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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-05-26

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Simitis reiterates Greece's call for immediate,peaceful solution in Kosovo
  • [02] Samaranch satisfied with progress over 2004 Games
  • [03] Joint communique by SE European deputy defence ministers over Kosovo
  • [04] Gov't on latest ceasefire initiative for Kosovo
  • [05] More Kosovo refugees through Thessaloniki
  • [06] G. Papandreou begins four-day contacts in US
  • [07] Athens to ask deadline extension for EU's energy tax
  • [08] Greek-Czech proposal for Kosovo released
  • [09] Cycladic art exhibition opens in Madrid
  • [10] Accuracy of Greek broadcasters' reporting over Kosovo earns ERS attention
  • [11] Greeks take dim view of state pensions
  • [12] General industrial output up 2.4 pct yr/yr in March
  • [13] Stocks end down in line with world markets
  • [14] Yield noses down in T-bill auction
  • [15] Citibank, Salomon named top drachma dealers
  • [16] Domestic equity mutual fund assets slip over two days
  • [17] European Dynamics plans bourse entry
  • [18] Athens Foreign Exchange
  • [19] Paris seminar on 2004 Olympic Games business opportunities

  • [01] Simitis reiterates Greece's call for immediate,peaceful solution in Kosovo

    Athens, 26/05/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday reiterated the need for peace in Kosovo, saying Greece will work for it.

    "Greece firmly supports the view that talks currently underway must lead to a solution. Indications we have do not indicate that a solution will not occur...they do not lead to the conclusion that the war will absolutely continue," he said.

    The Greek PM made the statements after talks with visiting Estonian President Lennart Meri, which focused on developments in the Yugoslav crisis and bilateral relations.

    Mr. Simitis said talks of NATO "ground forces" entering Kosovo were "negative", adding that "Greece is in contact with all protagonists of the crisis, underlining the need for peace and it will work for peace."

    Replying to reporters' questions, Mr. Simitis said Greece remained firmly in favour of a diplomatic solution to the crisis, adding that Athens believed such a solution was quite feasible.

    President Meri, who arrived in Athens on Sunday for a four-day official visit, said he fully understood Greece's "concerns and sensitivity" regarding its neighbours, "with which it wishes to maintain good relations".

    In addition, Mr. Simitis said Greece wholeheartedly supported Tallinn's efforts to join the European Union, describing Estonia as a a country of the former eastern bloc which was "closer" to the reality of modern-day Europe.

    Mr. Meri referred to Estonia's efforts and the economic programme which it is implementing in order to adjust to the new conditions. He also thanked Greece for its assistance, particularly regarding Estonia's bid for EU membership. Mr. Simitis announced that Greece would soon open an embassy in Tallinn, expressing a view that this would further strengthen relations between the two countries. Earlier, Mr. Meri had talks with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, during which both sides ascertained excellent prospects for the further development of bilateral relations.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Samaranch satisfied with progress over 2004 Games

    Athens, 26/05/1999 (ANA)

    International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch last night expressed confidence in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games organising committee, praising Athens' interest for the success of the Games.

    "These Games must be the best ever. We have full confidence in the organising committee, while the government shows interest for the success of the Games while the IOC stands by," Mr. Samaranch said during a speech at the inauguration of the Greek Olympic Committee's new building in Athens, and in the presence of Prime Minister Costas Simitis .

    Mr. Simitis said while addressing the ceremony that "two years ago we proved with actions and not words that Greece can win in international competition...The IOC's decision to have the 2004 Olympic Games held in Athens constituted undoubtedly a great hon our for our country and for all Greeks."

    "Greece is convincing more and more that it can...With the strengthening of its economy and the upgrading of its international role. With the achievement of its equal participation in Economic and Monetary Union and the course of European integration," he added.

    Mr. Simitis said that the greatest intensification of efforts is necessary over the remaining five years. He said that tough, systematic and well- programmed work is required from all, adding that not even a minute must be lost.

    On his part, Mr. Samaranch expressed satisfaction over the Greek Olympic Committee's new building, saying "we are proceeding in the right direction and are giving the due significance to the Olympic movement. The IOC was very happy in awarding Greece with the 2004 Olympic Games..."

