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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-02-18

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 1419), February 18, 1998

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


  • [01] Greek-Russian initiative to promote Kofi Annan's Iraqi visit
  • [02] ... Primakov visit to Mount Athos
  • [03] ... Primakov: Iraq ready to display a 'constructive disposition'
  • [04] Gov't says measures for loss-making Olympic Airways in a month
  • [05] EU experts visit Athens to focus on OA problem
  • [06] ... Postal, railway reforms
  • [07] Resolution in Europarliament on pillaging of Imvros church
  • [08] Mubarak receives Tsohatzopoulos in Cairo
  • [09] Greece reiterates rights under Law of Sea
  • [10] Solana meets with Greek, Turkish ambassadors on Aegean CBMs
  • [11] Mitsotakis has talks with Turkish Ambassador
  • [12] Pentagon pressing for US ratification of Law of The Sea
  • [13] Mass violations of Greek airspace by Turkish warplanes reported
  • [14] US ambassador observes F-16 demonstration flight
  • [15] Simitis meeting with KTE secretaries
  • [16] Vartholomeos visit to Canada
  • [17] ... Meeting with US official
  • [18] Papademos again to serve as Bank of Greece governor
  • [19] Karamanlis in Brussels
  • [20] Kontoyiannopoulos to represent six expelled ND deputies
  • [21] Europarliament report on Greek measures on conscientious objectors
  • [22] Gov't, opposition clash in Parliament over 2004 draft bill
  • [23] New traffic code bill
  • [24] Albania's Alia has by-pass operation in Greece
  • [25] Farmers' protests over
  • [26] Inquiry into legalization of revenues from illegal activities
  • [27] Greeks to get new tax file number under streamlining plan
  • [28] Greek stocks shed gains in lackluster trade
  • [29] Greece monitors banking transactions, consumer rights
  • [30] Tourism enterprises blast possible cuts in EU programs
  • [31] Economic, Social Committee plenum convenes
  • [32] Venture capital for Danube Fund
  • [33] Wine orders over the Internet

  • [01] Greek-Russian initiative to promote Kofi Annan's Iraqi visit

    Athens, 18/02/1998 (ANA)

    Greece and Russia yesterday undertook an initiative to promote UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's visit to Iraq, which aims at persuading Iraqi leadership to permit UN weapons inspections.

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and his Russian counterpart Yevgeny Primakov yesterday contacted several European Union counterparts from northern Greece, in the direction of defusing the ongoing Iraqi crisis.

    Mr. Pangalos and Mr. Primakov contacted French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine from Macedonia Airport in Thessaloniki yesterday morning. Later, while on Mount Athos, the two ministers had telephone conversations with German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel and Belgian Foreign Minister Erik Derycke.

    Both the Greek and Russian FMs are continuing efforts to communicate with other counterparts from EU countries, including British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook.

    Mr. Pangalos told reporters earlier in Mount Athos that he and Mr. Primakov were making "specific efforts" for a political solution to the Iraqi crisis.

    "From Thessaloniki airport we both communicated with (French Foreign Minister) Hubert Vedrine and we shall probably have contacts with other foreign ministers," he said.

    "There is a considerable danger and let us hope that the UN Secretary General is left to do his job without needless terms and conditions which will just make things more difficult. His final efforts could, with some understanding from the other side, bring some result," Mr. Pangalos said.

    "Of course, the objective of all of us is for the chemical and nuclear weapons which Iraq may have to be neutralized. No one supports the view that it should have such weapons. But there must be some understanding and there must be no show of strength and intransigence," he added.

    Earlier yesterday, diplomatic sources said the views shared by Russia, Greece and France regarding the crisis in Iraq are assuming the form of a tripartite initiative aimed at averting a military conflict.

    [02] ... Primakov visit to Mount Athos

    Athens, 18/02/1998 (ANA)

    The chief administrator of Mount Athos, Kallinikos Iviritis, told Mr. Primakov that the all-male monastic community was praying for peace, adding that it was the wish of all that military conflict be averted in the crisis over weapons inspections in Iraq.

    Father Kallinikos said that the monks of Mount Athos had asked the commander-in-chief of the US Sixth Fleet, who recently visited the community, to convey to Washington their desire for peace to prevail in the world.

