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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-11-03

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, 03/11/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis-US ambassador talks focus on upcoming Clinton visit
  • Greece only country with detailed Balkan plan, Hombach says
  • Greek plan for launch in 2000
  • Stability Pact terms need simultaneous application
  • Athens bourse ends higher in volatile trade
  • France Telecom to sell stake in Panafon
  • Gov't calls Clinton visit an opportunity to expand relations
  • Superfast III garage fire claims the lives of 11 stowaways
  • EIB investment plans discussed in Thessaloniki
  • Djukanovic calls for end to internecine strife in Kosovo
  • Athens 2004 marketing plan ready for IOC approval
  • Counter-terrorism meeting opens in Athens
  • Figures on newspaper readership in Greece
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Simitis-US ambassador talks focus on upcoming Clinton visit

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday received US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns for a more than one-hour meeting to discuss preparations for US President Bill Clinton's upcoming visit to Athens. No statements were made afterwards.

Mr. Clinton will visit Greece from Nov. 13 to 15. He will also be making an official visit to Turkey between Nov. 15-17 ahead of an Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Istanbul (Nov. 17-19). The US president will then tr avel to Italy and Bulgaria, Nov. 20-21 and 21- 23, respectively.

Sources told ANA that the meeting took place at the request of the US envoy, who wished to discuss with the premier the finalisation of Mr. Clinton's itinerary here, the contents of his talks with the Greek leadership, as well as demonstrations reported ly planned by various groups in protest of the visit, which has apparently caused concern among US officials.

The sources said Mr. Simitis reiterated to Mr. Burns that the Greek government did not intend to prohibit demonstrations during the visit, but would not allow demonstrations that would endanger the visit or mar the country's image abroad.

Greece only country with detailed Balkan plan, Hombach says

Greece is the only country to present a detailed action plan for reconstruction of the Balkans, and it has also set an example of steady economic growth for other countries in the region, said Bodo Hombach, special coordinator for the southeast Europe Stability Pact.

Addressing an international conference in Thessaloniki yesterday on reconstruction for southeastern Europe, Mr. Hombach also implied the forces which had sought a military solution to the Kosovo crisis were not moving fast enough to raise funds for the project.

He appeared unable to determine exactly when and where a decision would be made on the amount of funds to be raised. The plan would be hammered at a financial summit - possibly in Brussels or Lisbon - which would include the world's eight richest nations, major financial institutions and finance ministers from southeastern Europe, Mr. Hombach said.

He noted, however, that it would be better to wait for another two or three months and not take any hasty decisions on the issue.

The official praised Greece's cooperation with other states in the region, pointing in particular to its development programmes with Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

He said Greece was a good example of how a country could develop, noting that average per capita income 25 years ago was 40 percent of the European Union average compared to 80 percent today.

Greek plan for launch in 2000

Greece's 180 billion drachma reconstruction plan for the Balkans will come into effect next year, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday.

Addressing a meeting on the sidelines of the conference, he said the monies would be divided into annual installments of roughly 30 billion drachmas over 2000-2004.

The beneficiaries of the scheme are Albania, Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Romania and Kosovo.

A separate section of the plan covers Yugoslavia. The funds will be released if Belgrade complies with terms set in the Stability Pact.

Stability Pact terms need simultaneous application

Reconstruction of the Balkans will be successful only if the three terms of the Stability Pact - economic development, security and democratisation - are pursued simultaneously, Deputy National Economy Minister Rodoula Zissi said yesterday.

Addressing the conference, Ms Zissi said Greece could play the role of guarantor in the development of Balkan countries.

She urged the creation of laws to protect investments. The need for a joint growth strategy and the prospects of Balkan countries joining the EU were the main concerns stated by the finance ministers of Bulgaria and Romania in their addresses to the conference.

Bulgarian Finance Minister Muravei Radev told the conference that a joint strategy by major financial organisations was needed for the region, instead of a country-by-country strategy adopted to date.

Athens bourse ends higher in volatile trade

Equity prices ended a highly volatile session moderately higher yesterday reflecting a lack of fresh incentives to buy.

The general index ended 0.34 percent higher at 5,649.60 points, off the day's high of 5,687 but sharply off the day's low of 5,500 points. Turnover was a moderate 271.5 billion drachmas.

Shares in the Industrials and Investment sectors attracted heavy demand pushing the two indices 1.08 and 1.20 percent higher respectively.

Other sector indices ended as follows: Banks (+0.14 pct), Leasing (-1.30 pct), Insurance (-0.71 pct), Construction (-1.51 pct), Miscellaneous (-0.35 pct) and Holding (-0.35 pct).

National Bank of Greece ended at 22,890 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 23, 340, Commercial Bank at 24,600, Titan Cement (common) at 38,880, Hellenic Petroleum at 5,140, Intracom at 15,300, Minoan Lines at 9,780, Panafon at 4, 095 and Hellenic Telecoms at 6,870.

France Telecom to sell stake in Panafon

France Telecom will sell its 20 percent equity stake in Panafon through an international share offering and an international bond convertible into Panafon's shares, George Koronias, Panafon's chief executive, said yesterday.

Speaking to reporters during a press conference, Mr. Koronias said the international share offer would include an offering to institutional investors, domestic and abroad, and a public offering to Greek retail investors along with a private placement to Panafon's staff.

Panafon's road show began yesterday in Athens and will continue in foreign capitals until November 19.

The share offering to Greek investors will be launched on November 16 and subscriptions will last until November 19.

The share price will be set on November 21.

Gov't calls Clinton visit an opportunity to expand relations

The government said last night that the upcoming visit by US President Bill Clinton would be an opportunity to expand the friendly ties between Greece and the United States.

