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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-09-02

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, 02/09/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece keeps EMU target date of 2001 despite Russian market fallout
  • Greece willing to join aid effort for Russia
  • Greek stocks sink 3.8 pct, rebound off early hours
  • Greece to retender Hellenic Duty Free Shops Sept. 30
  • Greece aims to improve airport facilities, services
  • Airport infrastructure projects
  • Greek, Cypriot capital market commissions to work together
  • Greece so far nets Dr 444 bln in tax revenue
  • Woman accused of espionage released
  • Tsohatzopoulos enters military talks with Tunisian officials
  • Defence Minister to visit Cyprus for Independence Day
  • Israeli embassy denial
  • Greek parl't to hold tele-conference
  • British genius honours Greece by his presence
  • Ministry gets tough on taxi-drivers
  • New tomb discovered at Vergina
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece keeps EMU target date of 2001 despite Russian market fallout

Greece's government will adhere to its target of joining European economic and monetary union by 2001 despite the fallout from political and financial turmoil in Russia, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday.

"There is nothing to indicate that Greece will not be a member of EMU on January 1, 2001. We are progressing steadily along the path we have forged, " Mr. Papantoniou said.

The global financial crisis was long-term, but there were clear indications that the situtation was under control, he told reporters.

Mr. Papantoniou was speaking after a 90-minute meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis on the government's 1999 economic policy, which is due to be announced at the opening of the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair on Saturday.

Despite some signs of stabilisation in domestic markets so far this week, volatility would continue due to the upheaval abroad, Mr. Papantoniou said.

"Greece is keeping a close watch on developments in other European countries and the situtation is under control," he added.

The government was carrying out its privatisation programme normally, but it could not predict the outcome due to uncertainty abroad.

According to the minister, reactions to the financial crisis by Greek stock, money and foreign currency markets had not exceeded those of other European countries, showing their maturity.

But easing the impact of the crisis is the fact that the drachma is a member of the EU's exchange rate mechanism, which has helped to buffet it against the worst of the fallout, the analysts said.

Greece willing to join aid effort for Russia

Greece, maintaining traditional ties of friendship with Moscow, is prepared to take part in any effort to help Russia out of its crisis, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said yesterday.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with President Kostis Stephanopoulos on foreign policy, Mr. Pangalos said there was concern in all European capitals over Russia's political and financial crisis.

"If the West does not help Russia, the consequences will be adverse and we will all suffer the repercussions," Mr. Pangalos said.

He declined to forecast the possible outcome of a meeting scheduled yesterday between US president Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

Greek stocks sink 3.8 pct, rebound off early lows

Equities slumped in moderate trade yesterday but finished well off the day's lows in the wake of Wall Street's second biggest plunge in history in the previous session, which helped to drag down the market early in trading.

The Athens general index ended 3.81 percent lower at 2,092.61 points, sharply off the day's lows when the market shed 7.8 percent, approaching the daily 8.0 percent lower volatility limit. Turnover was 58.1 billion drachmas.

Sector indices lost substantial ground. Banks fell 3.99 percent, Insurance dropped 4.93 percent, Investment was 4.52 percent off, Leasing plunged 7.48 percent, Industrials were 3.28 percent lower, Construction fell 4.75 percent, Miscellaneous eased 4.29 percent and Holding dropped 5.50 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 4.53 percent lower.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 214 to 26 with another 7 issues unchanged.

Commercial Bank, Ionian Bank, Sysware, Betros, Allatini, Ideal, Kreka, Piraeus Leasing, Commercial Invest and Hellenic Bottling suffered the heaviest losses hitting the daily 8.0 percent limit down.

National Bank of Greece ended at 39,400 drachmas, Ergobank at 24,200, Alpha Credit Bank at 21,300, Ionian Bank at 10,677, Hellenic Telecoms at 6,850, Delta Dairy at 3,290, Intracom at 11,250, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,670 and Titan Cement at 19,300.

