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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-05-07

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Simitis welcomes G8 breakthrough for Kosovo peace
  • [02] Stocks hit fresh all-time high on Kosovo peace hopes
  • [03] Primary budget spending slows in Jan-Apr
  • [04] Domestic banks nearly ready for YK2
  • [05] Alpha Credit Bank to stage Dr 132 bln rights issue
  • [06] AGET Heracles posts Dr 20.8 bln profit in 1998
  • [07] Mailis gets OK for share cap increase
  • [08] Thessaloniki firms join forces for Internet trade
  • [09] Athens Foreign Exchange
  • [10] Former FM Papoylias holds talks with Milosevic
  • [11] Visiting Austrian leader Klima says political solution in Kosovo near
  • [12] PM focuses on rural projects during interior ministry visit
  • [13] Gov't caution against settlement of Kosovars in S. Albania
  • [14] Stephanopoulos in Armenia
  • [15] Athens awaits details regarding aid convoy's bombing
  • [16] Greek military mission to set up refugee camp in FYROM
  • [17] Attacks on 3 foreign banks
  • [18] Gov't consultations in Brussels focus on 2nd Community Support Framework
  • [19] Anti-war activists stand by at Thessaloniki port
  • [20] Simitis kicks off PASOK campaign in Elefsina
  • [21] Karamanlis on ND policy vis-a-vis EMU, European unification
  • [22] KKE rally in Thessaloniki
  • [23] Pilot 35-work week proposed by banks
  • [24] Statue of Artemis discovered near Dion site

  • [01] Simitis welcomes G8 breakthrough for Kosovo peace

    Athens, 07/05/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis last night welcomed a G8 agreement on the Kosovo crisis, saying it was a major step towards peace in the region.

    "We hail the agreement and we hope that it will soon be adopted as a United Nations Security Council resolution and that all sides involved will implement it," Mr. Simitis said, addressing a ruling PASOK-affiliated labour union meeting in Elefsina, west ern Attica.

    "Greece had from the very beginning outlined that the solution to the crisis could not be imposed only by force of arms, that political initiatives and diplomatic actions were necessary. Today's agreement confirms this point of view. At the same time the agreement prescribes that there should not be a change of borders...We have worked in this direction, " Mr. Simitis said.

    "We, as well as others,have prepared the ground for today's agreement. This proves that peace is possible as long as it's not just words," he added.

    Referring to the prospects for the agreement's implementation, Mr. Simitis underlined that Greece is ready to help wherever is needed.

    "Our policy yielded results and will in the future continue to open paths," he added.

    The foreign ministers of the 'G8' - the world's seven wealthiest and more industrialised countries along with Russia - unveiled a common proposal for resolving the Kosovo crisis at their meeting in Bonn yesterday.

    The G8 ministers called for a Yugoslav troop withdrawal from Kosovo and an immediate end to violence that would allow the refugees to return home.

    The ministers issued a statement calling for "effective international civil and security presences" in Kosovo to protect returning residents.

    "A political process towards the establishment of an interim political framework agreement providing for a substantial self-government for Kosovo, taking full account of the Rambouillet accords and the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other countries of the region as well as the disarming of the UCK," the statement read.

    Earlier yesterday, Mr. Simitis said Greece welcomed all efforts for a political solution of the Kosovo crisis.

    "The Greek government has been in contact with the German government and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and we have stressed the need for a political solution through diplomatic efforts," Mr. Simitis said.

    "Thanks to the groundwork by many countries and the pressure from us also, there has been this progress," Mr. Simitis said when asked by reporters to comment on statements by US President Bill Clinton.

    Mr. Clinton said yesterday that he believed the G8 nations were getting closer to reaching an agreement for resolving the Kosovo crisis.

    On his part, Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas said "it is my opinion that the seven points included in the communique, although they are somewhat vague, are a first positive step toward the direction of finding a solution, which however, is very far from the final political decisions that will bring peace to the region."

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Stocks hit fresh all-time high on Kosovo peace hopes

    Athens, 07/05/1999 (ANA)

    Equities set a new record yesterday supported by hopes of a diplomatic solution to the Yugoslav crisis and euphoria in the domestic bond market.

