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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-06-05

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Greece prepares for aftermath of Kosovo crisis
  • [02] Inflation drops to 2.4 pct yr/yr in May, nearing target
  • [03] Greece stands by position on Turkey's EU prospects
  • [04] Belgian milk may also be banned: Farm ministry
  • [05] Stephanopoulos, Greenpeace issue annoucements for today`s World Environment Day
  • [06] Christodoulakis touts Greek economy at London event, confident of EMU entry
  • [07] National Bank releases `98 balance sheet, results
  • [08] Economic News
  • [09] Athens foreign exchange
  • [10] Advertising in the Daily Bulletin

  • [01] Greece prepares for aftermath of Kosovo crisis

    Athens, 5/6/1999 (ANA)

    Greece will be ready for "the day after" the war in Yugoslavia, government spokesman Yiannis Nikolaou stressed yesterday.

    "Nobody has challenged our strategy. Greece as a force is present. And when we say the 'day after', we mean the subsequent period," Mr. Nikolaou said.

    He declined, however, to comment further on the prospects for a peaceful solution to the Kosovo crisis, saying only:

    "We have joined the path of peace. Let us be thankful for that. In any case, developments are unfolding at a rapid pace," he added.

    On his part, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said Greece was promoting its future role in the command structure in a multinational peacekeeping force to be deployed in Kosovo.

    A Greek delegation will be participating in talks between NATO and Yugoslavia at the Yugoslav-FYROM border today regarding the terms of the implementation of the agreement.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said Greece would contribute more troops than the battalion already committed to the multinational force.

    The minister, speaking after meeting with his visiting Georgian counterpart David Tevzazde in Thessaloniki, said the agreement on Thursday had vindicated all those who believed that diplomacy was the only road to results.

    It had also proven to those who insisted on military solutions that the sooner diplomatic efforts started, the quicker there would be results.

    The defence minister said talks between NATO and Yugoslav military officials had to get under way immediately on the issues of the withdrawal of Serb forces from Kosovo as well as on the beginning of the peace-making process.

    "Stability in Kosovo will be a long-term process," he warned.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the European Union, weak at the beginning of the crisis, had to now take the initiative in the Balkans, clinch association agreements with the region and proceed to a peaceful and democratic future.

    Simitis Repsonding to relevant questions in Cologne, Mr. Simitis referred to issues regulating the withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosovo and the suspension of NATO bombings.

    Mr. Simitis also said the issue of aid to Yugoslavia in relation to Slobodan Milosevic remaining in power was not discussed during the summit.

    In terms of the effect of the agreement on Euroelections, he said such decisions are left to the judgement of the Greek people.

    Mr. Simitis also noted that it is premature at this time to discuss the scope of Greece's military presence in peacekeeping efforts.

    The premier added that during the summit the Union's leaders decided on a series of initiatives for the Balkans, the first of which will be a 'Stability Pact'.

    He added that stabilisation and association agreements will be signed between the Union and countries of the region, while the European Commission will draft proposals for the creation of an organisation to undertake implementation of the Union's recons truction programmes.

    Mediation effort Meanwhile, diplomatic sources emphasised that Athens has also undertaken a new mediation effort aimed at further clarification of certain aspects of the Kosovo peace deal.

    They said Greek FM George Papandreou, in Cologne for the two-day EU summit, spoke consecutively on the phone Thursday evening with NATO secretary general Javier Solana and Yugoslav FM Zivadin Jovanovic.

    Sources said Mr. Papandreou's mediation would focus on ways of materialising the withdrawal of the Serb forces from Kosovo in tandem with a suspension of NATO bombings.

    Mr. Papandreou also had phone conversations with US Assistant Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

    Sources said Ms Albright assured Mr. Papandreou that Washington was committed to implementing the agreement provided Yugoslavia followed suit.

    Finally, Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis reiterated Greece's satisfaction about recent developments in the Kosovo crisis and expressed hope that peace efforts would proceed rapidly.

    Mr. Kranidiotis said once Serb troops had begun withdrawing from Kosovo, Mr. Solana would most probably order an end to the Alliance's bombing campaign.

    Afterwards, the UN Security Council would issue a resolution based on the principles which had already been adopted by the G8 countries, he added.

    ND on Yugoslav developments Main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos yesterday said everyone is focused on the course of the peacemaking process in Yugoslavia, adding that acceptance of the peace plan by the Serbian parliament was a positive step.

