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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-05-14

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Simitis appeals for no changes of borders in Balkans
  • [02] Kranidiotis says Greece opposed to NATO searches of vessels
  • [03] Karamanlis says Euroelections will assume character of a political battle
  • [04] Kranidiotis reveals Greek-Czech initiative on Kosovo
  • [05] Parliament president and German counterpart express opporision to ongoing NATO bombing
  • [06] EU Council of General Affairs to discuss Yugoslav war
  • [07] Special Olympics athletes carry Olympic Flame to US Embassy
  • [08] Venizelos voices displeasure over British travel advise
  • [09] Stocks slump on Kosovo, Russia woes
  • [10] Harmonised CPI at 2.6 pct in April yr/yr
  • [11] State telecom to aid Yugoslavia reconstruction
  • [12] Singular posts 70 pct profit jump
  • [13] Energy conference to be held in Athens
  • [14] Greek fur exports to Russia seen resurging
  • [15] Mytilineos announces strategic alliance
  • [16] Bank of Attica to propose increase in share capital
  • [17] Athens Foreign Exchange
  • [18] Greek Alternate FM says Cyprus' interests lie in Europe

  • [01] Simitis appeals for no changes of borders in Balkans

    Athens, 14/05/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday appealed for no changes to be made to borders in the Balkans, warning of the risk of destabilisation and even widespread war in the region.

    "Greece believes that if there is a change of borders in the Balkans, then all the countries of SE Europe with minorities might be tempted to pursue other forms of states in this region, and this would mean widespread war in the Balkans and complete des tabilisation in the region," Mr. Simitis said, adding that this would not be in the interests of any country in the region. Mr. Simitis was addressing a group of young deputies from European Union member states who were earlier briefed by Foreig n Minister George Papandreou on Greece's positions concerning the Balkans.

    The premier said that what was currently taking place in the Balkans was not "a run-of-the-mill war, a run-of-the-mill conflict". "It is a conflict which leads to hatred, and if it continues for some time, post-war cooperation will be impossib le, not only between the states of the region but also between ethnic groups," Mr. Simitis said.

    Greece, the prime minister said, wants peace and cooperation in the Balkans and for this reason the war should not be continued.

    "We believe that a way out and solution to the crisis can only come through the implementation of international law," he added.

    After the war, Mr. Simitis said, a great effort will have to be made for the reconstruction and development of the region.

    He expressed the hope that the G8 draft peace agreement for Kosovo would provide a way out of the impasse in the crisis, stressing that "certain Balkan leaders must understand that peace and development are closely interlinked in the modern age and can be attained only through economic efforts and achieving a higher standard of living".

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Kranidiotis says Greece opposed to NATO searches of vessels

    Athens, 14/05/1999 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis yesterday reiterated that Greece was opposed to NATO searches of vessels suspected of breaking the oil embargo imposed on Yugoslavia by the European Union.

    Mr. Kranidiotis, who has already made Greece's position clear to the Western European Union (WEU), said Athens was opposed to the stopping and searching of vessels by NATO because it lacked any legal basis within the framework of the European Union.

    Recent press reports have suggested that NATO will eventually have to abandon plans to enforce the oil blockade against Yugoslavia with the threat of force, and settle for a voluntary agreement, with transgressing countries being subjected to diplomatic protests.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Karamanlis says Euroelections will assume character of a political battle

    Athens, 14/05/1999 (ANA)

    The Euroelections will assume a character of a political battle, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis said yesterday, while he criticised the government both on its domestic and foreign policies.

    Speaking to a joint ND parliamentary group and Central Committee meeting, Mr. Karamanlis predicted that ND will win the elections in June, for the first time since Greece's accession to the community.

    He added that the victory he predicted will set the stage for the national elections next year, since as he said the results will change the political scene of the country.

    Speaking on foreign policy issues, Mr. Karamanlis critisised the government over what he called a passive stance toward the Kosovo crisis, accusing it for double talk on the issue.