    Afterwards, Mr. Samaranch awarded Deputy Sports Minister Andreas Fouras the IOC's Olympic Medal.

    Mr. Fouras, visibly moved, said "I believe that the honour you are bestowing upon me belongs to Greek sport."

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Joint communique by SE European deputy defence ministers over Kosovo

    SOFIA, 26/05/1999 (ANA - B. Borisov)

    The deputy defence ministers of eight countries of SE Europe and the US issued a joint communique during their meeting here yesterday, expressing their concern over the continuing crisis in Kosovo.

    The communique also includes ideas and proposals on further developing cooperation between them.

    "The Deputy Ministers underline that an end must be put to violence, ethnic cleansing and savagery in Kosovo, that the safe return of all refugees and people expelled to their homes must be secured and that a secure, mutual and permanent solution must be found," the communique said.

    "NATO has the known five conditions and until their acceptance by the leadership of Yugoslavia, the situation will remain as it is," US Alternate Defence Secretary Franklin Kramer told a press conference.

    The issue of possible ground operations in Yugoslavia by NATO was not raised in Sofia since there has not been any unanimous decision taken on the issue at the alliance's decision-making centres, as various officials told the press with visible relief.

    "The most important result is that we agreed to take a series of initiatives which will unite our countries even more, will strengthen relations and suitable mechanisms will also be created to handle crises," Deputy Defence Minister Dimitris Apostolakis said, adding that "we expressed our view that the crisis in Kosovo must come to an end and a just and permanent peace should prevail in the region."

    Mr. Apostolakis stressed the significance of the joint proposal by Greece, Italy and the US to have a multinational construction and engineering unit created to take action in cases of natural disasters, big industrial accidents and other emergencies. H e said that a meeting of experts will take place in Athens on June 26 to coordinate specific details concerning the establishment of the unit.

    Meanwhile, the first map exercise of the multinational peacekeeping forces of southeastern Europe will take place in December, according to the communique.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Gov't on latest ceasefire initiative for Kosovo

    Athens, 26/05/1999 (ANA)

    The government said yesterday that Greece would submit a Greek-Czech proposal for a 48-hour ceasefire in the Yugoslav conflict at the forthcoming meeting of NATO's permanent representatives.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Monday that Greece and the Czech Republic had agreed on the proposal which is aimed at providing "the necessary period for the speeding up of the Kosovo peace initiative".

    Mr. Reppas reiterated yesterday that Greece supported the G8 draft peace proposals for peace in Kosovo, while adding that maximum use should be made of the mediating efforts of Russia's special envoy for the Balkans, Viktor Chernomyrdin, and Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari.

    He said no discussion has taken place on ground operations in Yugoslavia by NATO, neither has any decision been taken on increasing the number of soldiers in the region and who will constitute the peacekeeping force. He also gave assurances that the for ce to be deployed in the Kosovo region will have nothing to do with the development of war activities and operations and will be lightly armed. Mr. Reppas linked the developments with the outcome of mediatory initiatives by Mr. Ahtisaari and Mr. Chernomyr din, saying that if progress is achieved in these initiatives "we will be close to the assumption of initiatives by the UN, which will sponsor the force to be deployed in Kosovo". Mr. Reppas expressed certain optimism over the results of these initiatives , saying that all indications converge on the acceptance by all sides of the deployment of a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.

    Referring to the Foreign Minister George Papandreou's visit to China, he said the positions of the two countries converge to the point of identity on the way of handling the crisis.

    Mr. Papandreou and his Czech counterpart Jan Kavan signed a common declaration on Sunday stating their decision to support initiatives for "a short suspension of the bombings in order to give a real chance to diplomacy and allow for the adoption of a U N Security Council resolution".

    Athens News Agency

    [05] More Kosovo refugees through Thessaloniki

    Athens, 26/05/1999 (ANA)

    A second group of Kosovo refugees will pass through Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport tomorrow, en route to temporary refuge in Australia, local authorities said. The group will reach Thessaloniki by coach from Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) , and are expected to arrive at the northern Greek city's airport at around 10:30 a.m. A group of some 375 Kosovars, mostly family groups with relatives in Australia, left Thessaloniki for Sydney last Thursday.
    Athens News Agency

    [06] G. Papandreou begins four-day contacts in US

    WASHINGTON, 26/05/1999 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday kicked-off a four-day round of contacts in the United States with a meeting with Kosovo mediator Richard Holbrooke.

