Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-02-09
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 09/02/1999 (ANA)
- Farmers' protests get off to lukewarn start
- Pangalos meets with Bosnian leadership
- Athens-Nicosia sign memorandum for S-300s' deployment on Crete
- Protest against proposed nuclear plant in SE Turkey
- Greek-Israeli tree-planting ceremony
- Strintzis Lines orders three new buildings from domestic yard
- Stocks hit new all-time high, fuelled by construction
- Bond prices drop in wake of European markets
- Aspis Group shows consolidated Dr 6.0 bln profit
- Aget cement group threatens to pull out of industry federation
- Mailis group plans for 1999
- British participation in food fair
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Farmers' protests get off to lukewarn start
Turnout in farmers' mobilisations in central Greece yesterday appeared
below even the expectations of organisers, who appealed for greater
The government also noted that the threatened protests and road blocks this
week appeared to have got off to a lukewarm start.
"The farmers' coordinating committee has not received the response it
expected," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.
"The number of tractors (involved in protests) was clearly smaller than in
other years," he added.
Farmers demanding lower debt repayment rates and satisfaction of other
issues have warned of a repeat of protest action in 1997, when the
country's road and rail network was paralysed by tractor blockades. They
were due yesterday to rally outside major towns and on national highways.
The farmers' coordinating committee met in a central hotel in Larisa in the
afternoon, where Communist Party of Greece (KKE) deputy Vangelis Boutas
admitted that participation was at low levels, but claimed this was due to
the undermining methods of the government, who had called on public
prosecutors to intervene.
He appealed to farmers to participate in greater force in the mobilisations
today, and indicated that the low turnout yesterday could be interpreted as
a tactical move in expectation of measures towards reducing agricultural
production costs, expected to be announced by the government tomorrow.
Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis reiterated after the meeting that
dialogue could only take place with open roads and that the government was
on the alert to deal with "illegal acts".
The minister added that there would be favorable arrangements for
individual farmers in debt, to be announced tomorrow.
Pangalos meets with Bosnian leadership
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos held talks yesterday with his Bosnian
Federation counterpart Jadranko Prlic on the international prospects of
Bosnia-Herzegovina and the issue of the country's participation in the
Council of Europe.
Mr. Pangalos expressed Greece's full support. The Greek minister also met
with Mr. Prlic's two deputy ministers (a Bosnian Serb and a Bosnian
Addressing a joint press conference afterwards, Mr. Prlic said he and Mr.
Pangalos discussed the course of implementation of the Dayton agreements,
the participation of Greece in reconstructing Bosnia-Herzegovina - Athens
has already provided aid amounting to 25 million dollars - issues of
bilateral concern and the situation in the wider region with emphasis on
the Kosovo crisis.
Mr. Pangalos said he discussed the prospects of strengthening relations
between the European Union and Bosnia with his Bosnian counterpart and
expressed the conviction that an agreement must be signed between the two
sides as soon as necessary precondit ions are available.
Mr. Pangalos once again expressed Greece's support for the full implementation
of the Dayton agreements and reminded that Athens is participating in this
effort with a military force of about 285 men stationed at the Visoko army
He also reminded that Greece is paying the share corresponding to it in the
cost of operations. Both men agreed to regular contacts (once or twice a
year) at political director level between the two foreign ministries, as
well as to the creation of a mixed economic committee to examine ways of
developing bilateral economic relations.
On the question of the Kosovo crisis, Mr. Pangalos and Mr. Prlic expressed
support for the Rambouillet process and called on both sides to assume
their responsibilities towards the international community.
The Greek FM added that the international community is not prepared to
accept the revision of borders on the one hand and on the other the "mass
infringement of human rights, war crimes and genocides."
During his stay in Sarajevo, Mr. Pangalos also met with two members of
Bosnia-Herzegovina's tripartite presidency, the Bosnian-Croat A. Jelavic
and the Bosnian Moslem and former president of Bosnia-Herzegovina Alia
Athens-Nicosia sign memorandum for S-300s' deployment on Crete
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and his Cypriot counterpart
Yiannakis Chrysostomis are expected during talks yesterday and today in
Athens to sign a memorandum to bring the Russian-made S-300 missiles one
step closer to deployment on Crete.
Nicosia ordered the missiles for deployment on Cyprus but cancelled the
procurement amidst fears that their deployment might jeopardise ongoing
European Union accession negotiations.
The United States and European countries had expressed opposition to
Nicosia's plans, fearing an increase in tension in the region. Turkey
openly threatened to prevent deployment of the missiles on Cyprus.
