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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-06-25

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, 25/06/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Papandreou replies today to Cem's proposal for combatting terrorism
  • Turks decide to rename 'Seferis Street'
  • Spain to host next AMAN General Assembly
  • Archbishop of Tirana calls on all religions to cooperate for peace
  • Simitis arrives in Buenos Aires to attend S.I. conference
  • Breeders say Greek pork of high quality
  • OSPA to hold 24-hour strike to protest decision on national carrier
  • Tourist enterprises welcome decision
  • Greece may adopt U.K. tax measure
  • Athens bourse outlines record on share manipulation controls
  • Stocks rise, fuelled by blue chips
  • State railways to issue eurobond
  • Archaeologists voice objections to poetry event on Pnyx Hill
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Papandreou replies today to Cem's proposal for combatting terrorism

Foreign Minister George Papandreou will send a letter of reply to his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem possibly today, concerning the latter's proposal for bilateral cooperation in combatting terrorism.

The content of the letter was finalised yesterday during a meeting at the foreign ministry.

According to diplomatic sources, Mr. Papandreou proposes in his letter the start of a dialogue between Greece and Turkey on economic issues, trade cooperation and tourism as well as on issues relating to combatting terrorism and organised crime in general. This dialogue, according to the letter, could lead to the signing of cooperation agreements, either on a bilateral or a multilateral level.

Mr. Papandreou reiterates in his letter Greece's desire to handle outstanding issues between the two neighbouring countries, through respect of international law and international treaties.

Meanwhile, diplomatic sources said NATO Secretary General Javier Solana will not be making a statement on the adoption of a summer moratorium in the Aegean (from June 15 to August 15) since Turkey's permanent representative to NATO, Onur Oymen, has reje cted the relevant proposal in a letter to Mr. Solana.

Turks decide to rename 'Seferis Street'

The new municipal council of the town of Urla, in the Izmir area, decided yesterday to rename a street named after Giorgos Seferis, the Greek Nobel Laureate poet.

The decision was met with protests by artists and some Turkish media.

"It's a shame for Turkey, not Seferis," wrote the large circulation Hurriyet, while singer and composer Zulfi Livaneli expressed his indignation for such lack of respect towards a poet of worldwide stature, in an article in Sabah.

Seferis, honoured with the 1963 Nobel Prize for Literature, was born in Izmir in 1890, and as a boy spent summers with his family in Urla, in a house in the street named after him in August last year, in the presence of a numerous Greek delegation and many intellectuals.

Spain to host next AMAN General Assembly

The Spanish News Agency (EFE) will host the 9th General Assembly of the Alliance of Mediterranean News Agencies (AMAN) in the city of Cordoba in June 2000.

The proposal by EFE was unanimously accepted by AMAN's 8th General Assembly which ended here yesterday.

The Tunisian News Agency (TAP) announced its preparedness to organise the 10th General Assembly in June 2001. The news agency hosting the General Assembly exercises the Alliance's presidency for a year.

The Cyprus News Agency (CNA) handed over the presidency to Lebanon's National News Agency (NNA) on Wednesday.

The two-day General Assembly concluded its work in Beirut with the ratification of a final communique.

The Athens News Agency (ANA) was represented by its General Director Andreas Christodoulides. The participants were received by the Lebanese president, prime minister and parliament president yesterday.

AMAN has 17 full members which are ANA, AA from Turkey, AFP from France, AMI from Mauritania, ANSA from Italy, APS from Algeria, ATA from Albania, CNA from Cyprus, EFE from Spain, JANA from Libya, LUSA from Portugal, MAP from Morocco, MENA from Egypt, NNA from Lebanon, SANA from Syria, TAP from Tunisia and WAFA from Palestine.

The Federation of Arab News Agencies (FANA) and the International Press Service (IPS) also participated as observers.

Archbishop of Tirana calls on all religions to cooperate for peace

Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania Anastasios in a release yesterday called on all religions to work together for peace.

"With sincerity and with pain, by word and by action, the Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Albania has repeatedly expressed its full support to the brothers forced out of Kosovo. At the same time it has persistently proclaimed that the oil of religion sh ould not be used by any side to incite conflict, but to heal wounds and quiet the hearts", the release said.

"Now, after the end of the hostilities, all religions are called to cooperate for peace and conciliation. Particular respect is required toward all religious symbols and monuments ... A basic precondition for peace and justice, that we all desire in our region, is (to have) above all respect toward everything dedicated to the God of peace and justice", it went on.

