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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-12-23

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] Albanian PM Meta holds talks in Athens on first official trip since assuming his post
  • [02] Stephanopoulos calls for vigilance by Hellenism in light of new century
  • [03] Gov't reiterates that only difference Athens has with Ankara is Aegean shelf
  • [04] US Congressman to table amendment over return of Parthenon Marbles
  • [05] Stephanopoulos receives Karamanlis
  • [06] Geological study on greater Athens area
  • [07] Seafarm Ionian buys majority stake in Turkish firm
  • [08] Banks, industrials rebound in weak market
  • [09] Bonds end mixed in thin trade
  • [10] Retail fuel prices up this week
  • [11] Athens bourse linked to healthy economic fundamentals
  • [12] Euroconsultant to work with EBRD
  • [13] Info-Quest gets local government contract
  • [14] Athens Foreign Exchange

  • [01] Albanian PM Meta holds talks in Athens on first official trip since assuming his post

    Athens, 23/12/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis received his Albanian counterpart Ilir Meta in Athens yesterday for talks covering a wide gamut of bilateral issues, including the ethnic Greek minority in the neighbouring country and the status of Albanian workers in Greece .

    Mr. Simitis initially cited what he called the "very good progress" in bilateral relations, especially in the economic sector. The Greek premier also announced that Athens will lend direct economic support to Tirana's upcoming state budget and that an a greement for cooperation in the tourism sector was signed during the meeting.

    Along those lines, the Albanian prime minister called his country's relations with Greece 'strategic', as Greece is Tirana's second largest trading partner and second in terms of investments.

    Mr. Meta is paying his first official visit outside Albania as prime minister, following his assumption of the post a few weeks ago in place of outgoing PM Panteli Majko - part of a high-level ruling Socialist Party shakeup in that country.

    While economic matters as well as regional stability were highlighted by the two leaders during a joint press conference at the prime ministerial mansion, the two issues that have traditionally been a barometer in ever- improving relations over the past five years - Tirana's treatment of the ethnic Greek community in that country's south, and the status of the tens of thousands of legal and illegal Albanian workers in Greece - were also touched upon.

    Both men also referred to improved cooperation in the sensitive public order sector, as the Greek government and public opinion are increasingly concerned with a growing crime rate - obstensibly blamed on a wave of illegal immigration. In refere nce to talks over the ethnic Greeks of Albania, Mr. Simitis said they were 'satisfactory', while he said Greece has decided to give foreign workers permanent residence and work permits.

    "Our goal is to give foreign workers in Greece the same rights as Greek workers," he said.

    "Greece has a specific policy for Albania and the rest of the Balkan states, wanting as much cooperation between them and the European Union as possible, " the Greek premier said, noting that Athens' relations with Tirana revolve around two axis: Greek-Albanian agreements and the EU-Albania framework.

    On his part, Mr. Meta cautioned against "equating the Albanian immigrants in Greece with a small group of criminals...there aren't just Albanian criminals," he said, adding: "Criminal elements have been hit by both sides (Greece and Albania)."

    He also said problems that were created in the past were not created by today's leaderships but will be solved by them, in reference to a press question over the issue of opening Greek-language schools in the several southern Albanian towns.

    Finally, the Greek premier cited cooperation between the two countries' culture ministries for the creation of a national theatre in Tirana.

    Other meetings : The Albanian premier was later received by President Kostis Stephanopoulos, before meetings with main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis and Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) president Nikos Constantopoulos in the afternoon.

    Talks focused on Greek-Albanian relations as well as the overall situation prevailing in the Balkans.

    Mr. Meta invited Mr. Constantopoulos to visit Albania and stressed the need for parties and social agencies to contribute to the development of Greek- Albanian relations.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Stephanopoulos calls for vigilance by Hellenism in light of new century

    Athens, 23/12/1999 (ANA)

    Greece will also proceed in the new century as an inalienable part of Europe, with the knowledge that the struggle will be a long and painful one, necessitating vigilance by all in order to defend the country's just causes, President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos stressed yesterday.

    He added his conviction that, united, the Greek people would "successfully overcome the adversities and challenges of the times."

    In a Christmas and New Year message to Greeks abroad, Mr. Stephanopoulos said Greece was welcoming the new century with memories of the "sacred struggles of all of Hellenism" in the century that was ending, "for the liberation of the enslaved Greeks, the course for safeguarding and consolidating the country's national independence and the effort for economic growth and prosperity, the inadquacy of which in the past entailed a heavy price for our country, with the bleeding of the nation's living forces thr ough migration, the birth of the present-day wonder that is called Greeks abroad".

