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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-05-28

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] G. Papandreou: Milosevic indicthment will complicate peace efforts
  • [02] Greek growth outlook robust, but inflation at risk
  • [03] Stocks in the doldrums again
  • [04] Mutual funds lose cash on Athens bourse decline
  • [05] Hellenic Petroleum shows Q1 profit rise
  • [06] Panafon posts 55 pct jump in net profit, turnover
  • [07] Aluminium de Grece, DEPA mull Italy-Greece pipeline
  • [08] Info-Quest shows profit rise in Q1
  • [09] EOT measures to buffer tourism flow from central Europe
  • [10] British tourist bookings for Greece rebound, increase expected
  • [11] Athens Foreign Exchange
  • [12] Mitsotakis meets with Milosevic,calls war crimes indicthment `foolish`
  • [13] Greece displeased with indictment against Milosevic
  • [14] Athens, Sofia emphasise need for speedy Kosovo resolution
  • [15] Protests at Thessaloniki port against NATO convoy
  • [16] Estonian delegation in Crete
  • [17] Reppas addresses opening of EAPA seminar
  • [18] Papantoniou calls for price freeze until end of '99

  • [01] G. Papandreou: Milosevic indicthment will complicate peace efforts

    WASHINGTON, 28/05/1999 (ANA - I. Afentouli/A. Ellis)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou held talks at the White House yesterday with US President Bill Clinton's security adviser Sandy Berger, focusing primarily on the Kosovo crisis.

    The meeting came as an indictment against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic by the International War Crimes Court overshadowed efforts at finding a political solution.

    Mr. Papandreou expressed what he said was his personal view that this development might complicate matters and prevent an acceleration in processes to find a solution.

    "I believe that since Milosevic is part of the solution and we are negotiating with him, it is possible that the indictment case might create additional obstacles for a speedy development," he said.

    Mr. Papandreou said that divergent views also exist in the US government over the repercussions of this move.

    On the question of former PM's Constantine Mitsotakis' contacts with the Yugoslav leadership, he said he has not been able to speak to him yet but believes, based on his own frequent telephone contact with his Yugoslav counterpart, Zivadin Jovanovic, that the idea for acceptance of the draft solution defined by NATO's five conditions and the preconditions set by the G8 has matured in the ranks of the Yugoslav leadership.

    "It is necessary for the diplomatic effort to intensify. We believe it has been delayed and that it must be intensified now regardless of an agreement between the US and Russia. I also conveyed this message to Mr. Berger," he said. Mr. Papandreou said that such a disposition also exists on the side of the US.

    "The Greek government has, of course, special reasons to desire a speedup in the process but things have matured now," he added.

    Mr. Papandreou said that a temporary ceasefire would be useful to enable the diplomatic process to get underway.

    Referring to the issue of terrorism, Mr. Papandreou said it was also discussed during his meeting with the US president's security adviser. "It is an issue which is of particular concern for the US government, as it is of concern for us," he said.

    G. Papandreou spells out Athens' positions in CNN interview : WASHIGTON (ANA - I. Afentouli/T. Ellis) - Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday outlined Greece's positions regarding the Kosovo crisis, referring to charges brought against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic as well as prospects for peace in the region.

    During a CNN interview, Mr. Papandreou said Greece "wants the return of refugees and a peaceful solution to the (Kosovo) problem.

    Responding to a question on a Greek-Czech initiative for a 48-hour suspension of NATO's bombings against Yugo slavia, he said the measure could help push the diplomatic process toward a solution, since such a move would also facilitate a United Nations vote, as China and Russia declared that they would veto any resolution unless there is such a suspension.

    Referring to an indictment against Mr. Milosevic on war crimes charges - a move that Moscow, Beijing and several European officials vehemently criticised - Mr. Papandreou said this development was a "double-edged knife".

    The Greek FM also said he believed the gap between the two sides was being bridged, since Mr. Milosevic had approached NATO's position, while the Alliance was taking steps towards securing a solution.

    He added that Mr. Milosevic spoke of the deployment of an international peacekeeping force with a policing character, while NATO refers to the presence of a security force. Responding to questions on Mr. Papandreou's contacts later, US ambassador to Gre ece Nicholas Burns described them as "particularly constructive".

    "These contacts confirm the especially good level of Greek-American relations.

    Our two countries may have some small differences at tactical level, but at strategy level our views are identical. We both wish the diplomatic efforts to continue, for the mediation effort underway to bear fruit," he said.

