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Athens News Agency: News in English, 00-03-30

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Elections - Simitis - Karamanlis - Debate
  • [02] Foreign Exchange Rates-Friday
  • [03] Foreign Exchange Market-Close
  • [04] National Bank of Greece-Bulgaria
  • [05] Weather Forecast-Friday
  • [06] Cocaine - Surrendered - Aigio
  • [07] ASE-close

  • [01] Elections - Simitis - Karamanlis - Debate

    31/03/2000 00:17:29

    Ruling PASOK leader and Prime Minister Costas Simitis and main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis participated in a televised debate on Thursday night, ten days ahead of the April 9 general elections.

    Responding separately to questions by three journalists, the two main contenders in the April 9 election stood their ground and expressed satisfaction that their differences remained of a political nature devoid of any personal animosity.

    Simitis said his government's record in power and its programme were the best guarantees for further upgrading the country's position

    in Europe. Karamanlis recognised that Greece's accession to the euro zone next year was one of a number of positive achievements which should be added to, emphasising that this required a change of guard with fresh ideas and initiatives.

    Simitis disputed Karamanlis's claim that Greece's falling economic competitiveness bode ill for covering the considerable distance from its EU partners, insisting that the country's falling inflation and higher than EU-average growth rates were unmistakeable indicators of real convergence.

    Regarding a possible negative impact of a falling stock market on the election result, Simitis said the success of an economy was not measured by short-term fluctuations in share prices, which were common in all bourses, but by its growth rates, potential, investment and exports, which also provided good prospects for stocks in the longer term.

    He said New Democracy's programme, if implemented, was certain to make the public deficit rise above the EU-set ceiling and be rejected. He also disputed the claim that Greece was the only EU country where unemployment and regional and income inequalities were on the rise and said the government's policy would lead to the creation of 300,000 new jobs.

    Karamanlis questioned the credibility of the government to produce such improvements when unemployment during its tenure had increased by 200,000 and said an increase in the minimum old-age pensions to 150,000 drachmas monthly was urgent and feasible, meaning an extra cost of only 180 billion drachmas to the budget. The prime minister said the true figure was near 600 billion drachmas. He reiterated an assurance that the expected reform of the social security system would be done only after careful study and the achievement of consensus.

    Karamanlis said he was in agreement with closer ties between Turkey and Europe but claimed that the government had sent the wrong message to Turkey by its stance at the EU summit in Helsinki where it had not ensured Ankara's future respect for international law and treaties, and noted that Turkish intransigence was increasing. Simitis disputed this, saying that Turkey was indeed required to adjust to the acquis communautaire and smooth out differences with its neighbours according to EU treaties, and was expected to make gestures of goodwill.

    Finally, both men agreed that young Greeks needed education standards to be set high if they were to compete successfully with their European partners tomorrow.

    [02] Foreign Exchange Rates-Friday

    30/03/2000 20:24:26

    Following are indicative foreign exchange rates for commercial banks released by the central bank for the next working day.

    Friday's rates (buying)

    Euro 331.824

    U.S. dollar 346.853

    [03] Foreign Exchange Market-Close

    30/03/2000 19:38:10

    The drachma on Thursday fell against the euro and edged up versus the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market with the greenback soaring in late trade, traders said.

    The central bank had sold roughly 750 million euros last week in a spate of interventions, but did not step into the market on Monday. On Tuesday and Wednesday, it sold about 225 million euros.

    [04] National Bank of Greece-Bulgaria

    30/03/2000 19:00:32

    National Bank of Greece, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, is to submit a bid in coming days for United Bulgarian Bank (OBB), one of the neighbouring country's largest banks, Governor Theodoros Karatzas told shareholders on Friday.

    According to a report in a Bulgarian newspaper earlier this week, Bank of Piraeus is also reportedly interested in acquiring the bank.

    [05] Weather Forecast-Friday

    30/03/2000 17:15:16

    Scattered cloud is forecast throughout the country on Friday, turning to showers in the northwest.

    Visibility will be limited, especially in the morning. Winds variable, light to strong.

    [06] Cocaine - Surrendered - Aigio

    30/03/2000 16:42:44

    More than eight kilos of cocaine were turned over to customs officers in the small northern Peloponnese port of Aigio on Thursday morning by the skipper of a Bermuda-flagged freighter.

    According to reports, seamen aboard the ?Chikita Brenda?, carrying a load of bananas from Colombia to Greece, discovered the drugs in specially concealed crypts in the vesselĘs hold while on a cleaning detail.

    Executives at the shipping line that manages the vessel later instructed the skipper to surrender the narcotics to authorities at his next destination, Aigio.

    [07] ASE-close

    30/03/2000 15:41:04

    Equity prices ended Thursday's volatile session moderately higher on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Traders said confidence was steadily restored in the market as share offer was easily absorbed by selective buying.

    The general index ended at 4,782.04 points, up 0.58 percent, off the day's highs of 4,829.40 and the day's lows of 4,732.71 points.

    Turnover was a low 162.68 billion drachmas.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.63 percent higher at 2,707.82 points and the FTSE/ASE 40 index fell 0.53 percent to 687.31 points.

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended at 820.43, up 1.10 percent.


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