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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-06-11

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: Security Council resolution on Kosovo binding for all
  • [02] Karamanlis calls on voters to treat Euro-elections as referendum on gov't
  • [03] British defence secretary on Athens' role Kosovo crisis
  • [04] Athens requests sector of responsibility in Kosovo
  • [05] Greece hails G8 initiative regarding Cyprus problem
  • [06] Athens: `Deeds, not words` by Ankara needed to promote peace, cooperation
  • [07] US marine disembark at Litohoro en route to FYROM
  • [08] Economice News
  • [09] Athens foreign exchange

  • [01] Simitis: Security Council resolution on Kosovo binding for all

    Athens, 116/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis last night hailed a UN Security Council resolution for the deployment of a multinational force in Kosovo.

    "The resolution is binding for all: NATO, the Serbs, and third parties. It constitutes the legal framework for the implementation of procedures leading to peace. These procedures must be implemented by all, without exception. The UN members have an obligation for this," Mr. Simitis said in a statement.

    "Peace is a reality. The bombings have stopped. The refugees will be able to return to their homesIDifficulties will arise, of course. But the basic precondition for implementing peace has been set in motion.

    "I feel particular satisfaction over this development. It justifies Greece's position until this day. It justifies our view to insist on political negotiations, diplomatic initiatives, in constant communication with all the parties involved," he said, adding:

    "The government, in the maelstrom of war, effectively protected the country's interests. We have kept the country far from military involvment. Greece remained a reliable interlocutor with the Serbs, NATO and all interested parties. Our country remained in this region an oasis of peace, security, stability. Thanks to our policy, Greece played a role; has a role and has prospects.

    "Now, with the end of the war, we will become protagonists in the reconstruction effort, in healing the wounds, in solidarity with the victims and to those forces that desire friendship."

    Finally, Mr. Simitis noted that "Iconfrontations will be forever overcome only if economic, political and cultural underdevelopment is overcome P if the Balkans are included in the European framework."

    Papandreou: Earlier, FM George Papandreou welcomed the signing of a military agreement by NATO and Yugoslavia, saying it opened the way for peace.

    "Our thoughts turn today to the innocent victims of the crisis, both on the side of the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo and the Serbs," Mr. Papandreou told reporters at Athens airport shortly before departing for Cologne, stressing that the end of the war did not mean an end to all the problems which have been created.

    Mr. Papandreou said Greece was now called upon to shoulder a large burden of responsibility for "the day after" within the framework of efforts for the reconstruction of the Balkans, the reconciliation of peoples of the region and the strengthening of regional cooperation. He added that the signing in Cologne yesterday of the Stability Pact for SE Europe was aimed precisely at preventing future crises.

    Mr. Papandreou said it was absolutely necessary for the Serb people "who paid a heavy price for the war" to become reconciled with Europe, noting that they should under no circumstances be "isolated".

    "For this reason, Belgrade's course towards the European Union should be without conditions and prerequisites," Mr. Papandreou said, while acknowledging that a process of democratisation should be pursued in Yugoslavia.

    Mr. Papandreou said the tackling of humanitarian problems which have arisen from the crisis was a top priority.

    Replying to questions, Mr. Papandreou said it had not yet been decided whether, following the signing of the Stability Pact, some organisation or agency would be set up to coordinate Balkan reconstruction efforts.

    Whatever the outcome, he added, Greece has requested for the headquarters of any such organisation to be based in Thessaloniki and the initial response has been positive from both Germany and Finland which assumes the rotating EU presidency on July 1.

    Gov't spokesman: Acting government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis said Greece would continue to work for peace in the region, continuing its internationally recognised contribution to bringing an end to hostilities in Yugoslavia.

    "We are ostensibly nearing an end to the war, as the bombing stopped last (Wednesday) night," Mr. Athanasakis said.

    "The Greek government welcomes the developments in Yugoslavia."

    He said the international community had acknowledged Greece's positive contribution to the developments.

    "We will continue to work for regional peace and the return of the refugees to their homes," he said.

    Greek troops destined to join the multinational peacekeeping force for Kosovo were ready to join as soon as conditions permitted, he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Karamanlis calls on voters to treat Euro-elections as referendum on gov't

    Athens, 11/6/1999 (ANA)

    Concluding his campaign for Sunday's Euroelection with a large rally in Athens yesterday, main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis stressed that citizens faced the dilemma of "whether to approve or condemn government policy."

