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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-05-12

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] Athens,Lisbon agree on need for immediate peace in Kosovo
  • [02] US ambassador says Washington supports Greek initiatives on Kosovo
  • [03] Simitis, Majko confirm will for closer bilateral relations
  • [04] G. Papandreou cites Athens' plan for advancing area peace plan
  • [05] Simitis-Georgievski talks focus bilateral relations, economic ties
  • [06] Simitis touts Greece's role in promoting Balkan stability,European integration
  • [07] Gov't announces int'l conference on refugees
  • [08] Yugoslav football team's home match in Thessaloniki
  • [09] FYROM's Georgievski extends invitation for Greek entrepreneurs, investors
  • [10] Discussions between British culture minister, Euro-MPs over Parthenon Marbles
  • [11] Stephanopoulos arrives for official visit to Armenia
  • [12] Gov't on Milosevic announcement
  • [13] Greece sets plan in action to help develop Balkans
  • [14] Stock market hits new all-time high
  • [15] Banks launch wave of share cap rises
  • [16] 10-year bond yield drops in auction
  • [17] Papantoniou on damage to economy from Balkan crisis
  • [18] Athens Foreign Exchange
  • [19] Greece-Morocco air transport agreement

  • [01] Athens,Lisbon agree on need for immediate peace in Kosovo

    Athens, 12/05/1999 (ANA)

    Greece and Portugal yesterday agreed in that peace should be pursued in Kosovo and that further hostilities complicated already existing problems.

    "It is our common conviction that peace should be pursued right now, because the problem of (continuing) hostilities add to already existing problems. Diplomacy should be the main means through which we will solve the problem," PM Costas Simitis told reporters in Thessaloniki after talks with his visiting Portuguese counterpart Antonio Guterres.

    "Every move that contributes to peace is positive," Mr. Simitis added, referring to an announcement by Belgrade on Monday regarding a partial withdrawal of federal troops from the province of Kosovo.

    He said President Slobodan Milosevic's act was positive but must be accompanied by further action.

    "An end to the bombings is also a positive move, which must be combined with other moves," he added.

    Mr. Simitis said last week's draft proposal for a settlement from the 'G8' countries was a good basis for a final settlement of the Kosovo problem.

    The Greek prime minister stressed the need for prompt and coordinated action to rebuild the Balkans as soon as peace was achieved and said Mr. Guterres had agreed that Thessaloniki was best-placed to be the centre of these efforts.

    Mr. Simitis said he would propose that the agency to be created at the end of hostilities to coordinate the rebuilding of the Balkans be based in Thessaloniki.

    He underlined that this agency should include a range of different countries and not just those in the region, which are unable to bear the full cost of restoring the damage the war has caused.

    Mr. Guterres said the proposal had his agreement and that Thessaloniki was not only the best choice in terms of geography but also in terms of its access to international networks.

    Both urged the speediest possible settlement of the crisis, saying the G8 proposal had to be implemented without delay and that it could lead to a resolution of the crisis.

    Mr. Guterres said respect for existing borders was a priority.

    "This is no time for such changes in the Balkans because any like this will create rather than solve problems," he said.

    He also called Greece's role in the Balkans "key" to resolving the problems.

    Asked how long a possible settlement of the Kosovo crisis could take, Mr. Guterres said:

    "We should be neither optimistic nor pessimistic but we should be decisive".

    Mr. Simitis said the Greek government regretted the loss of civilian life in the NATO bombing campaign and reiterated the need for a peaceful end to the conflict.

    Mr. Guterres said there should be a clear definition between actions taken to stop ethnic cleansing and other military activity, saying that NATO's bombing of the Chinese embassy was an example of military activity that was "not expedient".

    The crisis in Kosovo has illustrated that the European Union has need of a common foreign and security and defence policy, the two premiers said.

    Mr. Simitis said Greece was ready to offer full support to Portugal when it becomes EU president in the first-half of 2000 and to its attempts to forge a common foreign policy and policies on employment and expansion.

    Mr. Guterres said he had been impressed by the progress achieved by the Greek economy and said he was certain that Greece would be participating in Economic and Monetary Union as of 2001.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] US ambassador says Washington supports Greek initiatives on Kosovo

    Athens, 12/05/1999 (ANA)

    US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns reiterated yesterday that he completely understood Greece's position regarded the Yugoslav crisis and fully supported efforts and initiatives taken by the Greek government aimed at bringing peace to the region.