Speaking after a session of the inner cabinet last night, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said "the relations between Greece and the US are at a good level. The traditional ties of friendship with that country and its people are strengthened by the lengthy presence of a large and prosperous ethnic Greek community in the US.

"The political, military and economic cooperation with the US is an element which can contribute to securing conditions of peace, stability and security in the Balkans and SE Europe."

He added that the government would present Athens' positions on Cyprus issue and Greek-Turkish relations as well as Greece's role in the region.

Superfast III garage fire claims the lives of 11 stowaways

A total of 11 stowaways died as a result of a fire that broke out Monday evening aboard the Superfast III ferry boat, shortly after the vessel set sail from Patra towards Ancona, Italy.

Patra harbourmaster K. Kontogeorgos said no identification papers or travel documents were found on the bodies.

Earlier, it had been announced that all 307 registered passengers and 106 crew members were all accounted for and had been safely evacuated.

The casualties, all stowaways, were believed to be Kurdish illegal immigrants, Mr. Kontogeorgos said, adding that an investigation would be launched to determine how they managed to board the ferry undetected. They died of asphyxiation.

Meanwhile, sources said the stowaways had either taken advantage of the commotion in the port before the ferry set sail to sneak aboard, or were aided by individuals "for a fee".

EIB investment plans discussed in Thessaloniki

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has selected 40 investment plans budgeted at six billion euros as part of Balkan reconstruction, EIB Vice- President Panayiotis Gennimatas announced yesterday in Thessaloniki.

The bank will cover 50 per cent of each investment proposal's budget, while the rest will be invested by donors, commercial banks, governments or other national and international agencies, he said, while addressing a conference on the Balkans, and organ ised by the Thessaloniki Northern Greece Industries' Association.

Djukanovic calls for end to internecine strife in Kosovo

Montenegro's President Milo Djukanovic yesterday called for an end to ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, saying the international community had to take 'drastic measures' to protect civilian Serb and Montenegrin population in the troubled Yugoslav province.

Speaking to government and business officials from Balkans countries attending a conference on reconstruction of the Balkans in Thessaloniki, Mr. Djukanovic said the unarmed Serb and Montenegrin population in Kosovo was "paying the price of (Yugoslav leader Slobodan) Milosevic's policies" at the hands of Albanian Kosovars.

Montenegro, he said, could co-exist with Serbia only on an "equal and democratic basis". "If Serbia doesn't like that, Montenegro will insist on its independent course," he said.

Greece, he said, was a model of a developed European country, proof that Europe was possible in the Balkans.

Athens 2004 marketing plan ready for IOC approval

The Athens 2004 Olympic Games marketing plan is ready and waiting for International Olympic Committee approval later in the month, 2004 marketing director Georgios Bolos told reporters at a news conference yesterday.

Managing Director Costas Bakouris said Greece can expect to raise 285 million dollars from sponsorships.

Sydney, holding the Olympic Games in 2000, set a sponsorship revenue target of $570 million, 90 percent of which has been achieved.

Mr. Bakouris said organisers were trying to avoid the commercialisation of the Games, without this entailing further burdening the state.

Counter-terrorism meeting opens in Athens

European and international experts on counter-terrorism will be in Athens for today's conference on dealing with terrorist threats or acts before and during major sports, cultural or other events.

The meeting is organised by the public order ministry and dubbed 'Hercules'. It will run through to Nov. 4 and has drawn representatives from the European Union and G-8 countries, as well as Interpol, Europol and the European Commission.

The goal of the meeting is the mutual exchange of information and practical experience in dealing with terrorist threats or activities in the the wake of the directions taken by terrorist groups and new developments in armaments and methodologies.

Figures on newspaper readership in Greece

An average reader provides only 3.5 to seven minutes to read his daily newspaper, while 85 per cent of readers choose only the pages interesting them out of bulky newspapers a nd ignore the main title.

Twenty years ago, 85 per cent of material appearing in magazines was "fresh news", while today 95 per cent of their material is "frozen" and comes primarily from the Internet.

Over the past 10 years, about 735 new magazines were published in Greece. However, their circulations will follow a downward trend in coming years, as is already the case with newspapers.

In the Attica region today, 23 daily newspapers are published, 21 weeklies, 362 magazines and 44 publications by professional organisations and unions, while 47 radio and TV stations are operating.

Data on the present and future of journalistic employment in Greece constituted the object of a big research study prepared by the Greek department of the Union of European Journalists in the framework of the European Union programme Integra in cooperat ion with the Professional Training Centre Dimitra from Larisa and presented in Thessaloniki yesterday.

According to forecasts, the participation of newspapers and magazines in the market will decrease by 3.6 per cent by the year 2001, but will increase 22 per cent in the electronic media.

WEATHER

Scattered showers in most parts of the country with sunny spells in western and northern Greece. Possibility of storms in the Aegean Sea. Winds northerly, light to moderate, turning strong in the Aegean Sea. Possibility of showers in Athens with temperatures between 13-21C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 10-19C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          310.546
Pound sterling       511.316
Japanese yen (100)   296.231
French franc          49.762
German mark          166.895
Italian lira (100)    16.858
Irish Punt           414.465
Belgian franc          8.092
Finnish mark          54.899
Dutch guilder        148.121
Danish kr.            43.914
Austrian sch.         23.722
Spanish peseta         1.962
Swedish kr.           37.662
Norwegian kr.         39.462
Swiss franc          203.578
Port. Escudo           1.628
Can. dollar          211.336
Aus. dollar          199.164
Cyprus pound         565.797
Euro                 326.418
(C.E.)
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