Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-12-22
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 22/12/1998 (ANA)
- 1999 state budget approved,no surprises in voting
- Deutsche Bank buys 10 per cent of Eurobank
- Mark-to-market system adopted
- EIB loan for Greek infrastructure projects
- 20 Greek firms among Europe's most dynamic
- Athens hospital physicians' work-stoppages over payments
- Civil aviation employees suspend strikes
- Gov't stresses interim agreement with FYROM
- Gov't proceeds with education reforms, students prepare road blocks
- Baseball the topic of Burns-Fouras meeting
- Number of Greek patients seeking foreign medical care dropping
- Larko workers decide mobilisations to protest lay-offs
- Increased municipal budget for Athens
- EOA: Renovation of stadium through private investors
- Special telecoms for impaired hearing
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
1999 state budget approved,no surprises in voting
Parliament voted on the 1999 state budget early this morning, with the
Greek government calling the budget a springboard for Economic and Monetary
Union accession by Greece in 2001.
Specifically, 161 deputies voted in favour, 135 against, one MP was present,
while there were three abstentions.
In addition, the eight Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) deputies voted in
favour of defence expenditures.
Concluding a five-day debate, Prime Minister Costas Simitis expressed his
conviction that the government will win the next general elections in 2000,
thanks to its efforts for modernising the country and EMU accession, as he
Referring to the "prosperity of figures" characterising the Greek economy,
as he called them, Mr. Simitis criticised the main opposition New Democracy
party of exposing itself by disputing macro-economic factors and also of
speaking of "accounting tricks" at a time when figures are checked and
ratified by the European Commission.
He criticised ND leader Costas Karamanlis in general to the effect that "he
is distorting reality continuously and conscientiously" and that "he is
cultivating false impressions...levelling everything in the name of
"We are joining Europe with our worth. Nobody is giving accession to us,"
he said, rejecting criticism from the opposition that the country will
indeed join EMU, but this will take place following a harmful political
Deutsche Bank buys 10 per cent of Eurobank
Deutsche Bank, one of the world's largest financial institutions, and EFG
Eurobank, part of the EFG Bank group, announced yesterday the commencement
of their cooperation.
Deutsche Bank enters the Greek market by establishing a strategic
partnership with the EFG Eurobank group in Greece. EFG is the second
largest private sector banking group, with total assets of DM 10 billion
(1.7 trillion drachmas).
As part of the deal, Deutsche Bank purchased a 10 percent stake in EFG
Eurobank from the majority shareholder Consolidated Eurofinance Holdings SA
Luxembourg, which now retails an 81 percent stake in Eurobank.
The alliance is a further step in the German bank's European expansion.
After selective major acquisitions in Italy, Spain and recently in Belgium,
the deal highlights Deutsche Bank's commitment to further improving its
position in Europe.
Bernd A. von Maltzan, member of the divisional board of retail and private
banking of Deutsche Bank said that cooperation with Eurobank was an
important step in the bank's European strategy, which aims to be the leader
in the distribution of financial s ervices and gathering assets in
"The Greek market has developed significantly in recent years. In addition,
the microeconomic and political environment has improved considerably.
Today Greece is in a position to become an EMU member in the foreseeable
future," Mr. von Maltzan said.
The partnership is the first of this nature to enter into the Greek banking
sector and is a consequence of the rapid convergence of the Greek economy
with that of its European partners.
EFG Eurobank has 3,500 employees serving more than 600,000 customers. The
bank expects pre-tax profits of 115 mln DM this year (19.5 billion
drachmas) from 50 mln DMarks in 1997.
Eurobank acquired the majority of Bank of Athens with 23 branches and
Cretabank with 89 branches to a total of 170 branches. Owners will be
Latsis family interests (81 percent), Deutsche Bank (10 percent) and
private investors (9 percent). Deutsche Bank is headquartered in Frankfurt.
Total assets exceed 1.1 trillion DMarks. The Group has 2,300 offices in
more than 50 countries and employs 75,900 people.
Mark-to-market system adopted
Greece's Capital Markets Committee yesterday announced a plan to adopt a
mark-to-market system in evaluating floating-rate bonds included in mutual
The change will be gradually implemented from February to June 1999,
Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis said Monday, following a
meeting with Capital Markets Committee chairman Stavros Thomadakis and Bank
of Greece board member Panagiotis Thomopoulos.
The new system aims to improve transparency in Greece's mutual funds market
and to strengthen the operation of a state bond secondary market in the
EIB loan for Greek infrastructure projects
The European Investment Bank (EIB) yesterday announced a 232 million Ecu
loan (78.4 billion drachmas) to Greece to finance infrastructure projects,
environmental works and protecting the country's cultural heritage.
