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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-06-08

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, 08/06/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece confident that peace will break out in the Balkans
  • Gov't on passage of NATO troops through Greece
  • Organisation for Public Housing close to award for Olympic village
  • 'Chicken-gate' confiscations continue
  • Tsohatzopoulos on shape, scope of int'l force for Kosovo
  • 'Doctors of the Balkans' unit to be set up
  • ESHEA on Ocalan trial
  • Survey on AIDS unveiled
  • Key figure in brokerage probe to give evidence
  • Stocks end higher in wary trade
  • Bond prices drop in line with Europe
  • Goody's to boost share capital
  • Elval to hold bonus issue
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece confident that peace will break out in the Balkans

There was no impasse and peace was on the way, despite complications in talks between the military representatives of NATO and Yugoslavia, Foreign Minister George Papandreou said yesterday.

He added that technical matters were the focus of the talks between NATO and the Yugoslavs at a FYROM border post, while the G8 group was discussing the details of a UN resolution on the issue in Bonn.

After attending a meeting chaired by Premier Costas Simitis, Mr. Papandreou said he had consultations on the phone over the weekend with his Russian and German counterparts and the US deputy secretary of state.

Regarding a contingent of US marines aboard three vessels outside Litohoro awaiting permission from the Greek government to disembark in Thessaloniki and then head by coach to FYROM, Mr. Papandreou said that the US troops were forces deployed to help implement the peace accord.

"As soon as the technical process is completed and there is a request on the part of the allied forces, then all the peace forces will advance immediately to their destination so that there will not be a gap in the protection and security," Mr. Papandreou said.

Asked whether the Kosovo developments would influence next Sunday's European Parliament elections, Mr. Papandreou said this was something that the voters themselves would evaluate.

Gov't on passage of NATO troops through Greece

Greece will facilitate the situation so that there will be no vacuum after the withdrawal of the Serb forces from Kosovo, a government spokesman said yesterday, asked whether Greece would grant permission for the passage of NATO forces through Greek terri tory.

Asked whether the 10-day prohibition on the passage of foreign troops through Greek territory due to the June 13 Euroelections was still in force or had been suspended, spokesman Dimitris Reppas said conditions today were completely different than when the decision was taken, as the peacekeeping process has already been set in motion.

According to a later dispatch, most of the trucks which had arrived at Litohoro to transport the first 450 US marines left empty as the troops did not come ashore.

Earlier yesterday, nine tourist coaches, 14 platform trucks and another 10 lorries had arrived to help in the disembarkment.

Near the landing dock, peace activists and local residents have gathered to protest the passage of foreign troops through Greek territory to FYROM.

Organisation for Public Housing close to award for Olympic village

The Olympic Village for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens will be most likely be constructed by the Organisation for Public Housing (OEK), Culture Minister Elizabeth Papazoi said yesterday.

Ms Papazoi, speaking at her first news conference regarding the 2004 Games, said she was fully satisfied at the pace of preparations.

As culture minister, Ms Papazoi is president of the inter-ministerial committee overseeing the Games' preparations.

Ms Papazoi said the ongoing 'saga' of the location of the Olympic Village - the largest of the Olympic Games construction projects - was nearing an end and that an agreement with OEK to construct the site was near.

Ms Papazoi said preparations were well within the timeframe set by the organising committee and the government, while there was no problem in the field of construction.

In addition, the minister categorically denied that projects would be awarded directly to contractors to make up for what she termed "alleged delays."

'Chicken-gate' confiscations continue

The government yesterday announced that up until Sunday the agriculture ministry had confiscated 99 tons of beef, 154 tons of pork, 520 tons of poultry, 77 tons of other meat by-products, 169 tons of milk and by- products, 10 tons of eggs and 63 tons of eg g by-products.

The confiscations are related to the on-going pan-European issue of dioxin contamination in certain foodstuffs emanating primarily from Belgium. Meanwhile, McDonald's Hellas, the Greek subsidiary of the US-based fast food chain, announced that it would stop selling dairy products originating from Belgium as a precautionary measure and until a new supplier could be found.

In a statement it said that the meat it uses in products for Greece is imported from Italy, while bread is produced in Greece.

Tsohatzopoulos on shape, scope of int'l force for Kosovo

The hour of peace has arrived and final arrangements regarding implementation of the Kosovo peace agreement will have been ironed out in a matter of a few days at the most, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos stressed yesterday.

