|Friday, 24 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-05-19
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Europarliament backs Greece's euro zone bid
STRASBOURG, 19/05/2000 (ANA)The Europarliament on Thursday approved by an overwhelming majority a report endorsing Greeces application to join the euro zone.
The 626-member assembly voted by 376 in favor to 42 against and 80 abstentions to approve the report by Luxembourg Euro-MP Robert Goebbels that includes an all-important recommendation that Greece be admitted into EMU on Jan. 1, 2001 as the euro zones 12th member.
In line with the Europarliaments charter, no amendments were included in the approved report. Two amendments were included, rather, in a report by Spanish Euro-MP Jose Javier Pomez Ruiz focusing on EU member-states implementation of stability and convergence programs. However, both amendments were later rejected during the vote.
The first amendment expressed the Europarliaments concern over the Greek economys ability to achieve sustainability in terms of the inflation criterion, while the second called for Athens to submit a special action plan on privatizing state enterprises.
The assemblys vote is non-binding for EU leaders, who will decide on Greeces application at next months Union summit in Oporto, Portugal.
 Foreign minister meets with US Ambassador
Athens, 19/05/2000 (ANA)Foreign minister George Papandreou met Thursday with the American ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns to discuss preparations for the minister's meeting with his US counterpart, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, on the sidelines of a NATO ministerial conference in Florence next week.
The two men also discussed relations between Greece and the US, with the focus on bilateral accords due to be signed.
One of the accords is a police cooperation protocol that is due to be signed soon, following the recent completion of the text.
It has been mutually agreed that the accord will be a "technical memorandum" that does not contain commitments, and will not require ratification by parliament.
 EU Industry Ministers discuss proposals on making Europe more competitive and dynamic
BRUSSELS, 19/05/2000 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)The Council of EU Industry Ministers convened here on Thursday and examined the issue of "employment, economic reforms and social cohesion for a Europe of innovation and knowledge." Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and Deputy Minister Alekos Kalafatis represented Greece.
It concerns a series of proposals by the European Commission, constituting a continuation of the Lisbon Conclusions (summit on employment on March 24-25, 2000) with the purpose of "making Europe more competitive and more dynamic in the economy of knowledge, capable of creating viable economic development, more jobs and greater social cohesion."
On the assessment of results of entrepreneurial policy, Christodoulakis termed benchmarking a "useful implement", saying that it should include both quantitative and qualitative criteria, carefully selected, to provide primarily a reliable image of the dynamism of each economy's small enterprises.
Commenting on the new five-year program for enterprises, he also said that, apart from new innovative action, the successful initiatives of the existing program, which appeals primarily to small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), should be continued and improved.
"The SMEs have the biggest needs and constitute the soul of development and the creation of new jobs," he said.
Christodoulakis met Research and Technology Commissioner Philip Bisken on the sidelines of the Council, who accepted an invitation to visit Greece in October on the occasion of the conference on new technologies to be held in Crete.
 Stathopoulos says IDs issue not "frozen"
Athens, 19/05/2000 (ANA)Justice Minister Mihalis Stathopoulos said on Thursday the issue of identity cards, and whether or not one's religious persuasion should be listed, has not been "frozen", adding that the problem cannot be resolved immediately since a reasonable period of time is required to implement the decision of the Authority for the Protection of Personal Data.
He expressed satisfaction because the sides having produced friction and fanaticism are already lowering tones and appear to agree.
Education Minister Petros Efthymiou, who met with Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos earlier in the week, assured him that the Archbishop held a rather conciliatory view on the issue, Stathopoulos said. The position of the Church until now was that the listing of one's religion should be compulsory, while its position now is that it should be voluntary, he added.
Stathopoulos said the Authority for the Protection of Personal Data expressed the view that identity cards should not list religion, while professor Aristovoulos Manesis said that even the possible voluntary listing of religion is unconstitutional.
In a related development, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that much that has been written and said on the government's position on the issue of identity cards has nothing to do with reality and noted that the legal status remains as it is.