    Mr. Burns also stated that Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Mr. Berger had shown particular interest in the Greek positions. "They both referred to Greece's special position within NATO, as it keeps the channels of communication open with Belgrade and this is especially valuable," he said. Finally, Mr. Burns said the Greek government had supported NATO decisions with regard to Yugoslavia, in common with all other member- states.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Greek growth outlook robust, but inflation at risk

    Athens, 28/05/1999 (ANA)

    Greece's prospects for growth remain healthy, despite the Yugoslav war, but inflationary pressures are causing concern, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said yesterday.

    In its three-monthly report, IOBE said that the pressures could jeopardise the government's target of bringing inflation below 2.0 percent this year, in order to ensure entry into the European Union's euro zone by January 1, 2001.

    Corrective economic measures would keep inflation to target, the report said.

    Among the additional steps the government could take were a tight adherence to 1999 budgetary targets on state spending, and possibly the imposition of tighter controls.

    Furthermore, monetary policy should focus on a gradual reduction of interest rates, rather than focusing on curbs on credit expansion, which distorted the market and had a negative impact on invesments and demand.

    Finally, measures were needed to spur competitiveness throughout the economy.

    Especially in need of competition were the fuel market, transport, and the labour market, the report said.

    It also chided that a tight incomes policy for the public sector, which was announced side by side with the 1998 budget, had not been fully adhered to.

    Total payroll spending in the public sector had shown a marked increase in growth, rising by 8.1 percent against forecasts of 3.7 percent.

    The higher than expected expenditure had adversely affected the public deficit, which is estimated at 2.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) against a goal of 2.2 percent.

    It had also hurt the public debt, which rose to 106.5 percent of GDP from 105.5 percent.

    The report called for more emphasis on fiscal and structural reform as a component of the government's policy mix.

    Monetary policy would continue to face problems if the acceleration failed to materialise, it added.

    Growth in 1999, as in the previous year, would be fuelled mainly by investments, which are expected to be heavy both in the private and public sectors.

    In 1998, all three sectors of the economy contributed to GDP growth. But for the first time in many years, the secondary sector posted the swiftest rate of growth with manufacturing, electricity and construction showing record increases.

    Finally, it said that the end of the Kosovo crisis could lead to business opportunities for Greek firms, along with inflows of European Union funds under the Third Community Support Framework and the 2004 Olympic Games, due to be hosted by Athens.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Stocks in the doldrums again

    Athens, 28/05/1999 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended a troubled session lower on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday due to a glitch in the electronic trading system, extending their losses for the third consecutive session.

    The general index ended 1.23 percent down at 3,961.79 points, reversing an early advance to 4,052 points, hit by worries over the continuing war in Yugoslavia.

    The session finished one hour later than usual due to problems faced by the electronic trading system, which is currently been upgraded before trade is permanently extended until 3 pm daily.

    Turnover was around 150 billion drachmas.

    The insurance and construction sectors outperformed the market ending 0.67 percent and 1.75 percent higher respectively.

    Other sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-1.81 pct), Leasing (-2.59 pct), Investment (-1.87 pct), Industrials (-0.70 pct), Miscellaneous (-0.71 pct) and Holding (-0.98 pct).

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 0.51 percent higher while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips fell 1.53 percent to 2,367.28 points.

    Thessaliki, Viosol and Connection were the most heavily traded stocks. Only two issues (Imperio, Vernicos Yachts) ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit down.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 22,200 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 21, 785, Ergobank at 27,255, Ionian Bank at 17,180, Titan Cement at 28,740, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,750, Intracom at 22,890, Minoan Lines at 9,260, Panafon at 7,740 and Hellenic Telecoms at 6,810.

    Bonds pick up steam in heavier trade : Bonds were livelier yesterday with traders saying that remnants of adverse sentiment were due to doldrums in markets abroad.

    Electronic trade totalled 73 billion drachmas from 54 billion drachmas in the previous session and 80 billion drachmas on Tuesday.

    The ten-year-bond was trading between 103.45 and 103.70, showing a yield of 5.77 percent to 5.78 percent. The yield spread with German bunds was between 170 basis points and 174 basis points, from 172 basis points a day earlier and 163-165 over the previous week.

    In the foreign currency market, trade in the drachma and euro was unevenful. At the central bank's daily fix, the euro was set at 324.980 drachmas from 325.370 drachmas in the previous session.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Mutual funds lose cash on Athens bourse decline

    Athens, 28/05/1999 (ANA)

    Falling equity prices on the Athens Stock Exchange have led to major capital outflows from domestic mutual fund assets in the last few days, Ionian Bank's research department said yesterday.

