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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-11-30

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, 30/11/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • New poll confirms PASOK ascendency
  • Government happy with poll results
  • Turkey undermining itself - Athens
  • President in Portugal for visit
  • Athens Metro test runs to begin Wednesday
  • 780 bln dr earmarked for info super highway
  • Greek systems ready to swat millennium bug
  • Albanians the majority of residency applicants
  • Refugee info campaign to be launched
  • Privatisation revenues to reach 3trl dr.
  • Stock market's advance to continue
  • Profit-taking halts rally on ASE
  • Weak quake registers 3.7
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

New poll confirms PASOK ascendency

An opinon poll conducted by Metron Analysis and released on Tuesday confirmed for the third time in two days that ruling party PASOK continued to have a lead over opposition New Democracy. The poll, conducted on behalf of Flash radio station and focusing on respondents around the country, also affirmed Prime Minister Costas Simitis's lead in the popularity stakes over New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis. Simitis was seen to have 45.5 percent popularity, compared to 31 percent for Karamanlis. Some 32.5 percent of respondents said they would vote for PASOK, compared to 31.3 percent for ND. Democratic Social Movement garnered 5.6 percent of the vote, Communist Party 5.2 and Coalition of the Left and Progress 4.8 percent.

Government happy with poll results

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said later that the government was satisfied with the results of the polls over the past two days, including the one revealed today. "The government will continue its work to see the country go forward and improve the living standards of Greeks; not to improve PASOK's ratings," Reppas said. This attitude was in stark contrast to that of main opposition New Democracy which, Reppas said, did little more than talk about problems without proposing any solution.

Turkey undermining itself - Athens

Greece said on Tuesday that Turkey's stance was undermining its own European prospects, following comments from Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit that Turkey intended to make no concessions on the Cyprus issue or over the Aegean ahead of the EU summit in Helsinki. "Turkey is not being asked to make any concessions; but it is being asked to respect international law and international treaties," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said. Greece, Reppas added, will set out its position on the issue of Turkey's EU candidacy bid at the Helsinki summit on the basis of developments expected during the discussion on this issue. He reiterated a previous statement that the chances of Greece either approving or disagreeing with the bid were "50-50".

President in Portugal for visit

President Costis Stephanopoulos leaves for a four-day official visit to Portugal on Wednesday, at the invitation of his Portuguese counterpart Jorge Sampaio. Stephanopoulos's programme includes meetings with Sampaio and Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres. He is also due to inaugurate the new Greek embassy building in Lisbon and an exhibition of Byzantine icons at the dos Jeronimos Monastery. The Greek president returns to Athens on Saturday afternoon.

Athens Metro test runs to begin Wednesday

Test runs on the new Athens Metro will begin Wednesday morning, and the service is due to commence in the first half of January, it was announced today. The trial runs affect the Syntagma-Pentagon and Syntagma-Sepolia routes, both of which will take nine minutes. The new routes are extensions to the existing underground network.

780 bln dr earmarked for info super highway

The sum of 780 billion dr. has been earmarked by the state in the framework of the Information Society programme of the Third Community Support Framework (CSF) covering the period 2000-2006, for Greece's equal participation in the digital era, prime minister Costas Simitis said today. He said after chairing a meeting of a governmental ad hoc committee on the Information Society Operational Programme that five basic priorities were finalised during the meeting, and pertained to the modernisation of public administration with emphasis on serving the citizen, quality of life and improvement of the every-day life of the citizen in the sectors of health, environment and transport, telecommunications and postal services, development and employment, and education and culture. Simitis said the road that needed to be opened for materialisation of those priorities was a long one.

Greek systems ready to swat millennium bug

Greece is fully prepared to deal with any problems caused by the millennium bug in computer and electronic systems in the public sector at the end of the year, Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou said on Tuesday. "We do not expect any particular problems in the basic sectors of the economy and social sector," Papandreou told a news conference. Papandreou said all the procedures required to make systems year 2000 compliant have been taken by the Public Power Corporation, Public Gas Corporation and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation. Data current to end-October showed that Olympic Airways was 99 percent year 2000 compliant, as were Greek Railways, the Athens and Piraeus Water and Sewage Company, the stock market and public administration.

