Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-12-04
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 04/12/1998 (ANA)
- Gov't says it will take action if customs strike continues
- Stocks slump on state telecom's plunge on Wall Street
- Gov't names winner of Dr 60 bln road, rail tender
- Spending on media advertising rises 11.78 pct Jan-Nov
- Athens bourse okays share capital rise for Bank of Piraeus
- Greece needs massive investment in tourism, minister says
- State controllers of casinos warn of 24-hour strike
- Greek fish farming unit in Emirates
- Gov't adamant over forced Nazi loan issue
- FM details Athens' relations with Balkan nations, Turkey
- SAE ratifies resolution for Turkey's compliance with int'l law
- Greece at int'l conference on detecting WWII-era stolen wealth
- FYROM calls for more Greek investments in former Yugoslav republic
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Gov't says it will take action if customs strike continues
The government yesterday warned it would take action if customs officers do
not call off an on-going strike, now in its fourth day, that has left
drivers in Greece without petrol and heating fuel and paralysed border
"If customs officers do not call off their strike, then the government will
be obliged to take measures," Labour and Welfare Minister Miltiades
Papaioannou said after a meeting yesterday morning with Prime Minister
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos told reporters late last
night that the government would take action today after a court decision on
the legality of the strike action, after a meeting of the special
government committee set up to handle crises.
In earlier statements to reporters, National Economy and Finance Minister
Yiannos Papantoniou indicated that a civil mobilisation of the strikers had
not been ruled out.
He called on the strikers to return to work and allow the economy to
operate again "otherwise, the government will take the decisions it has
He echoed the prime minister's statement on Wednesday that no pension fund
would be exempted from government plans for reform and rationalisation.
Customs officers began striking on Monday to protest plans to merge their
capital-rich auxiliary pension fund with other less well-off funds. The
customs officers' supplementary fund receives proceeds collected as a
percentage of duties paid on exports and imports. They unanimously decided
on Wednesday to continue their strike with different demands each day to
bypass a court ruling declaring the action illegal.
The labour ministry and unionists on Tuesday forged an initial deal,
according to which customs officers hired before Jan. 1, 1993, would have
received a supplementary pension to the tune of 40 per cent of their
regular pension benefits.
Deputy Finance Minister George Drys said the strike was costing the state 6-
8 billion drachmas a day in lost revenue.
In another side-effect of the strike, Albanian newspapers reported this
week that the south of the country, which receives its supplies exclusively
from Greece, was suffering. The price of most goods had risen due to
shortages stemming from the strike.
According to estimates by Albanian customs authorities, losses to the state
from the strike are estimated at around 140-150 million lek, or 300 million
drachmas, per day.
The Association of Industries of Northern Greece (SBBE) yesterday expressed
concern about the repercussions of the ongoing strike and called on the
state to take all the necessary measures to normalise the situation and
avert any further damage to the cou ntry's economic development.
"The damage resulting from the strike will be borne primarily by export-
oriented enterprises and those which import raw materials, but the national
economy as a whole will suffer," SBBE said in a statement.
SBBE in particular cited the major difficulties caused by fuel shortages as
well as the general problems for import/export companies and the movement
The association said the continuation of the strike would have "catastrophic"
consequences for perishable goods which remain blocked at the country's
borders and underlined the negative repercussions for the credibility of
Greek export firms which were in danger of having their orders cancelled.
Stocks slump on state telecom's plunge on Wall Street
Equities nosedived yesterday hit by the resignation of the listed state
telecom's managing director and the share's resulting sharp drop on Wall
Street the previous session.
George Chryssolouris on Wednesday announced his resignation from Hellenic
Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) citing personal reasons, and the
communications ministry later proposed the executive vice president of
London-based Inmarsat, George Symeoni dis, to replace him.
OTE's stock on Wall Street plunged around 8.0 percent on news of Mr.
Traders said sentiment was also affected by a new decline in major European
The general index ended 3.46 percent off at 2,413.45 points in heavy
turnover of 185.1 billion drachmas and volume of 24,712,000 shares.
Fifty five billion drachmas of total turnover represented trade in Hellenic
OTE ended 7.5 percent lower at 6,690 drachmas in heavy volume of 8,300,000
shares, slightly up on the day's low early in the session when it lost 8.0
percent. Sector indices suffered losses.
National Bank of Greece ended at 49,390 drachmas, Ergobank at 27,190, Alpha
Credit Bank at 26,040, Ionian Bank at 13,080, Delta Dairy at 3,450,
Intracom at 13,110, Titan Cement at 19,695, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,280 and
Minoan Lines at 6,510 drachmas.
Gov't names winner of Dr 60 bln road, rail tender
The public works ministry announced yesterday that a consortium comprising
listed engineering contractors Aktor, Meton, TEB and Aegek have won a
tender for a 60-billion drachma combined road and rail project.
The construction project to bypass Kakia Skala will greatly reduce
travelling time between Athens and Corinth, and completion is due in three
and a half years.