    The general index neared the 4,000-point barrier ending 4.29 percent higher at 3,962.38 points, off the day's highs of 3,990.16 points. It was the 24th record close this year combined with a new record in volume.

    The index has gained 44.74 percent since the start of the year reflecting the market's optimism on economic convergence towards euro zone countries.

    Fuelling the latest round of sentiment was a fall in April's consumer price inflation to 2.8 percent, which dropped below the three percent level for the first time in 28 years.

    Turnover yesterday was a record 232.827 billion drachmas and volume 40,938, 892 shares.

    Sector indices scored major gains.

    Banks soared 5.06 percent, Leasing jumped 8.0 percent, Insurance ended 1.44 percent up, Investment increased 3.85 percent, Construction ended 3.36 percent higher, Industrials rose 3.58 percent, Miscellaneous ended 3.47 percent up and Holding rose 3.15 p ercent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 3.31 percent higher, while the FTSE/ASE 20 index rose 4.83 percent to 2,441.10.

    A total of 71 shares ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit up, with eight banking shares among them (Piraeus, General , Attica, Dorian, ETEVA and Central Bank).

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 239 to 46 with another 13 issues unchanged.

    Thessaliki, Macedonian Textiles, Mytilineos and Piraeus Bank were the most heavily traded stocks.

    National Bank of Greece, Alpha Credit Bank, Piraeus Bank and Commercial Bank led the day's turnover. Athinea, Lanacam, Aspis Invest, Zampa, Development Invest, Alte, Tasoglou, Greek Aluminium, Phaliro Medical and Sysware suffered the heaviest percen tage losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 22,695 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 22, 500, Ergobank at 29,700, Ionian Bank at 18,500, Titan Cement at 27,540, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,560, Intracom at 22,300, Minoan Lines at 7,780, Panafon at 8,640 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,500 drachmas.

    Bonds rise in brisk trade, drachma surges : Most bond prices gained 15-20 basis points in the secondary market yesterday with turnover sharply higher in a climate of euphoria over a possible end to the Kosovo crisis.

    Players from Denmark, France and Spain were seen in the market, which was unusual, traders said.

    Electronic trade was 123 billion drachmas from 63 billion drachmas in the previous session and 128 billion drachmas on Tuesday.

    The ten-year-bond was trading at 104.25, showing a yield of 5.71 percent. The yield spread with German bunds was 172 basis points from 215 basis points two weeks ago, when the Kosovo crisis bit into the market. In the foreign currency market, the drac hma rose against the euro, prompting the Bank of Greece to absorb around 120 million euros at the fix in order to curb the national currency's rise.

    At the central bank's daily fix, the euro was set at 324.800 drachmas from 325.100 drachmas in the previous session.

    The dollar slumped to 300.350 drachmas from 304.900 drachmas a day earlier.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Primary budget spending slows in Jan-Apr

    Athens, 07/05/1999 (ANA)

    Growth in primary budget spending was significantly lower in the first four months of the year compared with the official target, Deputy Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said yesterday.

    Primary spending increased by 2.3 percent in the period January-April, down from a projected increase of 4.6 percent set in this year's budget.

    Interest spending, however, rose by 20 percent due to the maturing of several zero coupon bonds in the first months of the year.

    Mr. Christodoulakis said that interest spending would slow in the next few months, showing an annual growth rate below a budgetary target of 2.4 percent.

    State borrowing requirements would be substantially lower this year compared with 1998, falling to a projected 10.9 trillion drachmas from 11.4 trillion last year.

    Average monthly borrowing activity would be reduced to 740 billion drachmas, down from a monthly 900 billion in 1998.

    Mr. Christodoulakis said the reduced borrowing requirement paved the way for a rapid fall in bond yields and noted that long-term spreads had returned to pre-Kosovo crisis levels in the last few days.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Domestic banks nearly ready for YK2

    Athens, 07/05/1999 (ANA)

    The Global 2000 Coordinating Group, set up to probe computer problems stemming from the change of millennium, has said that Greek banks have fully comprehended the phenomenon and have taken most of the steps needed to correct their systems.

