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Athens News Agency: News in English, 02-02-21
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Gov't to seek 100 to 150 million euros in private capital for OA21/02/2002 22:27:56
The Greek government on Thursday said it will seek 100 to 150 million euros in private capital to keep ailing state carrier Olympic Airways (OA) flying, days after the latest privatisation tender for the airline was aborted.
Additionally, separating OAs flight operations division from other activities (ground services, catering, ticket offices etc.) and 2,000 job reductions are envisioned for the debt-ridden national carrier, a decision the transport minister stressed, however, does not spell ?firings?. Another proposal reportedly calls for the break-up of OA into international and domestic carriers, with the latter including a charter service.
The announcement came after a lengthy Cabinet meeting in the Greek capital chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, with both the national economy and transport ministers stating afterwards that the government desires a ?new OA ... a Greek air carrier serving Greek, European as well as regional needs...?
 European Commission notes high level of economic growth21/02/2002 22:26:50
BELGIUM (ANA - V. Demiris) - The European Commission on Thursday ratified the annual report on economic policy orientations in 2001 which contains positive assessments on high growth rates concerning the Greek economy in 2001.
The report said this was achieved despite the overall economic slowdown prevailing and also urges the swift reforming of the social security and pensioning system and a speedup in decreasing the public debt, as well as in structural reforms.
The European Commission mentions that economic growth rates in Greece were in the region of 4 percent in 2001, despite the economic slowdown prevailing in Europe. High growth rates are expected to continue in 2002 and exceed 3 percent.
The European Commission further points out that privatisations of public enterprises continued, but at rates which should be speeded up. On the question of social security system reforms, announced in the Greek economy's stabilisation programme, it is noted that no progress was achieved during 2001 and the immediate tackling of the problem is recommended.
The European Commission believes that the Greek economy will have to face three main challenges in the years to come.
The need to continue positive results in public finances, with emphasis on speeding up the decrease in the public debt and the immediate handling of the social security system, taking into consideration the problem posed by an ageing population.
The need to improve low productivity linked to the operation of labour and products markets, limited investments in human potential and the unfavourable business environment with the unfavourable taxation status governing companies.
The need to tackle the high percentage of structural unemployment, as well as the need to increase employment percentages, particularly among women.
 FM Papandreou to visit Poland Friday, Lithuania21/02/2002 22:25:31
Foreign Minister George Papandreou will pay a working visit to Warsaw on Friday. The agenda of the talks will include Greece-Poland bilateral relations, Poland's accession course to the Euroatlantic institutions, developments in the Balkans, the Cyprus issue and the combatting of international terrorism.
According to Foreign Ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis, Papandreou will meet President Aleksander Kwasniewski, Prime Minister Leszek Miller and his counrepart Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz.
After his visit to Poland, the Greek foreign minister will visit Lithuania where he will meet with President Valdas Adamkus, Prime Minister Algirdas Mykolas Brazauskas and his counterpart Antanas Valionis. It is expected that bilateral relations and Lithuania's EU accession course to the European Union will be discussed at these talks.
 President signs Proclamation for the Olympic Truce21/02/2002 22:24:36
President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, upon his return from Ioannina, on Thursday night signed the Proclamation for the Olympic Truce which was presented to him by Foreign Minister George Papandreou.
The proclamation has been signed by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, heads of states and prime ministers as well as by parliament presidents of various countries.
The International Olympic Committee on July 2000 founded the International Olympic Truce Centre, which is a non-government organisation, aimed at promoting the maintenance of the Olympic Truce in all the future Olympic Games. International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge is the president of the International Centre and Papandreou is its vice-president.
 Alpha Bank shows lower consolidated profit in 200121/02/2002 19:48:12
Alpha Bank, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, on Thursday reported that the group's consoldiated earnings before tax and after minorities in 2001 fell by 7.8 percent to 344 million euros against a year earlier.
The parent operation, the country's second largest commercial bank, showed a 10 percent rise in pre-tax profits to 347 million euros last year, private-sector Alpha said in a statement.
Management is to propose to shareholders a dividend on earnings in 2001 of 310 drachmas per share (0.91 euro), the same as in 1999, the statement said.
Management was satified with results for 2001 as the year was characterised by a major decline in interest rates, volatility in global markets, and a weak performance by the Athens Stock Exchange for the second straight year, the statement added.
