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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-12-08

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, 08/12/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Overseas Greeks call for just solution now to Cyprus problem
  • Inflation rises sharply to 2.6 pct
  • New rate for drachma in June, central bank says
  • Equities nosedive on inflation data
  • Greece, Turkey reach agreement on transport
  • New bourse index for launch tomorrow
  • Spending on advertising totaled Dr 51 bln in November
  • G. Papandreou: Most EU members favour substantive Turkish candidacy
  • Athens welcomes Cem statements regarding EU rules
  • Hungarian Defence Minister in Athens today
  • Simitis points to less state intervention, higher rates of
  • Draft decree on coastal, commercial shipping
  • Greek, Turkish students meet in Izmir
  • Authorities continue to monitor suspicious motorship's course
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Overseas Greeks call for just solution now to Cyprus problem

Representatives of Greek communities throughout the globe's four corners reiterated their long-standing demand yesterday for a just solution to the Cyprus problem, during a World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) assembly in Thessaloniki.

"The Cyprus issue ranks first on the list of national issues," the SAE resolution adds.

"The present status quo is unacceptable. The fait accompli will not stand. We strongly condemn the Turkish invasion and the continuing occupation of its (Cyprus') territory and the inhuman stand of Turkey on issues of the enclaved, the refugees and over the whereabouts of the missing persons, which violates every meaning of justice and the declaration of human rights.

The international organisation of ethnic Greeks abroad stressed that toward that end, "it (SAE) adopts and supports the resolutions of the United Nations; the UN General Assembly and the Security Council; those of the European Union; the G-8 group, the British Commonwealth and those of the Non-Aligned Movement".

SAE also called for an end to what it termed a breach of international legality and order created by the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus as well as tolerance of Ankara's intransigence.

Inflation rises sharply to 2.6 pct

Consumer price inflation in November was 2.6 percent year on year, up from 2.2 percent the previous month, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said yesterday.

The rise was almost entirely due to an increase in the price of oil worldwide and an appreciation of the U.S. dollar, NSS secretary general Nikos Karavitis told a news conference.

He forecast that inflation was likely to remain at roughly the same level in December.

A continuing increase in the price of oil would be offset by cuts in rates introduced by the Public Power Corporation on December 1, and reductions in charges by Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation, Mr. Karavitis said.

In addition, the council was due to discuss a possible reduction in interest rates.

According to sources, the Bank of Greece may lower its intervention rates by one percentage point on December 15.

New rate for drachma in June, central bank says

The drachma's parity against the euro will be readjusted in June 2000, central bank governor Lucas Papademos said in parliament yesterday.

Any revaluation was likely to have a positive impact in terms of inflation and any negative repercussions would be limited and reversible, Mr. Papademos said.

He was addressing a parliamentary committee on the central bank's interim monetary report.

Greece plans to apply for membership of the euro zone in March 2000, with a decision expected at a European Union summit in June of the same year.

The central bank governor also described a rise in consumer price inflation in November to 2.6 percent year on year as "transient".

He said that interest rates would decline in coming months along with an anticipated deceleration in inflation.

Equities nosedive on inflation data

Equity prices took a dramatic downturn on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday with the general index falling below the 5,400-point level. An announcement by the National Statistics Service that year-on-year inflation in November was running at 2.6 per cent, up from 2.2 per cent the previous month, had an adverse effect on investors.

The general index ended 2.55 percent lower at 5,349.18 points. Turnover was around 276 billion drachmas.

The parallel market index for small capitalisation stocks dropped 5.0 percent to 1,967.49 points.

The most heavily traded stocks were Panafon and Eskimo. National Bank of Greece ended at 22,900 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 24,500, Titan Cement Company (common) at 37,600, Hellenic Petroleum at 4,350, Intracom at 12,500, Panafon at 3,650 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6, 450.

Greece, Turkey reach agreement on transport

Greek and Turkish experts have reached agreement on transport matters that are expected to pave the way for further cooperation in the sector. A joint Greek-Turkish committee on transport met in Athens on December 1-2 to debate the issues.

The two sides said they were satisfied with the operation of a bus service connecting Athens to Istanbul, and planned to increase the daily frequency of buses.

