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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-12-25

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, 25/12/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Cypriot president to brief Greek premier on Tuesday
  • Reaction to UN resolutions on Cyprus
  • KKE charges S-300 decision election-motivated
  • Spate of bank robberies mars Christmas spirit
  • Greek equities end higher in record turnover
  • Bourse approves share capital increase, listing for two firms
  • New fixing method by Bank of Greece
  • Moody's examining upgrade of Eurobank's rating
  • Arsenis adamant over education reform, protests persist
  • CD with ecclesiastical hymns released by Archdiocese of America
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Cypriot president to brief Greek premier on Tuesday

Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides declined on Friday to make any statement concerning Nicosia's plans to deploy Russian S-300 missiles until he meets with Greece's Prime Minister, Costas Simitis, in Athens next week, according to an ANA despatch from Nicosia.

Clerides, who on Thursday chaired a session of the all-party National Council, will meet with Simitis on Tuesday at 11 a.m. local time, the despatch said.

Greece and Cyprus signed a joint defence pact in 1993.

No decision was taken by the National Council regarding Nicosia's plans to deploy the anti-aircraft missiles, that has provoked criticism from the United States and European countries which fear an increase in tension.

Turkey has openly threatened to prevent deployment of the defensive system which Nicosia ordered in January 1997.

Replying to reporters' questions after a Christmas Day service at St. John's Cathedral in Nicosia, Clerides said the leader of the Socialist party (EDEK), Vassos Lyssarides, had not threatened to withdraw from the government during Thursday's council meeting.

EDEK is a junior partner in the Cypriot coalition government and holds the defence ministry portfolio. Lyssarides has in the past said EDEK would withdraw from the government if the missile deal did not go ahead.

An ANA despatch from Nicosia on Thursday said Clerides was scheduled to arrive in Athens on Monday.

Reaction to UN resolutions on Cyprus

US President Bill Clinton said on Wednesday that he was committed to ending the "tragic division of Cyprus" and urged Cypriots to do their part to support international efforts to end the dispute.

In the statement, issued by the White House late on Tuesday immediately after the approval of two UN Security Council resolutions on Cyprus, Clinton vowed to "take all necessary steps to support" them.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair also expressed his commitment to work for the implementation of the resolutions, adding that his government wanted to see "a major, sustained effort towards securing a just, comprehensive and lasting settlement in Cyprus...".

Nicosia said it viewed the UN resolutions as positive, since they created "new prospects" to efforts for a settlement of the protracted problem and a reduction of arms on the island.

The Greek government on Wednesday welcomed the Security Council's adoption of the resolutions

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said the simultaneous adoption of the two resolutions not only illustrated the strong interest of the international community in the Cyprus issue, but also showed that the Security Council had realised the dangers entailed by any further prolongation of the problem.

KKE charges S-300 decision election-motivated

In a statement on Thursday, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said any effort to find a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem must be based on the body of relevant UN resolutions and the two high-level agreements reached between the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot sides in 1977 and 1979 in favour of a bizonal, bicommunal federation in Cyprus.

The KKE charged that the Cypriot government's decision to purchase and install Russian S-300 missiles on the island had been motivated by criteria related solely to electoral considerations at the time and had led to an impasse.

Nicosia's plans to deploy the missiles has provoked criticism from the US and European countries, which fear an increase in tension in the region. Turkey has openly threatened to prevent installation of the missiles.

Spate of bank robberies mars Christmas spirit

A gunman shot and wounded a company employee outside a bank in Peristeri, Athens on Thursday before grabbing a bag containing 1 million drachmas and escaping on a motorcyle with an accomplice.

Sotiris Kyrikos, 20, an employee of the company Petropoulos Anastasios Ltd., was shot in the leg by the unknown assailant as he was about to enter a branch of the Commercial Bank in Peristeri just after noon.

Kyrikos, who was taken to hospital, was reportedly taking the money to the bank to deposit it for the company.

In another incident not exactly characteristic of the Christmas spirit, a masked gunman held up a branch of the Ergobank in Paleo Faliro near Athens and escaped with 7 million drachmas.

The robber escaped on a motorcycle which, according to the police, had been stolen from the Athens district of Nea Smyrni on July 10.

In the western port city of Patras, two young men wearing crash-helmets this morning held up a branch of the Commercial Bank in the district of Psarofai, escaping on a motorcycle with an estimated 2.5 million drachmas.

In Thessaloniki, a man armed with a sawn-off shotgun robbed a branch of the Ionian Bank in Thessaloniki shortly before closing time.

It was not immediately known how much the robber got away with.

Greek equities end higher in record turnover

Greek equities ended higher for the sixth consecutive session on Thursday in record turnover reflecting investor optimism ahead of the New Year and an anticipated rally in the early part of 1999.

The general index ended 1.90 percent higher to 2,655.46 points to a net gain of 6.3 percent in the week. Turnover reached 195.2 billion drachmas on volume of 27.5 million shares boosted by several block trades, notably Sidenor.

Sector indices scored gains. Banks rose 2.68 percent to bring total gains since the previous Friday to 10.44 percent.

