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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-05-14

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, 14/05/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis appeals for no changes of borders in Balkans
  • Kranidiotis says Greece opposed to NATO searches of vessels
  • Karamanlis: Euroelections assuming character of a political battle
  • Kranidiotis reveals Greek-Czech initiative on Kosovo
  • Greek and German Parliament presidents oppose ongoing NATO bombings
  • Stocks slump on Kosovo, Russia woes
  • Harmonised CPI at 2.6 pct in April yr/yr
  • State telecom to aid Yugoslavia reconstruction
  • Cosmote gets Dr 225 mln euro syndicated loan
  • Singular posts 70 pct profit jump
  • Energy conference to be held in Athens
  • Greek fur exports to Russia seen resurging
  • Mytilineos announces strategic alliance
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Simitis appeals for no changes of borders in Balkans

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday appealed for no changes to be made to borders in the Balkans, warning of the risk of destabilisation and even widespread war in the region.

"Greece believes that if there is a change of borders in the Balkans, then all the countries of SE Europe with minorities might be tempted to pursue other forms of states in this region, and this would mean widespread war in the Balkans and complete destabilisation in the region," Mr. Simitis said, adding that this would not be in the interests of any country in the region. Mr. Simitis was addressing a group of young deputies from European Union member states who were earlier briefed by Foreig n Minister George Papandreou on Greece's positions concerning the Balkans.

The premier said that what was currently taking place in the Balkans was not "a run-of-the-mill war, a run-of-the-mill conflict". "It is a conflict which leads to hatred, and if it continues for some time, post-war cooperation will be impossible, not only between the states of the region but also between ethnic groups," Mr. Simitis said.

Greece, the prime minister said, wants peace and cooperation in the Balkans and for this reason the war should not be continued.

He expressed the hope that the G8 draft peace agreement for Kosovo would provide a way out of the impasse in the crisis, stressing that "certain Balkan leaders must understand that peace and development are closely interlinked in the modern age and can be attained only through economic efforts and achieving a higher standard of living".

Kranidiotis says Greece opposed to NATO searches of vessels

Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis yesterday reiterated that Greece was opposed to NATO searches of vessels suspected of breaking the oil embargo imposed on Yugoslavia by the European Union.

Mr. Kranidiotis, who has already made Greece's position clear to the Western European Union (WEU), said Athens was opposed to the stopping and searching of vessels by NATO because it lacked any legal basis within the framework of the European Union.

Recent press reports have suggested that NATO will eventually have to abandon plans to enforce the oil blockade against Yugoslavia with the threat of force, and settle for a voluntary agreement, with transgressing countries being subjected to diplomatic protests.

Karamanlis: Euroelections assuming character of a political battle

The Euroelections will assume a character of a political battle, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis said yesterday, while he criticised the government both on its domestic and foreign policies.

Speaking to a joint ND parliamentary group and Central Committee meeting, Mr. Karamanlis predicted that ND will win the elections in June, for the first time since Greece's accession to the community.

He added that the victory he predicted will set the stage for the national elections next year, since as he said the results will change the political scene of the country.

Speaking on foreign policy issues, Mr. Karamanlis critisised the government over what he called a passive stance toward the Kosovo crisis, accusing it for double talk on the issue.

He added that the government did not table its disagreements within the alliance, so as to secure the "certification of the behaved child."

Commenting on Prime Minister Costas Simitis' speech on Thursday, during which he criticised the stance of the United States on the Kosovo problem and the war, Mr. Karamanlis said that Mr. Simitis vindicated ND' stance on the issue, adding that this turn of events was due to petty-party expediences and panic.

Mr. Karamanlis also critisised the government over its choices in the Russian made S-300 anti-aircraft missile system deployment in Crete and not in Cyprus as originally intended, calling the issue a diplomatic debacle, adding that the S-300 case was handled in a worst way than that of the Ocalan affair.

Speaking on the economy, Mr. Karamanlis said that the government's attempt to seek political favour in its efforts to lead Greece to the European Monetary Union (EMU) places the country in a difficult position.

