Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-01-20
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 20/01/1999 (ANA)
- Pangalos strongly condemns latest massacre in Kosovo
- Burns cites major progress on Greek-US relations
- Venizelos lauds Greek Euro-MPs for initiative on Parthenon Marbles
- Gov't predicts normalisation in education sector
- Parliament discussion focuses on S-300s issue today
- Average weighted yield slides in 3-yr bond auction
- ANEK passenger shipper to make trading debut tomorrow
- Sanyo Hellas to boost share capital by Dr 10 bln
- Stocks drop in active trade, flirt with 3,000-pt barrier
- HEPO participation in Bucharest exhibition
- Initiative against child labour
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Pangalos strongly condemns latest massacre in Kosovo
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said yesterday that the persons
responsible for the massacre of 45 ethnic Albanians in a Kosovo village
should be "condemned, isolated and treated as criminals."
He stressed that the responsibility of the Yugoslav government in the
incident was clear.
The Greek minister was speaking at a news conference after talks in Sofia
with his counterpart Nadezhda Mihailova as part of a two-day visit to the
neighbouring country and Romania.
US diplomatic observers on Saturday found the bodies of the ethnic
Albanians, victims of an alleged massacre by Yugoslav police, in and around
Racak, about 25 km south of Pristina, the capital of the strife-torn
Belgrade claims the massacre was an elaborate hoax by the west and a
pretext for intervention by NATO.
Mr. Pangalos also attributed responsibility to the Albanian side for what
he called their provocations and "irresponsible acts", while hastening to
add that these could in no way justify mass slaughter.
Mr. Pangalos, who communicated with the Serbian leadership late Monday
night, described as mistaken the Yugoslav government's decision not to
accept OSCE observers in the country, and expressed the hope that the 48-
hour deadline would work in a positive manner and that in the end the
observers would stay. "The opposite would be unacceptable for the prestige
of OSCE, harmful to the Serbian government and particularly painful for the
population groupings in the area," he said.
Regarding the possibility of a military intervention in Kosovo, Greece and
Bulgaria appeared with identical positions.
Asked about the possibility of NATO intervention, Mr. Pangalos contrasted
it with the case of Iraq where, he stressed, the targets of the US and
British bombing raids had been strategic, while in Kosovo there were no
"Everyone is talking about who will carry out the bombing. Nobody has
explained who and what will be bombed," he said.
Ms Mihailova said her country was in favor of a peaceful resolution of the
crisis and asked for its participation in the force of international
While focusing on recent developments in Kosovo, yesterday's talks between
Ms Pangalos and Ms Mihailova concluded with the signing of a bilateral
customs cooperation accord. The two foreign ministers agreed that Greece
and Bulgaria have already set the appropriate framework for regular
bilateral contacts, but also at the level of trilateral cooperation that
will also involve Romania for discussion on prominent political issues,
infrastructure, the fight against crime, as well as economic and trade
They also discussed a Greek initiative for the creation of a 25 km wide
border zone for the free movement of people between the two countries.
Responding to a question by a Greek reporter on the issue of suspending the
operation of the four reactors of the Kozlodui nuclear power plant, which
is considered by western experts as dangerous, Mr. Pangalos said Greece was
opposed to the use of nuclear power in any form, but added that Bulgarian
PM Ivan Kostov had handed, in a friendly gesture, a detailed report to his
Greek counterpart Costas Simitis on the plant a few months ago.
Mr. Pangalos, who left last night for Bucharest, also pledged Greek support
for the construction of a second bridge over the Danube - the border
between Bulgaria and Romania.
Burns cites major progress on Greek-US relations
US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns detailed yesterday what he referred
to as the "significant progress" in Greek-US relations over the past few
years, while placing bilateral trade and investment ties squarely on the
top of his agenda.
"After one year, I'm now optimistic, a great deal has changed...with the
Greek government especially responsible for this change," the US ambassador
Although the prospect of improved trade and investment relations dominated
Mr. Burns' speech, he also touched on various foreign policy issues,
reiterating that Washington favours autonomy for the troubled Yugoslav
province of Kosovo but no change of borders or independence.
He also called for a "more humanistic" approach to the problem by Belgrade,
while responding to a press question he added that he spoke with the Greek
government on Monday regarding the issue, following the latest violence in
Questioned over the impeachment hearings in the US Senate against US
President Bill Clinton, he gave a personal view: "You're seeing US
democracy in action, with its positives and negatives..."
Mr. Burns, the former US State Department spokesman in the current Clinton
administration, was the guest speaker at a luncheon organised by the
Piraeus Marine Club, held at the organisation's waterfront premises in the
heart of Greece's shipping district.