Simitis arrives in Buenos Aires to attend S.I. conference

Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis arrived in the Argentine capital yesterday, to take part in the two-day conference of the Socialist International.

The conference will focus on the development of relations between Europe and Latin America, as well as economic aid to South America.

Mr. Simitis, who is a vice-president of the Socialist International, was due to attend a preparatory dinner for the members of the presidium at 3 am Greek time this morning, after meeting President Carlos Menem.

Breeders say Greek pork of high quality

The Greek Federation of Pork Breeders Unions yesterday issued a press release noting that Greek pork is of high certified quality, fed in the traditional ways, according to modern scientific standards. The president of the federation noted that soon pork breaders will have their own seal of quality, while he requested of the Greek state to set in place strict controls on the origin of pork meat and consumers to carefully check what they buy.

Greece should establish a laboratory for the measurement of harmful substances in foodstuffs, members of the country's Chemists' Union (EEX) said yesterday during a press conference. They noted that there are no mechanisms for regular measurements of food stuffs in the country, so as a result the quality of products consumed can not be guaranteed.

They added that claims characterising Greek products safe, following the discovery of dioxins in Belgian foodstuffs, are "assumptions" and not based on fact.

The union-members during the press conference requested measurements of toxin levels in foods be made by chemists, possibly with a system now developed in Belgium, if it is proven reliable.

In a development related to the dioxin contaminated foods, the "New Ecology" movement called the government to make clear its stance against genetically altered agricultural products. The organisation noted that the "Mad Cow" desease, the dioxin contami nated meats and the use of hormones and chemicals in food production and preparation, has shown that food products reaching the consumer are declining in quality and safety.

The movement also called on consumers not to follow the dietary advice formulated by companies, since dangers to the health of consumers have not yet been quantified.

OSPA to hold 24-hour strike to protest decision on national carrier

The Federation of Civil Aviation Associations (OSPA) said yesterday it would hold a 24-hour strike next Thursday to protest the government's decision to place the management of national carrier Olympic Airways with a foreign firm.

The decision was taken at an extraordinary general assembly called in the wake of Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mandelis' announcement on Wednesday that British Airways subsidiary Speedwing had been chosen to take over at OA.

Speedwing is charged with taking the troubled airline into an international alliance in a move to be approved by the government. Under the terms of an agreement in principle, Speedwing has agreed to shape up the airline, which faces chronic financial, operational and labour problems.

The meeting was held in a tense climate, and accompanied by the walkout of union representatives affiliated with the Communist Party of Greece and the Coalition of the Left and Progress when a Communist proposal for sweeping protests was rejected.

An OSPA official said that Olympic Airways employees would oppose in every way the "shrinking" or "degradation" of the company and called on the government to guarantee jobs and pay levels for all personnel.

Speedwing, in a statement released yesterday, said that it would provide an experienced team to manage the company, headed by Rod Lynch. The other members of the Speedwing team include Jack Lowe (to date commercial director of British Airways' fleets of Concordes) and Peter White, who has been director of sales at British Airways.

Acting government spokesman Yiannis Nikolaou said the effort to restructure Olympic Airways is a very serious affair and rejected accusations of lack of transparency in selecting a new manager for the airline.

"Olympic Airways concerns the employees and the Greek people and its restructuring concerns the government," he said.

Tourist enterprises welcome decision

In an announcement, the Federation of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE) said the awarding of management to a private (British) company, which has restructured the biggest airline company in the world, probably constitutes the last chance to save Olympic Airways.

SETE said the problematic state of the national carrier is creating a negative image for the country, underlining that Olympic has failed to support Greek tourism and the national economy.

SETE called on all parties involved (evidently the employees and opposition parties primarily) to realise the crucial nature of the present situation and contribute to the restructuring effort, brushing aside whatever expediencies.

Greece may adopt U.K. tax measure

Deputy Finance Minister George Drys said yesterday that the Greek government may introduce a system of self-assessment by taxpayers, based on a British model.

Mr. Drys was speaking at the end of an official visit to the U.K to study its tax methods.

"The system of tax calculation by individuals for their tax returns, a self- clearance system, is highly significant as it will allow us to make the tax system more efficient and transfer to tax control services currently wasted on collecting tax return s," Mr. Drys said.

"The British made this deep reform two years ago. This is the main chapter of the UK tax system, which we will study with a view to implementation in Greece," Mr. Drys said.

