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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-03-16

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] Karamanlis says Greek-Turkish rapprochement cannot be completed without Cyprus solution
  • [02] Simitis unveils his social policy goals for next four years
  • [03] Greece-FYROM relations 'excellent'
  • [04] National Defense Minister says program for modernizing submarines continuing
  • [05] Greek stocks end up, reverse early sharp fall
  • [06] Simitis calls for calm, political neutrality in stock market
  • [07] Commission records 3.5% GDP growth in Greece for '99
  • [08] Alfa Alfa Holdings announces buyout of 70 percent of Ogden Park Management company
  • [09] Turkish business delegation to visit Thessaloniki on March 23-24
  • [10] Indicative petrol prices drop
  • [11] Greece denies laxity in sea border controls
  • [12] Greece signs protocol on transfer of foreign convicted persons
  • [13] The Greek Church will create three new children's nurseries
  • [14] Furniture exhibition to be inaugurated in Thessaloniki
  • [15] Renowned sculptor Fanis Sakellariou dies
  • [16] Group claims bomb attack on Church radio station
  • [17] Court partially overturns decision granting ND use of Syntagma square
  • [18] President Chirac reaffirms France's support to UN efforts for Cyprus solution in meeting with Clerides
  • [19] President Clerides tells French National Assembly Cyprus' EU accession will act as catalyst for Cyprus solution

  • [01] Karamanlis says Greek-Turkish rapprochement cannot be completed without Cyprus solution

    Athens, 16/03/2000 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis warned on Wednesday that a full rapprochement between Greece and Turkey cannot be completed without a viable solution for the Cyprus problem.

    Karamanlis made the statement during a one-day, ND-organized seminar in Athens to unveil the main opposition's main foreign policy positions, as general elections in Greece loom just three weeks away.

    Referring at length to Greek-Turkish relations in the aftermath of last summer's twin earthquakes that struck the NW Asia Minor and the greater Athens area, Karamanlis said rapprochement "through dialogue is a desire of all", emphasizing though, that such a dialogue should be based on respect of territorial integrity and sovereign rights, respect for international law and treaties as well as a renunciation of the threat to use violence.

    Specifically, in terms of the Cyprus issue, the ND leader stressed that Ankara must work towards a fair solution for the island republic -- a solution which guarantees the co-existence of Cyprus' two communities through a federation that will eventually become a full European Union member-state. He also mentioned that Greece believes the neighboring country is justified in demanding "the place it deserves in Europe", while Athens is also willing to support Turkey's European vocation as long as the latter "behaves as a European country and not as an international troublemaker".

    Karamanlis said New Democracy does not reject the notion of dialogue with Turkey, although he criticized the ruling PASOK government for what he called the methods with which it is conducting such a dialogue, citing "experimentation and improvisations."

    He also criticized the government for what he called a "spasmodic formulation of foreign policy" and lack of planning in several instances, such as the Ocalan affair, the S-300 missiles, developments in Kosovo and decisions at the Helsinki summit.

    Finally, the ND leader promised that if elected his government will transform the foreign ministry into a "strategic center" for the coordination of all state agencies active in the country's foreign affairs, and will also implement ND's long-standing proposal for the creation of a multi-party council of foreign policy.

    [02] Simitis unveils his social policy goals for next four years

    Athens, 16/03/2000 (ANA)

    Greek Prime Minister and PASOK president Costas Simitis focused on social policy during an address in Athens on Wednesday, as the general elections countdown in the EU's "10th member-state" figures less than a month away.

    "During the 2000-2004 period we're committed to achieving social convergence, just as we achieved economic convergence in the previous period," Simitis said during a press conference at the Greek capital's Zappeion Hall.

    In other statements, the incumbent premier said social spending will total 45 trillion drachmas over the next four years, particularly aimed at cutting unemployment as well as maintaining confidence in the social security system. He also mentioned reform of the current public health care system (ESY) and upgraded social welfare supports.

    General elections in Greece are scheduled for April 9.

