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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-12-13

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.forthnet.gr/ape>


NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 13/12/1996 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greek and Dutch prime ministers find common ground on Turkey-EU relations
  • Business losses from farmers' blockades
  • Greek defence policy goals: 'stability and peace' in the Balkans
  • Construction of Acropolis museum contract signed
  • Shevardnadze: problems in the Aegean must be solved peacefully
  • Names of tax-evading companies released
  • Israeli firms make soundings for joint ventures

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his Dutch counterpart Wim Kok have stressed the need for Turkey to state whether it accepts a statement by the European Union Council on July 15, calling on it to build relations of coope ration with Greece and EU countries, as well as the need for dialogue between Greece and Turkey to resolve their differences.

    The two prime ministers were speaking at a joint press conference in The Hague yesterday, shortly after a working lunch given for Mr. Simitis by Mr. Kok.

    Replying to a question by the Athens News Agency (ANA) on whether the Dutch EU presidency, from January 1 until June 1997, will consider the possibility of convening the EU-Turkey Association Council, Mr. Kok said the priority is for Turkey to promote solutions to its problems on the basis of dialogue and to build good relations with EU countries.

    "This was the content of the discussion held during the meeting between Foreign Affairs Minister(Hans) van Mierlo and the Turkish Foreign Minister (Tansu) Ciller at The Hague about 10 days ago," Mr. Kok said, adding that "also with me, at the Dublin summit and specifically on Saturday, we will again discuss all these issues and Turkish Foreign Minister Ms. Ciller will have to state her position."

    Mr. Simitis said extensive ground exists to upgrade commercial, economic, technological and cultural relations between the two countries and that cooperation between Greece and the Netherlands can be extremely productive especially in the farming sector.

    Business losses

    Representatives of the business world yesterday called on the protesting farmers to realise the "disastrous consequences" of their action and immediately lift the blockades.

    The representatives urged the government to enter into a meaningful dialogue with the farmers and called on the opposition parties "to stop encouraging the farmers' action and at last exercise responsible opposition."

    They said that "no single social group has the right to cause such serious problems to the rest of society," forecasting that gradualy the farmers will lose support for their demands.

    President of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry Yiannis Papathanasiou accused the government of being "weak", saying that so far, it had been unable to "substantially consider the farmers' problems."

    President of the Greek Intercarriers Association Velissarios Kapotsi said that European consumers have now opted for Turkish or Spanish products, and predicted that "the European Christmas dinner will not feature any of the Greek traditional products."

    President of the Hotels Chamber Aristotelis Livanis condemned the leadership of the farmers' unions for choosing "violent forms of struggle," and called on the government to take "immediate solutions."

    German-Greek language project for trainees

    A binational project for those undergoing training with a knowledge of the Greek language is being offered by the "Frankfurter Bildungswerk der Hessischen Wirtschaft". The programme has been sponsored since 1988 by Germany's Federal Ministry for Labo ur and Social Affairs and the Greek labour office OAED.

    The aim is to support bilingual young people in the dual training system, to increase their mobility and to facilitate their transition to working life.

    Participants in the project, who must have a training contract either in a commercial or technical occupation, receive specialised tuition during the whole training period in Greek. In addition, the training and economic systems of both countries and topics related to the European Union are included in the course.

    The specialised tuition prepares the young people for a five-week stay in Greece.

    Greek defence policy goals in Balkans

    The ultimate goal of Greece's defence policy is to create conditions of stability and peaceful co-existence between the peoples of the Balkan pensinsula, National Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis said in an interview with the Irish Times daily, in view of the European Summit due to open in Dublin today.

    "The final goal of our national defence policy is to ensure conditions of stability and a framework for peaceful co-existence for the peoples in the region, without the use of force or threat of use of violence," Mr. Apostolakis said in the interview.

    Regarding Greece's armament programme, recently endorsed by the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA), Mr. Apostolakis said that "it serves our equal participation in the European Union and ensures that our Armed Forces have a strong force of aversion."

