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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-07-01

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, 01/07/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece, Turkey agree to hold talks on several issues
  • Olympic Airways endorses British management deal
  • Gov't launches new public debt division
  • Central bank may order new curbs on consumer loans
  • Agricultural Bank of Greece gets ready for bourse entry
  • Labour rights to stay intact in water board sale
  • Stocks show gains in H1 window dressing
  • Keranis plans to buy cigarette plant in FYROM
  • Capital market official blasts bourse speculators
  • Stephanopoulos begins official visit to Lithuania
  • Russian troops destined for Kosovo to travel via Greece
  • Papadopoulos buried in Athens
  • ATHENS NEWS AGENCY ON THE INTERNET
  • Upgrades at Macedonia Airport
  • Advertising in the Daily Bulletin
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece, Turkey agree to hold talks on several issues

Greece and Turkey yesterday agreed to hold talks on a foreign ministry senior officials level on issues relating to the economy, trade, environment, tourism, as well as matters concerning combatting organised crime, illegal immigration, drugs and public safety and order.

Foreign Minister George Papandreou made the announcement after two-hour talks with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem.

The two ministers met on the sidelines of a UN-sponsored focusing on Kosovo.

"The purpose of this meeting was for us to exchange views on the two letters and explore whether a level of cooperation exists in certain sectors. We decided that separate meetings will take place between senior officials of the two ministries on the issues which we have listed in our letters.

"In these frameworks, provided there is a possibility of cooperation, we will embark on bilateral cooperations on these issues. This will be ascertained in about a month, to enable us to see after the meetings between the senior officials will have taken place," Mr. Papandreou said.

"We also decided that we must strengthen our cooperation at a multipartite level, particularly in the Balkans and the Black Sea. Specifically for the Balkans, in the framework of the Stability Pact, the two countries could cooperate on issues concerning the reconstruction of the Balkans, and on this issue in particular, our two business communities must cooperate," he added.

Replying to a question on terrorism, Mr. Papandreou said:

"We have stressed that all the issues which we have listed are an object of discussion. We, as we have repeatedly stressed, approach the issue of terrorism in the framework of existing treaties, in the framework of our multipartite cooperation and in the framework of our commitments at the Council of Europe for human rights and democratic processes. This does not rule out a discussion, opening on the issues related to organised crime, drug trafficking, illegal immigration and the issue of terrorism."

Mr. Cem said that he had a "constructive" meeting with Mr. Papandreou, adding that "we have made a step towards the right direction."

"We agreed on separate meetings by our high officials of our ministries on tourism, and how we can work together; on environment; on terrorism and related subjects, such as organised crime, drug trafficking and illegal migration; and on trade," Mr. Cem said.

"The high officials of our two ministries will meet and examine whether there are possibilities to conclude bilateral, even multilateral agreement, on these issues in the framework of a comprehensive cooperation...we both wish these meetings start as soon as possible and we have decided to give orders to our officials to organise these meetings before the end of July 1999," the Turkish FM said.

"Without raising high expectations, without being assertive...I consider this a positive step in the right direction."

Asked specifically about Cyprus, Mr. Cem said they had a "general tour d' horizon" but without serious discussion of topics other than the five he mentioned.

Olympic Airways endorses British management deal

Olympic Airways yesterday approved a contract for Speedwing, a subsidiary of British Airways, to manage the ailing national carrier for 30 months in order to shape up its finances and operations.

The board meeting to debate the contract was interrupted when OA workers protesting the deal occupied company offices.

Resuming the session in the premises of a state-owned bank, the board's members unanimously endorsed the deal, which also gives British Airways an option to buy up to 20 percent of Olympic.

The board's three staff representatives were absent.

A 24-hour general strike by Olympic Airways employees began at midnight and is expected to severely disrupt both international and domestic flights.

The workers called the strike last week to protest the award of management to Speedwing.

Gov't launches new public debt division

The government's new public debt division is to begin operations today, Deputy Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis told a presentation.

Explaining the division to the country's primary dealers, who bid in auctions for state securities, Mr. Christodoulakis said its purpose was to manage the public debt more efficiently, and at a lower cost.

The department, to be named the Public Debt Organisation, was based on models abroad, he added.

The division's general director is Christoforos Sardelis with Spyros Papanikolaou as deputy general director.

Central bank may order new curbs on consumer loans

The Bank of Greece may bring in new measures to curb the growth of consumer credit, its governor, Lucas Papademos, said yesterday.

