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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-06-02

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Simitis says end to Yugoslav war very likely
  • [02] Gov't dismisses latest Turkish claims over Greek isle
  • [03] Tsohatzopoulos calls Yugoslavia`s acceptance of G8 plan `encouraging`
  • [04] Lafontaine: NATO bombings of Yugoslavia a failure
  • [05] Gov't: Foreigners must obey Greek law
  • [06] Five tonnes of chickens emanating from Belgium impounded
  • [07] France leads with 'blue flags', Greece third
  • [08] Economic News
  • [09] Athens foreign exchange
  • [10] ATHENS NEWS AGENCY ON THE INTERNET

  • [01] Simitis says end to Yugoslav war very likely

    Athens, 2/6/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday said an end of the war in Yugoslavia was likely by the June 13 Euroelections, during an interview to state-run television.

    The Greek premier also distanced himself from the overall handling of the Yugoslavia crisis and the policies applied, as well as with the stance of European socialists.

    He added that Europe could have been the "other pole" of power, but showed weakness while the United States took advantage of the vacuum.

    Mr. Simitis revealed during his interview that US President Bill Clinton had tabled the issue of a possible change of borders in the Balkans during celebrations for NATO's 50th anniversary in Washington in late April.

    He noted that the idea of changes to borders was rejected by the large majority of participating leaders and therefore not accepted by NATO, however, the premier said it was telling of the way the United States regards the region.

    The prime minister also did not reject NATO Secretary General Javier Solana's candidacy for the post of assuming the EU's joint foreign, defence and security policy-making portfolio.

    He added that discussions are still in progress and that Athens' effort was to have an active participation in European bodies.

    Regarding the Ocalan affair, the prime minister stressed that "his trial entails many traps" and that there will be an effort on the part of Turkey to capitalise on it, while he advised caution regarding this issue.

    Mr. Simitis said he would not proceed with a government reshuffle after the Euroelections, however, he left the possibility open for filling some vacancies that might be created after the appointment of the EU commissioner.

    Finally, the prime minister criticised main opposition New Democracy for "attempting a majority vote in order to hamper Greece's course and cancel the policy that is followed."

    Karamanlis: On his part, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday stressed that a resounding message of disapproval must be sent to the PASOK government during the upcoming Euroelections.

    Addressing a press conference, he added that Greece's citizens must support a new start, which will clash with what he called country's decline.

    Mr. Karamanlis said he will follow the same course after the Euroelections, letting it be understood that he will not call for early national elections, saying that only the government and the premier can accelerate or slow down political developments.

    Referring to PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, Mr. Karamanlis said pictures coming from Turkey cause "sadness and shame". He said that with its handlings, the PASOK government strengthened the most extreme elements in Ankara and that the government was comple tely inadequate to handle the crisis when it found itself "with a bomb in its hands".

    Replying to a question on the International Court at The Hague and the government's position that differences between Greece and Turkey be referred to it, he said Greece has every reason to secure the use of international law, adding that ND insists tha t the sole issue which must be resolved at The Hague is the continental shelf issue, adding that if Ankara feels that it must resort to it for all issues it raises it is up to the neighbouring country to do so.

    However, commenting on the indictment of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and four other Yugoslav leaders for alleged war crimes, he said it is an unfavourable development and that there are no bodies which are absolutely objective.

    Referring to the Yugoslav crisis, he said it is a "mistaken war" and expressed a hope that "those who started it will find the political strength to contribute to the achievement of a peaceful solution."

    ND spokesman sharply criticises gov't on public security issue: Main opposition New Democracy party spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos yesterday accused the government, and the premier personally, of having an "authoritarian and arrogant mentality", stressing they are posing "extortionary dilemmas" devoid of any substantiv e content.

    Mr. Spiliotopoulos also accused the government of continuing to break the law in using European Union funds to "advertise non-existent projects".

    Referring to the case of the Albanian gunman who over the weekend hijacked a bus with eight hostages to Albania P an incident that left both the hijacker and a hostage dead P Mr. Spiliotopoulos said police are in a state of dissolution, while "the Greek citizen feels alone, abandoned and insecure".

