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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-12-29

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] Gov't says state services ready for Y2K, advises, calm
  • [02] Athens confident of benefits emanating from Schengen Pact
  • [03] Turkish violations of Athens FIR, airspace reported
  • [04] The Acropolis to gleam around the world on Millennium's Eve
  • [05] To the subscribers of the ANA's "Bulletin" and Special English Service:
  • [06] To the "Daily Bulletin" subscribers
  • [07] Athens Academy awards
  • [08] Stocks hold momentum lifted by small caps
  • [09] Bonds lacklustre in holiday trade
  • [10] Greek banks Y2K compliant
  • [11] Credit growth flat in October
  • [12] National Bank of Greece buys new stake in mutual fund
  • [13] Athens Foreign Exchange

  • [01] Gov't says state services ready for Y2K, advises, calm

    Athens, 29/12/1999 (ANA)

    The government advised the public to be calm and confident that state apparatuses could preclude possible glitches due to the 'dreaded' Y2K computer bug.

    Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou told reporters at a news conference yesterday that all computer systems at state-run utilities were "year 2000" compliant and that she expected no malfunctions from the "millennium bug" as clocks ticked over to Jan. 1, 2000.

    A poll published in an Athens daily on Monday showed more than 70 per cent of residents in Greece believed that the "millennium bug" would have an adverse effect on their power, water and phone lines.

    However, Ms Papandreou said this was a misconception but that, nevertheless, all services would be on full alert through the period in which the malfunctions could strike. She also urged the public to place its trust in official announcements and not to fall prey to rumours.

    "The financial sector, the air transport sector, the sectors of energy and health are well prepared and we do not expect any problems," she said.

    Computer experts employed by state services will be at their work stations to take digital systems through their paces in real time over the weekend, she added.

    Greek authorities are also in touch with the authorities of countries greeting the New Year before Greece, such as Australia and New Zealand, to stay ahead of any possible malfunctions.

    On alert as well will be the police force, the fire brigade, coast guard and the ambulance service. More officers will be posted to foot patrols and more ambulances will be on call for any circumstance.

    The government will be informing the public at regular intervals of any developments, both in Greece and abroad, Ms Papandreou said. She said that hot lines had been set up by the following agencies to inform members of the public:

    Interior ministry: 1204

    Year 2000 working group: 3393541-2 Development ministry: 7707951, 7705301

    Secretariat general for consumers: 1720

    Health ministry: 8810423, 8810343

    Public Power Corp. (DEH): 1253-1259

    Hellenic Telecoms: 0801-20001

    Association of Greek Banks: 3386525, 3386528

    Airports : Meanwhile, all necessary measures have been taken and all possible side-effects have been anticipated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for the "millennium bug" in air traffic control systems and scheduled flights to the country, a press release by the agency stated.

    On the question of air traffic control systems and international airports, a CAA official said all airlines have responded to the agency's instructions regarding the handling of the "millennium bug". Only two small airline firms have not yet responded. In the event they do not act immediately, the agency will even ground aircraft.

    He added that an emergency plan to tackle possible side-effects which might appear at the turn of the century, both at local and international time, will be applied as of 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 31 1999 until midnight on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2000; and from 6 p.m. on Jan. 3 until midnight on Tuesday Jan. 4.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Athens confident of benefits emanating from Schengen Pact

    Athens, 29/12/1999 (ANA)

    The Greek government is confident that full implementation of Schengen Pact provisions on lifting internal EU border controls as of Jan. 1 will contribute to the more effective monitoring of the movement of people both within and entering the Union.

    "The prospects for the future are favourableIGreece has been working consistently to deal effectively with the challenges of such a sensitive issue, such as illegal immigration," Stelios Perrakis, secretary general for European Affairs at the foreign ministry stressed in an interview with the ANA.

    "In the sector of illegal immigration, readiness necessarily coincides with the pursuit of a policy not only preventive - strengthening border checks - but also of a positive direction, such measures on a domestic and international level within the framew ork of an integrated migration policy, " he said. In practice, the full implementation of the Schengen Pact for Greece means that as of Jan. 1, 2000, all checks on international borders in the "Schengen zone" are lifted. Citizens of Schengen Pact mem bers may move freely without passport control."

