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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-11-10

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] Clinton says normalisation of Greek-Turkish relations onne of his top European priorities
  • [02] New measures to expand bourse trade
  • [03] Monetary policy to stay the same, gov't says
  • [04] New investment products in real estate
  • [05] Banks lead Athens bourse lower
  • [06] Drachma slumps on realignment statement
  • [07] 10-year bond yield falls
  • [08] Budget surplus rises to Dr 349 bln Jan-Oct
  • [09] Greek business delegation to Bulgaria
  • [10] Visa cards jump 50 pct Jan-Sept
  • [11] Athens Foreign Exchange
  • [12] Simitis discusses bilateral, EU issues with Chirac in Paris
  • [13] `Ike`, Bush preceded Clinton in official Greek visits
  • [14] Stephanopoulos inaugurates exhibition in Bavaria
  • [15] Turkish `friendship train` scheduled to arrive in Thessaloniki
  • [16] Greek-Palestinian agreement in agriculture sector

  • [01] Clinton says normalisation of Greek-Turkish relations onne of his top European priorities

    WASHINGTON, 10/11/1999 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    US President Bill Clinton stressed yesterday that normalising Greek-Turkish relations is one of Washington's three priorities in Europe.

    The US leader was speaking at Georgetown University outside Washington D.C. late Monday evening regarding US foreign policy for Europe during the last 14 months of his administration.

    Referring to the framework of events marking the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Mr. Clinton said his other two priorities are cooperation with Russia and stability in the Balkans.

    Mentioning Greece and Turkey, he said "a third challenge, and probably the most difficult, is building a permanent peace in the region of the Aegean, the achievement of real reconciliation between Greece and Turkey and bridging the distance between Europe and the world of Islam."

    "When I will be in Greece, I will speak of the vital role Greece is playing and can play in Europe," he said, adding that "the oldest democracy in the world is a model for the newest democracies in the Balkans, entry into their markets, a force for stab ility in the region. The only thing standing between Greece and its real capabilities is tension in its relationship with Turkey. It is ironic that Greece and Turkey are both our allies in NATO and allies of each other. They have served together in the Balkans in an excellent way. Their peoples showed great humanity and helped each other when destructive earthquakes struck the two countries recently. This problem can be resolved. It will ultimately be resolved and I intend to do all I can to help."

    Mr. Clinton further said "the future will be shaped for the better if Turkey is able to become an integral part of Europe as a stable, democratic, secular islamic nation. And this can be done if there is progress towards overcoming differences with Gree ce, particularly with regard to Cyprus, if Turkey continues to strengthen respect for human rights and if there is a vital vision on the part of our European allies who should be prepared to go ahead with an opening and believe that in Turkey Europe and the Islamic world can meet peacefully and harmoniously, giving us an opportunity to implement the future of our dreams in this part of the world in the new millennium."

    Clinton: No concerns over protests : Mr. Clinton also stressed yesterday he feels no concern regarding anti-American demonstrations expected during his visit to Greece over the weekend.

    "I expect demonstrations to take place. This does not make me feel concerned and I think there will be no problem on security issues," Mr. Clinton told reporters when asked to comment on anti-American demonstrations in Athens over the past few days.

    "I am well aware that Greece has a long and rich tradition of demonstrations by anarchists, communists and leftists. All these people disagree, as you know, with me over my policy in Kosovo. But the United States and Greece are allies, not only in the ranks of NATO but in other important sectors as well," President Clinton stated.

    White House on press speculation : In a related development, White House spokesman Joe Lockhart dioscounted speculation that the US president will not head to Athens after all, saying that "the president will travel to Greece."

    Regarding details of the visit, Mr. Lockhart said "I'll let you know the schedule as soon as it's given to me" and that "tomorrow we'll make an announcement on the exact schedule of the trip."