    "IOn the other hand there is a government which did not hesitate, due to the Euroelections, not to take risks, not to shoulder whatever cost and reached the point of 'exporting' Greek citizens and leaving them as hostages, so that the Albanian police wi ll handle the issue which, as is known, is in complete decomposition."

    Addressing a press conference yesterday, Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras accused the ruling PASOK party of following a policy of "insensitivity", while ND lacks proposals.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Gov't dismisses latest Turkish claims over Greek isle

    Athens, 2/6/1999 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday said Turkey's foreign policy was "at an impasse", while he criticised Ankara's tactics for "supposedly extending the hand of friendship" to Greece and at the same time making claims on Greek territory.

    Mr. Reppas was responding to questions about Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem's letter to his Greek counterpart George Papandreou, in which he called for cooperation and improved relations.

    The Turkish minister, however, made no reference to taking differences to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

    Greece has frequently told Ankara should take its unilateral claims disputing Greek sovereignty over a number of rocky outcrops in the eastern Aegean to the court.

    On Monday, Turkish patrol boats briefly entered Greek territorial waters near Agathonissi, a small inhabited island near Samos. They left without incident.

    Agathonissi has in the past been cited by Ankara as one of four "disputed" inhabited Greek islands.

    Mr. Reppas called on the neighbouring country to "go beyond words to deeds."

    "Good relations between the two countries require the corresponding stance from both sides, something that Turkey is not doing," he said.

    Asked whether the raising of a Greek flag on Agathonissi could be construed as "private individuals exercising foreign policy", Mr. Reppas said it could not.

    "Agathonissi is a part of the Greek state with an established community and (raising the flag) is not an issue," he added.

    Mr. Cem also reportedly called on his Greek counterpart to sign an "agreement on the struggle against terrorism", a Turkish diplomatic source added yesterday, according to an AFP dispatch.

    AFP said the private television channel NTV reported that Mr. Cem made the proposal in a letter he addressed to Mr. Papandreou, in which he underlines the need for a dialogue between Ankara and Athens on the issue.

    Ocalan: Responding to another question, Mr. Reppas said Greece wants a fair trial for jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.

    "Our position is the one expressed by the European Union and Europarliament, namely, the need for a fair trial in the case of Abdullah Ocalan. We will stand by this position. The request is of the international community to Turkey for a fair trial," Mr.

    Reppas said.

    According to reports, Ocalan is said to have claimed that Greece provided unnamed training facilities and services to Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) members and supplied it with missiles. He also reportedly claimed that Yugoslavia aided PKK by the prov ision of military training.

    Yesterday's statements by Ocalan during his ongoing trial were not televised, while reporters allowed in the courtroom were not allowed to contact their new organisations until the end of the session.

    In a related development, the Athens Bar Association (ABA) announced yesterday that one of its members departed for Istanbul to observe the trial.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Tsohatzopoulos calls Yugoslavia`s acceptance of G8 plan `encouraging`

    Athens, 2/6/1999 (ANA)

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday stressed from Saudi Arabia that Yugoslavia's acceptance of a G8 plan was "encouraging", while he expressed hope that a UN Security Council resolution would be the basis for peace in the region.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, during talks with his Saudi counterpart focusing on the Kosovo crisis, the Middle East question and peace in the region, noted that "Greece cannot be used for ground operations in Kosovo". He added that "there is no issue or proposal for the use of ground forces on any level, either by NATO or anywhere else".

    The Greek defence minister reiterated that Thessaloniki's port will continue to be exclusively used for the NATO peace mission to FYROM, prepared to deploy in Kosovo as soon as an agreement is reached by both sides.

    On the Mideast question, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said "Greece supports the prospects of accession to collective security organisations for all countries in the region, namely, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Cyprus, the Palestinian self-rule areas and Is rael, toward a real peace in the region".

    He also reiterated Greece's opposition to selective cooperation among countries, such as the Israel-Turkey pact, which "creates concern to neighbouring countries since it carries special weight on a modern military hi-tech level".