Speaking to some of Greece's foremost shipping executives and shipowners,
Mr. Burns covered practically the entire gamut of Greek-US relations,
citing a mostly convergence of views between Athens and Washington recently
on foreign policy issues ranging from Kosovo to the Iraqi crisis and even
on dealing with Libya.
Mr. Burns also lauded Athens' efforts at mediating between Israel and the
Palestinians, pointing to three conferences sponsored by Greece so far
focusing on the Mideast peace process.
Referring to Cyprus, Mr. Burns said the US is actively involved in
attempting to assist in resolving the problem, while pointing out that "the
US would not have sold the Patriot (anti-aircraft) system to Cyprus" and
that some "15 years separate" the invasion of Cyprus and the invasion of
"Turkey is an ally of the US. It's also an ally of Greece. Iraq is not an
ally of Greece, the US or Turkey," he said in response to a question
drawing a parallel between the two invasions and subsequent US actions.
"We don't favour Turkey over Greece, or Greece over Turkey. I can assure
you we don't favour one over the other."
However, he directly blamed Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for the
failure of last year's US-sponsored talks on the divided island republic,
reiterating Washington's opposition to a Turkish Cypriot and Ankara-backed
proposal for a confederatio n solution on Cyprus.
"Denktash did not allow for this (progress) to happen. He made unreasonable
demands...We favour a bizonal, bicommunal federation on Cyprus."
The US envoy called the previous condition of Greek-US economic relations
as being on "life supports", saying Greece was last on the list for US
investments among EU members, and second to last among the United States'
EU trading partners. He cited a dramatic increase in both trade and
Finally, the 43-year-old Massachusetts-raised US ambassador outlined five
reasons why he believes Greek-US relations have improved recently, listing
restored trust, cooperation on foreign policy issues, a long-time military
relationship, as he noted, in creased trade relations and finally, "a
desire" by both the Greek and American people for close ties.
"We have a blood relationship between us...I think the people of Greece and
the US are ahead of their governments, they want us to get with the
programme," Mr. Burns said.
Venizelos lauds Greek Euro-MPs for initiative on Parthenon Marbles
Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos yesterday sent a letter to five Greek
Eurodeputies congratulating them on their initiative and success in getting
colleagues in Strasbourg to sign a petition calling for the return of the
Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum in London to Greece.
In the letter, Mr. Venizelos said the initiative enabled him to raise the
issue for discussion at the Council of Culture Ministers.
"Of course, in view of Britain's stance, even after its return to UNESCO as
a full member, international pressure has practical significance when it
takes the form of direct pressure on the United Kingdom," he said.
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 priceless 5th
century BC Parthenon friezes from Britain.
The petition states: "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.
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 predicts normalisation in education sector
The government yesterday predicted a return of secondary school pupils and
teachers to class very soon, stressing that there could be no other
solution and noting what it said was a decline in the number of schools
Replying to reporters' questions, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas also
clarified that yesterday's meeting between Prime Minister Costas Simitis
and Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis was a scheduled one, during which
the minister briefed the premier on "all education-related issues".
Protests and sit-ins have meant many schools around the country have not
opened for weeks. Snap roadblocks in cities and on major highways have
caused traffic chaos and on occasion resulted in scuffles between drivers
and student protesters.
Asked whether Mr. Simitis had urged Mr. Arsenis to make certain concessions,
Mr. Reppas replied that "this issue was not raised, nor will it be raised",
adding that the policy being implemented by Mr. Arsenis was government
Parliament discussion focuses on S-300s issue today
The cancellation of the Russian-made S-300 missile system's deployment on
Cyprus will be discussed again in Parliament today during the questioning
period for Prime Minister Costas Simitis, following two tabled questions by
Ruling PASOK deputy Lefteris Verivakis has also tabled a question with
regard to the validity of a report published in the New York-based Greek-
language "Proini" daily, which claims that the Cyprus government was
holding negotiations over the deployment of the missiles in Egypt.
Average weighted yield slides in 3-yr bond auction
The average weighted yield on three-year bonds dropped to 7.56 percent from
9.36 percent in November in a finance ministry auction held yesterday.
Bids by primary dealers totalled 563.3 billion drachmas, 3.1 times above
the 180 billion drachmas sought by the government. The ministry accepted
bids totalling 214 billion drachmas.
The average weighted yield was lower than the security's coupon of 7.6
The average weighted price was set at 100.09 and the lowest accepted price
The finance ministry also replaced a three-year bond dated November 20,
1998, offering a fixed interest rate of 9.3 percent, with yesterday's bonds,
to yield 7.71 percent.