    Addressing a business forum on SE Europe in Thessaloniki, Mr. Burns said Washington also supported a proposal for the convening of a conference to discuss the reconstruction of the region, announced at the forum earlier by Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

    Conversely, Mr. Burns vehemently attacked the policy of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, saying the partial withdrawal of Serb troops from the troubled Yugoslav province Kosovo, announced by Belgrade on Monday, would not suffice to stop NATO's bombing campaign.

    "To stop the bombing without the complete withdrawal of (Yugoslav) troops would serve only Milosevic since it would not be possible for one million refugees to return, the protection of whom is the primary objective of the NATO operation," Mr. Burns said.

    The envoy clarified that Washington did not want a change of borders, independence for Kosovo and the redrawing of the map of the region, and described as "a good opportunity for peace" the G8 draft agreement for Kosovo.

    Although Washington does not have "identical views" with Greece on the Kosovo crisis, Mr. Burns said, it had "identical objectives".

    Mr. Burns said he understood the "particularities" of the Greek position and the common religious, cultural and economic ties between Yugoslavia and Greece.

    "We consider to be extremely useful Greece's cooperation with Russia in efforts to find a solution and we support the efforts of the Greek government to provide assistance to all the parties in the conflict," Mr. Burns said.

    The US envoy also acknowledged that given its size, Greece had done the most to relieve the plight of refugees, stressing that Washington would support Athens' efforts to alleviate the "demographic pressure" being exerted on Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    He also acknowledged the general role played by Greece in the region and said the country would have a major part in reconstruction plans.

    Concluding his address to the forum, Mr. Burns said all the procedures were gradually being lifted to enable Greek entrepreneurs and citizens to travel to the United States without any visa requirements soon.

    The US embassy announced on Monday that Greece had been invited to join the United States' "Visa Waiver Pilot Program" (VWPP) along with Portugal, Singapore and Uruguay.

    In a related development, Mr. Burns also met with Albanian Prime Minister Pandeli Majko, who maintained that the complete withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from Kosovo and Mr. Milosevic's meeting of all NATO terms would constitute a solution to the crisis.

    According to an Albanian foreign ministry press release, during the meeting both sides expressed a readiness to cooperate toward a solution to the crisis and the return of the Kosovar refugees.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Simitis, Majko confirm will for closer bilateral relations

    Athens, 12/05/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his Albanian counterpart Pandeli Majko confirmed the will of both countries for closer cooperation, after holding talks in Thessaloniki yesterday.

    In a statement, Mr. Simitis said he agreed with the Albanian PM that peace efforts must be continued and that an end to the war must be sought in every way as soon as possible.

    He reiterated Greece's position that there must be no change in borders and that the agreement reached by the G8 on the Yugoslav crisis must be implemented.

    Referring to cooperation between the two countries, Mr. Simitis said he and Mr. Majko discussed the need for a plan on restructuring the region as well as the need for cooperation between Greece and Albania on preparing the plan. Mr. Simitis also said t hat Greece will continue to give Albania humanitarian aid.

    Commenting on the opening of an Albanian consulate in Thessaloniki yesterday, he said it was proof of the continuous improvement in relations and in the better linkage between the two countries. He further indicated that he will be visiting Tirana at a later stage.

    Mr. Majko said his visit to Greece was of particular importance since "at the present time, both Greece and Albania are giving examples of good cooperation to all, precisely now that our region is experiencing very difficult moments."

    Referring to developments in Kosovo, Mr. Majko reiterated that his country was and will be at NATO's side and that it supports the conditions set to Yugoslavia by the alliance until they are fulfilled.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] G. Papandreou cites Athens' plan for advancing area peace plan

    Athens, 12/05/1999 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou said yesterday that Athens had advanced a plan for peace in Yugoslavia and was intensifying its efforts, together with the European Union and NATO, to end the war.

    "But we still have a long way ahead of us for a permanent cessation of fire and satisfaction of the conditions set out by the G8," he added. Addressing a two-day business forum on SE Europe, which ended yesterday in Thessaloniki, Mr. Papandreou con demned ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, at the same time noting that "we cannot speak of ethnic states in the Balkans".

    "The borders in the Balkans cannot change, because that would create explosive problems in the region," he warned.

