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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-05-29

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM reiterates Athens` refusal to participate in Kosovo war
  • [02] Hostage crisis grips northern Greece
  • [03] 20-year anniversary of agreement for Greece's EU entry was commemorated
  • [04] Papandreou winds up US visit with Cohen meeting
  • [05] Patra, Corfu ports excluded from NATO inspection planning
  • [06] Tsohatzopoulos flatly rejects any prospect of NATO invasion
  • [07] Athens emphasises its opposition to any change of Balkan borders
  • [08] Mitsotakis: Threatening to crush a country is neither 'moral nor courageous'
  • [09] Gov't cricitices protests against NATO troops' passage
  • [10] Stephanopoulos pleased with results from his visit to Bulgaria
  • [11] ND ahead of PASOK by 4,4 points in latest Euro-election poll
  • [12] Simitis
  • [13] Efstratios Sotirelis
  • [14] Ankara complains over 'creating tension' in 'disputed areas'
  • [15] Vartholomeos in Kastoria
  • [16] IOC official pleased with 2004 progress so far
  • [17] Economic News
  • [18] Athens foreign exchange

  • [01] PM reiterates Athens` refusal to participate in Kosovo war

    Athens, 29/5/1999 (ANA)

    Greece will not participate in any military operation in Kosovo, in line with the stance it has enunciated since the beginning of the crisis, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday.

    Mr. Simitis was speaking in Parliament during an off-the-agenda debate on the Kosovo crisis, called by the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI).

    "Greece has successfully and without becoming (internationally) isolated opposed the military operation," Mr. Simitis said, defending the government's position on the affair.

    Greece has consistently said it is opposed to the NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia and has wor-ked hard on the diplomatic front to seek a political settlement of the issue. As a member of NATO, Greece allowed the use the port of Thessaloniki for the passage of NATO troops and supplies to the peacekeeping force based in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Mr. Simitis lashed out at opposition parties' criticism of the government's stance, saying that they were not taking into consideration Greec e's or the region's interests.

    "Is there anyone in this chamber who thinks that Greece would be serving its interest or the interests of the region in cutting its ties with its partners and allies?" Mr. Simitis said.

    "If there is, then I do not know what our or the region's interests are."

    Mr. Simitis crticised the opposition for calling the debate to score political points ahead of the June 13 European Parliament elections.

    Mr. Simitis said that Greece was "an oasis of stability, prosperity and democracy" due to the government's policy of protecting the country's interests.

    He said that the European Union's policy in the Balkans was "completely wrong" and that the EU should have been more far-sighted and bolder in developing a specific and comprehensive strategy for the Balkans.

    It had, he said, been intervening selectively and spasmodically.

    "Unfortunately, the European Union did not proceed with elaborating and implementing the appropriate policy in the Balkans with the result that it was unable to avert the crisis and, in the end, the clash," he said.

    At the EU summit in Cologne, Mr. Simitis said, the European Union will have to contribute to achieving peace.

    "Peace must be achieved now because later things will be much more difficult," he said.

    The prime minister said the government had been effective at the European Union in achieving the greatest possible benefit for the reform of the economic and the prosperity of the Greek people.

    He specifically mentioned Cyprus' EU accession prospects as being a leading strategic goal.

    Greece, in cooperation with the Cypriot leadership, supports and promotes a solution which will be in line with the resolutions and decisions of the United Nations, he said. These foresee a sovereign bizonal, bicommunal federation.

    Turning to Greek-Turkish relations, he said that Greece was not making any claims against Turkey but at the same time was not about to concede anything.

    Turkey has not responded to the Greek proposal to deal with bilateral relations, which include dealing with issues on a step by step basis and resorting to the International Court at The Hague.

    "Ankara is making choices which will lead it to isolation," Mr. Simitis said.

    "The normalisation of Greek-Turkish relations is to the benefit of both peoples...But a definitive normalisation of these relations can not occur if beforehand there is no just and viable resolution of the Cyprus issue," he said.

    Opposition: Democratic Social Movement leader Dimitris Tsovolas said the war in Yugoslavia was a prelude to the globalisation and 'Americanisati-on' of Europe.

    He criticised the government for agreeing to the bombing and undermining the country's security interests, warning that Greece would deal with the consequences of these acts in the future, and with Turkey.