 Warplane crashes into house, four dead
Athens, 19/05/2000 (ANA)Four people, including two teenagers, were killed Thursday morning when a Hellenic Air Force jet fighter crashed into a village home northwest of Athens, the second fatal crash involving a Greek warplane in 48 hours.
Authorities said the two-seater F-4 "Phantom" crashed into a two-storey house located in the village Antikyra, Viotia prefecture, at approximately 10:50 a.m. The two teenagers were reportedly inside the residence.
The US-made fighter had reportedly taken off from a nearby airbase only a few moments before the accident along with another F-4 for a routine training flight.
Both aviators on board the second-generation fighter plane were also killed, while air force sources noted that the aircraft's automatic ejection system had not been activated.
One teen managed to escape from the residence following the crash and the ensuing blaze, although fire fighters later discovered the charred bodies of two girls, aged 15 and 16, who were inside the residence at the time.
Firefighters, first aid teams, and police and army squads were rushed to the site of the accident, and were joined by national defense deputy minister Dimitris Apostolakis and GEA chief Lt.-Gen. Dimitrios Lintzerakos, who flew to the site by helicopter.
Government expresses its sorrow over the four deaths in fighter plane accident: Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas on Thursday expressed the "deep sorrow" of the government over the deaths of "two excellent officers" and two teenage girls that same morning when a Hellenic Air Force jet fighter crashed into a village home northwest of Athens.
Authorities said the two-seater F-4 "Phantom" crashed into a two-storey house located in the village of Antikyra, Viotia prefecture, at approximately 10:50 a.m. The two teenagers were reportedly inside the house studying at the time.
The US-made fighter had reportedly taken off from a nearby airbase only a few moments before the accident along with another F-4 for a routine training flight.
Reppas said that Hellenic Air Force airplanes were reliable, regularly maintained and were at a high level of operational capability.
He added that the F-4 Phantom and A-7 Corsair aircraft were used for training, adding that the Air Force equipment was being replaced in accordance to the armaments program of the government.
This was the second fatal crash involving a Greek warplane in 48 hours, as an A-7 Corsair crashed injuring its pilot who later died in Athens' Air Force hospital.
On its part, national defense ministry sources said that the rate of accidents in the Greek Air Force was comparable to that of the qualitatively best of the world, including that of European countries, Israel and the USA.
The added that the rate of accidents has been decreasing over the past 10 years, despite the fact that the Greek Air Force has been faced with more operational pressure than those of the aforementioned countries.
 Corsair pilot succumbs to injuries
Athens, 19/05/2000 (ANA)The pilot of a Hellenic Airforce jetfighter that crashed during take-off at Hania airport died in hospital early Thursday.
The pilot, Lieutenant Dimitrios Agiasofitis, succumbed to serious injuries sustained when his subsonic A-7 Corsair veered off the runway at Hania airport on the island of Crete Tuesday as it prepared to take off, and burst into flames.
Agiasofitis, who suffered extensive burns in the accident, was initially rushed to a military hospital at nearby Souda airbase, then airlifted to a military hospital in Athens.
The accident was initially attributed to mechanical failure.
 Karamanlis meets Angelopoulos-Daskalaki discuss 2004 Athens Olympic Games
Athens, 19/05/2000 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis and the President of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games Organizing Committee Gianna Angelopoulou-Daskalaki held a 30-minute meeting on the event at ND headquarters on Thursday night.
Angelopoulou-Daskalaki said the issue of the Olympic Games concerns all, adding that consensus is necessary.
Karamanlis congratulated her on the assumption of her duties, reminding that she had been a member of ND and that he had proposed her for this position.
Karamanlis warned that his party would exercise strict control of financing for major projects concerning the Olympic Games.
Top ND cadre slams Simitis for inactivity in pushing through Olympic Games preparations: Former New Democracy leader Miltiadis Evert, who resigned as party president after the main opposition was defeated in the elections of 1996, slammed Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday for inactivity in dealing with delays relating to the 2004 Olympics, saying he had been informed of the problems by a letter Evert had sent himself last year.
