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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-05-08

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] Simitis sternly dismisses speculation over snap EMU entry, early elections
  • [02] Greece satisfied prospective Kosovo solution aligned with its standing positions
  • [03] G. Papandreou in Sweden
  • [04] Opposition on G8 initiative
  • [05] Papoulias: Yugoslav people's patriotism carried the day
  • [06] Kranidiotis on G8 agreement
  • [07] Aid effort by Switzerland, Russia and Greece in Yugoslavia
  • [08] Constantopoulos in London
  • [09] EU farmers' group condemns planted rumours on Greek asparagus
  • [10] Tsohatzopoulos on youth issues
  • [11] --- Ruling PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis yesterday said the

  • [01] Simitis sternly dismisses speculation over snap EMU entry, early elections

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday denied press speculation of Greece's imminent EMU entry and early general elections next month along with the Euroelections ballot.

    Speaking to reporters after chairing a Cabinet meeting, Mr. Simitis stressed that the government's policy was steady, while castigating the "irresponsibility, fickleness and self-interest" of "those who are spreading it around that national and European elections will be held at the same time (in June)".

    "The relevant decree for the holding of European elections on June 13 was signed yesterday (Thursday)," Mr. Simitis said adding that general elections will be held in 2000.

    "We are proceeding according to a specific time schedule and by the end of the year we will have satisfied the criteria for euro and EMU accession," Mr. Simitis said.

    The cabinet, he added, ascertained that the Greek economy has reached a satisfactory level of stability "and we are not interested in gaining entry to EMU through political negotiations because our objective is for the Greek economy to be competitive".

    Mr. Simitis dismissed speculation of Greece's immediate EMU entry as "laughable", charging that those who were spreading such rumours were doing so out of self-interest, "because they want to make a quick profit on the stock exchange and exchange market".

    Earlier, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas strongly denied rumours that Greece would join Economic and Monetary Union "within the day".

    "I want to clearly and categorically inform the Greek people that no such issue exists," Mr. Reppas said, adding that such rumours "obviously have other purposes".

    Mr. Reppas said the government "deplores this tactic and all those who use such means".

    Greece's course to EMU "will continue and be completed precisely as planned and announced," the spokesman said.

    "Nothing has changed in that respect. Anything else rumoured is a fabrication and aims elsewhere," Mr. Reppas said.

    In statements later, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said national elections would be held in 2000 and that Greece would become the 12th member of economic and monetary union "on its own merits".

    Greece's economic indicators are going from strength to strength, he said.

    A report from the European Commission on the reconstruction of the Serbian economy would be tabled at Monday's ECOFIN meeting in Brussels, he added. (See also page 6) Simitis talks with Portugal's Guterres in Thessaloniki:-- Prime Minister Costas Simitis is scheduled to arrive in Thessaliniki today where he will hold talks with his counterparts from Portugal and FYROM on Tuesday.

    On Sunday, Mr. Simitis will attend a dinner for Portuguese PM Antonio Guterres and on Monday both men will visit the Mount Athos monastic community.

    On Tuesday evening, Mr. Simitis will meet with FYROM Premier Ljupco Georgievski, before addressing the 8th annual Thessaloniki Forum on "Greece and the Balkans" P to be also attended by the prime ministers of Albania and FYROM. Athens News Agency

    [02] Greece satisfied prospective Kosovo solution aligned with its standing positions

    The government yesterday expressed satisfaction and vindication for the positions supported by Greece on the Kosovo problem from the outset.

    "Certain of our fixed positions constitute the basis for the agreement of the G8 foreign ministers," Prime Minister Costas Simitis told reporters, after chairing a cabinet meeting, and summarised the positions as:

    - No change in borders

    - Referral of the Kosovo issue to the UN Security Council in order for there to be a legal basis for its settlement

    - Return of refugees to their homes

    - Disarming of paramilitary organisations active in the region and

    - Creation of a peacekeepingforce to ensure implementation of any agreement.

    "As we stated from the outset, war will not bring a solution, which is why there is a need for diplomatic initiatives and political initiatives," Mr. Simitis said.

