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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-10-28

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, 28/10/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Slovenian PM to visit Athens
  • PM Simitis's Ohi Day message
  • President's Ohi Day message
  • Reshuffle reports denied
  • T-bill rates fall
  • Greek, Cypriot speakers meet
  • Policeman charged over death of Serbian boy
  • Greek equities end up
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Slovenian PM to visit Athens

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek will pay an official visit to Greece beginning Thursday, according to an ANA dispatch from Ljubljana. Drnovsek is scheduled to meet with President Kostis Stephanopoulos, Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis and Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos.

It will be the first official visit by a Slovenian prime minister to Greece and comes after visits by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos to Slovenia earlier this year.

Drnovsek's visit is expected to focus on Slovenian efforts to join the European Union. Greece is one of the countries that has not yet ratified the EU agreement with Slovenia but is expected to place the issue on the parliamentary agenda soon.

PM Simitis's Ohi Day message

Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Tuesday that the country needed to show the same determination in meeting new challenges as that shown when it refused an Italian ultimatum to surrender and was dragged into World War II.

In a message issued on the occasion of "Ohi (No) Day" on Wednesday, when Greece rebuffed Mussolini's demand, Simitis said Greeks were "required to show the same decisiveness as the generation of the '40s".

"In the world of today, whatever makes Greece strong is patriotic," Simitis's message read.

"Greece must be strong so as to participate equally in all the levels and procedures of the new European entity, to be active and have a dynamic presence in the Balkans, to deal with organised crime, drug trafficking, racism and xenophobia, to proclaim from all international podiums the need for respect and maintenance of international law and to avert any threat thanks to the worthiness of the Greek Armed Forces.

"The Greek people are well aware that the Greece of new opportunities, development and social justice, the Greece of the 21st century demands sacrifices and hard work. And it is prepared to give its all to achieve this final aim. I am certain that the message of decisiveness of the generation of the 40s inspires and teaches all Greeks, who want to feel proud of their country at the threshold of the 21st century," the message said.

President's Ohi Day message

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos said Wednesday's anniversary was a "crowning moment in Greek history and a source of national pride".

Stephanopoulos's message said that Ohi Day served to remind Greeks that "with unity, we can achieve miracles."

"National consensus is particularly imperative today, in light of the challenges our country is called on to meet as a member of the European Union and in the light of the uncertainty and instability noted in the region of the Balkans.

"Greece has the standing conviction that the unreserved respect for international, democratic values and human rights are the safest road for the promotion of peace, economic prosperity and social development worldwide, and is a factor of stability in the region of the Balkans," the president's message read.

Stephanopoulos also mentioned that Cyprus would surely join the European Union, which would "contribute to the resolution of the Cyprus problem and the rapprochement of the two communities to the advantage of all."

Reshuffle reports denied

The government on Tuesday denied reports that a cabinet reshuffle was in the works.

"We are not occupied with any issue of a reshuffle. There is no such issue, " government spokesman Dimitris Reppas told reporters on his arrival in the northern Greek city of Ioannina, where he will represent the government at ceremonies marking the national Ohi Day holiday.

T-bill rates fall

Interest rates fell significantly in today's Treasury bills auction held by the Greek finance ministry.

The average weighted rate in one year T-bills fell to 11.0 percent from 11.6 percent in the previous auction.

Primary dealers offered 450.8 billion drachmas, more than double the original aim of 200 billion. The finance ministry finally accepted bids totalling 228.6 billion drachmas.

The fall in T-bill rates is a favourable development for the government in its effort to contain inflation and cut long-term yields, two major EMU convergence criteria.

A meeting held in the national economy ministry with the initiative of the ministry's council of economic advisors on Monday, discussed the country's monetary policy.

Participants agreed that although Greek 10-year bond spreads remained high at 400 basis points above the Maastricht criterion of 6.0 percent, the situation could be easily improved on the condition that inflation would be contained to 2.0 percent by the end of 1999.

Long-term interest rates would then follow the decline, they said.

In the domestic secondary bond market the climate was positive. However, the government remained cautious and continued to examine defensive alternative solutions to strengthen the bond market.

The Greek paper market remains vulnerable to moves by foreign investors. Experts say that bond prices could be hit again in future international turmoil and the government would like to avoid such a prospect now that the country has entered a final stretch towards the Maastricht criteria.

