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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-02-11

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, 11/02/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Deutsche Bank bullish on Greek economy
  • Investors seeking drachma investments, EIU says
  • Kanellopoulos heads list for OA director, sources say
  • Stocks edge up after early slump
  • Gold, silver trade fair begins tomorrow
  • Kosovo crisis should be resolved according to UN resolutions
  • Greek, US defence officials discuss Balkan problems
  • Agenda 2000 negotiations top priority for government
  • Gov't reschedules farmers' debts
  • Russian poet calls for return of Parthenon Marbles
  • Greece-US tourism to be promoted at ITIC '99 conference in April
  • British professor's library to be donated to University of Cyprus
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Deutsche Bank bullish on Greek economy

Deutsche Bank yesterday painted a rosy outlook for Greece's economy, interest rates and equities in a report on the outlook for European markets.

The German bank expects the general index of the Athens Stock Exchange to end the year at 3,600 points from around 3,200 points currently, recommending that investors should buy into Greek shares.

It also forecasts that the central bank's 14-day money market intervention rate, currently at 12 percent, will drop by one percentage point by the summer, and to 8.5-9.0 percent by the end of 1999.

In the report, Deutsche Bank underlines that Greece has retained its strength in a global economy facing a slowdown in growth and high foreign exchange risk.

The domestic economy is still making rapid progress towards alignment with the European Union and entry into economic and monetary union by the government's target date of January 1, 2001, thanks to declining inflation.

The bank says that another drachma devaluation before joining the euro had become increasingly unlikely.

It underlines, however, that a slowdown in underlying inflation and the government's sluggish privatisation programme remain causes for concern.

Deutsche Bank remains positive on the future of Greek stocks, despite their high price levels, due to the prospect of a sharp decline in interest rates in the next two years.

Investors seeking drachma investments, EIU says

Market players are enjoying drachma investments, wagering that the government will meet its target of joining the euro by January 1, 2001, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) said in a report.

Describing the drachma as a favourite currency among players since the euro's launch, EIU said investors were also drawn by differentials in short- term drachma rates, and spreads between Greek bonds and securities from other European Union countries.

Drachma bonds were flourishing in the euro market, with heavy demand spurring new issues. In January alone about 1.2 billion dollars' worth of drachma paper was issued, the report said.

The drachma, whose volatility against the euro is restrained by its membership of the EU's exchange rate mechanism II, has risen sharply against the single currency due to capital inflows from abroad for placement in Greece.

At the same time, enthusiasm for the drachma will not last indefinitely, EIU said.

The drachma was likely to remain steady overall against the dollar, the report said.

Kanellopoulos heads list for OA director, sources say

Lambros Kanellopoulos, a former general director of Olympic Airways in 1982- 1985, is the frontrunner to replace Mr. Tsakiridis, sources told the Athens News Agency yesterday.

The inner cabinet was also considering two other candidates, the sources said.

They are Michalis Karalis, OA's representative for future relocation to the new Athens international airport, and civil aviation deputy director, Yiannis Georgarakis.

British Airways, Lufthansa and a US operator have reportedly expressed interest in taking over management.

The new managing director to be chosen will remain as an advisor to the new manager to emerge from the tender.

Stocks edge up after early slump

Equities recovered early losses to end yesterday's session slightly higher on the Athens Stock Exchange, helped by renewed interest in construction shares.

The general index ended 0.14 percent up at 3,224.47 points after losing 1.80 percent early in the session reflecting the market's worries over volatility in European markets and a decline by Wall Street.

Turnover was 129.05 billion drachmas and volume 30,158,074 shares.

Sector indices were mixed.

National Bank of Greece ended at 20,250 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 34, 695, Ergobank at 24,645, Ionian Bank at 16,100, Titan Cement at 22,800, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,280, Intracom at 15,350, Minoan Lines at 7,700, Panafon at 9,600 and Hellenic Telecoms at 8,130 drachmas.

Gold, silver trade fair begins tomorrow

Gold-Silver 1999, a sector trade fair, begins tomorrow at the MEC centre on Lavrion Avenue, lasting until Monday.

