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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-12-21

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] Papandreou, Kasoulides discuss post-Helsinki prospects, proximity talks
  • [02] Gov't denies reports of imminent terrorist attacks
  • [03] First Greek-Turkish industrial joint venture
  • [04] Post Office Savings Bank to expand activities
  • [05] Equities back to the doldrums
  • [06] Bonds nose down in lacklustre trade
  • [07] Greece gets extension to phase out super gasoline
  • [08] Piraeus Bank launches merger with group banks
  • [09] Parliamentary budget debate continues
  • [10] Hellenic Aerospace, Chinese firm in joint venture
  • [11] Renault to supply new buses for Athens
  • [12] EU sees decrease in Greek farmers' real income for '99
  • [13] Athens Foreign Exchange
  • [14] Status of ethnic Greeks of Albania discussed at foreign ministry
  • [15] Gov't on press reports citing Greek-Turkish anti-terrorism pact
  • [16] Greek aid to quake-stricken area of NW Turkey
  • [17] OECD report on air, water quality in Greece
  • [18] Digital TV contract signed

  • [01] Papandreou, Kasoulides discuss post-Helsinki prospects, proximity talks

    Athens, 21/12/1999 (ANA)

    The prospects opening up after the recent EU summit in Helsinki and results of the first round of UN-sponsored proximity talks in New York dominated discussions yesterday between Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his visiting Cyprus counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides.

    Mr. Papandreou told reporters afterwards that a new climate was being created as well as new prospects for finding a solution to the Cyprus issue following the Helsinki summit.

    He also announced he would visit Cyprus soon, possibly next month.

    Mr. Papandreou said that he and Mr. Kasoulides discussed the recent proximity talks - held between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash - in light of a second round of talks scheduled to open Jan. 27 in Geneva.

    He said the EU's more active involvement not only in Cyprus' EU accession course but also towards a Cyprus settlement would help in further boosting the efforts to resolve the problem.

    Also aiding in that direction would be the improvement in the climate in Greek-Turkish relations, Mr. Papandreou added.

    Mr. Kasoulides reiterated the Nicosia government's view that the Helsinki decision was a positive one, adding that it was the result of a "huge diplomatic battle" by Athens "which has proved and is proving to be to the benefit of Cyprus and Greece".

    He also agreed with Mr. Papandreou that the positive decisions of the Helsinki summit should be further utilised, adding that they created "new conditions and a new climate within which the two governments are called on to act".

    Mr. Kasoulides called for vigilance and a firm position with respect to the handling of the Cyprus issue, adding that the Cyprus government had made it clear that it would not accept anything - either during the proximity talks or as a result of the talks - that veered from the parametres of the UN Security Council resolutions on the Cyprus issue.

    Asked whether the Cyprus government intended to reiterate its invitation to the Turkish Cypriots to take part in the EU accession negotiations, Mr. Kasoulides said his government had already done so during the summit dinner in Helsinki attended by the leaders of the EU member-states and candidate countries.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Gov't denies reports of imminent terrorist attacks

    Athens, 21/12/1999 (ANA)

    The government yesterday denied that it has information of a possible terrorist attack against US targets in the country ahead of celebrations to mark the new century.

    "The government is not aware of such information and has taken no special measures," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said. "Security measures are always at a state of the utmost readiness," he added.

    Greek and US authorities enjoy close cooperation on such issues and if such information was forthcoming it would have been relayed to the Greek side, he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] First Greek-Turkish industrial joint venture

    ISTANBUL, 21/12/1999 (ANA/A.Kourkoulas)

    Domestic engineering contractor METON-ETEP yesterday signed a cooperation protocol with Yapi Merkezi of Turkey to create a joint venture for the production of plastic irrigation pipes.

    The protocol was signed in Istanbul by Nikolaos Hionis for the METON-ETEP Group and Ersin Arioglu, chairman of Yapi Merkezi, also an engineering firm.

