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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-12-29

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, 29/12/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Gov't says state services ready for Y2K, advises, calm
  • Athens confident of benefits emanating from Schengen Pact
  • Turkish violations of Athens FIR, airspace reported
  • The Acropolis to gleam around the world on Millennium's Eve
  • To ANA's "Bulletin" and Special English Service subscribers:
  • SPECIAL OFFER
  • To the "Daily Bulletin" subscribers
  • Stocks hold momentum lifted by small caps
  • Greek banks Y2K compliant
  • Olympic Aviation suspends flights for date change
  • National Bank of Greece buys new stake in mutual fund
  • WEATHER
  • FOREIGN EXCHANGE

NEWS IN DETAIL

Gov't says state services ready for Y2K, advises, calm

The government advised the public to be calm and confident that state apparatuses could preclude possible glitches due to the 'dreaded' Y2K computer bug.

Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou told reporters at a news conference yesterday that all computer systems at state-run utilities were "year 2000" compliant and that she expected no malfunctions from the "millennium bug" as clocks ticked over to Jan. 1, 2000.

Computer experts employed by state services will be at their work stations to take digital systems through their paces in real time over the weekend, she added.

The government will be informing the public at regular intervals of any developments, both in Greece and abroad, Ms Papandreou said. She said that hot lines had been set up by the following agencies to inform members of the public:Interior ministry: 1204

Year 2000 working group: 3393541-2 Development ministry: 7707951, 7705301. Secretariat general for consumers: 1720. Health ministry: 8810423, 8810343. Public Power Corp. (DEH): 1253-1259. Hellenic Telecoms: 0801-20001. Association of Greek Banks: 3386525, 3386528

Airports : Meanwhile, all necessary measures have been taken and all possible side-effects have been anticipated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for the "millennium bug" in air traffic control systems and scheduled flights to the country, a press release by the agency stated.

On the question of air traffic control systems and international airports, a CAA official said all airlines have responded to the agency's instructions regarding the handling of the "millennium bug".

Athens confident of benefits emanating from Schengen Pact

The Greek government is confident that full implementation of Schengen Pact provisions on lifting internal EU border controls as of Jan. 1 will contribute to the more effective monitoring of the movement of people both within and entering the Union.

"The prospects for the future are favourable. Greece has been working consistently to deal effectively with the challenges of such a sensitive issue, such as illegal immigration," Stelios Perrakis, secretary general for European Affairs at the foreign ministry stressed in an interview with the ANA.

Mr. Perrakis said the lifting of checks would also apply to movement of those moving between Greece and other Schengen countries by sea and air.

Greek airports (Athens, Thessaloniki, Irakleio, Corfu and Rhodes) and ports (Patra, Igoumenitsa and Corfu) will now be considered internal borders for travel to and from Schengen countries.

Several secondary airports in Greece's provinces will not be included in the initial phase but will be integrated by March 2000.

All European Union countries with the exception of Britain and Ireland are members of the Schengen pact.

Greece has already signed re-admittance agreements with Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Italy and France. It has also signed law enforcement agreements, which specfically mentions re- admittance, with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Israel.

Mr. Perrakis said Turkey - the neighbour from whom Greece receives the bulk of the illegal immigrant flow into the country - has not to date responded to Athens' request for the signing of such a crucial agreement.

According to Mr. Perrakis, 4,240 people requested asylum in Greece between Jan. 1, 1998 to Oct. 31, 1999. Of these, only 293 were recognised as refugees meeting the criteria of the 1951 Geneva Convention for the legal status of refugees.

Athens spends some 300 million drachmas annually on maintaining a refugee centre at the port town of Lavrio, including spending on health care and education.

Turkish violations of Athens FIR, airspace reported

Six Turkish F-16 warplanes yesterday infringed on Athens FIR regulations twice and violated Greek airspace 10 times over the sea region between the islands of Rhodes and Samos.

According to reports, the unarmed Turkish planes were intercepted by Greek fighter planes in all instances.

Hellenic Air Force sources said the fact that the intruding warplanes were unarmed, in an apparent line with recent statements by Turkish armed forces chief Gen. Hussein Kivrikoglu, did not legalise the Turkish violations.