    He added that the government did not table its disagreements within the alliance, so as to secure the "certification of the behaved child."

    Commenting on Prime Minister Costas Simitis' speach on Thursday, during which he criticised the stance of the United States on the Kosovo problem and the war, Mr. Karamanlis said that Mr. Simitis vindicated ND' stance on the issue, adding that this turn of events was due to petty-party expediences and panic.

    Mr. Karamanlis also critisised the government over its choices in the Russian made S-300 anti-aircraft missile system deployment in Crete and not in Cyprus as originally intended, calling the issue a diplomatic debacle, adding that the S-300 case was ha ndled in a worst way than that of the Ocalan affair.

    The ND leader reiterated his proposals for the post war Kosovo, while he expressed his disappointment over the stance of the European Union, adding that he did the same during meetings of the European People's Party (EPP) "despite the fact that (several leaders) are bothered".

    Speaking on the economy, Mr. Karamanlis insisted that there is still distance between the real and nominal convergence with the rest of the European Union member-states, adding that the government is attempting to fulfill the criteria via creative accou nting.

    He also said that the government's attempt to seek political favour in its efforts to lead Greece to the European Monetary Union (EMU) places the country in a difficult position.

    Mr. Karamanlis went on to criticise the government over its educational, health, policing and fiscal policies, while he spoke of pre-election handouts to municipalities via debt write-offs.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Kranidiotis reveals Greek-Czech initiative on Kosovo

    Athens, 14/05/1999 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis said yesterday that he had received support from Slovenia and Italy for a joint Greek-Czech initiative on Kosovo.

    Mr. Kranidiotis and Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan announced the initiative to assist a political settlement of the Kosovo issue through diplomacy in Bremen on May 11.

    The proposal supports and complements the German EU presidency proposal for a stability pact for the Balkans and the outline of a political settlement set out by the G8 group of countries.

    The Greek-Czech proposal is a contribution to the efforts to resolve the problem of Kosovo, under the aegis of the UN and in the framework of the future reconstruction of the region.

    The proposal will be submitted to the European Union General Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on Monday, to NATO, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the UN and to the G8.

    Mr. Kranidiotis told reporters that Greece was being very active on the diplomatic front and believed that this presence had, to a degree, been productive.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Parliament president and German counterpart express opporision to ongoing NATO bombing

    Athens, 14/05/1999 (ANA)

    Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis and Bundestag speaker Wolfgang Thierse yesterday expressed the opposition of their two countries' parliaments and peoples to the ongoing NATO aerial bombardment of Yugoslavia.

    Both Mr. Kaklamanis and Mr. Thierse underlined the need for a political solution to be found to the Kosovo crisis, the safe return of refugees to their homes, preventing any spread of the conflict to neighbouring countries and international assistance in rebuilding the region.

    Mr. Kaklamanis said Greece continued to believe that military means should not have been resorted to, given the "catastrophic repercussions" for the entire region.

    He expressed the view that hopes for a peaceful settlement which were recently boosted by the G8 draft agreement now appeared to be waning, "a fact of grave concern to the Greek people, which is already experiencing the negative repercussions from the conflict".

    Mr. Kaklamanis also pointed to a lack of sensitivity similar to that shown towards Kosovar refugees in the case of the 200,000 Greek Cypriots who were forced from their homes by the Turkish forces which invaded Cyprus in 1974 and has subsequently occupied 40 per cent of the island republic's territory.

    Mr. Thierse described the war in Yugoslavia as "a defeat for European policy" and urged the adoption by the European Union of a common foreign and defence policy.

    He also expressed the view that the "positive outcome" of the Yugoslav conflict against President Slobodan Milosevic would have positive consequences for the Cyprus problem "and for other problems involving the violation of human rights and international law".

