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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-10-17

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, 17/10/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Lower interest rates by year's end - minister
  • Simitis: Turkey's EU application must be genuine
  • Medecins Sans Frontieres Nobel prize deserved, minister says
  • Hostages released by Abkhazia gunmen
  • AI protests human rights abuses in US
  • Too soon to predict Greek euro entry, Duisenberg says
  • Revered icon arrives in Athens
  • Queen Sophia of Spain to inaugurate El Greco exhibition
  • Harmonised CPI at 2.8%
  • Retail sales increase 2.64%
  • Greek equities end week sharply down
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Lower interest rates by year's end - minister

Greece will have lower interest rates before the year is out, according to statements by National Economy and Finance Minister Yannos Papandoniou in Sunday's edition of Ethnos. Papandoniou said interest rates would fall by the end of the year but denied recent press reports of plans for a further reduction in the price of new cars. He said he was confident the Greek stock market would continue to perform well for the next two years and said that conservative opposition New Democracy would only work against the national goal of inclusion in economic and monetary union if it came to power.

Simitis: Turkey's EU application must be genuine

Turkey's candidacy for European Union membership must be genuine, as this implies responsibilities, obligations and not simply rights for the candidate-country, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said at the end of a special summit of EU leaders in Tampere, Finland on Friday. The issue of the neighbouring country's candidacy was discussed during the official dinner on Friday night, where it received support, but with many reservations, regarding the conditions which Turkey must meet. The candidacy proposal was submitted by Commission President Romano Prodi, who said the Commission wished to open Turkey's European prospects, and that the country should satisfy accession criteria during the pre-accession phase. Mr. Simitis told reporters that many of the European leaders who addressed the dinner said that any Turkish candidacy should be real and not bogus, fulfiling the conditions set by the Copenhagen conference and EU summits. The premier announced that in the next few days Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his alternate, Christos Rokofyllos, would tour EU capitals to brief governments on Greece's views regarding Turkey's candidacy.

Medecins Sans Frontieres Nobel prize deserved, minister says

Health Minister Lambros Papadimas on Friday welcomed the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), saying that Greeks felt particularly proud as the local branch of the non- governmental organisation was extremely active. "True to the spirit of Hippocrates, Medecins sans Frontieres has offered and will continue to unselfishly offer its services, when poverty and social inequality place the precious commodity of health at risk," Papadimas said in a statement. Papadimas said the health ministry would continue to stand by the organisation in its ground-breaking work.

Hostages released by Abkhazia gunmen

A Greek UN observer held hostage by gunmen in the breakaway region of Abkhazia, Georgia, has been released, along with the other two UN staff being held. The news was confirmed by Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, currently in Tel Aviv for an official visit. The remaining three hostages were released a day after four were set free by the gunmen. The observers from Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Uruguay and Greece were abducted by nine gunmen 75 kilometres northeast of Sukhumi together with their Russian interpreter after their helicopter came under fire on Wednesday.

AI protests human rights abuses in US

Supporters of Amnesty International on Friday staged a protest outside the US embassy in Athens as part of the advocacy group's worldwide campaign to highlight human rights abuses in the United States. In addition to AI's Greek chapter members, campaign coordinators from around the world also took part in the rally. One of the protests included a replica of a chained Statue of Liberty holding a black book listing all the human rights violations AI says are committed in the United States.

Too soon to predict Greek euro entry, Duisenberg says

European Central Bank President Wim Duisenberg on Friday welcomed Greece's efforts to qualify for the euro zone, but said it was too soon to forecast an entry date. "The determined efforts of Greece to achieve such convergence have to be commended. However, it is too early to reach a firm conclusion. Next year the European Central Bank will produce a convergence report to analyse what has been accomplished," said Mr. Duisenberg at the Bank of Greece's annual Zolotas lecture.

Revered icon arrives in Athens

"Axion Esti", the most revered icon on the Mt. Athos all-male monastic community, was brought to Athens on Friday in a rare trip outside the confines of the holy community for display to bring comfort to the September 7 killer earthquake victims. The miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary and Christ, belonging to the Karyes Monastery, was accompanied on the journey from Mt. Athos to Thessaloniki and from there by airplane to Athens by the Mt. Athos community elders. Donations left by worshippers will be donated to ease the plight of those left homeless by the September 7 killer earthquake in Athens. The icon will be on display until October 26.

Queen Sophia of Spain to inaugurate El Greco exhibition

The government said on Friday that Queen Sophia of Spain was visiting Greece in a private and not official capacity. Sophia, who arrived yesterday, will officially open an exhibition featuring the works of Domenikos Theotokopoulos, 'El Greco', at the National Art Gallery on Monday evening. President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos is to hold a dinner in Sophia's honour tomorrow.

Harmonised CPI at 2.8%

Greece's harmonised consumer price index continued falling in September to an average year-on-year rate of 2.8 percent, down from 3.1 percent in August and 3.3 percent in July. The harmonised figures are used for international comparisons of the inflation rate and to evaluate the inflation convergence criterion and price stability for Economic and Monetary Union.

Retail sales increase 2.64%

Retail sales (in stable prices) increased by 2.64 percent in July compared with the same month last year, National Statistics Service said on Friday. The NSS said that the retail sales food prices' index rose by 9.8 percent while the clothing index increased by 7.4 percent in the same period. The same indices for the Attica region rose by 7.8 and 5.6 percent respectively in July.

Greek equities end week sharply down

Equity prices ended the week sharply lower hit by turbulence in the domestic money market and early reports of a new decline on Wall Street on Friday. The general index ended 2.17 percent lower at 5,788.49 points, off the day's lows of 5,704 points. Turnover was a huge 478 billion drachmas. Dealers said renewed pressures on the drachma's parity following negative comments by EU commissioner Pedro Solbes on Thursday undermined sentiment in the market. The Bank of Greece intervened again to defend the drachma selling 150 million euros.

WEATHER

The weather on Monday will be overcast with increased cloud in the north. Possibility of storms in the west later in the day. Winds will be mild to moderate and strong in the Ionian. Temperatures will range from 8-19 in the north, 11-25 in central Greece and 16-26 on the islands. The forecast for Athens on Monday is overcast with increased cloud in the north. Winds will be northerly mild, temperatures ranging from 15-24. In Thessaloniki, it will be overcast with mild winds, 13-19.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          302.996
Pound sterling       501.357
Japanese yen (100)   283.216
French franc          49.747
German mark          166.843
Italian lira (100)    16.853
Irish Punt           414.339
Belgian franc          8.089
Finnish mark          54.882
Dutch guilder        148.077
Danish kr.            43.910
Austrian sch.         23.715
Spanish peseta         1.961
Swedish kr.           37.305
Norwegian kr.         39.176
Swiss franc          205.111
Port. Escudo           1.628
Can. dollar          204.253
Aus. dollar          196.317
Cyprus pound         563.258
Euro                 326.318
(M.P.)
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