In October, a team of experts from the British inland revenue department will visit Greece for consultations on adoption of the system by the finance ministry.

Athens bourse outlines record on share manipulation controls

The president of the Athens Stock Exchange, Spyros Kouniakis, yesterday outlined the bourse's track record in rooting out share manipulation and insider trading, following the start of a judicial probe this week into allegations that the phenomena were wi despread.

Mr. Kouniakis told a shareholders' meeting that controls on transactions were instituted for the first time early in 1998.

Since then, the bourse had investigated 3,674 instances of suspicious movements in share price or volume, including both heavily and lightly traded stocks, and all sectors of the market.

The figure produced an average of 10 stocks investigated per day, Mr. Kouniakis said.

The outcome so far was that 62 of the cases appeared to involve share manipulation.

Of that total, 41 showed signs of a planned attempt to influence the price of stocks, in 12 cases likely short-selling, and in nine, there were signs of insider trading.

The cases were referred to the capital markets commission, the market's supervisory body, for further investigation and the imposition of fines, Mr. Kouniakis said.

Fines have been imposed in 15 cases, he added.

The Athens bourse's net pre-tax profits in 1998 were 10 billion drachmas, tripling earnings in 1997.

Results in January to April were 6.4 billion drachmas, roughly double the same period last year.

Stocks rise, fuelled by blue chips

Equity prices rebounded moderately yesterday, recovering from a two-day decline which pushed the market 2.61 percent down.

The general index ended 0.73 percent higher at 3,925.95 points. Turnover was 159.103 billion drachmas with 28,466,039 shares changing hands.

Traders said a wave of orders for blue chips in the banking, leasing and investment sectors lifted the market in the last half hour of trading.

Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (+0.76 pct), Leasing (+4.17 pct), Insurance (+2.19 pct), Investment (+2.57 pct), Construction (+0.36 pct), Industrials (+0.91 pct), Miscellaneous (-0.64 pct) and Holding (+1.20 pct).

The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 0.12 percent lower while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips rose 0.71 percent to 2,298.81 points.

National Bank of Greece ended at 20,240 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 19, 750, Ergobank at 31,290, Ionian Bank at 16,020, Titan Cement at 27,310, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,735, Intracom at 19,100, Minoan Lines at 5,050, Panafon at 7,255 and Hellenic Telecoms at 6,875.

State railways to issue eurobond

Hellenic Railways Organisation is to issue a 10-year eurobond worth 254 million euros on June 30 carrying a coupon of 6.30 percent.

The eurobond's manager is Salomon Smith Barney, a member of Citigroup. It is OSE's first state-guaranteed eurobond.

Archaeologists voice objections to poetry event on Pnyx Hill

Archaeologists yesterday voiced objections to a midnight poetry event to be held today on the Pnyx Hill, near the Acropolis, but held off on calling for its cancellation.

At a late-night meeting on Wednesday of the Central Archaeological Council (KAS), the body which manages the country's archaeological sites and museums, members said that the Pnyx should be reserved only for events related to the celebration of democracy.

The Pnyx Hill is a rocky outcrop overlooking Athens where assemblies were held in the 5th century BC for oratory and for discussion of political affairs of the city of Athens. It is closely associated with the birth of Athenian democracy.

Today's midnight reading of works by Greek poets, which will last to the rising of the sun on Saturday, will be the first of the events planned for the site.

In past KAS meetings, members have raised concerns about the litter left behind by concert-goers and minor acts of vandalism to sites and monuments.

On Wednesday, archaeologist Peppi Lazaridou called for the events at the Pnyx to be stopped. "The situation has reached its limits," she said.

WEATHER

Partly cloudy weather will prevail in most parts of Greece today with the possibility of showers in the afternoon in Macedonia, Thrace and the islands of the northern and eastern Aegean Sea. Winds northerly, moderate to strong. Mostly fair in Athens with temperatures between 18-31C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 17-26C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          311.002
Pound sterling       491.258
Japanese yen (100)   254.865
French franc          49.058
German mark          164.536
Italian lira (100)    16.620
Irish Punt           408.608
Belgian franc          7.977
Finnish mark          54.124
Dutch guilder        146.028
Danish kr.            43.348
Austrian sch.         23.386
Spanish peseta         1.934
Swedish kr.           36.817
Norwegian kr.         39.630
Swiss franc          201.431
Port. Escudo           1.605
Can. dollar          211.276
Aus. dollar          204.660
Cyprus pound         556.730
Euro                 321.805
(C.E.)
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