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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-12-02

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, 02/12/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Athens, Nicosia convey disappointment to US over Cyprus issue
  • Stocks slump in gloom over privatisation glitch
  • Gov't to create home purchase plan through social insurance
  • Teletypos to raise its share capital
  • Policy announced for small, medium-sized firms
  • Official unemployment hits record high in August
  • Helexpo to head EU exhibitions' presidency
  • Tourism management programme conference
  • Gov't says deal struck with striking customs officers
  • China's public security minister in Athens
  • Greece rejects latest Turkish threats
  • Pangalos in Norway for OSCE meeting
  • Better rate of EU funds' absorption by Greece
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Athens, Nicosia convey disappointment to US over Cyprus issue

Greece and Cyprus yesterday expressed their disappointment to the US administration over a lack of progress towards settlement of the 25-year- old Cyprus problem.

The disappointment was conveyed by Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis to US Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Mark Grossman and US coordinator for Cyprus Tom Miller at a State Department meeting Monday, and on the sidelines of a US-led international donors' conference to support the Middle East peace process.

Mr. Kranidiotis said it was illogical that Nicosia be asked not to deploy Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missiles on its territory when the tension on the island republic -- the northern part of which is occupied by Turkish troops -- was caused by Turkey's "excessive military presence".

He called on the US to exercise its influence on Ankara and undertake an initiative, preferably at the UN level, aimed at limiting the armaments of the Turkish military force in Cyprus.

Sources quoted Mr. Kranidiotis as saying that US officials found the Greek arguments convincing and displayed understanding with Athens' and Nicosia's displeasure, blaming the Turkish side for the present impasse.

US officials also reiterated, however, their disagreement with the deployment of the missiles on Cyprus, stressing the need for reduction of the tension through limitation of armaments.

They also told Mr. Kranidiotis that they had encouraged the EU members not to pose a Cyprus solution as a condition for the island republic's accession, the sources said.

Mr. Kranidiotis, who represented Greece at the 40-nation donors' conference, told the meeting that Greece had already provided 30 million dollars since 1992 in financial support to the Palestinians, ranging from direct funding and technical assistance to medical aid and university scholarships.

Stocks slump in gloom over privatisation glitch

Equities changed direction to end lower on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday.

Traders said sentiment was hit by negative developments in the sale of Hellenic Duty Free Shops and a decline in major European markets.

The general index ended 1.66 percent off at 2,470.09 points in heavy turnover of 69.4 billion drachmas. Volume was 12,562,000 shares.

Sector indices suffered losses.

Banks fell 1.21 percent, Leasing plunged 2.88 percent, Insurance dropped 1.60 percent, Investment ended 2.71 percent off, Construction lost 3.39 percent, Industrials fell 1.99 percent, Miscellaneous dropped 2.11 percent and Holding eased 2.41 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.46 percent off. The FTSE/ASE 20 index fell 1.28 percent to 1,539.94.

The FTSE/ASE 20 blue chip index yesterday announced changes in its composition.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 214 to 39 with another 15 issues unchanged.

National Bank of Greece ended at 49,945 drachmas, Ergobank at 27,115, Alpha Credit Bank at 26,395, Ionian Bank at 13,040, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 7,000, Delta Dairy at 3,565, Intracom at 14,220, Titan Cement at 20,250, Hellenic Petro leum at 2,350 and Minoan Lines at 6,800 drachmas.

Gov't to create home purchase plan through social insurance

The government plans to launch a state housing leasing programme next year in an effort to help contributors to the Social Security Foundation, the state's main social insurance fund, to purchase their own homes.

Employment and Social Security Minister Miltiades Papaioannou yesterday told a parliamentary committee, which was debating the government's proposals to reform the social security system, that legislation will be submitted in March allowing the right to lease homes from a state housing agency on a monthly basis and without down-payment.

Required would be an extra payment to the state housing agency, beyond normal health and pension contributions.

Ownership of the houses will come after a certain set payment time, or on early payment.

Teletypos to raise its share capital

Listed Teletypos, the owner of Mega Channel, one of the country's two most popular TV stations, yesterday announced a share capital increase scheme worth 375 million drachmas.

The rights issue, approved by the extraordinary shareholders' meeting, offers existing investors one free new share for every 10 old ones.

Teletypos' main shareholders include General Publishing (Vardinoyiannis Group) with a 14.7 percent stake, Lambrakis Press Organisation with a 12.8 percent stake, Pegasos (Yiannis Bobolas) with a 12 percent stake and Christos Tegopoulos with a 9.8 percen t stake.