    He welcomed Belgrade's announcement of a partial troop pullout from Kosovo as "a first step in the right direction", adding that "we are awaiting the next steps."

    Mr. Papandreou further expressed hope that the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade would not become an obstacle to the UN Security Council adopting a resolution based on the G8 proposals.

    China is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council.

    Turning to the "morning after" the war, Mr. Papandreou said "Greece will be here" as a strong, solid pole, and outlined the Greek government's plans in the economic sector for Balkan reconstruction.

    Albanian FM : Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo blamed Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic of being responsible for creating the crisis.

    He solidly backed the NATO decision to continue its bombing of Yugoslavia, expressing a conviction that "NATO's military reaction will succeed where diplomacy has failed".

    Commenting on Belgrade's initiative to partially withdraw its troops from Kosovo, Mr. Milo accused Mr. Milosevic of "trying to gain time in order to cause a rift in the international community through proposing partial solutions".

    Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Foreign Minister Aleksander Dimitrov said the humanitarian disaster and the 250,000 refugees in his country posed a threat to FYROM's political stability.

    Presenting the economic repercussions of the Yugoslav crisis on FYROM, Mr. Dimitrov said losses were estimated at 220 million dollars a month, while production had fallen 20 percent and, in only a matter of five weeks another 16,000 refugees had been ad ded to the count.

    He called on the international community to remunerate FYROM for the losses it was suffering.

    Mr. Papandreou told the forum that the Kosovo crisis had contributed to a reduction in tension between Greece and Turkey and expressed the hope that this reduction "will not be temporary but long-term".

    "We extend a hand of friendship to Turkey, not from a position of weakness, but in the belief that this contributes to stability in the region and we hope that Turkey will respond," Mr. Papandreou said.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Simitis-Georgievski talks focus bilateral relations, economic ties

    Athens, 12/05/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his counterpart from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Ljubco Georgievski, held talks in Thessaloniki last night and underlined a rapid improvement in relations between the two countries, particularly in the economic sector.

    Both leaders agreed that a solution to the Kosovo crisis must be found immediately and care should be taken for the prompt and safe return of refugees to their homes.

    Mr. Simitis said Greece is opposed to a change in borders in the Balkans, because such an eventuality will signal greater upheavals in the region which, as he said, must be avoided in every way.

    He said the security of refugees can be guaranteed by the presence of a peacekeeping force in Kosovo in which forces from NATO and other countries will participate.

    Mr. Simitis expressed satisfaction over the development of bilateral relations between the two countries, saying that despite the unfavourable environment due to the war, these relations can improve even more, adding that the future can be favourable in the region if efforts for cooperation between the countries continue.

    He said the economic repercussions of the war on FYROM are very painful and said that if they are not tackled there is the possibility of destabilisation being created in the region.

    On the question of FYROM's name, Mr. Simitis reiterated that it is being discussed and will continue to be discussed at the UN's relevant bodies.

    Mr. Georgievski said Greece now holds first place in foreign investments.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Simitis touts Greece's role in promoting Balkan stability,European integration

    Athens, 12/05/1999 (ANA)

    Greece wishes to play a prominent role in promoting stability in the Balkans and integration of the region's countries into mainstream Europe, Prime Minister Costas Simitis stressed yesterday.

    "Greece wishes to participate on equal terms in the building of a 'New Europe', to play a prominent role in the integration process of Balkan countries and emerge as a force of friendship, peace and cooperation. Our primary concern is stability in the region," he said in an address at the 6th annual Thessaloniki Forum on Greece and the Balkans.

    "Greece as a member of the European Union, of Euroatlantic structures and a Balkan country is trying to play a constructive role in stabilising the wider region and function as a factor of peace and economic reconstruction. Our positions regarding the Balkans are an essential part of our policy in Europe, but also in other cases, such as the convening of the Balkan conference on Crete, participation in the Royaumont and SECI initiatives, and in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation of Black Sea coun tries," he added.

    He said current developments would be particularly crucial in determining the future of the countries of the region, and that the Kosovo crisis, which was linked to peace and stability in the whole of Europe.

    "The Kosovo crisis which is continuing for more than a month is an unpleasant development for the region, which holds the danger of destabilisation if it goes uncheckedIThe continuation of the bombings has succeeded neither in preventing the authoritari an policy of the Milosevic regime and the policy of ethnic cleansing nor in weakening him...

