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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-06-29

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] Papandreou=Cem meeting in NY tomorrow on sidelines of UN contacts over Kosovo
  • [02] EU-Latin America summit begins, Simitis to speak today
  • [03] Former Swedish PM Bildt in Athens for talks on Balkans, Kosovo
  • [04] State Dept.:Greece, Turkey in contravention of US weapons on Cyprus commitments
  • [05] Cem on G8 preconditions for Cyprus
  • [06] Greece, Iran discuss defence sector cooperation
  • [07] ANA agreement with Iraqi News Agency
  • [08] Expanded border patrols considered for other Greek frontiers
  • [09] OA takes off with Speedwing
  • [10] Samothrace '99 scientific meeting concludes
  • [11] Gov't calls for worker consensus in OA management deal
  • [12] Ergobank's board rebuffs hostile takeover bid
  • [13] Stocks rise in lower turnover
  • [14] Industrial output rises 1.1 pct in April
  • [15] Consumer loans grow rapidly in April
  • [16] Athens Foreign Exchange

  • [01] Papandreou=Cem meeting in NY tomorrow on sidelines of UN contacts over Kosovo

    Athens, 29/06/1999 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday said he would meet his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem tomorrow in New York.

    Mr. Cem accepted Mr. Papandreou's proposal for a meeting contained in the Greek minister's reply to a letter by Mr. Cem earlier this month.

    Expressing satisfaction that his proposal had been accepted, Mr. Papandreou said it was a "a first positive step".

    The talks between the two foreign ministers will take place on the sidelines of a meeting of "the friends of Kosovo", a group of countries formed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. The group comprises the G8 countries along with China, Greece, Turkey, Finland, the Netherlands and three international organisations - the European Union, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

    Mr. Papandreou was speaking to reporters after talks in Athens with former Swedish premier Carl Bildt, who is the UN chief's special emissary.

    He said Mr. Annan's invitation to both Greece and Turkey to participate in the group was sent just a few hours after he had sent his letter of reply to Mr. Cem, late last week.

    "This provided an excellent opportunity for Mr. Cem and myself to meet for the first time," Mr. Papandreou said.

    Mr. Papandreou added that Ankara's acceptance of his proposal for a meeting was "a first positive step", while adding that it would be premature for one to believe that the two countries had resolved their differences.

    The minister also commented on what he described as "the stepped up rumours" being reported by certain Greek newspapers concerning the issue of terrorism.

    "We should be careful not to score an 'own goal', for combatting terrorism is one of our top priorities also, and we do not need to be pressed by anyone to make efforts in this direction," Mr. Papandreou said.

    He said the issue of terrorism was also one which concerned Greece with respect to Turkey, stressing "we are not afraid to speak with any country about the issue of terrorism, on the condition that such a discussion is held within the framework of inter national conventions which bind the country and take into account principles which have become established in Europe".

    Asked whether there was any possibility of Greece and Turkey signing a bilateral agreement on combatting terrorism, Mr. Papandreou said "it is still too early and nothing has been decided".

    At this point, he added that "dialogue with Turkey has been a sore point for some years now", stressing that he did not want nor could he prejudge the outcome of this contact.

    US reaction : WASHINGTON (ANA - T. Ellis) - The United States considers the scheduled meeting between the Greek and Turkish foreign ministers in New York tomorrow a positive development, US State Department spokesman James Rubin said yesterday.

    Mr. Rubin added that US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who will represent Washington at a UN-sponsored multinational conference focusing on Kosovo, will not hold separate contacts with the two ministers.

    Gov't spokesman : Acting government spokesman Yiannis Nikolaou had earlier said that Athens' position regarding terrorism was determined within the framework of international efforts.

    He was questioned on Mr. Papandreou's reply to Mr. Cem's proposal for bilateral cooperation on combatting terrorism.

