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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-08-27

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, 27/08/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • 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
  • Weather
  • 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 may exist.

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 Bulgaria.

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 developing markets.

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 markets.

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 inflatable craft.

Vladimiros Levidis, Alexis Daras and Thanasis-Camilio Nollas will attempt to recreate the legendary sea journey of mythical sailor Pytheas around Europe.

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 Sept. 20.

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 Corfu.

Drachma-denominated Eurobonds

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.

WEATHER

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.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

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

(L.G.)


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