    The premier said that on the basis of this principle, Greece had tried, even on Thursday, to speed up a settlement procedure, referring to talks in Belgrade between former FM Karolos Papoulias and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

    Mr. Simitis said Greece did not believe the G8 agreement solved the problem.

    "There is still a long way to go," he said, advising against excessive optimism particularly in view of events yesterday in the southern Yugoslav city of Nis where, according to reports, NATO air strikes hit the main hospital and a market.

    "We must continue our efforts to find a solution which is feasible and acceptable to all sides," Mr. Simitis said.

    Expressing hope for an early end to the war in Yugoslavia, Mr. Simitis reiterated that the Kosovo crisis could not be resolved by military means.

    Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, speaking in Thessaloniki, said later that he believed that the Yugoslav crisis had entered the pacification phase but warned against being too optimistic about a speedy end to the conflict.

    "It will be some days yet before a UN Security Council resolution translates into a (concrete) decision for peace," he said.

    The G8's draft of a peace agreement with UN participation will be brought to the UN Security Council on Monday. The Security Council's adoption of the proposal will be the biggest factor in convincing Belgrade and NATO to accept the terms, he said.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, in Thessaloniki to address a conference on youth issues, said that Belgrade's initial reactions had been positive, and cited messages brought to Athens from Mr. Milosevic by Mr. Papoulias, who met the Yugoslav leader in Belgrade on T hursday.

    Referring to NATO's bombing of Nis, the defence minister said that a continuation of hostilities did not help rapprochement on the prerequisites for a solution.

    He called on those "who have the responsibility" to say whether they were in favour or against a political solution, adding that public opinion appeared to favour an end to hostilities and more activity on the diplomatic front.

    Asked whether Greece would participate in a military force in Kosovo, he said that discussions on the role of the force would first have to be held and that he hoped that a multinational force under UN auspices would be the outcome.

    He said that Greece had been present in efforts to bring peace to Albania and to Bosnia-Herzego-vina and that it would meet its responsibilities and obligations in contributing to a peaceful resolution of the Kosovo crisis. Athens News Agency

    [03] G. Papandreou in Sweden

    STOCKHOLM (ANA) - Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday met with Swedish Prime Minister Goran Person and his counterpart Anne Lindt and discussed the upcoming Euroelections and developments in the Yugoslav crisis.

    On Thursday, speaking to the Swedish Parliament, Mr. Papandreou expressed his gratification for taking part in the EU Greek presidency tenure that presided over Sweden's accession to the Union.

    Mr. Papandreou, speaking at the "Local Administration in the Euroelections" conference organised by Sweden's Social Democrat party, outlined his vision of a united Europe while he spoke of the crisis in Kosovo, underlining that the EU should strengthen its international presence.

    He added that for some time socialists stressed the need for a special European policy for SE Europe P "many think that the Union could develop without the distant and strange (people) of the forgotten Balkans, that they could place European borders wit hin Europe. They forget that European history was written by hands of Balkan residents, and that every crisis in this region means destabilisation of the entire continent."

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Opposition on G8 initiative

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos called the G8 agreement on Kosovo an important step in resolving the crisis, adding that a political solution should be found immediately.

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) deputy Orestis Kolozov said the agreement text does not note anything about the end to the bombardments, "a fact meaning that, in effect, the basic stance of NATO on using military violence to force the Yugoslav governmen t in accepting its terms continues to be in effect."

    The Coalition for the Left (Synaspismos) condemned the new wave of NATO bombings, adding that it "directly undermines the efforts at finding a political solution." Athens News Agency

    [05] Papoulias: Yugoslav people's patriotism carried the day

    Former Greek FM Karolos Papoulias returned from Belgrade yesterday morning, noting that his visit to Yugoslavia came at the right moment.

    At noon he arrived in Ioannina, northern Greece.

    Earlier in Athens, Mr. Papoulias briefed Prime Minister Costas Simitis and National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on his trip.

    "Personally, I am very satisfied and I now have the conviction that we are entering a period of effective initiatives. Because the details which must still be discussed in a draft agreement are many. We will have a 'tug of war' on many practical issues, but the framework and the steafast basis on which the peace solution will be based has been achieved," Mr. Papoulias, who is also the chairman of Parliament's foreign affairs committee, said on arrival at Ioannina airport.

