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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-05-13

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] Greece will continue efforts for speedy solution to Kosovo crisis, FM says
  • [02] President Stephanopoulos holds talks with Armenian counterpart
  • [03] Britain denies issuing travel advisory for Greece
  • [04] Simitis calls for an end to war
  • [05] Greece will not be used for NATO operations in Yugoslavia,gov't says
  • [06] Trucks head for NATO forces in FYROM
  • [07] Concern voiced over plans to construct tourist facilities in Messinia
  • [08] Greek parliamentarians depart for Seoul
  • [09] Greece to meet euro criteria at the end of 1999
  • [10] Stocks edge down in Russia jitters
  • [11] Northern Greek firms see hefty losses from Kosovo war
  • [12] Ergo Invest shows 162 pct profit jump in Jan-Apr
  • [13] Elais buys tomato industry
  • [14] Hellenic Petroleum posts profit jump in 1998
  • [15] Athens Foreign Exchange

  • [01] Greece will continue efforts for speedy solution to Kosovo crisis, FM says

    Athens, 13/05/1999 (ANA)

    Greece will continue its efforts towards a speedy political-diploma-tic solution to the Kosovo crisis through a series of contacts in Europe, the United States and China, Foreign Minister George Papandreou said yesterday during a press conference.

    Mr. Papandreou said that he was planning to visit Bulgaria on Friday for a Greek-Romanian-Bulgarian FMs' meeting on the issue, while on Tuesday he is set to visit Paris at the invitation of his French counterpart Hubert Vedrine. In a related developm ent, Prime Minister Costas Simitis last night called for an end to the conflict in Kosovo, saying that the continuation of the NATO campaign could lead to a failure in the search of a solution. Mr. Simitis was addressing a ruling PASOK electoral rally. He also said that next week he will visit the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Albania, while immediately afterwards he will be visiting Moscow, Washington and Beijing.

    In evaluating the results of the crisis, Mr. Papandreou noted that Greece's priority was the protection of the country's national interests, so as not to become a part of the Balkan crisis, but rather an active element in the efforts to resolve it.

    Toward this end the Greek government is in contact with Kosovo Albanian moderate leader Ibrahim Rugova, he said.

    Mr. Papandreou also noted his Tuesday telephone contact with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, where he had the opportunity to exchange views on the problem.

    Mr. Papandreou said that Ms. Albright expressed her satisfaction over the decision of the G8 on Kosovo. He added that on his part he briefed the US Secretary of State over former foreign minister Karolos Papoulias' talks with the Yugoslav leadership last week.

    Speaking on the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Mr. Papandreou said that China's reactions were understandable, adding that the international community wishes for China to contribute towards a solution, within a relevant decision of the United Nation's Security Council.

    On a different note, Mr. Papandreou reiterated Greece's initiatives for what he called the "day after", underlining the aim of restructuring the region by a long-term effort to upgrade it, since this region is integrally interconnected with Greek nation al interests.

    Mr. Papandreou also addressed the international conference on the humanitarian problem in the region, which is scheduled to take place in Thessaloniki next month, noting that the other European Union member-states, the US and Russia have agreed on the convening of this conference.

    Mr. Papandreou said that representatives of NATO member-states and Russia will participate in the conference, adding that China could be invited as well.

    He said that representatives of the United Nations, the European Commission and international non-governmental organisations will be invited to participate.

    Answering whether Yugoslavia will be invited, he said that "of course their will be an invitation from us, for participation at the least on a non- governmental level."

    He added that the first step would be to send a mission to Belgrade and Pristina, which will evaluate the humanitarian problems and damages in Yugoslavia's infrastructure.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] President Stephanopoulos holds talks with Armenian counterpart

    YEREVAN, 13/05/1999 (ANA- N. Megadoukas)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos yesterday continued his official visit to Armenia with talks with counterpart Robert Kocharian and the signing of two bilateral agreements on the avoidance of double taxation a nd cooperation in customs matters.

    The talks included the situation in the Balkans and in the Caucasus on which the two heads of state found a coincidence of views. Mr. Kocharian said Greece was a key-country in the promotion of Armenia's position in international organisations, and to that end he had asked for Athens' assistance.

