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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-10-20

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, 20/10/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Central bank reduces interest rates
  • Equity prices on the rebound
  • Papandreou in Rome for talks
  • Government announces new privatisation
  • Desire for bilateral disarmament
  • New measures to modernise coastal shipping
  • Restoration work on Parthenon frieze to start
  • One arrested, one sought in antiquities scam
  • Fire breaks out in Athens Airport, no injuries
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Central bank reduces interest rates

The Bank of Greece today reduced its basic intervention rates by half a percentage point (0.5 percent), bringing the Greek short-term lending rates closer to the corresponding euro-zone rates. The changes will go into effect tomorrow, October 21. More specifically, the country's central bank reduced the primary overnight lending rate to 11 percent from 11.5 percent and the secondary overnight rate to 9.25 percent from 9.75 percent. The Lombard rate was also lowered from 13.5 percent to 13 percent. The Bank of Greece further reduced its intervention rate by 0.50 percent to 11.5 percent from 12 percent.

Equity prices on the rebound

Equity prices rebounded spectacularly on Wednesday dramatically reversing a four-day decline which pushed the market 12.39 percent lower on the Athens Stock Exchange. A surprise decision by the Bank of Greece to lower its intervention rate by 50 basis points, paving the way for similar moves by commercial banks, combined with a recovery in international markets, following tame inflation data in the US, encouraged trading. The general index ended 5.78 percent higher at 5,704.26 points with turnover at 402 billion drachmas. The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks soared 7.86 percent while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 5.01 percent higher at 2,874.53 points.

Papandreou in Rome for talks

The European Union can seize a unique opportunity to contribute to a resolution of the Cyprus issue in light of Turkey's desire to become a candidate for EU membership, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said in a newspaper interview published on Wednesday. "We are not setting ultimatums. We are convinced that Turkey can be a real and not hypothetical candidate... Both the EU and Ankara will be required to show the political courage needed to take the necessary decisions. In relation to Turkey, this means that it has to begin the necessary reforms and to improve its relations with neighbouring countries," Papandreou told Italian daily Corriere della Sera. A final decision on Turkey's candidacy in the EU depended on "certain special situations". These included progress on human rights and the Cyprus issue.

Government announces new privatisation

The Greek government today announced the privatisation of Hellenic Vehicles Industry (ELBO) through the sale of a majority stake ranging from 51 to 67 percent. The decision was announced following a meeting between National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou with the defence and development ministers. The meeting also decided that Salomon Smith Barney, the US investment firm, would seek a strategic investor to acquire a minority stake in Hellenic Aerospace Industry (EAB). The two moves are expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Desire for bilateral disarmament

The climate at a meeting in Athens on Wednesday indicated that political forces, local government authorities and major organisations in both Greece and Turkey desire a bilateral reduction of armaments. The meeting, entitled "Greece-Turkey, commencement of dialogue on a proportional, balanced reduction of armaments and armed forces" was organised by the Coalition of the Left and opened by party president Nikos Constantopoulos today. Constantopoulos presented a "framework agreement" which, he said, could constitute the basis for a bilateral accord for the reduction of armaments.

New measures to modernise coastal shipping

Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis today unveiled a package of measures aimed to protect investors and ensure the modernisation of domestic coastal shipping. Soumakis said he was worried over the fact that new applications for shipping licences were being used for speculative purposes on the Athens Stock Exchange. He said that ministry officials were ready to begin examining investor protection measures based on new ship orders by Greek coastal shipping companies. The measures would include binding terms for coastal shipping companies to begin operating a coastal line within an agreed timetable, raising fees on application approvals from 20 to 300 or 500 million drachmas and stricter rules on granting operating licences.

Restoration work on Parthenon frieze to start

The Central Archaeological Council today decided the commencement of restoration work on the western frieze of the Parthenon atop the Acropolis, six years after it was removed from the temple. The frieze, the work of Pheidias and his pupils, depicts figures from the Panathenaean Equestrians. The restoration project includes the removal of temporary supports, reattachment of broken-off fragments, and filling in crevices.

One arrested, one sought in antiquities scam

Police on Wednesday said they had arrested one man and were seeking another in relation to their illegal possession of antiquities. They said they had found ancient coins from the Classical and Mediaeval eras and a segment of a fresco from a church wall dating to the 18th century and negatives of various other antiquities during a search of a house in Kolonos. The owner of the house, Georgios Georgiopoulos, 47, was arrested. Some 400 ancient coins dating to the Mediaeval era, two pre-historic arrow heads and other antiquities were found in the Kesariani home of Antonis Markopoulos. He has not yet been detained.

Fire breaks out in Athens Airport, no injuries

A fire broke out early today on the first floor of the national carrier Olympic Airways' offices at Ellinikon Airport. Fire brigade officials told ANA the fire, which broke out about an hour after midnight, was caused by a short-circuit in a photocopy machine and quickly spread due to the flammable material in the office. Some 50 firefighters with 12 firetrucks were able to bring the fire under control an hour later.

WEATHER

Cloudy weather and scattered showers will prevail throughout Greece today. Winds variable, light to moderate. Partly cloudy in Athens with temperatures between 20-26C. Rain in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 16-20C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          302.104
Pound sterling       504.531
Japanese yen (100)   286.252
French franc          49.792
German mark          166.996
Italian lira (100)    16.868
Irish Punt           414.717
Belgian franc          8.097
Finnish mark          54.933
Dutch guilder        148.212
Danish kr.            43.956
Austrian sch.         23.737
Spanish peseta         1.963
Swedish kr.           37.014
Norwegian kr.         39.039
Swiss franc          205.542
Port. Escudo           1.629
Can. dollar          201.872
Aus. dollar          195.097
Cyprus pound         564.686
Euro                 326.616
(M.P.)
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