Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-12-04
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 04/12/1997 (ANA)
- Grenade attack on Ecumenical Patriarchate widely condemned
- US State Department strongly condemns the attack
- Largest ever Greek business exhibition in FYROM inaugurated
- NATO agreement 'no concessions', gov't says
- Simitis to inaugurate archaeological exhibition
- Olive oil producers express concern over falling prices
- Thessaloniki to host UNESCO environment conference
- Greek merchant fleet down in November
- EU backs update to Greek economic alignment plan
- Greece says it can meet EU convergence criteria in 1998
- Greek equities jump, led by banks
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Grenade attack on Ecumenical Patriarchate widely condemned
Greece yesterday vehemently condemned the overnight grenade attack against
the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in which a Greek Orthodox
cleric was injured.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the Greek government was strongly
protesting to the Turkish authorities saying they were not taking necessary
security measures "therefore, giving the possibility to fanatics to commit
Mr. Reppas stressed that the Ecumenical Patriarchate was the spiritual
heart of hundreds of millions of Orthodox Christians all over the world and
should be protected so that it can carry out its mission.
The Patriarchate has been the target of a similar attack about a year ago,
in which the same type of handgrenade and the same method were used.
Partiarchate clerks found several fragments of the handgrenade at the
Patriarch's office, who however, was not there at the time of the
No security measures had been taken by Turkish police, in spite of the fact
that the extremist "Grey Wolves" group had staged a demonstration outside
the Patriarchate last Saturday.
An indication of the quality of security measures taken to protect the
Patriarchate was the behavior of Turkish Police Director Ohran, who in his
attempt to keep away Greek television crews from the scene, told them: "Go
away or I'll throw a second bomb at you".
The Turkish foreign ministry later condemned the attack, saying "we condemn
such attacks, in whichever country they occur...and we shall seek the
guilty parties and bring them to justice".
The attack was not reported in any Turkish newspaper except for "Milliyet"
and only made the evening news on the NTV channel. Milliyet reported that
the attack had been carried out by an organisation calling itself
"Hizbollah", although this claim could not be confirmed by the ANA.
US State Department strongly condemns the attach
The United States yesterday condemned the attack, saying it was in contact
with the Turkish authorities concerning the incident.
US State Department spokesman James Rubin said "we strongly condemn this
action of violence, as we do with every terrorist act. The US acting
general consul in Istanbul visited the deacon at the hospital and met with
the Patriarch. We realise that the Turkish government condemned this
attack. We also realise that an investigation on the subject has begun and
we assume that the Turkish government will take all the necessary measures
for the protection of the Patriarch."
Mr. Rubin said that there has been contact between the US and Turkish
officials about the incident.
In a related development, the president of the World Council of Hellenes
(SAE) Andrew Athens denounced the bombing and asked Washington's Greek
lobby representative Andy Masatos to contact the White House to expess the
Greek-American community's concern.
"It is an ugly development which we cannot accept, while we cannot say it
is unrelated with the likely re-opening of the Halki School of Theology",
Mr. Athens said.
The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) yesterday
also expressed its "deep concern" over the attack.
"We deplore this action against the Patriarchate," said AHEPA President
Steve Manta, "and given that this is the third such attack since in three
years, we insist that the Turkish government take action to insure the
safety of the institution of the Patriarchate and its personnel."
"The Ecumenical Patriarch is the spiritual leader of hundreds of millions
of Orthodox around the globe, and has direct authority over the two million
Greek Orthodox faithful in the United States. This bombing is an attack on
the religious freedom of every Greek-American."
Mr. Manta is currently in Thessaloniki with an AHEPA delegation attending a
SAE general assembly.
Largest ever Greek business exhibition in FYROM inaugurated
National Economy Undersecretary Alekos Baltas last night announced the
operation of a commercial bureau in Skopje early next year, as he
inaugurated the first ever exhibition of Greek businesses in the neighbouring
Mr. Baltas was accompanied by the personnel who will man the office.
The exhibition is organised by HELEXPO at the exhibition centre of the
capital of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
The large participation of Greek businesses in the exhibition representing
a wide array of products proves both the interest, particularly of
enterprises in northern Greece, and the potential contained in economic
relations between the two countries,he said.
