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Athens News Agency: News in English, 97-02-27

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, 27/02/1997 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Stock prices drop sharply; ministry reassures investors
  • Museum strike lifted
  • Simitis chairs meeting ahead of NATO chief Solana's visit
  • WEU Parliamentary Assembly meeting to be held in Athens
  • Greece dismisses Turkish military claims over Greek islands
  • Turkish warplanes violate Athens FIR
  • Anti-racist event held at old Parliament
  • Rhodes civil servants demand ... no pay increases
  • Fishermen lift blockade on Thessaloniki port
  • Asian investment in Greece still low, UNCTAD report says

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Stock prices drop sharply; ministry reassures investors

    The National Economy Ministry reassured investors today that recent developments on the Athens Stock Exchange were perfectly normal after share prices dropped sharply following nine consecutive days of explosive trading.

    The general price index closed today at 1367.16 points, down 5.95 per cent on Wednesday.

    Bourse sources attributed the sharp drop to statements yesterday by the president of the Capital Market Committee, Stavros Thomadakis, who expressed concern about the creation of a climate of ''unfair games and speculation'' on the Athens Stock Exchange following recent surges in trading.

    National Economy Ministry general secretary Apostolos Fotiadis said today that Thomadakis' statements were aimed at warning new investors to be careful in choosing securities and the way their transactions were handled.

    ''The recent positive course of the stock exchange is perfectly normal and all the prerequisites have been secured for the continuation of this course, '' Fotiadis said.

    ''Political stability, the success of the government's economic policy, the positive developments with regard to all economic indicators, the drop in inflation and interest rates, in combination with our undoubted will to safeguard the credibility of the institution have contributed decisively in this direction,'' he added.

    In today's session, Banks lost 7.27 per cent, Insurance 3.99 per cent, Leasing 4.01 per cent, Investments 6.17 per cent, Construction 7.19 per cent, Industry 5.10 per cent, Various 6.18 per cent and Holdings 5.92 per cent.

    The Over-the-Counter Market Index dropped by 3.22 per cent.

    The total volume of trading reached 31 billion drachmas, compared to 45.2 billion drachmas yesterday.

    Museum strike lifted

    Culture Ministry employees decided at a meeting today to suspend until March their strike action which has kept several of the country's most visited archaeological sites and museums closed for the past ten days.

    Following the decision, sites such as the Athens Acropolis and the White Tower in Thessaloniki, as well as archaeological and other museums in the two cities, will be open to visitors tomorrow.

    Simitis chairs meeting ahead of NATO chief Solana's visit

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis had a 90-minute meeting today with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos which, according to informed sources, focused on Greek-Turkish relations in the light of Ankara's most recent provocations and the visit tomorrow of NATO Secretary General Javier Solana.

    No statements were made after the meeting but according to reports, Solana is trying to advance proposals aimed at improving Greek-Turkish relations in view of the Alliance's ascertainment that Turkey is an important factor within the framework of NATO's enlargement eastwards.

    Solana's proposals, according to the same sources, include the setting up of a ''hot line'' linking Athens, NATO and Ankara for the avoidance of serious incidents between Greece and Turkey.

    Other proposals envisage the placement of NATO observers on Greek and Turkish warships sailing in the Aegean and the continued operation of the RAP system which provides NATO headquarters in Naples with a picture of what is going on in the Aegean.

    Solana is also expected to discuss the issue of NATO headquarters in Greece.

    WEU Parliamentary Assembly meeting to be held in Athens

    The President of the Western European Union's (WEU) Parliamentary Assembly, Luis-Maria de Puig, will meet with Prime Minister Costas Simitis as well as government and opposition party officials when he visits Greece on the occasion of a meeting on the future of the WEU to be held 10-13 March, according to an ANA despatch from Paris.

    Apart from Simitis, de Puig will have talks with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and the leaders of the political parties represented in parliament.

    The Athens meeting is being held at the invitation of the Greek government, which was accepted not only by de Puig but by the chairpersons of all the committees of the EU's fledgling defence wing.

    The meeting will focus on the future of the WEU and is considered to be of decisive importance for the organisation's anticipated enlargement.

    De Puig said that Greece was chosen as the venue because on the one hand it was the last country to become a full member, but mainly because enlargement concerns the countries of central and eastern Europe and the Balkans ''so Greece is entitled to host the meeting from every point of view''.

    Greece angrily dismisses Turkish military claims over Greek islands

    Greece yesterday reacted strongly to reports that Turkish military leaders are disputing "scores" of Greek islands in the Aegean and as far as Crete, saying the claims were "too wild for words and ludicrous."

    Specifically, a Wall Street Journal article referring to a briefing of US correspondents in Ankara by the Turkish general staff wrote on Tuesday "On a map, Turkish strategists appeared to have pinpointed scores of islands, several of them as far away from Turkey as the Mediterranean island of Crete and beyond.

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos in a press conference yesterday dismissed these Turkish claims as "ludicrous", by saying:

    "We have repeatedly said that there is a plan for disputing Greek sovereignty in the entire region, from the mouth of the Evros River, east to (the island of) Skyros and as far as the region of Crete," he said.

