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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-07-28

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, 28/07/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Athens: Cyprus problem solution must adhere to UN resolutions
  • Tsohatzopoulos says there's no Greece-US crisis
  • Simitis letter to Milosevic regarding Kossovo
  • Athens bourse accepts two bids in sale of Hellenic Duty Free Shops
  • Aspis Bank to hold IPO August 4-7
  • Greek stocks revive in slim trade
  • Bulgaria approves draft air transport pact with Greece
  • State railway to launch container trains
  • Greek telecom's mobile subsidiary to double customers
  • Sfakianakis buy-off of Viamax and M.K. Fostiropoulos firms
  • Heatwave today and tomorrow
  • Pangalos to take up Evros River's protection with Turkish FM
  • More fires in Attica, and around Greece
  • Fischler says write-offs of farm debts only on case-by-case basis
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Athens: Cyprus problem solution must adhere to UN resolutions

Greece said yesterday that any initiative and any display of interest regarding the finding of a solution to the Cyprus problem was useful only if it remained within the framework of UN resolutions on the issue.

"Washington or anyone wishing to play a role should respect the political framework defined by the United Nations resolutions, which must be followed religiously, and not show interest towards overturning these decisions," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said during his daily press briefing.

Mr. Reppas also announced that Prime Minister Costas Simitis will this afternoon chair a top-level meeting to reportedly discuss recent developments in Greek-US relations against a background of verbal exchanges regarding the Cyprus issue.

The spokesman stressed that anyone who approaches the Cyprus problem solely from the viewpoint of Nicosia's plans to install Russian-made S-300 anti- aircraft missiles was either totally ignorant of history or had other designs in mind.

Tsohatzopoulos says there's no Greece-US crisis

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday that there is no crisis in Greek-US relations but merely "a difference in views regarding the character of the problems in Cyprus today."

He was addressing a meeting organised in Thessaloniki by the Panteion University

The Greek defence minister strongly criticised recent remarks by a White House spokesman that the Cyprus issue was one of "conflict" between the two communities on the island, saying that supporters of this view "are lacking in historical knowledge".

"We completely disagree with the view that there is a 'conflict' between the two communities. For the past 24 years there has been an international problem in Cyprus, a problem that concerns the international community, a problem of invasion and occupat ion. This occupation and the presence of 35, 000 troopsIconstantly supplied with US arms, consist a threat against world peace, against stability in the area and against the national security of the Cypriot Republic".

Simitis letter to Milosevic regarding Kosovo

A letter from Prime Minister Costas Simitis to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic regarding the Kosovo crisis was delivered yesterday.

The letter contains Athens' positions regarding a political solution in Kosovo and is a follow-up of an initiative launched during a recent visit to Tirana by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.

During the Greek FM's visit to the Albanian capital, that country's FM Paskal Milo asked Mr. Pangalos to use Greece's influence with Belgrade to de-escalate tensions in Kosovo.

According to sources, Mr. Simitis expressed the government's wish for a peaceful solution to the crisis in the Serbian province.

Athens bourse accepts two bids in sale of Hellenic Duty Free Shops

The Athens Stock Exchange yesterday accepted two bids from foreign and domestic companies in a tender to privatise the remaining 80 percent of listed Hellenic Duty Free Shops SA.

Submitting a bid of 93 billion drachmas was Faresco of France leading a consortium whose members are Sarandis SA and Papaellinas SA of Greece, both cosmetics firms.

The second bid at 156 billion drachmas was made by an unnamed US company that is still being set up.

Under the terms of the US firm's offer, thirty five percent of the target company's stock would go to the State Securities Enterprise and eight percent to workers.

The bid was not accompanied by a letter of guarantee. Rejected on the spot by bourse authorities was a conditional offer by Karre of the Netherlands.

Details were announced at the Athens Stock Exchange shortly after the bids were opened.

Aspis Bank to hold IPO August 4-7

Private Aspis Bank is to hold an initial public offer (IPO) on August 4-7 in order to enter the main market of the Athens Stock Exchange, it said in a statement yesterday.

The bank will offer 1,524,000 common shares at 1,100 drachmas each.

