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Athens News Agency: News in English, 00-06-08
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 British attache - Assassination - Reactions (lead-all)08/06/2000 21:12:32
Britain's defence attache in Athens was gunned down Thursday morning on a congested Athens highway by an unknown assailant on a motorcycle.
The attack on Brig. Stephen Saunders, 53, brought an immediate condemnation from Greeces political leaders, as many politicians and senior police officials rushed to an Athens hospital where the British officer eventually died just more than three hours after the shooting and ensuing emergency surgery.
No group had claimed responsibility for the assassination as speculation whirled throughout the country and the international media that the incident was the work of the notorious ?November 17? terrorist group.
Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis expressed "abhorrence" on behalf of the entire Greek people over what he termed the "barbarous killing" of the British defence attache.
In a statement, Simitis said: "This terrorist act is contrary to the elementary rule of social co-existence and respect for human life".
He added that the attack had come at a time when Greece was "on a successful course in all sectors" and "at a time when the countrys prestige has improved internationally".
The attack occurred a few minutes before 8 a.m. local time as Saunders was driving alone from his home in the northern Athens suburb of Nea Erithrea to the British embassy in downtown Athens. Police quoted eyewitnesses as saying that two men on a white off-road-type motorcycle, both wearing crash helmets, approached the British officer's vehicle before the passenger fired four shots through the passenger side window, hitting Saunders in the face and abdomen.
The two assailants immediately sped away into the adjacent upscale Filothei residential district, an embassy row, of sorts, in the Greek capital.
Police later found four shells from a 45-calibre handgun at the scene.
According to reports, Saunders climbed out of the Greek registration-plated Rover automobile as passers-by rushed to his aid. He was taken to Athens Erythros Stavros (Red Cross) Hospital where he underwent surgery.
A British embassy source later told the Athens News Agency that Saunders, the father of two teenage daughters, had been serving in Greece since May 1999. The source declined further comment, saying the embassy was "investigating all possibilities and was in constant contact with the Greek security authorities".
Police also found documents in and around the car and were investigating the possibility that a terrorist organisation's proclamation had been left among them.
Condemnations pour in
"We will not allow anyone to overturn normality and progress or smear the picture of a modern, peaceful and democratic Greece," Simitis stressed.
The Greek premier postponed his prior engagements and spoke by phone with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, government sources said.
Simitis also sent a written message to Blair saying that the Greek government and the Greek people condemned "all terrorist acts in the most categorical manner". "We will not spare any effort to bring before justice those responsible and we are determined to continue actively our difficult struggle against terrorism," Simitis added.
Earlier, Foreign Minister George Papandreou was one of several Greek ministers that went to the hospital where Saunders was taken. He told reporters he spoke with the British officers wife in order to convey the "sympathy of the Greek government and people".
"We have expressed the same sentiments to the British government," added Papandreou.
He declined to comment on speculation about the motive behind the shooting.
"Greece will mercilessly safeguard democracy and the country's name abroad, which has been dealt a serious blow with this act," the foreign minister said.
In addition, Papandreou spoke by phone with his British counterpart Robin Cook, to whom he expressed his "sorrow and abhorrence" over the "cowardly act", as he said, while assuring that ?Greece would make every possible effort to locate and arrest the perpetrators.?
Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis, who rushed to the hospital immediately after the attack, said the attack had not only resulted in the loss of a human life, but also attempted "to hurt the interests of the country".
Papandreou also briefed Greek Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos -- who is in Brussels for a NATO ministerial meeting -- by phone.
In the Belgian capital, Tsohatzopoulos discussed the incident with his NATO counterparts and expressed Athens condolences to British defence secretary Geoff Hoon and NATO Secretary General George Robertson, Britain's former defence secretary.
 Foreign Exchange Rates-Friday08/06/2000 19:23:02
Following are indicative rates for commercial banks released by the central bank for the next working day.
Fridays rates (buying)
U.S. dollar 348.450
German mark 170.679
 Weather Forecast-Friday08/06/2000 17:11:54
Sunny weather is forecast for most of Friday with cloudy spells on the mainland and the Ionian sea turning to scattered showers or storms in the evening.
 EFG Eurobank-insurance companies08/06/2000 17:11:02
EFG Eurobank Group on Thursday announced the creation of two insurance companies, EFG Life Insurance and EFG Eurobank, activating two CretaBank idle companies.
