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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-05-25

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Simitis appeals for immediaaaate peace in Kosovo
  • [02] Estonian President Meri arrives to sign 3 bilateral agreements
  • [03] Gov't requests 12-day halt to NATO convoys passing through Greece
  • [04] Athens Academy calls for peace in Yugoslavia
  • [05] G. Papandreou to brief UN over Greek-Czech initiative for suspension of NATO bombings
  • [06] Balkan deputy defence ministers to gather in Sofia
  • [07] Simitis, Vartholomeos discuss int'l developments during meeting
  • [08] Athens lawyer welcomes report of Int'l Court interest in NATO bombings
  • [09] Thessaloniki officials decry use of port by NATO
  • [10] Conference on human rights
  • [11] Phone-card scam arrests
  • [12] PM addresses election rally in Crete
  • [13] Karamanlis launches attack on gov't over EU funds
  • [14] Manos campaign platform
  • [15] Meeting of mayors, minister focuses on 2004 progress
  • [16] ANEK acquires 20 pct stake in NEL passenger shipper
  • [17] Maillis buys two UK companies
  • [18] Talks end on govt's employment action plan
  • [19] Stocks nose down in technical correction
  • [20] New engineering contractors group presents plans
  • [21] Development minister takes part in world energy meeting
  • [22] Selonda posts higher Q1 results
  • [23] Despec Hellas reports 106 pct profit jump in Q1
  • [24] Athens Foreign Exchange
  • [25] Traditional Grecian diet touted as a counter to genetically modified foods
  • [26] PVC toy ban extended

  • [01] Simitis appeals for immediaaaate peace in Kosovo

    Athens, 25/05/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis last night appealed for peace in Kosovo, advocating dialogue for a political solution to the crisis.

    "Times are difficult, the war continues in our neighbourhood. We have from the very first minute said that bombings were not a solution. From the very first minute we underlined that a political solution to the problem must be found. Today, the impasse is becoming more and more apparent...We insist: peace now, dialogue now, political solution now," Mr. Simitis said addressing an election rally in Irakleio, Crete.

    "We say: We want a Europe which is equal to the US. We want a strong Europe which will have a say. To avert wars.

    If there was a common European policy, if there was a timely intervention there would be no complication in Kosovo.

    We are struggling for a politically strong Europe. A Europe of peace. A Europe of social solidarity and humanity," he added.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Estonian President Meri arrives to sign 3 bilateral agreements

    Athens, 25/05/1999 (ANA)

    Greece and Estonia yesterday signed three bilateral agreements on international road transports, cooperation in the fields of culture, training and science, as well as cooperation in the tourism sector.

    The accords were signed by visiting Estonian President Lennart Meri, who arrived on Sunday for a four-day official visit, and his Greek counterpart Kostis Stephanopoulos. The two presidents hailed the agreements as a very good basis for expanding bilateral relations.

    Mr. Meri, who inaugurated Estonia's new general consulate in Athens yesterday, expressed certainty that bilateral cooperation would continue in all sectors, namely, political cooperation and collaboration in the sectors of security, research, technology and culture.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos stressed Greece's desire to strengthen its ties with Estonia, noting Greece's support of Estonia's applications for membership in the European Union and NATO.

    Mr. Meri said Estonia wished to play a role in the United Europe, "a role it deserves, an equal role such as Germany and the other EU countries", and expressed hope for the opening of a Greek embassy in Tallinn, the Estonian capital.

    Asked to comment on prospects for a termination of the war in Kosovo, President Stephanopoulos said he feared "no one is in a position to answer precisely", adding his "sincerest wishes and hope for a speedy solution to the problem, which has been greatly occupying us".

    Asked if the war in Kosovo could make his country revise its desire to join NATO, Mr. Meri replied:

    "When we speak of a crisis or war, we must not forget that we are speaking about human pain".

    "...we are speaking about one million people who have abandoned their country and their homes and are waiting to return under conditions of safety and respect of human rights".

