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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-01-05

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 05/01/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Trawler owners to continue strike
  • Tsovolas to seek parliament session on S-300 decision
  • Arms detained at port of Thessaloniki
  • Kaklamanis expresses concern about Kosovo in talks with Markovic
  • Stock market powers ahead, welcomes launch of euro
  • Stock closes to be quoted in euros
  • Bourse likely to rank as developed market in first quarter
  • Simitis underlines 'major effort' for Greek economy in 1999
  • Thessaly farmers' groups warn of mobilisations
  • OA pilots refuse to work overtime, meeting fails to end crisis
  • USS Enterprise docks in Crete
  • Arsenis cites extensive damages to occupied schools
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Trawler owners to continue strike

Trawler owners on Tuesday decided to continue to strike in protest against a European Union directive, following a meeting at Nea Michaniona, Thessaloniki.

The fishermen are protesting EU Directive 1626 which effectively reduces the distance from the coast in which fishing is permitted and increases the mesh size of nets.

At today's meeting, members of the Panhellenic Union of Trawler Owners decided not to go out fishing today and on Thursday to moor their boats in protest along the Thessaloniki seafront, as they did on Monday.

The feast of the Ephiphany tomorrow is a national holiday.

On Thursday, the leadership of the Agriculture Ministry is expected to meet with union representatives. The vice-president of the trawler owners' union, Theodosis Maritsas, told the ANA that if the meeting ended without result, the members would step up their labour action, possibly using their vessels to blockade ports around the country.

Trawler owners claim the provision of the directive stipulating a larger mesh for nets will result in a 50 per cent reduction in catches, since smaller fish will slip through, while Turkish trawlers will continue to catch those fish and channel them to the Greek market.

The Panhellenic Union of Trawler Owners numbers over 190 members who own approximately 150 trawlers that supply all the fishmarkets of the country.

Tsovolas to seek parliament session on S-300 decision

Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas said on Tuesday that he intended to "provoke" a special session of the Greek parliament to discuss the recent decision announced by Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides not to install Russian S-300 missiles on the divided island, according to an ANA despatch from Nicosia.

Tsovolas was speaking to reporters after talks in Nicosia with ruling Democratic Rally (DHSY) leader Nikos Anastasiades. He arrived on Monday for a two-day working visit and talks with political party leaders.

"My briefing by the (Cypriot political) parties was very useful because I intend to provoke a special session of parliament so that we can discuss this change in position," Tsovolas said.

Clerides announced the decision not to install the S-300 missiles after a meeting of the Cyprus National Council on December 29. Earlier the same day, he had held talks in Athens with Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

Greece and Cyprus entered into a joint defence pact in 1993.

"We believe in the furthering the joint defence doctrine, because it is the only way to deal with the Turkish threat and Turkish provocativeness, which unfortunately is supported by the major powers and international organisations, which are supposed not to serve the interests of specific countries but rather to protect international legality and human rights, when they are violated, as they have been violated to the detriment of Cypriot Hellenism, " Tsovolas said.

Anastasiades meanwhile told reporters that there was no possibility of reversing the missile decision.

Referring to the decision itself, Anastasiades spoke of "bitterness" and "disappointment".

Arms detained at port of Thessaloniki

A quantity of arms destined for the NATO multinational force being deployed in FYROM has been detained in the port of Thessaloniki after a customs check found the cargo was not accompanied by the necessary shipping documents, port authority sources said on Tuesday.

The sources said the 18 containers, containing rifles and other light weaponry, were detained by order of Thessaloniki prosecution office director Haralambos Vourliotis.

They said the containers were unloaded from a Honduras-flag merchant ship on New Year's eve and were destined for the NATO multinational protection force being deployed in FYROM to protect international observers in the neighbouring Yugoslav province of Kosovo if the need arises.

A customs check revealed that the containers were not accompanied by the required shipping documents, and the Merchant Marine Ministry, which was immediately informed, alerted the Thessaloniki Prosecution Office, the sources said.

