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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-12-22

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Parliament approves 2000 budget
  • [02] Simitis rejects Karamanlis formula for early elections
  • [03] Defence ministry budget reduced for next year
  • [04] To the ANA's "Bulletin" and Special English Service subscribers:
  • [05] Athens points to continental shelf as its only difference with Ankara
  • [06] National Bank participation in majority purchase of FYROM's Stopanska Banka
  • [07] G. Papandreou outlines positive results of Helsinki summit
  • [08] Ecevit interview focuses on Greek-Turkish "differences"
  • [09] Thessaloniki Concert Hall inauguration on Jan. 2
  • [10] Contract for patrol boats' construction signed
  • [11] Gov't on payment of farm subsidies
  • [12] Initiative to create Balkan-wide radio network
  • [13] New deputy sworn-in
  • [14] Chrysohoidis rejects notion of crimewave in Greece
  • [15] Arsenis on absorption rate of EU funds in education sector
  • [16] Black Sea bank finances its first project
  • [17] Water board set for IPO on Dec 23-28
  • [18] State energy firms are Y2K compliant, minister says
  • [19] Armentel gets new chairman
  • [20] OTEnet sees Dr 1.0 bln profit in 2000
  • [21] Stocks slump, fail to hold 5,000 points
  • [22] Bonds nose down in light trade
  • [23] Canadian business delegation to Greece
  • [24] Greek farm prices drop 5.3 pct in 1999, Eurostat says
  • [25] Athens Foreign Exchange
  • [26] Elderly man foils robbery attempt against postman
  • [27] Oil slick in Elefsina port

  • [01] Parliament approves 2000 budget

    Parliament early this morning approved the government's budget for 2000, the last before the country's anticipated entry into the 'euro zone'.

    Voting in favour of the budget, which the government ministers said combines fiscal discipline and social spending raised from surpluses, were 160 deputies - 133 voted against, 1 abstained and six were absent.

    The European Union is expected in June to endorse Greece's bid to join the euro by January 1, 2001.

    The budget targets a 5.8 per cent rise in revenues, a reduction in the deficit, tax cuts worth 470 billion drachmas, and a 7.4 per cent increase in public spending.

    The vote was the culmination of a customary five-day debate that began on Friday.

    Beyond talk of the economy, speakers often focused on the likelihood of early elections in March if the government failed to secure backing from other opposition parties for the re-election of incumbent President Kostis Stephanopoulos.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis reiterated in Parliament that election of the President of the Republic will start in February with the conditions set out in the constitution.

    Mr. Simitis said PASOK will win the elections whenever they are held. He further said the main opposition New Democracy party is unsuitable because it is unable to predict, plan and govern not only in the economy, but also in the main issues of politics , while it doesn't even have the perception as to what the people want.

    He said the conclusion was that in the elections next year the people will again give the mandate to PASOK for the continuation of the course towards development, social solidarity and the country's security policy and called on deputies to vote in favo ur of the budget for 2000.

    Referring to ND leader Costas Karamanlis election proposal, Mr. Simitis said the government's position was confirmed that Parliament can and should elect a President of the Republic, but "this self-evident thing which was heard today should have been he ard long ago.

    "Mr. Stephanopoulos is a person of wider acceptance who can and should express the unity and common course of the Greek people."

    He hailed what he termed ND's decision over Mr. Stephanopoulos' re-election, adding that the common conviction of the Greek people imposed the choice of a worthy person "contrary to petty party politics."

    -- Karamanlis-- Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis called the 2000 state budget the "first budget a ND government will be called on to implement", adding that with this in mind the government is presenting a budget of so much "hot air", which transfer s problems "to the day after the elections."

    Mr. Karamanlis said the PASOK government should apologise for what it had "said and had not done". He added that while figures indicated by the Maastricht Treaty improved, the burdens of the Greek economy worsened.

    "The public debt was 22 trillion drachmas in 1996 and today it is 44 trillion. You are capitalising interest so as to be able to say that you achieved a containment of deficits," he said, adding: "every Greek currently owes 4.5 million drachmas on behal f of the state and this is included in your achievements."

    Referring to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), Mr. Karamanlis said ND put the country in the European Economic Community (EEC), while now PASOK undermined the country's position and made it last, placing Greece in the EMU "at the last minute."

