|Wednesday, 20 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-12-28
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Defense minister says following months critical and beneficial for Greece and Turkey
Athens, 28/12/2000 (ANA)The next few months will be critical and beneficial for the peoples of Greece and Turkey, Greek Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Wednesday, during his visit to the southeastern Aegean island of Farmakonisos.
Addressing the troops of a special forces unit on the island, the minister said, it is impressive how close the two peoples are in this region. Thus the need for the two peoples to feel safe in this new era demands planned, comprehensive and most of all smart thought, initiatives and contact between them.
The message passed along with the presence of the Armed Forces of our country on Greek islands, is a message of security, peace, cooperation and a common future with the neighbors, Tsohatzopoulos said.
The Greek defense minister also visited Kos, Kalymnos and Leros, during his customary tour of border military units in light of the holidays.
 Greek, Bulgarian armed forces chiefs sign military agreement
Athens, 28/12/2000 (ANA)National Defense General Staff Chiefs of Greece and Bulgaria on Wednesday signed a bilateral military agreement in the northern Greek port city of Kavala, as the Thessaloniki airport was closed due to fog.
The Greek General Staff Chief Manoussos Paragioudakis was invited by his Bulgarian counterpart Miho Mihov to visit the neighboring Balkan country in 2001.
According to the two men the agreement aims at strengthening the "friendly relations" between the two countries.
 Merchant Marine Minister welcomes State Department's comments on Greek shipping
Athens, 28/12/2000 (ANA)"I am glad that reality finally establishes itself and acknowledges a constant effort to maintain and upgrade high safety standards in Greek passenger vessels," Greek Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis said on Wednesday.
He was commenting on a US State Department's positive report on safety measures in Greek passenger shipping, published recently.
Papoutsis reiterated that Greece implements the strictest safety standards in the European Union and that the country was a pioneer in promoting such measures on an international level.
 PASOK MP Papathemelis resigns his position on Parliamentary Committee for Orthodoxy
Athens, 28/12/2000 (ANA)Stelios Papathemelis, a former minister and a PASOK MP for Thessaloniki, on Wednesday resigned his post on Parliament's Orthodoxy Committee in protest over events involving the Greek Orthodox Church and the PASOK party.
In a letter addressed to Parliament speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis bearing Wednesday's date, Papathemelis says that the stance of the party and all that has happened in the meantime "are reminiscent of intrigues and plots belonging to other times and other places."
As reasons for his decision, the former minister cites his belief that the "party leadership does not need me in this field either" and his objections to the events between the government and the Church of Greece.
"In the end, whenever modernization is used as an ideological mantle, instead of being a means to an end, then amorality and intellectual arrogance prevail, while all measure and logic are lost," he writes.
 Bank of Greece brings interest rates in line with those of euro-zone
Athens, 28/12/2000 (ANA)The Bank of Greece, the country's central bank, lowered key short-term intervention rates by 1.0 percentage point on Wednesday morning as the final step in a long-term monetary alignment plan before the country's entry into the euro zone on January 1, 2001.
The decline brings drachma rates to the same level as their euro-zone equivalents, in other words 4.75 percent for loans to financial institutions for 14 days. Interest rates for loans using government bonds as collateral were also reduced by 0.75 percent to 5.75 percent and interest rates for one-day loans were reduced to 3.75 percent.
 National Bank to establish escalating interest rates for deposits as of 1/1/2001
Athens, 28/12/2000 (ANA)The decrease in the National Bank's deposit interest rates to zero levels in certain cases, from 7.5 percent 12 months ago, is now a fact and depositors should start to seek new forms of investment for their deposits.
The country's biggest commercial bank, with which millions of citizens have deposit accounts, is establishing escalating interest rates for the first time with the savings bank account in accordance with the amount of the balance in an account.
More specifically, when the balance in an account ranges between 0 and 170,000 drachmas (or 0 to 498.90 euro) the interest rate will be zero, for amounts between 170,001 drachmas to one million drachmas the interest rate will be 2 percent, from 1,000,001 drachmas to five million 2.5 percent, from 5,000,001 drachmas to 20 million 3 percent and from 20,000,001 to 50 million 3.5 percent. Lastly, for balances in excess of 50,000,001 drachmas the interest rate will be 4 percent.
The interest rate for a current deposit account is zero for a balance of up to 500,000 drachmas, while for 500,001 or more it will be 1 percent when only 12 months ago it was 6 percent.
