Greece is determined to enter European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) by
the date of the introduction of the Euro, that is, January 1, 2002 at the
latest, and negotiate hard to protect its interests, but also to play a
prominent role with a positive contribution to the evolution of the EU,
Prime Minister Costas Simitis told Parliament last night during a special
debate on European convergence issues.
The prime minister said his government's basic vision was of a strong
Greece inexorably linked with a strong Europe of the peoples, and not
simply of the strong nations.
More democracy and participation, transparency and efficiency.
He stressed that as he found in his recent meetings with counterparts in
London and Paris, Greece's partners were supportive of its efforts to
Regarding the issue of the proposed, French-inspired, European Conference,
with the participation of the 15 member-states, 11 prospective members and
Turkey, Mr. Simitis said the content of the conference was unclear, as the
issues for discussion had not been determined, and, therefore, Greece
considered it unnecessary.
He reiterated that Turkey had no right to raise objections to another
country's entry to the EU, a reference to Cyprus.
Karamanlis launches all-out attack against gov't
Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis attacked the
government over its policies concerning the economy and foreign affairs and
termed Prime Minister Costas Simitis a "Prime Minister of taxes."
In his address, Mr. Karamanlis said the sole convergence criteria Greece
had was the taxation policy applied by the government, adding that it has
imposed 49 taxes and 13 new taxes which are included in the state
"The biggest lie you have said is that no new taxes will be imposed. The
convergence you are trying to achieve is with accounting alchemy. Leniently
speaking, the divergence from the budget this year will amount to 600
billion drachmas. You are failing even if you achieve nominal convergence,"
Mr. Karamanlis spoke of the inadequate absorption of European Union funds
and lost opportunities and criticised the government of unprecedented
indifference against the agricultural population which is creating, as he
said, the danger of desolation for the Greek countryside.
Referring to EU funds, Mr. Karamanlis said the situation "is tragic and
that while two thirds of the time at our disposal has passed only a third
of the second community support framework has been absorbed".
Mr. Karamanlis also focused on national issues and accused the prime
minister of submissiveness, adding that due to this policy Greece had been
isolated and not Turkey.
"Either you must change policy or Greece its government," he said.
Greece does not lack sensitivity for the handicapped, BBC told
Health and Welfare Undersecretary Theodoros Kotsonis said Greece was not
lacking in sensitivity and care for handicapped children compared to other
Mr. Kotsonis was invited by the British BBC radio station to comment on a
film screened by British television on branches of the PIKPA institution in
the cities of Sidirokastro and Karditsa.
"There is difficulty in distinguishing mental retardation and psychiatric
illnesses. Instructions have been given so that individuals with psychiatric
problems will be transferred to special institutions. Tying or restricting
these individuals has been abandoned as a method in Greece years ago.
Measures are taken for the creation of specially protected rooms to
safeguard children from injuring themselves," he said.
"We believe that the film places excessive emphasis on certain isolated
cases and in general it defames our country and our civilisation.
Sensitivity shown by the state towards these weak minorities of handicapped
children is an expression of our civilisation and we believe that a great
deal has been achieved in relation to social policy in the past 20 years,"
HYATT to build hotel complex in Thessaloniki
HYATT, the society which owns the casino in Thessaloniki under the same
name, announced yesterday its decision to complete its investment programme
in accordance with its contract signed with the Geek state.
The new 12-billion drs. investment entails the construction of a new hotel
complex and will bring the total ammount invested since 1995 in Thessaloniki
to more than 40 billion drs.
HYATT president George Galanakis told a press conference that the new hotel
complex will be completed by April 1999. It will have a capacity of 300
beds and a conference hall which will be able to hold 1,000 participants.
Zeffirelli opens exhibition at National Art Gallery
Internationaly renowned film and opera director and stage designer Franco
Zeffirelli will inaugurate today at the National Art Gallery an exhibition
of legendary stage designs, costumes and jewelery, which were worn by
famous personalities in his operas a nd films.
"What you are going to see is a walk through my life," he said.
