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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-06-03

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 EU summit to seek speedy solution for Kosovo
  • [02] New bourse market for small, fast-growing firms
  • [03] Greece: Ocalan`s claims come from inside a glass cage in a Turkish court
  • [04] Papoutsis addresses Athens energy conference
  • [05] Gov't comments on Cem letter to Greek FM
  • [06] Gov't on Greek-Albanian relations
  • [07] Gov't, ND exchange blame over failure to hold debate
  • [08] More chickens imported from Belgium confiscated
  • [09] Kannabishop owner acquitted
  • [10] Softex sold to US joint venture
  • [11] Economic News
  • [12] Athens foreign exchange

  • [01] Simitis says EU summit to seek speedy solution for Kosovo

    Athens, 3/6/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis left yesterday for Bonn to represent Greece at the European Union summit, which opens today in Cologne and effectively marks the end of Germany's EU presidency.

    He added that the G8 initiative for a solution to the Yugoslav crisis was in progress, saying "we will insist on reaching agreement as soon as possible and obstructing the obstacles and difficulties".

    Mr. Simitis expressed hope that the peace process will "fall into line" and that more steps will be made in that direction.

    Apart from the Yugoslavia crisis, the EU leaders will also discuss a European pact on employment, he said.

    He is accompanied by Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

    Meanwhile, in Athens, acting government spokesman Yiannis Nikolaou confirmed press reports that FM Papandreou received a phone call on Sunday night from US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who asked him to sound out Yugoslav authorities' intention s, stressing that Belgrade must accept the framework of proposals and that negotiations should proceed to more detailed matters.

    The reports stated that Mr. Papandreou had subsequent telephone discussions with Serbian President Milan Milutinovic, Yugoslav FM Zivadin Jovanovic and Sebian opposition leader Vuk Draskovic.

    Mr. Nikolaou noted that Athens discerned a "positive direction and preconditions" for a solution to the Yugoslav crisis.

    He also confirmed Ms Albright had requested "communication" with the Yugoslav leadership.

    The spokesman said the Greek FM contacted Mr. Milutinovic and Mr. Jovanovic, who expressed the view that a solution was possible based on G8 principles.

    However, he declined to provide any further information about the content of Mr. Papandreou's contacts with his US and Yugoslav counterparts, saying "the discussions are not being held for public relations reasons, nor to satisfy the public".

    Mr. Papandreou also had a new telephone conversation with US Assistant Secretary of State Strobe Talbott yesterday afternoon, and while in Cologne.

    Mr. Talbott briefed Mr. Papandreou on the progress of talks and in turn requested a briefing on talks Mr. Papandreou had with his Yugoslav counterpart.

    Speaking to reporters after his discussion, Mr. Papandreou said differences have been narrowed.

    Meanwhile, addressing an audience of ethnic Greek PASOK supporters in Cologne, Mr. Simitis said Greeks are not apathetic spectators of European unification .

    Mr. Simitis said PASOK wants Europe to be politically powerful as well as economically powerful, as it is at present, and noted that if Europe had been politically strong developments may have been different in Kosovo.

    Referring to ethnic Greeks living permanently in Germany, he said they must constantly attempt to approach German society.

    The PM said he favours bilingual schools, adding that those opposing them will have to reckon with the government.

    Mitsotakis briefs G. Papandreou on Belgrade visit: Main opposition New Democracy deputy and honourary president Constantine Mitsotakis yesterday met with Foreign Minister George Papandreou, whom he briefed on his private visit to Belgrade last week and talks with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

    Mr. Mitsotakis, a former prime minister, told reporters after the meeting at the foreign ministry that he had discussed with Mr. Papandreou the latest developments in the Yugoslavia crisis.

    He said peace in Kosovo was feasible, provided that peace was desired by the NATO member-states.

    Mr. Mitsotakis later met with Yugoslavia's ambassador to Athens Dragomir Vucicevic. Sources said the former prime minister reiterated that the two Australians convicted of spying in Belgrade recently should be released.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] New bourse market for small, fast-growing firms

    Athens, 3/6/1999 (ANA)

    Around 7,500 small- and medium-sized enterprises will have the chance to gain listing on the Athens Stock Exchange under the terms of a bill presented by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday.

    The new market for rapidly growing enterprises is expected to begin operating in the fall and will join a common European market trading platform after Greece's entry into the euro zone on January 1, 2001, Mr. Papantoniou said.

    The new market aims to help small- and medium-sized companies raise new capital to finance expansion.

    Of a total 7,500 enterprises eligible for listing on the new market, 607 have shown a steady annual asset growth of 10 percent, while another 64 have recorded a minimum 30 percent annual growth.

    The new market will differ from the bourse's main and parallel market for smaller cap stocks in several ways.