    "This is the goal of the EU and NATO countries," the Estonian president added.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos decorated Mr. Meri with the Grand Cross of the Order of the Saviour, an honour reserved for heads of state.

    On his part, Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos presented Mr. Meri with the Golden Medal of Worth, praising the Estonian president for his "spiritual sensitivity, his vast knowledge of languages and history as well as his efforts to open up new avenues to culture and cultural cooperations for his country".

    While in Greece, Mr. Meri will also hold talks with top government leaders on bilateral and international issues.

    The Estonian president also met with visiting Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.

    New honourary consul : Georgios Kasimatis was tapped as Estonia's honourary consul in Piraeus during the ceremony. Mr. Kasimatis is the president of the Piraeus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EVEP).

    In a brief address, Mr. Meri said Mr. Kasimatis will be a worthy representative of Estonia's interests aimed at bilateral economic contacts in the trade sector.

    The ceremony was attended by Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis, the Metropolitan of Piraeus Kallinikos, deputies and the local authorities.

    Mr. Meri also visited the Piraeus Port Organisation (OLP), accompanied by Mr. Soumakis, where he boarded a vessel and was given a guided tour of the port of Piraeus.

    Official dinner : Later in the evening, Mr. Stephanopoulos, during an official dinner he hosted for Mr. Meri, stressed that "our main priority is an end to the bombing and a diplomatic solution to the (Kosovo) crisis and then the humanitarian issue as well as the reconstr uction of the region".

    He referred to the Cyprus issue and said that the accession of the island republic in the European Union will contribute toward a solution to the political problem of the island and the welfare of all of its people.

    The Greek president also reiterated Greece's support for Estonia's accession to the European and Atlantic organisations.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Gov't requests 12-day halt to NATO convoys passing through Greece

    Athens, 25/05/1999 (ANA)

    The government confirmed yesterday that it had asked NATO to stop the passage through Greek territory of Alliance troops headed for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) for a period of 12 days, in light of European elections on June 13.

    Confirming a report in the Athens daily "Ta Nea", government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the reason for the request was that police officers who regularly accompany NATO convoys to the Greek-FYROM border will be deployed elsewhere during the election period.

    Mr. Reppas said also that Greece and the Czech Republic had agreed to propose a 48-hour ceasefire "in order for there to be a necessary period for the speeding up of the Kosovo peace initiative".

    He added that the proposal would be submitted to NATO.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Athens Academy calls for peace in Yugoslavia

    Athens, 25/05/1999 (ANA)

    The Athens Academy yesterday issued a statement calling on all warring parties in Yugoslavia to seek a "just, peaceful and comprehensive settlement".

    The Academy said it was "deeply concerned by the developments in Yugoslavia".

    The Society of Architects yesterday also condemned the destruction wrought on Yugoslavia by NATO bombs.

    Condemning what it called "the rape of the natural and urban environment, and the destruction of monuments and architectural works", the society called on the prime minister to formally express his disagreement at all international organisations in which Greece participates and to contribute to the imposition of peace.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] G. Papandreou to brief UN over Greek-Czech initiative for suspension of NATO bombings

    BEIJING, 25/05/1999 (ANA - A. Makridis)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou is scheduled to brief United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan on China's agreement with a Greek-Czech initiative for a short suspension of NATO bombings in Yugoslavia before any relevant resolution by the UN Security Council.

    Mr. Papandreou will also inform US envoy Richard Holbrooke of the initiative.

    During a press conference following his talks with China's Vice-President Qian Qichen and the country's Foreign Minister, Tang Jiaxuan, Mr. Papandreou said he conveyed Athens' condolences over the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

    He added that he conveyed a statement by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that the action was not intended.

    Mr. Papandreou said the Chinese officials reiterated their wish for an in- depth investigation over the bombing of their embassy, which resulted in three deaths and several injuries of Chinese citizens.

