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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-04-09

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, 09/04/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis says important G8 effort under way for peace in Kosovo
  • Athens backs joint EU statement on Kosovo crisis
  • Kyprianou to mediate for the release of three US soldiers
  • Athens backs EU recommendation towards Contact Group on Yugoslavia
  • Dutch helicopter makes forced landing in Thessaloniki
  • Konstantopoulos critical of EU statement on air strikes
  • Greek banks donate to humanitarian effort
  • Athens police arrest smuggler of illegal immigrants and 25 Iraqis
  • Stocks rise again on hopes of political solution for Kosovo
  • Financial markets brighter with players opening new positions
  • Trade deficit rises in 1998
  • Telestet reports 105 pct jump in connections
  • New National Bank of Greece shares to trade Tuesday
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Simitis says important G8 effort under way for peace in Kosovo

Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Friday that "an important effort" by the Group of Eight (G8) major industrialised nations was currently under way aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the Kosovo crisis.

He said the objective was to initiate political dialogue from which a plan could emerge for peace in the region.

"Greece supports this effort. I and my associates are in daily contact with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. I hope there will be a result in the next few days. But things are difficult," Simitis said.

The G8 comprises Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

The rotating chairmanships of both the G8 and the European Union are currently held by Germany.

Athens backs joint EU statement on Kosovo crisis

Athens yesterday joined its EU partners in strongly supporting NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia, although it also set out six points of its own for reducing tension in the troubled Balkans.

"In the face of extreme and irresponsible policies...the use of the severest measures, including military action, has been both necessary and warranted," a joint statement by the Union's 15 foreign ministers stated in Luxembourg.

"The EU holds personally responsible all those who propagated, allowed and executed the crude campaign of violent displacement, tortures and murders, and will support all efforts with a view to forcing them to appear before the International Penal Court for the former Yugoslavia," the statement added.

Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou tabled a statement during the meeting clarifying Greece's positions on the Kosovo issue.

Mr. Papandreou said Greece did not distance its position from the joint communique issued by the "15", which it voted for, but supported the following targets strongly and actively, including:

Achievement of an immediate ceasefire, an end to violence and the undertaking of efforts for a peaceful solution to the problem.

Effective handling of the huge humanitarian problems created by the hundreds of thousands of refugees.

Economic aid for the countries most affected in the region to enable them to tackle the immediate problems created by the crisis.

Adoption of a medium-term and long-term programme for handling the region's political and economic problems.

The undertaking of a major regional cooperation initiative in the sectors of security, consolidation of democratic institutions and economic restructuring.

Kyprianou to mediate for the release of three US soldiers

Cypriot House Speaker Spyros Kyprianou flew to Belgrade yesterday afternoon in advance of scheduled talks with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic today focusing on the release of three US soldiers.

His arrival marked the first time the airport opened since the start of the NATO bombings. Mr. Kyprianou, the acting president of Cyprus, landed at Belgrade airport on board a Hellenic Air Force C-130 transport plane.

In a brief statement to reporters, Mr. Kyprianou said the visit was an effort to deal with humanitarian issues, meaning the release of the three US soldiers held captive.

Athens backs EU recommendation towards Contact Group on Yugoslavia

Greece said yesterday it agreed with and supported the recommendation of the European Union's German presidency to the six-nation Contact Group on Yugoslavia concerning efforts to resolve the crisis in Kosovo.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the EU presidency would again put forward the recommendation at the forthcoming General Affairs Council.

Mr. Reppas said the recommendation provides for the cessation of ethnic cleansing operations, the withdrawal of the Yugoslav army and security forces from Kosovo, the return of refugees and the convening of the UN Security Council leading to a resolutio n on the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force.

The spokesman said NATO foreign ministers would hold an informal meeting on Monday to review developments in Kosovo and put forward views regarding the settlement of the problem and how best to tackle the refugee issue.

For the first time, he said, thoughts may be expressed about the use of ground troops, which Greece opposes.

Dutch helicopter makes forced landing in Thessaloniki

A Dutch helicopter believed to be part of the NATO force currently deployed in Albania had to make a forced landing near Thessaloniki airport on Friday due to a technical problem.

According to initial reports, the Chinook helicopter had taken off from Tirana and was headed for Athens.

While flying in Greek air space, the pilot saw that oil was leaking and he headed for the "Macedonia" international airport in Thessaloniki, northern Greece.

About one kilometre north of the airport, the pilot was forced to bring the helicopter down in a rurual area.

None of the helicopter crew were injured in the landing.

Konstantopoulos critical of EU statement on air strikes

Coalition of the Left leader Nikos Konstantopoulos said on Friday he disagreed with an EU statement strongly supporting NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia, saying it did nothing to strengthen initiatives for a political solution of the Kosovo crisis.

"The (NATO) bombing and the drama of the refugees are two aspects of the barbarity of the year 2000," Konstantopoulos said shortly after arriving in Thessaloniki.

Konstantopoulos also criticised the Greek government which, he charged, had adopted a stance of "what can we do? we can't do differently".

A joint statement by the EU's foreign ministers issued in Luxembourg on Thursday night said "the use of the severest measures, including military action, has been both necessary and warranted".