    The group's statement was relayed yesterday by the Union of Greek Banks, which has been working with its members to solve the international problem of a failure by computers to recognise the last two digits of the new millennium.

    Further information is available on

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Alpha Credit Bank to stage Dr 132 bln rights issue

    Athens, 07/05/1999 (ANA)

    Alpha Credit Bank today will launch a share capital increase of 132 billion drachmas with preference rights for existing shareholders.

    The rights issue, which envisages one new common share for eight old at an offer price of 12,000 drachmas each, will last until June 9.

    The share capital increase will take Alpha Credit Bank's capital adequacy ratio above 10 percent.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] AGET Heracles posts Dr 20.8 bln profit in 1998

    Athens, 07/05/1999 (ANA)

    Cement maker AGET Heracles posted 1998 pre-tax profits of 20.8 billion drachmas, up 22.2 percent on 1997 results, chairman Massimo Giudici told the annual general shareholders meeting yesterday.

    He said 1998 turnover was 105 billion drachmas, showing a rise of 5.5 percent on the previous year.

    The AGET Heracles Group's consolidated net profits after tax in 1998 were 15.284 billion drachmas, up 38.67 percent on a year earlier.

    Consolidated turnover was 158.1 billion drachmas, up 8.17 percent on 1997 results. AGET's dividend on 1998 profits is 90 drachmas per share.

    A total of 180 million drachmas from profits will be distributed among staff.

    The Group's investments in 1998 totalled 13.687 billion drachmas from 8.776 billion drachmas in the previous year.

    Twenty percent of 1998 investments, which were funded entirely from shareholders' equity, covered environmental protection.

    Halkis Cement, a subsidiary of AGET, posted pre-tax profits of 3.273 billion drachmas in 1998, up from 514 million drachmas a year earlier.

    AGET workers stage strike : Workers at AGET Heracles staged a 24-hour strike yesterday timed to coincide with the company's annual general meeting.

    The employees, who are pressing for a satisfactory 1999 pay accord, presented a resolution to shareholders.

    Staff said they were protesting what they called the arbitrary abolition by management of a salaries' system in place for many years.

    The move also came at a time when the company was increasing its profits, the workers said.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Mailis gets OK for share cap increase

    Athens, 07/05/1999 (ANA)

    Mailis AEBE's shareholders yesterday approved a plan for a share capital increase and a dividend payment of 35 drachmas per share from 1998 profits.

    The increase will double the company's share capital to 9.054 billion drachmas, divided into 36,216,940 common shares at a nominal value of 250 drachmas each.

    Mailis is listed on the main market of the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Presenting the group's strategy for 1999-2000, company chairman Mihalis Mailis pledged that annual growth rates would rise to 80 percent from 35-40 percent in the last few years due to an aggressive investment programme and a phased expansion through ta keovers.

    The Mailis Group is expected to announce two new acquisitions in western Europe in the next few days. The takeovers are expected to increase the group's turnover by six billion drachmas.

    Mailis expects this year's consolidated turnover to reach 40 billion drachmas, a figure likely to climb to 65 billion in 2001.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Thessaloniki firms join forces for Internet trade

    THESSALONIKI, 07/05/1999 (ANA-T. Liolis)

    Consumers will be able to order goods from 16 local firms starting in the autumn.

    The firms are members of the Thessaloniki Commerce Association, which has arranged the 50 million drachma pilot programme.

    Among goods available will be foodstuffs, clothing and electrical items.

    A new domestic air carrier, Aegean Airlines, will begin operations on May 28, according to the company.

