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Athens News Agency: News in English, 02-01-21

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM inaugurates National Bank's new administration building
  • [02] IOC inspection team begins latest Athens tour (Adds Oswald's comments)
  • [03] RAWA member speaks of women's situation in Afghanistan
  • [04] Parliament president receives Greek American delegation
  • [05] Weather Forecast: Showers, storms on Tuesday
  • [06] Foreign Exchange Rates - Tuesday
  • [07] S&P affirms National Bank, Alpha Bank ratings
  • [08] Greek stocks end lower on Monday

  • [01] PM inaugurates National Bank's new administration building

    21/01/2002 22:13:34

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis, inaugurating the National Bank's new administration building in Athens on Monday, expressed optimism over the Greek economy's course and prospects.

    Simitis said Greece has entered an upward course and its international position has been upgraded, while changes and reforms should be continued.

    Speaking in the new building's amphitheatre, Simitis said the central axis of government policy to strengthen the Greek economy is the shaping of strong Greek businesses having dynamic development in the wider region and a strong vision in Europe.

    On the occasion of the 160th anniversary of the beginning of the National Bank's operation, Simitis praised the contribution of the bank and staff to the development of the Greek economy.

    Referring to the Greek economy's course in general and giving an example of positive prospects, he said that according to the human development indicator prepared by the UN Greece is among the 23 most developed countries in the world.

    Simitis further referred to the three qualitative elements characterising the government's development policy: the considerable contribution of investments which have increased rapidly over the past eight years, emphasis on sustained development and growth strengthening social justice and social cohesion.

    On his part, National Bank Governor Theodoros Karatzas told reporters there was no question of his resigning, while in his address he referred to the failed merger effort between the National and Alpha banks, saying that "unfortunately this effort did not bear fruit. This fact will not discourage us. We shall continue with system and consistency."

    He referred at length to the creation of the new building and added that "the National Bank is already a powerful and strong organisation with an upward course, determined to act as a catalyst for major extrovert businesses which shall represent our country's economy in the field of European and world competition with success."

    On the question of the Greek economy's prospects, Karatzas said "our country's accession to the economic and monetary union and the adoption of the euro constitute a milestone of great importance which the coming generations will understand and which we, probably, experiencing the events, are not yet in a position to realise."

    [02] IOC inspection team begins latest Athens tour (Adds Oswald's comments)

    21/01/2002 22:12:12

    A high-ranking International Olympic Committee (IOC) inspection team has again arrived in Greece to gauge progress for the 2004 Athens Olympics, nearly two months after the last such visit garnered mostly positive marks by the Lausanne-based organization.

    Mondays itinerary included a briefing for the IOC delegation, led again by vice-president Denis Oswald - the executive who is also heading the all-important commission overseeing preparations for the 2004 Games - at the Athens 2004 organizing committees (ATHOC) offices.

    Oswald stated his satisfaction over the progress of the projects, noting that should ATHOC continue at this pace "then you will win the bet" of organizing successful Olympic Games.

    In terms of crucial venue and infrastructure project deadlines, a completion date for a broadcast media center adjacent to the Athens Olympic stadium was given as late February 2003, while test operations for the primary press center will begin in September 2003.

    Ground-breaking work at both venues is expected to be completed shortly.

    As far as the Olympic stadium complex is concerned, bids for the facilitys upgrading are due by Jan. 30, whereas a related study for a tennis complex will be ready by the end of the month as well.

    Finally, Oswald is scheduled to give a press conference on Tuesday in downtown Athens.

    The next visit by an IOC delegation comes in April.

    [03] RAWA member speaks of women's situation in Afghanistan

    21/01/2002 22:12:02

    Mariam Raoui, representative of the Afghan women's organisation RAWA (feminist antifundamentalist organization-the only one in Afghanistan), appealed on Monday for an improvement of women's living conditions in Afghanistan.

    Raoui, who is in Greece at the invitation of the Feminist Centre of Athens, outlined during a press conference the current situation of women in her country and the struggle which RAWA has been conducting since 1977 for women's rights and social justice in Afghanistan.

    She said that at present Afghanistan is a "vast cemetery" and entails "the greatest silenced tragedy in history."

    Raoui said that the geographic location and strategic position of the country has rendered Afghanistan the centre of continuous interventions and invasions. She said her organisation's struggle was twofold: Against the foreigners and against the Afghan fundamentalists with their inhuman positions concerning women.

