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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-10-02

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] French-led group formally acquires Hellenic Duty Free Shops
  • [02] Gov't renews pledge to cut inflation to 2.0 pct by end-99
  • [03] Greek stocks hit six-month low, shrug off duty free privatisation
  • [04] Euromoney names Sigma Securities top Greek brokerage
  • [05] Global Finance sets up Black Sea venture capital fund
  • [06] PM speaks at conference focusing on EU, Amsterdam Treaty
  • [07] Athens reiterated position over dialogue to solve Kosovo crisis
  • [08] US envoy for N. Ireland George Mitchell received by G. Papandreou
  • [09] Pangalos to represent Greece at EU General Affairs Council
  • [10] Pangalos on German elections
  • [11] Gov't: Greece ready to assist Albania
  • [12] Euro-Atlantic Cooperation conference on peace-keeping missions
  • [13] Two-day conference on relation between Parliament and mass media
  • [14] Modern Greek studies conference in Berlin
  • [15] BSEC states' law enforcement agreement to be signed in Corfu
  • [16] Teatro Piccolo perfoms 'Harlequin' in Thessaloniki
  • [17] 'Civilisation, peace train' reaches Germany
  • [18] Austrian EU presidency representative on Cyprus' EU accession negotiations
  • [19] Athens restates its support in message for Cypriot independence day
  • [20] Holbrooke to resign as US envoy for Cyprus
  • [21] Athens lauds Nicosia's positions vis-a-vis EU accession negotiations
  • [22] Dutch trade mission to visit Athens this month
  • [23] Athens to host conference on beating computer millennium bug
  • [24] Fourlis launches new company for hi-tech services
  • [25] Prices set for state convertible bonds
  • [26] HEPO participation at 'Basel '99' exhibition
  • [27] Independence Day military parade

  • [01] French-led group formally acquires Hellenic Duty Free Shops

    Athens 02/10/1998 (ANA)

    Saresco of France with listed Papaellinas and Sarandis, both of Greece, yesterday formally acquired a 67 percent stake in Hellenic Duty Free Shops SA, following a privatisation tender called by the government.

    Saresco, which also bid in an abortive tender for the company earlier this year, offered 3,250 drachmas per share in Wednesday's tender through the bourse against a bid floor of 3,100 drachmas.

    The firm today complied with a request by the authorities to produce the original of a bank letter of guarantee after submitting a photocopy in this tender, finalising the acquisition.

    Kappe of the Netherlands also bid in the tender but was eliminated for a breach of the rules. It offered 3,300 drachmas per share but failed to provide a bank letter of guarantee.

    Already listed on the Athens Stock Exchange was around 20 percent of Hellenic Duty Free Shops.

    Expressing his satisfaction at what he called a positive development, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou stressed that the Hellenic Duty Free Shops was the third state-owned corporation to be privatised after OTE and Hellenic Petroleum, let alone the three banks, Macedonia- Thrace, Creta and Central Greece.

    The minister grabbed the opportunity to reassure that the government was firmly pushing along with its srtuctural changes programme.

    The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party said the government appeared to have adopted a principle of privatisating most firms far below their stock market value.

    "This shows that the government is caught in an impasse," George Alogoskoufis, ND's economic affairs chief, said in a statement following the privatisation of Hellenic Duty Free Shops.

    Mr. Alogoskoufis accused the government of an amateurish approach to sale tenders, exemplified by yesterday's acquisition of Hellenic Duty Free Shops by a French-led consortium.

    The company was sold before a deal was made with the operators of a new airport being built for Athens that will set the percentage of turnover the company will have to hand over as part of a leasing arrangement, Mr. Alogoskoufis said.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Gov't renews pledge to cut inflation to 2.0 pct by end-99

    Athens 02/10/1998 (ANA)

    Meanwhile,the government yesterday pledged to step up its battle to lower consumer price inflation to 2.0 percent by the end of 1999 to allow entry into European Economic and Monetary Union.

    "Without doubt the government will use all policy means at its disposal to attain its basic target of reducing inflation to 2.0 percent at the end of 1999," National Economy and Finance Minister Yannos Papantoniou told reporters.

