|Monday, 18 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-06-12
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Simitis tells Athens rally Euroelections a clear political confrontationSunday's election for the European Parliament is a most crucial poll, a clear political confrontation, Prime Minister Costas Simitis emphasised in his concluding pre-election rally in Athens on Friday night.
"On one side is neo-liberalism and its party, (main opposition) New Democracy, which fights the welfare state and the conquests of the working people, and on the other, is the government's policy which promotes the welfare state and defends the rights o f working Greeks," he said.
The prime minister tried to bridge differences with the parties of the left- wing opposition.
"In the past, we have fought alongside with many of those who adopt a critical attitude towards PASOK and the government today. We fought for common goals and have common pursuits. We need all Greeks in our endeavour, " he said. But he was strongly critical of the leaderships of opposition parties. "We have heard only cries, condemnation and promises, they distributed dud cheques throughout Greece. But what the country needs today is a steady rudder and responsible positions," he said.
He cautioned that the country's progress towards joining European Economic and Monetary Union would be seriously jeopardised if the government's policy was not endorsed by the electorate on Sunday. "For the goal of joining United Europe to be attained, not one month, not one day must be lost," he em phasised.
Dismissing promises of tax reductions by ND leader Costas Karamanlis, who spoke in the same venue 24 hours earlier, Mr. Simitis said the taxes which he would abolish were those on big capital, on the profits of banks and big business, on large real esta te and on large groups of tax evaders.
"In constrast to that policy, the government has cut indirect taxes in 1999. Tax reform will be a reality this year and will include raising the lowest tax-free bracket, particularly for working people," he announced.
Mr. Simitis forecast further falls in interest rates in coming months, producing further savings of 150 billion drachmas from debt servicing which will be devoted to boost social policy.
He dismissed the main opposition charges of lax internal public security and immigration policies, countering that it was ND when in power that had opened the borders to illegal immigrants from Albania thinking it would win the favour of former Albania n President Sali Berisha.
The prime minister gave prominence in his speech to the end of the war in Yugoslavia, stressing Gre-ece's contribution to the peace agreement.
"The fruits of our policy will become clearer in the process of peace and reconstruction... (But) this will be a difficult peace and stabilisation of the area will require a long time," he added. Athens News Agency
 Papandreou in Belgrade underlines need for total compliance by all partiesBELGRADE (ANA - M.Mouratidis) - Foreign Minister George Papandreou held talks yesterday with Yugoslavia's political leadership in the first ever visit by a foreign minister in Belgrade since the end of the bombings on Thursday.
Mr. Papandreou told journalists following his meeting with President Slobodan Milosevic that he underlined to his interlocutors the need for total compliance by all parties to the peace proposals because the deployment of the interantional security forc e would provide peace and stability to all, Serbs and Albanians living in Kosovo.
Mr. Papandreou, who was the last foreign minister of a NATO and European Union country to visit Yugoslavia on March 11, before NATO began its bombing campaign, stressed the necessity for Yugoslavia to enter the European family, adding that if it (Yugosl avia) moved in the right direction and met certain criteria such as democratic changes and reforms, it would be supported by all European countries as its place is in Europe.
He also referred to the need for solving humanitarian problems, which will be worsened in winter, underlining that humanitarian aid should be independent from the political process, as should the economic reconstruction be.
Mr. Papandreou said that he spoke to Mr. Milosevic about the two Australian nationals convicted of espionage, underlining that the issue of their release rests with the latter.
Speaking of Russian troops in Kosovo, Mr. Papandreou said that even when there are differences, there should be cooperation between the US, Europe and Russia toward a solution.
Mr. Milosevic's office said in a statement that during the talks they both agreed that the handling of all outstanding problems in Kosovo by the United Nations was the only correct way to overcome the war crisis in the region.
Mr. Milosevic said that "Yugoslavia for the past ten years opposes and defends itself against efforts to destabilise the Balkans, and will continue to do so, since all Balkan peoples and countries should decide their fate by themselves".
He added that Yugoslavia's primary aim was to resolve all humanitarian problems caused by the bombings, with priority given to those most in need.
On his part, Mr. Papandreou said that Greece will participate in the international presence in Kosovo contributing in earnest and with impartiality to the obligations it has undertaken.
Referring to his talks with Serb opposition leader Vuk Draskovic, Mr. Papandreou said that he was a protagonist in reform efforts.
The Greek foreign minister arrived in Belgrade at noon yesterday and immediately began talks with his Yugoslav counterpart Zivadin Jovanovic.