    Responding to a relevant question, Mr. Spiliotopoulos criticised the government, saying it has not taken the necessary initiatives to come out ahead of developments, since as he noted, Greece is the only NATO and EU member which is accepted as a reliabl e interlocutor with the Yugoslav leadership.

    KKE adamantly against Solana post in EU The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said yesterday that the appointment of NATO Secretary General Javier Solana as the European Union's senior representative on issues of common foreign and security policy (CFSP) confirms what KKE has never ceased to repe at, namely, that the EU and NATO belong to the same "war syndicate."

    "All parties that stressed the need for the European Union to acquire its own common foreign and 'defence' policy, and believe that such a step was taken in Cologne, should explain to the people now the conclusions stemming from the appointment of one o f the slaughterers of the Yugoslav people, of Javier Solana, to the post of Mr. CFSP," an announcement by KKE said.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Inflation drops to 2.4 pct yr/yr in May, nearing target

    Athens, 5/6/1999 (ANA)

    Consumer price inflation slowed substantially in May, paving the way for entry into the euro zone on January 1, 2001.

    The consumer price index rose 0.1 percent month-on-month from April to show an increase of 2.4 percent year-on-year, down from 2.8 percent year-on-year in the previous month, the National Statistics Service said yesterday.

    NSS's secretary general, Nikos Karavitis, said he expected inflation to drop further in coming months, soon to hit the target of 2.0 percent.

    The slowdown in the CPI reflected a 2.9 percent decline in hotel, restaurant and coffee-shop prices and a 1.1 percent drop in other products and services.

    NSS also announced that wholesale prices rose 0.1 percent in April compared with the same month last year, helping to reinforce forecasts of lower consumer price inflation.

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said in Cologne, where he was attending a European Union summit, that the drop in May's inflation rate was a major step forward but work still needed to be done.

    "The battle has not yet been fully won. This will happen when inflation drops to 2.0 percent and stays there," Mr. Papantoniou said.

    Once again, he urged the country's businesses to freeze their prices and contain profit margins to ease entry into the euro zone.

    "We are a hair's breadth away from joining economic and monetary union," the minister added.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Greece stands by position on Turkey's EU prospects

    COLOGNE, 5/6/1999 (ANA - V. Mourtis)

    Greece's position against what it called a 'double standard' in terms of European Union candidate-countries gained ground at the Union's summit here yesterday and in the face of a German EU presidency plan to designate Turk ey as an EU candidate.

    The Greek delegation, which came under pressure in Cologne during the last day of the summit to agree to Turkey's designation as a candidate country for EU accession, was eventually backed by Italy and Sweden, resulting in the contentious passages being deleted from the German presidency's draft communique.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis defended Athens position vis-a-vis Ankara, stressing: "we are not opposed to Turkey's European vocation, but this must be effected under conditions which apply to all countries without exception".

    The Greek premier said Athens reserved the right to reconsider its stance at the next EU summit in Helsinki, after first evaluating Turkey's actions in the meantime towards fulfilling preconditions which have been set at previous EU summits.

    When asked whether there was a possibility that Turkey might react negatively, Mr. Simitis said this could not be ruled out but that it would not be in Ankara's interests.

    "In all events we shall protect Greece's interests without paying any attention to such reactions," he emphasised.

    Asked by reporters whether Greece was once again appearing as the 'enfant terrible' of the European Union, Mr. Simitis responded with in the negative.

    "...we are simply people with some knowledge of things and we will safeguard our country's interests using all means possible".

    Mr. Simitis also emphasised the importance of the summit's decision to strengthen Europe's defence identity.

    In particular, the Greek premier said the EU had decided to acquire the means and operational capability to act independently, namely, outside NATO in terms of defence matters.

    In addition, Mr. Simitis continued, the EU would strive to develop its activities with respect to preventing, handling and resolving crises and conflict "in the international and regional system".

    Within this framework, he said, the incorporation of the Western European Union (WEU) in the EU will be examined.

    "This is a very important step towards political unification which serves the target of a strong Europe. That is, for Europe to become a political pole along with the United States and other powers, to be a determining factor in developments and shape t he world scene," Mr. Simitis concluded.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Belgian milk may also be banned: Farm ministry

    Athens, 5/6/1999 (ANA)

    Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis told a news conference yesterday that on the basis of information received by the ministry, the distribution and sale of Belgian milk may also be banned.