    A resolution of the crisis required the involvement of the United Nations, and Greece was willing to participate in such an effort.

    "Greece maintained the need for an involvement of the United Nations right from the start...I believe that an international peacekeeping force must be deployed in Kosovo with the authorisation of the UN, in which not only NATO forces will participate, but also Russia and other countries. Greece would be willing to join forces in such a case," he said. Greece had presented a three-fold comprehensive proposal for stabilisation in the Balkans, based on a political resolution of the crisis as soon as po ssible, stabilisation - demo-cratisation - development - linking of the Balkans with European architecture, and dealing with humanitarian problems, Mr. Simitis said.

    "This proposal of ours comes to complement the proposal of the German presidency for a Stability Pace for the region...

    "I wish to emphasise that our central aim is the incorporation of all the countries of SE Europe in the European Union and the other institutiions of economic and political integration...We have already asked the European Union to upgrade the all trade ag reements into Association Agreements," he said.

    Mr. Simitis said Greece was exposed to the Kosovo crisis more than other EU countries, due to its proximity to Yugoslavia and its increasingly stronger economic links with Balkan countries.

    "Our country, like the other Balkan countries, is sustainingg the economic effects of the war on its exports, tourism, activity in northern Greece and investment in neighbouring countries...

    "Greek exports to the Balkan countries represented 13 percent of our total exports in 1998. On the other hand, Greece is a partner absorbing 15 per cent of the exports of Balkan countries," he stressed.

    The Greek business presence in the Balkans involved 3,500 firms, which invested $300 million in 1998 in the consumer product and the raw material sectors, he said.

    Finally, Mr. Simitis stressed that Greece was hosting hundreds of thousands of foreign workers from neighbouring countries, and had taken measures to legalise their presence in order to give them the opportunity to work on equal terms with Greek workers .

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Gov't announces int'l conference on refugees

    Athens, 12/05/1999 (ANA)

    Greece will organise a conference next month on the problem of the refugees from neighbouring Yugoslavia, Foreign Minister George Papandreou announced yesterday in Thessaloniki. He told delegates to a two-day business forum on southeastern Europe that ended yesterday in the northern Greek capital that the conference would be held in Thessaloniki, organised jointly with the UN High Commission for Refugees and with the agreement of the European Union, NATO, the United States and other countries.

    Mr. Papandreou said that in the context of the conference, Greece and the United Nations have undertaken that task of outlining and assessing the refugees problem and the human devastation inside Yugoslavia as well, which they would present in reports.

    "We will thus have a more specific and overall picutre of the refugees issue," he said, adding that "we are formulating a basis for the morning after, when the process of reconciliation will begin."

    Athens Neww Agency

    [08] Yugoslav football team's home match in Thessaloniki

    Athens, 12/05/1999 (ANA)

    Yugoslavia will play its home match against Malta in the European Championship qualifying tournament at Thessaloniki's Toumba stadium on June 9, the Greek Football Federation (EPO) announced yesterday.

    EPO accepted a request from the Yugoslav Football Association (FSO) for both the under-21 and men's team to play in Thessaloniki following a decision on Monday by European soccer's governing body (UEFA) to allow the country to remain in the "Euro 2000" tournament. Owing to the Kosovo conflict, however, UEFA told FSO that home matches would have to be played in a neutral country because of the NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia.

    The under-21 match between Yugoslavia and Malta will be held in Thessaloniki on June 8.

    At a press conference on Monday, Yugoslavia's coach, Milan Zivadinovic, expressed a preference for Thessaloniki as the venue for the match with Malta.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] FYROM's Georgievski extends invitation for Greek entrepreneurs, investors

    Athens, 12/05/1999 (ANA)

    The prime minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Ljubco Georgievski yesterday issued an open invitation to Greek entrepreneurs to invest in the neighbouring country, saying economic cooperation was the key to stronger bilateral ties .

    "I believe in a strong spirit of mutual friendship between the two countries and believe that the five months of our government has opened a positive road to strong political communication with the Greek government," Mr. Georgievski said after meetings with Greek ministers and business figures in Thessaloniki.

    He said his meeting yesterday with Prime Minister Costas Simitis had contributed to this positive atmosphere.

    "Sincere communication is built at the level of economic cooperation and Greek businesspeople were the first to open the door to cooperation," he said.