 Fuel prices fall to year-low levels
Athens, 28/12/2000 (ANA)Retail fuel prices in Greece fell to their lowest levels since the beginning of 2000 on Wednesday, following a decline in international oil prices.
Indicative prices, released by the development ministry and effective from Thursday, showed the unleaded and super petrol prices falling by 6.5 drachmas per liter to 218.1 and 228.1 drachmas, respectively, diesel oil prices falling by 7.5 drachmas per liter to 214.6 drachmas and heating oil prices dropping by 10.3 drachmas per liter to 109.1 drachmas.
 Greek bourse ignores one percentage point cut in interest rates
Athens, 28/12/2000 (ANA)Equity prices ended the first trading session of the week, after a four-day holiday, on the Athens Stock Exchange with minor changes reflecting lack of fresh incentives and directions in the market.
Traders said the market largely ignored an one-percentage point cut in official interest rates by the Bank of Greece - a moved designed to harmonies Greek interest rates with EU levels. They said that this move had been long discounted by the market.
The general index ended 0.13 percent lower at 3.393.42 points, with net turnover a low 26 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.09 percent to 1,957.09 points, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index eased 0.81 percent to 398.17 points.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: 7,304.70 +0.20% Leasing: 559.38 -2.74% Insurance: 1,397.24 -0.86% Investment: 1,329.45 -1.92% Construction: 1,319.79 -0.35% Industrials: 2,065.09 +0.19% Miscellaneous: 2,828.33 -1.24% Holding: 3,901.44 -2.24%
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended 1.64 percent lower at 332.61 points.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 207 to 130 with another 15 issues unchanged.
Hellenic Capital Markets, Metka, Piraeus Bank, National Real Estate and Germanos were the most heavily traded stocks.
Leading shares' closing prices (in Drs): National Bank: 13,805 Alpha Bank: 12,300 Commercial Bank: 17,610 Eurobank: 7,100 Piraeus Bank: 5,770 Lambrakis Press: 5,050 Altec: 2,700 Titan Cement c): 14,000 Hellenic Telecoms: 5,615 Panafon: 2,880 Attica Enterprises: 2,720 Intracom: 8,180 Minoan Lines: 1,830 Viohalco: 4,105 Hellenic Bottling: 5,880
Equity futures end lower, roughly tracking Athens bourse: Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished lower on Wednesday, against the bourse indices on which they are based.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 0.09 percent up, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 0.80 percent lower.
Turnover was 5.3 billion drachmas.
A total of 1,121 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 with turnover at 4.4 billion drachmas.
On the FTSE/ASE 40 index, 577 contracts changed hands on turnover of 930 million drachmas.
Bond prices slip in light, flaccid trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Wednesday finished lower in scant trade, for a second straight session.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.459 percent from 5.469 percent in the previous session.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 61 basis points from 59 basis points a day earlier.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 14 billion drachmas from 44 billion drachmas in the session before.
Sell orders accounted for the bulk of trade.
Drachma flat against euro, up vs. dollar: The drachma on Wednesday was flat against the euro at its central euro-zone parity and up versus the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market.
At the central bank's daily fixing, the euro was set at 340.750 drachmas for the third straight session.
Greece enters the euro zone on January 1, 2001.
Also at the fix, the dollar was set at 368.870 drachmas from 369.550 drachmas a trading day earlier.
 Petzetakis SA to take strategic equity stake in Canadian company
Athens, 28/12/2000 (ANA)Petzetakis SA on Wednesday announced the signing of an agreement to purchase a strategic equity stake in Imperial Plastech Inc., through a 27 percent share capital increase plan.
Imperial Plastech Inc. was founded in 1989 and is listed in the main market of the Toronto Stock Exchange. It is a rapidly developing company, which specializes in the production of high quality plastic pipes used for telecommunication networks, building and oil transportation.
Under the agreement, Petzetakis will purchase an equity stake in Imperial Plastech Inc. through a share capital increase plan, worth 6.15 billion drachmas, to become the Canadian company's second largest shareholder.
Imperial expects this year's turnover to total 13.3 billion drachmas, with pre-tax profits at around 2.65 billion drachmas, up 105 percent and 376 percent from the previous year.
 Regional Council of Crete unanimously approves proposal by development minister on handling energy problem
Athens, 28/12/2000 (ANA)The Regional Council of Crete on Wednesday unanimously approved a proposal by Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on the overall handling of the energy problem.
