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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-05-22

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] Papandreou: Political solution to Kosovo appears near
  • [02] Kranidiotis
  • [03] Credit growth slows in March
  • [04] Rubin praises latest Greek contribution to NATO
  • [05] Communist, labour parties gather at KKE-sponsored conference
  • [06] Vartholomeos received by the Holy Synod
  • [07] Athens reiterates position over issue of Kosovo refugees' sheltering
  • [08] Greek Parliament delegation meets with Milosevic
  • [09] Proposal at EU house leaders' conference for speed up to Kosovo resolution
  • [10] Papoutsis on Yugoslavia crisis
  • [11] Veteran journalist Germanos dies
  • [12] ``Greek Spirit``
  • [13] ANA to host Alliance of European Press Agencies conference
  • [14] Maritime, shipping forum
  • [15] Economic News
  • [16] Athens foreign exchange

  • [01] Papandreou: Political solution to Kosovo appears near

    MOSCOW, 22/5/99 (ANA - D. Konstantakopulos)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday said there might be a cease fire in Yugoslavia soon, even prior to a UN Security Council resolution.

    "We are closer to a diplomatic solution" Mr. Papandreou said, during a short visit to the Russian capital, where he met with his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov, former Swedish prime minister and now special UN envoy to Yugoslavia, Carl Bildt, and the U S ambassador in Moscow.

    The Greek FM said there is a will by both the Russian side as well as the US and NATO toward a political solution of the problem, although still lacking complete agreement over details.

    Mr. Ivanov stressed that the main issue was a cessation of military operations and pointed out that there was still disagreement over the "international security presence" and the withdrawal of Serb forces from Kosovo, while Mr. Bildt, replying to repor ters' questions over the outcome of western diplomacy in Yugoslavia, admitted to a "massive failure in averting war and in creating conditions for stability."

    Gov't, Tsohatzopoulos: Greece stated yesterday that "many in Europe" were opposed to the use of NATO ground forces in Yugoslavia and desired an end to the conflict with a parallel commencement of negotiations on the basis of the G8 peace proposals.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the time was right for the holding of negotiations, which could lead to a political settlement of the Kosovo crisis.

    "It is perhaps the last opportunity not only for Yugoslavia but also for the international community to intensify efforts for the attainment of a political solution," he said.

    The government's view, the spokesman added, was that there were some grounds for optimism but that "unrealistic expectations should not be cultivated".

    The Kososo crisis was one of the main items on the agenda of a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday.

    Sources said the discussion revolved around the difference in the stance adopted by the United States on the one hand and most European countries on the other.

    Mr. Reppas said the PM discussed the latest developments in the Yugoslav problem in telephone conversations this morning with German Chancellor Gerhard Shroeder and Italian Premier Massimo D'Alema.

    He added that the prime minister was also in daily contact with other European leaders.

    Mr. Reppas also commented on Greece's refusal to allow the use of Greek airspace by Turkish military aircraft flying to Germany to join NATO air forces participating in the Yugoslav conflict.

    He said it was the first time such a request had been made and underlined Greece's categorical opposition to Greek airspace being used "for these types of operations".

    According to reports, the Turkish government submitted the request to the Greek foreign ministry at noon on Thursday, seeking permission for two or three aircraft to pass through Greek airspace.

    Athens rejected the request later in the day on the grounds that Greece was not taking part in NATO military operations nor providing facilities to those countries which were participating.

    On his part, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos gave the same reason for Greece's refusal to allow Turkish military aircraft to use Greek airspace.

    He also clarified that NATO forces passing through Thessaloniki on their way to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) had nothing to do with the military operations in Yugoslavia.

    "Their task is to set up camps for the refugees, who now number 200,000, and maintain stability in the country against any threat," he said.

    Replying to reporters' questions, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the strength of the Greek contingent in any peacekeeping force to be deployed in Yugoslavia subject to agreement by Belgrade and NATO had not yet been decided.

    He added, however, that Greece had already made the necessary preparations so that such a contingent could be immediately mobilised as soon as a settlement to the Kosovo crisis had been agreed.