    He is continuing with Rev. Jesse Jackson and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in Washington today. The meeting with his counterpart, which will also be attended by the two countries' respective ambassadors, Alexandros Filon and Nicholas Burns, will focus on developments in the Kosovo issue.

    Sources say Mr. Papandreou will have the opportunity to set out the Greek proposal for a 48-hour cessation of NATO bombings. Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue will also be discussed.

    The Greek foreign minister will also be meeting representatives of Jewish organisations with whom he will discuss ways of forging closer relations between Greece and Israel, and between the Greek-American and Jewish- American lobbies. He will also brief members of the external relations committee of Congress.

    On Thursday, he will brief analysts of SE European affairs during a working breakfast in the Greek embassy, and then meet with World Bank president James Wolfenson. Afterwards, he will sign at the Holocaust Museum a cooperation agreement between the Museum and the Historical Archive Service of the Greek foreign ministry for exchanges of historical material and documents concerning the history of the Jewish community in Greece.

    He will attend a working lunch with members of the House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee and meet Mr Clinton's national security adviser Sandy Berger.

    On Friday, Mr. Papandreou is meeting CIA director George Tenet and Defense Secretary William Cohen.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Athens to ask deadline extension for EU's energy tax

    BRUSSELS, 26/05/1999 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou yesterday attended a joint session with their respective EU colleagues in preparation of a so-called "employment pact" to be consid ered for adoption at the Cologne summit next month.

    Mr. Papantoniou earlier attended a session of the ECOFIN council, where he said Greece Athens ask for an extention of a deadline for the introduction of an energy tax, while it was not considering the issue at present as the introduction would have an unfavourable impact on inflation.

    However, he added Greece would be prepared to discuss the levying of such a tax on the raw materials for power production but not on the final products.

    Regarding the taxation of savings of residents of member-states who keep accounts in other countries, he said Greece, in view of its participation in EMU, did not desire any change for the time being so as to avoid any reactions from depositors. Athens News Agency

    [08] Greek-Czech proposal for Kosovo released

    BRUSSELS, 26/05/1999 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)

    Athens yesterday released a Greek-Czech proposal for a peaceful resolution of the Kosovo crisis, here at NATO's headquarters.

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou ironed out the initiative through contacts ranging from Russia to China, the United States and Europe.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Cycladic art exhibition opens in Madrid

    MADRID, 26/05/1999 (ANA)

    Queen Sofia of Spain inaugurated an exhibition of Cycladic art of the N.P. Goulandris collection at the National Museum-Reina Sofia Art Centre in the Spanish capital.

    Goulandris Foundation President Dolly Goulandri, Spanish Deputy Culture Minister Miguel Angel Cortez and the museum's director Jose Girau also attended the event, as did Daphne Simiti, the wife of the Greek premier, and Greece's ambassador to Madrid. The exhibition will last until August 31.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Accuracy of Greek broadcasters' reporting over Kosovo earns ERS attention

    Athens, 26/05/1999 (ANA)

    Claims that Greek broadcast media has been biased in its coverage of the Kosovo crisis may be brought before the Greek National Radio and Television Council (ERS), a mostly government-controlled electronic media watchdog responsible for licencing and othe r issues.

    Pavlos Sourlas told Parliament's institutions and transparency committee that station directors as well as some of the critics claiming that Greek media outlets were biased may be called before the council.

    The Athens Journalists' Union (ESHEA) has defended the work of its members against the charges, saying that the Greek press and media, often alone among western journalists, have worked under extremely difficult conditions to present the facts without bias.

    Mr. Sourlas also said that ERS would have a code of conduct for news programmes and current affairs shows on radio and television soon.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Greeks take dim view of state pensions

    Athens, 26/05/1999 (ANA)

    The majority of Greeks doubt whether state-run pension funds will be able to provide them with an adequate pension and believe private schemes are the best way to top up their incomes on retirement, according to a survey.

    The findings of the poll, released at a seminar organised by the Union of Greek Insurance Companies, showed that 88 percent of Greeks believed that pensions were too low.

    Eighty four percent said they did not know what pension they would receive due to rapid changes in the law, and 76 percent believed that contributions to state-run pension funds were too high.

