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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-10-13

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, 13/10/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Stephanopoulos begins official visit to Iran, ties with EU aired
  • Greece could spur closer EU, Black Sea ties
  • Gov't confirms change in dates for Clinton visit to Athens
  • G. Papandreou's European contacts in October, November
  • Gov't on recent Simitis message to Ecevit
  • Thessaloniki to host conference on Balkan reconstruction
  • New impetus for Greek, Turkish Business Councils
  • Stocks jump, fuelled by small cap trade
  • Yield rises in 10-year bond auction
  • Quake cost higher than expected, gov't says
  • Greek-Israeli business contacts for 2004 Olympics
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Stephanopoulos begins official visit to Iran, ties with EU aired

Greece can help in the development of European Union relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, President Kostis Stephanopoulos said at the start of an official visit to the Mideast country yesterday, the first by a Greek head of state to Iran. "We are taking an interest in developments in your country. Greece, as a member of the European Union, is interested in the development of the European family's relations with Iran," he told his counterpart Mohammad Khatami during their first meeting.

Mr. Khatami also spoke of strengthening ties through international organisations of which the two countries are members, with a direct reference to the European Union.

Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who is accompanying the president in the four-day visit, further developed the subject of closer EU ties with Iran with his counterpart Kamal Kharazi.

Mr. Stephanopoulos is also accompanied by Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis, and a large delegation of entrepreneurs.

During the visit, Mr. Anomeritis is due to sign a protocol of cooperation in the agricultural sector, including irrigation systems, olive tree cultivation, fishing and viniculture.

Greece could spur closer EU, Black Sea ties

Member states of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) group and the European Union have a mutual interest in forging closer ties and Greece, a member of both institutions, could promote the approach, delegates to a conference said yesterday in Athens .

The two-day meeting is organised by the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Business Council under the auspices of the Greek foreign ministry. Delegates also said that businesses in the Black Sea region could take initiatives to support growth and contribute, in their own way, to stability in a region characterised by its multicultural, religious, political and economic diversity.

The delegates include ministers, analysts and businessmen from Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. Greece currently holds BSEC's six-month rotating presidency, and that of its business council.

Drakoulis Fountoukakos, the secretary general of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that a total of around 4,300 Greek businesses had expanded into the 15 states of the Balkans and Black Sea region, with total investments exceeding 2.5 billion US dollars.

Gov't confirms change in dates for Clinton visit to Athens

The government yesterday confirmed press reports that US President Bill Clinton's visit to Greece would take place one week earlier than scheduled.

Press reports, citing sources, in several Athens newspapers said yesterday that Mr. Clinton asked for the change.

The US president was scheduled to visit Athens on Nov. 22-24, after attending an Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Istanbul on Nov. 19. He is also slated to visit Bulgaria and Italy.

The US president will be in Greece at the time of events marking the 26th anniversary of a students' uprising at the Athens Polytechnic.

Replying to reporters' questions, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas stated categorically that the government was not considering postponing Polytechnic events which culminate in a march to the US embassy on Nov. 17.

Asked why President Clinton's visit had been changed, Mr. Reppas attributed it to a US desire to facilitate the participation of First Lady Hillary Clinton in the visit to Greece.

G. Papandreou's European contacts in October, November

Foreign Minister George Papandreou will begin a series of contacts with his European counterparts to promote Greek positions in light of the upcoming European Union Helsinki summit.

Immediately after returning from the informal European Council in Tampere, Finland, (October 15-16) on Oct. 18, Mr. Papandreou will meet US President Bill Clinton's Cyprus envoy, Alfred Moses, and the US State Department's special coordinator for Cyprus , Tom Weston, who will arrive in Athens from Ankara and then leave for Nicosia.

Mr. Papandreou will leave for London on Oct. 18 in the afternoon to meet his British counterpart Robin Cook and possibly British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The next day, Mr. Papandreou will arrive in Madrid to meet his Spanish counterpart Abel Matutes and probably Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar.

Mr. Papandreou will go to Rome on Oct. 20 to meet his Italian counterpart Lamberto Dini.

Mr. Papandreou will visit Canada on Oct. 31, from where he will leave for Boston on Nov. 4 to address an event organised by Harvard. He will leave for Paris from Boston to meet his French counterpart Hubert Vedrine and French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.

Prime Minister Costas Simitis will also be in Paris as of Nov. 8 to attend the Socialist International's meeting.

Mr. Papandreou will leave for The Hague on Nov. 9 to meet his Dutch counterpart Van Archen. He will then return to Athens to be present during the visit by US President Bill Clinton.

On Nov. 15, Mr. Papandreou will participate in the European Union's Council of General Affairs and then leave for Moscow to meet his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov, as well as Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

On Nov. 18-19, Mr. Papandreou will accompany Prime Minister Costas Simitis at the OSCE's summit in Istanbul.

Gov't on recent Simitis message to Ecevit

The government announced yesterday that a message relayed to Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit by PM Costas Simitis on Monday was sent on the occasion of the Greek ambassador's courtesy call on the former.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas denied that there had been any conscious decision on Mr. Simitis' part that "the timing was right" -only that the meeting between the two provided an opportunity.