    Mr. Perrakis said the lifting of checks would also apply to movement of those moving between Greece and other Schengen countries by sea and air.

    Greek airports (Athens, Thessaloniki, Irakleio, Corfu and Rhodes) and ports (Patra, Igoumenitsa and Corfu) will now be considered internal borders for travel to and from Schengen countries.

    At the same time, Mr. Perrakis added, for arrivals and departures for non- Schengen countries, these border posts remain external points of the European Union and checks will continue.

    According to a decision of a Schengen joint committee of permanent representatives, several secondary airports in Greece's provinces will not be included in the initial phase but will be integrated by March 2000.

    All European Union countries with the exception of Britain and Ireland are members of the Schengen pact.

    Greece hopes to stem illegal immigration into Schengen pact countries by participating in the signing of 're-admittance pacts' with both Schengen and non-Schengen states. "A re-admittance pact means, in practice, that the interested parties undert ake the commitment to accept anew on their territory illegal immigrants originating from these (countries), who have illegally moved to the interior of the participating country," Mr. Perrakis said. "These illegal immigrants can be their citizens or citiz ens of third countries."

    Greece has already signed re-admittance agreements with Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Italy and France. It has also signed law enforcement agreements, which specfically mentions re- admittance, with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Israel.

    Mr. Perrakis said Turkey - the neighbour from whom Greece receives the bulk of the illegal immigrant flow into the country - has not to date responded to Athens' request for the signing of such a crucial agreement.

    "But the issue is being raised anew in the framework of bilateral agreements being prepared at the present time in the sector of combatting organised crime and terrorism," he said.

    According to Mr. Perrakis, 4,240 people requested asylum in Greece between Jan. 1, 1998 to Oct. 31, 1999. Of these, only 293 were recognised as refugees meeting the criteria of the 1951 Geneva Convention for the legal status of refugees.

    This number, he added, does not include people remaining in Greece for humanitarian reasons. The nationality of these people is also interesting: 192 are Turks; 40 Afghanis; 30 Iraqis, five Algerians and 11 Azeris.

    In addition, Athens spends some 300 million drachmas annually on maintaining a refugee centre at the port town of Lavrio, including spending on health care and education.

    A number of non-governmental organisations working with refugees also receive funding for various programmes.

    In all, the number of non-EU foreign legal residents in Greece comes to 28, 312 people. Another 73,621 citizens of third countries have received a limited-period "green card" until Nov. 30, 1999, allowing them to work and reside temporarily in Greece.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Turkish violations of Athens FIR, airspace reported

    Athens, 29/12/1999 (ANA)

    Six Turkish F-16 warplanes yesterday infringed on Athens FIR regulations twice and violated Greek airspace 10 times over the sea region between the islands of Rhodes and Samos.

    According to reports, the unarmed Turkish planes were intercepted by Greek fighter planes in all instances.

    Hellenic Air Force sources said the fact that the intruding warplanes were unarmed, in an apparent line with recent statements by Turkish armed forces chief Gen. Hussein Kivrikoglu, did not legalise the Turkish violations.

    "The issue lies in the violations and the infringements," they said.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] The Acropolis to gleam around the world on Millennium's Eve

    Athens, 29/12/1999 (ANA)

    Athens' New Year's Eve party will highlight the best of modern-day Greece as the country sees in the beginning of a new millennium. "We will welcome the year 2000, unite our memories and celebrate like modern Greeks. We will honour Manos Hatzidakis,

    Mikis Theodorakis, Odysseus Elytis,"" , Culture Minister Elizabeth Papazoi said yesterday, referring to Greece's two most best-known composers and one of its Nobel laureates for literature.

    Ms Papazoi was speaking to reporters yesterday as she unveiled the detailed programme for millennium celebrations in Athens. Hatzidakis, Theodorakis and Elytis will be the core of a series of concerts to be held at the Acropolis on New Year's Eve.

