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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 99-12-28

Macedonian Press Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.


MACEDONIAN PRESS AGENCY NEWS IN ENGLISH
Thessaloniki, December 28, 1999

SECTIONS

  • [A] NATIONAL NEWS
  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • NEWS HEADLINES

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

  • [01] ASE UNDERGOES MIRACULOUS RECOVERY
  • [02] INTERIOR MINISTER: STATE HAS TAKEN ALL MEASURES FOR Y2K
  • [03] STABILITY PACT FUNDING UNCERTAIN, U.S. HAVE YET TO TAKE ACTION
  • [04] OPTIMISM REGAINED AT ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE
  • [05] ACTION GROUP 2000 SAYS COUNTRY IS FULLY PREPARED FOR Y2K
  • [06] FOREIGN UNDERSECRETARY UNVEILS DRAFT BILL FOR REPATRIATES
  • [07] THESSALONIKI'S GREEK LANGUAGE CENTER HAS OWN INTERNET SITE
  • [08] DECEMBER 31 A HOLIDAY THROUGHOUT ENTIRE FINANCIAL SECTOR
  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • [09] FIERCE STORMS RIP THROUGH EUROPE, HUNDREDS KILLED, INJURED
  • [10] RUSSIAN TROOPS ADVANCING INTO GROZNY, ATTACKS INTENSIFY
  • [11] GREECE'S LARGEST PRIVATE BANK BUYS BANK IN FYROM
  • [12] GREECE, ALBANIA TO COOPERATE IN ENERGY SECTOR - - - - - - - - - - - - -

  • NEWS IN DETAIL

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

    [01] ASE UNDERGOES MIRACULOUS RECOVERY

    Greek stocks changed direction to end sharply up yesterday as a wave of institutional buying lifted the stock market above the 5,000 level, ending a recent free fall in prices.

    The general index ended 3.76 percent higher at 5,231 points with turnover rising to 193 billion drachmas, reflecting block trades in Hellenic Sugar, Duty Free Shops and Agricultural Insurance.

    Buying focused on blue chip stocks initially but gradually spread to smaller capitalization shares.

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks soared 7.33 percent.

    [02] INTERIOR MINISTER: STATE HAS TAKEN ALL MEASURES FOR Y2K

    Minister of the Interior Vasso Papandreou stated today that the state has drawn all the necessary measures for addressing any potential malfunction in operations stemming from the so- called "millennium bug" or Y2K, although she stressed her confidence that Greece will not face any problems.

    Ms. Papandreou characteristically stated that "we are not afraid of the virus, we are afraid of the panic."

    [03] STABILITY PACT FUNDING UNCERTAIN, U.S. HAVE YET TO TAKE ACTION

    Concerns abound over the future of the Stability Pact, which concerns the reconstruction of Southeastern Europe, as the necessary funds for the application and enforcement of the necessary projects are nowhere in sight.

    According to the Stability Pact, the S.E. European reconstruction programs are to move with speedy rates and adequate funds so as to cover the 10-year worsening of the position of countries in the region , compared to countries in central and eastern Europe.

    While two international conferences have been held so far for Kosovo, which amassed approximately 2.5 billion dollars for civil administration, there is apparently a shortage of funds for the Stability Pact's application. A Donors Conference is to be held in mid- February in Brussels which is expected to largely determine the pact's future.

    Interestingly enough, the United States, which have the greater capability to fund a lion's share of the Pact's projects, have yet to show any interest or express an intent to do so. According to reports, Washington is awaiting for the right opportunity, especially after February's Conference, to enforce its well- planned strategy in the region.

    Greece, whose 180-billion-drachma reconstruction plan for the Balkans has been unanimously approved by all of the region's countries and is widely applauded by the European Union and Washington, is awaiting the developments with heightened concern.

    Meanwhile, all of the region's countries, with the exception of Yugoslavia which has been excluded until it changes government, have submitted fund-allocation programs. Their interest is focused on the establishment of new infrastructures concerning natural gas, energy, transportation, health, agriculture, etc.

    The Stability Pact is divided into the three sectors of human rights, democratization and security.

    [04] OPTIMISM REGAINED AT ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE

    Optimism was regained at the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday where the General Price Index closed at 5,040.95 points, marking a significant increase of 4.98%. Total transactions volume reached GRD 348.4 billion. The shift in investors psychology contributed to the turnaround of the negative trend noted in the bourse's course last week.

    [05] ACTION GROUP 2000 SAYS COUNTRY IS FULLY PREPARED FOR Y2K

    Action Group 2000, a task force comprising Y2K experts from the Ministry of the Interior, is reportedly fully prepared to handle any potential problems arising in the country's public and private sectors from the so-called "millennium bug".

