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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-10-01

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, 01/10/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • New emblem for Athens 2004 Olympic Games unveiled
  • FM Papandreou: Greece will not be discouraged by Ecevit statements
  • G. Papandreou to address Istanbul meetings
  • SAE calls Clinton-Ecevit meeting 'disappointing, meaningless'
  • Gov't condemns arson attempt against mosque
  • Karamanlis: Ankara's behaviour does not justify EU candidacy
  • Karamanlis on early elections
  • Papantoniou: Early elections would not benefit economy, EMU course
  • Current account deficit narrows in Jan-Mar.
  • Eurobank, Bank of Crete sign merger deal
  • Stocks rise, driven by small-cap trade
  • Central bank steps in to prop up drachma
  • Reverse bond auction held
  • Central Macedonia to get lion's share of funds
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

New emblem for Athens 2004 Olympic Games unveiled

A new emblem for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games was unveiled in the Greek capital yesterday evening, depicting a white wreath made of olive branches, a symbolism harkening back to the crowning of ancient Olympic champions.

The azure and dark blue colours used in the emblem symbolise the sky and sea of Greece, according to the 2004 Games' organisers.

An unveiling ceremony for the new emblem was held in central Athens' Zappeion Hall, with International Olympics Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch, President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, Prime Minister Costas Simitis as well as most of Greek leadership attending.

"We knew the difficulties involved. The Olympic Games are an institution of worldwide stature, and our primary goal was for the 2004 Games to be a landmark event. Athens will be a new city in 2004. We have the support of the entire Greek people and the Olympic family," said Culture Minister Elizabeth Papazoi.

Mr. Samaranch said "this emblem will draw the attention of the entire world. It will remain engraved in the history of the Olympic Movement after the end of the 2004 Games. The factors of Greek success are three: your successful candidacy, the organisation, which I believe will be impeccable, and the performances of Greek athletes."

Earlier yesterday, PM Simitis and Mr. Samaranch held an hour-long meeting on issues related to the Athens 2004 Games.

FM Papandreou: Greece will not be discouraged by Ecevit statements

Foreign Minister George Papandreou said yesterday that Greece would not be deterred by the latest discouraging statements from Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit regarding prospects to resolve the Cyprus issue.

"His positions don't surprise us. We know them. But we will not give up," Mr. Papandreou told reporters after meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis on preparations for a forthcoming EU summit on security, illegal immigration and cross-border crime.

Mr. Ecevit said this week that prospects of resolving the Cyprus were a 'chimera' if Greece and Turkey did not first sit down to discuss problems in the Aegean.

G. Papandreou to address Istanbul meetings

Foreign Minister George Papandreou leaves for Istanbul on Sunday at the invitation of the "Taxim" Intellectuals' Club. Mr. Papandreou will address the club's members and guests regarding the new international environment in the region and Greek-Turkish relations.

On Monday, Mr. Papandreou will give a speech at Istanbul University on the role of the society of citizens and of the two peoples in shaping the climate in Greek-Turkish relations.

He will later attend a dinner given in his honour by the university's deanery. His Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem has also been invited.

SAE calls Clinton-Ecevit meeting 'disappointing, meaningless'

The World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) described as "disappointing and meaningless" the results of this week's meeting in Washington between US President Bill Clinton and Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, in a statement released in Athens yesterda y.

"The Hellenic American community and all Americans who are concerned about human rights and international legality are deeply disappointed about the results of the talks of President Clinton with Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit," an announcement by the SAE, the North and South America Region, read.

SAE cited the transcript of the White House briefing stating that Mr. Clinton and Mr. Ecevit "agreed that there cannot be a solution to the problem of Cyprus that would return the situation to what it was before 1974", prior to the Turkish invasion and occupation of the northern part of the island republic, and that Mr. Ecevit "supported the US president's idea to send his special envoy for Cyprus, Al Moses, to the region probably as early as next week to explore ways for moving forward toward a negotia tioned settlement".

"With high expectatins for reaching a solution for Cyprus, the result of the meeting was a meaningless 'concession' of the Turkish prime minister, the substance of which was that he supports the idea of yet another presidential envoy to the region, after so many others, for yet another consultation," SAE said.

Noting that "the same activity has been carried on for the last 25 years since the invasion, with no results", SAE warned that unless the American administration "takes a firmer stand and presses the Turkish government to comply with international law a nd the numerous UN Resolutions", Turkey's "illegal occupation of Cyprus and the egregious violation of human rights of the Cypriot people will continue".

Gov't condemns arson attempt against mosque

Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday condemned an arson attempt against a mosque in a village in the NE province of Thrace during the early hours of Wednesday morning. "We most categorically condemn the arson attempt...I am sure that such actions, no matter what their aims, will be rebuffed by the will of the citizens of Thrace, Christians and Moslems, to live peacefully and work towards the development and progress of their region," he said.

Glafki is a mixed village of Christians and Moslems in Xanthi prefecture. The fire caused damage estimated at 100,000 drachmas before being put out by local residents.

The attack coincided with the visit to the region of a Council of Europe (CoE) delegation, examining relations between the two religious communities.

Karamanlis: Ankara's behaviour does not justify EU candidacy

Turkey has not given signs of a change in behaviour which would justify its upgrading into an EU candidate-country, main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis charged.

"The only thing which seems to interest Turkish political leadership is the 'European passport'," he told Greek reporters, noting that there was a trend towards recognising Turkey as a candidate-country at the upcoming EU summit in Finland.

Regarding Cyprus' accession to the EU, Mr. Karamanlis said it should not be made dependent on a solution of the island's political problem. Any guarantees that might be given by the "15" in that respect would no doubt be a positive factor, but did not change the problem of Turkey's stand on the issue.