    "We can have cooperation with Turkey in the field of security, separate areas such as eradicating drug trafficking and illegal immigrant smuggling, but we reject the Turkish claims in regard to terrorism," Mr. Nikolaou said.

    He also quashed speculation that Washington was pressuring Athens to take more effective action to stamp out terrorism.

    "The government is not aware of any type of pressure or suggestion on the part of the US for Greece to intensify its efforts to combat terrorism," Mr. Nikolaou said.

    "Compared to other countries, Greece is not the one with the greatest terrorism problem, but this does not mean that the issue does not concern us," he added.

    He noted that Greek authorities were cooperating with other countries on the issue, but there was no question of Greek authorities being pressured to do so.

    "We're doing what we have to do and trying to do it better," he said.

    He also denied reports that US authorities had asked their Greek counterparts to provide them with assistance in combatting terrorism in Greece as well as press reports that US ambassador Nicholas Burns was allegedly exerting pressure on the foreign ministry over the issue.

    Turkish press : In a related development, most of Turkey's major dailies reacted positively yesterday to Mr. Papandreou's reply.

    The pro-government "Hurriyet" daily termed the letter "a warm message", while "Aksam" said the Greek FM's proposal was "interesting."

    All of the newspapers stressed that the improvement in Greek-Turkish relations can be continued even if there is no clear progress over the Cyprus issue.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] EU-Latin America summit begins, Simitis to speak today

    RIO DE JANEIRO, 29/06/1999 (ANA)

    The European Union-Latin America summit began here yesterday with the participation of Prime Minister Costas Simitis, scheduled to address the session's plenum today.

    His address is expected to focus on issues concerning political cooperation, international economic relations, education and culture.

    Mr. Simitis is expected to outline the current positive international economic conjuncture, citing both the spectacular decrease in inflation combined with the establishment of the single currency in EU countries and the looming possibilities of new economic development for Latin America and Caribbean countries.

    Latin America countries would wish to create their own common market on the model of the EU's structure.

    "The European Union is a reality for Greece today, which emanates from the globalisation of the economy and the need for supranational cooperation," Mr. Simitis said.

    "There are many in our country who doubt this European course, particularly the effort being made for the country's equal enty into the Economic and Monetary Union. There is a corresponding development today that we are discussing with the countries of Latin America. A common market (MERCOSUR) is being created. And this common market wishes to cooperate with Europe to create an even wider formation," he added.

    "Greece has the largest merchant fleet in the world today. However, restrictions exist for the operation of merchant ships emanating from national agreements in Latin America as well.

    "Greece exports products. It is the largest producer in the world in terms of canned peaches. There are restrictions for these exports. We want cooperation for this reason. We want this cooperation because there is also a political reason: A world with many poles (of power) is a world in which we will be able to promote our interests more. What is the conclusion? All those desiring introversion desire isolation and lead to retrogression. We must pursue cooperation with supranational formations. We must pursue an open economy and an open society," he said.

    Mr. Simitis also had contacts with foreign leaders on the sidelines of the summit yesterday.

    He met with Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema and Austrian Chancellor Victor Klima.

    Mr. Simitis detailed the country's positions on further moves which must be done to fully normallise the situation in Kosovo in his talks with the Finnish president, who was a protagonist in peace negotiations to find a political solution to the problem of Kosovo.

    Both agreed to the need for the strict implementation of what has been agreed by all the parties involved, in the framework of respect for existing borders in the Balkans and for human rights for all ethnic groups living in Kosovo.

    Talks with the chancellors of Germany and Austria and the Italian PM focused on issues concerning the European Union, with special emphasis on the issue of the EU's representation at the level of persons and processes regarding the new agencies and organisations being created for the reconstruction of the Balkans.

    Mr. Simitis also held private talks with Brazilian President Fernando Enrique Cardoso. Bilateral and international issues were discussed, as well as issues concerning convergence and the promotion of political and economic cooperation between the EU and Latin America.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Former Swedish PM Bildt in Athens for talks on Balkans, Kosovo

    Athens, 29/06/1999 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday met with visiting former Swedish premier Carl Bildt, the EU's former Bosnia mediator, for a review of the situation in the Balkans and Kosovo in particular.

