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Athens News Agency: News in English, 00-04-25
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Olympics - Simitis - Delays25/04/2000 18:46:22
Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday called for accelerated 2004 preparations during a quickly convened meeting with the ?Athens 2004? organising committees president, less than a week after highly publicised criticism by IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch.
Speaking to reporters after the one-hour meeting, ?Athens 2004? president Panayiotis Thomopoulos said his talks with the Greek premier covered a wide range of topics regarding the 2004 Olympiad, especially the delays, which he described as "minor".
Stinging criticism by Samaranch last Thursday over organisers preparations for the 2004 Olympics raised eyebrows in Athens and generated quick responses from local officials.
The powerful IOC chief tersely said that the 2004 summer games would be in ?danger? unless Greek organisers made ?drastic? changes by the end of the year.
Thomopoulos attributed delays in several Olympics-related projects to the recent campaign period in Greece, while saying relevant presidential decrees were ready and could now be forwarded for approval.
In reply to press questions on whether changes needed to be made in the coordination or among top organising committee executives, Thomopoulos said there was no problem with respect to coordination, nor was a change in personnel under consideration.
 Foreign Exchange Rates-Wednesday25/04/2000 18:30:00
Following are indicative foreign exchange rates for commercial banks released by the central bank for the next working day.
Wednesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar 355.255
German mark 170.263
 Weather Forecast-Wednesday25/04/2000 17:46:26
The day will start cloudy throughout the country on Wednesday, turning to rain or storms. Winds variable, moderate.
 Constitution-Reform-Parliament25/04/2000 17:35:28
High-level government contacts commenced on Tuesday over the issue of constitutional revision, as the current Parliament retains the authority of amending Greeces constitution.
Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis chaired an initial meeting, with participants including newly appointed Justice Minister Mihalis Statholopoulos, former justice minister Evangelos Venizelos, the premiers legal adviser, Georgios Papadimitriou, as well as re-elected Parliament president Apostolos Kaklamanis.
 Bank of Greece-annual report25/04/2000 16:52:44
The Bank of Greece on Tuesday urged for a wider economic restructuring in the country, with changes in the labour market, energy, telecommunications and services.
Presenting the central bank's annual report, Bank of Greece's governor Lucas Papademos, said that these reforms could contribute in improving the country's competitiveness, boost competition and create new jobs.
Papademos remained concerned over the course of inflation saying that price stability could not be ensured in 2000 only through monetary policy. "It is feasible, however, if the government adheres to its economy and structural policies while the incomes and billing policies help in the creation of price stability conditions," he noted.
Reducing labour tax burdens and offering tax incentives could boost employment, particularly among younger people, the central bank said.
The report, however, stressed the need for greater flexibility in the labour market and in particular working hours and wages.
The Bank of Greece warned that the inflation rate in country could diverge from the Eurozone's average inflation rate in the short- and long-term, with a negative impact on the economy and employment.
The report also said that prospects of speedier economic growth were not guaranteed by the adoption of the euro currency.
 Greece - Turkey - Aegean - Gov't25/04/2000 16:38:27
The Greek government reiterated on Tuesday that only the Aegeans continental shelf ranks as an issue to be resolved between Athens and Ankara in the specific maritime region, a response to recent statements by the Turkish foreign minister and Turkeys powerful military chief.
Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas also noted that Ankara has assumed commitments -- such as following certain dispute-solving procedures -- emanating from last Decembers EU Helsinki summit, while stressing that differences between countries must be solved through peaceful means and without the threat of violence. The spokesman added that Ankara should take recourse to The Hague if it believes a problem exists, adding that ongoing bilateral talks for the implementation of nine recently signed agreements will continue along with Greek-Turkish rapprochement.
According to an ANA dispatch from Istanbul on Monday, Turkeys military chief cautioned the previous day that ?a positive result cant be achieved if the two sides refer to different things?, when asked to comment on the possibility of upcoming Greek-Turkish talks focusing on the Aegean.
Turkish general staff chief Gen. Hussein Kivrikoglu also stated that ?the Greek side is only referring to the issue of the (Aegean) continental shelf, while we are referring to four or five problems.?
Athens has long maintained that the only difference separating Greece and Turkey in the Aegean is the issue of the seas continental shelf, a matter Greek leadership steadfastly believes must be adjudicated by the International Court of Justice at The Hague. The Greek side also counters that the provisions of ecumenically accepted international treaties and agreements nullify demands Turkish leaders have raised over the past 27 years with respect to air space, flight information regions (FIR), territorial waters and uninhabited islets, among others.
 Daring-1st quarter results25/04/2000 16:23:33
Daring, a listed wires company, on Tuesday reported sales exceeding 2.1 billion drachmas in the first quarter of 2000, up 67 percent compared with the same period last year.
The company said its January sales totalled 513.8 million drachmas, up 28.9 pct from the same month in 1999, while February sales reached 693.8 million, up 75.5 pct from a year earlier. March sales jumped 90 pct to 934.5 million drachmas.
Daring expects the rise in sales to continue in the coming months as the company restructures its distribution network.
The company expects to regain its share in the market by the end of the year and predicts a 50 percent increase in sales compared with 1999.
 Aegean Airlines-Cronus Airlines-strategic deal25/04/2000 16:18:00
Two Greek private carriers, Aegean Airlines and Cronus Airlines, on Tuesday announced the signing of a strategic partnership deal to jointly develop their domestic flight network.
The two companies' fleet totals 15 aircraft and they have a daily flight schedule with over 140 flights to 18 destinations in Greece and abroad.
Aegean and Cronus agreed to reschedule their flight operations.
The deal would offer passengers a more comprehensive choice of flight schedule with common flight codes. Passengers could travel with both airlines using each other's tickets.
The two carriers expect to carry more than 200,000 passengers in domestic flights this month compared with only 70,000 passengers the same month last year, an increase of 185 percent.
Their combined passenger capacity exceeds 300,000 passengers on a monthly basis, with more than 800 flights weekly.
 Info-Quest-1st quarter results25/04/2000 16:07:05
Info-Quest on Tuesday announced that its turnover jumped a spectacular 102 percent to 21 billion drachmas in the first quarter of 2000 compared with the same period last year.
The company's profits totalled 900 million drachmas over the same period, up 213 percent from 1999.
Th.Fessas, the company's chairman, said that the first quarter of the year was positive and that Info-Quest would continue increasing its market share in software distribution, integrated projects and technical support services, a company statement said.
Info-Quest's consolidated sales totalled 112.5 billion drachmas while profits rose to 17 billion drachmas last year.
 ASE-close25/04/2000 16:00:28
Equity prices came under pressure on Tuesday to end sharply lower on the Athens Stock Exchange.
Traders attributed the change of climate to lack of buying interest and to a sharp fall in technology stocks worldwide. Turnover was extremely low ahead of the Orthodox Easter holidays, totalling 97 billion drachmas.
Smaller capitalisation and construction stocks suffered the heaviest losses with a total of 60 issues ending at the day's 10.0 percent limit down.
The general index ended at 4,224.45 points, off 3.17 percent. The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 2.81 percent lower at 2,404.31 points and the FTSE/ASE 40 index plunged 4.82 percent to 557.03 points.
The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended at 704.11 points, down 7.52 percent.
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