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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-12-24

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, 24/12/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Athens pleased with UN resolutions regarding Cyprus
  • Clinton, Blair comments on UN resolution
  • Cyprus gov't says UN resolutions 'positive'
  • Markets remain positive despite holiday lull
  • Greek stocks in year-end rally
  • Bourse approves share capital increase, listing for two firms
  • New fixing method by Bank of Greece
  • Moody's examining upgrade of Eurobank's rating
  • Arsenis adamant over education reform, protests persist
  • CD with ecclesiastical hymns released by Archdiocese of America
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Athens pleased with UN resolutions regarding Cyprus

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday expressed Athens' satisfaction over two resolutions regarding Cyprus that were unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council, one renewing a UN peacekeeping force on the divided island republic for another six months.

The second resolution called on the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to respond positively to efforts by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's deputy special representative for Cyprus, Ann Hercus, to secure agreement on measures to reduce tension and build confidence between the two communities.

Both resolutions were adopted by the Security Council without debate on Tuesday.

Mr. Pangalos said the simultaneous adoption of the two resolutions not only illustrated the strong interest of the international community on the Cyprus issue, but also showed that the Security Council had realised the dangers entailed by any further prolongation of the problem.

Commenting on the texts of the resolutions, Mr. Pangalos said they clearly described the main parameters for resolving the Cyprus problem and in so doing, stated in the most responsible, official and categorical way that any other proposals put forward by the Turkish side were not being considered by the international community and were regarded as unacceptable.

Mr. Pangalos stressed that there was only one state and only one legitimate government in Cyprus and that the situation imposed by force - following the 1974 Turkish invasion and subsequent occupation - could not be tolerated.

The only solution to the Cyprus problem, he added, is a federation. The second resolution adopted, Mr. Pangalos continued, proposes specific means for achieving progress in the issue of security, such as the commitment not to use force and a gradual process aimed at reducing forces and armaments along the lines already proposed by Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides.

Noting that it would be wrong to underestimate the importance of the two resolutions, Mr. Pangalos said "we cannot allow Turkey to dictate to the international community what moves should be made".

Replying to reporters' questions on Nicosia's plans to install Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to bolster the island's defences, he said the issue would be discussed by Cyprus' National Council.

Mr. Pangalos said it is the first time the Security Council used such strong wording and gives concrete instructions and directives, which proves that "it is determined not only to reduce tension in the short-term, but also to substantively tackle the crucial issue of security and move decisively towards the solution of the Cyprus problem." He added that one of the resolutions addresses the basic parametres of the Cyprus issue, making it clear that proposals put forward by the Turkish side for the establishment of a confederation of two states on the island are not accepted.

The Greek Minister welcomed statements made yesterday by US President Bill Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and European Union officials with which they express support to the UN resolutions and pledge to work for their implementation.

"The Greek government expects their implementation with specific initiatives, " he added.

He expressed the Greek government's readiness "to cooperate in a constructive spirit with the UN and the international community for the implementation of these resolutions."

Clinton, Blair comments on UN resolution

US President Bill Clinton said that he was committed to ending the "tragic division of Cyprus" and urged Cypriots to do their part to support international efforts to end the dispute.

In a statement issued by the White House late on Tuesday, immediately after the unanimous approval of two resulutions by the Security Council, Clinton vowed to "take all necessary steps to support the Security Council resolutions", adding that "I am encouraged by the cooperation and engagement demonstrated by the two sides thus far in working with the UN".

Mr. Clinton urged "all the parties to avoid taking any steps that could increase tensions on the island, including the expansion of military forces and armaments" and expressed the belief that "1999 can offer significant opportunities to achieve progress toward a Cyprus settlement that will meet the concerns of the parties involved".

British Prime Minister Tony Blair also said his government "wants to see a major, sustained effort towards securing a just, comprehensive and lasting settlement in Cyprus and will work itself, and with other permanent members of the Security Council, to give complete and whole-hearted backing to this effort."

"Britain is committed to working for full implementation of this resolution." He also called on all parties "to continue to cooperate with the UN Secretary General and his deputy special representative in a constructive and flexible manner and to secure progress on the issues it identifies."