    He said that a year before the circulation of the euro, no provision or planning has been made for the new reality, or over repercussions of competition on inflation, salaries, employment and on the increase in unemployment.

    Mr. Karamanlis said the budget overestimates revenues and underestimates expenditures and that in past years the increase in public revenues was due to the doubling of taxation burdens.

    He further spoke of a "morbid establishment created by the government, which is insisting on preserving and creating deficits in insurance funds and organisations."

    -- KKE -- Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary Aleka Papariga said the budget was "profoundly anti-popular and fully adjusted to EMU and globalisation", adding that "for these reasons it is also contrary to the interests of peoples."

    Mr. Papariga said jokingly that the budget was developmental but for the accumulation and production of "wealth for the few, resulting in the aggravation of poverty for the many."

    Referring to the stock exchange, Ms Papariga said that "of late the impression is being cultivated systematically that a considerable percentage of the people is playing on the stock exchange and that it is also considered an indicator of popular prospe rity, which is a mockery."

    --Synaspismos-- Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos said the budget for next year was a pre-election budget and one continuing the "same one-way policy".

    He said the budget was characterised by "the devaluation of the real economy against the nominal one" which governs in general the economic policy of "bipartisan" governments.

    Referring to the "real image" of the Greek economy, Mr. Constantopoulos invoked figures provided by the European Commission's statistical service, according to which Greece has the lowest real per capita income among the 15 EU member-states. Eight out o f the country's 13 regions are included among the 25 poorest in the EU P saying Epirus remains the second poorest region in the EU and the northern Aegean the sixth poorest.

    --DHKKI-- In his speech in Parliament, Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas spoke of the dissatisfaction of the people which manifests itself with mobilisations by pupils, working people and pensioners.

    Referring to the stock exchange, Mr. Tsovolas said that "false words" are being said which the people are hearing and "interventions" are being made at the stock exchange through "false" statements by the prime minister and the national economy minister .

    On the question of education, he said that again figures are prospering, reform is "falsified" and schools have been turned into a complicated system which will "drive the children crazy."

    Commenting on the foreign policy sector, and the issue of Yugoslavia in particular, Mr. Tsovolas said Greece was condescending with the NATO bombings and sent a supposed peacekeeping force to obey the orders of the United States. Athens News Agency

    [02] Simitis rejects Karamanlis formula for early elections

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday in Parliament rejected a proposal by main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis for early elections under the stipulation that President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos is re-elected.

    Earlier, in addressing Parliament during discussion on the 2000 budget, Mr. Karamanlis proposed "elections on March 26, 2000 or earlier," adding that in such a case ND "will vote for Stephanopoulos".

    "The premier stated recently that he predicts elections for the 26th (March) and you claim that you are not worried. Commit here and now to elections in March 26 or earlier, if you so wish. Let's move on to elections, disentangling them from the presidential elections," Mr. Karamanlis said towards the ruling PASOK party cadres.

    In his response, Mr. Simitis said: "I tried to follow the meanders of Mr. Karamanlis' rationale. I concluded that he proposed a deal, namely, to elect Mr. Stephanopoulos and then have elections. In this way he is attempting to side step the main problem .

    "This problem is simple. The process of the election of the President of the Republic begins in February. Mr. Stephanopoulos enjoys tremendous approval by the people. He enjoys the approval of the parties. Mr. Karamanlis said that his work is recognised by ND," he added.

    The premier also called on ND to take a clear stand on the issue of the presidential election without terms and conditions, thus respecting the Constitution and the institution of the presidency.

    "My answer is simple: take a clear stand, without terms and pre-conditions. Leave elections out of it. The elections you wish, according to the Constitution, on grounds of a political issue, do not depend on the election of the president. If elections m ust take place, it will depend on the decision of this government and not by you," Mr. Simitis said.

    In his reply, Mr. Karamanlis denied that he proposed any 'deal'.

    "There is a political problem, that is why we are demanding general elections. We do not pose the presidential election as a condition for general elections."

    To which Mr. Simitis said he was satisfied with what he called Mr. Karamanlis' "clarifications".

    "I am glad Mr. Karamanlis made himself clear. ND will vote for Stephanopoulos in February, I consider this a positive development, which expresses the unity of Parliament and the nation" the rest will be conducted in accordance to the Constitution," Mr.