The organisers are the Greek Gold and Silver Smiths' Centre and POBAKO, which represents small gold and silver businesses, jewellers and watchmakers.

Also contributing is the development ministry.

Within the sector are around 2,300 workshops and 7,500 stores, directly or indirectly employing 40,000 people.

Kosovo crisis should be resolved according to UN resolutions

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos after talks yesterday with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic reiterated Greece's position that the Kosovo crisis should be resolved within the framework of UN resolutions, international law and respect for existing borders, according to an ANA despatch from Belgrade.

Mr. Pangalos was speaking at the end of a two-day visit to Belgrade, where he also had talks yesterday with Deputy Premier Vuk Draskovic and the leaders of the opposition coalition "Alliance for Change" Zoran Jijic and Vesna Pesic.

On Tuesday, Mr. Pangalos had talks with Serbian President Milan Milutinovic, the President of the Federal Parliament's council of citizens Milomir Minic and his Yugoslav counterpart Zivadin Jovanovic.

Referring to Kosovo after talks with Draskovic, Mr. Pangalos said "even ethnic minorities have the possibility of preserving their ethnic identity in a system of complete autonomy, but with strict respect for existing borders".

Stressing that there should be no change of borders in the Balkans, Mr. Pangalos said Serbia too had its own borders "which should not be violated by anyone".

Mr. Pangalos said the peace talks in Rambouillet, France, provided a good opportunity for an acceptable settlement of the Kosovo problem.

He said he had invited Mr. Draskovic to visit Greece and expressed the hope that the Yugoslav deputy premier would do so soon.

Mr. Draskovic said the main cause of the problem in Kosovo was the idea of a "Greater Albania" and that Serbia was the victim of Albanian "terrorism" and secessionist tendencies.

Mr. Pangalos' visit to Belgrade was part of a tour of the region which takes in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and federal Yugoslavia.

After his talks in Belgrade, Mr. Pangalos left for Podgorica, Montenegro - the last leg of the tour - to meet Montenegrin President Milo Jukanovic.

Montenegrin President Milo Jukanovic termed talks he had with Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos here yesterday as "very constructive and useful."

Greek, US defence officials discuss Balkan problems

Deputy Defence Minister Dimitris Apostolakis yesterday had talks with US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Frank Kramer focusing on developments in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo, problems in the Balkans and bilateral coop eration issues.

It was the first meeting between the two men, who will meet again at the end of May or early June on the sidelines of the High-Level Advisory Committee which convenes annually to examine Greek-US relations.

Asked by reporters after yesterday's meeting about the possibility of Greece and Turkey becoming embroiled if the Kosovo problem spins out of control, Mr. Kramer replied that the NATO countries were working jointly on their problems and the Greek govern ment had always supported these efforts.

Referring to statements in the past by U.S. President Bill Clinton about the possible involvement of Greece and Turkey in any conflict, Mr. Kramer said the president's statement did not only concern those two countries but related to destabilisation in the entire region, which could pose a threat to all.

What we all want, Mr.Kramer said, is stability in the region and the attainment of an agreement between the parties to the conflict which will be respected by all.

Agenda 2000 negotiations top priority for government

Almost two years before the expected entry of Greece in the euro-zone, Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday noted the decisive role of the PASOK government in ensuring the course of the country towards the adoption of the common currency, and stressed his opposition to "ideas over the re- nationalisation of the Common Agricultural Policy or over its co-funding by national budgets."

The premier, speaking during yesterday's parliamentary debate on the ratification of the Amsterdam Treaty, he also said said that his government's top current priority was to secure Greek interests in the framework of the "Agenda 2000" negotiations, also setting as goals the reshaping of the EU structural policy, the Common Agricultural Policy and the Union's budget.

In reffering to the Cyprus accession process, he said that if the Turkish Cypriot side does not abondon its intransigence "then Cyprus should become a full member of the Union as soon as the process is complete."

He added that "as for Turkey, Greece supports the European orientation of Ankara, but it (Ankara) should 'respect' the European principles of justice, human rights and the inviolability of borders."