    "From what I know about the tradition of demonstrations in Greece, I don't believe that anyone could prevent that. And you know, we fully - as the president said this morning...expect people will express their views, whether they are in support of the president or whether they are those who want to articulate an agenda different. I mean, we fully understand there are those on the left in Greece who were unhappy with our role and NATO's role in Kosovo. They've made that quite clear. I expect they'll make it clear while we're there," Mr. Lockhart said.

    According to ANA dispatch from Paris, Greek leadership was reportedly satisfied with Mr. Clinton's remarks, citing especially the fact that press speculation over a possible cancellation should now all but evaporate.

    Sources said preparation of Mr. Clinton's itinerary while in Greece is proceeding normally, without that meaning, however, that last-minute changes for security reasons can be ruled out.

    US envoy on possible protests : Additionally, it was reported that US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns is concerned about the presence of protests outside the embassy while Mr. Clinton is in Athens, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

    Mr. Reppas, replying to reporters' questions as to whether Mr. Burns had asked the government to 'prevent' a march to the US embassy, said the envoy was concerned about the presence of demonstrators outside the building while the US president was in Greece.

    "It is a logical concern and nothing more," Mr. Reppas said.

    Mr. Reppas said the US ambassador expressed concern that these demonstrations might overshadow the Clinton visit or "possibly" harm Greek-US relations.

    Commenting on a recent US State Department announcement concerning possible anti-American protests, the government spokesman denied that this was a travel advisory - which would warn tourists to avoid Greece - and underlined it was a public announcement on the part of US authorities.

    "The US services are responding to real events," Mr. Reppas said.

    The State Department public announcement, issued on Monday evening, warned Americans citizens residing in Greece and US visitors to the country to stay away from areas where demonstrations are taking place, effective through Dec. 1.

    The announcement said that "mid-November is usually a period of demonstrations in Greece on the anniversary of the 1973 students' uprising against the military dictatorship".

    "We have no information on specific threats against American citizens in Greece. But in recent weeks there have been several late-night terrorist bomb actions and other attacks that caused damage to business concerns related to the US and concerns consi dered American," the State Department announcement read.

    Transport plane : Meanwhile, a US Air Force 'Galaxy' transport plane landed at Athens airport yesterday loaded with material to be used in providing security for Mr. Clinton during his stay in Greece.

    Sources said the plane carried two helicopters and a large quantity of electronic equipment to be used by the US president's extensive security detail.

    Another four helicopters are expected to shipped through the airport as well.

    GSEE : Finally, the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) has called on workers to participate in protest demonstrations on the occasion of Mr. Clinton's visit.

    GSEE will organise a photo and press exhibition focusing on what it calls the consequences of US policy in the Balkans and Cyprus, in cooperation with several press unions and the Athens Bar Association.

    GSEE has termed Mr. Clinton's visit a few days before the (November 17) Polytechnic anniversary "a provocation."

    Athens News Agency

    [02] New measures to expand bourse trade

    Athens, 10/11/1999 (ANA)

    Trading on the Athens Stock Exchange will be extended by two hours and the daily volatility limit eased from the start of next year, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday.

    Speaking to reporters, Mr. Papantoniou said that the measures would satisfy two key demands by investors and the Capital Markets Commission.

    The decision was taken following talks with interested parties in order to further improve the stock market's operation, he said.

    The move to extend trading hours was feasible after the completion of a programme to convert shares into electronic form coupled with a steady increase in daily transactions on the market.

    Mr. Papantoniou said that extending trading hours would bring the Athens bourse in line with other European markets.

    The daily volatility limit for share prices would be expanded from the current 8.0 percent higher or lower.

    When a share price hits the daily limit up or down, trading will be suspended to restart within a price range of four percent higher or lower.

    The measures decided by the minister require approval by the Athens Stock Exchange's board and the Capital Markets Commission.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Monetary policy to stay the same, gov't says

    Athens, 10/11/1999 (ANA)

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou repeated yesterday that the government's monetary policy would remain unchanged.