    The exchange of visits to training centres, cooperation in the defence sector as well as the exchange of know-how was decided on a bilateral level, while Mr. Tsohatzopoulos presented his Saudi counterpart with a letter from President of the Republic Ko stis Stephanopoulos addressed to the King of Saudi Arabia, King Fahd ibn Abdul Aziz.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Lafontaine: NATO bombings of Yugoslavia a failure

    Athens, 2/6/1999 (ANA)

    Former German finance minister Oskar Lafontaine said yesterday that the war in Yugoslavia was characterised by failure and the violation of numerous principles.

    "The aims (of NATO's intervention) have not been attained, given that it has not helped the people of Kosovo. On the contrary, it has contributed further to their uprooting," he said.

    Mr. Lafontaine, who resigned earlier this year as chairman of Germany's ruling Social Democrat party, was speaking at a book presentation at the Goethe Institute in Athens.

    "It is not possible to defend human rights by bombing civilians. We cannot make things right if we do not take into consideration existing international law and do not strengthen it. For example, the United Nations Security Council should not be passed over,"Mr. Lafontaine told reporters.

    While acknowledging that NATO had good intentions, he said the way in which the Alliance was acting was "unacceptable".

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Gov't: Foreigners must obey Greek law

    Athens, 2/6/1999 (ANA)

    Athens will continue to implement its policy of granting residence permits to "economic refugees" but will deport illegal immigrants, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas stressed yesterday.

    Mr. Reppas reiterated that all foreigners living in Greece must respect the law, just as Greek citizens.

    He also said the Greek government would not give preferential treatment to citizens of Albania or any other country.

    The issue of non-EU foreigners and the law has come to the forefront following last Friday's hijacking of a bus in Thessaloniki by an armed Albanian who took the eight passengers hostage.

    After demanding and getting a 50-million-drachma ransom, driving around northern Greece and finally heading into Albania, the hijacker was killed when Albanian police stormed the bus on Saturday morning. A Greek hostage died in the operation.

    The action of the Albanian police was strongly criticised by Greece.

    In an interview with the BBC over the weekend, Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo claimed that Greece was expelling large numbers of Albanians from the country.

    Asked to comment on Mr. Milo's statements, Mr. Reppas stressed that Greece had done much to help Albania, both with respect to its general problems and the problems created by the influx of refugees from Kosovo.

    Replying to reporters' questions on the operation in Albania against the bus hijacker, he said Albanian police should not have made any move without first briefing the Greek side, "which it did not".

    For as long as the bus was in Greece, Mr. Reppas said, "our efforts were focused on protecting the lives of all the hostages".

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Five tonnes of chickens emanating from Belgium impounded

    Athens, 2/6/1999 (ANA)

    The government said yesterday that state veterinary authorities had impounded five tonnes of frozen chickens imported from Belgium, believed to be contaminated with dioxins.

    Deputy Agriculture Minister Paraskevas Foundas said derivative products, such as eggs and albumen P used mainly in making confectionery P had also been impounded.

    However, ministry general secretary Dimitris Tzouvannos did not rule out the possibility of quantities of the tainted chicken already having been released on the market.

    He said quantities of chicken originating from Belgium had been impounded from both wholesale and retail outlets.

    Dioxin is a toxic compound that is carcinogenic and has been linked to birth defects in certain animals. Once absorbed by the human body, dioxin is not excreted.

    Possible sources of dioxin pollution are garbage incinerating plants, installations manufacturing iron products, metal-working factories and chemical plants.

    The Belgian government last Friday banned the sale of chickens and eggs after flocks on farms near Ghent were found to contain high levels of dioxin.

    At the same news conference yesterday, veterinary service officials said 40 tonnes of French chickens contaminated with salmonella had been impounded at the port of Piraeus. The Athens-based food importer "Kanakis S.A." yesterday announced it that will destroy nine tons of Belgian poultry it had imported recently.

    Despite the fact there has not been an official order for the destruction of the imported quantities, the company said it will proceed unilaterally with the step.

