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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-10-31

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 31/10/1996 (ANA)


  • GSEE announces nationwide strike after `frutless` meeting with Papantoniou
  • Balance of payments deficit up 47.3% in first half of 1996
  • U.S. State Department reacts to latest Cyprus incident
  • Canberra to raise Cyprus issue during Clinton's visit to Australia
  • Study shows Greek businessmen mostly satisfied with unified European market
  • Greece ranked first on list of top maritime nations
  • Gov't insurance increases to be shaped by inflation


    The government and labour unions are on an apparent collision course following fruitless talks between National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and the presidium of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) yesterday, after which GSEE announced a 24-hour nationwide strike for November 28.

    GSEE announced the protest because Mr. Papantoniou did not accept the labour umbrella group's proposals for an index-related amendment of the tax scale and an increase in the tax-exempt income of taxpayers up to two million drachmas.

    Mr. Papantoniou was also called upon by GSEE to make a more precise prediction for inflation in 1997 because a high deviation, like the one recorded this year, according to GSEE weakens the content of the agreement at the expense of workers.

    GSEE President Christos Polyzogopoulos said the minister assured labour representatives that there will be no new taxation aimed at the lower income brackets, while no new indirect taxation will be imposed.

    The deficit in the balance of payments increased by 47.3 per cent over the first half of the current year, amounting to $3.155 billion compared to $2.141 billion in the corresponding period in 1995. The deficit in the month of June amounted to $456 millio n, exceeding the corresponding figure for June 1995 by $303 million.

    The sharp increase in the deficit of the balance of payments reflects repercussions emanating from exchange policy and a decrease in inflows from the European Union.

    In addition, the trade deficit increased by $300 million, the invisible resources surplus decreased by $2.37 billion and as a result overseas transactions in their entirety produced a deficit amounting to $2.7 billion compared to a surplus of $1.115 bil lion in the corresponding period in 1995.

    Subsequently, foreign exchange reserves decreased from $16.5 billion to $13 billion. But according to an announcement by the Bank of Greece, the foreign exchange reserves increased in the following months and reached $16.8 billion at the end of September.

    US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns yesterday condemned an incident in which British soldiers were shot at by Turkish forces in Cyprus, saying Washington issued a protest over the event.

    "We believe that Turkish Cypriot security forces should not fire against people when they enter one or two metres inside a line. Unfortunately, a young Greek Cypriot was murdered in this manner a few months ago. We think such things must not occur in future. And we stand beside the British, expressing our protest," Mr. Burns said in reply to a question.

    Two Brisith soldiers were shot at by the Turkish side after straying into the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus earlier this week.

    Turkish drivers held for illegal transport of shotgun shells

    Two Turkish nationals are being held by customs officials in the Evros border region after they were found carrying 19 crates containing a total of 390,000 hunting rifle shells.

    According to reports, the shells were bought in Italy and were destined for Istanbul, and although the drivers had the required purchase papers for their cargo, they did not have the necessary documents for transporting the ammunition through Greece -- which should have been issued by the Greek authorities.

    Both trucks are being held at the Evros customs station, while an Alexandroupolis prosecutor decides on further action.

    Tsohatzopoulos meets with SAE president Athens

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos held talks with Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) President Andrew Athens yesterday, reportedly focusing on issues concerning the course of the SAE and of expatriate Greeks in the United States.

    According to the reports, Mr. Athens, briefed Mr. Tsohatzopoulos on the situation in the United States in light of the presidential elections there next week.

    In another development, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou held talks with Mr. Athens and Greek-American leader Andrew Manatos. Their talks focused on issues also concerning expatriate Hellenism.

    Greece buys ancient bust of Alexander the Great

    The Greek culture ministry has bought a marble bust of Alexander the Great, dating from the early third century B.C., that was auctioned off yesterday by Christies in Vienna.

    The bust belonged to the private collection of German baron Von Heil before being confiscated by the Nazis in Vienna.

    The work was purchased for about US$250,000, with bids beginning at around US$45,000.

    Australia will broach the issue of the Cyprus problem when President Bill Clinton visits Australia next month, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has told representatives of the Australian Cypriot and Greek communities.

    "Australia supports the immediate resolution of the problem and believes that it cannot be resolved without the immediate intervention of the United States. We aim to bring the Cyprus issue up for discussion with Mr. Clinton during his visit here next m onth," he said after the meeting.

    The meeting, attended by representatives of the Cypriot and Greek communities, was followed by a meeting with the shadow (opposition) foreign minister Laurie Brereton and the leader of the opposition Labor Party Kim Beazley.

    Mr. Downer said he based his optimism that the Cyprus problem would be resolved on the commitment made by Mr. Clinton that, if he is re-elected, he would take a leading role in achieving this aim.

    Papoutsis to visit Albania, FYROM

    Greek EU Commissioner Christos Papoutsis will visit Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia at the official invitation of the governments of the two countries.

    During his visits, Mr. Papoutsis will exchange views on relations between the European Union and the two countries with particular emphasis on the energy sector, small- to medium-size businesses and tourism.