Papandreou also held talks with Serb President Milan Milutinovic.
Mr. Papandreou visited areas of Belgrade destroyed by NATO bombing and last night, before returning to Athens, he stopped off in Skopje where he was due to meet with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who was on an official visit to the Former Yug oslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Speaking after his talks with Mr. Jovanovic, Mr. Papandreou said Greece and most European Union countries wanted to see Yugoslavia become a part of the "European family."
Mr. Papandreou called for an even-handed approach in helping the victims of the conflict, saying humanitarian aid was needed for both victims of ethnic conflicts and NATO bombing, and appealed to all sides to put an end to violence.
"What is pending is not only the return of the refugees but the safety of the Serbs who live in Kosovo," he said.
He told his Yugoslav counterpart that the EU was preparing humanitarian aid programmes and briefed him on the joint Swiss-Greek-Russian humanitarian programme Focus.
Greece and most European countries want to see Yugoslavia a member of the European family, he told Mr. Jovanovic, briefing him on the stability pact for southeast Europe signed in Cologne earlier in the week.
But this depended not only on the international community but on Yugoslavia itself and on the extent to which it desired to join European organisations, he said.
Greece is ready to help Yugoslavia in its attempts to become part of the European family, he added.
Mr. Papandreou said that the telephone contacts he had had with Mr. Jovanovic throughout the crisis had contributed a great deal to the Ahtisaari-Chernomyrdin mediation efforts.
Mr. Jovanovic said that Greek-Yugoslav relations were playing a significant role for peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and thanked Greece for its contribution to bringing about a resolution of the crisis.
"This is an important agreement for Kosovo because it is under the auspices of the UN and ensures the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Yugoslavia," he said.
He said the success of the implementation of the agreement would be dependent on whether all international standards for human rights were respected and that the diverse ethnic, religious and cultural nature of Kosovo be maintained. Underlining the ne ed for Yugoslavia to be included in the stability pact, he said that Yugoslavia must be allowed to participate on an equal basis in regional, European and international cooperation.
Time should not be lost in rebuilding and restoring the country in the wake of the bombings, he said. The reconstruction and repair of bridges, roads and infrastructure was also to the benefit of other countries in the region.
In Athens, government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis said Mr. Papandreou would also meet with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.
"All this activity shows that Greece is an important part of the peace process," Mr. Athanasakis added.
Asked when the Greek contingent of the Kosovo peace force would depart for the Serb province, Mr. Athanasakis replied "in the next day or two".
He added that the implementation of the peace agreement was proceeding according to plan. Athens News Agency
 Tsohatzopoulos says Greek contingent will leave for Kosovo within daysThe Greek contingent of the peace force is to leave for Kosovo in the next few days and is likely to be deployed in the southeastern part of the province, between US and German forces, Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos announced yesterday.
He made the announcement after visiting the 501 motorised infantry battalion in Giannitsa, northern Greece, which will be the first part of the Greek brigade to go to Kosovo.
501 is made up of 450 volunteer commissioned officers and professional soldiers and 50 reservists.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said Greece will be represented in the command of the area, but the terms will be decided when there is a clear picture of the stucture of deployment. Addressing the soldiers, the defence minister said Greece felt vindicated af ter the peace agreement for Kosovo, having insisted from the start that it would only participate in a multinational peace force after an agreement of all sides involved and a relevant UN Resolution.
"Now that the war is over," he added, "the success of peace requires the greatest possible support from all sides.
He explained that the aim of the peace agreement is the restoration of respect for human rights, the unimpeded return of refugees to their homes, guaranteeing the national independence and borders of Yugoslavia, and the autonomy of Kosovo with a paralle l disarmament of the Kosovo Liberation Army.
Batallion 501 includes M113 armored personnel carriers, and VPL battle support vehicles. Many of its members have served in the Greek contingents of the peace forces in Bosnia and Albania. It will be followed by an engineering and a medical corps battalion. Athens News Agency
 Kranidiotis talks peace with EU's envoy for the Middle EastAlternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis held talks yesterday with the European Union's envoy for the Middle East Miguel Angel Moratinos on the Middle East peace process.
Among the issues discussed was the forthcoming fourth meeting of Israelis and Palestinians which will be held in Athens from July 7-11.
Speaking to reporters after his meeting with Mr. Kranidiotis, Mr. Moratinos said "we can say that the Athens dialogue has been the safety net in the difficult times. It has been the safety net to maintain the peace process and dialogue when the situatio n was extremely difficult."