    None of the suspect chickens were reportedly sold to retailers.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] France leads with 'blue flags', Greece third

    Athens, 2/6/1999 (ANA)

    Greece's beaches hold third place in Europe as far as cleanliness is concerned, with 318 awarded 'Blue Flags'. France leads with 399 beaches, followed by Spain with 391.

    All nine marina sites submitted were also given distinguished. However, the number of 'Blue Flags' for marinas is low, given the few organised marinas available in Greece. Germany holds first place with 163 Blue Flags for marinas, with Spain coming second with 87.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Economic News

    Athens, 2/6/1999 (ANA)

    Stocks jump on hopes of Kosovo deal: Equities rebounded spectacularly yesterday recovering most of last week's sharp losses on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    The general index ended 4.36 percent higher at 4,106.43 points, at the day's highs, moving closer to its all-time record of 4,206.76 points. The index lost 6.5 percent last week.

    The day's turnover was 158.3 billion drachmas.

    Fuelling the market were renewed hopes of a diplomatic solution to the Kosovo crisis; reports of new mergers and takeovers among listed companies; and the purchase of Heracles Cement by Blue Circle Industries of the U.K.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips jumped 4.49 percent to 2,451.92 points.

    Banks led the market's rally ending 4.15 percent up. Other sector indices ended as follows: Leasing (+6.88 pct), Insurance (+2.10 pct), Investment (+4.02 pct), Construction (+6.22 pct), Industrials (+4.03 pct), Miscellaneous (+5.10 pct) and Holding (+5. 32 pct).

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 5.69 percent higher.

    A total of 114 shares ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit up.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 280 to 11 with another four issues unchanged.

    Naoussa Textiles, Hellenic Telecoms and Hellenic Petroleum were the most heavily traded stocks.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 22,850 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 21, 695, Ergobank at 28,330, Ionian Bank at 17,250, Titan Cement at 29,250, Hellenic Petroleum at 3,040, Intracom at 23,800, Minoan Lines at 9,500, Panafon at 8,015 and Hellenic Telec oms at 7,160.

    Bonds drop in world doldrums: Bonds lost 40-50 basis points affected by gloom in markets abroad over adverse U.S. financial data. Foreign investors kept to the sidelines in the domestic market. Electronic trade was scant at 36 billion drachmas.

    The ten-year-bond was trading at 103.20, showing a yield of 5.85 percent.

    The yield spread with German bunds was between 168 basis points and 174 basis points. In trade after the close, the spread was 170 basis points.

    In the foreign currency market, trade in the drachma and euro was uneventful.

    At the central bank's daily fix, the euro was set at 324.600 drachmas from 325.160 drachmas in the previous session.

    New Cosmote connections jump 98 pct yr/yr in May: Cosmote, the mobile phone subsidiary of Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation, said yesterday that the number of new connections rose by 98 percent in May against the same month of last year.

    In addition, the number of customers increased by 56,400 to 553,000, of whom 140,000, or 25.3 percent, have opted for pre-paid card services.

    Cosmote's market share rose to 19.5 percent on May 31 from 14.6 percent on December 31, 1998.

    The country's two other mobile phone operators are Panafon and Telestet.

    Marfin to give interim dividend in July: Marfin yesterday reported current net profits of 426 drachmas per share and pledged to pay an interim dividend equal to 50 percent of net profits in July.

    The company's average capital invested in equities in the first five months of the year totalled 46.47 percent.

    Marfin's internal value rose by 40.71 percent compared with a 43.73 percent increase by the Athens bourse's general index over the same period.

    Marfin's invested capital was mainly directed towards the parallel market for smaller capitalisation stocks (12.3 pct), the food sector (10.13 pct), insurance (7.75 pct), wood industries (6.61 pct) and packaging (5.67 pct).

    Aspis Pronia accounted for the biggest share of Marfin's portfolio at 7.75 percent, followed by Shelman (6.61 pct), Corinth Pipeworks (5.78 pct), Hellas Can (5.67 pct), Chipita (5.31 pct) and Delta Dairy (4.82 pct).