    Mr. Primakov, who began a three-day official visit to Greece on Monday, was accompanied by his Greek counterpart Theodoros Pangalos, who referred to the joint efforts being made with the Russian foreign minister for a political solution to the Iraqi crisis.

    Asked by reporters to comment on the position expressed by Father Kallinikos, Mr. Primakov said he would not like to make political statements while on Mount Athos. Mr. Primakov said after talks in Athens yesterday with Mr. Pangalos that Greece and Russia did not consider the use of force to be expedient in the case of the Iraqi crisis, since this would have serious repercussions in the broader region.

    He stressed, however, that both countries agreed that the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq must be neutralized.

    Father Kallinikos' position, Mr. Pangalos said, was characteristic of the spirit prevailing in the holy community, adding that "we, too, share their desire for peace, so that human lives are not lost..."

    The two FMs also visited two monasteries with predominately ethnic Russian monks.

    [03] ... Primakov: Iraq ready to display a 'constructive disposition'

    Athens, 18/02/1998 (ANA)

    Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov stated in Thessaloniki late last night that according to information he has "it appears that Iraq is ready, in light of a trip by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to Baghdad, to show the greatest constructive disposition."

    He added that Mr. Annan's trip to Iraq must certainly take place now.

    Mr. Primakov reiterated that his country's views on the Iraqi crisis coincide with those of Greece and France.

    "The utmost must be done to neutralize chemical and bacteriological weapons existing in Iraq, but we must insist on diplomatic means. We do not have the disposition of resolving the problem with military means, something which could lead to negative con sequences for all," he said.

    Returning from Mount Athos, for which he expressed his admiration and underlined the religious ties between Russia and Greece, Mr. Primakov met Macedonia and Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos, who hosted a reception in his honor yesterday evening.

    [04] Gov't says measures for loss-making Olympic Airways in a month

    Athens, 18/02/1998 (ANA)

    Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis said yesterday that measures for the streamlining of Olympic Airways and the Greek Post Offices (ELTA) would be announced within 30 days.

    He made the statements after meeting with National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on the future of the two state-run utilities, also attended by their managements.

    Mr. Mantelis said the operational plans of the two public enterprises would first be submitted to dialogue with staff before final decisions are adopted.

    The two ministers are holding follow-up meetings today to discuss measures for the urban transport organizations of Athens (OASA) and the Greek Railways Organization (OSE).

    Before yesterday's meeting, Mr. Mantelis said the six-month deadline given by the government for management and employees to find solutions to the problems of public enterprises (DEKOs) other than OA and ELTA would be adhered to. Before the deadline, managements must have submitted their programs concerning work regulations, economic revitalization and business plans.

    Regarding OA, he said he was unaware of any discussion or contacts with strategic discussions being conducted between the airline's management and representatives of other companies.

    He added he had instructed OA's management to seek and establish strategic alliances in the areas of fuel, aircraft maintenance and OA's relocation to Athens' new international airport, currently being built at Spata.

    Discussions about strategic alliances, he added, must be held with many parties so that the best may be chosen.

    In the case of OA, Mr. Mantelis said steps towards revitalization must first be taken before any discussions are held.

    "Nobody will be interested in participating in OA if it does not become competitive," he said.

    A project manager must first be found, he continued, and the company is already in negotiations in order to safeguard its interests.

    [05] EU experts visit Athens to focus on OA problem

    Brussels, 18/01/1998 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    A European Union delegation of experts is to arrive in Athens today to look into the Olympic Airways issue.

    The delegation will present the Commission's views on a restructuring program for OA, which last year cut state subsidies to the air carrier.

    A spokesman for EU Commissioner for Transport Neil Kinnock said yesterday that the Commission has expressed concern on the restructuring course, stressing at the same time that recent statements by Prime Minister Costas Simitis in relation to OA gave rise to reasonable hopes that there was some kind of understanding to continue with the restructuring program.

    [06] ... Postal, railway reforms

    Athens, 18/02/1998 (ANA)

    Turning to ELTA, Mr. Mantelis said management had already completed preliminary work for the organization's revitalization and a dialogue had begun with the workers which "has resulted in an initial agreement".

