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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-02-10

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, 10/02/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece submits non-paper to NATO on Turkish provocations
  • No U.S. request concerning Iraq
  • Imported blood by-products confiscated
  • Organisation of 2004 Olympics a challenge, but poses no fears
  • Buildings in Kavala seriously damaged by floods
  • EU Commission to take action against Greece on spent mineral oils
  • IKA revenue losses may spell trouble in years to come
  • Protesting farmers' representatives to meet gov't officials
  • Greek stocks surge on falling inflation, interest rates
  • Greece to change law on overdue loans
  • Gov't to create incentives for withdrawal of old cars
  • Greek exports rise in value in 1994-1996
  • Italian company wins OTE tender
  • Premier meets Gavras, Dalaras
  • Iordanescu given greek light to coach Greece's national team
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece submits non-paper to NATO on Turkish provocations

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday confirmed a report that Greece had sent a non-paper to NATO refuting Turkish claims that Greece was giving support to Turkey's Kurdish minority.

The report, which appeared in Sunday's issue of the Athens daily "Kathimerini", said the non-paper also presented NATO with data indicating that Turkey was undermining the normalisation of Greek-Turkish relations through, firstly specific mechanisms in Greece's northeastern province of Thrace with a view to promot ing destabilisation and separatist views, secondly, through arsons in forests and other forms of sabotage in Greece by members of the Turkish underworld linked with unofficial power centres in the neighbouring country and thirdly, by Turkish authorities showing "tolerance" in the massive flow of illegal immigrants to Greece and drug trafficking from Turkey towards Europe through Greece.

The report said the submission of the non-paper was part of a broader strategy on the part of the Greek government, according to which the de- escalation of tension between the two countries should be accompanied by shedinglight on Turkish provocations so that the international community acquires a clear picture of the ways in which Turkey's aggressiveness is manifested.

According to the report, sources said the government considered that these tactics minimised the dangers of 'spasmodic' -and with unforeseeable consequences- moves by Ankara in Thrace, where its strategy has been led to an impasse through Greece's policy of equal political and legal rights for the Moslem minority in recent years, as testified, among other things, by the abolition of Article 19 of the Citizenship Code.

Such an approach is also considered to reduce the likelihood of a 'hot' incident in the Aegean. The latest briefing of EU ambassadors on Turkish violations of Greek airspace in the Aegean was accompanied by a video showing to better illustrate Turkish provocative behaviour.

No U.S. request concerning Iraq

"Greece has had no message from the United States concerning a possible request from Washington for the use of (military) bases on Greek territory in the event of an intervention in Iraq," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday in reply to press questions.

Imported blood by-products confiscated

The Greek Pharmaceutical Organisation (EOF) yesterday announced that it confiscated more than a month ago a large number of imported blood by- products, which could be tainted.

EOF President G. Kavadias said that two pharmaceutical products imported from Germany were pulled off the shelves of two pharmacies in the Athens area to be tested for viruses.

The samples tested to date did not contain infectious diseases but the testing at the "Laiko Hospital" will continue, Mr. Kavadias said.

EOF's announcement came after a report yesterday that a Lichtenstein lawyer revealed that tainted blood by-products and human organs were illegaly imported from eastern European countries and Russia and exported to Greece.

The illegal trade, which begun in 1996, used blood of cancer patients and people with a weak immune system.

Mr. Kavadias noted that the case has already been assigned to a public prosecutor, since these products were promoted in public hospitals in Athens and Patra by university doctors without the quality seal of EOF.

Mr. Kavadias said that at least two doctors are allegedly involved in prescribing the blood by-products, and it is probable that they received large commissions for promoting the products.

The EOF president noted that all products with the EOF seal of approval may be used without fear by all patients.

Organisation of 2004 Olympics a challenge, but poses no fears

Newly appointed president of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games organising committee Stratis Stratigis yesterday said the organisation of the Games, while a "considerable challenge", posed no fears.

Speaking at a joint press conference yesterday with Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras after returning from the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, Mr. Stratigis said of his meeting with International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch:

"The IOC president believes that the Athens Olympics will combine sports with culture linked with history. Mr. Samaranch rightly believes that the 2004 Games will be the best ever held."

With regard to the 2004 budget, Mr. Stratigis stressed that the final budget would be submitted after the Sydney Olympiad in 2000.

"We aren't afraid of anything. The IOC's accumulation of technical know-how and our efforts to adapt the Games to new technology are a guarantee that the Games will be organised successfully," he said.