Karamanlis on early elections

Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday expressed the view that "elections may be held early next year".

He made the statement in response to a question by Spanish Commissioner and vice-president of the European Commission, Loyola de Palacio, and in the presence of reporters.

Asked by ANA, Mr. Karamanlis declined to comment on whether he had made any definitive decisions regarding next year's elections or which person he would propose for president of the republic when the present term expires in March.

Papantoniou: Early elections would not benefit economy, EMU course

Possible early general elections in Greece next March would not have positive effects on the economy, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday.

"The assessment of both the government and myself is that elections in March will not benefit our case for accession to EMU, because they will upset the political timetable for accession," he told reporters.

Mr. Papantoniou added that "the application for EMU accession will be submitted in early March, in the first fortnight in March. Therefore, it will be in the midst of a possible election period. Therefore, this will be negative because some time will be lost to support this candidacy."

Mr. Papantoniou noted that US President Bill Clinton's visit to Greece between Nov. 21-23 along with the possible participation of the US trade secretary or assistant secretary, is also expected to contribute to a speedup in the inflow of US investments , while the holding of the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004 constitutes yet another magnet for US and international investors.

Current account deficit narrows in Jan-Mar.

The current account deficit narrowed to 1.030 billion euros in January- March from 1.632 billion euros in the same period of 1998, the Bank of Greece said yesterday. The improvement was due to a containment of deficits in trade and incomes.

The trade deficit shrank by 465 million euros due equally to a reduction in net import fuel prices and an improvement in the trade deficit excluding fuel.

Capital inflows for stock and bond purchases in the same period totalled 5.5 billion euros, the central bank said.

Eurobank, Bank of Crete sign merger deal

EFG Eurobank is to absorb Bank of Crete under the terms of a merger contract signed yesterday by the two banks. The merger, due for completion next week after regulatory approval, will have been accomplished a year after Latsis owned Eurobank bought the f ormerly state-controlled unit.

Of Bank of Crete's 86 branches, 46 are now operating under the EFG Eurobank logo. By October 20, the remaining branches will have been converted.

Stocks rise, driven by small-cap trade

Equities yesterday finished higher in trade focusing on small and medium capitalisation stocks with retail investors active in the market.

The general index ended 1.26 percent higher at 5,667.60 points.

Turnover dropped to 340.796 billion drachmas from 370.259 billion drachmas a day earlier with 36,459,000 shares changing hands.

Interest in what traders call marginal stocks began to revive in the previous session after retail investors, their main buyers, shunned the paper for a time on doubts of the viability of some of the companies.

Sector indices ended as follows: Banking (-0.75 pct), Insurance (+2.28 pct), Construction (+6.01 pct), Miscellaneous (+4.88 pct), Leasing (+4.50 pct), Investment (+3.41 pct), Industrials (+1.40 pct) and Holding (+2.81 pct).

The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks jumped 6.59 percent while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chips and heavily traded stocks rose 0.58 percent to finish at 2,998.45 points..

Of 308 stocks traded, advances outpaced declines at 263 to 42 with three shares remaining unchanged.

National Bank of Greece ended at 24,700 drachmas, Commercial Bank of Greece at 28,500, Alpha Credit Bank at 24,750, Minoan Lines at 7,750, Intracom (common) at 26,200, Titan Cement (common) at 35,990, Hellenic Petroleum at 6,060, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 7,200 and Panafon at 8, 400 drachmas.

Central bank steps in to prop up drachma

In the foreign exchange market, the drachma came under strong pressure against the euro yesterday in sales of the national currency traders said were linked to a recent slump on the Athens Stock Exchange and institutional investors abroad closing their positions.

The Bank of Greece intervened in the market to push up the drachma, selling around 570 million euros when the European currency hit 329.20 drachmas.

The central bank, which has stepped into the market a number of times in around a week, was sending a signal to players that it had no intention of allowing a rapid, unbridled depreciation of the drachma. This was the highest recent intervention.

Reverse bond auction held

The finance ministry said that it had held a reverse auction yesterday of seven year floating rate notes from various issues spanning November 15, 1995 to October 22, 1997.

Bids submitted totalled 362.8 billion drachmas in the whole auction, and the ministry accepted 150 billion drachmas worth of bids, the original amount being tendered, the ministry said in a statement.

Central Macedonia to get lion's share of funds

The region to receive proportionally the largest share of Greek funds from the European Union's Third Community Support Framework will be Central Macedonia, Deputy National Economy Minister Christos Pahtas said yesterday.

Addressing the Regional Council of Central Macedonia in Thessaloniki, Mr. Pahtas said the decision was dictated by a government plan to aid rapid growth in the region, due to the role it is expected to play as a springboard for the Balkans.

WEATHER

Mostly fair weather will prevail throughout Greece today with the possibility of showers in the Peloponnese and Crete. Winds westerly, light. Mostly fair in Athens with temperatures from 19-31C. Same in Theassoniki with temperatures between 17-29C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          305.804
Pound sterling       503.539
Japanese yen (100)   289.773
French franc          49.694
German mark          166.667
Italian lira (100)    16.835
Irish Punt           413.898
Belgian franc          8.081
Finnish mark          54.825
Dutch guilder        147.919
Danish kr.            43.888
Austrian sch.         23.689
Spanish peseta         1.959
Swedish kr.           37.416
Norwegian kr.         39.511
Swiss franc          204.263
Port. Escudo           1.626
Can. dollar          208.518
Aus. dollar          199.170
Cyprus pound         564.607
Euro                 325.971
(C.E.)
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