    In contrast, he went on, the management of OSE was not yet ready. A relevant study was due to be completed by the end of the month and on the basis of the business plan to be submitted by management, a new law would be introduced concerning the organization, Mr. Mantelis said.

    On the reactions of workers in the various DEKO to efforts for their revitalization, Mr. Mantelis said the knife was not at the throat of the workers, but at those of managements and the competent minister.

    [07] Resolution in Europarliament on pillaging of Imvros church

    Brussels, 18/02/1998 (ANA - P. Pantelis)

    The main opposition New Democracy party's Parliamentary group has tabled a resolution at the European Parliament plenum regarding the pillaging of an Orthodox church on Imvros earlier this month.

    Besides the widespread damages, several priceless holy relics were stolen from the church. Imvros and Tenedos, two islands in the extreme northeastern Aegean inhabited by a homogeneous ethnic Greek population at the turn of the century, were awarded to Turkey by the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.

    The resolution calls on the Europarliament to condemn the sacrilege, stressing that "these illegal acts are in contrast to the free expression of ideas and fundamental freedoms."

    Turkish authorities are also called on to prevent the removal of the relics from the island and on the Turkish government to protect and allow the unimpeded operation of cathedrals.

    [08] Mubarak receives Tsohatzopoulos in Cairo

    Cairo, 18/02/1998 (ANA - S. Trilikis)

    Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and visiting National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday agreed that Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein should accept a UN Security Council resolution for a continuation of inspections for weapons of mass destruction. The two men met during the Greek minister's second day of his official visit here, and also agreed that the US should in no case proceed with a military intervention, as diplomatic possibilities were still in place.

    "An invasion would create more problems in the Middle East than it would solve," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

    They also discussed current bilateral issues and the consequences of the Turkish-Israeli military agreement, stressing that Ankara functioned as a destabilizing factor in the eastern Mediterranean.

    Finally, they endorsed agreements reached between Mr. Tsohatzopoulos and his Egyptian counterpart on Monday for the holding of joint aeronautical exercises in the next six months.

    The Greek minister's talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa centered on much the same subjects. Later, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos visited a M1-A1 main battle tank production plant.

    His visit ends in Alexandria today, as the Greek minister is scheduled to meet with Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria and All Egypt Petros.

    [09] Greece reiterates rights under Law of Sea

    Athens, 18/02/1998 (ANA)

    Greece reiterated yesterday that it had every right under the Law of the Sea convention to extend its territorial waters from six to twelve miles and would do so when it saw fit.

    Replying to a Turkish foreign ministry announcement issued yesterday, Greek foreign ministry spokesman Costas Bikas repeated a statement on the matter issued by the ministry on Jan. 22.

    "Greece fully respects international law... and the joint communiqui issued in Madrid, adherence to which may and should have a positive influence on Greek-Turkish relations and stability in the region," Mr. Bikas said.

    The Turkish announcement yesterday said the Madrid "agreement", signed by Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Turkish President Suleiman Demirel in July last year, obliged both sides to refrain from unilateral actions.

    "Within this framework, the preservation of the existing extent of territorial waters in the Aegean is of great importance. If it is not preserved, the settlement of issues in the Aegean will be impossible," he said.

    Mr. Bikas countered by pointing out that according to international law, Greece had every right to extend its territorial waters to twelve nautical miles.

    "We have repeatedly stated that when we decide to exercise this right, we shall act in a responsible manner as a sea power with a comprehensive perception of freedom of navigation, peace and good neighborly relations in the Aegean and the Mediterranean . This is in any case provided for by the right of safe passage which is recognized by international law," Mr. Bikas said.

    "The exercise of this lawful right can therefore under no circumstances be considered as a threat or non-adherence to the principles contained in the Madrid joint communiqui, which Turkey should implement. Ankara would be well advised not to create issues where there is no issue," he added.

    [10] Solana meets with Greek, Turkish ambassadors on Aegean CBMs

    Athens, 18/02/1998 (ANA)

    Some of the points raised in a proposal by NATO Secretary General Javier Solana regarding confidence-building measures in the Aegean are viewed "positively" by Greece, said government spokesman Demetris Reppas after a meeting yesterday in Brussels between

    Mr. Solana and the ambassadors of Greece and Turkey to NATO.