Albanians the majority of residency applicants

Albanians comprise the overwhelming majority of the illegal immigrants who have applied for residency status in Greece, a report from the National Institute for Labour showed on Tuesday. According to the report, 91 percent of immigrants who applied for residency status (or the so-called 'white card) come from Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Pakistan, Ukraine, Poland, Georgia, India, Egypt and the Philippines.

But, the report said, Albanian nationals were by far the biggest group applying for residency: 65 percent of applicants said their country of origin was Albania. Way behind in second place with 6.7 percent, were those applicants who said their country of origin was Bulgaria. Romanians accounted for 4.5 percent, Pakistanis for 2.9 percent and Ukrainians for 2.7 percent. In total, 369,629 immigrants filed applications for residency between January 1, 1998 and May 31, 1998.

Refugee info campaign to be launched

The European Commission and the UN High Commission for Refugees on Tuesday unveiled a campaign to inform the public about the need to assimilate refugees into mainstream society, part of a European-wide campaign. "Greece can and must help refugees who are outside our country and request refuge here," Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister George Paschalidis said in a message marking the start of the campaign. "The aim of this activity is to sensitise the whole of society ...the issue of refugees and their assimilation is a challenge," he said. The Commission-sponsored campaign 'A little warmth', which ends on March 31, 2000, is split into two parts: a 30 second TV spot and three advertisements in newspapers and magazines; and an instructional videotape and manual to be distributed to educational institutions and used with students aged over 14.

Privatisation revenues to reach 3trl dr.

Revenues from a privatisation programme that started in March 1998 are expected to total three trillion drachmas by the end of the year, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said today. Papantoniou said that this year's privatisation programme included the partial sale or the flotation of Thessaloniki International Fair, Hellenic Petroleum, Hellenic Industrial Development Bank, Athens Water and Sewage Company, Olympic Catering and Natural Gas Public Corporation. He said that Hellenic Vehicles Industry and Hellenic Aerospace Industry would be partially privatised in the early months of 2000. Papantoniou said that Greece has already fulfilled the two basic criteria for participating in EMU and that the country had completed the first stage towards entering the eurozone.

Stock market's advance to continue

The Greek stock market will continue moving higher reflecting the strength of the economy, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said today. Speaking to reporters during a press conference, Papantoniou said that the Greek market seemed to remain on an upward trend. "Fluctuations in the short- and medium-term will continue to exist, a normal development in a stock market operating in a free market," he said.

Profit-taking halts rally on ASE

Equity prices succumbed to early profit-taking to end lower on Tuesday, reversing a 7.0 percent rally in the previous two sessions on the Athens Stock Exchange. The general index ended 1.62 percent off, at 5,712.26 points, after falling as much as 2.5 percent early in the session. Traders said the market found strong resistance at the 5,800 level and that EU's positive comments on the Greek economy had already been discounted. The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks fell 1.41 percent while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks eased 1.84 percent to 2,853.94 points.

Weak quake registers 3.7

A weak earthquake measuring 3.7 on the Richter scale was recorded in Athens Tuesday morning. The Athens Observatory's Geodynamic Institute said the tremor was recorded at 11:19 a.m., coming from the Parnitha fault which gave off the devastating 5.9 Richter earthquake of September 7 in the Greek capital that killed 143 people and left thousands homeless. Seismologists said the tremor was part of the post-quake activity from the September earthquake.

WEATHER

Partly cloudy throughout the country today with increased clouds in the West and South. Winds northerly, northeasterly moderate to strong in the East and locally strong in the Aegean. Partly cloudy in Athens with sunny spells and temperatures from 6-16C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 1-13C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          322.830
Pound sterling       516.515
Japanese yen (100)   315.426
French franc          49.686
German mark          166.641
Italian lira (100)    16.832
Irish Punt           413.835
Belgian franc          8.079
Finnish mark          54.816
Dutch guilder        147.896
Danish kr.            43.823
Austrian sch.         23.686
Spanish peseta         1.959
Swedish kr.           37.936
Norwegian kr.         40.156
Swiss franc          203.390
Port. Escudo           1.626
Can. dollar          218.736
Aus. dollar          205.359
Cyprus pound         566.372
Euro                 325.922
(M.P.)
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