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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-12-07

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] G. Papandreou: EU must understand, help solve Greek-Turkish differences
  • [02] Greece to issue first 20-year bond
  • [03] Equities slump as new pricing method launched
  • [04] Bonds fuelled by drachma/euro revaluation talk
  • [05] Gov't to decide soon on overdue loan rates
  • [06] Papantoniou to EU meeting
  • [07] Athens Foreign Exchange
  • [08] Rokofyllos outlines Athens' views on EU enlargement, common foreign policy
  • [09] SAE third int'l assembly begins in Thessaloniki
  • [10] Twinning between chambers from Thessaloniki, Bursa
  • [11] Kavala man given life for killing his American fiancee
  • [12] Mother sentenced to 14 years for murdering her daughter
  • [13] UN: Proximity talks to continue until either a breakthrough,ot failure

  • [01] G. Papandreou: EU must understand, help solve Greek-Turkish differences

    BRUSSELS, 07/12/1999 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou stressed yesterday that Turkey's European Union candidacy could be endorsed if the Union understood and considered Athens' differences with Ankara "not as bilateral but European", as well as undertaking an obligation to deal with them.

    "If the European Union registers a commitment to deal with such problems in the decicions of the Helsinki summit, Turkey could be recognised as a candidate country, otherwise there will be deadlock," he stated after a session of the 15 EU foreign ministers.

    The Council failed to reach agreement on the subject, as Athens remained firm regarding the conditions for the endorsement of a Turkish candidacy.

    Mr. Papandreou reiterated to reporters afterwards that the Greek government had not yet decided whether to grant approval for such a candidacy, saying that negotiations were continuing until the last moment, with all issues "open".

    "Greece is not content to give a positive signal to (Turkey's) candidacy so long as open issues remain regarding Greek-Turkish relations, the Cyprus problem, Cyprus' progress towards EU accession and the consolidation of human rights in Turkey, which should be included in the final decisions in Helsinki," he said.

    He also emphasised that all candidate countries should be treated on the same criteria.

    "We must not use double standards in judging candidate countries. The conditions that apply to Bulgaria or Romania must also apply to Turkey," he said.

    The Greek minister warned that Greece's EU partners would be responsible for any possible failure at Helsinki on account of "not properly assessing the significance of the issues we raised".

    Nevertheless, he noted that member-states had begun understanding that Turkey's candidacy should be substantial and not bogus.

    Gov't: Issue of Turkish EU candidacy still pending : The government reiterated yesterday that the issue of whether it would approve or deny Ankara's request for EU candidacy status remained open, adding it had found "understanding" from its EU partners.

    "We will be working up to the EU summit (on Friday) towards a positive result," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

    "The government's policy (on this issue) is led by national interests," he added.

    Mr. Reppas reiterated Greece's standing position that it favoured Ankara's European orientation but that "specific actions" had to come from the neighbouring country.

    He added that statements on Sunday from Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit and former prime minister Mesut Yilmaz "lent a negative tone" to Turkey's candidacy bid and were reminiscent of past tension.

    Demirel : ANKARA (ANA/AFP) - Meanwhile, Turkish President Suleyman Demirel warned yesterday that a Greek veto to Turkey's EU candidacy at the Helsinki summit would mean a return to tension, according to a dispatch by the state- run Anatolian News Agency report.

    "If Greece adopts a negative stance, the present warming climate will end and our relations will become tense," Mr. Demirel told reporters during a flight to Bosnia.

    In such a case "resolving bilateral problems will become more difficult," he stressed.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Greece to issue first 20-year bond

    Athens, 07/12/1999 (ANA)

    Greece will issue its first ever 20-year bond on January 11, 2000, an indication of how far the country has come in its battle to tame inflation, Deputy Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said yesterday.

    A major fall in inflation over the past few years and a healthy outlook for the economy had permitted issue of the 20-year bond, which will carry an interest rate of slightly less than 6.0 percent, Mr. Christodoulakis told a news conference.

    The bond will be auctioned on January 11, 2000 and is expected to attract long-term investors including banks, insurance firms and investment companies.

    The finance ministry will announce the exact rate of the bond a week before the tender.

    Turning to the yield of benchmark 10-year bonds, a criterion for euro entry, Mr. Christodoulakis said that the spread over German bunds was below 165 points, meeting the Maastricht criterion.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Equities slump as new pricing method launched

    Athens, 07/12/1999 (ANA)

    Equities ended yesterday's session lower on the Athens Stock Exchange on the first day of implementation of a new method to determine closing prices.

    The general index ended 1.28 percent lower at 5,489.02 points. Turnover was around 342 billion drachmas.