    Today, he said, "the flourishing Greek communities throughout the world, the preservation of the Greek language and traditions, and the unity forged between us, under the umbrella of the (Greek Orthodox) Church and the World Council of Hellenes Abroad, is a major force of contribution and hope for Hellenism".

    "On the threshhold of the third millennium, the responsibility we all share as agents of the national heritage and civilisation of the Hellenes is a big one, and becomes even bigger because it is our duty to prove ourselves worthy perpetuators of that civilization in the modern era," Mr. Stephanopoulos said.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Gov't reiterates that only difference Athens has with Ankara is Aegean shelf

    Athens, 23/12/1999 (ANA)

    The only difference Greece recognises with Turkey in the Aegean is delineation of the continental shelf, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas reiterated yesterday, adding that this problem will be handled by the International Court of Justice at The Hague .

    Mr. Reppas said there is no other issue constituting a Greek-Turkish difference.

    The new period following the Helsinki agreement calls on Turkey to see developments with a different eye and it should do this in time so as to harmonise itself with the decisions taken by the European Union.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] US Congressman to table amendment over return of Parthenon Marbles

    WASHINGTON, 23/12/1999 (ANA - T.Ellis)

    US Congressman Donald Payne announced his intention of tabling an amendment in the US Congress calling for the return of the Parthenon Marbles by the British Museum, where they are currently on display.

    Rep. Payne, a Democrat from New Jersey, said in a letter to the "Washington Post" that he would table "The Parthenon Marbles Reunification Act" in Congress, calling for the return of the Marbles to the Acropolis within the next four years, so that "when the people watch the return of the Olympic Games to Greece in 2004, they will also witness the return of the Marbles to the Parthenon".

    He rejected the argument that the return of the Marbles would serve as a "negative precedent" and pave the way for the mass removal of works of art from many other major museums.

    "The case of the Parthenon Marbles is unique," Mr. Payne said, explaining that the issue did not concern movable works of art but "an inalienable section of a temple built 2,500 years ago".

    In the letter, entitled "Making a Symbol of Democracy Whole", Mr. Payne noted that the Marbles were not purchased legally, and recalled that the United Nations and the European Parliament had issued statements endorsing the return of the Marbles.

    US President Bill Clinton expressed interest in the return of the Marbles during a visit to Greece in late November while on a tour of the region.

    Mr. Clinton, who was briefed by Greece's Culture Minister Elizabeth Papazoi on Athens' long-standing campaign for the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles as she gave the US President and his daughter Chelsea an impromptu tour of the Acropolis, said he fully perceived the need for the treasures to be returned to their countries of origin, although he added that if countries demanded the return of their cultural heritage, it was probable that museums throughout the world would empty out.

    He did, however, take up the issue with British Prime Minister Tony Blair when he met him in Italy a few days later during a meeting of European centre-left leaders.

    The 5th century B.C. friezes were removed from the Parthenon by the British diplomat Lord Elgin with the permission from the local Ottoman occupation authorities in the early 19th century.

    Lord Elgin removed the priceless friezes and other parts of the massive Parthenon temple and later sold the artworks to the British Museum in 1816, where they have been housed since.

    Successive British governments have turned down repeated Greek requests for the return of the Marbles.

    In June last year, Greece also demanded an immediate inspection of the Marbles by an UNESCO committee of experts following revelations by British historian Willian St Clair that the artworks suffered "significant and irrevocable" damage at the hands of the British Museum staff in the late 1930s, part of efforts to restore the friezes to what was mistakenly thought to be their original colour.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Stephanopoulos receives Karamanlis

    Athens, 23/12/1999 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos received main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday, who briefed him on his decision to back the former's re-election.

    President Stephanopoulos had telephoned to Mr. Karamanlis earlier to thank him for the statement he had made in Parliament on Tuesday night.

    The Greek president also told Mr. Karamanlis, in the presence of reporters, that "I wish to thank you very much for the statement you made in Parliament yesterday. I am particularly honoured by the fact that the two major parties of the country support my candidacy, as I am also honoured by the tolerance shown by the other parties towards me because this a great honour.

    "I wish to express my gratitude for the sympathy expressed by citizens and I say citizens because there are also those who do not express this sympathy but this does not mean anything. I am also trying to understand the reasons for the lack of sympathy by some. The sympathy of citizens is the biggest acquirement of a politician and I really feel gratitude."

    Mr. Karamanlis said ND felt proud over the decision it took, because it believes it is the correct one and corresponds to the popular volition.

