Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-01-13
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 13/01/1999 (ANA)
- Greece, Spain express 'total agreement' on 'Agenda 2000'
- Treaty forming SE Europe peacekeeping force finalised in Athens
- Council of State cancels Dornier contract for Crete firing range
- School occupations, road blockades continue despite judicial ban
- 'Avgi' clash with Synaspismos
- Yield drops sharply in five-year bond auction
- World Bank's eurodrachma bond gets good reception
- Stocks end flat in active trade
- Development ministry urges cheaper mobile phone rates
- Panafon tops one million subscribers
- Alico Eurobank sees Athens bourse gaining 20-25 pct in 1999
- EFG Eurobank gives bourse details of merger with Bank of Athens
- Macedonian Textile Mills orders indefinite lay-offs in overhaul
- Greek hoteliers focus on sector's problems, prospects
- Aegean Aviation cites expansion
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Greece, Spain express 'total agreement' on 'Agenda 2000'
Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his Spanish counterpart Jose Maria Aznar
yesterday noted an identity of views in talks focusing on ongoing
negotiations within the European Union on the 'Agenda 2000'.
Mr. Simitis, who began a three-day visit to Spain yesterday, said he agreed
with Mr. Aznar that the issue should be placed in its proper dimensions,
namely, that it should be treated as an issue involving revenues and not
In other words, Mr. Simitis told reporters, all EU countries should
contribute in the same way and when the revenues issue has been resolved,
the expenditures issue should be tackled.
Current negotiations should end in March, Mr. Simitis said, emphasising the
importance of expenditures for the farm sector. He stressed also that the
solutions to emerge should ensure that countries with a strong farm sector
do not bear the brunt of policy reform.
Noting that the EU was founded on the principles of convergence and
cohesion, Mr. Simitis said he had ascertained an identity of views with Mr.
Aznar "and with common positions we will attain better results".
Mr. Aznar said the two sides had "almost identical" views on the issue of
own resources, underlining that Greece and Spain contributed to the EU the
proper amount in relation to their GDP.
While Mr. Simitis spoke in terms of a "front", Aznar rejected the term,
preferring to use the phrase "complete agreement".
Saying that the EU needed the Cohesion Fund, Mr. Aznar said "we should not
be talking in terms of problems between Germany and Spain or Germany and
Greece, but rather trying to overcome the inequalities between regions or
Mr. Simitis and Mr. Aznar said their two countries' bilateral relations
were at a very good point. The Spanish premier cited in particular the
formation of a committee of Greek and Spanish businesspeople, adding that
cooperation in the cultural sector was also very good.
Mr. Aznar said Spain would actively support the Greek initiative for the
organisation of a Cultural Olympiad.
Treaty forming SE Europe peacekeeping force finalised in Athens
A supplementary protocol to a treaty establishing a multinational
peacekeeping force in southeast Europe was signed at a meeting in Athens
The protocol determines a number of issues which had remained unresolved,
including the location of the command headquarters and the presidency of
the force's political and military committee.
It was signed by the defence ministers of Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, Italy,
the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Slovenia, Romania's
chief of staff, as well as the US and Turkish ambassadors in Athens.
Slovenia and the US are participating in the multinational force as
According to the protocol, the force's headquarters will alternate every
four years among the participating NATO and Partnership for Peace (PfP)
countries in the order of Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Greece. The command
will be assigned to each of the countries for a two-year term. Turkey will
be first, followed by Greece.
The presidency and headquarters of the political and military committee
will be held by each of the participating countries for a two-year term.
Greece will hold the first presidency, followed by Romania.
The force's headquarters is expected to start operating this summer, while
the participating countries hope to hold the first exercise at the end of
The agreement will be ratified by the participating countries in the near
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said the force would serve as
a tool for the international community for tackling problems of security
and stability in the region, based on international law as applied by
Council of State cancels Dornier contract for Crete firing range
The Council of State yesterday cancelled a direct assignment to the German
firm "Dornier" for the provision of a target system at the Crete firing
range between 1998-99.
Dornier had been awarded the contract directly from the defence ministry,
which failed to proclaim a tender and did not have any special reason to
justify its decision, the Council of State ruled.
The cancellation of the contract was requested by the firm "Tria Sigma",
which had submitted a bid for the specific provision in a previous
School occupations, road blockades continue despite judicial ban
High school students yesterday continued sit-ins and road blockades in
several areas, despite a ban by public prosecutors.
However, it was unclear how many schools were under occupation, as teachers
and the education ministry gave conflicting figures, the former claiming
380 and the latter 200.