    "The spirit of our government is one that is open and liberal to investments from abroad and we have proceeded to a change in the law regarding privatisations. I believe we have achieved much in this regard."

    Mr. Georgievski said he was pleased at the fact that Greece was the leading investor in FYROM but said Skopje was keen to see investment from a diverse group of countries.

    "When we speak of revitalising the Balkans, there remains the outstanding issue of Kosovo and our attention must be focused on this," he said.

    "But we cannot overlook the positive aspects which have come from the conflictIWe are obliged not to miss this opportunity," he said, citing talk of new economic programmes, including those financed by the EU and the United States.

    Referring to a recent deal between his government and Hellenic Petroleum for a majority stake in FYROM's OKTA refinery, Mr. Georgievski noted that Yugoslavia had lost its two refineries in the NATO bombing and would have a problem processing fuel in the future.

    Working with Meton SA, a Greek engineering contractor, Hellenic Petroleum will also build a 230-kilometre oil pipeline linking Skopje and Thessaloniki with a capacity of 2.5 million tonnes of crude annually.

    Mr. Georgievski said FYROM planned to create two industrial zones, one of which would be located on the border with Greece.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Discussions between British culture minister, Euro-MPs over Parthenon Marbles

    LONDON, 12/05/1999 (ANA)

    British Culture Minister Chris Smith held talks with the members of the Parthenon Marbles delegation, comprised of the Eurodeputies Alf Lomas (Britain), Alekos Alavanos and Irene Lambraki, as well as the president and deputy president of the British Committee for the return of the Marbles Graham Binns and Chris Price.

    The British minister may have set out his government's steadfast position on the issue but he was responsive to some ideas tabled by the committee. Mr. Alavanos said it was a dialogue between two sides which have completely different views but it was not a dialogue "between the deaf."

    He added that the European Parliament's resolution on the return of the Parthenon Marbles is useful since the British ministry's positions were not faced solely by Greek positions but a resolution which was supported by Eurodeputies from 15 countries.

    Mr. Lomas said the Parthenon Marbles could be moved around the world and not stay in Athens all the time.

    Finally, Ms Lambraki noted that no specific date for the return of the Marbles was set, but added that yesterday's contact with the British culture minister was aimed at getting dialogue underway.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Stephanopoulos arrives for official visit to Armenia

    YEREVAN, 12/05/1999 (ANA - N. Megadoukas)

    Armenian President Robert Kocharian welcomed his Greek counterpart Kostis Stephanopoulos here yesterday, who arrived for a three-day official visit to the Caucasus country.

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

    The Greek president held brief talks with his Armenian counterpart at Yerevan airport and later visited a local museum.

    Both men will hold private talks this morning and afterwards three texts will be signed: an agreement on the avoidance of double taxation; an agreement for mutual assistance between customs administrations and a protocol for an exchange of documents on the ratification of a friendship and cooperation agreement between Greece and Armenia - signed in Athens in June 1997.

    President Stephanopoulos will also be visiting the museum and Armenian genocide memorial. Before leaving Georgia for Yerevan, President Stephanopoulos hosted a reception in honour of Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze.

    In a brief statement, he said friendly ties between Greece and Georgia were strengthened with his visit to Tbilisi and underlined the important role played by Greek expatriates in Georgia as a link in relations between the two countries.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Gov't on Milosevic announcement

    Athens, 12/05/1999 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday described as a "positive step" Belgrade's intention to gradually withdraw Yugoslav military forces from Kosovo, while stressing that "other steps" also had to be taken.

    Mr. Reppas said the visit to Belgrade by Russian President Boris Yeltsin's Kosovo envoy, Viktor Chernomyrdin, was expected to help clarify the intentions of the Yugoslav leadership. Deputy Defence Minister Dimitris Apostolakis also said the announcement of a partial troop withdrawal from Kosovo opened "the window of hope" for a peaceful settlement of the crisis. Mr. Apostolakis was speaking at a luncheon given in honour of alternate and deputy defence ministers since 1974. Replying to questions, Mr. Apostolakis said Greek crews were not participating in AWACS operations against Yugoslavia.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Greece sets plan in action to help develop Balkans

    Athens, 12/05/1999 (ANA)

    The government has launched a national action plan for reconstruction of the Balkans following a meeting last week between National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, trade groups, companies and banks.