    In a statement after 35-minute talks with President Stephanopoulos, Mr. Karamanlis reiterated the reasons for which ND decided to support President Stephanopoulos, adding that it dissociated the issue of the election of a President of the Republic with the holding of early elections but insisted on the existence of a political problem in the country and stressed that his party requests the holding of elections.

    Mr. Karamanlis said ND will try to impose consensus and understanding on other crucial issues as well, such as foreign policy and education.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Geological study on greater Athens area

    Athens, 23/12/1999 (ANA)

    Land in the wider Athens basin is absolutely suitable for building, with the sole exception of areas off the Kifissos River bed and streams where anti-seismic building requires special studies and suitable measures of anti-seismic protection for buildings .

    According to two geological studies reaching the above conclusions, prepared by the Athens University and the Athens Polytechnic, the entire region affected by the September earthquake did not play a substantive role in the earthquake's disastrous results.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Seafarm Ionian buys majority stake in Turkish firm

    Athens, 23/12/1999 (ANA)

    Seafarm Ionian said yesterday that it would acquire a 51 percent stake in Ilknak of Turkey, allowing the Greek firm's entry into the Turkish market after months of negotiations.

    Ilknak owns a fish farm near Izmir, one of the most advanced units in the neighbouring country with an annual output of around 400 tonnes.

    In addition to the company's Turkish shareholders, Akvaplan Niva of Norway owns a stake through a subsidiary.

    Seafarm Ionian's managing director, Alexandros Leandros, said talks with Ilknak's Turkish and Norwegian owners had led to broad agreement on the deal some time ago, but a final decision had been stalled due to the political situation prevailing between Athens and Ankara.

    The deal was concluded after European Union leaders agreed at the Helsinki summit earlier this month to grant Turkey candidate status for membership of the 15-nation bloc.

    Fish farms in Turkey are currently producing 15,000 tonnes a year and Greece 50,000 tonnes.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Banks, industrials rebound in weak market

    Athens, 23/12/1999 (ANA)

    Strong buying interest in banking and industrial blue chips helped the general index to a moderate rebound yesterday, but the broader market remained under pressure on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    The index ended 0.62 percent higher at 4,998.08 points, off the day's high of 5,087 points. Turnover was a low 191.180 billion drachmas.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (+1.0 pct), Leasing (-2.55 pct), Insurance (-1.52 pct), Investment (-1.45 pct), Construction (-2.65 pct), Industrials (+0.87 pct), Miscellaneous (+3.02 pct) and Holding (-0.21 pct).

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks fell 4.30 percent to 1,410.39 points.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks rose 1.23 percent to 2,640.86 points, while the FTSE/ASE MID 40 fell 0.58 pct to 872.96 points.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 219 to 95 with another two issues unchanged.

    A total of 56 shares ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit down, while another five ended at the day's limit up.

    Hellenic Telecoms, Tasoglou and Piraeus Bank were the most heavily traded stocks.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 22,810 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 24, 940, Commercial Bank at 22,310, Titan Cement (common) at 34,240, Hellenic Petroleum at 4,710, Intracom at 13,045, Minoan Lines at 7,620, Panafon at 3, 740 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,060.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Bonds end mixed in thin trade

    Athens, 23/12/1999 (ANA)

    Prices ended mixed in the secondary bond market yesterday with buy and sell orders roughly balancing out in repositioning ahead of end-of-year accounts.

    Fewer players and smaller orders led to some volatility in a scant 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 an 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 6.46 percent in the previous session and 6.50 percent on Monday.

    The yield spread over German bunds was 124 basis points from between 122 and 127 basis points a day earlier and 123-126 basis points on Monday.

    Turnover through the Bank of Greece's electronic trading system was 22 billion drachmas from 70 billion drachmas a session earlier and 54 billion drachmas on Monday.

    In yesterday's trade, sell orders accounted for just over half of turnover.

    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 rises vs euro : The drachma yesterday nosed up against the euro in the domestic foreign exchange market but dropped against the US dollar.

    In the previous session, traders had reported outflows of around 150 million euros in the wake of interventions by the central bank for three straight sessions last week, supplying around 250 million euros each time.

    At the central bank's daily fixing yesterday, the euro was set at 330.250 drachmas from 330.580 drachmas in the previous session, 330.450 drachmas on Monday and 330.250 drachmas on Friday.

    Also at the fixing, the dollar was set at 327.720 drachmas from 327.640 drachmas a day earlier, 328.260 drachmas on Monday, 323.510 drachmas on Friday and 325.640 drachmas on Thursday.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Retail fuel prices up this week

    Athens, 23/12/1999 (ANA)

    The retail price of fuel will rise this week in line with increases in world oil prices, the development ministry and Hellenic Petroleum said yesterday.

