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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-05-18

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, 18/05/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • France and Greece to press for UN resolution on Kosovo
  • Foreign minister says Greek-Italian view on Kosovo 'gaining ground'
  • Papandreou condemns rocket attack on German ambassador's residence
  • Kranidiotis cites successful EU-Cyprus accession talks
  • Preparatory heart surgery on Serbian baby successful
  • Simitis confers with Prodi on new EU executive, Kosovo
  • Tsohatzopoulos says nothing negotiable in the Aegean
  • State telecom set for new float in July
  • Stocks slump in technical correction
  • Mutual fund assets represent 50 pct of bank deposits
  • Investment companies show rise in market value
  • Naoussa Spinning Mills to boost share capital
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

France and Greece to press for UN resolution on Kosovo

Foreign Minister George Papandreou said yesterday that efforts to achieve a diplomatic solution to the Kosovo crisis through the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution were at the most difficult and sensitive point.

"We are at the most difficult and sensitive moment of the procedure that could lead to a diplomatic solution through the adoption of a Security Council resolution," he stated after two-and-a-half-hour talks with French counterpart Hubert Vedrine.

"Conditions are that the deployment of a multinational force is accepted, that all refugees return to their homes and that the provisional administration in Kosovo prepares the integration of the area in the European family," he added.

Mr. Vedrine stated the need for the preparation and adoption as soon as possible of a UN draft resolution that will open the way for an end to the crisis.

"France and Greece will be cooperating closely, undertaking specific bilateral initiatives in the Balkans," he added.

Asked if he agreed with the Greek proposal for a temporary ceasefire, Mr. Vedrine replied that the adoption of a UN resolution had priority over any other action.

"The ceasefire, too, is linked with the adoption of a resolution that will be possible to implement in Kosovo as soon as possible," he added.

Foreign Minister says Greek-Italian view on Kosovo 'gaining ground'

Foreign Minister George Papandreou said yesterday that the view in favour of as speedy as possible a settlement of the Kosovo crisis through diplomatic means and the active participation of the UN Security Council, supported mainly by Greece and Italy, were gaining ground.

Italy and Greece are promoting a peace initiative complementary to that of the proposals of the G-8.

Mr. Papandreou, who represented Greece at the EU foreign ministers' council along with Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis, discussed with German counterpart Joschka Fischer the Greek proposal for a 48-hour ceasefire and consent in a Security Council draft resolution. He described as particularly positive the Italian proposal for an end to the NATO bombings if the Security Council adopted a binding resolution for Yugoslav President Milosevic, and stressed that Greece was promoting similar ideas at the diplomatic level, had already drawn up a draft resolution for the Security Council, and had submitted one jointly with the Czech Republic to NATO.

During yesterday's session, the 15 had the opportunity to meet with moderate Kosovar Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova and Montenegrin president Milo Tzuganovic and to exchange views.

Mr. Papandreou said he invited Mr. Rugova to visit Greece and the invitation was favourably accepted. The foreign minister also met with Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov, in Brussels to attend the Russia-EU cooperation council.

Mr. Papandreou is going to Moscow on Friday, May 21, Beijing on Monday, May 24, and finally Washington.

Papandreou condemns rocket attack on German ambassador's residence

Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday strongly condemned a rocket attack against the home of the German ambassador in Athens, which police believe to be the work of the notorious "November 17" terrorist organisation.

Using strong language, Mr. Papandreou said in a statement: "I condemn in a most categorical manner the bomb attack against the house of the German ambassador and wish to express my sincere sentiments of sympathy to his family and the ambassador personally."

Mr. Papandreou said that while Greece "is undertaking diplomatic initiatives for a political settlement of the Kosovo problem and, by doing so, it has strengthened its international image, such actions cause serious questions as to the real targets (of such attacks)."

"The excellent climate of relations between Greece and Germany will in no way be disturbed by such actions," Mr. Papandreou added.

The 3.5 inch rocket fired late on Sunday night from a distance of about 150 yards from the German envoy's residence in the residential Athens suburb of Halandri grazed a tree-top before smashing on the mansion's roof causing damage but no injuries.

German ambassador Karl-Heinz Albert Kuhna and his family were in the house at the time of the attack which occurred one hour before midnight Sunday.

So far no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but police believe that it bears the hallmarks of the elusive "November 17" terrorist group which has used similar rockets in numerous previous attacks.

