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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-11-24

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, 24/11/1998 (ANA)

MAIN HEALINES

  • Croatia's President Tudjman begins first visit to Greece
  • Bourse to be privatised, then listed in first-half of '99
  • Stocks end higher in active trade
  • Greece tells Prince Charles it wants the Parthenon Marbles back
  • Southern EU states reject spending freeze
  • Greece, Egypt to hold first ever joint military exercise
  • Turkish map shows Greek islands as Turkish
  • Greek, Turkish businesmen debate handling political crises
  • Angelopoulos wins barrage of prizes at festival
  • Weather to improve as of today
  • Creation of SE European force at its final stage
  • Pangalos' letter to Albright on S-300 missiles
  • Patriarch says Istanbul Greeks to stay put
  • Use of addictive substances among youth increases
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Croatia's President Tudjman begins first visit to Greece

    Croatian President Franjo Tudjman yesterday began a two-day official visit to Athens, his first since the former Yugoslav republic's independence was recognised. Mr. Tudjman met with Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos soon after his arrival and with Prime Minister Costas Simitis at midday.

    Greece and Croatia's foreign ministers later signed accords on combatting the narcotics trade, terrorism and organised crime and on cooperation in the tourism sector.

    Mr. Tudjman met with President Stephanopoulos and both officials said there was room for improvement in bilateral relations, particularly in trade and the economy.

    The situation in the Balkans,and particularly in Kosovo, were the focus of talks between the two presidents and delegations from their countries.

    Taking part in the talks on the Greek side were the ministers of foreign affairs, merchant marine and transport and communications; and the deputy minister of national economy.

    In statements to reporters after their meeting Mr. Tudjman said that Greece had a major role to play in the resolution of the Yugoslav crisis and that Croatia and Greece would continue to work towards a satisfactory answer to the problems in Bosnia and Kosovo.

    He also expressed hope that Greece would contribute to plans to construct a highway linking southern and central Europe along the Adriatic coast.

    Particular emphasis was laid on the Adriatic Highway project, which will link Croatia to Greece and pass through Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia- Herzegovina, Slovenia, Italy and Austria during Mr. Tudjman's talks with Mr. Simitis.

    The project, based on an idea first put forward by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, will be the focus of a meeting of the foreign, public works and transport ministers of both countries in the first-half of 1999, a statement issued after Mr. Simitis and Mr. Tudjman's meeting said.

    Bourse to be privatised, then listed in first-half of '99

    The Athens Stock Exchange S.A. is to begin a second share offer this week that will lead to its majority privatisation and listing through bookbuilding in the first half of 1999.

    Bourse president Spyros Kouniakis told a news conference yesterday that on sale are 750,000 stocks representing 15 percent of share capital, which follows a previous offer of 39.7 percent in holdings.

    The state, which currently owns 60.3 percent of the bourse, will hold less than 50 percent after the latest share sale, leading to a majority privatisation.

    It will, however, retain supervision of the stock exchange.

    Eligible to buy stock are brokerages, investment companies, mutual fund managers, insurance firms, state health and pension funds and enterprises already listed.

    Stocks end higher in active trade

    Equities finished higher yesterday hitting the 2,500-point barrier in an early rally but later shedding most of their gains on profit-taking after a sharp rise in the market last week.

    The general index ended 0.54 percent up at 2,477.26 points, sharply off the day's highs that initially took the market 1.60 percent higher.

    Buying interest turned from blue chips to small and medium-sized cap firms, propelling many stocks to the daily upper volatility limit of 8.0 percent.

    Trading was active with turnover staying robust at 62.1 billion drachmas. Volume was 14,835,000 shares.

    Sector indices scored gains. Banks rose 0.28 percent, Leasing ended 0.15 percent up, Insurance increased 1.65 percent, Construction soared 3.0 percent, Industrials rose 0.64 percent, Miscellaneous ended 0.31 percent up, Holding jumped 2.84 percent, but Investment bucked the trend to end 0.23 percent off.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 49,650 drachmas, Ergobank at 27,625, Alpha Credit Bank at 26,290, Ionian Bank at 12,300, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 7,230, Delta Dairy at 3,830, Intracom at 13,750, Titan Cement at 19,850, Hellenic Petro leum at 2,380 and Minoan Lines at 6,600 drachmas.

    Greece tells Prince Charles it wants the Parthenon Marbles back

    Britain's Prince Charles yesterday was asked to intervene for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece as he continued a three-day visit here coinciding with the Britain and Greece Festival.

