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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-03-17

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

From: The Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada <grnewsca@sympatico.ca>


CONTENTS

  • [01] Greek markets react positively to ERM entry
  • [02] EU, NATO enlargement dominate Simitis-Tosovsky talks
  • [03] Greek PM sees no new drachma devaluation
  • [04] ... Greek gov't optimistic about drachma's ERM entry
  • [05] ... Government steps up checks on profiteering after ERM entry
  • [06] Opposition reactions
  • [07] Foreign press
  • [08] Spanish admiral on official visit to Greece
  • [09] German paper praises Simitis,criticises Yilmaz
  • [10] Athens welcomes EU confirmation on Cyprus
  • [11] G.Papandreou: Turkey should refer its claims to The Hague
  • [12] Hungary's Horn in Athens tomorrow
  • [13] SPD support for Cyprus' EU accession
  • [14] EU media ministers meet in Manchester
  • [15] Greek-Israeli trade awards
  • [16] Pangalos says EMU at the centre of Greece's policy
  • [17] Reppas touches on legal framework in media for protection of minors
  • [18] Mediterranean wetlands the subject of press conference
  • [19] Romeos signals crackdown on rising crime
  • [20] Two Albanians confess to murder of British couple
  • [21] Greek money markets back drachma's ERM entry
  • [22] Greek bourse jumps on drachma's entry into ERM
  • [23] Greek stocks discount rate drop
  • [24] Greek bonds attractive after devaluation-analyst
  • [25] Greece postpones bond auction after drachma devaluation
  • [26] Petrol prices raised
  • [27] EU's 'Forum Train' in Greece

  • [01] Greek markets react positively to ERM entry

    Athens 17/03/1998 (ANA)

    Greek markets yesterday welcomed the drachma's entry into the European Union's Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) and its subsequent devaluation by 14 per cent.

    Several bankers and analysts agreed that the prospect of lower interest rates and the implementation of the government's drastic economic measures announced on Sunday, boosted confidence in Greek markets.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday that the drachma would not undergo a fresh devaluation, and that the present drachma parity is a parity with which Greece will take part in the European Monetary Union (in 2001).

    A government coordinating committee also met yesterday and issued directives for checks on market prices in an effort to ensure the smooth operation of the market.

    National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou advised businesses and traders to exercise self-restraint, adding that repercussions on the market would be minor and short-lived.

    [02] EU, NATO enlargement dominate Simitis-Tosovsky talks

    PRAGUE 17/03/1998 (ANA - S. Liarellis)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis had talks here yesterday with his Czech counterpart Josef Tosovsky on prospects for the Czech Republic's accession to the European Union and NATO as well as bilateral relations.

    Mr. Simitis, who began a three-day official visit to Prague yesterday, underlined after the talks that Greece had always been of the view that EU enlargement should take in as many countries as possible, while noting that "each country has its own problems and separate negotiations will be conducted".

    Asked by reporters on Greece's threat to block EU enlargement if obstacles are placed in the way of accession negotiations with Cyprus due to the problems caused by the Turkish occupation of one third of its territory, Mr. Simitis pointed out that when Cyprus' EU candidacy was accepted in 1995 "the political problem was well known to all".

    "Nobody set as a condition that the political problem would have to be resolved," Mr. Simitis said, adding that the problem had not been raised with respect to prepar ations for accession negotiations.

    So I don't see why such a correlation should be made in the future," he said, adding that negotiations with Cyprus and with the other countries will go ahead as planned.

    Greece,the premier said,has held a s imilar position with regard to NATO enlargement, namely that the Alliance should develop into a security organisation for all of Europe, and for this reason other countries should participate.

    Mr. Simitis said he had briefed Mr. Tosovsky on Greek-Turkish relations and stressed that Greek-Czech ties were on a good course with possibilities for further substantial improvement.

    On his part, Mr. Tosovsky agreed with Mr. Simitis' remarks, saying bilateral relations were at a very good level, while negotiations were open and friendly.

    Mr. Simitis had talks later with Czech Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Yaroslav Sendivi on EU enlargement and bilateral relations.

    Speaking to reporters afterwards, the Greek PM said the EU should not focus its attention only on economic issues and competition but also on foreign policy matters "where we have much to do".