Evert pointed out that Simitis had replied with another letter, in which he had said that "the government systematically prepared Athens' bid for the 2004 Olympiad and, after the successful result of that matter, is furthering preparations for it in the same systematic and comprehensive way."
This, Evert said, indicates that the Prime Minister had been made aware that there were delays in the projects for the Olympics but "either did not wish to or was not able to confirm these delays, following the policy of an ostrich."
 AHEPA pledges volunteer aid for Olympic Games to Pangalos
Athens, 19/05/2000 (ANA)Hundreds of Greek-Americans and Greek-Canadians will volunteer their services during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, Greek Culture Minister Theodoros Pangalos announced on Thursday following his meeting with the executive board of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA).
The AHEPA officials both from the US and Greek chapters visited the minister to pledge the support for the organization of the Games.
The minister, following the presentation of a CD ROM on late Melina Merkouri urged everyone to "not only dream of the return of the Parthenon Marbles but to work in faith and sobriety."
He added that by 2004 the new Acropolis museum would be ready for this "key-date".
The CD-ROM was presented by the minister along with a 55 minute video CD on Merkouri life and work.
 Greece enters a new era, Papantoniou says
Athens, 19/05/2000 (ANA)Greece is entering a new era of stronger competitiveness and with numerous economic prospects, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou told reporters after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday.
The two men discussed the course of the economy and the country's EMU membership procedure.
"We expect a formal approval from a European Council on June 19-20 to put Greece as the 12th member of the Euro-zone," Papantoniou said.
Commenting on the course of the inflation, he said that the impact from a rising dollar and higher international oil prices was common for all European Union countries but expressed the hope that this phenomena would prove temporary, because the euro currency would recover and the price of oil could not remain for ever at the 30 US dollars level.
"Such a shift would lead us to lower inflation rates," Papantoniou said.
He said that the privatization of Hellenic Telecoms and Public Power Corporation would be made through structural changes, which would ensure workers' rights.
 Industrial production up 6.6 percent in February yr./yr.
Athens, 19/05/2000 (ANA)The composite industrial production index, including mining, manufacturing, electricity-natural gas and water, increased 6.6 percent in February from the same month last year, official figures showed on Thursday.
The mining production index rose 16 percent in February, the manufacturing production index was up 3.4 percent and the electricity-natural gas-water production index jumped 13.8 percent over the same period.
 Cooperation memorandum signed for telecommunications link between Greece and Italy
Athens, 19/05/2000 (ANA)A cooperation memorandum has been signed between the Public Power Corporation (PPC) and the telecommunications company WIND, a subsidiary of the Italian company ENEL, to utilize the telecommunications link between Greece and Italy.
The link will comprise an undersea cable 160-km long and one on land 450 km long on DEH's transportation lines.
Cooperation between DEH and WIND will be able to provide telecommunications services of a high quality at a low cost. These future services will utilize all the optical fibers potential at the disposal of WIND's network (12,000 km) which is connected to the European Backbone Network.
 Ship-owners, seamen forge wage deal
Athens, 19/05/2000 (ANA)Greek ship-owners and representatives of the country's largest union of seamen on Thursday agreed to a wage increase in cargo shipping for the coming year that comes into effect on Jan. 1.
The same labor union, the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO), had recently negotiated a hike for seamen working in Greek passenger shipping and on cruise ships, also for the current year.
This was a 4 percent increase for the first half of 2000, with a 4.5 percent rise to take effect in the second part of the year.
Thursday's agreement covers seamen aboard Greek-flagged or Greek-owned cargo vessels.
 Greek stocks resume their upward course
Athens, 19/05/2000 (ANA)Equity prices ended higher on the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday with the market resuming its upward course following Wednesday's temporary correction.
Dealers expressed confidence over the short-term prospects of the market saying that nothing could stop its upward course except from a significant negative development, domestic or international.