    "The prime minister claims he says 'yes' and 'no' on the international stage. The truth is that he says only 'yes' and conducts policy first for the United States, the British, the Germans, the French, and if there's time left, for Greece as well," Mr. Tsovolas said.

    Mr. Simitis, he said, "has accepted NATO's illegal war, to intervene wherever and whenever it wants and then he says that Greece insists on international law in its relations with Turkey!"

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis said his party was not requesting Greece break with the European Union or NATO but said that Greece had to "do battle and not be silent" in its alliances.

    "The public has realised the double-talk of the government: (it speaks) loudly at home and more quietly abroad," he said.

    Greek initiatives were "sinking without a trace," Mr. Karamanlis said.

    "We need a voice, Mr. Simitis. Our country cannot become a springboard for NATO into the Balkans," he said.

    "New Democracy has underlined the dangers of destabilisation, the dangers of a change in borders and of waves of refugees.

    "We have clarified that both sides are responsible. Both sides are thrown flat onto the fire. Neither the EU, NATO nor the U.S will come out winners with this mistaken policy of bombing," he said.

    "Whoever plays with border changes in this region of the world plays with fire," Mr. Karamanlis said.

    Communist Party of Greece Secretary General Aleka Papariga charged the government with being double-faced by not opposing the war, accepting the "false" scenarios of "ethnic cleansing" and concealing German government documents disproving this point.

    European Parliament elections, she said, are an opportunity to illustrate that in the European Union there are also peoples defending their rights and the cause of peace.

    She said Foreign Minister George Papandreou, visiting world capitals to seek support for a ceasefire and a political settlement to the issue, was "playing the role of the postman" and that his ceasefire proposal "had been greeted with laughter".

    "There can be no solution with the pistol and the carrot," Ms Papariga said, adding that her party would support the Yugoslav people "to the end if need be".

    Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos charged that Mr. Simitis was trying to excuse Greece's participation in the war against Yugoslavia by saying "there was no other choice".

    He called on the prime minister to tell the EU summit in Cologne that the war must stop, to dissent from NATO's plans to divide Kosovo and to bring the NATO structure to Parliament for discussion.

    He said that diplomatic activity over the Kosovo affair was purely "for appearance's sake" and that NATO's eventual goal was to make Kosovo a protectorate and for Montenegro to secede from Federal Yugoslavia.

    "The consequence of this would be regional destabilisation," he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Hostage crisis grips northern Greece

    Athens, 29/5/1999 (ANA)

    An armed suspect who high-jacked a bus near Thessaloniki and was holding nine persons hostage, was reported headed for the Greek-Albanian border at press time

    The Albanian national had held up 17 passengers since 11 a.m., when he boarded a bus carrying out the Scholari-Thessaloniki route. Witnesses said he pulled out a Kalashnikov assault rifle from his travel bag and threatened the driver.

    He was identified as Flamour Plisi, 24.

    Hours of negotiations followed, along with the high-jacked bus travelling hundreds of kilometres in practically every direction of northern Greece, at times toward Thessaloniki, other times towards Halkidiki prefecture, towards the border and back again. Nine hostages were being held at press time.

    According to reports, his motives appeared to be those of revenge for a one- year jail sentence on a conviction on firearms possession, and for reportedly being driven out of the Scholari community.

    A 62-year-old woman, who suffered a nervous breakdown, and was allowed to get off the coach by the suspect, told reporters that he was a passenger when she had boarded. Shortly afterwards, she said, he suddenly jumped to his feet brandishing a rifle and a hand-grenade, demanding that the driver turn back to Scholari because he wanted to kill three people.

    Speaking earlier by mobile phone from the coach, ticket collector Yiannis Tziolas said none of the hostages had been harmed.

    According to other reports, the suspect wants to meet with the three people whom he had threatened to kill, claiming that they were responsible for his being imprisoned.

    Pisli also reportedly demanded and was given 50 million drachmas in return for tossing the hand grenade, something he failed to do.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] 20-year anniversary of agreement for Greece's EU entry was commemorated

    Athens, 29/5/1999 (ANA)

    The Constantine Karamanlis Institute of Democracy yesterday organised an event to commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the signing of Greece's accession to the European Union, at the time the European Economic Community.