    "This is a clear and honest dilemma which our party poses. By contrast, (prime minister) Mr. Simitis does not dare ask the people to say 'yes' to his policies, but opts instead for danger-mongering, blackmail and murky positions," he said.

    He punctuated his speech with the "new start" slogan that has characterised ND's campaign, and rejected ruling PASOK's oft-stated position that stability was at stake in this election.

    "We are not returning to the past to uncover old divisions, but are forging ahead to the future with a new unity. PASOK's supposed stability is insecurity, a general deterioration and marginalisation. Today's real Greece is that of the unemployed, crim e, the collapse of health services, education without a strategy, overwhelming taxes and national concessions," he stressed.

    He also accused the prime minister of being "cut-off" from the problems of citizens, and of "living in a world of fantasies".

    "Mr. Simitis did not impose austerity on the state and his selected few, but he did so harshly on citizens. The living standards of entire groups in the population are being crushed," he charged.

    Mr. Karamanlis said ND supported the goal of the country joining Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), and when this happens "we shall owe it to the sacrifices of the citizens, the EMU battle will have been won by the people". Speaking for the first time from a written text, Mr. Karamanlis listed 10 priorities for his party when it comes to power, including reforming the state, dynamic development, slashing waste in the public sector, tax reductions, dealing with crime, strat egies for national issues and education, support to farmers and a focus on citizens' everyday problems.

    Simitis on Euro-elections' importance for country: PM Costas Simitis said that Sunday's Euro-elections are crucial for Greece's position in the EU and citizens are being called on to back the PASOK government in its task until next year's national elections, when its work will be judged.

    "The question that should concern every citizen is in what direction the country will head: To continue this journey, which has produced specific benefits, both economically and socially, or to go to a process of revision which will jeopardise the achie vements of the last few years," he said before some 100 provincial TV stations.

    He defended his government's policy in the Kosovo crisis, saying it took into account Greece's special position and interests without breaking links with its allies and while also maintaining friendly ties with Balkan countries.

    Finally, Mr. Simitis said PASOK since 1981 had fought and succeeded in securing large supports for farmers from the Union, which now accounted for 40 per cent of their income.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] British defence secretary on Athens' role Kosovo crisis

    LONDON, 11/6/1999 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)

    British Defence Secretary George Robertson yesterday lauded the role of Greece's political leadership during NATO's operations against Yugoslavia, "despite the fact that (Greek) public opinion appeared opposed to the war", as he noted.

    "Greece is in the European Union and NATO. It played this role during the war in Yugoslavia. I wish to praise the political leadership of Greece which, despite the fact that public opinion appeared to be against the war, kept a steadfast position becaus e it believed in the ideals of overall security. It gave great assistance and facilities to troops to pass from Thessaloniki to Skopje," he said.

    Mr. Robertson made the statement at a press conference yesterday and in reply to a question over Greece's role during the war as well as the upcoming phase.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Athens requests sector of responsibility in Kosovo

    BRUSSELS, 11/6/1999 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)

    Greece's participation in an international peace force for Kosovo is estimated to number between 1,200-1,500 troops, comprising two motorised infantry battalions, apart from medical and support units.

    NATO officials said Athens' request to assume a sector of responsibility is being viewed favourably by the Alliance.

    The first peace force units to arrive in Kosovo will be those of British general Mike Jackson, who will set up his headquarters in Pristina.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Greece hails G8 initiative regarding Cyprus problem

    COLOGNE, 11/6/1999 (ANA - P. Stangos)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou hailed the initiative undertaken on the Cyprus issue by the G8's foreign ministers, included in the "conclusions" of their two-day sessions, which ended here yesterday.

    The Greek side had been "expecting it for several weeks", Mr. Papandreou said.

    The G8 foreign ministers P representing he world's seven most industrialised nations and Russia Precommended that the United Nations call the Greek and Turkish Cypriots comprehensive talks without any preconditions.

    Replying to a question, Mr. Papandreou said the invitation to unconditional talks does not create any problem and referred to explicit reference made in a relevant paragraph that the finding of an overall solution is based on the resolutions of the UN's

    Security Council.

