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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-05-25

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, 25/05/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis appeals for immediate peace in Kosovo
  • Estonian President signs three bilateral agreements
  • Gov't requests 12-day halt to NATO convoys passing through Greece
  • G. Papandreou to brief UN over Greek-Czech initiative for Kosovo
  • Balkan deputy defence ministers to gather in Sofia
  • Euroelections and Greek males living abroad
  • Karamanlis launches attack on gov't over EU funds
  • ANEK acquires 20 pct stake in NEL passenger shipper
  • Maillis buys two UK companies
  • Stocks nose down in technical correction
  • New engineering contractors group presents plans
  • Traditional Greek diet is answer to genetically modified foods
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Simitis appeals for immediate peace in Kosovo

Prime Minister Costas Simitis last night appealed for peace in Kosovo, advocating dialogue for a political solution to the crisis.

"Times are difficult, the war continues in our neighbourhood. We have from the very first minute said that bombings were not a solution. From the very first minute we underlined that a political solution to the problem must be found. Today, the impasse is becoming more and more apparent...We insist: peace now, dialogue now, political solution now," Mr. Simitis said addressing an election rally in Irakleio, Crete.

"We say: We want a Europe which is equal to the US. We want a strong Europe which will have a say. To avert wars.

If there was a common European policy, if there was a timely intervention there would be no complication in Kosovo.

We are struggling for a politically strong Europe. A Europe of peace. A Europe of social solidarity and humanity," he added.

Estonian President signs three bilateral agreements

Greece and Estonia yesterday signed three bilateral agreements on international road transports, cooperation in the fields of culture, training and science, as well as cooperation in the tourism sector.

The accords were signed by visiting Estonian President Lennart Meri, who arrived on Sunday for a four-day official visit, and his Greek counterpart Kostis Stephanopoulos. The two presidents hailed the agreements as a very good basis for expanding bilateral relations.

Mr. Meri, who inaugurated Estonia's new general consulate in Athens yesterday, expressed certainty that bilateral cooperation would continue in all sectors, namely, political cooperation and collaboration in the sectors of security, research, technology and culture.

Mr. Stephanopoulos stressed Greece's desire to strengthen its ties with Estonia, noting Greece's support of Estonia's applications for membership in the European Union and NATO.

Mr. Meri said Estonia wished to play a role in the United Europe, "a role it deserves, an equal role such as Germany and the other EU countries", and expressed hope for the opening of a Greek embassy in Tallinn, the Estonian capital.

Asked if the war in Kosovo could make his country revise its desire to join NATO, Mr. Meri replied: "When we speak of a crisis or war, we must not forget that we are speaking about human pain".

"...we are speaking about one million people who have abandoned their country and their homes and are waiting to return under conditions of safety and respect of human rights".

Mr. Stephanopoulos decorated Mr. Meri with the Grand Cross of the Order of the Saviour, an honour reserved for heads of state.

The Estonian president also met with visiting Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.

Georgios Kasimatis was tapped as Estonia's honourary consul in Piraeus during the ceremony. Mr. Kasimatis is the president of the Piraeus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EVEP).

Gov't requests 12-day halt to NATO convoys passing through Greece

The government confirmed yesterday that it had asked NATO to stop the passage through Greek territory of Alliance troops headed for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) for a period of 12 days, in light of European elections on June 13.

Confirming a report in the Athens daily "Ta Nea", government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the reason for the request was that police officers who regularly accompany NATO convoys to the Greek-FYROM border will be deployed elsewhere during the election period.

Mr. Reppas said also that Greece and the Czech Republic had agreed to propose a 48-hour ceasefire "in order for there to be a necessary period for the speeding up of the Kosovo peace initiative".

He added that the proposal would be submitted to NATO.

G. Papandreou to brief UN over Greek-Czech initiative for Kosovo

Foreign Minister George Papandreou is scheduled to brief United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan on China's agreement with a Greek-Czech initiative for a short suspension of NATO bombings in Yugoslavia before any relevant resolution by the UN Security Council.