    Mr. Papandreou said the Chinese officials underlined to him that China "is not going to promote any Security Council resolution unless the bombings stop."

    He also noted that "China wishes to constructively help toward a solution of the Kosovo crisis, through the UN, which it considers to be the appropriate agency."

    The Greek FM added that the Chinese officials called the Greek-Czech proposal "very good".

    He said that "since there is a possibility that China may not agree to a decision by the Security Council before a cease-fire, the Greek proposal becomes all the more relevant."

    On the possibility of a diplomatic solution, Mr. Papandreou said that he did not detect, during the talks, an intention by the Chinese government to participate in a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, rather just a donation of humanitarian aid.

    The Greek FM appealed for good will steps by both NATO and Yugoslavia, noting that Europe should not place minority rights over state sovereignty rights, but to promote what Europe itself has followed, that is to minimise the importance of borders by the deepening of democracy and respect for minority rights in every country.

    "Yugoslavia should do this, but the Albanians should not demand independence. If that does not happen, states will be led to fear minorities residing on their soil," Mr. Papandreou said.

    On Sunday, Mr. Papandreou and his Czech counterpart Jan Kavan signed a common declaration stating their decision, to support in public, initiatives for "a short suspension of the bombings in order to give a real chance to diplomacy and allow for the ad option of a UN Security Council resolution."

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Balkan deputy defence ministers to gather in Sofia

    SOFIA, 25/05/1999 (ANA - B. Borisov)

    The deputy defence ministers of seven Balkan countries and their US and Italian counterparts will meet here today to discuss the Kosovo crisis and prospects for ensuring stability in SE Europe once the Yugoslav conflict is over.

    The seven countries are Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Romania, Slovenia and Turkey.

    The meeting was announced at a news conference given in Sofia by Bulgaria's deputy defence minister.

    The Greek delegation at the meeting will be headed by Deputy Defence Minister Dimitris Apostolakis.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Simitis, Vartholomeos discuss int'l developments during meeting

    Athens, 25/05/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday held talks with visiting Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, with discussions focusing primarily on international developments.

    The premier later hosted a luncheon for the spiritual leader of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians.

    In toasting Vartholomeos, Mr. Simitis referred to the principles espoused by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, such as respect for human dignity, human rights, condemnation of racism and the need to protect the human and natural environment.

    Referring to the major problems currently ravaging the Balkans, the prime minister said "our struggle for a world in which peace, friendship and cooperation among peoples prevail is a common one".

    Vartholomeos spoke of the Church's role as a bridge that facilitates unhindered communication between peoples even in periods of crisis, "so that a new catastrophic divide between east and west, north and south, can be averted".

    The luncheon was attended by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis, Deputy Foreign Minister Grigoris Niotis, Turkish ambassador to Athens Ali Tuygan and other officials.

    Vartholomeos also met with Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis and Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos.

    The Patriarch, on a two-week official visit in Greece since May 20, was greeted at the Athens city hall by several political and social dignitaries, including former PM Constantine Mitsotakis, while a banner-waving crowd gathered at a nearby square.

    In the evening, the Patriarch spoke at an event in his honour, organised by the Union of Greek Banks. He mainly referred to environmental issues and concerns.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Athens lawyer welcomes report of Int'l Court interest in NATO bombings

    Athens, 25/05/1999 (ANA)

    An Athens-based attorney who believes NATO should face the International Court over its bombing of Yugoslavia welcomed yesterday statements by the lead prosecutor for Yugoslavia war crimes, namely, that she would examine all claims to war crimes.

    "This is a positive step in the direction of the criminal prosecution of those responsible for NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia," a statement issued by Alexandros Lykourezos office read.

    According to reports, UN war crimes prosecutor Lousie Arbour has said the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia at The Hague will look into all charges of war crimes in Yugoslavia regarding the bombings and the fact that civilians are being killed.