Questioned with regard to Greece's proposal for a world truce during the 2004 Games, Mr. Fouras said the proposal had become "flesh and blood" in Nagano and had been enthusiastically received by all IOC members.

Buildings in Kavala seriously damaged by floods

Over 250 homes and businesses were seriously damaged in last week's flooding in Nea Peramos, Kavala, according to a statement by its mayor Iraklis Karaberidis yesterday.

Dozens of holiday-home owners visited the region over the weekend to survey the damage to property, while a team of engineers is inspecting all flooded buildings for structural damage.

Regional Director for eastern Macedonia and Thrace Stavros Karatziotis is to visit Nea Perama tomorrow to announce measures to assist the flood victims and allocate compensation from national and European Union funds.

EU Commission to take action against Greece on spent mineral oils

The European Commission has decided to take action against Greece for not announcing plans for the management of spent mineral oils, Environment Commissioner Ms Ritt Bjerregaard said in reply to a question by Greek Euro- MP Michalis Papayiannakis.

"Greece has not submitted data concerning the implementation of Directive 87/101/EOK, regarding spent mineral oils, amending Directive 75/439/EOK on the disposal of spent mineral oils," she said in a reply dated February 5.

"In Greece, only 9 per cent (5,000 tonnes) of used mineral oils are gathered through legal procedures and undergo renewal. The remaining part is gathered by illicit small traders, who sell the untreated waste as fuel, " she added. As a result the Commission was considering referring Greece to the European court for ill application of the Directives, she concluded.

IKA revenue losses may spell trouble in years to come

The President of the Social Security Foundation's, IKA, Staff Federation Mr. G. Perifanos told a press conference yesterday that an increase in contributions evasion and loans can lead IKA to a crucial position and even to inability to guarantee, five years later, pensions and medical care for those insured with it.

The POS-IKA union has called a 24-hour strike today and has announced a 48- hour strike in the next few days. Trade unionists warned that they will consider the period until Easter as "strike time" and called on the government to evaluate the foundation's revenue losses and inconvenience caused for the insured.

Their main claim is an incentive bonus for pursuing contributions evasion, totalling six billion drachmas, given to them last year but withdrawn this year by decision of Finance Undersecretary Nicos Christodoulakis. They also want the hiring of more staff.

More than 3,000 vacant jobs cost IKA a great deal. Mr. Perifanos predicted a decrease in contributions receipts by 5-7 per cent a year, leading to a loss of 300 billion drachmas over the next three years.

Protesting farmers' representatives to meet gov't officials

Protesting farmers yesterday continued a week-long blockade of national highways in northern Greece as the government set up a team of troubleshooters in a bid to end the standoff.

The team, headed by Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas and comprising Finance Undersecretary George Drys, agriculture undersecretaries Dimitris Sotirlis and Vassilis Geranidis, and the governor of the Agricultural Bank of Greece, Petros Lambrou,invited protesting farmers' representatives to the ministry for talks on Thursday.

The farmers have said they will intensify blockades this week and continue their protest until their demands are met for state subsidies and cheaper petrol for agricultural use. Farmers are blocking the national road at several points in the prefectu res of Thessaloniki, Pieria and Imathia, causing serious disruption to traffic and forcing drivers to use side roads.

Greek stocks surge on falling inflation, interest rates

Greek equities yesterday shot to their highest levels in more than a month on the Athens Stock Exchange.

Traders said market sentiment was encouraged by a fall in inflation, a gradual drop in domestic interbank interest rates and positive news on a government sponsored amendment for bank penalty rates on overdue loans.

The general index closed 3.09 percent up at 1,509.31 points reflecting a 5.12 percent surge in the banking index.

Other sector indices scored gains. Insurance rose 4.02 percent, Investment increased 0.86 percent, Construction ended 4.75 percent up, Industrials rose 1.92 percent, Miscellaneous ended 3.55 percent higher, Holding was 1.74 percent up but Leasing bucked the trend to end 0.52 percent off.

The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 0.68 percent. The FTSE/ASE index surged 3.85 percent to end at 843.09 points.

Trading was extremely heavy with turnover at 29.2 billion drachmas.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 147 to 76 with another 20 issues unchanged.

St.George Mills, Esha, Hellenic Textiles and Bank of Athens scored the biggest percentage gains at the daily upper 8.0 percent limit, while Vis, Halyps Cement, Mouzakis and Benroubi suffered the heaviest losses at 8.0 percent limit down.

