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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-09-10

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, 10/09/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • National Bank of Greece shareholders endorse merger with subsidiary
  • Greek stocks hold impetus, again finish higher
  • Greenpeace campaigners again try to block dumping of toxic waste
  • National economy minister to stay on the job
  • Retail sales prices of gasoline to decrease
  • Greek sugar company reports losses
  • Pangalos says satisfied with results of tripartite meeting
  • Mediterranean culture ministers conference in Rhodes Sept. 25-27
  • Pangalos says he favours institution of deputy prime minister
  • Concern voiced over nature of Turkey-Israel military cooperation
  • FM to meet US envoy for Cyprus this afternoon
  • Greece denies postponement of Russian missiles deployment on Cyprus
  • Yugoslav FM begins two-day visit to Athens today
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

National Bank of Greece shareholders endorse merger with subsidiary

Shareholders of National Bank of Greece yesterday endorsed the absorption of National Mortgage Bank, a housing loans subsidiary.

The two banks will have combined assets of over 12.5 trillion drachmas, deposits of 10 trillion drachmas, loans of 3.3 trillion drachmas, and a network of 605 branches at home and more than 100 abroad.

Shareholders of National Mortgage Bank had approved the absorption on August 20.

National Bank of Greece governor Theodoros Karatzas told shareholders that joining the two banks' resources, especially their dealing rooms, would cut operating costs, boost performance and allow a stronger presence abroad.

No redundancies would be ordered due to the absorption because staff would be utilised in the new, larger bank's expansion, Mr. Karatzas said.

Stock allocation would be 1.9 shares of National Mortgage Bank for one each of the parent company, he said.

Greek stocks hold impetus, again finish higher

Greek equities ended higher in moderate trade yesterday after soaring early in the session and then falling as profit-takers elbowed into the market.

The Athens general index ended 1.55 percent higher at 2,214.23 points in turnover of 47.2 billion drachmas from 30.5 billion drachmas in the previous session. Prices had jumped 3.40 percent in early trade.

Sector indices scored gains across the board. Banks gained 1.83 percent, Insurance rose 1.68 pct, Investment jumped 1.99 pct, Leasing remained unchanged, Industrials increased 1.38 pct, Construction gained 0.92 pct, Miscellaneous ended 1.68 pct up and H olding rose 1.87 pct.

The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 2.37 percent.

Of 254 stocks trade, advances beat declines at 175 to 55 with another 24 issues unchanged.

Aspis Bank, which made its trading debut yesterday, finished 43.9 percent higher. An eight percent daily volatility limit either way does not apply to new listings.

National Bank of Greece ended at 41,750 drachmas, Ergobank at 25,345, Alpha Credit Bank at 24,000, Ionian Bank at 10,600, Hellenic Telecoms at 6,895, Delta Dairy at 3,380, Intracom at 10,910, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,720 and Titan Cement at 18,700.

Greenpeace campaigners again try to block dumping of toxic waste

Greenpeace activists yesterday made a new attempt to prevent barges belonging to Larco, a domestic state-run ferronickel producer, from dumping allegedly toxic waste in the sea.

Costas Dombros, a Greenpeace spokesman, said that several activists had tied themselves to the barges. They had also unfurled banners with slogans against dumping waste in the sea.

"We are wondering how long the ministries involved will keep silent, refusing to give explanations to the Greek public and the international community about the unacceptable cover they are providing," Mr. Dombros said.

Twelve Greenpeace activists were released by the coastguard on Tuesday after being detained for taking over Larco's loading facilities near Volos but the activists again boarded the Greenpeace ship MV Sirius, launching a new protest yesterday.

National economy minister to stay on the job

The government yesterday denied newspaper reports that National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou's job was on the line.

"Mr. Papantoniou enjoys the full confidence of the prime minister...There is no such issue," acting government spokesman Yannis Nikolaou told reporters.

The minister had undertaken the government's economic planning for the coming year, Mr. Nikolaou said.

National Bank of Greece governor Theodoros Karatzas yesterday dismissed talk that he would become national economy minister, replacing Mr. Papantoniou.

