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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-10-15

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, 15/10/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Prospects of peaceful settlement in Kosovo lauded by Athens
  • Gov't to slash indirect taxes in 1999 budget
  • Retail price of heating oil slumps after tax cut
  • Central bank lowers overnight rate by 25 bps
  • Greek stocks jump on central bank rate cut, gov't policy
  • French central bank governor to speak in Athens
  • OA technicians suspend strike
  • OTE to take over maintenance of ComsOTE network
  • Greece-Georgia 3-0 in Euro 2000 qualifying round
  • Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki sworn-in as ambassador-at-large
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Prospects of peaceful settlement in Kosovo lauded by Athens

Athens yesterday expressed satisfaction at a western-backed deal to end the conflict in the troubled Yugoslav province of Kosovo.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas stressed that Greece was traditionally in favour of a peaceful settlement to all problems.

Mr. Reppas said Greece would be participating in the group with a few dozen "compliance verifiers", while noting that all OSCE member-states could participate.

The Greek government, Mr. Reppas added, calls on all sides involved in the Kosovo crisis to exercise self-restraint and avoid all acts of violence.

"We believe that all those involved with respond for the good of the region, " he said.

He also noted that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and US presidential envoy Richard Holbrooke included the proposal by Greek PM Costas Simitis for the dispatch of the international group of observers to Kosovo.

According to the deal, President Milosevic agreed to withdraw Serbian forces from Kosovo, commence peace negotiations with separatist ethnic Albanians and allow about 2,000 observers into the strife-torn province.

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos expressed conviction that the agreement reached on Tuesday between Mr. Milosevic and Mr. Holbrooke could contribute to finding a peaceful solution to the problem.

He was speaking to reporters after talks in Athens with Christopher Hill, the US ambassador to Skopje, FYROM, and one of the architects of Tuesday's agreement.

He also expressed satisfaction because, as he said, the agreement was based on proposals that himself and his ministry had long made.

"Unfortunately", he said, "when it comes to the problems of former Yugoslavia, it seems that one has to reach almost the point of no return before an agreement can be reached."

Mr. Hill said that "we have not yet arrived at a sustained peaceful solution in Kosovo...but a political framework. We should see in practice whether the Serbian side complies with the contents of the agreement".

Mr. Pangalos said that Greece, along with all other international parties involved, aimed to contribute to the implementation of the agreement, and assured that Greece would continue contacts with the Yugoslav government to encourage it to move along that direction.

The Greek foreign minister reiterated that Greece would participate with all forces that may be requested for the implementation of the agreement, but he did not elaborate.

Mr. Pangalos also called on the Albanian side and particularly the armed Kosovar groups to abandon military activity and all acts of violence.

Gov't to slash indirect taxes in 1999 budget

Indirect taxes will drop sharply in next year's budget as part of the government's drive to accelerate a decline in consumer price inflation, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday.

Mr. Papantoniou, who chaired a high-level meeting that finalised the budget's outline, did name the taxes to be lowered.

The details are expected to be finalised at a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

This year's budget would be strictly implemented, achieving a targeted deficit of 2.4 percent of gross domestic product, Mr. Papantoniou said.

Attaining the target was the first step towards Greece's participation in European economic and monetary union.

The government wants the country to join the euro, the European Union's single currency, by January 1, 2001.

The minister attributed satisfactory progress in the 1998 budget to higher- than-expected revenue and lower spending, which now is running at the annual growth target of 6.5 percent after exceeding the goal earlier this year.

He said the second step towards EMU entry would be the 1999 budget, which would allow a deficit below 2.0 percent of GDP, completing a five-year fiscal restructuring plan.

The new budget is expected to bridle consumer spending in the public sector, and boost public investment spending to 2.2 trillion drachmas.

Retail price of heating oil slumps after tax cut

The retail price of oil for central heating systems will drop to 70 drachmas per litre in Attica and Thessaloniki today following a tax reduction of more than 50 percent ordered by the government in its anti- inflation drive.

The price for orders of over 1000 litres in the Attica basin and the prefecture of Thessaloniki is 70 drachmas per litre, rising slightly in other parts of the country, the development ministry said in a statement yesterday.

The government in September lowered the tax on gasoline.

Other fuels also will show a price decline today stemming from a drop in world markets.

The reductions per litre are as follows:


Super gasoline, 1.40 drachmas
Leadless, 1.50 drachmas
Diesel, 2.40 drachmas

The ministry said the authorities would carry out stringent checks for breaches of the law, and consumers also should be watchful.

Any irregularities should be reported to the ministry's consumer department on 3821838 or 3842508.