    [03] Greece-FYROM relations 'excellent'

    BELGRADE, 16/03/2000 (ANA)

    FYROM's relations with Greece were "exceptionally good", as were relations in the economic and cultural sectors, and Greece was becoming the most important investor in the neighboring Balkan country, FYROM president Boris Traikofski said Wednesday, adding that the only unresolved issue between the two country's, that of the former Yugoslav republic's name, "is not an obstacle to the development of good economic and political relations".

    In an interview with the Serbian program on Free Europe radio station, Traikofski expressed hope that the good relations between the two countries would continue in the same direction, which he said was of particular importance for FYROM.

    He said the name issue remained pending, and talks were taking place in the context of the United Nations.

    This, he said, did not present an obstacle for the development of good relations between the two countries, adding that bilateral meetings were taking place almost weekly at the level of prime ministers, ministers or other government officials and, naturally, among businessmen.

    The good relations between FYROM and Greece sent 'specific messages' to the other neighbors, as they were proof of the development of good neighborly relations, while the cooperation with Greece, which is a European Union member, positively affected the economic procedures taking place in FYROM, Traikofski said.

    FYROM was also sending a message to Brussels, with its good cooperation with Greece, that it wished to join the process of European integration, Traikofski added.

    [04] National Defense Minister says program for modernizing submarines continuing

    Athens, 16/03/2000 (ANA)

    The program for modernizing Glafkos-type submarines and the program for the creation of a special service at the Salamina naval station for control and support for guided Harpoon missiles have been completed at the station.

    The fourth Glafkos-type submarine, the Nirefs, which was modernized at the Salamina naval station and possesses modern weaponry systems, was delivered to the Greek Navy on Wednesday.

    On the occasion of the program's completion, National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, who attended the ceremony, said the submarine modernization program concerning Poseidon-type submarines will continue.

    [05] Greek stocks end up, reverse early sharp fall

    Athens, 16/03/2000 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended higher on Wednesday after seven sessions of sharp declines, which saw the general index collapse to the 4,250 level.

    Dealers said a wave of speculative buying by institutional investors 45 minutes before the close offered support and helped in the spectacular recovery of the market in the last half-hour of trade.

    Dealers said buying interest focused in blue chip stocks, particularly banks and state-controlled enterprises. Smaller capitalization stocks, however, remained under pressure.

    The Banks index ended 1.44 percent higher after losing 4.67 percent early in the session. National Bank, Eurobank and Ionian Bank ended almost 5.0 percent higher.

    The general index ended 0.24 percent up at 4,553.76 points, off the day's lows of 4,253 points.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.85 percent higher at 2,599.79 points, while the FTSE/ASE 40 index fell 0.22 percent to 654.62 points.

    Turnover was a moderate 235 billion drachmas.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: 8,933.18 +1.44% Leasing: 1,000.77 -1.15% Insurance: 2,940.01 -2.16% Investment: 2,272.81 -2.70% Construction: 2,138.59 +0.51% Industrials: 2,633.28 -1.14% Miscellaneous: 4,962.62 -0.13% Holding: 4,479.24 -1.28%

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks remained under heavy pressure to end at 776.19 points, off 6.85 percent.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 273 to 62 with another two issues unchanged.

    Iktinos saw its share price jump 45 percent on the first trading day in the market, while Microland, Unisoft, Spyrou, Technodomiki, Telesis, Karamolegkos and Pouliades ended at the day's 10.0 percent limit up.

    Daring, Giannoussis, Karelias, Klaoudatos, Macedonian Spinning, Petropoulos and Varvaressos ended at the day's 10.0 percent limit down.

    Hellenic Telecoms, Athens Water, Hellenic Petroleum, Panafon and National Bank were the most heavily traded stocks.

    Leading shares' closing prices (in Drs): National Bank: 23,590 Alpha Credit: 24,100 Commercial Bank: 20,480 Ergobank: 8,000 Eurobank: 12,000 Heracles Cement: 8,050 Titan Cement (c): 13,300 Hellenic Petroleum: 4,100 Intracom: 15,400 Minoan Lines: 6,990 Hellenic Telecoms: 9,900 Panafon: 5,310

    Most derivatives prices higher: The prices of most futures contracts rose in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday. The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 0.85 percent higher while the FTSE/ASE 40 index ended up 0.22 percent lower.