    "What I saw in Belgrade was tragic. It was a city reminding me of World War II. Unfortunately, we Europeans bombed Belgrade's historic centre together, of course, with the Americans. But they are outside Europe. We should have had sensitivities for this country and for this city which was struck by bombs so many times," he added.

    Mr. Papoulias said that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has accepted the agreement.

    "Of course, Mr. Milosevic accepts the agreement. There are no terms. There is extensive autonomy for Kosovo and the presence of an international force. There might be some problem in the structure of the peacekeeping force concerning the participation o r not of countries which participated in the bombings. But I think that President Milosevic is quite a realist to find a solution. Of course, the solution is that all the NATO countries which participated in this crime cannot be excluded, because they are precisely the countries which must participate in a reparation and reconstruction fund and are the ones which must pay. For example, the state of Ivory Coast cannot pay, but France, Germany etc, will pay, " he said.

    Mr. Papoulias ruled out the possibility of ground operations.

    "We will not become spectators of ground operations. There is sincerity, there is agreement and acceptance from Belgrade."

    Asked whether one can speak of victors and vanquished in this war, Mr. Papoulias said:

    "The Yugoslav people won. The patriotism and endurance of the Yugoslav people. It is an example for all of us that a united people sustain an attack by NATO's large war machine, resist and win peace. Because, if the leadership and the people of Yugoslav ia had succumbed there would have been no basis for us to speak today of a peace framework and of a decision of all those who were...'vultures' and did not want peace...Ms Albright and Mr. Cook gave their own interpretation of the text by the G8."

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Kranidiotis on G8 agreement

    VIENNA (ANA - D. Dimitrakoudis) P Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis yesterday in Budapest called the G8 agreement a major step toward the road for a diplomatic solution to the Kosovo crisis.

    Addressing the European Council foreign ministers meeting, Mr. Kranidiotis expressed a hope that there be "will on the part of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to cooperate with the international communicy toward a peaceful solution to the issue".

    In Budapest, Mr. Kranidiotis yesterday met with Russia's alternate foreign minister as well as the FMs of Albania and FYROM. Athens News Agency

    [07] Aid effort by Switzerland, Russia and Greece in Yugoslavia

    GENEVA (ANA) P Switzerland, Russia and Greece are set to participate in a joint humanitarian mission - codenamed "Focus" - to support the Yugoslav people, a spokesman said here yesterday.

    He added that efforts will include air drops of aid, while three 'Focus' officials will soon visit Belgrade to access the needs of the people, as well as the economic and environmental repercussions caused by the NATO bombings. Athens News Agency

    [08] Constantopoulos in London

    LONDON (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis) - Coalition for the Left (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos yesterday arrived here as part of a tour of European capitals.

    He is scheduled to meet with a non-governmental organisation lobbying against the war in Yugoslavia, while today he's scheduled to participate in a rally organised by the British committee for peace in the Balkans.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] EU farmers' group condemns planted rumours on Greek asparagus

    BRUSSELS (ANA - M. Spinthourakis) P The top European Union-wide farmers' association yesterday issued a press release denouncing as "unfounded and unacceptable" recent statements over alleged contamination in Greek asparagus due to NATO bombings in Yugosl avia.

    The EU Agriculture Organisations Committee (COPA) press release also stated that similar practices, which are based on unfounded reports, undermine the correct function of the Union's internal market, while they damage the interests of the farmers of sp ecific regions.

    A French asparagus growers group caused the stir this past week. Athens News Agency

    [10] Tsohatzopoulos on youth issues

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday stressed a need for a complete European strategy to respond to youth's past and present problems.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, in his opening speech at a Thessaloniki conference entitled "Youth Facing 2000", said this policy "is not exclusively a central European responsibility, but also of each country individually".

    Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the conference, the defence minister made it clear that despite the "European experience" of the past few decades, military service would continue to be mandatory in Greece.

    [11] --- Ruling PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis yesterday said the

    course of the country is judged by the June Euroelections, during a pre- election campaign visit to Kavala, northern Greece.

    He criticised opposition parties and especially the main opposition New Democracy leader. Athens News Agency Kosovo coverage dominates conference of Balkan news agencies

    Representatives of Balkan news agencies meeting in Thessaloniki yesterday called for greater care and objectivity in the reporting of the Yugoslav crisis.