    With respect to bilateral issues, Mr. Sendivi said emphasis had been placed on the need to increase trade between the two countries, the formation of joint ventures and Greek investments in the Czech Republic.

    Also discussed was the crisis in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo, regarding which Mr. Simitis said Greece's position was the same as that of the EU.

    Dialogue, he added, was the only way to find a peaceful solution.

    [03] Greek PM sees no new drachma devaluation

    PRAGUE 17/03/1998 (ANA - S. Liarellis)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday that the drachma, devalued by 14 percent to allow entry into the European Union's exchange rate mechanism, would not undergo a fresh devaluation.

    "Today's (drachma) parity, which was decided on Saturday, is the parity with which Greece will take part in European Monetary Union (in 2001)," Mr. Simitis said.

    "(Members of the ERM) want the mechanism to be stable and without turbulenceÉThey would never allow entry for a currency whose economy could not safeguard stability," he said, replying to a reporter's question.

    Mr. Simitis, who was speaking after a meeting in Prague with his Czech counterpart Josef Tosovsky, said the drachma's entry into the ERM was a key step towards the country's participation in EMU.

    He said the month-long entry negotiations had focused on setting a parity that would not jeopardise the drachma's stability in the future.

    [04] ... Greek gov't optimistic about drachma's ERM entry

    Greece is confident that the drachma's entry into the European Union's exchange rate mechanism is going well, a government spokesman said yesterday.

    "It's going well but we want it to go better," acting spokesman Nikos Athanasakis said.

    "(The government's) policy is leading us safely to inclusion in the single monetary system."

    He said the former hard drachma policy was neither mistaken nor a failure.

    "It was this policy that allowed us to take the next big step, that of inclusion in the ERM. For us to take this step, we had to meet some conditions beforehand, such as lower inflation," Mr. Athanasakis said.

    Mr. Athanasakis rejected outright any talk of the drachma leaving or being forced out of the ERM.

    He admitted that the move would have an adverse effect on some sectors of the economy but claimed it would boost others.

    "Inflation will go up in the short-term but by the end of the year, we hope it will be around 2.5 per cent," he said, declining to predict year-on-year inflation figures for March.

    The government would not propose any increase in the current 49 percen t ceiling for part-flotations of public utilities and companies. It would propose wage increases of 2.5 percent in collective bargaining.

    He said that a one billion dollar loan contracted by Greece shortly before the drachma's entry into the ERM was part of a foreign borrowing programme and would be paid off at parities existing at the time the loan was agreed.

    [05] ... Government steps up checks on profiteering after ERM entry

    A financial crimes squad and commerce ministry inspectors will intensify market checks to prevent profiteering following the devaluation.

    Directives have already been given by a coordinating committee formed by the government to check on prices and ensure the smooth operation of the market.

    The committee, which met yesterday morning, was chaired by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou.

    Among those taking part were Finance Undersecretary George Drys, Commerce Undersecretary Mihalis Chrysochoidis and the Secretary General of the National Statistics Service, Nikos Karavitis.

    After the meeting, Mr. Papantoniou advised businesses and traders to exercise self-restraint and urged them not to pass on the effect of the devaluation to consumers.

    Mr. Papantoniou said repercussions on the market would be minor and short-lived, and those guilty of profiteering would face harsh penalties.

    Commenting on the first visible effects of devaluation, Mr. Papantoniou said an increase in the volume of trading on the Athens Stock Exchange this morning was very encouraging. He added that international markets had responded with enthusiasm to the de valuation of the drachma and its entry into the European Union's exchange rate mechanism (ERM).

    Mr. Papantoniou advised cool-headedness in order to reap the be-nefits of ERM membership.

    [06] Opposition reactions

    Athens 17/03/1998 (ANA)

    Four New Democracy party deputies filed a lawsuit against anyone responsible for the leaking of any information of an impending devaluation last Friday.

    ND Deputy Prokopis Pavlopoulos said the economy had sustained a loss of 30 billion drachmas at least, and it was possible that the amount and the responsibilities due were greater. He did not rule out his party asking for the setting up of a committee of inquiry and the lifting of the parliamentary immunity of certain ministers.