    Ionian said that outflows exceeded 30 billion drachmas on Wednesday alone, hitting equity funds (-1.16 pct), money market funds (-0.23 pct) and leveraged funds (-0.23 pct). The assets of fixed-income mutual funds remained unchanged.

    Greek mutual fund assets have increased by 10.23 percent to 9.9 trillion drachmas since the start of the year, accounting for 50 percent of private deposits.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Hellenic Petroleum shows Q1 profit rise

    Athens, 28/05/1999 (ANA)

    The Hellenic Petroleum Group posted consolidated pretax profits of 8.0 billion drachmas in the first quarter, up 50.5 percent from 5.3 billion drachmas in the same period of last year, its chairman Eleftherios Tzellas said yesterday.

    Addressing a news conference, Mr. Tzellas, who is also the Group's managing director, said that the parent company's pretax profits in the first quarter were 6.1 billion drachmas from 3.7 billion drachmas a year earlier, marking a 65 percent rise.

    The company's goal was to become a vertically integrated energy and commercial industry that would play a key role in the Balkans, Mr. Tzellas said.

    Hellenic Petroleum was due to purchase a 20 percent stake in the Public Gas Company on the basis of an existing preference option.

    It was also sounding out the purchase of an electricity production unit in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Skopje that would operate with fuel from FYROM's OKTA refinery, which the Greek firm has already purchased, he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Panafon posts 55 pct jump in net profit, turnover

    Athens, 28/05/1999 (ANA)

    Panafon yesterday reported a 55 percent increase in turnover and net profits, a market share of 49 percent and a customer base of 1,190,838 subscribers in the 12-month period from April 1998 to March 1999.

    George Koronias, Panafon's managing director, who was presenting the company's annual results, told a news conference that Panafon's results justified management's strategy and confirmed its leading position in the domestic mobile telephone market.

    Panafon's main shareholder is the UK telecommunications group, Vodafone.

    The company is connected through a roaming system to 76 countries around the globe, and it exports know-how, information systems and network support services.

    In 1998, Panafon's turnover rose to 221.8 billion drachmas, up 54.9 percent from the previous year, while pre-tax profits totalled 64.5 billion drachmas, up 35.8 percent.

    Net profits were 42.6 billion drachmas, an increase of 54.8 percent against the previous 12-month period.

    The firm's customer base increased by 90.9 percent attributed by management mainly to the success of the Panafon a La Carte programme (450,341 customers on March 31).

    Panafon has invested a total of 196 billion drachmas in the five years of its operation to expand its telecommunications network and improve equipment.

    Mr. Koronias said the company would invest 40 billion drachmas in the coming year to increase its network capacity and develop value added services. Panafon operates 821 base stations, up from 575 in the previous year, 10 digital centres and two trans mission centres.

    The company was successfully listed on the Athens and London stock markets in December through the flotation of a 15 percent equity share. It also paid 7.8 billion drachmas to acquire stakes in three commercial partners, Radio Korasidis Telecom, Unifon and One Way.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Aluminium de Grece, DEPA mull Italy-Greece pipeline

    Athens, 28/05/1999 (ANA)

    Aluminium de Grece and the Public Gas Company have agreed to carry out a preliminary feasibility study for construction of a natural gas pipeline linking Greece and Italy.

    Aluminium de Grece's chairman, Bernard Legrand, told shareholders yesterday that the two firms had made another agreement to build an electricity production plant in Livadia that would work on natural gas.

    The cost of the two projects was estimated at one billion dollars, Mr. Legrand said.

    Aluminium de Grece is to carry out a stock split in three, and give shareholders a five dollar dividend per share on 1998 profits.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Info-Quest shows profit rise in Q1

    Athens, 28/05/1999 (ANA)

    Info Quest yesterday reported substantially improved results for the first quarter of 1999 compared with the same period last year.

    The company's sales rose to 10.418 billion drachmas from 7.125 billion drachmas last year, up 46 percent.

    Profits increased by 52 percent to 288 million drachmas.

    The company said in a statement that first quarter sales, including results of Quest Services following a merger in May 1998, totalled 7.6 billion drachmas and profits were 190 million drachmas.