The new funds will be used to extend Aspis Bank's branch network, update its information technology, and fund participation in the share capital of Aspis Brokerage and Aspis mutual fund management, the statement said.

Aspis Bank has 13 branches, and plans to open another two during the summer.

Adviser and main underwriter of the IPO is listed National Investment Bank for Industrial Development.

Greek stocks revive in slim trade

Greek equities ended higher and recouped some losses yesterday in the wake of a plunge in the previous session apparently triggered by falling stock markets abroad.

The Athens general share index ended 1.05 percent higher to finish at 2, 727.56 points after losing 3.30 percent at Friday's close. The FTSE/ASE 20 index gained 0.75 percent to finish at 1,655.25 points.

Trade was light with turnover dropping to 42.2 billion drachmas from 58.8 billion drachmas in the previous session.

The market had been correcting normally early last week after a surge spanning five trading days that boosted the general index by 7.10 percent and sent it sprinting through the 2,700-point barrier, and then 2,800 points.

The parallel market index for small cap companies finished 1.72 percent higher.

Of 253 stocks traded, advances led declines at 142 to 97 with 14 shares remaining unchanged.

The day's biggest percentage gainers finishing at the upper daily eight percent lower volatility limit were General Warehouses (common), Elfiko, Aegek, Benroubi, Mouriadis, Hellenic Cables, Nikas, Allatini, Avax and Vioter.

National Bank of Greece ended at 51,500 drachmas, Ergobank at 31,265, Alpha Credit Bank at 28,920, Ionian Bank at 16,900, Commercial Bank of Greece at 28,050, Delta Dairy (common) at 3,785, Intracom (common) at 12,910, Titan Cement (common) at 23,495, H ellenic Petroleum at 2,720 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 8,135 drachmas.

Bulgaria approves draft air transport pact with Greece

The Bulgarian cabinet yesterday approved a draft agreement on cooperation in air transport between Athens and Sophia, the government's press office said.

It said in a statement that the Bulgarian government wanted to develop cooperation with Greece in the sector.

The new agreement will replace a 1964 pact between the two countries that is still in force. Bulgaria is expected to seek a long-term deal with Greece for an air link between Sofia and Thessaloniki in the north, which Balkan, its national carrier, rece ntly launched on a temporary licence.

State railway to launch container trains

State-owned Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE) is shortly to launch a non- stop rail link between Athens and Thessaloniki purely for container freight transport, it said in a statement yesterday.

According to OSE, the new route will shorten the time for container transport, also improving quality and security at low cost.

Greek telecom's mobile subsidiary to double customers

Cosmote,the state telecom's mobile phone subsidiary, aims to more than double its 100,000 subscribers by the end of the year, the firm's managing director Nikos Manasis said yesterday.

Cosmote's network reaches 60 percent of the population using 290 cell base stations around Greece and the firm's charges are the lowest in the market, Mr. Manasis added. He was addressing an internal meeting of Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation, Cosmote's parent company.

Sfakianakis buy-off of Viamax and M.K. Fostiropoulos firms

The Sfakianakis company, following a series of contacts with the Fostiropoulos group, has reached an agreement to buy off the Viamax and M.K. Fostiropoulos companies. The purchase price and other details were not disclosed.

Through these purchases, Sfakianakis acquires the exclusive import rights to the British-made Rover vehicles in Greece. Two years ago, Viamax had signed a new five-year contract with Rover.

The group also acquires the rights to the Korean-made KIA vehicles in Greece.

In addition, the group's activities in the bus sector will be strengthened since Viamax is the official distributor for DAF trucks and buses. The Sfakianakis group is active in the bus sector with the Van Hool company.

Buses will be made at the company's factory at Magoula, Attica prefecture, on assembled Hino and DAF chassis as well as on chassis produced by the company and featuring MAN engines.

Heatwave today and tomorrow

Hospitals and ambulance services have been placed on alert as high temperatures are forecast throughout Greece today.

According to the national meteorological service (EMY), temperatures will soar to 40 and 41 Celsius in parts of the country over the next 48 hours.

