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Athens News Agency: News in English, 00-07-20
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Colosseum - Greek National Theatre - first night20/07/2000 21:55:26
ROME (ANA - L. Hatzikyriakos) -After 1,500 years, the ghosts of a bloody and cruel past have been exorcised at Rome's Colosseum by an even more ancient cast of characters: the patricidal, incestuous ancient Greek king Oedipus and his wife/mother Jocasta, whose monumentally tragic story was immortalised by the ancient Greek tragedian Sophocles in "Oedipus Rex".
Brought to stage by the Greek National Theatre, directed by Vassilis Papavassiliou, the opening night of the play on Wednesday marked the first time that a paying audience returned to the crumbling arches of the Colosseum in 15 centuries.
As befitted the occasion, the audience was similarly august - though a little nonplussed when the actors gushed in highly emotional and incomprehensible modern Greek and the dim light made the slim Italian translations they had been issued with next to useless.
After the performance, Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi described the experience as "unique" and "magical" and said the play allowed the audience to relive classical times.
"Of course, at first it was a surprise to hear the actors talking in Greek in the Colosseum, but then the performance, the actors overcome you and you don't realise they are speaking in Greek," he said.
Also among the audience of 700 was Italian Culture Minister Giovanna Melandri and her Greek counterpart Theodoros Pangalos, as well as other members of the Italian government and Italian high society.
Melandri said it was "an amazing spectacle. It is very moving to inaugurate the Colosseum with a performance and a theatre that form the roots of our culture. I hope that in the future there will be other similar events."
The Greek National Theatre's performance was also enthusiastically received by the majority of the Italian press, though some complaints were heard about the emphasis on foreign companies in the line-up of the festival that it inaugurates.
The play, with Giorgos Valtinos playing the lead and Jenny Gaitanopoulou as Jocasta, will run until Friday night, and kicks off a 19-day festival called "Colosseum 2000 - Sophocles Plan" that celebrates the end of eight years of restoration work. This included the construction of a wooden stage where the actors perform, standing over the ruined floor of the arena where gladiators once fought and died. The floor of the arena no longer exists, having been excavated to reveal the labyrinth of passages that lay underneath.
Appearing next after the Greek National Theatre will be the ancient Greek play "Antigone" performed by an Iranian theatre company from Teheran.
 IOC - "Athens 2004" committee - meeting20/07/2000 20:43:31
LAUSANNE (ANA)- The first meeting between the new "Athens 2004" Olympics Organising Committee and the leadership of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), including IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch and IOC Coordinating Committee President Jacques Rogge, took place on Thursday in Lausanne, with Greek Deputy Sports Minister George Floridis attending.
In statements afterwards, all sides declared the meeting a success and expressed their confidence in the new team in charge of preparations for the Athens Olympics, while Rogge categorically denied that the IOC had at any time considered changing the host-city of the 2004 Games.
"The Games were assigned to Athens and will take place in Athens," he said.
Samaranch, on his part, described the meeting as an "important step" and expressed support for the chairwoman of "Athens 2004", Yianna Angelopoulou-Daskalaki, and the Greek team.
 Foreign Exchange Rates-Friday20/07/2000 18:49:30
Following are indicative rates released by the central bank for the next working day.
Fridays rates (buying)
U.S. dollar 362.774
German mark 170.846
 Weather Forecast-Friday20/07/2000 18:22:33
Scattered cloud is forecast throughout the country on Friday, turning to showers or storms in the evening on the mainland and in the northern Aegean.
 Greece-merchant marine20/07/2000 16:31:19
"The deregulation of the country's coastal shipping sector will be implemented on the basis of the public and the citizen's interests," Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Papoutsis said he briefed the premier on issues regarding the country's coastal shipping, ocean-going shipping and the port police.
The two men agreed to continue talks next Thursday.
Papoutsis said the ministry was making efforts to improve coastal shipping services in the Dodecanese islands through increasing the number of ships servicing the line.
Reffering to an illegal immigrant influx in the country, Papoutsis said it was not just a Greek phenomenon, but a European one, and that it needed a more enhanced role by the port police authority to deal with the situation.
 ASE-close20/07/2000 16:11:17
Equity prices ended higher in extremely nervous trading conditions on the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, with the market testing the 4,000 support level twice during the session.
The general index ended at 4,063.05 points, up 0.47 percent, off the day's lows of 3,982.40 points, with turnover a low 64 billion drachmas. Dealers said strong buying interest in blue chip stocks (National Bank, Alpha Bank, Hellenic Telecoms) helped in the reversal of the early downward trend.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.46 percent higher at 2,268.23 points and the FTSE/ASE 40 index rose 0.01 percent to 575.21 points.
The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 0.36 percent higher at 754.52 points.
 Eurobank-Romanian acquisition20/07/2000 15:57:34
EFG Eurobank SA, Banco Portugues de Investimento and General Electric Capital Corporation on Thursday signed an agreement with Romania's State Ownership Fund for the acquisition of a majority stake at the Romanian bank Banc Post SA.
Banc Post is a major bank in Romania with a branch network of 128 units, with a workforce of 4,000 and holds the largest ATM network in the country.
Banc Post's association with the Romanian Post office provides its customers with 2,650 additional points of service. Its total assets amounted to 7,219 billion leu (334 million USD) last year, while pre-tax profits reached 183 billion leu (8.5 million USD).
EFG Eurobank's decision to participate in the share capital of Bank Post falls within its strategic planning for further expansion in the Balkans.
The BPI group, is the fourth largest private owned bank in Portugal focusing in investment and commercial banking activities. General Electric Capital Corporation is a member of General Electric Corporation.
 Greece-road tolls20/07/2000 15:18:29
Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis on Thursday announced an increase in road tolls without elaborating on the timing of the move.
He dismissed, however, press reports over a three or five times rise in road toll prices.
Laliotis said that prices remained stable since 1996 despite the fact that the government has completed works on a further 400 km in the country's national road network.
He reiterated that the decision on toll prices and the duration of road toll operation by private investors would be taken by the government and not by the consortium winning the assignment contract.
Laliotis also said that the operation of road tolls on specific road sections under construction would begin after completion of works, probably in 2005 or 2006. He said that the toll price in the Athens-Thessaloniki national road was five drachmas per km, while prices in the Korinth-Tripoli road were 12-13 drachmas per km. The average price in Europe was 20 drachmas per km.
Laliotis said the construction of Egnatia Road was progressing rapidly with an expected 180 km to be delivered in 2000, another 264 km next year and 173 km by the end of 2002. The work is expected to be completed by 2004.
 Hellenic Telecoms-Turkey20/07/2000 14:50:02
Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation on Thurday announced its expansion in Turkey through its subsidiary OTEnet, an Internet service provider.
George Skarpelis, the organisation's deputy chief executive, said that OTEnet was in talks with the neighbouring country to expand its activities in the Internet market.
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