    Seventy percent believed that their contributions would be better placed in private pension schemes.

    Speakers from Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands said their countries, like Greece, faced a rise in ageing populations. The most likely solution was to supplement state pensions with private group or individual schemes.

    The European Union is expected to introduce legislation by the end of the year that will support private supplementary pensions.

    Representatives of the Greek insurance market said that talks should begin with the state to legislate supplementary pensions, including tax incentives.

    Greece lags Europe in growth of private insurance : The growth of private insurance in Greece is lower compared with other European countries due mainly to a lack of confidence shown by consumers in the market, Deputy Development Minister Yiannis Haralambous said.

    Addressing the seminar, Mr. Haralambous said that consumers who pay for a product have the right to receive the services they have been promised.

    He criticised tactics employed by insurance companies, including the small print in contracts, to make short-term profits from customers when they would benefit more from a larger market.

    Needed was an institutional framework to be supervised by the state that would ensure the proper operation of the private insurance system with transparency and efficiency.

    Mr. Haralambous urged the use of up-to-date techniques successfully implemented in foreign countries as tools to be adapted to the Greek reality.

    "The problem of social insurance is not just a domestic one, but is found throughout the civilised world," he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] General industrial output up 2.4 pct yr/yr in March

    Athens, 26/05/1999 (ANA)

    The general industrial production index, including mining, electricity and natural gas, increased by 2.4 percent in March year-on-year compared with the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said yesterday.

    The NSS said, however, that the manufacturing production index fell by 2.3 percent in March year-on-year, reflecting lower production in wood, leather, textiles, printing, oil products and coal.

    The mining production index dropped by 15.3 percent in the same month year- on-year, but the electricity-natural gas index surged 42.3 percent due mainly to natural gas output, NSS said.

    The general industrial production index rose 4.4 percent in the first quarter of the year compared with the same period in 1998.

    Manufacturing in the same period fell 1.1 percent, mining dropped 18.9 percent and electricity-natural gas increased 49.7 percent.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Stocks end down in line with world markets

    Athens, 26/05/1999 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended sharply lower yesterday hit by a decline in international markets following Wall Street's drop a day earlier.

    Traders said the market also reacted nervously to renewed talk of a ground war in Yugoslavia.

    The general index ended 1.69 percent lower at 4,111.90 points, sharply off the day's low of 4,055 points.

    Turnover remained below 200 billion drachmas for the second day running. It fell to 181.554 billion drachmas with 37,620,074 shares changing hands.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-1.60 pct), Leasing (-2.70 pct), Insurance (-3.23 pct), Investment (-1.49 pct), Construction (+1.84 pct), Industrials (-1.38 pct), Miscellaneous (-2.46 pct) and Holding (-3.77 pct). The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 1.71 percent lower while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips dropped 1.87 percent to 2,481.36 points.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 23,300 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 22, 890, Titan Cement at 29,500, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,715, Intracom at 22, 900, Panafon at 7,990 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 7,150 drachmas.

    Bond prices end down in jittery trade : Bond prices shed up to 50 basis points yesterday on unease about the Kosovo war and European elections on June 13. Most of the selling came from abroad.

    Electronic trade totalled 80 billion drachmas from 36 billion drachmas in the previous session and 41 billion drachmas on Friday.

    The ten-year-bond was trading at 104.00, showing a yield of 5.75 percent. The yield spread with German bunds was 175 basis points from 165 basis points a day earlier and 163-165 over the previous week.

    In the foreign currency market, trade was lacklustre. At the central bank's daily fix, the euro was set at 325.310 from 324.890 in the previous session.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Yield noses down in T-bill auction

    Athens, 26/05/1999 (ANA)

    The average weighted rate in an auction yesterday of 12-month treasury bills fell narrowly to 8.68 percent from 8.70 percent on April 27, the finance ministry said in a statement.

    The auction was oversubscribed by 1.1 times. On offer were 100 billion drachmas of paper, and bids totalled 106.3 billion drachmas.

    Athens Naews Agency

    [15] Citibank, Salomon named top drachma dealers

    Athens, 26/05/1999 (ANA)

    Citibank and Salomon Smith Barney ranked top in the drachma and drachma bond markets worldwide, according to an annual survey in the international Euromoney magazine.