Greek, Cypriot speakers meet

Developments in the Cyprus issue were the focus of talks on Tuesday between the Greek and Cypriot presidents of parliament, Apostolos Kaklamanis and Spyros Kyprianou respectively, in Athens.

Both reiterated the goal of the Greek side was Cyprus's inclusion in the European Union, which would facilitate a settlement of the problem.

"The Cypriot problem will not be solved in Cyprus, but primarily in Washington, and then in London and Brussels, so efforts for (Cyprus's) accession must be directed there," Kyprianou said.

Talks on coordinated activities by the Greek and Cypriot houses will continue during Kaklamanis's official visit to Nicosia, in the middle of November.

Policeman charged over death of Serbian boy

Dozens of plainclothes policemen scuffled with journalists on Tuesday outside a Thessaloniki courthouse as they attempted to stop reporters from filming a colleague being charged with killing a Serbian schoolboy on Friday.

A senior police official sped to the scene following complaints from reporters and called on the plainclothes policemen to disperse.

The policemen had, on their own initiative, gathered at the scene to prevent the media from approaching Kyriakos Vandoulis, 32, or taking his photo due to the "sensitive" post he holds in the homicide division.

Vandoulis was released on bail after being formally charged with homicide with intent, drawing harsh criticism from the boy's father, Dragoslav Bulatovic, who arrived in the Greek city late on Monday to accompany his son's body back to Belgrade.

Bulatovic told reporters that Vandoulis should be punished and be kept in custody. Bulatovic said on Monday that he would file a civil suit for wrongful death against Vandoulis in the Greek courts.

Vandoulis was released on bond of one million drachmas and banned from leaving the country.

Sources said Vandoulis told the prosecutor that his pistol had gone off while he held it in one hand and spread both arms out to prevent 18-year- old Marko Bulatovic from fleeing.

The student, part of a group on a school trip to Greece, was killed instantly by a shot to the head.

Greece said on Monday it would undertake all the expenses for Bulatovic's funeral: his body will be flown to Belgrade by a Hellenic Air Force transport plane later on Tuesday.

Greek equities end up

Greek equities ended sharply higher for the second consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange reflecting strong buying activity in banks and industrials.

The general index ended 1.71 percent higher to 2,140.39 points in heavy turnover of 46.2 billion drachmas. Volume was 11,483,000 shares.

Traders said the market was expecting a new cut in Bank of Greece's intervention rate by 25 basis points soon, in line with a climate of lower rates in European Union.

Sector indices were mixed. Banks rose 2.11 percent, Insurance fell 0.33 percent, Investment was 0.08 percent off, Leasing dropped 1.31 percent, Industrials increased 1.82 percent, Construction fell 1.01 percent, Miscellaneous ended 0.75 percent up and Holding jumped 2.4 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.24 percent higher.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 137 to 90 with another 23 issues unchanged.

Hellenic Petroleum, Mytilineos, Aspis Invest, Aspis Bank and Bank of Piraeus were the most heavily traded stocks.

Daring, Connection, Bank of Central Greece, Lanakam, Marfin Invest, Dimitriadis and Ridenco scored the biggest percentage gains hitting the daily 8.0 percent limit up.

Nematemboriki, Boutaris, Corfil, Macedonian Plastics, Sportsman, Yalco, Nafpaktos Spin Mills, Avax and Atticat suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 38,900 drachmas, Ergobank at 24,600, Alpha Credit Bank at 21,690, Ionian Bank at 10,540, Hellenic Telecoms at 6,420, Delta Dairy at 3,330, Intracom at 10,900, Titan Cement at 17,500, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,345 and Minoan Lines at 6,085.

WEATHER

The forecast for today is fine with local rainstorms clearing. Temperatures range from 3-14 in the north, 9-18 in the Ionian and mainland and 12-20 on the Aegean islands. Athens will be fine with moderate to strong winds, 12- 18. Thessaloniki will be the same, 8-14.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 279.873 British pound 466.796 Japanese yen (100) 233.646 French franc 50.334 German mark 168.858 Italian lira (100) 17.053 Irish Punt 420.410 Belgian franc 8.177 Finnish mark 55.532 Dutch guilder 149.574 Danish kr. 44.364 Austrian sch. 23.992 Spanish peseta 1.987 Swedish kr. 36.188 Norwegian kr. 37.043 Swiss franc 206.182 Port. Escudo 1.645 Aus. dollar 171.715 Can. dollar 181.536 Cyprus pound 572.344

(M.P.)


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