    Simitis said.

    --Gov't: EMU entry more of a priority than elections-- The government said yesterday that the completion of procedures for the country's inclusion in Economic and Monetary Union took precedence over holding national elections.

    Denying reports that the government was planning to spring early elections, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the current Parliament was able to elect or re-elect a new president, and so avert early elections.

    "The government insists on its position that elections should be held in September 2000 and not March," Mr. Reppas said.

    President Kostis Stephanopoulos' five-year term comes up for renewal in March. If any candidate fails to garner the requisite number of votes in three polls, parliament is dissolved and general elections called.

    The ruling PASOK party, which has said it supports a renewal of the president's term, does not have enough seats in Parliament to renew his term and it is widely speculated that opposition parties will use the opportunity to force early elections.

    Getting Greece into EMU required the country be in a "strong negotiating position and with all powers focused," Mr. Reppas said.

    Greece formally submits its application for inclusion in EMU in the first days of March. A decision is expected by June at the latest. Athens News Agency

    [03] Defence ministry budget reduced for next year

    The defence ministry budget will be reduced by 3.5 per cent in 2000 but the ministry's budgeting will be far more effective, Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday.

    Speaking in Parliament during the debate for the 2000 budget, the minister said Greek industries now held a 42 per cent share in defence-related contracts for the armed forces, the highest percentage over the past three years. He also noted that the arm ed forces were being transformed into a professional force and that Greece was a definitive factor for security in the wider region. Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said Greece had to look beyond Economic and Monetary Union and attempt to breach the gap separating Greece from other European countries.

    A competitive economy could exist harmoniously with a social state, something that the government's economic policy aimed at, he said.

    Turning to recent developments, he said the EU summit in Helsinki had provided the framework for a "peaceful but competitive course for Greece and Turkey on a range of issues", while he reiterated Greece's support for Turkey's European vocation. Athens News Agency

    [04] To the ANA's "Bulletin" and Special English Service subscribers:

    We're happy to announce that as of Jan. 2, 2000, and for one month, you will be able to access the "Daily Bulletin" and the Special English Service on a trial basis online, at

    The universal access code user name: bull password: bull47 applies for access.

    The on-line address is also accessible for trial access as of today.

    At the end of the one-month period, please inform the ANA's marketing department which of the two services, or both, you wish to receive, so that we may issue you a personal access code (the universal access code will be abolished after one month).

    We would also like to remind you of the "special offer" the ANA is offering to those subscribers who wish to receive both the services. ANA's "Bulletin" subscribers will be able to receive, as of Jan. 2: a) the Special English Service of news items on-line, as the events are breaking 500,000 drachmas annually and, b) the next day's "Daily Bulletin" on your computer screens at midnight, along with the ability to print-out the page 110,000 drachmas annually. ANA is offering the special package discount subscription of 500,000 drachmas for both the above services.

    For further information, please call the marketing department between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at 6400560. Athens News Agency

    [05] Athens points to continental shelf as its only difference with Ankara

    Thegovernment said yesterday that it had only one difference with Turkey that the International Court of Justice at The Hague could deal with, namely, delineation of the Aegean's continental shelf.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas was commenting to reporters on statements made earlier by US State Department spokesman Jim Foley, who said that The Hague or some other conflict-resolution body could resolve "Greek-Turkish differences".

    Mr. Reppas added that recourse to The Hague over the continental shelf's delineation required the drafting of an agreement before a necessary joint referral of the dispute. "There are no other problems between Greece and Turkey," Mr. Reppas said, adding :

    "If Turkey believes there are other problems then it can seek recourse to the International Court of Justice at The Hague."

    -- State Dept.-- WASHINGTON (ANA - T. Ellis) P The US believes that the best way to solve "whatever differences" exist in the Aegean between Greece and Turkey is recourse to the International Court, while at the same time reiterating that Washington only recognises one go vernment on Cyprus, that of Glafcos Clerides. The statement was made by Mr. Foley.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] National Bank participation in majority purchase of FYROM's Stopanska Banka

    SKOPJE (ANA/AFP) P Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Finance Minister Boris Stojmenov signed an agreement yesterday with the representatives of several banks, including National Bank of Greece, concerning the purchase of a stake in the local S topanska Banka. The agreement was also signed by representatives of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (BERD) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

    According to the agreement, National Bank will secure a 68.4 per cent majority share in the FYROM bank's capital with a total investment amounting to 117 million marks, while BERD and IFC will each hold a part of the capital P up to 10.5 per cent with a value of 18 million marks P according to an announcement by the institutions.