    The British heir-to-the-throne, who arrived in Athens on Sunday evening, met with President Kostis Stephanopoulos yesterday and toured the Acropolis in the afternoon, accompanied by Greek culture minister Evangelos Venizelos.

    The culture minister said he told the Prince that the British government should "make a brave move and return the Parthenon marbles to Greece".

    Prince Charles was later awarded the Gold Key to the City by Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos during a special ceremony at the Athens Town Hall .

    On bestowing the city's medal on the Prince of Wales, Mr. Avramopoulos requested his support for a return of the Parthenon Marbles, saying:

    "The time has come for the monuments of Athenian civilisation to return to the place which has been preparing for exactly this reason - the new Acropolis museum".

    He flies to Crete today to visit the Knossos archaeological site.

    Southern EU states reject spending freeze

    Southern countries of the European Union and Ireland, in part, yesterday rejected a budgetary spending freeze until 2004 at a meeting of the EU's economic and monetary council.

    The Austrian presidency proposed the measure in order to satisfy a demand by wealthier member-states for a reduction in their contribution to the EU's budget.

    Speaking for Greece, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said:

    "If some people believe that reaching the final phase of economic and monetary union should be achieved on the basis of divergence, and not convergence, of member-states' economies, they are seriously mistaken."

    He added that the proposal for the freeze will result in the abandonment of efforts to achieve economic and social convergence within the EU, one of the 15-nation bloc's most basic aims.

    Greece, Egypt to hold first ever joint military exercise

    Greece and Egypt are to hold their first ever joint exercise under the terms of military cooperation set up by the two countries.

    The naval exercise, codenamed "Alexandria '98", will be held off the coast of Alexanrdia from Nov. 27 to Dec. 2.

    The exercise aims to boost relations between the two nations' navies and promote operational cooperation.

    Two frigates from each country will take part in the manoeuvre with any supplementary vessels or forces to be decided during the exercise.

    Turkish map shows Greek islands as Turkish

    A Turkish foreign ministry booklet issued to mark the republic's 75th anniversary shows the Greek islands of Rhodes, Samos, Ikaria and Hios as belonging to Turkey.

    The booklet, which was handed out to foreign delegations taking part in celebrations for the anniversary, was described in yesterday's edition of the Turkish newspaper "Turkish Daily News" as scandalous.

    According to the newpaper, a map in the booklet also contained further geographical distortions as it showed Iraq in Iran's location and Armenia in Azerbaijan's place.

    Greek, Turkish businesmen debate handling political crises

    Greek and Turkish business people held a meeting on the island of Mytilini at the weekend to discuss issues including the creation of intervention mechanisms in both countries' governments in periods of political crisis.

    It was the first such meeting of entrepreneurs from all the Aegean islands.

    On the Greek side, participants included chamber officials and business executives; and on the Turkish side, 180 business officials headed by Ismir Chamber president Ekmer Demiraz.

    Apart from economic cooperation, participants also held sessions on political interventions and initiatives.

    A decision was taken for the meeting to be held every six months in Greece and Turkey.

    An intervention that Turkish officials said they would embark on in coming weeks will centre on a recent row between Greece and Turkey involving the Halki School of Theology, whose board was sacked by Turkish authorites without adequate reason earlier this month.

    Angelopoulos wins barrage of prizes at festival

    Theo Angelopoulos' feature film "An eternity and a day" yesterday won as many as seven prizes at the 39th Thessaloniki Film Festival - Greek section.

    Angelopoulos' picture received the best film, direction, script, music, second female role, costume and stage-designing awards.

    Constantine Yiannaris' film "From the edge of the city" won second best film award, while Menelaos Karamangiolis' "Blackout" won the third best picture award.

    Weather to improve as of today

    Traffic at Athens airport was returning to normal yesterday after low visibility early in the morning forced domestic incoming flights to be diverted and the cancellation of outgoing flights.

    The storm that hit the capital at around 9 a.m. was accompanied by thunder, lightning and low cloud.

    One report said that winds were so strong that it had moved an empty Boeing 727 parked on the runway some 15 metres.

    In Thessaloniki, gale force winds uprooted trees and brought down billboards on parked cars causing traffic jams.

    Fire brigade officials in both Athens and Thessaloniki said they had received dozens of calls for assistance from people trapped in lifts due to power surges.

    Overnight, the storm struck in the areas of Argos and Nafplion. Fifteen people were freed by fire department officers from cars trapped by swirling waters in Argos, with another 10 saved from their flooded homes.

