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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-11-13

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, 13/11/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Upgrading of already close Greek-Albanian ties
  • Pangalos to travel to South Africa
  • Int'l conference to deal with Med region natural disasters
  • Schori: Turkey's European participation on certain conditions
  • SAE condemns US Jewish groups for lauding Turkish 'democracy'
  • Patriarchate, Halki issues raised with Amnesty International
  • Economic aid to countries hit by 'Mitch'
  • Rampant drachma jumps on demand from abroad
  • Agricultural Bank of Greece offers loans for Panafon IPO
  • Apostolopoulos Group breaks into health insurance
  • Mytilineos buys out Metka
  • Greek stocks fall, new budget already discounted
  • Profile of Internet users in Greece
  • Thrace Plastics counts on larger presence in Balkans
  • National Bank participation in Panafon share purchases
  • 35-per cent buyout of Rom Telecom by OTE finalised
  • Olympiakos beats Alba Berlin
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Upgrading of already close Greek-Albanian ties

Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his Albanian counterpart Pandeli Majko yesterday expressed satisfaction over talks in Athens and declared their determination to further strengthen already close cooperation between the two countries.

The two premiers initially had a short private meeting, followed by talks with the participation of a number of Greek and Albanian ministers.

During yesterday's talks,the two sides signed a five-billion-drachma loan agreement within the framework of a bilateral agreement already signed, which provides for a Greek loan to Albania of 20 billion drachmas.

A joint declaration was also signed providing for the construction of a national theatre in Tirana.

Mr. Simitis said Greece desired close cooperation with Albania, expressing the view that progress and development in the neighbouring country will contribute decisively to securing stability in the Balkans.

Greek-Albanian cooperation has two directions, he said, firstly Greece's support for Albania's efforts to join international bodies and secondly, economic cooperation. The premier stressed also that Greece had warmly supported closer cooperation between Albania and both NATO and the Western European Union (WEU).

Observing that a large number of Greek companies were already active in Albania, Mr. Simitis said he had discussed with Mr. Majko ways of improving the business environment in order to facilitate an expansion of business activities.

Also discussed were issues related to the large numbers of Albanians residing in Greece and Greek efforts to control illegal immigration and to confer legal status on hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants.

Pangalos to travel to South Africa

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos begins an official two-day visit to South Africa on Thursday.

His visit will be marked by a variety of cultural events, including two concerts conducted by Mikis Theodorakis of his musical adaptation of Odysseus Elytis' epic poem "Axion Esti".

Mr. Pangalos has said that proceeds from the concerts would be donated to South African President Nelson Mandela's charity to help impoverished children.

Mr. Mandela has said he will attend the Greek composer's concerts.

Int'l conference to deal with Med region natural disasters

Representatives of several international organisations yesterday began two- day talks on initiatives and actions to promote better cooperation by Mediterranean countries in dealing with natural disasters. United Nations, Council of Europe, European Union, NATO and NATO candidate-countries' representatives along with officials from Mediterranean third countries participated at the seminar, organised by the foreign ministry's civil defence general secretariat and NATO's political planning directorate. Ministers of NATO member-states agreed in principle to the activation of units comprised of personnel from Euro-Altantic council member in cases of natural disasters and when necessary to assist Mediterranean nations.

Schori: Turkey's European participation on certain conditions

Swedish Foreign Aid Minister Pierre Schori told a news conference yesterday that there was much Greece could do to "unblock" the difficult situation which has been created with Turkey.

Mr. Schori is in Greece to address an event this evening at the Athens Concert Hall on the subject of "Greece and Sweden in a United Europe".

Expressing the desire to "avoid giving advice", Mr. Schori limited himself to saying that Turkey had the right to participate in the European Union but first had to fulfill certain prerequisites, such as respect for human rights.

Invited to Athens by the Lambrakis Studies Institute, Mr. Schori is best known in Greece for the solidarity he showed to Greek democrats during the seven-year military dictatorship (1967-74) and as a close friend and associate of late Swedish premier Olaf Palme.

SAE condemns US Jewish groups for lauding Turkish 'democracy'

The leadership of the Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) for North and South American yesterday reacted strongly to a newspaper ad by several American Jewish organisations applauding Turkey for what they called Ankara's "democratic and secular values".

The ad, appearing in last Sunday's "New York Times", was paid for by the American Jewish Committeee, the American Jewish Congress and the Jewish Anti-Defamation League and issued on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish re public. In a letter addressed to several leaders of Jewish communities in the US and abroad, which was also released in Athens, SAE president for N. and S. America Chris Tomaras expressed "disappointment and surprise" over the ad, which he said "goes against the long tradition of friendship and common values shared between the Greek- American and Jewish-American communities".

