Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-12-31
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 31/12/1997 (ANA)
- CAA awaits response from Turkey on military exercises
- Tsohatzopoulos calls for collective security body for Balkans
- 'Foreign Affairs' article on Greece
- Athens Academy awards
- Ten major ancient, Byzantine shipwrecks located
- Natural gas flow to begin next week through Athens
- Greek stocks rebound on technical factors
- National Bank nine months pre-tax profits up 71 pct
- Economic fundamentals on convergence track, report says
- EU cohesion slower than expected
- Christodoulakis says interest rates on downward trend
- Sale of bourse shares completed
- Quality label for locally made handicrafts
- Int'l indoor athletics tournament in Athens in February
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
CAA awaits response from Turkey on military exercises
Greece's Civil Aviation Authority is still awaiting a response from its
Turkish counterpart on the areas where a Turkish military exercise is
scheduled between Jan. 2-25.
Greece has objected to three of the eight areas choosen by the Turkish
Transport Minister Tassos Mantelis said that he does not consider the
matter important, adding that it was a "game" expected by Turkey, which has
played for the past 25 years.
Tsohatzopoulos calls for collective security body for Balkans
Neighbouring countries have accepted Greece's active role in efforts to
resolve problems in Bosnia as well as Athens' role in bridging the gap
between the region and the European Union.
These were some conclusions drawn following National Defence Minister Akis
Tsohatzopoulos' official visit in Bosnia recently.
The Greek defence minister on Monday arrived in Tirana immediately after
In Albania, he met yesterday with the President Rexhep Mejdani, Prime
Minister Fatos Nano and his counterpart Sabit Brokaj.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also met with Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania
Anastasios and Foreign Minister Paskal Milo, while on Monday evening he
visited the 204 troops of the Greek military contingent stationed outside
He also inaugurated the Tirana military hospital, since its new wing was
built and equipped by the Hellenic Air Force general staff.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos told a press conference that Greece, Albania, Bulgaria
and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) should form a
"collective body" as a force of security in the Balkans.
"Greece, as well as Albania, Bulgaria and FYROM should take the initiative
for the establishment of such a regional body for collective security".
He added that on the basis of that initiative, Greece will go ahead with
organising new meetings, similar to the summit of Balkan leaders last
November on Crete.
Commenting on his contacts with his Albanian counterpart Brokaj, Mr.
Tsohatzopoulos said discussion focused on the successful cooperation
between the two countries' armed forces, which as he said was not of an
'Foreign Affairs' article on Greece
The Greek government under Prime Minister Costas Simitis has adopted a more
international attitude, while Turkey must follow the same path if it wants
to become a member of the European Union, according to an article in the US-
based magazine "Foreign Affairs".
"For the first time, Greece realised that it is a part of the European
Union and that its successes both in the political and financial field
depend on the relations Greece cultivates with Europe and its Balkan
neighbours," the article mentioned.
Bylined by Marcia Christoff Kurop, the article noted that Greek-Turkish
tension, mostly in the Aegean, is an obstacle to the financial and
political convergance with Europe, since Greece spends some three billion
US dollars a year for defence, the highest per capita in NATO.
Ms Kurop also noted that the recent escalation of tension in Cyprus is due
to the purchase of the Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missile system by
the Cypriot government, the Greece-Cyprus joint defence doctrine and the
upcoming commencement of access ion talks between the island republic and
the European Union.
Finally, Ms Kurop wrote that Greece was concerned by the Turkish-Israeli
military pact, although it looks at the EU for its political future and the
US for military assistance.
Athens Academy awards
The Athens Academy last night handed out its annual awards presented to
both individuals and collective works by noted scientists and associations.
The gold medal for natural and political sciences was given to Prordomos
Emfietzoglou, president of the construction company Mechaniki, for his
national, social and cultural contibution.
In the same category, prizes were awarded to the National Archaeological
Museum Society, the children's cancer support group "Hope", on behalf of
which the award was received by its president Marianna Vardinoyianni, and
the Union of Greek Actors.
Prizes of 800,000 drachmas were granted to Kiki Dimoula for her poetic
collection "Oblivion's adolescence" and Costas Stergiopoulos for his essay
Another award of 800,000 drachmas in the natural sciences category was
given to surgeon Vassilis Goletatis and his team.
Ten major ancient, Byzantine shipwrecks located
The Underwater Antiquities Department has located a further 10 shipwrecks
believed to be of major historical and archaeological significance in the
Saronic Gulf and the Myrtoo Sea.
According to a report sent by the culture ministry, a three-man team for 10
days monitored the work of two professional divers to record the sites.