    The ministry and state-owned oil company release weekly indicative prices for the retail market.

    Among rises effective today are the following:

  • Super gasoline up 1.10 drachmas a litre to around 232.30 drachmas per litre
  • Leadless gasoline up 1.10 drachmas a litre to around 215.40 drachmas a litre
    Athens News Agency

    [11] Athens bourse linked to healthy economic fundamentals

    Athens, 23/12/1999 (ANA)

    The country's economic indicators warrant optimism about the stock market's performance, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

    Mr. Reppas added that the Greek economy was taking giant steps which justified an optimistic view of the future.

    He urged all those criticising the government for the current situation in the stock market to carefully examine the country's macro-economic performance and see that both the general index and turnover have doubled in value from the start of the year.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Euroconsultant to work with EBRD

    Athens, 23/12/1999 (ANA)

    Euroconsultant SA, a Thessaloniki-based company, yesterday announced a cooperation agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

    The deal envisages that Euroconsultant will support EBRD's regional development initiative as head of an international group including the InterBalkan and Black Sea Business Centre, Cyprus Development Bank and the Hellenic Technology Transfer Centre.

    EBRD's regional development initiative has a two-year duration.

    It has the form of an investment fund and aims to identify and pre-select investments by small- and medium-sized enterprises in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania and Armenia, in the first year of its implementation.

    Three more countries in the region will be included in the programme in the second year.

    EBRD will participate with an average of 30 percent in each investment.

    The focus will be on administration, technology and commerce.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Info-Quest gets local government contract

    Athens, 23/12/1999 (ANA)

    Info-Quest, in cooperation with Dataquest, yesterday announced a deal to install technological infrastructure for the operation of 39 Citizens' Information Centres around the country, as part of a programme to upgrade prefecture authority services.

    The deal, worth 350 million drachmas, envisages the installment of computer equipment, staff training and technical support services within six months of the signing of the contract.

    The programme aims to improve direct communication and information between prefecture authorities and citizens through the use of new technologies like Infokiosk and the Internet.

    The system will be able to communicate with the interior ministry's main server.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens, 23/12/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: December 22, 1999

    Parities in Drachmas

    Banknotes             Buying  Selling
    US Dollar             325.098 332.636
    Can.Dollar            219.728 224.822
    Australian Dlr        209.848 214.713
    Pound Sterling        524.093 536.245
    Irish Punt            415.976 425.621
    Pound Cyprus          568.971 582.163
    Pound Malta           752.018 783.352
    Turkish pound (100)     0.052   0.054
    French franc           49.943  51.101
    Swiss franc           204.903 209.653
    Belgian franc           8.121   8.310
    German Mark           167.503 171.387
    Finnish Mark           55.100  56.377
    Dutch Guilder         148.662 152.109
    Danish Kr.             44.065  45.086
    Swedish Kr.            38.162  39.047
    Norwegian Kr.          40.739  41.684
    Austrian Sh.           23.808  24.360
    Italian lira (100)     16.920  17.312
    Yen (100)             320.297 327.723
    Spanish Peseta          1.969   2.015
    Port. Escudo            1.634   1.672
    
    Foreign Exchange      Buying  Selling
    New York              325.098 332.636
    Montreal              219.728 224.822
    Sydney                209.848 214.713
    London                524.093 536.245
    Dublin                415.976 425.621
    Nicosia               568.971 582.163
    Paris                  49.943  51.101
    Zurich                204.903 209.653
    Brussels                8.121   8.310
    Frankfurt             167.503 171.387
    Helsinki               55.100  56.377
    Amsterdam             148.662 152.109
    Copenhagen             44.065  45.086
    Stockholm              38.162  39.047
    Oslo                   40.739  41.684
    Vienna                 23.808  24.360
    Milan                  16.920  17.312
    Tokyo                 320.297 327.723
    Madrid                  1.969   2.015
    Lisbon                  1.634   1.672
    
    Athens News Agency MELBOURNE 23/12/1999 (ANA - S. Hatzimanolis)

    An Australian-Greek monument will be erected next to the "Shrine of Remembrance" here in memory of the 841 Anzac soldiers who died fighting in Greece during World War II. Construction will begin in February while inaugu ration is planned for May, during commemoration ceremonies for the Battle of Crete. The cost of the monument's construction will be covered by donations from Greek expatriates in Australia, while the monument will be designed by artist Evangelos Sakaris.

    Athens News Agency

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