    Regarding an appeal made by the G8 to all parties involved in the Cyprus issue, including Greece and Turkey, to abstain from moves capable of creating tension on the island, Mr. Papandreou referred indirectly to Greek- Turkish relations.

    "This is of particular importance. If we want to shape a climate which without threats, without conflicting logics a prospect can open for a solution to the Cyprus issue," he said.

    Earlier, Mr. Papandreou appeared positive towards cooperation between Greece and Turkey in handling the Kosovo crisis, during statements he made to Greek reporters.

    "We had a good cooperation with the neighbouring country... and this was also proved in a moment of crisis, a moment of crisis when many spoke of a possible war between Greece and Turkey," he said, speaking of a "ray of light."

    Conversely, the Turkish foreign minister made "tough" statements to a limited number of Turkish and foreign reporters, blaming Greece of a "hostile policy" towards Turkey because it prevented the upgrading of its relations with the European Union, and b ecause it "supported terrorism" and is "exercising a policy of provocations in the Aegean and Cyprus."

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Athens: `Deeds, not words` by Ankara needed to promote peace, cooperation

    Athens, 11/6/1999 (ANA)

    The government announced yesterday that it expects "deeds, not words" from Ankara, something to show it was committed to regional peace and cooperation.

    "We don't expect statements from the new Turkish government but deeds that will symbolise a turn to the principles of peace and cooperation in the region," acting government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis told reporters.

    He was responding to press questions about comments from the new Turkish defence minister in regard to Greece breaking off alleged ties with the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) and the alleged "training" of PKK rebels.

    Turkish officials, regardless of party affiliation, have over the past few years accused both the Greek government and private citizens at various times of aiding the PKK with military means and training, charges which Athens has repeatedly and strenuou sly denied as a propaganda campaign by Turkey's ruling military-political establishment. Athens has also demanded tangible proof by Ankara to verify the latter's claims.

    Mr. Athanasakis noted that the Lavrio refugee camp in extreme southeast Attica prefecture P the most prolific 'target' of Turkish officials' past claims P mentioned by the Turkish minister was operated by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, while he stressed that reference to supposed "training camps" in Greece indicated that Turkish officials were insisting on proceeding in a direction that was "not helpful".

    Athens News Agency

    [07] US marine disembark at Litohoro en route to FYROM

    Athens, 11/6/1999 (ANA)

    A convoy of some 1,200-1,500 US marines destined for a peacekeeping force in Kosovo set out yesterday morning from the Gritsa port in Litohoro, south of Thessaloniki, under heavy police guard and en route to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYRO M).

    The troops will join the NATO peacekeeping force and from there eventually head to Kosovo.

    The US marines had been in waiting nearly a week on two warships and a helicopter carrier in the Aegean for the Greek government's permission to land at Litohoro and from there to FYROM.

    Athens had issued a 10-day prohibition on the passage of foreign troops through Greek territory in the run-up to Sunday's Euroelections.

    The government said on Monday, however, that the conditions were completely different than when the prohibition was enforced since the peacekeeping process had now been set in motion, adding that Greece would facilitate the situation so that there would be no security vacuum after the withdrawal of the Serbian forces from Kosovo.

    Disembarkation of the marines at Litohoro by amphibious vessels began at 6:30 a.m., while hovercraft and small ferries were transporting light armour and hummer-type jeeps. Another 500 troops will remain on the ships in a support capacity.

    A large number of coaches and trailer trucks were waiting at the tiny port to transport the troops and equipment. The convoy of trailer trucks and coaches set out around 10 am from Gritsa heading for the Greek-FYROM border.

    No protests were reported during the landing or along the national highway as the convoy headed for the FYROM border. A Litohoro municipal council decision had said that local residents would attempt to avert the passage of the military vehicles and tro ops if it took place before a Yugoslav peace accord was signed.

    About 300 Communist Party of Greece (KKE) supporters who had gathered at dawn near the Gritsa coast were kept back for security reasons by 15 squads of police officers, and lined up along the convoy's route shouting anti- NATO slogans.

    The KKE's local organisation in Thessaloniki has called a rally for this evening in central Thessaloniki to protest the transport of military forces to FYROM via Greece despite the signing on Wednesday night of a Kosovo peace deal.