    The deal involves an initial investment of 15 million dollars for a plant in Greece to produce Owens-Crowning/Subor irrigation pipes. Output is expected to begin in 2001.

    "This is the first joint industrial investment between Greece and Turkey and we hope the protocol will mark the beginning of stable cooperation that will also extend beyond the two countries," Mr. Hionis told the Athens News Agency.

    "The European Union's acceptance of Turkey's candidacy for membership was very encouraging," he added.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Post Office Savings Bank to expand activities

    Athens, 21/12/1999 (ANA)

    The transport and communications ministry yesterday submitted a bill to Parliament that allows conversion of the Post Office Savings Bank into a modern credit institution.

    The board will have the right to take decisions on lending policy, grant loans to private and public sector companies, and finance infrastructure projects in transport and communications.

    Each successive secretary general of the minstry will also be the savings bank's chairman.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Equities back to the doldrums

    Athens, 21/12/1999 (ANA)

    Equities maintained a downward trend on the Athens Stock Exchange yeserday with the general index ending 3.63 percent down at 5,034.85 points.

    Sentiment remained negative with turnover at 226.39 billion drachmas, or 170 billion drachmas net exluding block trades.

    The parallel market index for small capitalisation stocks was down 7.18 per cent at 1,595.48 points.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 2.65 per cent lower at 2,616.49 points.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-2.50 pct), Leasing (-6.43 pct), Insurance (-1.62 pct), Investment (-3.23 pct), Construction (-6.68 pct), Industrials (-4.65 pct), Miscellaneous (-4.78 pct) and Holding (-4.17 pct). Of 317 shares traded declin ers led advancers at 286 to 28 with 3 issues remaining unchanged.

    The most heavily traded stocks were Agricultural Insurance, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation and Naoussa Spinning Mills.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 22,800 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 24, 420, Titan Cement Company (common) at 34,830, Hellenic Petroleum at 4,550, Intracom at 12,590, Panafon at 3,750 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6,800 drachmas.

    Gov't spokesman on Athens bourse : Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday that recent fluctuations on the Athens bourse were normal and the basis was there for the market to rise.

    The government's priority was to protect the operation of the Athens Stock Exchange, he added.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Bonds nose down in lacklustre trade

    Athens, 21/12/1999 (ANA)

    Prices edged down in the secondary bond market yesterday with analysts saying current levels were expected to hold until the end of the year - barring surprises - in the wake of a recent bout of profit taking.

    Exacerbating the abrupt sell-off last week was a market report by JP Morgan advising its clients to close their positions in the Greek secondary bond market.

    The benchmark 10-year bond yesterday showed a yield of 6.50 percent from 6.45 percent on Friday and 6.37 percent on Thursday.

    The yield spread over German bunds fluctuated between 123 and 126 basis points from 123-125 basis points in the previous session and 126-127 basis points on Thursday.

    Turnover through the Bank of Greece's electronic trading system was 54 billion drachmas from 172 billion drachmas a session earlier and 220 billion drachmas on Thursday.

    In yesterday's trade, sell orders accounted for 46 billion drachmas of turnover with the rest representing buy orders.The market has brushed off news that a decision will be taken in the first half of next year on a revaluation of the drachma's central parity against the euro in the European exchange rate mechanism.

    Greece is to apply to join the EU's euro zone in March 2000, with a summit in June expected to endorse the application for entry on January 1, 2001.

    The market also was unmoved by cuts in the central bank's intervention rates last week by 0.75 percentage point that spilled into the commercial bank market with rate declines of 0.50 point for deposits and 0.75 point for loans.

    Bond players had already priced in a reduction of around 0.50 percentage point. The deeper cut is expected to give the market more impetus after the holiday season, analysts said.

    The forward spread for 12 months between Greek benchmark 10-year bonds and equivalent German paper has been estimated at 50 basis points, coinciding with Greece's planned entry into the euro zone.

    Drachma drops vs euro, dollar : The drachma yesterday nosed down against the euro and the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market. The central bank did not intervene.

