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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-12-15

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, 15/12/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Cyprus problem dominates Holbrooke talks in Athens
  • Kranidiotis receives Romanian counterpart Ugureanu
  • Israel's Mordechai in Athens, Thessaloniki
  • Samaranch receives Athens 2004 managing director Bakouris
  • Moscow exhibition showcases ancient Hellenic presence in Black Sea
  • Xanthi man convicted of impersonating mufti
  • Passenger shipper ANEK to hold Dr 19 bln IPO this month
  • New Athens airport seen ready for trials in autumn 2000
  • Stocks slump again, banks badly hit
  • Gov't warns against illegal firings by NAPC
  • Decision limits truck traffic for holidays
  • Greek first division soccer
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Cyprus problem dominates Holbrooke talks in Athens

US presidential emissary for Cyprus Richard Holbrooke held talks last night with Greece's leadership on ways to reduce tension and armaments in Cyprus.

Mr. Holbrooke, accompanied by special US State Department coordinator for Cyprus, Thomas Miller, and US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns, met separately with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, addressing the Cyprus issue, told reporters after his meeting with Mr. Holbrooke that "the result (of the talks) is a difficult issue to pin down."

He added that the two sides elaborated on "the prospects that each side sees as realistic."

Mr. Burns said that the meeting was "excellent and useful".

According to diplomatic sources, the purchase order for the Russian-made anti-aircraft S-300 missiles has not been cancelled. The same sources said they were supposed to be loaded on Russian vessels today. Cyprus' decision to purchase the missiles, destined to boost the island republic's air- defences, has been met with opposition by Washington, the EU as well as Turkey, which threatened military strikes. The Cyprus government has repeatedly stated that a substantial decrease in armaments and the start of a political dialogue, aiming at an overall settlement of the Cyrpus problem, would be a sufficient reason for postponement of the missiles' deployment.

Other issues discussed at the meeting were developments in Bosnia and Kosovo.

No comments were made after the working dinner.

Kranidiotis receives Romanian counterpart Ugureanu

Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis met with his Romanian counterpart yesterday on bilateral relations, the situation in the Balkans and progress in cooperation between Greece, Romania and Bulgaria.

Romanian Deputy Foreign Minister Mihail Razvan Ugureanu is in Athens to address a conference being held by the Hellenic Foundation for Foreign and Defence Policy. He will speak on Romania's foreign policy towards its neighbours today.

Also a focus for discussion between the two deputy ministers was Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos' visit to Bucharest on Jan. 19-20.

Mr. Kranidiotis told reporters after the meeting that Greece extended unreserved support for Romania's efforts to gain entry to the European Union and NATO.

Bilateral relations between Greece and Romania are developing at a healthy pace: Greece is Romania's 12th largest foreign investor and Greek exports to Romania totalled $192 million in 1997.Imports from Romania came to $175 million for the same year.

Israel's Mordechai in Athens, Thessaloniki

Israeli Defence Minister Yitzhak Mordechai will begin a visit to Athens on Sunday, where he will meet with Greece's political leadership to reportedly discuss the controversial Israeli-Turkish military pact.

Mr. Mordechai will initially arrive in Thessaloniki on Friday in an unofficial capacity, where he will meet with representatives of the Jewish community in the city and will lay a wreath at a holocaust monument erected in memory of the city's Greek Jews , most of whom were exterminated by Nazis forces during World War II.

Greek Jewish representatives are expected to request a balance in the relations of Israel with Greece and Turkey.

Mr. Mordechai is also expected to meet with Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Saturday evening, as the later will host a dinner in his honour.

Samaranch receives Athens 2004 managing director Bakouris

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch yesterday received "Athens 2004" Olympic Games managing director Costas Bakouris in Lausanne.

According to reports, Mr. Samaranch said to Mr. Bakouris that he is satisfied with the course of the preparation for the Athens Games.

Mr. Bakouris visited the IOC headquarters to brief Committee members on preparations for the Games.

In a related develpment, Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras yesterday met in Athens with the presidium of the newly established International Olympic Medalists' Union.