    Five-year bond yield drops in auction: The average weighted yield of five- year bonds auctioned yesterday fell to 6.12 percent from 6.31 percent in the previous sale, the finance ministry said in a statement.

    On offer were 125 billion drachmas of paper. The ministry accepted 129.5 billion drachmas of a total 200 billion in bids from primary dealers. The tender was oversubscribed by 1.6 times.

    The bond has an annual coupon of 6.60 percent. The average weighed price was 101.79 and the minimum accepted price 101.71.

    Edrasi-Psallidas posts rise in Q1 profit, turnover: Edrasi-Psallidas yesterday reported a 13 percent turnover increase in the first quarter of 1999 compared with the same period last year, while pre-tax profits rose 25 percent.

    Turnover totalled 2.016 billion drachmas, up from 1.785 billion in the same period of 1998, and net pre-tax profits rose to 250 million from 201 million drachmas last year.

    The company's fixed assets rose to 9.2 billion drachmas, while its gross profit margin increased by 13 percent to 470 million drachmas in the period January-March.

    GNTO releases social tourism budget: The state will pay a daily subsidy of 3,000 drachmas per person as part of its social tourism programme this year, the Greek National Tourism Organisation said yesterday.

    The subsidised holidays will be offered between June 16 and November 15, GNTO said in a statement.

    The subsidy covers hotels, rented rooms and self-catering flats that fall under the programme. For camping sites, the daily subsidy per person is 700 drachmas.

    The venue for the holidays will be prefectures worst hit by a decline in tourism due to the Yugoslav war. They are Kerkyra, Thesprotia, Preveza, Pieria, Larisa, Thessaloniki, Halkidiki, Kavala and Magnesia (except the Sporades islands).

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Athens foreign exchange

    Athens, 2/6/1999 (ANA)

    Banknotes Buying Selling
    US Dollar 308.314 315.426
    Can.Dollar 208.816 213.658
    Australian Dlr 198.827 203.436
    Pound Sterling 494.611 506.079
    Irish Punt 408.860 418.339
    Pound Cyprus 557.762 570.694
    Pound Malta 737.734 768.473
    Turkish pound (100) 0.070 0.073
    French franc 49.089 50.227
    Swiss franc 202.194 206.882
    Belgian franc 7.982 8.167
    German Mark 164.637 168.454
    Finnish Mark 54.157 55.413
    Dutch Guilder 146.119 149.506
    Danish Kr. 43.331 44.335
    Swedish Kr. 35.865 36.696
    Norwegian Kr. 39.075 39.981
    Austrian Sh. 23.401 23.944
    Italian lira (100) 16.630 17.015
    Yen (100) 254.845 260.753
    Spanish Peseta 1.935 1.980
    Port. Escudo 1.606 1.643
    
    Foreign Exchange Buying Selling
    New York 308.314 315.426
    Montreal 208.816 213.658
    Sydney 198.827 203.436
    London 494.611 506.079
    Dublin 408.860 418.339
    Nicosia 557.762 570.694
    Paris 49.089 50.227
    Zurich 202.194 206.882
    Brussels 7.982 8.167
    Frankfurt 164.637 168.454
    Helsinki 54.157 55.413
    Amsterdam 146.119 149.506
    Copenhagen 43.331 44.335
    Stockholm 35.865 36.696
    Oslo 39.075 39.981
    Vienna 23.401 23.944
    Milan 16.630 17.015
    Tokyo 254.845 260.753
    Madrid 1.935 1.980
    Lisbon 1.606 1.643
    
    Athens News Agency

    [10] ATHENS NEWS AGENCY ON THE INTERNET

    Athens, 2/6/1999 (ANA)

    You can now find the Athens News Agency's news service on the Internet with a brief review of the main news items, in Greek or English, twice a day (at 11:00am and updated at 4:30pm approximately). Log in to our Internet address: http://www.ana.gr and keep abreast with the latest news from Greece.

    Athens News Agency

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