    Mr. Lykourezos, in discussions with Ms Arbour's associates at The Hague and in a letter addressed to the lead prosecutor, underlined the civilian fatalities and the destruction to Yugoslavia's infrastructure caused by intensified bombing against non-mil itary targets.

    Earlier this month, Mr. Lykourezos sued the alliance, charging that NATO has violated the UN and its own charter as well as the rules of international law by bombing Yugoslavia.

    He charged that NATO has deliberately targetted civilians and non-military installations and used toxic and poisonous weapons, while also destroying cultural and religious monuments.

    He called on the International Criminal Tribunal at The Hague to examine whether the military and political leadership of NATO could be cited for war crimes.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Thessaloniki officials decry use of port by NATO

    Athens, 25/05/1999 (ANA)

    Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos yesterday launched what he called a "peace offensive" from the city's port, stressing that it should not be used for the transit of NATO troops headed to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    Mr. Papageorgopoulos, who resigned as a New Democracy deputy last year to assume the mayor's post in the northern Greek city, led a delegation of Thessaloniki municipal council around the port before council chairman Sotiris Kapetanopoulos handed a reso lution to port authority officials.

    The resolution called for end to NATO's bombardment of Yugoslavia and expressed opposition to the use of "any Greek facilities whatsoever" by Alliance forces in the event of any operations by ground troops.

    Mr. Papageorgopoulos urged to government not to make Thessaloniki port available for the movement of NATO troops and referring to yesterday's visit, he said the port was "an area from which the message of peace will spring and travel to the whole world" .

    The port of Thessaloniki has been the focus point in northern Greece for protests against the NATO bombardment of Yugoslavia.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Conference on human rights

    Athens, 25/05/1999 (ANA)

    The Maragopoulos Foundation on Human Rights sponsored an international conference, which opened yesterday at the Panteios University in Athens, on the opportunity of the 20th-year anniversary of the foundation.

    The conference focused on the theoretical development and activation of mechanisms against human rights abuse, "as humanity is amid a crossroads, where the human rights abuse is used as a pretext for displacing ecumenical institutions of international law and order", the foundation's president said.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Phone-card scam arrests

    Athens, 25/05/1999 (ANA)

    Two Pakistanis and a Georgian woman were arrested on charges of defrauding the Greek state by manipulating OTE phone-cards, with an estimated loss of some 1.5-2 billion drachmas.

    Police arrested Mohamat Indres, 40, and Mohamat Jat, 31, and Adelina Mgerian, 30, and also confiscated a computer system the three allegedly used to "refill" used phone-cards.

    They said the suspects, who will be taken before a public prosecutor, had connected the computer with a programming system and a phone-card detection device.

    Police also confiscated three detection devices, 23,082 used-up OTE phone- cards, four diskettes, two mobile phones, 11 Pakistani passports and 374, 000 drachmas found in a search of the suspects' homes.

    Pollution due to the NATO bombings in Yugoslavia will affect countries east of the country, while Greece did not suffer any such results, a Thessaloniki university chemistry professor said yesterday.

    Themistocles Kouimtzis, an expert on pollution issues, said that countries east of Yugoslavia are expected to bear the brunt of the bombing fall- out.

    Greek males living abroad, sans deserters, arriving in the country to exercise their right to vote are exempt from the control of their conscription status over the period from May 24 until June 20, according to a cabinet decision and following a releva nt proposal by the national defence ministry. Prosecution against those falling under the relevant decision will also be suspended over the same period.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] PM addresses election rally in Crete

    Athens, 25/05/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday again criticised main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis, stressing that Greece will not become a "feather in the wind of verbal experiments."

    Addressing a PASOK rally in Irakleio, part of a campaign swing before next month's Euroelections, Mr. Simitis referred to a "strong Greece within a united Europe."

    The premier said Greece should not and cannot become a part of a Balkan conflict, while he also detailed the government's initiatives on the issue.

    He also referred in detail to public projects under way and those scheduled to begin on Crete, noting that the large island's economy has been developing at a higher rate than the rest of Greece for the past five years.