A new bus route is due to begin operation in the first half of 2000 between the Greek city of Xanthi and Bursa in Turkey.

For freight and cargo transport, the committee agreed to set quotas for 12, 500 permits covering bilateral and transit transport.

Four thousand of the permits will be exempted from levies, except tolls, if used for transit.

Customs posts at the border crossings of Kipi (Greece) and Ypsala (Turkey) would soon be open on a 24-hour basis.

In addition, the two sides agreed to develop a quality rail link between Thessaloniki, Alexandroupolis and Istanbul. further cooperation in the Black Sea region.

New bourse index for launch tomorrow

The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) and FTSE International of the UK are to launch a new index for the Athens bourse tomorrow for medium and larger capitalisation stocks.

The gauge will supplement the existing ASE/FTSE-20 index for blue chips and heavily traded stocks and the Athens general index.

The new addition is to be named the ASE/FTSE Mid 40 and will start at 1,000 points calculated from closing prices on December 8, the index's base date, with the first day of operation set for December 9.

"The ASE/FTSE Mid 40 will support the swift growth of medium capitalisation companies and is expected to give the bourse further momentum," ASE chairman Spyros Kouniakis told a presentation.

Spending on advertising totaled Dr 51 bln in November

Spending on media advertising in Greece totalled 51 billion drachmas in November, up 12.25 percent on the same month of last year, Media Services SA said yesterday.

Television commercials again snapped up the lion's share of revenue at 25.2 billion drachmas, up 7.1 percent on November 1998, the company said in its monthly survey.

Spending on advertising in magazines totalled 14.5 billion drachmas (up 17.85 percent), followed by newspapers at 8.8 billion drachmas (up 16.04 percent) and radio commercials at 2.3 billion drachmas (up 24.36 percent).

The survey said that the biggest spenders on advertising in November were Bodyline slimming centres, the Viohalko metals company, electrical goods retailer Kotsovolos, mobile phone operator Panafon, and the Football Match Forecasting Organisation.

G. Papandreou: Most EU members favour substantive Turkish candidacy

Foreign Minister George Papandreou stressed yesterday most of Athens' EU partners were in favour of a substantive and not bogus candidacy for Turkey, while "one or two are still resisting."

However, on the whole, the Greek minister added that he was not satisfied with the progress of talks with the other "14".

Speaking to reporters before appearing at a closed session of Parliament's foreign affairs and defence committee, he said negotiations were "difficult" and would continue until the last minute prior to this week's EU Helsinki summit, while reiterating that Athens had not decided which stand it would adopt.

Speaking after the session, Mr. Papandreou said there was no possibility of a postponement on the decision over Turkey's possible candidacy beyond simply a "yes or no".

Athens welcomes Cem statements regarding EU rules

The Greek government yesterday welcomed statements from Turkish FM Ismail Cem that Ankara would fall in line with European Union rules, stressing however, that it wanted to see good intentions take shape and form.

"I would like to welcome the statement of my counterpart Ismail Cem, Foreign Minister of Turkey, who said that Turkey is ready to harmonise its laws which concern the way in which it deals with issues such as the Aegean; and bring its laws in line with European realities," the Greek minister said.

Mr. Papandreou said Mr. Cem's statement represented an important commitment, which, nevertheless, had to be incorporated in the concluding statements of this week's Helsinki summit.

"If things develop smoothly in Helsinki and Turkey is declared a candidate country, this will be largely thanks to Mr. Cem, the hard work of recent months, and, of course, the persistence which he showed and the help he offered, committing himself and his country to follow a European course...

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas also welcomed Mr. Cem's statement, but added that it was imperative that Turkey proceed toward some indication of its good will.

"This positive step must, from words, pass into deeds," Mr. Reppas said.

Hungarian Defence Minister in Athens today

Hungarian Defence Minister Janos Szabo will start a two-day visit to Greece today at the invitation of his Greek counterpart Akis Tsohatzopoulos.The two ministers will initially hold private talks. Tomorrow, Mr. Szabo will meet Parliament foreign affairs committee chairman and former FM Karolos Papoulias before being received by President Kostis Stephanopoulos.