    The Bank of Greece had stepped into the market for three straight sessions last week, supplying around 250 million euros each time.

    At the central bank's daily fixing, the euro was set at 330.450 drachmas from 330.250 drachmas in the previous session and 330.180 drachmas on Thursday.

    Also at the fixing, the greenback was set at 328.260 drachmas from 323.510 drachmas a session earlier and 325.640 drachmas on Thursday.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Greece gets extension to phase out super gasoline

    BRUSSELS, 21/12/1999 (ANA/V.Demiris)

    The European Commission yesterday gave Greece, Italy and Spain a two-year extension to phase out the use of super leaded petrol.

    Announcement of the extension to December 31, 2001 was made by Environment Commissioner Margo Wallstrom.

    "During this transitional period, the member-states concerned will be able to brief citizens and prepare them appropriately for a shift to more environmentally friendly fuels, and allow economic agencies to proceed with necessary reforms to the market," she said.

    Greece had requested a five-year extension, invoking the profusion of older cars on the road that could not be replaced in such a short period of time.

    Deputy Environment Minister Theodoros Koliopanos said after meeting Ms Wallstrom last week that it seemed a year's extension would be granted.

    Spain and Italy had requested a three-year delay.

    A 1998 directive requires EU member states to ban the sales of leaded gasoline by Jan. 1, 2000.

    However, member states can request a delay of up to five years in implementing the ban if they show that it would result in socio-economic problems, or would not have a major impact on the environment.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Piraeus Bank launches merger with group banks

    Athens, 21/12/1999 (ANA)

    Piraeus Bank is launching a merger process with Macedonia-Thrace Bank and Xiosbank, members of its group, that will create one of the country's largest banking groups, president Michalis Sallas told a news conference yesterday.

    The merger will be completed by June 30, 2000 when the group's network will total 170 branches.

    Mr. Sallas said the group now had a 6.6 percent market share of bank-held assets, aiming to reach 10 percent in the next three years.

    The new Piraeus Bank will have assets of approximately four trillion drachmas, shareholders' equity of 400 billion drachmas and 3,400 staff, Mr. Sallas said.

    The merger process will start immediately with the stockbroking subsidiaries of the three banks, which are forecast to realise profits of about 24 billion drachmas in 1999.

    The group's investment arm, Piraeus Prime Bank, is planned to broaden its range of services, and will apply for listing on the Athens Stock Exchange in 2001, aiming for an equity capital of 40 billion drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Parliamentary budget debate continues

    Athens, 21/12/1999 (ANA)

    Debate on the government's budget for 2000 continued yesterday with a roll call vote scheduled for midnight today.

    Ruling PASOK deputy Pantelis Oikonomou told the chamber that the government's short-term targets included increasing the number of jobs, reducing indirect taxation, improving state education and other public services, and improving the quality of life.

    Striking a different note, opposition New Democracy deputy Manolis Kefaloyiannis said that if the budget for 2000 was a corporate budget, the company would be forced to close down.

    He said that 44 trillion drachmas had been added to the public debt with PASOK governments in the 1980s responsible for 88 percent of the amount, and successive governments the remaining twelve percent.

    "The money could have been used to double wages and pensions, to buy computers for children and to contribute to health," Mr. Kefaloyiannis said.

    Deputy National Economy Minister Christos Pahtas told parliament that Greece ranked second in the European Union for the absorption of Community funds, and that public debt servicing in the budget had fallen by half from 66 percent in 1994 to 33 percent this year.

    Left Coalition deputy Nitsa Loule said the government was trying to gild the image of Greece in the budget debate.

    She asked: "Can the government not see those protesting in the streets? Is there anyone who can say there are no problems?"

    Ms Loule noted that in terms of spending on the arts, the budget allocation was only 0.31 percent.

