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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-05-28
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>
NEWS IN ENGLISH
ATHENS, GREECE, 28/05/1999 (ANA)
NEWS IN DETAILG. Papandreou: Milosevic indicthment will complicate peace efforts
Foreign Minister George Papandreou held talks at the White House yesterday with US President Bill Clinton's security adviser Sandy Berger, focusing primarily on the Kosovo crisis.
The meeting came as an indictment against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic by the International War Crimes Court overshadowed efforts at finding a political solution.
Mr. Papandreou expressed what he said was his personal view that this development might complicate matters and prevent an acceleration in processes to find a solution.
"I believe that since Milosevic is part of the solution and we are negotiating with him, it is possible that the indictment case might create additional obstacles for a speedy development," he said.
Mr. Papandreou said that divergent views also exist in the US government over the repercussions of this move.
On the question of former PM's Constantine Mitsotakis' contacts with the Yugoslav leadership, he said he has not been able to speak to him yet but believes, based on his own frequent telephone contact with his Yugoslav counterpart, Zivadin Jovanovic, that the idea for acceptance of the draft solution defined by NATO's five conditions and the preconditions set by the G8 has matured in the ranks of the Yugoslav leadership.
"It is necessary for the diplomatic effort to intensify. We believe it has been delayed and that it must be intensified now regardless of an agreement between the US and Russia. I also conveyed this message to Mr. Berger," he said. Mr. Papandreou said that such a disposition also exists on the side of the US.
Referring to the issue of terrorism, Mr. Papandreou said it was also discussed during his meeting with the US president's security adviser. "It is an issue which is of particular concern for the US government, as it is of concern for us," he said.
During a CNN interview, Mr. Papandreou said Greece "wants the return of refugees and a peaceful solution to the (Kosovo) problem.
Referring to an indictment against Mr. Milosevic on war crimes charges - a move that Moscow, Beijing and several European officials vehemently criticised - Mr. Papandreou said this development was a "double-edged knife".
Greek growth outlook robust, but inflation at risk
Greece's prospects for growth remain healthy, despite the Yugoslav war, but inflationary pressures are causing concern, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said yesterday.
In its three-monthly report, IOBE said that the pressures could jeopardise the government's target of bringing inflation below 2.0 percent this year, in order to ensure entry into the European Union's euro zone by January 1, 2001.
Corrective economic measures would keep inflation to target, the report said.
Among the additional steps the government could take were a tight adherence to 1999 budgetary targets on state spending, and possibly the imposition of tighter controls.
Furthermore, monetary policy should focus on a gradual reduction of interest rates, rather than focusing on curbs on credit expansion, which distorted the market and had a negative impact on invesments and demand.
Finally, measures were needed to spur competitiveness throughout the economy.
It also chided that a tight incomes policy for the public sector, which was announced side by side with the 1998 budget, had not been fully adhered to.
The higher than expected expenditure had adversely affected the public deficit, which is estimated at 2.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) against a goal of 2.2 percent.
It had also hurt the public debt, which rose to 106.5 percent of GDP from 105.5 percent.
Growth in 1999, as in the previous year, would be fuelled mainly by investments, which are expected to be heavy both in the private and public sectors.
Stocks in the doldrums again
Equity prices ended a troubled session lower on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday due to a glitch in the electronic trading system, extending their losses for the third consecutive session.
The general index ended 1.23 percent down at 3,961.79 points, reversing an early advance to 4,052 points, hit by worries over the continuing war in Yugoslavia.
Turnover was around 150 billion drachmas.
The insurance and construction sectors outperformed the market ending 0.67 percent and 1.75 percent higher respectively.
Other sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-1.81 pct), Leasing (-2.59 pct), Investment (-1.87 pct), Industrials (-0.70 pct), Miscellaneous (-0.71 pct) and Holding (-0.98 pct).
National Bank of Greece ended at 22,200 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 21, 785, Ergobank at 27,255, Ionian Bank at 17,180, Titan Cement at 28,740, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,750, Intracom at 22,890, Minoan Lines at 9,260, Panafon at 7,740 and Hellenic Telecoms at 6,810.
Mutual funds lose cash on Athens bourse decline
Falling equity prices on the Athens Stock Exchange have led to major capital outflows from domestic mutual fund assets in the last few days, Ionian Bank's research department said yesterday.