Moscow exhibition showcases ancient Hellenic presence in Black Sea

An exhibition entitled "Ancient Greeks of the Northern Black Sea" is currently underway in Moscow, organised by the Moscow Historical Museum and the Greek embassy, in light of the 170-year anniversary of Greek-Russian diplomatic relations.

The exhibition includes 100 artifacts found during excavations in ancient Greek colonies in the Black Sea region, several of which were imported from Greece proper.

Hellenic presence, according to the finds, ranges from the 6th century BC to the 4th century AD.

Xanthi man convicted of impersonating mufti

A Larissa court yesterday convicted a Xanthi man to seven months in prison on charges of impersonating a religious authority figure.

Ahmet Aga claimed he was the "elected mufti", an Islamic religious figure, which according to Greek law is a state-appointed position and subject to approval by the state. Muftis are state-appointed in most predominately Islamic countries as well.

Four deputies of Turkey's parliament and Muslim leaders from Xanthi attended the trial.

Aga has been convicted in the past on the same charges, while Greek law allows for a pay-off of the jail term at 1,500 drachmas a day.

The state-approved mufti in the Xanthi region is Emin Sinikoglou.

Aga appealed the decision and was released.

Passenger shipper ANEK to hold Dr 19 bln IPO this month

ANEK, a major Crete-based passenger shipper, is to hold a 19 billion drachma initial public offer (IPO) on December 17-22 in order to enter the main market of the Athens Stock Exchange, company officials told a presentation yesterday.

The firm is to issue 6,384,000 new shares at 3,000 drachmas each of which 6, 184,000 stocks will be available to the public with the remainder destined for private placement.

The IPO's adviser is Piraeus Finance and the coordinator is Bank of Piraeus. The main underwriters are Bank of Piraeus, National Bank of Greece and Commercial Bank of Greece.

Eighty three percent of IPO proceeds will be used to fund the company's investment programme and 17 percent to boost operating capital.

ANEK, a broad-based share company headquartered in the town of Hania with holdings in small Cretan shippers, has nine ships.

The firm is soon to sign an order for construction of a new passenger and vehicle ferry at a cost of 35 billion drachmas that will make its maiden voyage in 2000. It also plans to order a second new building.

ANEK's equity capital was 19.2 billion drachmas on December 31, 1997 and its borrowing on September 30, 1998 totalled 17.5 billion drachmas, of which 16.2 billion drachmas are in the form of long-term bank loans and 1.3 billion in short-term loans.

Managing director Stelios Zambetakis said ANEK's turnover is expected to total 31.4 billion drachmas in 1998 and 34.5 billion in 1999.

Profits in 1998 are forecast at 5.4 billion drachmas, and in 1999 7.3 billion drachmas.

Among officials attending ANEK's presentation in Athens were Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis and Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister George Paschalidis.

New Athens airport seen ready for trials in autumn 2000

A new international airport being built for Athens will begin trial operations in September or October 2000 with the airport expected to open to traffic in March 2001.

Officials of Hochtief of Germany, builder of the airport near Spata, told a news conference yesterday that the facility's two runways would be ready in February 2001.

By the end of this year, 50 percent of total projects will be completed for the airport, which is to replace the existing facility at Hellenikon.

The airport's fire brigade building had been completed a month ahead of schedule, and in February a tender will be held for construction of a 350- bed hotel in the airport's vicinity, the officials said.

Finally, in December a tender will be called for a consultant to handle the transfer of national carrier Olympic Airways to Spata from Hellenikon.

Being discussed with the public works ministry is whether the airport's car park will be above or below ground.

Stocks slump again, banks badly hit

Equities finished sharply lower on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday in a second consecutive decline, sliding further below stubborn resistance at 2, 500 points.

The general index ended 2.18 percent lower at 2,407.05 points. Trade was slim with turnover falling to 51.5 billion drachmas from 56.2 billion a session earlier on volume of 13,541,000 shares.

Worst hit were the banking and leasing sectors. Bucking the trend were construction shares, which jumped in heavy buying interest.

The market lost 3.00 percent on Friday after signs for several sessions that the index might manage to consolidate above 2,500 points.