    In a ceremony yesterday, Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos christened the firm's first two passenger aircraft.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens, 07/05/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: May 6, 1999

    Parities in Drachmas

    Banknotes             Buying  Selling
    US Dollar             297.947 304.855
    Can.Dollar            205.780 210.552
    Australian Dlr        199.873 204.507
    Pound Sterling        487.568 498.872
    Irish Punt            409.112 418.597
    Pound Cyprus          555.599 568.481
    Pound Malta           710.053 739.639
    Turkish pound (100)     0.070   0.073
    French franc           49.119  50.258
    Swiss franc           200.320 204.964
    Belgian franc           7.987   8.172
    German Mark           164.739 168.559
    Finnish Mark           54.190  55.446
    Dutch Guilder         146.209 149.599
    Danish Kr.             43.335  44.339
    Swedish Kr.            35.797  36.627
    Norwegian Kr.          38.946  39.849
    Austrian Sh.           23.415  23.958
    Italian lira (100)     16.641  17.027
    Yen (100)             246.710 252.430
    Spanish Peseta          1.936   1.981
    Port. Escudo            1.607   1.644
    Foreign Exchange      Buying  Selling
    New York              297.947 304.855
    Montreal              205.780 210.552
    Sydney                199.873 204.507
    London                487.568 498.872
    Dublin                409.112 418.597
    Nicosia               555.599 568.481
    Paris                  49.119  50.258
    Zurich                200.320 204.964
    Brussels                7.987   8.172
    Frankfurt             164.739 168.559
    Helsinki               54.190  55.446
    Amsterdam             146.209 149.599
    Copenhagen             43.335  44.339
    Stockholm              35.797  36.627
    Oslo                   38.946  39.849
    Vienna                 23.415  23.958
    Milan                  16.641  17.027
    Tokyo                 246.710 252.430
    Madrid                  1.936   1.981
    Lisbon                  1.607   1.644
    Athens News Agency

    [10] Former FM Papoylias holds talks with Milosevic

    BELGRADE, 07/05/1999 (ANA - M. Mouratidis)

    Former Greek FM Karolos Papoulias met yesterday with Yugoslavia's leadership for talks on ways to defuse the Kosovo crisis.

    Afterwards, an official statement issued by the Yugoslav president's office stressed that Mr. Milosevic "thanked the Greek people for their support and solidarity to the Yugoslav people", while noting that the "mass opposition of the Greek people to the NATO attacks provides the Yugoslav people with a major impetus to defend their country."

    Following the meetings, Mr. Papoulias, who is also the chairman of Parliament's foreign affairs committee, said there was hope for an end to the crisis over the next few days.

    Mr. Papoulias said his meeting with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic dealt with the issues at depth.

    He added that he would also brief PM Costas Simitis on the results of his talks, adding that he was returning to Athens more optimistic.

    "I am returning with the feeling that something is moving in the right direction...(while) over the next few days there may be results. We will be very happy if the result is the end of the war," he said.

    Mr. Milosevic said "the key principles on which a political settlement for Kosovo should be based are equality between all ethnic communities which live in the region and protection of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia and Yugoslavia."

    "A just agreement on all pending issues can be achieved with a political process through direct negotiations," the Yugoslav leader reportedly stated, adding that "an end to the offensive, the establishment of peace and the return of Yugoslav citizens to their homes" should be part of such an agreement.

    Mr. Papoulias also met with Serbian President Milan Milutinovic and Yugoslav Federal Parliament President Ljioubica Ristic.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Visiting Austrian leader Klima says political solution in Kosovo near

    Athens, 07/05/1999 (ANA)

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos met yesterday with Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima in Thessaloniki, with talks focusing on the Kosovo crisis and with both men expressing a belief that a political solution on the issue is very near.

    Mr. Klima is in Greece as part of a visit to the Halkidiki region, a popular northern Greece holiday destination for many Austrian tourists, and this year's site of an annual festival organised by Vienna for many of its citizens to celebrate the coming of spring. A different country is chosen every year.

    Mr. Klima called for an end to the bombings and for support of initiatives taken by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, while he expressed a belief that "we are moving toward a political and peaceful solution."

    On his part, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said "we are at the final political- diplomatic solution, which Greece believed in and for which we fought for from the beginning."

    Athens News Agency

    [12] PM focuses on rural projects during interior ministry visit

    Athens, 07/05/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday expressed satisfaction over the course of projects in rural areas, which he said are changing the country's appearance, and during a visit to the interior ministry.

    The premier also instructed regional officials accelerate the implementation of the government's work.

