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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-07-08

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 08/07/1998 (ANA)


  • Athens rejects Turkish demand for demilitarisation of the islands
  • First local gov't elections on October 11, after reforms
  • Austrian FM to present Vienna's EU priorities in Athens
  • Greek objections to military solution in Kosovo outlined in US
  • Street named for poet Seferis in Izmir district
  • Greek Parliament delegation in Algeria
  • Simitis meets Portuguese counterpart Guterres in Lisbon
  • Government repeats determination to privatise
  • Gov't to release urban transport overhaul plan
  • Greek equities jump 2.59 pct in bank-led buying spree
  • Greeks lowest paid in EU, Eurostat says
  • Two domestic engineering contractors merge
  • Maillis buy-out of Spain's Incoplastic
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Athens rejects Turkish demand for demilitarisation of the islands

Athens yesterday rejected as "unacceptable" a latest Turkish demand calling for demilitarisation of Greece's eastern Aegean islands, saying it "dynamites" bilateral relations.

The demand was contained in a demarche handed to Greece's ambassador in Ankara on Monday.

In Athens, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas dismissed the demand as "historically unacceptable and groundless", particularly in view of "the behaviour of Turkey's leadership, which once again dynamites the relationship between the two countries".

By adopting this practice, Mr. Reppas said, Turkey is not contributing to peace and stability in the region and is compromising itself. Noting that Ankara had not honoured past commitments, the government spokesman said Athens could not remain indiffere nt and had no choice but to organise its defence.

In later statements, a Greek foreign ministry spokesman said the Turkish demand was "apparently made for domestic consumption."

The spokesman said Ankara had often sought to create and maintain a climate of tension.

This policy, he added, constitutes a violation of agreements and commitments which Turkey has recently undertaken, not only towards Greece but also towards either countries and international organisations. He referred to the Madrid communique of July 1997 and the agreement for implementation of confidence-building measures (CBMs) in the Aegean. National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday from the US that Ankara's idea to lodge a verbal protest with Athens over the presence of military forces on eastern Aegean islands by invoking the Lausanne Treaty "was unfortunate."

Speaking in Washington, where he is on an official visit, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said it was "original" that a country, which "officially ignores its commitments emanating from international law and international treaties, is attempting to exploit the incre ased defence capacity on the Greek islands to shun its own responsibilitiesIwhich created this capacity."

"Turkey itself has repeatedly made it clear that it is questioning the status quo in the Aegean. Therefore, when a country questions the national sovereignty of its neighbour, according to what logic will it demand the principles of the UN safeguarding the right to self defence not to have effect," he said.

First local gov't elections on October 11, after reforms

Interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos yesterday released a circular for the Oct. 11 municipal elections, the first to be held after the merger of communities around Greece into larger regional municipality entities. The election will produce 900 mayors and 133 community presidents around the country, while an unprecedented number of candidates is expected to vie for the newly established municipalities.

The ministry has sent instructions for election procedures detailing the electoral procedure.

The ministry also announced that repeat elections for those municipalities, where none of the candidates has secured more that 50 per cent of the vote, will take place on Oct.18.

It should be noted that Greece's local government was divided into thousands of communities during the early part of this century by then premier Eleftherios Venizelos.

Austrian FM to present Vienna's EU priorities in Athens

Austrian Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schussel is to pay a short visit to Athens tomorrow to present the priorities of the Austrian EU presidency.

During his stay in the Greek capital, the Austrian FM will meet with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and main opposition ND leader Costas Karamanlis. Before leaving Athens for Vienna, he will also give a press conference.

The Austrian foreign minister's visit is part of a customary tour by the president of the EU Council of Ministers to member-states' capitals at the beginning of every rotating presidency.

The first priorities during Austria's term include the opening of accession talks with the six countries in the first group of candidates for the EU enlargement - Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia, Estonia and Cyprus.

Greek objections to military solution in Kosovo outlined in US

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday expressed strong opposition to a military solution for the Kosovo crisis, underlining that the impasse should only be resolved through political and diplomatic initiatives.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos was speaking on the issues of Cyprus and Kosovo during an interview given to CNN in Washington, one of the stops on his ongoing official visit to the United States.

On the question of deployment of the Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missiles in Cyprus, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that if the two communities on the island republic discuss between them their common future a solution can be found.