Mr. Baltas referred to commercial exchanges to date between Greece and
FYROM, terming commercial relations particularly close, since Greece
constitutes the third largest trade partner for FYROM behind Yugoslavia and
The total volume of commercial transactions between the two countries in
the first nine months of 1997 amounted to 167 million deutschmarks as
against 179 million deutschmarks over the entire 12-month period in 1996.
The volume of these commercial trans actions do not include the procurements
of goods, spare parts and raw materials taking place at a retail trade
level from northern Greece.
Mr. Baltas said economic development and stability in economic and
commercial relations constitute the basis for peaceful and harmonious
coexistence and in cases such as the Balkans.
A total of 143 Greek businesspeople from all over Greece are participating
in the exhibition. The pavilions will be open until Saturday.
Other exhibitions being planned in Balkan cities include Belgrade,
Bucharest, Tirana and possibly in Istanbul.
NATO agreement 'no concessions', gov't says
Greece's agreement with NATO's new structure in no way contains any
concesssions with regard to its sovereign rights and any claims of this
nature are "oversimplifications" and "generalisations", according to
government spokesman Dimitris Reppas.
He referred to National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos' detailed
answers on issues regarding the operational control of the Aegean and for
which he expressed his full support.
Tuesday's agreement, he said, put Greece on an equal footing in NATO, since
from the time it withdrew from NATO in 1974 and rejoined in 1980, Greece
had never had full responsibilities.
With regard to opposition to agreement by certain PASOK cadres, Mr. Reppas
said that different views were welcome, while various government agencies
would be debating the issue, where all views could be expressed.
In Brussels Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said Greece stands to benefit from the new
NATO command structure in which it has equal rights and responsibilities as
other countries, unlike in the past.
"We achieved a unanimous decision on the establishment and operation of
four regional subheadquarters, of which one will be in our country," he
Simitis to inaugurate archaeological exhibition
Prime Minister Costas Simitis at noon today will inaugurate the archaeological
exhibition "Alexander and the East" in Thessaloniki.
Artifacts found as far east as Afghanistan and India, some with strong
Greek influences, remind the visitor of Alexander's campaign in the East,
the organiser of the event, PASOK parliamentarian and archaeologist
Dimitris Patermalis said.
The exhibition will be open to the public six days a week from 9 am to 9 pm
and on Mondays from 2pm to 9 pm until Jan. 24, 1998.
Olive oil producers express concern over falling prices
Olive oil producers are extremely concerned over falling market prices,
increasing stocks and decreasing consumption, while this year's production
is expected to increase all over Europe.
Elaiourgiki President George Yiannadakis, the President and Deputy
President of the PASEGES farmers' organisation Nikos Liolios and Tzanetos
Karamihas feel very concerned over developments in the olive oil sector, as
well as all the representatives of the organisation's member-unions who
attended a panhellenic meeting held at the office of PASEGES.
Their common claim is intervention by the state to shape a national policy
on olive oil anticipating a dynamic promotion of the product and control
World production is expected to reach 2,171,000 tonnes, of which 1,822,000
is the production of EU member-states and 400,000 concern Greek production.
World stocks amount to 750,000 tonnes of which 510,000 are in EU member-
states. Greek stocks total 60-70,000 tonnes.
World consumption is expected to increase very slightly.
Thessaloniki to host UNESCO environment conference
An international conference entitled "Environment and Society: Education on
Sustainable Growth" is to be held in Thessaloniki from December 8 to 12 by
UNESCO in cooperation with the Greek government, under the auspices of the
President of the Republic.
UNESCO Director General Federico Mayor is to attend the opening session,
along with the Ministers for the Environment, Public Works and Town
Planning Costas Laliotis, Culture Evangelos Venizelos and Development Vasso
The conference, to take place at HELEXPO's "Ioannis Vellidis" Conference
Centre, is to be addressed by experts on the environment and education,
particularly the contribution of environmental education and the programme
of the UN committee on sustainabl e growth.
Greek merchant fleet down in November
The strength of the Greek merchant fleet was reduced by seven vessels and a
total net capacity of 711,192 tonnes in November, according to figures
released yesterday by the ministry of merchant marine.
During November, eight vessels registered with the Hellenic Registry of
Shipping, with a total capacity of 274,302 GRT and an average age of 11
years, while in the same month 15 vessels with a total capacity of 985,494
GRT and an average age of 21 years left the registry.
