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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-06-24

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] British Airways subsidiary to manage Olympic
  • [02] Stocks slump on bond jitters
  • [03] Ergodata buys stake in ACS
  • [04] Edrasi, Carrefour in hypermarket deal
  • [05] ETVA to see float this year
  • [06] Gov't announces rescue plan for Agricultural Bank
  • [07] Cosmote mobile facility extends to US
  • [08] Athens Foreign Exchange
  • [09] Greece praises agreement for disarming of Albanian rebels
  • [10] Simitis leaves for int'l conferences in Argentina, Brazil
  • [11] Contract for construction of NATO sub-headquarters signed
  • [12] US envoy: Washington doesn't agree with Turkish terrorism claims
  • [13] UN chief says he's ready to invite Cypriot communities to negotiations
  • [14] Tsohatzopoulos: War over Kosovo fought only to legitimise NATO's new role
  • [15] Athens promises to promote EU's ties with BSEC pact
  • [16] Gov't on dioxin-contaminated foodstuffs
  • [17] Briton's arrest for heroin smuggling piques authorities' attention

  • [01] British Airways subsidiary to manage Olympic

    Athens, 24/06/1999 (ANA)

    Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis said yesterday that Speedwing, a subsidiary of British Airways, would manage national carrier Olympic Airways for 30 months in a bid to make the company profitable.

    Mr. Mantelis was addressing parliament, which voted through a legal provision allowing the change to the airline's management status.

    Under the terms of the agreement, British Airways also has an option to bid for up to 20 percent of the national carrier's share capital.

    Furthermore, Speedwing is committed to taking the troubled airline into an international alliance in a move to be approved by the government.

    Under the terms of an agreement in principle, Speedwing has agreed to shape up the airline, which faces chronic financial, operational and labour problems.

    Details of the contract, which has yet to be signed, will be made public, Mr. Mantelis said.

    Management of the airline will fall under domestic legislation and any differences are to be resolved in domestic courts.

    Speedwing will submit monthly progress reports to Olympic's board and two- monthly reports to the transport ministry.Endorsement of the reports will release the manager's monthly payment.

    For the 30-month duration of the contract, Speedwing has been offered a total of 2.7-2.8 billion drachmas.

    In addition, a productivity bonus of 1.5 million US dollars will be paid if financial and commercial targets set by the board are met by the end of 2000.

    Another productivity bonus of 2.5 million US dollars will be given if Olympic shows a profit.

    Under an alternative arrangement, Speedwing may opt for 1.5 percent of Olympic's equity.

    The company is committed to having three of its executives in Greece at any one time, one of whom must be competent to take managerial decisions. No board changes in OA are planned at present.

    The manager will be appointed in one month, and will then have 10 weeks to find out about company finances and operations before starting work.

    The contract ends on December 31, 2001.

    Remaining unchanged are labour and pension rights at the airline. In force is a law regulating recruitment in the public sector, Mr. Mantelis added.

    A deputy of the main opposition New Democracy party, Dimitris Kostopoulos, said that if his party came to power it would review the management concession, which it considers to be "suspect".

    Another deputy, Mitsos Kostopoulos of the Communist Party of Greece, claimed that the government eventually aimed to close down the airline.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Stocks slump on bond jitters

    Athens, 24/06/1999 (ANA)

    Equity prices came under strong pressure yesterday pushing the general index below the 3,900 level for the first time since May 5.

    Traders said sentiment was hit by renewed turbulence in domestic and eurozone bond markets while investors ignored a statement by the Bank of Greece's governor that interest rates would be cut in September.

    The general index ended 1.35 percent lower at 3,897.33 points, off the day's lows. Turnover was 151.936 billion drachmas with 27,248,795 shares changing hands.

    The Leasing sector outperformed the market ending 4.38 percent higher.

    Other sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-1.54 pct), Insurance (-0.69 pct), Investment (-0.43 pct), Construction (-2.36 pct), Industrials (-0.88 pct), Miscellaneous (-1.31 pct) and Holding (-1.75 pct).

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks fell 0.02 percent while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips dropped 1.55 percent to 2,282.61 points.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 212 to 78 with another six issues unchanged.