    The Greek president also visited the Museum and the Monument for the Armenian Genocide by the Turks in 1915, where he planted a fir tree "as an expression of honour to the Armenian nation".

    During the official dinner later, Mr. Stephanopoulos said Greece and its people "never forgot the great hardships of the Armenian nation, to which Greek response was immediate, as, following the genocide of 1915 -which unanimously the Greek Parliament first recognised in 1996- the only people who granted asylum and the possibility for survival of the Armenians were the Greeks".

    He expressed Greece's appreciation for Armenia's stand on the Cyprus problem, adding that Athens showed the same understanding on the issue of Nagorno-Karabach, for a peaceful solution through negotiations.

    In relation to Turkey's relations with Greece and Armenia, and in response to a reporter's comment on the fact that there were many Turkish products in the Armenian market, Mr. Stephanopoulos stressed that his visit was not in pursuit of the formation of an alliance against any third country, noting that all three countries exported to the other two.

    Mr. Kocharian stated that his country had opted for the free market model which dictated which products were traded. He also said his country's large investment plans included the participation of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) in Armenia's telecom utility, Armentel.

    Replying to other questions, the Armenian president said that his country's military cooperation agreement with Greece did not mean "an alliance against any other country."

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Britain denies issuing travel advisory for Greece

    Athens, 13/05/1999 (ANA)

    A senior British diplomat yesterday denied that Britain had issued a travel advisory to British citizens deterring them from visiting Greece.

    British Charge d'Affaires in Athens Peter Millett said in a statement that a recent British Foreign Office announcement was not a travel advisory but a kind of briefing for citizens.

    Prompted by Greek press reports that the Foreign Office announcement was a travel advisory warning Britons against visiting Greece, Mr. Millett said "the Foreign Office announcement is not an advisory but a kind of briefing for the British citizens".

    "The announcement does not deter the British tourists from visiting Greece, nor does it call on the Britons living in Greece to abandon the country. It simply reiterates events that have already been published in the Greek mass media," Mr. Millett said.

    "I would also like to inform you that the British government is obliged to inform the British subjects of the situation prevailing in all the countries of the world," he said.

    "Finally, I would like to stress that the British Embassy hopes that the number of British tourists visiting Greece this year will be as large as that of the previous years," said the Charge d'Affaires, who is the acting ambassador until the arrival of the new British envoy to Greece.

    Venizelos : Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos later responded to the Foreign Office "travel advice".

    "It is unjust and incomprehensible for such directions to be given by the British side. Besides, the acts of terrorism being committed in the centre of London should completely dishearten Greeks who travel there," Mr. Venizelos said while briefing a par liamentary committee on tourism developments.

    Mr. Venizelos predicted an increase this year in the number of tourist arrivals compared to 1998, adding that if the war in Yugoslavia stopped by the end of May, this increase would be 5-6 per cent greater.

    "The number of tourists that we are losing from the United States is approximately 250,000 and from the countries of central Europe, about 500, 000," Mr. Venizelos told the committee.

    The areas most likely to be affected were Pieria, Halkidiki and Corfu - all in northern Greece - while Athens and the Peloponnese may be affected later, he said.

    Announcing an advertising campaign to boost domestic tourism, Mr. Venizelos said "we will not have serious repercussions from the war".

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Simitis calls for an end to war

    Athens, 13/05/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday called for an end to the war in Yugoslavia, saying that a continuation of the NATO campaign could lead to failure in the search for a solution.

    "The G8 plan can lead to a solution... (but) persistence with predetermined plans not only hampers a solution, but can also lead to a failure of the efforts... Nowadays we are witnessing that such plans, drawn without estimates for likely repercussions and without sensitivity, are dangerous," he told a rally in Piraeus which effectively opened the ruling PASOK party's Euroelection campaign.

    The prime minister added that Greece had first opposed blind bombing and insisted on a political solution from the start. He revealed that in a telephone coversation with British counterpart Tony Blair yesterday afternoon he stressed Greece's wish for the peace process to make headway so that the war would come to an end. He distanced himself from the policy of other European countries, while also stressing that the existence of a sole superpower could not secure global stability.

    "Europe, while showing it can be an economic giant, also exhibited great political weakness in the Kosovo crisis, where it lost the initiative...

    "Greece wishes a politically united Europe, which can provide the only long- term guarantee for a safer and more balanced system of international stability...