    In 1999, Info Quest expects its turnover to rise to 45 billion drachmas and profits to exceed 1.7 billion.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] EOT measures to buffer tourism flow from central Europe

    Athens, 28/05/1999 (ANA)

    The Greek Tourist Organisation (EOT) yesterday announced revised figures for tourist arrivals in Greece this year, lowering the figure to an 5-6 per cent increase.

    EOT Secretary General Evgenios Yiannakopoulos also unveiled a package of measures - totalling three billion drachmas - which the state-run organisation says will support regions in northern Greece susceptible to the Kosovo crisis, as well as to provide incentives for tourists from countries in central Europe to travel to Greece.

    Measures include a partial subsidising of overland travel by tourists from Visegrad countries (Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia); promoting and subsidising air transport from the same countries, and a new advertising and PR campaign in the US and western Europe, among others.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] British tourist bookings for Greece rebound, increase expected

    LONDON, 28/05/1999 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)

    The war in Yugoslavia and two Foreign Office two travel advisories have apparently not affected British tourist arrivals in Greece.

    On the question of the travel advisories, a foreign office spokesman clarified that they do not advise British tourists to exclude Greece from their destinations, but merely to be "reasonably careful and avoid demonstrations and situations which might lead to a confrontation."

    An independent travel agents' representative, Noel Iosifides, said that in the first two weeks of the war in Yugoslavia there was a decrease in bookings for Greece. However, he said the British are now showing increased preference for Greek destinations , while according to the latest statistics, predictions of an 8 to 10 per cent increase in tourist arrivals, compared to last year, are now voiced.

    The total number of Britons expected to visit Greece this year is estimated at 2.4 million.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens, 28/05/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: May 27, 1999

    Parities in Drachmas

    Banknotes             Buying  Selling
    US Dollar             308.889 316.051
    Can.Dollar            209.689 214.551
    Australian Dlr        201.128 205.791
    Pound Sterling        491.933 503.339
    Irish Punt            409.338 418.829
    Pound Cyprus          558.397 571.344
    Pound Malta           739.110 769.906
    Turkish pound (100)     0.070   0.073
    French franc           49.147  50.286
    Swiss franc           202.378 207.070
    Belgian franc           7.992   8.177
    German Mark           164.831 168.652
    Finnish Mark           54.221  55.478
    Dutch Guilder         146.289 149.681
    Danish Kr.             43.380  44.386
    Swedish Kr.            35.938  36.771
    Norwegian Kr.          39.101  40.007
    Austrian Sh.           23.428  23.971
    Italian lira (100)     16.650  17.036
    Yen (100)             252.672 258.531
    Spanish Peseta          1.937   1.982
    Port. Escudo            1.608   1.645
    Foreign Exchange      Buying  Selling
    New York              308.889 316.051
    Montreal              209.689 214.551
    Sydney                201.128 205.791
    London                491.933 503.339
    Dublin                409.338 418.829
    Nicosia               558.397 571.344
    Paris                  49.147  50.286
    Zurich                202.378 207.070
    Brussels                7.992   8.177
    Frankfurt             164.831 168.652
    Helsinki               54.221  55.478
    Amsterdam             146.289 149.681
    Copenhagen             43.380  44.386
    Stockholm              35.938  36.771
    Oslo                   39.101  40.007
    Vienna                 23.428  23.971
    Milan                  16.650  17.036
    Tokyo                 252.672 258.531
    Madrid                  1.937   1.982
    Lisbon                  1.608   1.645
    Athens News Agency

    [12] Mitsotakis meets with Milosevic,calls war crimes indicthment `foolish`

    BELGRADE, 28/05/1999 (ANA - M. Mouratidis)

    Former premier Constantine Mitsotakis expressed guarded optimism here yesterday over ongoing diplomatic efforts for a solution to the Kosovo crisis, following talks with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milose vic and Serbian President Milan Milutinovic.

    "The Yugoslav leadership is ready to take a constructive approach to the proposals of NATO and the international community which are to be presented by Russia's Balkans envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin," Mr. Mitsotakis said.

    "The question is," he added, "whether these proposals are such that they can indeed be accepted."

    Mr. Mitsotakis, honorary president of Greece's main opposition New Democracy party, said there would be "good intentions" on the part of Yugoslavia, "and this is a positive step in the direction of peace".

    The former prime minister expressed the hope that a political solution would eventually be found which satisfied the demands of the west without humiliating Yugoslavia and "exterminating" the Serb people.

    "There are still problems but the Yugoslav leadership is ready to contribute to overcoming them. NATO, too, must contribute," Mr. Mitsotakis added.