    Owing to the seriousness of the situation, the minister has postponed a regional tour of Aetolakarnania and Epirus, which was to have been part of ruling PASOK's campaign in the run-up to Euroelections.

    According to the latest official figures, veterinary services have so far impounded 328 tons of frozen poultry, 46 tons of mayonnaise, four tons of chicken pies and four tons of egg products.

    The agriculture ministry late on Thursday said it was extending a ban on the importation and sale of Belgian poultry to pork and beef products.

    A statement from the ministry said that a ministry crisis management committee had decided the move as a preventive measure.

    The measure takes effect as of yesterday and is effective for all imports, distribution and sale of pork or beef from Belgium produced after Jan. 15 1999. Any such foodstuffs already on the market will be impounded.

    The ministry said that the measure would remain in effect until the European Commission's standing veterinary committee meets to discuss the issue of dioxin adulteration of Belgian meat and poultry.

    Butcher's association: The Thessaloniki Association of Butchers, meanwhile, said Greek consumers need not fear buying contaminated produce from their local butchers, as they sold only domestically produced poultry and meat. Thessaloniki butchers are provided with poultry fro m local growers and free-range cooperatives which use animal feed comprised of corn (35 per cent), soya (20 per cent), soya oil (5 per cent), vitamins, salt, marble, phosphates and soda (5 per cent), it said.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Stephanopoulos, Greenpeace issue annoucements for today`s World Environment Day

    Athens, 5/6/1999 (ANA)

    Rapid economic development and the spectacular development of technology over past decades constitutes the largest enemy of the planet, although their contribution to mankind was at the same time great, President Kostis Stephanopoulos said yesterday in a message on the occasion of today's World Environment Day.

    "All the peoples of the planet realise the gravity of the problem and are making efforts, hesitant for the time being, to tackle the destruction taking place and the protection of the environmentI" the message read.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos pointed to the shaping of a common environmental policy on a worldwide scale, which will attain a balance between development and ecological protection.

    "The world's peoples expect from the major international organisations and from the governments of all countries, and particularly those of the powerful ones, to pass from the stage of ascertainments and proclamations to that of specific initiatives for the assumption and realisation of the difficult task of restoring the ecosystem and securing the future of our children," his message added.

    Greenpeace: Human activities are changing the climate of the earth and as a result the aggravation of extreme weather phenomena are being observed, including an increase in the sea level, dangers for biovariety, health repercussions, an increase in the ozone layer ho le, problems for the planet's flora and fauna as well as huge repercussions in fishing.

    This was stressed by the environmental organisation Greenpeace on the occasion of World Environment Day.

    "There are so many reasons for one not to celebrate this day," an announcement by Greenpeace stated.

    The international organisation said thousands of animal and plant species are being threatened directly from the destabilisation of the earth's climate.

    Human health is also affected by the destabilisation of the climate and cardiac conditions are expected to increase, heatstrokes and the proliferation of such diseases as malaria, yellow fever and dysentery.

    On the question of the ozone layer hole, the organisation notes that it has taken on an unprecedented dimension and, in connection with Greece, ultraviolet radiation has increased 10 per cent over the past decade. The ozone layer hole is getting bigger and ozone concentrations in the atmosphere will not return to natural levels before 70 years have passed.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Christodoulakis touts Greek economy at London event, confident of EMU entry

    LONDON, 5/6/1999 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)

    Deputy Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis underlined here yesterday what he called the positive developments in the Greek economy, presenting various economic indicators showing Greece's course towards Economic and Mon etary Union (EMU) as is unimpeded.

    The Greek minister was speaking during a luncheon given in his honour by Credit Suisse-First Boston and Salomon Smith Barney, and attended by representatives of several major investment houses of London.

    Later, Mr. Christodoulakis gave a televised interview to the Bloomberg wire service, referring to the Greek economy's overall course and indicators. He also emphasised the downturn in inflation which, as he said, is the lowest in the past 30-35 years in


    He said that another positive indication is that the price index did not increase compared to the previous year and it is now certain that Greece will succeed in joining EMU on Jan. 1, 2001.

    Mr. Christodoulakis replied to questions on the Kosovo crisis afterwards and on its repercussions on the Greek economy. He said that despite the affect the crisis had, primarily on the country's tourism, Greece has a prospering economy.