    Greece is open to dialogue, Mr. Reppas said, and wants solutions to be found within the framework of international law. He added that Greece's policies had opened up many opportunities for rapprochement with Turkey.

    Mr. Reppas called on Turkey to take advantage of these opportunities.

    [11] Mitsotakis has talks with Turkish Ambassador

    Athens, 18/02/1998 (ANA)

    Turkish Ambassador in Athens Ali Tuygan yesterday called on main opposition New Democracy party honorary president and former premier Costas Mitsotakis for talks on Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue, reliable sources said.

    The sources said Mr. Mitsotakis told the Turkish envoy that now was the time for efforts to be concentrated on solving the Cyprus issue.

    "Cyprus' hour has come," Mr. Mitsotakis was quoted by the sources as saying. They said he asked Mr. Tuygan to convey that message to the Turkish president and prime minister, stressing at the same time the need for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue. The sources recalled that Mr. Mitsotakis in the past had said 1998 would be a critical year for resolution of the Cyprus issue, adding that a solution of the Cyprus problem would bring about an improvement in Greek-Turkish relations.

    [12] Pentagon pressing for US ratification of Law of The Sea

    Washington, 18/02/1998 (ANA- T. Ellis)

    The US Defense Department is pressing for ratification of the Law of The Sea, which was finalized in 1982 and has been signed by 123 countries.

    This position constitutes a significant change in relation with the recent policy, as Washington considered that the Treaty restricted the ability of US vessels to sail freely throughout the world.

    The "Defense News" review notes that the US military now considers that changes brought about in the Law of the Sea in 1994 offer satisfactory solutions to US objections.

    "The treaty holds tremendous significance for the US, particularly with regard to defense and security," Defense Under-secretary Walter Slocombe said, adding that "the US can neither urge other countries to sign the treaty nor can it (Washington) exercise its appropriate leading role with regard to its (treaty) application if the (US) Senate has not previously ratified it".

    The review considers that non-ratification impedes the speedy resolution of disputes relating to issues such as national sovereignty and the extent of territorial waters.

    [13] Mass violations of Greek airspace by Turkish warplanes reported

    Athens, 18/02/1998 (ANA)

    A total of 16 Turkish F-16 and F-4 warplanes violated Greek national airspace on several instances between the islands of Lesvos and Hios, according to sources.

    The particular area had been designated by Turkey for its current aeronautical exercises, while the Turkish warplanes moved in two waves, one in the morning and another early in the afternoon.

    In all cases, Greek fighters intercepted intruders, while on two instances interceptions developed into engagements.

    [14] US ambassador observes F-16 demonstration flight

    Athens, 18/02/1998 (ANA)

    The US ambassador in Athens visited to the 111 Fighter Wing in Volos yesterday to observe several demonstration flights of upgraded F-16 fighters, now manufactured by the US consortium Lockheed Martin.

    Ambassador Nicholas Burns was accompanied by Lockheed Martin official Kevin Dwyer, the director of the F-16 program.

    Both US officials met Nea Aghialos base commander Col. Yiagos.

    The US ambassador also participated in a simulator demonstration.

    The air test was also observed by senior Greek military officials, including Major Gen. Koletsos, vice chief of the Hellenic Air Force Staff, and Brig. Gen. Athinakis, chairman of the evaluation board.

    Mr. Burns will attend a similar demonstration of the F-15 fighter next month.

    Both warplanes are being considered for purchase by the Greek military.

    While in Volos, Mr. Burns paid calls to the prefect's office, the Metropolitan and the city's mayor.

    [15] Simitis meeting with KTE secretaries

    Athens, 18/02/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday hosted a luncheon for the secretaries of the Parliamentary Work Sections (KTE) and the presidents of Parliament's standing committees. This meeting was in the framework of contacts between the premier and PASOK deputies and officials.

    [16] Vartholomeos visit to Canada

    Montreal, 18/02/1998 (ANA - I. Frangoulis)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos will visit six Canadian cities from March 25 to June 2.