The FTSE/ASE 20 index added 2.17 percent to 1,672.96 points, up 7.9 pecent since the previous Friday.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 172 to 76 with another 21 issues unchanged.

Sidenor, National Bank of Greece, Commercial Bank, Alpha Credit Bank and Xiosbank were the most heavily traded stocks.

Eskimo, Panafon and Infoquest hit the daily 8.0 percent limit up, followed by Alcar-Aemet, Despec, Aspis Bank and Boutaris which scored big percentage gains.

Radio Athina plunged 12 percent, followed by Halyps Cement, Desmos, Xylemporia and Papoutsanis which suffered heavy losses.

Bourse approves share capital increase, listing for two firms

The Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday approved the share capital increase and bourse listing of Agrotiki Asfalistiki ( 2,658,000 common shares) and Kleeman Hellas (955,500 common shares).

In addition, Pantechniki S.A. will issue 6,863,000 new common registered shares, Elfico S.A. will issue 377,825 new common shares and 94,825 preferred new shares, while ETBA will issue bank bonds in the exchange.

New fixing method by Bank of Greece

The method of conducting the fixing session in the Greek exchange market will change as of Jan. 1.

According to a circular publicised by the Bank of Greece on Wednesday, the method is determined by which the Bank of Greece's intervention in the exchange market will be brought about, while the way with which exchange transactions will be conducted betwee n banks and their customers is also described.

The euro will be included on the table of currencies being negotiated at the fixing session and the national currencies of member-states adopting the euro as a single currency, namely those participating in Economic and Monetary Union, will be removed, as well as the European Currency Unit (the ECU) which will be converted into the ratio of 1 ECU for 1 euro.

At the end of the banks' session for determining official foreign exchange rates (fixing), the Bank of Greece, in the presence of representatives of the banks, will determine the average prices of euro zone currencies as against the drachma on the basis of the resulting official price between the drachma and the euro in conjunction with the irrevocable prices of these currencies as against the euro and as these prices will have been locked as at January 1, 1999.

At the end of the session and on completion of the process, the bulletin of official foreign exchange prices as against the drachma will be issued, as well as the bulletin of average prices of euro zone currencies as against the drachma.

Moreover, the Bank of Greece's Monetary Policy Council has decided to activate as of January 1, 1999 the operational regulation for the Payment Order Settlement System in euro, the "Euro-Ermis." With this system, banks operating in the country will be able to carry out payments in euro with its value on the same day of payment in all European Union countries.

Moody's examining upgrade of Eurobank's rating

The international credit rating firm Moody's is examining the upgrading of Eurobank in relation to short and long-term deposits.

According to a Moody's announcement issued on Wednesday, the firm is reassessing Eurobank due to its recent purchases of Cretabank and the Bank of Athens and especially the buy-out by Deutsche Bank of 10 per cent of Eurobank.

Moody's said it believes the Eurobank's diversification and franchise expansion, together with the new strategic association with Deutsche Bank will place Eurobank in a much stronger position to compete locally in the evolving and highly competitive Gre ek market.

With total assets of 1.7 trillion drachmas (US$5.7 billion), Eurobank is currently the second largest private bank in Greece.

Arsenis adamant over education reform, protests persist

Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis on Wednesday said that education reform was not to be negotiated.

He expressed sorrow over secondary teachers' (OLME) opposition to two amendments to the law that he announced on Tuesday.

Mr. Arsenis also said the ministry will provide, after the holidays, bulletins on the material for the June examinations and added: "If a student follows classes normall, he will feel prepared".

In a related development, students continued their protests yesterday by blocking the Athens-Lamia highway and downtown Athens streets, causing traffic problems. They vowed to continue their protests after the holidays.

Meanwhile, students' committees decided to hold rallies in Athens and Piraeus on Jan. 15.

CD with ecclesiastical hymns released by Archdiocese of America

The Archdiocese of America has announced the release of a compact disk with "Liturgical Hymns of Praise by Orthodox Youth", featuring the voices of young people from throughout America, singing in both Greek and English.

The CD, the first of its kind, contains the divine liturgy in its entirety, plus selected Orthodox hymns and is now available through the office of youth and young adult ministry at 8 East 79th Street, New York, NY 10021, by phone on (212) 774-0297 or by email at youthoffice&goarch.org

WEATHER

Cloudy skies throughout Greece on Friday with light rainfall or sleet mainly in northern Crete and the Cycladic islands.

Winds, northerly, northeasterly, strong, turning gale force in the Aegean Sea. Cloudy in Athens where temperatures will range between 3C to 9C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from -4C to 6C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 279.397 British pound 468.065 Japanese yen (100) 240.848 French franc 49.610 German mark 166.358 Italian lira (100) 16.800 Irish Punt 413.466 Belgian franc 8.066 Finnish mark 54.729 Dutch guilder 147.629 Danish kr. 43.731 Austrian sch. 23.664 Spanish peseta 1.955 Swedish kr. 34.686 Norwegian kr. 36.404 Swiss franc 203.613 Port. Escudo 1.623 Aus. dollar 171.507 Can. dollar 180.147

(M.S.)


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