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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-01-19

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, 19/01/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Finnish PM Lipponen touts Athens' efforts towards EMU
  • Stocks jump aided by markets abroad
  • Athens Chamber launches pilot database on Balkans
  • HEPO participation at Yugoslav int'l farm exhibition
  • Less bankruptcies reported in 1998 than '97
  • Athens: More Aegean tension invented by Turkey
  • Greece condemns massacre of unarmed Albanian civilians in Kosovo
  • Pangalos begins visit to Bulgaria, Romania
  • Greek MPs hopeful of repatriation of Parthenon Marbles
  • Gov't says most schools back to normal, pupils'roadblocks persist
  • Dimitra Liani-Papandreou charged with felony fraud
  • GSEE Internet site
  • Albanians given life sentence for British couple's murder
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Finnish PM Lipponen touts Athens' efforts towards EMU

Finland has been impressed by Athens' efforts towards projected Economic and Monetary Union accession, Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen said in Athens yesterday.

Mr. Lipponen arrived in Greece on Sunday evening for a two-day visit expected to focus on European Union issues, developments in the Balkan and eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus and the course of Turkey's relations with the EU.

Mr. Lipponen was speaking after meeting with his Greek counterpart Costas Simitis, who said the meeting was constructive and particularly important in light of Finland's presidency of the European Union in the second half of 1999.

Greece's progress towards EMU, the allocation of EU funds, 'Agenda 2000' and continuing talks on EU expansion are all items on the agenda for Finland's presidency.

Mr. Simitis said Helsinki and Athens were in agreement on the EU funds allocation issue.

He added that Finland faced problems similar to Greece in having many poorer regions and hoped for Community solidarity for a just distribution of funds, in line with the economic ability of each country.

He added that Helsinki was supportive of Cyprus's accession efforts and that expansion was a leading priority for Finland.

Both men also underlined the need for an effective EU presence in foreign policy.

The Finnish prime minister also said problems in relations between Greece and Turkey should be referred to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

Bilateral relations were at a good level and Mr. Simitis said that distance was no obstacle to developing trade.

Mr. Lipponen met earlier with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis and President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos at midday.

He later met Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos. According to reports, Mr. Pangalos exchanged views with Mr. Lipponen on developments in the European Union, since Finland will be assuming the EU's rotating presidency in the second half of 1999.

C& Athens bourse drafts plan to allow entry by foreign firmsC

The Athens Stock Exchange has drafted proposals on allowing foreign companies from Europe and the Balkans to enter the market, according to a report recently given to the national economy ministry.

A bourse committee has proposed that a foreign company seeking listing must have a sponsor who would be responsible for the company's liabilities in the domestic market.

The law currently contains no provisions for sponsorship, as in other European markets, and the committee has suggested that an amendment should be forwarded to parliament soon.

The report also recommended that the entry prospectus of foreign applicants should be checked by a domestic lawyer in order to ensure compatability with the law.

Balance sheets should comply with international accounting standards. At the same time, checks by domestic certified accountants would act as a deterrent, the report said.

Stocks jump aided by markets abroad

Equities rallied yesterday helped by a recovery in international markets following Brazil's decision to devalue its currency last week.

The general index ended 3.61 percent up at 2,987.36 points, off the day's highs. Turnover was heavy at 117.5 billion drachmas, a record so far in the new year, on volume of 22,237,000 shares.

Sector indices ended sharply higher.

Banks rose 4.42 percent, Leasing increased 4.20 percent, Insurance ended 4.48 percent up, Investment jumped 5.22 percent, Construction soared 6.81 percent, Industrials ended 1.95 percent higher, Miscellaneous surged 6.38 percent and Holding rose 2.64 pe rcent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 6.62 percent up while the FTSE/ASE 20 index ended 4.07 percent higher at 1,882.70 points.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 270 to 10 with another 5 issues unchanged.

A spectacular 122 shares hit the day's 8.0 percent limit up. Among them were Attica Bank, Dorian Bank, Bank of Central Greece, Teletypos, Hellenic Sugar, Aktor, Terna, Dimitriadis, Britannia and Sanyo.

National Bank of Greece ended at 66,850 drachmas, Ergobank at 36,400, Alpha Credit Bank at 32,000, Ionian Bank at 16,200, Titan Cement at 21,520, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,360, Intracom at 14,390, Minoan Lines at 7,340, Panafon at 8,710 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 8,255 drachmas.

Athens Chamber launches pilot database on Balkans

The Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry has launched a computerised databank on the Balkans on a pilot basis.

In the first phase, the databank will cover Albania, Bulgaria and Romania, available on the Chamber's Internet address, which is http://pixis.acci.gr.