    Procedures will be simpler, and employees will be able to acquire up to five percent of stock in public offers.

    Mr. Papantoniou said that the government may review the percentage.

    In order to enter the new market, a company must have equity capital of at least 100 million drachmas based on its latest balance sheet.

    Commenting on bourse swings, Mr. Papantoniou said the stock market was volatile by nature but its trend was steadily upward because of overall economic growth.

    He urged private investors to show confidence in the Greek economy and to avoid speculative strategies.

    Mr. Papantoniou also said that the ministry would discuss plans to extend trading hours in the bourse after the market's board has submitted its proposals.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Greece: Ocalan`s claims come from inside a glass cage in a Turkish court

    Athens, 3/6/1999 (ANA)

    "In a state ruled by law, the position of any defendant is to be tried justly and freely", acting government spokesman Yiannis Nikolaou said yesterday, replying to reporters' questions on the ongoing trial of rebel Kurd leader Addullah Ocalan i n Turkey.

    Asked to comment on the claims by the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) at his trial this week regarding his supposed "collaboration" with Greek authorities, Mr. Nikolaou replied:

    "We shall not enter into dialogue with Mr. Ocalan, particularly when he is speaking from inside a glass cage."

    As a position of principle, Mr. Nikolaou added, Athens condemns all terrorist activities and is opposed to any change in existing borders.

    "However, Turkey too must take steps in the direction of a state ruled by law," the spokesman stressed.

    Austrian deputy: In a related development, Austrian People's Party deputy Walter Schwimmer yesterday said Ocalan's statements during his trial may be tainted by the threat of a looming death sentence.

    Mr. Schwimmer, an observer for the Council of Europe at the Ocalan trial, said during a press conference in Athens that "the degree of reliability of Abdullah Ocalan's statements during the trial is not very bigI"

    Mr. Schwimmer is the Austrian candidate for the post of CoE secretary general, supported by both his country's People's Party and the Social Democrats.

    The CoE has condemned and criticised Turkey over the death penalty and has requested of that country to abolish it.

    Speaking on Greek-Turkish relations, Mr. Schwimmer said that "for some time now the Council of Europe maintains the opinion that there should be no more tensions in EuropeI"

    He also mentioned the example of Cypriot Titika Liozidou, who won a case against Turkey over the military occupation of her personal property in northern Cyprus, adding that Turkey should implement that decision.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Papoutsis addresses Athens energy conference

    Athens, 3/6/1999 (ANA)

    European Union Commissioner Christos Papoutsis addressed an "Energy and Development" conference in Athens yesterday, stressing that ongoing NATO bombings, apart from the great human tragedy they are creating, are threatening to destroy Yugoslavia's infras tructure completely.

    Mr. Papoutsis said "the bombings must stop at last. There should be a viable political solution in the framework of the UN and a major programme should be implemented for the restructuring and development of the entire region."

    He also noted that Yugoslavia must not be excluded from planning, while he added that the gradual implementation of 30 energy linkages in the region will constitute the basis for restructuring the energy sector in the Balkans.

    He also referred to energy market deregulation in EU member-states, saying this will considerably strengthen the competitiveness of the Greek economy.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Gov't comments on Cem letter to Greek FM

    Athens, 3/6/1999 (ANA)

    Athens confirmed yesterday that Foreign Minister George Papandreou had received a letter from his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem, proposing the two countries cooperate on security issues.

    "Mr. Cem's letter is being examined and discussed," acting government spokesman Yiannis Nikolaou said. "Greece is not responding for the time being but will in time."

    Mr. Nikolaou said Turkey had to show that it was "on the path to Europe", respect the rules of international law, human rights and Greece's territorial sovereignty.

    "We are still a fair distance as there are many things that need to be discussed before such an issue can be a topic for dialogue," he said.

    Main opposition New Democracy spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos also touched on Greek-Turkish relations yesterday.

    "The effort to create artificial tension as well as the insolence of the expansionists in the neighbouring country are obvious" he said, adding that the Greek people's position is "equally obvious".

    "There is nothing subject to negotiation in the Aegean. Our sovereign rights are non-negotiableIInter-national treaties are clear, they leave no room for doubt. Ankara is in no position to export its political 'Middle Ages' to its neighbours by resurrec ting its Ottoman empire visionsI" he added.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Gov't on Greek-Albanian relations

    Athens, 3/6/1999 (ANA)

    Acting government spokesman Yiannis Nikolaou yesterday said that Greek- Albanian relations should remain stable.

    Responding to a question on whether the Greek government delivered a demarche to Albania over the handling of last weekend's violent hostage crisis, he said "the framework of relations of Greece and Albania should remain stable."

