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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-11-04

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, 04/11/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Cabinet approves 'last drachma-linked budget before euro entry`
  • Gov't deflects criticism from Washington Post over terrorism issue
  • EU, Balkan issues top tripartite meeting in Bulgaria
  • Ex-King claims compensation
  • SE Europe reconstruction conference concludes in Thessaloniki
  • Tsohatzopoulos on nuclear weapons issue
  • Market changes direction, ends substantially lower
  • DEH launches new power unit
  • Paris Stock Exchange head confident of Greece's EMU entry
  • Barclaycard Visa to be offered in Greece
  • Allianz-AGF Kosmos-Helvetia merger approved
  • Ecumenical Patriarch inaugurates cathedral construction in Albania
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Cabinet approves 'last drachma-linked budget before euro entry`

The Cabinet yesterday approved next year's budget, the last before the country's expected participation in Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

"We create wealth and we redistribute it," Prime Minister Costas Simitis said after the Cabinet meeting.

The budget for the year 2000 includes the basis of next year's budget which will put the country in line with the stability pact for member states in the euro zone.

National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou submitted the budget to Parliament later yesterday.

The prime minister noted that the budget was the last to be drafted in drachmas - the next budget will be drafted in euros - saying that a new era was starting for Greece.

"The budget", Mr. Simitis said, "represents the successful course of the economy" and underlined that the government would remain steadfast on the same course.

The budget forecasts a 5.8 percent rise in revenues, a further cut in government deficits, tax cuts worth 470 billion drachmas and a 7.4 percent increase in public spending.

Gov't deflects criticism from Washington Post over terrorism issue

The government yesterday voiced its displeasure over a major US daily's article regarding terrorism in Greece, expressing a hope that opinions of anonymous "US officials" do not reflect the positions of the US administration on the issue.

"The particular concern and effort of the Greek government and state services in combatting terrorism cannot be questioned in the least bit," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said in response to a relevant question.

"The positions of American officials, who are included in the report, are not only far from reality, but offer negative services to Greek-American relations. We hope that they do not reflect the positions of the United States government," he added.

'Washington Post' reported that the United States has pressured Athens to take action against terrorism in Greece and especially against the infamous "November 17" terrorist group, active since 1975 and responsible for dozens of murders and terrorist attacks since then.

Greece's envoy to Washington yesterday delivered a demarche at the US State Department over the "Washington Post" article referring to terrorism in Greece.

US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns stated last night that any suggestions that terrorism suspects are linked to the Greek government are groundless and do not represent US policies and views.

EU, Balkan issues top tripartite meeting in Bulgaria

Prime Minister Costas Simitis leaves for Bulgaria today to take part in a tripartite summit meeting with Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov and Romanian President Emil Constantinescu.

This will be the second Greek-Bulgarian-Romanian summit meeting between the three countries. The first meeting, a Greek initiative, was held in October 1998 in Delphi.

European unification and EU expansion are expected to top the agenda of the meeting. Greece, as the only EU member country in the region, is taking an important role in Bulgaria and Romania's attempts to join the Union.

Ways in which to expand cooperation between the three countries are also expected to be examined; some sectors on which there is already some cooperation are crime, drug trafficking, illegal immigration and joint transport and infrastructure projects.

Ex-King claims compensation

Press reports yesterday that Greece's former king had passed the first hurdle in claiming compensation from the Greek state for the seizure of royal properties found most Greek government officials unmoved. Athens daily 'Ethnos' reported that Constantin e Glucksburg is demanding 615 billion drachmas following the approval of his application for compensation to be heard at the Court of Human Rights. "The Greek government will do battle at the Court of Human Rights," Alternate Foreign Minister Ch ristos Rokofyllos simply said.

SE Europe reconstruction conference concludes in Thessaloniki

A two-day "Conference on the Reconstruction of SE Europe" came to a close in Thessaloniki last night with the announcement of the conclusions reached.

The text of conclusions said programmes for the reconstruction of southeastern Europe in the framework of the Stability Pact should move with speedy rates and adequate funds so as to cover the 10-year worsening of the position of countries in the region , compared to countries in central and eastern Europe.

Particular importance is attributed to the present underdeveloped regional cooperation with the promotion of joint investment programmes, both at the level of private initiative and states. Promoting regional cooperation and avoiding each country being handled separately is a necessary precondition for the reconstruction programme's success.

Processes for the accession of southeastern European countries to the European Union should be speeded up with customs association being the first step.

Tsohatzopoulos on nuclear weapons issue

Greece does not have means to transport or use nuclear weapons, Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday, responding to a relevant question in Parliament.