A government official told the ANA that it was "a purely procedural matter, since the shipping company had not promptly supplied the shipping documents, which it has said it will do within the next few hours".

Large quantities of military equipment are being shipped to FYROM via Thessaloniki for the 2000-strong NATO protection force, which is expected to be fully deployed by mid-January.

Kaklamanis expresses concern about Kosovo in talks with Markovic

Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis on Tuesday expressed the grave concern of all the peoples of the region concerning the prolonged crisis in Kosovo during talks in Athens with Serbia's Deputy Prime Minister Ratko Markovic.

The solution to the problem, Kaklamanis said, must be sought through peaceful means, chiefly on the initiative of the countries of the region rather than powers outside the Balkans.

He also stressed the need for the rights to be recognised of the ethnic minorities of the Serb province of Kosovo, within the framework of respect for the borders of the Yugoslav Republic.

Markovic briefed Kaklamanis on the latest developments in Kosovo and his country's positions regarding a just settlement of the problem.

Stock market powers ahead, welcomes launch of euro

The Athens stock market warmly welcomed the birth of the euro and the start of a new year yesterday with prices posting new record highs on the first trading day of 1999.

The general index ended a spectacular 6.71 percent higher at 2,921.28 points, breaking the previous record of 2,825.52 points on July 21, 1998.

Turnover was 106.8 billion drachmas reflecting strong buying interest by foreign institutional investors in blue chip stocks, particu-larly banks and industrials. Sector indices scored major gains.

Banks soared 7.59 percent to break the 6,000 level for the first time ever.

Leasing rose 4.24 percent, Insurance jumped 5.17 percent, Investment surged 6.45 percent, Construction increased 4.67 percent, Industrials soared 6.10 percent, Miscellaneous ended 4.97 percent up and Holding climbed 6.27 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 3.42 percent higher, and the FTSE/ASE 20 index ended 7.18 percent up at 1,848.01 points.

Broadly, advancers led decliners at 241 to 22 with another 14 issues unchanged.

National Bank of Greece ended at 68,040 drachmas, Ergobank at 34,992, Alpha Credit Bank at 31,557, Ionian Bank at 15,900, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 7,890, Delta Dairy at 4,245, Intracom at 13,770, Titan Cement at 23,220, Hellenic Petro leum at 2,425 and Minoan Lines at 6, 590.

Stock closes to be quoted in euros

The Athens Stock Exchange will release a daily bulletin of stock closing prices in euros, as well as in drachmas, market authorities said.

The euro prices will be calculated on the basis of the central bank's daily fix in the euro versus the drachma.

Bourse likely to rank as developed market in first quarter

The Athens stock market is expected to be upgraded from an emerging to a developed market in the first quarter of 1999, Capital International/Morgan Stanley executives told the Athens News Agency yesterday.

Capital International World Indices, an international stock market ratings company, was the first of its kind to be established. The US investment bank, Morgan Stanley, bought the rights to its stock market index in 1985.

The MSCI index is considered to be the most important market tool for fund managers worldwide.

Morgan Stanley forecast at the end of November that Greece would achieve all five convergence criteria in 1999 that will allow entry into economic and monetary union.

Greece's participation in the MSCI world stock market index will greatly benefit the country's economy as it will lead to bigger foreign capital inflows.

The basic criteria for Greece's entry into the index of developed markets are economic growth, anti-inflation policy, shrinking the state's role in the economy, creating new investment opportunities through privatisation, transparency and efficiency in domestic financial markets, growth of liquidity and capitalisation in the stock market, and confidence in the economy by foreign investors.

Simitis underlines 'major effort' for Greek economy in 1999

Prime Minister Costas Simitis stressed yesterday that Greece was embarking on a "major effort in 1999" and would succeed, in relation to the newly established 'euro zone' within the European Union.