Nikos Nanopoulos, Eurobank's chief executive, told a press conference that the group currently covered all range of financial products and services.
The group's deputy director, Byron Ballis, said that all insurance products would be promoted through the bank's network and not through insurance agents.
He predicted a bigger convergence in insurance and banking products in the near future.
Eurobank's insurance products were designed in cooperation with international financial organisation, like Deutsche Bank.
 Greek Cables-investment programme08/06/2000 17:04:04
Greek Cables, a listed cables company, on Thursday announced its investment programme, worth five billion drachmas, for the period 2000-2001.
The programme was presented at the annual general shareholders' meeting which approved a 50 drachmas per share dividend payment.
The programme aims to improve the company's competitiveness in the domestic and international markets and to maximise the capabilities of its subsidiary ICME ECAB in Romania. Greek Cables now hold a 91 percent equity stake in ICME ECAB.
The two-year plan envisages expanding the company's commercial network, ensuring a significant stake in infrastructure projects in Greece and the Balkans and improveing the company's position in the domestic market.
Greek Cables reported a turnover of 25.8 billion drachmas and pre-tax profits of 1.9 billion drachmas last year. The company expects a significant increase in this year's results with turnover exceeding 40 billion drachmas.
 ASE-close08/06/2000 16:55:42
Equity prices rebounded on Thursday recovering a small part of their previous three sessions' losses on the Athens Stock Exchange, helped by bargain-hunting and other speculative buying in smaller capitalisation stocks.
The general index ended at 4,387.37 points, up 0.89 percent, after losing more than 4.0 percent in the previous three-day decline. Analysts stressed that the market has found a strong support level at 4,300 points. They said that a steady recovery of the market would need higher turnover.
Turnover was a low 129 billion drachmas. The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended at 2,426.23 points, up 0.55 percent, and the FTSE/ASE 40 index jumped 1.74 percent to 642.35 points.
The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended at 911.18 points, up 5.14 percent.
 Budget revenues-May figures08/06/2000 16:45:42
Greece's budget revenues were up 16.9 percent in May for a surplus of 370 billion drachmas from the start of the year, finance ministry figures showed on Thursday.
The regular budget's revenues were up 12.6 percent in the first five months of 2000, exceeding a budget target for an annual increase of 3.5 percent.
Finance Undersecretary Apostolos Fotiadis attributed the positive results to a steady economic growth and to a more efficient inspection by the country's tax agency.
Tax agencies' revenues were up 26.3 percent in May, for a 17 pct increase in the period January-May. Customs' revenues rose 18.4 and 7.6 percent, respectively, while VAT revenues rose 40.5 percent in May and 14.4 percent in the five-month period.
 Olympic Airways-minister comments08/06/2000 16:35:01
Olympic Airways has a future despite its current pessimistic picture, Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis told a press conference on Thursday.
The national carriers' prospects were its relocation to a new Athens airport at Spata, the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and the anticipated increased tourist arrivals in the country, Verelis said.
"A period of tranquility, however, must prevail in the company and workers have to freeze their wage claims," he noted.
Verelis said that the money from the sale of a 20 percent equity stake in Olympic Airways to a private investor would be used to improve the carriers' financial condition.
"The need for private funds is an one-way road because Olympic can no longer be financed by the state," he noted.
Verelis said that the European Union should approve an increase of a state subsidy - worth 33 billion drachmas - aimed to finance the carriers' relocation at Spata.
He said that Olympic's new board would be announced in the next few days.
In the meantime, Olympic Aviation's ground staff will hold a 24-hour strike on Friday, demanding pay rises.
 Greece-satellite telecommunications tender08/06/2000 15:57:29
The Greek government on Thursday announced an international tender for the supply of the first commercial satellite telecommunications system in the country under the name "Hellas SAT".
All bids must be submitted by July 31, 2000.
The license for the system, expected to be operational in the first quarter of 2002, envisages the use and management of "Hellas SAT" for 20 years for an undisclosed sum and the supply of four transmitters to the Transport and Communications Ministry.
The system has to cover all the geographical area of the country, including Cyprus and the area including the seas of Ionian, Aegean, Myrtoon, Crete, Carpathion, Libya and Cyprus.
The provider must also ensure the undisturbed continuity in supplying telecommunications services in the country.
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