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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-02-20

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, 20/02/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece appeals to Iraq to let UNSCOM do their job
  • Turkish violations of Greek airspace
  • Commissioner praises Greek economic performance
  • Major arms haul in northern Greece
  • Olympic Airways cancels flights
  • Illegal immigrants arrested
  • Greek stocks in the doldrums for seventh day
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece appeals to Iraq to let UNSCOM do their job

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou today appealed to Baghdad to allow UNSCOM officials to complete their work unhindered so that the ongoing crisis over weapons inspections might be resolved peacefully.

As a peace-loving country, Papandreou told a press conference, Greece would like to see every effort made at a diplomatic level for a settlement.

He stressed that the Greek people nurtured friendly sentiments towards the people of Iraq, while noting that the basic principle of respect for UN resolutions must be adhered to.

Papandreou said the European Union was in effect awaiting the result of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's visit to Iraq before taking any decisions at a Community level.

Turkish violations of Greek airspace

Eighteen Turkish warplanes today infringed Athens Flight Information (FIR) regulations, on nine occasions violating Greek air space, defence ministry sources said.

The infringements and violations took place over the eastern Aegean near the Greek islands of Psara, Chios, Lesbos and Limnos.

In all instances, the Turkish aircraft were identified and intercepted by Greek fighter jets.

Commissioner praises Greek economic performance

The speed at which the Greek economy is adapting to the convergence criteria set out in the Maastricht Treaty is remarkable, EU Internal Market Commissioner Mario Monti said today.

Monti, who is currently visiting Greece, had talks this morning with National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Bank of Greece Governor Lucas Papademos, which he later described as very constructive.

"The Greek government is showing great determination in making the necessary structural changes to facilitate the country's integration inEurope," Monti said.

Replying to reporters' questions, Monti said there was no problem from the point of view of EU internal market legislation regarding the Greek government's plans to impose tax on mobile phone use.

He did not however rule out the possibility of there being a snag for the taxation plans arising from EU legislation on competition, adding though that this would have to be examined by the competent directorate.

Monti said also that auxiliary social security funds should have a freer rein in choosing their investment programmes.

The commissioner underlined that Greece had made substantial progress in adapting Greek legislation to EU internal market directives.

Noting that only 6.25 per cent of all such directives had not been implemented, Monti said that Greece was nevertheless ahead of Italy, France, Germany, Austria and Belgium in this respect.

Major arms haul in northern Greece

Greek security police in northern Greece said today they had found and confiscated a huge arms cache with 300 Kalashnikovs, thousands of rounds of ammunition and bayonets smuggled from Albania in a truck.

The weapons were found in the truck's secret compartment, shortly after it crossed the Greek-Albanian border to load furniture from the northwestern town of Florina.

The lorry's Albanian driver was arrested. Police told the ANA that it was the "biggest arms haul made since the 1996 uprising in neighbouring Albania when rebels broke into army barracks and stole thousands of weapons, most of which fell into the hands of local mafia bands and were smuggled abroad for sale."

The driver of the lorry was later identified as Florian Arapi, 19 from Elbasan, Albania, who told police that he had no knowledge of the arms.

He claims that the vehicle belongs to a compatriot named Kerim Duraseri who had told him that he would pick up the lorry in Thessaloniki and load it with furniture.

Olympic Airways cancels flights

Olympic Airways today said it would be cancelling more than 30 scheduled flights next week to cope with ongoing problems at the national carrier.

The cut flights include international destinations, such as London, Rome, Geneva, Zurich, Brussels, Budapest, Belgrade and Frankfurt. Also cut are a number of domestic routes to Thessaloniki and the Aegean islands.

A company announcement said that passengers booked to fly with OA would be placed on alternate OA flights to their destinations on the same day.

Illegal immigrants arrested

Police today arrested 19 Iraqi illegal immigrants of Kurdish origin on the island of Samos, who sought political asylum, Coast Guard officials said.

They said the 12 men, two women and three children had been left off by a Turkish smuggler on a beach near the Psili Ammo region, just a few hundred metres across from the Turkish coast.

Greek stocks in the doldrums for seventh day

Greek equities remained under pressure for the seventh consecutive session to end sharply lower on the Athens Stock Exchange.

The general index dropped 1.24 percent to end at 1,428.28 points for a net loss of 4.34 percent on the week. The index has lost 3.47 percent of its value since the start of the year.

Traders said that market sentiment remained negative despite a gradual de- escalation of domestic interbank rates, and the bourse was unable to react to persistent pressure by finding stronger support levels.

Analysts said that the Greek market was beginning to live the uncertainty surrounding possible speculative attacks on regional European currencies ahead of a fixing of currency rates for a single European currency.

Trading remained subdued throughout the week partly due to a capital flow into an initial public offering by Duty Free Shops.

On Friday, turnover was 12.8 billion drachmas. The week's turnover totalled 66.76 billion drachmas for a daily average of 13.35 billion, down from 20.9 billion the previous week.

Banks led the market down once again. The sector's index fell 1.10 percent on Friday for a net loss of 5.94 percent on the week. Insurance eased 1.52 percent, Leasing dropped 0.74 percent, Investment was 1.20 percent off, Construction fell 1.88 percent, Industrials were 1.50 percent lower, Miscellaneous plunged 2.64 percent and Holding fell 0.69 percent.

The parallel market index ended 1.55 percent down to show a 0.04 percent loss on the week reflecting the market's appetite for second-tier issues.

The FTSE/ASE blue chip index fell 1.05 percent to end at 790.11 points, down 5.02 percent since last Friday.

Broadly decliners led advancers by 161 to 58 with another 20 issues unchanged.

Ergas, Etma, Pairis and Constantinidis scored the biggest percentage gains while Fourlis, Bank of Athens, European Credit and Hellenic Sugar suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 21,100 drachmas, Ergobank at 14,500, Alpha Credit Bank at 15,120, Delta Dairy at 2,800, Titan Cement at 13,500, Intracom at 14,770 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 5, 495.

WEATHER

Fair weather in most parts of Greece today. Local clouds in the west of the country from the afternoon. Winds northerly, light to moderate, turning strong in the southeastern Aegean Sea. Athens will be sunny with temperatures between 4-16C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 0- 14C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 285.121 Pound sterling 466.736 Cyprus pd 534.291 French franc 46.763 Swiss franc 194.253 German mark 156.746 Italian lira (100) 15.900 Yen (100) 225.859 Canadian dlr. 199.194 Australian dlr. 191.952 Irish Punt 390.273 Belgian franc 7.595 Finnish mark 51.685 Dutch guilder 139.083 Danish kr. 41.128 Swedish kr. 35.224 Norwegian kr. 37.567 Austrian sch. 22.280 Spanish peseta 1.852 Port. Escudo 1.532

(M.P.)


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