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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-05-06

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, 06/05/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Kranidiotis optimistic over pending political solution for Kosovo
  • Greek humanitarian convoy on way to Kosovo bombed
  • Parliament reassured that radioactivity levels normal
  • SAE protest letter to Clinton over 'announcement'
  • Greek, Albanian and FYROM leaders to address Thessaloniki forum
  • Greece differs from EU partners on embargo issue
  • Olympic village to be built at Thracomakedones
  • April inflation drops to 2.8 pct yr/yr
  • Stocks rise after correction
  • FYROM's cabinet okays Hellenic Petroleum deal
  • Shipping register loses tonnage
  • Mytilineos announces deals in FYROM
  • Piraeus Bank plans to expand in Balkans
  • Spending on advertising rises 27.41 pct in Jan-Apr
  • SAE-funded clinics in ex-Soviet states
  • Veteran actor dies
  • Olympiakos wins soccer cup
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Kranidiotis optimistic over pending political solution for Kosovo

Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis yesterday expressed a view that an effort was under way to resume negotiations for a political solution to the Kosovo problem.

Mr. Kranidiotis was speaking to reporters after two days of meetings in London with foreign politicians and diplomats, including British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, within the framework of events marking the 50th anniversary of the Council of Europe.

Mr. Kranidiotis said recent activities of the German presidency of the European Union and Russian diplomacy had created "some optimism" that an agreement will be reached regarding the nature and composition of the international force which must be deplo yed in Kosovo in accordance with a United Nations resolution.

Following the deployment of such a force, Mr. Kranidiotis said, talks may recommence on the form of autonomy, "the content, that is, of the solution which must be given for Kosovo".

This means, he added, that the (NATO) bombings must stop, the refugees must return and extreme nationalist elements neutralised.

G8 countries meet in Bonn today, with the Kosovo issue and efforts for a political solution expected to top the agenda.

Greek humanitarian convoy on way to Kosovo bombed

A Greek non-governmental aid mission came under attack yesterday as it was delivering aid in Kosovo. No casualties were reported.

The mission was apparently attacked by NATO aircraft as the four jeeps were coming out of a tunnel.

A Greek member of the "Doctors of the World" mission delivering the aid to Pristina, contacted Greek consular officials in Belgrade as soon as the convoy arrived in Kosovo's capital and said a bomb had struck about 100 metres from the lead vehicle.

Dr. Lakis Nikolaou confirmed that no one had been injured and that none of the vehicles had been struck in the attack, which took place outside the town of Urosevac in southeastern Kosovo.

He also said that NATO had been given four days advance notice that the mission would be travelling to Pristina.

The Greek branch of the group is thought to be the only western aid organisation currently active in Kosovo. Belgrade approved the NGO to proceed with relief work following mediation with a Greek foreign ministry official last month.

The convoy was made up of four jeeps carrying medical supplies and humanitarian aid. The mission was destined to staff the Pristina University Hospital.

NATO said in Brussels there was no indication the alliance was connected to the attack.

Press reports said last night that Greece's defence ministry had informed NATO of the humanitarian mission route four times.

Foreign Minister George Papandreou expressed his sympathy with all those he said are "putting their lives in danger under difficult conditions in order to complete a major humanitarian effort".

He also said he had spoke by phone with NATO secretary general Javier Solana and conveyed his concern over, requesting additionally all details over conditions surrounding the incident.

Parliament reassured that radioactivity levels normal

Scientists from the Greek Atomic Energy Committee reassured Parliament's research and technology committee yesterday that the NATO bombings in Yugoslavia bore no consequences for Greece, but appeared very pessimistic over the ecological disaster in the region.

"Radioactivity was never an issue since the war in Yugoslavia is conducted with conventional arms," Harvard Professor Dimitris Trihopoulos said, adding that "if in reality the dioxin levels had doubled, a human tragedy would have already taken place".

The scientists reassured the Parliament committee that radioactivity was in normal levels throughout Greece, based on findings of measurements conducted by eight independent university labs. The president of Greece's chemists association, Nikos Katsaros , expressed his concern over the "frightening, non-reversable ecological disaster in Serbia" and said that even if the war ended now the ecological consequences were unknown, pointing out that "there are dioxine sources in Yugoslavia and if the war contin ues everything is subject to change".

SAE protest letter to Clinton over 'announcement'

World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) president Andrew Athens yesterday said he was planning to sent a letter to US President Bill Clinton over the "announcement" issued by Washington regarding conditions in Greece, information considered damaging to Greek tourism.