    PASOK deputy Dimitrios Pantermalis countered that the arts in Greece, and particularly the archaeological sector, were well funded by European Union regional programmes.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Hellenic Aerospace, Chinese firm in joint venture

    Athens, 21/12/1999 (ANA)

    State-owned Hellenic Aerospace Industry, which is slated for privatisation, has signed a contract with Shenyang (Sarc) of China for the creation of a consortium to be named Hellenic Aircraft Repair.

    Shenyang, which repairs aircraft, is a subsidiary of SAC, one of China's largest firms in the defence aerospace sector.

    Hellenic Aerospace will hold a 45 percent stake in the consortium and Shenyang 55 percent.

    Under the terms of the contract signed on December 8, the new firm will be based in the Chinese city of Shenyang.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Renault to supply new buses for Athens

    Athens, 21/12/1999 (ANA)

    The Athens Urban Transport Organisation (OASA) on Thursday is to sign a supply contract with Renault for the supply of 295 non-polluting public buses to help replace an ageing fleet.

    On the same day, OASA is sign a procurement contract with Siemens for an automated control system for vehicles.

    Selection of the two companies follows a tender.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] EU sees decrease in Greek farmers' real income for '99

    BRUSSELS, 21/12/1999 (ANA - V. Demiris)

    The real income of Greek farmers decreased by 2 per cent in 1999 compared to 1998, according to data provided by the European Union's EUROSTAT statistical service and released here yesterday.

    The decrease in farmers' income in the European Union was 4 per cent on average.

    Farmers' income decreased in 12 of the 15 EU member-states. The biggest decreases were in Ireland (13 per cent) and Denmark (11 per cent). Conversely, agricultural income increased in small Luxembourg (5 per cent), Sweden (6 per cent) and Portugal (14 per cent).

    Acxcording to the EU's service, farmers' income decreased in the EU due to a 5 per cent decrease in the real price of farm production, a 2 per cent decrease in the real value of intermediate consumption and a 2 per cent decrease in subsidies in real prices.

    EUROSTAT added that agricultural production increased by 1 per cent in 1999, but the labour force involved in agricultural production decreased by 3 per cent. In parallel, the production of grain in the EU decreased by 6 per cent, while real prices rema ined stable. The real price of grain decreased 4 per cent in Greece, EUROSTAT said.

    Greece also shows the biggest decrease (10 per cent) in wine production in 1999. A 4 per cent decrease was also noted in Spain. On the other hand, production increased in Luxembourg (25 per cent), Germany (12 per cent), France (4 per cent) and Italy (4 per cent).

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens, 21/12/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: December 20, 1999
    Banknotes            Buying  Selling
    US Dollar            325.634 333.184
    Can.Dollar           219.966 225.066
    Australian Dlr       209.114 213.962
    Pound Sterling       522.824 534.946
    Irish Punt           416.228 425.879
    Pound Cyprus         569.745 582.955
    Pound Malta          757.969 789.551
    Turkish pound (100)    0.055   0.057
    French franc          49.974  51.133
    Swiss franc          204.903 209.653
    Belgian franc          8.126   8.314
    German Mark          167.604 171.490
    Finnish Mark          55.133  56.412
    Dutch Guilder        148.752 152.201
    Danish Kr.            44.084  45.107
    Swedish Kr.           38.154  39.039
    Norwegian Kr.         40.589  41.530
    Austrian Sh.          23.823  24.375
    Italian lira (100)    16.929  17.322
    Yen (100)            316.488 323.826
    Spanish Peseta         1.970   2.016
    Port. Escudo           1.635   1.673
    
    Foreign Exchange     Buying  Selling
    New York             320.922 328.363
    Montreal             217.863 222.914
    Sydney               206.892 211.688
    London               519.114 531.149
    Dublin               415.976 425.621
    Nicosia              566.630 579.768
    Paris                 49.943  51.101
    Zurich               204.347 209.085
    Brussels               8.121   8.310
    Frankfurt            167.503 171.387
    Helsinki              55.100  56.377
    Amsterdam            148.662 152.109
    Copenhagen            44.035  45.056
    Stockholm             38.113  38.996
    Oslo                  40.503  41.442
    Vienna                23.808  24.360
    Milan                 16.920  17.312
    Tokyo                312.034 319.268
    Madrid                 1.969   2.015
    Lisbon                 1.634   1.672
    
    Athens News Agency

    [14] Status of ethnic Greeks of Albania discussed at foreign ministry

    Athens, 21/12/1999 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou agreed yesterday to closer contacts with the head of the ethnic Greek organisation of Albania 'Omonia' and the Albanian Human Rights Party leader, during talks in Athens.