    Vartholomeos' visit, which will be the first ever by an Ecumenical Patriarch to that country, will include Ottawa, Vancouver, Winnipeg, London, Toronto and Montreal.

    Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien will welcome the Orthodox Prelate.

    [17] ... Meeting with US official

    Istanbul, 18/02/1998 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    Meanwhile, Vartholomeos described the appointment by the US administration of a special secretary on human rights issues as an indication of emerging global changes. The Patriarch made his observation here yesterday after a meeting with US Assistant State Secretary John Shattuck.

    [18] Papademos again to serve as Bank of Greece governor

    Athens, 18/02/1998 (ANA)

    A Parliament's committee yesterday approved renewal of Bank of Greece Governor Lucas Papademos' five-year term. Mr. Papademos said during the hearing that "Greece will be able to join the Euro system by 2001."

    [19] Karamanlis in Brussels

    Brussels, 18/02/1998 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday arrived here to attend a meeting of ND supporters. He also met with Athens Mayor Demetris Avramopoulos.

    Mr. Avramopoulos is a candidate in today's elections for the presidency of the European Union's regions committee.

    [20] Kontoyiannopoulos to represent six expelled ND deputies

    Athens, 18/02/1998 (ANA)

    Six deputies expelled from the main opposition New Democracy party earlier this month have appointed former education minister Vassilis Kontoyiannopoulos as their representative to a conference of Parliament chairmen.

    The six deputies were expelled for not voting against a government amendment allowing legislative intervention in public utilities' (DEKOs) labor relations. Petros Tatoulis was appointed as Mr. Kontoyiannopoulos' deputy.

    [21] Europarliament report on Greek measures on conscientious objectors

    Strasbourg, 18/021998 (ANA - C. Haralambopoulos)

    A report by the French Eurodeputy of the European Unified Left, Aline Pailler, adopted yesterday by a Europarliament plenum, makes a positive reference to measures taken by the Greek government to release conscientious objectors and the initiation of legislation recognizing the rights of conscientious objectors.

    The report focused on the state of human rights in the European Union last year.

    In the section of the report concerning Greece, the Parliament calls on the government to fully give amnesty to all conscientious objectors so far and to grant them full civil rights, particularly by granting passports and safeguarding freedom of travel in the EU.

    The relevant resolution also condemns the listing of religion in identity cards, since the Parliament believes that this action deals a blow at respect for the private life of people and can lead to discriminations.

    The condemnation of all kinds of racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism is reiterated in the Parliamentary resolution, while it also condemns every act of racial violence or racial discrimination, particularly in connection with access to employment, vocational training, residence, education, health and social services.

    The resolution urges member-states to create an independent body to combat racism and proposes that March 21 should be established as the European Day for combating racism.

    The resolution reminds member-states that immigrants who are not from EU countries must be able to take advantage of equality of treatment with regard to economic and social rights.

    PASOK party Eurodeputy Irene Lambraki said in her address that the violation of human rights does not constitute the regrettable privilege of some remote new countries but also appears on a daily basis in EU countries as well.

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Eurodeputy Yiannis Theonas denounced the hypocrisy which even appears in the plenum's hall, when the Parliament observes the violation of the most elementary of human rights around it, such as the genocide of the children of Iraq, without reacting.

    [22] Gov't, opposition clash in Parliament over 2004 draft bill

    Athens, 18/02/1998 (ANA)

    The government and opposition clashed last night in Parliament on the proposed draft bill for organization of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

    Main opposition New Democracy accused the government of a lack of transparency in preparing the draft bill, while the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said it objected to the composition and operation of the Olympic Games organizing committee.

    Defending the government's handling, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos criticized ND, calling on the main opposition to stop underestimating such an important national issue with what he called petty political bickering.

    PASOK rapporteur Ioannis Zafiropoulos told Parliament that the draft bill was one of the most crucial bills of the last 20 years.

    [23] New traffic code bill

    Athens, 18/02/1998 (ANA)

    A bill aimed at ushering in a new era on Greece's roads was being tabled in Parliament, it was announced yesterday.