"All arrangements must be operational immediately and comprehensively under UN responsibility. The multinational force must be under a unified command on the basis of particular geographic sections of separate administration. The deployment of the multi national force and the withdawal of Serbian forces must take place simultaneously so as to prevent a vacuum," he said. He also expressed a view that the agreement establishes guarantees for the sovereignty of Yugoslav borders and the safe and unimpeded return of refugees to their homes.

The defence minister further said that permission for the transit of allied forces through northern Greece destined for Kosovo will be given in the next two to three days, when technical issues are ironed out for immediate implementation.

He reiterated that Greece will not allow the transit of Turkish troops, as in the past.

Greece will send a brigade, about 800 troops, including an engineering and a medical corps battalion. Provision has been made for the cost of this participation for six months to a year. He cautioned that the implementation of the agreement would not be "an easy affair".

'Doctors of the Balkans' unit to be set up

A mobile emergency unit called "Doctors of the Balkans" will be set up to intervene in emergencies (earthquakes, wars, epidemics, etc) in Balkan countries, to be created through voluntary contribution. This was announced by the director of the Social Insu rances Foundation's (IKA) preventive medicine unit in Alexandroupoli, Dr. Constantinos Papoutselis, who was referring to new activities being planned through the European Union programme Intereg III.

Mr. Papoutselis said the activation of the mobile unit "Doctors of the Balkans" is expected to start in January and the first departments will be created in Andrianoupoli, Bucharest, Skopje and Alexandroupoli.

He added that the Preventive Medicine Centre in Alexandroupoli already possesses necessary equipment, while necessary details will be settled at the end of June.

ESHEA on Ocalan trial

The Athens Journalists' Union (ESHEA) was the only journalists' group active at a press centre set up by the Ankara for reporters and foreign correspondents covering the Abdullah Ocalan trial.

ESHEA members Dimitris Tsalapatis and Sophia Voultepsis who were accredited at the centre. Upon returning to Greece, both said set procedure at the centre did not allow unhindered access of reporters to the trial.

They also noted that the majority of the Greek press correspondents were forced by conditions to abandon the press centre.

ESHEA will hold a press conference on Thursday for a full announcement of the delegation's findings.

Meanwhile, one of the lawyers for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader said a decision on Ocalan's fate will be taken by the United States and NATO.

Hasip Kaplan, in an interview to the newspaper "Radical", said that this was the opinion of Ocalan himself.

Mr. Kaplan also referred to Ocalan possibly seeking recourse against Greece, Italy, Russia, the Nertherlands, Germany and Kenya at the European Court.

Survey on AIDS unveiled

The government yesterday revealed the findings of a nation-wide survey on the deadly AIDS virus.

The survey, which focused on 2,000 individuals between the ages of 18-49, revealed that death and fear have been identified with the desease, since at the sound of the word "AIDS" 25 per cent of those surveyed said they "thought of death".

Among those who had a new sex partner during the past 12 months, 32.7 per cent stated that at the time of their first contact they did know their partners very well and 9.2 per cent said they did not know them at all, while 54.3 per cent did not delay the sexual contact and 72.8 per cent of those who delayed it said that the risk of HIV infection was not at all the deciding factor.

The survey revealed that 75.6 per cent of those surveyed used protection with their new partner and 14.5 per cent did not discuss protection at all, while 26.8 per cent were certain their partners were "clean".

Deputy Health and Welfare Minister Theodoros Kotsonis told reporters yesterday that the survey findings were used in the planning of a campaign to be inaugurated with a special music festival on June 19 in Athens, aimed at informing and alerting the public about AIDS prevention.

Finally, Mr. Kotsonis said Greece was for the first time elected to the United Nations AIDS Coordinating Council for a three-year term, which will begin on Jan. 1, 2000.

Key figure in brokerage probe to give evidence

A former senior employee of Alki Securities, which is being investigated in what may be a share trading racket, was taken into custody yesterday after voluntarily reporting to a public prosecutor in Thessaloniki. A warrant was issued for his arrest on Sunday after allegations of trading irregularities in the Thessaloniki branch of Alki Securities appeared in the media at the end of last week.

Authorities are investigating the allegations that the brokerage has a major shortfall and that some of its customers are owed money.

The Athens bourse suspended trade by Alki on Friday and sought an explanation.

Alki's management, which has acknowledged there appear to be anomalies, last week commissioned an external audit of the Thessaloniki branch's books by Ernst & Young. The findings are due within three days.

The brokerage has indicated that illegal practices appear to have been conducted by individuals in the company's name, but not by the company itself. It said in a statement that a shortfall of 555 million drachmas had so far been found in the branch's books.