 Development minister in talks with Turkey, Iran on natgas supplies21/02/2002 19:25:29
Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos is to visit Turkey on February 28-29 for talks with the neighbouring country's energy minister on plans for a natural gas pipeline to be built between Alexandroupolis and Ankara.
The minister also told a news conference on Thursday that he was due to visit Tehran to sound out cooperation in natural gas supplies from Iran on a transit basis.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - Friday21/02/2002 18:38:06
Indicative tourist buying rates per euro
U.S. dollar 0.877
Pound sterling 0.615
Danish kroner 7.489
Swedish kroner 9.204
Japanese yen 117.7
Swiss franc 1.491
Norwegian kroner 7.799
Cyprus pound 0.581
Canadian dollar 1.393
Australian dollar 1.701
 Luxembourg PM backs unconditional EU membership for Cyprus21/02/2002 18:00:10
Cyprus must become a member of the European Union without conditions and without a veto from any country, visiting Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said here on Wednesday after talks with his Greek counterpart Costas Simitis.
Simitis, in turn, told reporters afterwards that Greece and Luxembourg agreed on a series of issues, including ones dealing with the EU's course.
Antagonism among countries echoed views of the past, Simitis said, adding that Luxembourg was a proponent of Cyprus and the entire region.
The two premiers discussed issues concerning European unification, particularly the need for coordination of economic policies in view of the 12 months during which Greece will coordinate monetary policy of 'euro-zone' member states.
 Weather Forecast: Cloudy on Friday21/02/2002 17:46:21
Cloud is forecast in all parts of the country, turning to rain in the west and storms in the Ionian. It is also likely to rain in the north, centre and eastern Aegean islands later in the day. Winds southerly, moderate to strong. In the north, temperatures will range from 4C to 14C; on the rest of the mainland and in the Ionian from 6C to 17C; and in the Aegean islands from 10C to 19C. Scattered cloud in Athens that may turn to rain from late afternoon, with temperatures between 10C and 16C. Cloud in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 6C to 14C.
 Ankara denies policy change vis-a-vis Cyprus due to FM's visit21/02/2002 17:15:36
ISTANBUL (ANA) Turkeys foreign ministry this week denied claims that the participation of Cyprus foreign minister at the ?Istanbul Forum? earlier in the month marked a change in Ankaras policy vis-a-vis the island republic.
Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides represented the island republic among the frontrunners for accession in the next wave of EU expansion -- at the forum of European Union states and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC). One of the aims of the forum, as Turkish organisers had stated at the time, was to combat a growing impression that the Muslim world and the West are involved in a ?clash of civilisations?.
During a weekly press briefing, a Turkish foreign ministry spokesman said Kasoulides participation at the international meeting in no way marks a change in Ankaras policy.
?Similar situations (of Cypriot officials in Turkey) existed in the past,? spokesman Hussein Dirioz said, while adding: ?? the only state Turkey recognises on Cyprus is the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.?
Only Turkey, in fact, recognises the Turkish Cypriot pseudo-state illegally declared in 1983 on the roughly one-third of Cyprus territory occupied by the Turkish military since 1974. Conversely, the Republic of Cyprus governing the unoccupied areas on the island enjoys wide-ranging international recognition and EU candidate-state status.
 Greek stocks remain under pressure in ASE21/02/2002 16:49:36
Equity prices remained under pressure with market sentiment undermined by political confrontations, talk of early elections and worries over the impact of a indictment against Greek businessman Socrates Kokkalis.
Buying interest is almost minimal in recent sessions, pushing the general index 0.63 percent lower at 2,394.16 points, below the 2,400 support level for the first time in months.
Turnover was a low Dr 33.1 billion, or 97.1 million euros.
The Wholesale, Publications and IT sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses (1.65 percent, 1.41 percent and 1.10 percent, respectively), while the Cement, Investment and Food-Beverage sectors scored gains (0.71 percent, 0.47 percent and 0.03 percent).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.57 percent lower, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index eased 0.56 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index fell 0.35 percent.
Kokkalis Group's companies came under renewed pressure to end lower. Intracom fell 7.04 percent, Intracat dropped 5.12 percent, Panafon ended 2.11 percent lower and Intralot fell 0.22 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 194 to 107 with another 54 issues unchanged.
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