    He was replying to a reporter's question on whether the drachma would retain its central parity of 353.109 to the euro in the European Union's exchange rate mechanism II.

    Until yesterday, rumours of a revaluation of the drachma's parity fuelled buying by institutional investors abroad despite denials by monetary officials that the parity was about to change.

    Mr. Papantoniou also told a news conference that the parity was not discussed at a meeting of EU finance ministers held in Brussels on Monday.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] New investment products in real estate

    Athens, 10/11/1999 (ANA)

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday unveiled a bill allowing the introduction of two new investment products into the domestic real estate market.

    The introduction of real estate mutual funds and real estate investment firms will greatly benefit the market ahead of an expected wave of investments following the country's participation in EMU combined with a rapid fall in interest rates, Mr. Papantoniou said.

    He noted that the measures would support an effort to upgrade Greek cities by facilitating land development.

    Projects such as the Athens Metro, Athens 2004 Olympics projects, road networks and a plan for the unification of archaeological sites by creating walkways could change the terms of land development.

    Real estate mutual funds will work on collective investments.

    The new category will be run by a mutual fund management company independent of real estate or building construction firms.

    The company's aim will be to raise capital and to invest it in the real estate market. The minimum unit will not be lower than five million drachmas and will be exempt from real estate tax.

    Real estate investment firms will have to operate with a minimum paid-up capital of 10 billion drachmas and will be listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, Mr. Papantoniou said.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Banks lead Athens bourse lower

    Athens, 10/11/1999 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended lower yesterday dragged down by losses in blue chip stocks in the Banks sector.

    The general index fell 0.44 percent to 5,728.14 points, off the day's high of 5,812. Turnover was 342 billion drachmas.

    Traders said investors preferred to take early profits in blue chip stocks, a move which overshadowed steady demand for smaller capitalisation issues.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-1.50 pct), Leasing (-1.44 pct), Insurance (+1.81 pct), Investment (+2.34 pct), Construction (+1.28 pct), Industrials (-0.22 pct), Miscellaneous (-3.81 pct) and Holding (+2.79 pct).

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks rose 0.49 percent while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks eased 1.06 percent to 2,831.09 points.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 171 to 127 with another 23 issues unchanged. A total of 55 shares ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit up, while five ended at the day's limit down. Techniki Olympiaki and Eskimo were the most heavily traded stocks.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 21,900 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 24, 890, Commercial Bank at 23,250, Titan Cement (common) at 43,480, Hellenic Petroleum at 4,950, Intracom at 15,000, Minoan Lines at 10,400, Panafon at 3,770 and Hellenic Telecoms at 6,600.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Drachma slumps on realignment statement

    Athens, 10/11/1999 (ANA)

    A statement by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou that monetary policy would remain the same depressed the drachma, prompting the central bank to intervene to bolster the national currency.

    The drachma was rampant in recent sessions on rumours that the drachma would undergo a revaluation of its central parity in the European Union's exchange rate mechanism II.

    Yesterday, the Bank of Greece sold about 400 million euros when the European single currency topped 330 drachmas.

    In the previous session, demand had driven up the drachma against the euro, prompting the central bank to buy around 400 million euros to stem the national currency's ascent.

    At the central bank's daily fix, the euro was set at 329.250 drachmas from 328.300 drachmas in the previous session and 328.550 drachmas on Friday. The dollar nosed up against the drachma.

    The US currency was set at 316.540 drachmas from 315.150 drachmas a day earlier and 316.120 drachmas on Friday.

    Bonds slump in sell-off : Secondary market bond prices yesterday rose in early trade but slumped after Mr. Papandreou's statement.

    Buying in recent sessions was fuelled by hopes of a realignment in the drachma's central parity in ERM II.

    Active in the market were institutional investors from abroad, who would benefit from the rumoured revaluation.

    Yesterday, the minister's statement depressed prices with the same foreign investors dumping around 103.5 billion drachmas of paper.

