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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-12-23

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, 23/12/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Pangalos stresses economic ties during Skopje visit
  • Gov't unveils minor changes to education reform package
  • Gov't denies 'MK' code in use for FYROM, EU term decided on 'XM'
  • Onassis Foundation cultural centre in New York
  • Advertising in the Daily Bulletin
  • Campaign intensifies against nuclear reactor sale to Turkey
  • New Greek dictionary
  • Tougher measures to stem tide of illegal immigration
  • Greek stocks end higher led by banks
  • Credit expansion accelerates in October
  • Capital Markets Committee approves three new listings
  • Panafon buys 26 per cent stake in Unifon
  • Price Waterhouse selected as consultant for Athens 2004
  • Softex sold, sources say
  • Greek interests purchase majority share of Romanian firm
  • Xifias buy-out of Amvrakikos
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Pangalos stresses economic ties during Skopje visit

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos stressed in Skopje yesterday that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) considers Greece a "strategic ally."

He was speaking at a press conference with his counterpart Alexander Dimitrov, during the first day of his official visit to the neighbouring land-locked country.

Mr. Pangalos said that the undertaking of initiatives was agreed in the sectors of communications, energy and telecommunications, with the purpose of having the Thessaloniki-Skopje axis become a development pole for the entire region.

Referring to the issue of the FYROM's name, he said that the "interim agreement provides for a mutually acceptable solution whi-ch cannot be the initial position of the one or the other," adding that talks will continue at the UN although somewhere "the experts are reaching their limits and the politicians must assume their responsibilities. Courage is necessary and support by the press to have suspicions of the past overcome."

However, Mr. Pangalos said the issue of the name, although not constituting the primary aspect in relations "can create major, typical problems in the future with political ramifications."

Confronted with the issue of recognition of a so-called "Macedonian" minority in Greece during his talks with Mr. Dimitrov, Mr. Pangalos said at the press conference that "there is no Slav minority in Greece..."

The FYROM foreign minister said that an upward trend was ascertained in relations over the past period, as well as the mutual interest for better friendly relations and the finding of possibilities of cooperation in the sectors of the economy, investments, culture, defence communications and consular relations.

Commenting on the question of the name, Mr. Dimitrov said that "it is an irrational problem which the two governments inherited."

Earlier, Mr. Pangalos was received by new FYROM Prime Minister Ljupco Georgievski, during which both sides expressed the desire for the further development of bilateral economic cooperation.

The talks focused on the possible construction of a two-way oil pipeline running between Thessaloniki and Skopje, as well as the possibility of extending a projected Burgas-Alexandroupoli pipeline.

Also examined was an extension of the railway line from Florina, northern Greece, and possibilities afforded by the Egnatia Motorway when it is completed in 2003.

Gov't unveils minor changes to education reform package

Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis unveiled several proposals yesterday aimed at ending a deadlock in the education sector along with accompanying students' protests, road blocks and occupations of dozens of schools around Greece.

The education minister spoke during a hastily called Athens press conference in the early afternoon.

He outlined adjustments to certain aspects of the education ministry's controversial reforms, such as changes in the calculation of grades and the option of resitting exams, valid for the present school year.

The embattled minister also outlined proposals projected to improve conditions for teaching, proposing the establishment of an institute for continuing education for teachers and calling for dialogue with secondary teachers' federation, OLME.

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 property.

Gov't denies 'MK' code in use for FYROM, EU term decided on 'XM'

The finance ministry yesterday denied recent press reports claiming that certain ministry services recognised the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as "Republic of Macedonia".

The issue emerged after a charge that customs officials would begin using an alphabetical code referring to FYROM as "MK" from the beginning of the year.

An announcement by the finance ministry made it clear that the specific code had been used in the past by some EU services, as it was the Union's decision to introduce it.

However, it added that following an intervention by the Hellenic Organisation for Standardisation (ELOT) and reactions lodged by Athens' customs representative in Brussels, the EU issued a new regulation dated Dec. 9, 1998, according to which the new code for FYROM will be "XM".

The XM code will be in effect until a final solution is found with regard to the land-locked state's official name.

Onassis Foundation cultural centre in New York

The "Alexander Onassis Foundation" will establish a cultural centre in New York City for the promotion of Hellenic culture and whose activities are envisaged to expand to various universities in the United States.

The founding act of the centre was signed yesterday by Onassis Foundation President Stelios Papadimitriou at the residence of US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns.

The NY centre's mutli-use halls are expected to be ready by fall 1999.

