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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-03-21

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, 21/03/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Ruling party votes for new Central Committee
  • PM Simitis calls for strong, proud Greece
  • Palestinian President Arafat attends Congress
  • Arafat meets president, transport minister
  • Defence Minister warns Turkey, concerned about Kosovo
  • Greek foreign ministers in Brussels for Conclave
  • Rescuers try to retrieve bodies of mountaineers
  • Bond prices, turnover hit record highs
  • Stocks skyrocket in heavy trade
  • Eurobank's shareholders okay Dr 110 bln share cap rise
  • Finance ministry to auction T-bills
  • Ionian consumer loan at 14.5%
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Ruling party votes for new Central Committee

The ruling party's 5th party congress began winding up on Sunday, with the 5,802 delegates going to the polls to elect a president and new 180-member Central Committee of the party. Prime Minister and PASOK President Costas Simitis is the lone candidate for president of the central committee. A total of 321 candidates are running for a post on the Central Committee; each delegate may vote for up to 72 candidates. Voting will close at 4 p.m. on Sunday; the first results are expected to be announced at 7 p.m. Simitis cast his vote shortly after 1 p.m., saying the Congress was an example of "democracy in action". "We have shown over the past few days that we take our decisions democratically, define our lines and work out our problems all together," Simitis said. Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, voting shortly before the prime minister, said that the decisions taken at the congress marked a new beginning for the party.

PM Simitis calls for strong, proud Greece

Ruling PASOK party President and Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Saturday stressed the need for a strong and proud Greece which will create the necessary base for social solidarity and justice. Delivering his closing address to PASOK's 5th party congress, Simitis stressed that unity was achieved despite predictions to the contrary. PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis on Saturday called for a strong vote of confidence by the congress delegates for party President and Prime Minister Costas Simitis during voting on Sunday for party bodies.

Palestinian President Arafat attends Congress

Palestinian President Yasser Arafat was a surprise guest at Saturday's session of the ruling PASOK congress, reminding participants of the longstanding ties between the Palestinian and Greek people. Prime Minister Costas Simitis welcomed Mr. Arafat as "a great student of independence of peoples and freedom" and called him "a great friend of PASOK". "Following long struggles, the Palestinians succeeded in setting the foundations of a new course. In this, we will be at their side _ Greece will offer its support both on our own and as European Union members," the premier said, adding that Greece also supports implementation of the agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

Arafat meets president, transport minister

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos met at noon Saturday with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. The two leaders reportedly discussed Greek national issues as well as developments in the peace process in the Middle East. Arafat also met with Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis and discussed issues concerning transportation and infrastracture. The Palestinian authority has included Greece in its planned transportion policy as an important gateway to Europe. Mantelis accepted an invitation extended by Arafat to visit Palestine.

Defence Minister warns Turkey, concerned about Kosovo

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, speaking at the 5th PASOK party congress, warned Turkey to change its behaviour toward Greece. Tsohatzopoulos stressed that any Turkish attack against Cyprus would be a cause of war for Greece and underlined the need for reliable implementation of the Greece- Cyprus Joint Defence Doctrine and the need to support Cyprus' European Union accession process. The defence minister expressed his concern over conditions in Kosovo and reiterated that as far as Greece was concerned a political solution was the only viable solution.

Greek foreign ministers in Brussels for Conclave

Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis will participate in the European Union's foreign ministers' conclave on Sunday in Brussels. The foreign ministers are expected to discuss issues relating to "Agenda 2000" and developments regarding the resignation of the European Commission, in light of the extraordinary Berlin summit on Wednesday and Thursday.

Rescuers try to retrieve bodies of mountaineers

Army alpinists on Sunday resumed an operation to retrieve the bodies of three mountain climbers killed on the slopes of Mt. Olympus in northern Greece a week ago. Rescue efforts were called off mid-week as the weather took a sudden turn for the worse, preventing rescue workers from reaching the two bodies about 500 metres down a gorge, or from bringing down the one body already recovered. That body was moved on Sunday to Thessaloniki's AHEPA Hospital for autopsy. Rescue workers said they expected to reach the other two bodies by nightfall on Sunday. The three mountaineers, aged 19, 21 and 37, were part of a group from the Thessaloniki Mountaineering Club. Rescuers believe one fell down the 800-metre ravine, dragging the other two with him, as they were attempting to scale the mountain.

Bond prices, turnover hit record highs

Secondary bond market prices yesterday hit all-time records in the highest turnover ever with domestic players leading the rally, followed by institutional investors abroad. The new 10-year bond finished at 103.80- 104.20, posting a yield of 5.38 percent from 5.81 percent in the previous session. The yield spread with German bunds hitting a historic low of 1.88 percent, boding well for Greece's entry into the euro zone. The previous 10- year issue ended at 118.75-119.15. The drachma nosed down against the euro in the foreign currency market, where trade was lacklustre. The euro was set at 321.710 drachmas at the central bank's daily fix from 321.400 drachmas in the previous session.

Stocks skyrocket in heavy trade

Equities surged to new records yesterday as the market reacted positively to a speech by the prime minister at the opening of the ruling PASOK party's congress the previous day. The general index broke through the 3, 700-point level to end at a record 3,774.29 points, up 3.12 percent. It was the market's 22nd record close this year. Turnover was heavy at 210.097 billion drachmas on 31,240,071 shares traded. Foreign institutional investors were active, opening new positions in Greek blue chips. Traders said the premier's pledge to keep to the timetable for the country's participation in the euro inspired confidence in the country's political and economic outlook.

Eurobank's shareholders okay Dr 110 bln share cap rise

Shareholders of EFG Eurobank yesterday endorsed management's proposal for a share capital increase of 110 billion drachmas. Preference rights may be exercised for one month, with the process expected to end at the end of May or early June. Eligible to take part in the rights issue will be buyers of stock in the current public offer, which ended yesterday after attracting strong interest from retail investors.

Finance ministry to auction T-bills

The finance ministry yesterday announced that it will auction three- and six-month Treasury bills in paperless form on Tuesday. Thirty billion drachmas' worth of each term are on auction. The sale will be held through primary dealers with a commission of 0.15 percent for the three-month T- bills and 0.25 percent for the six-month paper.

Ionian consumer loan at 14.5%

Ionian Bank will offer a consumer loan during the Easter period with a slightly lower interest rate. The loan concerns a total of up to one million drachmas without collateral and with a 14.5 per cent interest rate plus tax charges. Borrowers can select a four-month grace period with the first instalment payable five months after the payment date and a total duration of 12 or 18 months.

WEATHER

Scattered showers in the Cyclades, Crete and Dodecanese are forecast for Monday. The rest of the country can expect scattered cloud which will increase towards the evening, with the possibility of light rain in the northwest. Winds will be westerly to northwesterlies mild to moderate. Temperatures will range from -3-12C in the north, 0-15 in the Ionian and mainland, and 6-16 in the Aegean. Athens will be overcast with mild to moderate winds, 6-15. Thessaloniki will be the same 0-11.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          291.727
Pound sterling       474.672
Japanese yen (100)   248.655
French franc          48.652
German mark          163.172
Italian lira (100)    16.482
Irish Punt           405.219
Belgian franc          7.911
Luxembourg franc       7.911
Finnish mark          53.675
Dutch guilder        144.818
Danish kr.            42.944
Austrian sch.         23.193
Spanish peseta         1.919
Swedish kr.           35.752
Norwegian kr.         37.746
Swiss franc          199.650
Port. Escudo           1.592
Aus. dollar          183.153
Can. dollar          192.091
Cyprus pound         550.560
Euro                 319.136
(M.P.)
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