    Mr. Papandreou will be one of the foreign ministers meeting at the UN in New York tomorrow to discuss civilian operations in Kosovo.

    UN Secretary General Kofi Annan expanded the Group of Eight foreign ministers meeting on civilian operations in Kosovo to include China, Greece, Turkey, Finland and the Netherlands as well as three international organisations.

    A spokesman for Mr. Annan referred to the meeting as "a group of friends for Kosovo".

    Mr. Papandreou told reporters after his meeting with Mr. Bildt that they had discussed ways in which the international community could achieve the targets it has set for southeast Europe through the Stability Pact.

    He said that Greece, although it had been present in developments even before the Kosovo crisis, was even now accepting the secretary-general's invitation to participate in the talks to be held in New York as it wanted to play a leading role in the Balkans and the future of the Balkans.

    He also relayed to Mr. Bildt Greece's interest in Thessaloniki being the headquarters for services, yet to be established, for the reconstruction of the Balkans.

    Mr. Bildt said his talks with the Greek foreign minister were aimed at preparing the ground for tomorrow's talks and the participation of countries "which can play a significant role and make an important contribution to the efforts for stability in Kosovo and the wider Balkans region".

    He stressed that Greece was one of those countries and could play a "particularly constructive role in the efforts under way to improve the situation in Kosovo and the wider region."

    Meeting with Karamanlis : Mr. Bildt also met with main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis.

    "The ceasefire in Kosovo is not sufficient in itself," Mr. Karamanlis said after the meeting. "The big challenge is the stabilisation and restructuring of the region".

    Mr. Karamanlis warned that Greece and its northern capital Thessaloniki were being sidelined as the seat and springboard for Balkan reconstruction.

    He said a more active and efficient foreign policy was necessary in order for Greece to play a leading role in the Balkans.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] State Dept.:Greece, Turkey in contravention of US weapons on Cyprus commitments

    WASHINGTON, 29/06/1999 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    US State Department spokesman James Rubin said yesterday that both Greece and Turkey were in contravention of commitments to the US government not to send US-supplied weapons to Cyprus.

    "Greece as well as Turkey have sent American equipment to Cyprus, in contravention of the commitments they made to the US concerning weapons systems. As a result of the our research, we asked the Greek and Turkish governments to withdraw some items of American origin from Cyprus," he said in reference to a State Department report handed to the US Congress on Friday.

    He added that both governments responded that they would comply, later informing Washington that the specific weapons had been removed. The spokesman said that after such a development, "we think we have solved the problem".

    Mr. Rubin futher noted that the relevant 1987 law clearly stated that such items are given by the American government with the understanding that they will not be transported to Cyprus or be used to "promote the severance or division of Cyprus".

    The US federal law does not contain exceptions for weapons approved by the Cypriot government, he clarified.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Cem on G8 preconditions for Cyprus

    ISTANBUL, 29/06/1999 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem left for New York yesterday to attend a meeting regarding Yugoslavia, held under the aegis of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

    Mr. Cem will meet Greek FM George Papandreou on the sidelines of the meeting.

    Replying to question shortly before departing, Mr. Cem said preconditions set by the G8 for a solution to the Cyprus issue "are not serious." Referring to Kosovo, Mr. Cem said Turkey wishes to take part in all reconstruction efforts for the troubled Yugoslav province.

    About 30 light military vehicles, two trucks and an earth-moving vehicle, all belonging to NATO member-states, arrived in Patra yesterday by regular ferry traffic from Italy. The destination of the equipment was not announced.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Greece, Iran discuss defence sector cooperation

    TEHRAN, 29/06/1999 (ANA)

    Greece and Iran yesterday began exploratory talks focusing on the sector of defence cooperation, with both sides noting considerable room for progress.