    Tsohatzopoulos : Mr. Thierse also met with National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos. The two men stressed the need for an end to the war in Yugoslavia as soon as possible and the promotion of a political and diplomatic solution. In statements after holding talks, the two referred to the great problem of refugees and to diplomatic efforts being made in cooperation with the UN and Russia for a solution to the conflict and their return to their homes.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] EU Council of General Affairs to discuss Yugoslav war

    Athens, 14/05/1999 (ANA)

    The European Union's Council of General Affairs will convene in Brussels on Monday to discuss, among others, the Yugoslav war. Greece will be represented by Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis.

    Montenegrin President Milo Juganovic has been invited to attend the Council meeting for talks with EU partners. Albanian Kosovo leader Ibrahim Rugova has also been invited, but it is not certain whether he will be present. An in-depth discussion is expected to take place, as well as an examination of the proposal on a Stability Pact, according to statements made to the press by Mr. Kranidiotis yesterday. Another issue expected to be discussed is the EU's defence identity.

    Greece was due to notify the Council of General Affairs of its own positions and views in a memorandum it was to table yesterday on defence and the need of forming a Unified Defence and Foreign Policy. The memorandum was to be submitted to the EU's Presidency to distribute it to all member-states and to the European Commission.

    "I think it is an important contribution to the discussion and also comes to supplement the German proposals, which have also been submitted, with the effort of precisely having them reach some specific conclusions at the Cologne summit," Mr. Kranidiotis said.

    The EU's institutional issues will also be discussed at the Cologne summit. Namely, the EU's institutional issues which have been left pending since the Amsterdam meeting (such as the way with which decisions will be taken).

    Other issues due to preoccupy the Council of General Affairs concern common strategy on Russia, the agreement between the EU and Egypt, the discussion of issues regarding South Africa, Latin America, the preparation of the Rio meeting, namely the meeting between the EU and Latin America, and the Middle East issue.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Special Olympics athletes carry Olympic Flame to US Embassy

    Athens, 14/05/1999 (ANA)

    Special Olympics athletes carried the Olympic Flame from the Acropolis through the streets of Athens to the U.S. Embassy yesterday, the first leg of the flame's journey to North Carolina, where the Special Olympics begin on June 25.

    The athletes passed the flame onto an athlete from North Carolina at the embassy.

    The flame-lighting ceremony was held at the Pnyx Hill near the Acropolis.

    The ceremony was attended by Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who is also a member of the Special Olympics board, Deputy Minister for Sports Andreas Fouras, Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns, Metropolitan Bishop of Piraeus Kallinikos, sports undersecretariat secretary-general Yiannis Sgouras, president of the Greek Olympic Committee Lambis Nikolaou, president of the Greek branch of the Special Olympics Andreas Potamianos, and members of the International Olympic Committee and Special Olympics athletes from the Mediterranean and the U.S.

    "There must be equality in sports. The athletes of the Special Olympics send this message of hope to all the world," Mr. Fouras said.

    The 10th Special Olympics will run from June 25 to July 5. Seven thousand athletes from 150 countries will participate: the Greek team will be made up of 70 athletes.

    At a ceremony held at the US. Embassy, Ambassador Burns underlined the importance of the "friendship and alliance" between the U.S. and Greece. He noted that the U.S. felt proud that Greece had given it "the democratic heritage and the Olympic Games".

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Venizelos voices displeasure over British travel advise

    Athens, 14/05/1999 (ANA)

    The content of a recent British tourist advisory for Greece is not so objectionable as the symbolism and the misunderstandings which it can give rise to, particularly coming from such a large and crucial tourism market such as Britain's, Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos said in statements to Skai radio station yesterday.

    "Greece has a level of security which everyone knows is way above the European average. All crime indicators show that every citizen is safer in Greece than in Britain or France," he added.

    British charge d'affaires in Athens, Peter Millet, on Wednesday said in a statement that a recent British Foreign Office announcement was not a travel advisory proper but a kind of briefing for citizens. He claimed that the announcement did not deter British tourists from visiting Greece but simply reiterated events already published in the Greek media.