    "The Kosovo crisis has proved that one and only superpower cannot secure global stability today, since its unilateral actions alone amount to an imbalance. A superpower cannot appear as guarantor of global security and stability," he said.

    Further, he criticised past conservative European governments as responsible for shaping today's Europe.

    "A Europe which tolerates profiteering and war certainly does not represent us ... Victory in the Euroelections will give European unification the direction which corresponds to our aims and visions," he stressed.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Greece will not be used for NATO operations in Yugoslavia,gov't says

    Athens, 13/05/1999 (ANA)

    Greek territory and air space will not be used for carrying out military operations against Yugoslavia, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

    Mr. Reppas was responding to press reports that NATO had approached Turkey and Hungary for use of their air space to intensify the bombing campaign against Belgrade.

    He said comments on Tuesday by Deputy Defence Minister Dimitris Apostolakis regarding Greek crews in AWACS operations in Yugoslavia had been misconstrued.

    "Mr. Apostolakis made a hypothetical reference and there is no basis for (the perception) that Greek crews are participating in military operations, " Mr. Reppas said. "Not one AWACS has left the Aktion base (in north west Peloponnese)."

    Asked whether Greece would follow its EU partners in blocking assets belonging to Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic and his family, Mr. Reppas said that the European Union had not yet taken such a decision.

    "If the European Union takes such a decision, Greece will implement it," he said.

    There have been persistent reports in the foreign press that President Milosevic or his son, Marko, own property in Greece. The reports have not been confirmed.

    Mr. Reppas said Greece's signature to a Western European Union communique which calls NATO's bombing "necessary and imperative" was "a restatement of the positions of the European Union and NATO on Kosovo".

    He said Greece, represented by Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, had been "completely opposed" to the prospect of inspections of vessels - in the context of an oil embargo on Yugoslavia - and had abstained from other discussions.

    Participation in international organisations, Mr. Reppas said, "does not permit us to abstain from the wider framework and always move on the basis of national interests."

    He added that Greece continued to seek a peaceful settlement of the Yugoslav crisis in cooperation with other countries.

    Athens was working within the general approach of the German EU presidency on the holding of a conference for a regional stability and development pact, he said.

    This proposal was based on the principles of the inviolability of borders, the extension of generous economic and humanitarian aid and the creation of contemporary democratic and parliamentary institutions in the Balkans.

    He said that the German proposal was "still a draft", when asked about references to establishing an agency which would monitor national policies in the Balkans in relation to minority issues.

    "But in no circumstances will there be an issue regarding the sovereign rights of each state," he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Trucks head for NATO forces in FYROM

    Athens, 13/05/1999 (ANA)

    A convoy of trucks carrying supplies for NATO forces deployed in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) rolled out of the port of Thessaloniki at dawn yesterday headed for the borders with FYROM.

    The convoy was composed of dozens of big trucks carrying containers and armoured personnel carriers for the NATO force of about 15,000 men already stationed in FYROM.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Concern voiced over plans to construct tourist facilities in Messinia

    Athens, 13/05/1999 (ANA)

    The construction of large tourist facilities in four areas of Messinia, Peloponnese was yesterday approved by a majority vote of the Central Archaeological Council, but has been met with opposition from the local archaeological committees.

    The multi-billion drachma project, which is financed by the Second Community Support Framework and is expected to generate 1,500 employment positions, will begin in the areas Romanos and Pylos, provided all construction and environmental studies are app roved.

    Several members of the Archaeological Council expressed concern over the alteration of the natural environment and the destruction of antiquities, but the constructor said he intended to finance the archaeological research of the sites.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Greek parliamentarians depart for Seoul

    Athens, 13/05/1999 (ANA)

    A four-member delegation of parliament's Greece-China-Japan-Korea friendship group, headed by its chairman, Ioannis Haralambopoulos, leaves today for Seoul.

    The Greek deputies, who have been invited by the South Korean parliament, will have talks with the country's political leaders.

    The agenda for the visit also includes the laying of a wreath at the memorial erected in honour of Greek troops who died in the Korean War.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Greece to meet euro criteria at the end of 1999

    Athens, 13/05/1999 (ANA)

    Greece will fullfil the convergence criteria for entry into the euro zone at the end of 1999 and join on January 1, 2001, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday.

    Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Bank of Greece governor Lucas Papademos to review the economy, Mr. Papantoniou said the government will apply to the European Union early next spring and a decision will be made within 2000.

    This means that Greece will join the euro zone on January 1, 2001, he said.

    The minister declined to forecast how rapidly interest rates would decline.

    "The important thing is to remain steadfast in our policy. There is no particular forecast on interest rates. We have to be very strict in our fiscal and monetary policy. As you already know, domestic long-term bond yields have dropped to the level of US Treasury bonds, a benchmark for the credibility of the Greek state", he said.

    Mr. Papantoniou added that comments by EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Yves-Thibault de Silguy on the Greek economy were very positive.

    He also said that the impact on the economy from the Kosovo war could reach 0.5 percent of the country's gross domestic product, representing around 200 billion drachmas.

    Speaking after the same meeting, Bank of Greece governor Lucas Papademos said economic progress was satisfactory and that inflation remained on a downward trend as a result of anti-inflationary policy.

    Mr. Papademos said he did not see a risk of inflation resurging but stressed that there was uncertainty over oil prices in international markets.

    He said that inflation was heading towards 2.0 percent, the target for the summer, and underlined the need for the decline in interest rates to be gradual.

    The Bank of Greece is worried about increased liquidity in the market and will seek to soak up cash through three-month bonds.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Stocks edge down in Russia jitters

    Athens, 13/05/1999 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended moderately lower yesterday hit by uncertainty over political developments in Russia and their impact on a diplomatic effort to end the war in Yugoslavia.

    The general index ended 0.37 percent lower at 4,089.48 points. The index hit a new session high but a wave of profit-taking hit the banking sector and pushed the market lower.

    Turnover was 213.089 billion drachmas and volume 43,757,684 shares.

    On the other hand construction stocks continued their upward trend.

    Sector indices were mixed.

    Banks fell 1.38 percent, Leasing soared 6.38 percent, Insurance fell 1.49 percent, Investment eased 1.88 percent, Construction jumped 2.97 percent, Industrials dropped 0.20 percent, Miscellaneous ended 1.44 percent higher and Holding rose 4.33 percent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 6.39 percent up, while the FTSE/ASE 20 index eased 0.78 percent to end at 2,468.56 points.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 195 to 96 with another four issues unchanged.

    Thessaliki, Strintzis, Oinerga and Sanyo were the most heavily traded stocks.

    A total of 55 shares hit the day's 8.0 percent limit up.

    Among them were Alpha Leasing, Dorian Bank, Elmec Sport, Hellenic Sugar, Ergas, Epilektos, Gener, Viohalco, Atemke and Loulis. Proodos, Lanacam, Benroubi, Technodomi, Kallinis, Development Invest, ANEK Lines, Rocas and Greek Aluminium suffered the bigg est percentage losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 22,215 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 22, 200, Ergobank at 29,950, Ionian Bank at 17,650, Titan Cement at 28,640, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,980, Intracom at 23,500, Minoan Lines at 8,550, Panafon at 8,400 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,805.

    Bond prices slump in moderate trade : Many bond prices shed up to 80 basis points yesterday in nervous trade over uncertainty in Russia and the future of the Kosovo crisis but the yield spread with German bunds stayed low as markets across Europe were down.

    Electronic trade totalled 109 billion drachmas from 142 billion drachmas in the previous session and 53 billion drachmas on Monday. The ten-year-bond was trading at 104.10, showing a yield of 5.73 percent. The yield spread with German bunds was 166 basis points.

    In the foreign currency market, trade was lacklustre.

    At the central bank's daily fix, the euro was set at 325.330 drachmas from 325.420 drachmas in the previous session.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Northern Greek firms see hefty losses from Kosovo war

    Athens, 13/05/1999 (ANA)

    The overwhelming majority of commercial companies in northern Greece have seen a major drop in turnover since the war broke out in Yugoslavia, a survey by the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce said yesterday.

    Eighty percent of businesses mostly based in Thessaloniki, Kastoria, Florina, Aridaea, Serres, Drama and Kilkis reported a 60-70 percent drop in their turnover in the first 40 days of the war.