    Mr. Nikolaou also said Athens wishes for the maintaining of good-neighbourly relations with Tirana.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Gov't, ND exchange blame over failure to hold debate

    Athens, 3/6/1999 (ANA)

    The government yesterday said the main opposition New Democracy party was solely responsible for the fact that a televised debate between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and ND leader Costas Karamanlis will not be held prior to Euroelections, while ND blame d the PASOK government.

    Acting government spokesman Yiannis Nikolaou said the government had proposed a debate similar to one held in 1996 between Mr. Simitis and then ND leader Miltiades Evert, "which would allow viewers to compare the positions of the two parties".

    "But Mr. Karamanlis wants to speak in slogans. New Democracy has not presented positions and proposals and this is the reason why Mr. Karamanlis is artfully avoiding dialogue," Mr. Nikolaou said.

    Conversely, the general secretary of ND's Parliament group, Stavros Dimas, attributed responsibility on the government for its "rejection of our proposals" on the debate framework, and in particular "the prime minister's inability to engage in dialogue" .

    Mr. Dimas said the PM had rejected ND's proposals for a free discussion among all the political party leaders, describing the premier's stance as "arrogant".

    The ND official also said Mr. Simitis had told the opposition party that he would not participate in the debate unless it accepted his terms.

    Mr. Dimas added that ND was still in favour of "a free and substantial dialogue and not parallel monologues".

    Athens News Agency

    [08] More chickens imported from Belgium confiscated

    Athens, 3/6/1999 (ANA)

    Authorities yesterday confiscated 30 tons of frozen chickens imported from Belgium, following reports that they may be tainted with dioxin, a carcinogen.

    The chickens will be destroyed over the next few days, while public health officials will continue checks in the both in wholesale and retail markets.

    An additional nine tons of chickens imported from Belgium were confiscated in Thessaloniki.

    Meanwhile, eggs and their by-products emanating from Belgium are also being tested for dioxin contamination.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Kannabishop owner acquitted

    Athens, 3/6/1999 (ANA)

    The acquittal by a Larisa court yesterday ended a months-long case involving several clothing retailers charged with selling items made from processed cannabis hemp.

    The issue started in October, when authorities closed the "Kannabishop" retail store in Larisa and after confiscating most of the outlet's stock. The store owner was also charged with "promulgation and use of drugs and inciting others in their use". Sim ilar police actions have also taken place in Athens.

    It is expected that an upcoming decision by the agriculture ministry will pave the way for the cultivation of cannabis for certain commercial uses.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Softex sold to US joint venture

    Athens, 3/6/1999 (ANA)

    The ailing Athens Papermills SA (Softex) were sold yesterday to a US-based joint venture comprised of the firms Goldman Sachs & Co, Bain & Co and the Bolton group.

    The joint venture paid US$26 million as a down payment for Softex, which sports a production facility in northern Greece and an Athens headquarters.

    The Organisation for the Rehabilitation of Ailing Enterprises (OAE) yesterday signed an agreement with the Greek Paper Holdings SA finalising the deal.

    This agreement concludes efforts that began in 1996 and is unique in that Softex is the first state-owned enterprise sold exclusively to foreign interests by OAE Pformed in the early 1980s to restructure and privatise ailing state-run and owned companies.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Economic News

    Athens, 3/6/1999 (ANA)

    Papoutsis warns airstrikes may destroy Yugoslav infrastructure: European Union Commissioner for Energy, Christos Papoutsis, warned yesterday that NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia may totally destroy energy and other infrastructure, taking the country back 50 years.

    Mr. Papoutsis, who was addressing a seminar on energy and development held in Athens, has worked on EU plans to link energy networks in the Balkans to those in Europe.

    "The bombings must finally (stop), there must be a viable political solution within the framework of the United Nations, and a major reconstruction and development plan must be implemented for the region," Mr. Papoutsis said.

    Yugoslavia should not be left out of such a plan. The country's exclusion would jeopardise security and development in the Balkans, he added.

    Stocks drop on Kosovo jitters: Fresh complications in a diplomatic effort to resolve the Kosovo crisis hit the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday, pushing prices lower.

    The general index ended 0.86 percent down at 4,071.31 points after rising 1.30 percent early in the session.

    Turnover was 183.422 billion drachmas with 29,144,824 shares changing hands.

    The construction and leasing sectors outperformed the index to end 0.97 percent and 1.80 percent higher respectively.

    Other sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-0.83 pct), Insurance (-1.01 pct), Investment (-1.03 pct), Industrials (-1.00 pct), Miscellaneous (-1.49 pct) and Holding (-0.83 pct).

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 0.82 percent higher while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips fell 1.08 percent to 2,425.45 points.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 143 to 139 with another 14 issues unchanged.

    Intracom and Thessaliki were the most heavily traded stocks.