    Touching on the Euroelections, he said the June 13 elections are crucial for the future of the country.

    "We are one step before the achievement of a great aim: Economic Monetary Union (EMU).

    "If we unwaveringly follow our policy, in the year 2001 Greece will become an equal member of the European Union...we achieved our aims and secured the basic interests of our country...Greece has a voice, a discernible position."

    "We do not 'belong', we are participating equally, defending our national interests everywhere. Meanwhile, Greece is the only country with reliable relations with all its Balkan neighbours," he added.

    Referring again to Kosovo, he said "we have achieved to have Greece as part of a solution. If we listened to the opposition we would have been part of the problem in the Balkans."

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Karamanlis launches attack on gov't over EU funds

    Athens, 25/05/1999 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday unveiled his party's platform on agriculture, before charging that the government is using EU funds for "pre-election extravagances" in the place of infrastructure projects.

    Mr. Karamanlis, speaking in Larisa, said "we do not compromise with decline, mediocrityIor with a prime minister who is below par.

    The ND leader added that "it (the government) started with an illegal advertisement of community projects and insists on announcing projects which have already been announced but never implemented in the past".

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Manos campaign platform

    Athens, 25/05/1999 (ANA)

    The leader of the newly formed Liberal Party, Stephanos Manos, yesterday said the European Union's first priority should be the creation of representative institutions as well as common foreign and defence policies.

    Speaking on his party's EU platform, in light of the June Euroelections, Mr. Manos said that while the efforts in the economic sector should not be overlooked, common policies in sectors such as defence procurement should also be high on the priority list, so that Union member-states cease to depend on third parties.

    Press and Media Minister Dimitris Reppas yesterday inaugurated an exhibition of political cartoons focusing on the war in Yugoslavia, organised by the Athens Journalists' Union (ESHEA).

    ESHEA President Nikos Kiaos said the exhibition entitled, "Athenian Press Cartoonists Bombing the War" will last as long as the crisis itself.

    The works of more than 30 cartoonists are featured.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Meeting of mayors, minister focuses on 2004 progress

    Athens, 25/05/1999 (ANA)

    Culture Minister Elisabeth Papazoi yesterday chaired a meeting with mayors and other officials of several southern Attica municipalities, focusing on progress for the 2004 Olympic Games projects.

    Ms Papazoi, who is the chairwoman of an intra-ministerial committee on the Olympic Games, stressed that "Greece is offered a unique and historic opportunity to prove its capability for organising a major athletic event, such as the Olympic Games, which constitute an occasion for a total upgrading of Athens and the greater Athens region."

    The official inauguration of the Greek Olympic Committee's new building off Kifisias Avenue will take place at 7:30 p.m. today in the presence of Prime Minister Costas Simitis, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch and S ports Deputy Minister Andreas Fouras.

    Hundreds of mourners from all walks of life gathered yesterday to bid a final farewell to popular writer and long-time journalist Freddy Germanos, who died on Friday at age of 65.

    He is survived by his ex-wife Maria Ioannidou and his daughter Natalia.

    The funeral took place at the Athens First Cemetery.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] ANEK acquires 20 pct stake in NEL passenger shipper

    Athens, 25/05/1999 (ANA)

    Shareholders of NEL Lines on Sunday approved a plan to sell a 20 percent stake to ANEK Lines at a repeat meeting held on Lesvos, where the company is based.

    ANEK Lines' managing director, Stelios Zambetakis, now has a seat on NEL's board.

    Crete-based ANEK said that its strategic investment in NEL would contribute to improving passenger shipping in Greece and aid the two companies' growth.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Maillis buys two UK companies

    Athens, 25/05/1999 (ANA)

    M.J. Maillis SA, a packing systems company listed on the Athens bourse, yesterday announced the acquisition of two UK businesses in the secondary packaging materials sector.

    The two buyouts are part of Maillis' strategy to expand in western Europe and they follow previous acquisitions in Spain and France, the company said in a statement.