    Schools in the two Peloponnese towns were shut for the day as water levels reached a metre.

    Winds had abated somewhat in the Rio-Antirrio region, allowing ferries to resume crossings.

    The Meteorological Service said that the weather would start improving markedly as of today.

    Creation of SE European force at its final stage

    Processes for the creation and activation of the Multinational Force of Southeastern Europe is entering its final stage following a meeting between military experts in Istanbul, reports said yesterday.

    Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Romania and Turkey will be participating in the multinational force, while the United States and Slovenia will be observers.

    In a recent meeting of military experts relevant protocols were discussed and signed concerning the force's headquarters, its administration and the presidency of its political and military committee.

    According to the reports, it was agreed that the principle of alternation every four years will apply for the force's headquarters. The force's first country to host its headquarters will be Bulgaria, followed by Romania, Turkey and Greece.

    The first presidency of the political and military committee will be assumed by Greece and will be followed by Romania, Turkey, Albania and FYROM.

    The period of office of the force's administration and of the committee's presidency will be two years.

    The protocols are expected to take on the form of an agreement which will be signed by the defence ministers of participating countries at the end of December in Athens.

    Pangalos' letter to Albright on S-300 missiles

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday confirmed press reports that he had sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, but refused to divulge the letter's contents.

    Mr. Pangalos made the comments while speaking to reporters.

    The Sunday newspaper "To Vima" said that Mr. Pangalos's letter called on Ms Albright to assist in finding a way out of the impasse that has arisen over the issue of the deployment of Russian-made S-300 missiles on Cyprus.

    Turkey has openly threatened to take out the missiles if they are deployed. Nicosia says they are purely for defensive use.

    The issue is expected to be discussed during Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides's visit to Greece later this week.

    Patriarch says Istanbul Greeks to stay put

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos yesterday reiterated that the city's Greek-Orthodox community was resolved to stay where it was, despite the difficulties.

    Mr. Vartholomeos, during the inauguration ceremony for a renovated educational and arts centre in Ferikoy, Istanbul, said that activities at the centre were a showcase for the community's dynamism.

    He added that he would draw the attention of the Turkish government to problems faced by the Patriachate and the community during an inter- religious conference in Ankara.

    In a related development, the Patriarch awarded the title of the office of the Noble of the First Notary of the Holy Church of Christ to American College Athens branch president, John Bailey.

    Use of addictive substances among youth increases

    The use of addictive substances has more than doubled among youth in the past five years, according to the findings of three studies presented yesterday.

    Presenting the results of the studies on students conducted by the Mental Health Institute, speakers said the most worrying aspect about the findings was the increasingly common perception that some substances were harmless.

    The increase in the use of cannabis was linked to the increasing numbers of those who believed that its use was harmless, despite the fact that recent studies in the U.S. have shown an adverse effect of cannabis on brain function, Athens University associate professor Anna Kokevi said.

    The findings revealed that 18 percent of male students and 10 percent of female students aged 17-18 had tried narcotic substances. Those aged 18-24 , the age group with the highest systematic use, the rates were 32 percent for males and 12 percent for females. Marijuana and hashish were reported used by all those who had gone on to other narcotics.

    Some 5.0 percent of students reported use of synthetic drugs such as amphetamines, ecstasy and LSD, a figure that was closely linked to the popularity of nightclubs as a form of entertainment for Greek youth. Experts said that although drug use was more prevalent among men, women seemed to be closing the gap over the past 10 years.

    WEATHER

    Rain and local storms are forecast for today in most parts of Greece, but the weather will gradually improve in the course of the day. Unstable weather in the west with the likelihood of rain and storms and spells of sunshine. Winds westerly to southwesterly moderate and occasionally strong. Athens will be partly cloudy with temperatures from 12-17C. Thessaloniki will be overcast and rainy with temperatures from 5-10C.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 283.742 British pound 469.295 Japanese yen (100) 233.973 French franc 49.671 German mark 166.587 Italian lira (100) 16.820 Irish Punt 414.656 Belgian franc 8.075 Finnish mark 54.784 Dutch guilder 147.719 Danish kr. 43.807 Austrian sch. 23.679 Spanish peseta 1.958 Swedish kr. 35.061 Norwegian kr. 37.865 Swiss franc 201.961 Port. Escudo 1.624 Aus. dollar 182.042 Can. dollar 183.361 Cyprus pound 563.952

    (C.E.)


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