    A total of 2,966 futures contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 index, worth 15.1 billion drachmas. The March expiring contract ended at 2,580 points, the April contract at 2,630 billion drachmas, the May contract at 2,632 points and the June expiring contract at 2,600 points.

    A total of 1,223 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 40 index, worth 3.06 billion drachmas. The March expiring contract ended at 648.75 points, the April contract at 667.75, the May at 678 and the June contract at 685 points.

    Drachma rises vs. euro and dollar: The drachma gained on both the euro and the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market on Wednesday as demand rose without any intervention from the Bank of Greece.

    At the central bank's daily fixing, the euro was set 333.570 drachmas from 333.600 a day earlier and the US dollar at 345.320 drachmas from 346.460 drachmas on Tuesday.

    Bond yields maintain spread: Greek bonds maintained their yield spread from German bunds in sell trade on Wednesday.

    The volume of transactions totalled 46 billion drachmas, with sell orders accounting for 36 billion drachmas. The benchmark 10-year bond accounted for orders worth 18 billion drachmas and showed a yield of 6.26 percent, with the spread over German bunds fluctuating between 89 and 92 basis points.

    The Bank of Greece provided 187.9 billion drachmas of two-day liquidity to commercial banks at 9.25 percent. Short-term period rates in the interbank market fell, with the National Bank of Greece quoting 9.10 percent for overnight, 9.40 percent for one month and 7 percent for one year.

    [06] Simitis calls for calm, political neutrality in stock market

    Athens, 16/03/2000 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Wednesday called for calm and political neutrality in the Athens Stock Exchange, saying that some people, willingly or not, were trying to elevate the bourse into one of the country's pre-eminent political problems.

    Simitis noted that neither the government nor political parties should be allowed to intervene in the stock market or seek to take advantage of the bourse's course ahead of elections.

    Speaking to reporters during a press conference at central Athens' Zappeion Hall, the incumbent premier reminded that the Athens Stock Exchange was below the 1,000-point mark in 1993, adding that its prospects are positive and secured because of the Greek economy's present state and outlook.

    National Economy Minister says economic growth rates will reach 4-5 per cent: Union of Greek Banks President and National Bank Governor Theodoros Karatzas in statements to the press on Wednesday urged investors to buy at the Athens Stock Exchange, adding that current conditions have created opportunities for purchases.

    In an address at the Union of Greek Banks' annual general assembly, Karatzas said the distancing of the stock exchange from reality, namely the positive prospects of the Greek economy and of most businesses, leads to turbulence.

    Karatzas said 1999 was a landmark for Greek banks and the economy, adding that it was a year signaling the end of the transitional period during which the unquestionable restructuring of economic indicators, the improvement and supplementation of infrastructures and the strengthening of the country's production potential took place.

    Referring to the overall course of the economy, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou spoke of economic growth rates, which will soon reach even 4-5 per cent. He said the distribution of social wealth being created to the weaker social groups constitutes fundamental government policy.

    Karamanlis slams gov't over stock market developments: Main opposition leader Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday accused the government of responsible in the current doldrums of the Greek stock market.

    "It treated the stock market lobby as a potential source of voters and laid its hands on it in an opportunistic and irresponsible fashion," he charged in his party's first open rally ahead of the April 9 elections.

    The Athens Stock Exchange composite price index recorded a sharp 6.6 percent drop on Tuesday, igniting vehement protests among investors.

    Karamanlis said the index would pick up again when government interventions stopped.

    "The stock market is too serious a matter for the apprentice magicians of statism to busy themselves with," he said.

    He dismissed the ruling party's claim that the election was crucial because the resulting government would have to negotiate the country's position after becoming a member of European Economic and Monetary Union.

    "Such claims are part of the government's attempt to create blackmailing dilemmas," he said.

