Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-04-29
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 29/04/1998 (ANA)
- New Archbishop of Athens and All Greece elected
- Bank of Greece annual report in parliament for first time
- Greece dismisses latest Turkish provocation in the Aegean
- EU programmes in the Aegean
- Tsohatzopoulos meets Slovakian parliamentarian
- Bulgarian official says new formula needed for oil pipeline
- Skandalidis-Burns meeting
- Tzoganis winds up Yugoslav visit
- Simitis says gov't will guarantee effective social policy
- OTE share sale to institutional investors
- OA, pilots reach agreement on overtime, summer schedule
- Toll post officials to stage Mayday weekend strike
- Papantoniou rejects talk of new devaluation
- Greek stocks rebound to gain 6.31 pct
- Northern Greece uses EU funds for Internet tourism access
- Development ministry aims to improve competitiveness in 1998
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
New Archbishop of Athens and all Greece elected
Metropolitan Christodoulos of Dimitrias and Almyros (Volos region) was
yesterday elected Archbishop of Athens and All Greece in the third and
final round of voting by the Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greece's Holy
Christodoulos was elected by the country's 77 Metropolitans to succeed
Archbishop Serapheim, who died earlier this month.
In a speech after his election and amidst applause by a crowd that had
gathered outside the Athens Metropolitan Cathedral, the new Archbishop
reassured the clergy and laypeople that he felt strong enough to serve the
interests of the Church and its open ing towards the people, especially the
Christodoulos also said he will make efforts to acheive closer relations
with the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Christodoulos was born in Xanthi in 1939 and studied law and theology in
Athens. After serving for seven years as a secretary for the Holy Synod, he
was elected Metropolitan of Dimitrias in 1974.
He made a name for himself due to his work with young people and his
"openings" to the scientific world, workers, families and the poor.
The new Archbishop adopted and implemented a wide-ranging programme to
combat unemployment, drug abuse and the spread of AIDS. Christodoulos
speaks several languages, is a lecturer in canon law at Thessaloniki
University and has often appeared on television to discuss ecclesiastical
Bank of Greece annual report in Parliament for first time
Bank of Greece Governor Lucas Papademos yesterday submitted the Bank of
Greece's annual monetary policy report to Parliament and the Cabinet for
the first time, a move complying with its new autonomous status.
"This is an act of democratic control," said Mr. Papademos, after handing
the report to Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.
Submitting the report to Parliament marked the beginning, in practice, of
the central bank's autonomous status, in line with European Union
regulations, Mr. Kaklamanis said.
The governor says in his report that the effective control of inflation,
with a view to bringing it down to under 2 per cent by the end of 1999, and
the attainment of monetary stability were the basic aims of the central
bank's monetary policy.
The report urges the government to apply a restrictive monetary policy and
implement measures for structural reform. A substantial reduction in
inflation requires greater flexibility in the labour market, but also a
reserved pricing policy by firms and greater market competition, the report
Greece dismisses latest Turkish provocation in the Aegean
Greece yesterday dismissed the la-test Turkish provocation in the Aegean as
a continuation of Turkey's policy, aimed at trying to create an issue of
supposed "grey areas" in the Aegean.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas was commenting on Turkey's dispute of
Greek sovereignty of four Greek islands in the eastern Aegean.
About one month ago, Turkish authorities notified a Greek diplomat assigned
in Ankara that they questioned Greece's sovereignty of the islands Fournoi,
Agathonisi, Farmakonisi and Pserimos.
Turkey disputed Greece's sovereignty of the four islands during a meeting
on March 26 in Ankara between the Greek embassy diplomat and a Turkish
foreign ministry official. During the course of the meeting, called so
Athens could lodge a formal protest to Ankara about violations of Greek
airspace by Turkish aircraft, the Turkish official raised the issue of
Greek helicopters landing on five islands, which he referred to by using
The Greek diplomat asked him if he was implying whether the islands in
question were Turkish, only to receive the reply that they had Turkish
It turned out that four of the islands were in fact Greek, inhabited and
part of Greece by virtue of the Treaty of Lausanne (1923) and the Treaty of
EU programmes in the Aegean
The Aegean ministry yesterday announced a series of projects for Aegean
islands, including a programme of environmental tourism on 14 rocky islets
and partly funded by the European Union.
Infrustructure projects on Pserimos, Agathonisi and Farmakonisi, costing
1.6 billion drachmas, will be constructed by the ministry with majority
funding from the EU's Interreg II programme.
On her part, Aegean Minister Elisabeth Papazoi said Ankara was 15 years
late in lodging complaints about EU funding of works on these populated
During the past 15 years, she said, infrastructure projects had been
executed in the region with national and EU funding.