Addressing the country's priorities, Mr. Simitis also said that Greece supports the allocation of adequate funds for the support of the EU policies as well as the enlargement of the Union, as well as the adequate funding of the Union's structural funds for the support of the economic and social cohesion and the promotion of "real convergence".

Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga sharply criticised the government yesterday and once again raised her party's request for a referendum on the Amsterdam Treaty.

She said the process of ratifying the treaty constitutes "one more process of deceiving the Greek people."

Gov't reschedules farmers' debts

The government on Wednesday announced what appeared to be a very favourable package of measures to facilitate the repayment by farmers of debts to the Agricultural Bank of Greece, according to which 50 per cent of outstanding debts will be written off.

The package was announced by National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis after a meeting yesterday.

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.

On Monday, they began congregating at several points along the Athens- Thessaloniki motorway in central Greece but have not yet blocked traffic.

The measures announced on Wednesday also provide for the write-off of all outstanding interest payments, 50 per cent of accrued interest and refinancing with new loans at favourable interest rates.

Mr. Papantoniou clarified that the measures would in no way burden the state budget, since sole responsibility rested with the Agricultural Bank. During a meeting held in Thessaly last night to examine latest developments, the Panthessalian committee of farmers described yesterday's announcement by the agriculture ministry as disappointing and vague.

Russian poet calls for return of Parthenon Marbles

The British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles issued a press release yesterday in which its said it had received a letter from Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko in support of the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.

"Greece is the cradle of world culture. Everybody is born in Greece even the Russians, even I, a Siberian.

"All of us have to be spiritual columns of the resurrected Parthenon. Each crumb of its ruins has to be given back to the land where it was created", Mr. Yevtushenko, a member of the European Academy of the Arts and Sciences and an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, said in his letter.

Greece-US tourism to be promoted at ITIC '99 conference in April

A US Embassy Information Service (USIS) press release yesterday said that the first International Tourism Infrastructure Conference (ITIC '99) will be held in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, from April 28-29, with the participation of 29 countries.

"The goal of ITIC '99 is to promote tourism between Greece and the US. ...Organised by the US Embassy in Athens, it will enable the participants to hear first hand the business opportunities associated with the development, construction and opertion of tourism infrastructure projects in the region" the release said.

"The conference will focus international attention on Greece as a leading market for tourism infrastructure development. The Embassy decided to undertake this event as a direct response to Greek private sector and government interest in improving the tourism infrastructure in Greece", the release added.

"Greek Development Minister Vasso Papandreou will give the keynote speech on April 28. US Ambassador Nicholas Burns will discuss this event, during a special press conference on February 11, 1999 at 12:30 p.m., at the Athens Concert Hall", according to the release.

British professor's library to be donated to University of Cyprus

A large library belonging to a philellene British professor and Byzantinist, Robert Browning, was recently bought by the London-based Sothby house in order to be donated to the University of Cyprus.

The purchase of the library, comprising 5,000 volumes, was made possible after a joint initiative by Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis and the president of the Leventis Foundation, Dinos Leventis.

Professor Browning has been associated with Cyprus long ago in the field of research and his work with the University of Cyprus. He has also been a prominent Hellenist and chairman of the British committee for the restitution of the Partenon Marbles.

WEATHER

Cloudy weather with scattered rainfall will prevail in most parts of the country today with snowfall on highground in central and northern Greece. Heavier rainfall and snowfall expected by nightfall. Winds southerly, southwesterly, strong to very strong, turning gale force in the Aegean Sea. Scattered clouds in Athens with possibility of a brief rainfall and temperatures ranging from 9-15C. Thessaloniki will be cloudy with scattered rain and temperatures from 6-9C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 281.778 Pound sterling 460.744 Japanese yen (100) 244.578 French franc 48.663 German mark 163.208 Italian lira (100) 16.486 Irish Punt 405.307 Belgian franc 7.913 Finnish mark 53.687 Dutch guilder 144.849 Danish kr. 42.934 Austrian sch. 23.198 Spanish peseta 1.919 Swedish kr. 35.704 Norwegian kr. 36.922 Swiss franc 199.888 Port. Escudo 1.592 Aus. dollar 181.506 Can. dollar 188.321 Cyprus pound 549.568

(C.E.)


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