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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-12-08

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Overseas Greeks call for just solution now to Cyprus problem
  • [02] Inflation rises sharply to 2.6 pct
  • [03] New rate for drachma in June, central bank says
  • [04] Equities nosedive on inflation data
  • [05] Bonds lively in higher turnover
  • [06] Greece, Turkey reach agreement on transport
  • [07] New bourse index for launch tomorrow
  • [08] Spending on advertising totals Dr 51 bln in November
  • [09] Athens Foreign Exchange
  • [10] G. Papandreou: Most EU members favour substantive Turkish candidacy
  • [11] Athens welcomes Cem statements regarding EU rules
  • [12] Hungarian Defence Minister Szabo in Athens today
  • [13] Simitis points to less state intervention, higher rates of development
  • [14] Minor, 10, charged with pick-pocketing
  • [15] Draft decree on coastal, commercial shipping
  • [16] Greek, Turkish students meet in Izmir
  • [17] Authorities continue to monitor suspicious motorship's course

  • [01] Overseas Greeks call for just solution now to Cyprus problem

    Athens, 08/12/1999 (ANA)

    Representatives of Greek communities throughout the globe's four corners reiterated their long-standing demand yesterday for a just solution to the Cyprus problem, during a World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) assembly in Thessaloniki.

    "...we've offered hecatombs of sacrifices on the altar of freedom, democracy and justice for humanity, in general, and Europe in particular; the least we can claim for Cyprus, and we vehemently demand this, is freedom, democracy and justice," a SAE resolu tion regarding Cyprus read.

    "The Cyprus issue ranks first on the list of national issues," the SAE resolution adds.

    "The present status quo is unacceptable. The fait accompli will not stand. We strongly condemn the Turkish invasion and the continuing occupation of its (Cyprus') territory and the inhuman stand of Turkey on issues of the enclaved, the refugees and over the whereabouts of the missing persons, which violates every meaning of justice and the declaration of human rights.

    "SAE supports the struggle of the democratically elected governments of Greece and Cyprus for a just solution of the Cyprus problem," SAE stated.

    The international organisation of ethnic Greeks abroad stressed that toward that end, "it (SAE) adopts and supports the resolutions of the United Nations; the UN General Assembly and the Security Council; those of the European Union; the G-8 group, the British Commonwealth and those of the Non-Aligned Movement".

    SAE also called for an end to what it termed a breach of international legality and order created by the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus as well as tolerance of Ankara's intransigence.

    "The over-indulgence of Turkey by the world's powerful during the 20th century did not serve international legality. It served lawlessness, which led to three genocides and massive violations of human rights...The (proximity) talks, which began in New York and continue to this day, are a unique opportunity for the application of UN resolutions and the fulfilment of the given promises," the resolution concluded.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Inflation rises sharply to 2.6 pct

    Athens, 08/12/1999 (ANA)

    Consumer price inflation in November was 2.6 percent year on year, up from 2.2 percent the previous month, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said yesterday.

    The rise was almost entirely due to an increase in the price of oil worldwide and an appreciation of the U.S. dollar, NSS secretary general Nikos Karavitis told a news conference.

    He forecast that inflation was likely to remain at roughly the same level in December.

    A continuing increase in the price of oil would be offset by cuts in rates introduced by the Public Power Corporation on December 1, and reductions in charges by Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation, Mr. Karavitis said.

    Core inflation edged up around two tenths of a percentage point due to a technical increase stemming from a decline in the price of cars last year, but remained below the consumer price index, he said.

    Also yesterday, the central bank's monetary council met to discuss the outlook for inflation, which must fall to 2.0 percent and remain there for Greece to join the euro zone.

    In addition, the council was due to discuss a possible reduction in interest rates.

    According to sources, the Bank of Greece may lower its intervention rates by one percentage point on December 15.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] New rate for drachma in June, central bank says

    Athens, 08/12/1999 (ANA)

    The drachma's parity against the euro will be readjusted in June 2000, central bank governor Lucas Papademos said in parliament yesterday.