    Former Luxembourg PM Gaston Thorn, former Dutch premier Rudolph Fans Marie Lubbers, and former Greman vice-chancellor Hans Dietrich Genscher, among others, addressed the event at the Zappion Hall.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Papandreou winds up US visit with Cohen meeting

    WASHINGTON, 29/5/1999 (ANA - I. Afendouli/T. Ellis)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou met with US Defense Secretary William Cohen at the Pentagon here yesterday, with talks focusing squarely on Kosovo.

    Greece's proposal for a 48-hour cessation of NATO bombing against Yugoslavia was also discussed, although Washington has repeatedly stated that it does not agree with the proposal.

    On his part, the Greek FM expressed Athens' concern over support towards the so-called "Kosovo Liberation Army". The issue of Greek-Turkish relations and terrorism were also raised.

    Mr. Cohen afterwards announced that he will visit Greece in July, adding that the meeting dealt with Greek-US cooperation, which he described as "very good", and ways of further enhancing this cooperation in the future.

    The US defense secretary also said the issue of "better cooperation" between Greece and Turkey was discussed, as well as efforts to gain the five points that NATO demands from Belgrade to stop the bombings.

    In response to a question about a Greek-Czech proposal for a suspension of the bombings, Mr. Papandreou said:

    "Iwe're interested in the intensification of diplomacy as another method of succeeding in gaining the conditions we have set, meaning the return of the refugees, deployment of a force to implement the agreement, the withdrawal of Serbian forces and the beginning of negotiations for the final status of KosovoIWe want the Yugoslav side to accept these points," he said.

    He also stressed that an indictment by the UN war crimes tribunal against Slobodan Milosevic will have repercussions on the peace efforts.

    Mr. Papandreou's trip to the US concluded yesterday.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Patra, Corfu ports excluded from NATO inspection planning

    BRUSSELS, 29/5/1999 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)

    The ports of Patra and Corfu have been excluded from NATO planning in terms of inspecting vessels considered "suspicious" of carrying oil or weapons to Yugoslavia.

    Greece, along with other countries, does not positively view the inspection of sea-going vessels, and has reportedly requested the exemption of Greek ports from NATO's planning, invoking technical reasons.

    Athens' arguments were accepted and inspections, which are voluntary, will be conducted at other Adriatic ports.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Tsohatzopoulos flatly rejects any prospect of NATO invasion

    BONN, 29/5/1999 (ANA - P. Stangos)

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday stressed the urgent need for a political and diplomatic sol ution to the Kosovo crisis.

    Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an informal meeting of Western European Union (WEU) defence ministers here, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos replied to questions about Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's indictment by the UN's war crimes tribunal, sayin g he was concerned about the fact that negotiations aimed at a peaceful settlement were being drawn out.

    He attributed the prolongation of negotiations to "the involvement of forces inside and outside Europe".

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos warned that the excessive delay of negotiations may lead to a "degeneration" of peace efforts, which he added will then lead to yet more scenarios touting the use of ground forces, something he stressed has already been ruled out by G ermany and Greece, among others.

    "It is illogical for any problem to be resolved through more than two months of bombing by 1,000 NATO aircraft, and one million refugees forced to leave their homes P this senselessness must be confronted with a political solution," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos s aid.

    Heated argument over Kosovo: In a related development, a heated discussion on Kosovo was held during a dinner given for the WEU's defence ministers.

    According to press reports, the cause of debate was the insistence by British Defence Secretary George Robertson to promote the idea that talks being held in Belgrade sough only "the unconditional acceptance of NATO's terms", as well as displeasure expr essed primarily by "neutral" countries P members of the EU, but not of NATO P and Greece over an increase in ground forces in FYROM and Albania without the achievement of a political solution being accelerated at the same time.

    On his part, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said "the effort to strengthen the number of the peacekeeping force creates some concerns and doubts because the increase in troops does not mean at the same time a guarantee for a political-diplomatic solution to be foun d.

    "There are also powers which are not very concerned if there is no solution soon, and they are exactly those which want negotiations to degenerate so that the way will be paved for other confrontations.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos made it clear that graduating from bombings to an invasion will not "pass."

    "There is no prospect of utilising ground forces. This issue is over and all would do well if they orientated themselves on realistic solutions, based on a political and diplomatic solution," he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Athens emphasises its opposition to any change of Balkan borders

    Athens, 29/5/1999 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis warned yesterday that any change of borders without the consent of the interested parties was tantamount to the overturning of international order, something that has prevailed for many decades.