Maria Callas and Luchino Visconti were two of the great artists he worked
Films such as the epic 'Jesus of Nazareth', 'Romeo and Juliette' are works
of his, which as he said emit creativity and love, two values that he
Addressing Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos during the interview, Mr.
Zeffirelli said "I would gladly accept staging the opening ceremony of the
Olympic Games in Athens." Mr. Zeffirelli, an Italian senator and warm
supporter of the idea of Magna Grecia, also said that : "the English must
return the Parthenon marbles."
Increase in Greek banks' turnover
The total assets of Greek and foreign banks established and operating in
Greece (25 and 21 respectively) increased by 10.36 per cent in 1996
compared to 1995, a development showing an increase in the Greek banks'
turnover, whether they concern loans or securities and other activities.
The data is included in a publication by the Union of Greek Banks (EET) on
the issue of "Banks in Greece."
According to the publication, the total amount of capital provided by banks
in 1996 increased by 15.30 per cent, as against 1995, while deposits
increased by 13.35 per cent.
On the question of the Greek banks' profits, it stressed that the total
amount of net pre-tax profits in 1996 reached 103.8 billion drachmas. The
amount trails behind the corresponding figure for 1995 by 42.36 per cent, a
fact explained by a considerable increase in the amount of provisions by
certain banks for writing off bad debts and restructuring the loans and
EBEA election results
The grouping of the incumbent President Ioannis Papathanasiou won elections
at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA), polling about 60 per cent
of the vote. Votes were cast by 8,213 businessmen out of 40,000 eligible
voters. Out of this figure 7,018 voted in the commercial sector, 1,024 in
the industrial and 171 in the export sector.
TVX Gold says will not abandon Halkidiki mining programme
The Canadian Toronto-based TVX Gold company will not abandon its gold
mining programme in Olympias and Skouries communities in Halkidiki,
investment director Ed Baer told the ANA yesterday.
Mr. Baer said that TVX Gold is financially strong, since it is supported by
major banks and also because it has presold 48 per cent in mining futures
at 422 dollars per ounce. He added that his company will go ahead with a
550-million-US-dollar investme nt in the two goldmines observing the rules
of its contract.
TVX Gold Vice-President Ian Horn, commenting on the recent protests of the
local population concerning the impact of the mines on the environment,
said that "at this moment there are 12 specialists who are examining the
subject of environmental protecti on. We are formulating programmes in an
effort to upgrade the areas destroyed by the previous owners of the mines
and to construct new installations with the least possible impact on the
Mr. Horn noted that the protests by the area's residents concerning the
environmental impact, "are political pretexts" and called the locals to a
briefing, so they may be informed about the technology which will be used
to minimise the dangers to the en vironment and to the beauty of the
Gold to be excavated in Rodopi
The Greenwich Resources Hellas S.A. company will excavate 20 tonnes of gold
in the Sapes region in the Rodopi prefecture. The company's leading
officials Christos Skevas and George Triantafyllidis said that "the gold is
worth exploiting. So far 150 shallo w drilling operations have been carried
out over a total area of 20 km. Samples were gathered which were analysed
chemically in the company's laboratories by special scientists."
More specifically, sampling operations were conducted at the locations of
Agios Dimitrios, Ohia and Skari. Excavation will be carried out with known
methods, both underground and on the surface. The total quantity of the
gold is 597,840 ounces or 18.5 t onnes, but only 11.4 tonnes can be
excavated with the "open field" method. About 2.3 tonnes will be produced
in the first year (1998) and another two tonnes over the next 4-5
OTE deal with Intracom and Siemens for digital service
The board of the Greek Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) decided
yesterday to assign the supply of digital telephony worth 381 billion
drachmas to the Siemens and Intracom companies.
Intracom's share of the deal amounts to 222.7 billion drachmas.
The deal is part of OTE's five-year development programme (1988-2002)
involving digital interchanges and terminal equipment. During that period,
the organisation expects to collect increased revenue by 20 percent.
Mobile telephony deal with COSMOTE
Four of the biggest builders of mobile telephone sets in the world, Nokia,
Motorolla, Philips, and Siemens have eventually been selected by "Cosmote",
an OTE subsidiary, to supply the Greek company with the new cellular phones
In the past few days Cosmote has been in constant contact with the four
companies, in order to put the final touches to the contracts expected to
be signed in the coming days.