The company's turnover in the first 10 months of the year totalled 21.5 billion drachmas, a 13.8 percent increase from last year, while profits totalled 2.1 billion drachmas.

Teletypos' chairman, Elias Tsigas, was optimistic that this year's target for pre-tax profits of three billion drachmas could be achieved.

He said the company's main source of revenue was advertisement (98 percent).

Mr. Tsigas added that Mega Channel accounted for 32 percent of Greece's television market, followed by Antenna with 30 percent.

Teletypos holds a 42 percent stake in Multichoice, a cable TV operator.

Mr. Tsigas urged competitor Antenna TV station, and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation, to take part in an effort to set up Greece's first digital TV channel.

Policy announced for small, medium-sized firms

The National Organisation of Small and Medium-sized Manufacturing Enterprises (EOMMEX) is promoting a new generation of small and medium- sized enterprises throughout the country by means of fully integrated programmes and support.

EOMMEX's presidency presented the organisation's policy yesterday at a news conference ahead of a congress on new enterprises to be held December 4-6 in Piraeus.

The organisation's chairman, George Frantzeskakis, said that EOMMEX had offered consultancy services to more than 5,000 potential new businessmen.

He said that almost 3,000 businesses had asked for assistance in the form of subsidies totalling 70 billion drachmas, and that 872 investment projects, worth 16 billion drachmas, had been approved.

Another 1,000 applications, worth 25 billion drachmas, were awaiting evaluation, Mr. Frantzeskakis said.

From the total of 3,000 applications, 28 percent accounted for the food and beverage sector, seven percent for clothing, 11 percent for forestry, six percent for machinery and equipment, four percent for metal products, three percent for audiovisual equipment and two percent for software production.

Mr. Frantzeskakis said that these businesses had created 3,500 jobs around the country.

Official unemployment hits record high in August

Registered unemployment in August 1998 hit a record high of 10.38 per cent, according to official data unveiled yesterday by the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED).

However, unemployment slightly dropped down to 10.3 per cent in September and 9.9 per cent in October.

OAED figures show that unemployment has increased compared to 1997. Specifically, in 1998, in a 2.63-million work force there were 290,300 unemployed in October P 9.9 per cent. In 1997, in a force of 2.71-million work force there were 220,000 unemploye d P 7.5 per cent. The year closed with 213,000 people out of work and a jobless rate of 7.85 per cent.

It is worth noting that the above data concern only those registered with the OAED, while, on the contrary, according to National Bureau of Statistics data for 1997, the work force numbered 4.29 million people with 440,350 unemployed, translating to a rate of 10.3 per cent.

Despite an increase in the numbers of registered unemployed with OAED, the number of those receiving unemployment benefits has virtually remained the same: 96,621 in October 1997 and 96,079 currently.

Helexpo to head EU exhibitions' presidency

The Helexpo-Thessaloniki International Fair has assumed the presidency of the European Union of International Tourism Exhibitions in which exhibition bodies from 12 countries are participating.

It is the first time that Helexpo assumes the presidency of an international organisation.

It was decided at the assembly of Union members that the next annual assembly will be held in Halkidiki on June 25-26.

A presidential dinner will be held every year in the country of origin of the Union's president. In the framework of this initiative, the exhibition body which will preside will organise a dinner to which 8-10 important representatives of the tourism in dustry of interest to the body will be invited.

Government members and European Union officials will be invited to the presidential table, while the first presidential dinner will be held in Greece in September.

Tourism management programme conference

The Athens Laboratory of Business Administration (ALBA) in cooperation with the Federation of Greek Business Enterprises and the Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT) is organising the sixth annual Tourism Management Programme.

ALBA invited proffesors from upstate New York-based Cornell University to staff the programme, which focuses on the needs of higher and middle managers of tourist businesses.

Interested persons may call 01-89.64.531 for more information.

Gov't says deal struck with striking customs officers

The government late yesterday evening announced an agreement with striking customs officers, whose mobilisations have led to widespread fuel shortages and long lines of vehicles at Greek border posts.

Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou said three-hour meetings led to the agreement, which is expected to be ratified today.

According to the initial agreement, customs officers with 15 years of service will receive a supplementary pension to the tune of 40 per cent of their regular pension benefits, including all employees hired before Jan. 1, 1993.