    ANEK Lines, Thessaliki and Mytilineos were the most heavily traded stocks.

    A total of 26 shares in the small and medium capitalisation sector ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit up.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 20,345 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 19, 995, Ergobank at 30,550, Ionian Bank at 16,160, Titan Cement at 28,000, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,675, Intracom at 19,880, Minoan Lines at 4,915, Panafon at 7,455 and Hellenic Telecoms at 6,980.

    Domestic players sell off bonds : Bond prices in the secondary market dropped in moderate trade, with domestic players dumping paper in the wake of foreign institutional investors who sold off in the previous session. Markets in Europe also were down.

    Electronic trade totalled 91 billion drachmas from 136 billion drachmas a day earlier. Of yesterday's total, 71 billion drachmas accounted for sell orders.

    The ten-year bond was trading lower than the previous session's 101.20 to 110.80, showing a yield of about 6.24 percent.

    The yield spread over German bunds was between 180 and 182 basis points.

    At the central bank's daily fix, the euro slipped against the drachma. It was set at 324.580 drachmas from 324.620 drachmas in the previous session.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Ergodata buys stake in ACS

    Athens, 24/06/1999 (ANA)

    Ergodata, a member of the Ergobank Group, yesterday announced the purchase of a 44 percent stake in ACS International Transport and Facilities SA.

    The deal envisages the purchase of equity and a share capital increase by ACS of 1.5 billion drachmas. Ergodata said in a statement that the deal was part of an expansion strategy to be funded by a 9.3 billion drachma share capital increase approved by the company's shareholders on May 10.

    ACS, one of the biggest courier services companies in Greece, reported a turnover of 9.2 billion drachmas in 1998 and an annual growth rate of 25 percent.

    ACS cooperates with DHL, a multinational courier.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Edrasi, Carrefour in hypermarket deal

    Athens, 24/06/1999 (ANA)

    Listed engineering contractor Edrasi-Psallidas yesterday announced plans to expand into the hypermarket sector through a deal with the French group Carrefour.

    Costas Psallidas, the company's chairman, addressing a general shareholders' meeting, said its subsidiary Edraco Ltd, a project management firm, would work with the French group in the technical organisation and management of shopping malls containing hypermarkets being built in Greece by Carrefour.

    Carrefour is the biggest supermarket chain in Europe and the second biggest in the world with 351 outlets in 21 countries.

    The French company is currently in the process of opening five hypermarkets in Greece, with the aim of building another 15 in the next five years. Edrasi's shareholders approved a dividend per share of 35 drachmas, in addition to a 30 drachma interim dividend already announced. The company's first quarter profits increased by 25 percent compared with the same period last year.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] ETVA to see float this year

    Athens, 24/06/1999 (ANA)

    The Hellenic Industrial Development Bank (ETVA) is seeking to float 10-15 percent of its shares on the Athens Stock Exchange this year and expand into commercial banking, company executives told a shareholders' meeting yesterday.

    Following a three-year revitalisation plan, ETVA became profitable in 1998 for the first time in eight years. Profits totalled 10.5 billion drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Gov't announces rescue plan for Agricultural Bank

    Athens, 24/06/1999 (ANA)

    Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis yesterday unveiled a plan to rescue the Agricultural Bank of Greece under a three-year plan.

    Mr. Anomeritis said that the bank would receive more than 500 billion drachmas in a fresh attempt to revive its ailing finances.

    Investments would total around 20 billion drachmas and 1000 staff would be hired.

    The measures are contained in a legal provision drawn up by the national economy ministry.

    The bank will also create a subsidiary to handle the portfolios of the bank and its subsidiaries.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Cosmote mobile facility extends to US

    Athens, 24/06/1999 (ANA)

    Cosmote, a subsidiary of Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation, said yesterday that it had extended its mobile phone roaming facility to the United States of America.

    Cosmote said in a statement that the facility would be provided through its Omnipoint network. The company's roaming service now covers 55 countries through 87 networks.

    The Union of European Tourism Sector Exhibitions' (ETTFA) general assembly begins today in Halkidiki, hosted by the local Philoxenia federation.