The project involves construction of an eight kilometre stretch of motorway,
four tunnels totalling 1.5 kilometres, and flyovers totalling 3.0
In addition, a 2.7 kilometre stretch of double-track railway is to be built,
accompanied by three tunnels and flyovers.
Spending on media advertising rises 11.78 pct Jan-Nov
Spending on media advertising nationwide rose by 11.78 percent in January-
November to 328 billion drachmas compared with the same period of last year,
Media Services SA said in a report released yesterday.
The monthly report showed that television again accounted for the lion's
share of spending, totalling 154 billion drachmas, or 47.06 percent of the
Spending on TV commercials posted an 8.20 percent increase from the same
period in 1997.
Ranking second was spending on advertisements in magazines at 97 billion
drachmas, or 29.70 percent of the market, showing a 19.41 percent rise
against the previous year.
Newspapers and radio stations followed with spending totalling 59 billion
drachmas and 16 billion drachmas respectively, or an 18.15 percent and 5.09
percent share of the market.
Spending on advertising in the month of October rose 8.49 percent to 45.4
billion drachmas from 41.9 billion drachmas in the same month last
The products that drew the biggest spending on advertising were Panafon,
the mobile phone operator, Cosmote Cosmocarta, One Way Technostores,
Bodyline health and beauty centres, and Hyundai cars.
Athens bourse okays share capital rise for Bank of Piraeus
Bank of Piraeus, which is to form a powerful banking group through a share
swap deal with Xiosbank, secured approval from the Athens Stock Exchange
yesterday to go ahead with a rights issue in order to boost its share
capital by around 100 billion drachmas.
Bank of Piraeus will use the proceeds of the share capital rise to help
fund investment plans including the acquisition of banks and creation of a
venture capital fund and bancassurance firm.
The funds will also aid expansion of the bank's branch network, buy more
Automated Teller Machines and provide capital backup for subsidiaries.
Greece needs massive investment in tourism, minister says
Greece needs investments in tourism over the next five years equal to the
amount of capital ploughed into the industry in the last 30 years in order
to meet global competition, Development Minister Vasso Papandreou said
Addressing a conference on domestic tourism held by the international
Economist magazine, Ms Papandreou also announced that in coming weeks the
internationally accepted system of stars to denote the standard of hotels
would be ready for use in Greece.
Deputy National Economy Minister Christos Pachtas told the same conference
that funds for domestic tourism from the European Union's Santer Package of
funds spanning 2000-2006 would focus on cultural tourism.
The move would bring to the fore the country's heritage ahead of the 2004
Olympic Games to be hosted by Athens, Mr. Pachtas said.
State controllers of casinos warn of 24-hour strike
State controllers engaged in monitoring casinos, both state-run and private,
will call a 24-hour warning strike for the first time tomorrow, protesting
a lack of any progress towards a solution to their institutional claims by
Speaking at a press conference at the offices of the National Tourism
Organisation (EOT) yesterday, officials' representatives said that they are
hoping for large participation in the strike and added that, according to
legislation, if a controller does not turn up at a casino it must not open
its doors to the public.
The development ministry, on its part, with a letter addressed to employees
by the Casinos Department, said the strike was unjustified. Replying to a
question from the press, the attending head of the Casinos Department,
Nikos Dandolos, said that an opinion by the Casino Committee (chaired by a
supreme court judge) on whether or not casinos can open without the
presence of a controller must come first.
According to figures presented during a controllers' press conference
yesterday, the turnover at all casinos in the country amounted to 347
billion drachmas (290 billion drachmas from table games and 57 billion
drachmas from electronic games) during the January-November period this
year. Mixed profits totalled 90 billion drachmas, of which 60 billion
drachmas were state budget revenues.
Greek fish farming unit in Emirates
The Nireus fish farming firm is undertaking a project in the United Arab
Emirates (UAE), with a joint company's share capital to US$80 million.
Nireus officials said the firm will expand the range of products it sells
in Europe and the Far East.
The company will produce fish and shrimps in the Persian Gulf region of
Oman for international markets.
The new company's turnover, after the completion of investments and the
full operation of units, will amount annually to $85 million.
Gov't adamant over forced Nazi loan issue
The government confirmed yesterday that Greece's demand that Bonn repay a
wartime loan seized during WWII by Nazi forces will be one of the issues
raised by Prime Minister Costas Simitis at a meeting with new German
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Dec. 7.
Mr. Simitis himself told foreign correspondents at a recent luncheon that
the issue of German reparations was still open for Athens.
"It is an issue that is brought up at all meetings between Greek and German
officials," he said, adding that his meeting with Mr. Schroeder would be no
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday said that in addition to the
issue of war reparations, Mr. Simitis' talks in Germany would focus on
bilateral issues, not necessarily within the framework of the European
Union, as well as Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus problem.