    Papariga calls bourse's plunge 'expected': Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga on Wednesday called the recent dramatic plunge by the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) as something her party "expected".

    Speaking at a pre-election gathering in Thessaloniki, Papariga said "it is something we (KKE) expected; the wage-earners paid the price, as they were persuaded that by this method they would offset their losses in income... On April 9 the people will reject a Greece of big capital."

    General elections are scheduled in Greece on April 9.

    She also maintained that the communist party would not cooperate with ruling PASOK in the post-election period.

    Papariga is set to speak in the northern port city of Kavala on Wednesday evening.

    [07] Commission records 3.5% GDP growth in Greece for '99

    Athens, 16/03/2000 (ANA)

    GDP growth in Greece for 1999 was recorded at 3.5 percent, according to a report issued by the European Commission. Official unemployment, meanwhile, stood at 10.3 percent, whereas the budget deficit figured at 1.5 percent of the total GDP.

    [08] Alfa Alfa Holdings announces buyout of 70 percent of Ogden Park Management company

    Athens, 16/03/2000 (ANA)

    The President of the Alfa Alfa Holdings company Apostolos Allamanis announced at a press conference on Wednesday that the company had purchased 70 percent of the share capital of the American Ogden Park Management Inc. company. Following this development, the Alfa Alfa Holdings group will join the branch of family recreation services.

    Ogden Park Management Inc. constitutes the recreation park sector of the Ogden Corporation, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

    Allamanis said the targets of the investment in question, which amounts to 148 million dollars, is the transfer of Ogden's know-how to the sector of family recreation services.

    [09] Turkish business delegation to visit Thessaloniki on March 23-24

    Athens, 16/03/2000 (ANA)

    A Turkish delegation of about 140 people, including businessmen, parliamentarians, local administration officials and journalists, will visit Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on March 23-24 for contacts with representatives of the region's business community. The Turkish business delegation will also pursue the signing of a cooperation protocol between the Thessaloniki Commercial and Biotechnical Chamber and the Turkish Chamber of Industry from the Aegean area.

    [10] Indicative petrol prices drop

    Athens, 16/03/2000 (ANA)

    A drop in suggested retail fuel prices was announced on Wednesday by the government, effective for one week.

    Specifically, super gasoline fell by 0.9 drachmas per liter and one drachma for unleaded. The price of diesel decreased by 2.1 drachmas per liter while heating oil fell by 0.4 drachmas.

    In the greater Athens area and Thessaloniki prefecture, the suggested retail price for super now stands at 259.2 drachmas per liter, 242.4 for unleaded.

    [11] Greece denies laxity in sea border controls

    Athens, 16/03/2000 (ANA)

    Greece has and operates the most modern equipment to arrest migrant traffickers and undocumented migrants attempting to reach Italy and has done so within the limits of Greek, European and international law, the Greek Merchant Marine Ministry noted in a press release issued on Wednesday.

    The press release came in response to accusatory statements by Italy's Deputy Interior Minister Alberto Maritati and Italian press reports that Greece has been lax in carrying out its obligations it undertook by signing the Schengen Treaty.

    The Greek ministry stressed that Greek authorities have been in constant contact with their Italian counterparts through Interpol regarding the problem of migrant trafficking, informing Italy's authorities of ships transporting migrants but were in international waters, thus out of legal reach.

    "The provision of water and food to those aboard the Bulgarian flagged "VODELEI I" cargo ship, we believe, was an elementary humanitarian obligation," the statement read, responding to accusations that Greek authorities aided migrants to reach Italy.

    [12] Greece signs protocol on transfer of foreign convicted persons

    STRASBOURG, 16/03/2000 (ANA- N. Roussis)

    Greece on Wednesday signed the protocol of a Council of Europe treaty on the transfer of convicted foreigners to their countries of origin.

    The document, signed by Greece's Permanent Representative to the Council of Europe Athanassios Theodorakopoulos, details the rules applying in the cases of foreigners convicted in Greece and extradited to their countries of origin and of those who will be expelled as a result of their convictions. It complements a 1983 treaty, which aims to promote the re-integration of convicted individuals in their own countries.