Speaking during the ceremony, Mr. Papadimitriou said that the Onassis Foundation will continue with its funding to three out of five US universities, but will expand its activities in New York, including the introduction of awards for books and other artistic activites promoting cultural relations between the two peoples.

Advertising in the Daily Bulletin

The ANA will from now on welcome professional half-page or full-page advertisements in its daily English and French Bulletin.

Advertisements will be accepted from embassies, banks, commercial and maritime companies, chambers of commerce, advertising companies, airlines, organisations, professional associations, educational and research institutions in Greece and abroad as well as international bodies.

Also, for a small fee, the above groups may channel their Press Releases (PRs), announcements or photographs - in Greek, English or French - to the ANA's more than 100 media subscribers throughout Greece and Cyprus via the recently introduced ANA on-line PR's service.

For details on and arrangements for the advertising and/or PRs on-line service, please contact the ANA Marketing Department, tel: 6400580, fax: 6400024 between 10:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Campaign intensifies against nuclear reactor sale to Turkey

Greek-Canadians are circulating protest postcards against the sale of a Candu-type nuclear reactor to Turkey and addressing them to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

The Greek-Canadian congress urged Canadian citizens to send the cards to their PM in an effort to cancel the sale, which will reportedly be partially financed by a loan from Ottowa.

The card lists all the basic reasons why Turkey should not be given nuclear technology, including the fact that the Candu reactors are outdated and Ankara's plans to build a nuclear plant near a seismic rift. They also pointed to the fact that Turkey wi ll use the reactor to attain nuclear weapons capability.

New Greek dictionary

The Modern Greek Language Institute (Manolis Triantafyllidis Foundation) at the University of Thessaloniki presented on Monday a new Greek-language dictionary, after some 20 years of intensive efforts.

The dictionary features approximately 80,000 entries on 1,532 pages, offering phonetic spelling in Latin characters as well as morphological, semantic and grammar elements.

Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis, in his congratulatory message, said that the ministry instructed the Greek Language Centre to create a data base for research purposes.

Tougher measures to stem tide of illegal immigration

The interior minister is currently preparing and will soon table a draft bill providing for the creation of special services to receive and help legalised immigrants while introducing strict measures such as the immediate deportation of foreign aliens ill egally residing in Greece.

The new legislation was announced by Interior and Public Administration Minister Alekos Papadopoulos at a press conference yesterday.

Under the new law, Mr. Papadopoulos said, criminal sanctions will be extended to cover not only those who facilitate the illegal stay or obstruct police investigations aimed at locating, arresting and deporting illegals, but also whoever assists in their unlawful hiring.

The draft law, he added, also introduces mechanisms to ensure the constant adjustment of immigration policy to the particular circumstances and needs at any time, while guaranteeing effective implementation.

Greek stocks end higher led by banks

Greek equities ended moderately higher yesterday led by strong buying interest in banks and smaller capitalisation stocks. The general index ended 0.62 percent up to 2,542.19 points in heavy turnover of 65.2 billion drachmas. Volume was 13,449,000 shares .

Sector indices were mixed. Banks rose 1.50 percent, Leasing fell 0.16 percent, Insurance increased 0.94 percent, Investment ended 1.08 percent higher, Construction rose 0.51 percent, Industrials eased 0.24 percent, Miscellaneous dropped 1.26 percent and Holding rose 0.17 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.37 percent higher, while the FTSE/ASE 20 index ended 0.93 percent up to 1,588.93.

National Bank of Greece ended at 55,785 drachmas, Ergobank at 28,625, Alpha Credit Bank at 28,070, Ionian Bank at 14,190, Hellenic Telecoms at 6,825, Delta Dairy at 3,590, Intracom at 12,005, Titan Cement at 19,560, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,200 and Minoan Lines at 6,350.

Credit expansion accelerates in October

Consumer credit growth accelerated in October showing a 31.4 percent increase from the same month last year for a 25.1 percent rise in 1998, the Bank of Greece said.

The central bank said that credit expansion rose in the wider economy with a significant rise in foreign exchange loans.

The figures confirmed Bank of Greece fears of the dangers of a rapid credit expansion in the economy.

The central bank is examining a package of measures aimed to impose stricter rules on credit, likely to be implemented from the start of 1999.

The measures would oblige financial institutions to provide full and detailed information on loan procedures to clients. Also, banks with larger credit portfolios will be obliged to take bigger risk provisions in their balance sheets.

Foreign exchange loans rose 13.3 percent in October following a six month decline in the aftermath of the drachma's devaluation in March.

