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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-06-09

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, 09/06/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis calls for immediate peace in Kosovo
  • Greek authorities on sale of dairy products
  • Spain supports Thessaloniki's bid as Balkan aid headquarters
  • Papariga stresses popular front in pre-election address
  • Kusturica turns talent toward direction of NATO's bombings
  • Greece rates first among EU in traffic-related deaths
  • WWF warns of imminent ecological catastrophe over earth's warming
  • EU sports ministers focus on doping issue
  • Greek government on the Internet
  • EFG Eurobank, Deutsche Bank seek control of Ergobank
  • Budget revenue rises in January-May, outpacing target
  • Stocks sink again on new brokerage talk
  • Athens bourse briefly postpones paperless shares
  • Women's salaries in Greece rank bottom of EU league
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Simitis calls for immediate peace in Kosovo

Prime Minister Costas Simitis stressed yesterday that peace in Kosovo should be "immediate" and it should not be obstructed by secondary issues.

"The central issue is that peace should be immediate, and that it should not be obstructed by procedural issues and matters of secondary importance, " Mr. Simitis told reporters after meeting with President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

Mr. Simitis said he had discussed the latest developments in the Kosovo crisis in telephone conversations yesterday morning with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Italian Prime Minister Massimo d'Alema.

He said he had conveyed the above point of view to both leaders, adding that he also underlined to them that the peace process should move forward as quickly as possible.

The premier said Mr. Schroeder and Mr. d'Alema had agreed with him, adding that he had discerned a desire on their part for the peace process to continue and be concluded soon.

He added that the war in Yugoslavia may end before the end of the week.

Mr. Simitis said Greece would contribute to the implementation of any peace agreement to emerge from ongoing efforts, "because we want peace to prevail in the Balkans, which must become a region of development in which these hostilities are set aside".

Greek authorities on sale of dairy products

The government yesterday reassured consumers that milk and dairy products from Greece and European Union countries, with the exception of Belgium, were safe for consumption.

"Belgian milk produced from Jan. 15 to June 1 is unfit for consumption. Fresh pasteurised local milk, condensed milk and milk from European Union countries is fit for consumption..." an agriculture ministry official said.

The ministry yesterday issued a ban on the sale and distribution of Belgian milk and by-products for infants and young children, as well as Belgian processed cereals and foods for infants and young children, and finally, Belgian diet products.

An announcement from the Greek Pharmaceuticals Organisation said the move was a precautionary measure, as the products had not been checked for dioxin.

Agriculture Minister George Anomerities reiterated that Greece had an effective system of checking the safety of foodstuffs.

"We avoided checking individual packages and withdrew from the market all the products which have been imported from Belgium," he said.

Meanwhile, the dairy firm Delta stressed in a statement that its fresh milk was "100 per cent Greek" and fully checked at each stage of production.

The company said testing for dioxin contamination by a German laboratory indicated that its fresh milk was "completely clean and that the dioxin content was 25-40 times below the levels permissible and applied by any European country."

Conversely, it added that the production of Actimel, its only dairy product imported from Belgium, was not linked to any of the farms connected to the dioxin issue and was not included on the list issued by the Belgian government.

Spain supports Thessaloniki's bid as Balkan aid headquarters

Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis held talks in Athens yesterday with Spain's European Affairs Minister Ramon de Miguel, ranging from European Union and foreign policy issues to bilateral relations.

Earlier, Mr. de Miguel had conveyed a message from Spanish FM Abel Matutes to his Greek counterpart, George Papandreou, confirming Madrid's support for Thessaloniki's bid to become headquarters for a Balkan organisation to be set up within the framework of the Stabilisation Pact.

Mr. de Miguel told reporters that Spain was supporting Thessaloniki's bid not only because of the close ties between Madrid and Athens, but because it was convinced Thessaloniki was the best-situated EU city for this purpose.

Replying to questions, Mr. de Miguel said it would not be possible to secure stabilisation in the Balkans if Yugoslavia was not a party to the relevant efforts.

Commenting in general on the Yugoslav crisis and the situation in the region, Mr. de Miguel said "no one understands Balkan issues better than Greece".

Turning to Cyprus, he said Spain fully agreed with Greece that ongoing negotiations for the island republic's accession to the EU should proceed with the participation of the divided island's two communities.

He said also that the EU should send "a positive message" to Turkey, which in exchange should help reduce tension in Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus problem, as well as to allow the Turkish Cypriot community to participate in accession negotiations.