Cyprus gov't says UN resolutions 'positive'

In its response, the Cyprus government considers two UN resolutions as positive and said they offer "new prospects" to efforts for a settlement to the protracted Cyprus problem and a reduction of arms on the island.

"The Cyprus government considers these two resolutions as positive because we believe they create some hopeful prospects regarding efforts to open the road on the core issues of the Cyprus problem, but mainly for the reduction of all armaments with an aim to the demilitarisation of the island," Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides told a press conference yesterday.

He made special reference to the Russian stance at the UN Security Council, which apparently assisted the unanimous adoption of the two resolutions.

Mr. Kasoulides said the Greek Cypriot side has to "work positively and constructively whenever the chance arises, hoping it will bear fruit".

Efforts to settle the Cyprus problem reached a stalemate after the Turkish Cypriot side, in defiance of UN resolutions, demanded recognition of the illegal regime unilaterally declared in the areas of the island occupied by Turkey in 1974.

The foreign minister refrained from commenting on the issue of the Russian- made S-300 missile system ordered by the government, noting it will be discussed today at a meeting of the National Council, the top advisory body to the president on the Cyprus question.

Asked if the government position on the S-300 has changed in view of the two UN resolutions approved, Mr. Kasoulides said the official position will be outlined today.

Markets remain positive despite holiday lull

The overall climate in the bond market appears very positive and is reflected in bonds' prices - maintained at a high level - although a low- key trend is prevailing in both the bonds and the exchange markets in light of the Christmas holidays.

According to assessments by banking officials, this situation is expected to continue until the end of the year without any considerable changes occurring.

Assessments made by the largest investment banks, such as Morgan Stanley and Credit Swiss First Boston, agree that the Greek market continues to be very attractive in light of the country's projected participation in Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). In a recent report, CSFB predicts that the Greek economy has a 95 per cent chance of joining EMU in 2001. Regarding bonds, the report stresses that the Greek market has many similarities with the Italian one and proposes investment in longterm titles with a fluctuating interest rate. It also adds that taxation on bonds may be abolished.

The Bank of Greece accepted 14-day deposits from banks amounting to 200 billion drachmas, meeting 54.49 per cent of demand. Despite this intervention, however, the National Bank's overnight interest rate reached 11.70 per cent.

Greek stocks in year-end rally

Greek equities continued moving higher yesterday pushing the general index above the 2,600 level for the first time since Aug. 21.

The index ended 2.50 percent higher to 2,605.87 points in extremely heavy turnover of 89.7 billion drachmas. Volume was 16,830,000 shares.

Traders said foreign institutional investors were active buyers with focus on blue-chip stocks like National Bank, Alpha Credit Bank, Ergobank and Hellenic Telecoms.

Sentiment was improved following a substantial drop in bond yields on Tuesday and news of a stock split by National Bank of Greece next month.

Sector indices scored gains. Banks soared 3.38 percent, Leasing rose 2.62 percent, Insurance ended 2.59 percent up, Investment gained 1.43 percent, Construction rose 0.85 percent, Industrials ended 1.03 percent up, Miscellaneous increased 1.68 percent and Holding rose 1.29 percent.

The FTSE/ASE 20 index surged 3.05 percent to 1,637.7 points. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 151 to 95 with another 21 issues unchanged.

National Bank of Greece ended at 58,000 drachmas, Ergobank at 30,300, Alpha Credit Bank at 28,605, Ionian Bank at 14,965, Hellenic Telecoms at 7,115, Delta Dairy at 3,877, Intracom at 12,340, Titan Cement at 19,930, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,190 and Minoan Lines at 6,355.

Bourse approves share capital increase, listing for two firms

The Athens Stock Exchange yesterday approved the share capital increase and bourse listing of Agrotiki Asfalistiki ( 2,658,000 common shares) and Kleeman Hellas (955,500 common shares).

In addition, Pantechniki S.A. will issue 6,863,000 new common registered shares, Elfico S.A. will issue 377,825 new common shares and 94,825 preferred new shares, while ETBA will issue bank bonds in the exchange.