    Attending the meeting are Macedonian Press Agency (MPA, Greece), the Bulgarian Telegraphic Agency (BTA), the Italian News Agency (ANSA), Hungary's MTI, Turkey's Anadolu, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) MIA agency, the Albanian News A gency ATA as well as the Athens News Agency.

    "Peace and cooperation in southeast Europe" is the topic of the conference.

    In addresses on the opening day, ANA Managing Director Nikolas Voulelis said that one-sided journalism not only did not serve the truth but concealed it and called for the views of all sides to be aired.

    He said adherence to a journalistic code of conduct was the best way to ensure impartial, accurate and balanced coverage of the facts in situations such as the conflict in Kosovo, where reporters were faced with misinformation from all sides wherever th ey were.

    MPA General Director Spyros Kouzinopoulos said journalists had to focus on "honest, balanced coverage, without ideological prejudices, and comprehensive coverage and analysis of events".

    Mehmet Gyuler, the general director of Anadolu, told participants that his Kosovo correspondent had been forced to leave the region and that they had had no contact with their Belgrade correspondent for the past week.

    BTA's Panayot Denev urged the need for more caution, saying conclusions could not be drawn simply on the basis of journalists' reports from the area, where they acted more or less as eyewitnesses, because local authorities were in control of what journa lists saw and where they were allowed to go.

    ATA's General Director Frok Cupi called coverage by some television stations "wretched", saying the reports were influenced by propaganda and not the need for information. FYROM's MIA representative Zifko Georgievski underlined the difficult postion f acing his country, saying that it was caught smack in the middle of the conflict.

    --- Kosovar refugee search engine on Internet: Representatives of Balkan news agencies yesterday said they would establish a page on their Internet site to assist in the search of Kosovar refugees and missing persons.

    The news agencies representatives met in Thessaloniki yesterday to discuss their role in the effort to stabilise peace in the region after the end of the Kosovo crisis.

    The general directors and chief editors of the Athens News Agency, Turkey's Anadolu and IHA, Bulgaria's BTA, Romania's Rompress, Albania's ATA and the Macedonian Press Agency of Thessaloniki make up the group.

    Athens News Agency

    Papoutsis reiterates Kosovo peace conditions European Union Commissioner Christos Papoutsis yesterday noted that a jointly accepted and viable solution should be reached on the Kosovo crisis, securing the province's autonomy within Yugoslavia, return of the refugees and the rights of ethnic Albanian and Serbians.

    Addressing a European conference on employment relations in the European Union, Mr. Papoutsis said that "Europe stood by weak and unwilling to utter an 'autonomous word', to play its own political role in deterring the crisis or to later achieve a political solution".

    Athens News Agency

    Education agreement with Palestinians

    Culture Minister Elizabeth Papazoi signed an agreement yesterday for cooperation in education and culture with her Palestinian counterpart Yasir Abd Rabbo.

    The agreement provides for cooperation in the scientific, educational and cultural sectors and will involve visits and cultural events between the two sides.

    The agreement makes particular reference to cooperation between youth groups in the cultural and social fields as well as to cooperation between state television and official news agencies. Athens News Agency ND on Euroelections Main opposition New Democracy (ND) yesterday warned that Prime Minister Costas Simitis foreign and domestic policies will be judged in June's Euroelections.

    ND spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said that based on the polls, ND's target of first place in the Euroelections will be achieved, while he criticised ruling PASOK for illegally advertising EU projects financed with Community funds. Athens News Agency 'Europartenariat 1999' in Vienna VIENNA (ANA - D. Dimitrakoudis) - European Union Commissioner Christos Papoutsis will inaugurate the "Europartenariat 1999" conference here on Monday.

    It is considered a "cooperation stock exchange" for small and medium-size enterprises in the EU and is taking place in Austria for the first time. More than 2,500 firm from all over the world will participate.

    A "Partenariat" is incorporated in this year's Europartenariat, which is organised at the installations of the Vienna International Fair, in the framework of the Phare programme for countries in central and eastern Europe. Athens News Agency Bomb blast outside the Netherlands' embassy

    A relatively strong bomb blast was reported outside the embassy of the Netherlands in downtown Athens near the Panathenian Stadium late yesterday evening.