    He was speaking after a three-hour meeting of the government's economic leadership chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    The officials discussed economic policy for 1999 aimed at steering the country into EMU by the target date of January 1, 2001.

    Mr. Papantoniou said inflation had resumed its downward course after a temporary rise triggered by a 13.8 percent devaluation of the drachma on March 14 to ease entry into the European Union's exchange rate mechanism on the same day.

    "The decline (in inflation) will accelerate in 1999," he said.

    The minister cited successes in the government's wide-ranging privatisation programme so far with the part or full sale of Hellenic Duty Free Shops, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation, Hellenic Petroleum, Bank of Macedonia-Thrace, Cretabank and Ba nk of Central Greece.

    "The government is proceeding decisively along the road to structural change in the economy," Mr. Papantoniou said.

    Officials at the meeting debated the final details of the 1999 budget, which should be ready around mid-November.

    Under the constitution the budget has to go to parliament by the end of November.

    Replying to a reporter's question, the minister reiterated that the 1999 budget would contain no new taxes. In a reaction, the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party accused Mr. Papantoniou of being unconvincing in his statements about the economy , especially his promise that no new taxes would be imposed in 1999.

    "Mr. Papantoniou has said exactly the same thing each year since 1994 before he submits the budget to parliament, and each year he is wrong," Aris Spiliotopoulos, ND's spokesman, told reporters.

    "And that is why we will not take part in (European) economic and monetary union on January 1, 1999, the original target date," Mr. Spiliotopoulos said.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Greek stocks hit six-month low, shrug off duty free privatisation

    Athens 02/10/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities yesterday fell to their lowest level in the last six months hit by renewed turmoil in international markets with the market brushing off the successful privatisation of Hellenic Duty Free Shops SA through the bourse.

    The general index ended 3.71 percent down at 2,042.19 points, the lowest since April 2, barely holding the key 2,000-point barrier.

    Trade was moderate with turnover at 41.7 billion drachmas and volume at 12, 978,000 shares.

    Sector indices suffered losses across the board. The heavily weighted banking sector fell 4.24 percent, Insurance dropped 3.94 percent, Investment was 3.50 percent off, Leasing plunged 5.18 percent, Industrials fell 3.78 percent, Construction ended 4.32 percent down, Miscellaneous fell 1.91 percent and Holding dropped 2.97 percent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 3.08 percent off, and the FTSE/ASE 20 blue chip index finished 3.85 percent down at 1,231.90 points.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 219 to 24 with another 8 issues unchanged.

    The most heavily traded stocks were Volos Engineering, Mytilineos, Hellenic Petroleum and Thessaliki. Hellenic Duty Free Shops fell 5.7 percent, or 235 drachmas, to 3,890 drachmas.

    Papaellinas and Sarandis, the two Greek companies that won Wednesday's tender for duty free shops in a consortium led by Saresco of France, rose 8.0 and 7.1 percent respectively.

    Marfin Invest, Macedonian Spinning Mills, Dimitriadis, Galis, Connection, Fourlis, Sato and Endysi scored the biggest percentage gains.

    Klonatex, Keranis, Hadzioannou, Bank of Central Greece, Daring, Mouzakis, Lambropoulos, Nirefs and Ekter suffered the heaviest losses hitting the daily 8.0 percent limit down.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 37,000 drachmas, Ergobank at 22,450, Alpha Credit Bank at 20,300, Ionian Bank at 9,820, Hellenic Telecoms at 6,780, Delta Dairy at 3,050, Intracom at 10,120, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,375 and Titan Cement at 16,500 drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Euromoney names Sigma Securities top Greek brokerage

    Athens 02/10/1998 (ANA)

    Euromoney, an international financial organisation, has named Sigma Securities the best brokerage in Greece for the third straight year.

    The award is in recognition of the quality of services offered to domestic and foreign clients.

    Euromoney also named Alpha Credit Bank as the country's top domestic bank, and Midland Bank as the top foreign bank operating in Greece.

    Global Investor, an international financial publication, named Sigma Securities' research and analysis department as the best in the country, also for services.