    Maillis now controls a major European market share through a strong direct sales and distribution network.

    The company plans to maintain its strategy of foreign acquisitions.

    PriceWaterhouse Coopers acted as consultant for the UK acquisitions.

    Maillis purchased Payne Strapping Systems (PSS), a company established in 1911 in Nottinghamshire and one of the biggest producers of polyester and polypropylene strapping in the UK with a total capacity of over 5,000 tons annually and annual turnover e xceeding 10 million pounds sterling. Its end users number 5,000.

    PSS was formerly owned by P P Payne Ltd.

    Maillis also bought Elsten Ltd, whose main activity is UK sales in steel strapping along with strapping machines and tools imported by Maillis.

    Its annual turnover is approximately two million pounds sterling.

    The two acquisitions give Maillis a hefty market share in the United Kingdom, where competitors are few and prices high compared with the rest of Europe, the company said.

    The acquired firms are due to merge in the near future and will distribute products in the UK manufactured by Maillis, also undertaking other activities.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Talks end on govt's employment action plan

    Athens, 25/05/1999 (ANA)

    Labour and Social Insurance Minister Miltiades Papaioannou yesterday welcomed the contribution of employers and unions to talks on the government's national action plan to boost employment.

    After holding the last meeting in the talks, which was with the Federation of Greek Industry (SEB), Mr. Papaioannou said the three parties had agreed on some points, including coordination and monitoring, and disagreed on others.

    The minister rejected a call by SEB that employers should be exempt from 50 percent of their social insurance contributions for new personnel, rather than receiving a tax break on profits equal to 50 percent of the contributions, which was proposed by the government and backed by unions.

    In addition, SEB would like to extend the measure to firms employing less than 100 staff.

    Mr. Papaioannou left for Brussels after the meeting in order to take part in a session of the European Union's economics and social affairs ministers, who will debate the EU's employment plan.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] Stocks nose down in technical correction

    Athens, 25/05/1999 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended moderately lower yesterday in what traders described as a normal correction following a four-day record breaking rally the previous week which pushed prices 6.86 percent higher.

    The general index ended 0.58 percent lower at 4,182.57 points, sharply off the day's highs to post a new intra-day record of 4,265 points.

    Turnover was 184.503 billion drachmas with 34,557,459 shares changing hands.

    Industrials, construction and smaller capitalisation stocks came under profit-taking after rising sharply last week. Banks, however, remained the focus of attention.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (+1.24 pct), Leasing (+2.36 pct), Insurance (+3.24 pct), Investment (+1.77 pct), Industrials (-3.15 pct), Construction (-3.02 pct), Holding (-2.81 pct) and Miscellaneous (-3.09 pct). The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 0.02 percent lower, while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips rose 0.25 percent to 2,528.55 points.

    Traders expect the market to fluctuate narrowly around the 4,200 level in the short-term, unless something major occurs to dramatically change the market's balance. National Bank of Greece ended at 23,840 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 23,100, Ergobank at 29,935, Ionian Bank at 18,100, Titan Cement at 30,000, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,835, Intracom at 22,700, Minoan Lines at 9,350, Panafon at 8,050 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,400.

    Bond prices end flat in scant trade : Bond prices remained unchanged in thin turnover yesterday. Most European markets were closed for a public holiday so trade was mostly by domestic players.

    Electronic trade totalled 36 billion drachmas from 41 billion drachmas in the previous session.

    The ten-year-bond was trading around 104.50, showing a yield of 5.70 percent. The yield spread with German bunds was about 165 basis points.

    In the foreign currency market, trade also was lacklustre. At the central bank's daily fix, the euro was set at 324.890 from 324.900 drachmas in the previous session.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] New engineering contractors group presents plans

    Athens, 25/05/1999 (ANA)

    Three key engineering contractors, who have joined forces to create the largest group in the sector in Greece, yesterday outlined their activities at a presentation to domestic and foreign banks, institutional investors and companies.