    Britain's EIBTM and World Travel Market, Hungary's Travel, Spain's FITUR, the Czech Republic's Holiday World, Finland's Finnexpo and Russia's MITT and CIS are participating.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens, 24/06/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: June 23, 1999

    Parities in Drachmas

    Banknotes             Buying  Selling
    US Dollar             312.341 319.583
    Can.Dollar            212.129 217.048
    Australian Dlr        204.769 209.516
    Pound Sterling        493.599 505.044
    Irish Punt            408.835 418.314
    Pound Cyprus          558.357 571.303
    Pound Malta           734.712 765.325
    Turkish pound (100)     0.069   0.072
    French franc           49.086  50.224
    Swiss franc           201.455 206.126
    Belgian franc           7.982   8.167
    German Mark           164.627 168.444
    Finnish Mark           54.153  55.409
    Dutch Guilder         146.110 149.497
    Danish Kr.             43.335  44.339
    Swedish Kr.            36.879  37.734
    Norwegian Kr.          39.706  40.626
    Austrian Sh.           23.399  23.942
    Italian lira (100)     16.629  17.014
    Yen (100)             255.321 261.241
    Spanish Peseta          1.935   1.980
    Port. Escudo            1.606   1.643
    Foreign Exchange      Buying  Selling
    New York              312.341 319.583
    Montreal              212.129 217.048
    Sydney                204.769 209.516
    London                493.599 505.044
    Dublin                408.835 418.314
    Nicosia               558.357 571.303
    Paris                  49.086  50.224
    Zurich                201.455 206.126
    Brussels                7.982   8.167
    Frankfurt             164.627 168.444
    Helsinki               54.153  55.409
    Amsterdam             146.110 149.497
    Copenhagen             43.335  44.339
    Stockholm              36.879  37.734
    Oslo                   39.706  40.626
    Vienna                 23.399  23.942
    Milan                  16.629  17.014
    Tokyo                 255.321 261.241
    Madrid                  1.935   1.980
    Lisbon                  1.606   1.643
    Athens News Agency

    [09] Greece praises agreement for disarming of Albanian rebels

    Athens, 24/06/1999 (ANA)

    Greece has welcomed the agreement for the disarming of the so-called "Kosovo Liberation Army" (KLA) rebels with NATO, stressing that similar practices would be appropriate for dealing with other regional problems.

    "Greece is satisfied with the agreement between NATO and KLA for its disarmament, a commitment that must be observed with the same consistency which the Yugoslav side showed by withdrawing its forces from Kosovo. Similar appropriate actions, with the contribution of international organisations, can be used to deal with other regional problems, with a view to finding fair and viable solutions," said Deputy Defence Minister Dimitris Apostolakis, after the end of the two-day Greek-US "High Level Consultative Committee" conference on the island of Limnos.

    Discussions focused on the security situation in the eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans, including the Cyprus problem.

    Mr. Apostolakis, who co-chaired the conference with his US counterpart Franklin D. Kramer, said the imperative priority in the Cyprus issue was for all UN resolutions to be utilised in a specific agreement, in line with the recent call by the G8 group of countries. He urged Turkey not to encourage the intransigence of the Turkish Cypriot side and turn a new page.

    Reiterating Greek conditions for progress in Turkey's European vocation, he said the neighbouring country, apart from contributing to a solution of the Cyprus problem, should abandon its provocative behaviour, expressly and irrevocably commit itself to not raising an issue of a change in borders, accept the validity of international treaties and conventions it has signed, and record progress in the observance of human rights and democratic freedoms.

    Contributors to the conference stressed the importance of Greece's geostrategic position in the broader region, as portrayed by its ability to contribute to the restoration of conditions of peace, stability and development.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Simitis leaves for int'l conferences in Argentina, Brazil

    Athens, 24/06/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis left for Argentina yesterday to attend a session of the Socialist International, followed by travel to Brazil to attend a conference between the European Union and Latin America.

    The Greek PM will reportedly have talks on the sidelines of the conferences on issues dealing with globalisation of the economy and its repercussions on countries, the possibility of controlling the movement of capital, combatting poverty as well as com mon development efforts and issues concerning social justice and solidarity.