    Sigma Securities has announced it will seek listing on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Global Finance sets up Black Sea venture capital fund

    Athens 02/10/1998 (ANA)

    Global Finance,a domestic investment firm, has set up a new venture capital fund called Black Sea Fund (BSF) aimed at supporting Greek business activities in the Balkans and the Black Sea region, it said in a statement yesterday.

    The 62-million US dollar fund has attracted capital from international organisations including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Finance Corporation and World Bank.

    Major contributors also include the Latsis Group, Alico insurance, Ergobank and shipowner Vassilis Konstantakopoulos.

    Spurring creation of the fund was the success of the Euromerchant Balkan Fund, which is fully invested, the statement said.

    Global Finance said that the business climate in the Black Sea region, despite recent financial turmoil, offered sound opportunities for productive investments.

    BSF would also help countries in the region to build up their economies.

    In addition, many Greek firms were eager to expand in eastern Europe and beyond.

    The fund will invest in the region through holdings, usually minority, in private sector companies.

    Global Finance also announced the creation of another fund, called Global Capital Investors, worth 50 million US dollars.

    The company's four venture capital funds have capital exceeding 50 billion drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] PM speaks at conference focusing on EU, Amsterdam Treaty

    Athens 02/10/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and PASOK Eurodeputy Dimitris Tsatsos were the main speakers yesterday at a conference focusing on the topic of the "European Union in the wake of the Amsterdam Treaty."

    Mr. Simitis said that Greece had always supported the "middle road" between the one extreme of a loose inter-government cooperation among EU member- states, and the other, namely,a federal state in which Union members would surrender their national identity.

    "Greece's position from the beginning of the inter-governmental conference was constructive...Greece objected to exaggerations and supported all positive initiatives," Mr. Simitis adding:

    "The Amsterdam summit was an important point in the course towards European unification but there are still many problems needing solutions, solutions which will guarantee a community of peoples with greater cohesion, promote social justice and employment (and provide) more freedoms and more opportunities for its citizens," Mr. Simitis said.

    On his part, Mr. Papandreou said the approach of a new millennium meant that the debate in Europe had to touch on the essence of the problem: the issues affecting a citizen of the republic, European nationality, and the role of the European Parliament.

    The debate, he said, could not be limited to the issue of weighing the votes on the Council of Ministers (CoE).

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Athens reiterated position over dialogue to solve Kosovo crisis

    Athens 02/10/1998 (ANA)

    Greece believes that the margins for dialogue to reach a settlement of the Kosovo crisis have not yet been exhausted, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

    He was replying to a question on the possibility of NATO intervening in Kosovo, following reports of a massacre of unarmed civilians.

    "There can be no positive results with military action if all the margins for dialogue for a political solution have not first been exhausted," Mr. Reppas said.

    He refused to be drawn on whether Greece would veto any NATO strike, saying that "the entirety of our positions will be developed at talks within the alliance."

    Any intervention from NATO must have the proper legal basis, he said, adding that this had been put up as a condition for taking action. "We are still in favour of this position...absolutely nothing has changed," he said.

    Referring to the Oct. 12 meeting of southeast European leaders in Antalya, Turkey, he said that issues related to the Balkans had to be discussed between the leaders of the countries of the region, who were also responsible for finding solutions.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] US envoy for N. Ireland George Mitchell received by G. Papandreou

    Athens 02/10/1998 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou held talks in Athens yesterday with former veteran US senator and current US special presidential envoy for Northern Ireland George Mitchell.

    Talks focused on problems in the Balkans, as well as the Cyprus issue and Greek-US relations.

    Both men also discused the issue of the "Olympic Truce" as a tool to settle conflicts throughout the world. Mr. Mitchell is also the chairman of the US Olympic Committee.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Pangalos to represent Greece at EU General Affairs Council

    Athens 02/10/1998 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos will represent Greece at the European Union's General Affairs Council, to be held next Monday and Tuesday in Luxembourg.

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou will attend the second day of the meeting, whose focus will be on various issues related to the European Conference.