Yesterday's talks focused on the technical details of such a move and next
Monday a Cypriot delegation and representative of the Greek National
Defence Ministry will travel to Moscow to sign an agreement with the
Protest against proposed nuclear plant in SE Turkey
A one-day meeting organised by a committee of Greek citizens on the topic
of "Akkuyu: Double threat and International Action to Deal With It", wound
up yesterday in Athens with the adoption of a petition demanding cancellation
of Turkey's plans to build a nuclear plant near Akkuyu, across from
The petition will be circulated in Greece and abroad to collect signatures
against the project.
Furthermore, the organising group is planning to hold meetings with the
government, political parties, trade unions and other agencies in order to
coordinate action on international level.
In speeches delivered during yesterday's meeting, a number of professors,
MPs and other specialists on energy issues stressed the dangers looming
from the construction of a nuclear plant in the specific region. Some of
the negative aspects are the area's high seismic activity, the serious
impact on health by nuclear accidents, disposal of nuclear waste,
Greek-Israeli tree-planting ceremony
A Greek-Israeli tree planting ceremony was held Sunday in Pendeli with the
participation of Agriculture Deputy Minister Paraskevas Fountas, Israeli
ambassador in Athens Ran Curiel and Attica Reforestation Director Yannis
The ceremony took place in the framework of a developing bilateral
cooperation in fighting natural disasters, an Israeli embassy press release
Fifty trees were planted in the Agios Petros area, and the event was part
of celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of Israel.
During the massive forest fires in Greece last summer, the Israeli foreign
ministry conveyed an official proposal to the Greek government for
assistance in reforestation projects.
Likewise, the release added, when a similar crisis with large forest fires
broke out throughout Israel last September, Greece responded very quickly
to Jerusalem's request for help and immediately approved the dispatch of
three firefighting planes.
Greece's quick response prompted Israeli Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon to
write to his Greek counterpart expressing appreciation to Greek authorities.
Strintzis Lines orders three new buildings from domestic yard
Strintzis Lines, a listed passenger shipping company,yesterday signed a
contract with Hellenic Shipyards to build three new ferries worth more than
30 billion drachmas.
Each 138.2-metre ferry will have a maximum speed of 27 knots, carrying a
maximum 2,100 passengers and 350 cars, or 130 cars and 50 trucks.
The first ship will be delivered in February 2001, the second in May 2001
and the third at a time still to be agreed.
Shipbuilding costs were considered to be competitive due to international
shipbuilding market conditions, the company said.
Strintzis Lines account for a significant share of the Greece-Italy
The company is also seeking to expand its activities in domestic passenger
Strintzis is the first Greek shipping company to sign a ferry deal with
Hellenic Shipyards, Greece's largest shipyard still under state control.
Analysts believe that the deal may pave the way for other shipowners to
order ships from the yard.
Stocks hit new all-time high, fuelled by construction
Equities surged to new record highs yesterday led by strong buying interest
in shares in the construction sector.
The general index ended 0.45 percent higher to 3,322.63 points.
Sector indices scored gains.
Listed engineering contractors again lure buyers Players on the Athens
bourse again grabbed construction shares yesterday, propelling the sector's
index 7.08 percent higher and taking 21 stocks to close at or near the
daily 8.0 percent upper volatility limit.
Engineering contractors are expected to improve their financial performance
in 1999, spurred by an acceleration in the execution of public works.
The Athens Stock Exchange's construction sector has gained 70.6 percent
since the start of the year on expectations of mounting turnover and
Another factor to fuel sentiment is an announcement expected in mid-April
by the public works ministry that will offer incentives for the plethora of
contractors in the sector to merge.
Bond prices drop in wake of European markets
Bond prices in the secondary market slumped under selling pressure
yesterday, dragged down by declines in the UK, Germany and France.
Hardest hit was the latest domestic 15-year bond, which dropped to 104.90
following a mass sell-off. Electronic trade was light to moderate at 44
The drachma remained strong in the foreign currency market at 322.080 to
the euro at the central bank's daily fix against 322.110 in the previous
session. Interbank rates were flat.
Aspis Group shows consolidated Dr 6.0 bln profit
Aspis Group's consolidated assets totalled 150 billion drachmas in 1998 and
profits six billion drachmas, Pavlos Psomiadis, the group's chairman, told
a news conference yesterday. Presenting last year's results, Mr. Psomiadis
said the group aimed to further strengthen its position in the domestic
market through takeovers or mergers.