Analysts said that the market has found support at the 4,650 level while its new technical resistance level was set at 4,800.
Smaller and medium capitalization stocks, in the construction and parallel sectors, were chief gainers.
The general index ended 0.79 percent higher at 4,740.79 points, with turnover at 253 billion drachmas. The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended at 2,608.84 points, down 0.45 percent, while the FTSE/ASE 40 index jumped 3.44 percent to 709.14 points.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: 8,920.20 -0.16% Leasing: 1,034.71 +0.81% Insurance: 2,951.55 -0.54% Investment: 1,988.00 +0.83% Construction: 2,874.17 +5.47% Industrials: 2,874.90 +0.76% Miscellaneous: 5,174.06 +1.55% Holding: 5,456.39 +1.98%
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended at 1,021.60 points, up 7.67 percent.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 307 to 28 with another four issues unchanged.
Giannoussis, Lambrakis Press, Athens Water, Doudos and Mytilineos were the most heavily traded stocks.
Leading shares' closing prices (in Drs): National Bank: 17,000 Alpha Bank: 22,610 Commercial Bank:
20,250 Ergobank: 7,740 Eurobank: 10,980 Heracles Cement: 9,150 Hellenic Telecoms: 8,900 Panafon: 4,570 Hellenic Telecoms: 4,130 Intracom: 15,250 Minoan Lines: 6,440 Hellenic Bottling: 6,175 Titan Cement (c): 15,700
Derivative prices gain more ground: Derivatives prices ended higher for one more session on the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday. Trading was brisk with turnover at 15.2 billion drachmas and volume 4,334 contracts.
A total of 1,621 futures contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 index, worth 8.1 billion drachmas. The May expiring contract ended at 2,590 points, the June at 2,577.25, the July at 2,569 and the September contract at 2,580 points.
A total of 2,718 futures contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 40 index, with a turnover of 7.1 billion drachmas. The May expiring contract ended at 714 points, the June at 692, the July at 694.50 and the September contract at 675 points.
Bonds listless in thin market: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market ended flat to lower in a thin market on Thursday with a single order accounting for the bulk of trade.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.32 percent from 6.309 percent a day earlier; and the yield on the equivalent German bund was 5.42 percent.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 90 basis points from 91 basis points on Wednesday.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 82 billion drachmas from 129 billion drachmas on Wednesday.
A single order from a domestic insurance fund accounted for 72 billion drachmas of total turnover.
Drachma falls vs. euro, dollar: The drachma on Thursday fell against the euro and the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market.
At the central bank's daily fixing, the euro was set at 336.680 drachmas from 336.590 drachmas in the previous session.
Also at the fixing, the US dollar was set at 376.760 drachmas from 376.450 drachmas a day earlier.
The central bank intervened at the fix, selling around 150 million euros.
 Hellenic Vehicles Industry announces new civilian car
Athens, 19/05/2000 (ANA)The Hellenic Vehicles Industry (ELVO) announced on Thursday that the production of its first multi-purpose vehicle for private civilian use will begin in 2001 and it is the result of a collaborative effort between the Greek firm, the German TWT GhbH and Italy's Pininfarina Spa.
According to a company press release, the 1.2-billion-drachma investment on a new production line was funded by the Greek government and the European Union's KONVER initiative, which supports efforts of defense industries to realign their production toward consumer goods.
The new car will be based on Volkswagen's Polo 1.4 chassis and will target leisure and young drivers, while initial production will not exceed 400 automobiles.
 Intralot gets Romanian games-of-chance contract
Athens, 19/05/2000 (ANA)Intralot, a member of the Intracom Group, on Thursday signed a 14-year-contract with the National Organization for Games of Chance of Romania (CNLR) to develop high-technology games in the neighboring country.
Under the terms of the contract, which will be fulfilled in conjunction with Intracom, the Greek company will also upgrade CNLR's information technology and provide an online, satellite link for the company's retail outlets, the first of its kind in the Balkans.