    The council will also discuss "Agenda 2000", the Russian economic crisis, preparation of the EU-Ukraine summit and harmonisation of candidate members' national legislation with the acquis communautaire.

    Of particular interest to Greece will be the issues relating to the Balkans and the European Commission's report on the screening process for the six candidate-countries, including Cyprus.

    Mr. Papandreou said Greece's position was in line with that of the union's presidency and Commission, namely, that accession talks should start on those chapters which are already prepared.

    Speaking during a press conference yesterday in Athens, Mr. Papandreou also referred to Wednesday's cancellation of an international conference in Belgrade, after Yugoslav authorities denied entry visas to some participants, which he viewed as an action devoid of reasoning.

    He expressed his regret over the development, saying that Greece's traditional friendship with the neighbouring country allowed it to make some criticism.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Pangalos on German elections

    Athens 02/10/1998 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos noted yesterday that the "outcome of German elections expresses the political wishes and expectations of the German electoral body".

    His statements were published in the Athens-based German-language newspaper "Athener Zeitung".

    "I consider any criticism and comments by any side superfluous, since the German people have already clearly expressed themselves," he added.

    Asked what he thought the impact of the change in government would be on Greek-German relations, the foreign minister replied that "relations between the two countries are long-standing and tight on a bilateral, European as well as international level", while he expressed certainty that they would "continue to improve on all levels for the achievement of bilateral targets and a joint European course".

    Mr. Pangalos concluded by saying: "it seems that conditions are developing in the international, and particularly in the European environment, for the elimination of unemployment and the creation of new positions of work... to promote human rights and con solidate international principles of law".

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Gov't: Greece ready to assist Albania

    Athens 02/10/1998 (ANA)

    Greece is ready to support the Albanian government in its effort to develop the country and normalise the situation, both in cooperation with other countries and on its own, Athens emphasised yesterday.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas was responding to comments by new Albanian Premier Pandeli Majko, namely, that he would seek the support of the US, Greece and Italy in overcoming the crisis in Albania.

    Gjirokaster incident : Meanwhile, police in the southern Albanian town of Gjirokaster are investigating an attack on Wednesday night at the residence of a secretary at the local Greek consulate.

    According to an ANA dispatch, a hand grenade went off on the balcony of the residence, causing material damage but no injuries.

    There has been no official announcement from the police or the consulate as yet but sources said investigations were under way.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Euro-Atlantic Cooperation conference on peace-keeping missions

    Athens 02/10/1998 (ANA)

    The political and military aspects of peace-keeping missions will be the focus of a conference to be held in Athens next week, under the aegis of the peace-keeping missions cooperation group of the Euro-Atlantic Cooperation Council.

    The Euro-Atlantic Cooperation Council provides a forum for NATO members and members of NATO's Partnership for Peace programme to discuss and fine-tune programmes on a wide range of security issues. Some 60 representatives from NATO and Partnership for Peace countries are expected to attend the conference.

    The conference will be opened by NATO Assistant Secretary-Gene-ral for political affairs Klaus-Peter Klaiber.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Two-day conference on relation between Parliament and mass media

    Athens 02/10/1998 (ANA)

    Queries and proposals were expressed at a two-day conference at the Zappeion Hall sponsored by Parliament and focusing on the relationship between legislatures and the mass media.

    Addresses were made on the first day by Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, the leaders of political parties, Press Minister Dimitris Reppas, the president of the Panhellenic Federation of Journalists Unions, Dimitris Glavas and communication pro fessor Ralph Negrine from Britain.

    In his address, Mr. Kaklamanis was critical of both roles, saying that in the effort for the better functioning and consolidation of democracy the role played by the mass media is decisive. He said that in the present climate of unwise talk of crises bo th politicians and journalists must realise their profound responsibilities and meet the claims of citizens who seek support and values.

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis said that Mr. Kaklamanis' initiative was very important and positive and added that Parliament and the mass media must try to cleanse themselves and achieve transparency, quality, self-improvement a nd an improvement in standards. He said that there must be independent competitive action on equal terms, while speaking of the dominant view among citizens that unreliability exists both among politicians and the mass media.

