Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-08-27
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 27/08/1998 (ANA)
- Economic issues, Kosovo dominate Simitis-Kostov talks
- Greek money markets hit by international turbulence
- OTE-NET network expands spectacularly in first seven months
- Around Europe in an inflatable
- Absentee voting for Swedish citizens
- Drachma-denominated Eurobonds
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Economic issues, Kosovo dominate Simitis-Kostov talks
Prime Minister Costas Simitis held talks focusing on economic issues
yesterday with his Bulgarian counterpart Ivan Kostov, who was in Athens on
a one-day working visit. After the meeting, attended also by Development
Minister Vasso Papandreou, Mr. Simitis hosted a working luncheon for Mr.
Kostov, at which the two leaders were expected to discuss issues related to
the Balkans, the crisis in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo and developments
in the European Union.
Speaking to reporters before the lunch, Mr. Simitis said Greek-Bulgarian
relations were at a very good level, stressing that any problems which did
arise were effectively dealt with, while both countries are getting nearer
to attaining their common obje ctive, namely, excellent communication.
Underlining the importance of frequent contacts and exchanges of views
between Greece and Bulgaria, but also among the Balkan countries in general,
Mr. Simitis said the aim was "for us to attain the level of institutional
contacts which exists among EU countries".
Commenting on his first round of talks with Mr. Kostov, Mr. Simitis said
they had discussed the planned Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline, the
nuclear plant at Kozloduy in northern Bulgaria, road connections along the
Greek-Bulgarian border, cooperation in the customs sector, avoidance of
double taxation and matters related to vis a requirements.
Regarding the oil pipeline, Mr. Simitis said he had agreed with Mr. Kostov
that Bulgaria "must put certain questions to the Russian side about matters
requiring some clarification and then we shall examine any problems which
there may be". Replyi ng to a question, the premier said that as far as the
Greek government was concerned, the feasibility of the pipeline project was
"taken for granted".
"The Greek side believes that the project should go ahead but it also
believes that it is a project involving private enterprises, not the Greek
state," he said, while clarifying that the Greek state would support the
companies involved but would not as sume any of the risk. Regarding the
Kozloduy nuclear plant, the safety of which has repeatedly been questioned,
Mr. Simitis said Mr. Kostov had supplied a series of data, on the basis of
which the Greek Atomic Energy Commission would examine any pr oblems which
He stressed also that the primary concern of both sides was for the safety
of the two countries' populations.
Mr. Simitis described as "satisfactory" the progress in the construction of
road connections along the Greek-Bulgarian border and announced that the
two countries would be working closely to combat smuggling.
Mr. Simitis said a solution had been found for the avoidance of double
taxation, noting that both sides had agreed any regulation of the matter
should be adapted to meet developments.
On the issue of visas, Mr. Simitis said the foreign ministries of the two
countries would be in contact to minimise any problems. He also announced
that the possibility would be examined of creating a Free Movement Zone in
a depth of 25 kilometres on ei ther side of the Greek-Bulgarian border.
Mr. Kostov said his talks with Mr. Simitis were positive and underlined the
readiness of the two countries to make further efforts to develop bilateral
relations through "open contacts".
Referring to the Kozloduy issue, Mr. Kostov listed the information he had
given to Mr. Simitis and stressed that there had been no accident at the
plant during its entire period of operation.
He acknowledged though that some "low level minor incidents" had occurred
which however did not involve any leaks of radioactivity. Mr. Kostov agreed
that the oil pipeline constituted a plan for private enterprises and
interests, which nevertheless was of great importance for both Greece and
He said the issue would be raised in Moscow today by ministers accompanying
Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov on a trip to Russia. Mr. Kostov
expressed satisfaction with the progress of work for the construction of
three new border crossings as well as the level of cooperation between the
customs authorities of the two countries. "We would be very pleased if
progress was made regarding the issue of visas, particularly for businessmen,
" he added.
Mr. Kostov thanked the Greek government for its assistance in Sofia's
efforts to attain what he described as Bulgaria's two most important
foreign policy objectives, namely the country's accession to the European
Union and NATO.
Greek money markets hit by international turbulence
The Bank of Greece, the country's central bank, intervened heavily in the
domestic markets to support long-term bond prices and the drachma from
pressures arising from a deepening financial crisis in Russia and other
The Bank of Greece spent 1.2 billion US dollars to defend the domestic bond
market and the drachma in the wake of massive sales from foreign institutional
investors who preferred to liquidate their substantial gains in the Greek
bond market in an effort to hedge their losses in other international
The drachma's parity was significantly lower against most foreign
currencies. The drachma was 1.48 percent lower against the US dollar, 1.0
percent off against the DMark and 1.07 percent lower against the Ecu.
Pressures on the drachma continued long after the day's fixing.
One month interbank rates were also pressured to climb above 14 percent for
the first time in several months.
OTE-NET network expands spectacularly in first seven months
OTE-NET, Hellenic Telecommunication Organisation's internet network,
reported spectacular growth in the first seven months of 1998 with more
than 21,500 users and more than 270 fixed links.
Its network expanded steadily including 26 interchangers in major Greek
cities with a total capacity of 10 Mbytes.
OTE-NET has successfuly expanded into the Athens Stock Exchange with
several on line broking services and other partnerships with the private
sector in the information technology sector.
Around Europe in an inflatable
Three young Greek seafarers will attempt to sail around Europe in an
Vladimiros Levidis, Alexis Daras and Thanasis-Camilio Nollas will attempt
to recreate the legendary sea journey of mythical sailor Pytheas around
The three will sail next Friday morning from Zea marina in Piraeus.
Using sports and culture as a vehicle, the three men will visit 13 of 15
European Union member-states, as two are land-locked.
The effort is sponsored by the development ministry, among others.
Absentee voting for Swedish citizens
Swedish citizens residing abroad will be able to, as of today, cast
absentee ballots for the upcoming general elections in that country on
Based on recent legislation and for the first time, polling stations will
not just operate at the Swedish embassy and consulates in Greece but at
sites where the Greek-Swedish Association counts more than 20 members.
According to information provided by Swedish deputy Nikos Papadopoulos,
starting tomorrow polling stations will operate in Athens, Piraeus,
Thessaloniki, Rhodes, Kos, Irakleio, Kilkis, Ioannina, Kavala and
Commercial Bank of Greece has undertaken to distribute three-year drachma-
denominated Eurobonds worth 15 billion drachmas in cooperation with Morgan
Stanley Int. Co., on behalf of International Finance Corporation. The issue
has already been covered by foreign investors.
The settling of accounts is set for Sept. 4, 1998, while the date of
expiration is set for Sept. 4, 2001.
Sunny weather is forecast throughout the country today with scattered cloud
in eastern and northern Greece. Winds will be northerly, light to moderate,
turning strong in the Aegean Sea. Temperatures in Athens will range between
23-32C and in Thessaloniki from 19-29C.
Thursday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 307.619
British pound 504.432 Japanese yen (100) 213.677
French franc 50.900 German mark 170.550
Italian lira (100) 17.315 Irish Punt 428.544
Belgian franc 8.277 Finnish mark 56.187
Dutch guilder 151.359 Danish kr. 44.850
Austrian sch. 24.280 Spanish peseta 2.015
Swedish kr. 36.869 Norwegian kr. 38.625
Swiss franc 205.483 Port. Escudo 1.672
Aus. dollar 177.375 Can. dollar 199.372
Cyprus pound 582.304