Papariga stresses popular front in pre-election address

Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga stressed yesterday that voting for KKE counts as a "promise and a contract of solidarity", as well as joint action with the working class, poor farmers, small and mid-size entrepreneurs, you th and the movement against war.

Addressing the party's main election rally at the Pedion tou Areos Square in Athens last night, Ms Papariga said that voting for KKE also counts as a contract against the options of the EU and NATO, which she claimed generate "poverty, unemployment, war and cultural manipulation."

"The only realistic reply to the present misery being experienced by our people, all of Europe, heightening with the war of conquest against Yugoslavia, is for us to acquire a modern and large patriotic popular front as soon as possible, one which will defend popular rights, the country's sovereign rights and peace in the region, a front which will claim government and power in its course.

Ms Papariga said that until ballot boxes close, the party's members should be alert to ensure unadulterated voting and "for the Greek people not to allow Greeks to go to Kosovo."

The rally was also addressed by the head of KKE's Euroticket, Stratis Korakas, and by the candidate Eurodeputies G. Hourmouziadis, Costas Zouraris, Liana Kanelli, Yiannis Pattakis and G. Manousoyiannakis.

Kusturica turns talent toward direction of NATO's bombings

Well-known Yugoslav film director Emir Kusturica yesterday stressed in Athens that "art was the only way to deal with the bombings", in reference to NATO's on-going attacks against Yugoslavia.

The prize-winning director of "Underground" and "Black Cat, White Cat" arrived in Athens from Canada, where he starred in a new movie.

"The reason I make movies and play music is to show the positive cultural elements of my country, its energy and its capabilities," Mr. Kusturica said.

"I believe this war (in Yugoslavia) is pure business. As a matter of fact, it is a business that has dragged along people who in 1968 were singing John Lennon's song 'Give Peace a Chance'."

"No Smoking Band", the director's 12-member musical group and with Mr. Kusturica at the electric guitar, will perform at the Lycabettus theatre tonight for the victims of the war in Yugoslavia in a show entitled "Collateral Damage".

Greece rates first among EU in traffic-related deaths

Greece sports the highest rate of traffic accidents among all EU member- states, according to the Brussels-based European Council for Transportation Safety (ESAM).

ESAM data showed that Greece holds the woeful distinction of first place among traffic-related deaths at 53.3 per cent for every 100 million kilometres travelled in 1997, followed by Portugal and Spain with 44.2 and 37.5 per cent, respectively, while the average EU rate was 15.8 per cent.

Traffic accidents were the number two cause of deaths throughout the EU, with cancer in first place and cardiovascular disease third, while the possibility of deaths from vehicle accidents were 10 times lower than accidents involving pedestrians and 10 times higher than bus-travel. Motorcycle riders risk accident-related death by some 20 times more than car passengers.

WWF warns of imminent ecological catastrophe over earth's warming

An announcement by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), on the occasion of World Oceans Day yesterday, stressed that the increase in the earth's temperature is a considerable threat to marine life.

Plankton, which constitutes the basis of the aquatic food chain, polar bears, walruses, seals, sea lions, penguins, various sea birds and coral reefs are greatly affected by the change in climate, WWF said, adding that the increase in temperatures world wide might constitute the coup de grace for many species already experiencing great pressures due to extensive fishing and the destruction of their preserves.

"The repercussions from the increase in temperature worldwide, however, are also felt in the Mediterranean," according to a WWF-Hellas official.

WWF signalled the alarm to all countries in the world, stressing that the more the finding of a solution is delayed, the closer comes the threat of a change in climate.

EU sports ministers focus on doping issue

European Union sports ministers unanimously accepted a proposal by the Greek delegation for an "Olympic Youth Festival" to be held in Olympia before the Olympic Games.

The proposal was ratified at an informal conference held in Germany from May 31 to June 2.

Representatives of governments agreed that a list of forbidden substances and methods should be enacted for all sports everywhere. The existence of a system of relevant penalties which will be valid at international level, the minimum being a two-year expulsion for the first offence, was also considered essential.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter and UEFA Secretary General Gerard Aigner had an important meeting with the EU's relevant ministers.

The issues they discussed were the consequences of the Bosman case, relations between UEFA-FIFA and political institutions, and the sale of television and marketing rights, among others.

Greek government on the Internet

The Greek government unveiled an Internet site late last week.

The electronic addresses of the site are: www.kyvernisi.gr www.greece.gov.gr www.hellas.gr www.government.gr

Information on laws, decrees and services of the Greek state are available.