    Meanwhile, a convoy of 45 Canadian army vehicles, comprising small trucks and jeeps, left Thessaloniki port at 4:30 a.m. heading for FYROM under a strong Greek army and police escort.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Economice News

    Athens, 11/6/1999 (ANA)

    Papantoniou: Damage to Greek economy from Balkan 'troubles' at 100 billion dr.: National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday that the signing of the Kosovo peace agreement meant that damage incurred by the Greek economy would be contained at approximately 100 billion drachmas or 0.2 per cent of GDP.

    During a television interview on a private station, Mr. Papantoniou said the Greek government would seek compensation from the European Union for the losses sustained.

    The government and the central bank had initially estimated that the cost of the war for Greece would be between 0.2 and 0.5 per cent of GDP in 1999, depending on how long the Kosovo crisis continued.

    Greece's projected GDP growth for the current year is 3.5 per cent.

    Sunday's Euro-elections generate sluggish bourse performance: Equity prices ended moderately lower yesterday, reflecting cautiousness among investors on the political impact of Sunday's Euro-election results.

    The general index ended 0.40 percent lower at 4,043.80 points, off the day's lows of 4,014 points. Traders said early profit-taking reversed a spectacular 1.35 percent advance of prices led by strong demand for bank blue chips.

    Turnover was 157.494 billion drachmas with 23,482,330 shares changing hands.

    The Banks, Insurance and Construction sectors outperformed the market to end 0.31, 0.23 and 0.75 percent higher, respectively. Other sector indices ended as follows: Leasing (-1.13 pct), Investment (-0.73 pct), Industrials (-1.54 pct), Miscellaneous (-0 .60 pct) and Holding (-0.13 pct).

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 2.71 percent lower while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for heavy traded stocks and blue chips eased 0.08 percent to 2,430.10 points.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 229 to 63 with another nine issues unchanged. Ergo Invest and Ergobank were the most heavily traded stocks. A total of eight issues ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit up while another six ended at the day's limit do wn.

    Olympic Catering's share price fell 13.5 pct. National Bank of Greece ended at 22,040 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 21,300, Ergobank at 32,040, Ionian Bank at 16,665, Titan Cement at 28,920, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,830, Intracom at 20,630, Panafon at 8 ,030 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,295.

    Viohalco results: The Viohalco group reported consolidated turnover of 264.9 billion drachmas in 1998 with net consolidated profits at 17.45 billion.

    A general shareholders meeting yesterday approved a one-for-one share offer, following a share capital increase plan, and dividend payment of 66 drachmas per share to shareholders.

    Viohalco Holdings include listed metallurgical companies Sidenor, Halcor, Elval, Etem and Greek Cables.

    The company implemented a five-year investment programme worth 80 billion drachmas for the period 1996-2000 to boost its international competitiveness.

    Viohalco exports account for more than 5 percent of Greek total exports.

    Mutual funds' assets increase: Total assets of mutual funds increased by 0.56 per cent between June 8-9 and reached 10.011 trillion drachmas.

    The biggest percentage increase was shown by the assets of the domestic available funds management (0.85 per cent) followed by domestic bonds with an increase of 0.26 per cent, domestic shares (0.20 per cent) and domestic joint funds (0.07 per cent).

    Assets of share mutual funds have achieved an increase exceeding 195 per cent since the beginning of the year. This is due to the high yields they offered during 1998 (in certain cases they exceeded 100 per cent), as well as to the high yields they are continuing to show during the current year.

    Turnover by brokerage firms totals 29.4 trillion between Jan-May: Turnover by brokerage houses totalled 29.4 trillion drachmas over the first five months of the year.

    According to the volume of transactions, the top five brokerage firms (including transactions concerning share "packages") are as follows: Alpha (6.57 per cent), Sigma (6.55 per cent), Telesis (4.31 per cent), Ethniki (4.18 per cent) and Elliniki (4.1 p er cent).

    Without the share "packages", the top five firms in terms of turnover are: Sigma (5 per cent), Alpha (4.79 per cent), Elliniki (4.4 per cent), Telesis (4 per cent) and Devletoglou (3.98 per cent).

    Total turnover by brokerage firms in May totalled 7.6 trillion drachmas.

    EPB to increase share capital, seek listing on Athens Stock Exchange: The European Popular Bank (EPB) has decided to increase its share capital five- fold, from 5.5 billion Greek drachmas to 25 billion.