Mr. Papandreou will also inform US envoy Richard Holbrooke of the initiative.

During a press conference following his talks with China's Vice-President Qian Qichen and the country's Foreign Minister, Tang Jiaxuan, Mr. Papandreou said he conveyed Athens' condolences over the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

Mr. Papandreou said the Chinese officials reiterated their wish for an in- depth investigation over the bombing of their embassy, which resulted in three deaths and several injuries of Chinese citizens.

Mr. Papandreou said the Chinese officials underlined to him that China "is not going to promote any Security Council resolution unless the bombings stop."

The Greek FM added that the Chinese officials called the Greek-Czech proposal "very good".

He said that "since there is a possibility that China may not agree to a decision by the Security Council before a cease-fire, the Greek proposal becomes all the more relevant."

The Greek FM appealed for good will steps by both NATO and Yugoslavia, noting that Europe should not place minority rights over state sovereignty rights, but to promote what Europe itself has followed, that is to minimise the importance of borders by the deepening of democracy and respect for minority rights in every country.

"Yugoslavia should do this, but the Albanians should not demand independence. If that does not happen, states will be led to fear minorities residing on their soil," Mr. Papandreou said.

Balkan deputy defence ministers to gather in Sofia

The deputy defence ministers of seven Balkan countries and their US and Italian counterparts will meet Bulgaria today to discuss the Kosovo crisis and prospects for ensuring stability in SE Europe once the Yugoslav conflict is over.

The seven countries are Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Romania, Slovenia and Turkey.

The meeting was announced at a news conference given in Sofia by Bulgaria's deputy defence minister.

The Greek delegation at the meeting will be headed by Deputy Defence Minister Dimitris Apostolakis.

Euroelections and Greek males living abroad

Greek males living abroad, excluding deserters, arriving in the country to exercise their right to vote are exempt from the control of their conscription status over the period from May 24 until June 20, according to a cabinet decision and following a relevant proposal by the national defence ministry. Prosecution against those falling under the relevant decision will also be suspended over the same period.

Karamanlis launches attack on gov't over EU funds

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday unveiled his party's platform on agriculture, before charging that the government is using EU funds for "pre-election extravagances" in the place of infrastructure projects.

Mr. Karamanlis, speaking in Larisa, said "we do not compromise with decline, mediocrityIor with a prime minister who is below par.

The ND leader added that "it (the government) started with an illegal advertisement of community projects and insists on announcing projects which have already been announced but never implemented in the past".

ANEK acquires 20 pct stake in NEL passenger shipper

Shareholders of NEL Lines on Sunday approved a plan to sell a 20 percent stake to ANEK Lines at a repeat meeting held on Lesvos, where the company is based.

ANEK Lines' managing director, Stelios Zambetakis, now has a seat on NEL's board.

Crete-based ANEK said that its strategic investment in NEL would contribute to improving passenger shipping in Greece and aid the two companies' growth.

Maillis buys two UK companies

M.J. Maillis SA, a packing systems company listed on the Athens bourse, yesterday announced the acquisition of two UK businesses in the secondary packaging materials sector.

The two buyouts are part of Maillis' strategy to expand in western Europe and they follow previous acquisitions in Spain and France, the company said in a statement.

Maillis now controls a major European market share through a strong direct sales and distribution network.

The company plans to maintain its strategy of foreign acquisitions.

PriceWaterhouse Coopers acted as consultant for the UK acquisitions.

Maillis purchased Payne Strapping Systems (PSS), a company established in 1911 in Nottinghamshire and one of the biggest producers of polyester and polypropylene strapping in the UK with a total capacity of over 5,000 tons annually and annual turnover e xceeding 10 million pounds sterling. Its end users number 5,000.

PSS was formerly owned by P P Payne Ltd.

Maillis also bought Elsten Ltd, whose main activity is UK sales in steel strapping along with strapping machines and tools imported by Maillis.

Its annual turnover is approximately two million pounds sterling.

The two acquisitions give Maillis a hefty market share in the United Kingdom, where competitors are few and prices high compared with the rest of Europe, the company said.

