Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-02-11
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 11/02/1998 (ANA)
- Excavations reveal bust of Eupolis
- Greek president sends telegram to Shevardnadze
- Lower interest rates in second-half 1998 - Papantoniou
- Interbank rates continue gradual decline
- Olympic Airways has two-month deadline
- Gov't agrees on timetable for public utilities reform
- G. Papandreou hails US announcement on Olympic truce
- Foreign Exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Excavations reveal bust of Eupolis
Archaeological excavations in the grounds of the parliament building have
revealed an inscripted Herma column complete with a bust of Eupolis, the
Athenian comic poet whose satirical plays were greatly admired by the
The two-metre pillar, dating back to early Roman times, was enclosed in the
wall of a Roman building which collapsed following an earthquake.
The most common monument to the Olympian god Hermes, a Herma was a stone
pillar, usually with a carved bust on top, often placed at the side of
A similar pillar with a bust of the prominent stoic philosopher Chrysipposwas
was found in the same vicinity in April last year.
The Eupolis find is considered to be of particular importance, since it
provides the first image of the poet, a contemporary of Aristophanes, with
whom he seems to have collaborated but also attacked.
Although he is credited with at least 17 comedies, only fragments of
Eupolis' work survives.
Greek president sends telegram to Shevardnadze
President Kostis Stephanopoulos today sent a telegram to his Georgian
counterpart Eduard Shevardnadze expressing relief that he survived the
assassination attempt against him.
Commenting yesterday on the attempt against Shevardnadze's life, the
government said it was unacceptable for differences to be settled in such a
"Mr. Sheverdnadze is an international figure who ensures stability in his
country and plays a positive role in international developments,"
government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.
Approximately 15 assassins ambushed Shevardnadze's motorcade with anti-tank
grenades and automatic weapons in Tbilisi on Monday night. Two of the
president's bodyguards were killed in the attack while a further four
travelling in the motorcade are reported to be in serious condition.
One of the attackers was also reported killed.
Lower interest rates in second-half 1998 - Papantoniou
Commercial bank interest rates on loans will begin falling again in the
second half of 1998, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos
Papantoniou predicted today.
Papantoniou said presently high interest rates would continue to June due
to the prevailing uncertainly ahead of the official announcement in May of
which European Union countries will participate in the Euro, as well as the
aftershocks of the recent monetary turmoil.
He added that the government was not considering any change whatsoever to
its exchange policy and that a new bill regulating the practice of
compounding interest on overdue loans would be revealed on Tuesday.
Interbank rates continue gradual decline
Greek interbank interest rates remained on a steady, although slow,
declining trend with the help of the Bank of Greece intervention in the
The central bank's intervention rate dropped to 17.5 percent from 18
percent last week. The bank drained 200 billion drachmas in excess
liquidity from the market.
The drachma was slightly higher against the DMark at the day's fixing in
the domestic foreign exchange market. The Greek currency was stable against
the Ecu but fell slightly against the US dollar.
Olympic Airways has two-month deadline
Transport Minister Tassos Mantelis warned today that the future of Olympic
Airways (OA) would be in danger, if within the two-month period set by the
government, ways had not been found to revitalise the national carrier.
Mantelis made the statement when asked if the management of OA was ready to
enter into talks with the various trade union groups representing the
He said OA management was already formulating a framework for talks and the
workers would soon be invited to state their positions on the proposals to
be put to them.
When asked to comment on a Supreme Council for the Selection of Personnel
(ASEP) report alleging irregularities in hiring procedures at OA and the
recommendation by ASEP that the matter be referred to a public prosecutor,
Mantelis said he did not intend to cover anything up.
Gov't agrees on timetable for public utilities reform
National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday
that the government would take specific decisions on the revitalisation of
public enterprises and corporations (DEKOs) during February and March,
after receiving relevant business plans from their administrations.
Mr. Papantoniou was speaking after a meeting focusing on DEKOs' revitalisation,
chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis and attended by Transport Minister
Tassos Mantelis and Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou.
"We have agreed on the time schedule," Mr. Papantoniou said, adding that
"the revitalisation programme will be comprehensive, spherical and
consistent with what we have said in Parliament".
Declining to further elaborate on measures to be taken, Mr. Papantoniou
noted that government decisions would certainly be the subject of social
dialogue, while the government would also be holding talks with DEKO
administrations and employees.
According to sources, the prime minister stressed the need for substantial
dialogue with the unions and social organisations, and that the changes
should above all serve the citizen, who is the user of utilities' services
and is called upon to fork out the bill for them.
He called for speedy structural reforms, and asked the national economy
ministry to submit an accurate timeframe for the listing of profitable
utilities on the Athens Stock Exchange.
Setting out the basic points of the government's programme for utilities in
the next three years, Mr. Papantoniou said an increasing number of the
profitable ones would be listed, while efforts would be made to revitalise
the loss-making ones, such as Olympic Airways, the railways, urban
transport, the post office, the aircraft industry (EAB) and the heavy
vehicles concern (ELBO).
The revitalisation programme would include changes in the system of
granting state subsidies through introduction of the system of "closed
budget", which would establish efficiency and social contribution
indicators, stricter conditions for state guara ntees for loans and
reductions in staff through strict control of hiring.
It would also include certain restrictive provisions in their regulations,
and encouragement of "strategic cooperations" with other domestic and
foreign enterprises in sectors with international orientation, such as the
defence industry. Efforts would a lso be made to restrict utility rate
increases as a contribution to the anti-inflationary policy, while the
dividends policy of unlisted utilities would be revised and their mutual
debts would be offset.
G. Papandreou hails US announcement on Olympic truce
Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday described an
announcement by the US administration that it will respect an Olympic truce
during the Winter Games in Nagano as a positive step.
Commenting on the US commitment, Mr. Papandreou added: "I hope the period
of the Games will allow diplomatic activity to be stepped up, in accordance
with decisions by the United Nations, and aimed at achieving a peaceful
solution to the crisis in the ( Persian) Gulf."
"Such a development would prove that the Olympic truce is an effective tool
in averting violent clashes," he said.
Fair weather with rising temperatures is forecast for most parts of Greece.
Some cloud and possible rain in the western and southern regions. Winds
variable, moderate to strong, turning to gale force in the Aegean Sea.
Athens will be sunny with temperatures from 4-14C. Similar weather in
Thessaloniki with temperatures from 3-12C.
Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 284.258
Pound sterling 461.677 Cyprus pd 534.688
French franc 46.836 Swiss franc 194.531
German mark 156.999 Italian lira (100) 15.890
Yen (100) 230.164 Canadian dlr. 198.638
Australian dlr. 193.390 Irish Punt 393.328
Belgian franc 7.607 Finnish mark 51.804
Dutch guilder 139.277 Danish kr. 41.194
Swedish kr. 34.984 Norwegian kr. 37.682
Austrian sch. 22.320 Spanish peseta 1.853
Port. Escudo 1.533