EFG Eurobank, Deutsche Bank seek control of Ergobank

EFG Eurobank, a member of the Latsis Group, and Deutsche Bank of Germany are jointly seeking a maximum 50.1 percent stake in Ergobank, or a minimum 33.4 percent.

Deutsche Bank is already a shareholder in EFG Eurobank.

As part of a series of moves to accomplish the purchase, EFG Eurobank's parent, Consolidated Eurofinance Holdings, yesterday raised its existing 9.41 stake in Ergobank to 15.57 percent through block trades on the Athens Stock Exchange.

The purchase was effected through the acquisition of 2.16 percent of Ergobank's shares through the stock market, and the acquisition of a 4.01 stake by EFG Eurobank.

Consolidated Eurofinance Holdings and Deutsche Bank own 20.57 percent of Ergobank.

The EFG Bank Group is offering shareholders of Ergobank 110 shares in EFG Eurobank for 50 held in Ergobank, plus a cash sum of 4,000 drachmas per share.

Budget revenue rises in January-May, outpacing target

Budgetary revenue in January-May showed a gain of 213.3 billion drachmas beyond the target, the finance ministry said in a statement yesterday.

In May, budgetary revenue rose by 12.6 percent against the same month of last year, taking the January-May increase to 12.3 percent, well above the budgetary target of 5.83 percent.

Revenue from tax offices rose by 13.7 percent in May, and by 14.29 percent in January-May.

Customs revenue rose by 8.5 percent in May, and by 1.44 percent in the five- month period.

Value Added Tax revenue lagged by 4.4 percent but rose by 9.21 percent in January-May against the same period of 1998.

Stocks sink again on new brokerage talk

Equity prices ended lower yesterday hit by rumours of more securities firms facing liquidity problems.

The general index ended 1.10 percent lower at 4,053.95 points, off the day's lows of 4,033 points. It started the day 0.78 percent higher.

Turnover was 335.918 billion drachmas reflecting block trades in Ergobank and Eurobank. A total of 44,026,564 shares changed hands. Ergobank and Ergo Invest were the most heavily traded stocks.

Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-1.09 pct), Leasing (-0.72 pct), Insurance (-0.17 pct), Investment (-0.37 pct), Construction (-2.31 pct), Industrials (-1.28 pct), Miscellaneous (-1.70 pct) and Holding (-0.95 pct). The parallel market index fo r smaller capitalisation stocks ended 0.66 percent lower.

National Bank of Greece ended at 22,000 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 21, 125, Ergobank at 28,700, Ionian Bank at 16,690, Titan Cement at 29,100, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,930, Intracom at 21,800, Minoan Lines at 8,995, Panafon at 8,400 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,495.

Athens bourse briefly postpones paperless shares

The capital markets commission yesterday announced postponement until the end of June of a phased switch to paperless shares of firms listed on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE).

The commission said the decision was taken to remove complications arising from the switch from paper shares at a time when many companies were holding their annual general shareholders' meetings.

But market sources said that the underlying reason behind the decision was to halt a phenomenon occurring in the last few days of a number of major brokerages being suspended from trade due to clearing problems in paperless shares.

The ASE yesterday suspended three brokerages from trading for the same reason - Ergo Securities, P Kontalexis, and K Kontalexis - after the suspension of another five on Monday.

Women's salaries in Greece rank bottom of EU league

Salaries for women workers in Greece came rock bottom of a European Union ranking, Eurostat, the EU's statistics service, said yesterday.

The country's salaries for women in industry totalled 68 percent of the equivalent for men carrying out the same work.

The average differential was 32 percent in Greece against the EU average of a 14 percent differential.

The data from Greece covered women in industry. Data for remaining countries was across the board.

WEATHER

Sunny weather is forecast in most parts of Greece today with showers expected in central and northern Greece in the afternoon. Winds variable, moderate to strong. Partly cloudy in Athens with temperatures between 20- 32C. Possibility of showers in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 18- 30C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          309.514
Pound sterling       496.595
Japanese yen (100)   254.795
French franc          48.992
German mark          164.313
Italian lira (100)    16.597
Irish Punt           408.053
Belgian franc          7.967
Luxembourg franc       7.967
Finnish mark          54.050
Dutch guilder        145.831
Danish kr.            43.247
Austrian sch.         23.355
Spanish peseta         1.931
Swedish kr.           36.085
Norwegian kr.         39.214
Swiss franc          202.036
Port. Escudo           1.603
Can. dollar          210.562
Aus. dollar          204.253
Cyprus pound         557.187
Euro                 321.368
(C.E.)
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