    He also referred to the plan on restructuring Yugoslavia and the Balkans in general, saying that Greece will play an important role due to its proximity and knowledge of the region. He added that many Greek firms have serious investments in Bulgaria, Ro mania and Yugoslavia, while the national economy ministry has already prepared a relevant plan in cooperation with construction companies and major industrial firms.

    Replying to questions on the results of upcoming Euroelections in Greece, Mr. Christodoulakis expressed his conviction that the ruling PASOK party will have very positive results. National Bank releases '98 balance sheet, results

    Athens News Agency

    [07] National Bank releases `98 balance sheet, results

    Athens, 5/6/1999 (ANA)

    National Bank of Greece announced yesterday the group's balance sheet and results for 1998, based for the first time to the US Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (US GAAP).

    The group's net pre-tax profits amounted to about 249.8 billion drachmas, compared to about 53.6 billion drachmas in 1997. Its net prfits after taxes amounted to approximately 134.1 billion drachmas as against about 24.5 billion drachmas in 1997.

    The increase is attributed to an improvement in net revenues from interest by 49.6 per cent and of net revenues from non interest-bearing works by 40.4 per cent compared to the corresponding figures of 1997. The rate of increase in operational costs was kept at 5.8 per cent and the rate of increase in staff expenditures at 6.2 per cent.

    Total assets reached around 14.25 trillion drachmas, increasing by 6.3 per cent, while deposits increased by 4.4 per cent and loans by 9 per cent.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Economic News

    Athens, 5/6/1999 (ANA)

    Stocks slump on talk of illegal trade: Equity prices ended the week substantially lower hit by talk that a securities firm in Thessaloniki had allegedly broken trading rules, resulting in a shortfall of 10 billion drachmas.

    The talk around the Thessaloniki branch of Alki Securities was initially unconfirmed but managers of the firm said later they were investigating the allegations.

    The Athens Stock Exchange barred the company from trading until Monday, when the measure will be reviewed.

    The incident undermined sentiment in the market, overshadowing news of a historic drop in the inflation rate to 2.4 pct in May, and an anticipated end to the Yugoslav war.

    The general index ended 1.45 percent lower at 4,063.15 points, reversing an early jump to the 4,200 level, but off the day's lows. Trade was heavy with turnover at 223.5 billion drachmas.

    The leasing and insurance sectors led the market's decline ending 4.55 percent and 2.48 percent lower respectively.

    Other sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-1.40 pct), Investment (-0.79 pct), Construction (-0.02 pct), Industrials (-1.90 pct), Miscellaneous (- 2.58 pct), and Holding (+0.39 pct). The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 0.16 percent higher while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips ended 1.12 percent off at 2,426.16 points.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 181 to 101 with another 13 issues unchanged.

    Hellenic Textiles and Alpha Credit Bank were the most heavily traded stocks.

    A total of 18 issues ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit up, while another two issues ended at the day's limit down.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 22,650 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 21, 300, Ergobank at 27,300, Ionian Bank at 16,700, Titan Cement at 29,000, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,910, Intracom at 22,900, Minoan Lines at 9.300, Panafon at 8,100 and Hellenic Telec oms at 7,305.

    Demand seen for bonds in thin trade: Trade in the secondary bond market was lacklustre with buying seen in scant turnover.

    Electronic trade was 60 billion drachmas from 120 billion drachmas in the previous session.

    The yield spread with German bunds was 159 basis points from 164 basis points at Thursday's close.

    In the foreign currency market, the drachma fell against the euro in line with other European currencies.

    At the central bank's daily fix, the euro was set at 324.000 from 323.960 drachmas in the previous session.

    Bank of Piraeus, contractors set up holding company: The Bank of Piraeus yesterday announced the establishment of a holding company with engineering contractors AEGEK, GEK and TERNA to create one the biggest construction groups in the country.

    The holding company will have a start-up capital of 20 billion drachmas.

    Under the agreement, the Bank of Piraeus will participate in the equity capital of each of the three construction groups.

    The holding company's goals will be to create joint ventures to expand activities in domestic and foreign markets, coordinate action among its members, and implement projects.

    The new company and the Bank of Piraeus will also set up two new companies to handle property development and a holding company for major co-funded and self-funded domestic projects.

    The engineering contractors in the new group will have capital exceeding 100 billion drachmas and estimated profits exceeding 10 billion drachmas in the current fiscal year.

    Bourse hit by talk of brokerage trading scam: The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) was hit yesterday by talk that a broker in the Thessaloniki branch of Alki Securities had breached trading practices, creating a shortfall of more than 10 billion drachmas.