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks dropped by 0.74 percent to 2,070.96 points.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 1.41 percent lower at 2,749.61 points. Again, shares that are often the butt of speculation soared with more than 50 hitting the daily 8.0 percent upper volatility limit.

    Starting yesterday, the closing price of a stock is the average price to emerge from the last half hour of trade, or the final 60 minutes of trade if no transactions occured in the last half hour.

    Formerly, the closing price was that of the last transaction to take place in the trading session.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-1.16 pct), Leasing (+1.26 pct), Insurance (-1.72 pct), Investment (+0.71 pct), Construction (-2.11 pct), Industrials (-0.87 pct), Miscellaneous (+0.03 pct) and Holding (-2.99 pct). Of 314 shares traded, decline rs led advancers at 180 to 118 with 16 issues remaining unchanged.

    The most heavily traded stocks were Xiosbank and Frigoglass. National Bank of Greece ended at 22,920 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 24,800, Titan Cement Company (common) at 37,450, Hellenic Petroleum at 4,400, Intracom at 13,000, Panafon at 3,800 and H ellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6, 810.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Bonds fuelled by drachma/euro revaluation talk

    Athens, 07/12/1999 (ANA)

    Bond prices in the domestic secondary market rose in brisk trade yesterday on fresh talk of a revaluation of the drachma's central parity to the euro in the European Union's exchange rate mechanism II.

    Active in the market were domestic institutional investors with players abroad keeping to the sidelines.

    Salomon Smith Barney on Friday had advised its clients to hold longer-term positions in Greek secondary market paper on the likelihood of gains from a revaluation of the drachma's parity with the euro.

    Investors have already discounted a rate cut by the central bank of around 0.50 percentage point expected this month.

    A greater reduction in key rates would give the market even more impetus, analysts said.

    The benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.34 percent from 6.46 percent in the previous session and 6.43 percent on Wednesday and Thursday.

    The yield spread over German bunds was 127 basis points, the same as in the previous three sessions, from 128 basis points on Wednesday.

    Ten-year bonds have gained around 100 basis points in a week, and 15-year paper around 150 basis points.

    According to analysts, the yield spread over German paper is likely to drop to 120 basis points by the end of the year.

    Turnover through the Bank of Greece's electronic trading system was 110 billion drachmas from 149 billion drachmas a session earlier and 94 billion drachmas on Thursday. Buy orders accounted for around 108 billion drachmas of the total.

    Euro rises in markets abroad : Domestic foreign exchange trade was dominated yesterday by the euro's rise on international markets.

    At the central bank's daily fixing, the European single currency was set at 328.450 drachmas from 328.790 drachmas in the previous session and 328.570 drachmas on Thursday.

    Also at the fixing, the dollar dropped against the drachma in line with its descent on international markets.

    The US currency was set at 323.960 drachmas from 328.250 drachmas a session earlier and 326.180 drachmas on Thursday.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Gov't to decide soon on overdue loan rates

    Athens, 07/12/1999 (ANA)

    The government is expected to announce action this week on excessive compound interest charged on overdue loans.

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yannos Papantoniou and the president of the Greek Banks Union, Theodoros Karatzas, debated the issue at a meeting yesterday.

    Mr. Karatzas outlined studies undertaken by the union on tackling the problem.

    Last week, Deputy National Economy Minister Christos Pahtas told parliament the government would take steps to deal with the issue.

    He said a bill would be submmitted to Parliament by the end of the month proposing elimination of part of the debt created by interest and fines.

    The problem is linked to high interest rates and a reluctance by banks to refinance loans taken out at rates of 18-25 percent.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Papantoniou to EU meeting

    Athens, 07/12/1999 (ANA)

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yannos Papantoniou leaves for Helsinki on Thursday to attend a meeting of European Union finance and economy ministers.

    The meeting will be held a day before EU leaders hold a scheduled summit, marking the end of Finland's rotating presidency of the 15-nation bloc.

    On the agenda of the finance ministers' meeting is the coordination of economic policy among member states and the bloc's economic direction.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens, 07/12/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: December 6, 1999

    Parities in Drachmas

    Banknotes            Buying  Selling
    US Dollar            321.368 328.819
    Can.Dollar           216.196 221.209
    Australian Dlr       202.710 207.410
    Pound Sterling       517.229 529.221
    Irish Punt           413.709 423.301
    Pound Cyprus         566.174 579.301
    Pound Malta          748.815 780.016
    Turkish pound (100)    0.057   0.059
    French franc          49.671  50.823
    Swiss franc          204.069 208.801
    Belgian franc          8.077   8.264
    German Mark          166.591 170.453
    Finnish Mark          54.799  56.070
    Dutch Guilder        147.852 151.280
    Danish Kr.            43.793  44.808
    Swedish Kr.           37.924  38.803
    Norwegian Kr.         40.202  41.134
    Austrian Sh.          23.678  24.227
    Italian lira (100)    16.827  17.217
    Yen (100)            314.821 322.120
    Spanish Peseta         1.958   2.004
    Port. Escudo           1.625   1.663
    