The discoveries will shed more light on the history of shipping routes off
the coasts of Attica and the eastern Peloponnese.
Near the island of Aegina, two Byzantine wrecks were found, the first with
part of its cargo of 8th and 9th century amphorae intact.
The second was carrying 10th century tiles and it is hoped that parts of
the vessel would be found intact, since it is buried in the sand.
During the same 10-day mission, two wrecks of the Roman period were
discovered, one with more than 50 amphorae, used to carry salty water for
preserving food. The second, lying at a greater depth, is most probably
undisturbed. Its cargo consists again of amphorae and common household
utensils. It has been dated between the 1st century BC and the 1st century
Perhaps the most important find is an ancient wreck with a cargo of large
tiles and cross-beams of the Laconian type. It is believed that the vessel
was sailing to the city of Alies (present-day Porto Heli) with its cargo of
construction materials for some type of public building. From the shape and
size of the tiles, archaeologists have dated the shipwreck between the 4th
and 3rd centuries BC.
It is the first time that a wreck has been found in the Mediterranean
carrying a cargo of building materials from a tile works. Due to the fact
that the vessel is submerged in mud, it is hoped that part of the hull will
Two more wrecks from historic times were also found - a warship off Hydra
with 21 cannons, and a trader carrying slabs of grey limestone. Divers also
discovered two lead anchors dating from the Roman period, one bearing the
Natural gas flow to begin next week through Athens
Natural gas will flow through the Athens municipality network next week as
the Athens Municipal Natural Gas Enterprise (DEFA) yesterday transferred
its rights on the network to the Public Natural Gas Enterprise (DEPA).
DEPA's network now extends to some 550 kilometres, mostly within the
greater Athens region.
On his part, DEPA president Christos Voudouris said that there are
possibilities of increasing its clients.
DEPA managing director Savvas Papaphilipou said that natural gas will be
used by residential, commercial and industrial clients in Athens, Volos,
Thessaloniki and by the Keratsini power plant.
Greek stocks rebound on technical factors
Greek equities recovered substantial ground helped by technical factors and
bargain hunting buying on the Athens Stock Exchange, reversing the previous
day's sharp decline.
The general index closed 1.24 percent higher at 1,469.14 points. Sector
indices were mixed. Banks rose 1.46 percent, Insurance eased 0.70 percent,
Leasing increased 0.92 percent, Investment rose 0.88 percent, Constructions
fell 0.26 percent, Industrials ended 1.48 percent up, Miscellaneous rose
1.22 percent and Holding was 1.35 percent higher.
The parallel market index for small cap companies fell 0.17 percent, while
the FTSE/ASE index ended 1.37 percent higher at 840.46 points.
Trading was heavy with turnover at 24.1 billion drachmas.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 139 to 69 with another 30 issues
Elfico, Alysida, Mochlos, Olympiaki Contractors scored the biggest
percentage gains, while Nematemboriki, Klaoudatos, Mouriades and Dane
suffered the heaviest losses.
National Bank of Greece ended at 24,700 drachmas, Ergobank at 14,460, Alpha
Credit Bank at 16,460, Delta Dairy at 3,355, Titan Cement at 12,810,
Intracom at 13,055 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 5,
National Bank nine months pre-tax profits up 71 pct
National Bank of Greece, the country's largest bank, reported a 71 percent
rise in pre-tax profits in the period January-September this year to 36.4
billion drachmas compared with 21.3 billion in the corresponding period in
The bank said in a statement that a sharp rise in profits was the outcome
of higher provisions, at 50 billion drachmas, aimed at restructuring the
bank's loan portfolio based on international standards.
National Bank said however that dividend payment would not be affected by
this high provisions.
The state bank reported a slower rate of operational spending to an annual
8.1 percent in the first nine months of 1997, compared to a 10.9 percent
Economic fundamentals on convergence track, report says
Recent disturbances in international markets have had a perverse effect on
Greek markets but higher real interest rates and spreads over bunds were
expected to wane as economic fundamentals remain on the convergence track,
Alpha Credit Bank said in its December economic report.
The report said that convergence has suffered a setback since the end of
October due to the destabilising effects of the international markets on
domestic money and capital markets, pushing higher domestic interest
Although exchange rate policy has emerged intact and the loss of foreign
exchange reserves was relatively small, higher rates had burdened the road
The Greek government responded to the crisis by announcing a bold 1998
budget, centered around raising new taxes and severely restricting wage
awards in the public sector.
