and the application of the rules of international law constitute the main factors of Greece's policy," he added.

    He also stressed Athens' resolve to back Cyprus.

    "The strengthening of Cyprus - economic and military - and the apparent significant prospect for a solution of the problem through Cyprus' accession to the EU present new facts which Greece must face resolutely in the next three years," he said.

    [18] Opposition's positions

    Athens, 26/11/1996 (ANA)

    Speaking after Mr. Papantoniou, Main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert accused the government of a "tax raid", saying that "a tax whirlwind is coming."

    He claimed that the government should begin a drastic restriction of the state and not proceed "down the one-way street of taxes," adding that most new taxes will lead to recession and to the reduction of investments when what is needed is credibility and the existence of a stable taxation system.

    Mr. Evert described taxation measures as being slipshod, saying the actual income for salaried workers and pensioners will be reduced.

    "No-one knows what the government's economic policy is, what it (the government) plans or how it will implement it," he said.

    The ND president described the current account deficit as a time bomb.

    "The government has not realized that monetary policy can no longer bear the burden of efforts to reduce inflation," he said, adding that "it is not possible to destroy the economy's productive fibers with its exchange policy."

    Dimitris Tsovolas, the leader of the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) and a former PASOK finance minister, said there was an alternative, realistic economic proposal which will lead to progress.

    "It is necessary for the Maastricht criteria to be revised across Europe," Mr. Tsovolas said, adding that it was also necessary for there to be a stabilization policy. This policy, he said, cannot happen with a squeeze on incomes and the imposition of new taxes, but with an improvement in productivity and production with new investments and more growth.

    The DHKKI leader asked for support for low-income earners to bolster demand in the market and to reverse the slump, saying that the Greek economy, in contrast to what is commonly assumed, is not in debt because the massive informal economy in the gross domestic product is not calculated.

    [19] Deputies' basic salary to reach 844,747 drachmas

    Athens, 26/11/1996 (ANA)

    MP deputies are to receive salary increases worth almost as much as those of civil servants, under Parliament's new budget, which was submitted last night.

    According to the legislative body's budget, the basic salary for deputies rises to 844,747 drachmas, compared to 765,652 drachmas in 1996. This year, 5.727 billion drachmas will be provided for deputies' salaries and bonuses, which are described as being "constitutional debts", up from just more than 5.571 billion drachmas in 1996.

    Parliament's total budget for 1997 amounts to just under 21 billion drachmas, in contrast for 18,817 for the previous year - marking an 11.59 per cent increase.

    The budget has a left-over of 600 million drachmas, while 800 million drachmas from the 1996 budget are to be used to commence work on Parliament's new underground garage. Parliament estimates it will return more than 3.5 million drachmas to the state coffers, that were left over from 1996.

    Expenses have been cut in the new budget for the purchase of newspapers, office material, paper and health supplies.

    However, 275 million drachmas have been earmarked for the purchase of computers. The Parliamentary budget is to be voted on during the next few days.

    [20] Cost of living, adulterated foods top list of consumers' complaints

    Athens, 26/11/1996 (ANA)

    The cost of living and adulterated foodstuffs that are unfit for consumption top the black list of consumers' complaints for 1996, as compiled by the Consumers' Institute (INKA).

    Lower down the list come telephone and electricity bills, tourism and entertainment services, misleading advertising, the media, water supply and drainage, insurance, and public services.

    A report issued after a meeting of consumers' organizations over the weekend stated that very few of the measures enacted by the government have been implemented, while marketing techniques violating rules of fair competition are being promoted unchecked.

    [21] Consumers' Institute issues warning on unsafe toys

    Athens, 26/11/1996 (ANA)

    A Consumers' Institute (INKA) report released in view of the upcoming holiday season claims that many children's toys do not fulfill the required safety standards and are dangerous.

    The report stresses that although the European Union has established rules for the manufacturing of safe toys, there is laxity in regulations' enforcement by national authorities, which must show greater vigilance not only in withdrawing dangerous toys , but also in preventing manufacturers from unduly using the CE label.

    INKA urges parents to employ increased care regarding the quality, packaging, and substances used by toy manufacturers.

    [22] Papoutsis stresses challenges facing SMEs in light of globalization

    Athens, 26/11/1996 (ANA)

    "It is a fact that globalization and internationalization of small- to medium-sized enterprises is now a sector which needs careful attention and orientation," EU Commissioner SMEs Christos Papoutsis said yesterday.

    "Enterprises all around Europe will need to revise their strategies in view of the ever-changing global market," he said, adding that "despite advantages from globalization, enterprises will be facing specific problems."

    Mr. Papoutsis was speaking at the 23rd "International Conference on Small- to Medium-Sized Businesses and Globalization (ISBC)", held yesterday at a downtown Athens hotel.

    Stressing that SMEs should have greater support during the first stages of their activities, especially in the sector of assessing new markets and face administrative problems, Mr. Papoutsis added that the banking system should also assist the globalization of national business activities.

    According to the EU Commissioner, the course to Economic and Monetary Union will have its effects on the globalization of SMEs.

    In order to minimize these effects, Mr. Papoutsis said governments, institutional organizations and businesses should plan ahead.