    "The presence of BERD and IFC next to National Bank of Greece, which is the strategic investor, will restore confidence in the banking system of FYROM, " said BERD's director for FYROM Henry Russel.

    He underlined that Stopanska Banka is "the first bank which is being privatised by an economic strategic investor" and this will help "in attracting future foreign investments into the country." Athens News Agency

    [07] G. Papandreou outlines positive results of Helsinki summit

    The outcome of the EU summit at Helsinki is a hopeful message of optimism for the Balkans, Foreign Minister George Papandreou said in Parliament yesterday.

    Speaking on the final day of a five-day debate on the 2000 budget, Mr. Papandreou said the summit had ensured Cyprus' accession to the EU, bolstered the chances of Bulgaria and Romania and given the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) a specia l relationship and stability.

    "Helsinki has opened up opportunities for Turkey, but has not ended the problems," he said.

    "It will be a challenge P Greece, Turkey and the EU will be judged on whether they have exploited the chance to 'ease' the problems of Cyprus and the (Aegean) continental shelf," he said.

    "We have been given the opportunity to transform our region from a region of tension to a region of securityIWe hail the willingness of the Turkish government to proceed unstintingly down the difficult road it has chosenITurkey should know that Greece w ill be its aide to its efforts for a joint European vision of peace, development and security," he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Ecevit interview focuses on Greek-Turkish "differences"

    ISTANBUL (ANA - A. Abatzis) - Greek-Turkish "differences" can be resolved through dialogue sooner than 2004, Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit maintained in an interview published yesterday by the Turkish daily "Sabah".

    "Greek-Turkish differences can be resolved by the year 2004 via dialogue, without the need to seek recourse to the International Court of Justice at The Hague," Mr. Ecevit said.

    "Greece supports that regarding the Aegean, there is only one problem that of the continental shelf and that it must be resolved at The Hague. However, " he claimed, "there are more problems than only that one in the Aegean".

    Mr. Ecevit has been stressing these positions for some days now, while also claiming that "the aim is for Turkey to enter the European Union by the year 2004," noting that such an target "is realistic".

    Speaking on the death sentence given by a Turkish court against Kurdish rebel leader Abdulah Ocalan, Mr. Ecevit said reactions by right-wing parties in his government coalition were expressed to secure internal party cohesion.

    "Those who share the responsibilities of the administration in the highest levels can assess better the international realities," he said, adding that "some times there can be and are reactions by the popular base of parties".

    Mr. Ecevit noted, however, that Turkey is waiting for the decision of the European Human Rights Court regarding the Ocalan case. Athens News Agency

    [09] Thessaloniki Concert Hall inauguration on Jan. 2

    The Thessaloniki Concert Hall will be inaugurated on Jan. 2 by Prime Minister Costas Simitis in the presence of Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.

    The Patriarch accepted an invitation to attend the event and will travel to Thessaloniki for this purpose. The culture ministers of five Balkan states P namely, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Yugoslavia

    P will also visit Thessaloniki for the ceremony and to attend a meeting on Jan. 3 with their Greek counterpart to jointly decide on conditions and prospects of cooperation of their countries in events concerning the new concert hall.

    The facility can seat 1,476 spectators and can be used as an opera, theatre and convention centre. Its construction will cost 14 billion drachmas.

    The concert hall will discontinue its operation for three months after the two-day inauguration ceremony to enable finishing touches to be placed to the building before beginning operation in May. Athens News Agency

    [10] Contract for patrol boats' construction signed

    The general armaments directorate yesterday signed two new contracts with the Skaramanga Shipyards for the construction of four new patrol boats and two support ships.

    The contracts, worth a total of 62 billion drachmas, also include an option for the construction of two more patrol in the future.

    Offset benefits to Greek firms total 37 per cent of the contract value, while the foreign companies Signaal, Imtech, Wartsila, Redifon, Flender and Sacem, will award subcontracts totaling 2.6 billion drachmas to Intracom, Signaal Hellas, GMC, Smart, Tsi rikos SA and Olympic Tool, among others.

    Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said further approval of the five-year armaments programme will be discussed during the Jan. 14 Government Council of Foreing Affiars and Defence (KYSEA) meeting. Athens News Agency

    [11] Gov't on payment of farm subsidies

    The government said yesterday subsidies and compensation will be paid to farmers in time.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas was replying to questions on a meeting on agricultural issues chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday.

    Mr. Reppas said the government will utilise all funds it has secured to the farmers' benefit and predicted that the future will be better for Greek farmers who, as he said, are in a better state than farmers in other European Union member-states.

    He mentioned in this respect that over the past 10 years Greek farmers have lost 1.5 per cent of their income, while Danish farmers lost 18 per cent and the British 11 per cent. Athens News Agency

    [12] Initiative to create Balkan-wide radio network

    BELGRADE (ANA - M. Mouratidis) - The general director of the state-run Greek Radio Service (ERA) met with the director of Serbia's state radio services as part of his visit here.

    The purpose of the meeting was for Yiannis Tzannetakos to present a proposal concerning the creation of a "Balkan Rapid Action Radio Network" with the purpose of coordination in the information sector in cases of political crises and natural disasters i n the region.

    Specifically, Mr. Tzannetakos referred to cooperation between the state radio networks of Greece and Turkey by organising concerts in the wake of killer earthquakes which struck both countries recently.

    Yugoslav radio official Milivoje Pavlovic said this initiative is positive and that the Serbian state radio will communicate its reply in writing. However, he added that cooperation at the level of state radio networks for Balkan countries should be ope n and on an equal basis.

    He also stressed the need for cooperation at bilateral level as well.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] New deputy sworn-in

    Ruling PASOK runner-up in the Rodopi prefecture, Haralambos Damianidis, was sworn-in as a deputy yesterday afternoon and immediately assumed his duties as a member of Parliament.

    He succeeds Dimitris Tsetines, who died of heart failure on Monday while addressing the Parliamentary debate on the state budget for 2000.

    Mr. Damianidis, a lawyer by profession, was born in 1938 in the Sappes region. He is married and has a son. He was elected a PASOK deputy in Rodopi prefecture for the first time in 1993. Athens News Agency

    [14] Chrysohoidis rejects notion of crimewave in Greece

    Greece is one of the safest countries in Europe, Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis maintained yesterday, rejecting what he said was a popular misconception that the country was in the grip of a crimewave.

    Mr. Chrysohoidis, speaking in Parliament on the final day of debate over the 2000 budget, said the government's policy of 'safe cities' had resulted in a 15 per cent decrease in the level of crime in the first year, due in part to the effectiveness of t he programme to increase police foot patrols in areas with high crime rates.

    He added that the programme would be bolstered and that another 3,000 police officers inducted into the force up until 2003.

    On a European level, he continued, Greece placed fourth safest. Robberies had fallen 7 per cent, homicides 17 per cent, thefts by 23 per cent and thefts of cars and motorbikes by 4 per cent, the minister said.

    For the first time ever, the number of accidents fell 3.3 per cent, with fatal accidents falling 5 per cent, he said. Athens News Agency

    [15] Arsenis on absorption rate of EU funds in education sector

    Absorption of European Union funds in the education sector may reach up to 100 per cent, Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis said yesterday, while he accused opposition parties of "sophistry" in their attacks against the government.

    Addressing Parliament during the discussion of the state budget, Mr. Arsenis said the new educational programmes are adequately funded, noting that there was a marked increase in the absorption of Union framework support funds, which may reach up to 100 per cent.

    Mr. Arsenis also accused opposition parties of using sophistry in arguments that Greece spends less than any other Union member-state on education.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Black Sea bank finances its first project

    The Thessaloniki-based Black Sea Trade and Development Bank will lend up to 12 million dollars for the construction of a gas compressor station in Ukraine, the first project the new bank has financed since opening in June this year.

    The gas compressor station will boost the capacity of a a natural gas pipeline through the Balkans that links Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey.

    The compressor station is also funded by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

    The contractor is the Gastransit consortium, established by Russia's Gazprom, Ukraine's Naftogaz, and Turkey's Transbalkan and Turusgas.