The FTSE/ASE-20 blue chip index slumped 2.56 percent to finish at 1,484.28 points.

The parallel market for smaller cap stocks outperformed the general index, closing 0.79 percent lower.

Sector indices were mostly down.

Banks nosedived 2.88 percent, Leasing plunged 4.45 percent, Insurance slumped 2.52 percent, Investment shed 2.36 percent, Construction surged 4.99 percent, Industrials fell 1.62 percent, Miscellaneous dropped 3.28 percent, and Holding shed 1.33 percent.

Of 252 shares traded declines led advances at 156 to 81 with 15 unchanged.

Gov't warns against illegal firings by NAPC

The government warned yesterday that it would not allow any unlawful firings at the Prinos off-shore oilfield, save voluntary retirements with legal compensation.

Deputy Labour Minister Christos Protopapas, speaking in the town of Drama, during a meeting yesterday with workers' representatives from the North Aegean Petroleum Co. (NACP), said "the labour ministry has already committed 665 million drachmas to fund additional severance pay, in addition the severance pay by the company, to 75 employees who will opt for early retirement in order to secure 260 jobs at the Prinos and Nea Karvali off-shore oil fields".

Citing financial woes, low production and a severe dip in international crude oil prices, NAPC last December forwarded termination notices to its entire workforce sparking vehement protests among the 400 employees at the Prinos site in the northern Aegean.

The minister told the employees' representatives that next Thursday ministry officials would meet with the employee's union leadership as well as with key NAPC officials, to conclude a final agreement on the future of the joint venture.

Decision limits truck traffic for holidays

Truck traffic on highways during the Christmas season will be limited, as part of efforts to minimise traffic accidents.

Various government ministries announced the decision for trucks more than 1.5 tons.

Specifically, trucks will not be allowed to use both the new and old outbound Athens-Corinth highways and the new outbound Athens-Lamia highway from Dec. 24 and Dec. 31, and from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m - as well as the use of the outbound Patra-Corinth-Athens highway and the inbound Athens-Lamia highway on Dec. 27 and Jan. 3, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Another exclusion is for the outbound Thessaloniki-Kavala highway on from Dec. 24 and Dec. 31, from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. and the inbound on Dec. 27 and Jan. 3, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Trucks trasporting milk, fresh fish and meat, are not included in the order.

Greek first division soccer

The table of Greek first division soccer matches as formulated after Monday's match between Olympikos and Ethnikos, both of Piraeus.

Weekend: AEK Athens-Panathinaikos 2-0 Xanthi-Iraklis Thessaloniki 0-0 Panionios Athens-Proodeftiki Piraeus 0- 0 Ethnikos Asteras Athens-Paniliakos Pyrgos 1-0 Ionikos Piraeus-Veria 1-0 Aris Thessaloniki-Panelefsiniakos 0-0 PAOK Thessaloniki-OFI Iraklion 3-1 Apollon Athens-Kavala 1-1

Monday: Olympiakos Piraeus-Ethnikos Piraeus 2-0

Standings, points: Olympiakos 31, AEK 29, Xanthi, Panathinaikos 25, PAOK 23, Aris 21, Ionikos, OFI, Ethnikos Asteras 20, Iraklis 19.

WEATHER

Western Greece partly cloudy, northern Greece cloudy with sporadic light snowfall. The rest of the country cloudy with rainfall or sleet and snow in the mountains. Winds northerly, strong to very strong. Athens is forecast cloudy with rainfall or sleet and snow on high ground and temperatures ranging from 7C to 11C. Thessaloniki is expected cloudy with possible light snowfall and temperatures ranging from 2C to 5C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 274.992 British pound 462.649 Japanese yen (100) 236.909 French franc 49.592 German mark 166.309 Italian lira (100) 16.795 Irish Punt 413.406 Belgian franc 8.620 Finnish mark 54.709 Dutch guilder 147.560 Danish kr. 43.700 Austrian sch. 23.645 Spanish peseta 1.955 Swedish kr. 34.291 Norwegian kr. 35.730 Swiss franc 205.776 Port. Escudo 1.621 Aus. dollar 169.806 Can. dollar 178.778

(L.G.)


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