Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-12-23
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 23/12/1998 (ANA)
- 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
- 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
He was speaking at a press conference with his counterpart Alexander
Dimitrov, during the first day of his official visit to the neighbouring
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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