Mr. Moratinos underlined the active role played by Greece in the EU.
"...I think Greece has been playing an active role in order that the European Union becomes increasingly involved in the peace process. Greece has demonstrated it with action, with proposals, Greece has been one of the avant guard countries in the sense that it was important to get to the heart of Europe the feeling of what is going on in the Middle East," Mr. Moratinos said.
"One of the main proof of that is the new proposal of the Greek government, supported by Spain and Italy, of this common strategy of the Mediterranean and Middle East. The main idea is to overcome this discussion of what affects or interacts the Middle East peace process and the Euro-Mediterranean partnership. And I think the new common strategy of the European Union will facilitate a political role of the Union in the Middle East," he added.
"We have a one year target period in front of us, and we have to use this one year in order to try to achieve a final peace on the Middle East. So, I have also to recognise the importance of this Athens Dialogue - we are going to be present here in Athe ns.
"It is the fourth meeting, that means, that there has been a permanent forum for Palestinians and Israelis. And, what is more important, it has created a partnership between Palestinians and Israelis, even in a very difficult time," Mr. Moratinos said.
On his part, Mr. Kranidiotis praised Mr. Moratinos' role and contribution in promoting the effort for peace and pointed out that the EU, after the formation of a new government in Israel, should undertake an initiative and play an active role in resolv ing the region's problems.
The Greek minister said Greece, Spain and Italy have submitted a proposal to their EU partners for a common strategy for the Mediterranean, which "it is hoped to be ratified in Helsinki in December".
Mr. Kranidiotis termed the talks "useful" and said "we discussed the new phase in which the issue of peace in the Middle East is finding itself following elections in Israel."
"I believe indeed that this development can lead to positive results and promote the peace process, which is at a crucial turning point, with speedier rates. Margins have been exhausted and, consequently, we must deal immediately with the serious issues concerning the finalised status and the problem of Jerusalem, as well as to try to provide an impetus for the other processes as well, namely to the problem of Lebanon and Syria, which is equally serious with that of the crisis in the Middle East itself. .. unless this aspect is not resolved as well, we will not have real peace in the region," he said.
"We are waiting for the new government of Israel to be formed. It is our view that immediately afterwards the EU should undertake an initiative and play an active role. We are discussing certain ideas which Mr. Moratinos has submitted to us," he added.
A decision is expected to be taken at the Athens meeting on the formation of five committees - an inter-parliamentary committee, a comittee for resolving problems arising in everyday life, an economic committee, an education and culture committee and a political committee.
The Athens meeting and others are taking place within the framework of so- called "people-to-people" contacts which are aimed at creating a climate of confidence between the Israeli and Palestinian assemblies which will help the two governments find an o verall, lasting and viable solution to the Middle East problem.
Athens News Agency
 Greece cautions Turkish foreign minister to be 'more careful'Greece yesterday cautioned Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem to be "more careful" following recent provocative statements alleging ties between Athens and the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK).
Mr. Cem sent a letter to his Greek counterpart George Papandreou a few weeks ago asking Athens to cooperate against the PKK and in statements earlier this week said Greece should break off alleged ties with the separatist guerrilla organisation.
He also reiterated Turkish allegations that Greece had been training PKK rebels, which Athens has consistently and strongly denied.
Advising Mr. Cem to be "more careful", government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis said Mr. Papandreou would reply to Mr. Cem's letter in the next few days.
The spokesman called on Turkey's new government to "work effectively and contribute by its actions to stability in the region". Athens News Agency
 Checks on Belgian products to continueChecks and confiscations of Belgian products all over the country have been almost completed. Small quantitites imported during the days of the crisis might still exist in the Attica area and for this reason checks will continue.
Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis provided information on confiscations carried out to date. The Veterinary Service has confiscated 200 tonnes of beef, 358 tonnes of pork, 687 tonnes of poultry, 166 tonnes of meat products, 987 tonnes of milk and d erivatives, 12 tonnes of eggs and 203 tonnes of egg products.
According to a decision taken on Thursday, all fresh products (primarily meat) will be destroyed, while the confiscation of products which can be preserved (such as frozen food) will continue.
A decision by the European Union continues to hold concerning the avoidance of the marketing and consumption of Belgian foodstuffs for animals, meat, milk, eggs and their derivatives which have been produced between the period of January 15 and June 1 t his year.
Mr, Anomeritis once again confirmed that all Greek products concerning animal produce are absolutely safe as has been proved by checks.