A Cosmote - Ericsson agreement is still pending, mainly due to reservations
by the leading Swedish firm to accept a Cosmote proposal for co-branded
Nevertheless, OTE is expected to strike a separate contract with Ericsson
for the purchase of 35,000 mobile sets, which OTE will put out in the
Profit-taking halts rally of prices on ASE
Greek equities came under normal profit-taking pressure yesterday to end
slightly lower on the Athens Stock Exchange, reversing a 10-day advance of
almost 12 percent.
The general index closed 0.20 percent lower at 1,563.75 points.
Trading however remained subdued reflecting investors' reluctance to follow
professional buying. Turnover was 16.6 billion drachmas.
Sector indices ended mixed. Banks fell 0.38 percent, Leasing eased 0.19
percent, Insurance dropped 1.75 percent, Investment rose 0.02 percent,
Industrials increased 0.48 percent, Constructions fell 1.61 percent,
Holding rose 0.33 percent and Miscellaneo us eased 0.75 percent.
The parallel market index for small cap companies fell 0.23 percent while
the FTSE/ASE index rose 0.04 percent to end at 896.50 points.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 140 to 74 with another 20 issues
Bank of Athens, Xylemporia, Agrinio Metal and Papoutsanis scored the
biggest percentage gains, while N. Galis, Klaoudatos, Ionian Hotels and
Mouriades suffered the heaviest losses. National Bank of Greece ended at 27,
095 drachmas, Ergobank at 15,990, A lpha Credit Bank at 17,395, Delta Dairy
at 3,570, Titan Cement at 13,200, Intracom at 14,850 and Hellenic
Telecommunications Organisation at 6,220.
Greece issues 12-month visas for FYROM businessmen
Greece's liaison office in Skopje has started issuing visas of a one-year
duration for businessmen in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
(FYROM) since November.
The move was in the context of a bilateral agreement signed last February
aimed at promoting commercial and economic relations between the two
FYROM businessmen can obtain a Greek visa by submitting a certificate of
their membership in any of their country's chambers.
Greek ambassador to Skopje Alexandros Mallias called for the need to
strengthen credibility and mutual respect in cooperation between businessmen
and companies from Greece and FYROM.
Karelias expands business abroad
The presence of the "Karelias" tobacco company in European markets keeps
recording an upward trend. The company's sales in foreign countries has
further expanded, following the conclusion of important contracts at recent
trade fairs in Prague and Cannes. Karelias now sells its products to nine
countries in Europe and the Middle East.
Also growing is its subsidiary, "Karelias Meridian", which does business in
the duty free area. The firm expects to record sales of one billion
drachmas in 1997, as compared with 665 billion in 1996.
ANA chief holds talks in Cyprus
Athens News Agency's General Director Andreas Christodoulides had a series
of contacts yesterday with Cyprus News Agency (CNA) officials in an effort
to strengthen cooperation between the two agencies.
Mr. Christodoulides, in Cyprus at CNA's invitation, also met with Foreign
Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, Interior Minister George Stavrinakis and
government spokesman Manolis Christophides. He will be received by
President of the Republic Glafcos Clerides today.
Cloudiness with mild northerly winds in most parts of Greece today with a
slight rise in temperatures. Athens will be partly cloudy with spells of
sunshine and temperatures between 5-14C. Same in Thessaloniki with
temperatures from 2-11C.
Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 278.564
Pound sterling 458.403 Cyprus pd 531.514
French franc 46.557 Swiss franc 191.307
German mark 155.813 Italian lira (100) 15.914
Yen (100) 214.163 Canadian dlr. 195.999
Australian dlr. 186.223 Irish Punt 404.538
Belgian franc 7.553 Finnish mark 51.608
Dutch guilder 138.270 Danish kr. 40.920
Swedish kr. 35.676 Norwegian kr. 38.547
Austrian sch. 22.141 Spanish peseta 1.843
Port. Escudo 1.525