    "We are closely watching the course of the projects, which amount to 20, 000", while he referred to "considerable economic resources secured" by the government for the 2000-2006 period from the 3rd Community Support Framework.

    The new projects which are being planned and classified will be submitted for approval at the European Commission at the end of the year to enable them, as he said, to provide an impetus to the country's development.

    Mr. Simitis said the institution of the regional official was "suc-cessful because the official cooperates with local communities and has the support of central administration to facilitate decentralisation."

    In addition, an additional 250 billion drachmas will be provided to support the Kapodistrias programme, apart from the amount of one trillion drachmas which had been announced.

    Referring to repercussions the war in Yugoslavia will have on Greece, Mr. Simitis said there will be fewer tourists in certain areas but added that "the government has the situation under control. The problem might possibly be handled with domestic tourism. But we are closely watching the situation and we will take all necessary measures, particularly on issues concerning repercussions on the environment and health."

    "We must be careful about what is being said concerning great dangers," he warned, and emphasised that "we cannot convey everything that our competitors say about big problems. All citizens must cooperate to protect our economy, the sale of our products and tourism," he said, adding that everything is under control in the economic sector.

    Replying in particular to a question on the repercussions of the war on the environment, Mr. Simitis said "there appears to be no problem from data in the possession of the government. The government has assigned scientists to study the issue of repercu ssions on the environment to enable conclusions to be reached``.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Gov't caution against settlement of Kosovars in S. Albania

    Athens, 07/05/1999 (ANA)

    The government said yesterday it has aired its opposition to the settlement in southern Albania - an area with a sizeable ethnic Greek community - of large numbers of Kosovar refugees.

    Replying to reporters' questions, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that about 10 days ago, when Athens was informed that Tirana was examining the possibility of sending a large number of Kosovar refugees to southern Albania, Greece had responded by contacting the OSCE.

    Mr. Reppas said the result of the protest was the shelving of the plan to send refugees to the region.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Stephanopoulos in Armenia

    Athens, 07/05/1999 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos will pay an official visit to Armenia from May 11-13.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos will be accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister Grigoris Niotis and Deputy National Economy Minister Alekos Baltas.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Athens awaits details regarding aid convoy's bombing

    Athens, 07/05/1999 (ANA)

    Athens said yesterday that the issue of who was responsible for the attack on a Greek aid convoy in Kosovo "remains open", despite assurances from NATO and its Secretary-General, Javier Solana, that the alliance had nothing to do with the attack.

    Trucks in a convoy of the non-governmental aid organisation "Doctors of the World" were attacked by aircraft during a mission to deliver humanitarian aid on Wednesday in southeastern Kosovo.

    A Greek member of the mission, Dr. Lakis Nikolaou, contacted Greek consular officials in Belgrade as soon as the convoy arrived in Pristina and said a bomb had exploded about 100 metres from the lead vehicle.

    Dr. Nikolaou said no one had been injured and none of the vehicles had been hit in the attack which took place outside the town of Urosevac.

    Replying to reporters' questions yesterday, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Greece wanted "the truth to shine". He added that the issue of responsibility remained open and stressed that investigations into the incident should continue.

    The spokesman said Mr. Solana had twice given assurances to Foreign Minister George Papandreou that NATO had had nothing to do with the attack.

    Mr. Reppas described the attack as "wretched" and clarified that NATO had been notified of the mission on April 30.

    Citing information obtained from the "Doctors of the World" organisation, Mr. Reppas said bombs fell at a distance from the convoy but because of the ensuing confusion, the members of the aid mission were unable to provide more accurate information.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Greek military mission to set up refugee camp in FYROM

    Athens, 07/05/1999 (ANA)

    The government said yesterday that 50 Greek soldiers will be sent to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to help set up a refugee camp in the area of Kotovo.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the decision to send the troops had been taken after consultations between representatives of the Greek defence ministry and FYROM authorities.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Attacks on 3 foreign banks

    Athens, 07/05/1999 (ANA)

    Rocket attacks on three foreign-controlled banks in the port city of Piraeus bore the hallmarks of the elusive "November 17" terrorist group, a police official said yesterday.