    ND's head of economic affairs, Georgios Alogoskoufis, meanwhile, denied the government's claim that the devaluation was a conscious option and said it had been imposed by money markets. Furthermore, he described the devaluation as a risky step due to it s large size, much larger than any other EU country's before its currency was incorporated to the Exchange Rate System (ERS). "The drachma's delayed incorporation into the ERS takes place under the worst possible conditions, and cannot be considered as a qualification for our ultimate participation in EMU," he said.

    Mr. Alogoskoufis added the measures announced by National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou in support of the devaluation were nothing new, makeshift and inadequate, "aspirins," as he described them, calling for much bolder structural changes, broad privatisations, boosting of competition and extensive deregulation of all markets.

    The party's Parliamentary spokesman, Dimitris Sioufas, tab-led a question in Parliament for the prime minister, asking for explanations on "why the government lied to the Greek people and put the national economy under a tremendous trial".

    Questions in Parliament were also tabled by the leaders of the Coalition of the Left, Nikos Constantopoulos, and of the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI), Dimitris Tsovolas.

    Mr. Cosntantopoulos is asking the prime minister "why he systematically deceived everyone, continuously burdening the weakest members of society, why he borrowed for the country abroad, and what measures he intended to adopt in the social sector."

    Mr. Tsovolas also charged the government with deceiving Parliament and the Greek people, also levelling criticism for the leaking of the information of an impending devaluation.

    A Political Spring party statement said the devaluation was "the climax of the contemporary Greek drama," and described the prime minister as a "second-rate accountant", and the Greek people as deceived.

    A Communist Party of Greece (KKE) statement said the government was selling out the country's national wealth to multinational capital at half-price.

    It called on working people to "resistance and counter-attack against the oncoming storm".

    Former New Democracy national economy minister George Souflias charged that the government was responsible for condemning the drachma to devaluation.

    [07] Foreign press

    The "Financial Times" said the drachma's incorporation to the ERS was "a substantial step" on the road leading to participation in the euro, and follows "a successful stabilisation programme".

    A dispatch by the same paper from Athens said "analysts welcomed both the adjustment in the value of the drachma and the government's decision for incorporation to the exchange rate mechanism earlier than envisaged".

    The "Guardian" said the Greek government's move put the country in orbit to become the 12th member of the euro zone, leaving Britain and Sweden on a "lonely road".

    Various German papers described the move as "an ambitious endeavour" and "proof of seriousness".

    "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" said the entry of the drachma to the EMS brought Greece a big step closer to EMU".

    "Die Welt" said "the Greek government put itself under pressure, signalling on one hand its intention to implement faster and more consistently the reforms it has initiated, and on the other, that it is resolved to lead the second wave of countries to accede to the EMU".

    [08] Spanish admiral on official visit to Greece

    Athens 17/03/1998 (ANA)

    Spanish Navy General Staff Chief Adm. Antonio Moreno Barbera will officially visit Greece beginning on Wednesday.

    The Spanish admiral will discuss issues of mutual interest with his Greek counterpart, Rear-Adm. Georgios Ioannidis, National Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis and National Defence General Staff Chief Gen. Athanasios Tzoganis.

    [09] German paper praises Simitis,criticises Yilmaz

    BONN 17/03/1998 (ANA - P. Stangos)

    "Greece shapes conditions for 2001 entry into Euro", was the title of an article by the German daily "Sèdd-eutsche Zeitung" yesterday.

    In comparing recent Greek and Turkish policies, the article focused on prime ministers of Greece and Turkey, Costas Simitis and Mesut Yilmaz, respectively, adding that Greece's image in Brussels as well as in Bonn and Luxembourg was predominately due to the Greek premier's work.

    On the other hand, Mr. Yilmaz is held responsible by the German newspaper for his countryÕs declining course vis-a-vis the EU, as well as doing practically nothing to lead his country into a united Europe.

    The Sèddeutsche Zeitung states that the Greek premier took a decisive step forward by devaluating the drachma, thus safeguarding Greece's entry into the European Monetary System.