    The firms are Aktor, Hellenic Technodomiki and TEB, who are active in private and public projects and co-financed works.

    The group also plans to expand into the energy sector, and have its shares listed on a European bourse, beyond Athens, where the three are already listed.

    In addition, it wants to raise its market value to one trillion drachmas in coming years.

    The group is also seeking institutional investors to buy into its share capital, and financial institutions to help fund the projects it undertakes.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] Development minister takes part in world energy meeting

    Athens, 25/05/1999 (ANA)

    Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos is in Paris to take part in a meeting of ministers of the Internatinal Energy Organisation, which is celebrating is 25th anniversary.

    Ministers from the organisation's 25 member states will debate the repercussions on the world climate of energy policy, safety in the sector, and the implementation of policy in deregulated markets.

    Athens News Agency

    [22] Selonda posts higher Q1 results

    Athens, 25/05/1999 (ANA)

    Selonda Acquaculture yesterday reported that its turnover and pre-tax profits increased by five and 4.5 times respectively in the first quarter of 1999 compared with the same period last year, following its merger with Riopesca.

    Turnover totalled 1.857 million drachmas, up from 374 million drachmas last year, and net pre-tax profits rose to 210 million drachmas from 46 million drachmas in the same period of 1998.

    The company's consolidated turnover rose 33 percent to 2.461 billion drachmas while net pre-tax profits jumped 88 percent to 503 million drachmas.

    Selonda, which is listed on the main market of the Athens bourse, will hold its annual general shareholders' meeting on June 2 to vote on a rights issue.

    Athens News Agency

    [23] Despec Hellas reports 106 pct profit jump in Q1

    Athens, 25/05/1999 (ANA)

    Despec Hellas reported a spectacular 106 percent increase in its consolidated profits for the first quarter of 1999 to 142 million drachmas from 69 million drachmas in the same period of last year.

    Its consolidated turnover totalled 2.2 billion drachmas, up from 1.3 billion a year earlier.

    Despec, which distributes information technology goods, will hold its annual general shareholders' meeting on June 18 when a vote will be taken on a capital increase.

    The company expects to benefit from an agreement signed by its parent company, Van Dorp Despec Groep NV of the Netherlands, to sell Xerox laser printing equipment worldwide.

    Athens News Agency

    [24] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens, 25/05/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: May 24, 1999

    Parities in Drachmas

    Banknotes             Buying  Selling
    US Dollar             304.484 311.544
    Can.Dollar            208.578 213.414
    Australian Dlr        199.903 204.538
    Pound Sterling        487.290 498.588
    Irish Punt            409.213 418.701
    Pound Cyprus          557.901 570.836
    Pound Malta           728.570 758.927
    Turkish pound (100)     0.069   0.072
    French franc           49.132  50.271
    Swiss franc           201.143 205.806
    Belgian franc           7.989   8.174
    German Mark           164.780 168.601
    Finnish Mark           54.204  55.461
    Dutch Guilder         146.245 149.635
    Danish Kr.             43.338  44.343
    Swedish Kr.            35.916  36.749
    Norwegian Kr.          39.077  39.983
    Austrian Sh.           23.421  23.964
    Italian lira (100)     16.645  17.031
    Yen (100)             245.966 251.669
    Spanish Peseta          1.937   1.982
    Port. Escudo            1.607   1.644
    
    Foreign Exchange      Buying  Selling
    New York              304.484 311.544
    Montreal              208.578 213.414
    Sydney                199.903 204.538
    London                487.290 498.588
    Dublin                409.213 418.701
    Nicosia               557.901 570.836
    Paris                  49.132  50.271
    Zurich                201.143 205.806
    Brussels                7.989   8.174
    Frankfurt             164.780 168.601
    Helsinki               54.204  55.461
    Amsterdam             146.245 149.635
    Copenhagen             43.338  44.343
    Stockholm              35.916  36.749
    Oslo                   39.077  39.983
    Vienna                 23.421  23.964
    Milan                  16.645  17.031
    Tokyo                 245.966 251.669
    Madrid                  1.937   1.982
    Lisbon                  1.607   1.644
    
    Athens News Agency

    [25] Traditional Grecian diet touted as a counter to genetically modified foods

    Athens, 25/05/1999 (ANA)

    Emphasising a traditional Greek diet is the best response to the growing prevalence of genetically modified foods in daily diets, a consumer advocacy group stressed yesterday.