    In a related development, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said that "the more official representatives of the Turkish state slide towards nonsense concerning sovereign rights in the Aegean, the more Turkey emerges as the number one destabilising factor for peace, cooperation and security in the region.... questioning the status quo in the Aegean, questioning borders, and the Lausanne Treaty..."

    Turkish warplanes violate Athens FIR

    As the political reaction from the reports was materialising in Athens, three pairs of Turkish RF-4 (reconnaissance), F-4 and F-16 warplanes violated air traffic rules in the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) yesterday, according to reports.

    The Turkish violators entered the Athens FIR east of the eastern Aegean island of Rhodes and reached the region north of Crete.

    At the same time two pairs of Turkish F-4 and F-16 warplanes infringed on Greek airspace to the northwest of Rhodes over the island of Kasos.

    In all instances, the Turkish planes were recognised and intercepted by Hellenic Air Force F-1, F-16 and Mirage 2000 fighters.

    Anti-racism event held at old Parliament

    An event to mark the "European Year against Racism, Xenophobia and Anti- Semitism" was held in the old Parliament building yesterday, organised by a 50-member national coordinating committee.

    Speaking during the event, Prime Minister Costas Simitis noted that although in Greece racism may not have taken on the same dimensions as in other European countries, "it would be hypocritical to say that, in our country as well, positions and attitudes are not expressed that insult our civilisation.

    Greece has now been converted into a country of receiving immigrants, he said, and the mass influx of labour has caused xenophobic reactions and reduced tolerance regarding foreigners, who many consider as either a burden or as a source of cheap labour.

    "The crux of the problem is now transferred from race to culture," Mr. Simitis said.

    Municipal enterprise employees on Rhodes decline...pay increase

    At a time when strikes throughout the country are following each other in close succession and demands for salary increases are at a zenith, employees at a municipal enterprise on the island of Rhodes are refusing to accept raises.

    More than 100 employees at the "Roda" municipal transport service will "freeze" their demands for this year (25 million drachmas) stemming from increases based on a national collective agreement. They will also return five million drachmas to the enterprise related to their uniform bonuses for 1997.

    Roda is the only purely municipal enterprise in Greece and covers the transport needs of the city of Rhodes and a considerable part of transport on the island.

    Fishing boats withdraw from Thessaloniki port

    Fishing boats withdrew this morning from the eastern entrance of Thessaloniki harbour, where they had been anchored since Tuesday in protest over the abolition of tax-free fuel.

    The move was decided this morning following a written guarantee from Finance Undersecretary George Drys that the tax would be paid back to the fishermen within a few days of purchasing the fuel.

    In a radio interview today, Drys implied that the petroleum comopanies, who had until recently acted as a go-between with regard to tax-fee fuel to fishermen, had changed their minds due to incidents in which petroleum companies, agents and customs officials had been charged with smuggling fuel and falsifying sales.

    The problem mainly affects fishermen operating off the coast outside large towns, far from tax-free fuel sources.

    Asian investment in Greece low, UNCTAD report says

    The investments of developed Asian countries in the European Union and particularly Greece remain at a low level although the picture is expected to change, according to a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report released by the UN office in Athens today.

    According to the report, the indications are that multinationals based in countries such as Japan, South Korea, China, Thailand and Taiwan are including Europe in their investment plans, either in the industrial sector or in services.

    Although Asian countries have become major direct investors internationally, the report notes, up to now they have preferred to focus their attention in Southeast Asia, a region which absorbs two-thirds of invested capital, or the United States, rather than Europe which accounts for just 5 per cent of their investments.

    With Asian countries accounting for only 3 per cent of European direct investments abroad, the situation could be described as one of ''mutual indifference'', according to the report.

    The biggest investor in the EU is Japan, followed by South Korea, while Asian investors display a preference for Britain, followed by Germany and the Netherlands.

    At the same time, the report notes, a large portion of Asian investments have found their way to the countries of central and eastern Europe, where companies have bought and are in the process of modernizing large production plants.

    Greece, according to the report, along with Denmark, Finland and Portugal, are the four EU countries with virtually zero inflow of Japanese capital for direct investments in the period 1991-1995.

    Of the developed and developing Asian countries, Japan aside, Greece has signed bilateral investment agreements only with China and South Korea.

    Reflective of the situation is the fact that Greece has signed only one bilateral agreement for the avoidance of double taxation with an Asian country -- India.

    WEATHER

    Fine weather in the morning which will gradually change tonight turning into cloudy bringing rain in most parts of Greece, especially in the central, northern and western regions accompanied by strong winds. Athens will be sunny during the day getting cloudy and rainy in the evening with temperatures between 7-19C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures 2-3 degrees lower.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 259.210 Pound sterling 424.735 Cyprus pd 517.943 French franc 45.910 Swiss franc 177.201 German mark 154.950 Italian lira (100) 15.556 Yen (100) 213.974 Canadian dlr. 190.563 Australian dlr. 201.138 Irish Punt 412.870 Belgian franc 7.507 Finnish mark 52.020 Dutch guilder 137.809 Danish kr. 40.620 Swedish kr. 34.948 Norwegian kr. 38.857 Austrian sch. 22.022 Spanish peseta 1.827 Portuguese escudo 1.544

    (M.P.)


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