    [10] Athens welcomes EU confirmation on Cyprus

    Athens 17/03/1998 (ANA)

    The government yesterday welcomed the decision of the informal meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Edinburgh at the weekend confirming the commencement of negotiations for Cyprus' accession as scheduled on March 31.

    Government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis described as "positi-ve and generous" the proposal by Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides inviting the Turkish Cypriots to participate in the Cyprus accession negotiating team.

    He expressed the hope that the Turkish Cypriots and Ankara would now abandon their intransigence, stressing that Cyprus' accession would also benefit the Turkish Cypriots.

    [11] G.Papandreou: Turkey should refer its claims to The Hague

    PRAGUE 17/03/1998 (ANA - S. Liarellis)

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday accused Turkey of aiming to create impressions among international public opinion and once again called on Ankara to refer any problems which it thinks may exist to the I nternational Court at The Hague.

    In an interview with the Czech newspaper "Lidove Nonny", Mr. Papandreou said the proposals being put forward by Turkey were motivated by the need "to rebut the importance which the European Union States attached to Greece's approach regarding the legal handling of existing issues".

    Mr. Papandreou is accompanying Prime Minister Costas Simitis on a three-day official visit to Prague for talks with his Czech PM Josef Tosovsky and President Vaclav Havel.

    Calling on Turkey to recognise the jurisdiction of the International Court and refer any problems which it thinks may exist to The Hague, Mr. Papandreou noted that Greece believed the only outstanding legal dispute between the two countries was that of the delineation of the Aegean's continental shelf.

    "But Greece cannot accept dialogue on unilateral demands or Turkish designs to change the status quo in the Aegean," he said.

    Greece, Mr. Papandreou reiterated, is in favour of Turkey's European orientation.

    "We would be the last ones to close Europe's door (to Turkey)," he said, while underscoring that Ankara must fulfill the conditions set by the EU which apply to all non-EU countries.

    Mr. Papandreou said Greece was participating in talks under the aegis of NATO Secretary General Javier Solana on confidence-building measures in the Aegean "in a constructive spirit".

    "We hope that Turkey displays the same spirit," he said.

    [12] Hungary's Horn in Athens tomorrow

    VIENNA 17/03/1998 (ANA - D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn will arrive in Athens tomorrow for a working visit at the invitation of Prime Minister Costas Simitis. The two men will discuss Greek-Hungarian relations, Hungary's European Union acces sion talks - set to begin March 31 - as well as the central European country's NATO accession.

    Mr. Horn will be received by the President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and will meet Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis. Greek-Hungarian trade relations have surged since 1974, while several joint ventures were created in recent years. About 50 joint ventures operate in Greece, while 80 are based in Hungary. Today, Greece holds 13th place in the list of countries with investments in Hungary.

    Hungarian exports to Greece for 1997 totalled US$81 million, while Greek exports to Hungary during the same time period were $52.7 million. The first ever visit of a Hungarian head of state to Greece took place in 1996, while Mr. Stephanopoulos is expected to visit in 1998. Finally, Eastern Orthodoxy was recognised as an official religion in Hungary in 1995, while 3,000 ethnic Greeks live in the country today.

    [13] SPD support for Cyprus' EU accession

    BONN 17/03/1998 (ANA - P. Stangos)

    German Social Democrats (SPD) assured a ruling PASOK party delegation yesterday of their support for Cyprus' EU accession, even if the participation of the Turkish Cypriots in negotiations isn't possible.

    SPD's position was set out by the party's presidium and Parliamentary group coordinator, overturning an image being created by the Germany's foreign ministry and being promoted through public statements by Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, according to which "all agree" that the success of accession negotiations is not possible without the political aspect of the Cyprus issue being resolved first.

    Briefing Greek reporters at the end of yesterday's talks, PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis and Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis spoke of a "very positive development" on this issue.

    Mr. Skandalidis said SPD considers the proposal set out by Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides - to invite the Turkish Cypriot community to participate in the negotiations - as a very positive development, while the issue of Cyprus' accession negotiations with the European Union is formulated in a clear way for the first time.

    Mr. Kranidiotis said what is important in the position of the SPD's representatives is that regardless of the participation or not of the Turkish Cypriots in the processes, Cyprus' accession course must get underway.