EU backs update to Greek economic alignment plan
The European Union has endorsed changes proposed by Greece to its economic
alignment plan with the rest of the 15-nation bloc, the national economy
ministry said yesterday.
The changes to inflation, GDP growth and the general government budget
deficit for 1997-1999 were approved at a meeting of the EU's monetary
committee on November 5, and announced by the ministry yesterday.
Under the changes, average consumer price inflation is targeted at 5.6
percent in 1997, 3.7 percent in 1998 and 2.5 percent in 1999, the ministry
said in a statement.
GDP growth is set at 3.5 percent in 1997, 3.7 percent in 1998 and 4.1
percent in 1999.
Finally, the general government budget deficit is targeted at 4.2 percent
of GDP in 1997, 2.4 percent in 1998 and 2.1 percent in 1999.
The changes represent an update to the convergence plan, and not a revision,
the ministry said.
Greece says it can meet EU convergence criteria in 1998
Greece will be able to meet European Union criteria for economic alignment
with its other partners in 1998, National Economy and Finance Minister
Yiannos Papantoniou told a parliamentary committee yesterday.
The government's budget for 1998, key to meeting convergence criteria for
economic and monetary union, received the committee's endorsement. A
parliamentary debate begins on December 17 with a final vote set for
midnight on December 21.
"The next two years will be difficult but I believe we will win this new
battle ... 1998 will be a year of acceleration and structural changes,
which means there will be political and social cost, but we will win this
battle too," Mr. Papantoniou told the committee.
He said international organisations had acknowledged that Greece had
changed the status of its economy and emerged from instability.
But investments in the private and public sector needed a higher rate of
growth and structural changes were slow-moving, Mr. Papantoniou said.
An opposition representative, George Alogoskoufis of the New Democracy
party, claimed the budget was the most inaccurate in years, failed to boost
development and contained too many taxes.
"The budget takes money from the poor and gives it to the rich," he
Greek equities jump, led by banks
Greek stocks ended 1.45 percent higher yesterday driven by construction,
marking the seventh straight rising session.
The Athens general share index finished at 1543.59 points, showing gains of
10.12 percent in seven sessions.
Block trades again boosted turnover to 32.6 billion drachmas from 50.6
billion in the previous session.
Sector indices rose across the board. Banks gained 1.56 percent, Insurance
leapt 3.34 percent, Leasing rose 1.75 percent, Investment edged up 0.63
percent, Construction soared 3.96 percent, Industrials increased 1.40
percent, Miscellaneous edged up 0.57 percent and Holding gained 1.15
Nikos Gallis SA jumped 99 percent in its trading debut on the bourse's
parallel market for smaller cap companies to close at 1,293 drachmas on 364,
000 shares trades.
The parallel market finished 0.80 percent higher. Hellenic Telecommunications
Organisation (OTE) rose to 5,920 drachmas from 5,886 after finishing at the
upper eight percent volatility limit in the session before last.
Of 231 shares traded advances led declines by 139 to 73 with 19 issues
Gallis, Lambropoulos, Alte, Macedonian Textile Mills and Mouriadis ended at
or near the eight percent upper volatility limit.
Findexport, Ideal, Hellenic Bottling and Kekrops ended at or near limit-
down, also at eight percent.
Among blue chips National Bank of Greece ended at 27,100 drachmas, Ergobank
at 15,950, Alpha Credit Bank at 17,330, Delta Dairy (common) at 3,450,
Titan Cement (common) at 13,470 and Intracom (common) at 14,490.
Unstable weather with rain and storms will continue in most parts of Greece
today. Winds southwesterly, strong to gale force. Athens will be partly
cloudy with spells of sunshine and temperatures between 10-16C. Similar
weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 7-13C.
Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 275.726
Pound sterling 463.383 Cyprus pd 531.712
French franc 46.501 Swiss franc 192.676
German mark 155.635 Italian lira (100) 15.884
Yen (100) 214.411 Canadian dlr. 194.293
Australian dlr. 186.020 Irish Punt 405.728
Belgian franc 7.545 Finnish mark 51.509
Dutch guilder 138.111 Danish kr. 40.886
Swedish kr. 35.559 Norwegian kr. 38.470
Austrian sch. 22.112 Spanish peseta 1.841
Port. Escudo 1.523