    Transport Minister Tasos Mantelis said the new traffic code, expected to be in force by summer, will attempt to create a new mentality based on respect for citizens' lives. The new code includes a number of measures aimed at reducing accidents, with emphasis on the needs of children and the disabled.

    The authorities are to be held responsible for the condition of the roads. The parking of all vehicles, including roadside stalls is to be banned both on main highways and secondary roads.

    Drivers are to be held jointly responsible for passengers not wearing seat-belts. Taxi drivers will not be required to wear them, but will be held responsible for passengers failing to do so.

    Stiffer sanctions for violations are also provided for. Drivers who have temporarily lost their licenses under the point system will have to undergo driver education courses and take another test.

    The blood-alcohol limit for drivers who have been drinking is to be set at 0.5% (roughly equivalent to a bottle of beer or three glasses of wine).

    Drivers found with levels of 0.5% to 0.8% will be fined 50,000 drachmas. Those with levels of 0.8% to 1.10% will be fined 100,000 drachmas and will lose their licenses for a period of three months.

    Those above that limit will be fined 200,000 drachmas, have their licenses confiscated for six months, and also face a prison sentence of at least two months duration.

    [24] Albania's Alia has by-pass operation in Greece

    Athens, 18/02/1998 (ANA)

    Former Albanian president Ramiz Alia was recovering satisfactorily after undergoing a quadruple by-pass operation at Thessaloniki's George Papanicolaou Hospital yesterday morning.

    The four-hour operation on the 73-year-old former communist strongman was performed by the head of the cardiology unit, Panayiotis Spyrou.

    Mr. Alia, who was admitted late Sunday night after arriving from Tirana, will remain in intensive care for two days before being moved to a hospital room to recuperate for another week.

    Cardiologist Stelios Kouroglou told the ANA yesterday after tests that doctors had found "serious problems with the heart function".

    Mr. Alia had been in intensive care in a Tirana hospital following a heart attack two weeks ago. His traveling expenses have been paid for by an anonymous Thessaloniki businessman.

    He had suffered his first heart attack six years ago while in an Albanian prison.

    [25] Farmers' protests over

    Athens, 18/02/1998 (ANA)

    Farmers' protests that brought traffic to a halt along stretches of the Athens-Thessaloniki highway for several days ended yesterday as the farmers' took their tractors off the highways, claiming victory although none of their demands has yet been met by the government. The protest was officially declared over at a rally in Tempe by Vangelis Boutas, a member of the Thessaly farmers' coordinating committee.

    Government spokesman Demetris Reppas expressed the government's satisfaction at the farmers' decision. He said that in order for the many structural problems in Greek agriculture to be solved, co-operation and communication were required rather than wasting energy in tension and conflict.

    Mr. Reppas also referred to efforts by Agriculture Minister Stefanos Tzoumakas within the European Union to defend the interests of Greek farmers.

    [26] Inquiry into legalization of revenues from illegal activities

    Brussels, 18/02/1998 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    The European Commission intends to send a letter to Greek authorities asking to be briefed on application of Directive 91/308 regarding legalization of revenues from illegal activities, Commissioner for Single Market Issues Mario Monti said in reply to a question by Coalition of the Left Euro-MP Michalis Papayiannakis.

    The question concerned the problems of the Greek banking sector in relation with controls on transactions.

    He asked Mr. Papayiannakis to put any available detailed evidence at his disposal.

    [27] Greeks to get new tax file number under streamlining plan

    Athens, 18/02/1998 (ANA)

    Greeks will acquire a new tax file number under a finance ministry decision aimed at widening and streamlining the tax base in the country, Finance Under-secretary George Drys said yesterday.

    A new nine-figure tax file number will be given to all legal and private entities, married females, property holders, government ministries and foreigners operating branches or offices in Greece.

    Mr. Drys said the measure aimed at creating a new tax profile for every citizen and set up a data base to improve cross-referencing of tax data in a drive to combat tax evasion.

    The new measure will be implemented by the end of 1999 along with the launch of a program to check tax data.

    [28] Greek stocks shed gains in lackluster trade

    Athens, 18/02/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities ended slightly lower reversing an earlier advance on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday. Traders said the market lacked buyers and fresh incentives to maintain its rebounding trend.