    On the question of the installation of Russian-built S-300 anti-aircraft missiles in Cyprus, the German side expressed concern over what will happen when the missiles are deployed, as well as over the possibility of hundreds of Russian officers arriving in Cyprus.

    [14] EU media ministers meet in Manchester

    Athens 17/03/1998 (ANA)

    Proceedings of an informal Council of the European Union's culture and audio-visual media ministers opened in Manchester yesterday, with Greek Minister Dimitris Reppas presenting Athens' positions.

    A basic question contained in the recently published "Green Paper" by the EU Commission, to which member-states are called upon to give an answer, is whether increasing technological convergence should be accopmanied by a corresponding convergence at re gulatory arrangements.

    Mr. Reppas said in relation to the above that free access to information, pluralism and protection of citizens' personality and privacy, should primarily be safeguarded.

    He stressed that a special study should be conducted into the impact of deregulation in the telecommuniatons sector, as well as to shape new regulations on new information technologies.

    [15] Greek-Israeli trade awards

    Athens 17/03/1998 (ANA)

    The embassy of Israel in Athens last night delivered its annual commercial awards to Greek entrepreneurs and other officials, whose work contributed to the tightening of relations between Greece and Israel.

    Speaking during the ceremony, Israel's ambassador to Greece Ran Curiel referred to the existing potential for promoting bilateral economic relations, as well as furthering cooperation in the Balkans, the Middle East, the Mediterranean and the EU.

    The Israeli embassyÕs special prizes were handed to Ioannis Papathanasiou, president of the Athens Commercial and Industrial Chamber; Ioannis Tzen, president of the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO); Vassilis Paissios, president of the Greek-Israeli Chamber; Yiannis Mosholios, first president of the chamber, and others.

    [16] Pangalos says EMU at the centre of Greece's policy

    LONDON 17/03/1998 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said yesterday that "participation in Economic and Monetary Union is at the heart of our foreign and economic policy, while the public's response is positive".

    He made the statement in an address at the Royal Institute of International Affairs on Greek foreign policy, and in the framework of "Greece in Britain" events.

    "We believe that Europe's monetary union will lead our continent to a new era of prosperity and progress, and that the euro will represent Europe's economic strength, which will be able to impose its views worldwide," he added.

    Regarding EU enlargement, Mr. Pangalos said Cyprus would be the first candidate member to complete negotiations for entry as it fulfilled all necessary criteria.

    [17] Reppas touches on legal framework in media for protection of minors

    Athens 17/03/1998 (ANA)

    Press and Media Minister Dimitris Reppas yesterday spoke on the importance of creating a legal framework for the protection of minors from traditional media as well as the Internet.

    Mr. Reppas commented on the subject in light of the recently concluded second international conference "Television and the Child", which took place in London. The third will be organised in Greece in 2001.

    He also noted the need for better quality educational and informational productions for children.

    [18] Mediterranean wetlands the subject of press conference

    Athens 17/03/1998 (ANA)

    Wetlands across the Mediterranean are under serious threat due to low water levels and on-going pollution, according to the secretary of the Ramsar Convention on the protection of wetlands.

    Delmar Blasko was speaking in Thessaloniki yesterday during a press conference within the context of the first international meeting of the Mediterranean Wetlands Committee.

    The official said that currently there were 154 wetlands in the Mediterreanean protected by the Ramsar Convention, including 11 wetlands in Greece.

    Those 11 wetlands, according to Mr. Blasko, were amongst the 45 which require urgent attention.

    Besides safeguarding Greek seas, Hellenic Navy helicopters made 147 flights last year to transport health emergencies from the islands and provinces.

    [19] Romeos signals crackdown on rising crime

    Athens 17/03/1998 (ANA)

    Public Order Minister George Romeos expressed his determination to crack down on crime at a meeting held yesterday between senior officials from his ministry and police inspectors from all over the country.

    The minister chaired a meeting of senior police officers to discuss the increasing crime rate and the rising participation of foreigners.

    Mr. Romeos said the criminal activity of foreigners had increased and that police had not responded in the best possible way, with only small numbers of officers patrolling at night.

