|Sunday, 16 June 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-03-06
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Simitis: Greece not accountable to anyone, especially Turkey
Athens, 6/3/1999 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis told Parliament yesterday that Athens does not give account or explanations to anyone, "particularly to Turkey, which provocatively and shamelessly violates human rights".
Addressing an off-the-agenda Parliamentary debate on foreign policy in the aftermath of the Ocalan affair, Mr. Simitis said that Greece was neither accountable to its allies, "whose passive stance led (Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah) Ocalan to a sojourn without outlet and brought Greece before dilemmas and situations that only Greece had the right to avoid for reasons of stability in the region."
He said the country was also not accountable to the Kurds, "because Greece has actively shown its solidarity and does not need to prove its sentiments or stance."
Mr. Simitis also said Greece did not have to give account for its intentions in the Ocalan affair, and described as "unacceptable and deeply insulting" for the nation and its democratic form of government "even the slightest insinuation on the governmen t's intentions and stance".
"No one has the right to hint at ulterior motives and expediencies," Mr. Simitis warned, adding that this applied not only to the current government but every government that formally represented Greece. "I accept no second say on this," Mr. Simitis said.
He added that the Ocalan issue had clearly shown up the constant and incessant Turkish threat, adding that "some sides are reacting to this fundamental ascertainment in a manner that does not befit our natonal interests, seeking to render Turkey's stanc e as an almost exclusive factor of Greek political life". The prime minister admitted that there had been some "mistaken handling" in the Ocalan affair, and said the government fully undertook the responsibility, which was reflected in the resignatio n of three ministers.
"The only credible judge is the Greek people," he said, and judgement would be passed "cool-headedly and responsibly in the parliamentary elections in the year 2000 and not on the basis of ungrounded information".
The premier expressed "abhor-rence" for Ocalan's treatment by the Turkish authorities, noting that respect of international legality and the principles of a fair trial were the key to any country's relations with the European Union.
"There is no room for subterfuge or ambiguity," Mr. Simitis said, adding that the positions put forward by the EU Council of Foreign Ministers, the resolution adopted by the European Socialist party and the European Court's jurisprudence "le-ave no room for dispute."
Mr. Simitis reiterated that Greece could not have granted political asylum to Ocalan because that would have not have served the interests of either Greece, the Kurds or Ocalan "but would have been an act of foolishness that would have served only Turke y".
Greece, he said, "could not have played Turkey's game because above and beyond anyone's interests are the interests of Greece, which the government serves".
He explained that if Greece had granted political asylum to Ocalan, "it would have turned the Kurdish issue into a Greek-Turkish dispute".
What was sought, he added, was a political confrontation of the Kurdish problem "at the level of international law and legality".
Mr. Simitis expressed regret that certain Greeks, "under the pretext of ultra-patriotism and with provocative irresponsibility" exposed the country to dangers, brought it before unallowable dilemmas and attempted to render Greece a part of the Kurdish i ssue.
He said Greece today faced dangers and threats as Turkey's unstable political regime "is attempting to export its domestic problems through slanderous accusatons and threats against Greece, anxiously trying to cancel Greece's course to its equal partici pation in the EU hardcore and the creation of a strong Greece."
"Turkey today is accountable for its violation of human rights, and is criticised for its attitude," Mr. Simitis said.
The premier categorically stressed that Greece condemns all forms of terrorism from wherever it may originate, and as such described as "shameless" Ankara's accusations against Athens on this issue.
"Acts of violence and illegal actions are not allowed, never had and will never have support in Greece, and Greece does not support violence as a means of settling political differences, nor does it endorse military activities against other countries," the premier said. He reiterated that Greece wants a Turkey that respects international law and human rights.
Turkey, he went on, was trying to convince the world that Greece was undermining its territorial integrity, adding that Greece "opposes changes of borders, and if Turkey endorses territorial integrity, let it take recourse in the international court".
Rejecting opposition criticism, Mr. Simitis said that the PASOK government had from the very first moment set making Greece strong as its target.
"But a strong Greece is not the result of a one-sided interest in economic problems. We have the duty to strengthen our defence capability," he said, adding however that it would be a grave mistake to believe that increasing defence capability alone suf ficed.
"Overall deterrent capability is also a conjunction of our economic standing, foreign relations and social cohesion," he added. Opposition leaders slam gov't: Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis told Parliament that "the only responsible act" would be for Mr. Simitis to resign.
During his address, Mr. Karamanlis variously labelled the government's handling of the Ocalan affair as "amateurish", "irrespon-sible" and "tragic", charging that it had resulted in unprecedented national humiliation and "the blackest page" in the count ry's history since democracy was restored in 1974, after a seven-year military dictatorship.
