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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-02-04

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, 04/02/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Three New Democracy deputies expelled, three suspended
  • Kranidiotis winds up successful African tour
  • Athens charges Turkish campaign against ethnic Greeks
  • President watches Parthenon restoration work
  • Pangalos to inaugurate Greek cultural centre in Panama
  • Gov't announces programme to combat unemployment
  • Greek stocks end five-day fall with sharp rebound
  • Helexpo says 1998 a landmark year
  • ELBE signs agreement to buy off German clothes firm
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Three New Democracy deputies expelled, three suspended

Three leading deputies of the main opposition New Democracy party who failed to abide by the party line against a government provision changing relations between workers and management at state-run public utilities, were expelled from the party early this morning, while another three were suspended for a year as party members.

The party's disciplinary committee, which met last night to take action against seven deputies, acquitted one of them. The decision was unanimous. Those expelled are George Souflias, Stephanos Manos and Vasilis Kontoyiannopoulos.

Former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis, ND's honorary chairman, was exempted from the decision to refer the ND deputies, taken at an extraordinary meeting chaired by ND leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday, due to his "long presence and contribution to political life." Mr. Mitsotakis has the right "to express views which may not necessarily express the party's positions," according to an announcement by Mr. Karamanlis.

Mr. Souflias, unsuccessfully challenged Mr. Karamanlis for the leadership of the party last year.

The seven deputies abstained from the parliament vote. The amendment was approved early yesterday by Parliament by a vote of 141 to 121.

A total of 35 deputies - from both opposition and ruling party - were absent from the roll-call vote.

Hours before the convening of the disciplinary committee, Mr. Mitsotakis expressed his opposition to the disciplinary action against the seven ND deputies.

Mr. Mitsotakis also said that he was not called to preside over the disciplinary committee, which if it met in his absence, it would do so in violation of the charter of the party.

Former minister Vasilis Kontoyiannopoulos in a letter to the disciplinary committee and the party leader, stressed that "New Democracy is obliged to make clear its liberal choices, particularly on purely qualitative issues," and that his stand was in positive response to the party's options, as expressed by Mr. Karamanlis, as a party whip had never been officially imposed.

Former national economy minister Stephanos Manos did not appear before the disciplinary committee, saying he did not understand why the party should say 'No' even when it agreed with a government initiative which "follows our own programme".

Also former minister George Souflias appeared particularly vexed with the party leader, whom he accused of "opting to lead the country to adventures in the first decision of his term, instead of deciding on the country's crucial and substantial issues," and of reviving old party methods of persecuting positions and ideas.

The ND party is moving along general principles, an inappropriate method of solving problems, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said while commenting on developments in the main opposition party.

He further ascribed these developments to the ND's lack of policy and a wise political direction.

Kranidiotis winds up successful African tour

Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis' tour of Eastern and South African countries has been described as exeptionally successful, as far as Greece's promotion of bilateral relations with these countries.

Mr. Kranitiotis' last stop in the six-day tour, which wound up yesterday, was Ethiopia, where the foreign underesecretary met the country's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, as well as National Economy Minister Girma Biru and counterpart Tekeda Alemu.

Discussions with all officials were friendly and focused on bilateral relations, while it was decided that a number of already prepared agreements be signed in the future.

Mr. Kranidiotis told his interlocutors that Greece will increase the number of scholarships granted to Ethiopian students, while it will aslo provide food aid of 5,000 tons of wheat and medical aid.

Greece will further participate in educational and training programmes of Ethiopians, as well as in the contruction of school buildings.

Referring to Greece's candidacy for the United Nations Security Council for the two-year term of 1999-2000, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi threw his support, saying the request was rightful and should be backed, since Greece had only been on the Security Council once since the international organisation's foundation.

Visiting Pretoria, the official capital of South Africa Monday, the Greek foreign undersecretary met Minister to the Vice President's Office Essop Pahad, who is a close associate of the country's vice president and leader of the African National Congre ss Tambo Mbeki, and Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad.

A review of current political developments and an exchange of views on the wide range of bilateral relations took place during talks, which also touched upon investments, shipping and aviation agreements unilaterally signed between the two countries.

Mr. Kranidiotis announced Greece's participation in South African development programmes in the areas of housing and education.

The Greek official extended an invitation to Tambo Mbeki to visit Greece, as another visit by South African leader Nelson Mandela is still pending.

South African officials spoke in favourable terms on Greece's candidacy for the Security Council, saying that Greece had strong arguments.