    It was decided at the meeting to step up police patrols, particularly at night, by putting officers normally with desk duties on the streets. Mr. Romeos said the increased police presence would soon be apparent to all. However, he was careful not to single out foreign nationals as the only factors behind the rising crime rate.

    "It is not in our intentions to make a pogrom against foreigners in general who are in Greece. However, we are determined to crack down on crime, since it is a fact that the increase in crime is also due to foreigners. The Greek people expect Greek Poli ce (EL.AS) to provide them with a feeling of security, for this reason we shall do everything possible," he said.

    Although clearly reserved, Mr. Romeos agreed with the Union of Police Employees in the ascertainment that illegal immigrants are responsible for the increase in crime and with the need for immediate measures to be taken.

    It was agreed that all the police will be mobilised and police their respective areas with foot patrols, particularly at night. In parallel, patrolling will be increased with patrol cars and motorcycles. They will be instructed to arrest all illegal imm igrants and check to ascertain whether they have been involved in criminal acts.

    The Union of Police Employees proposed the immediate repatriation of illegal immigrants lacking adequate supporting documents and backing for relevant services with more staff and means to carry out their duties.

    [20] Two Albanians confess to murder of British couple

    Athens 17/03/1998 (ANA)

    Two Albanians have confessed to last week's murder of a British couple on the Greek island of Cephalonia, police said yesterday.

    Roy Eccles, 53, a retired electrical engineer and his wife Judith, 49, a retired accountant, were found knifed to death in the village of Kaminarata on March 12.

    Police said Lambro Papas, a 26-year-old labourer from Sarande, and 20-year-old labourer Eduard Eimazi or Elmazi from Avlon, who were arrested over the weekend, had confessed to the killing.

    The two told police that Papas, armed with a large knife, and Elmazi holding a rake, had been staking out the couple's home on the night of March 11 from an abandoned building across the street, and broke into the Eccles residence by breaking the window of the sliding glass balcony door after the couple had gone to sleep.

    The Albanians said they stabbed the Britons repeatedly after the couple woke up, and then they combed the house for money and credit cards before making off with the Eccles' car.

    They abandoned the car in the town of Sami, intending to take a ship to Patras and then Italy, but changed their minds en route and went to Athens instead, where they arrived on March 12. The next day, they went to the island of Lefkada, where they were traced by police and arrested.

    [21] Greek money markets back drachma's ERM entry

    Athens 17/03/1998 (ANA)

    Greek money markets yesterday reacted favourably to the drachma's entry into the European Union's exchange rate mechanism and 14 per cent devaluation, pushing the Greek currency higher.

    Also, interbank interest rates dropped to 12.5-14.5 per cent from 18-20 per cent last Friday.

    The Bank of Greece intervened in the market to sustain the drachma's rally.

    The US dollar fell 2.04 per cent from its new devalued drachma parity to 322.79 drachmas at the day's fixing. The DMark fell 1.86 per cent to 177.19 drachmas, while the Ecu was fixed at 352.04 drachmas.

    Bankers reported increased demand for fixed-interest long-term state securities. They also reported capital inflows totalling 450 million in US dollars at the drachma's fixing.

    [22] Greek bourse jumps on drachma's entry into ERM

    Athens 17/03/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities yesterday welcomed both the drachma's entry into the European Union's exchange rate mechanism and fiscal measures the government will take to tighten the economy.

    The Athens general share index neared the daily 8 per cent upper volatility limit to end 7.31 per cent higher at 1,649.69 points.

    Trading was extremely heavy with turnover at 41.1 billion drachmas.

    Traders said the market had cast a vote of confidence in the government's decisions. Investors were also encouraged by the prospect of higher exports and speedier part-flotations for public utilities.

    Sector indices rose sharply. Banks soared 7.57 per cent, Insurance was 4.80 per cent up, Leasing increased 6.56 per cent, Investment rose 6.63 per cent, Construction ended 4.48 per cent higher, Industrials shot up 7.45 percent, Miscellaneous ended 3.71 per cent up and Holding was 7.96 per cent higher.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 3.60 percent. The FTSE/ASE index jumped 7.78 per cent to 934.23 points.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 222 to 27 with another nine issues unchanged.