Invoking statements by the US ambassador-designate to the UN, Richard Holbrooke, several weeks ago, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos reminded that Turkey and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash "are not ready to discuss the common prospect of Cyprus, they do not accept the initiatives of the UN and Mr. Holbrooke, which means that the Turkish side does not want anything to change in the situation which it created by sending its occupation forces to the island 25 years ago."

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos was asked how Greece can see an exit from the Kosovo crisis, to which he replied:

"The only way to resolving the crisis is through political and diplomatic initiatives. The international community has good experience from resolving the Bosnian issue and we must realise that the problem of Kosovo is different. A military solution is not indicated here. The international community must pressure both sides, both (Yugoslav) President Milosevic and the 'Kosovo Liberation Army' to accept the sole political solution, which is extensive autonomy for the region without a change in borders. This is the principle which we must follow in the Balkans," he said.

Street named for poet Seferis in Izmir district

A street in the seaside district of Vourla, near Izmir,was named yesterday after Greek Nobel laureate George Seferis, a move honouring the poet and diplomat who was born and spent his childhood here.

Vourla Mayor Mustafa Kapkip, who unveiled a plaque in a special ceremony, noted that the initiative not only honoured the memory of Seferis, but took place within the spirit of understanding and mutual respect for the two neighbouring peoples.

A delegation from Greece also attended the ceremony, including Seferis' niece, Despoina Mylona.

Greek Consul in Izmir Andreas Fryganas said the naming of a street after Seferis "showed that cultural values can be higher than political confrontations, especially in the current period of tension..."

Greek Parliament delegation in Algeria

A six-member delegation of Parliament's foreign affairs and defence committee arrived in Algeria yesterday at the invitation of the North African country's popular national assembly president, Algerian ambassador in Athens Kamel Houhou announced yesterday .

The visit is conducted within the framework of inter-Parliamentary exchanges and the strengthening of Greek-Algerian relations.

The delegation headed by deputy Elias Papadopoulos will meet with several Algerian officials.

Simitis meets Portuguese counterpart Guterres in Lisbon

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday met with his Portuguese counterpart Antonio Guterres and discussed issues of common interest as well as the Kosovo crisis.

Mr. Simitis stated afterwards that "we discussed bilateral issues and EU matters, 'Agenda 2000' and institutional issues."

"We have the same opinions and common goals. We both wish for European cohesion, an agricultural policy which will help Mediterranean countries," he added.

Mr. Simitis said that regarding Cyprus and Greek-Turkish relations, both he and Mr. Guterres believe that international law should prevail.

Referring to Kosovo, Mr. Simitis said that efforts should aim at avoiding war and that any intervention in the Yugoslav province should be decided by the UN Security Council in advance.

Mr. Guterres said "Portugal is very positive toward enlargement. We believe that enlargement is a necessary element of the European structure. We agreed totally on the decisions which have been arrived at for the initiation of accession talks with the six candidate-countries, including Cyprus."

Government repeats determination to privatise

Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis yesterday repeated the government's determination to keep to its plan to partly or wholly privatise state enterprises and banks, and restructure the economy.

"We cannot attain satisfactory levels of competitiveness if we fail to release the economy's strengths, which are hostage to outmoded practices and attitudes," Mr. Christodoulakis told an assembly of the Hellenic-German Chamber of Trade and Industry.

"Intervention by the government always aims to accelerate privatisation, revitalise loss-making public enterprises, reform social insurance and ensure flexibility in the labour market," he said.

The government was working to reduce the state's presence in sectors where it was not needed, and in sectors that had no strategic significance for the country.

He also called on Greek enterprises to take mergers and acquisitions seriously in order to survive in growingly competitive international markets. Smaller firms were at a disadvantage, he said.

Gov't to release urban transport overhaul plan

The government will announce by the end of the month a restructuring plan for Athens urban transport, including a debt write-off scheme, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday. Mr. Papantoniou said the plan had three parts.

"The first part concerns finances in terms of the state, subsidies and debt. Existing debts (of the Athens Urban Transport Organisation) are to be written off as part of the revitalisation plan".

The second part covers a restructuring and improvement in services, and the third industrial relations, Mr. Papantoniou said.