    Shevardnadze says problems in Aegean must be solved peacefully

    Georgia's President Eduard Shevardnadze yesterday said problems in the Aegean should be solved through peaceful means, stressing that the end of the Cold War era has given way to the creation of a suitable climate and necessary conditions for such settlem ent.

    The Georgian president met in Tiblisi with Greek Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, who is visiting the country to participate in the eighth Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Council, which began its sessions on Wednes day.

    Mr. Kaklamanis told the press that dialogue with Turkey will be initiated after the necessary guarantees for safety and protection of territorial integrity and respect of the borders have been ensured.

    The meeting also focused on issues concerning the Greek community in Georgia and the legal status of Georgian immigrants in Greece.

    In another development yesterday, Mr. Kaklamanis assumed the presidency of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Parliamentary Assembly, during an official ceremony. Greece is to hold the presidency for six months.

    MLRS missiles tested

    Two missiles were test fired at the Proskyniton firing range in the Thracian prefecture of Rodopi by the new and modern weaponry system known as MLRS, and concerning a missile-firing carrier mounted on caterpillar wheels.

    Each US-built MLRS missile contains 750 smaller missiles, costs 2.5 million drachmas and has a range of 32 km.

    Contract for construction of Acropolis Museum

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos expressed his satisfaction yesterday over the signing of a contract for the construction of the Acropolis Museum.

    Mr. Venizelos described the signing of the contract between Italian architects and the Melina Mercouri Foundation as "a step of decisive importance .....which had been delayed for a long time."

    "The architects Nicoletti and Pasarelli are assuming a great honour and a great responsibility," he added.

    Greek industry on the mend

    The slow but steady recovery of Greek industry continued in 1996, according to a report released yesterday by the research company ICAP HELLAS.

    The rate of increase of the value of sales surpassed the average rise in prices of industrial products resulting in an increase in the volume of sales, ICAP said.

    ICAP said the main reasons for the slow rate of recovery were the de- escalation of inflation and interest rates, the low rate of increase of domestic demand and exports and competition created by imports.

    For 1997, one-third of Greek industry is planning an increase in the volume of investments while there is a climate of optimism regarding sales, with 58.6 per cent of industry anticipating a real increase in the value of sales, 36.1 per cent expecting n o change and just 2.9 per cent predicting a drop.

    Household survey

    However, the report said pessimism pervades the average Greek household.

    The financial situation of most Greek households in 1996 either worsened (44 per cent) or remained unchanged (42.5 per cent), more so for rural than for urban households.

    Their expectations for 1997 are equally pessimistic since most households believe it is very likely their condition will either deteriorate (38 per cent) or remain unchanged (44 per cent).

    According to the report, the households appearing the most pessimistic are those of farmers, pensioners or the unemployed with a moderate or low educational level and an income of less than one million drachmas per household member.

    Only 13.6 per cent of families, most of them young, with a high educational level and an annual income exceeding three million drachmas said their position improved this year.

    The main reasons given for the deterioration of financial situations were inflation, namely the cost of living (58.7 per cent) and a low increase in available income (24.7 per cent).

    The large majority of families(61.1 per cent) was unable to save money this year, while 25.2 per cent had incomes lower than their expenditures and were consequently obliged to borrow, while only 13.7 per cent were able to save money.

    The report stated that inflation continues to be the main cause of concern for 1997, (53 per cent), followed by an expected low increase in income, (26.4 per cent) and the fear of losing sources of income due to the threat of unemployment, which appears to be greater in urban areas.

    SEB

    Commenting, the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) said that estimates by ICAP on the profitability of Greek industry in 1995 gave a mistaken impression.

    The SEB announcement said that in reality, industry profits in 1995 showed a moderate nominal increase amounting to 13 rather than 38 per cent. It added that this represented the increase in profits for profit-making companies in the two specific financ ial years, namely 1995 and 1994 and excluded the results of loss-making companies.

    National Bank aims at branches in Sydney, Melbourne

    The National Bank of Greece is trying to upgrade its representative offices in Australia into full branches and is conducting an expert study on the viability of such an enterprise.