    The benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield higher than 6.45-6.47 percent a day earlier and 6.52 percent on Friday, taking the spread over German bunds to 163 basis points late in the day from 145 basis points in early trade.

    The spread was 152-154 basis points in the previous session and 157 basis points on Friday.

    Electronic trade was 40 billion drachmas before the sell-off from 19 billion drachmas a day earlier and 45 billion drachmas on Friday. Buy orders had accounted for the whole of turnover.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] 10-year bond yield falls

    Athens, 10/11/1999 (ANA)

    The ten-year bond yield dropped substantially yesterday in a regular auction of state securities by the finance ministry, halting several weeks of rises.

    The average weighted interest on the bonds worth 160 billion drachmas and paying an annual coupon of 6.3 percent fell to 6.39 percent from 6.89 percent in the previous auction on October 12.

    Bids submitted totalled 267.7 billion drachmas, 1.67 times more than the amount offered. The finance ministry finally accepted bids totalling 170 billion drachmas. The ministry said demand for Greek state securities remained strong.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Budget surplus rises to Dr 349 bln Jan-Oct

    Athens, 10/11/1999 (ANA)

    Budget revenues showed a surplus of 349 billion drachmas in the first 10 months of 1999, the finance ministry said yesterday.

    The regular budget's revenues rose 10.3 percent in the same period, up from an official target of 5.83 percent. October's rise was 1.44 percent.

    Revenues collected by tax offices rose 3.76 percent in October to stand 11.17 percent higher in the period January-October.

    Customs revenues increased 1.13 percent in the month for a 3.2 percent rise in the 10-month period, while VAT revenues rose 12.33 percent in October for a 8.37 percent rise in the first 10 months of the year.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Greek business delegation to Bulgaria

    Athens, 10/11/1999 (ANA)

    A Greek business delegation will visit Bulgaria on November 11-12 to coincide with an official trip to the neighbouring country by Macedonia- Thrace Minister Yiannis Magriotis and Deputy National Economy Minister Rhodoula Zisi.

    Arranging the trade delegation is the Association of Northern Greek Exporters and the Inter-Balkan Business Centre, under the aegis of the Macedonia-Thrace ministry and the Bulgarian trade and tourism ministry.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Visa cards jump 50 pct Jan-Sept

    Athens, 10/11/1999 (ANA)

    The number of Visa credit cards in Greece rose by 50 percent in January- September against the same period of last year, to total 1,350,000 cards.

    Domestic member-banks of Visa, which has a heavier volume than all other credit cards put together in Greece, number 20.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens, 10/11/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: November 9, 1999

    Parities in Drachmas

    Banknotes             Buying  Selling
    US Dollar             314.008 321.288
    Can.Dollar            213.637 218.590
    Australian Dlr        199.824 204.457
    Pound Sterling        509.233 521.040
    Irish Punt            414.717 424.332
    Pound Cyprus          567.265 580.418
    Pound Malta           742.268 773.196
    Turkish pound (100)     0.060   0.062
    French franc           49.792  50.947
    Swiss franc           203.102 207.811
    Belgian franc           8.097   8.284
    German Mark           166.996 170.868
    Finnish Mark           54.933  56.207
    Dutch Guilder         148.212 151.648
    Danish Kr.             43.959  44.979
    Swedish Kr.            37.696  38.570
    Norwegian Kr.          39.859  40.783
    Austrian Sh.           23.737  24.287
    Italian lira (100)     16.868  17.259
    Yen (100)             298.523 305.444
    Spanish Peseta          1.963   2.009
    Port. Escudo            1.629   1.667
    