    Blue-chips led the price rally hitting the eight per cent limit up. National Bank of Greece ended at 24,591 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 18,365, Ergobank at 17,010, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 7,290, Titan Cement at 15,822 and Intracom at 16,848.

    Sarandis, Sarantopoulos, Europaiki Techniki, Fourlis and Balkan Export suffered the heaviest losses.

    [23] Greek stocks discount rate drop

    Athens 17/03/1998 (ANA)

    The Greek bourse, which jumped 7.31 per cent, had discounted an early fall in interest rates and a speedier restructuring of public utilities ahead of their flotation in the market, traders said yesterday.

    Analysts expect a massive return of foreign institutional investors to the Greek market seeking to take advantage of lower prices offered by the Athens bourse after the drachma's devaluation.

    Equities have traditionally been a safe haven in times of currency devaluations or falling interest rates.

    The general index ended at its highest level since Oct. 28, 1997 before the outbreak of the Asian financial crisis.

    Traders said there were many non-executed buy orders, suggesting that the price rally will also continue today.

    Athens Stock Exchange Chairman Manolis Xanthakis, speaking to the ANA, urged investors to remain calm and reassured them of the market's growth potential.

    Mr. Xanthakis said that confidence in the market would increase in line with the success of the government's new economic programme.

    The market responded differently to the drachma's previous two devaluations.

    The first devaluation in January 1983 by 15 per cent did not have a serious impact on the market mainly because it was anticipated, and due to the fact that it had not been followed by further economic measures.

    The second devaluation in October 1985, by 15 per cent again, had a very favourable impact on the Greek market. It helped to boost exports, leading to an economic recovery.

    In fact, the drachma's second devaluation was the turning point for a recovery in the Athens Stock Exchange which climaxed in 1987.

    [24] Greek bonds attractive after devaluation-analyst

    Athens 17/03/1998 (ANA)

    Greek state bonds were expected to meet increased demand after the drachma's devaluation and its subsequent entry into the Exchange Rate Mechanism, an economist at Deutsche Morgan Grenfell in London told Bloomberg yesterday.

    Steven Ball, chief economist at Deutsche Morgan Grenfell, expects increased demand for Greek state bonds, particularly longterm, a prospect sure to support the drachma.

    Mr. Ball said that the devaluation was larger than he anticipated.

    Bloomberg, the US news agency, said that the drachma's entry into the ERM was the country's first step towards adopting the single European currency in 2001.

    [25] Greece postpones bond auction after drachma devaluation

    Athens 17/03/1998 (ANA)

    The finance ministry yersterday postponed an auction of state bonds and treasury bills in the aftermath of the drachma's 14 percent devaluation and entry into the European Union's exchange rate mechanism at the weekend.

    It said a postponement of a few days was needed for markets to adapt to the new state of affairs.

    A new auction date will be announced soon.

    [26] Petrol prices raised

    Athens 17/03/1998 (ANA)

    The government raised fuel prices as of last night to avoid instances of hoarding or profiteering, Development Undersecretary Mihalis Chrysohoidis said.

    The new retail sales price of super gasoline will increase by 3.30 drachmas per litre (an increase of 5.5 per cent); unleaded gasoline by 3.5 drachmas per litre (an increase of 1.78 per cent); diesel by 4.50 drachmas per litre (an increase of 3.1 per cent) and heating oil by 4.20 drachmas per litre (an increase of 5.17 per cent).

    Consequently, the new retail sales prices of super and unleaded gasoline in the Attica region and Thessaloniki prefecture will be 214.60 drachmas per litre and unleaded at 198.70 drachmas per litre.

    [27] EU's 'Forum Train' in Greece

    Athens 17/03/1998 (ANA)

    Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas inaugurated the "Forum Train" exhibition at the Larisa train station yesterday.

    Instead of passengers, the train carries traditional agricultural products produced in European Union member-states.

    The products exhibition was shown in Finland, Ireland, Britain, Spain and Portugal last November. On Feb. 28 it began its journey as an exhibition train and made stops in Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and Austria. Visitors can taste 26 characteristic products from various countries. Greek products include feta cheese and Aegina nuts.

    The train will also remain in Athens today and will then depart for Italy and France. The exhibition is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and admission for the public is free.


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