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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-05-26

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, 26/05/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis reiterates call for immediate, peaceful solution in Kosovo
  • Samaranch satisfied with progress over 2004 Games
  • Gov't on latest ceasefire initiative for Kosovo
  • G. Papandreou begins four-day contacts in US
  • Athens to ask deadline extension for EU's energy tax
  • Cycladic art exhibition opens in Madrid
  • Greece lags Europe in growth of private insurance
  • General industrial output up 2.4 pct yr/yr in March
  • Stocks end down in line with world markets
  • European Dynamics plans bourse entry
  • Paris seminar on 2004 Olympic Games business opportunities
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Simitis reiterates call for immediate, peaceful solution in Kosovo

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday reiterated the need for peace in Kosovo, saying Greece will work for it.

"Greece firmly supports the view that talks currently underway must lead to a solution. Indications we have do not indicate that a solution will not occur...they do not lead to the conclusion that the war will absolutely continue," he said.

The Greek PM made the statements after talks with visiting Estonian President Lennart Meri, which focused on developments in the Yugoslav crisis and bilateral relations.

Mr. Simitis said talks of NATO "ground forces" entering Kosovo were "negative", adding that "Greece is in contact with all protagonists of the crisis, underlining the need for peace and it will work for peace."

Replying to reporters' questions, Mr. Simitis said Greece remained firmly in favour of a diplomatic solution to the crisis, adding that Athens believed such a solution was quite feasible.

President Meri, who arrived in Athens on Sunday for a four-day official visit, said he fully understood Greece's "concerns and sensitivity" regarding its neighbours, "with which it wishes to maintain good relations".

In addition, Mr. Simitis said Greece wholeheartedly supported Tallinn's efforts to join the European Union, describing Estonia as a a country of the former eastern bloc which was "closer" to the reality of modern-day Europe.

Mr. Simitis announced that Greece would soon open an embassy in Tallinn, expressing a view that this would further strengthen relations between the two countries. Earlier, Mr. Meri had talks with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, during which both sides ascertained excellent prospects for the further development of bilateral relations.

Samaranch satisfied with progress over 2004 Games

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch last night expressed confidence in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games organising committee, praising Athens' interest for the success of the Games.

"These Games must be the best ever. We have full confidence in the organising committee, while the government shows interest for the success of the Games while the IOC stands by," Mr. Samaranch said during a speech at the inauguration of the Greek Olympic Committee's new building in Athens, and in the presence of Prime Minister Costas Simitis .

Mr. Simitis said while addressing the ceremony that "two years ago we proved with actions and not words that Greece can win in international competition...The IOC's decision to have the 2004 Olympic Games held in Athens constituted undoubtedly a great hon our for our country and for all Greeks."

Mr. Simitis said that the greatest intensification of efforts is necessary over the remaining five years. He said that tough, systematic and well- programmed work is required from all, adding that not even a minute must be lost.

Mr. Samaranch expressed satisfaction over the Greek Olympic Committee's new building, saying "we are proceeding in the right direction and are giving the due significance to the Olympic movement. The IOC was very happy in awarding Greece with the 2004 Olympic Games..."

Gov't on latest ceasefire initiative for Kosovo

The government said yesterday that Greece would submit a Greek-Czech proposal for a 48-hour ceasefire in the Yugoslav conflict at the forthcoming meeting of NATO's permanent representatives.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Monday that Greece and the Czech Republic had agreed on the proposal which is aimed at providing "the necessary period for the speeding up of the Kosovo peace initiative".

Mr. Reppas reiterated yesterday that Greece supported the G8 draft peace proposals for peace in Kosovo, while adding that maximum use should be made of the mediating efforts of Russia's special envoy for the Balkans, Viktor Chernomyrdin, and Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari.

Referring to the Foreign Minister George Papandreou's visit to China, he said the positions of the two countries converge to the point of identity on the way of handling the crisis.

Mr. Papandreou and his Czech counterpart Jan Kavan signed a common declaration on Sunday stating their decision to support initiatives for "a short suspension of the bombings in order to give a real chance to diplomacy and allow for the adoption of a U N Security Council resolution".

G. Papandreou begins four-day contacts in US

Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday kicked-off a four-day round of contacts in the United States with a meeting with Balkan envoy Richard Holbrooke.

He is continuing with Rev. Jesse Jackson and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in Washington today. The meeting with his counterpart, which will also be attended by the two countries' respective ambassadors, Alexandros Filon and Nicholas Burns, will focus on developments in the Kosovo issue.

Sources say Mr. Papandreou will have the opportunity to set out the Greek proposal for a 48-hour cessation of NATO bombings. Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue will also be discussed.

The Greek foreign minister will also be meeting representatives of Jewish organisations with whom he will discuss ways of forging closer relations between Greece and Israel, and between the Greek-American and Jewish- American lobbies. He will also brief members of the external relations committee of Congress.

On Thursday, he will brief analysts of SE European affairs during a working breakfast in the Greek embassy, and then meet with World Bank president James Wolfenson. Afterwards, he will sign at the Holocaust Museum a cooperation agreement between the Museum and the Historical Archive Service of the Greek foreign ministry for exchanges of historical material and documents concerning the history of the Jewish community in Greece.

He will attend a working lunch with members of the House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee and meet Mr Clinton's national security adviser Sandy Berger.

On Friday, Mr. Papandreou is meeting CIA director George Tenet and Defense Secretary William Cohen.

Athens to ask deadline extension for EU's energy tax

National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou yesterday attended a joint session with their respective EU colleagues in preparation of a so-called "employment pact" to be consid ered for adoption at the Cologne summit next month.