Ionian said that outflows exceeded 30 billion drachmas on Wednesday alone, hitting equity funds (-1.16 pct), money market funds (-0.23 pct) and leveraged funds (-0.23 pct). The assets of fixed-income mutual funds remained unchanged.
Greek mutual fund assets have increased by 10.23 percent to 9.9 trillion drachmas since the start of the year, accounting for 50 percent of private deposits.
Aluminium de Grece, DEPA mull Italy-Greece pipeline
Aluminium de Grece and the Public Gas Company have agreed to carry out a preliminary feasibility study for construction of a natural gas pipeline linking Greece and Italy.
Aluminium de Grece's chairman, Bernard Legrand, told shareholders yesterday that the two firms had made another agreement to build an electricity production plant in Livadia that would work on natural gas.
The cost of the two projects was estimated at one billion dollars, Mr. Legrand said.
Aluminium de Grece is to carry out a stock split in three, and give shareholders a five dollar dividend per share on 1998 profits.
EOT measures to buffer tourism flow from central Europe
The Greek Tourist Organisation (EOT) yesterday announced revised figures for tourist arrivals in Greece this year, lowering the figure to an 5-6 per cent increase.
EOT Secretary General Evgenios Yiannakopoulos also unveiled a package of measures - totalling three billion drachmas - which the state-run organisation says will support regions in northern Greece susceptible to the Kosovo crisis, as well as to provide incentives for tourists from countries in central Europe to travel to Greece.
Measures include a partial subsidising of overland travel by tourists from Visegrad countries (Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia); promoting and subsidising air transport from the same countries, and a new advertising and PR campaign in the US and western Europe, among others.
British tourist bookings for Greece rebound, increase expected
The war in Yugoslavia and two Foreign Office two travel advisories have apparently not affected British tourist arrivals in Greece.
On the question of the travel advisories, a Foreign Office spokesman clarified that they do not advise British tourists to exclude Greece from their destinations, but merely to be "reasonably careful and avoid demonstrations and situations which might lead to a confrontation."
An independent travel agents' representative, Noel Iosifides, said that in the first two weeks of the war in Yugoslavia there was a decrease in bookings for Greece. However, he said the British are now showing increased preference for Greek destinations , while according to the latest statistics, predictions of an 8 to 10 per cent increase in tourist arrivals, compared to last year, are now voiced.
The total number of Britons expected to visit Greece this year is estimated at 2.4 million.
Greece displeased with indictment against Milosevic
Greece yesterday described the indictment of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic by The Hague-based United Nations International Criminal Tribunal as "a politically unsound move".
"On the one hand Mr. Milosevic is being called upon to contribute to a solution (of the Kosovo crisis) and on the other he is being summoned to answer charges," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.
The UN tribunal said ealier yesterday that it had indicted President Milosevic and four other senior Serb officials, including President Milan Milutinovic, for "crimes against humanity".
Replying to reporters' questions, Mr. Reppas said Greece's position on the Yugoslav problem was crystal clear, namely, that the G8 draft peace proposals served as a good basis for a political solution.
Asked whether the government had given approval for the use of Greek airports, ports and railway stations for the transit of additional NATO forces to be deployed on the borders of Kosovo, Mr. Reppas said "no such issue has been raised" and "Greece has not given any such approval".
NATO earlier this week announced that it would increase the strength of Alliance forces in countries bordering Kosovo to nearly 50,000.
The only request put to Greece, Mr. Reppas added, was for forces to be allowed to move through the country for deployment in peace missions.
The spokesman said this request was submitted a few months ago and the port of Thessaloniki in northern Greece had been made available.
Main opposition New Democracy also criticised the indictment, saying it will not facilitate a solution to the crisis, a statement echoed by the Democratic Social Movement.
Athens, Sofia emphasise need for speedy Kosovo resolution
The Greek and Bulgarian leaderships yesterday expressed a joint position in favour of a speedy end to the Kosovo crisis, during at a news conference given by President Kostis Stephanopoulos and Bulgarian PM Ivan Kostov following talks in Sofia.
The effort we are jointly making towards peace is in the interest of the entire region," Mr. Stephanopoulos said.
Mr. Kostov requested Athens' assistance in the planned construction of a second bridge over the Danube to connect Bulgaria with Romania. He said he had brought up the issue with Greece "because we have not yet received a reply from the Romanian government to our latest proposals".