    The first day came to a close with a speech by Prof. Negrine, who conveyed the same queries, adding that the problems also exist abroad and that, as it has been proved in past years, the space and time provided for the coverage of Parliamentary work has decreased.

    During today's session, addresses will be made by the President of the Italian Parliament, Luciano Violante, and the President of the Belgian Senate, Frank Swaelen.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Modern Greek studies conference in Berlin

    BONN 02/10/1998 (ANA - P. Stangos)

    The first-ever European modern Greek studies conference will begin in Berlin today, entitled "The Greek World between East and West - 1453 to 1981".

    More than 250 delegates from 30 European countries, the United States, Canada, Australia and Israel are set to participate.

    The director of BerlinYs Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies Institute, Constantinos Dimadis, said that the primary goal of the conference was to introduce and register the most significant history, literature, anthropology and linguistics research progr ammes at European universities and to promote scientific collaboration in the area of modern Greek studies.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] BSEC states' law enforcement agreement to be signed in Corfu

    Athens 02/10/1998 (ANA)

    The third meeting of interior and public order ministers from the Black Sea Economic Cooperation pact (BSEC) countries will be held in Corfu, with a law enforcement agreement expected to be signed by BSEC member-states.

    "...we will sign a police cooperation agreement between 11 countries on all basic problems preoccupying the (11) countries: organised crime, illegal immigration, money laundering, gun running and drugs. This multipartite agreement is important because it strengthens Greece's position in Black Sea countries and the Balkans..." Greek Public Order Minister George Romeos said.

    Apart from Mr. Romeos, ministers of Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine are already in Corfu.

    The agreement concerns combatting organised crime, the illegal cultivation, production, processing and trafficking of drugs, the illegal trafficking of arms, illegal international economic activities, money laundering, smuggling, illegal immigration, as well as the sexual exploitation of women and children, the counterfeiting of banknotes, the illegal trafficking of works of historical and cultural heritage, crimes in the hi-tech sector, including crimes carried out through electronic computers and the trafficking of people and human organs.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Teatro Piccolo perfoms 'Harlequin' in Thessaloniki

    Athens 02/10/1998 (ANA)

    Milan's world-famous Teatro Piccolo,currently in Thessaloniki, staged Goldoni's "Harlequin, Servant of Two Masters", at the renonated Moni Lazariston theatre.

    This is the third performance by Teatro Piccolo in Thessaloniki in two years.

    Before departing for Spain and Italy, Milan troupe will stage another two performances.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] 'Civilisation, peace train' reaches Germany

    BONN 02/10/1998 (ANA - P. Stagos)

    A "train of civilisation and peace" yesterday reached Leipzig, where it will remain through today for a series of cultural events.

    The train has already travelled to Sofia and Bucharest and after Leipzig it will continue to Amsterdam, Brussels, Strasbourg, Milan, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Sarajevo, Belgrade, Tirana and Skopje, before returning to Athens.

    The effort is part of an initiative by the Greek organisation "Artists Without Borders" in collaboration with the foreign, culture and development ministries and the Greek Railways Organisation (OSE).

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Austrian EU presidency representative on Cyprus' EU accession negotiations

    BRUSSELS 02/10/1998 (ANA - G. Daratos)

    The Austrian EU presidency representative stated during a press interview here yesterday that a decision to begin accession negotiations with Cyprus on Nov. 10 should not preclude a future change in the position of the "15" on that issue.

    The representative told reporters that "we have not shifted the Cyprus- European Union negotiations to the automatic pilot" and that "we will maintain constant control on them (negotiations)", something indirectly affirmed since, despite the neutrality that Austria must maintain in the presidency of the Community, Vienna leaves room for a change in the position of the '15' toward Cyprus' accession.

    The Austrian representative, replying to a question whether the resolutions of the Luxumbourg summit are still in effect regarding Cyprus' accession said: "at this phase (Cyprus) will also begin negotiations".

    Asked whether any of the '15' had objections regarding the negotiations, he replied that "you should ask the foreign ministers about that, after the conclusion of their meeting next Monday."