    "We have covered more ground than beforeIwe have loaned, together with other countries, Brazil during the last economic crisis. We are, in other words, at a distance of light years away from the time when Greece was concerned if it would be able to secu re exchange to carry out imports for two or three days.

    "We will stress the need at the discussions for a common policy on development, for the control of international capital movement. We will also stress the need for peace, for the implementation of international law, " he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Contract for construction of NATO sub-headquarters signed

    Athens, 24/06/1999 (ANA)

    The construction contract for NATO's air force sub-headquarters at the Koutsohero site outside the central Greek city of Larisa was signed yesterday.

    The project will be undertaken by a Greek joint venture composed of the companies AKTOR, Elliniki Technodomiki and Themeliodomi. The cost of the project, so far, has totalled 11 billion drachmas.

    However, it has been estimated that the total cost will amount to 15 billion drachmas, while electronic equipment will cost five billion drachmas.

    NATO's sub-headquarters will be built underground and will cover an area of 11,000 square metres. The base will employ 450 people. The contract was signed by National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and the joint venture's representatives at the air force's projects service at noon.

    In a statement, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the air force's operation will be upgraded with the sub-headquarters' construction, while at the same time it will cover the country's obligations for the operation of NATO's main sub- headquarters in the region.

    The project will be completed in 1,200 days as of yesterday, according to plan.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] US envoy: Washington doesn't agree with Turkish terrorism claims

    Athens, 24/06/1999 (ANA)

    US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns yesterday assured Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis that Washington did not agree with Turkish claims that Greece was providing assistance to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Mr. Burns provided the assurance during a meeting yesterday with Mr. Kranidiotis, which was held at the envoy's request.

    Mr. Reppas reiterated that the Turkish claims, expressed most recently by Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, were simply without merit.

    Asked last Thursday to comment on Mr. Ecevit's claims that the US had information about "the training of Kurdish terrorists in Greece", US State Department spokesman James Foley replied that the US "has reports in mind, past reports on the training of the PKK in Greece. We handle all reports on terrorist activities with seriousness and the relevant American services evaluate them".

    Mr. Kranidiotis, when asked last week to comment on the issue, indicated that the Greek government was irked by Mr. Foley's statements. He said Greece did not accept insinuations, particularly when they did not reflect reality.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] UN chief says he's ready to invite Cypriot communities to negotiations

    UNITED NATIONS, 24/06/1999 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)

    UN Secretary General Kofi Annan stated that he is ready to invite the two communities on Cyprus to resume negotiations on the island republic's political problem in the autumn.

    In a two-page report to the UN Security Council, released yesterday, Mr. Annan states his readiness "to invite the leaders of the two sides to begin in the autunm of 1999, a process of substantive negotiations, without preconditions and in a spirit of conciliation and cooperation.

    "While each of the two leaders holds the responsibility of representing the views and goals of his side, they hold the common responsibility of reaching a mutually acceptable and progressive solution," he added.

    The G8 (seven most industrialised nations plus Russia) issued a statement regarding Cyprus last Sunday, urging the UN chief, in accordance with relevent UN Resolutions, to invite the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides to negotiations this autumn without preconditions.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Tsohatzopoulos: War over Kosovo fought only to legitimise NATO's new role

    Athens, 24/06/1999 (ANA)

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday said that the United States had no strategic interest in Kosovo but had exploited the crisis to "legitimise" NATO's new role."

    "On the other hand, Europe, which had and continues to have a strategic interest in Kosovo, tried belatedly to fill the peace, security and stability vacuum, which became apparent," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

    He was speaking at the presentation of a book on Kosovo by journalist Apostolos Apostolopoulos.

    Expressing his views on the Kosovo crisis in general, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said Yugoslavia and the government of Slobodan Milosevic had unsuccessfully tried to shift the conflict to the ground.

    "Yugoslavia and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) each fought for the liberation of Kosovo. And both sides will continue to fight to the end," the defence minister said, adding that it remained to be seen whether the NATO-led multinational peacekeeping force had the power to guarantee the continued presence of Serb inhabitants of Kosovo.

    Referring to Greece's role in the crisis, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said it was the only country which "fully and clearly adopted a different position within the framework of NATO" regarding the chances of success of armed intervention in Yugoslavia.

    He said developments vindicated Greece's position.

