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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-12-03

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, 03/12/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • PM attends session targetting reform of public administration
  • State telecom's CEO resigns, OTE stocks drop on Wall Street
  • Stocks resume climb, boosted by leasing
  • Mutual funds stand at 8.9 trillion drachmas in Nov.
  • More tonnage, 2 vessels less under Greek flag in Nov.
  • Drop in petrol prices
  • US special envoy cites SECI cooperation
  • Separate Pangalos contacts with Icelandic, Czech, Slovakian FMs
  • US says Athens interested in 4 Kidd-class destroyers
  • Cyprus progress justifies decisions to start EU accession talks
  • Bonn announces Simitis visit to Germany
  • Greece a favourite of Quebec tourists
  • Greece warns Turkey not to interfere in its domestic affairs
  • Custom officers' unanimously vote to continue strike
  • Woman poses as drug addict to shed light on daughter's death
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

PM attends session targetting reform of public administration

The government's attempts to streamline and reform public administration is proceeding "with slow but sure steps", Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday.

Visiting the interior ministry, Mr. Simitis said the government was undertaking a "radical reform" of the structure of state services whi-ch will be more responsive to the needs of the public.

Ministries, Mr. Simitis said, should not be "issuing certificates but drafting and implementing policy".

The new model of ministries will require new specialised staff and those hoping to enter the civil service will have to be versed in new technologies and at least one foreign language, he noted.

Mr. Simitis said the government was developing a supervisory mechanism that would at the outset monitor 10,000 major public works projects with hopes that this service will be extended to another 20,000 public projects under way, part of efforts to ensure greater transparency in public affairs.

The transfer of documents from services to the public will be available through e-mail and fax, and a related bill will be submitted to Parliament, probably next week, according to reports.

Mr. Simitis pointed to a recently introduced phone service for documents, saying it had provided the public with a way of getting the documentation it needed within 10 days and without having to wait in line.

He said the government would soon establish a "one stop shop" at which the public would have to deal with only one civil servant for a variety of administrative issues, such as applying for a pension or getting a driver's licence, rather than visiting a variety of services to collect papers.

State telecom's CEO resigns, OTE stocks drop on Wall Street

The managing director of Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), George Chryssolouris, resigned from his post yesterday, citing personal reasons.

Mr. Chryssolouris said that he was leaving the state telecom on completion of five major projects.

The projects were rapid digitalisation of OTE's network; an oversubscribed third flotation on the Athens and New York stock markets; the purchase of Romania's state telecom, which more than tripled OTE's market; and the rapid growth of Cosmote, OTE's mobile phone subsidiary, which, after seven months of operation, held 12.5 percent of the domestic market.

The transport and communications ministry later named George Symeonidis, 53, the executive vice president of London-based International Maritime Satellite Organisation (Inmarsat), as successor to Mr. Chryssolouris.

OTE's stock slumped on Wall Street yesterday with market players in the doldrums over the resignation of Mr. Chryssolouris, who was viewed as the architect of a successful strategy to list the Greek state telecom on New York's bourse.

The share price plunged 8.0 percent at the opening, but analysts believe that the stock will recover due to its robust longer-term outlook.

Stocks resume climb, boosted by leasing

Equities rebounded yesterday following two sessions of declines, helped by strong buying interest in Leasing shares.

The general index just held above the 2,500-point barrier, closing at 2, 500.04 points, up 1.21 percent. Trading was moderate to active with turnover at 58.3 billion drachmas. Volume was 13,762,000 shares.

Sector indices scored gains across the board.

Banks rose 1.14 percent, Leasing soared 6.76 percent, Insurance increased 0.79 percent, Investment ended 0.19 percent up, Construction rose 0.08 percent, Industrials ended 0.55 percent up, Miscellaneous jumped 3.19 percent and Holding rose 1.16 percent.

Macedonian Plastics, Aspis Invest, Pairis, Karelias, Ekter, Parnassos and Sarandopoulos suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 50,200 drachmas, Ergobank at 27,795, Alpha Credit Bank at 26,955, Ionian Bank at 13,100, Hellenic Telecommunications at 7,230, Delta Dairy at 3,570, Intracom at 14,015, Titan Cement at 20,270, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,340 and Minoan Lines at 6,750 drachmas.

Mutual funds stand at 8.9 trillion drachmas in Nov.

Mutual Funds' assets amounted to 8.9 trillion drachmas in November, showing an increase of 256 million drachmas compared to October, according to statistical data provided by the Union of Institutional Investors.

The number of mutual funds available in the Greek market amounted to 181 following the circulation of three new mutual funds (Interamerican Profit Interamerican Developing Countries and Nationale Nederlanden) and the merger of two Mutual Funds of Diethn iki AEDAK (Astir and Ethniki Asfalistiki) with the Delos mutual funds.