Total credit expansion rose 10.8 percent in October from 10.4 percent the previous month, reflecting a 14.5 percent credit growth in the private sector. On the other hand, credit expansion in the public sector slowed to 8.9 percent in October from 9.05 percent in September.

Capital Markets Committee approves three new listings

A Greek Capital Markets Committee board meeting approved plans for share capital increase schemes submitted by three companies seeking listing on the Athens bourse and imposed sanctions on two others.

The committee approved a plan by Veterin AEBE for a share capital increase scheme and an initial public offering to enter the main market.

The meeting also approved plans by Atermon Communications and Mevaco Metallurgical seeking entry in the parallel market for small cap companies.

Sanctions were imposed on Kosmos Sogen and Intersat for irregularities.

Panafon buys 26 per cent stake in Unifon

Panafon SA, recently listed on the Athens bourse, announced the purchase of a 25.75 percent stake in Unifon's equity capital following a share capital increase scheme completed by the latter.

Unifon's shareholders also include Marinopoulos Bros, Info-Quest, Numina Trading & Investments Ltd, Crown SA, Doucas-Palaeologos and Fessas.

Unifon is Panafon's largest commercial service provider with more than 800 retail units in Greece servicing 50 percent of Panafon's list of clients.

Unifon was formed by the merge of Palmafone and Q-Phone and owns E-Motion, a retail chain offering mobile telephone services and information systems with 170 shops around the country.

Price Waterhouse selected as consultant for Athens 2004

The Price Waterhouse-Business Advisors firm was unanimously selected yesterday by the "Athens 2004" board of directors as the financial consultant for the 2004 Olympics.

The London and New York-based firm will offer "Athens 2004" support in the planning, tendering and selection of private contractors and investors for special technical projects and will assist with the "self-financing" of respective projects, according to an announcement.

Price Waterhouse was hired as a consultant for the Barcelona Olympics, Atlanta in 1996 and is also hired by organisers for the upcoming Sydney Games in 2000.

Softex sold, sources say

The government has reportedly decided to sell the Athinaiki Hartopoiia papermills (Softex) to the firm New Company for 11.5 billion drachmas.

According to sources, jobs and the operation of the papermills in Drama will be safeguarded.

New Company belongs to a consortium headquartered in Athens - 15 billion drachmas of share capital - and which in turn is part of a consortium based in Luxembourg, which includes Goldman Sachs, Iochridge and the Bolton group companies.

Although no official announcement was made, sources said an initial agreement for the sale has already been signed, with a finalised agreement expected to be signed in January.

Greek interests purchase majority share of Romanian firm

Saint George's Mills and Commercial Capital yesterday announced the majority buy-out of the Romanian firm Mopan S.A. based in Tirgo Mures.

The purchase was effected with a 40 per cent stock purchase by the joint venture Saint George's Mills Commercial Ltd., while 27 per cent had been acquired earlier in the year.

Xifias buy-out of Amvrakikos

The fish farming firm Xifias has informed the Athens Stock Exchange of its buy-out of the Amvrakikos company.

Xifias' management said the buy-out constitutes a part of the company's investment programme in domestic and international markets.

In another development, the general assembly of Selonda Fisheries yesterday ratified the merger, through absorption, of the Fisheries of Western Greece (Riopesca).

Replying to a question on proposals concerning a merger with the other major company in the sector, Nireas, Selonda executives said that for the time being the two companies will open a joint office in China to study the potential of the Chinese market.

Other possibilities being examined are in the Persian Gulf.

WEATHER

Cloudy skies with rainfall or sleet in most parts of Greece today and snowfall on highground. Winds, strong to very strong and temperatures will range in the north from -1C-7C, in the Ionian and mainland 2C-12C and in the Aegean 12-16C. Athens will be cloudy with rainfall and temperatures ranging from 7C-12C. Thessaloniki will be cloudy with scattered sleet or snow and temperatures ranging from 2C-6C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 278.167 British pound 467.649 Japanese yen (100) 237.485 French franc 49.636 German mark 166.438 Italian lira (100) 16.798 Irish Punt 413.466 Belgian franc 8.068 Finnish mark 54.772 Dutch guilder 147.664 Danish kr. 43.763 Austrian sch. 23.658 Spanish peseta 1.957 Swedish kr. 34.714 Norwegian kr. 36.254 Swiss franc 204.689 Port. Escudo 1.624 Aus. dollar 171.041 Can. dollar 179.354

(C.E.)


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