    Mr. Papandreou held an hour-long discussion with the two high-ranking members of the ethnic Greek minority, Vangelis Dulles and Vassili Melo, respectively, with talks focusing mainly on human rights issues and on protection of the ethnic Greek community in the Albanian south.

    Speaking to reporters afterwards, Mr. Papandreou stressed the significant contribution of the Greek minority to the economic and social life in Albania, and the ways in which it could contribute more creatively to the relations between the two countries .

    The same topics will be included in talks Mr. Papandreou will have in Athens tomorrow with Albanian Prime Minister Ilir Meta.

    Mr. Meta arrives for talks with Greek counterpart Costas Simitis and other government officials on bilateral relations, regional political developments, Kosovo and implementation of the SE Europe Stability Pact. Mr. Papandreou added that Athens sup ported the efforts of the Greek minority in Albania for economic growth and in the problems it faced.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Gov't on press reports citing Greek-Turkish anti-terrorism pact

    Athens, 21/12/1999 (ANA)

    The government said yesterday that it had agreed in principle over cooperation with Ankara on combatting terrorism but that no agreement had been finalised. Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas made the statements in response to questions from reporters in relation to a report in Sunday's "To Vima".

    "There is an in principle agreement but the final decisions have not been taken," he said.

    "There is a coincidence of views but this is an entirely different issue to an agreement," he said, adding that dialogue was under way.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Greek aid to quake-stricken area of NW Turkey

    ISTANBUL, 21/12/1999 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    A total of 440 tonnes of humanitarian aid from Greece are expected to arrive in the city of Tuzla, southeast of Istanbul, today, the coordinator of Greek humanitarian aid to Turkey Costas Georgiou said. The aid is being sent at the initiative of Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos in cooperation with the municipalities of Thessaloniki, Piraeus, Patra and Irakleio, Crete.

    The aid, composed primarily of foodstuffs, clothing and tents, will be received by the Mayor of Tuzla, Idris Guluce, during an official ceremony and will then be forwarded to the earthquake-stricken cities of Duzce and Izmit.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] OECD report on air, water quality in Greece

    Athens, 21/12/1999 (ANA)

    Air and water quality in Greece has apparently improved, compared to the recent past, a relevant report of Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) noted.

    The report, which was completed in November, was presented yesterday by Deputy Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Theodoros Koliopanos.

    The deputy minister said the report was compiled following tests and inspections of the private and public sectors of Greece and by an OECD committee, which reached the conclusion that conditions in Greece have improved.

    The report stressed that the central government should show more trust in local governments for decentralisation, adding that local communities should develop controlling mechanisms to preserve the environment.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Digital TV contract signed

    Athens, 21/12/1999 (ANA)

    The first digital television platform in Greece became a reality yesterday as the government approved a contract with Multichoice Hellas, in accordance with a relevant law approved last year by Parliament.

    Multichoice will offer a choice o Greek and foreign television broadcasts along with interactive consumer and educational services.

    The new company is owned by Netmed Hellas with 51 per cent; Teletypos with 42 per cent and Lumiere TV with 7 per cent, while negotiations with Antenna TV are still in progress for a possible purchase of part of the new company.

    "The vision of a society of information, as a society of citizens, one that will secure to everyone the right for total and equal participation in the social, economic and political life should be founded on the model of unhindered public communication, " Press and Media Minister Dimitris Reppas said.

    Athens News Agency

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