The sum of 8.3 million Ecu will be used to finance infrastructure works in
Heraklion Crete, and restoration of Mount Athos monasteries.
A sum of 200 million Ecus will be given in long-term loans to finance small
infrastructure projects in Greece, included in a Second Community Support
They include roads, ports, airports, water and drainage networks, and
EIB has earmarked 510 million Ecus for investment projects in Greece since
20 Greek firms among Europe's most dynamic
Twenty Greek companies were recently selected among the most dynamic
European companies, according to an announcement by the deputy president of
Europe's 500 and managing director of ETANE, E. Zavliaris.
The 20 Greek firms, 11 of which are also listed on the Athens Stock
Exchange, are: AEGEK, Athina, Aloumil Mylonas, Air Greece, Germanos, Delta,
DIEKAT, Doral, ETANE, Lavifarm, Mailis, Masoutis, Mevgal, Moda Bagno,
Nirefs, Nomiki Vivliothiki, Plastica Thrakis, Sarantis, Sklavos and
Europe's "500" functions as an informal adviser for the European Union's
23rd department. Its next conference, at which these companies will be
given awards, will take place in Edinburgh in March 1999.
Athens hospital physicians' work-stoppages over payments
Athens hospital physicians will only handle emergency cases today due to a
work-stoppage protesting the non-payment of worked duty-time.
"Patission" and "Aghia Olga" hospital doctors continue their work-stoppages,
while "Aghios Savvas" employees yesterday decided to hold a work-stop-page,
demanding payment of due retroactive pay.
The Athens-Piraeus Hospital Doctors Union is meeting tonight to consider
further actions to be taken regarding their demands for payment of duty-
Civil aviation employees suspend strikes
The Federation of Civil Aviation Employees Associations (OSYPA) on Sunday
decided to suspend strikes it had announced for the last week of December.
In a related development, the management of Athens' trolley network is
seeking recourse to the courts against the employees' union call for work
Gov't stresses interim agreement with FYROM
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday that the solution to
the problem of name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)
was being sought within the framework of negotiations being conducted under
Mr. Reppas was speaking after comments by ruling PASOK MP for Thessaloniki
and former minister Stelios Papathemelis that the government was ready to
accept the name "Republic of Macedonia-Skopje" for the neighbouring former
Replying to reporters' questions, Mr. Reppas said he was not aware of
comments by Mr. Papathemelis in Parliament nor of the documents cited by
Mr. Papathemelis said during a debate in the House on the 1999 budget that
he was in possession of a document issued by the finance ministry's customs
department showing that the alphabetical classification of the Former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia ( FYROM) would change as of the new
The document, dated Oct. 23, 1998, informs customs points that the code for
FYROM remained XJ to the end of the year and would become MK as of Jan.
Athens and Skopje have been at loggerheads over the country's name since
the republic declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.
Greece opposes the use of the name 'Macedonia' by the landlocked republic,
arguing it conceals expansionist designs against its northern province of
Athens and Skopje's relations have improved markedly since they signed an
interim agreement in New York in September 1995, under UN auspices.
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos pays a one-day visit to Skopje today,
at the invitation of new prime minister Ljubco Geor-gievski.
Mr. Pangalos is expected to meet with FYROM government officials on
developments in the Balkans and international affairs and will exchange
views on the present state of bilateral relations and room for improvement,
according to the foreign ministry.
Gov't proceeds with education reforms, students prepare road blocks
The government yesterday reiterated the need for education ministry reforms
to be implemented, a day before protesting students hold road blocks on
"The government has chosen the path of force of persuasion and not the
persuasiveness of force," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.
"The reforms must be implemented because they are responsive to the needs
of the times," he said.
Students protesting education ministry reforms said on Sunday they would
hold road blocks on national highways and in major cities today to press
their demand the ministry withdraw the controversial changes.
Student committees from around the country meeting in Athens vowed to
continue their protests until the ministry withdrew the law.
They said they aimed to cut off circulation on the national highways "from
the Peloponnese to Evros".
Summary road blocks and occupations of schools have been the major
characteristics of the weeks-long movement by students at high schools to
have the education ministry change its tack on the changes.
Students are protesting a number of issues, including teacher shortages,
education ministry changes to grading and examinations at the primary,
secondary and tertiary levels, the introduction of open university type
programmes, and changes to procedures for appointing new teachers.
Also sparking discontent are budget allocations for education, private
schooling, and the prosecution of those occupying or vandalising school
Reports from Thessaloniki said that the number of schools under occupation
was falling as students returned to classrooms, just days before school
lets out for Christmas holidays.
Parents and teaching authorities were optimistic that occupations of school
buildings would peter out during the holiday break, despite claims by
students to the contrary.