"Due to the measures taken there was some containment of consumer loans in April and May, but not to the extent that we were seeking," Mr. Papademos told reporters after a meeting with the heads of the country's largest banks. He did not name the possib le measures, or say when they might be introduced.

Mr. Papademos also said that consumer price inflation was likely to drop to 2.1-2.2 percent in June.

Efforts were still needed to bring inflation down to 2.0 percent and then consolidate below that level, he added.

The central bank governor declined to forecast when interest rates would resume their decline.

Agricultural Bank of Greece gets ready for bourse entry

State-owned Agricultural Bank of Greece (ATE) is launching a series of measures to prepare for its planned listing on the Athens Stock Exchange in 2001. The measures aim to boost the bank's capital base, streamline its loans portfolio, modernise infras tructure and expand the bank's range of services.

The moves would enable ATE to tap more effectively its extensive network in rural areas, governor Petros Lambrou told shareholders yesterday.

"Management's aim is to establish ATE as a credible financial institution and one of the main groups in the banking sector... Among its priorities is the bank's listing on the Athens Stock Exchange in 2001, as already announced," he said.

Mr. Lambrou also announced the creation of a holding company to better exploit the services of companies in which ATE is already a shareholder.

Labour rights to stay intact in water board sale

Labour, salary and social insurance rights of workers at the water board (EYDAP) will remain unscathed in a planned part-flotation of the company, Deputy Public Works Minister Christos Verelis said yesterday.

Addressing EYDAP's annual shareholders' meeting, Mr. Verelis said that the part-privatisation would begin on completion of studies being carried out, and talks with unions.

He added that water rates also would remain unchanged. The company's financial results were satistactory but management should improve services in line with customer complaints, Mr. Verelis said.

He also said that EYDAP would be urged to use its expertise abroad, especially in the Balkans.

Stocks show gains in H1 window dressing

Equity prices rose 1.04 percent in heavy trade yesterday bolstered by technical factors linked to the end of the first half of 1999, including block trades in bank shares to show book profits.

The general index ended 41.41 points higher at 4,031.64 reflecting gains in the banks sector.

Turnover was 153.120 billion drachmas with 26,877,578 shares changing hands.

The Investment and Holding sectors outperformed the market ending 2.69 and 3.32 percent higher respectively.

Other sector indices ended as follows: Banks (+1.86 pct), Leasing (-1.38 pct), Insurance (-0.36 pct), Construction (-1.90 pct), Industrials (-0.22 pct) and Miscellaneous (+0.77 pct).

The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 1.53 percent lower while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips jumped 1.81 percent to 2,368.88 points.

National Bank of Greece ended at 20,600 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 20, 300, Ergobank at 33,700, Ionian Bank at 16,100, Titan Cement at 29,000, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,865, Intracom at 20,300, Minoan Lines at 5,550, Panafon at 7,595 and Hellenic Telecoms at 6,750.

Keranis plans to buy cigarette plant in FYROM

Keranis, a listed tobacco industry, is in advanced talks for the acquisition of a cigarette plant in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, it said yesterday.

The company told the Athens Stock Exchange in a letter that a contract for acquisition of the plant in Skopje was due for completion in the second half of July.

The buyout was part of a broader strategy of expansion in the Balkans, Keranis said.

Capital market official blasts bourse speculators

The stock market is not a game of chance but a tool for growth, and speculators will eventually suffer, the Capital Market Commission's chairman, Stelios Thomadakis, told a parliament committee yesterday.

Answering questions on new bourse legislation, Mr. Thomadakis said the market needed a more indicative method of shaping closing share prices.

He said the official close of a stock should be the average of a price fluctuation over 15-30 minutes and not the price of the last transaction, as currently.

Such a measure would enhance protection for investors and give a more accurate picture of the market.

Mr. Thomadakis said he was willing to cooperate with ESHEA, the national journalists' union, to devise a code of conduct on market reporting.

He said that only 10-15 shares, accounting for 0.006 of the market's capitalisation, showed signs of extreme volatility.

Stephanopoulos begins official visit to Lithuania

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos arrived in Vilnius yesterday for a three-day official visitto Lithuania.

Mr. Stephanopoulos is accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister Grigoris Niotis and a group of Greek entrepreneurs interested in the Baltic country's market.