"We will do what we can to reassure that it is not dangerous at all for someone to come to Greece," Mr. Athens said.

SAE's presidium focused on this issue over the last two days in Thessaloniki, where it was also decided that initiatives should be taken up to inform Greek expatriates on the issue.

SAE also approved a resolution condemning the bombardments in Yugoslavia as well as ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.

Greek, Albanian and FYROM leaders to address Thessaloniki forum

The prime ministers of Greece, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and of Albania will be in Thessaloniki next week to address the city's 6th annual business forum.

The forum, which begins on Monday and ends on Tuesday evening, is expected to draw more than 500 Greek and foreign business figures representing 120 foreign companies and 280 Greek.

Taking a central role in discussions this year is the reconstruction of the Balkans when the Yugoslav conflict ends.

The forum, organised by the Federation of Northern Greek Industries (SBBE), Bank of Piraeus and the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce, will attempt to outline the situation in the Balkans ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

SBBE President Vassilis Takas told a news conference yesterday that the forum hoped to provide an opportunity to overcome the lost opportunities in the region following the collapse of the Eastern Bloc and to build on the lessons learnt.

Speakers at the forum include the leader of the main opposition New Democracy party Costas Karamanlis and the Greek ministers of development, Macedonia-Thrace, foreign affairs, national economy.

Albanian Prime Minister Pandeli Majko will speak at Monday noon, and FYROM Prime Minister Ljupco Georgievski on Tuesday. Prime Minister Costas Simitis will close the conference with a speech on Tuesday night.

Also attending will be the finance ministers of Albania, Cyprus, FYROM and the foreign ministers of Albania and FYROM.

The Romanian industry and commerce minister and Bulgarian deputy minister for industry will also be present.

Greece differs from EU partners on embargo issue

Greece distanced itself from its European Union partners on the issue of an embargo against Yugoslavia and on drawing up a "black list" of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's associates for subsequent denial of travel visas.

At the Committee of Permanent Representatives, which convened last night, Greece disagreed with the proposal for inspections of ships headed for Montenegro, from where Yugoslavia is supplied with oil. Consequently, the "15" were unable to shape a common position. The EU presidency will issue a relevant announcement on the issue which will mention that inspections will also take the legislation of each country into consideration.

On the question of visas being denied for Mr. Milosevic's associates, decided at the Council of Foreign Ministers in Luxembourg, the Greek ambassador balked and no common position was achieved by the "15." However, this ban will apply with the expected issue of a regulation which can be adopted without unanimity being necessary.

Olympic village to be built at Thracomakedones

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday finalised the construction site of the Olympic Village for the 2004 Athens Games, chosing the Thracomakedones in northwestern Athens.

The inter-ministerial committee and the Athens 2004 organising committee had previously examined the possibility of using the Hellenikon air base in southern Athens as the site for the Olympic Village.

The facilities are expected to accommodate 11,000 athletes as well as some 5,000 trainers and escorts.

April inflation drops to 2.8 pct yr/yr

Consumer price inflation in April fell to 2.8 percent year on year, dropping below 3.0 percent for the first time in 28 years, the National Statistics Service said yesterday.

The consumer price index rose 1.0 percent month on month from March, reflecting higher prices in oil and products sold at hotels, including soft drinks and coffee.

NSS director Nikos Karavitis said he expected inflation to drop further in the next few months.

Year-on-year inflation stood at 5.3 percent in April last year and 5.9 percent in the same month of 1997.

Stocks rise after correction

Equity prices resumed their upward trend yesterday, following a correction in the previous session, with investors trying to push the market to record levels once again.

The general index ended 0.61 percent higher at 3,799.36 points, off the day's highs.

Turnover was 169.467 billion drachmas and volume 36,557,585 shares.

Sector indices scored gains.

Leasing surged 8.0 percent, Insurance rose 4.11 percent, Investment increased 0.80 percent, Industrials ended 1.37 percent higher, Construction jumped 5.46 percent, Miscellaneous ended 1.45 percent up, Holding rose 2.66 percent but Banks bucked the tren d to end 0.19 percent off.

Traders said demand for small and medium capitalisation stocks was heavy, although several industrial blue-chip stocks showed fatigue.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 224 to 61 with 13 issues unchanged.

National Bank of Greece ended at 21,410 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 21, 480, Ergobank at 28,500, Ionian Bank at 18,000, Titan Cement at 25,500, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,515, Intracom at 21,705, Minoan Lines at 7,450, Panafon at 8,295 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,250.