    In view of this challenge, Mr. Papoutsis said SMEs should proceed with restructuring, the cost of which will not be negligible but will yield great benefits.

    He also added that the development of electronic trade was a significant aspect of the Community's new policy, as this is expressed in the Union's "Green Paper" on trade, which the European Commission endorsed last week.

    [23] V. Papandreou's speech

    Athens, 26/11/1996 (ANA)

    Speaking at the same conference, Development Minister Vasso Papandreou stressed the need for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to adapt to international developments in order for them to play a significant role in the economy.

    The development minister made the statement while opening the ISBC conference, which focused on the issue of Internationalization and SMEs.

    The conference, in which 610 business representatives from around the world are attending, is due to end next Tuesday.

    "Until now, internationalization was connected to the activities of multi-national businesses," Ms Papandreou said, adding: "Today, for a variety of reasons, most important of which is technological development, our world is being converted into a unified market of capital, consumer goods and services. In this new situation, small- and medium-sized enterprises also have a place."

    [24] 1997 Europartenariat scheduled to be held in Piraeus

    Athens, 26/11/1996 (ANA)

    EU Commissioner for Small-to-Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), Christos Papoutsis said yesterday that the 1997 Europartenariat will be held in Piraeus next June.

    According to Mr. Papoutsis, the Europartenariat will contribute to the further globalization of Greek SMEs that comprise the backbone of the Greek economy.

    [25] Unemployment forecast to fall over the next two years

    Athens, 26/11/1996 (ANA)

    Unemployment will reach 9.6 per cent in 1997 and drop to 9.2 per cent in 1998, according to a half-yearly report of the national economy ministry on current economic developments which was published yesterday. According to other forecasts for 1997 contained in the report, incomes policy will be restrictive, monetary policy will continue to be focused on the battle against inflation, while maintaining the parity of the drachma but without ruling out small short-term fluctuations in order to discourage speculatory movements of capital.

    Inflation in 1997, the report said, would drop to 4.5 per cent which would result in a further drop in nominal rates of interest.

    [26] National Bank branch opens in Tirana

    Athens, 26/11/1996 (ANA)

    The National Bank of Greece opened its first branch office in Tirana yesterday while another branch is expected to soon open in Bucharest.

    The new bank branch will accept deposits in major currencies and in drachmas, as well as offering import and export financial services, loans and letters of guarantee, purchase as well as facilitating exchange and capital movement abroad.

    An announcement by the National Bank said the Tirana branch office will have an advantage of providing security for important and high-amount transactions and services.

    In a similar development, a new National Bank branch office opened in Stuttgart on Nov. 18. The new branch office, the fourth in Germany, provides all banking services and is equipped with the latest banking computerization system.

    [27] OGA to function as full-fledged insurance fund as of Jan. 1

    Athens, 26/11/1996 (ANA)

    About 700,000 farmers will join the reorganized Agricultural Insurance Fund (OGA), which is to function on a fully reciprocal basis of contributions from January 1, as provided for by a draft law unveiled by Labor and Social Security Minister Miltiades Papaioannou yesterday.

    The plan calls for seven tiers of insurance, the first providing for monthly pensions of 51,000 drachmas, and the seventh for 177,330. One-third of the cost will be paid by farmers' themselves, and two-thirds from the state budget. Farmers will be eligible for a pension at 65, while the concepts of disability pension and labor accidents are introduced for the first time.

    The plan is expected to become fully operational by the year 2026, i.e., the first farmers completing 30 years of insurance.

    [28] Ship pilots go on strike

    Athens, 26/11/1996 (ANA)

    Ships' pilots went on strike yesterday to press their demand for an additional pay allowance based on length of service to be paid out of the Seamen's Pension Fund (NAT).

    Due to the strike, a large number of vessels remained at anchor outside the port of Piraeus, others have changed course and destination, while those already in port are unable to leave.

    Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis said last week that the behavior of the pilots was of particular concern to him since they were "out of touch with reality".

    The stance of the pilots has already led to a re-examination of the usefulness of their service in its present form.

    Mr. Soumakis noted that pilots' salaries are already very high. He said that they were "privileged employees who overstress demands of lesser importance".

    He added that the ministry was examining the possibility of privatizing the pilot service which he described as a "private relationship safeguarded by the state without any benefit for the state".

    [29] Teachers go on 24-hour strike tomorrow

    Athens, 26/11/1996 (ANA)

    Secondary school and kindergarten teachers will hold a 24-hour strike tomorrow to protest a new salary scale and proposed government spending on education.

    At the same time, schoolteachers and university lecturers will participate in the 24-hour strike called by the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) for November 28.

    The administrative board of the Union of Public Secondary School Teachers (OLME) told a press conference yesterday that they were considering organizing further strike action.

    It said they would be proposing to local teachers' trade union organizations a 48-hour strike on December 9-10, a three-day strike beginning December 16 and a long-term strike beginning in January.

    OLME is demanding a minimum monthly salary of 250,000 drachmas for teachers appointed for the first time, the immediate appointment of teachers to schools currently operating with reduced staff which have been forced to cut syllabuses and a 15 per cent increase in state spending on education.

    End of English language section.

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