In Namibia, Mr Kranidiotis was warmly received by President Sam Nujoma, who referred to his people's national liberation struggle and to the support he had personally had in the past by the PASOK party.

The foreign undersecretary handed the Namibian president a letter by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, which contained an invitation to visit Greece.

According to sources, Mr. Kranidiotis is said to have been impressed by Mr. Nujoma's knowledge and concern over the Cyprus problem.

Mr. Kranidiotis' visit to Mozambique, the first visit to that country by a Greek minister, was equally important.

A meeting was held here with Foreing Minister Leonardo Simao, during which the Greek official made proposals on providing funding to programmes in the sectors of child healthcare and education.

Mr. Simao, who was invited to visit Greece, expressed his estimation for Greece's concern, stressing that his government would very carefully examine Greece's Security Council candidacy.

Mr. Kranidiotis's tour to seven African countries gave the chance to the Greek delegation to ascertain the existence of significant potential for development of bilateral relations with the whole of Africa, as well as that continent's concern and warm welcome of Greek positions and initiatives.

Athens charges Turkish campaign against ethnic Greeks

Greece will raise the issue of Turkish attempts to alter the Greek character of the eastern Aegean islands of Imvros and Tenedos, the foreign ministry said yesterday after reports that holy relics had been stolen from a church housing a concentration of them from all over the island.

The stolen items included 20 old icons of great value and three Bibles.

"This act constitutes the culmination of a series of plunders and pillages of churches on Imvros, and comes in the wake of the hideous murder of a Greek sexton in a Greek church in Istanbul," the ministry said in a statement.

It further stressed that the culprits of all attacks remain at large, and this cultivates the impression that attacks against ethnic Greeks, their property and their cultural heritage are acts which do not constitute offences.

The impression is also created that Turkey is attempting to eliminate all traces of Greek cultural presence on the two islands, the statement ended.

According to an ANA dispatch from Istanbul, unknown assailants broke into the church of Agridion on Imvros on Sunday and stole at least 15 icons, sacred vessels and the church's epitaph cloth.

News of the theft reached the Patriarchate yesterday, since the assailants had cut the telephone wires to the town of Agridion.

The metropolitan of Imvros and Tenedos will go to the island to assess the damage.

The Patriarchate decided some time ago to transfer icons from isolated churches of the island to the Agridion church which was considered best for safe keeping of these items.

This theft was the latest in a series of violent acts against churches in Turkey, while none of the culprits were ever apprehended.

President watches Parthenon restoration work

President Kostis Stephanopoulos yesterday attended the first lowering of an authentic part of the Parthenon's frieze, which has been damaged by rusting iron couplings placed during restoration work in 1932.

A total of eight parts will be lowered, and will be kept in the Acropolis museum after the middle of the month. The rest are in the British Museum.

"The work on the Sacred Rock is difficult and time-consuming, as not only the temple is under reconstruction, but the whole of the Acropolis area," said the president.

The current restoration work is being carried out on the basis of a study by architect Demosthenes Ziros.

Pangalos to inaugurate Greek cultural centre in Panama

A new centre to promote Greek culture in one of the world's most important trade channels, the Panama Cannal, has been founded by the Greek Culture Foundation.

The centre, The Greek Educational Centre, will be inaugurated on February 11 by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos during an official visit to Panama.

Seventy replicas of ancient Greek antiquities will be on a permanent show at the centre, while other forms of exhibitions will be staged periodically.

The centre's building was donated by Panama's government to the Culture Ministry and the Greek Cultural Centre.

It is located on Pacific Ocean end of the cannal, near the City of Panama, while the initiative to house the Greek Educational Centre belongs to Panama's education minister of Greek descent Pavlos Thalassinos.

Gov't announces programme to combat unemployment

Labour and Social Security Minister Miltiades Papaioannou announced yesterday that the government would spend 108 billion drachmas in 1998 to combat unemployment and create 68,000 new jobs.

Of this amount, 81 billion drachmas would come from the European Social Fund (ESF) while national participation would total 27 billion drachmas.

Mr. Papaioannou said there would be two principal programmes to combat unemployment, the first directed at young people without jobs between the ages of 20 and 27 and the second aimed at assisting people aged between 28 and 64 who have been out of work for a long time and whose prospects of finding a job are not good.

The minister said there would also be smaller, more specific programmes, for example in the case of mass dismissals and intervention in problem areas, which are however not included in the 108 billion drachmas.

Within the framework of the new measures, the Labour Ministry will draw up a National Action Plan to combat unemployment which each European Union member-state must submit to the Community as a prerequisite for the smooth flow of funds from the ESF and, indirectly, as yet another prerequisite for economic convergence.