    The Soviet pullout left five million refugees, countless dead, disabled women, widows and orphans. During the 1992-96 Mujahedin period, there were 50,000 certified dead and unprecedented atrocities which the Taliban continued, she added.

    Since 1987 the organisation has gone underground and has been based in Pakistan, where its 2,000 members are active in refugee camps for Afghans, teaching women and children and at the same time caring for the sick.

    [04] Parliament president receives Greek American delegation

    21/01/2002 22:11:06

    Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis on Monday expressed the solidarity of Parliament and the Greek people for the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack against the United States in a meeting with a delegation of New York Greek American community leaders.

    The members of the delegation also took the opportunity to express their strong indignation over the slanderous attack against Kaklamanis by the CBS's 60 Minutes program.

    [05] Weather Forecast: Showers, storms on Tuesday

    21/01/2002 18:04:57

    Sunny throughout the country on Tuesday. Local fog in the morning ours inland. Winds northerly, moderate to strong. In the north, temperatures will range from -1C to 13C; in the Ionian and on the rest of the mainland from 1C to 18C; and in the Aegean islands from 8C to 16C. Sunny in Athens with temperatures between 7C and 17C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 2C to 12C.

    [06] Foreign Exchange Rates - Tuesday

    21/01/2002 17:58:54

    Indicative tourist buying rates per euro until Tuesday

    U.S. dollar 0.884

    Pound sterling 0.615

    Danish kroner 7.432

    Swedish kroner 9.217

    Japanese yen 117.24

    Swiss franc 1.469

    Norwegian kroner 7.914

    Cyprus pound 0.576

    Canadian dollar 1.429

    Australian dollar 1.707

    [07] S&P affirms National Bank, Alpha Bank ratings

    21/01/2002 17:00:14

    Standard & Poor's, the global rating agency, on Monday affirmed its long-term triple 'B'-plus and short-term 'A-2' counterparty credit ratings on National Bank of Greece and Alpha Bank, with the outlook on both institutions remaining stable.

    The affirmations follow the announcement, on Saturday, that National Bank and Alpha Bank, the two largest banking groups in Greece, have discontinued their merger discussions due to disagreements between the senior management of both banks. The proposed merger would have created an enlarged banking group that would rank within the 50-largest banks in Europe by total assets.

    "The ratings on National Bank reflect the bank's size and powerful position in the Greek financial markets, strong liquidity, and good levels of capitalisation and profitability. In addition, asset quality is on an improving trend and problem assets are at a manageable level," S&P said.

    "The ratings on Alpha Bank reflect the bank's consistently strong financial condition and its leading position in the Greek financial system," it said.

    Following the collapse of the merger, both banks are expected to revert to their previous strategies of growing organically and developing products and services in the dynamic Greek market, while seeking to grow internationally, particularly in the emerging and fast-growing markets of south-eastern Europe.

    "Continuing restructuring and revitalisation are strengthening National Bank's financial and business profiles, which is crucial, given the increasingly competitive Greek market. In addition, the improving economy is helping to improve the bank's revenue-generating capacity. Alpha's performance is projected to improve, with a likely widening in interest margins. Alpha's medium-term performance is, however, contigent on it making strategic inroads into retail activities. S&P believes Alpha would benefit from a strategic alliance with a strong bankassurance, retail, and investment-banking partner. The outlook and ratings could come under pressure, however, if the group's performance continues to lag," the report said.

    [08] Greek stocks end lower on Monday

    21/01/2002 16:39:43

    Equity prices ended the first trading session of the week moderately lower hit by investors' reluctance to open new positions in the market in the wake of the official "divorce" of a merger plan between National Bank and Alpha Bank, the country's two largest commercial banks.

    Traders said investors were likely to remain sidelined awaiting fresh moves in the domestic banking sector.

    The general index ended 0.63 percent lower at 2,543.73 points, with turnover a low Dr 34.26 billion, or 100.55 million euros.

    The Cement and Investment sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses (1.70 percent and 1.68 percent, respectively), while the Publishing and Food-Beverage sectors scored gains (0.77 percent and 0.53 percent, respectively).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.60 percent down, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index eased 0.57 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index fell 0.13 percent.

    National Bank's shares eased 0.64 percent, while Alpha Bank's ended 0.10 percent higher.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 191 to 118 with another 49 issues unchanged.

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