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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-12-10

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, 10/12/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Premier says Greece determined to enter EMU by 2002
  • Karamanlis launches all-out attack against gov't
  • Greece does not lack sensitivity for the handicapped, BBC told
  • Hyatt to build hotel complex in Thessaloniki
  • Zeffirelli opens exhibition at National Art Gallery
  • Increase in Greek banks' turnover
  • EBEA election results
  • TVX Gold says will not abandon Halkidiki mining programme
  • Gold to be excavated in Rodopi
  • OTE deal with Intracom and Siemens for digital service
  • Mobile telephony deal with COSMOTE
  • Profit-taking halts rally of prices on ASE
  • Greece issues 12-month visas for Fyrom businessmen
  • Karelias expands business abroad
  • ANA chief holds talks in Cyprus
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Premier says Greece determined to enter EMU by 2002

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.

Greece's priorities were determined by:

  • The Turkish threat and the instability in the Middle East necessitated the safeguarding of the country's vital interests and the consolidation of peace and security.
  • A competitive economy and sustainable development.
  • Enlargement of the Union and cooperation with those countries in the Balkans and eastern Europe wishing to participate in the building of a new European reality.
  • 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 achieve convergence.

    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 budget.

    "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," he said.

    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 European countries.

    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," he added.

    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 with.

    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 uncomromisingly defends.

    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 participations portfolio.

    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 environment."

    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 landscape.

    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 years.

    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 DCS 1800.

    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 sets.

    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 market.

    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 unchanged.

    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 countries.

    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.

    WEATHER

    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.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    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

    (C.E.)


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