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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-02-07

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, 07/02/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greek consumer price inflation drops to 4.4 pct in January
  • Greek stocks jump on declining inflation
  • Royal Olympic Cruise Lines seeks listing in NY
  • Greece's stance on ongoing crisis in Iraq
  • New Turkish theory disputes Greek sovereignty of islets
  • Evert proposal for urgent ND meeting rejected
  • Cabinet briefed on 'Cultural Olympiad'
  • Tsohatzopoulos tours DASA facilities in Germany
  • Royanmont initiative schedules March meeting in Athens
  • Flooding reported in eastern Macedonia, Thrace
  • EU asked to urgently discuss Greek olive oil producers' problems
  • Alumil activity in Romania
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greek consumer price inflation drops to 4.4 pct in January

Greek consumer price inflation continued its decline in January, dropping to 4.4 percent year-on-year from 4.7 percent a month earlier, the National Statistics Service (ESYE) said yesterday.

The average inflation rate for the 12-month period of January 1997 to 1998 stood at 5.3 per cent, compared to 8.1 per cent for the corresponding period of January 1996 to January 1997.

Commenting on the fall in inflation down to 4.4 per cent, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou told a press conference in London, where he is on a visit, that the government had succeeded where all its predecessors had failed.

"We are strict, a little unpleasant, but we have finally succeeded where all other governments in the last 25 years failed," he said.

He added that the government was resolved to continue implementation of its economic programme, and that the emphasis in coming years would fall on the rehabilitation of public utilities. He stressed that the effort would be crowned with success, as it enjoyed broad popular support.

Greek stocks jump on declining inflation

Greek stocks ended sharply higher yesterday as the Athens Stock Exchange celebrated a fall in the inflation rate to its lowest in almost three decades.

The general index closed 2.45 percent up at 1,464.12 points, showing a net gain of 4.92 percent on the week. Traders said investors had regained confidence after turmoil in the domestic money market seemed to evaporate and state institutional investor s decided to intervene to support the market ahead of a public offering of investment firms on February 17- 20.

Most sector indices scored gains. Banks rose 2.84 percent, Insurance increased 1.03 percent, Investment ended 0.74 percent up, Construction soared 2.59 percent, Industrials rose 1.66 percent, Miscellaneous ended 0.79 percent higher and Holding jumped 3. 27 percent. Leasing bucked the trend to end 0.04 percent down.

The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 2.51 percent. The FTSE/ASE index of blue chips ended at 789.41 points, up 0.96 percent, to show an increase of 6.26 percent on the week.

Trading was heavy with turnover at 20.8 billion drachmas. The week's total turnover was 76.7 billion drachmas for a daily average of 15.3 billion, up from 13.8 billion drachmas the previous week.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 174 to 49 with another 17 issues unchanged.

Alumil, Agrinio Metalplastic, Viokarpet and Nafpaktos Mills scored the biggest percentage gains at the daily 8.0 percent upper trading limit, while Vis, Mouriades, Endisi, General Warehouses and Daring suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 20,930 drachmas, Ergobank at 14,800, Alpha Credit Bank at 15,450, Delta Dairy at 3,005, Titan Cement at 13,700, Intracom at 15,250 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 5, 900.

Royal Olympic Cruise Lines seeks listing in NY

Royal Olympic Cruise Lines Inc. announced yesterday it will seek listing on the New York Stock Exchange through an initial public offering of 6.1 million shares of common stock at 15 dollars per share.

The company has granted underwriters an option for 30 days to purchase additional shares.

Net proceeds of 85 million dollars will be used to repay existing debts; make a progress payment on two new cruise ships the company has ordered from the German shipyard Blohm & Voss; finance the acquisition and refurbishment of two second hand cruise s hips purchased by the company in January; and boost operating capital.

Lead underwriters in the offering are Lazard Freres & Co., LLC and Donaldson, and Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corporation.

The lead managers are Lazard Capital Markets and Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette International.

Royal Olympic Cruises offers destination-oriented cruises in the Mediterranean, Baltic and Black Seas and in central and south America.

Royal Olympic was formed in 1995 as a result of the merger of Epirotiki Cruise Line and Sun Line Cruises.

Greece's stance on ongoing crisis in Iraq

Greece will not become involved in any military operations against Iraq without a prior decision by the UN Security Council, Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis said in Parliament yesterday.

However, he said that although Greece would be "committed to obey" any such UN decision, it would not be necessary for Greece to contribute its own forces to any military operation.

Mr. Apostolakis was speaking in response to a question from Communist Party of Greece deputy Haralambos Aggourakis regarding the possible use of the Souda and Aktio military bases by US Air Force planes in any new action against Iraq.