Handwritten makeshift signs of "No more gas" appeared in most gasoline stations in major Greek cities overnight as fuel shortages became widespread as customs officers continued rolling strikes for the second consecutive day yesterday.

China's public security minister in Athens

The People's Republic of China's public security minister, Tian Qiyu, held talks in Athens yesterday with his Greek counterpart Philippos Petsalnikos focusing on bilateral cooperation.

Greece's public order ministry signed a cooperation agreement with China's public security ministry on Feb. 15, 1995 in Beijing.

The accord provides for an exchange of information in combatting international terrorism, organised crime, drug trafficking, illicit weapons trading, financial and other serious crimes.

Greece ratified the accord the following year and it officially came into effect on July 28, 1996. After his talks with Mr. Petsalnikos, Tian Qiyu visited the police academy.

Greece rejects latest Turkish threats

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday warned Turkey that as of next year the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) will be protected by an umbrella of short-and long-range anti-aircraft missiles covering the entire Aegean.

He made the statement in response to a statement by Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem yesterday, with which he opposed the idea of the Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missile system being deployed on Crete as an alternative solution to Cyprus.

Following a Cyprus-Greece summit last Friday on the Cyprus problem and various scenarios regarding the location for the missiles deployment, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said from Paris on Monday that a proposal to deploy the missiles on the island of Crete was not an "irrational proposal" but no decision had been taken.

Responding to Mr. Cem, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said: "When neighbours find themselves in an internal crisis they make statements and moves aiming at sensationalism in order to cover up their internal problems.

"I consider Mr. Cem's statement to be one of those moves and I would advise him, as well as Turkish leadership, to realise that starting next year the entire Athens FIR will be fully covered by an umbrella of short and long- range anti-aircraft missiles... half the distance to Cyprus," he added.

Pangalos in Norway for OSCE meeting

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos arrived in Oslo from Denmark yesterday for a two-day official visit, where he will take part in an Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) meeting

The meeting is set for today and tomorrow.

Earlier yesterday, Mr. Pangalos had a private meeting with his Danish counterpart Nielskelreg Petersen with discussion focusing on bilateral as well as European matters.

At a joint press conference in Copenhagen, Mr. Pangalos described Greece- Denmark bilateral relations as excellent. He added that only one problem existed in the two countries' ties, namely, the issue over feta cheese, saying Athens has referred Denmark to the Eurocourt over the matter.

According to diplomatic sources, the court's verdict is expected within the next few weeks.

Better rate of EU funds' absorption by Greece

Greece is apparently "winning the battle" of absorbing European Union funds, although the "front" concerning better management and control of funds being absorbed remains open.

This was stressed by the Greek commissioner at the European Auditing Convention, Popi Nikolaou, a former Eurodeputy of PASOK, who presented the main points of the EU body's annual report for 1997 at a press conference at the European Parliament's office s in Athens yesterday, placing particular emphasis on Greece.

Ms Nikolaou said that Greece has passed the obstacle of the EU average and has won the battle of absorption in the first half of 1998. She said that it must now give the major battle of quality in the management and control of subsidies.

She added that considerable steps have been taken in this direction, particularly over the past two years.

Ms. Nikolaou said that the frequency of typical errors, namely those concerning procedural violations, was very high in the case of Greece, where 60 per cent of payments checked contained a typical error.

A typical error in Greece is the lack of an olive oil register. Two years ago, the European Commission proposed the replacement of the traditional register with a simplified register. Italy, Spain and Portugal will apply it as of January 1, 1999, while Greece, in the auditors' view, will not be in a position to apply it even in the next five years.

WEATHER

Cloud and rain will prevail throughout Greece today. Snow in the mountainous regions of western Macedonia and Epirus. Winds variable, moderate to strong. Possibility of light rain in the north and east of Athens with temperatures between 11-16C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 9-12C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 281.609 British pound 464.554 Japanese yen (100) 229.688 French franc 49.806 German mark 167.038 Italian lira (100) 16.871 Irish Punt 414.656 Belgian franc 8.098 Finnish mark 54.935 Dutch guilder 148.175 Danish kr. 43.930 Austrian sch. 23.748 Spanish peseta 1.963 Swedish kr. 34.690 Norwegian kr. 37.763 Swiss franc 203.801 Port. Escudo 1.629 Aus. dollar 177.419 Can. dollar 184.909 Cyprus pound 562.464

(C.E.)


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