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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-03-02

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>

NEWS IN ENGLISH

ATHENS, GREECE, 02/03/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Joblessness, growth the primary issues for EU Socialists
  • Simitis on EuroParliament elections
  • Hellenic Aerospace forges alliance with DaimlerChrysler
  • Societe Generale keeps positive outlook for Greece
  • Intracom reports doubling of profits in 1998
  • Stocks end slightly higher in brisk trade
  • Strintzis Line sells Swansea Cork Ferries
  • Bank of Piraeus sees bourse hitting 4,500 pts before euro entry
  • HELEXPO exhibition of foodstuffs, beverages
  • Concert for Kurds held in downtown Athens
  • Idea of including Greece in list of terrorism backers rejected
  • Stephanopoulos stopover in Georgia, meeting with Shevardnadze
  • SEBBE responds to Koc: Greece an entirely democratic, free society
  • Israeli public security delegation meets with Greek counterparts
  • Joint Greek-US military exercise in central Aegean
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Joblessness, growth the primary issues for EU Socialists

Combatting unemployment and increased growth constitute paramount issues for European socialists, Prime Minister Costas Simitis told a press conference yesterday after the signing of a European Socialist party (ESP) manifesto , in light of Eurolections in June.

The manifesto was signed by the EU's socialist leaders during the first of a two-day ESP summit in Milan. Mr. Simitis said the main slogan is "we want a new Europe."

He also said socialists have the possibility and obligation to give priority to policies for creating jobs since, as he said, they do not accept the economic and primarily the human "wear and tear" which unemployment brings upon citizens.

The Greek premier conceded that the common framework exists at present, although an agreement has not been reached for all parameters and for this reason, in the framework of negotiations on the Agenda 2000, there are feuds as well as a struggle, as he said.

Mr. Simitis said Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) is a great achievement but a continuation of the effort is necessary to ensure stability, development and employment through the euro, while the single market must be completed to enable free and equal access and to have obstacles abolished.

Priority is also placed on the role played by citizens since, as Mr. Simitis said, economic priorities have pushed it aside. The strengthening of the rights of the citizen with the enactment of a special charter, support for youth for more opportunities , combatting inequality between men and women, racism, xenophobia, marginalisation and social exclusion are points contained in the manifesto.

Environmental protection is also determined as a main target on the basis of the principle "that whoever pollutes, pays", while the safeguarding of cultural multiformity is characterised as being an important chapter. Special reference is also made to strengthening insurance and combatting crime.

Simitis on EuroParliament elections

In earlier statements, Mr. Simitis said the EuroParliament elections in June will be decisive for developments in Europe and Greece.

"The Greek people must understand that the Euro-elections are of extreme importance," he said at a press conference.

He added that the elections would provide a judgement on the PASOK government's work and achievements, while he said "the government's term will be judged definitively in 2000, when it completes its four-year term and its work."

"The European elections have a close relationship with (the future of) national policies, with the agencies of the European Union, and will constitute the beginning of a definitive course towards 2000," Mr. Simitis said.

The main issue which the EU is being asked to deal with, he added, was unemployment.

Greece had recently invested 500 billion drachmas in 1999 on the creation of 110,000 jobs.

"The omens are good," he said in regard to unemployment in Greece, mentioned other measures such as a national action plan on unemployment, talks on a shorter working week and changes to the tax system," he said.

Hellenic Aerospace forges alliance with DaimlerChrysler

DaimlerChrysler Aerospace AG (DASA) of Germany announced yesterday that it had forged a strategic alliance with Hellenic Aerospace Industry (EAB).

A statement by DASA carried by Reuters said that EAB will participate in a series of programmes, including the modernisation of fighter aircraft, servicing for aircraft and equipment, and the production of parts and electronic equipment for civilian and military aircraft.

EAB will also participate in the production of electronic defence systems.

The German aerospace company said it was in talks with EAB for extensive cooperation in the production of the Eurofighter jet.

Greece has already announced orders for the new aircraft.

Manfred Bishoff of DASA said the agreement with EAB was a major step towards the Greek firm's integrated participation in European programmes and in European aerospace industry structures.

Societe Generale keeps positive outlook for Greece

Societe Generale of France has retained its confidence in the Greek economy and bourse, saying political turbulence over the Ocalan affair was no reason to alter its positive outlook.

In a weekly report on emerging markets yesterday carried by Reuters, the bank said that entry into the euro zone remained the central objective of both the government and the main opposition.

Societe Generale was bullish on inflation, forecasting that in February it would fall to 3.5 percent from 3.7 percent in January with the decline accelerating to 1.5 percent in April - well below the government's forecasts.

The bank also reaffirmed its buy recommendation for Titan Cement Company due to the firm's growth profile and its recent acquisition with Lafarge of France of 76 percent of Egypt's Beni Suif cement maker.

Intracom reports doubling of profits in 1998

Intracom, a listed blue chip information technology and telecoms manufacturer, reported pre-tax profits of 17.2 billion drachmas in 1998 from 8.0 billion a year earlier.