    According to the officials, public service agencies are to be in a state of partial preparedness on December 30, changing into a mode of full alertness from December 31 to January 2. A state of preparedness could also be continued until January 15.

    In case of malfunction in computer systems and electronic devices and appliances, Action Group 2000 advises the public to call the state mechanism at the four-digit number 1720.

    [06] FOREIGN UNDERSECRETARY UNVEILS DRAFT BILL FOR REPATRIATES

    The Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Grigoris Niotis unveiled the government's draft bill on the legalization process of the Greeks repatriated from the countries of the former Soviet bloc, during his visit to the northern city of Alexandroupolis.

    The bill, which is to be voted in Parliament on January 11, includes the donation of land for building homes for repatriated Greeks in eastern Thrace, the Aegean islands and Macedonia, as well as the extension of the Greek nationality to those of Greek descent but residents elsewhere.

    The provision of a special ID card for ethnic Greeks facing difficulties in obtaining Greek citizenship is also anticipated.

    Mr. Niotis stated that even before the bill has been ratified, the government has approved 4,000 housing loans for ethnic Greeks living in eastern Macedonia, Thrace and the northern Aegean.

    The loans, which start at 11 million drachmas, will be paid off interest-free in 15 years, while 30 per cent of the amount constitutes free subsidization by the state.

    [07] THESSALONIKI'S GREEK LANGUAGE CENTER HAS OWN INTERNET SITE

    As of January 1, the website http://www.greeklanguage.gr will provide academic information as well as assistance for anyone who wishes to learn Greek or read up on the Greek language in general.

    The site created by the Thessaloniki-based Greek Language Center and will offer information for teachers and students. The site also includes an encyclopedic guide, lexicography tools and on-line chat rooms for teachers and scholars.

    [08] DECEMBER 31 A HOLIDAY THROUGHOUT ENTIRE FINANCIAL SECTOR

    December 31, 1999 will be a bank holiday for the Bank of Greece, the Athens Stock Exchange, the Central Values Repository, the Derivatives Bourse, the Transactions Settlement Co., as well as the credit institutions and branch offices of foreign banks, businesses providing investment services, financing S.A. companies and mutual funds S.A. companies.

    The above decision will be regulated through a relevant amendment which has been tabled in Parliament to handle possible problems which could be created in Greece and abroad in electronic systems due to the so-called "millennium bug."

    [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

    [09] FIERCE STORMS RIP THROUGH EUROPE, HUNDREDS KILLED, INJURED

    At least 60 persons were killed and hundreds have been injured by the torrential rains and fierce storms that continue to rip through central Europe.

    In France, where 52 were killed and 200 others were injured, gales of 220 kilometers an hour, paralyzed the country's railways. In Great Britain eight persons have been killed, while Germany and Switzerland are mourning victims as well. The hurricane has also borne an impact in northern Italy where 10 persons lost their lives.

    [10] RUSSIAN TROOPS ADVANCING INTO GROZNY, ATTACKS INTENSIFY

    Russian troops have intensified their offensive against the capital of Chechnya, Grozny, according to the Moscow-based news agency Interfax.

    The wire report also states that approximately 40,000 civilians remain trapped inside the city while Chechen rebels entrenched in Grozny are preparing stiff resistance.

    Grozny's former mayor and presently the Chechen militia chief Bislan Gantamirov said that the federal forces suffered "minimal" losses during 24 hours of fighting, while 50 Chechen rebel fighters were killed.

    Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov has called on his troops to defend the capital "to the end".

    [11] GREECE'S LARGEST PRIVATE BANK BUYS BANK IN FYROM

    Alpha Credit Bank, Greece's second largest commercial bank and the largest private bank, has acquired FYROM's Kreditna Banka ad Skopje, following an agreement signed in FYROM's capital last Thursday.

    Alpha will hold a 65 percent stake in Kreditna Banka, which has three branches - in Skopje, Tetovo and Stroumitca.

    The acquisition, announced in late September, is part of Alpha Credit Bank's Balkan expansion strategy. It is already present in Romania, Bulgaria and Albania.

    Kreditna Banka posted profits of 1.56 million deutch marks in the first half of 1999, a 60 percent increase over the same period last year.

    [12] GREECE, ALBANIA TO COOPERATE IN ENERGY SECTOR

    Greece and Albania have taken a series of initiatives of economic cooperation in the energy sector, following a meeting held recently between Greece's Minster of Development Evangelos Venizelos and Albanian Prime Minister Ilir Meta.

    Greece will undertake all necessary actions for the overall upgrading of the distribution network in the Korce region (budgeted at about five billion drachmas, which will be developed over a period of three years) and paying all the relevant expenditures which will be covered by development aid funds and will be included in Athens' Balkan reconstruction plan.

    An acute problem exists in the region of Korce with continuous stoppages in electric power supply.

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