Stocks nose down in technical correction

Equity prices ended moderately lower yesterday in what traders described as a normal correction following a four-day record breaking rally the previous week which pushed prices 6.86 percent higher.

The general index ended 0.58 percent lower at 4,182.57 points, sharply off the day's highs to post a new intra-day record of 4,265 points.

Turnover was 184.503 billion drachmas with 34,557,459 shares changing hands.

Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (+1.24 pct), Leasing (+2.36 pct), Insurance (+3.24 pct), Investment (+1.77 pct), Industrials (-3.15 pct), Construction (-3.02 pct), Holding (-2.81 pct) and Miscellaneous (-3.09 pct).

Traders expect the market to fluctuate narrowly around the 4,200 level in the short-term, unless something major occurs to dramatically change the market's balance. National Bank of Greece ended at 23,840 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 23,100, Ergobank at 29,935, Ionian Bank at 18,100, Titan Cement at 30,000, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,835, Intracom at 22,700, Minoan Lines at 9,350, Panafon at 8,050 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,400.

New engineering contractors group presents plans

Three key engineering contractors, who have joined forces to create the largest group in the sector in Greece, yesterday outlined their activities at a presentation to domestic and foreign banks, institutional investors and companies.

The firms are Aktor, Hellenic Technodomiki and TEB, who are active in private and public projects and co-financed works.

The group also plans to expand into the energy sector, and have its shares listed on a European bourse, beyond Athens, where the three are already listed.

In addition, it wants to raise its market value to one trillion drachmas in coming years.

The group is also seeking institutional investors to buy into its share capital, and financial institutions to help fund the projects it undertakes.

Traditional Greek diet is answer to genetically modified foods

Emphasising a traditional Greek diet is the best response to the growing prevalence of genetically modified foods in daily diets, a consumer advocacy group stressed yesterday.

"A traditional diet is the Greek response to genetically modified food...promoting this diet is the new challenge for producers and the Greek state," president of Ekpoizo, Eleni Ioulemou said.

Speaking at an Ekpoizo seminar on genetically modified (GM) crops and foodstuffs she urged the need to protect the "nutritional heritage" of Greek cuisine with its emphasis on olive oil, pulses, fish and fruit and vegetables.

Research has demonstrated the high nutritional value of traditional Greek products and foodstuffs and of their preventive action against heart disease and cancer.

Although GM product penetration of the Greek market was still at the initial stages, Ms Ioulemou said, the Greek consumer needed to become informed on the risks involved in consuming these products.

Some fish roe, for example, used in the production of the traditional roe dip, taramosalata, is produced from GM soya.

"In any case, we need to give particular attention to fresh produce: corn, tomatoes, potatoes, beetroot, pumpkin and soya," she said.

Ekpoizo has issued a catalogue of products which contain GM products and the companies involved in their production, many of which are active in Greece.

In Greece, local ecological organisations, scientific agencies and schoolchildren have expressed strong opposition to a proposal by a number of companies for the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) cotton and corn in the region of Fthiotida, central Greece.

As a result of the pressure, the local authority has suspended taking a decision on the proposal so that it could be briefed in greater detail.

WEATHER

Unsettled weather will prevail in most parts of Greece today with showers in the mainland in the afternoon. Winds northerly, moderate, turning strong in the southern Aegean sea. Partly cloudy in Athens with showers expected in the afternoon and temperatures ranging between 16-25C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 15-23C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          304.484
Pound sterling       487.290
Japanese yen (100)   245.966
French franc          49.132
German mark          164.780
Italian lira (100)    16.645
Irish Punt           409.213
Belgian franc          7.989
Luxembourg franc       7.989
Finnish mark          54.204
Dutch guilder        146.245
Danish kr.            43.338
Austrian sch.         23.421
Spanish peseta         1.937
Swedish kr.           35.916
Norwegian kr.         39.077
Swiss franc          201.143
Port. Escudo           1.607
Can. dollar          208.578
Aus. dollar          199.903
Cyprus pound         557.901
Euro                 322.281
(C.E.)
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