    Mr. Kranidiotis told a news conference that any such change would set a very poor precedent, in effect opening up a "Pandora's box".

    The inviolability of borders and respect for the territorial integrity of every state are the fundamental principles on which not only Greece but all countries base their policy.

    Referring specifically to Kosovo, Mr. Kranidiotis said the European Union summit in Cologne on June 3-4 provided an opportunity to re-position the entire problem within the framework of diplomacy.

    At the Cologne summit, Mr. Kranidiotis continued, Greece will once again express the view that war cannot lead to a solution and "that we must persist with efforts for a diplomatic and peaceful settlement of the crisis on the basis of the principles whi ch we all want to see implemented, namely, the inviolability of borders, respect for human rights, the return to the United Nations framework and the need for the deployment of an international force which will guarantee the return of the refugees and obs erve the implementation of an agreement that would be reached".

    Mr. Kranidiotis said the indictment of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic by the International War Crimes Court "does not contribute in particular to diplomatic efforts for a settlement of the Kosovo problem".

    While acknowledging that the court was an independent body, set up by the United Nations, with the right to function and express its opinion, Mr. Kranidiotis said that from a political viewpoint, the indictment did not come at "the right moment".

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Mitsotakis: Threatening to crush a country is neither 'moral nor courageous'

    Athens, 29/5/1999 (ANA)

    Former premier Constantine Mitsotakis said yesterday after returning from talks in Belgrade with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic that the Kosovo crisis was on a "razor's edge."

    "There will either be a major step towards peace or there will be an escalation of the conflictIoperations by ground forces would be a tragedy for the Balkans and will be paid for by our children and grandchildren," Mr. Mitsotakis said.

    The honorary president of Greece's main opposition New Democracy party said the "objective conditions" existed for peace in the region but added that he did not know whether the opportunity would be seized by the west.

    Expressing guarded optimism about the possibilities for peace in Kosovo, Mr. Mitsotakis said "it is not possible for the western world to be irrational".

    Mr. Mitsotakis said President Milosevic was the only reliable interlocutor in Yugoslavia "and the only person in a position to decide on an agreement and guarantee its implementation".

    He described his visit to Yugoslavia as a "sorrowful and tragic" experience, saying "to mercilessly bomb and threaten to crush a country is neither moral nor courageous, it is cowardly and leads nowhere".

    "NATO can and has the right to win but it has no right to humiliate morally and exhaust an entire people," he added.

    Mr. Mitsotakis said he had briefed Foreign Minister George Papandreou by phone, who is in Washington, on his visit to Yugoslavia.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Gov't cricitices protests against NATO troops' passage

    Athens, 29/5/1999 (ANA)

    The government yesterday criticised protests against the passage of NATO troops and equipment through the northern port city of Thessaloniki.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the protesters were not offering good services and were damaging the country's image.

    "And when violence is used, such acts are unacceptable," Mr. Reppas added.

    Demonstrators in Thessaloniki early on Thursday turned back a convoy of NATO troops and supplies headed for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Two protesters were slightly injured in scuffles with riot police. The convoy eventually succe eded in leaving Thessaloniki later in the day.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Stephanopoulos pleased with results from his visit to Bulgaria

    NESEBAR, 29/5/1999 (ANA - B. Borisov)

    President Kostis Stephanopoulos said here yesterday that the results of his visit to Bulgaria were very positive and favourable.

    "We agreed on everything and primarily on the need to develop our relations further," he said.

    He also referred to mutual efforts for a more dynamic promotion of economic relations and, more specifically, to a Greek-Bulgarian business conference in Sofia last Thursday.

    Earlier, Mr. Stephanopoulos visited the port city of Burgas, projected as the starting point of an oil pipeline ending in Alexandroupoli on the Aegean.

    President Stephanopoulos had a discussion with representatives of the Greek- Bulgarian friendship society in the town of Pomorie, which includes 250 descendants of the Greek founders of the town, according to the society's president Stefka Stefanova. A c hildren's choir from the local school welcomed Mr. Stephanopoulos with a Greek song at the nearby resort of "Slanchev Briag.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos' tour of Bulgaria's Black Sea coast is the first visit to the region by a top political figure from Greece.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] ND ahead of PASOK by 4,4 points in latest Euro-election poll

    Athens, 29/5/1999 (ANA)

    With Euro-elections nearing, the most recent opinion poll shows the main opposition New Democracy leading among political parties, although PASOK PM Costas Simitis still is judged as the most competent as the party leaders for premier.

