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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-12-04

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


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
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


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 traffic.

"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 Costas Simitis.

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 to."

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 of goods.

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. Chryssolouris' resignation.

Traders said sentiment was also affected by a new decline in major European markets.

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 Telecommunications Organisation.

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 kilometres.

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 market.

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 year.

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 yesterday.

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 the government.

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 different.

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 cooperation.

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 continually.

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 Sea.

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 international law.

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 demilitarisation.

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 island."

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 ended Wednesday.

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 economic cooperation.

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 between 8-11C.


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


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