    Authorities said the explosion occurred at around 11:25 p.m. and damaged the embassy's garage door and a parked vehicle. No further details were available at press time.

    In a statement to ANA, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas condemned the attack, calling it the work of "elements that attempt to block the country's course and undermine the Greek people's progress.

    "The Greek people, in their entirety, safeguard their democratic conquests and rights," he added. Athens News Agency Christodoulos annouces details of Patriarch's visit Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos yesterday officially announced an upcoming 15- day visit by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos to Greece.

    Christodoulos said the Patriarch will be received with honours reserved for heads of state.

    Answering a question regarding the relocating of the Patriachate in a predominately Christian country, raised by Patriarch of Antioch Ignatios, Christodoulos said "the Ecumenical Patriarchate will not take such an initiative on its own and that the Gree k Church agrees and accepts the positions of the Ecumenical Throne." Athens News Agency Greek dead of Mauthausen remembered at memorial VIENNA (ANA - D. Dimitrakoudis) P Several Greek expatriates and Austrian officials will visit the WWII-era Mauthausen concentration camp tomorrow to pay tribute to the memory of 3, 700 Greek nationals who died in the camp.

    Representatives of the Greek state, the Church, expatriates and Austrian officials will participate in the events.

    Austrian Interior Minister Karl Schlegl and the first Vice-President of the Austrian Parliament, Heinrich Neisser, will deliver keynote addresses at a memorial service. Athens News Agency Women's groups to protest outside Thessaloniki port against NATO The Coordinating Council of Women's Organisations in the Thessaloniki prefecture will organise an anti-war protest rally outside the port of Thessaloniki on Monday.

    The protesters will gather outside the front gate at 8 p.m. and will form a "human chain".

    Representatives of the network, comprising 22 organisations, told a press conference at the prefectural building yesterday that the event is aimed at expressing their opposition to the continuation of the war and to the passing of NATO forces through the port of Thessaloniki. Athens News Agency Athens pleased with latest round of contacts on Cyprus' EU accession course

    BRUSSELS -(ANA - M. Spinthourakis) - A lengthy phase of diplomatic consultations at the European Union level was apparently concluded with positive results for Cyprus, aimed at the closing two fronts regarding the island republic's EU accession course.

    An agreement was reached here yesterday at the level of the enlargement council's work group concerning Cyprus' adjustment to the EU's acquired rights in the sectors of customs union and foreign relations.

    These consultations lasted for about a month and in its duration several EU countries, primarily France, the Netherlands and Italy, raised a series of issues, claiming that in order for negotiations in these two sectors to close the problem of the islan d's division should be resolved first, before a relevant agreement within the framework of the "15" is achieved.

    Athens reacted to these arguments, claiming that it has been clarified from the start of the negotiations for Cyprus' accession to the EU that the political problem of Cyprus is not linked to the conclusion of negotiations for Cyprus' accession to the E U.

    On its part, the Greek side decided in parallel to block negotiations with the other candidate-countries from central and eastern Europe, claiming that either negotiations will proceed for all countries together or for none.

    In the framework of these consultations Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis met with his French, Dutch and Italian counterparts.

    Commenting on yesterday's development, Mr. Kranidiotis expressed absolute satisfaction, saying that the agreement constitutes one more step in the course of Cyprus' accession to the EU. He added that relevant objections raised by France, the Netherlands and Italy were ultimately lifted following necessary negotiations and the finding of a common ground for understanding. Athens News Agency Greece may join euro zone in spring 2000 Greece may join the euro zone in spring 2000, entering at a parity of 353.1 drachmas to the single currency.

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou told a news conference yesterday that Greece would join the euro on its own merits, and not "through the back door."

    At the same time, earlier entry into the euro zone was neither desirable nor feasible, he added.

    Giving a timescale for the move, he said that the economy's general progress would be studied at the end of 1999 and the government would submit its entry application in 2000.