    The poll, conducted by V.PRC and appearing in the Athens daily "Ta Nea" yersterday, the last day allowed for the release of pre-election polls, showed ND in first place with 31.9 per cent, a 4.4-percentage-point lead over the ruling PASOK, at 27.5 per c ent.

    They are followed by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) with 6.2 per cent, the Democratic Social Movement with 5.6 per cent, Synaspismos with 4.3 per cent, Political Spring with 1.4 per cent, and the newly created Liberals party with 0.6 per cent.

    A hefty 17.7 per cent of those polled were undecided.

    Conversely, Mr. Simitis was considered by 36 per cent to be the most appropriate figure for the post, followed by ND leader Costas Karamanlis with 33.1 per cent.

    In a separate poll published by the newspaper, 97.4 per cent of those polled opposed the war in Yugoslavia and 56.4 per cent believed the war would greatly influence the outcome of the Europarliament elections.

    Also, only 20 per cent of those polled said they were pleased with the way the European Union was developing.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Simitis

    Athens, 29/5/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday chaired a meeting attended by National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis focusing on preparations in light of the European Council in Cologne next week.
    Athens News Agency

    [13] Efstratios Sotirelis

    Athens, 29/5/1999 (ANA)

    Brig. Gen. Efstratios Sotirelis, the commander of the First Army's air brigade, was yesterday officially handed the banner of his force from the army chief of staff. The new brigade, which has participated in humanitarian aid operations to Albania, was first formed in 1998.
    Athens News Agency

    [14] Ankara complains over 'creating tension' in 'disputed areas'

    Athens, 29/5/1999 (ANA)

    The government said yesterday that the Turkish foreign ministry had made verbal representations to a Greek diplomat in Ankara, requesting Athens to refrain from actions which could create tension "in areas which Turkey considers to be disputed".

    Although the Aegean island of Agathnonisi was not specifically mentioned when the Greek diplomat was summoned to the ministry, it is believed the representations were made following Greek newspaper reports that a group of citizens was planning to raise a giant Greek flag on the island, which is located just south of Samos.

    Confirming the Turkish protest, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas dismissed it as "irrational, unjustified and lacking seriousness", given that "there is an organised (Greek) community on Agathonisi, it is not a disputed area".

    At the same time, Mr. Reppas reiterated a recent statement by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who said that private citizens cannot exercise foreign policy.

    The spokesman added, however, that the group in question was not trying to exercise foreign policy.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Vartholomeos in Kastoria

    Athens, 29/5/1999 (ANA)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos yesterday arrived in Kastoria, northwestern Macedonia, following a visit to Ioannina the previous day.

    The Patriarch, a well-known environmental protection advocate, also toured the "Valia Kalda" national nature preserve.

    During a short stop at the community of Aidonia, near Grevena, Vartholomeos unveiled a bust of his mentor, Metropolitan of Sardes Maximos.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] IOC official pleased with 2004 progress so far

    Athens, 29/5/1999 (ANA)

    The president of the International Olympic Committee's coordination committee, Jacques Rogge, said yesterday he was pleased with preparations for the Athens 2004 Olympics, but added that decisions on sites for eight projects had to be made soon.

    "If preparations continue at the same pace, the (2004) Olympic Games will be impeccable," Mr. Rogge told reporters at a news conference at the end of several days of briefings.

    However, he said locations for the eight projects had to be finalised by September and that the Olympic Village - the largest project - had to be ready by March 2004.

    "We are particularly satisfied by the work being done by the organising committee in cooperation with the ministerial committee," he said. "The (new) legislation on the Olympic projects provides us with all the necessary answers."

    He added that the 2004 organising committee was working on the issue of providing adequate accommodations during the Games, saying that 35,000 beds were needed in the Attica region.

    "Athens already has 70 per cent of the installations ready, while Sydney at the same time had 40 per cent. Sydney, however, is ready to hold the 2000 Games, 17 months before they begin," Mr. Rogge said when asked to compare the two cities.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Economic News

    Athens, 29/5/1999 (ANA)

    Stocks end lower, fail to hold 4,000 points: Equity prices ended the week lower yesterday partly recovering from an early sharp decline which pushed the general index temporarily back to the technical support level of 3,800 points.