    Mr. Venizelos yesterday also expressed displeasure over another "advice" of the British Civil Aviation Authority to airlines regarding the level of security of Greek airports due to the bombings in Yugoslavia.

    "It is really annoying and unfair, because Greece is geographically in the Balkans, but economically, socially and politically it is far from the crisis and the British authorities ought to know this," he said. Mr. Venizelos made the estimate that if the situation in Yugoslavia went back to normal until the end of May, tourist arrivals would increase by five to six percent this year in relation to 1999, compared to a 12 percent initial estimate.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Stocks slump on Kosovo, Russia woes

    Athens, 14/05/1999 (ANA)

    Equities dropped sharply yesterday on fears that diplomatic moves to end the Yugoslav war were stagnating, exacerbated by political uncertainty in Russia, brokers said.

    The Athens general index shed 2.27 percent to finish at 3,996.68 points, slipping below former resistance at 4,000 points, which the market had breached for several sessions.

    Turnover was 200.257 billion drachmas with 43,652,388 shares changing hands.

    Also dampening sentiment was a refusal by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou to forecast the rate of decline of interest rates.

    Underperforming the index were banks, which sloughed off 2.72 percent, and industrials, which lost 2.40 percent. Worst hit were blue chips in both sectors.

    Demand was heavy for small and medium-capitalisation stocks with 52 ending at the daily 8.0 percent limit up.

    The session began and ended late in the day due to technical problems in the bourse's electronic trading system.

    Other sector indices ended as follows: Leasing (-1.85 pct), Insurance (- 4.83 pct), Investment (-0.89 pct), Construction (+0.16 pct), Miscellaneous (-1.08), and Holding (-0.86 pct).

    The parallel market for smaller capitalisation stocks finished 0.60 percent up. The FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips lost 2.63 percent to end at 2,403.74 points.

    National Bank of Greece closed at 21,650 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 21, 590, Titan Cement Co. (common) at 27,350, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,815, Intracom (common) at 22,810 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 7,700 drachmas.

    Bond prices rise in thin trade : Bond prices gained 30-40 basis points in scant trade yesterday. Markets in France, Germany and Switzerland were closed for a public holiday.

    Electronic trade totalled 53 billion drachmas from 109 billion drachmas in the previous session and 142 billion drachmas on Tuesday.

    The ten-year-bond was trading at 104.40, showing a yield of 5.69 percent. The yield spread with German bunds was 167 basis points.

    In the foreign currency market, trade was lacklustre. At the central bank's daily fix, the euro was set at 325.390 drachmas from 325.330 drachmas in the previous session.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Harmonised CPI at 2.6 pct in April yr/yr

    Athens, 14/05/1999 (ANA)

    The harmonised consumer price index, which is used in European Union comparisons, stood at 2.6 percent year-on-year in April against the same month a year earlier.

    The main difference between the harmonised and national consumer price indices is that the former excludes health and education.

    April's rise reflects increases in the price of clothing and footwear (5.3 pct), alcoholic beverages and tobacco (4.4 pct), and food and non-alcoholic beverages (2.8 pct).

    Athens News Agency

    [11] State telecom to aid Yugoslavia reconstruction

    Athens, 14/05/1999 (ANA)

    The Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) will take part in a future drive to help rebuild Yugoslavia after the war, senior company officials told a news conference yesterday.

    In addition, negotiations are expected to end shortly with the Bulgarian government for OTE to acquire a majority stake in the country's state telecom in a consortium with KPN of the Netherlands, the officials said.

    The news conference was called to announce celebrations for OTE's 50th birthday.

    The officials reported that Yugoslavia's telecoms network had not suffered major damage in NATO's bombings with land-based communications still operating. OTE owns a 20 percent stake in Serbia's telecoms corporation.