The increase in mutual funds' total assets observed in November is primarily due to an increase in the assets of the Availables Management Mutual Funds by 164 billion drachmas.

More tonnage, 2 vessels less under Greek flag in Nov.

The Greek-flagged merchant fleet increased by 74,081 DWT in November, although in number it decreased by two ships. In the month of November three ships of a total capacity of 123,303 DWT were entered in the national register with an average age of 12 years. Over the same period, five ships, of an average age of 20 years, were taken off the registry.

Drop in petrol prices

The retail sales prices of gasoline will decrease again as of today and for a week. The decrease in super gasoline and unleaded gasoline is 1.10 drachmas per litre, in diesel 1.80 drachmas per litre and in heating oil 1.50 drachmas per litre (for quantities exceeding 1,000 litres). In the Attica region and the Thessaloniki prefecture, super gasoline will cost 193.70 drachmas per litre, unleaded oil 177.20 drachmas per litre and heating oil 65.60 drachmas per litre.

US special envoy cites SECI cooperation

Southeastern European cooperation and development was the main topic of talks yesterday in Athens between a visiting US envoy and Greek officials.

Special US presidential envoy Richard Shifter outlined an initiative by Washington to help develop a free market in the region and for cooperation in the sectors of transport, communications, energy and the environment.

The US envoy said that 11 countries are taking part in the Southeast European Cooperation Initiative (SECI), including Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Greece, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Croatia, Moldava, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia and Turkey.

Four countries, the US, Austria, Switzerland and Italy, constitute a support group.

Politics play no part in SECI, Mr. Shifter told reporters.

A meeting of SECI's "Business Support Council" will be held in Skopje tomorrow, with members set to draft a report on the needs of businesses in southeast Europe.

Separate Pangalos contacts with Icelandic, Czech, Slovakian FMs

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos held private talks in Oslo yesterday with his counterparts from Iceland Haldor Asgrimsen; the Czech Republic Ian Kavan, and Slovakia Eduard Koukan on the sidelines of an OSCE's two-day ministerial session.

The meeting is to end today on the occasion of the assumption of the organisation's presidency by Norway.

According to diplomatic sources, the FMs of the Czech Republic and Slovakia reiterated their request to Mr. Pangalos for a speedy accession to European and Euro-Atlantic institutions. Mr. Kavan and Mr. Koukan also requested Greek support, in particular, for their accession negotiations with the European Union to proceed.

The Icelandic FM requested Greek support for the enlargement and further strengthening of cooperation programmes between his country and the EU.

US says Athens interested in 4 Kidd-class destroyers

The US Pentagon on Tuesday announced that Greece has requested the purchase of four "Kidd"-class destroyers, including ammunition and spare parts.

The announcement noted that the particular warships are equipped with US- made "Standard" anti-aircraft missiles, 32 "Harpoon" surface-to-surface missiles, 48 MK-46 torpedos, 62,000 20mm magazines, 4,800 5-inch shells and spare parts.

The total cost of the leasing-purchase package requested by Greece stands at US$742 million and includes the general maintenence of the vessels.

The announcement stated that Greece's application is accompanied by an assessment that such a bolstering of the Hellenic Navy, with four ships, will not tip the arms balance in the region, while it would promote US foreign and defence policies.

Cyprus progress justifies decisions to start EU accession talks

Progress achieved by Cyprus justifies the European Union's decisions to start accession talks with the island republic together with five east European countries, Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima said yesterday.

Addressing reporters after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Mr. Klima, whose country currently holds the six-month EU rotating presidency, said: "I am in a position to know that the EU report which will be submitted next week to member-states regarding the progress of the six- candidate countries, underlines the important steps of the Republic of Cyprus and justifies the decision to start accession talks".

Mr. Klima paid a brief visit to Athens within the framework of his European capitals tour before the EU Vienna summit this month.

Bonn announces Simitis visit to Germany

A German government spokesman officially announced yesterday that Prime Mi nister Costas Simitis will meet with new German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Bonn on Monday, part of Mr. Schroeder's meetings with EU leaders.

According to the spokesman, talks between Mr. Schroeder and Mr. Simitis will focus on the preparation, issues and the timetable of the German EU presidency as of Jan. 1.

Mr. Simitis will arrive in Germany tomorrow afternoon, staying in Frankfurt until Sunday where, according to press reports, he is expected to meet unofficially with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. The meeting with Mr. Fischer had initially been scheduled during a dinner on Saturday night but it might ultimately be held shortly after the PM's arrival tomorrow night.