    Second in the league was Bank of America, followed by HSBC.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Domestic equity mutual fund assets slip over two days

    Athens, 26/05/1999 (ANA)

    Domestic equity mutual fund assets edged down 0.03 percent over the last two days in line with a decline in prices on the Athens Stock Exchange, analysts said yesterday.

    Also declining were the assets of composite funds, which lost 0.16 percent.

    But cash flowing into money market and fixed-income mutual funds rose by 1.01 percent and 0.12 percent respectively.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] European Dynamics plans bourse entry

    Athens, 26/05/1999 (ANA)

    European Dynamics, which supplies integrated telecoms and information technology systems to major firms in Greece and abroad, is planning to enter the Athens Stock Exchange's parallel market for smaller cap stocks by the end of the year.

    The firm posted turnover of 2.6 billion drachmas in 1998, up from 1.8 billion drachmas a year earlier, it said in a statement yesterday.

    European Dynamics also is active in Internet commerce and Internet/Intranet applications.

    It has forged alliances with world players including Lucent Technologies, Sun Microsystems, IBM and Oracle, the statement said.

    Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos will be in Sofia tomorrow to inaugurate a new processing plant established by Greek fruit juice firm, Florina SA.

    Florina has invested six million US dollars on converting a former bakery in a Sofia suburb into a processing plant capable of packaging fruit juices and pulp.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens, 26/05/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: May 25, 1999

    Paarities in Drachmas

    Banknotes             Buying  Selling
    US Dollar             303.612 310.651
    Can.Dollar            208.260 213.089
    Australian Dlr        199.819 204.451
    Pound Sterling        485.703 496.964
    Irish Punt            409.754 419.254
    Pound Cyprus          557.504 570.430
    Pound Malta           726.482 756.752
    Turkish pound (100)     0.069   0.072
    French franc           49.196  50.337
    Swiss franc           201.922 206.603
    Belgian franc           8.000   8.185
    German Mark           164.997 168.823
    Finnish Mark           54.275  55.534
    Dutch Guilder         146.438 149.833
    Danish Kr.             43.402  44.408
    Swedish Kr.            35.889  36.721
    Norwegian Kr.          39.079  39.985
    Austrian Sh.           23.452  23.996
    Italian lira (100)     16.667  17.053
    Yen (100)             247.524 253.263
    Spanish Peseta          1.939   1.984
    Port. Escudo            1.610   1.647
    Foreign Exchange      Buying  Selling
    New York              303.612 310.651
    Montreal              208.260 213.089
    Sydney                199.819 204.451
    London                485.703 496.964
    Dublin                409.754 419.254
    Nicosia               557.504 570.430
    Paris                  49.196  50.337
    Zurich                201.922 206.603
    Brussels                8.000   8.185
    Frankfurt             164.997 168.823
    Helsinki               54.275  55.534
    Amsterdam             146.438 149.833
    Copenhagen             43.402  44.408
    Stockholm              35.889  36.721
    Oslo                   39.079  39.985
    Vienna                 23.452  23.996
    Milan                  16.667  17.053
    Tokyo                 247.524 253.263
    Madrid                  1.939   1.984
    Lisbon                  1.610   1.647
    Athens News Agency

    [19] Paris seminar on 2004 Olympic Games business opportunities

    Athens, 26/05/1999 (ANA)

    A seminar on the 2004 Olympic Games is being organised in Paris on June 3-4 by the French Centre of External Trade, in collaboration with the commercial section of the French embassy in Athens.

    The two-day event includes a day-seminar on Games-related specialised topics such as organisation, the investment and financing programme for the Games, legal, taxation and insurance matters etc.

    A French embassy press release noted that there were many opportunities for French firms, which must without delay show an interest and meet with the Athens 2004 organising committee.

    The press release said a wide range of sectors would interest French firms, including construction, electrical equipment, transport infrastructures, telecoms, informatics, audiovisual, sports equipment, medical equipment, consumer goods, as well as serv ices for hotels, hospitality, sanitation, transports, security, etc.

    The guest speakers include members of the French Olympics committee, members of the Athens 2004 organisation committee and senior executives of Greek and French firms.

    Athens News Agency

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