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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-09-23

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, 23/09/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • G. Papandreou calls for coherent approach in the Balkans
  • Athens bourse to change trading rules for suspect stocks
  • New Democracy asks bourse for stock data
  • General gov't deficit to drop this year
  • Stocks edge up in wake of correction
  • Germany is Greece's top trade partner
  • No gov't intervention in Athens bourse
  • Composite industrial output rises in June
  • Aluminium de Grece denies buyout rumour
  • Olympic Airways to launch route to Skopje
  • Turkey must show political will, Tsohatzopoulos says
  • Gov't says 'non-tension' now apparent in Greek-Turkish relations
  • Albania again fails to open Greek-language schools in 2 districts
  • BSEC environment ministers in Thessaloniki
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

G. Papandreou calls for coherent approach in the Balkans

Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday called for a coherent and consistent approach by the international community to tackle Balkan problems, in line with a universal application of principles where the protection of peace and human rights, and the closing of the gap between rich and poor figure prominently.

"We must strive to develop three pillars of the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe: Democracy, Security and Reconstruction. We need to build democratic institutions, judicial and financial systems, competitive business and free media communities," he noted in his address to the 54th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

"We need to provide basic economic help that will fight against the poverty and degradation that leads to ethnic and religious fanaticism...

"Greece has drawn for itself a creative and effective role in the Balkans, supporting all efforts to deepen democracy in the region. A total Balkan approach to democracy, security and reconstruction will pave the way for our neighbours to enter the European Union...

Mr. Papandreou noted the recent spectacular improvement of climate in Greek- Turkish relations, and said:

"My Turkish counterpart, Ismail Cem, and I have been engaged in careful diplomacy for many months. We recently inaugurated discussion committees to address a number of bilateral concerns , including trade, tourism and the environment, where we feel our two countries have much to gain from mutual cooperation.

"The terrible earthquakes that shook both our countries have accelerated the process.

"This is one more lesson for democracy. organisation, I join hands today with my Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem, to announce to the UN Assembly the establishment of a joint stand-by disaster response unit (SDRU), comprised of contingents drawn from governmental and non-governmental agencies of both countries to reinforce the UN capacity in this field," he stressed.

Athens bourse to change trading rules for suspect stocks

The Athens Stock Exchange's board will publish a list of companies in the next few days to be included in a category of stocks whose movements warrant supervision, ASE chairman Spyros Kouniakis told the Athens News Agency yesterday.

Mr. Kouniakis said that the number of listed companies in the new category would not initially exceed five, in addition to shares already being supervised under the old regime.

The shares in this category would be traded in a different way on the stock market.

Buying and selling prices would be set during the session at regular intervals based on the total of bid and offer orders in the system, he said.

The new trading system would resemble pre-trading, or price-setting practices before the official start of daily trade, Mr. Kouniakis said.

Companies that fell short of their commitments towards both the market and investors (eg a failure to report corporate news and financial data including changes in ownership structure, or a failure to respond adequately to talk surrounding the firms' activities) would be included in this category.

Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday that equilibrium would return to the Athens Stock Exchange in a day or two, according to sources.

New Democracy asks bourse for stock data

According to sources, main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis has sent a letter to the authorities of the Athens bourse, asking for information regarding transactions in shares of state-controlled Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) and Hellenic Petroleum from September 1 through 21.

Party officials claimed that the government was attempting to manipulate the stock market through transactions in securities of state utilities. ND spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos, meanwhile, expressed satisfaction over the restraint and responsible atti tude shown by the investing public yesterday, which contrasted with that of the government.

General gov't deficit to drop this year

National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday that the general government deficit would drop to 1.5 percent of gross domestic product, and to 1.2 percent of GDP in 2000.

Addressing a parliamentary debate on a tax reform bill, the minister also underlined the social face of the government's economic policy.

Stocks edge up in wake of correction

Equity prices resumed their upward course yesterday after a sharp correction in the previous session as investors became active buyers in the first 30 minutes of trading.

The general index ended 0.56 percent higher at 6,054.76 points, sharply off the day's high of 6,169 points.

Traders said a wave of profit taking late in the session substantially reduced earlier gains.

The Banks and Construction sectors came under pressure to end 0.84 and 1.15 percent lower, respectively.

Other sector indices ended as follows: Insurance (-0.25 pct), Miscellaneous (+2.87 pct), Leasing (+2.05 pct), Investment (+4.20 pct), Industrials (+2.10 pct) and Holding (+2.94 pct).

The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks fell 2.66 percent while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks eased 0.27 percent to 3,138.77 points.

National Bank of Greece ended at 26,610 drachmas, Commercial Bank at 29,800, Alpha Credit Bank at 30,000, Minoan Lines at 8,600, Intracom at 27,550, Titan Cement at 37,900, Hellenic Petroleum at 6,785, Hellenic Telecoms at 7, 340 and Panafon at 8,950.

Germany is Greece's top trade partner

Greek-German trade totalled 5.2 billion ecus last year, the Northern Greek Exporters Union said yesterday, making the country Greece's biggest trade partner.

German imports increased 20 percent in the last five years, marking an annual average growth rate of 5.0 percent.

They totalled 2.96 billion ecus in 1994, rising to 3.28 billion ecus the following year, but declining to 3.18 billion ecus in 1996.