    The newly created bank was established in 1998 by the 11 member-states of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation group to act as an international financial institution with a strong regional orientation.

    The bank supports economic growth and regional cooperation, financing projects and commercial transactions by private and public companies in its member-states.

    The members of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation group are Azerbaijan, Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Ukraine, Romania, Russia and Turkey. Athens News Agency

    [17] Water board set for IPO on Dec 23-28

    The Athens and Piraeus Water Supply and Drainage Company (EYDAP) is to hold an initial public offer (IPO) on December 23-28 in order to raise its share capital and enter the main market of the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Available are 25 million shares out of an existing 100 million shares held by the state, and another 6.5 million new shares to emerge from the share capital rise.

    Of the new shares, 1.5 million are destined for a private placement with the company's staff.

    The stock sale will give the state 62.5 billion drachmas and EYDAP 15 billion drachmas after expenses incurred in the listing.

    After entry into the Athens bourse, the state will hold 70.42 percent of the water utility. Athens News Agency

    [18] State energy firms are Y2K compliant, minister says

    Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos said yesterday that the state's electricity, oil and natural gas firms had replaced their computer systems in order to handle the change of date to the new millennium.

    The firms are the Public Power Corporation, Hellenic Petroleum and Public Gas Corporation.

    Consumers had nothing to fear, Mr. Venizelos added. Athens News Agency

    [19] Armentel gets new chairman

    State-run Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) said yesterday that shareholders of Armentel, in which it holds a 90 percent stake, had endorsed the appointment of George Argyropoulos as chairman of the Armenian telecom.

    Mr. Argyropoulos, an electronics and telecommunications specialist, has worked with OTE since 1977.

    He holds a degree in mechanical engineering from the National Technical University of Athens. Athens News Agency

    [20] OTEnet sees Dr 1.0 bln profit in 2000

    Internet services provider OTEnet said yesterday it posted profits of 230 million drachmas in 1999, expected to surge to about one billion drachmas in 2000.

    OTEnet, a subsidiary of state-run Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation, forecast that revenue would rise to 8.9 billion drachmas in 2000 from 4.8 billion drachmas this year.

    Under OTEnet's budget for 2000, the company will invest 1.9 billion drachmas in developing its network and creating new services.

    Another two billion drachmas will be used to acquire a building that will house the company's headquarters. Athens News Agency

    [21] Stocks slump, fail to hold 5,000 points

    Equities continued their downward trend on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday, sinking below the 5,000-point level in light to moderate trade.

    The general index ended 1.34 percent down at 4,967.23 points. Turnover was 194 billion drachmas.

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

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 3.66 percent lower at 2,608.87 points.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-0.54 pct), Leasing (-6.68 pct), Insurance (-1.83 pct), Investment (-3.92 pct), Construction (-6.72 pct), Industrials (-0.98 pct), Miscellaneous (-2.27 pct) and Holding (-2.33 pct).

    Of 316 shares traded decliners led advancers at 280 to 24 with 12 issues remaining unchanged.

    The most heavily traded stocks were Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation and Panafon Hellenic Telecommunications.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 22,600 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 24, 500, Titan Cement Company (common) at 34,310, Hellenic Petroleum at 4,550, Intracom at 12,705, Panafon at 3,655 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6,910 drachmas.

    --Industrialists see correction--

    The Federation of Greek Industry (SEB) said yesterday that a recent sharp decline on the Athens Stock Exchange was a normal correction in a long-term bullish market.

    SEB attributed a high level of volatility on the Athens bourse to its lower level of maturity compared to other markets abroad. Athens News Agency

    [22] Bonds nose down in light trade

    Prices edged down in the secondary bond market yesterday with many investors closing their positions for end-of-year accounting.

    Fewer players and smaller orders meant led to high volatility in the market.

    Analysts say that current levels are likely 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 6.46 percent from 6.50 percent in the previous session and 6.45 percent on Friday.

    The yield spread over German bunds fluctuated between 122 and 127 basis points from 123-126 basis points a day earlier and 123-125 basis points on Friday.

    Turnover through the Bank of Greece's electronic trading system was 70 billion drachmas from 54 billion drachmas the session before from 172 billion drachmas on Friday.