The former head of Alki's Thessaloniki branch, Leonidas Tezapsidis, 39, claimed through his lawyer following his detention yesterday that he was a victim, and not the perpetrator, of financial crimes.

According to Alki, Mr. Tezapsidis appeared to have issued some post-dated cheques on his own account, using the company's name. The cheques were not linked to stock transactions by the company, it said in a statement.

Mr. Tezapsidis was awarded a 48-hour extension to prepare his case before an investigating magistrate. His case is due to be heard on Wednesday.

An Athens public prosecutor is conducting a separate investigation into allegations of foul play linked to the Alki affair that may have helped to bring the share index down 1.45 percent on Friday.

Stocks end higher in wary trade

Equity prices ended higher yesterday reversing an early decline but turnover was subdued on worries over the impact of an illegal trading scandal that was revealed at the end of last week.

The general index ended 0.88 percent higher at 4,098.96 points after falling as much as 1.38 percent early in the session.

The construction and bank sectors outperformed the market to end 2.15 and 1.04 percent higher, respectively.

Other sector indices ended as follows: Leasing (+0.79 pct), Insurance (+1.37 pct), Investment (+0.13 pct), Industrials (+0.32 pct), Miscellaneous (-0.86 pct) and Holding (+0.38 pct).

The FTSE/ASE 20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips ended 0.91 percent higher at 2,448.13 points.

Turnover was 130.433 billion drachmas with 24,031,076 shares changing hands.

Bond prices drop in line with Europe

Bond prices in the secondary market lost around 45 basis points, following European markets that slumped on fears of higher US interest rates.

Electronic trade was 45 billion drachmas from 60 billion drachmas in the previous session and 120 billion drachmas last Thursday.

The yield spread with German bunds was 163 basis points from 159 basis points on Friday.

The ten-year bond was trading at 103.10 to show a yield of 5.86 percent.

In the foreign currency market, players sold euro for drachmas but the cash was not ploughed into the bond or stock markets.

At the central bank's daily fix, the euro was set at 324.130 drachmas from 324.000 drachmas in the previous session.

Goody's to boost share capital

Goody's, which is listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, will seek to raise its share capital by 4.2 billion drachmas.

An annual shareholders' meeting yesterday approved plans to issue 1,064,406 new shares at 4,000 drachmas each to strengthen the company's capital base and support expansion projects.

Goody's will offer one new share for every two old, raising its total number of shares to 16,280,501.

Its shareholders also approved a 72 drachma dividend per share, up from 65 drachmas in the previous year.

The group's first quarter consolidated pre-tax profits increased 34 percent to 1.116 billion drachmas from 833 million in the same period last year.

Consolidated turnover rose by 15.9 percent to 7.77 billion drachmas.

The parent company's turnover rose to 832 million drachmas in the first quarter of 1999, up from 724 million last year, while first quarter net pre- tax profits jumped from 121 million drachmas in 1998 to 232 million drachmas this year.

The Goody's Group spent 5.9 billion drachmas in investments last year. It plans to launch 25 new stores in 1999.

Elval to hold bonus issue

The Hellenic Aluminium Industry (ELVAL), a member of the Viohalco group, yesterday announced a one-for-one rights issue and dividend payment of 45 drachmas per share.

A general shareholders' meeting approved plans to reduce the company's nominal share value to 100 drachmas to boost the stock's turnover on the Athens bourse.

ELVAL's share price has risen by 70 percent this year. The company's domestic market share totalled 94 percent, while 80 percent of sales, both in turnover and volume, were exports to the European Union, the US, Japan and China, management officials said.

The firm's net profits increased by 13.5 percent in the first quarter of 1999. The board expects a further improvement in results in the following two quarters.

ELVAL is currently implementing a 33 billion drachma investment programme.

WEATHER

Sunny weather is forecast throughout the country today with cloud expected in northern Greece in the afternoon. Winds northerly, light to strong. Athens, sunny with temperatures between 20-32C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 18-31C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          312.262
Pound sterling       501.773
Japanese yen (100)   257.999
French franc          49.018
German mark          164.399
Italian lira (100)    16.606
Irish Punt           408.268
Belgian franc          7.971
Luxembourg franc       7.971
Finnish mark          54.079
Dutch guilder        145.907
Danish kr.            43.281
Austrian sch.         23.367
Spanish peseta         1.932
Swedish kr.           36.152
Norwegian kr.         39.119
Swiss franc          202.790
Port. Escudo           1.604
Can. dollar          212.288
Aus. dollar          206.162
Cyprus pound         557.444
Euro                 321.537
(C.E.)
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