    According to a dispatch by the Iranian News Agency (IRNA), the contacts are taking place within the framework of an official visit to the Iranian capital by National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, the first by a European Union defence minister to the Mideast country since the Islamic revolution of 1979.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos stated that the purpose of the visit was to exchange views on issues of mutual interest with his Iranian counterpart, Adm. Ali Shamkhani, while Greece was willing to develop cooperation with Iran in the defence sector.

    On his part, Adm. Shamkhani said "cooperation will be on an equal basis and will be implemented in the future with a view to the two countries playing an active role in the consolidation of peace and stability internationally".

    He added that teams of experts from both countries would discuss the specifics of implementing any agreement.

    The Greek minister is also scheduled to meet President Mohammed Khatami and Parliament President Ali Akhbar Nuri.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] ANA agreement with Iraqi News Agency

    Athens, 29/06/1999 (ANA)

    The Athens News Agency (ANA) and the Iraqi News Agency (INA) yesterday signed a cooperation agreement in Athens.

    The agreement was signed on the part of ANA by its General Director, Andreas Christodoulides, while the Iraqi side was respesented by INA General Director Udai el Taie. Greek ambassador to Baghdad Costas Bikas was also present during the signing.

    According to the agreement, the two agencies will exchange news and information, cooperate in educational programmes for journalists and technical personnel, as well as provide mutual assistance to their correspondents in Iraq and Greece, respectively.

    INA is already cooperating with the Agence France Presse (AFP), as well as the news agencies of the People's Republic of China, Morocco, Algeria and Turkey.

    An INA delegation will today meet in Athens with several government officials and visit various newspapers and television stations.

    Athens Naews Agency

    [08] Expanded border patrols considered for other Greek frontiers

    Athens, 29/06/1999 (ANA)

    The government is considering expanding the deployment of border patrols along more of Greece's frontiers, Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis said in the northwestern town of Kastoria yesterday.

    "The government will not tolerate the prevailing situation with illegal immigrants. Our aim is for those foreign nationals who are here legally to remain only. The security of Greek citizens comes first," he said, after a meeting of regional and police officials on the problem of widespread lawlessness caused by illegal immigrants filtering in from Albania.

    Sources said there was agreement that the situation has improved lately and that the border population now feel more secure than a few years ago, when Albanian gangs would raid border villages, robbing households and seizing property.

    The minister was accompanied by Greek Police Chief Ioannis Georgakopoulos.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] OA takes off with Speedwing

    Athens, 29/06/1999 (ANA)

    Olympic Airways and British Airways officials yesterday signed the agreement whereby the UK carrier's Speedwing subsidiary will undertake the management of the Greek airline for a period of 30 months.

    The agreement was signed by OA president Giorgos Zygogiannis, Speedwing's managing director Steve Dunning, BA's director of strategic alliances, John Patterson and Deputy Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, representing the Greek state, owner of OA .

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Samothrace '99 scientific meeting concludes

    Athens, 29/06/1999 (ANA)

    The "Samothrace '99" scientific meeting, organised by the Democritos University of Thrace, concluded yesterday.

    More than 250 professors, political leaders and scientists participated in the event on the northeastern Aegean island.

    Noted astrophysics professor Dimitris Nanopoulos presented new experimental data on the universe, while Prof. Grigoris Skalkeas presented scientific and ethical issues relating to cloning and biochemical engineering.

    National Defence Deputy Minister Dimitris Apostolakis yesterday stressed the need for the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee to monitor and disseminate rights over humanitarian aid.

    Mr. Apostolakis, speaking at a conference sponsored by the foreign ministry on the opportunity of the 50th anniversary of the Geneva Convention, said such a committee would be part of any political and military planning during crisis.