Kranidiotis reveals Greek-Czech initiative on Kosovo

Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis said yesterday that he had received support from Slovenia and Italy for a joint Greek-Czech initiative on Kosovo.

Mr. Kranidiotis and Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan announced the initiative to assist a political settlement of the Kosovo issue through diplomacy in Bremen on May 11.

The proposal supports and complements the German EU presidency proposal for a stability pact for the Balkans and the outline of a political settlement set out by the G8 group of countries.

The Greek-Czech proposal is a contribution to the efforts to resolve the problem of Kosovo, under the aegis of the UN and in the framework of the future reconstruction of the region.

The proposal will be submitted to the European Union General Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on Monday, to NATO, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the UN and to the G8.

Mr. Kranidiotis told reporters that Greece was being very active on the diplomatic front and believed that this presence had, to a degree, been productive.

Greek and German Parliament presidents oppose ongoing NATO bombings

Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis and Bundestag speaker Wolfgang Thierse yesterday expressed the opposition of their two countries' parliaments and peoples to the ongoing NATO aerial bombardment of Yugoslavia.

Both Mr. Kaklamanis and Mr. Thierse underlined the need for a political solution to be found to the Kosovo crisis, the safe return of refugees to their homes, preventing any spread of the conflict to neighbouring countries and international assistance in rebuilding the region.

He expressed the view that hopes for a peaceful settlement which were recently boosted by the G8 draft agreement now appeared to be waning, "a fact of grave concern to the Greek people, which is already experiencing the negative repercussions from the conflict".

Mr. Kaklamanis also pointed to a lack of sensitivity similar to that shown towards Kosovar refugees in the case of the 200,000 Greek Cypriots who were forced from their homes by the Turkish forces which invaded Cyprus in 1974 and has subsequently occupied 40 per cent of the island republic's territory.

Mr. Thierse described the war in Yugoslavia as "a defeat for European policy" and urged the adoption by the European Union of a common foreign and defence policy.

He also expressed the view that the "positive outcome" of the Yugoslav conflict against President Slobodan Milosevic would have positive consequences for the Cyprus problem "and for other problems involving the violation of human rights and international law".

Stocks slump on Kosovo, Russia woes

Equities dropped sharply yesterday on fears that diplomatic moves to end the Yugoslav war were stagnating, exacerbated by political uncertainty in Russia, brokers said.

The Athens general index shed 2.27 percent to finish at 3,996.68 points, slipping below former resistance at 4,000 points, which the market had breached for several sessions.

Turnover was 200.257 billion drachmas with 43,652,388 shares changing hands.

Underperforming the index were banks, which sloughed off 2.72 percent, and industrials, which lost 2.40 percent. Worst hit were blue chips in both sectors.

Demand was heavy for small and medium-capitalisation stocks with 52 ending at the daily 8.0 percent limit up.

The FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips lost 2.63 percent to end at 2,403.74 points.

National Bank of Greece closed at 21,650 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 21, 590, Titan Cement Co. (common) at 27,350, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,815, Intracom (common) at 22,810 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 7,700 drachmas.

Harmonised CPI at 2.6 pct in April yr/yr

The harmonised consumer price index, which is used in European Union comparisons, stood at 2.6 percent year-on-year in April against the same month a year earlier.

The main difference between the harmonised and national consumer price indices is that the former excludes health and education.

April's rise reflects increases in the price of clothing and footwear (5.3 pct), alcoholic beverages and tobacco (4.4 pct), and food and non-alcoholic beverages (2.8 pct).

State telecom to aid Yugoslavia reconstruction

The Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) will take part in a future drive to help rebuild Yugoslavia after the war, senior company officials told a news conference yesterday.

In addition, negotiations are expected to end shortly with the Bulgarian government for OTE to acquire a majority stake in the country's state telecom in a consortium with KPN of the Netherlands, the officials said.

The news conference was called to announce celebrations for OTE's 50th birthday.