Retail sales prices of gasoline to decrease

The retail sales prices of gasoline will decrease as of today and for a week, while prices of diesel will increase due to a change in international prices.

According to announcements by the Public Petroleum Corporation (DEP) and the Development Ministry, the retail sales prices of super gasoline will decrease by 2.80 drachmas per litre and those of unleaded gasoline by 2.90 drachmas per litre, while prices of diesel will increase by 3.30 drachmas per litre and of heating oil by 3.40 drachmas per litre.

In the Attica region and the Thessaloniki Prefecture, super gasoline will cost 212.30 drachmas per litre and unleaded gasoline 196.30 drachmas per litre.

Greek sugar company reports losses

Greek Sugar Industry SA (EBZ), a factory listed in the Athens bourse, posted a loss of 3.5 billion drachmas in 1997, despite its good record a year before with 4.22 billion dr profits. However, the firm is satisfied for having won back its full control of the Greek market.

Presenting the company's economic details during a press conference yesterday in the context of Thessaloniki's International Fair, EBZ Chairman Vasilis Papagiannis and Managing Director Antonis Vafeiadis, expressed optimism over the firm's course in the current fiscal year.

Mr. Papagiannis said EBZ efforts had focused on the one hand on reducing industrial costs, and on the other to win back its share in the Greek market lost to European, mainly Italian competitors.

Price policy and a varied credit policy helped the company to regain the lost ground, but recorded losses due to a gradual reduction in the price of sugar down to 231.5 dr per kilo from 245 dr three years ago. Greek sugar is the cheapest in Europe.

Pangalos says satisfied with results of tripartite meeting

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos concluded his contacts in Tehran yesterday with meetings with the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mohammad Khatami and the Iranian government's first Deputy Prime Minister (who virtually exercises the duties of prime minister) Hassan Habibi.

Mr. Pangalos expressed satisfaction over the results of the tripartite ministerial meeting between Greece, Iran and Armenia and announced that the three ministers will meet again in Yerevan in September next year.

He also announced that the idea of carrying out a intercivilisational forum on the big civilisations of the world, namely the Roman, Greek, Egyptian and Iranian ones, is being promoted.

Mr. Pangalos said that the representatives of the corresponding culture foundations from the four countries will meet soon to pave the way for a meeting of the culture ministers and possibly of the foreign ministers of the four countries.

Mr. Pangalos yesterday met with the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Jalal Talabani, who is in Tehran, at the latter's request.

Briefing reporters on the meeting, Mr. Pangalos said that Mr. Talabani requested Greece's support in the effort for recognition of the Kurds' rights and autonomy and briefed him on latest developments on the Kurdish problem.

Mr. Talabani expressed concern over the situation prevailing in Turkey, as well as on the way in which the neighbouring country is carrying out its operations in northern Iraq lately.

Mr. Pangalos said that Mr. Talabani's concern is focused on the fact that the Turkish military has changed its tactics and no longer withdraws from the regions in which it launches attacks, but establishes some soldiers, creating in this way a kind of " bases."

Mediterranean culture ministers conference in Rhodes Sept. 25-27

Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos yesterday announced the first Mediterranean wide conference of culture ministers will be held on the island of Rhodes from September 25-27.

Mr. Venizelos noted that all countries exept Libya will be participating and will discuss all the large cultural programmes planned for the celebration of the new millenium as well as the 2004 Olympic Games.

The minister said that the celebrations for the year 2000 include exhibitions, publications, Greek participation in musical and theatrical international events, as well as the new monuments such as the new Acropolis museum and Goulandris Museum of Modern Art.

He said that the events for the year 2000 include a religious element represented by the Orthodox Christian Church and organised by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and will include Byzantine art exhibitions.

Pangalos says he favours institution of deputy prime minister

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos placed himself in favour of the institution of a deputy prime minister, in a discussion he had yesterday with reporters while flying back to Athens from Tehran.

He reminded the press that he had tabled a relevant proposal when the first government of Prime Minister Costas Simitis was being formed, but it had not attracted the required consent.

Explaining his position, the foreign minister said that a deputy prime minister could oversee the operation of organs and institutions in cases of the prime minister's absence.