    According to sources, the Greek contingent in any peacekeeping force would initially be a batallion of 500 men.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos was speaking to reporters after briefing the board of directors of the Hellenic Arms Industry (EBO) on the policy which the company must follow in order to contribute to the implementation of the armed forces' ongoing five-year armame nts programme.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Kranidiotis

    BRUSSELS, 22/5/1999 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)

    Finally, Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis expressed guarded optimism over the success of the latest peace initiative for Kosovo.

    Mr. Kranidiotis was in the Belgian capital to participate in the European Union development council, which discussed issues related to humanitarian aid and development possibilities in the Balkans.

    He underlined the need for every effort of the international community to be "legitimised" by the United Nations, expressing a hope that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic agrees in principle with the proposed plans.

    During the meeting, he also noted Greece's humanitarian activities within the framework of a tripartite cooperation with Russia and Switzerland, Athens' aid to Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as well as the use the Thessalonik i's facilities to transport refugees to other countries.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Credit growth slows in March

    Athens, 22/3/1999 (ANA)

    Credit expansion slowed in March, rising by 8.5 percent year-on-year against the same month of 1998, the Bank of Greece said in a statement yesterday.

    In February, the year-on-year rate of growth was 9.2 percent.

    The slowdown was attributed to measures taken by the central bank recently to curb credit expansion.

    Credit growth in the private sector rose 12.9 percent in March, down from a 14.9 percent rise in February, while credit to the public sector increased by 6.3 percent from an increase of 6.5 percent in the previous month.

    Consumer and housing loans, however, continued to increase rapidly at 43.3 percent and 20 percent in March, up from 36 percent and 17.5 percent in the previous month.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Rubin praises latest Greek contribution to NATO

    WASHINGTON, 22/5/1999 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    The US administation has high regard for Greece as an ally and its contribution in the Kosovo crisis, State Department spokeman James Rubin said yesterday.

    "Greece is a very important part of the NATO alliance. Its efforts, both as regards support to the alliance and, more especially, in the humanitarian sector are particularly valued by the US," he said in reply to questions as regards Greece's role in NATO operations over Yugoslavia.

    Commenting on the Greek government's decision this week not to allow flights through Greek airspace of Turkish military aircraft in support of the operations, he said there were no insuperable difficulties that could not be dealt with through operationa l arrangements. He concluded by saying that the Pentagon and NATO were not particularly concerned over the specific matter.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Communist, labour parties gather at KKE-sponsored conference

    Athens, 22/5/1999 (ANA)

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga yesterday inaugurated a meeting of 55 communist and labour party delegations from around the world.

    The conference, which will last until Sunday, will discuss issues related to globilisation, the "crisis of capitalism" and the "answer of the labour movement."

    During her address, Ms Papariga said KKE demands for an end of the war in Yugoslavia and that no NATO forces enter Kosovo or Yugoslavia.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Vartholomeos received by the Holy Synod

    Athens, 22/5/1999 (ANA)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos was officially received yesterday at Petraki Monastery in Athens by members of the Holy Synod, who presented him with the Grand Cross of the Apostle Paul, the founder of the church in Athens.

    The Patriarch, who arrived in Athens on Thursday for a two-week visit to Greece, held a special service at the monastery's chapel and presented the Holy Synod with a priceless icon depicting Agios Andreas (St. Andrew).

    Vartholomeos was later escorted by Archbishop of Athens and of All Greece Christodoulos to Greece's Supreme Court, where he was received by its president.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Athens reiterates position over issue of Kosovo refugees' sheltering

    Athens, 22/5/1999 (ANA)

    Greece reiterated yesterday that it would not provide Kosovo Albanian refugees with refuge on its territory but was willing and able to assist them in travelling to other countries.

    "We have said that the issue (of providing refuge to the Kosovo Albanians) must be dealt with collectively by the European Union and no such decision has been taken," Deputy Interior Minister Georgios Floridis told reporters in Thessaloniki.

    The Greek position is that refugees should be housed as close as possible to their homes so that they will be able to return as soon as possible, he added.

    Mr. Floridis said Thursday's operation, in which about 375 Kosovo refugees had passed through Thessaloniki from Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), had been a success.

    The group - mainly families, women and children - were put aboard a Qantas 747 headed for Australia.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Greek Parliament delegation meets with Milosevic

    BELGRADE, 22/5/1999 (ANA - M. Mouratidis)

    Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic received an inter-party Greek Parliament delegation yesterday.