The officials reported that Yugoslavia's telecoms network had not suffered major damage in NATO's bombings with land-based communications still operating. OTE owns a 20 percent stake in Serbia's telecoms corporation.

OTE has a new page on the Internet whose address is http:ote.gr/otenew/index.htm

Cosmote gets Dr 225 mln euro syndicated loan

Cosmote, OTE's mobile phone subsidiary, has signed a syndicated loan in London for 225 million euros in order to finance investments.

The syndicate contains 22 banks. Fifteen of the banks are from abroad, and will cover 75 percent of the loan. The remaining seven Greek banks are to cover the balance.

Coordinators of the loan are National Bank of Greece and Citibank in London.

Singular posts 70 pct profit jump

The Singular Group, a listed software company, yesterday reported a spectacular 70 percent increase in its consolidated nine-month profits to 700 million drachmas from 415 million in the same period last year.

Consolidated revenue totalled 4.6 billion drachmas in the same period from 2.6 billion last year, marking a 77 percent rise.

The parent company's revenue totalled 3.7 billion drachmas, up 73 percent from 1998's 2.14 billion, while profits rose from 346 to 591 million drachmas, showing an increase of 71 percent.

On Wednesday, Singular successfully completed a share capital increase of 12.4 billion drachmas. The company issued 8,250,000 new shares at 1,500 drachmas each.

The new capital will be used for new alliances in order to strengthen its position in the domestic market.

Energy conference to be held in Athens

An international conference on Greece's emerging energy market will be held at the Grande Bretagne Hotel on June 2-4.

Sponsoring the conference is Terna Energy backed by the European Union's executive Commission.

The energy conference - the fourth in a row - is organised by "Energy", a sector magazine owned by Delos Communications.

Among speakers at the conference are Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Greece's E.U. Commissioner responsible for energy, Christos Papoutsis.

Greece is committed to liberalising a quarter of its domestic market by February 2001.

Greek fur exports to Russia seen resurging

Greek fur exports to Russia are likely to increase following the country's gradual recovery from last year's financial crisis, said Ioannis Kontopoulos, Greece's commercial attache in Moscow, and Panagiotis Pavlou, chairman of the Kastoria Furriers.

Addressing a news conference in Thessaloniki yesterday as part of an international fur trade fair in Kastoria, Mr. Kontopoulos said that fur exports were Greece's biggest export product to Russia, accounting for 30 percent of that market.

He stressed that the Greek fur industry could increase its Russian market share by supplying a superior product, both in design and quality.

Mr. Pavlou said that Greek fur makers were planning special events in Russia's biggest cities to promote their products.

Mytilineos announces strategic alliance

The Mytilineos Group yesterday announced the conclusion of a strategic alliance in the aluminium sector with an agreement to acquire a stake of up to 20 per cent in the listed company ALKO Hellas ABEE. A 10 per cent stake was transferred yesterday through the Sigma Chrimatistiriaki company.

The Mytilineos Group believes that ALKO is a rapidly developing company, while with the group's assistance in the raw materials sector and the opening of the Balkans to the wider European sector, it can emerge as a protagonist in the aluminium sector.

The group also announced that at the company's upcoming general assembly, two representatives of the group will be elected with ALKO's board.

WEATHER

Fair weather with rising temperatures will continue in most parts of Greece today, with light clouds in the afternoon in mainland Greece. Winds from west-northwest, light to moderate. Athens will be sunny, with temperatures ranging from 17-32C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 15- 30C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          303.294
Pound sterling       490.822
Japanese yen (100)   249.686
French franc          49.208
German mark          165.038
Italian lira (100)    16.671
Irish Punt           409.855
Belgian franc          8.002
Luxembourg franc       8.002
Finnish mark          54.289
Dutch guilder        146.475
Danish kr.            43.440
Austrian sch.         23.458
Spanish peseta         1.940
Swedish kr.           36.055
Norwegian kr.         39.323
Swiss franc          201.674
Port. Escudo           1.610
Can. dollar          207.526
Aus. dollar          202.348
Cyprus pound         559.190
Euro                 322.787
(C.E.)
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