The premier spoke last night during the annual reception hosted by the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) at a downtown Athens hotel.

"The new year started impressively, the euro is the single currency of the countries participating in Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). This is a historic change," Mr. Simitis said.

He added that for Greece this meant a major change in economic policy, as well as more investments, more employment and new conditions for development.

Thessaly farmers' groups warn of mobilisations

Farmers` groups in Thessaly, central Greece, yesterday decided to begin a series of protests in early February.

Protests will begin on Jan. 15 with local rallies at prefectural offices and Agricultural Bank branches, while some local roads will be blockaded.

Later in the month the groups said they will organise local events to rally farmers' support.

Union leaders also discussed details over an upcoming meeting with Argiculture Minister George Anomeritis.

OA pilots refuse to work overtime, meeting fails to end crisis

State-owned Olympic Airways' management yesterday announced that it will begin a new round of meetings with the pilots' union, following the latest crisis in management-employee relations.

According to reports, both sides met last night at 7 p.m. for the preliminaries, with Transport Minister Tassos Mantelis present, although nothing was announced.

Leaders of OA pilots' union want more pilot appointments and are against an increase of their income tax rate. After the meeting, pilots' representatives reiterated their refusal to work overtime.

According to sources, the representatives did not put any of their demands to Mr. Mantelis, instead they listened to the minister's review of the debt- ridden national carrier's dire financial state.

The pilots' work to rule has created problems for OA services, the most notable occurring on Saturday night when an OA flight from London, originally scheduled for landing in Thessaloniki and then Athens, skipped Thessaloniki and landed directly in the Greek capital.

A delay at London's Heathrow airport led the pilot to decide to fly directly to Athens so as not to work overtime.

This resulted in a two-hour occupation of the aircraft at Athens airport by 86 passengers who had paid to travel to Thessaloniki.

The passengers were eventually persuaded to leave the aircraft by Civil Aviation representatives at around 3 a.m. and were taken to a Glyfada hotel. They flew for Thessaloniki at 7 a.m.

USS Enterprise docks in Crete

The battle group carrier USS Enterprise, one of the biggest warships in the US navy, arrived at the Souda Bay military base on Crete on Monday.

The Enterprise sailed to Crete after participating in US and British Gulf- based operations against Iraq last month.

The nuclear-powered attack vessel has an overall length of 370 metres and a crew of 5,500.

Its four main engines and 8 reactors enable speeds of up to 30 knots.

Arsenis cites extensive damages to occupied schools

Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis yesterday said extensive damages had been caused in dozens of schools around the country, and especially in Athens, Thessaloniki and Patra, during occupations by protesting students.

He said that every effort will be made to restore damages before Friday so as to allow for classes to begin on Monday as scheduled.

Furthermore, he announced that he sent a letter to Union of (public) Secondary School Teachers (OLME) proposing a meeting on Thursday to discuss the upgrading of teachers' role.

He added that his office sent copies of a letter to parents through their associations.

Prime Minister Costas Simitis also requested of officials and PASOK cadres to support the effort to re-open schools, as well as the proposed dialogue.

WEATHER

Mainly overcast with scattered showers in most parts of Greece today. Snowfall in the mountainous regions. Winds, variable, moderate to strong, turning gale force in the Aegean Sea. Athens overcast with temperatures between 8-13C. Possibility of intermittent rain in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 4-8C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 275.032 Pound sterling 455.824 Japanese yen (100) 242.455 French franc 49.475 German mark 165.931 Italian lira (100) 16.761 Irish Punt 412.072 Belgian franc 8.045 Finnish mark 54.582 Dutch guilder 147.267 Danish kr. 43.565 Austrian sch. 23.585 Spanish peseta 1.950 Swedish kr. 34.232 Norwegian kr. 36.496 Swiss franc 200.835 Port. Escudo 1.619 Aus. dollar 169.954 Can. dollar 179.512 Cyprus pound 557.504

(S.S.)


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