    On his part, former main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert said that whenever divisions of countries took place all over the world they were made on the basis of interests, adding that the way with which the international community handled the Kosovo crisis "with the main responsibility lying with the US" was mistaken.

    "If this policy is continued we will be faced with major problems," he said.

    Mr. Evert said the "fact the UN is acting as an executive organ and takes orders from the G7, and possibly in the future from other similar groups, which cut states to their measures and move populations, constitutes great regression".

    "Unfortunately, Europe is not ready to handle developments as it should," he added.

    Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos said "NATO's intervention in Kosovo was a test for a patent of military and political interventions which will be used elsewhere in the future."

    He said that the Greek government, backed by the people's unanimous opposition to the war, should have utilised it diplomatically in a different way.

    Commission hears proposals on Kosovo reconstruction : BRUSSELS (ANA - M. Spinthourakis) - The European Commission yesterday aired its proposals for contributing to the efforts for Kosovo's reconstruction.

    During a press conference, EU External Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek said that considering the experience from Bosnia, the EU should provide about two billion euro in the next three years for the reconstruction of the Yugoslav province and sup port other Balkan states.

    He said this amount would be about half of what would be ultimately required, according to the Commission, with the other half having to be provided by other international organisations.

    He also refused to be drawn on whether the above sum was available on the basis of the Community's fiscal prospects as delineated in the recent Berlin summit and indicated that the "15" would have to adopt additional decisions.

    Chernomyrdin on Greek stance during Kosovo crisis : STRASBOURG (ANA - N. Roussis) - Russia's Balkan envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin on Tuesday said Athens' efforts to end the war in Kosovo were very useful and critical.

    Adressing the Council of Europe, the Russian envoy said Foreign Minister George Papandreou's contribution "was especially useful in the completion of the peace-making process."

    Mr. Chernomyrdin also lauded Greece's stance during the crisis in Yugoslavia.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Athens promises to promote EU's ties with BSEC pact

    ISTANBUL, 24/06/1999 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    Greece will make every effort to promote cooperation between Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) pact countries and the European Union, Deputy Foreign Minister Grigoris Niotis said in Ankara yesterday. This 13th BSEC par liamen-tary conference focused on cooperation between member-states in combatting illegal immigration as well as the transfer of pension benefits.

    Addressing the BSEC conference in the Turkish capital, Mr. Niotis said "the organisation is the stimulus for the development of a spirit of cooperation..."

    On his part, Turkish assembly President Yildirim Akbulut said that despite problems existing between BSEC countries, efforts toward economic cooperation assist in the decrease of tension in the region.

    BSEC members include Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and the Ukraine.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Gov't on dioxin-contaminated foodstuffs

    Athens, 24/06/1999 (ANA)

    The government reiterated yesterday that it insists on the disposal of Belgian foods suspected of being contaminated with dioxins.

    Answering a relevant question, Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis said the disposal should proceed despite the fact that an agreement on the issue does not exist.

    The agriculture committee of the European Union on the issue Monday decided that all seized foods return to Belgium.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Briton's arrest for heroin smuggling piques authorities' attention

    Athens, 24/06/1999 (ANA)

    Authorities believe they are on the trail of a ring of European and African drug traffickers responsible for smuggling large quantities of heroin into western Europe from Turkey, after arresting a British national at Athens airport in possession of 2.8 kilos of the drugs.

    The suspect was identified as Michel Coughan, 41, an English teacher, who was arrested after arriving on a flight from Sofia. The heroin was discovered in a leather pouch by customs officers, who had reportedly been tipped off. Police believe a ring of Africans is using European nationals to smuggle Turkish heroin either directly or via Bulgaria into Greece.

    The British man is believed to be working for an African, identified only by his first name, "George".

    Meanwhile, police announced the arrest of four Albanians alleged to have been dealing in large quantities of heroin in the greater Athens area.

    They were identified as Abas Ibrahimi, 29, his brother Adriatic, 22, Nikos Ziou, 26 and Alban Sela, 22. Police seized 910 grams of heroin and two electronic scales.

    In an unrelated incident, police arrested Albanian Viktor Basi, 31, who was found in possession of 480 grams of heroin.

    Athens News Agency

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