The temperature reached 38 Celsius in parts of Athens yesterday.

The health ministry, meanwhile, advised citizens to avoid unnecessary travelling, stay out of the sun and refrain from indulging in heavy meals and alcoholic beverages.

Pangalos to take up Evros River's protection with Turkish FM

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said Edirne and other Turkish settlements on the Turkish side of the Ev ros River are pouring unprocessed sewage into the river and pledged that during his next meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem he will propose cooperation on problems plaguing the waterway.

"On the first opportunity, in my first meeting with Mr. Cem, either in New York or shortly afterwards in Antalya, where the Balkan summit will take place, I will propose this idea to him. There should be cooperation to preserve the natural beauty and possibilities Evros offers to populations on both banks. For this reason it is not necessary for us to agree on the more general political problems. We can agree on the basis of good faith and the well-meaning interests of nature. Evros belongs to its birds which are wonderful and are thousands," he said.

For about half an hour he was given a tour of the Evros Delta and went for a boating trip on this rare wildlife preserve.

Mr. Pangalos said that from a touristic point of view the delta is a very nice sight and monument of nature, but added that certain infrastructure projects must be carried out.

More fires in Attica, and around Greece

Hundreds of firefighters, troops and local residents backed by fire- fighting aircraft yesterday battled to control seven fires around the country.

In Attica, a fire which broke out in Koropi was spreading towards residential areas in Vari.

Other fires were in progress in the prefecture at Anavyssos, Pikermi and Nea Makri, while a blaze at the foot of Mount Parnitha, which threatened factories and businesses has been brought under control.

The prefecture of Corinthia was particularly badly hit, with one fire raging out of control for the third day at Perachora, near Loutraki.

The eight-kilometre front is now threatening residential areas. Instructions have already been given to evacuate the nearby village of Vouliagmeni.

Two more fires are in progress in the prefecture at Spathovouni and Chrysokelaria.

The fire near Mt. Olympus is continuing for the fifth consecutive day, the ruggedness of the terrain making the work of firefighters extremely difficult.

Also in Messinia, a fire broke out in the Methoni area early yesterday morning, destroying olive groves and farm and forest land.

Two more fires broke out yesterday afternoon in the Peloponese. On Mt. Taygetos the blaze burns near the Sparti-Kalamata road, and reports said it also threatened the area's tourist resort and some farm houses. The fire in Doliana, Kynouria, started at 6:30 in the afternoon and was burning farm and forest land.

Firemen and community authorities in Aegio in the northern Peloponnese continue to receive threatening telephone anonymous calls that the next targets will be actual villages.

Fischler says write-offs of farm debts only on case-by-case basis

Negotiations between Greece and EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler concluded yesterday with an agreement that 162.8 billion drachmas in farm sector debts be written-off only after a case-by-case study.

Greece's agriculture ministry had passed law 2538/97 in order to write-off bad debts incurred by several agricultural cooperatives, private companies and enterprises.

Mr. Fischler reportedly agreed not to raise the issue of cancelling the write-off at the European Commission meeting on Wednesday, the last before summer break.

However, if the arrangement between Athens and the EU regarding the debts was not satisfactory, the EU Commissioner can raise the issue of cancellation before the Commission after the summer break, otherwise, the write-offs will apply in conjuction with decisions by appropriate EU agencies for each case separately.

WEATHER

Fair weather with high temperatures is forecast throughout the country today, with moderate northerly winds, while locally in the Aegean Sea wind will be moderate to strong. Athens, sunny, with temperatures from 25C to 40C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 23C to 38C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 293.811 British pound 486.576 Japanese yen (100) 206.465 French franc 49.177 German mark 164.870 Italian lira (100) 16.718 Irish Punt 414.358 Belgian franc 7.9960 Finnish mark 54.362 Dutch guilder 146.241 Danish kr. 43.281 Austrian sch. 23.392 Spanish peseta 1.943 Swedish kr. 37.309 Norwegian kr. 38.968 Swiss franc 196.237 Port. Escudo 1.611 Aus. dollar 178.982 Can. dollar 195.781 Cyprus pound 562.5630

(C.E.)


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