Commenting on the question, tabled in Parliament by Communist Party of Greece (KKE) deputy Orestis Kolozov and Coalition for the Left (Synspismos) deputy Maria Damanaki, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said: "We stand against the proliferation of nuclear weapons and we have the moral and political weight to oppose the construction of a Turkish nuclear plant oposite Cyprus," he said.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the deputies who tabled the question are creating an issue for no reason, while he also denied reports that there is danger of a nuclear accident in Greece.

Market changes direction, ends substantially lower

Equity prices came under strong pressure yesterday to end substantially lower, halting a two-day advance on the Athens Stock Exchange.

The general index ended 1.80 percent lower at 5,548.09 points, off the day's lows of 5,525 points. Turnover was a moderate 302.2 billion drachmas.

The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks, however, ended 1.99 percent higher. The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 1.95 percent to 2,813.91 points.

National Bank of Greece ended at 22,300 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 24, 700, Commercial Bank at 24,000, Titan Cement (common) at 39,000, Hellenic Petroleum at 4,900, Intracom at 14,530, Minoan Lines at 9,690, Panafon at 4, 050 and Hellenic Telecoms at 6,750.

DEH launches new power unit

Public Power Corporation (DEH) yesterday launched the official commercial operation of its new electricity power station in Platanovrissi, Drama, northern Greece.

The two power units of the station, totalling 100 MWatts, are expected to generate electricity power totalling 230 giga-watts annually.

The power station has been connected with DEH's national electricity grid and will be powered by the waters of Nestos River.

It is the second power station built on the river, part of DEH's plan to promote a large hydro-electric project in the area, with a total power of 1, 015 giga-watts.

The project also includes the construction of a water tank with a capacity of 90 million cubic metres.

Paris Stock Exchange head confident of Greece's EMU entry

The president of the Paris Stock Exchange and the Federation of European Stock Exchanges, Jean Francois Theodore, addressed an event organised by the Union of Greek Banks (ETE) in Athens yesterday, where he underlined that the Greek Stock Exchange has the best performances in Europe this year thanks to the Greek economy's dynamic development.

Mr. Theodore also expressed certainty that Greece will join the group of euro zone countries on Jan. 1, 2001 in accordance with the timetable set. Greece is expected to apply for EMU entry in March next year.

Barclaycard Visa to be offered in Greece

One of Europe's best known credit cards, Barclaycard Visa, is expected to soon be available in Greece.

The credit card, presented yesterday by Barclay's Bank in Greece officials, will be provided for those interested with a free subscription for the first year, while the interest rate will be 9.9 per cent for the first six months.

The card features high credit limits - up to three million drachmas - and insurance coverage for travel accidents; the transfer of a balance from a different card, etc.

Allianz-AGF Kosmos-Helvetia merger approved

A merger between the insurance companies Allianz, AGF Kosmos and Helvetia with the creation of Allianz General Insurances and Allianz Life has been ratified by a ministerial decision.

At the same time, a general assembly meeting decided to increase the two new companies' share capital by 6.5 billion drachmas.

From the point of view of insurance premium production, the Allianz group currently holds third place in the Greek insurance market with insurance premiums expected to total 60 billion drachmas for 1999. It is reminded that the insurance group also has active participation in the fiscal sector with 10 mutual funds boasting total assets of 200 billion drachmas, all managed by Allianz Elliniki AEDAK.

Ecumenical Patriarch inaugurates cathedral construction in Albania

Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, currently on an official visit to Albania since Tuesday, inaugurated the construction of a cathedral in the northern town of Shkoder yesterday.

It is the first time the Ecumenical Patriarch is visiting the country whose population is 70 per cent Moslem, 20 per cent Orthodox Christian and 10 per cent Catholic.

The Patriarch received a state welcome by the Albanian government in Tirana at the start of his lengthy visit to the country.

He was also met at the airport by the Holy Synod of the Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Albania, headed by the Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania Anastasios, as well as a host of Albanian officials.

In a statement on his arrival, Vartholomeos said "the Ecumenical Patriarchate is intensively watching efforts being made for the reconstruction of Albania, as well as the Albanian people's effort to take the position belonging to them in the European family.

WEATHER

Scattered showers in most parts of the country today 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 11-20C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 10-19C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          310.744
Pound sterling       512.566
Japanese yen (100)   298.473
French franc          49.732
German mark          166.793
Italian lira (100)    16.848
Irish Punt           414.213
Belgian franc          8.087
Finnish mark          54.867
Dutch guilder        148.032
Danish kr.            43.872
Austrian sch.         23.707
Spanish peseta         1.960
Swedish kr.           37.617
Norwegian kr.         39.482
Swiss franc          202.809
Port. Escudo           1.627
Can. dollar          210.998
Aus. dollar          200.186
Cyprus pound         563.972
Euro                 326.219
(C.E.)
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