    The Greek deputies said afterwards that Mr. Milosevic expressed optimism that a mediation effort by Russian envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin might succeed.

    The Greek deputies held detailed discussions with President Milosevic on the situation in Kosovo and the course of diplomatic efforts.

    An announcement from Mr. Milosevic's office said the Greek deputies expressed the solidarity of the Greek people to the people of Yugoslavia and their support in resistance to NATO's air strikes.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Proposal at EU house leaders' conference for speed up to Kosovo resolution

    Athens, 22/5/1999 (ANA)

    Addressing the conference of European Union parliament and European parliament presidents in Lisbon yesterday, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis proposed the adoption of a text containing positions to accelerate a solution to the Kosovo crisis.

    He also called for an end to bombings and the continuation of the troop pullout from the region, the deployment of an international peacekeeping force acceptable to both sides and the return of refugees to their homes under conditions of security in an autonomous but not independent Kosovo, as well as the offering of aid to all regions harmed by the war.

    Mr. Kaklamanis also conveyed his concern and the opposition of Greek public opinion and of Greek Parliament to the continuation of the war in neighbouring Yugoslavia. "Everyone is now entitled to wonder whether the real targets are not the defending of human rights but various geoeconomic interests or even the undermining in the conscience of the peoples of Europe of the European concept and of every prospect of the Eu ropean Union, " he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Papoutsis on Yugoslavia crisis

    Athens, 22/5/1999 (ANA)

    European Union Commissioner Christos Papoutsis once again expressed hope yesterday that a political settlement will be found soon to the Yugoslav crisis.

    Mr. Papoutsis, who was addressing the 10th conference of the Regional Black Sea Energy Centre's Coordinating Committee in Athens, said the EU has already started planning for the post-war era in cooperation with its partners from the international commu nity.

    Mr. Papoutsis expressed support for the reconstruction of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, saying that "we cannot accept a black hole in the middle of the Balkans. Such a thing would mean a permanent threat to the stability, development and prosperit y of the region."

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Veteran journalist Germanos dies

    Athens, 22/5/1999 (ANA)

    Noted journalist and author Freddy Germanos died yesterday in an Athens hospital at the age of 65, after a month-long hospitalisation for cancer.

    Germanos, who started writing at the age of 18 and published his first book 12 years later, began his career with the older version of the Athens daily "Vradyni".

    He later worked for another daily, "Mesimvrini".

    The veteran journalist also hosted one of the first television talk shows on a state-run television.

    Condolences and statements were also issued by the PM, the main opposition leader and other political leaders, as well as the government spokesman.

    The National Federation of Journalists Union's (POESY), in a press release, said Freddy Germanos's death was a "great loss for journalism" and expressed its condolences to his family.

    His funeral is set for Monday at the Athens First Cemetery.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] ``Greek Spirit``

    NEW YORK, 22/5/1999 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)

    Greek-origin producers will hold an event dedicated to the "Greek Spirit" events on May 26 at the Lincoln Center, under the art direction of Metropolitan opera b aritone Theodoros Lambrinos.

    The first part of the event will be in memory of famous Greek opera performer Nikos Moshonas, while Walfredo Toscanini, the grandson of the famous composer, will present the noted performer's widow with a special award.

    The money from the event, as well as the gala that will follow, will go to Cyprus Children's Scholarships Endowment Fund.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] ANA to host Alliance of European Press Agencies conference

    Athens, 22/5/1999 (ANA)

    The Athens News Agency, within the framework of activities of the Alliance of European Press Agencies, will organise the alliance's 4th conference at the Asteras Hotel next week in the seaside suburb of Vouliagmeni.

    The conference will include the participation of presidents, general directors and other senior officials of 30 European news agencies.

    The conference will deal with two issues: "The economic, business and stock exchange services of the agencies in the digital era" and "owner-ship status and problems of conflicting interests."

    The conference will be inaugurated by Press and Mass Media Minister Dimitris Reppas on Thursday, while National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou will make an address at the official dinner on Friday.

    The conference is being sponsored by National Bank, the Agricultural Insurance Co., General Bank, Commercial Bank and the Greek Tourist Organisation (EOT).