Greek stocks end five-day fall with sharp rebound

Greek equities yesterday rebounded spectacularly after a five-day decline on the Athens Stock Exchange. Traders said sentiment was encouraged by a parliament vote on new tax reform legislation covering public enterprises and a record rally in internat ional markets.

Also, reports of capital inflows totalling 250 million US dollars in the domestic foreign exchange market at the day's drachma fixing helped sentiment. The Greek currency was stronger against most foreign currencies.

The general index closed 2.49 percent up at 1,433.17 points reflecting a 3.64 percent surge in the banks index. Most other indices scored gains. Insurance rose 2.02 percent, Investment ended 0.51 percent up, Constructions increased 1.02 percent, Industr ials were 0.83 percent higher, Miscellaneous rose 0.87 percent and Holding was 2.18 percent up. Leasing bucked the trend to end 0.52 percent down.

The parallel market index for small cap companies increased 1.04 percent up, while the FTSE/ASE index soared 3.33 percent to 792.09 points.

Trading was heavy with turnover at 16.7 billion drachmas.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 126 to 87 with another 26 issues unchanged.

Bank of Athens, Eteva, Ergodata, Chalyps Cement and Viokarpet scored the biggest percentage gains at the day's 8.0 percent upper limit, while Balkan Export, Nafpaktos Mills, Mochlos and Agrinio Metaplastic suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 19,900 drachmas, Ergobank at 14,445, Alpha Credit Bank at 15,280, Delta Dairy at 3,035, Titan Cement at 13,490, Intracom at 14,880 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 5, 575.

Helexpo says 1998 a landmark year

1998 will be a landmark year for Helexpo as it seeks expansion to neighbouring Balkan countries and in central and east European markets.

Helexpo's new strategy started last December with the co-organisation of an international trade fair in Skopje.

The Greek trade fair company has planned partnerships and participation in several Balkan and east European trade fairs this year, including Plovdiv in Bulgaria, Vilnius in Lithuania, Kiev in Ukraine, Belgrade in Yugoslavia, Tirana in Albania,Bucarest in Romania and Riga in Latvia.

Some of these fairs will be a continuance or expansion of Helexpo's recent initiatives, while most of them held for the first time and some will be a cooperation with foreign companies, like a deal with Suricom Consultants Ltd of Cyprus for the organisa tion of a City '98 trade fair in Nicosia April 29-May 3.

Helexpo's first participation this year will be in Plovdiv. It will organise Greek participation at a consumer goods fair in early May. Next stop is Kiev. Helexpo will co-organise with a Greek-Ukrainian chamber two exhibitions in June.

During the same month, Helexpo will organise a Greek-Cypriot trade fair in Vilnius, Lithuania.

A Greek trade fair will be held in Belgrade September 9-12.

Bucharest is followed by a Greek trade fair November 11-14.

Helexpo will close the year with a Greek-Cypriot fair in Riga, Latvia.

ELBE signs agreement to buy off German clothes firm

The administration of the ELBE company recently signed an agreement to buy off the German clothes firm Heinze Berlin which has a prolonged presence in the German market. The agreement includes the production of Heinze Berlin clothes at ELBE's units in Greece and Bulgaria. They will be distributed in Greece, France, Switzerland and Austria. The German company's turnover is estimated at two billion drachmas.

According to the company's President Mr. Til. Kitsikopoulos, ELBE's activity is based on the triptych: planning in France, production in Bulgaria and distribution in European Union countries.

Sales in the first half of the 1997-1998 fiscal year amounted to 1.83 billion drachmas as against 1.3 billion drachmas last year and the prediction for the entire fiscal year is 3 billion drachmas.

WEATHER

Clouds and rainstorms starting from western Greece will spread to the rest of the country, with snow in the northern mountainous regions. Winds southerly, moderate. Athens will be overcast with with the likelihood of a rainstorm in the afternoon and temperatures from 10-15C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 5-9C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 285.369 Pound sterling 467.470 Cyprus pd 535.680 French franc 46.866 Swiss franc 193.787 German mark 157.068 Italian lira (100) 15.908 Yen (100) 226.751 Canadian dlr. 196.257 Australian dlr. 195.226 Irish Punt 394.221 Belgian franc 7.611 Finnish mark 51.913 Dutch guilder 139.331 Danish kr. 41.224 Swedish kr. 35.401 Norwegian kr. 37.877 Austrian sch. 22.323 Spanish peseta 1.854 Port. Escudo 1.536

(C.E.)


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