    Any revaluation was likely to have a positive impact in terms of inflation and any negative repercussions would be limited and reversible, Mr. Papademos said.

    He was addressing a parliamentary committee on the central bank's interim monetary report.

    Greece plans to apply for membership of the euro zone in March 2000, with a decision expected at a European Union summit in June of the same year.

    The central bank governor also described a rise in consumer price inflation in November to 2.6 percent year on year as "transient".

    He said that interest rates would decline in coming months along with an anticipated deceleration in inflation.

    Mr. Papademos declined to forecast any decision the central bank's monetary policy council might take on lowering interest rates at a fresh meeting next Wednesday.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Equities nosedive on inflation data

    Athens, 08/12/1999 (ANA)

    Equity prices took a dramatic downturn on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday with the general index falling below the 5,400-point level. An announcement by the National Statistics Service that year-on-year inflation in November was running at 2.6 per cent, up from 2.2 per cent the previous month, had an adverse effect on investors.

    The general index ended 2.55 percent lower at 5,349.18 points. Turnover was around 276 billion drachmas.

    The parallel market index for small capitalisation stocks dropped 5.0 percent to 1,967.49 points.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 1.87 percent lower at 2,698.21 points.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-1.15 pct), Leasing (-2.95 pct), Insurance (-4.30 pct), Investment (-1.71 pct), Construction (-5.59 pct), Industrials (-2.87 pct), Miscellaneous (-3.56 pct) and Holding (-4.03 pct). Of 331 shares traded, decliners led advancers at 280 to 40 with 11 issues remaining unchanged.

    The most heavily traded stocks were Panafon and Eskimo. National Bank of Greece ended at 22,900 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 24,500, Titan Cement Company (common) at 37,600, Hellenic Petroleum at 4,350, Intracom at 12,500, Panafon at 3,650 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6, 450.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Bonds lively in higher turnover

    Athens, 08/12/1999 (ANA)

    Bonds in the domestic secondary market rose in brisk trade yesterday with the action focused on mid-term paper, which would benefit the most from an anticipated reduction in interest rates.

    Trade is expected to shift to 10- and 15-year paper when the finance ministry issues the country's first ever 20-year bond in early 2000.

    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.

    Talk of a one percentage point reduction in the central bank's key intervention rates that would spill into other areas of the market would give the market even more impetus, analysts said.

    The benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.32 percent from 6.34 percent in the previous session and 6.46 percent on Friday.

    The yield spread over German bunds was between 127 and 132 basis points from 127 basis points in the previous four sessions and 128 basis points on Wednesday.

    Ten-year bonds have gained more than 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 142 billion drachmas from 110 billion drachmas a day earlier and 149 billion drachmas on Friday.

    In yesterday's trade buy orders accounted for 80 billion drachmas of the total and sell orders the remaining 62 billion drachmas.

    Drachma noses down vs euro : The drachma edged down against the euro in domestic foreign exchange trade yesterday but rose against the US dollar and the Japanese yen, traders said.

    At the central bank's daily fixing, the European single currency was set at 328.490 drachmas from 328.450 drachmas in the previous session and 328.790 on Friday.

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

    The US currency was set at 320.900 drachmas from 323.960 drachmas a day earlier and 328.250 drachmas on Friday.

    The yen was fixed at 312.030 (100) from 317,360 (100) drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Greece, Turkey reach agreement on transport

    Athens, 08/12/1999 (ANA)

    Greek and Turkish experts have reached agreement on transport matters that are expected to pave the way for further cooperation in the sector. A joint Greek-Turkish committee on transport met in Athens on December 1-2 to debate the issues.

    The two sides said they were satisfied with the operation of a bus service connecting Athens to Istanbul, and planned to increase the daily frequency of buses.

    A new bus route is due to begin operation in the first half of 2000 between the Greek city of Xanthi and Bursa in Turkey.