There was a guard outside the ambassador's residence at the time of the attack, but the guard had not seen any suspicious movements, the police spokesman said, adding that the spot where the launcher had been set up lacked visibility.

He also said it was unclear how the rocket was launched, but police believe it was launched by remote control.

Anti-terrorist police officers investigating the attack later said they had found traces of blood where the rocket was launched and that these would undergo DNA testing.

They said it appeared that the makeshift plastic pipe used to launch the rocket had broken and injured the person using it.

Also found at the scene was a cap, which police said the attackers probably used to disguise themselves with.

Ambassador Kunha, who took up his appointment here two weeks ago, condemned the attack because he said the rocket could have hit an apartment building behind the ambassadorial residence and prospectively injuring Greek citizens.

Being a potential target was one of the risks of being an ambassador, Mr. Kuhna said, adding that he felt safe here and expressing the hope that many German tourists would visit Greece this year.

"I do not consider the attack as being directed against me or, more particularly, against Germany," he said.

Kranidiotis cites successful EU-Cyprus accession talks

Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis said the conclusion of Cyprus' accession negotiations in sectors concerning customs association and foreign relations at the Council held in Brussels yesterday was an important development.

France and the Netherlands lifted their reservations, which Mr. Kranidiotis attributed "to Greece's effective diplomatic activity."

Preparatory heart surgery on Serbian baby successful

A five-hour preparatory surgical procedure on the heart of a two-month old Serbian baby boy yesterday was successful, doctors in the baby's care at Onassion Hospital said. Gregor Bladic was transported from Belgrade almost a week ago as he was born with a congenital heart condition which requires open heart surgery not available in the Serbian capital.

Doctors also noted that they are very optimistic over the success of the major operation due next week, adding that they may need to perform a third operation so as to totally correct the problem.

Simitis confers with Prodi on new EU executive, Kosovo

European Commission President-designate Romano Prodi met with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday to confer on the make-up of the new European Union executive.

Both men said they had found common ground on a number of issues and said they supported the concept of a strong European Commission spurring the European Union forward.

On the agenda of their talks were portfolios for commissioners and the appointment procedures. No announcements are expected until after June 13, when elections for the European Parliament end.

Mr. Simitis noted that the EU had been slow to shape policy on the Balkans and said that this was a priority for the 15-nation bloc.

He said that the Union should acquire a complete policy for the restructuring of the Balkans.

The two men also discussed the issue of portfolios to be handed down to the new members of the European Commission, developments in the Union as well as in Kosovo.

Mr. Prodi also met with main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis who underlined the need for a joint foreign and security policy.

Mr. Karamanlis said that military operations in Yugoslavia had to end and a peaceful settlement arrived at because, he said, there was a danger of destabilisation in the entire region.

He said he told Mr. Prodi of his party's proposal for a three-member committee to oversee a post-conflict agreement in Kosovo, the convening of an international conference on southeast Europe in Thessaloniki and the drafting of a plan to rebuild the Balkans.

Tsohatzopoulos says nothing negotiable in the Aegean

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday said that the efforts of those who attempt to create impressions are in vein, since there is nothing negotiable in the Aegean, commenting on the Turkish incursion on the Imia islets yesterday morning.

Responding to a relevant question, he said that "these Imia stories are like reheated food. There will not be a problem."

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that "there should be more sobriety, more study of the international treaties and agreements, study of the maps which accompany those agreements, but most of all let some not succumb to proposals of political provocations that so me people irresponsibly bring to the region."

He also said that the leaderships of the countries in the region "have the great responsibility to contribute toward a responsible and at the same time decisive stance over what is up for discussion and what is not."

State telecom set for new float in July

Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation's (OTE) fourth flotation will be launched in July, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday.

Speaking after a meeting with the management of public corporations, Mr. Papantoniou also said that the Corinth Canal, the Piraeus and Thessaloniki port authorities, and Athens and Thessaloniki water utilities would be partly privatised by the end of the year. In addition, the Athens horse racing track would shift into private hands.

Mr. Papantoniou reiterated that public utility charges would remain frozen this year, and that incomes policy in state firms should stay in line with government guidelines.