    The treaty is already in force in 36 of the Council of Europe's 41 members. Those that have not yet signed it are Andorra, Albania, Moldova, Russia and San Marino. The complementary protocol has already been ratified Estonia, Poland and FYROM, and has been signed by Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and the UK.

    [13] The Greek Church will create three new children's nurseries

    Athens, 16/03/2000 (ANA)

    President Kostis Stephanopoulos inaugurated the new model children's nursery of the Benakeio Children's Foundation in Kifissia on Wednesday and expressed satisfaction over its operation and excellent equipment. The nursery has had about 100 babies and toddlers since September.

    The Metropolitan of Athens Panteleimon officiated at the ceremony and congratulated the foundation's management for its sensitivity towards children, adding that investments in the new generation are the most important investments for the motherland.

    Panteleimon referred to the problem posed by the low birth rate and the need to support parents and announced that the Greek Church is preparing the founding and operation of three corresponding children's nurseries in Ano Liosia, Kamatero and Kifissia.

    The Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the family of Yiannis Latsis built the nursery with donations, while its operational costs are covered by the Benakeio Foundation.

    [14] Furniture exhibition to be inaugurated in Thessaloniki

    Athens, 16/03/2000 (ANA)

    Macedonia-Thrace Minister Yiannis Magriotis inaugurated the FURNIDEC-FURNIMA furniture exhibition on Wednesday in Thessaloniki's International Trade Fair grounds.

    The exhibition features 55 different designs of chairs by Greek designers and ten historical chair designs, one for every decade of the 20th century.

    "The large participation in this year's exhibition proves the success of the institution. Meanwhile, the large participation and especially that stemming from Balkan countries indicates the new course of the Thessaloniki International fair, as a regional exhibition center," the minister said.

    The inauguration was followed by a one-day conference entitled "Design: Drafting and Production", while the panel of the conference will be composed of university professors and industry moguls.

    [15] Renowned sculptor Fanis Sakellariou dies

    Athens, 16/03/2000 (ANA)

    Renowned sculptor Fanis Sakellariou, a founding member of Greece's Artistic Chamber, died Wednesday at the age of 88.

    The Athens-born Sakellariou studied aesthetics, anatomy and art history at the Athens School of Fine Arts, and his works are in display in public areas, private collections and museums throughout Greece as well as abroad.

    His most renowned works, considered landmarks in his career, are such monuments as the Equestrian Statue of (Greek independence hero Theodoros) Kolokotronis" in Tripolis, the "Great Nikitaras" in Hiliomodi, Corinth, and "Archbishop Damaskinos" in Athens.

    Sakellariou's funeral will be held Thursday, at 6:00 p.m. at Athens First Cemetery.

    [16] Group claims bomb attack on Church radio station

    Athens, 16/03/2000 (ANA)

    An explosion caused minor damage at the installations of the Greek Orthodox Church's private radio station in the center of the port city of Piraeus early Wednesday.

    The "Anti-State Struggle" organization later claimed responsibility for the home-made bomb comprising six small liquid gas canisters -- five of which exploded -- planted outside the building housing the radio installations.

    The fire caused by the explosion was quickly extinguished by the Fire Brigade.

    An unidentified caller telephoned a private radio station and claimed responsibility for the attack on behalf of Anti-State Struggle, saying it was "in response to (Archbishop of Athens and All Greece) Christodoulos and his associates".

    [17] Court partially overturns decision granting ND use of Syntagma square

    Athens, 16/03/2000 (ANA)

    Greece's Council of State, the highest administrative court in the country, on Wednesday partially overturned a municipal decision granting Athens' main square to the New Democracy party for its campaign headquarters.

    Ruling PASOK had contested the decision granting the main opposition use of Syntagma Square -- across from Parliament and the traditional venue for the largest campaign rallies in the country on the eve of elections.

    By a 6 to 1 decision, the Council of State's fourth circuit court ruled that the decision by Athens' municipal council was issued prior to the official dissolution of Parliament and commencement of the pre-election period.