Disagreements were apparent between students in a number of schools.
Acting government spokesman Yiannis Nikolaou condemned incidents against
reporters during a rally outside Athens University Monday, while Justice
Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos attributed responsibilities to teachers for
Meanwhile, students and teachers prepared for more mobilisations. Teachers'
local unions were meeting for most of the day to decide on a motion for two
24-hour strikes, on Jan. 21 and 28. The teachers' central union will reach
a final decision over the weekend. A rally of the educational community has
also been scheduled for Friday in Athens and Piraeus, and there will be
blockading of prefectural headquarters and roads in all large cities.
The education ministry is now reported to be looking into ways of covering
for the class hours lost due to the occupations which started early last
'Avgi' clash with Synaspismos
Employees with the Athens daily "Avgi" decided last night to call a 24-
strike, starting today, in protest over a decision by the Coalition of the
Left and Progress' (Synaspismos) political secretariat to appoint a board
of trustees for the firm publishing the newspaper, Agvi AE.
According to the decision, taken by a vote of nine to seven, Synaspismos
cadre Dimitris Hatzisocratis is appointed director of Avgi.
Employees asked party leader Nikos Constantopoulos to delay implementation
of the decision for a few days to allow time for a compromise solution.
Mr. Constantopoulos, whose party's relations with Avgi have been tense in
recent days, rejected employees' proposals.
Yield drops sharply in five-year bond auction
The average weighted yield on five-year bonds slid to 6.75 percent during
yesterday's bond auction by the finance ministry, reaffirming the
confidence of international investors in the domestic economy and the
likelihood of entry into economic and monetary union.
The finance ministry auctioned 200 billion drachmas worth of paper to
primary dealers, whose bids drove the yield two percentage points lower
than 8.76 percent in an equivalent auction in November.
The issue pays an annual coupon of 6.60 percent and its average weighed
price was 99.36 points, down from 100.1 in November. Bids totalled 384.4
billion drachmas, almost double the target.
The finance ministry finally accepted bids totalling 240 billion drachmas.
World Bank's eurodrachma bond gets good reception
Alpha Credit Bank, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, was joint lead manager
with Toronto Dominion Securities and DG Bank in a bond issued by the World
Bank. Well received by global investors, the 40-billion drachma bond has a
fixed rate of 6.25 percent and a duration of three years, expiring on
February 2, 2002, Alpha Credit Bank said in a statement yesterday.The bond
is the largest eurodrachma issue to date, the statement said.
Stocks end flat in active trade
Equities recovered early sharp losses to end yesterday's session narrowly
mixed on the Athens Stock Exchange.
The general index ended 0.01 percent off at 2,983.34 points after starting
the day 1.80 percent down. Turnover was moderate to heavy at 85.7 billion
drachmas on 20,408 shares traded.
Banks fell 0.72 percent, Leasing rose 3.04 percent, Insurance ended 1.09
percent up, Investment increased 0.43 percent, Construction ended 2.16
percent higher, Industrials rose 1.19 percent, Miscellaneous ended 2.42
percent up and Holding fell 1.33 perc ent. Organisation were the most
heavily traded stocks.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 160 to 108 with another 10 issues
Naoussa Spinning Mills, General Bank, Mylonas, Keranis, Levenderis,
Connection, Bitros and Bank of Central Greece hit the daily 8.0 percent
Karelias, Karamolegos, Commercial Invest, Sato, General Warehouses,
Themeliodomi, Ergas, Minerva, Kalpinis and Technodomi suffered the heaviest
National Bank of Greece ended at 67,100 drachmas, Ergobank at 35,800, Alpha
Credit Bank at 32,300, Ionian Bank at 15,915, Hellenic Telecommunications
Organisation at 8,395, Delta Dairy at 4,200, Intracom at 14,900, Titan
Cement at 23,100, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,370 and Minoan Lines at 7,130
Development ministry urges cheaper mobile phone rates
The government yesterday called for lower mobile telephone rates and better
protection for consumers in the domestic cellular telephone market,
currently totalling 2,000,000 subscribers.
Deputy Development Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis also urged mobile
telephone operators to reduce by one hour daily their category of
conversation peak times, lower phone rates during non-peak hours, and offer
free phone call identification and conference services.
In addition, the ministry secured the agreement of the country's three
mobile operators - Panafon, Telestet and Cosmote - to give clients a
questionnaire on their use of the telephone so that the right package of
services may be chosen; and offer more information on subscriptions.
