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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 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

  • Greece always prepared to defend Cyprus - PM
  • Greek stock market falls 7.7%
  • Drachma still under pressure
  • Greek bourse plunge due to markets abroad - gov't
  • Defence minister dismisses Turkish claims
  • Bomb attack on French bank in Athens
  • Foreign undersecretary on CoE visit to Caucasus
  • Trade, Kosovo dominate Simitis-Kostov talks
  • OTE-NET network has spectacular growth
  • Around Europe in an inflatable
  • Absentee voting for Swedish citizens
  • Drachma-denominated Eurobonds
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece always prepared to defend Cyprus - PM

Prime Minister Costas Simitis used harsh words today while addressing the international community on the Cyprus problem, saying some had forgotten how the problem had arisen and in what it essentially consisted. He also reiterated Greece's commitment to defend Cyprus "militarily" in the event of a threat. Simitis was speaking to reporters after a two-hour meeting chaired by himself and Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides. The meeting was attended also by the political leaderships of the foreign and defence ministries of the two countries. A three-page joint communique issued at the end of the meeting stressed that the Cyprus problem was and remains one of invasion and subsequent illegal occupation.

Greek stock market falls 7.7%

Greek equities were badly hit by a major crisis in international markets, ending dramatically lower on the Athens Stock Exchange. The general index closed 7.70 percent, or 190.42 points, lower at 2,281.33, its lowest level since mid-April. Traders said a wave of blue chip selling in banks and industrials, mainly from American funds, hit the Greek market and pushed the majority of share prices to the daily 8.0 percent limit down. Dealers said lack of buying interest inflated losses in the market. All sector indices suffered heavy losses. Banks plunged 7.97 percent, Insurance fell 3.94 percent, Investment dropped 7.82 percent, Leasing ended 8.0 percent off, Industrials fell 7.58 percent, Construction dropped 7.68 percent, Miscellaneous ended 8.0 percent down and Holding declined 6.84 percent. More than 120 stocks hit the daily 8.0 percent limit down, including major banks like National Bank, Commercial, Ergobank, Ionian, Alpha Credit and Mortgage.

Drachma still under pressure

Greek markets remained under pressure with the drachma sliding further against most foreign currencies and bond prices losing new substantial ground. Traders said, however, that capital outflows were significantly reduced to a total of 250 million US dollars. The drachma fell by 0.77 percent against the dollar. The Greek currency was 0.60 percent off against the DMark and 0.76 percent lower against the Ecu. Bond prices were badly hit again as foreign institutional investors continued liquidating their long-term positions in the Greek bond market hedging losses suffered in Russian bonds and other developing markets. Interbank rates rose further with the Athibor rate rising to 21.5 percent.

Greek bourse plunge due to markets abroad - gov't

Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that a plunge in the bourse by 7.7 percent resulted from market turmoil abroad, and not the failure of a recent tender to privatise Ionian Bank. The country's economy was resilient and the government had taken the right measures to handle pressure on the drachma. The plunge in the bourse was reasonable due to the crisis abroad, Reppas said. Key stock markets in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Frankfurt and London had been badly hit by the political and financial crisis in Russia, and the Athens Stock Exchange should resume its upward trend, Reppas said. There was no question of a change of personnel in the country's economic leadership, Reppas said in reply to a question. He urged investors to remain cool-headed.

Defence minister dismisses Turkish claims

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos today dismissed statements made Wednesday by Turkish President Suleiman Demirel openly disputing Greek sovereignty of 132 Greek islets in the Aegean as "repetitions without substance". Tsohatzopoulos, speaking to reporters after a half-hour meeting with visiting US Congressman and chairman of the Congress' Greek-American Friendship Committee Michael Biliarakis, said that there was nothing up for negotiation in the Aegean, the status quo of which was clearly outlined in international law and international treaties.

Bomb attack on French bank in Athens

A makeshift bomb placed at the entrance of a French bank branch in the northern Athens suburb of Maroussi exploded early today, causing extensive damage but no injuries, police said. A police spokesman told the ANA that 14 of a total 17 liquid gas cannisters comprising the home-made bomb exploded shortly after midnight outside the entrance of a National de Paris bank branch at 170 Kifissias Avenue. He said the attack was a carbon copy of a bomb explosion at a Commercial Bank of Greece branch in the central Athens residential district of Kypseli in the early morning hours Tuesday, where 15 liquid gas cannisters had been placed.

Foreign undersecretary on CoE visit to Caucasus

Foreign Undersecretary Yannos Kranidiotis, in his capacity as chairman of the Council of Europe's (CoE) committee of foreign ministers, will together with CoE secretary general Daniel Tarschys head a CoE delegation on an official visit to Georgia, Azerebaijan and Aremenia next week to review democratic reforms underway and discuss the status of those countries' applications for membership in the 40-nation organisation. Greece currently holds the CoE presidency.

Trade, 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. 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".

OTE-NET network has spectacular growth

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

(M.P.)


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