In the domestic foreign exchange market the drachma rebounded against a declining US dollar, ending 1.51 percent higher. It finished slightly lower against the DMark and the Ecu.

Greece to retender Hellenic Duty Free Shops Sept. 30

The government announced yesterday it would hold a new international tender through the bourse for the sale of a 67 percent stake in Hellenic Duty Free Shops. Another 13 percent will be sold using Balladur-type convertible bonds in order to aid the gove rnment's privatisation drive. Investors will later be able to convert the debt paper into the stock of privatised firms.

Bids for Hellenic Duty Free Shops will be accepted by September 30, and the government reserves the right to annul the tender if financial conditions remain adverse due to an international market crisis.

A binding letter of guarantee of up to two billion drachmas is required to bid in the tender for the company, which is already listed on the Athens Stock Exchange.

The firm has signed a memorandum of understanding with the manager of a new international airport being built for Athens, which is due to open in Spata, west of the capital, in March 2001.

Greece aims to improve airport facilities, services

Greece plans to improve the standard of services, security and facilities at its airports, Transport and Communications Minister Tasos Mantelis said yesterday.

Mr. Mantelis was addressing a conference on airport security organised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which ends today.

The government has allocated some 1.5 billion dollars to modernising airports over the next three years. A new international airport being built for Athens at Spata, which opens on March 1, 2001, will be supplied with state-of-the-art security syste ms, along with four other airports servicing international flights, Mr. Mantelis said.

Airport infrastructure projects

The infrastructure projects of the five international airports of Greece demanded by the Schengen Treaty were completed recently.

The 5.5-billion-drachma project added 15,000 sq. metres of room for passenger capacity, which will be needed for the division of incoming and outgoing flights.

According to the treaty, passengers travelling within the European Union will not be subject to passport control, thus the incoming flights to EU member-states must be physically divided from the internal ones.

Greek, Cypriot capital market commissions to work together

Greece and Cyprus signed a protocol for the two countries' capital markets commissions to exchange information and launch cooperation, Cypriot Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said in Nicosia yesterday.

The protocol, signed by Greece's capital markets commission chairman Stavros Thomadakis and his Cypriot counterpart, Frixos Sorokos, will cover cooperation in setting the regulatory framework for the stock market and help to strengthen bilateral financial ties.

Greece so far nets Dr 444 bln in tax revenue

Tax revenue collected from tax returns filed this year so far totals 444 billion drachmas, the finance ministry said in a statement yesterday.

The ministry's tax department has processed 3,997,728 tax returns from a total of 4.5 million submitted in 1998.

It has sent 1,740,114 debit notes to taxpayers totalling an additional 547.1 billion drachmas, and 1,331,305 credit notes totalling 103.1 billion drachmas.

Woman accused of espionage released

The government yesterday confirmed a report in Athens daily Avriani that Greek authorities had arrested and investigated a woman for espionage on the island of Lesvos.

The woman was later released and allowed to continue her holidays as the charges were found to be groundless.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said earlier that the competent authorities were examining the issue and that he had nothing further to announce.

Avriani said the Greek woman from the mainland Greek town of Agrinio had been arrested on holiday on Lesvos for filming military bases and installations on the island.

Tsohatzopoulos enters military talks with Tunisian officials

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday discussed with Tunisian officials the terms of a military cooperation agreement, regarding the army, the navy and the air force.

The talks, which will continue today, also inlcude training programmes, armament procurements and the defence industry.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, during his meeting with Tunisian Defence Minister Ben Yahia, noted the need for cooperation between the region's countries, who can decisively contribute toward the maintenance of stability and security, as well as the confronting of whichever problem.

Discussion included the possibility of joint military exercises and the need for regional security.

According to reports, the Tunisian defence ministry showed interest in purchasing armaments manufactured in Greece.