Germany has repeatedly rejected Athens' demand for the repayment of a loan
that Greece's central bank was forced to extend to German occupation forces
during World War II, maintaining that the issue of war reparations to
Greece closed by virtue of a 1960 agreement.
The Greek position, as set out in a recent foreign ministry announcement,
is quite different.
"It was a specific amount taken from the Greek economy at gunpoint and used
by the German state for its own purposes. According to every rule of law,
its ret urn is imperative," the announcement said.
FM details Athens' relations with Balkan nations, Turkey
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday spoke on Greece's bilateral
relations with all other Balkan countries and institutions of regional
Mr. Pangalos delivered his address, entitled "Southeastern Europe-The Greek
prospect", at the Norwegian Foreign Policy Institute.
The minister, referring to Albania, said there is very good cooperation
between the two countries in many sectors, noting that the problems of the
past have been totally overcome.
Mr. Pangalos added that relations with Bulgaria and Romania are good, while
cooperation on the political, economic and cultural levels is upgraded
He also said there is close cooperation between Greece and the Former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), and that the political relations
are continually improving.
He added that during the last elections in FYROM, political parties
competed amongst themselves over which one was in a better position to
further strengthen cooperation with Greece.
He added that he will visit Skopje within the "the next weeks".
Mr. Pangalos addressing Greek-Turkish relations reiterated that Turkey does
not recognise Greece's right to expand its territorial waters to 12
nautical miles, disputes Greece's 10-mile airspace and disputes that the
Aegean islands have a continental shelf, as recognised by the Law of the
He added that after the Imia incident, Turkey invented a new theory
according to which all islets and rock-islets not named in treaties do not
belong to Greece, rather they are of contested ownership.
Mr. Pangalos reiterated that we do not accept this approach and insist on
the judicial resolution of the problems noting that Turkey is the only
European country that does not recognise the mandatory jurisdiction of the
International Court of The Hague.
SAE ratifies resolution for Turkey's compliance with int'l law
A Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) yesterday ratified a unanimous
resolution demanding from the international community, "the US and EU
member-states, in particular" to pressure Turkey into compliance with
The resolution refers to the defence of Cyprus but not to the Russian-made
S-300 defence missile system that the Cypriot government has purchased to
boost its air defence and it stresses the "inalienable right of Cyprus to
boost its defence and preserve the national security and the independence
of the Cypriot state", simultaneously supporting Cyprus' proposal for
In its resolution the Council classified the Cypriot problem as "first
priority among the national issues and calls on Hellenes throughout the
world to actively mobilise at the countries of their residence, in order to
join forces and political word to decisively assist in ending the suffering
of the Cypriot people caused by the Turkish invasion and occupation of the
Greece at int'l conference on detecting WWII-era stolen wealth
The director of the foreign ministry's historical archives, Foteini
Konstantopoulou, referred to the activation of relevant Greek authorities
for an in-depth search of archives and historical documents in Greece,
while speaking at an international conference here on the detection of gold
and other forms of national wealth stolen by the Nazis during WWII, which
In his concluding statement at the conference, US Assistant Secretary of
State Stewart Eizenstat said: "I would like to take note of the fact that
Greece, one of the first countries in post-war Europe to restitute property
to Holocaust survivors and their heirs, has undertaken another crucial
aspect of uncovering history. The Greek government is funding the
publication of a collection of Greek foreign ministry documents, which shed
new light not only on the history of Thessaloniki, the largest Sephardic
community in Europe, but also on the creation of the state of Israel. I
would also like to take note of the contribution made by Belarus on
developing a book on Holocaust-era assets in their country. We appreciate
the spirit in which the Swiss government has made its proposal on 'Internet
racism' and anti-Semitism."
FYROM calls for more Greek investments in former Yugoslav republic
Overtures towards Greek businesses to investment in the Former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) were made by both the country's new Prime
Minister Ljupko Georgievski and the president of the Democratic Alternative
party Basil Topurkovski during discussions on prospects of bilateral
Discussions took place within the framework of a Greek products exhibition
taking place in Skopje.
Mr. Georgievski said that the new government is showing particular goodwill
towards Greek investors and in the next few months it will publicise
economic facilities (tax exemptions in companies' profits, etc) which will
contribute towards attracting foreign capital to the country.
Cloud and rain will prevail throughout Greece today. Winds strong to very
strong, turning into gale force in the Ionian Sea and Aegean Sea. Weather
cloudy with light rain and possibility of brief storms in Athens with
temperatures from 10-16C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures
Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 279.774
British pound 466.280 Japanese yen (100) 235.798
French franc 49.888 German mark 167.271
Italian lira (100) 16.895 Irish Punt 415.846
Belgian franc 8.110 Finnish mark 55.026
Dutch guilder 148.398 Danish kr. 43.995
Austrian sch. 23.780 Spanish peseta 1.966
Swedish kr. 34.660 Norwegian kr. 37.696
Swiss franc 204.987 Port. Escudo 1.632
Aus. dollar 174.751 Can. dollar 181.933
Cyprus pound 562.464