Mr. Simitis said in a message to his Turkish counterpart that Greece has contributed to the creation of a positive climate in Greek-Turkish relations and has taken specific steps vis-a-vis Ankara, therefore, it expects reciprocal action in bilateral relations and over Cyprus.

The message was delivered by Greek ambassador Ioannis Korantis during a courtesy call to the Turkish prime minister on Monday.

Mr. Reppas asked that the event not be linked to other developements and for there to be no speculation on other initiatives beyond the fact of the meeting.

Thessaloniki to host conference on Balkan reconstruction

Thessaloniki will host a high-level international conference on Balkan reconstruction on Nov. 2 and 3, to be attended by prominent officials of several governments and international organisations, it was announced yesterday.

The conference, to be op ened by the special coordinator of the Stability Pact for SE Europe, Bondo Hombach, will include discussion of inter-Balkan cooperation in business and banking, and of the financing of the planned reconstruction projects.

National economy minister Yiannos Papantoniou will present his government's Balkan reconstruction plan, to be followed by an exchange of views with his Balkan counterparts.

Representatives of the European Investment Bank, the World Bank and other international organisations will address the session on finance, while European, American and Balkan businessmen will contribute to discussion on investment.

New impetus for Greek, Turkish Business Councils

The presidents of the Greek and Turkish Business Councils, Panayiotis Koutsikos and Sarik Tara, expressed optimism over the further development of trade and business relations between Greece and Turkey.

A decision was reached during the meeting of Greek and Turkish businessmen participating in the two countries' corresponding business councils on creating eight work groups from each side which will probe prospects for the further development of cooperations in the banking and financing sector, the insurance sector, shipping, transports, tourism, the Stock Exchange and small and medium-size enterprises, as well as cooperation with third countries and in the sector of environmental protection.

Stocks jump, fuelled by small cap trade

Equity prices rose sharply in heavy trade yesterday helped by strong buying interest in smaller capitalisation stocks.

The general index overtook the 6,000 level, ending at the day's high. The index ended 2.59 percent higher at 6,217.74 points, up from 5,972.75 the previous day. Turnover was 490 billion drachmas.

Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-0.93 pct), Leasing (+8.0 pct), Insurance (+2.0 pct), Investment (+4.76 pct), Construction (+5.02 pct), Industrials (+4.62 pct), Miscellaneous (+2.91 pct) and Holding (+6.72 pct). The parallel market index for sma ller capitalisation stocks ended 6.01 percent up while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks rose 1.14 percent to 3,018.44 points.

National Bank of Greece ended at 23,695 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 23, 900, Commercial Bank at 27,000, Titan Cement at 37,800, Hellenic Petroleum at 5,616, Intracom at 17,982, Minoan Lines at 11,430, Panafon at 8,100 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,350.

Yield rises in 10-year bond auction

The average weighted yield rose to 6.89 percent in an auction yesterday of 10-year bonds from 6.76 percent in the previous sale on September 14, the public debt managment agency said yesterday.

Bids submitted for the 175 billion drachmas worth of bonds being auctioned totalled 335.5 billion drachmas, almost double the amount offered, the finance ministry's debt agency said in a statement.

The bond was a reopening of the January 29, 1999 issue carrying a 6.30 percent coupon. Settlement is on October 15.

Quake cost higher than expected, gov't says

The cost of an earthquake that hit Athens on September 7 is much higher than initial estimates, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis on the economy, Mr. Papantoniou said that the cost of the quake was placing pressure on the government's fiscal policy.

The minister noted that although revenue was expected to continue improving in the next few years, the cost of repairing damage from the quake would exceed an original forecast of around 200 billion drachmas.

Mr. Papantoniou noted that the cost of the earthquake would spill over a decade because the government was subsidising quake-related loans. He expressed the hope that up to 50 or 70 percent of the total cost would be covered by European Union funds.

Greek-Israeli business contacts for 2004 Olympics

The Israeli embassy in Athens is holding a conference on November 24-25 to promote business cooperation with Greek enterprises for the 2004 Olympics to be hosted in the capital.

Attending the conference will be 28 Israeli companies from sectors including construction, security systems, building materials and software.

The delegation is also to meet leaders of the 2004 organising committee.

The embassy is holding the conference in Athens with the Israeli Export Institute and Greek-Israeli Chamber of Commerce.

WEATHER

Fair weather will prevail throughout Greece today. Winds variable, light to moderate in the Ionian and Aegean seas. Athens will be sunny with temperatures between 13-28C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 11- 26C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          305.744
Pound sterling       504.730
Japanese yen (100)   287.640
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.            43.860
Austrian sch.         23.689
Spanish peseta         1.959
Swedish kr.           37.492
Norwegian kr.         39.210
Swiss franc          204.357
Port. Escudo           1.626
Can. dollar          207.328
Aus. dollar          199.625
Cyprus pound         564.289
Euro                 325.971
(C.E.)
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