    The attacks on branches of the US-based Chase Manhattan Bank, the London- based Midland Bank and France's Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP) took place early yesterday morning, causing damage but no injuries.

    Only one of the rockets exploded, causing extensive damage to the Chase Manhattan branch on the ground floor of a building owned by the Chandris shipping company on Akti Miaouli Drive. The other two broke the glass doors of the other branches nearby, but failed to explode.

    Police believe "November 17" was behind the attacks as the 2.36-inch anti- tank rockets were similar to those used in the past by the urban guerrilla group, which had been stolen from an army camp depot near Larissa in 1989, the official said.

    Police did not rule out the possibility that the rockets were fired out of a car since no traces of the launchers had been found. They also believe that the perpetrators took advantage of the confusion caused by thousands of fans of the Piraeus Olympiak os soccer club celebrating in nearby Pasalimani port for their team's clinching of the Greek Cup earlier in the evening, as most of the local police force was deployed to prevent fan violence.

    No group has claimed responsibility so far.

    Police evacuated the four-storey Thessaloniki courthouse yesterday morning following a bomb threat but, although a subsequent search failed to turn up anything suspicious.

    Anonymous callers, claiming to represent self-styled anarchist groups, phoned several Thessaloniki newspapers and radio stations earlier in the day to make the threats.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Gov't consultations in Brussels focus on 2nd Community Support Framework

    BRUSSELS, 07/05/1999 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    Deputy National Economy Minister Christos Pachtas left here yesterday after concluding a two-day visit for talks with senior European Union officials, including the European Commission's General Regional Policy Department director Eneko Landaburu.

    During his visit to the European Commission's headquarters, Mr. Pachtas discussed issues concerning the "closure" of the 2nd Community Support Framework, as well as the structure of the 3rd Community Support Framework concerning the 2000-2006 period.

    Referring to consultations on the 2nd Community Support Framework, Mr. Pachtas said the focal point was the transfer of funds from programmes and projects which are not proceeding at satisfactory rates to corresponding projects and programmes which do have satisfactory progress.

    He expressed satisfaction over the handling of Greek proposals by the European Commission's officials and, in parallel, noted that it is the fourth revision of the 2nd Community Support Framework, adding that the four revisions concerned the management of a total of about one trillion drachmas.

    Mr. Pachtas said it was logical for certain major projects, such as the Thessaloniki metro and the Egnatia motorway, to be funded by the 3rd Community Support Framework.

    The 3rd Community Support Framework concerns the amount of 15 trillion drachmas, nine trillion of which will come from EU funds, 3.5 trillion from the public investments programme and 2.5 trillion from the private sector.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] Anti-war activists stand by at Thessaloniki port

    Athens, 07/05/1999 (ANA)

    Anti-war protesters in Thessaloniki are on 24-hour watch at the port's gates and ready to throw up blockades at any movement of NATO vehicles headed for the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), an activist said yesterday.

    "We have groups of monitors watching Gates 11 and 14 of the port and in the case of NATO activity, they immediately inform members of the committee and the local Communist Party of Greece (KKE) branch to set up a blockade," committee member and municipal councillor Agapios Sahinis said.

    "This is the tactic we used on Wednesday when we stopped about 40 (NATO) trucks carrying tanks at around 1.30 in the morning," he said.

    About 100 protesters on Wednesday prevented a NATO convoy from FYROM from picking up alliance military vehicles at the port for its peacekeeping force in Skopje. NATO officials are reportedly concerned about the increasing frequency of protests and ob struction of NATO work, despite the fact that the largest part of the alliance force originally planned for Skopje - including 14,000 of 16,000 troops - are already in place.

    About 300 vehicles, including armoured tanks and supply containers as well as hundreds of soldiers, were waiting to head out yesterday from the port to FYROM.

    Meanwhile, a local prosecutor is considering whether to press charges against a 30-year-old educator who used her private vehicle to block a NATO convoy on Sunday evening in "a spontaneous one-woman protest."