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Maritime, shipping forum

    Athens, 22/5/1999 (ANA)

    Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos yesterday opened an international forum on maritime and shipping activities, held in the port city of Kavala, northern Greece.

    "KavalaIwill be a gateway for the Mediterranean, the Balkans and Black Sea countries to enter the Community programmes" Mr. Venizelos said, stressing that the forum acquired increased significance in light of the Third Community Support Framework.

    The forum is being organised with the participation of local government officials and shipping executives from 21 countries.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Economic News

    Athens, 22/5/1999 (ANA)

    Alpha Credit Bank ranks globally in Euromoney poll: Alpha Credit Bank, the country's largest private banking group, ranked fifth globally for foreign currency trade involving the drachma in a survey carried out by the Euromoney trade magazine.

    Alpha Credit also ranked top among Greek banks in the same category in the poll, held around the world.

    In addition, Alpha came third globally and top in Greece as issuers of eurodrachma bonds.

    Alpha Credit Bank announced its rankings in a news release yesterday, saying the findings reflected the quality of its involvement in world financial markets.

    Finance ministry to hold T-bill auction on Tuesday: The finance ministry will auction 100 billion drachmas' worth of 12-month Treasury bills in paperless form on Tuesday.

    The ministry said in a statement yesterday that primary dealers would receive a 0.45 percent commission. Also scheduled is a public offering of tax-free savings bonds in paperless form on the first three calendar days of June. The paper is geared mai nly to small investors.

    Since September, when the domestic savings bonds were launched, the finance ministry has raised 800 billion drachmas.

    Stocks end higher, surge through 4,200 points: Equity prices ended the week at a new record high with the general index breaking through the 4,200 level for the first time ever.

    The index ended 0.99 percent higher at 4,206.76 points after two unsuccessful attempts to break the barrier in the last two sessions.

    Demand was heavy for banking and smaller capitalisation stocks.

    It was the market's 30th record close this year.

    Turnover was 234.455 billion drachmas with 43,709,299 shares changing hands.

    Construction and industrials underperformed the index, hit by profit- taking.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks rose 2.75 percent, Leasing jumped 3.06 percent, Insurance increased 3.92 percent, Investment ended 2.28 percent up, Construction fell 4.27 percent, Industrials eased 1.11 percent, Miscellaneous rose 1.09 percent a nd Holding fell 1.15 percent.

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 3.20 percent higher while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips rose 1.19 percent to 2,522.19 points.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 23,100 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 22, 850, Ergobank at 30,390, Ionian Bank at 17,870, Titan Cement at 29,100, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,875, Intracom at 23,000, Minoan Lines at 9,700, Panafon at 8,250 and Hellenic Telec oms at 7,520.

    Bond prices nose up in scant trade: Bond prices gained around 10 basis points in thin turnover yesterday. Electronic trade totalled 41 billion drachmas.

    The ten-year-bond was trading at 104.50, showing a yield of 5.68 percent. The yield spread with German bunds was 164 basis points.

    In the foreign currency market, trade also was lacklustre. At the central bank's daily fix, the euro was set at 324.900 drachmas from 324.850 drachmas in the previous session.

    Titan Cement shows profit rise in Q1: The Titan Cement Group yesterday reported a 19 percent increase in its consolidated net profits in the first quarter of 1999 compared with the same period last year.

    The Group's consolidated net profits, including 97 million drachmas from the company's activities in the Balkans, totalled 2.24 billion drachmas while sales rose to 37 billion, up from 32.6 billion last year.

    Domestic cement sales rose slightly both in volume and in value in the period January-March.

    Exports sales rose in value due to the strengthening of the US dollar and higher sales in America.

    Sales in the Balkan region slipped compared with the same period last year due to adverse weather conditions.

    The Yugoslavia crisis has had only a limited effect on subsidiaries in Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the company said.

    The parent company's sales totalled 22.7 billion drachmas, up from 21.4 billion drachmas last year, while net profits rose to 2.998 billion drachmas from 2.690 billion drachmas a year earlier, marking an increase of 11 percent.

    Mytilineos posts Q1 profit, sales jump: The Mytilineos Group said yesterday that its first quarter net pre-tax profits jumped by 448 percent to 4.813 billion drachmas from 878.8 million drachmas a year earlier.