    Addressing an international forum on southeast Europe in Thessaloniki yesterday, Mr. Papantoniou said that he would lead a working group comprising representatives of the national economy, development and foreign ministries and trade groups.

    The group's task will be to recommend measures to the government and liaise with the private sector, especially engineering contractors and banks, which will lead the reconstruction drive.

    The group may also draft country or regional business plans.

    Mr. Papantoniou said the government and business representatives had already agreed to boost the capital of the export credit insurance organisation; increase staff and loans for the country's financial and trade offices in the Balkans; redistribute bil ateral development aid towards the Balkans; and increase export credits to Greek businesses.

    He noted that increasing export credits would burden the budget to some extent because the state guaranteed the loans and subsidised their interest.

    Mr. Papantoniou said the government was planning to create two special funds totalling three billion drachmas to be managed by the World Bank. The money would be allocated from the budget.

    The two funds would support Greek businesses undertaking projects in Balkan states hurt by military operations.

    Mr. Papantoniou said that it was Greece's moral and political responsibility to help in reconstruction of the region.

    He said an ECOFIN council meeting in Brussels on Monday had agreed that Greece should take part in international political and financial planning groups to be created shortly that will include the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and individual countries.

    Mr. Papantoniou said Thessaloniki and northern Greece should play a decisive role in this international drive: "Thessaloniki must become the official centre of this effort."

    He also urged domestic utilities like the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation, Public Power Corporation, state water company and Hellenic Railways Organisation, to seriously consider their participation in the reconstruction projects.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Stock market hits new all-time high

    Athens, 12/05/1999 (ANA)

    Equity prices resumed their upward course yesterday to end at new record levels on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    The general index ended 2.56 percent up at 4,104.69 points, its 26th record this year. The index has shown a 49.94 percent gain in 1999.

    Turnover yesterday was 190.925 billion drachmas and volume 38,100,476 shares.

    Traders said the market had discounted the end of the war in Kosovo and was gradually turning its attention to economic fundamentals and corporate profits.

    Fuelling sentiment were favourable comments by the European Commission on the Greek economy and its future participation in the euro zone; a positive market outlook given by international investment firms; and surprisingly high profits announced by the majority of listed companies, led by banks.

    Construction shares remained the focus of attention with a total of 30 of the sector's 33 stocks ending at the daily 8.0 percent limit up, spurred by the prospect of reconstruction projects in the Balkans.

    The construction sector index has shown a spectacular 263.5 percent increase from the beginning of the year.

    Sector indices scored gains.

    Banks rose 1.35 percent, Leasing soared 7.13 percent, Insurance increased 3.15 percent, Investment ended 3.09 percent up, Construction surged 7.90 percent, Industrials rose 3.51 percent, Miscellaneous jumped 4.88 percent and Holding increased 4.67 percent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies soared 6.74 percent while the FTSE/ASE 20 index ended 1.67 percent up at 2,488.05.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 265 to 29 with another six issues unchanged.

    A total of 89 issues hit the day's 8.0 percent limit up.

    Among them were Alpha Leasing, Viohalco, Ideal, Sigalas, Proodeftiki, Aegek, Aktor, Hellenic Technodomiki, Fanco and Diekat.

    3A, Zampa, ANEK Lines, Xifias, Sato, Radio Athina, Levenderis, Interinvest and Nimatemboriki suffered the heaviest losses.

    Hellenic Petroleum, Thessaliki, Technodomi and Macedonian Textiles were the most heavily traded stocks.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 22,700 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 22, 685, Ergobank at 30,000, Ionian Bank at 18,045, Titan Cement at 29,550, Hellenic Petroleum at 3,080, Intracom at 23,150, Minoan Lines at 8,580, Panafon at 8,500 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,720.

    Bond prices jump in active trade : Most bond prices gained around 50 basis points in heavy trade yesterday with the yield spread over bunds narrowing again. Electronic trade totalled 142 billion drachmas from 53 billion drachmas a day earlier.

    The ten-year-bond was trading at 104.55, showing a yield of 5.69 percent.

    The yield spread with German bunds was 165 basis points.