Tsohatzopoulos meets Slovakian parliamentarian
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos held talks with the president
of the Slovakian Parliament's defence committee, Imrieh Andrejeak, on the
prospect of Slovakia's accession to NATO and the European Union.
Other talks focused on developments in the Balkans and the situation in
Kosovo in particular.
In a statement, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos reiterated Athens support for the
prospect of Slovakia's accession to these organisations.
Another issue concerned the creation of regional security institutions,
particularly in regions where there is no NATO structure or other security
institutions that can constitute additional pressure in tackling flashpoints,
such as the Balkans.
Both Mr. Tsohatzopoulos and Mr. Andrejeak praised the very good level of
relations between Greece and Slovakia.
Bulgarian official says new formula needed for oil pipeline
Deputy Bulgarian Prime Minister Yevgeni Bakartziev said yesterday that his
country, Greece and Russia would have to seek a new formula for promoting
construction of the Burgas to Alexandroupolis oil pipeline. He made the
statement to Bulgarian national radio, in view of an upcoming new round of
negotiations in Athens early next month. He added that major questions
remained regarding the feasibility of this strategic plan, chiefly the
fact that following the privatisation of almost all large Russian
oil companies, Russia could not guarantee the minimum 15 million tonnes
of oil on an annual basis necessary to make the project economically
Ruling PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis met with US ambassador in Athens
Nicholas Burns yesterday afternoon on the occasion of the former's upcoming
visit to the United States, at the head of a PASOK and government
In a statement afterwards, Mr. Skandalidis said that Mr. Burns offered his
good services for better organising the delegation's contacts with US
Mr. Skandalidis said that the question of Turkey's dispute of Greek
sovereignty for certain islands was raised at the meeting.
He added that he was satisfied by the reply he received from Mr. Burns on
the positions set out.
Tzoganis winds up Yugoslav visit
Greece's Chief of General Staff General Athanasios Tzoganis yesterday wound
up a three-day official visit to Belgrade in which he met with Yugoslav
Defence Minister Pavle Bulatovic.
The Greek military chief yesterday also met with his Yugoslav counterpart,
General Momcilo Perisic and discussed the military and political situation
in the region, as well as the latest developments in Kosovo.
According to an official statement from the Yugoslav side, there was
agreement on many issues and both men also agreed that a political
resolution of problems was the best way to safeguard peace and security in
Views were also exchanged prospects for cooperation and developing ties
between the armed forces of both countries. Both men said that cooperation
to date between the armed forces had been "very good".
Simitis says gov't will guarantee effective social policy
The government aims to establish a thorough, modern and effective social
net of protection, which will not be dependent on the achievement of high
rates of economic growth, but will be a condition for better living
standards for all, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday.
Speaking at a Parliamentary debate on the government's social policy,
called for by the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos), Mr. Simitis said he
was against a shrinking of the welfare state, but also against a proliferation
of 'pork barrel' programmes.
"A central point of our effort for social justice is a fairer economic
policy," he said, stressing that the government was increasing social
welfare without greater economic cost. He pointed out that Greece devotes
21 per cent of GDP on social spending, and questioned the Synaspismos claim
that Greece is at the bottom of the list in the EU as regards social
The prime minister said the inflation rate was now at the lowest level of
the last 25 years, real incomes had risen by 3 per cent and pensions by 7.2
per cent during the 1994-97 period.
He acknowledged that unemployment had risen "marginally" by 0.6 per cent in
the last four years, but said the government planned to subsidise 50,000
jobs for young people aged 20-27 at a cost of 90 billion drachmas, with
supplementary training progra mmes for 20,000 jobless, costing 30 billion,
and subsidies for 12,000 positions for the long-term unemployed.
OTE share sale to institutional investors
Yesterday's procedure of selling 16 million shares of the Hellenic
Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) to institutional investors with the
block trading method met with difficulties, since the state decreased the
sale price to 8,400 drachmas,instead of 8,700 drachmas which it had
announced as the minimum price possible.
Fourteen million shares were ultimately sold at the above price and the
remaining two million will be provided to the state-run utility's
Conversely, the National Bank of Greece announced that the "flotation was
completed successfully by the Greek state...to Greek and foreign institutional
The bank also notes that the quantity of shares not sold was intentionally
held back for OTE employees, as part of the utility's long-term programme
of providing incentives.
OA, pilots reach agreement on overtime, summer schedule
Olympic Airways' management and the pilots' union yesterday reached
agreement on the issues of overtime work and on meeting the needs of the
national carrier's summer schedule.
It is now expected that the recent labour unrest will come to an end and
that flights will resume as normal.