Simitis points to less state intervention, higher rates of

Greece is moving from state intervention toward private enterprise, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday in an address at the annual Hellenic- American Chamber's conference on the Greek economy.

"Greek society is turning away from an outdated state interventionism towards that of creation, allowing for the productive forces of the country to develop," Mr. Simitis said.

He also noted that Greece is converging with Europe, not only economically but socially as well.

The prime minister said Economic Monetary Union (EMU) entry by 2001 is assured, while he called on entrepreneurs to prepare for the numerous and necessary changes to be introduced along with the new currency.

Mr. Simitis called on entrepreneurs to hold back on price increases, stressing that local government to also limit municipal taxes in order to aid government efforts in the battle against inflation.

Speaking on future economic policy, Mr. Simitis said that the next priority will be combatting unemployment.

Changing subjects, the premier attacked main opposition New Democracy (ND) for opposing government efforts to create what he called a climate of social cohesion and cooperation.

ND's reaction "is proof of political weakness, since the leadership of ND, with its stand, shows that it has commitments toward several groups and special interest attitudes," Mr. Simitis said.

Draft decree on coastal, commercial shipping

A draft presidential decree by the relevant ministers has been submitted to the Council of State with which coastal and commercial shipping will "conditionally open" to "European" ships - the lifting of cabotage is a European Union mandate.

According to the decree, European vessels may enter Greek coastal shipping, as well as commercial shipping, provided however, they have raised the Greek flag previously.

Ships (passenger ships, car ferries and commercial ships) belonging to citizens or companies from the other EU ember-states will be recognised as Greek provided they have an ownership percentage of 50 per cent or more.

Other conditions are that European shipowners, either private persons or companies, should exercise the management of their ships from Greece and their manager should be established in Greece.

Greek, Turkish students meet in Izmir

Greek and Turkish students met over the weekend in the Asia Minor port city Izmir as part of a campaign to get better acquainted.

"We, the Turkish children and the Greek children met here in Izmir to cooperate for the strengthening of relations between the two states, for friendship and for peace," a declaration read.

The events took place at the initiative of the "Ionian College", a NGO representing Izmir pupils.

The Turkish school had issued invitations to high school students, their parents and teachers from the nearby island of Samos.

Authorities continue to monitor suspicious motorship's course

Gale force winds forced a motorship carrying an estimated 300 illegal immigrants towards the Aegean island of Kythnos yesterday as authorities continued to monitor the vessel's course.

The vessel, identified as the "Vodelai I" - although authorities believe the name of the vessel is bogus - was still sailing in international waters at presstime after playing "cat and mouse" with the Greek coast guard since Saturday. Greek authorities have been tailing the vessel after receiving a tip-off that it is carrying up the illegals, including dozens of children and possibly pregnant women, with a view to putting them ashore Greek territory.

According to reports, the vessel's passengers have been without food or water for days, while the Bulgarian skipper requested provisions early yesterday in a ship-to-shore radio message. The request was passed on to the central harbourmaster who tried to supply provisions to the ship when it strayed into Greek territorial waters between Kythnos and Kea earlier.

The vessel quickly returned to international waters after two Greek vessels blocked its way.

WEATHER

Overcast weather will prevail in most parts of Greece today with rain or storms in eastern and southern Greece, Crete and the Dodecanese islands. Winds variable, light to moderate, turning strong in the Aegean Sea. Mostly sunny in Athens with a few clouds and temperatures between 8-17C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 5-12C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          318.333
Pound sterling       517.268
Japanese yen (100)   309.534
French franc          49.677
German mark          166.610
Italian lira (100)    16.829
Irish Punt           413.759
Belgian franc          8.078
Finnish mark          54.806
Dutch guilder        147.869
Danish kr.            43.809
Austrian sch.         23.681
Spanish peseta         1.958
Swedish kr.           37.791
Norwegian kr.         40.057
Swiss franc          203.568
Port. Escudo           1.626
Can. dollar          215.859
Aus. dollar          202.269
Cyprus pound         565.757
Euro                 325.862
(C.E.)
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