    The European Central Bank would then evaluate the economy's performance, allowing entry in spring 2000. This means that endorsement could be accompanied by almost simultaneous entry. The government has said its deadline for joining the euro is Janua ry 1, 2001. Mr. Papantoniou was trying to assuage market players who dumped drachmas en masse yesterday on talk that Greece was about to join the euro, which would have entailed an immediate devaluation.

    He denounced speculators who triggered the chain reaction of selling drachmas for euros.

    "We need to be more responsible ... There is no legal framework enabling us to seek early participation, nor do we wish to," the minister said.

    Referring to the Kosovo war, Mr. Papantoniou said the crisis had proved the staying power of the economy.

    He recalled that the economy had successfully met the repercussions of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, last year's Russian debt crisis and now the impact of the Kosovo war.

    He said repercussions of the current crisis could not be measured at this time, but they centred mainly on tourist arrivals from the United States.

    Mr. Papantoniou was adamant, however, that the impact would not exceed 0.5 percent of the country's gross domestic product growth if oil prices did not exceed 17 dollars per barrel.

    He tried to contain high expectations by companies of receiving compensation for damage incurred due to the war in Yugoslavia.

    The minister once again urged businesses to reduce their profit margins and contain price rises to help achieve the Maastricht inflation criterion this year.

    However, the government would consider reducing certain indirect taxes to facilitate the effort, although the possibility was highly unlikely.

    The minister predicted that the general government deficit would stand at 1.9 percent of GDP by the end of the year and that the public debt would continue falling.

    In April, headline inflation had fallen to its lowest level in 28 years and underlying inflation dropped by one percentage point in the same month, Mr. Papantoniou said.

    He said that the government would submit its proposals on projects to fall under the Third Community Support Framework in September.

    In the last 14 months the government had successfully completed eight privatisations despite ideological differences within the ruling PASOK party, and technical problems, the minister added. -- Mass dumping of drachmas on talk of early euro entry: Foreign and domestic players dumped drachmas for euros in frenetic trade yesterday following talk that Greece was about to apply to join the euro zone immediately.

    Despite swift assurances to the contrary by monetary authorities, the drachma still was under pressure at 1700 hours after shrugging off interventions by the central bank.

    The rumours of early euro entry, which would entail a roughly 8.0 percent devaluation of the drachma against the single currency, apparently stemmed from market players in London, and an intitial bout of selling led to a snowball effect.

    The drachma ended 8.0 percent higher on Thursday than its central parity of 353.1 drachmas to the euro in the European Union's exchange rate mechanism.

    The government has consistently said that it aims to take the country into the euro zone by January 1, 2001.

    In the drachma sell-off, even mutual funds were reported to be seeking euros.

    The central bank stepped in to prop up the drachma, with heavy demand taking the single currency to a high of 333 drachmas.

    Traders estimated that outflows totalled one billion dollars.

    Following assurances by monetary authorities, the euro ended at 325.920 drachmas at the Bank of Greece's daily fix from 324.800 drachmas in the previous session.

    The dollar was set at 301.980 drachmas from 300.350 drachmas a day earlier.

    However, the drachma stayed under pressure in trade after the fix. Its parity against the euro had risen to 327.50 at 1700.

    Bonds were unscathed by the turmoil, as early entry into the euro zone would lead to a price surge. Trade was active at 123 billion drachmas. Athens News Agency Stocks end week at new highs, break through 4,000 pts Equity prices ended an historic week at new highs in heavy trading yesterday, evidence of the market's returning dynamism.

    The general index broke the 4,000-point barrier for the first time, ending 1.88 percent higher at 4,037.02 points, its 25th record this year.

    It now stands 47.47 percent up from the beginning of 1999. Turnover was 233.356 billion drachmas and volume 41,321,296 shares.

    Traders said the market reacted positively to developments in the Yugoslav war following an agreement by the G7 group of industrialised nations and Russia on a peace strategy for the region.

    Rumours, however, of early general elections at the same time as Euro- elections in June and early entry by Greece into EMU - which pushed the drachma sharply down against the euro - confused investors and led to high volatility in the market.

    The situation stabilised after the government spokesman, Dimitris Reppas, dismissed such talk.

    Construction shares came under profit-taking following a six-day rally. Sector indices scored gains.