National Bank of Greece ended at 22,580 drachmas, Ergobank at 15,600, Alpha Credit Bank at 16,250, Delta Dairy at 3,000, Titan Cement at 14,295, Intracom at 15,815 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 5, 950.

Greece to change law on overdue loans

The Greek government will release a bill next week covering the imposition of penalty rates on overdue loans by commercial banks.

Under the new regulation, penalty rates are to be imposed every six months, down from the current three months, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday.

Mr. Papantoniou told reporters after a meeting with bank governors that the ministry wanted to benefit borrowers.

He stressed that the government would do its utmost to limit the cost of the new regulation. It is being introduced following a Supreme Court decision.

Gov't to create incentives for withdrawal of old cars

Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis plans to introduce incentives for car owners to withdraw old vehicles from the market in order to help cut pollution by 2004 when Athens will host the Olympic Games.

"There must be attractive incentives so that cars over 15 years old on average can gradually be withdrawn ... and replaced by new cars with new technology," Mr. Laliotis told journalists yesterday.

Declining to give details of the measures that have yet to be decided, he said the import of cars up to five years old should be allowed so that Greece would not become a graveyard for old vehicles.

Cars over 15 years old accounted for up to 40 percent of atmospheric pollution, Mr. Laliotis said.

Greek exports rise in value in 1994-1996

Greek exports rose steadily in 1994-1996 in value but fell in the first three months of 1997, an industry report said yesterday.

A Greek industry chamber report showed that exports jumped 87 percent in 1994 to slow to 16.9 and 3.1 percent in 1995 and 1996 respectively, following declines of 11.6 percent in 1992 and 16.2 percent in 1993.

Exports, however, fell 3.2 percent in Ecus in the first quarter of 1997 compared with the corresponding period in 1996.

Exporters, businessmen and producers urged the government to take measures to support the economy in order to improve competitiveness and promote Greek exports abroad.

Exporters' representatives stressed that in 1992-1996 Greece's presence in its traditional central European markets shrank to the benefit of emerging markets in the Balkans and Eastern Europe.

At the same time, Greece's export share in the European Union market fell to its lowest levels.

Exporters warned that the government's hard drachma policy was hurting competitiveness and urged better coordination between government and industry export agencies.

Italian company wins OTE tender

The Italian Maristel construction company has won a tender to procure and install a 330 km submerged optical fibres cable connecting Yugoslavia with Greece.

The 3 billion drachma project is to be implemented on behalf of the Telecommunications Organisation of Greece (OTE) and the Yugoslav counterpart organisation.

Premier meets Gavras, Dalaras

Mr. Simitis met yesterday with Greek film director Costa Gavras and singer George Dalaras.

Mr. Gavras, who is here for the premiere of his new film 'Mad City', said he had met Mr. Simitis before he became prime minister "and I just visited him today to say hello".

He added that he told the prime minister that he felt the image of Greece abroad was changing for the better since Mr. Simitis became prime minister.

Iordanescu given green light to coach Greece's national team

The appointment of Romanian soccer coach Anghel Iordanescu to head the Greek national team was approved yesterday by the board of the National Soccer Federation (EPO).

Mr. Iordanescu has been recruited to help the team in its bid to qualify for the finals of the Euro 2000 championships.

He has signed a two-year contract at a salary of 300,000 dollars per year, with a bonus of 250,000 if the team reaches the finals.

EPO president Sotiris Alimisis said the federation reserved the

WEATHER

Fair weather is forecast for most parts of Greece today with local clouds, light rain and snow in the western mainland, Thessaly and Evia island, the Cyclades and Dodecanese islands. Gale force winds in the Aegean Sea. Partly cloudy in Athens with sunny spells and temperatures from 4-10. Thessaloniki will be overcast with temperatures between 3-6C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 283.940 Pound sterling 465.050 Cyprus pd 533.081 French franc 46.834 Swiss franc 194.630 German mark 156.984 Italian lira (100) 15.892 Yen (100) 228.289 Canadian dlr. 198.380 Australian dlr. 190.295 Irish Punt 394.022 Belgian franc 7.606 Finnish mark 51.788 Dutch guilder 139.262 Danish kr. 41.198 Swedish kr. 35.097 Norwegian kr. 37.696 Austrian sch. 22.312 Spanish peseta 1.853 Port. Escudo 1.534

(C.E.)


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