Mr. Chrysohoides said that the ministry will monitor more closely the
operation of the mobile telephone market to ensure fair competition.
Panafon tops one million subscribers
Panafon said yesterday that it was the first domestic mobile phone operator
to secure more than one million subscribers, reporting 1,068,632 customers
on December 31, 1998, a rise of 95.5 percent from the previous year.
The company said that it acquired 119,459 new subscribers in the last
quarter of 1998, a rise of 83.7 percent from the corresponding period in
1997 when only two mobile operators were in the market.
On the basis of number of subscribers, Panafon's market share exceeded 10
percent from 5.2 percent in 1997. The company said it also ranked top on
the basis of pre-paid mobile telephony services and contracts.
Alico Eurobank sees Athens bourse gaining 20-25 pct in 1999
Alico Eurobank, a mutual fund manager, yesterday forecast a 20-25 percent
increase in the Athens Stock Exchange's general index in 1999.
A report by the company said that current share prices have largely
discounted macro-economic progress in the country this year.
Alico Eurobank recommends that well-informed individuals who have yet to
play the market should place 15-20 percent of their funds in equity mutual
funds with a maturity of 12 to 18 months.
Newcomers who know little about the market but have invested in government
securities and mutual funds,should enter composite mutual funds with up to
20-25 percent of their capital.
Alico Eurobank showed a rise in assets of 66 percent in 1998 to 833.5
billion drachmas on December 31 from 502 billion the previous year, raising
its market share to 9.2 percent.
Alico Eurobank's international composite fund topped the country's list of
returns in the last six years and was among the top European composite
mutual funds with a return of 199.19 percent.
EFG Eurobank gives bourse details of merger with Bank of Athens
EFG Eurobank yesterday gave the Athens Stock Exchange details of its merger
with Bank of Athens, decided on December 14, 1998.
The Latsis-owned bank said that the joint share capital to emerge from the
merger was 55 billion drachmas, including a share capital increase endorsed
by the shareholders of Bank of Athens.
The capital would be divided into 110,463,624 shares, of which 110,019,024
would be common stock with voting rights and 444,600 preferred with no
The merger enables EFG Eurobank to enter the Athens bourse.
Macedonian Textile Mills orders indefinite lay-offs in overhaul
Macedonian Textile Mills yesterday told the Athens Stock Exchange that it
would suspend its workforce for an indefinite period in order to restructure
Restructuring of the group would not be completed before April, the company
said in a statement to the bourse.
Staff had agreed to the suspension, whose duration would comply with the
law, it said.
Greek hoteliers focus on sector's problems, prospects
Greek hoteliers called for greater attention to be paid for problems in the
hotel sector during their federation's national conference yesterday at a
downtown Athens hotel.
Hoteliers agreed with the assessment that 1999 is starting with positive
omens and that recovery in the tourism sector is expected to continue this
They said that the first messages received from major tour operators in
traditional markets are encouraging, adding that in past years hotels
experienced a recession, which left behind accumulated problems which shows
the need for the state to preoccupy itself seriously with the sector.
Among others, problems they are facing are the need for the modernisation
of small and medium-size businesses, prices of rooms must not be kept at
unacceptably low levels, while the problem of high interest rates and
arbitrary charges by banks continues to exist.
Aegean Aviation cites expansion
The expansion of Aegean Aviation's activities was decided by the company's
board yesterday. The firm is part of the Vassilakis group (Seat, Herz,
The firm said it was ordering three new jet aircraft as well as pondering
an increase in its share capital.
Aegean Aviation wants to increase its share capital by seven billion
The new aircraft, the four-engine Avro RJ 100, will be used on domestic
routes with Athens as the hub.
Cloudy weather with sunny spells will prevail throughout Greece today with
rain in the west of the country. Fog in the morning in mainland Greece.
Winds, variable, moderate to strong. Overcast from the afternoon in Athens
with temperatures between 10-17C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures
Wednesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 279.357
Pound sterling 454.733 Japanese yen (100) 248.446
French franc 48.962 German mark 164.212
Italian lira (100) 16.587 Irish Punt 407.802
Belgian franc 7.962 Finnish mark 54.017
Dutch guilder 145.741 Danish kr. 43.138
Austrian sch. 23.340 Spanish peseta 1.930
Swedish kr. 35.331 Norwegian kr. 37.289
Swiss franc 199.883 Port. Escudo 1.602
Aus. dollar 178.143 Can. dollar 185.246
Cyprus pound 552.266