"The issue lies in the violations and the infringements," they said.

The Acropolis to gleam around the world on Millennium's Eve

Athens' New Year's Eve party will highlight the best of modern-day Greece as the country sees in the beginning of a new millennium. "We will welcome the year 2000, unite our memories and celebrate like modern Greeks. We will honour Manos Hatzidakis,

Mikis Theodorakis, Odysseus Elytis,"" , Culture Minister Elizabeth Papazoi said yesterday, referring to Greece's two most best-known composers and one of its Nobel laureates for literature.

Ms Papazoi was speaking to reporters yesterday as she unveiled the detailed programme for millennium celebrations in Athens. Hatzidakis, Theodorakis and Elytis will be the core of a series of concerts to be held at the Acropolis on New Year's Eve.

At 10 p.m., the Orchestra of Colours, founded by the late Hatzidakis, will feature the voices several performers under the direction of Miltos Logiadis.

At 11 p.m. the National Opera Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir will perform with Mikis Theodorakis, among others.

A few minutes before the advent of the New Year, popular composer/singer Dionyssis Savvopoulos will take to the stage with his orchestra and the Municipal Symphonic Orchestra.

At about the same time, the BBC network will link up with Greek state television to beam scenes of the celebrations at the Acropolis to 75 countries around the world.

Twenty-four cameras will relay images from the area, while all archaeological sites will be open, except for the Acropolis.

As the clocks turn to Jan. 1, a 1000-member choir and 500-member children's choir at the Acropolis will sing three hymns - the national anthem, the Olympic anthem and a hymn from an Orthodox mass. Ms Papazoi said the first 100,000 Athenians attending the events will receive a souvenir CD of the three hymns.

Events wind up at 2.45 a.m. with the Municipality of Athens' Big Band, directed by Athanasios Zervos.

At a stage set up at the foot of the Acropolis, at St Paul and Adrianou streets, the concert will focus on the history of the Greek popular song throughout the course of modern-day Greece.

In the Makriyanni area, a traditional celebration will be held.

Another concert, specifically targeted to the young and young at heart will be held in the courtyard of the Zappeion Hall.

Apart from the Acropolis, the archaeological site of the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion will be kept open for revellers to watch the first sunset of the year 2000. Traditional Thracian songs will be performed as the sun rises.

Athens' underground will be open from 10 p.m. on December 31 to 5 a.m. and will be free of charge for those wanting to move around the city. Roads around the Acropolis will be closed to traffic, and Athenians will be able to walk around the area with ease.

To ANA's "Bulletin" and Special English Service subscribers:

As of today, and for five weeks (until the end of January 2000), you will be able to access the on-line English Service on a trial basis at http://ns.ana.gr with the following universal access code - username: bull password: bull47 At the end of the trial period, please inform the ANA's marketing department if you wish to continue to receive the on-line English Service alone, the "Bulletin" alone (in its electronic form), or both, so that you may be issued a personal access code, as the universal access code will be abolished.

We would also like to remind you of the special offer the ANA is offering to those subscribers who wish to receive both services.

SPECIAL OFFER

ANA's bulletin subscribers will be able to receive, as of Jan. 2:

a) the Special English Service of news items on-line and as the news is breaking 500,000 drachmas annually and,

b) the next day's "Daily Bulletin" on their screens at midnight, with the ability for print-out if desired 110,000 drachmas annually.

ANA is offering a special package discount subscription of 500,000 drachmas for both services.

For further information, please call the marketing department between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at 6400560.

To the "Daily Bulletin" subscribers

Dear friends, As you are aware, technological developments in the mass media sector are rapid. Today, all the news services are offered online. The "electronic newspaper" supplements, and in many cases replaces, the printed newspaper. Contact via e-mail also affords the ability for direct communication.

These developments, as many others, have also influenced our own work here at Athens News Agency (ANA), which is adapting all its services to the new technology. In the framework of these changes, the "Daily Bulletin" will - as of Jan. 2, 2000 - be conv erted from a printed to an electronic medium for our subscribers.