    He also described an indictment by the UN's War Crimes tribunal of Mr. Milosevic for "crimes against humanity" as "foolish".

    "Just as the (NATO) bombing strengthened his position, so too will this decision. It appeared that the decision did not interest him but it will most certainly create problems," he said.

    Mr. Mitsotakis was due to meet yesterday afternoon Serb Patriarch Pavle.

    According to a statement by the President's office later, Mr. Milosevic said during his talks with Mr. Mitsotakis that Yugoslavia sides persistently and isconsistently in favour of peace, meaning that a solution to the problem of Kosovo must be conveyed without any delay from the military to the political field. This necessitates an end to attacks against Yugoslavia and a return to the role the UN must have.

    Military operations have been concluded in Kosovo with the disbanding of "liberation army" groups.

    In a meeting between Mr. Mitsotakis and Mr. Milutinovic, the latter underlined that the sole problem for a peaceful political solution to be found is the continuous bombing of Yugoslavia by NATO.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Greece displeased with indictment against Milosevic

    Athens, 28/05/1999 (ANA)

    Greece yesterday described the indictment of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic by The Hague-based United Nations International Criminal Tribunal as "a politically unsound move".

    "On the one hand Mr. Milosevic is being called upon to contribute to a solution (of the Kosovo crisis) and on the other he is being summoned to answer charges," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

    The UN tribunal said ealier yesterday that it had indicted President Milosevic and four other senior Serb officials, including President Milan Milutinovic, for "crimes against humanity".

    Replying to reporters' questions, Mr. Reppas said Greece's position on the Yugoslav problem was crystal clear, namely, that the G8 draft peace proposals served as a good basis for a political solution.

    Asked whether the government had given approval for the use of Greek airports, ports and railway stations for the transit of additional NATO forces to be deployed on the borders of Kosovo, Mr. Reppas said "no such issue has been raised" and "Greece has not given any such approval".

    NATO earlier this week announced that it would increase the strength of Alliance forces in countries bordering Kosovo to nearly 50,000.

    The only request put to Greece, Mr. Reppas added, was for forces to be allowed to move through the country for deployment in peace missions.

    The spokesman said this request was submitted a few months ago and the port of Thessaloniki in northern Greece had been made available.

    Main opposition New Democracy also criticised the indictment, saying it will not facilitate a solution to the crisis, a statement echoed by the Democratic Social Movement. The government said yesterday that an agreement signed by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Foreign Minister George Papandreou provided for reciprocal judicial assistance in criminal cases, and not only terrorism. The agreement was signed duri ng an ongoing visit by Mr. Papandreou to the United States. Replying to reporters' question on the agreement, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the accord also contained provisions on intellectual property rights.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Athens, Sofia emphasise need for speedy Kosovo resolution

    SOFIA, 28/05/1999 (ANA - B. Borisov)

    The Greek and Bulgarian leaderships yesterday expressed a joint position in favour of a speedy end to the Kosovo crisis, during at a news conference given by President Kostis Stephanopoulos and Bulgarian PM Ivan Kostov following talks here. "We expressed, in the strongest possible manner, our joint desire to find at the earliest a political solution to the crisis which is harming both Bulgaria and Greece. The effort we are jointly making towards peace is in the interest of the entire region," Mr. Stephanopoulos said. Mr. Kostov requested Athens' assistance in the planned construction of a second bridge over the Danube to connect Bulgaria with Romania. He said he had brought up the issue with Greece "because we have not yet received a reply from the Romanian government to our latest proposals".

    Negotiations between Sofia and Bucharest on the construction project have been bogged down for seven years over the exact location of the bridge.

    Noting that the construction of the bridge would also serve Greece's interests in the region, Mr. Stephanopoulos said Greece would undertake the initiative to convene a tripartite meeting between Greece, Romania and Bulgaria to examine the issue.

    "There is no problem which does not have its solution," Mr. Stephanopoulos said.

    Mr. Kostov also asked Greece to mediate with Belgrade concerning two trucks carrying humanitarian aid for Yugoslavia which the Yugoslav government recently refused to allow into the country.

    The reason given by the Yugoslav authorities, Mr. Kostov said, was that the aid had not been sent for delivery to the proper authorities but rather was being sent directly to ethnic Bulgarians living in eastern Yugoslavia and to a hospital in Belgrade which had recently been bombed by NATO.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos said that although Greece did not have any special influence in Belgrade, beyond the traditional ties of friendship and cooperation with Yugoslavia. He also reiterated Greece's support for Bulgaria's efforts to join the European Union and NATO, adding that both sides were satisfied with the "dynamic" development of bilateral economic and trade cooperation.