The deal is the continuation of a 1992 contract Intralot secured to computerize CNRL.
 Belgrade court rules $47 million compensation to Mytilineos group
Athens, 19/05/2000 (ANA)Belgrade's Financial Court has reached a final verdict on a lawsuit by the Mytilineos company against Yugobanca, Yugoslavia's biggest bank, for the non-payment of letters of guarantee amounting to 46,927,962 US dollars, according to an announcement by the company on Thursday.
The Court adjudged the amount of about 47 million dollars to the Mytilineos company with legal interest running as of August 16, 1999 and until complete payment.
The letters of guarantee secured the implementation of a five-year contract between the company and the Kosovo-based Trepca iron ore group.
Mytilineos denounced the specific agreement due to the failure of the Trepca and Genex companies to meet contractual obligations and demanded payment of the letters of guarantee from the guarantor bank.
The announcement said that the President of the group's board, Evangelos Mytilineos, has committed himself after the compensation is received to provide three million Deutschmarks for social purposes for the people of Belgrade in cooperation with the Greek Embassy.
 Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos in Alexandroupolis on Friday
Athens, 19/05/2000 (ANA)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos will arrive in Alexandroupolis, northern Greece, on Friday on a two-day visit at the invitation of Metropolitan Anthimos and the International Police Union.
Vartholomeos will inaugurate an International Police Union conference in Alexandroupolis on Friday and will visit the island of Samothraki on Saturday.
 Cameri Theatre to give two performances in Athens
Athens, 19/05/2000 (ANA)The Cameri Theatre, the largest and most prestigious theatre organization in Israel, will give two performances at the Greek National Theatre in Athens on May 23 and 24, according to a press release issued by the Embassy of Israel on Thursday.
It is the first time that the Cameri is visiting Greece. The group will perform the play "Requiem", by Hanoch Levin considered by many to be Israel's most outstanding playwright. The work will be performed in its original Hebrew text with Greek subtitles for the first time ever in a Greek theatre.
"Requiem" is a fairy tale about death. All the characters in the play are either dead or dying, and move within a Beckettian limbo, seeking some kind of deliverance. It is based on three stories by Chekhov, and was first performed by Cameri in Israel in March 1999.
Hanoch Levin was born in colonial Palestine in 1943 to parents that had emigrated from Poland, and sadly died of bone cancer in August 1999.
The Cameri has appeared in many international festivals, including Edinburgh, Warsaw, Moscow, New York and Chicago and has cooperated with overseas cultural organizations such as the British National Theatre in London and now the Greek National Theatre in Athens. The performances of the Cameri Theatre in Athens are taking place in the framework of a cooperation that began with the performance of "Medea" by the Greek National Theatre in Israel in 1998.
 Turkish foreign ministry reacts to joint Cyprus-Greece military exercise
ISTANBUL, 19/05/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)The Turkish foreign ministry on Thursday issued a press release expressing its concern over the planned military exercise "Toxotis-Vergina 2000" on Cyprus with the participation of Cypriot national guard and Greek armed forces.
The press release called the exercise an "activity, which could escalate tension and disturb stability in the region. It is clear that this exercise will not aid the third round of proximity talks (in New York), which are scheduled for July".
 Albright commended Cyprus' pledge to support UN Peacekeeping operations
WASHINGTON, 19/05/2000 (CNA/ANA)US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright praised Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Israel and the Philippines for their decision to assume a greater financial responsibility for future peacekeeping costs.
In a statement, Albright said "helping to launch a discussion on broad reform of the UN's peacekeeping finance system, these countries, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Israel and the Philippines, have stepped forward to state their preparedness to pay a significantly larger share of UN peacekeeping costs".
She said "through their actions, these countries are demonstrating their commitment to UN peacekeeping, and their willingness to play a leadership role in this vital area. For this they should be commended". Albright added that these countries "deserve praise and credit for the example they have set by helping make" possible UN peacekeeping operations to be on a sound financial footing.