    "A traditional diet is the Greek response to genetically modified food...promoting this diet is the new challenge for producers and the Greek state," president of Ekpoizo, Eleni Ioulemou said.

    Ms Ioulemou was speaking at an Ekpoizo seminar on genetically modified (GM) crops and foodstuffs.

    She urged the need to protect the "nutritional heritage" of Greek cuisine with its emphasis on olive oil, pulses, fish and fruit and vegetables.

    Research has demonstrated the high nutritional value of traditional Greek products and foodstuffs and of their preventive action against heart disease and cancer.

    Speakers said that Greeks were in fact consuming GM foods without their knowledge and without being given the opportunity to choose - violating a basic consumer right.

    Although GM product penetration of the Greek market was still at the initial stages, Ms Ioulemou said, the Greek consumer needed to become informed on the risks involved in consuming these products.

    Some fish roe, for example, used in the production of the traditional roe dip, taramosalata, is produced from GM soya.

    "In any case, we need to give particular attention to fresh produce: corn, tomatoes, potatoes, beetroot, pumpkin and soya," she said.

    The controversy over GM crops and food has been fuelled by the fears of some scientists that they pose a threat to biodiversity, have implications for wildlife and the environment, may cause a build-up of antibiotic resistance and possible genetic damag e to animals and humans.

    Ekpoizo has issued a catalogue of products which contain GM products and the companies involved in their production, many of which are active in Greece.

    In Greece, local ecological organisations, scientific agencies and schoolchildren have expressed strong opposition to a proposal by a number of companies for the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) cotton and corn in the region of Fthiotida, centra l Greece.

    As a result of the pressure, the local authority has suspended taking a decision on the proposal so that it could be briefed in greater detail.

    Prefectural officials, meanwhile, were quick to underline that the proposal concerned only "trial cultivations".

    Last year, permission was given for the cultivation of GM cotton on an area of 10,000 square metres, but the crop was never harvested due to its destruction in bad weather.

    Athens News Agency

    [26] PVC toy ban extended

    Athens, 25/05/1999 (ANA)

    Greece's health and development ministries yesterday issued a ban on the import and trade of soft plastic toys made of PVC, extending an earlier ban on the sale of PVC toys in Greece.

    A statement from the ministries said the ban would apply to the importation of all toys manufactured for children aged under three, including any soft bath toys or figurines made of PVC, any PVC-based toys which can be swallowed or put in children's mou ths and PVC-based toys designed for infants.

    The government banned the sale in Greece of toys made from PVC in January, a decision that was greeted by environmental advocacy group Greenpeace as paving the way for a Europe-wide ban.

    The decision was taken because the toxic pthalic compounds used in PVC products are believed to pose a serious health hazard.

    Existing stocks of the products in question were withdrawn from retail outlets in January. As of June 30 any trading in them will be completely prohibited.

    Citing the results of a study conducted in June last year, Greenpeace said toys circulating on the Greek market contained levels of toxic substances ranging from 20 to 50 per cent.

    The findings of the study showed that the toys contained high levels of toxic phthalic compounds which can cause serious liver and kidney damage.

    Although European Commission agencies are drafting a directive aimed at protecting children from the dangers of PVC, Greenpeace has criticised the Commission for its delay, saying that while it has already forbidden the use of PVC in toys used at EU-run daycare centres for employees' children, it had taken no action to protect the rest of the children in the Union.

    Athens News Agency

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