Talks are under way between employers and unions to discuss industrial relations in connection with the bill. Yesterday's meeting was attended by Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis, Labour and Social Security Minister Miltiades Papaioannou, and management representatives.

Greek equities jump 2.59 pct in bank-led buying spree

Banks again led the Athens Stock Exchange higher yesterday reflecting the market's optimism over privatisation and mergers and acquisitions in the banking sector.

The general index ended 2.59 percent higher at 2,597.31 points with turnover at 74.8 billion drachmas. Sector indices scored gains. Banks soared 4.66 percent, Insurance rose 1.51 percent, Investment ended 0.82 percent higher, Leasing rocketed 8.0 perc ent, Industrials jumped 2.33 percent, Construction was 2.18 percent up, Miscellaneous ended 2.11 percent higher but Holding bucked the trend to end 1.23 percent off.

The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 0.78 percent.

National Bank of Greece ended at 46,480 drachmas, Ergobank at 30,300, Alpha Credit Bank at 27,590, Ionian Bank at 16,790, Delta Dairy at 3,920, Titan Cement at 22,310, Intracom at 12,790, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,885 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 8,610 drachmas.

Greeks lowest paid in EU, Eurostat says

The average wage earner in Greece earns about half as much as a highly paid employee, who, in turn, earns 2.6 times more than an industrial worker, Eurostat said in an annual report on wage inequalities released yesterday.

The European Union's statistics agency said that wage inequalities in Greece reflected the EU's average although the country remained at the bottom of the league in wages expressed in constant Ecu prices.

A low-paid worker in Greece earns 772 Ecus a month (in 1995 prices), an average-paid worker 996 Ecus, and a highly paid worker 2,603 Ecus. Spain ranked second from the bottom.

Luxembourg recorded the highest wages in the EU, followed by Denmark and Germany.

The biggest wage discrepancies were reported in Italy and Luxembourg. Higher paid workers (executives and specialised staff) in the two countries earned almost four times more than their lower paid compatriots, and almost three times more than average wage earners.

Wage inequalities were also major in France and Spain. The Netherlands and Sweden recorded the lowest discrepancies.

Two domestic engineering contractors merge

Domestic engineering contractors, Evklidis and Etane, announced yesterday that they would merge with the benefits of the move showing in 1999 results.

The new company, Etane-Evklidis SA, is expected to show a 1998 turnover of 10 billion drachmas, net pre-tax profits of 1.5 billion drachmas, and unfinished orders of around 20 billion drachmas.

The new company plans to leave the Athens Stock Exchange's parallel market for smaller cap stocks in 1999 and join the bourse's main market. It also wants to modernise and expand domestically and abroad.

The two firms are already operating in Albania and Romania.

Maillis buy-out of Spain's Incoplastic

The Maillis company has bought off the Spain-based Incoplastic firm, the largest producer of plastic tape in Spain, with a plant in Barcelona and exports of 30 per cent of its production.

Through Maillis' purchase of 86 per cent of Incoplastic, the Greece-based company achieves entry into the Iberian peninsula market.

Maillis recently increased its share capital by 13 billion drachmas to fund investments at its production units in Oinofyta, Attica and Alexandroupoli as well as for possible buy-outs.

Its rate of increase in annual sales is expected to amount to 17.5 billion drachmas by 2000, when sales are expected in the region of 50 billion drachmas. Unified sales totalling 22 billion drachmas and profits of 3.6 billion drachmas are expected in 1998.


Fine weather is forecast in most of Greece today. Western, central and northern Greece are expected to be overcast while rain or storms are forecast in the afternoon for the northern Ionian Sea, Epirus and Macedonia. Winds westerly, southwesterly, light to moderate. Fine weather in Athens with temperatures between 21-36C. Possibility of rain in the afternoon in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 19-33C.


Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 300.665 British pound 491.576 Japanese yen (100) 216.196 French franc 49.501 German mark 165.862 Italian lira (100) 16.837 Irish Punt 417.632 Belgian franc 8.045 Finnish mark 54.560 Dutch guilder 147.173 Danish kr. 43.539 Austrian sch. 23.583 Spanish peseta 1.955 Swedish kr. 37.236 Norwegian kr. 39.087 Swiss franc 197.577 Port. Escudo 1.622 Aus. dollar 185.454 Can. dollar 204.253 Cyprus pound 565.440


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