    At 10 p.m., the Orchestra of Colours, founded by the late Hatzidakis, will feature the voices several performers under the direction of Miltos Logiadis.

    At 11 p.m. the National Opera Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir will perform with Mikis Theodorakis, among others.

    A few minutes before the advent of the New Year, popular composer/singer Dionyssis Savvopoulos will take to the stage with his orchestra and the Municipal Symphonic Orchestra.

    At about the same time, the BBC network will link up with Greek state television to beam scenes of the celebrations at the Acropolis to 75 countries around the world.

    Twenty-four cameras will relay images from the area, while all archaeological sites will be open, except for the Acropolis.

    As the clocks turn to Jan. 1, a 1000-member choir and 500-member children's choir at the Acropolis will sing three hymns - the national anthem, the Olympic anthem and a hymn from an Orthodox mass. Ms Papazoi said the first 100,000 Athenians attending the events will receive a souvenir CD of the three hymns.

    Events wind up at 2.45 a.m. with the Municipality of Athens' Big Band, directed by Athanasios Zervos.

    At a stage set up at the foot of the Acropolis, at St Paul and Adrianou streets, the concert will focus on the history of the Greek popular song throughout the course of modern-day Greece.

    In the Makriyanni area, a traditional celebration will be held.

    Another concert, specifically targeted to the young and young at heart will be held in the courtyard of the Zappeion Hall.

    Apart from the Acropolis, the archaeological site of the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion will be kept open for revellers to watch the first sunset of the year 2000. Traditional Thracian songs will be performed as the sun rises.

    Athens' underground will be open from 10 p.m. on December 31 to 5 a.m. and will be free of charge for those wanting to move around the city. Roads around the Acropolis will be closed to traffic, and Athenians will be able to walk around the area with ease.

    Athens News Agency

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

    Athens, 29/12/1999 (ANA) As of today, and for five weeks (until the end of January 2000), you will be able to access the on-line English Service on a trial basis at http://ns.ana.gr with the following universal access code - username: bull password: bull47 At the end of the trial period, please inform the ANA's marketing department if you wish to continue to receive the on-line English Service alone, the "Bulletin" alone (in its electronic form), or both, so that you may be issued a personal access code, as the universal access code will be abolished.

    We would also like to remind you of the special offer the ANA is offering to those subscribers who wish to receive both services.

    SPECIAL OFFER ANA's bulletin subscribers will be able to receive, as of Jan. 2: a) the Special English Service of news items on-line and as the news is breaking 500,000 drachmas annually and, b) the next day's "Daily Bulletin" on their screens at midnight, with the ability for print-out if desired 110,000 drachmas annually. ANA is offering a special package discount subscription of 500,000 drachmas for both services.

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

    Athens News Agency

    [06] To the "Daily Bulletin" subscribers

    Athens, 29/12/1999 (ANA) Dear friends,

    As you are aware, technological developments in the mass media sector are rapid. Today, all the news services are offered online. The "electronic newspaper" supplements, and in many cases replaces, the printed newspaper. Contact via e-mail also affords the ability for direct communication.

    These developments, as many others, have also influenced our own work here at Athens News Agency (ANA), which is adapting all its services to the new technology. In the framework of these changes, the "Daily Bulletin" will - as of Jan. 2, 2000 - be conv erted from a printed to an electronic medium for our subscribers.

    With this change, our subscribers will: a) receive our news items online, at the moment the news is breaking. b) receive the next day's "Daily Bulletin" on their screens at midnight, with the ability to print it out if they wish or simply view on screen. c) receive the "Bulletin" either via the paid ANA services on the Internet, or via e-mail sent to a subscriber's e-mail address. d) also have the ability, for a small surcharge, to utilise the ANA's English-language data bank, which contains all the news items appearing in the "Daily Bulletin" since 1992.

    We believe that these changes, which correspond with the new function of the international and national news agencies, will satisfy subscribers' needs for immediate and credible information. In order to subscribe to this service, you must have a PC and a modem, or an e-mail address.

    All who wish to continue receiving our services must prepare for these changes which, as stated, will commence on Jan. 2, 2000.