"Of all the people of the world, the Jewish diaspora surely knows the meaning of the words holocaust, genocide and pogrom. Yet, when you applaud Turkey for its democratic and secular values, you choose to igore (or perhaps some of you really do not know) the organised, repeated and sustained wholesale persecution and murder of ethnic and religious minorities in Turkey in the 20th century," Mr. Tomaras said in his letter.

Patriarchate, Halki issues raised with Amnesty International

Archbishop of America Spyridon yesterday met with the director of Amnesty International USA, Steve Rickard, and the group's advocacy director for Europe and the Middle East.

During the meeting, Spyridon raised several issues regarding the recent persecution against the Theological School of Halki and the dismissal of its supervising board by Turkish authorities, as well as the safety of Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.

Amnesty International expressed its concern and indicated an intention to pursue these issues as well as the broader matter of religious freedom for minorities in Turkey.

He also invited AI representatives to visit the Patriarchate and the Halki Academy. Along those lines, AI advocacy director Maureen Greenwood will travel to Istanbul next week and will meet with representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Spyridon also expressed his satisfaction with the positive response by AI to the issue.

Economic aid to countries hit by 'Mitch'

The foreign ministry yesterday announced that it will donate US$125,000 to four Latin American countries devastated last week by Huricane "Mitch". The announcement Athens granted this emergency aid as a symbolic gesture of solidarity to the suffering people of Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

In addition, $35,000 will be allocated through the group "Doctors of the World".

Rampant drachma jumps on demand from abroad

The drachma jumped in the domestic market yesterday on demand seen mostly from abroad, dealers said. The Bank of Greece intervened, purchasing around 40 million marks in order to curb the drachma's sharp rise.

According to dealers, investors abroad are seeking drachmas to open positions in Greece, signalling confidence in the country's economy.

The mark stood at 167.755 drachmas after the central bank's daily fix against 167.50 drachmas before the intervention.

The Ecu was 329.800 drachmas at the fix and the dollar at 283.000 drachmas.

The drachma is currently 7.1 higher than its central parity in the European Union's exchange rate mechanism, aiding the government's drive to bring down consumer price inflation.

At the same time, the parity has created an imbalance in the market, contributing to the maintenance of high interest rates.

In addition, a climate of uncertainty has been created as to how, exactly, the drachma will return to normal levels, traders said.

Intense buying interest was seen in the bond market, mainly from abroad, driving turnover up to 18 billion drachmas.

Agricultural Bank of Greece offers loans for Panafon IPO

State-owned Agricultural of Greece is offering loans at 18 percent for members of the public who wish to buy into an initial public offer (IPO) this month by Panafon, the mobile telephone operator.

The bank said in a statement yesterday that buyers could obtain a personal loan for the purchase of up to 500,000 shares in Panafon.

The loans are obtainable on demand, with no documentation required.

For the purchase of stock up to one million drachmas, a tax clearance statement is required.

Repayment is monthly in up to 24 installments.

Apostolopoulos Group breaks into health insurance

The Apostolopoulos Group yesterday announced its entry into the insurance market through the creation of La Vie Assurance, which specialises in health coverage.

The company's main programme, La Vie Health, will offer clients treatment, check-ups and tests at the Group's clinics and centres, Group president George Apostolopoulos told a news conference.

Coverage by La Vie Health is to include an unlimited number of visits to the Group's outpatients units, tests, check-ups and hospital treatment.

It will also provide treating doctors with patients' full medical records via computer link-ups, at the same time ensuring confidentiality.

Exclusive use of the Group's clinics and health centres will allow cost and quality control.

The Apostolopoulos Group has six hospital and diagnostic units with a projected capacity by end-1999 of 1,100 beds.

The Group is expanding its network to the Balkans and also has a centre in Moscow.

Mytilineos buys out Metka

The Mytilineos Group announced yesterday that it had acquired 54.5 percent of Metka, the metals construction firm.

Mytilineos is a metals trader, and both companies are listed on the Athens bourse.

After share exchanges between the two sides, Mytilineos will end up with 48 percent of common stock in Metka.

Details of the deal and Metka's future role in the Group are due to be given today.

Greek stocks fall, new budget already discounted

Greek equities ended lower on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday with the market shrugging off announcement of the 1999 budget the previous day as it offered no surprises.

Players were waiting to see if the central bank would intervene to help lower interbank rates, traders said.

The general index ended 0.80 percent off at 2,228.94 points with turnover at 44.2 billion drachmas, slightly up on the previous session. Volume was 12,329,000 shares.