    For freight and cargo transport, the committee agreed to set quotas for 12, 500 permits covering bilateral and transit transport.

    Four thousand of the permits will be exempted from levies, except tolls, if used for transit.

    The Turkish side committed itself to abolishing certain bureaucratic procedures at customs posts and both sides said they were prepared to further develop cooperation on cross-border traffic.

    Customs posts at the border crossings of Kipi (Greece) and Ypsala (Turkey) would soon be open on a 24-hour basis.

    In addition, the two sides agreed to develop a quality rail link between Thessaloniki, Alexandroupolis and Istanbul.

    The need to upgrade a road linking Kipi to Ypsala, Istanbul and Kinali was also stressed. The Greek side also said it was prepared to seek financing for a planned link of the east-west Egnatia Way with the Turkish road network.

    Both sides lent great emphasis to multilateral cooperation in facilitating international transport and said that they desired further cooperation in the Black Sea region.

    The next meeting of the committee will be held in Turkey in 2000.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] New bourse index for launch tomorrow

    Athens, 08/12/1999 (ANA)

    The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) and FTSE International of the UK are to launch a new index for the Athens bourse tomorrow for medium and larger capitalisation stocks.

    The gauge will supplement the existing ASE/FTSE-20 index for blue chips and heavily traded stocks and the Athens general index.

    The new addition is to be named the ASE/FTSE Mid 40 and will start at 1,000 points calculated from closing prices on December 8, the index's base date, with the first day of operation set for December 9.

    "The ASE/FTSE Mid 40 will support the swift growth of medium capitalisation companies and is expected to give the bourse further momentum," ASE chairman Spyros Kouniakis told a presentation.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Spending on advertising totals Dr 51 bln in November

    Athens, 08/12/1999 (ANA)

    Spending on media advertising in Greece totalled 51 billion drachmas in November, up 12.25 percent on the same month of last year, Media Services SA said yesterday.

    Television commercials again snapped up the lion's share of revenue at 25.2 billion drachmas, up 7.1 percent on November 1998, the company said in its monthly survey.

    Spending on advertising in magazines totalled 14.5 billion drachmas (up 17.85 percent), followed by newspapers at 8.8 billion drachmas (up 16.04 percent) and radio commercials at 2.3 billion drachmas (up 24.36 percent).

    The survey said that the biggest spenders on advertising in November were Bodyline slimming centres, the Viohalko metals company, electrical goods retailer Kotsovolos, mobile phone operator Panafon, and the Football Match Forecasting Organisation.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens, 08/12/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: December 7, 1999

    Parities in Drachmas

    Banknotes             Buying  Selling
    US Dollar             318.333 325.714
    Can.Dollar            215.859 220.864
    Australian Dlr        202.269 206.958
    Pound Sterling        517.268 529.262
    Irish Punt            413.759 423.352
    Pound Cyprus          565.757 578.875
    Pound Malta           741.742 772.648
    Turkish pound (100)     0.057   0.059
    French franc           49.677  50.829
    Swiss franc           203.568 208.288
    Belgian franc           8.078   8.265
    German Mark           166.610 170.473
    Finnish Mark           54.806  56.077
    Dutch Guilder         147.869 151.298
    Danish Kr.             43.809  44.824
    Swedish Kr.            37.791  38.667
    Norwegian Kr.          40.057  40.986
    Austrian Sh.           23.681  24.230
    Italian lira (100)     16.829  17.219
    Yen (100)             309.534 316.710
    Spanish Peseta          1.958   2.004
    Port. Escudo            1.626   1.664
    Foreign Exchange      Buying  Selling
    New York              318.333 325.714
    Montreal              215.859 220.864
    Sydney                202.269 206.958
    London                517.268 529.262
    Dublin                413.759 423.352
    Nicosia               565.757 578.875
    Paris                  49.677  50.829
    Zurich                203.568 208.288
    Brussels                8.078   8.265
    Frankfurt             166.610 170.473
    Helsinki               54.806  56.077
    Amsterdam             147.869 151.298
    Copenhagen             43.809  44.824
    Stockholm              37.791  38.667
    Oslo                   40.057  40.986
    Vienna                 23.681  24.230
    Milan                  16.829  17.219
    Tokyo                 309.534 316.710
    Madrid                  1.958   2.004
    Lisbon                  1.626   1.664
    Athens News Agency

    [10] G. Papandreou: Most EU members favour substantive Turkish candidacy

    Athens, 08/12/1999 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou stressed yesterday most of Athens' EU partners were in favour of a substantive and not bogus candidacy for Turkey, while "one or two are still resisting."

