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Athens News Agency: News in English, 01-02-23
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Italy-Greece-Mob kingpin-Extradition23/02/2001 22:08:14
Italys most wanted smuggling ring suspect Francesco Prudentino, 52, was extradited to Italy on Friday to face criminal charges, as was requested by Italian authorities in December.
Prudentino, who was convicted to 19 months imprisonment by Greek authorities for possessing forged state documents about a month ago, is thought to be a member of the infamous Mafia organisation Sacra Corona Unita and is wanted in many European states for murder and smuggling of guns and cigarettes, as well as other criminal activities.
Prudentino, who is accused of directing a cigarette smuggling ring across southeastern Europe, stretching from Italy to Bulgaria, was arrested in Thessaloniki on Dec. 22.
 Athens-Arafat -Ta;ls23/02/2001 19:43:15
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat holds talks with Greek government
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat arrived in Athens from Vienna at noon on Friday, in the framework of a tour of European capitals, to brief the Greek government on developments on the Middle East issue since factors concerning the peace process have changed with the change in government in Israel.
Arafat attended a working luncheon with Alternate Foreign Minister Elizabeth Papazoi soon after his arrival.
At 6 p.m. Arafat met with President Kostis Stephanopoulos and National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos soon after. His brief visit to Athens will be concluded with talks with Prime Minister Costas Simitis later in the evening.
 Foreign Exchange Rates-Monday23/02/2001 18:43:56
Monday's buying rates
U.S. dollar 372.934
German mark 172.829
French franc 051.531
Pound sterling 539.545
Irish punt 429.202
Belgian franc 008.379
Luxembourg franc 008.379
Dutch guilder 153.389
Italian lira (100) 017.457
Austrian schilling 024.565
Danish kroner 45.290
Swedish kroner 37.220
Finnish mark 056.852
Spanish peseta 002.032
Portuguese escudo 001.686
Japanese yen (100) 319.802
Swiss franc 220.436
Norwegian kroner 40.994
Cyprus pound 583.635
Canadian dollar 242.544
Australian dollar 194.714
 Hellenic Textiles-2000 Results23/02/2001 18:05:51
Hellenic Textiles, which is listed on the Athens bourse, on Friday reported that earnings before tax from purely industrial operations jumped to 1.25 billion drachmas in 2000 from 235 million drachmas a year earlier, up 431 percent.
Turnover last year totalled 22.8 billion drachmas, up 32.6 percent from 17.2 billion drachmas in 1999, Hellenic Textiles said in a statement.
The domestic company is one of the three largest manufacturers of denim in Europe.
 Bounced Cheques-Bankruptcies-January23/02/2001 17:52:55
The value of bounced cheques declined in January 2001 to 16.5 billion drachmas, down 29.16 percent from the same month a year earlier, Teiresias SA, a market data firm, said in a monthly report released on Friday.
However, a rise was reported in petitions for bankruptcy, which totalled 282 in January from 81 in the same month of 1999, up 248 percent, said Teiresias, which belongs to the Union of Greek Banks.
In the whole of 2000, the number and value of bounced cheques dropped by 27.24 percent to 85,794 in number and by 18.36 percent in value to 205.597 billion drachmas.
In December 2000, petitions for bankruptcy fell to 139, down 47.15 percent from December 1999; and declared bankruptcies dropped to 50, down 50.50 percent from the same month a year earlier.
 Weather Forecast-Saturday23/02/2001 16:53:19
Sunny weather is forecast in many parts of the country on Saturday, with cloud and possibly showers in the west, the north and the northern and eastern Aegean islands. Winds southwesterly, moderate to strong, turning very strong at sea in the south. In the north, temperatures will range from 1C to 16C; on the rest of the mainland and the Ionian from 4C to 18C; and in the Aegean islands from 10C to 17C. Mostly sunny in Athens with temperatures between 10C and 18C. Scattered cloud in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from 7C to 16C.
 PM - press conference - Balkan summit23/02/2001 16:20:00
SKOPJE (ANA - A. Podimata) Prime Minister Costas Simitis hailed the 4th Balkan Summit in Skopje as a success on Friday, saying that the leaders of southeast European countries had progressed beyond mere statements of intent to specifics.
Speaking during a press conference in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Simitis stressed that the summit "demonstrated the steadfast political will of Balkan countries for cooperation and understanding."
"We have moved on to much more specific issues, from how to deal with the crisis in southern Serbia to economic cooperation, energy issues and environmental protection," he said.
Regarding the problems in Kosovo and southern Serbia, Simitis said he was encouraged to find that an effort was being made by everyone to work together and that "a common desire to deal with expressions of excessive nationalism and terrorism was shared by all."
Accession to and cooperation with Europe, he noted, was a goal shared by all the countries in the region, as was that of economic development. He said that Greece had worked out its own reconstruction plan, to which it had allocated significant sums, and he reiterated that both mutual cooperation and the European prospects of Balkan countries were strongly supported by Athens.
 ASE-close23/02/2001 15:55:21
Equity prices ended the last trading session of an interesting week lower on the Athens Stock Exchange as profit taking on blue chip stocks overshadowed buying activity in smaller capitalisation issues on Friday.
The general index ended 0.40 percent lower at 3,164.45 points, off the day's highs of 3,195.05 points, to show a net loss of 1.77 percent in the week.
Turnover was a low 127.44 million euros, or 43.427 billion drachmas. The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.58 percent lower at 1,817.73 points, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index rose 0.16 percent to 363.20 points.
The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks rose 1.60 percent to 304.04 points.
 Papandreou - statements on Cem meeting23/02/2001 15:38:40
SKOPJE (ANA - A. Podimata) Foreign Minister George Papandreou confirmed reports that he and Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem had agreed to an exchange of visits, during brief statements to reporters in Skopje on Friday.
He and Cem had had a half-hour meeting on Thursday night, cut short by Cem's departure to greet Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit on his arrival at Skopje's airport, during which they had exchanged views on the progress in bilateral relations and a number of bilateral agreement awaiting ratification by their countries' respective parliaments.
According to Papandreou, a visit by him to Ankara was pending but no date had yet been set. He said he had agreed with Cem's proposal for a joint visit to the Aegean island of Samos and the Turkish coastal town of Kusadasi in May.
Papandreou said his talks with Cem had not been completed and would be continued in Brussels on Tuesday, when he and Cem met on the sidelines of a NATO foreign ministers' meeting.
 FYROM name - spokesman23/02/2001 15:09:09
Asked if Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) were nearing a solution to the issue of FYROM's name, acting government spokesman Tilemachos Hytiris confined himself on Friday to saying that UN-mediated talks on the problem were continuing in New York.
Asked to comment on a proposal by former foreign minister Karolos Papoulias, who has proposed a meeting of Greek party leaders to discuss the FYROM name issue, Hytiris answered that the first priority had to be reaching an agreement with the Skopje government.
 Arafat to visit Athens23/02/2001 15:00:51
Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat will soon be arriving in Athens for an official visit, acting government spokesman Tilemachos Hytiris announced on Friday.
The spokesman said that he would be meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis later in the day, when the latter had returned from the Balkan Summit now taking place in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), and also with President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos. He could not confirm the exact time of the two meetings, however.
Reports say, however, that the Palestinian leader will arrive in Greece this afternoon and meet with Simitis at around 20:30, after a meeting with the Greek president at 18:00. He is expected to discuss the latest developments in the Middle East crisis.
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