Decisions taken at the meeting were:


To speed up restructuring in state firms and develop new business to boost profitability
Tighten cooperation among public companies and the national economy ministry to better exploit an anticipated 50 percent increase in EU funds from the upcoming Third Community Support Framework compared with the current Second CSF
Monitor state companies on a quarterly basis

Mr. Papantoniou also announced changes in legislation to promote restructuring and modernisation in public companies.

Stocks slump in technical correction

Equity prices succumbed to profit-taking yesterday in what traders described as a normal reaction to the market's record-breaking rally.

The general index ended 2.37 percent lower at 3,936.59 points, off the day's lows. Turnover was 215.031 billion drachmas and volume 43,966,804 shares.

Dealers said fears of a prolonged war in Yugoslavia combined with a decline at the opening in other European bourses undermined sentiment on the Athens Stock Exchange, beyond the need for a correction.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.18 percent lower while the FTSE/ASE 20 index fell 2.58 percent to 2,345.18.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 181 to 111 with another four issues unchanged.

Thessaliki, Fanco, Macedonian Textiles and Eskimo were the most heavily traded stocks.

A total of 31 stocks ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit up.

Among them were Mohlos, Britannia, Nimatemboriki, Development Invest, Nafpaktos, Alysida, Tasoglou, Mosholios Chemicals, European Credit.

A total of 16 issues ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit down, including Allatini, Seafarm Ionian, Mytilineos, Macedonian Plastics, General Warehouses, Sato, ANEK Lines, Ionian Hotels, Keranis and Metka.

National Bank of Greece ended at 21,400 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 21, 400, Ergobank at 29,200, Ionian Bank at 16,750, Titan Cement at 26,700, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,610, Intracom at 22,480, Minoan Lines at 7,700, Panafon at 7,790 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,150.

Mutual fund assets represent 50 pct of bank deposits

Net assets of mutual funds totalled 9.47 trillion drachmas in April, an increase of 1.54 percent, or 144.14 billion drachmas, from the previous month, Ionian Bank's research department said yesterday.

Jumping by 16.42 percent were equity mutual fund assets, which rose to 979 billion drachmas in April, evidence that new capital is continuing to enter the stock market.

Mutual fund net assets had increased by 5.37 percent, or 482.97 billion drachmas, on April 30 from December 31, 1998.

The report also said that mutual fund assets accounted for 50.84 percent of private bank deposits in February, sharply up from 10.5 percent at the end of 1994.

Investment companies show rise in market value

The country's 16 investment companies in April showed a 12.87 percent increase in market value to 478.3 billion drachmas from 423.8 billion a month earlier.

Market value on December 31 was 322.9 billion drachmas, which means a rise of 48.16 percent in April against the end-of-year figure.

The data is released monthly by the Union of Institutional Investors.

Naoussa Spinning Mills to boost share capital

Naoussa Spinning Mills, which is listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, yesterday gained shareholder approval for a share capital increase of 42 billion drachmas in order to finance a programme of alliances and acquisitions in 1999.

The company, which belongs to the listed Klonatex Group, is to give shareholders a dividend of 45 drachmas per share from 1998 profits.

Naoussa officials also announced the creation of a subsidiary in Cyprus called NSM Investments Ltd with a share capital of 4.0 billion drachmas.

The new firm will buy share capital in textiles companies, and trade derivatives and raw materials.

In the first quarter, Naoussa posted pre-tax profits of 690 million drachmas, up 130 percent on a year earlier. Turnover rose to 6.8 billion drachmas, up 15.2 percent on the first quarter of 1998.

WEATHER

The forecast for Tuesday is sunshine with scattered cloud and the likelihood of showers in the northern Ionian, Epirus, Macedonia and Thrace. Winds northerly mild to moderate. Athens will be partly cloudy with temperatures ranging from 17-30C. Thessaloniki will be overcast with a chance of rain with temperatures from 15-26C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          302.342
Pound sterling       489.492
Japanese yen (100)   245.689
French franc          49.210
German mark          165.030
Italian lira (100)    16.672
Irish Punt           409.868
Belgian franc          8.002
Luxembourg franc       8.002
Finnish mark          54.290
Dutch guilder        146.479
Danish kr.            43.432
Austrian sch.         23.459
Spanish peseta         1.940
Swedish kr.           35.944
Norwegian kr.         39.412
Swiss franc          201.396
Port. Escudo           1.610
Can. dollar          206.157
Aus. dollar          200.895
Cyprus pound         557.504
Euro                 322.797
(C.E.)
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