    The survey said that consumers in these regions were particularly cautious and reluctant to spend, preferring to save money in case the war spreads in the Balkans.

    The survey also said that a total of 63 businesses specialising in trade transactions with Yugoslavia and neighbouring countries were facing extreme difficulty due to a complete freeze of trade, exports and payments. A 40 percent devaluation of the Yugo slav currency also hurt Greek exporting companies with dinar-based contracts.

    The survey also warned of the impact of the Kosovo war on Greek tourism. Tourist arrivals from Yugoslavia totalled 150,000 last year.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Ergo Invest shows 162 pct profit jump in Jan-Apr

    Athens, 13/05/1999 (ANA)

    Ergo Invest, a member of the Ergobank group, reported a spectacular 162 percent rise in profits in the first four months of the year to 10.8 billion drachmas compared with the same period in 1998.

    Capital gains totalled 23.2 billion drachmas at the end of April, to exceed 30 billion drachmas on May 7.

    The company attributed the jump in profits to a more aggressive investment policy.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Elais buys tomato industry

    Athens, 13/05/1999 (ANA)

    Elais, a member of the multinational Unilever Group, said yesterday that it had wholly acquired Miro, a tomato industry, for 11.8 billion drachmas. The takeover, which was completed on April 30, includes a tomato products plant in the Ilia prefecture and brand-name Pummaro and Pelargos goods.

    The purchase will gain Elais, which is listed on the Athens bourse, another 7.0 billion drachmas in turnover annually.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Hellenic Petroleum posts profit jump in 1998

    Athens, 13/05/1999 (ANA)

    Hellenic Petroleum posted pre-tax profits of 40.2 billion drachmas in 1998, sharply up from 15.7 billion drachmas a year earlier, the company's chairman, Eleftherios Tzellas, told a presentation yesterday.

    Turnover last year was 657.3 billion drachmas, lower than 742.6 billion drachmas in 1997, Mr. Tzellas told the Union of Institutional Investors.

    Profits after tax were 27.5 billion drachmas in 1998, up from 6.3 billion in the previous year, he said.

    Hellenic Petroleum, which is listed on the Athens bourse, recently signed contracts worth 180 million dollars with the government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to acquire a majority stake in the country's OKTA refinery, and build a pipeli ne linking Thessaloniki and Skopje.

    The Greek firm's Aspropyrgos refinery ranks sixth among 101 European facilities, Mr. Tzellas said.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens, 13/05/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: May 12, 1999

    Paarities in Drachmas

    Banknotes             Buying  Selling
    US Dollar             302.798 309.819
    Can.Dollar            207.903 212.724
    Australian Dlr        202.105 206.791
    Pound Sterling        490.088 501.451
    Irish Punt            409.779 419.280
    Pound Cyprus          556.353 569.253
    Pound Malta           724.535 754.724
    Turkish pound (100)     0.069   0.072
    French franc           49.199  50.340
    Swiss franc           201.088 205.751
    Belgian franc           8.000   8.186
    German Mark           165.008 168.834
    Finnish Mark           54.279  55.538
    Dutch Guilder         146.447 149.842
    Danish Kr.             43.450  44.457
    Swedish Kr.            36.014  36.849
    Norwegian Kr.          39.333  40.245
    Austrian Sh.           23.454  23.998
    Italian lira (100)     16.668  17.054
    Yen (100)             250.490 256.298
    Spanish Peseta          1.939   1.984
    Port. Escudo            1.610   1.647
    
    Foreign Exchange      Buying  Selling
    New York              302.798 309.819
    Montreal              207.903 212.724
    Sydney                202.105 206.791
    London                490.088 501.451
    Dublin                409.779 419.280
    Nicosia               556.353 569.253
    Paris                  49.199  50.340
    Zurich                201.088 205.751
    Brussels                8.000   8.186
    Frankfurt             165.008 168.834
    Helsinki               54.279  55.538
    Amsterdam             146.447 149.842
    Copenhagen             43.450  44.457
    Stockholm              36.014  36.849
    Oslo                   39.333  40.245
    Vienna                 23.454  23.998
    Milan                  16.668  17.054
    Tokyo                 250.490 256.298
    Madrid                  1.939   1.984
    Lisbon                  1.610   1.647
    
    Athens News Agency

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