He will meet his Lithuanian counterpart Valdas Adamkus this morning, while an agreement concerning the return of illegal immigrants to their initial country of entry will is also expected to be signed between the two countries.

According to reports, Mr. Stephanopoulos' talks with his Lithuanian counterpart will focus on bilateral relations, particularly in the commercial, investment and cultural sectors, as well as on Vilnius' desire to join Euro-Atlantic organisations, a proposal Athens Greece supports.

The Greek president toured the medieval Trakai Castle yesterday, while today he will address a meeting between Greek and Lithuanian business people.

Russian troops destined for Kosovo to travel via Greece

Russian troops and equipment destined for the Kosovo peacekeeping force are expected to begin arriving in Greek ports next week on their way to Kosovo, a military source said yesterday.

The source said talks over the use of Greek ports for the Russian troops were nearing an end and the only issue still to be tackled was whether Volos, Thessaloniki or Litohoro would be used as their transit points.

There is a possibility that all three ports will be used; the use of Litohoro is likely in any case as the Russian's will be transporting heavy equipment.

Russian military officials may be in Thessaloniki as of today to prepare for the transports.

Increased traffic at the northern Greek city's port, due to the passage of NATO troops, may force the Russian's to opt for Volos, or both Volos and Thessaloniki.

More than 14,000 soldiers and 7,000 vehicles have passed through Thessaloniki to date.

Papadopoulos buried in Athens

Former dictator Georgios Papadopoulos was buried in Athens yesterday amid cheers and applause of several hundred supporters of the bleak seven-year dictatorship the austere army colonel installed.

Papadopoulos, who along with two other high-ranking officers orchestrated the infamous 1967 coup, was convicted in 1974 of conspiracy and overthrowing democracy. He was given the death penalty along with several other coup protagonists, while their sent ences where subsequently commuted to life in prison.

Supporters chanted slogans used during the ultra-conservative military regime's reign, while several of his co-conspirators eulogised Papadopoulos. He died at the age of 80 in an Athens hospital on Sunday from a heart attack after a lengthy battle with cancer.

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY ON THE INTERNET

You can now find the Athens News Agency's news service on the Internet with a brief review of the main news items, in Greek or English, twice a day (at 11:00am and updated at 4:30pm approximately). Log in to our Internet address: http://www.ana.gr and keep abreast with the latest news from Greece.

Upgrades at Macedonia Airport

Work begins tomorrow at Thessaloniki's airport to upgrade equipment used for the safe landing of aircraft in conditions of poor visibility, the government said yesterday.

The current ILS system will be upgraded from category I to category II at a cost of 3.5 billion drachmas.

One of the primary goals is to sharply reduce the number of flights often cancelled due to fog at Macedonia Airport.

While work is in progress, the transport ministry said, the main runway will be out of operation every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Although an alternative runway will be used, the schedules of some flights are expected to be disrupted.

Advertising in the Daily Bulletin

The ANA will from now on welcome professional half-page or full-page advertisements in its daily English and French Bulletin.

Advertisements will be accepted from embassies, banks, commercial and maritime companies, chambers of commerce, advertising companies, airlines, organisations, professional associations, educational and research institutions in Greece and abroad as well as international bodies.

Also, for a small fee, the above groups may channel their Press Releases (PRs), announcements or photographs - in Greek, English or French - to the ANA's more than 100 media subscribers throughout Greece and Cyprus via the recently introduced ANA on-line

PR's service. For details on and arrangements for the advertising and/or PRs on-line service, please contact the ANA Marketing Department, tel: 6400580, fax: 6400024 between 10:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

WEATHER

Partly cloudy weather with large spells of sunshine will prevail throughout Greece today. Scattered showers in the northern regions. Winds northwesterly, light to strong. Scattered showers in the afternoon in Athens with temperatures between 20-34C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 19- 30C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          311.924
Pound sterling       491.417
Japanese yen (100)   257.960
French franc          49.107
German mark          164.699
Italian lira (100)    16.636
Irish Punt           409.010
Belgian franc          7.985
Finnish mark          54.177
Dutch guilder        146.173
Danish kr.            43.331
Austrian sch.         23.409
Spanish peseta         1.936
Swedish kr.           36.801
Norwegian kr.         39.720
Swiss franc          200.949
Port. Escudo           1.607
Can. dollar          211.375
Aus. dollar          206.272
Cyprus pound         557.742
Euro                 322.122
(C.E.)
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