Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-02-07
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 07/02/1998 (ANA)
- 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
- 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
"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
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-
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
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
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,
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
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 &
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
One death was reported on the island of Thasos and one in the Evros
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
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
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas called on the farmers not to proceed
to blockades and called on them to hold talks with the agriculture
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.
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.
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