    The index ended 0.68 percent lower at 3,934.67 points, off the day's lows of 3.40 percent, helped by buying opportunities due to low prices.

    Turnover shrank further to 139.4 billion drachmas.

    Traders said the market was correcting an earlier rise, and acting in line with a drop in international markets.

    Worries over the continuing war in Yugoslavia also dampened sentiment.

    The industrial and construction sectors showed resistance to pressure, ending 0.71 percent higher and 0.16 percent lower respectively.

    Other sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-1.25 pct), Leasing (-2.45 pct), Insurance (-0.20 pct), Investment (-3.18 pct), Miscellaneous (-0.93 pct) and Holding (-1.15 pct).

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 2.38 percent lower while the FTSE/ASE 20 index fell 1.36 percent to 2,346.48 points.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 222 to 63 with another five issues unchanged.

    Viosol, Thessaliki and Steelworks were the most heavily traded stocks. A total of 10 issues ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit up, while another seven issues ended at the day's limit down.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 21,750 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 21, 150, Ergobank at 27,980, Ionian Bank at 16,950, Titan Cement at 28,800, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,830, Intracom at 22,410, Minoan Lines at 8,950, Panafon at 7,750 and Hellenic Telec oms at 6,750.

    Liquidity growth slows in April: Growth in liquidity slowed in April compared with the previous month, and lay within the annual target of 7-9 percent annual growth, the Bank of Greece said yesterday.

    The liquidity index, which contains private deposits in drachmas and foreign currency, private investments in repos, bank bonds, mutual funds and 12-month state securities, grew by 8.3 percent in April from the same month last year.

    In March this year, the index had shown an 8.9 percent year-on-year increase.

    The central bank attributed the slower rate of increase of the index to a restructuring of domestic portfolios into longer-term securities from 12- month treasury bills, and to a rise in banking capital in the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Official figures showed that banks raised 408 billion drachmas in new capital from the bourse from a total of 520 billion drachmas raised in the first four months of 1999.

    The growth of private deposits slowed in the period January to April to a 9.3 percent increase, down from 11.5 pct in March.

    Money supply, however, accelerated to 7.1 percent in April from 5.3 percent in the previous month.

    National Bank of Greece completes share cap rise: National Bank of Greece, the country's largest commercial bank, yesterday successfully completed a share capital increase of 170.7 billion drachmas.

    The rise brings the bank's shareholders' equity to 630.5 billion drachmas.

    Financial markets steady before release of US data: Domestic financial markets remained stable yesterday with dealers cautious ahead of the announcement of key economic data in the US.

    Bond prices were steady with the 10-year Greek/Bund spread at 175 basis points. The 10-year bond was trading at 103.30 points. Its yield was 5.84 percent.

    Analysts said a negative climate in recent days had led the finance ministry to auction only 120 billion drachmas of bonds on Tuesday at its weekly tender, down from at least 200 billion drachmas in the previous two auctions. Tuesday's tender is for fiv e year bonds.

    Short-term interbank rates rose fractionally, reflecting increased volatility in the market and tight liquidity. National Bank of Greece's overnight rate fluctuated around 9.70-10.20 percent.

    The drachma was steady at the central bank's daily fix at 325.160 drachmas against the euro from 324.980 drachmas in the previous session.

    It was fixed at 310.240 against the US dollar.

    EFG Eurobank shows 433 pct profit jump in Q1: EFG Eurobank, a member of the Latsis Group, yesterday reported pre-tax profits of 21.5 billion drachmas in the first quarter against 4.0 billion drachmas a year earlier, marking a 433 percent increase.

    The bank said in a statement yesterday that the profit figure included extraordinary capital gains.

    Customer credit increased by 63 percent in the first quarter, and deposits rose by 57 percent against the same period of 1998.

    Being conducted since May 18 is a share capital increase of 110 billion drachmas through the issue of 22,092,725 new common shares at 5,000 drachmas each. Eligible to buy the stock are shareholders on April 30.

    Bank of Piraeus triples profit in Jan-April: Banks belonging to the Bank of Piraeus Group tripled their profits in January-April to 21.6 billion drachmas from 6.7 billion in the same period of 1998, the parent bank said in a statement yesterday.