    Also yesterday, OTE sent a humanitarian aid delegation to Pristina, Belgrade and Novisad to distribute 80 tonnes of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.

    OTE has a new page on the Internet whose address is

    Cosmote gets Dr 225 mln euro syndicated loan : Cosmote, OTE's mobile phone subsidiary, has signed a syndicated loan in London for 225 million euros in order to finance investments.

    The syndicate contains 22 banks. Fifteen of the banks are from abroad, and will cover 75 percent of the loan. The remaining seven Greek banks are to cover the balance.

    Coordinators of the loan are National Bank of Greece and Citibank in London.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Singular posts 70 pct profit jump

    Athens, 14/05/1999 (ANA)

    The Singular Group, a listed software company, yesterday reported a spectacular 70 percent increase in its consolidated nine-month profits to 700 million drachmas from 415 million in the same period last year.

    Consolidated revenue totalled 4.6 billion drachmas in the same period from 2.6 billion last year, marking a 77 percent rise.

    The parent company's revenue totalled 3.7 billion drachmas, up 73 percent from 1998's 2.14 billion, while profits rose from 346 to 591 million drachmas, showing an increase of 71 percent.

    On Wednesday, Singular successfully completed a share capital increase of 12.4 billion drachmas. The company issued 8,250,000 new shares at 1,500 drachmas each.

    The new capital will be used for new alliances in order to strengthen its position in the domestic market.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Energy conference to be held in Athens

    Athens, 14/05/1999 (ANA)

    An international conference on Greece's emerging energy market will be held at the Grande Bretagne Hotel on June 2-4.

    Sponsoring the conference is Terna Energy backed by the European Union's executive Commission.

    The energy conference - the fourth in a row - is organised by "Energy", a sector magazine owned by Delos Communications.

    Among speakers at the conference are Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Greece's E.U. Commissioner responsible for energy, Christos Papoutsis.

    Greece is committed to liberalising a quarter of its domestic market by February 2001.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Greek fur exports to Russia seen resurging

    Athens, 14/05/1999 (ANA)

    Greek fur exports to Russia are likely to increase following the country's gradual recovery from last year's financial crisis, said Ioannis Kontopoulos, Greece's commercial attache in Moscow, and Panagiotis Pavlou, chairman of the Kastoria Furriers.

    Addressing a news conference in Thessaloniki yesterday as part of an international fur trade fair in Kastoria, Mr. Kontopoulos said that fur exports were Greece's biggest export product to Russia, accounting for 30 percent of that market.

    He stressed that the Greek fur industry could increase its Russian market share by supplying a superior product, both in design and quality.

    Mr. Pavlou said that Greek fur makers were planning special events in Russia's biggest cities to promote their products.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Mytilineos announces strategic alliance

    Athens, 14/05/1999 (ANA)

    The Mytilineos Group yesterday announced the conclusion of a strategic alliance in the aluminium sector with an agreement to acquire a stake of up to 20 per cent in the listed company ALKO Hellas ABEE. A 10 per cent stake was transferred yesterday through the Sigma Chrimatistiriaki company.

    The Mytilineos Group believes that ALKO is a rapidly developing company, while with the group's assistance in the raw materials sector and the opening of the Balkans to the wider European sector, it can emerge as a protagonist in the aluminium sector.

    The group also announced that at the company's upcoming general assembly, two representatives of the group will be elected with ALKO's board.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Bank of Attica to propose increase in share capital

    Athens, 14/05/1999 (ANA)

    The Bank of Attica's administration will propose an increase in its share capital by 25 billion drachmas at the general assembly of shareholders scheduled for June 16. The general assembly will also decide the terms by which the new shares will be issued.

    The new capital will be used to widen the bank's services through an increase in its network and the founding of subsidiaries, the establishment of a modern informatics system and its preparation for the adoption of the euro.