Defence Minister to visit Cyprus for Independence Day

According to a report aired by the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (RIK), Greek National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos is scheduled to visit Cyprus to attend a military parade on Oct. 1, marking the island's Independence Day.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, together with Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides, will receive the salute of the parade.

Israeli embassy denial

The Israeli Embassy in Athens yesterday denied press reports that Israel was planning joint military exercises with Turkey. "The Embassy of Israel would like to declare that reports in certain of today's (Tuesday's) newspapers, which are based on reports from Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, related to some imminent joint Israeli-Turkish exercises have no basis in reality," a statement said.

Greek parl't to hold tele-conference

Greek Parliament deputies today will hold an on line meeting with their counterparts in Austria, Germany and Finland, to discuss issues on employment, business development, support for the ability to adapt and policies of equal opportunity.

This first on-line conference was realised at Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis' instigation, during the last European parliament conference in Rome.

PASOK deputy Pantelis Economou, main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputy Marrieta Yiannakou-Koutsikou and Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspimos) deputy Yiannis Dragasakis are the Greek parliamentarians set to take part in this tele-conference.

British genius honours Greece by his presence

An impressively simple and undoubtedly modest Stephen Hawking, the globe's top brain in physics, speaking on Samos island yesterday, rejected the title "mo-dern Einstein", ascribed to him by many, by saying "people need an Einstein to admire", and admitting that he was "good, but not an exception like Einstein".

Speaking during a press conference given in the context of the second international conference on cosmology, geometry and physics on the eastern Aegean island, the world famous physicist also rejected the myth of "the loneliness of his scientific genious".

He was asked whether he had a dream about his science and the universe that he wished to see come true.

He said his "modest aspiration" was "to understand the laws governing the universe and how this was created. But above all, why the universe is what it is and whether it could have been created differently".

Stuck on a wheel-chair for 35 years due to a rare muscle disease, and speaking through his computer since 1985, the English physicist observed that science was expecting more from the field of observation. He noted that more results will come from new satelites and their telescopes.

Ministry gets tough on taxi-drivers

The transport and communications ministry moved yesterday to bring Greece's taxi-drivers into line, saying anyone caught overcharging passengers would have their vehicles taken off the roads.

Minister Tassos Mandelis has sent a letter to prefectural authorities asking them to step up checks on taxis and to implement the measure as soon as possible.

Six taxi-drivers were found to be overcharging - some through sophisticated rigging of taxi meters - in August alone, in a crackdown by police.

According to Mr. Mandelis's letter, taxi-drivers may also be grounded and face fines if they act " inappropriately" at airport, port and bus and railway station pick-up points, refuse to take passengers or are selective in who they pick up.

New tomb discovered at Vergina

Archaeologists announced yesterday that they had discovered the 12th tomb at Vergina, northern Greece, where the tomb of Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, is located.

The latest tomb was discovered during works to construct a protective covering over the excavation sites and is located a short distance from the first Macedonian tomb discovered in 1865.

Experts date the 12 sq.m. tomb to the end of the 4th century B.C. and said the interior walls were decorated with red, white and black paint.

The latest find has fostered hopes that it may lead to more finds and excavations are continuing in the area. The work is financed by the University of Thessaloniki.

WEATHER

Fine weather throughout the country today with scattered clouds in in central and northern Greece and possible rainfall in the north. Athens will be warm and humid with temperatures between 20-32C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 18-27C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 299.485 British pound 502.388 Japanese yen (100) 216.901 French franc 51.094 German mark 171.299 Italian lira (100) 17.327 Irish Punt 430.826 Belgian franc 8.303 Finnish mark 56.286 Dutch guilder 151.776 Danish kr. 45.065 Austrian sch. 24.332 Spanish peseta 2.018 Swedish kr. 37.438 Norwegian kr. 38.337 Swiss franc 208.062 Port. Escudo 1.671 Aus. dollar 172.296 Can. dollar 192.587 Cyprus pound 581.312

(C.E.)


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