Sales were 90.7 billion drachmas, up 70 percent on 53.2 billion in 1997.

Consolidated sales were 99.3 billion drachmas in 1998 and consolidated profits 13.1 billion drachmas.

Group results cover Intracom, Intramet, Intracom Construction, Scratch Lottery, Bulfon, Intrarom, Intracom Bulgaria and Intrainvest. Intralot is not included.

Intrasoft, a maker of software and multi-purpose electronic systems, reported 1998 pre-tax profits of 3.5 billion drachmas in 1998 from 2.5 billion a year earlier.

Stocks end slightly higher in brisk trade

Share prices ended slightly higher yesterday pushing the Athens bourse closer to the 3,400-point level.

The general index ended 0.50 percent up at 3,394.47 points, off the day's highs of 3,410 points.

Traders said buying activity focused on small and medium sized capitalisation stocks while blue-chips - which led the market's recovery last week - were subdued.

Sector indices were mixed. Banks fell 0.19 percent, Leasing soared 6.91 percent, Insurance increased 1.82 percent, Investment dropped 2.55 percent, Construction jumped 6.77 percent, Industrials were 0.76 percent up, Miscellaneous rose 5.52 percent and Holding ended 2.48 percent higher.

The parallel market index for small cap companies soared 6.04 percent.

A total of 104 shares hit the daily 8.0 percent limit up.

Turnover was 114.479 billion drachmas and volume 27,034,525 shares.

The FTSE/ASE 20 index ended 0.16 percent off at 2,106.06 points. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 245 to 46 with another 6 issues unchanged.

National Bank of Greece ended at 21,160 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 34, 000, Ergobank at 23,310, Ionian Bank at 17,850, Titan Cement at 23,350, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,625, Intracom at 20,630, Minoan Lines at 7,820, Panafon at 9,400 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,610.

Strintzis Line sells Swansea Cork Ferries

Strintzis Line yesterday announced the sale of its subsidiary Swansea Cork Ferries Ltd, which plies a route between Wales and Ireland, to Briar Star Ltd for 2.1 million Irish pounds.

Strintzis, a passenger shipper listed on the Athens bourse, bought Swansea in February 1993 for 991.4 thousand pounds. The proceeds of the sale will appear in its 1999 results.

Strintzis will charter its Superferry vessel to Briar to operate the Swansea-Cork line, as before the change in the subsidiary's ownership.

Strintzis said it agreed to the sale because of Briar's high offer, and because it wanted to focus more on its domestic operations in the Aegean and Ionian Seas; and on international Adriatic and Mediterranean routes.

Strintzis Line is implementing a 300 million dollar investment programme aimed at increasing its competitiveness.

The company has already announced an order for two fast Ro Pax ferries from Van der Giessen de Noord shipyard in the Netherlands, a day ferry from Daewoo Heavy Industries in South Korea, and a car ferry from Hellenic Shipyards with an option for two more ships.

Bank of Piraeus sees bourse hitting 4,500 pts before euro entry

Bank of Piraeus chairman Michalis Sallas yesterday predicted that the Athens bourse would jump to 4,500 points just before the country's estimated entry into the euro zone on January 1, 2001.

Mr. Sallas also predicted a sharp fall in the yield of 10-year state bonds to 5.0-5.25 percent, and 12-month treasury bill yields to below 7.0 percent in the same period.

He added that Bank of Piraeus would submit a binding offer for the purchase of a 51 percent stake in the privatisation of Ionian Bank, also expressing his confidence that the current - second - tender would be successful.

Mr. Sallas also presented the Bank of Piraeus Group's results following the parent bank's unification with Xiosbank and Macedonia-Thrace Bank.

Deposits totalled 1.4 trillion drachmas, or a 5.1 percent market share; loans were 717 billion drachmas, or 5.8 percent of the market; assets 1.8 trillion drachmas, or 5.6 percent of the market; and consolidated pre-tax profits 31 billion drachmas.

Mr. Sallas said the group's growth would be assisted by share capital increases in Bank of Piraeus and Xiosbank totalling 157 billion drachmas.

HELEXPO exhibition of foodstuffs, beverages

The HELEXPO-Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) will organise the 15th international foodstuffs, beverages, machinery and equipment exhibition "DETROP" this week, focusing on the promotion of Mediterranean foodstuffs.

The exhibition will be held at the TIF facilities. A total of 939 exhibitors will participate of whom 595 are Greeks, while 344 are from 44 other countries.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, HELEXPO-TIF officials said there are four official state participations from the US, Italy, Poland and Cyprus.

Referring to products to be exhibited, officials said that Greece sports a dynamic reappearance of beer companies, a considerable representation of wines, an extensive participation of traditional products and pioneering participations in ecological and biological foodstuffs.

Concert for Kurds held in downtown Athens

A marathon concert by several noted Greek and foreign performers and artists in a show of support for the Kurdish cause and captive Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan attracted thousands of people last night in central Athens' Syntagma Square.