Information supplied includes financial data on the countries concerned, updates on the result of privatisation attempts, tenders called in the private and public sectors, and details of European Union programmes.

HEPO participation at Yugoslav int'l farm exhibition

The Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO) will undertake to organise Greece's participation in the international exhibition "International Agricultural Fair" to be held in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia, on May 17-25.

The products to be displayed at the exhibition are, among others, foodstuffs, spices, honey, alcoholic drinks, tobacco, cigarettes, tinned food, seeds and cultivation materials, flowers, packaging and materials for agricultural products, pesticides and fertilizers, agricultural machinery, animal fodder and animal medicines.

Applications for participation must be sent to HEPO by Jan. 25.

Less bankruptcies reported in 1998 than '97

The market's image improved in 1998 compared to 1997 since, according to data by the Union of Greek Banks and publicised yesterday.

Specifically, unpaid bills of exchange decreased by 7.5 per cent in volume and 2 per cent in value; bounced cheques by 1.5 per cent in volume and 3.9 per cent in value; payment orders by 11 per cent, bankruptcy applications by 36.3 per cent and declared bankruptcies by 33 per cent.

In 1998 unpaid bills of exchange amounted to 357,155 pieces amounting to 98.6 billion drachmas compared to 385,978 pieces amounting to 100.7 billion drachmas in 1997. Bouncing cheques were 129,197 pieces worth 263 billion drachmas last year as against 131,232 pieces worth 253.2 billion drachmas in 1997. Payment orders totalled 86,504 in 1998 as against 97,182 in 1997. Bankruptcy applications were 2,212 last year as against 3,477 in 1997. Declared bankruptcies decreased from 1,299 in 1997 to 871 in 1998.

Athens: More Aegean tension invented by Turkey

The government yesterday accused Turkey of creating tension and seeking a confrontation, in response to recent criticism by Turkish officials on Greece's ability to manage and control in the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR).

Greece also centred its criticism and pointed to statements by a Turkish foreign ministry, who more-or-less disputed Greece's sovereignty of rock islets in the Aegean.

"Turkey is creating escalation and seeking a confrontation," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

He again suggested that Turkey take recourse in the International Court of Justice at The Hague, since "Turkey has the problem, let it undertake its resolution. The roads for its resolution are very specific. Unless it (Ankara) desires war..."

Asked to comment on opposition criticism of "delay" on the part of the PASOK government in responding to the latest Turkish provocations, Mr. Reppas said that "Greece cannot possibly be expected to dance to the tune of the Turkish government".

Greece condemns massacre of unarmed Albanian civilians in Kosovo

Athens yesterday expressed its disgust and condemnation of a massacre of 45 ethnic Albanian civilians in the troubled Yugoslav province of Kosovo, saying such acts were detrimental to a defusion of the crisis.

"We hope that those responsible will be arrested and held to account," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

He said blame for the killings should be laid on both sides and reiterated that UN Security Council resolutions provided the only framework for a way out of the crisis.

Pangalos begins visit to Bulgaria, Romania

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, on an official visit to Bulgaria and Romania today and tomorrow, will hold talks with officials from both countries on bilateral relations as well as on peace initiatives in SE Europe.

Mr. Pangalos is scheduled to meet with his Bulgarian counterpart Mihailova today to discuss implementation of existing cross-border agreements as well as bilateral issues such as the situtation in Kosovo and tri-party cooperation between Greece-Bulgaria and Romania (SECI).

The Greek foreign minister will also meet with Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov, Prime Minister Ivan Kostov and the president of the Bulgarian Parliament Jordan Sokolov.

In Romania, discussions are expected to focus on economic cooperation, as several Greece-based firms have already made significant investments in the country.

Greek MPs hopeful of repatriation of Parthenon Marbles

Greek Eurodeputies lobbying for a return of the priceless 5th century BC Parthenon friezes from Britain said yesterday they were hopeful the issue could be taken up on a European level.

"The issue of a return of the Parthenon Marbles is no longer a bilateral issue between Britain and Greece but is now one for the Community and leaves the Greek government larger possibilities to bring up the issue in the framework of the European Union, " Left Coalition Eurodeputy Alekos Alavanos told a news conference on Monday.

On Friday, 339 of 626 European Parliament deputies, or more than half of the assembly, signed a petition in favour of a return of the Parthenon Marbles.

The petition says "it would be a timely act which would contribute to our common European cultural heritage."

It was the third, and first successful, attempt by Greek Eurodeputies to gather enough signatures for a formal resolution. The other two attempts occurred in 1994 and 1996.