    In yesterday's trade, sell orders accounted for 44 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 average 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 The drachma yesterday nosed down against the euro in the domestic foreign exchange market with traders reporting outflows of around 150 million euros.

    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 330.580 drachmas from 330.450 drachmas in the previous session, 330.250 drachmas on Friday and 330.180 drachmas on Thursday.

    The US dollar lost ground against the drachma.

    Also at the fixing, the greenback was set at 327.640 drachmas from 328.260 drachmas a day earlier, 323.510 drachmas on Friday and 325.640 drachmas on Thursday. Athens News Agency

    [23] Canadian business delegation to Greece

    MONTREAL (ANA/I.Frangouli) - A business delegation from Quebec, Canada is to visit Athens and Thessaloniki on February 6-12 in order to sound out investments in Greece linked to Balkan reconstruction and the 2004 Olympics to be hosted by the Greek capital .

    The delegation will spend three days in Athens and two in Thessaloniki. The mission is organised by Quebec's ministry of industry and trade and the Canadian ambassador in Greece. Athens News Agency

    [24] Greek farm prices drop 5.3 pct in 1999, Eurostat says

    BRUSSELS (ANA/V.Demiris) - Real agricultural prices in Greece in 1999 fell by 5.3 percent from a year earlier, Eurostat, the European Union's statistics service, said yesterday.

    A decline was posted in all EU member states, led by the Netherlands at - 9.3 percent and Denmark at -8.0 percent.

    The average drop in real farm prices among the EU's 15 member states was - 4.6 percent. Athens News Agency

    [25] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Bank of Greece rates of December 21,1999 Banknotes Buying Selling

    US Dollar 325.019 332.555 Can.Dollar 219.331 224.417 Australian Dlr 208.816 213.658 Pound Sterling 522.070 534.174 Irish Punt 416.392 426.046 Pound Cyprus 568.416 581.595 Pound Malta 751.834 783.160 Turkish pound (100) 0.052 0.054 French franc 49.994 51.153 Swiss franc 205.061 209.816 Belgian franc 8.129 8.318 German Mark 167.671 171.558 Finnish Mark 55.155 56.434 Dutch Guilder 148.811 152.261 Danish Kr. 44.084 45.107 Swedish Kr. 38.138 39.023 Norwegian Kr. 40.612 41.554 Austrian Sh. 23.832 24.384 Italian lira (100) 16.936 17.329 Yen (100) 318.273 325.653 Spanish Peseta 1.971 2.017 Port. Escudo 1.636 1.674

    Foreign Exchange Buying Selling New York 325.019 332.555 Montreal 219.331 224.417 Sydney 208.816 213.658 London 522.070 534.174 Dublin 416.392 426.046 Nicosia 568.416 581.595 Paris 49.994 51.153 Zurich 205.061 209.816 Brussels 8.129 8.318 Frankfurt 167.671 171.558 Helsinki 55.155 56.434 Amsterdam 148.811 152.261 Copenhagen 44.084 45.107 Stockholm 38.138 39.023 Oslo 40.612 41.554 Vienna 23.832 24.384 Milan 16.936 17.329 Tokyo 318.273 325.653 Madrid 1.971 2.017 Lisbon 1.636 1.674

    [26] Elderly man foils robbery attempt against postman

    An 80-year-old pensioner helped foil an attempted robbery of a postman in Thessaloniki yesterday.

    Police said the man, Apostolos Iordanidis, was being paid his December pension and Christmas bonus by the local postman when two youths on a motorbike attempted to snatch the latter's satchel.

    The postman was carrying some 26 million drachmas (roughly $80,000) for the payment of bonuses and pensions. However, fearful of such an attempt to snatch his bag, he had hidden the packages of 10,000 drachma bills in his jacket and pants pockets.

    Police arrested a 16-year-old Georgian national when the motorbike overturned further down the road but are seeking his accomplice, who managed to evade arrest. Athens News Agency

    [27] Oil slick in Elefsina port

    The coast guard was battling yesterday to control an oil slick covering some 12,000 square metres in the port of Elefsina.

    Officials said the oil slick was caused when the Greek-flagged tanker "Aegean Y" collided with an old shipwreck and suffered multiple cracks to two of its tanks.

    Joining the clean-up effort are private anti-pollution vessels. The vessel has been banned from sailing. Athens News Agency/ END

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