    Athens News Agency

    [19] Athens restates its support in message for Cypriot independence day

    Athens 02/10/1998 (ANA)

    Greece on Thursday expressed its unyielding support for the Republic of Cyprus and efforts to change the consequences of the Turkish invasion and subsequent occupation of Cypriot territory.

    In a message to Cypriot Foreign Minister Yiannakis Kasoulides on the occasion of the island's Independence Day, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said that, for Greece, the main ally in achieving this change was international legality and Cyprus' course to join the European Union.

    "The resolution of the Cyprus issue remains the more important factor in shaping Greek foreign policy and defines its international choices," the message read.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] Holbrooke to resign as US envoy for Cyprus

    WASHINGTON 02/10/1998 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    A White House spokesman yesterday said that the special presidential envoy for Cyprus Richard Holbrooke will resign from his post upon approval of his UN ambassador appointment, although he will continue working on the Cyprus issue.

    "President Bill Clinton is looking for a replacement for Mr. Holbrooke, but we have nothing else to announce for now," said Mr. Philip Crowley.

    Mr. Holbrooke, who was scheduled to meet with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash within the framework of US efforts to alleviate the current impasse, is expected to visit the area before the end of this year.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] Athens lauds Nicosia's positions vis-a-vis EU accession negotiations

    Athens 02/10/1998 (ANA)

    Cyprus has done a very good job in its negotiating positions and fully accepts the acquis communautaire in regard with its European Union accession course, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou noted yesterday.

    "It has asked for only one exception in the sector of telecommunications and specifically for a transitional period until 2003," he added.

    Saying that Cyprus is well-prepared for its accession course, the minister said that Turkey was using the Turkish Cypriot community as a pretext as to impose its own isolated strategy in the Cyprus issue, but which is overturned all the more by events and European developments.

    It is a shame that the Turkish Cypriots are not represented in the negotiations, something which would have been in their interest, by securing their protection, their economic recovery and receiving support through community policies. It seems that Turkey does not view all these things as being of particular importance. In essence, it is obstructing its own course towards the European Union for stategic matters of limited significance, such as its control of northern Cyprus.

    Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides has repeatedly appealed for Turkish Cypriot participation in the negotiations, with responsibility shifted to the Turkish Cypriots.

    Athens News Agency

    [22] Dutch trade mission to visit Athens this month

    Athens 02/10/1998 (ANA)

    A Dutch trade mission will visit Athens October on 19-20 as part of a Dutch festival organised by the Netherlands Embassy in Athens.

    Taking part in the mission will be representatives of Dutch companies in sectors including medical technology, environmental technology, construction materials, legal consultancy, design and equipment for business premises, and food preparation.

    The mission, which was arranged by the commerce chambers of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Athens with the Dutch Trade Promotion Centre, will meet representatives of Greek companies interested in cooperation.

    The embassy's Dutch festival is to take place on October 15-24.

    Athens News Agency

    [23] Athens to host conference on beating computer millennium bug

    Athens 02/10/1998 (ANA)

    Efforts by the European Union and international corporations to tackle the computer millennium bug in the year 2000 will be the focus of a conference to be held in Athens on October 15-16.

    The conference is organised by the Greek Management Association with the European Council of Management, and is being held under the aegis of the British Embassy in Athens.

    British Ambassador Sir Michael Llewellyn-Smith will inaugurate the conference and speakers are expected to include Interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos and the managing director of Commercial Bank of Greece, George Michelis.

    To be presented at the conference are solutions to the millennium bug being applied by international corporations in sectors including industry and services.

    The bug will cause many computers to fail by reading the date 2000 as 1900 because computer software programmers have truncated each year to the two final digits in order to save computer memory.

    Athens News Agency

    [24] Fourlis launches new company for hi-tech services

    Athens 02/10/1998 (ANA)

    Fourlis SA yesterday launched a new company called InTarget that provides high technology services, especially for the Internet.

    InTarget has a capital base of 300 million drachmas, and its main shareholder is Fourlis.

    Other shareholders are Finance Invest, a financial services firm, and information technology executives, who will provide the hard core of management.