    Athens News Agency

    [20] Simitis kicks off PASOK campaign in Elefsina

    Athens, 07/05/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister and ruling PASOK president Costas Simitis yesterday inaugurated the party's pre-election campaign in light of next month's Euroelections, and during a meeting of party affiliated unionists in Elefsina, western Attica.

    "We begin today (yesterday) the struggle for the Euroelections from here, the blue-collar town of Elefsina," the premier said.

    Mr. Simitis spoke on what he called the government's successes in the economic sector, pointing to a decline in inflation and interest rates as well as an increased rate of development.

    He also criticised the opposition parties and especially main opposition New Democracy party.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] Karamanlis on ND policy vis-a-vis EMU, European unification

    Athens, 07/05/1999 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis summed up the party's conference yesterday on European unification, Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), economic development as well as social cohesion last night.

    He also criticised the PASOK government over its economic policy, stressing that the country is outside EMU due to the poor performances and ill- advised policy applied by the government in the economic sector.

    Mr. Karamanlis accused Prime Minister Costas Simitis of playing the role a "yes man" in the European Union "to ingratiate himself so that the country can join EMU." He also said the government will not achieve exactly limits for the Greek economy's nomi nal convergence and for this reason it is using creative accountancy, adding that "the government itself has almost been convinced that at the end of 1999 the public debt will be 2 per cent, while reality is that it will approach 5 per cent."

    Athens News Agency

    [22] KKE rally in Thessaloniki

    Athens, 07/05/1999 (ANA)

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga yesterday addressed a party rally in downtown Thessaloniki, inaugurating her party's Euroelection campaign.

    The KKE leader accused the European Union for its stance on the Yugoslav crisis, saying Greece should leave the Union, while she stressed that KKE's vision was the overthrow of the Union. Ms Papariga said that the aim should be "to build other coalition s and alliances which respect the peoples and defend them", in place of today's capitalist ones.

    Athens News Agency

    [23] Pilot 35-work week proposed by banks

    Athens, 07/05/1999 (ANA)

    The Union of Greek Banks' proposal to the Federation of Bank Employee Unions (OTOE) for a two-year labour agreement includes the pilot implementation of the 35-hour work week and a lump sum increase of 3.4 per cent this year followed by 2.4 per cent in 20 00.

    The proposition was accepted in principle by OTOE's president and it will also be tabled for approval at the federation's general assembly today.

    The 35-hour work week will be applied as a pilot programme at two branch offices and at one additional service.

    The decrease in work time will be applied as a pilot programme as of August 1 at bank branches all over the country while, after the lapsing of the eight-month period, OTOE and the Union of Greek Banks will meet and evaluate the results of the experimen tal application of the measure.

    The 35-hour work week will be implemented in a generalised form if the two sides reach a report which will be mutually acceptable.

    Athens News Agency

    [24] Statue of Artemis discovered near Dion site

    Athens, 07/05/1999 (ANA)

    Archaeologists announced yesterday that they had discovered a priceless life-size statue depicting the Olympian goddess Artemis, in the vicinity of the significant archaeological site of Dion, northern Greece.

    The discovery was made during excavations for construction of a new highway within the Litohoro city limits and about 3.5 kilometres from Dion, a sanctuary during antiquity.

    The statue was uncovered in the remains of a temple dedicated to the goddess near the mouth of the Vafyras river.

    The discovery of the site and the statue will give archaeologists a more extensive picture of the layout of the sacred city of the ancient Macedonians. It appears now that the site extended as far as the foot of Mount Olympus and to the coast of modern- day Pieria prefecture.

    The temple has an extensive antechamber in which the headless statue was sat on a wide table-like structure.

    Professor Dimitris Pantermalis, who oversees excavations in the greater Dion area, said the statue was fashioned in the style of the Athenian school during the Hellenistic era.

    The goddess is dressed in flowing robes, sandals and carries a sheaf of arrows on her back.

    Dion is being shaped into an archaeological park of about 500 acres. The latest discoveries will add to the wealth of finds at the site which include a mosaic depicting Dionysos, the god of wine, spas, an Odeon, and a number of temples.

    Athens News Agency

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