Alpha Credit Bank said that the Bank of Greece, the country's central bank,
had successfully intervened to defend the drachma and predicted that
Greece's foreign exchange reserves stood at about US$ 15.2 billion early
The report urged the government to speed up creation of a liquid secondary
market for fixed income instruments and the establishment of a reliable
benchmark long-term rate.
EU cohesion slower than expected
Hamburg, Brussels,Vienna,Bremen,Essen and Isle de France were among the
richest regions in the European Union, while Epirus, several Greek Aegean
islands, the Azores and French colonies were among the poorer regions,
according to an EU report.
The same regions were among the richest and poorer regions in the European
Union a decade ago, a sign that internal cohesion was not moving as
satisfactory as the European Community had promised.
However, some wider regions, such as Greece and Portugal, were able to meet
higher growth rates than other more developed regions in the EU.
Greece has reported growth rates of 2.03 percent and 2.38 percent in 1995
and 1996 respectively with a forecast of 3.0 percent growth rate this
On the other end, Epirus marked 43 points, the Azores 48 and the northern
Aegean islands 49 points, all less than 50 percent of the EU average.
Christodoulakis says interest rates on downward trend
Speaking during a press conference yesterday, Finance Undersecretary Nikos
Christodoulakis referred to developments relating to interest rates, which
as he predicted were de-escalating after a recent crisis.
The undersecretary said that the reduction in interests rates will be
assisted by the state's increased borrowing needs, which in 1998 will be
higher by two trillion drachmas.
In January, the finance ministry will borrow 300 billion drachmas, while in
the first half of the year the state will need to borrow another 520
Mr. Christodoulakis further said that tax on treasury bills for the series
to be issued on Jan. 2 will remain at 7.5 per cent, while the following
series will be taxed at 10 per cent.
Sale of bourse shares completed
The sale of shares for the state-run Athens Stock Market - Chrimatistirio
Axion Athinon S.A. - to various categories of investors has been completed.
According to figures, investors were provided with 1,983,270 of the
company's shares (39.67 per cent of the total figure) for about 23 billion
drachmas. Following this development, the share register of the company
"Chrimatistirio Axion Athinon S.A." was shaped as follows:
Greek state 60.33 per cent; bourse companies 3.08 per cent; credit
institutions 22.70 per cent; companies registered with the Athens Stock
Exchange 5.55 per cent; insurance companies 1.58 per cent; mutual funds
2.36 per cent; insurance funds 3.04 per ce nt and investment companies 1.35
Quality label for locally made handicrafts
A new measure for the protection of the local handicrafts market from
imports will be taken next month, according to the president of the
Association of Handicrafts Manufacturers (BLT).
BLT President Odysseas Koumatos, who was speaking during a press conference
yesterday, said a quality label will be attached on all local products sold
at handicrafts shops. The quality label will be supplied by EOMMEX.
He also charged that imported handicraft items and a 'self-styled' control
of the market by tourist coaches stopping only at specific shops was a
major blow to the sector.
Mr. Koumatos, who called on the state to intervene, said that unless the
National Tourist Organisation (EOT) took proper measures to eliminate such
phenomena, then local shopowners' assocaitions and the BLT will go ahead
with industrial action.
The annual exhibition of the BLT Attica will be held Jan. 8-11 at the OLP
building in Piraeus, with the participation of 400 handicrafts manufacturers
across the country.
Int'l indoor athletics tournament in Athens in February
Leading athletes from all over the world will participate in the international
athletics meet "Athina", due to take place at Peace and Friendship Stadium
on Feb. 21, according to the Amateur Athletics Association (SEGAS). So far,
311 male and female athletes have declared participation in the event.
Among them is Charles Austin (US) who came first in high jump in the
Atlanta Olympics; Michael Green (US) who came second in the 60 metres dash
in the 1997 World Indoor Athletics Championships and Daniela Georgieva
(Bulgaria) who came second in the 200 metres event in the 1995 World Indoor
Fine weather in most parts of Greece today with local clouds in the western
regions. Winds moderate westerlies to northwesterlies, turning light to
moderate later in the Ionian sea. Athens will be sunny with few clouds and
temperatures between 6-15C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures
Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 280.716
Pound sterling 466.141 Cyprus pd 534.470
French franc 46.787 Swiss franc 193.013
German mark 156.513 Italian lira (100) 15.958
Yen (100) 216.921 Canadian dlr. 195.126
Australian dlr. 183.019 Irish Punt 402.157
Belgian franc 7.587 Finnish mark 51.747
Dutch guilder 138.885 Danish kr. 41.095
Swedish kr. 35.537 Norwegian kr. 38.192
Austrian sch. 22.252 Spanish peseta 1.850
Port. Escudo 1.530