According to reports confirmed by Transport Minister Tassos Mantelis, the
state-run airline is looking for 25 billion drachmas in order to meet its
payroll and fuel costs.
He added that with the revenue expected from the resumption of its normal
schedule, OA will be able to meet its operational liabilities.
Pilots, however, expressed a view that recently introduced legislation will
not help rehabilitate the loss-making company, which will now require
extensive hirings after a mass exodus of staff over the past few weeks.
Toll post officials to stage Mayday weekend strike
Toll-post workers will begin a strike tomorrow due to end on Sunday.
Motorists will not have to pay toll fees on roads throughout the country
during the long holiday weekend.
Papantoniou rejects talk of new devaluation
National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday
dismissed speculation of a new drachma devaluation circulating in financial
markets for several days.
Speaking at a press conference after a meeting of the Paris-based
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Mr. Papantoniou
dismissed the talk as purely speculative and lacking any concrete
He said there were two categories of speculation: the first that Greece was
negotiating to join the euro currency in 1999; and the second that the
drachma's parity in the European Rate Mechanism would be adjusted at a
weekend European Union summit.
Greek stocks rebound to gain 6.31 pct
Greek equities drastically changed course yesterday and ended higher after
shedding more than 12.0 percent in the last two sessions.
The Athens general index ended 6.31 percent higher at 2,445.80 points
reversing an early 4.0 percent fall, helped by a wave of massive buying
orders from foreign and domestic institutional investors late in the
Dealers said the market was extremely nervous following talk of a new
drachma devaluation linked to a weekend European Union summit to launch the
The government and the central bank have dismissed the rumours in a bid to
restore confidence to the market. Trading was heavy with turnover at 98.8
Sector indices scored gains. Banks rose 6.61 percent, Leasing was 4.85
percent up, Insurance soared 7.98 percent, Investment rose 5.91 percent,
Construction increased 3.67 percent, Industrials jumped 7.53 percent,
Miscellaneous rose 6.35 percent and Hol ding was 7.05 percent higher.
The parallel market index rose 4.24 percent, and the FTSE/ASE 20 blue chip
index ended 6.19 percent up at 1,472.74.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 198 to 49 with another 15 issues
Papastratos, Aluminium of Greece, Titan Cement, Ionian Bank, Ergobank,
Alpha Credit Bank, National Bank of Greece and Piraeus Bank scored the
biggest gains hitting the day's 8.0 percent limit up.
Sato, Intertyp, Agrinio Metalplastic and Remek suffered the heaviest
National Bank of Greece ended at 52,263 drachmas, Ergobank at 26,330, Alpha
Credit Bank at 28,566, Delta Dairy at 4,282, Titan Cement at 25,056,
Intracom at 18,900 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 8,
In the domestic money market, the drachma continued losing ground against
most foreign currencies.
The Greek currency ended 0.32 percent lower against the Ecu. It was down
against the DMark and the US dollar by 0.17 and 0.23 percent respectively.
Interbank rates edged higher following a reported 700 million DMark capital
outflow at the central bank's drachma fixing.
Northern Greece uses EU funds for Internet tourism access
The northern prefectures of Kavala, Drama and Xanthi will offer tourism
services on the Internet throught a joint European Union funded programme.
MAT-Macedonia and Thrace Tourist Promotion via Internet is a system to
promote the tourism sector by offering information and services to
The system envisages installation of a med server, and three workstations
in Thessaloniki, Kozani and Komotini.
Development ministry aims to improve competitiveness in 1998
The Development Ministry plans to focus in 1998 on improving competitiveness
in business after a rise in industrial production and exports in the last
two years combined with a steady improvement in quality.
Development Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday released a ministry report
on 1996-97 and outlined her plans for industry, commerce and tourism.
The ministry's priorities for 1998 are as follows:
Speedier privatisation through a flotation of up to 20 percent in
Hellenic Petroleum by June 15
Promotion of ministry investments in a chemicals unit and in renewable
Creation of a new legal framework to cover the operation of industries in
the Attica region.
Scattered showers and rain storms are forecast for most parts of Greece
today. Winds variable, moderate to strong. Athens will be rainy with
temperatures between 15-21C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with
temperatures from 14-19C.
Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 313.472
British pound 521.832 Japanese yen(100) 238.179
French franc 52.132 German mark 174.592
Italian lira (100) 17.692 Irish Punt 440.547
Belgian franc 8.470 Finnish mark 57.605
Dutch guilder 155.446 Danish kr. 45.799
Austrian sch. 24.840 Spanish peseta 2.059
Swedish kr. 40.513 Norwegian kr. 41.991
Swiss franc 210.378 Port. Escudo 1.706
Aus. dollar 201.837 Can. dollar 217.506
Cyprus pound 596.192