Speaking on the forthcoming congress of the ruling PASOK party, the foreign minister said he was against turning the floor into a polling booth, noting that the PASOK congress' odds to be turned into an "electoral congress", will depend on whether an issue of leadership will be raised.

He also announced that he was to make a number of proposals in view of the congress, including a higher participation of women in the party's organs.

Concern voiced over nature of Turkey-Israel military cooperation

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopulos' expressed concern over the nature of a Turkey-Israel military cooperation according to a report from Athens, published in yesterday's issue of the German newspaper "Syndoitche Zeitung".

The report quotes Mr. Tsohatzopoulos as saying that Ankara and Jerusalem's "axis policy" was "worrying" to Greece, and further underlining the necessity to set up a regional security system with participation of all eastern Mediterranean countries.

"We have nothing against Turkey-Israel economic relations, despite the fact that these include the supply of armaments", the defence minister told the paper, adding however that, "when Israel's advanced technology is made available to Turkey, with Ankara's objective being to use it agressively, then this goes beyond the limits".

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos specifically denounced the fact that Israeli fighter jets together with Turkish warplanes have repetedly flown above Cyprus, "showing that they ignore international law".

In his conversation with the paper's Athens correspondent, the Greek defence minister challenged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's claim that his country's cooperation with Turkey was of no trouble to the region.

For this reason, Mr. Tsohatsopoulos said, he had invited his Israeli counterpart Yitsak Mordehai to visit Athens in November for talks.

"Unilateral commitments give rise to problems", he added.

FM to meet US envoy for Cyprus this afternoon

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos will receive US State Department special coordinator for the Cyprus problem Thomas Miller in Athens this afternoon, diplomatic sources said yesterday.

Mr. Miller's visit to Athens opens a new round of contacts with the Greek government on the Cyprus problem, following consultations between Cyprus and Greece in Athens last month and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's proposals for a confederation on Cyprus.

The visit to Greece was postponed two months ago when Mr. Pangalos refused to see him following statements in the press by a US official on Mr. Miller's mission.

The governments of Greece and Cyprus have made clear, in their August 27 joint statement, that the Cyprus problem is one of invasion and occupation, refusing to focus the talks on the S-300 anti-aircraft Russian-made missiles, due to be deployed on the island republic later this year.

Sources said the Greek government was awaiting for US proposals or ideas focusing on the political side of the Cyprus issue, which will create the conditions for the resumption of inter-communal talks on the island, based on the United Nations resolutions.

Greece denies postponement of Russian missiles deployment on Cyprus

Greece yesterday denied that there would be any postponement of the deployment of Russian S-300 missiles on Cyprus and said it would not be dragged into the furore over the issue.

"The Cyprus issue is and remains an issue of the invasion and occupation of a free state," acting government spokesman Yannis Nikolaou said. The government in Nicosia is handling the issue of the missiles, Mr. Nikolaou added.

Yugoslav FM begins two-day visit to Athens today

Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic begins a two-day visit to Athens today at the invitation of Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, according to an official announcement by the Federal Republic of Yugosl avia's foreign ministry yesterday.

The announcement said that the two ministers will discuss issues regarding the further development of friendly relations between the two countries, all forms of mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation as well as international issues of mutual concern,including multilateral cooperation between the countries of southeastern Europe.

WEATHER

Good weather with scattered clouds in northern and central and eastern Greece today, turning to rain or storms. Small drop in temperatures. Partly cloudy in the central and southern regions with the posibility of rain. Athens partly cloudy with temperatures between 20-28C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 18-25C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 295.517 British pound 488.798 Japanese yen (100) 215.125 French franc 50.709 German mark 169.999 Italian lira (100) 17.232 Irish Punt 425.508 Belgian franc 8.242 Finnish mark 55.929 Dutch guilder 150.705 Danish kr. 44.650 Austrian sch. 24.166 Spanish peseta 2.004 Swedish kr. 36.902 Norwegian kr. 37.021 Swiss franc 206.896 Port. Escudo 1.660 Aus. dollar 172.181 Can. dollar 193.043 Cyprus pound 575.201

(C.E.)


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