They rose again in 1997 and 1998 to 3.235 and 3.56 billion ecus respectively.

On the other hand, Greek exports to Germany remained stable in 1998 at 1994 levels to total 1.676 billion ecus, despite small increases in 1995 and 1997.

Greek and German businesses will have the opportunity to discuss future alliances at the Europartenariat trade fair and forum to be held in Potsdam, Germany, on October 28-29.

No gov't intervention in Athens bourse

The government will not intervene in the stock market by naming any "bubble" stocks, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

Mr. Reppas also denied an ANA report on Tuesday according to which national economy ministry officials said that "tomorrow we buy" after a sharp correction of prices on the Athens Stock Exchange the same day.

"I dismiss such a possibility. These comments are misplaced and have already been denied by Mr. Stournaras", he said.

Yiannis Stournaras is the head of the national economy ministry's team of advisers.

Mr. Reppas reiterated that the government's policy on the stock market was absolutely clear and denied comment on talk of interference by government officials in the market's performance over two sessions.

Composite industrial output rises in June

Industrial production, as measured by the mining, manufacturing and electricity-natural gas indices, increased 4.0 percent in June compared with the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said yesterday.

The electricity-natural gas index jumped 38 percent, while the mining output index fell by 10.9 percent and the manufacturing index dropped 0.2 percent in June.

The NSS said that the composite industrial output index increased by 3.9 percent in the first six months of 1999 compared with the same period last year.

The mining index fell 16.5 percent, the manufacturing index eased 0.1 percent but the electricity-natural gas index surged 40.4 percent during the first half of 1999.

Aluminium de Grece denies buyout rumour

Aluminium de Grece, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, yesterday denied rumours that it was the target of an acquisition by the listed Viohalco and Mytilineos metals groups of Greece.

Stating that it was not up for sale, the company recalled in a statement that 60 percent of its capital was owned by Pechiney of France.

Olympic Airways to launch route to Skopje

Olympic Aviation will launch a new route to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) capital on Sept. 25.

Two flights a week will take place from Athens to Skopje. Every Tuesday at 11 a.m. and every Saturday at 9 a.m. until Oct. 30, and from Oct. 31 until March 25, 2000 every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at 7:30 a.m.

Turkey must show political will, Tsohatzopoulos says

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos met with his Turkish counterpart Sabahatin Tsakmakoglu here yesterday on the sidelines of an informal NATO defence ministers' meeting.

Their discussion was held within a positive climate, while the Greek minister later told a press conference that there should be no "illusions over the improvement of Greek-Turkish relations, which necessitate political will by the neighbouring country."

In addition, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos underlined that Turkey is also judged on the Cyprus issue.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said there had been a rapprochement between the two peoples when they faced a natural disaster, "but improvement of relations between the two countries requires political will on the party of Turkey".

Gov't says 'non-tension' now apparent in Greek-Turkish relations

The government said yesterday there was a climate of "non-tension" between Athens and Ankara.

"There is a climate of non-tension," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said when asked to comment on the present state of relations between the neighbouring countries.

Mr. Reppas said a second round of talks between Greek and Turkish officials on finding common ground for rapprochement had ended and that a third round would begin at the end of October.

He said that Turkey's consideration as a candidate country would be an issue discussed at the EU summit in Helsinki at the end of the year. "That is where we will set out our positions," he said.

"Turkey must show such behaviour which will illustrate that it is coming into line with the 'acquis communautaire'".

Mr. Reppas denied that Foreign Minister George Papandreou had ever raised an issue of rapprochement with Turkey without conditions or prerequisites.

Albania again fails to open Greek-language schools in 2 districts

For the second year in a row, the Albanian education ministry appears to have ignored demands of ethnic Greeks in the Heimarra and Premeti districts for schools, as many children are reported to have been sent to Greece.

The "Omonoia" ethnic Greek organisation issued a strongly worded statement, describing the ministry's decision as "a brutal violation of the Greek community's constitutional right to education in their mother tongue, a right established by the Internati onal Court at The Hague".

The Greek school in Heimarra was reopened after a ruling by the Court in 1935, along with all other Greek scools in Albania, but was shut again with some others by the communist government of the country in 1947.

BSEC environment ministers in Thessaloniki

Environment ministers from Black Sea Economic Cooperation pact (BSEC) countries will meet in Thessaloniki today and tomorrow to seek ways of further cooperation between agencies of local, national and international level to prepare policies and programmes for environmental management, pollution control and the assessment of risks in member-states.

The countries participating in the meeting are Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Georgia, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, the Russian Federation and Moldova.

WEATHER

Mostly fair weather will prevail throughout Greece today. Winds northerly, light to moderate, turning strong in the Aegean Sea. Athens will be sunny with few clouds and temperatures between 20-32C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 17-29C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          308.423
Pound sterling       503.757
Japanese yen (100)   295.408
French franc          49.456
German mark          165.870
Italian lira (100)    16.755
Irish Punt           411.920
Belgian franc          8.042
Finnish mark          54.562
Dutch guilder        147.213
Danish kr.            43.656
Austrian sch.         23.576
Spanish peseta         1.949
Swedish kr.           37.631
Norwegian kr.         39.432
Swiss franc          202.393
Port. Escudo           1.618
Can. dollar          209.649
Aus. dollar          201.019
Cyprus pound         561.472
Euro                 324.414
(C.E.)
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