    First quarter sales were 24.838 billion drachmas, up from 15.943 billion drachmas the previous year.

    The results incorporate for the first time two companies acquired by Mytilineos - Metka of Greece and Sometra of Romania.

    The company informed the Athens bourse that it was in talks with engineering contractor Proodeftiki and other sector firms with a view to entering construction. No agreements had been made.

    Panafon gets new commercial partner: Panafon SA, one of the country's three mobile phone operators, announced yesterday that Expert Hellas AEBE had become a commercial partner through a contract signed with Viafon, one of Panafon's six existing retail outlets.

    Expert Hellas is a member of the Expert International Group, which is considered to be the largest chain of retailers of electrical goods in Europe, Panafon said in a statement.

    Delta Information acquires Dataforms: Delta Information informed the Athens bourse yesterday that it had acquired a 59 percent stake Dataforms ABEE, a graphics firm. The deal was signed on May 17 with shareholders Christos Lambrakis and Pegasus Publishing & Printing.

    Allatini shows lower 1998 profits: The Allatini Group reported a substantial decline in 1998 profits against the previous year but management expects a return to higher profitability this year.

    The group's consolidated pre-tax profits before provisions totalled 418.1 million drachmas in 1998, much lower compared with the previous year due to a 145.2 million drachma loss by ELVIPET SA, a subsidiary; higher provisions of 571.2 million drachmas; expenses accruing from a voluntary retirement plan; and the drachma's devaluation in March last year.

    ELVIPET's sales totalled 759.4 million drachmas in 1998. The company plans a 400 million drachma investment in a new production line aimed at improving its results.

    Flour sales in the domestic market increased by 1.3 percent in volume and by 7.0 percent in value last year, although exports fell due to subdued activity in Albania.

    Total sales increased in value by 11.67 percent in 1998. Turnover in flour is expected to reach 11.5 billion drachmas this year with pre-tax profits totalling around 800 million drachmas.

    In an effort to get rid of accumulated losses, Allatini has decided not to pay a dividend to shareholders.

    The company acquired Viotia Mills, a flour mill in Oinofyta last month in a deal worth one billion drachmas.

    Allatini will spend another 200 million drachmas to upgrade the unit. It has also agreed to acquire 55 percent of "Thrace Mills" in Alexandroupoli.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Athens foreign exchange

    Athens, 22/5/1999 (ANA)

    Banknotes Buying Selling
    US Dollar 304.008 311.057
    Can.Dollar 207.268 212.074
    Australian Dlr 201.431 206.101
    Pound Sterling 488.639 499.969
    Irish Punt 409.238 418.726
    Pound Cyprus 557.008 569.922
    Pound Malta 727.432 757.742
    Turkish pound (100) 0.069 0.072
    French franc 49.135 50.274
    Swiss franc 201.088 205.751
    Belgian franc 7.990 8.175
    German Mark 164.790 168.611
    Finnish Mark 54.207 55.464
    Dutch Guilder 146.254 149.644
    Danish Kr. 43.356 44.362
    Swedish Kr. 35.922 36.755
    Norwegian Kr. 39.174 40.082
    Austrian Sh. 23.422 23.965
    Italian lira (100) 16.646 17.032
    Yen (100) 245.768 251.466
    Spanish Peseta 1.937 1.982
    Port. Escudo 1.608 1.645
    Euro
    Buying: 322.301
    Selling: 329.773
    
    Foreign Exchange Buying Selling
    New York 304.008 311.057
    Montreal 207.268 212.074
    Sydney 201.431 206.101
    London 488.639 499.969
    Dublin 409.238 418.726
    Nicosia 557.008 569.922
    Paris 49.135 50.274
    Zurich 201.088 205.751
    Brussels 7.990 8.175
    Frankfurt 164.790 168.611
    Helsinki 54.207 55.464
    Amsterdam 146.254 149.644
    Copenhagen 43.356 44.362
    Stockholm 35.922 36.755
    Oslo 39.174 40.082
    Vienna 23.422 23.965
    Milan 16.646 17.032
    Tokyo 245.768 251.466
    Madrid 1.937 1.982
    Lisbon 1.608 1.645
    
    Athens News Agency

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