    The banks in the group are Bank of Piraeus, Bank of Macedonia-Thrace and Xiosbank, all of which are listed on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    The three are seeking to tap the bourse for nearly 250 billion drachmas of capital by the autumn.

    Hellenic Bottling has lower Q1 profits, turnover: The international Hellenic Bottling Group posted first quarter profits of 6.2 billion drachmas after minorities, down 12.5 percent from the same period of 1998, the company said in a statement yesterday.

    The volume of sales was flat but turnover slipped by 4.0 percent, the statement said.

    Hellenic Bottling attributed the decline in profit and turnover to a rise in the drachma against the dollar and the euro by around 5.0 percent.

    Turnover was also hit by a roughly 8.5 percent rise in the drachma against a weighted basket of currencies belonging to the countries in which the group does business.

    The first quarter pre-tax profit of the parent company in Greece was 5.7 billion drachmas, up 14.6 percent from the same period a year ago.

    Among results of the Hellenic Bottling Group's operations abroad were first quarter losses of 170 million drachmas in Yugoslavia and 850 million drachmas in Romania.

    The statement attributed the losses mostly to a rapid depreciation in the two countries' currencies, and a resulting reduction in demand.

    In Russia, losses were 1.2 billion drachmas, better than losses of 2.1 billion drachmas in the first quarter of 1998.

    Ionian Bank posts profit jump in Q1: Ionian Bank yesterday reported a spectacular 324 percent increase in its pre-tax profits in the first quarter of 1999 to 6.9 billion drachmas compared with the same period last year. Net interest income rose by 68 percent to 12.4 billion drachmas, while revenue from financial transactions totalled 6.5 billion drachmas, an increase of 28 percent from last year, Ionian said in a statement.

    Profits were expected to remain at current high levels for the rest of the year, supported by a restructuring programme, and a better use of cross- transactions and alliances within the Alpha Credit Bank Group, which recently acquired a 51 percent stake in the formerly state-owned bank.

    A full operational merger of Ionian into the Alpha Credit Bank group is expected to be completed within the year.

    Attica Aluminium reports higher Q1 profit, turnover: The Attica Aluminium Group yesterday reported a rise in turnover of 15.1 percent in the first quarter and an increase of 8.8 percent in pre-tax profits.

    The parent company said in a statement that consolidated turnover totalled 5.1 billion drachmas, up from 4.4 billion drachmas a year earlier.

    Consolidated pre-tax profits in the same period were 1.2 billion drachmas against 1.1 billion drachmas in the first quarter of 1998.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Athens foreign exchange

    Athens, 29/5/1999 (ANA)

    Banknotes Buying Selling
    US Dollar 307.758 314.894
    Can.Dollar 208.003 212.825
    Australian Dlr 200.275 204.918
    Pound Sterling 492.270 503.684
    Irish Punt 409.565 419.061
    Pound Cyprus 557.504 570.430
    Pound Malta 736.403 767.086
    Turkish pound (100) 0.070 0.073
    French franc 49.173 50.314
    Swiss franc 202.145 206.832
    Belgian franc 7.996 8.181
    German Mark 164.922 168.746
    Finnish Mark 54.250 55.508
    Dutch Guilder 146.371 149.764
    Danish Kr. 43.390 44.396
    Swedish Kr. 35.885 36.717
    Norwegian Kr. 39.134 40.042
    Austrian Sh. 23.441 23.984
    Italian lira (100) 16.659 17.045
    Yen (100) 254.131 260.023
    Spanish Peseta 1.938 1.983
    Port. Escudo 1.609 1.646
    Buying: 322.559 Selling: 330.037
    Foreign Exchange Buying Selling
    New York 307.758 314.894
    Montreal 208.003 212.825
    Sydney 200.275 204.918
    London 492.270 503.684
    Dublin 409.565 419.061
    Nicosia 557.504 570.430
    Paris 49.173 50.314
    Zurich 202.145 206.832
    Brussels 7.996 8.181
    Frankfurt 164.922 168.746
    Helsinki 54.250 55.508
    Amsterdam 146.371 149.764
    Copenhagen 43.390 44.396
    Stockholm 35.885 36.717
    Oslo 39.134 40.042
    Vienna 23.441 23.984
    Milan 16.659 17.045
    Tokyo 254.131 260.023
    Madrid 1.938 1.983
    Lisbon 1.609 1.646
    Athens News Agency

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