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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-12-04

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

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

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 04/12/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • 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
  • Weather
  • 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 such acts".

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 explosion.

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 country.

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 Germany.

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 said.

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 for adulteration.

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 Papandreou.

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 said.

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 percent.

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 remaining unchanged.

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.

WEATHER

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.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

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

(C.E.)


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