The meeting on Sunday decided occupations of school buildings will continue
throughout the Christmas and New Year season at a number of locations,
while students have also planned a rally in Athens on Jan. 15.
The committees said they would review their protest action again on Jan.
Baseball the topic of Burns-Fouras meeting
Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras and US ambassador Nicholas Burns
yesterday had talks on bilateral sports cooperation and the further
strengthening of sports ties between the two countries.
It was agreed that a bilateral sports cooperation protocol be signed in
January 1999 at a special ceremony.
One of the issues discussed was the promotion of baseball in Greece. Mr.
Burns assured the president of the Greek baseball federation that he would
personally do everything possible to promote the sport in Greece.
Number of Greek patients seeking foreign medical care dropping
The number of patients seeking medical treatment at foreign hospitals has
been constantly dropping since 1991 onwards, according to Social Security
Foundation (IKA) governor Grigoris Solomos.
Mr. Solomos was addressing the "Seventh Health and Health Policies Forum",
which was held in the town of Karpenisi over the weekend.
He added that patients' trust in public hospitals, as well as of the state-
of-the-art Onassion Heart Surgery Centre was increasing, as the number of
people treated in hospitals affiliated with the National Health System
(ESY) had increased considerably.
Accoriding to the reccords, in 1991 the number of patients who travelled
abroad for treatment, mainly to London, stood at 2,738, costing IKA more
than 5.8 billion drachmas.
The number of patients seeking treatment abroad has since been dropping,
reaching last year 931.
Private clinics in the same period increased their revenues, but the number
of patients treated dropped.
Mr. Somolos said that despite existing problems in infrastructure, more
patients were addmitted in public hospitals, while at the same time
treatment duration has drop-ped.
However, several health technocrats addressing the forum disputed Mr.
Solomos' optimistic observations, saying that public hospitals do not pay
any attension with regard to quality of care, while patients are insufficiently
briefed by doctors.
Larko workers decide mobilisations to protest lay-offs
Labour centre officials from Fthiotida, Evia, Thebes, Livadia, Fokida and
Evrytania will join Larko workers today to block the Athens-Thessaloniki
highway at the Schimatari juncture in protest against periodic lay-offs at
the mining company.
According to Larko's management, lay-offs are the result of a continuous
decrease in international nickel prices, while Larko workers claim the lay-
offs are the first step in plans to close the company.
Today's protest and others scheduled for the coming weeks were decided at a
meeting of trade union officials in Larymna on Sunday.
On Jan. 14, workers will hold a rally in Athens and hold a three-hour work
stoppage in all the prefectures of central Greece. In cooperation with the
General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), Larko workers will also
seek a meeting with Prime Mi nister Costas Simitis and Development Minister
Increased municipal budget for Athens
Athens municipality's budget,set to be tabled at the municipal council next
week, is increased by 9.5 billion drachmas compared to the 1998 budget.
According to press reports, the 1999 municipal budget was expected to total
127.9 billion drachmas compared to 118.4 billion drachmas in 1998.
The estimated increase in revenue stands at 16 per cent, while loan
interest payments are expected to reach to 9.4 billion drachmas, while 12.7
billion drachmas will be slated for construction projects, the same sources
EOA: Renovation of stadium through private investors
Greece's Olympic Games Committee (EOA) yesterday decided to renovate and
expand Karaiskaki stadium in Faliro.
According to the annoucement, the project will be financed by private
investors who will recover the cost of their investment by managing 50 per
cent of the facilities for a 20-year period.
The sports general secretariat will oversee an international bid for the
project, which is expected to be completed in three years, the announcement
Special telecoms for impaired hearing
A special telecoms centre for hearing impaired individuals has been in
operation since Nov. 16.
Interested parties can reach any Athens telephone number by dialing
88.15.555 daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on weekends and holidays from 10
a.m. to 4 p.m., for emergencies.
Cloudy skies with rainfall in most parts of Greece today and snowfall on
highground. Winds, strong to very strong and temperatures will range in the
north from 3-11C, in the Ionian and mainland 7-15C and in the Aegean 12-
87C. Athens will be cloudy with rainfall and temperatures from 9-15C.
Thessaloniki will be cloudy with rain and temperatures from 5-10C.
Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 277.175
British pound 466.855 Japanese yen (100) 240.044
French franc 49.679 German mark 166.582
Italian lira (100) 16.821 Irish Punt 414.001
Belgian franc 8.077 Finnish mark 54.873
Dutch guilder 147.843 Danish kr. 43.805
Austrian sch. 23.681 Spanish peseta 1.958
Swedish kr. 34.672 Norwegian kr. 36.319
Swiss franc 205.319 Port. Escudo 1.626
Aus. dollar 171.616 Can. dollar 178.957