    In the foreign currency market, the drachma gained on the euro. At the central bank's daily fix, the euro was set at 325.420 drachmas from 326.480 drachmas in the previous session.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Banks launch wave of share cap rises

    Athens, 12/05/1999 (ANA)

    Seven of the country's largest banks are seeking to raise over 700 billion drachmas in fresh capital from the domestic market by the end of the summer in order to finance expansion plans, analysts said yesterday.

    National Bank of Greece, Alpha Credit Bank, Bank of Piraeus and Xiosbank have already launched share capital increases totalling 474 billion drachmas, while in the next few days Eurobank is launching an increase of 110 billion drachmas.

    Commercial Bank of Greece and Macedonia-Thrace Bank have also announced they will seek to raise 120 and 70 billion drachmas each from the market, but have not yet announced subscription dates.

    The analysts said that although each bank had its own strategy for the use of new capital, there was a common goal of raising market shares in domestic and international markets.

    The banks want to strengthen the promotion of new products and develop services beyond traditional banking such as mutual fund management, stockbroking, venture capital etc.

    They also are seeking to expand in international markets focusing on the Balkans and major financial centres in Europe and the US.

    Other plans are to expand Internet services, boost electronic banking services, install more ATMs, widen the use of phone banking, and expand branch networks.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] 10-year bond yield drops in auction

    Athens, 12/05/1999 (ANA)

    The 10-year bond yield dropped substantially in yesterday's auction of paper by the finance ministry.

    The average weighed rate fell to 5.66 percent from 5.98 percent in the previous auction. The bids submitted totalled 580 billion drachmas, 2.4 times more than the offered sum.

    The 10-year bond yield is a benchmark for entry into the European Union's economic and monetary union.

    Following yesterday's results, the domestic yield spread over German bunds fell to around 160 basis points, 46 points below the convergence criterion.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Papantoniou on damage to economy from Balkan crisis

    Athens, 12/05/1999 (ANA)

    National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday announced that damage to Greece's economy due to the Kosovo crisis will not exceed 200 billion drachmas.

    The minister, addressing reporters on the sidelines of the 6th SE Europe business forum in Thessaloniki, said a worst-case scenario would cause the country's GDP to drop by 0.5 per cent.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens, 12/05/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: May 11, 1999

    Parities in Drachmas

    Banknotes             Buying  Selling
    US Dollar             300.417 307.383
    Can.Dollar            205.860 210.633
    Australian Dlr        201.361 206.030
    Pound Sterling        487.449 498.751
    Irish Punt            409.892 419.396
    Pound Cyprus          557.901 570.836
    Pound Malta           718.837 748.789
    Turkish pound (100)     0.068   0.071
    French franc           49.213  50.354
    Swiss franc           200.627 205.279
    Belgian franc           8.002   8.188
    German Mark           165.054 168.881
    Finnish Mark           54.294  55.553
    Dutch Guilder         146.488 149.884
    Danish Kr.             43.450  44.457
    Swedish Kr.            36.075  36.911
    Norwegian Kr.          39.265  40.176
    Austrian Sh.           23.460  24.004
    Italian lira (100)     16.673  17.059
    Yen (100)             248.060 253.811
    Spanish Peseta          1.940   1.985
    Port. Escudo            1.610   1.647
    
    Foreign Exchange      Buying  Selling
    New York              300.417 307.383
    Montreal              205.860 210.633
    Sydney                201.361 206.030
    London                487.449 498.751
    Dublin                409.892 419.396
    Nicosia               557.901 570.836
    Paris                  49.213  50.354
    Zurich                200.627 205.279
    Brussels                8.002   8.188
    Frankfurt             165.054 168.881
    Helsinki               54.294  55.553
    Amsterdam             146.488 149.884
    Copenhagen             43.450  44.457
    Stockholm              36.075  36.911
    Oslo                   39.265  40.176
    Vienna                 23.460  24.004
    Milan                  16.673  17.059
    Tokyo                 248.060 253.811
    Madrid                  1.940  1.985
    Lisbon                  1.610  1.647
    
    Athens News Agency

    [19] Greece-Morocco air transport agreement

    Athens, 12/05/1999 (ANA)

    Greece and Morocco signed an air transport agreement providing for the free movement of passengers, cargo and mail between the two countries, the transport ministry announced yesterday. It said the agreement was signed in Rabat by Greek Transport and Comm unications Minister Tassos Mantelis and his Moroccan counterpart Mustafa Mansouri during the former's recent visit to Morocco.

    Athens News Agency

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