    A total of 35 issues ended at the daily 8.0 percent limit up, with another two issues ending at the daily limit down.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 22,800 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 21, 310, Ergobank at 27,900, Ionian Bank at 16,850, Titan Cement at 28,000, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,930, Intracom at 24,000, Minoan Lines at 9,300, Panafon at 8,000 and Hellenic Telec ommunications Organisation at 7,050 drachmas.

    Ten-year bonds nose down in slim trade: Ten-year bonds lost around 10 basis points yesterday but some buying interest was seen in shorter-term paper, dealers said.

    Electronic trade was scant at 36 billion drachmas, the same as in the previous session.

    The ten-year-bond maturing in January 2009 was trading at 102.90, showing a yield of 5.91 percent.

    The yield spread with German bunds was 164 basis points from 174 basis points at Tuesday's close.

    In the foreign currency market, the euro slumped in line with European markets, prompting the Bank of Greece to intervene by purchasing 70 million euros to curb the drachma's ascent.

    At the central bank's daily fix, the euro was set at 324.000 drachmas from 324.600 drachmas in the previous session.

    Forex from shipping rises 8.0 pct in 1998: Foreign currency inflows from shipping rose to 2,280.7 million dollars in 1998 from 2,111.3 million dollars a year earlier, marking an 8.0 percent increase.

    In November-December 1998, inflows rose by 14.1 percent to 439.7 million dollars from 385.3 million dollars in the same period of 1997.

    Intracom gets O.K. for share cap rise: Intracom's shareholders yesterday approved a share capital increase of 62 billion drachmas and a share buy- back.

    A rights issue with preference to existing shareholders will allow one new share for 10 old at 15,000 drachmas each.

    Management was empowered to buy back 10 percent of the company's free float equity at a maximum price of 35,000 drachmas per share.

    The group's chairman, Socrates Kokkalis, presented Intracom's business plan for 1999-2003, which aims to internationalise the company.

    "Today, the group is the biggest telecommunications and information technology company in southeast Europe, north Africa and the Middle East. It aims to expand in the European Union and the US," Mr. Kokkalis told shareholders.

    He said a conservative estimate put consolidated sales in 1999-2003 at 1.050 trillion drachmas, pre-tax profits at 300 billion drachmas, exports at 405 billion drachmas, and investments at 195 billion drachmas.

    Management sees 1999 sales rising 40 percent from 1998 to 127 billion drachmas; pre-tax profits increasing by 57 percent to 27 billion; exports rising 68 percent to 37 billion; and research and development rising 48 percent to 13 billion drachmas.

    Intracom's workforce is expected to rise to 2,200 people, with scientists accounting for 60 percent of the total.

    The group expects to sign new supply contracts worth 260 billion drachmas this year, with exports accounting for 105 billion.

    Intracom's shareholders also approved plans by Intracom Construction and Intramet, two members of the group, to apply for listing on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    The group's market value, including Intrasoft, totals 1.2 trillion drachmas.

    Finally, shareholders approved a plan to expand activities in the defense equipment and energy sectors.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Athens foreign exchange

    Athens, 3//6//1999 (ANA)
    Banknotes Buying Selling
    US Dollar 309.950 317.137
    Can.Dollar 208.737 213.576
    Australian Dlr 200.196 204.837
    Pound Sterling 499.670 511.255
    Irish Punt 408.104 417.566
    Pound Cyprus 556.631 569.537
    Pound Malta 729.090 759.469
    Turkish pound (100) 0.068 0.071
    French franc 48.998 50.134
    Swiss franc 202.219 206.908
    Belgian franc 7.968 8.152
    German Mark 164.334 168.144
    Finnish Mark 54.057 55.310
    Dutch Guilder 145.849 149.230
    Danish Kr. 43.247 44.250
    Swedish Kr. 35.783 36.613
    Norwegian Kr. 39.005 39.910
    Austrian Sh. 23.358 23.899
    Italian lira (100) 16.599 16.984
    Yen (100) 256.372 262.317
    Spanish Peseta 1.931 1.976
    Euro
    Buying: 321.408 Selling: 328.860
    
    Foreign Exchange Buying Selling
    New York 309.950 317.137
    Montreal 208.737 213.576
    Sydney 200.196 204.837
    London 499.670 511.255
    Dublin 408.104 417.566
    Nicosia 556.631 569.537
    Paris 48.998 50.134
    Zurich 202.219 206.908
    Brussels 7.968 8.152
    Frankfurt 164.334 168.144
    Helsinki 54.057 55.310
    Amsterdam 145.849 149.230
    Copenhagen 43.247 44.250
    Stockholm 35.783 36.613
    Oslo 39.005 39.910
    Vienna 23.358 23.899
    Milan 16.599 16.984
    Tokyo 256.372 262.317
    Madrid 1.931 1.976
    Lisbon 1.603 1.640
    
    Athens News Agency

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