    The talk dampened sentiment on the bourse, driving down prices towards the end of of the session.

    ASE's chairman, Stavros Kouniakis, ordered a suspension of the firm's trading activities and asked for a detailed report on the matter by Monday.

    Mr. Kouniakis added that Alki Securities did not have any outstanding business with the stock market's depository. Alki's chairman, Spyros Kotsabasis, and vice-chairman, George Kotsabasis, went to Thessaloniki to check the branch's accounts with the com pany's accountant and officials of auditor Ernst & Young. The vice-chairman told reporters that any problems concerned the branch office, and not the firm's Athens headquarters.

    The two men, however, declined to say whether or not Alki Securities was in a position to refund investors' money in any eventuality.

    Many of the firm's customers gathered outside the firm's offices in Thessaloniki awaiting news on the matter.

    Alki Securities sees fake traders using its branch: Later in the day, Alki Securities said it believed that its Thessaloniki branch had been used by an illegal trading ring.

    "What appears to be criminal activity is likely to be linked to the branch's former head and a small number of private individuals. According to indications, these people made agreements among themselves that do not concern our company and do not appear in our books," Alki said in a statement.

    "Most likely, these illegal activities are not linked to any other branch or office of the company."

    The brokerage pledged to take any measures to straighten out the affair, including legal action.

    It assured customers that any of their property held by the company was safe.

    Mutual fund assets rise 4.0 pct in May: Total assets of the country's 189 mutual funds rose by 4.0 percent in May against April to total 9.85 trillion drachmas, the Union of Institutional Investors said in a statement yesterday.

    The increase was due mainly to a rise by 311 billion drachmas, or 31.71 percent, in equity funds, despite the Yugoslav crisis.

    The rise in assets was also linked to a rise in the number of dividends by 27.12 percent, the statement said.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Athens foreign exchange

    Athens, 5/6/1999 (ANA)

    Banknotes Buying Selling
    US Dollar 309.742 316.924
    Can.Dollar 209.431 214.287
    Australian Dlr 200.483 205.132
    Pound Sterling 497.131 508.657
    Irish Punt 408.053 417.514
    Pound Cyprus 556.869 569.780
    Pound Malta 728.599 758.957
    Turkish pound (100) 0.068 0.071
    French franc 48.992 50.128
    Swiss franc 201.763 206.441
    Belgian franc 7.967 8.151
    German Mark 164.313 168.123
    Finnish Mark 54.050 55.303
    Dutch Guilder 145.831 149.212
    Danish Kr. 43.233 44.236
    Swedish Kr. 35.962 36.796
    Norwegian Kr. 39.005 39.910
    Austrian Sh. 23.355 23.896
    Italian lira (100) 16.597 16.982
    Yen (100) 255.549 261.474
    Spanish Peseta 1.931 1.976
    Port. Escudo 1.603 1.640
    Foreign Exchange Buying Selling New York 311.438 318.659 Montreal 211.098 215.992 Sydney 202.909 207.613 London 501.258 512.879 Dublin 408.104 417.566 Nicosia 557.504 570.430 Paris 48.998 50.134 Zurich 202.284 206.974 Brussels 7.968 8.152 Frankfurt 164.334 168.144 Helsinki 54.057 55.310 Amsterdam 145.849 149.230 Copenhagen 43.273 44.276 Stockholm 36.049 36.885 Oslo 39.043 39.948 Vienna 23.358 23.899 Milan 16.599 16.984 Tokyo 255.549 261.474 Madrid 1.931 1.976 Lisbon 1.603 1.640
    Athens News Agency

    [10] Advertising in the Daily Bulletin

    Athens, 5/61999 (ANA)

    The ANA will from now on welcome professional half-page or full-page advertisements in its daily English and French Bulletin.

    Advertisements will be accepted from embassies, banks, commercial and maritime companies, chambers of commerce, advertising companies, airlines, organisations, professional associations, educational and research institutions in Greece and abroad as well as international bodies.

    Also, for a small fee, the above groups may channel their Press Releases (PRs), announcements or photographs - in Greek, English or French - to the ANA's more than 100 media subscribers throughout Greece and Cyprus via the recently introduced ANA on-line

    PR's service.

    For details on and arrangements for the advertising and/or PRs on-line service, please contact the ANA Marketing Department, tel: 6400580, fax: 6400024 between 10:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

    Athens News Agency

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