The repurchase bids totalled 140.4 billion of the 144 billion drachma
ANEK passenger shipper to make trading debut tomorrow
ANEK, a major passenger shipper, is to begin trading on the Athens bourse
The Crete-based shipper plies routes between the southern island and the
port of Piraeus; and between western Greek ports and Italy.
The company announced yesterday that a ferry it bought had set sail from
Mitsubishi's shipyard in Japan after refurbishing. It is due to arrive in
Greece on February 2.
Sanyo Hellas to boost share capital by Dr 10 bln
Shareholders of Sanyo Hellas Holding yesterday endorsed a 10-billion
drachma share capital rise through a cash deposit, capitalisation of
reserves and mergers or acquisitions of subsidiaries.
Company chairman Stavros Papageorgiou said that the new capital would be
used to finance the following activities:
- Fund natural gas projects in Ukraine (3.0 billion drachmas)
- Develop wholesale and retail sales in electrical goods through the firm's
Club Electric subsidiary (1.5 billion)
- Extend the network run by Sanyocom, provider of state Cosmote mobile
phone operator (500 million)
- Completion of a project in Kifissias Avenue (1.5 billion)
- Acquisitions and mergers due to be announced before the share capital
rise (3.5 billion)
Mr. Papageorgiou said that in 1998 the parent company's turnover was more
than 8.0 billion drachmas and net profits nearly 1.0 billion drachmas,
which are expected to rise to 2.5 billion drachmas this year.
Stocks drop in active trade, flirt with 3,000-pt barrier
Equities ended lower yesterday as profit taking reversed a rally on the
Athens Stock Exchange in the previous session.
The general index ended 0.89 percent off at 2,960.85 points although it
temporarily broke through resistance at 3,000 points early in the
Turnover was 99.7 billion drachmas and volume 21,335,000 shares.
Sector indices suffered losses across the board.
Banks fell 0.34 percent, Leasing plunged 4.39 percent, Insurance dropped
3.42 percent, Investment fell 1.31 percent, Construction rose 0.56 percent,
Industrials eased 0.95 percent, Miscellaneous ended 0.37 percent down and
Holding fell 1.59 percent.
National Bank of Greece ended at 67,450 drachmas, Ergobank at 36,325, Alpha
Credit Bank at 31,250, Ionian Bank at 15,975, Titan Cement at 21,300,
Hellenic Petroleum at 2,330, Intracom at 14,030, Minoan Lines at 7,360,
Panafon at 8,700 and Hellenic Telecoms at 8,095 drachmas.
HEPO participation in Bucharest exhibition
The Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO) will organise Greece's participation
in the international consumer goods exhibition TIBCO '99, to be held in
Bucharest from May 25-30.
Products to be displayed at the exhibition, considered the most important
in the consumer sector in Romania, include foodstuffs, beverages, clothing,
shoes, leather products, furniture, household appliances, chemical products
for homes, perfumes, cosmetics, toys, electric appliances, items of popular
art, tutorial materials, jewellery, medicines, opticals, auto accessories
For more information, interested parties should call HEPO's office in
Athens at 99.82.245 by Jan. 25.
Initiative against child labour
The Maragopoulou Institute for Human Rights is leading a local initiative
aimed at establishing an international agreement to combat child labour.
The president of the Maragopoulou Institute, the general secretaries of the
labour and welfare ministries as well as the president of the General
Confederation of the Workers of Greece (GSEE) yesterday announced an action
plan aiming to assist in intern ational efforts to combat child labour.
Mrs. Maragopoulou blamed multinationals from developed countries for the
failure of similar efforts last year and recommended action to alert public
opinion to the exploitation of children.
Mostly fair weather with low temperatures will prevail throughout Greece
today. Possibility of showers in the east and south, the Cycladic islands
and northern Crete. Winds, variable, moderate to strong. Partly cloudy in
Athens with temperatures ranging between 5-12C. Mostly fair in Thessaloniki
with temperatures from 1-9C.
Wednesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 275.964
Pound sterling 458.046 Japanese yen (100) 242.375
French franc 48.942 German mark 164.146
Italian lira (100) 16.580 Irish Punt 407.638
Belgian franc 7.958 Finnish mark 53.995
Dutch guilder 145.682 Danish kr. 43.154
Austrian sch. 23.331 Spanish peseta 1.929
Swedish kr. 35.539 Norwegian kr. 37.140
Swiss franc 200.905 Port. Escudo 1.601
Aus. dollar 174.602 Can. dollar 179.393
Cyprus pound 551.552