    Foreign Exchange     Buying  Selling
    New York             321.368 328.819
    Montreal             216.196 221.209
    Sydney               202.710 207.410
    London               517.229 529.221
    Dublin               413.709 423.301
    Nicosia              566.174 579.301
    Paris                 49.671  50.823
    Zurich               204.069 208.801
    Brussels               8.077   8.264
    Frankfurt            166.591 170.453
    Helsinki              54.799  56.070
    Amsterdam            147.852 151.280
    Copenhagen            43.793  44.808
    Stockholm             37.924  38.803
    Oslo                  40.202  41.134
    Vienna                23.678  24.227
    Milan                 16.827  17.217
    Tokyo                314.821 322.120
    Madrid                 1.958   2.004
    Lisbon                 1.625   1.663
    
    Athens News Agency

    [08] Rokofyllos outlines Athens' views on EU enlargement, common foreign policy

    BRUSSELS, 07/12/1999 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)

    Alternate Foreign Minister Christos Rokofyllos set out Greece's observations on issues concerning enlargement and common foreign policy and security and defence policy.

    Addressing the Council of EU foreign ministers here yesterday, Mr. Rokofyllos raised the issue of the EU's administration and operation "not as a technocratic body, but as a political body which has the will of the peoples of Europe permanently before its eyes and, of course, public opinion." This view was also strongly supported by the Italian Minister Lamberto Dini.

    Greece proposed that the possibility of a "European army" should not be ruled out in the future. However, the most reservations over the promotion of a "European army" were expressed by Britain, Ireland, Italy and the Netherlands.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] SAE third int'l assembly begins in Thessaloniki

    Athens, 07/12/1999 (ANA)

    With addresses and speeches from the country's leadership, the third international assembly of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) convened in the northern city of Thessaloniki yesterday.

    The meeting - dubbed the 'Council of Hellenism', according to President Kostis Stephanopoulos - is being attended by hundreds of representatives of overseas Greek communities from Asia, Australia, Europe and the Americas.

    At present, there are an estimated 17 million Greeks in Greece and abroad, while the meeting has drawn participation from the sectors of business, science, Greek studies as well as the arts and letters.

    On his part, Mr Stephanopoulos spoke of "patriotism, which is nothing but the love of all Greeks, both at home and abroad", and thanked overseas Greeks for all that they have offered to the land of their ancesters and efforts to preserve their bonds with Greece.

    He also congratulated SAE for its aid to who are "experiencing ordeals" in countries of the former USSR and called on all to multiply their efforts to enable churches, schools and preparatory schools teaching Greek to be built in areas of Albania popula ted by ethnic Greeks, such as Himare and Korce.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos further called for small infrastructure projects to be built, such as water supply, to enable residents of Greek descent to remain in the place of origin.

    He said that another target which should be achieved "is to fulfill our debt to Greeks abroad, to remember the Greeks of Tashkent, the Black Sea Greeks, Northern Epirus and Vlachs; and to treat them with greater affection and less arrogance when they ar rive in Greece...and accepting them into Greek society".

    Simitis : Prime Minister Costas Simitis told the assembly that his government was working on resolving the long-standing demands of sections of the expatriate Greek community.

    According to reports, these include the donation of land for building homes for repatriated Greeks in eastern Thrace, the Aegean islands and Macedonia.

    The issue of the extension of Greek nationality to those of Greek descent but residents elsewhere is also one which the government is considering. Mr. Simitis said that wherever the formal extension of nationality was not possible, Athens would bestow a special identity card for those of Greek descent, which would allow them residence and work privileges in the country. "Greece is no longer a country which sends away its children, but a country to which many from other countries are drawn, and this s hows how far we have come," Mr. Simitis said.

    He stressed Greece's economic achievements and the fact that the country had one of the highest growth rates in the EU, saying the country would soon be participating in Economic and Monetary Union.

    This latter development, he added, would cancel out the elements of uncertainty, risk and additional cost which characterised the economies of smaller countries.

    Karamanlis : Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis noted the need for the establishment of a unified national strategy.

    In his address, Mr. Karamanlis reiterated ND's position for the creation of a national council of foreign policy, adding that the "rights of the Greek people are over and above parties".

    He also called Greek expatriates "the pride and promotion" of the nation and stressed the need for national unity.

    Conversely, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) deputy Stratis Korakas criticised SAE, saying to date the international organisation has not confronted the problems of expatriates in education and pensions, among others.