Greece has been trying for years to secure the return of the marbles, lifted from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin before Greek independence from Ottoman rule. Elgin sold them to the British Museum in 1816.

Britain has repeatedly refused Greece's requests, saying they were safer at the British Museum than in the smog of Athens, despite recently acknowledging that some damage was caused by cleaning in 1937.

The petition will be sent to the prime ministers of Britain and Greece, the president of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Leni Fischer and the president of the European Commission Jacques Santer on Feb. 8.

Gov't says most schools back to normal, pupils'roadblocks persist

The government yesterday claimed that most secondary schools were operating normally, particularly those in the provinces, underlining the need for a greater show of responsibility from both teachers and students over the ongoing nationwide protests.

"...(This would) lead to a start of dialogue on the adjustments and details which relate to the implementation of the education reforms," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

Protests and sit-ins have meant many schools around the country have not opened for classes for weeks. Snap road blocks at various points around cities and on national roads have caused traffic chaos and drawn the ire of motorists, leading at times to fisticuffs between protestors and drivers.

Meanwhile, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos reiterated that students should return to classes and offered to act as an independent intermediary between the protestors and the government.

He said that the students would one day realise that others were playing games with them, to their detriment.

However, despite the popular Archbishop's offer, students continued their tactics of surprise road blocks on major arterials, again causing havoc for hours on city roads.

A young high school student was hit by a car and injured yesterday during a road block set up by pupils protesting education ministry reforms.

The accident occurred outside a school that is being occupied in the northern Athens suburb of Paleo Psyhiko. Police said some 50 students had blocked the road outside the school and were milling around when the car, driven by a 47-year-old man, hit the 16-year-old girl.

The driver was arrested. The girl was reported to be in a satisfactory condition.

The day began with a road block by students on central Alexandras Avenue. Students clashed with passersby and drivers. Another group of students closed off Vouliagmenis Avenue in the Ilioupolis area.

Dimitra Liani-Papandreou charged with felony fraud

An Athens prosecutor yesterday filed felony fraud charges against Dimitra Liani-Papandreou, the widow of PASOK founder and former premier Andreas Papandreou, as well as three other people.

The charges are related to income tax irregularities over the acquisition of a plot in the posh northern Athens suburb of Ekali. The land was used by Ms Papandreou and Andreas Papandreou to build a luxury home.

Ms Papandreou's co-defendants are the brothers Aristidis and Sotiris Loumidis and businessman Yiannis Alexiou.

The prosecutor also filed charges of breach of duty against the head of the Kifissia tax bureau in the period 1993-1998.

The charges were brought after a lengthy preliminary investigation started on orders of former Supreme Court chief justice Vassilis Kokkinos, who acted on the basis of press reports.

GSEE Internet site

The General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) as of yesterday has its own Internet site at www.gsee.gr

Internet users can look up the GSEE page to find information on the history of the confederation and the labour movement and views of labour unions on current issues, among others.

Albanians given life sentence for British couple's murder

Two Albanians arrested for the murder of a British couple last year on the Ionian island of Cephallonia were ea ch sentenced to two life sentences yesterday.

Lambro Papas and Eduard Elmazai, both 27, also received 11-year sentences, to run concurrently, for possession and use of weapons.

The two confessed to murdering Judith and Roy Eccles during a break-in on March 12, 1998. Police arrested them two days after the discovery of the double murder.

Roy Eccles, 53, an electrical engineer and his wife Judith, 49, an accountant, had recently retired to the village of Kaminarata.

According to court records, they told police they stabbed the Britons repeatedly when the couple woke up and discovered them, before combing the house for money and credit cards.

Both men told the court they had been under the influence of drugs at the time of the break-in and murders.

WEATHER

Mostly fair weather will prevail throughout Greece today with low temperatures and the possibility of light rain in the east and south, the Cycladic islands and northern Crete. Winds, variable, moderate to strong, turning gale force in the Aegean Sea. Overcast in Athens with temperatures between 5-13C. Mostly fair in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 1- 10C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 277.125 Pound sterling 458.304 Japanese yen (100) 241.423 French franc 48.921 German mark 164.075 Italian lira (100) 16.573 Irish Punt 407.462 Belgian franc 7.955 Finnish mark 53.972 Dutch guilder 145.619 Danish kr. 43.102 Austrian sch. 23.321 Spanish peseta 1.929 Swedish kr. 35.323 Norwegian kr. 37.152 Swiss franc 199.918 Port. Escudo 1.601 Aus. dollar 175.981 Can. dollar 181.536 Cyprus pound 557.988

(C.E.)


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