    However, on the whole, the Greek minister added that he was not satisfied with the progress of talks with the other "14".

    Speaking to reporters before appearing at a closed session of Parliament's foreign affairs and defence committee, he said negotia-tions were "difficult" and would continue until the last minute prior to this week's EU Helsinki summit, while reiterating that Athens had not decided which stand it would adopt.

    Speaking after the session, Mr. Papandreou said there was no possibility of a postponement on the decision over Turkey's possible candidacy beyond simply a "yes or no".

    Meanwhile, according to an ANA dispatch from Brussels, Deputy Foreign Minister Christos Rokofyllos said he was pleased with the "understanding" shown to Greek positions by Community officials, such as the president of the Council of Ministers, Finnish FM Tarja Halonen and the Commissioner responsible for enlargement, Gunter Ferhaugen - who "showed generosity in their positive comments on the Greek stand and Cyprus' accession course," as he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Athens welcomes Cem statements regarding EU rules

    Athens, 08/12/1999 (ANA)

    The Greek government yesterday welcomed statements from Turkish FM Ismail Cem that Ankara would fall in line with European Union rules, stressing however, that it wanted to see good intentions take shape and form.

    "I would like to welcome the statement of my counterpart Ismail Cem, Foreign Minister of Turkey, who said that Turkey is ready to harmonise its laws which concern the way in which it deals with issues such as the Aegean; and bring its laws in line with European realities," the Greek minister said.

    Mr. Papandreou said Mr. Cem's statement represented an important commitment, which, nevertheless, had to be incorporated in the concluding statements of this week's Helsinki summit.

    "If things develop smoothly in Helsinki and Turkey is declared a candidate country, this will be largely thanks to Mr. Cem, the hard work of recent months, and, of course, the persistence which he showed and the help he offered, committing himself and his country to follow a European course...

    "But whatever the result in Helsinki, I sincerely hope we shall continue this new course, the new climate that has developed between the two countries, which is based both on our efforts for dialogue on issues of common interest, as well as citizen dipl omacy and the very warm relationship which has developed between the two peoples".

    On his part, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas also welcomed Mr. Cem's statement, but added that it was imperative that Turkey proceed toward some indication of its good will.

    "This positive step must, from words, pass into deeds," Mr. Reppas said.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Hungarian Defence Minister Szabo in Athens today

    Athens, 08/12/1999 (ANA)

    Hungarian Defence Minister Janos Szabo will start a two-day visit to Greece today at the invitation of his Greek counterpart Akis Tsohatzopoulos.The two ministers will initially hold private talks. Tomorrow, Mr. Szabo will meet Parliament foreign affairs committee chairman and former FM Karolos Papoulias before being received by President Kostis Stephanopoulos.
    Athens News Agency

    [13] Simitis points to less state intervention, higher rates of development

    Athens, 08/12/1999 (ANA)

    Greece is moving from state intervention toward private enterprise, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday in an address at the annual Hellenic- American Chamber's conference on the Greek economy.

    "Greek society is turning away from an outdated state interventionism towards that of creation, allowing for the productive forces of the country to develop," Mr. Simitis said.

    He also noted that Greece is converging with Europe, not only economically but socially as well.

    "Did not caress the ears of the people, it disregarded and overcame reactions of those who insisted that nothing should change," Mr. Simitis said.

    He added that as a result, the policies of modernisation and reform have been accepted and are a demand of citizens.