FYROM's cabinet okays Hellenic Petroleum deal

The cabinet of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia yesterday endorsed an agreement allowing Elpet-Balkan (Hellenic Petroleum) to build an oil pipeline linking the EKO refinery in Thessaloniki to the OKTA refinery in Skopje.

The 90 million dollar pipeline will have a capacity of 2.5 million tonnes annually and a length of 220 kilometres, due for completion in three years.

Hellenic Petroleum is also to become a strategic investor in the OKTA refinery.

According to FYROM's government, the investment is the largest ever in the country.

Shipping register loses tonnage

The strength of the Greek shipping register was reduced by 14,331 gross registered tons in April, the merchant marine ministry said yesterday.

Six new ships totalling 80,622 grt joined the register in April, while another six ships, totalling 94,953 grt, departed.

Incoming vessels were nine years old on average, while outgoing vessels were an average 23 years old.

Mytilineos announces deals in FYROM

The Mytilineos mining and engineering group said yesterday that it had secured three deals in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia following talks in the neighbouring country.

The company's chairman told a news conference that the firm would sign a contract by the end of the month for the acquisition of a metallurgical company.

Two mines would also be purchased, and a smelter, he said.

Piraeus Bank plans to expand in Balkans

The Bank of Piraeus Group is seeking to expand in the Balkan region, the group's managing director, David Watson, told a press conference yesterday.

Mr. Watson, who also heads the Macedonia-Thrace Bank, a member of the group, said the expansion included Albania, Bulgaria and other Balkan states.

He noted that Piraeus was the first Greek bank to be active in Albania with the creation of Tirana Bank, while Xiosbank, another member of the group, was the first to open a branch in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Mr. Watson hinted that he would be responsible for the current expansion plan.

Spending on advertising rises 27.41 pct in Jan-Apr

Spending on advertising in domestic media rose to 134 billion drachmas in January-April, up 27.41 pct against the same period of last year.

Again taking the lion's share of spending was television at 63 billion drachmas, representing a 47.3 percent share of the market.

Next came magazines, newspapers and radio stations.

Spending on advertising in the month of April was 34.6 billion drachmas from 28.2 billion a year earlier, marking a 22.3 percent rise.

The data was given in a monthly report by Media Services SA., released yesterday.

SAE-funded clinics in ex-Soviet states

World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) president Andrew Athens yesterday announced that 75 Greek expatriates in Uzbekistan have died from a lack of pharmaceuticals over the past four months.

In efforts to aid ethnic Greeks living in the former Soviet republics, Mr. Athens said 19 health clinics will be build in Georgia, the Ukraine, Armenia, Uzbekistan and Russia. On May 9, Mr. Athens will visit Georgia where he will inaugurate a medical clinic, which is already in operation.

Veteran actor dies

Veteran Greek actor Vassilis Diamantopoulos died yesterday in Athens at the age of 81.

Distinguished in a number of roles in classical theatrical plays, in films as well as television, Vassilis Diamantopoulos is best remembered for his interpretation in the political revue "Oh, papa, what a world is this!" staged in Athens at the end of the military junta in 1974.

The political world expressed its condolences over the actor's death and "for the void it left in the arena of theatrical art and culture in general."

Olympiakos wins soccer cup

The Olympiakos Piraeus football club yesterday won the Greek Soccer Cup, beating Panathinaikos Athens 2-0. Olympiakos is also on top in the championship standings.

WEATHER

Unsettled weather will prevail in most parts of the country today. Intermittent rain or storms in mainland Greece, eastern Macedonia, Thrace and the northern and eastern Aegean. Winds variable, moderate to strong. Possibility of sporadic rain in the afternoon in Athens with temperatures between 17-25C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 14-19C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          302.461
Pound sterling       492.984
Japanese yen (100)   249.954
French franc          49.165
German mark          164.891
Italian lira (100)    16.656
Irish Punt           409.490
Belgian franc          7.995
Luxembourg franc       7.995
Finnish mark          54.241
Dutch guilder        146.344
Danish kr.            43.390
Austrian sch.         23.437
Spanish peseta         1.938
Swedish kr.           35.879
Norwegian kr.         39.075
Swiss franc          200.930
Port. Escudo           1.609
Aus. dollar          198.980
Can. dollar          207.507
Cyprus pound         556.016
Euro                 322.499
(C.E.)
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