    Foreign Exchange      Buying  Selling
    New York              314.008 321.288
    Montreal              213.637 218.590
    Sydney                199.824 204.457
    London                509.233 521.040
    Dublin                414.717 424.332
    Nicosia               567.265 580.418
    Paris                  49.792  50.947
    Zurich                203.102 207.811
    Brussels                8.097   8.284
    Frankfurt             166.996 170.868
    Helsinki               54.933  56.207
    Amsterdam             148.212 151.648
    Copenhagen             43.959  44.979
    Stockholm              37.696  38.570
    Oslo                   39.859  40.783
    Vienna                 23.737  24.287
    Milan                  16.868  17.259
    Tokyo                 298.523 305.444
    Madrid                  1.963   2.009
    Lisbon                  1.629   1.667
    
    Athens News Agency

    [12] Simitis discusses bilateral, EU issues with Chirac in Paris

    PARIS, 10/11/1999 (ANA - G. Papachristos)

    Bilateral relations and European Union issues were the focus of a meeting between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and French President Jacques Chirac at the sidelines of the 21st Socialist International conference here yester day.

    "It is the common belief of both countries that all problems should be resolved before the summit meeting of Helsinki, so that in this way there will not be any problems following the summit," Mr. Simitis said, referring to EU enlargement issues and prospects of a Turkish candidacy.

    The Greek premier also said Chirac concluded that there is understanding for the need to resolve the Cyprus problem.

    Regarding bilateral relations, he said they are very good.

    According to French diplomatic sources, Paris believes the EU candidacy status of Turkey should be recognised in Helsinki "on an equal basis with rest of the candidate countries."

    Regarding the Cyprus issue, the same sources said, France stands on decisions taken by previous EU summits.

    "It should be clear that our aim is the re-unification of the island," the sources stressed.

    Mr. Simitis also said he and the French president agreed to follow policies, which overcome existing conflicts, regarding issues in the Middle East, the Balkans and Caucasus, which were addressed on Tuesday second day of the conference.

    Mr. Simitis also met with Portuguese PM and new Socialist International President Antonio Guterres, while later in the day he met with Finnish President Paavo Lipponen.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] `Ike`, Bush preceded Clinton in official Greek visits

    Athens, 10/11/1999 (ANA)

    The promise of protests and demonstrations greeting US President Bill Clinton when he arrives in Athens this weekend will make this third visit by a US president to Greece no less controversial than the two visits which preceded it.

    Bill Clinton is the third US president to make an official visit to Greece. He follows Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1959 during the height of the Cold War, and George Bush in 1991, who arrived following the end of the Gulf War.

    Controversy was no stranger to either of those visits and it is striking that many of the issues that occupied the agenda of those visits - the Balkans, Greek-Turkish relations and Cyprus - are again on the agenda of the Clinton visit.

    Eisenhower, the supreme allied commander on the western front in WWII, stopped over in Athens as part of a tour of western capitals ahead of the Paris meeting he was scheduled to hold with Nikita Khruschev, a summit meeting that never took place.

    Eisenhower, affectionally known as "Ike", was received at the Athens airport by the then King of Greece Pavlos, Prime Minister Constantine Karamanlis and the entire cabinet.

    Karamanlis had to deal with a recalcitrant opposition, which demanded equal time and threatened to walk out of Parliament if Karamanlis got up to address Eisenhower in Parliament.

    "To avoid the ridicule of the country, I decided to leave the US president unanswered but I had great difficulty in explaining the reasons for my actions without revealing the sorry state of our political life," Karamanlis writes in his memoirs.

    On his part, Eisenhower praised Karamanlis and his government as being "worthy descendents of your honourable ancestors".

    In talks with the US leader, Karamanlis referred to problems Greece was having then in maintaining the front against Soviet Bloc countries and of its problems in gaining entry into the European Common Market.

    In a question indicative of the climate of the times, Eisenhower asked Karamanlis whether the Communist Party was legal in Greece, a decade after Greece's bruising Civil War.

    Karamanlis said the Communist Party was not legal in Greece but added that "bitterness" over the course of the Cyprus issue was adding support for left-aligned party EDA.