However, according to German foreign ministry sources, Mr. Fischer will have a private meeting with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos in Oslo today on the sidelines of the session of Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe Foreign Ministers. The Greek minister will be in Bonn for the Simitis-Schroeder talks on Monday morning.

Mr. Simitis' programme includes, after his meeting with Mr. Schroeder, private talks with SPD President and German Finance Minister Oskar Lafontaine.

Greece a favourite of Quebec tourists

An announcement by the Association of Canadian Travel Agents (ACTA) in Quebec has rated Greece among the three top destinations abroad, as chosen by Quebec consumers.

The honour is particularly noteworthy as the other two top destinations are France and Italy, the ancestral homes of most residents of the Canadian province.

By contrast, Greek Canadians in the province number around 90,000.

Greece warns Turkey not to interfere in its domestic affairs

Athens yesterday accused Ankara of interfering in its domestic affairs, following statements by Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem on the issue of the S-300 missiles and the possibility of their being deployed in Crete.

"We do not allow any third party to interfere in our domestic affairs," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said, adding that the governments of Greece and Cyprus were handling the missile issue responsibly in accordance with their own needs.

Turkey has openly threatened to prevent their deployment.

Recent press reports claim that Athens and Nicosia were considering the possibility of installing the missiles on Crete, although Greek and Cypriot officials have underlined that the final decision rests with the Cyprus National Council.

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said in Paris on Monday that a proposal to deploy the missiles on Crete was not an irrational one, while stressing that no decision had been taken.

Custom officers' unanimously vote to continue strike

Customs officers' representatives unanimously decided last night to continue their strike despite a court ruling declaring the action illegal. Union officials broke-off talks with government representatives after day- long discussions yesterday.

Officers' representatives said later they had told the government they would continue rolling 24-hour strikes with different demands each day. The move was designed to bypass the court ruling.

All three major party-affiliated factions of the union supported the decision.

Customs officials are striking over government plans to reform and merge a number of pension and health funds, including their own. An Athens court ruled yesterday that the five days of rolling 24-hour strikes called by the customs union was illegal, ruling in favour of a finance ministry injunction.

Reports from Thessaloniki said that lines of trucks and cars waiting to cross Greece's northern borders were continually growing.

The Greek state loses 6-8 billion drachmas in revenues a day from a customs strike, according to finance ministry's estimates.

Finance Undersecretary George Drys said that state revenue losses could total 90-100 billion drachmas as a result of the strike.

He warned that export companies of perishable goods were particularly hit by the strike and that some of them could face collapse.

Woman poses as drug addict to shed light on daughter's death

A 44-year-old Thessaloniki woman went "undercover" as a prostitute and drug addict over the past 20 days to investigate the causes of her 20-year-old daughter's death last June.

A coroner had ruled that the woman had died from a drug overdose.

Eleni Fotiadou, an employee with the Social Security Foundation, said she frequented several hang-outs of drug addicts and prostitutes over the 20 days, collecting information she maintains proves her daughter died from injuries following a brutal beating, and after she had been gang-raped.

Speaking to reporters, the woman said she began the investigation because of indifference, as she noted, by police. She also criticised the coroner in charge of the case over his report on the causes of her daughter's death. The young woman's body was found on June 12 with a needle next to it.

Ms Fotiadou repeatedly said her daughter had not been involved with illicit drugs and that her suspicions were triggered by a series of markings on her daughter's body, saying "the bottom teeth were displaced; the nose was broken; she had a large bruise on her forehead and a lesion on the middle of her forehead; a bruise on the right eye and bruises on the legs".

A private investigator also assisted Ms Fotiadou, following her every move. He added that the girl's dress was torn and stained with semen in several places.

Ms Fotiadou's attorney said the woman's charges are documented on video- tapes filmed during her private undercover investigation, and that the tapes were submitted to the public prosecutor's office.

Finally, the local chief of police said the causes of the young woman's death were thoroughly investigated and that Ms. Fotiadou's suspicions were examined.

WEATHER

Cloud and rain will prevail throughout Greece today. Winds moderate to strong, turning gale force in the Ionian Sea and the northern Aegean Sea. Possibility of light rain in the north and east of Athens with temperatures between 10-16C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 8- 11C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 279.794 British pound 463.363 Japanese yen (100) 231.424 French franc 49.792 German mark 166.954 Italian lira (100) 16.862 Irish Punt 414.676 Belgian franc 8.093 Finnish mark 54.907 Dutch guilder 148.091 Danish kr. 43.910 Austrian sch. 23.729 Spanish peseta 1.963 Swedish kr. 34.601 Norwegian kr. 37.660 Swiss franc 203.866 Port. Escudo 1.627 Aus. dollar 178.486 Can. dollar 182.528 Cyprus pound 562.563

(C.E.)


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