    Takis Mantis, the director of ANA's informatics and telecommunications department, is at your disposal for any technical information on tel: 64.00.560 and 64.00.038.

    I sincerely hope all our subscribers will adapt to these necessary technological changes.

    Andreas Christodoulides

    ANA General Director

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Athens Academy awards

    Athens, 29/12/1999 (ANA)

    Actress Anna Synodinou, psychanalysis expert Anna Potamianou, the special unit for handling disasters, known as EMAK, and foreign rescue teams showing self-sacrifice in assisting earthquake victims were among people amd institutions given awards by the Athens Academy yesterday.

    The event was attended by President Kostis Stephanopoulos.

    Adjusting itself to social needs following the killer earthquake which struck the greater Athens area on September 7, the Academy proclaimed two new cash prizes amounting to three million drachmas which will be given in 2002.

    The one prize concerns the writing of a research study on the evaluation and conclusions drawn from the recent earthquake and the other the writing of a study on earthquakes and the contribution of volunteer non-governmental organisations.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Stocks hold momentum lifted by small caps

    Athens, 29/12/1999 (ANA)

    Equity prices rallied for the second consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday helped by strong buying interest in smaller capitalisation stocks. The general index ended 3.76 percent higher at 5, 230.61 points, its highest close in the l ast seven sessions. Turnover was a moderate 220 billion drachmas.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (+1.67 pct), Leasing (+7.99 pct), Insurance (+6.74 pct), Investment (+5.97 pct), Construction (+7.59 pct), Industrials (+4.77 pct), Miscellaneous (+7.08 pct) and Holding (+7.74 pct).

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks soared 7.77 percent.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks jumped 2.6 percent to 2,784.17 points, while the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index surged 7.10 percent to 902.45 points.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 311 to four with another nine issues unchanged.

    More than 130 stocks ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit up.

    Spider, Microland and Hadzikraniotis ended 104.0 pct, 85.19 pct and 16.99 pct higher respectively.

    Hellenic Petroleum, Aeoliki and Spider were the most heavily traded stocks.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 23,260 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 25, 200, Commercial Bank at 24,220, Titan Cement (common) at 18,480, Hellenic Petroleum at 5,055, Intracom at 14,100, Minoan Lines at 8,175, Panafon at 3, 910 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,160.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Bonds lacklustre in holiday trade

    Athens, 29/12/1999 (ANA)

    Bonds in the domestic secondary market yesterday were flat in thin, lacklustre trade, traditional over the Christmas and New Year holiday period.

    But the market got a lift in the last few minutes of trade when Bank of Piraeus bought 15- and 7-year bonds worth 24 billion drachmas. Until then, turnover had been negligible.

    The benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.54 percent from 6.50 percent in the two previous sessions and 6.46 percent on Thursday.

    The yield spread over German bunds was 122 basis points from 125 basis points in the two last sessions and 123 basis points at Thursday's close.

    Turnover through the Bank of Greece's electronic trading system was 27 billion drachmas from 11 billion drachmas in the previous session, sharply down on last week.

    The market brushed off a 0.75 percentage point cut in the Lombard rate on Friday in the wake of another 0.75 point reduction in the central bank's intervention rates in the previous week that spilled into the commercial bank market.

    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.

    The spread over bunds at the end of this year has been forecast to drop to between 100 and 120 basis points, analysts said.

    Minor inflows seen in forex market : The drachma yesterday rose sharply against the euro and the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market with traders reporting minor inflows.

    The central bank stepped into the market, buying around 50 million euros, a turnaround from a spate of interventions over the last couple of weeks to support the drachma.

    At the central bank's daily fixing yesterday, the euro was set at 329.800 drachmas from 330.300 drachmas in the previous session and 330.620 drachmas on Friday.

    Also at the fixing, the dollar was set at 325.600 drachmas from 326.250 drachmas a day earlier, 326.410 drachmas on Friday and 327.740 drachmas on Thursday.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Greek banks Y2K compliant

    Athens, 29/12/1999 (ANA)

    Greek banks have adapted their information technology in order to avoid any malfunctions from the millennium bug, the Hellenic Banks Union said yesterday.