The banker said that the group would consider proposals to forge a
strategic alliance with other groups, but dismissed the possibility of the
bank being bought by another financial institution.
Aspis Group's workforce totalled 750 employees last year, while the number
of clients and shareholders totalled 500,000 and 40,000 respectively.
Aspis Group includes Aspis Pronia Insurance, Aspis Bank, Aspis Mutual Funds,
Aspis Securities and Aspis Investment.
The group is seeking listing of Aspis Pronia and Aspis Securities on the
Athens Stock Exchange.
Aspis Bank plans to open five new branches by July raising its network to
The bank is also expected to launch its own credit card and promote
Aget cement group threatens to pull out of industry federation
A rift has broken out involving two key cement producers that belong to the
usually low-profile Federation of Greek Industry (SEV).
The Aget Group yesterday sent a letter to SEV's board saying it had
suspended the membership of its companies in the influential trade
association, and may pull out altogether.
Aget asked SEV to take disciplinary measures against Andreas Kanellopoulos,
SEV's board chairman and president of Titan Cement Co., Italian-owned
Aget's key rival in the domestic market.
Aget complained that Mr. Kanellopoulos had come out in favour of the
imposition by the European Union of a fine on Aget, speaking in an
interview to Titanes, Titan's in-house company magazine.
Aget claimed that Mr. Kanellopoulos' alleged remarks in the magazine could
unfairly influence the EU's Executive Commission.
Mr. Kanellopoulos also reportedly indicated in the interview that Aget
would not receive the backing of shareholders if it were to try and hold a
rights issue on the Athens bourse, according to Aget's complaint.
The Commission may rule this month in a case concerning the capitalisation
of Aget's debts in 1986, an affair that was closed and then reopened. Aget
has since changed its shareholder composition.
Mailis group plans for 1999
The Mailis group unveiled ambitious plans which include expansion in the
European market for secondary packaging materials and doubling results in
Towards this end, Mailis managing director Mihalis Mailis told a press
conference yesterday that the company is currently implementing an
integrated strategy programme, which involves new investments for expanding
production and acquisitions of strategic importance abroad.
Besides the recent acquisitions of three similar French firms for 18
million French francs and the setting up of the Mailis France Holding, the
company is soon to announce the establishment of a joint venture in the
United States, in collaboration with an Italian manufacturer and an
American distributor. The recent acquisitions also included Spain's
The group's results for 1998, as regard sales, amounted to 19.6 billion
drachmas, up 35 per cent from the 14.5 billion drachmas in 1997. Net pre-
tax profits were 3.5 billion drachmas, up 86 per cent from 1.9 billion in
1997. Shareholders' equity stood at 4.5 billion drachmas, Mr. Mailis
Group sales will reach 40 billion drachmas - with 50 per cent of the
increase, or 10 billion drachmas, coming from exports - while profits are
expected to double, he added. The group has plants in Greece, Spain and
Romania, producing polyesther and poly propylene packaging materials (PET
and PP), as well as strech and shrink film, having one of the largest
plants in Europe, and with second place in the European market after the
American firm ITW.
British participation in food fair
Twenty-five British companies from the food and beverage sector, accompanied
by Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) officials, will be in Athens from
Feb. 11-15 to take part in the 12th Food and Drink Exhibition at the Peace
and Friendship stadium in Faliron, the British embassy in Athens said
Beer, cider, soft drinks and meat products will be exhibited, and visitors
will have the opportunity to get information from either companies
representatives or DTI and embassy officials about participating companies
Enquiries should be addressed to Thaleia Paraschi, commercial section,
British embassy tel: 72.72.637 or fax: 72.41.872.
Scattered showers are forecast today in the eastern Aegean islands, the
Cycladic and the Dodecanese islands. Possibility of rain in the evening in
the northwestern Greece. Winds variable, moderate to strong. Few clouds in
Athens with temperatures ranging between 3-13C. Similar weather in
Thessaloniki with temperatures from 1-9C.
Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 283.960
Pound sterling 464.018 Japanese yen (100) 249.805
French franc 48.788 German mark 163.360
Italian lira (100) 16.501 Irish Punt 405.685
Belgian franc 7.920 Finnish mark 53.737
Dutch guilder 144.985 Danish kr. 42.981
Austrian sch. 23.219 Spanish peseta 1.921
Swedish kr. 36.039 Norwegian kr. 37.002
Swiss franc 199.551 Port. Escudo 1.594
Aus. dollar 185.291 Can. dollar 190.643
Cyprus pound 548.576