    "In the course of the Cypriot struggle, while our allies told us 'you are right, but we can not support you' the Soviet bloc exhausted itself in favour of the Cypriot issue," Karamanlis wrote.

    "If Greece and Turkey are left out of European economic formations, it is as if the European powers are sending us to Moscow to resolve our special problem!" Karamanlis argued.

    Thirty-two years later, on July 18, 1991, another Republican president visited Greece, again to be greeted by Constantine Karamanlis, who was then president.

    Athens in July 1991 was a city besieged by protests against the Bush visit: the opposition, led by today's PASOK, boycotted Bush's reception at the airport but attended his address in Parliament.

    Environmental activist MP Anastasia Andreadaki wore a T-shirt depicting a divided Cyprus and the words 'Never Forget': the Cyprus problem was again a burning issue in relations between Greece and Turkey.

    Bush intimated during his visit to Athens that a resolution of the Cyprus problem was in the offing for 1991, although he admitted that he did not have a 'magic wand' to ensure such an eventuality.

    Also a focus for talks between the US and Greek leaders was the situation in the Balkans. Karamanlis stressed to Bush that the US had responsibilities in the Balkans, "it should not behave arrogantly and should not permit anachronistic nationalism which in some cases conceal territorial designs".

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Stephanopoulos inaugurates exhibition in Bavaria

    MUNICH, 10/11/1999 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and Bavarian Premier Edmund Stoiber yesterday inaugurated an exhibition on the birth of the Greek state at the time of Bavaria's early 19th century renaissance.

    The historical courses of the two states crossed paths in the 1830s when Bavarian King Ludwig I's second-born son Otto became the first monarch of Greece, soon after liberation from Ottoman rule.

    In praising the exhibition, entitled "New Greece -Greeks and Bavarians during the reign of Ludwig I", Mr. Stephanopoulos spoke of the historical ties between the two states, noting the "roots of friendship, which continue uninterrupted to this day."

    On his part, Mr. Stoiber spoke of the common course of the two peoples, noting that Greece should be noted as a model of cooperation worth notice today in the framework of European unification.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos said Greece is grateful to Ludwig I, since he was first among European rulers to express his friendship for Greece as an idea.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Turkish `friendship train` scheduled to arrive in Thessaloniki

    Athens, 10/11/1999 (ANA)

    The personal railway car of modern Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, will arrive in Thessaloniki tomorrow carrying an exhibition on modern Turkish history.

    The "Friendship Train" is travelling to Greece in the hope of bolstering the recent positive developments in the dialogue that has already begun between media of the two countries, a press release from the Turkish embassy stated.

    The two wagons are accompanied by 60 reporters, railway workers, emergency rescue personnel and young people from the neighbouring country.

    The train's arrival in Thessaloniki coincides with events marking the 61st anniversary of Kemal's death, commemmorated at the Turkish consulate in the northern Greek capital every year. Mustafa Kemal was born in Thessaloniki in the latter 19th century.

    The train's second car hosts a photo collection with pictures of Kemal and his Greek counterpart Eleftherios Venizelos, as well as an art exhibition on the goodwill between the two countries following the devastating earthquakes that hit Turkey and Greece in August and September, respectively.

    The "Friendship Train" will arrive in Athens on Thursday morning.

    The two railway-cars will be open to the public viewing in Thessaloniki on Wednesday and in Athens on Thursday, as well as in Drama and Komotini during the train's return trip to Turkey.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Greek-Palestinian agreement in agriculture sector

    Athens, 10/11/1999 (ANA)

    Greece and the Palestinian Authority yesterday signed cooperation agreements in agriculture and agricultural enterprises.

    During talks in Athens before the signature of the agreements, the Greek and Palestinian farm ministers, George Anomeritis and Hikmat Zaid, respectively, cited the existence of opportunities for more extensive cooperation in the agricultural sector.

    The agreements provide for joint research programmes and exchange in know- how in the areas of water management, investment and joint ventures in the agricultural sector.

    Athens News Agency

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