Negotiations between Sofia and Bucharest on the construction project have been bogged down for seven years over the exact location of the bridge.
Noting that the construction of the bridge would also serve Greece's interests in the region, Mr. Stephanopoulos said Greece would undertake the initiative to convene a tripartite meeting between Greece, Romania and Bulgaria to examine the issue.
"There is no problem which does not have its solution," Mr. Stephanopoulos said.
Mr. Kostov also asked Greece to mediate with Belgrade concerning two trucks carrying humanitarian aid for Yugoslavia which the Yugoslav government recently refused to allow into the country.
The reason given by the Yugoslav authorities, Mr. Kostov said, was that the aid had not been sent for delivery to the proper authorities but rather was being sent directly to ethnic Bulgarians living in eastern Yugoslavia and to a hospital in Belgrade which had recently been bombed by NATO.
Florina SA opens new plant in Bulgaria
A new plant was inaugurated in Bulgaria yesterday by the Florina SA fruit juice firm a few kilometres from Sofia.
Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Bulgarian Industry Minister Alexander Bosku attended the event, saying the six million dollar has particular importance for Greek-Bulgarian cooperation.
Mr. Venizelos referred to other cases of cooperation being promoted between the two countries, saying that he has already had discussions with the Bulgarian PM on investments on infrastructure, such as the Burgas- Alexandroupoli pipeline, new road corrid ors between Greece and Bulgaria and a new bridge on the Danube to connect Bulgaria and Romania.
Referring in general to the restructuring of the Balkans, he said that "it can become a case of our own if the Greeks and the Bulgarians take it into their hands."
Severa Greek entrepreneurs expressed their interest in the Bulgarian market and in prospects appearing in other Balkan countries, particularly when the war in Yugoslavia is over.
Reppas addresses opening of EAPA seminar
Technological developments have greatly bolstered mass media's prospects, but have also increased their responsibilities and made their role considerably more important, Press Minister Dimitris Reppas said in his opening address at the 4th seminar of the Alliance of European Press Agencies (EAPA), which opened in Athens yesterday.
"The prospects being created for the mass media are huge, but also competition in the now globalised economy is becoming harsher.
"We, in Europe, have the obligation to strengthen the open society, to enhance possibilities for the individual, to promote social justice, to bolster human rights and democratic institutions," he added.
"It is clear that the role of the mass media, particularly the electronic ones, is huge. It is the mass media which contribute to the formulation of a climate of tolerance or bigotry towards a people, a nation, a religion, a minority, a political or soc ial force," he added.
The two-day seminar, organised by the Athens News Agency (ANA), is being held in the Astir Palace Hotel in the seaside suburb of Vouliagmeni, and is attended by representatives of 30 European and a number of other international news agencies.
Yesterday's discussions focused on the topic of "Economic, Financial and Business Services in the Digital Era," with addresses by representatives of Reuters, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Agence France Presse, Germany's DPA, Spain's EFE and others.
The official speaker at yesterday's session was Oliver Boyd-Barrett, a professor of communications at the University of California.
Papantoniou calls for price freeze until end of '99
National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday called on Greek entrepreneurs to implement a price freeze until the end of the year as part of effects to slash inflation, the one remaining EMU criterion Greece does not yet satisfy.
Speaking at the Athens Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Papantoniou referred to what he called the Greek economy's successes. He also addressed the issue of mergers and buy-outs.
WEATHERFine weather will prevail in most parts of Greece today with the possibility of showers in the afternoon in the mountainous regions of northern Greece. Winds northerly, light to moderate, turning strong in the Aegean Sea. Sunshine in Athens with temperatures between 15-29C. Same in Thessalonikli with temperatures from 13-27C.
Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 308.889 Pound sterling 491.933 Japanese yen (100) 252.672 French franc 49.147 German mark 164.831 Italian lira (100) 16.650 Irish Punt 409.338 Belgian franc 7.992 Luxembourg franc 7.992 Finnish mark 54.221 Dutch guilder 146.289 Danish kr. 43.380 Austrian sch. 23.428 Spanish peseta 1.937 Swedish kr. 35.938 Norwegian kr. 39.101 Swiss franc 202.378 Port. Escudo 1.608 Can. dollar 209.689 Aus. dollar 201.128 Cyprus pound 558.397 Euro 322.380(C.E.)
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