Commenting on the refusal of some EU countries to accept Kosovar refugees, Konstantopoulos said:

"Administrators who assess human suffering as though they were accountants do not inspire visions of societies and peoples for the 21st century."

Greek banks donate to humanitarian effort

The Union of Greek Banks (EET) has donated 300 million drachmas to the Greek government as a contribution to the humanitarian task undertaken by Athens to meet the needs of refugees from Kosovo. An EET delegation, including the Union's President Theodoro s Karatzas, was received by Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday for this purpose.

In a statement afterwards, noted that "the refugees concern us because human misery and human pain concern us. Because if we help, if we offer our solidarity, then we also help friendship between peoples, cooperation, we help a peaceful future in the Balkans."

Athens police arrest smuggler of illegal immigrants and 25 Iraqis

Athens police on Friday were hopeful of breaking up a gang which is believed to have smuggled large numbers of illegal immigrants into the country, after arresting 25 Iraqis and the Greek driver of the truck in which they were being transported.

The Iraqis - nine men, four women and 12 children - were discovered when police stopped a truck in Athens late Thursday night driven by Christos Siamis, 43.

Siamis tried to escape but was arrested.

He later told the police that he had picked up the Iraqis in Thessaloniki vegetable market and brought them to Athens.

Stocks rise again on hopes of political solution for Kosovo

Equities yesterday moved higher for the second consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange supported by hopes of a political solution in the Kosovo crisis.

The general index ended 2.43 percent higher at 3,621.53 points, off the day's highs.

Its losses since the beginning of NATO air strikes in Yugoslavia are now 3.79 percent compared with 13.0 percent a week ago. Turnover was 134.215 billion drachmas and volume 22,804,539 shares. Traders expect the market gradually to become more stable following its recent wild swings.

Sector indices scored gains across the board.

Banks rose 2.82 percent, Leasing ended 2.35 percent higher, Insurance increased 1.65 percent, Investment jumped 3.43 percent, Construction rose 3.51 percent, Industrials were 1.75 percent up, Miscellaneous ended 2.28 percent higher and Holding rose 0.52 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 3.7 percent with 16 stocks hitting the day's 8.0 percent limit up.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 247 to 33 with another 12 issues unchanged.

Financial markets brighter with players opening new positions

Domestic financial markets regained some optimism yesterday supported by hopes of an end to the war in Yugoslavia.

Traders said the investors had discounted positive developments in Kosovo and started opening new positions in the drachma and state securities.

Long-term bond prices rose by 50-60 basis points taking the yield spread with German bunds to 186 basis points, down from 192 the previous day.

In the foreign exchange market the drachma rose against the euro to end at 324.580 versus the euro at the central bank's daily fix from 326.960 a day earlier.

The US dollar was fixed at 300.080 drachmas from 300.740 the previous day.

In the interbank market, most money rates remained stable with the exception of one-month and 12-month rates which fell to 10.0 and 9.30 percent respectively.

Trade deficit rises in 1998

Greece's trade deficit rose by 328.4 million US dollars in 1998, up 2.2 percent from the previous year.

The figures exclude services and non-registered transactions. Imports in 1998 totalled 26.185 billion dollars from 26.427 billion in 1997, a drop of 0.9 percent.

Imports, however, were 7.2 percent higher in drachma terms.

Exports shrank to 10.592 billion dollars in 1998 from 11.161 billion the previous year, down 5.1 percent in dollars terms but 2.7 percent up in drachmas.

Telestet reports 105 pct jump in connections

Stet Hellas, one of the country's three mobile phone operators, yesterday reported an increase of 105 percent in new connections in the first quarter against the same period of last year.

In January-March, the company acquired 108,687 new subscribers against 52, 908 a year ago, taking the total of subcribers to 797,301.

Of the total, 56 percent of customers have contracts with the company and 44 percent have the firm's card phone.

New National Bank of Greece shares to trade Tuesday

New shares of National Bank of Greece, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, are to start trading on Tuesday, the bank said in a statement yesterday.

The shares are part of a 170.5 billion drachma share capital increase involving the issue of 14,843,024 new common shares at a nominal value of 1, 450 each.

Of the total, 14,160,698 shares are for preference distribution to existing shareholders at one new for 10 old. The price is 11,500 drachmas.

Trade will start on Tuesday when preference rights end.

WEATHER

The forecast for Saturday is scattered cloud, heavier in places with local showers. Possibility of thunderstorms in west, central and northern Greece. Winds southerly, moderate to strong and at times very strong in the Aegean. Athens cloudy, scattered showers, temperatures 13-21C. Similar in Thessaloniki with possibility of thunderstorms, temperatures 10-19C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          297.679
Pound sterling       477.688
Japanese yen (100)   246.423
French franc          49.086
German mark          164.627
Italian lira (100)    16.629
Irish Punt           408.835
Belgian franc          7.982
Luxembourg franc       7.982
Finnish mark          54.153
Dutch guilder        146.110
Danish kr.            43.342
Austrian sch.         23.399
Spanish peseta         1.935
Swedish kr.           35.930
Norwegian kr.         38.337
Swiss franc          201.822
Port. Escudo           1.606
Aus. dollar          186.079
Can. dollar          198.995
Cyprus pound         557.742
Euro                 321.983
(S.S.)
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