    The general index closed 0.21 percent down at 1,479.66 points with sector indices ending mixed.

    Banks fell 0.50 percent, Insurance eased 0.08 percent, Leasing rose 0.59 percent, Investment increased 0.37 percent, Construction ended 0.71 percent higher, Industrials fell 0.05 percent, Miscellaneous dropped 0.38 percent and Holding rose 0.81 percent.

    The parallel market index rose 0.87 percent. The FTSE/ASE blue chip index ended 0.40 percent off at 820.45 points.

    Trading was subdued with turnover at 14.2 billion drachmas.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 126 to 74 with another 29 issues unchanged.

    Eskimo, Singular, Demetriadis, Papoutsanis and Ergas scored the biggest percentage gains at the daily 8.0 percent upper volatility limit, while Boutaris, Bank of Athens, Daring and Keranis suffered the heaviest losses. National Bank of Greece ended at 2 2,050 drachmas, Ergobank at 14,900, Alpha Credit Bank at 16,080, Delta Dairy at 2,930, Titan Cement at 13,675, Intracom at 15,370 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organization at 5,750.

    [29] Greece monitors banking transactions, consumer rights

    Athens, 18/02/1998 (ANA)

    Greece's development ministry has set up a committee to monitor banking transactions and protect consumers' rights.

    Development Under-secretary Michalis Chrysohoidis said yesterday the committee was set up with the Bank of Greece, the Greek Banks Union and consumer organizations.

    Its aim was to monitor banking services after complaints of dubious practices in lending and credit card issues.

    Mr. Chrysohoidis said that transparency in banking transactions could only be ensured by giving consumers adequate information.

    [30] Tourism enterprises blast possible cuts in EU programs

    Athens, 18/02/1998 (ANA)

    Greek tourism enterprises yesterday slammed a possible government plan to cut funds from co-financed European Union programs for the sector.

    The Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) said in a statement that the national economy ministry intended to make the cuts to program proposals that had been submitted to the EU's executive Commission. According to SETE, the ministry claimed that tourism programs had shown a low absorption rate of funding. The prospect of cuts has reportedly caused a rift with the Greek National Tourism Organization.

    SETE said the tourist sector, which brings six billion dollars in foreign exchange each year, should receive more careful treatment.

    A long crisis in the industry should lead the government to support its recovery, especially through investment policy, SETE said.

    [31] Economic, Social Committee plenum convenes

    Athens, 18/02/1998 (ANA)

    The plenum of the Economic and Social Committee (OKE) convened yesterday to express its views on the bill on private investments, stressing that targets set out in the new development bill concerning backing for private investments are imperative for the country's economic and regional development.

    OKE said, however, that the specific bill lacks the elements which would allow the Greek economy to utilize its production potential. It added that economic development expected and pursued by the development law is rendered difficult by superfluous bureaucratic processes which create obstructions for the smooth operation of the market.

    OKE further ascertained the substantive decrease in funds provided for the agricultural sector which started from the previous development laws and is also continuing with the new bill.

    It also proposes basic axes which should be followed by a development law and which include a framework for supporting small and average-sized enterprises in the direction of comparative methods of production and the introduction of sectoral targets at both national and regional level.

    [32] Venture capital for Danube Fund

    Athens, 18/02/1998 (ANA)

    Bankers Trust recently invested US$1.5 million in Alpha Ventures with the purpose of providing capital for the bank's Danube Fund, which invests in Balkan countries.

    The mutual fund capital after the investment by the US bank amounted to US$19 million. The company's shareholders are Alpha Credit Bank, the European Bank Restructuring and Development and several Greek investors.

    [33] Wine orders over the Internet

    Athens, 18/02/1998 (ANA)

    Users of the Internet will soon have the opportunity to order their favorite Greek cooperative wine electronically, and their order will be delivered through the courier firm Posto Express.

    This possibility was obtained by the Central Sectoral Cooperative Union of Vine Products (KEOSOE) in the framework of implementing a relevant program of the development ministry on electronic trade.

    The electronic wine-shop will be established by KEOSOE in co-operation with the company of new telematics services, products and applications PROODOS S.A. and the telecommunications and informatics company Space Net S.A.

    End of English language section.

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