    Banks rose 2.01 percent, Leasing soared 5.63 percent, Insurance increased 2.03 percent, Investment ended 4.12 percent higher, Construction fell 3.93 percent, Industrials rose 1.52 percent, Miscellaneous ended 0.07 percent off and Holding increased 2.30 percent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.02 percent down, while the FTSE/ASE 20 index rose 2.19 percent to 2,494.54 points. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 167 to 117 with another 12 issues unchanged. Thessaliki, Mytilineos and H ellenic Telecoms were the most heavily traded stocks.

    Dorian Bank, National Fund, Karelias, Etma, Koumbas, Xifias, Halyps Cement, Tzirakian and Proodeftiki scored the biggest percentage gains hitting the day's 8.0 percent limit up.

    Metka, Sarandopoulos, Agrinio Metalplastics, Gnomon, Pantechniki, Varagis, Aktor, Avax, Elfico and Texapret suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 23,200 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 22, 950, Ergobank at 29,600, Ionian Bank at 18,500, Titan Cement at 28,800, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,700, Intracom at 22,300, Minoan Lines at 7,840, Panafon at 8,650 and Hellenic Telec oms at 7,850. Athens News Agency

    Money supply growth eases in March Money supply, which includes money in circulation, repos and private deposits in drachmas and foreign currency, slowed to an 8.7 percent rate of growth in March against the same month a year earlier, the Bank of Greece said yesterday.

    The central bank's annual target is a growth rate of 7.0-9.0 percent.

    The slowdown in March was attributed to a shift of capital into longer-term state bonds from short-term treasury bills.

    The rate of growth of private deposits was 11.5 percent in March from 10.3 percent in February. Athens News Agency Finance ministry to auction 10-year bonds Tues The finance ministry is to auction 240 billion drachmas' worth of 10-year bonds on Tuesday at a fixed 6.30 percent, in a re-opening of the original January 1, 1999 paper.

    The auction is open to primary dealers, who will not receive a commission. Athens News Agency Farming uses 82 pct of its EU funds National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday that the agriculture ministry had absorbed more than 82 percent of its allocation of European Union funds under the Second Community Support Framework.

    At the same time, some of the funding available should have been allocated to sectors that would show long-term returns, Mr. Papantoniou said.

    In addition, farming cooperatives needed to work more closely with the public sector, he added.

    The minister was addressing a conference of the PASEGES farming association. Athens News Agency Athens Foreign Exchange Bank of Greece closing rates of: May 7, 1999

    Banknotes           Buying    Selling
    US Dollar           299.564   306.510
    Can.Dollar          205.146   209.902
    Australian Dlr      199.640   204.269
    Pound Sterling      488.987   500.324
    Irish Punt          410.522   420.040
    Pound Cyprus        560.460   573.455
    Pound Malta         713.907   743.653
    Turkish pound (100)   0.071     0.074
    French franc         49.289    50.431
    Swiss franc         201.589   206.263
    Belgian franc         8.015     8.200
    German Mark         165.307   169.140
    Finnish Mark         54.377    55.638
    Dutch Guilder       146.713   150.114
    Danish Kr.           43.535    44.544
    Swedish Kr.          36.049    36.885
    Norwegian Kr.        39.224    40.133
    Austrian Sh.         23.497    24.041
    Italian lira (100)   16.697    17.084
    Yen (100)           248.853   254.623
    Spanish Peseta        1.943     1.988
    Port. Escudo          1.613     1.650
    
    Foreign Exchange                     Buying    Selling
    New York            299.564   306.510
    Montreal            205.146   209.902
    Sydney              199.640   204.269
    London              488.987   500.324
    Dublin              410.522   420.040
    Nicosia             560.460   573.455
    Paris                49.289    50.431
    Zurich              201.589   206.263
    Brussels              8.015     8.200
    Frankfurt           165.307   169.140
    Helsinki             54.377    55.638
    Amsterdam           146.713   150.114
    Copenhagen           43.535    44.544
    Stockholm            36.049    36.885
    Oslo                 39.224    40.133
    Vienna               23.497    24.041
    Milan                16.697    17.084
    Tokyo               248.853   254.623
    Madrid                1.943     1.988
    Lisbon                1.613     1.650
    
    Athens News Agency

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