With regard to a recent meeting in Athens between US Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Mark Grossman and the leadership of the foreign and defence ministries, the undersecretary commented that the US had made "no request for Greek assist ance or facilities in the event that the US decided to intervene in Iraq". Therefore, he added, Greece has undertaken no commitment to the US government.

Mr. Apostolakis also said Mr. Grossman had been informed of Greece's opposition to the trade sanctions against Iraq and their devastating repercussions on the children of Iraq due to the lack of medicines and foodstuffs.

New Turkish theory disputes Greek sovereignty of islets

A Turkey-based research foundation again raised claims disputing Greek sovereignty of several small Aegean islands and rocky islets in a publication entitled "The Basic Issue in the Aegean."

The edition, published by the "Turkish History Foundation" and compiled by a Turkish naval officer, repeats exactly the arguments set out in a Turkish military academy manual in May 1996.

The small, rocky islets "which are not mentioned by name in international treaties in the Aegean continue to belong to Turkey, which constitutes a continuation of the Ottoman state", according to the latest Turkish theory.

The purpose of the theory, according to the publication, is "a new and basic problem which will influence the overall status in the Aegean."

The "theory's major problem is that the Lausanne Treaty, by which the modern Turkish state was created and its borders were delineated in detail, explicitly states that Turkey in the Aegean is restricted to islands, small islands and rocky islets etc, located at a distance of three nautical miles from the Asia Minor coasts and the islands of Imvros and Tenedos.

The Turkish military staff has recently attempted to plan exercises or restrict regions for exercises which would help the new theory to be implemented in practice. In one case (Gavdos, May 1996) it opposed, on the basis of this theory, the inclusion of the island, located south of Crete, in a NATO exercise.

Turkish diplomatic circles, despite the fact they appear hesitant on the correctness of the new theory, are systematically raising the issue of "grey zones in the Aegean" lately, an expression leading directly to the new theory.

Evert proposal for urgent ND meeting rejected

Main opposition New Democracy's leadership has turned down a proposal by former ND leader Miltiades Evert for an urgent meeting of the party's Parliamentary group, to discuss the latest developments following the expulsion of three senior members and the suspension of three others earlier this week.

One of those expelled, former minister George Souflias, continues contacts with deputies and party members, exploring the possibilities for the formation of a new party.

Mr. Souflias is also said to believe that it is those who remain in the party that will face problems.

ND leader Costas Karamanlis is visiting the Achaia region over the weekend, to attend various social functions.

Meanwhile, the Political Spring party, which is at the centre of speculation regarding its role in a possible political realignment, asked that the name of its leader, former ND foreign minister, Antonis Samaras, not be used in "as an alibi in backstage games and political designs".

Meawhile, former ND prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis dismissed a press report claiming that 7.5 billion drachmas of the party's 10-billion-drachma deficit dates back to his term in office.

In an interview with the weekly newspaper 'Ependytis', out today, Mr. Karamanlis appears unwilling to make any compromises.

"I always have as a criterion the unity, cohesion, united political position, and above all efficiency. I am not prepared to accept any compromises on any of these," he said.

He expressed the view that the cause of all ills in his party was fragmentation and the prevalence of personal strategies, reiterating that he decided to expel the six deputies because "they provided an alibi and a life-belt to a government that is shaking. I put up with a lot for 10 months, but tolerance and goodwill cannot be transformed into weakness for the pa rty," he said.

He stated categorically that there was no issue of Political Spring leader Samaras returning to ND

Cabinet briefed on 'Cultural Olympiad'

Prime Minister Costas Simitis told the Cabinet yesterday said that the "Cultural Olympiad" does not just involve Athens but all of Greece.

He added that the goal of the effort is to minimise the cultural inequalities in Greece, both social and geographical, and to promote the presence of Greece abroad.

Mr. Simitis requested the speedy completion of the Acropolis Museum and unification of Athens' archaeological sites.

Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos briefed the Cabinet on plans for the Cultural Olympiad, which is to begin in 2000 and continue in the form of a permanent, international non-governmental institution beyond the Athens Games in 2004.

Cultural events, centred in ancient Olympia, Delphi and Epidaurus, will be coordinated by the ministry and organised by other agencies, including the European Cultural Centre of Delphi, the National Theatre, the State Theatre of Northern Greece, the Nat ional Art Gallery and other museums.

Tsohatzopoulos tours DASA facilities in Germany

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos visited facilities of the German aerospace firm DASA near Munich yesterday, where he was briefed on the progress of upgrading two Hellenic Air Force F-4 fighters.

Know-how will also be transferred to the remaining F-4s, which will be upgraded in Greece.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos is in Munich to attend the "Political Security Conference", starting this morning and with "Security and the Future" being the first issue on the agenda.