New fixing method by Bank of Greece

The method of conducting the fixing session in the Greek exchange market will change as of Jan. 1.

According to a circular publicised by the Bank of Greece yesterday, the method is determined by which the Bank of Greece's intervention in the exchange market will be brought about, while the way with which exchange transactions will be conducted betwee n banks and their customers is also described.

The euro will be included on the table of currencies being negotiated at the fixing session and the national currencies of member-states adopting the euro as a single currency, namely those participating in Economic and Monetary Union, will be removed, as well as the European Currency Unit (the ECU) which will be converted into the ratio of 1 ECU for 1 euro.

At the end of the banks' session for determining official foreign exchange rates (fixing), the Bank of Greece, in the presence of representatives of the banks, will determine the average prices of euro zone currencies as against the drachma on the basis of the resulting official price between the drachma and the euro in conjunction with the irrevocable prices of these currencies as against the euro and as these prices will have been locked as at January 1, 1999.

At the end of the session and on completion of the process, the bulletin of official foreign exchange prices as against the drachma will be issued, as well as the bulletin of average prices of euro zone currencies as against the drachma.

Moreover, the Bank of Greece's Monetary Policy Council has decided to activate as of January 1, 1999 the operational regulation for the Payment Order Settlement System in euro, the "Euro-Ermis." With this system, banks operating in the country will be able to carry out payments in euro with its value on the same day of payment in all European Union countries.

Moody's examining upgrade of Eurobank's rating

The international credit rating firm Moody's is examining the upgrading of Eurobank in relation to short and long-term deposits.

According to a Moody's announcement issued yesterday, the firm is reassessing Eurobank due to its recent purchases of Cretabank and the Bank of Athens and especially the buy-out by Deutsche Bank of 10 per cent of Eurobank.

Moody's said it believes the Eurobank's diversification and franchise expansion, together with the new strategic association with Deutsche Bank will place Eurobank in a much stronger position to compete locally in the evolving and highly competitive Gre ek market.

With total assets of 1.7 trillion drachmas (US$5.7 billion), Eurobank is currently the second largest private bank in Greece.

Arsenis adamant over education reform, protests persist

Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis yesterday said that education reform was not to be negotiated.

He expressed sorrow over secondary teachers' (OLME) opposition to two amendments to the law that he announced on Tuesday.

Mr. Arsenis also said the ministry will provide, after the holidays, bulletins on the material for the June examinations and added: "If a student follows classes normall, he will feel prepared".

In a related development, students continued their protests yesterday by blocking the Athens-Lamia highway and downtown Athens streets, causing traffic problems. They vowed to continue their protests after the holidays.

Meanwhile, students' committees decided to hold rallies in Athens and Piraeus on Jan. 15.

CD with ecclesiastical hymns released by Archdiocese of America

The Archdiocese of America has announced the release of a compact disk with "Liturgical Hymns of Praise by Orthodox Youth", featuring the voices of young people from throughout America, singing in both Greek and English.

The CD, the first of its kind, contains the divine liturgy in its entirety, plus selected Orthodox hymns and is now available through the office of youth and young adult ministry at 8 East 79th Street, New York, NY 10021, by phone on (212) 774-0297 or by email at youthoffice&goarch.org

WEATHER

Cloudy skies with rainfall in most parts of Greece today and snowfall in the mountainous regions. Winds, northerly, northeasterly, strong, turning gale force in the Aegean Sea. Rain and sleet in Athens with temperatures ranging between 4-9C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 0- 5C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 278.087 British pound 466.399 Japanese yen (100) 239.727 French franc 49.671 German mark 166.557 Italian lira (100) 16.827 Irish Punt 414.656 Belgian franc 8.076 Finnish mark 54.838 Dutch guilder 147.843 Danish kr. 43.807 Austrian sch. 23.688 Spanish peseta 1.959 Swedish kr. 34.885 Norwegian kr. 36.406 Swiss franc 204.302 Port. Escudo 1.625 Aus. dollar 171.289 Can. dollar 179.373

(C.E.)


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