    Almost all Greek banks have already increased their share capital in the past month, or will do so in the summer, obtaining more than 800 billion drachmas from the capital market.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens, 14/05/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: May 13, 1999

    Parities in Drachmas

    Banknotes             Buying  Selling
    US Dollar             303.294 310.326
    Can.Dollar            207.526 212.338
    Australian Dlr        202.348 207.040
    Pound Sterling        490.822 502.202
    Irish Punt            409.855 419.357
    Pound Cyprus          559.190 572.156
    Pound Malta           725.723 755.961
    Turkish pound (100)     0.069   0.072
    French franc           49.208  50.349
    Swiss franc           201.674 206.350
    Belgian franc           8.002   8.187
    German Mark           165.038 168.865
    Finnish Mark           54.289  55.548
    Dutch Guilder         146.475 149.871
    Danish Kr.             43.440  44.447
    Swedish Kr.            36.055  36.891
    Norwegian Kr.          39.323  40.235
    Austrian Sh.           23.458  24.002
    Italian lira (100)     16.671  17.057
    Yen (100)             249.686 255.475
    Spanish Peseta          1.940   1.985
    Port. Escudo            1.610   1.647
    Foreign Exchange      Buying  Selling
    New York              303.294 310.326
    Montreal              207.526 212.338
    Sydney                202.348 207.040
    London                490.822 502.202
    Dublin                409.855 419.357
    Nicosia               559.190 572.156
    Paris                  49.208  50.349
    Zurich                201.674 206.350
    Brussels                8.002   8.187
    Frankfurt             165.038 168.865
    Helsinki               54.289  55.548
    Amsterdam             146.475 149.871
    Copenhagen             43.440  44.447
    Stockholm              36.055  36.891
    Oslo                   39.323  40.235
    Vienna                 23.458  24.002
    Milan                  16.671  17.057
    Tokyo                 249.686 255.475
    Madrid                  1.940   1.985
    Lisbon                  1.610   1.647
    Athens News Agency

    [18] Greek Alternate FM says Cyprus' interests lie in Europe

    LARNACA, 14/05/1999 (ANA/CNA)

    Greece has backed a decision by the government of Cyprus to align itself with a European Union directive to enforce additional measures against Yugoslavia, Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis said her e yesterday.

    He also pointed out that Cyprus' strategic interests lie with Europe and described the government's handling of the Yugoslav issue as "correct".

    "I believe Cyprus is right in its decision to go down the path the EU members have adopted because its interests lie in Europe", Mr. Kranidiotis said.

    Speaking on arrival at Larnaca airport, Mr. Kranidiotis also noted that Greece and Cyprus are holding a "delicate balance and so far the way they have handled the problem is successful".

    This, he added, has been acknowledged by foreign partners and allies and said this position needs to be appreciated by public opinion in Greece and Cyprus.

    The government of Cyprus has come under fire by the opposition for its decision to implement measures against Yugoslavia, which the EU has adopted and invited candidate countries to follow suit.

    "The balance which Greece and Cyprus maintain is such that their international role has been acknowledged. Neither country wishes to be part of a problem that is not theirs", he said.

    Referring to the Yugoslav crisis, he said Greece backs a resumption of diplomatic efforts to find a solution and advocate the respect of those principles it wishes to see implemented in other problems.

    These principles, he explained, relate to respect of human rights, maintenance of the borders and a peaceful resolution to the problem.

    "We would like to see these principles applied in the case of Cyprus as well", Mr. Kranidiotis added.

    Replying to questions, he said Greece supports any effort in the UN framework which has a point of reference UN decisions on Cyprus.

    Shuttle talks the UN is conducting since mid-October between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides have not yielded any results so far.

    Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides who met Mr. Kranidiotis at the airport, welcomed the 16-member delegation from Greece and said talks today will focus on Cyprus' accession course and efforts to coordinate moves to promote the country's bid for EU membership.

    Today Mr. Kranidiotis will be received by President Glafcos Clerides. He leaves on Sunday.

    Athens News Agency

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