    In Albania, Mr. Papoutsis will be received by President Sali Berisha, Prime Minister Alexander Meksi and Foreign Minister Tritan Shehu. He is also expected to meet with the ministers of energy and resources, finance and tourism.

    Mr. Papoutsis will also inaugurate, along with Mr. Meksi, the "Albanian- European Energy Centre."

    He will also inaugurate a seminar on energy policies in Albania.

    In FYROM, Mr. Papoutsis will be received by President Kiro Gligorov. He will also have talks with Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski, and the ministers of foreign affairs and finance.

    National economy undersecretary outlines nation's basic economic goals

    National Economy Undersecretary Alekos Baltas referred to the basic goals of Greece's economic policy during a speech yesterday attended by most the commercial attaches of foreign embassies in Greece.

    In his address, Mr. Baltas noted a deflationary trend, a decrease of the national deficit, acceleration of the growth rate and an emphasis on social solidarity.

    The national economy undersecretary said that a new government was planning to increase its financial activity in and cooperation with the countries of eastern and central Europe, to increase its actitivities in the Middle East and create an appropriate trade cooperation network with Asian countries.

    Mr. Baltas said Greece was pursuing greater economic cooperation with these countries in the sectors of services, tourism, public works, joint ventures and investment.

    Greek banks to submit proposals on taxation of state titles next week

    The Union of Greek Banks (EET) will submit its proposals on the possible taxation of state titles and financial derivatives in money and capital markets next week, EET Secretary-General Ioannis Manos told a press conference yesterday.

    "The EET is in favour of a solution which will promote these products and, at the same time, guarantee the state's interests," Mr. Manos said.

    Mr. Manos met with Finance Undersecretary George Drys yesterday on the same issue. He said there was a very good climate on talks between the government and banks on the issue of taxation and the possible repercussions on banks.

    Mr. Manos added that the EET board of directors would be considering a report on the possible merger of bank employees' pension funds in early November and that an economic information databank would be set up within the next six months to offer analyti cal economic figures on Greek banking.

    Greek businessmen are very content at the institutionalisation and operation of the Community's unified market, according to research published here yesterday by the Community's Statistical Service.

    In the industrial sector, 42 per cent of the Greek businessmen who answered a questionnaire said they had benefited by the operation of a unified European market. Nineteen per cent said they had not been benefited, while 39 per cent did not express an o pinion. The corresponding Community percentages are 33, 27 and 40.

    In the commercial sector even more Greek businessmen appear satisfied.

    According to the statistical service's report, 49 per cent of the Greek businessmen who were asked on the subject said they were content, as opposed to 16 per cent of the remaining Community businessmen. Five per cent expressed dissatisfaction as agains t 21 per cent of Community businessmen, while 46 of Greek businessmen did not express an opinion, considerably less in comparison to 63 per cent of Community businessmen asked on the subject.

    The most dissatisfied among the community businessmen were the Spanish, French, Portuguese and the Dutch.

    According to research, the reasons for the satisfaction of Community businessmen are abolition of time-consuming bureaucratic procedures in customs, harmonisation of technical standards and liberation of national markets.

    Greece rates first on the list of the most important maritime countries in the world, according to a "Sea Transport" report by UNCTAD, the UN's subsidiary organisation for commerce and development.

    According to the report, 2,989 commercial vessels are recorded on the Greek registry, of which 1,019 are under the Greek flag. The number corresponds to 17.98 per cent of the international commercial fleet.

    Regarding dead weight tonnage, Greece is at the top of the list with 120, 661,795dwt. It is followed by Japan with 86,769,729dwt.

    Development Undersecretary Mihalis Chrysohoidis reiterated yesterday that increases in insurance premiums for 1997 will be shaped within the limits of inflation and in extreme cases should reach 10 per cent.

    Mr. Chrysohoidis, who was speaking to reporters after a meeting with the board of the Union of Insurance Companies, said insurance company representatives gave him a memorandum containing their observations on the new law concerning the insurance market . Insurance companies want the 30- day limit for paying compensation to a beneficiary to start on the day all preliminary processes will have been completed.

    He did not accept this amendment, insisting on what is defined in the draft law, namely that compensation should be paid in 30 days from the day the insured person submits relevant supporting documents.

    Mr. Chrysohoidis also said no problem exists with the operation of auxiliary capital - it provides compensation for beneficiaries from insurance companies which have closed.


    Sunny to partly cloudy with local showers in several parts of the country. Temperatures will range from 13-20C in Athens and from 11-16C in Thessaloniki.


    U.S. dlr 235.798 Can. dlr.174.969, Australian dlr. 185.965 Pound sterling 378.805, Irish punt 382.118, Cyprus pd 510.979, French franc 46.156, Swiss franc 187.885 Belgian franc 7.572, German mark 155.972 Finnish mark 51.931, Dutch guilder 139.078 Danish Kr. 40.622, Swedish Kr. 35.885, Norwegian Kr. 36.813, Austrian Sh. 22.171, Italian lira (100) 15.510 Yen (100) 206.802 Spanish Peseta 1.851, Portuguese Escudo 1.545.


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