With this change, our subscribers will: a) receive our news items online, at the moment the news is breaking. b) receive the next day's "Daily Bulletin" on their screens at midnight, with the ability to print it out if they wish or simply view on screen. c) receive the "Bulletin" either via the paid ANA services on the Internet, or via e-mail sent to a subscriber's e-mail address. d) also have the ability, for a small surcharge, to utilise the ANA's English-language data bank, which contains all the news items appearing in the "Daily Bulletin" since 1992.

We believe that these changes, which correspond with the new function of the international and national news agencies, will satisfy subscribers' needs for immediate and credible information. In order to subscribe to this service, you must have a PC and a modem, or an e-mail address.

All who wish to continue receiving our services must prepare for these changes which, as stated, will commence on Jan. 2, 2000.

Takis Mantis, the director of ANA's informatics and telecommunications department, is at your disposal for any technical information on tel: 64.00.560 and 64.00.038.

I sincerely hope all our subscribers will adapt to these necessary technological changes.

Andreas Christodoulides ANA General Director

Stocks hold momentum lifted by small caps

Equity prices rallied for the second consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday helped by strong buying interest in smaller capitalisation stocks. The general index ended 3.76 percent higher at 5, 230.61 points, its highest close in the l ast seven sessions. Turnover was a moderate 220 billion drachmas.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 311 to four with another nine issues unchanged.

More than 130 stocks ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit up.

National Bank of Greece ended at 23,260 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 25, 200, Commercial Bank at 24,220, Titan Cement (common) at 18,480, Hellenic Petroleum at 5,055, Intracom at 14,100, Minoan Lines at 8,175, Panafon at 3, 910 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,160.

Greek banks Y2K compliant

Greek banks have adapted their information technology in order to avoid any malfunctions from the millennium bug, the Hellenic Banks Union said yesterday.

Banks have also drafted contingency plans to deal with any possible problems from the change of date, and are able to meet demand for cash from automated teller machines over the transition period.

Addressing a news conference, the union's secretary general, Ioannis Manos, reassured the public that there was no need to worry about bank transactions because of the millennium bug.

All banks will remain closed on Friday, 31 December to reopen on Monday, 3 January 2000.

Commercial banks, in cooperation with the Bank of Greece, have taken all necessary measures to ensure ample liquidity in the ATM network around the country, Mr. Manos said.

Olympic Aviation suspends flights for date change

Olympic Aviation said in a statement yesterday that it was ready to handle any possible difficulties resulting from the millennium problem.

At the same time, the airline, which is a subsidiary of Olympic Airways, said that it would ground its planes at Hellenikon Airport between 20.30 on December 31 and 06.00 on January 1.

Olympic Aviation also announced that it would lease two Boeing 717s on January 10 in order to boost its capacity from Thessaloniki, creating a new hub covering Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, Rome and Berlin.

The 100-seater planes, which cost 32,000 US dollars a month each to lease, will enter service on April 1, the airline said.

National Bank of Greece buys new stake in mutual fund

National Bank of Greece yesterday bought a 25 percent stake in Diethniki, a mutual fund manager, from Deutsche Bank (Suisse).

National Bank paid 11 million euros for the equity.

Diethniki is a subsidiary of National Bank, a state run blue chip on the Athens Stock Exchange.

WEATHER

Cloudy weather will prevail in northern Greece today with possible rain, while light cloud is expected in the rest of the country. Winds southwesterly, strong to gale force in the Aegean and Ionian seas. Partly cloudy in Athens with temperatures ranging from 10-16C.Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures ranging from 6-10C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          322.995
Pound sterling       522.658
Japanese yen (100)   315.258
French franc          49.876
German mark          167.275
Italian lira (100)    16.897
Irish Punt           415.410
Belgian franc          8.110
Finnish mark          55.024
Dutch guilder        148.460
Danish kr.            43.965
Austrian sch.         23.776
Spanish peseta         1.966
Swedish kr.           38.132
Norwegian kr.         40.394
Swiss franc          203.826
Port. Escudo           1.632
Can. dollar          221.117
Aus. dollar          208.414
Cyprus pound         569.051
Euro                 327.162
(C.E.)
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