    The prime minister said Economic Monetary Union (EMU) entry by 2001 is assured, while he called on entrepreneurs to prepare for the numerous and necessary changes to be introduced along with the new currency.

    Mr. Simitis called on entrepreneurs to hold back on price increases, stressing that local government to also limit municipal taxes in order to aid government efforts in the battle against inflation.

    Speaking on future economic policy, Mr. Simitis said that the next priority will be combatting unemployment.

    The premier noted that the completion of changes in the economy with the deregulation of the power and telecommunication markets along with projects related to the 2004 Olympics and the reconstruction of the Balkans will combine to boost the Greek econo my.

    Changing subjects, the premier attacked main opposition New Democracy (ND) for opposing government efforts to create what he called a climate of social cohesion and cooperation.

    ND's reaction "is proof of political weakness, since the leadership of ND, with its stand, shows that it has commitments toward several groups and special interest attitudes," Mr. Simitis said.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Minor, 10, charged with pick-pocketing

    Athens, 08/12/1999 (ANA)

    Police said yesterday that they had arrested a 10-year-old Bulgarian girl on charges of pick-pocketing.

    The girl, identified only by her initials as "I.E.", had entered Greece illegally two years ago and since then, according to reports, she was "engaged in stealing wallets from unsuspecting women in department stores and supermarkets."

    "She was just tall enough to reach the handbags," said a police officer. The girl was arrested when she tried to snatch the wallet of a 57-year-old woman inside a store selling Christmas toys.

    She was arraigned before a prosecutor.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Draft decree on coastal, commercial shipping

    Athens, 08/12/1999 (ANA)

    A draft presidential decree by the relevant ministers has been submitted to the Council of State with which coastal and commercial shipping will "conditionally open" to "European" ships - the lifting of cabotage is a European Union mandate.

    According to the decree, European vessels may enter Greek coastal shipping, as well as commercial shipping, provided however, they have raised the Greek flag previously.

    Ships (passenger ships, car ferries and commercial ships) belonging to citizens or companies from the other EU ember-states will be recognised as Greek provided they have an ownership percentage of 50 per cent or more.

    Other conditons are that European shipowners, either private persons or companies, should exercise the management of their ships from Greece and their manager should be established in Greece.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Greek, Turkish students meet in Izmir

    Athens, 08/12/1999 (ANA)

    Greek and Turkish students met over the weekend in the Asia Minor port city Izmir as part of a campaign to get better acquainted.

    "We, the Turkish children and the Greek children met here in Izmir to cooperate for the strengthening of relations between the two states, for friendship and for peace," a declaration read.

    The events took place at the initiative of the "Ionian College", a NGO representing Izmir pupils.

    The Turkish school had issued invitations to high school students, their parents and teachers from the nearby island of Samos.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Authorities continue to monitor suspicious motorship's course

    Athens, 08/12/1999 (ANA)

    Gale force winds forced a motorship carrying an estimated 300 illegal immigrants towards the Aegean island of Kythnos yesterday as authorities continued to monitor the vessel's course.

    The vessel, identified as the "Vodelai I" - although authorities believe the name of the vessel is bogus - was still sailing in international waters at presstime after playing "cat and mouse" with the Greek coast guard since Saturday. Greek auth orities have been tailing the vessel after receiving a tip-off that it is carrying up the illegals, including dozens of children and possibly pregnant women, with a view to putting them ashore Greek territory.

    According to reports, the vessel's passengers have been without food or water for days, while the Bulgarian skipper requested provisions early yesterday in a ship-to-shore radio message. The request was passed on to the central harbourmaster which attem pted to transport provisions to the ship when it strayed into Greek territorial waters between Kythnos and Kea earlier.

    The vessel quickly returned to international waters after two Greek vessels blocked its way.

    Authorities also believe that the vessel will soon need fuel as its route from Turkey along the Asia Minor coast, beginning probably last Thursday, should have exhausted its reserves.

    Athens News Agency

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