    He also requested the amedment of a presidential decree establishing SAE so that it may no longer come under "governmental guidance and to be managed by the expatriates".

    Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos referred to "unresolved financial, educational, social problems of expatriates".

    "All those prove that there must be a flexible, credible and effective policy for Greek expatriates in the 21st century," he said.

    Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas said "it is self-evident that the metropolis of Hellenism should be present and effective in resolving the problems of the Greek ex-patriates and for this reason the establishment of an expatri ate Hellenism ministry is a must".

    Finally, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis also addressed the session while a message by Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides thanked the expatriate Greek communities for their efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem.

    Other messages included that of Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos and Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Twinning between chambers from Thessaloniki, Bursa

    Athens, 07/12/1999 (ANA)

    The chambers of commerce from Thessaloniki and Bursa, NW Turkey, yesterday signed a protocol for closer cooperation, as a process of their twinning was finalised.

    The agreement between the two chambers was signed during a special event at Thessaloniki's chamber.

    During his address, Thessaloniki Chamber president Dimitris Bakatselos said economic relations between the two countries are at a good level, while noting that Greek exports to Turkey reached $320 million, while imports towards Greece reached $370 million.

    He added that during the first half of 1999, Greek imports from Turkey decreased by 14 per cent compared to last year, while Greek exports to Turkey increased by 5 per cent during the same period.

    Bursa chamber president Jelal Sonmez underlined that economic policy and commercial development in his region translated into an increased volume of exports.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Kavala man given life for killing his American fiancee

    Athens, 07/12/1999 (ANA)

    A Drama court in northern Greece yesterday sentenced a 24-year-old former cruiseship's purser to life in prison for the murder of his US fiancee.

    The court convicted Kavala native Giorgos Skiadopoulos for the murder of his girlfriend Julie-Marie Scally, 30, whose body was found decapitated.

    Judges did not accept motions by defence attorneys to consider his previous spotless criminal record.

    Skiadopoulos claimed he killed Scully, a former model, out of jealousy because she wanted to visit her home while he was on a cruise.

    The lead prosecutor, however, noted that the motive for the crime was not clarified.

    Life imprisonment is the harshest penalty allowed in the Greek legal system.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Mother sentenced to 14 years for murdering her daughter

    Athens, 07/12/1999 (ANA)

    An Athens court yesterday sentenced a 43-year-old woman repatriated from Tashkent to 14 years in prison for strangling her teenage daughter and attempting to kill her 20-year-old son.

    As a migitating circumstance, the court accepted that Valentini Siamani committed the homicide while in a confused state of mind and while suffering from depression.

    According to reports, on Dec. 14, 1998 the woman waited for her daughter Luba to return to their home in the Athens suburb of Holargos in the early morning, before strangling the 15-year-old in her bed with a scarf. Police said the woman then changed her daughter's clothes, washed her and combed her hair before placing the body under the bed so that her son, Sergei, would not see it.

    Her son arrived at the residence some time later and was hit over the head by his mother with a statuette, although he managed to resist and immobilise her arms.

    In court statements, the woman claimed her daughter, a drop-out, was turning into a juvenile delinquent and was involved with drugs - supposedly her motive.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] UN: Proximity talks to continue until either a breakthrough,ot failure

    NEW YORK, 07/12/1999 (CNA/ANA)

    The UN-led proximity talks on Cyprus will go on until the two parties involved either feel they can no longer make progress or the have a breakthrough to announce .

    In his daily press breifing Fred Eckhard, Spokesman of the Secretary- General said the meetings will continue on a daily basis, adding that there is a tentantive schedule for ten days, which will be extended if necessary.

    He said Kofi Annan and his Special Advisor Alvaro de Soto met at 11 a.m. with "his excellency Mr. (Glafcos) Clerides and at 12:15 p.m. (local times) with his excellency Rauf Denktash".

    Mr. Eckhard said that over the weekend Mr. de Soto met with each of the parties, citing however the "news blackout so we cannot talk about the substance of the talks".

    Referring to the talks, Mr. Eckhard said "I expect they will continue to take place on a daily basis with meetings first with meeting one party, then with the other, and they (the two leaders) will go on until they feel the can no longer make progress or until they have a breakthrough to announce".

    Mr. Eckhard said the UN "have scheduled something like ten days on a tentative basis, but we are prepared to stay longer if necessary."

    The Secretary-General's spokesman said there will be scheduled meetings today with the two leaders but no time has yet been set, adding that these meetings will be conducted by Mr. de Soto.

    Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash are participating in the proximity talks which aim at preparing the ground for a comprehensive settlement.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 27 per cent of the island republic's territory.

    Athens News Agency

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