    The Fourlis Group said in a statement it had set up the company as part of an expansion drive into new business sectors focusing on high technology services. Fourlis reported a 16.8 percent increase in its turnover for the first half of 1998 to 7.6 billion drachmas compared with the corresponding period of last year.

    Its first-half pre-tax profit totalled 1.5 billion drachmas, up 23 percent from the same period in 1997.

    Athens News Agency

    [25] Prices set for state convertible bonds

    Athens 02/10/1998 (ANA)

    The General Accounting Office announced yesterday that following the closure of the subscription book for three-year share state convertible bonds in drachmas, their sale price was set at 76.37 drachmas each for those with a face value of 100 drachmas.

    This corresponds to an annual tax-free yield of 9.4 per cent. Public registration for investors will take place until today at this price.

    In the event that the owners of the bonds in drachmas do not have the possibility of exchanging them with public corporation shares by their expiry date, the paying off price will amount to 101.38 drachmas each for those having a face value of 100 drachmas.

    After the closure of the subscription book for state share conveetible bonds of a five-year duration in euro, the sale price was set at 96 euro each for those one having a face value of 100 euro. In the event that the owners of state share convertible bonds in euro do not have the possibility of exchanging them with shares until their expiry date, the paying off price will amount to 102.9 euro each for those having a face value of 100 euro.

    Athens News Agency

    [26] HEPO participation at 'Basel '99' exhibition

    Athens 02/10/1998 (ANA)

    The Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO) will participate in the international gold, silverware and watch exhibition "Basel '99", to be held in the Swiss city between April 29 and May 6.

    Products to be displayed include gold and silver jewellery, wall clocks and wrist watches, precious stones, silverware, mechanical equipment and packaging articles.

    According to an announcement by HEPO, the exhibition is the most important in the sector in Europe, with a participation of 2,300 exhibitors and 75, 000 visitors from all over the world.

    For more information, contact HEPO by Oct. 12 at 01-99.82.148 or 031- 26.21.000 in Thessaloniki.

    General Bank will participate in the inter-bank system "DIAS" as of Oct. 5. In addition, holders of the state-run bank's "Cash 365" cash cards will be able to withdraw money from ATMs of other banks participating in the DIAS system.

    Athens News Agency

    [27] Independence Day military parade

    NICOSIA 02/10/1998 (ANA/CNA)

    President Glafcos Clerides said that yesterday's military parade, to mark the 38th anniversary of the Independence of the island, was "a sample of the defence capability" of Cyprus.

    Speaking after the parade, President Clerides welcomed the fact that Greek Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos observed the parade, adding that Greece "contributed to the organising of our defence capabilities".

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that Greece "feels proud, because Cypriots and Greeks can guarantee the security, well-being, stability and calmness of the region", by participating in the joint defence pact reached between the two countries.

    He added that the armed forces of Cyprus were well-organised and "effective" and that the people of Cyprus could "feel safe".

    Cypriot Defence Minister Yiannakis Omirou said that with yesterday's parade, the armed forces of the Republic sent "a message of determination and readiness to face any aggressive threat".

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos stressed yesterday that Cyprus and Greece must throw their weight behind the course of the island republic's European Union accession.

    He said that a strong military presence is necessary, adding however, that it will not resolve the Cyprus issue. He also warned that Cypriots must not fall into a trap of talking about the Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missiles.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos made his statements in an interview with the Cypriot state-run television.

    The Greek minister reiterated that the defence capability of the Greece- Cyprus joint defence doctrine is unquestionable.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that the essence is the promotion of a solution to the Cyprus issue and expressed certainty that the anti-aircraft missiles issue will be fully utilised in negotiations by the government of Cyprus.

    Finally, he said that despite the fact that the international community condemns the Turkish occupation with "words and decisions", it is unable to contribute to its termination.

    According to Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, France and Italy's (negative) stance regarding Cyprus' EU accession talks should not be seen as a reason for concern.

    Invited to comment on the issue, the Greek defence minister stressed that objections lodged by Paris and Rome did not mean choices were wrong.

    He added that clear decisions on Cyprus, as well as the remaining five eastern European candidate-countries, had been taken by the Union's legislative agencies.

    Athens News Agency

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