    The court also ruled that PASOK had a vested interest in contesting the municipality's decision, while rejecting main opposition ND's judicial intervention.

    Conversely, the court did not award use of the large square to PASOK for its pre-election activities, which is expected to lead to another decision by the Athens municipal council over which of the two main parties will be granted use of Syntagma square.

    General elections in Greece are scheduled for April 9.

    [18] President Chirac reaffirms France's support to UN efforts for Cyprus solution in meeting with Clerides

    PARIS, 16/03/2000 (ANA/O. Tsipoura-CNA)

    President Glafcos Clerides met on Wednesday in Paris with President Jacques Chirac, who reaffirmed his country's support to UN efforts towards a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    An official statement, issued after the meeting, said that Wednesday's talks allowed for an even greater understanding between the two countries.

    Meanwhile, media reports said that Chirac expressed "great satisfaction" with the talks he had with President Clerides.

    Sources said that President Clerides briefed Chirac on the two rounds of proximity talks on the Cyprus problem, held in New York and Geneva and about preparations for a third round to begin on May 23, again in New York.

    The French president said that France trusts and will continue to support UN Secretary-General, Koffi Annan, in his efforts.

    Annan, who is also in Paris, will meet with Chirac on Thursday to discuss the Cyprus problem among other issues.

    Regarding relations between Cyprus and the European Union, Chirac expressed satisfaction with the EU Helsinki summit decisions on Cyprus's accession course, and reaffirmed that the French presidency of the 15-nation bloc would make every possible effort to promote the process.

    Chirac also brought up the issue of French language lessons in Cyprus schools, and Clerides said that the Cyprus government will be increasing teaching hours for the language as from September.

    The French president furthermore referred to safety issues regarding seafaring, which will be one of the priorities of the French EU presidency.

    On this, Clerides said that the government has taken measures to control safety at sea more strictly.

    [19] President Clerides tells French National Assembly Cyprus' EU accession will act as catalyst for Cyprus solution

    NICOSIA, 16/03/2000 (CNA/ANA)

    President Glafcos Clerides on Wednesday urged the international community to use its influence towards Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership, to give the necessary push for a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    Addressing in Paris the Foreign Affairs Committee of the French National Assembly, President Clerides said that preconditions set by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, for talks on the Cyprus problem did not aim either at the reunification of the island or at the future solution of the problem, but at improving his current position and legalizing the status quo.

    President Clerides said that Cyprus is today "a modern democratic country, with a booming economy and a high standard of living, comparable to that of many member-states of the European Union."

    He noted that Cyprus' EU accession negotiations are "proceeding well", along with efforts to solve the Cyprus problem.

    "Our main aim", he said, "is to solve the Cyprus problem" and pointed out that the island's accession to the EU could not depend on a settlement.

    He also referred to the intransigence of the Turkish side in efforts to solve the problem, noting that "our fundamental principle and what we seek is to protect human rights", especially regarding persons missing since the 1974 Turkish invasion and persons enclaved in the Turkish-occupied northern third of the island.

    President Clerides said that Cyprus' accession to the EU "will be beneficial for all the communities and acts as a catalyst towards a solution to the Cyprus problem".

    Referring to UN-led proximity talks on the Cyprus problem, the third round of which will begin on May 23 in New York, President Clerides said that the Greek Cypriot side goes to the talks "in good will, with a constructive approach and the political will for a solution", while the Turkish Cypriot side set conditions right from the beginning in order to get to the negotiating table.

    President Clerides said that "new complications arise", because Denktash is now bringing up these preconditions at the talks, demanding they be met before any discussion on the core issues of the Cyprus problem takes place.

    The president noted that "Denktash's preconditions aim neither at reuniting Cyprus nor at a future solution to the Cyprus problem, but at improving his current position and legalizing the status quo".

    He urged the international community "to exert the appropriate influence towards Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership, in order to give the decisive impetus to solve the Cyprus problem, in the context of the UN Security Council parameters".


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