    The Bank, a subsidiary of the Cyprus Popular Bank Group, also decided to seek a listing on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE).

    Both moves were announced at a press conference in Athens yesterday, by the Executive Chairman of the Popular Bank Group and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the EPB, Kikis Lazarides.

    "We are in contact with management at the ASE and are trying to secure the appropriate information on how to seek a listing and I believe this will be easy and quick," Mr. Lazarides said.

    Asked if the listing on the ASE signals a turning point away from the Cypriot market towards Greece, Mr. Lazarides said "we are not giving up Cyprus under any circumstances."

    Cyprus, he explained, "is our base and we shall continue to expand and make every possible effort to be in the forefront."

    Mr. Lazarides said that by the end of this year there will be 17 offices of the EPB operating in Greece, four more offices than in 1998.

    "We hope to have between 40 and 50 offices in the next three years," he said.

    He said the Group will try to achieve a strong and profitable presence in Greece, in the UK and strengthen its presence in Australia, the US and elsewhere.

    "The rate of growth of the EPB in the past six years was particularly fast, " he told the press.

    ECB's Issing calls for stricter fiscal policy to achieve inflation target: The director of the European Central Bank's economic studies, Otmar Issing, yesterday called for a stricter fiscal policy and an acceleration in structural changes to enable the target for inflation to be achieved.

    Addressing an event organised by the Bank of Greece in cooperation with the Athens University, the ECB official appeared reserved over the course of inflation, saying the appearance of incremental pressures is very possible.

    Despite the fact that the harmonised consumer price indicator has reached 2.6 per cent in April, the appearance of inflationary pressures can possibly create problems in the achievement of the target of inflation. This fact underlines the value of the e ffort being made by the Bank of Greece to decrease the harmonised consumer price indicator to a level below 2 per cent by the end of the year.

    According to Mr. Issing, looming developments on the front of inflation render imperative the promotion of structural changes, primarily in the labour market.

    Bogus bonds scam uncovered: Authorities yesterday arrested two men on charges of flooding the market with fake Swedish state bonds worth 362.9 million drachmas.

    Members of the financial crimes squad acted on information they received last month, according to which fake bonds were being sold to unsuspecting Greek investors as possible collateral in order to obtain bank loans.

    A first batch of 45 such bonds were identified as bogus by Sweden's state forensic laboratory on June 5, and since then the total number of confiscated bonds rose to 981, each bearing a nominal value of 10,000 kronas each.

    Police arrested Vassilis Mavridis, a Thessaloniki resident who runs a financial services office in the city, and Apostolos Skorditis, a retired army major, believed to have supplied the fake paper to the former.

    An investigation is continuing.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Athens foreign exchange

    Athens, 11/6/1999 (ANA0
    Banknotes Buying Selling
    US Dollar 307.163 314.285
    Can.Dollar 208.538 213.373
    Australian Dlr 203.097 207.806
    Pound Sterling 492.687 504.110
    Irish Punt 408.053 417.514
    Pound Cyprus 555.897 568.786
    Pound Malta 722.532 752.637
    Turkish pound (100) 0.067 0.070
    French franc 48.992 50.128
    Swiss franc 201.515 206.187
    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. 43.255 44.258
    Swedish Kr. 36.049 36.885
    Norwegian Kr. 39.134 40.042
    Austrian Sh. 23.355 23.896
    Italian lira (100) 16.597 16.982
    Yen (100) 257.652 263.626
    Spanish Peseta 1.931 1.976
    Port. Escudo 1.603 1.640
    
    Foreign Exchange Buying Selling
    New York 307.163 314.285
    Montreal 208.538 213.373
    Sydney 203.097 207.806
    London 492.687 504.110
    Dublin 408.053 417.514
    Nicosia 555.897 568.786
    Paris 48.992 50.128
    Zurich 201.515 206.187
    Brussels 7.967 8.151
    Frankfurt 164.313 168.123
    Helsinki 54.050 55.303
    Amsterdam 145.831 149.212
    Copenhagen 43.255 44.258
    Stockholm 36.049 36.885
    Oslo 39.134 40.042
    Vienna 23.355 23.896
    Milan 16.597 16.982
    Tokyo 257.652 263.626
    Madrid 1.931 1.976
    Lisbon 1.603 1.640
    
    Athens News Agency

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