Central bank lowers overnight rate by 25 bps

The Bank of Greece, the country's central bank, sent a positive signal to domestic and international markets by lowering its interbank intervention rate by 25 basis points to 12.75 percent from 13 percent.

The central bank's move was expected to aid domestic interest rates to fall.

The decision had a positive impact on the Athens Stock Exchange, helping to drive up stock prices.

Greek stocks jump on central bank rate cut, gov't policy

Greek equities ended sharply higher in light to moderate trade on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday, pushing the general index above the 1,800- point barrier.

The government's determination to stick to its current economic policy; a cut in the Bank of Greece's overnight rate by 25 basis points; and a probable third float for Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation boosted sentiment in the Greek market.

Also fuelling sentiment was a halt in sales of blue chips by foreign investors.

The general index ended 4.09 percent higher at 1,855.39 points with turnover at 33.1 billion drachmas. Sector indices scored gains.

Banks soared 5.07 percent, Insurance ended 1.40 percent higher, Investment rose 2.20 percent, Leasing jumped 7.54 percent, Industrials ended 3.66 percent up, Construction increased 4.14 percent, Miscellaneous surged 6.58 percent and Holding rose 4.10 pe rcent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 4.74 percent up. The FTSE/ASE 20 index rose 4.37 percent at 1,101.60 points.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 206 to 26 with another 14 issues unchanged.

Volume was 9,002,000 shares.

French central bank governor to speak in Athens

The governor of the Bank of France, Jean-Claude Trichet, will visit Athens on October 19-20 at the invitation of the French Chamber of Commerce in Greece.

Mr. Trichet will speak on the French view of European economic and monetary union on Monday at a dinner the chamber will hold in his honour at the Hilton Hotel, beginning at 8.30 pm.

He will be the next governor of the European Central Bank, succeeding Wim Duisenberg of the Netherlands after four years.

OA technicians suspend strike

All Olympic Airways flights will be carried out according to schedule today, since the technicians' union suspended a six-hour work stoppage.

In a meeting with Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis yesterday, the union's leadership reiterated a demand for the hiring of 100 technicians and 80 apprentices, receiving a reply that all European Union rules on the issue will be observed.

Consequently, the union decided to suspend the work stoppage.

In an unrelated development, debt-ridden Olympic's profits increased by 3.5 per cent in September compared to the same month last year, despite an 8.23 per cent decrease in passengers (about 60,000) over the same period.

According to reports, the increase in profits is due to a cut-back in loss- making routes. OA also claims that at the end of the year net profits will total 4.4 billion drachmas, or about 700 million drachmas less than what is anticipated by an operation al programme.

OTE to take over maintenance of ComsOTE network

Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) will take over the maintenance of its mobile telephone subsidiary ComsOTE, according to an announcement yesterday.

The first phase of cooperation between the two companies will last until the end of 1999.

OTE will be responsible for repairing malfunctions in the CosmOTE network around the country.

Greece-Georgia 3-0 in Euro 2000 qualifying round

The Greek men's football team posted its first victory in the 'Euro 2000' qualifying round yesterday after beating Georgia 3-0 at the Athens Olympic Stadium before some 15,000 fans.

All three goals were scored in the first half - Nikos Machlas (13), Nikos Lymberopoulos (15) and Marinos Ouzounidis (35).

Greece's next match is against Albania away on Nov. 18.

Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki sworn-in as ambassador-at-large

The president of Athens' Olympic Games bid committee, Gianna Angelopoulos- Daskalaki, was sworn-in yesterday as an ambassador-at-large to UNESCO regarding Olympic issues.

Ms Angelopoulos-Daskalaki will conduct meetings with foreign governments on issues related to the Olympic Games, while the focus of her efforts will be on cultural affairs.

Her first visit as an ambassador will be at the Kyoto meeting of the UNESCO International Heritage Committee, set to begin on Nov. 30.

WEATHER

Cloud and rain will prevail throughout Greece on Thursday.

Winds will be northerly, northwesterly, moderate to strong.

Unsettled weather in Athens where temperatures will range between 15-21C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from 13- 18C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 280.538 British pound 477.331 Japanese yen (100) 235.719 French franc 51.068 German mark 171.160 Italian lira (100) 17.304 Irish Punt 425.945 Belgian franc 8.300 Finnish mark 56.316 Dutch guilder 151.786 Danish kr. 45.027 Austrian sch. 24.359 Spanish peseta 2.016 Swedish kr. 35.351 Norwegian kr. 37.000 Swiss franc 211.301 Port. Escudo 1.670 Aus. dollar 176.229 Can. dollar 181.020 Cyprus pound 579.328

(L.G.)


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