During the meeting, held in the presence of Christodoulakis, the ministry and local agencies agreed on a general proposal aimed at Crete acquiring a good energy reserve in five years' time which will enable modernization and upgrading interventions in the electric power system in general.
The proposal includes intensive backing for potential concerning mild forms of energy and the promotion of town planning which will have a prediction on the specific uses of land and the transfer of burdensome activities with secured funding.
 Over 20 billion drachmas the food bill for Athens 2004 Olympics
Athens, 28/12/2000 (ANA)The Food Services Department of the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee has coined the phrase "Greek and healthy" for feeding athletes, the Olympic officials and the labor force involved in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, which will involve over five million meals.
Members of "Athens 2004" have already begun contacts with food companies to define the size of the undertaking the country will have to achieve for which both they themselves and the staff they will hire will have to prepare.
The building of two restaurants is being planned for the Olympic Village, where the consumption of food is expected to reach to 90 tons a day, accounting for 48,000 meals a day and have another 19 distribution outlets with the ability to produce 6,000 meals a day. The total turnover for food during the Olympic Games is expected to exceed 20 billion drachmas.
 Italian Mafia kingpin to appear before Thessaloniki court on Friday
Athens, 28/12/2000 (ANA)Italy's most wanted smuggling ring suspect will appear before a Thessaloniki court on Friday, on charges of criminal possession of forged state documents, following his arrest by Greek police on Friday.
Francesco Prudentino, 52 who was to appear before the court on Wednesday, but a translator could not be made available due to the holiday season.
Prudentino, who claims to be a tavern owner in Italy, is allegedly an Italian mob kingpin accused of directing a cigarette smuggling ring across southeastern Europe, stretching from Italy to Bulgaria.
He is thought to be a member of the infamous Mafia organization Sacra Corona Unita and is wanted in many European states for murder and smuggling of guns and cigarettes, as well as other criminal activities.
Italy has begun the extradition process.
 Sixth round of talks on Cyprus to be postponed due to Turkish Cypriot leader's stance
NICOSIA, 28/12/2000 (ANA / G. Leonidas)The sixth round of intercommunal talks scheduled to take place in Geneva at the end of January will be postponed, probably until the end of February or early March 2001.
An authoritative government source told the Athens News Agency (ANA) on Wednesday the reason for the expected postponement is the unacceptable demand by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for the full equality of both sides to be recognized on the basis of two states and his persistent refusal to attend the talks if his demand is not accepted.
The source said that following Denktash's position, the UN is oriented towards a postponement of the sixth round of talks either until the end of February or early March, according to the UN secretary general's program, and provided backstage efforts to dissuade Denktash succeed.
Government rules out exchange for abducted Greek Cypriot NICOSIA,
28/12/2000 (CNA)The Cyprus government has ruled out any exchange of an abducted Greek Cypriot by the Turks with a detained Turkish Cypriot suspected of drug trafficking and stressed that any such move would encourage the leader of the self-styled regime in the Turkish-occupied part of the Cyprus Republic to continue its policy of abduction.
Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou on Wednesday also said Britain, on whose soil Panicos Tziakourmas was taken away by Turkish occupation forces, was making a sincere and big effort to get the man freed but noted that London can do more and has not exhausted its possibilities.
"We are not discussing any exchange, the government cannot enter into the logic of exchanges as this would lead to the self-abolition of the Republic and would encourage the occupation regime to consolidate its policy of abducting people," Papapetrou told his daily press briefing.
The government, he explained, makes no link between the two cases but is making diplomatic and political demarches to various directions with a view to secure Tziakourmas' release.
His family has asked the government to accept an exchange with the Turkish Cypriot suspect; having had its hopes of any release dashed after an illegal court in occupied Cyprus "sentenced" him last week to three months' imprisonment.
Papapetrou pointed out that statements in favor of the exchange encourage the Turkish Cypriot leader to fend off any pressure for Tziakourmas' release and undermine government efforts to achieve his release.
Replying to questions, he said the family is wrong to conclude that the government is not doing everything humanly possible to secure
The British Bases police have said they found no evidence to back Turkish Cypriot claims that Tziakourmas was carrying in his car drugs. He was "sentenced" for "drug possession and trafficking".
Commenting on the role of Britain in the release effort, the spokesman said the High Commission (British embassy) has done a lot towards this objective.
The British, he said, have not exhausted the limits of their possibilities and influence, adding that the government is in touch with them and is putting forward specific suggestions.