    The conference, which focused on measures for the implementation and promotion of international humanitarian law, was attended by several officials from several ministries and the Greek Red Cross.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Gov't calls for worker consensus in OA management deal

    Athens, 29/06/1999 (ANA)

    The government yesterday sought to improve industrial relations at troubled national carrier Olympic Airways by calling for consensus talks between unions and the company's new British manager.

    Unions have called a 24-hour strike for Thursday to protest the award of a 30-month management contract to Speedwing, a subsidiary of British Airways.

    In a joint statement, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Transport Minister Tassos Mantelis said they backed talks between the two sides and the formulation of a collective labour agreement.

    The government has said that labour and social insurance rights will not be affected by award of the contract to a foreign operator, a move already endorsed by parliament. A contract with Speedwing has yet to be signed.

    Under an existing agreement in principle, Speedwing's assignment is to make Olympic profitable, and take the ailing carrier into an international alliance. British Airways will also have an option to buy a 20 percent stake in Olympic.

    Under the law passed in parliament, Olympic's unions will retain their two members on Olympic's board.

    The two ministers also said that they would speed up Olympic's transfer to a new international airport for Athens being built at Spata, where the airline can make money by offering services to third parties.

    It would also be compensated for the expense of the move, the statement said.

    Furthermore, the government had met its commitments towards Olympic's fleet renewal by providing a guarantee of 375 million U.S. dollars, the statement said.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Ergobank's board rebuffs hostile takeover bid

    Athens, 29/06/1999 (ANA)

    The board of Ergobank, which is the target of a hostile takeover bid by Consolidated Eurofinance Holdings, yesterday stated outright that the offer was damaging, and urged shareholders to shun it.

    In a statement, Ergobank chairman Xenofon Nikitas said that the bank would shortly explain in detail to shareholders why they should reject the offer.

    The board and its international consultant, Warburg Dillon Read, were studying possible alternatives to the offer, Mr. Nikitas said.

    Under Consolidated Eurofinance Holdings' hostile takeover bid for a maximum 50.1 percent stake, Ergobank's shareholders would receive 110 shares in EFG Eurobank plus 200,000 drachmas in cash in return for 50 shares held in Ergobank.

    EFG Eurobank is a subsidiary of Consolidated Eurofinance Holdings and a member of the Latsis Group.

    Financial information in the share offer prospectus was unclear, and the offer could lead to conflicting interests between Consolidated Eurofinance Holdings and minority shareholders in both EFG Eurobank and Ergobank, Mr. Nikitas said.

    In addition, the offer undervalued Ergobank, and was closely linked to newly listed EFG Eurobank's share price, which had a very short track record on the bourse.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Stocks rise in lower turnover

    Athens, 29/06/1999 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended the first session of the week higher on the Athens Stock Exchange despite a decline in turnover.

    Traders said buying interest focused on smaller capitalisation stocks and they noted that Greek investors remained cautious, adopting a pattern in international markets, ahead of a decision on US interest rates due shortly.

    The general index ended 0.71 percent higher at 3,976.71 points, unable to hold above the 4,000 level which it briefly overtook early in the session.

    Turnover was 128.557 billion drachmas with 25,399,362 shares changing hands.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-0.04 pct), Leasing (+3.10 pct), Insurance (+1.73 pct), Construction (+2.35 pct), Industrials (+0.90 pct), Miscellaneous (+1.22 pct) and Holding (+4.97 pct).

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 1.26 percent up while the FTSE/ASE 20 index ended 0.34 percent higher at 2, 314.76 points.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 192 to 96 with another 10 issues unchanged.

    Ergo Invest, ANEK Lines, Thessaliki and Gener were the most heavily traded stocks.

    A total of 39 shares ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit up.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 20,400 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 19, 995, Ergobank at 31,510, Ionian Bank at 17,000, Titan Cement at 27,000, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,895, Intracom at 20,570, Minoan Lines at 5,230, Panafon at 7,480 and Hellenic Telecoms at 6,750.