Athens News Agency
 Greece sends rare coral stone to Australia as gesture to Olympics 2000Greece has sent a rare 1.5 tonne fossilised coral stone extracted by special permission from an ancient quarry outside Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games, to adorn the new Stadium Australia in Sydney, the venue of the 2000 Games.
Fossilised coral stone, a kind of limestone formed in the sea one to five million years ago from non-organic shells of sea organisms fossilised over the centuries, was the building material used in the temples and public edifices of Ancient Olympia 3,00 0 years ago.
The stone, concyliatis lithos, was extracted from the ancient quarry at Louvros, approximately 10 kilometers east of Olympia. The quarry is not active, and special authorisation was required from the government for its extraction and exportation.
"The stone is part of the protected cultural heritage of Greece, is very rare and a unique gesture to the Australian people -- so many of whom are of Greek origin -- on the occasion of the Games of the new millennium, which immediately precede the Athen s Games," a Stadium Australia Management Limited announcement said.
The Foundation Stone was donated by Greece's culture ministry and the municipality of Olympia, with the support of the Athens 2004 organising committee, to honour the Sydney 2000 Games and the official opening of Stadium Australia, which takes place tod ay.
Olympia Mayor George Aidonis, said in a statement:
"On behalf of the people of Olympia, I send a message of friendship and hope to all Australians and the citizens of Sydney and in particular to Greek-Australians, by offering an ancient stone from the cradle of democracy and Olympism as the foundation s tone for Stadium Australia, the Stadium of the Olympic Games of 2000.
"A piece of soil, symbol of the long journey of the Olympic Idea to your new continent, the last stop of a sojourn around the globe before returning to its native soil in Athens in the year 2004.
"Together, it is certain that we will consolidate a new beginning of the Olympic Games". Athens News Agency
 Greece backs unconditional aid for Yugoslav reconstructionDeputy Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis told BBC Television yesterday that Greece favoured unconditional reconstruction aid for Yugoslavia.
Mr. Christodoulakis was countering a worldwide view that Yugoslavia should receive no aid if its president, Slobodan Milosevic, remained in power.
"This is unjust .. It is not right for the Serb people to suffer just because their leader is not pleasing to the people or to other states," Mr. Christodoulakis told BBC World TV News.
Serbs should be given the chance to rebuild their country, he added.
"We saw in the past, for example, that the Iraqi people had no incentive to drive out Saddam Hussein, as he was keeping them in poverty," he said.
"If countries are given the chance to build their future, then democracy will consolidate and totalitarian regimes will leave more easily."
The Greek government and domestic companies intended to take an active part in the reconstruction of infrastructure in Serbia and Kosovo, which were badly damaged by NATO's bombings, Mr. Christodoulakis said.
The Greek private and public sectors had joined forces to work out a plan for involvement in the reconstruction drive, he added. Evangelos Mytilineos sees early start to reconstruction:
Evangelos Mytilineos told the Association of Greek Bankers of Britain yesterday that he believed reconstruction of the Balkans would begin in the near future.
The Mytilineos Group, which is listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, has invested heavily in the Balkans and Kosovo.
The group is active in mining, metals trading and telecommunications.
He said Greek firms should take an active part in rebuilding the region, preferably working with major European firms with higher capital and more sophisticated know-how. Athens News Agency
 Greece completes issue of global bondThe finance ministry said yesterday that the procedures were complete for the issue of a 775-million-euro convertible bond destined for world markets.
The paper is convertible into 9.0 million shares of listed National Bank of Greece, the country's largest commercial bank.
The issue's advisers are Merrill Lynch International and Warburg Dillon Read.
The bond has a four-year maturity and carries interest of 2.0 percent.
It is the Greek state's first exchangeable bond. Road shows in Europe and the U.S. were held to present the paper to institutional investors.
Athens News Agency
 Stocks nose down in election jittersEquity prices ended the week with losses yesterday reflecting caution ahead of tomorrow's European elections.
The general index ended 0.10 percent lower at 4,039.78 points, sharply off the day's lows.
The market was nervous, pushing the index below the 4,000 level early in the session to rebound above 4,050 points later on.
Turnover was 169.460 billion drachmas with 26,569,945 shares changing hands.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-0.30 pct), Leasing (+0.73 pct), Insurance (-0.62 pct), Investment (-1.05 pct), Construction (+0.81 pct), Industrials (+0.04 pct), Miscellaneous (+0.89 pct), and Holding (+0.83 pct).