German Chancellor Helmut Kohl will be the main speaker.

This year's event is being attended by more than 200 politicians, diplomats and military officers, including US Defense Secretary William Cohen and NATO Secretary General Javier Solana.

Royanmont initiative schedules March meeting in Athens

The next meeting of the Royanmont initiative,a process for stability and good neighbourliness i n southeastern Europe, will be held in Athens on March 31.

The members of the initiative, coordinated by Panayiotis Roumeliotis, will have a series of visits and contacts between Feb. 10 and March 15.

The Royanmont process resulted "from the vision of an enlarged European family, based on democratic principles, peace, stability and cooperation among peoples."

It became possible after many efforts were made for European Union countries, the US and Russia to participate in the Royanmont process, as well as Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Albania and Turkey.

The process focuses firstly on improving relations between Balkan countries and the conclusion of agreements of good neighbourliness with the ultimate purpose of avoiding conflicts which would lead to tragic results.

Secondly, safeguarding freedom of expression and movement in the region which will contribute towards consolidating democracy.

Thirdly, creating suitable preconditions to eliminate national prejudices and enable social groups to come into contact (athletes, physicians, attorneys etc).

The meetings, due to start next week and come to a close on March 15, are aimed at the gradual conclusion of cooperation and good neighbourliness agreements. The agreements will constitute a springboard for the eventual conclusion of a Stability and Good Neighbourliness Protocol between countries in southeastern Europe.

The Royanmont initiative follows a parallel course with the Dayton/Paris initiative for peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Royanmont's coordinator Mr. Roumeliotis will probe the possibilities of funding programmes and will try to ensure that other initiatives are also included in the overall framework. Moreover, linking the Royanmont process with the pacification process in Bosnia-Herzegovina is also anticipated.

Flooding reported in eastern Macedonia, Thrace

Two people drowned yesterday as torrential rains throughout northern Greece flooded hundreds of homes and shops and destroyed thousands of acres of farmland.

One death was reported on the island of Thasos and one in the Evros region.

A state of emergency contingency plan for natural disasters was put into effect in Evros, while waters of the Evros River marking the Greek-Turkish border rose above the 4.7-metre safety limit to 5.7 metres late yesterday, with the level expected to rise from melting snows in Bulgaria.

Rail and roadways connections were also disrupted.

Several Kavala-area towns were hit by heavy rains, while in one town alone more than 200 buildings were flooded.

Meanwhile, snowfall was reported for the first time this winter in Thessaloniki yesterday morning. Snow was also falling in Florina, Kozani, Grevena, Kilkis and Veria.

EU asked to urgently discuss Greek olive oil producers' problems

Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas has sent a letter to European Union agriculture commissioner Franz Fischler asking for an urgent discussion of problems facing Greek olive producers.

Mr. Tzoumakas asked for the issue to be included on the agenda of the next olive oil administrative committee meeting in Brussels on February 11.

The minister argued that although olive product prices have dropped significantly sales were sluggish with products remaining in warehouses.

The situation was a cause of serious financial, social and political problems in Greece, carrying a risk of disintegration for the country's olive oil market, Mr. Tzoumakas stressed.

Meanwhile, olive producers continued protesting in Crete and farmers have agreed to hold further protests along the country's national road network.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas called on the farmers not to proceed to blockades and called on them to hold talks with the agriculture minister.

Alumil activity in Romania

The Alumil Mylonas company,recently registered on the Athens Stock Exchange, has consolidated activities in Balkan markets, and particularly Romania, by establishing the subsidiary Alumil Rom Industry SRL.

Alumil purchased the Bucharest installations of the Vulcan firm, aiming at initially using its storage space to cover the Romanian market.

WEATHER

Clouds and rain in most parts of Greece with light snowfall in the mountainous areas. Winds variable, moderate to strong, turning into gale force in the Aegean Sea. Partly cloudy with spells of sunshine in Athens and possible light rain in the afternoon with temperatures from 6-10C. Thessaloniki will be overcast with temperatures from 2-7C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 282.164 Pound sterling 464.514 Cyprus pd 533.339 French franc 46.882 Swiss franc 194.635 German mark 157.113 Italian lira (100) 15.903 Yen (100) 227.158 Canadian dlr. 197.507 Australian dlr. 190.772 Irish Punt 393.665 Belgian franc 7.613 Finnish mark 51.802 Dutch guilder 139.386 Danish kr. 41.237 Swedish kr. 35.156 Norwegian kr. 37.706 Austrian sch. 22.333 Spanish peseta 1.853 Port. Escudo 1.535

(C.E.)


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