    Bonds slack in lacklustre trade : Trade was light in the secondary bond market with institutional investors mostly staying away. Sell orders outweighed buy orders.

    Electronic trade totalled 16 billion drachmas from 105 billion drachmas in the previous session and 79 billion drachmas on Thursday.

    The ten-year bond was trading around Friday's 100.10 and 100.50, showing a yield of 6.23 percent from 6.27 percent to 6.28 percent in the previous session.

    The yield spread over German bunds was around 167, down from 174 basis points at the end of the previous session.

    At the central bank's daily fix, the euro slipped against the drachma. It was set at 324.690 drachmas from 324.740 drachmas in the previous session.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Industrial output rises 1.1 pct in April

    Athens, 29/06/1999 (ANA)

    The industrial production index increased by 1.1 percent in April compared with the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said yesterday. NSS said that the mining, manufacturing and electricity-natural gas composite index rose 3.4 perc ent in April from the same period in 1998, to show a 4.3 percent increase in the first four months of 1999.

    The mining production index dropped 17.9 percent in April against the same month of 1998, to post an 18.7 percent drop in the period January-April this year.

    The electricity-natural gas production index jumped 30.3 percent to show an increase of 44.8 percent in the first four months.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Consumer loans grow rapidly in April

    Athens, 29/06/1999 (ANA)

    The growth of consumer loans accelerated in April despite the imposition of controls in the sector by the Bank of Greece effective on April 1, the central bank said in a statement yesterday.

    The Bank of Greece said consumer credit increased by 47.9 percent in April from the same month last year, up from 45.3 percent year on year in March, to show a 14.8 percent increase in the first four months of 1999.

    The growth of housing loans was steadier in April. Loans increased by 20.4 percent from the same month of 1998, slightly up from 20.0 percent in March.

    Consumer loans increased by 6.29 percent in the first four months of the year.

    Total credit expansion was 9.5 percent in April, up from 8.5 percent in March, remaining within the annual target set by the central bank.

    Foreign exchange loans soared 36.0 percent in April, sharply up from a 15.0 percent increase in the previous month.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens, 29/06/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: June 28, 1999
    Banknotes             Buying  Selling
    US Dollar             310.099 317.289
    Can.Dollar            211.693 216.601
    Australian Dlr        204.292 209.029
    Pound Sterling        490.445 501.816
    Irish Punt            408.973 418.455
    Pound Cyprus          557.504 570.430
    Pound Malta           729.439 759.832
    Turkish pound (100)     0.068   0.071
    French franc           49.103  50.241
    Swiss franc           201.465 206.136
    Belgian franc           7.985   8.170
    German Mark           164.683 168.501
    Finnish Mark           54.172  55.428
    Dutch Guilder         146.159 149.548
    Danish Kr.             43.350  44.355
    Swedish Kr.            36.777  37.630
    Norwegian Kr.          39.607  40.525
    Austrian Sh.           23.407  23.950
    Italian lira (100)     16.035  17.021
    Yen (100)             255.718 261.647
    Spanish Peseta          1.935   1.980
    Port. Escudo            1.607   1.644
    
    Foreign Exchange      Buying  Selling
    New York              310.099 317.289
    Montreal              211.693 216.601
    Sydney                204.292 209.029
    London                490.445 501.816
    Dublin                408.973 418.455
    Nicosia               557.504 570.430
    Paris                  49.103  50.241
    Zurich                201.465 206.136
    Brussels                7.985   8.170
    Frankfurt             164.683 168.501
    Helsinki               54.172  55.428
    Amsterdam             146.159 149.548
    Copenhagen             43.350  44.355
    Stockholm              36.777  37.630
    Oslo                   39.607  40.525
    Vienna                 23.407  23.950
    Milan                  16.635  17.021
    Tokyo                 255.718 261.647
    Madrid                  1.935   1.980
    Lisbon                  1.607   1.644
    
    Athens News Agency

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