The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks jumped 2.91 percent, while the FTSE/ASE 20 index fell 0.25 percent to 2,424.14 points.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 162 to 122 with another 12 issues unchanged.
Altec, Sysware, Thessaliki and National Bank were the most heavily traded stocks.
A total of 15 stocks ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit up.
National Bank of Greece ended at 21,800 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 21, 150, Ergobank at 31,985, Ionian Bank at 16,600, Titan Cement at 28,630, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,850, Intracom at 21,150, Minoan Lines at 5,350, Panafon at 8,100 and Hellenic Telec oms at 7,270. Bond prices drop in light trade:
Bond prices in the secondary market lost 65-70 basis points in slim trade before tomorrow's European elections.
Electronic trade was 45 billion drachmas. The ten-year bond showed a yield of 5.98 percent, taking the spread over German bunds to 162 basis points.
In the foreign currency market, the drachma slid against the euro.
At the central bank's daily fix, the euro was set at 324.140 drachmas from 323.960 drachmas in the previous session. Athens News Agency
 Greece to auction T-bills on TuesdayThe finance ministry will auction three-month Treasury bills on Tuesday, June 15, worth 25 billion drachmas, it said in a statement yesterday.
The auction will be held through the market's primary dealers. The finance ministry will pay a 0.15 percent commission.
Athens bourse staff offered stock in flotation: National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou has approved a plan to offer staff of the Athens Stock Exchange shares in the bourse as part of a flotation of the SA company.
The plan envisages that ASE's employees will be offered a 0.50-0.65 percent stake in the company's total equity at a preferential price of 12,000 drachmas per share. The decision was welcomed by bourse union representatives yesterday. Athens News Agency
 Building materials price index up 0.3 pct in MayThe price index for construction materials used in home building rose by 0.3 percent in May against April, the National Statistics Service said yesterday.
The index posted a 5.5 percent rise year-on-year against May 1998.
The average rise in January-May this year was 6.0 percent against the same five month average a year earlier, NSS said in a statement. Athens News Agency
 UK trade mission to visit Greece in JuneA group of companies from the East Midlands region of the United Kingdom will visit Athens on a general trade mission on June 13-16, the British Embassy said yesterday. Visiting companies include representatives of the education sector and producers of se curity and fire protection equipment, plastics, metal and refractory mould components and machinery, combustion instrumentation, weighing scales and woven fibre furniture. Further details are available from Mrs Paraschi at the embassy, tel. 727 2600.
Athens News Agency
 Greek biscuits safeThe Hellenic Biscuits Company yesterday announced that it has not used raw materials from the companies suspected of selling products containing dioxins.
The press release added that it has high standard quality control systems, which did not indicate any problems during non-scheduled checks and controls. Athens News Agency Athens Foreign Exchance Bank of Greece closing rates of: June 11,1999
 Banknotes Buying SellingUS Dollar 306.647 313.757 Can.Dollar 210.006 214.875 Australian Dlr 203.558 208.278 Pound Sterling 492.330 503.744 Irish Punt 408.280 417.747 Pound Cyprus 556.750 569.659 Pound Malta 721.320 751.375 Turkish pound (100) 0.067 0.070 French franc 49.020 50.156 Swiss franc 201.178 205.842 Belgian franc 7.971 8.156 German Mark 164.404 168.216 Finnish Mark 54.080 55.334 Dutch Guilder 145.911 149.294 Danish Kr. 43.277 44.280 Swedish Kr. 36.133 36.970 Norwegian Kr. 39.228 40.137 Austrian Sh. 23.368 23.909 Italian lira (100) 16.606 16.991 Yen (100) 258.525 264.519 Spanish Peseta 1.932 1.977 Port. Escudo 1.604 1.641
Foreign Exchange Buying Selling New York 306.647 313.757 Montreal 210.006 214.875 Sydney 203.558 208.278 London 492.330 503.744 Dublin 408.280 417.747 Nicosia 556.750 569.659 Paris 49.020 50.156 Zurich 201.178 205.842 Brussels 7.971 8.156 Frankfurt 164.404 168.216 Helsinki 54.080 55.334 Amsterdam 145.911 149.294 Copenhagen 43.277 44.280 Stockholm 36.133 36.970 Oslo 39.228 40.137 Vienna 23.368 23.909 Milan 16.606 16.991 Tokyo 258.525 264.519 Madrid 1.932 1.977 Lisbon 1.604 1.641 Athens News Agency/END