    Bank officials Ioannis Papanikos and Ioannis Agathos recently visited Sydney and Melbourne to evaluate the operation of the representative offices and Australian financial markets.

    Mr. Papanikos said the bank had unsuccessfully tried to upgrade its presence in Australia in 1984 when the federal government deregulated the banking system and issued operating licences to 16 foreign banks.

    He said a new study with new figures and will be submitted to the Australian authorities as soon as possible... In our view the National Bank's two branch offices in Melbourne and Sydney will be viable despite strong competition after the deregulation of the banking system in Australia."

    Tax evading companies

    The Finance Ministry yesterday released a list with the names of 481 companies which, according to the fiscal and customs authorities, were involved in instances of tax evasion or smuggling.

    According to the list, which states the violation committed by each company and the penalty imposed, 53 businesses were penalised for tax evasion by being closed down for several days.

    A total of 165 companies evaded tax by receiving or issuing false or forged invoices, with fines of over one billion drachmas being imposed in the more serious cases, while 189 undertakings violated the law on smuggling and their cases are pending befor e the administrative or judicial authorities.

    The list also shows that 36 companies illegally received agricultural subsidies.

    The ministry said it was obliged to give the list to Parliament and the press under the provisions of Law 2362/95. It said similar lists of tax and customs violations would be made public annually when the state budget is tabled.

    The list includes three leasing companies which belong to the Agricultural Bank of Greece, the Alpha Credit Bank and the Hellenic Industrial Development Bank.

    Another category concerns violations discovered during the processing of confiscations, with fines exceeded 500 million drachmas in some cases.

    Israeli firms explore possibilities for joint ventures

    Representatives of Israeli consulting companies visited Greece this week for a series of meetings with corresponding Greek companies in order to explore possibilities for joint ventures.

    The meetings, held between December 9-11, took place at the initiative of the Israeli Exports Institute and the Israeli Embassy in Athens.

    The delegation of the Israeli companies met with representatives from 50 Greek companies and discussed possibilities to create joint ventures in Israel, Greece, the Balkans and the Middle East.

    The Israeli delegation also met with officials from the national economy and environment, town planning and public works ministries as well as the Hellenic Industrial Development Bank (ETBA) and the Exports Promotion Organisation.

    Commercial trade between the two countries recorded an all time high in 1995, yielding $350 million, a 50 per cent increase against the previous year.

    Greek businessmen in Yugoslavia for food fair

    More than 20 Greek businessmen are participating in the international food & beverages fair "Prehrana '96" which opened on Wednesday in Belgrade.

    The Greek businessmen have expressed interest for business cooperation in the fields of industry, agriculture, trade and tourism.

    National Bank of Greece representatives are visiting Belgrade for talks with their counterparts in the Central Bank of Yugoslavia and officials from the Ministry of External Trade, aiming at opening a branch of the National Bank of Greece in Yugoslavia.

    Representatives of the Piraeus Bank held consultations in Belgrade this week regarding the bank's interest in creating a sister company there, while Greece's Commercial Bank is also interested in a joint venture with a bank in Yugoslavia.

    WEATHER

    Cloudy with sunny spells in most parts of Greece. Unstable weather in the rest of the country with local rain, especially in the west and the islands. Athens will be mostly sunny with temperatures ranging from 10-16C. Thessaloniki will be partly cloudy with temperatures from 6-12C.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    (Closing rates -buying) U.S. dlr 242.108, Can. dlr.178.143, Australian dlr. 192.136, Pound sterling 399.538, Irish punt 400.966, Cyprus pd 518.518, French franc 46.396, Swiss franc 184.016, Belgian franc 7.605, German mark 156.796, Finnish mark 52.421, Dutch guilder 139.748, Danish Kr. 40.948, Swedish Kr. 35.567, Norwegian Kr. 37.498, Austrian Sh. 22.287, Italian lira (100) 15.862, Yen (100) 213.935, Spanish Peseta 1.863, Portuguese Escudo 1.550.

    (C.E.)


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