Sector indices lost ground.

Banks fell 1.34 percent, Insurance was 0.28 percent down, Investment eased 0.23 percent, Leasing dropped 0.69 percent, Industrials were 0.58 percent off, Construction plunged 2.22 percent, Miscellaneous fell 1.23 percent and Holding dropped 0.73 percent .

National Bank of Greece ended at 41,950 drachmas, Ergobank at 25,160, Alpha Credit Bank at 23,400, Ionian Bank at 11,800, Hellenic Telecoms at 6,400, Delta Dairy at 3,485, Intracom at 12,930, Titan Cement at 17,185, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,400 and Minoan Lines at 6,250 drachmas.

Profile of Internet users in Greece

Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation's (OTE) Internet provider OTEnet yesterday announced that 90,000 people use the worldwide web from Greece.

OTEnet organised a one-day conference in Athens on the issue of "Business Activities on the Internet, which focused on the profile of users and the market share of Greek companies on the Internet.

OTEnet officials said that 34 per cent of users are under 30 years of age; 27 per cent are between the ages of 30 and 39; 26 per cent are 40 to 49 and 13 per cent are over the age of 50, adding that 65 per cent of users are men - half of which are single.

OTEnet said 15 per cent of users reside in rural areas; 60 per cent live in Athens and Thessaloniki, while the remaining 25 per cent reside in the rest of Greece's cities.

Some 53 per cent of usage involves work-related activities; 30 per cent entertainment and 17 per cent education.

Thrace Plastics counts on larger presence in Balkans

Presence in Balkan countries, and Romania in particular, is included in the Thrace Plastics company's investment plans without there being any specific cooperation for the time being, the company announced in a letter to the Athens Stock Exchange.

The company believes in parallel that benfits will result for both the plastics sector and the company itself from the operation of the Hellenic Petroleum's polypropylene production factory.

The Thrace Plastics company further said that its presence in the international exhibitions Cinte Techtextil in Osaka, Japan, was a considerable success for technical-industrial textile products.

National Bank participation in Panafon share purchases

National Bank is providing financial benefits for all interested in participating in the process of purchasing Panafon shares. The bank is also the coordinator and underwriter in the sale of Panafon's shares.

National Bank offers personal loans amounting up to one million drachmas with a 20 per cent interest rate.

The possibility of using the right of an overdraw in current deposits accounts for up to 500,000 drachmas with an 18 per cent interest rate.

In order to provide better service for non-constitutional investors, the National Bank undertakes the keeping and management of both Panafon's shares and other shares which are negotiable at the Athens Stock Exchange without any charge.

35-per cent buyout of Rom Telecom by OTE finalised

An agreement for the buyout of 35 per cent of Rom Telecom and its management by the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) was signed yesterday afternoon by the Romanian government and OTE's leadership.

The signing of the agreement sealed a successful auction for OTE, proclaimed by the Romanian government.

The agreement was signed by Romanian Communications Minister Sorin Padis, the president of SOF (National Ownership Organisation) Radu Sarbu and OTE's managing director Georgios Chrysolouris. Also present were representatives of the Greek utility's advis ers, namely, the Morgan Stanley investment house.

The 35 per cent stake in share capital and the assumption of the Romanian telecoms organisation's management is accompanied by terms in the agreement which anticipate OTE's right of vote for an additional 16 per cent of Rom Telecom's capital.

OTE was assisted in its bid by GTE Telecom, a subsidiary of the US GTE Corporation.

With the agreement, OTE substantively enters a market of 22.6 million people, double that of Greece, and with considerable prospects of development in the telecommunications sector.

Olympiakos beats Alba Berlin

Olympiakos of Piraeus overwhelmed Alba of Berlin 94-65 in a Group C Euroleague basketball match in Athens last night attended by 2,000 persons.

WEATHER

Cloud and rain will prevail throughout the country today with local storms in western, central and northern Greece. Winds variable, moderate to strong. Athens will be partly cloudy with rain expected in the evening and temperatures between 13-20C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 8- 14C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 280.736 British pound 464.772 Japanese yen (100) 226.275 French franc 49.600 German mark 166.413 Italian lira (100) 16.805 Irish Punt 414.596 Belgian franc 8.062 Finnish mark 54.699 Dutch guilder 147.560 Danish kr. 43.747 Austrian sch. 23.644 Spanish peseta 1.955 Swedish kr. 34.819 Norwegian kr. 37.381 Swiss franc 202.011 Port. Escudo 1.622 Aus. dollar 176.472 Can. dollar 180.524 Cyprus pound 560.460

(C.E.)


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