    Banks have also drafted contingency plans to deal with any possible problems from the change of date, and are able to meet demand for cash from automated teller machines over the transition period.

    Addressing a news conference, the union's secretary general, Ioannis Manos, reassured the public that there was no need to worry about bank transactions because of the millennium bug.

    All banks will remain closed on Friday, 31 December to reopen on Monday, 3 January 2000.

    Commercial banks, in cooperation with the Bank of Greece, have taken all necessary measures to ensure ample liquidity in the ATM network around the country, Mr. Manos said.

    The union's director, Antonios Foskolos, said that there were no reports of excessive cash withdrawals and that the public remained calm.

    On the contrary, he said, there was a five percent rise in bank deposits.

    Olympic Aviation suspends flights for date change : Olympic Aviation said in a statement yesterday that it was ready to handle any possible difficulties resulting from the millennium problem.

    At the same time, the airline, which is a subsidiary of Olympic Airways, said that it would ground its planes at Hellenikon Airport between 20.30 on December 31 and 06.00 on January 1.

    Olympic Aviation also announced that it would lease two Boeing 717s on January 10 in order to boost its capacity from Thessaloniki, creating a new hub covering Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, Rome and Berlin.

    The 100-seater planes, which cost 32,000 US dollars a month each to lease, will enter service on April 1, the airline said.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Credit growth flat in October

    Athens, 29/12/1999 (ANA)

    Credit expansion in the economy was 10.4 percent year-on-year in October, the same as in the previous month, the central bank said yesterday.

    The Bank of Greece said in its December statistics bulletin that the unchanged rate was due to a slowdown in credit to the public sector and a rise to the private sector.

    Credit expansion to the state sector in October was 7.9 percent from 8.7 percent in September; and 15.7 percent to the private sector from 14.1 percent a month earlier, the Bank of Greece said.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] National Bank of Greece buys new stake in mutual fund

    Athens, 29/12/1999 (ANA)

    National Bank of Greece yesterday bought a 25 percent stake in Diethniki, a mutual fund manager, from Deutsche Bank (Suisse).

    National Bank paid 11 million euros for the equity.

    Diethniki is a subsidiary of National Bank, a state run blue chip on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens, 29/12/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: December 28, 1999

    Parities in Drachmas

    Banknotes             Buying  Selling
    US Dollar             322.995 330.484
    Can.Dollar            221.117 226.243
    Australian Dlr        208.414 213.246
    Pound Sterling        522.685 534.804
    Irish Punt            415.410 425.041
    Pound Cyprus          569.051 582.245
    Pound Malta           738.863 769.649
    Turkish pound (100)     0.052   0.054
    French franc           49.876  51.032
    Swiss franc           203.826 208.552
    Belgian franc           8.110   8.298
    German Mark           167.275 171.153
    Finnish Mark           55.024  56.300
    Dutch Guilder         148.460 151.902
    Danish Kr.             43.965  44.985
    Swedish Kr.            38.132  39.017
    Norwegian Kr.          40.394  41.331
    Austrian Sh.           23.776  24.328
    Italian lira (100)     16.897  17.288
    Yen (100)             315.258 322.567
    Spanish Peseta          1.966   2.012
    Port. Escudo            1.632   1.670
    
    Foreign Exchange      Buying  Selling
    New York              322.995 330.484
    Montreal              221.117 226.243
    Sydney                208.414 213.246
    London                522.685 534.804
    Dublin                415.410 425.041
    Nicosia               569.051 582.245
    Paris                  49.876  51.032
    Zurich                203.826 208.552
    Brussels                8.110   8.298
    Frankfurt             167.275 171.153
    Helsinki               55.024  56.300
    Amsterdam             148.460 151.902
    Copenhagen             43.965  44.985
    Stockholm              38.132  39.017
    Oslo                   40.394  41.331
    Vienna                 23.776  24.328
    Milan                  16.897  17.288
    Tokyo                 315.258 322.567
    Madrid                  1.966   2.012
    Lisbon                  1.632   1.670
    
    Athens News Agency

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