Participating performers read out a statement stressing that in this, the "first day of the last spring of the 20th century, we the people of the arts and letters held an impromptu rally...coming out in the streets again spontaneously for all those thin gs that unite us, for all those things which pain us."

A message by Italian Nobel prize laureate in literature, Dario Fo, was also read out at the concert, stating: "For us it is a political choice to stand by the Kurdish people and Ocalan."

The concert, which began at 6 p.m., ended late last night.

Idea of including Greece in list of terrorism backers rejected

The US yesterday rejected any idea of including Greece in a list of countries supporting terrorism.

"The terrorist list covers a systematic and a high government level support for terrorism and I would not put a close NATO ally and such perspective in the same phrase," James Foley told reporters.

Referring to an issue over allegations that Greece transferred NATO technology to Russia, he said that a preliminary answer is that results are moving in the right direction towards a "satisfactory solution to the problem. They are promising..."

He also said that the key word is "claims", while citing the complete cooperation between Greek and US federal agency on the issue, with a final report pending.

Stephanopoulos stopover in Georgia, meeting with Shevardnadze

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos was honoured during his aircraft's refuelling stop in Tbilisi, Georgia, yesterday en route to an official visit in Uzbekistan. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze was on hand, complete with a guard of honour. Both presidents had an impromptu hour-long meeting on bilateral relations as well as on Mr. Stephanopoulos' planned official visit to Georgia in May.

Mr. Shevardnadze, who has just returned from a visit to Turkey, told the Greek president that Greek-Turkish relations were not discussed in his meetings with Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, according to diplomatic sources. Mr. Stephanopoulos is acco mpanied on his visit to Tashkent by Deputy Foreign Minister Grigoris Niotis and several Greek entrepreneurs.

His visit to Uzbekistan is being watched with much interest in the wake of the latest developments in Greek-Turkish relations as Uzbekistan has particularly close ties with Ankara.

Mr. Stephanopoulos, who arrived late yesterday afternoon in Tashkent will have talks with his Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov today. Both countries are expected to sign agreements on consular issues and road transport.

SEBBE responds to Koc: Greece an entirely democratic, free society

The Federation of Greek Industries in Northern Greece (SEBBE) yesterday answered recent criticism by well-known Turkish entrepreneur Rahim Koc, the president of a Turkish-Greek Business Council, stressing that both peoples "had memory and knowledge of his tory enough to judge the functions of democracy and human rights throughout the history of both countries."

In an official response addressed to Mr. Koc, who sided with Ankara's handling of the Kurdish issue recently and called on Turkish business people to suspend cooperation with their Greek counterparts, SEBBE president Vassilis Takas said "we disregard your one-sided criticism on the policy of the Greek governments on Greek-Turkish issues...We are not going to follow you, since we also conduct our own harsh but documented criticism regarding the Turkish governments' provocations towards Greece. We realise the pressure recently exerted on you to put an end to the spirit of Greek- Turkish friendship and cooperation inaugurated with the Papandreou- Ozal meeting in Davos...However, we cannot receive without returning the insulting accusations (hurled) at the business world of Greece and the entire Greek society, which lives freely in an entirely democratic and European environment," Mr. Takas said.

Israeli public security delegation meets with Greek counterparts

Israeli public security official Avraham Kohav visited the public order ministry yesterday within the framework of a police cooperation agreement between Greece and Israel. Mr. Kohav arrived in Greece on Sunday and held talks with relevant ministry officials at noon yesterday.

He is accompanied by several other Israeli officials. The Israeli delegation also met with senior ministry officers, with talks centring on issues concerning drugs, illegal immigration and bilateral police cooperation.

Joint Greek-US military exercise in central Aegean

A joint mid-sized military exercise between Greek and US forces, codenamed "Megas Alexandros", begins today in the sea region between Volos, Skyros and Agios Efstratios, and is part of a framework of bilateral cooperation and joint training between Greek forces and corresponding ones from the United States.

Greece will field its 32nd marine brigade, a frigate, a destroyer, three landing craft and a number of support vessels, as well as 10-15 air force fighters.

US forces will participate with two landing craft and 1,500 troops. The exercise will be coordinated by the Greek national defence general staff.

WEATHER

Mostly fair weather with scattered clouds will prevail in most parts of Greece today. Winds southerly, light to moderate. Athens will be sunny with temperatures between 6-18C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 1- 16C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          290.537
Pound sterling       466.399
Japanese yen (100)   243.675
French franc          48.655
German mark          163.182
Italian lira (100)    16.483
Irish Punt           405.245
Belgian franc          7.912
Luxembourg franc       7.912
Finnish mark          53.678
Dutch guilder        144.827
Danish kr.            42.928
Austrian sch.         23.194
Spanish peseta         1.919
Swedish kr.           35.420
Norwegian kr.         36.682
Swiss franc          200.250
Port. Escudo           1.592
Aus. dollar          180.018
Can. dollar          192.488
Cyprus pound         549.568
Euro                 319.156
(C.E.)
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