Mr. Papantoniou earlier attended a session of the ECOFIN council, where he said Greece Athens ask for an extention of a deadline for the introduction of an energy tax, while it was not considering the issue at present as the introduction would have an unfavourable impact on inflation.

However, he added Greece would be prepared to discuss the levying of such a tax on the raw materials for power production but not on the final products.

Regarding the taxation of savings of residents of member-states who keep accounts in other countries, he said Greece, in view of its participation in EMU, did not desire any change for the time being so as to avoid any reactions from depositors.

Cycladic art exhibition opens in Madrid

Queen Sofia of Spain inaugurated an exhibition of Cycladic art of the N.P. Goulandris collection at the National Museum-Reina Sofia Art Centre in Madrid.

Goulandris Foundation President Dolly Goulandri, Spanish Deputy Culture Minister Miguel Angel Cortez and the museum's director Jose Girau also attended the event, as did Daphne Simiti, the wife of the Greek premier, and Greece's ambassador to Madrid. The exhibition will last until August 31.

Greece lags Europe in growth of private insurance

The growth of private insurance in Greece is lower compared with other European countries due mainly to a lack of confidence shown by consumers in the market, Deputy Development Minister Yiannis Haralambous said.

Addressing the seminar, Mr. Haralambous said that consumers who pay for a product have the right to receive the services they have been promised.

He criticised tactics employed by insurance companies, including the small print in contracts, to make short-term profits from customers when they would benefit more from a larger market.

Needed was an institutional framework to be supervised by the state that would ensure the proper operation of the private insurance system with transparency and efficiency.

Mr. Haralambous urged the use of up-to-date techniques successfully implemented in foreign countries as tools to be adapted to the Greek reality.

"The problem of social insurance is not just a domestic one, but is found throughout the civilised world," he said.

General industrial output up 2.4 pct yr/yr in March

The general industrial production index, including mining, electricity and natural gas, increased by 2.4 percent in March year-on-year compared with the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said yesterday.

The NSS said, however, that the manufacturing production index fell by 2.3 percent in March year-on-year, reflecting lower production in wood, leather, textiles, printing, oil products and coal.

The mining production index dropped by 15.3 percent in the same month year- on-year, but the electricity-natural gas index surged 42.3 percent due mainly to natural gas output, NSS said.

The general industrial production index rose 4.4 percent in the first quarter of the year compared with the same period in 1998.

Manufacturing in the same period fell 1.1 percent, mining dropped 18.9 percent and electricity-natural gas increased 49.7 percent.

Stocks end down in line with world markets

Equity prices ended sharply lower yesterday hit by a decline in international markets following Wall Street's drop a day earlier.

Traders said the market also reacted nervously to renewed talk of a ground war in Yugoslavia.

The general index ended 1.69 percent lower at 4,111.90 points, sharply off the day's low of 4,055 points.

Turnover remained below 200 billion drachmas for the second day running. It fell to 181.554 billion drachmas with 37,620,074 shares changing hands.

Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-1.60 pct), Leasing (-2.70 pct), Insurance (-3.23 pct), Investment (-1.49 pct), Construction (+1.84 pct), Industrials (-1.38 pct), Miscellaneous (-2.46 pct) and Holding (-3.77 pct). The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 1.71 percent lower while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips dropped 1.87 percent to 2,481.36 points.

National Bank of Greece ended at 23,300 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 22, 890, Titan Cement at 29,500, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,715, Intracom at 22, 900, Panafon at 7,990 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 7,150 drachmas.

European Dynamics plans bourse entry

European Dynamics, which supplies integrated telecoms and information technology systems to major firms in Greece and abroad, is planning to enter the Athens Stock Exchange's parallel market for smaller cap stocks by the end of the year.

The firm posted turnover of 2.6 billion drachmas in 1998, up from 1.8 billion drachmas a year earlier, it said in a statement yesterday.

European Dynamics also is active in Internet commerce and Internet/Intranet applications.

It has forged alliances with world players including Lucent Technologies, Sun Microsystems, IBM and Oracle, the statement said.

Paris seminar on 2004 Olympic Games business opportunities

A seminar on the 2004 Olympic Games is being organised in Paris on June 3-4 by the French Centre of External Trade, in collaboration with the commercial section of the French embassy in Athens.

The two-day event includes a day-seminar on Games-related specialised topics such as organisation, the investment and financing programme for the Games, legal, taxation and insurance matters etc.

A French embassy press release noted that there were many opportunities for French firms, which must without delay show an interest and meet with the Athens 2004 organising committee.

The press release said a wide range of sectors would interest French firms, including construction, electrical equipment, transport infrastructures, telecoms, informatics, audiovisual, sports equipment, medical equipment, consumer goods, as well as serv ices for hotels, hospitality, sanitation, transports, security, etc.

The guest speakers include members of the French Olympics committee, members of the Athens 2004 organisation committee and senior executives of Greek and French firms.

WEATHER

Overcast weather will prevail in most parts of Greece today with the possibility of showers in the mountainous regions of eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Winds, northerly, moderate, turning strong in the southern Aegean Sea. Partly cloudy in Athens with temperatures ranging between 16-25C. Possibility of showers in the afternoon in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 15-24C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          303.612
Pound sterling       485.703
Japanese yen (100)   247.524
French franc          49.196
German mark          164.997
Italian lira (100)    16.667
Irish Punt           409.754
Belgian franc          8.000
Luxembourg franc       8.000
Finnish mark          54.275
Dutch guilder        146.438
Danish kr.            43.402
Austrian sch.         23.452
Spanish peseta         1.939
Swedish kr.           35.889
Norwegian kr.         39.079
Swiss franc          201.922
Port. Escudo           1.610
Can. dollar          208.260
Aus. dollar          199.819
Cyprus pound         557.504
Euro                 322.708
(C.E.)
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