    The Greek president began a three-day official visit to Bulgaria on Wednesday.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos also met with Bulgarian Patriach Maximos yesterday.

    Florina SA opens new plant in Bulgaria : A new plant was inaugurated in Bulgaria yesterday by the Florina SA fruit juice firm a few kilometres from Sofia.

    Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Bulgarian Industry Minister Alexander Bosku attended the event, saying the six million dollar has particular importance for Greek-Bulgarian cooperation.

    Mr. Venizelos referred to other cases of cooperation being promoted between the two countries, saying that he has already had discussions with the Bulgarian PM on investments on infrastructure, such as the Burgas- Alexandroupoli pipeline, new road corrid ors between Greece and Bulgaria and a new bridge on the Danube to connect Bulgaria and Romania.

    Referring in general to the restructuring of the Balkans, he said that "it can become a case of our own if the Greeks and the Bulgarians take it into their hands."

    Severa Greek entrepreneurs expressed their interest in the Bulgarian market and in prospects appearing in other Balkan countries, particularly when the war in Yugoslavia is over.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Protests at Thessaloniki port against NATO convoy

    Athens, 28/05/1999 (ANA)

    Demonstrators in the northern port of Thessaloniki early yesterday turned back a convoy of NATO troops and supplies headed for FYROM, while two protesters were lightly injured in scuffles with riot police.

    Supporters of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) gathered late Wednesday night outside the port's Gate 14, from where the convoy was to pass.

    When riot police arrived on the scene, the protesters burst through the port's main gate and wrote anti-NATO and anti-war slogans on the buildings and the allied personnel transport vehicles and containers.

    The demonstrators tried unsuccessfully to set up a tent in the port to facilitate a round-the-clock vigil to prevent the transport of NATO troops to FYROM.

    The convoy finally succeeded in leaving the port and city early yesterday morning.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Estonian delegation in Crete

    Athens, 28/05/1999 (ANA)

    An Estonian government and business delegation, led by President Lennart Meri, yesterday set out the potential for trade exchanges and investment in their country to business leaders in Crete, during an event at the Irakleio Chamber of Commerce.

    Mr. Meri said his country's strict legislation provided for balanced budgets as well as various incentives for attracting foreign investment in view of Estonia's accession to the EU.

    Addressing the foreign guests, Chamber President G. Xylouris said "Crete is the natural springboard for the major leap to the markets of the Middle East and can also function especially well in the promotion of your own products and services. Crete itse lf is a dynamic market in continuous growth".

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Reppas addresses opening of EAPA seminar

    Athens, 28/05/1999 (ANA)

    Technological developments have greatly bolstered mass media's prospects, but have also increased their responsibilities and made their role considerably more important, Press Minister Dimitris Reppas said in his opening address at the 4th seminar of the Alliance of European Press Agencies (EAPA), which opened in Athens yesterday.

    "The prospects being created for the mass media are huge, but also competition in the now globalised economy is becoming harsher.

    "We, in Europe, have the obligation to strengthen the open society, to enhance possibilities for the individual, to promote social justice, to bolster human rights and democratic institutions," he added.

    "It is clear that the role of the mass media, particularly the electronic ones, is huge. It is the mass media which contribute to the formulation of a climate of tolerance or bigotry towards a people, a nation, a religion, a minority, a political or soc ial force," he added.

    The two-day seminar, organised by the Athens News Agency (ANA), is being held in the Astir Palace Hotel in the seaside suburb of Vouliagmeni, and is attended by representatives of 30 European and a number of other international news agencies.

    Yesterday's discussions focused on the topic of "Economic, Financial and Business Services in the Digital Era," with addresses by representatives of Reuters, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Agence France Presse, Germany's DPA, Spain's EFE and others.

    The official speaker at yesterday's session was Oliver Boyd-Barrett, a professor of communications at the University of California.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Papantoniou calls for price freeze until end of '99

    Athens, 28/05/1999 (ANA)

    National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday called on Greek entrepreneurs to implement a price freeze until the end of the year as part of effects to slash inflation, the one remaining EMU criterion Greece does not yet satisfy.

    Speaking at the Athens Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Papantoniou referred to what he called the Greek economy's successes. He also addressed the issue of mergers and buy-outs.

    Athens News Agency

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