"Greek men and women feel sadness, shame and anger. Sadness because of where the country has been led, shame for the reckless handling and anger because those responsible for this handling refuse to shoulder their responsibility," Mr. Karamanlis said.
"The refusal to accept responsibility is tantamount to escapism, subterfuge and weakness," he added.
The ND leader said developments in the wake of the Ocalan affair were undermining the country's standing "in all directions" and had emboldened Turkey "which is indulging itself in a frenzy of aggressiveness that is exacerbated by our own political weak ness".
He quickly added, however, that in the face of Turkish provocations and expansionist designs, "we are all determined and united in our resolve to defend our national dignity and our national rights and interests."
Mr. Karamanlis reiterated ND's call on the prime minister to set up a national council for foreign policy, stressing that it was necessary to forge "a single national policy with continuity and consistency." "We are not accusing the government o f having intent. But its handling (of the Ocalan affair) has proven that it is incapable of handling major crises and foreign policy issues in general," Mr. Karamanlis said.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary Aleka Papariga attributed the government's handling of the Ocalan affair to "its consent to the planning of the new order of things.
Ms Papariga dismissed Mr. Simitis' calls for a fair trial for Ocalan as "hypocrisy".
"When Mr. Simitis refers to the rebel leader as a terrorist, he is determining the charge sheet in Ankara," she charged.
"Sooner of later, the people will be forced to struggle for basic democratic rights and freedoms," Ms Papariga said while analysing developments in the region, with particular emphasis on the strife-torn Yugoslav province of Kosovo.
Replying indirectly to opposition calls for the setting up of a national council for foreign policy, Ms Papariga said she did not view the instituting of such a body to be necessary, since it was not the political parties which lacked information but th e Greek people.
Coalition of the Left leader Nikos Constantopoulos strongly criticised Mr. Simitis' argument that the government enjoyed the support of the Greek people based on the last general election, and called for an early election to be held in June along with E uropean elections.
"The people elect governments but demand control and explanations. They now ascertain that the policy of the government is not the one which they backed in 1996 and the government cannot claim to have carte blanche for its childish and irresponsible han dling of foreign policy," he said.
Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas expressed opposition to what he called the constant "downward slide" of Greek foreign policy and its identification with US interests in the region.
Describing government ministers as "administrators of a crisis which leads nowhere", Mr. Tsovolas labelled "hypocritical" the government's claims of success in promoting the Kurdish issue within a European framework.
"While US aspirations are served in the Gulf, the (Greek) government is quite clearly serving the policy of Turkey and the US, not Greece's interests,"
Mr. Tsovolas added that "not even now, that you have given everything to Turkey and the US, they have given nothing in return, instead they are continually deceiving you. The same happened with the Ocalan affair."
G. Papandreou: On his part, Foreign Minister George Papandreou defended Greek foreign policy as a whole and presented Greece as "a quiet force which is not answerable to anyone".
Mr. Papandreou advised "cool-headedness and sobriety, seriousness and responsibility, because there are forces with a plan and determination which want to gain at the expense of our interests".
The only thing Greece wants from Turkey, he said, was for Ankara to accept and implement international law and the decisions of the European Court for Human Rights.
"This magnanimity of ours should not be misconstrued by Turkey as weakness. If they dare try to realise their verbal threats, they will come up against a wall formed by the Greek people and army which will be of one mind," Mr. Papandreou said.
Mr. Papandreou warned the Turks "not to mistake our differences as a division among the Greek people, for if there is a real threat, the joint decision will emerge from this House for sacrifices in defence of our sovereign rights".
Referring to the Kurdish problem, Mr. Papandreou admitted that there had been mistakes in the government's handling "but no betrayal".
Mr. Papandreou reiterated the Greek government's support for the Kurdish people "who however should not be considered as beginning and ending with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)". He said Greece condemned all forms of terrorism, the violation of hu man rights and the crimes being committed against the Kurdish people.
One of his objectives as minister, Mr. Papandreou said, is to ensure that Greek citizens are openly and fully briefed.
The minister also appealed for cooperation among the political parties but within the framework of existing institutions, a deviation from his recently stated position in favour of the setting up of a foreign policy council. "We shall see in the course of things whether institutional changes are needed," Mr. Papandreou said.
Athens News Agency
 Inflation stagnant at 3.7 pct
Athens, 6/3/1999 (ANA)Year-on-year inflation in February remained at 3.7 percent, the same as the previous month, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said yesterday.
The NSS said the February consumer price index fell 0.5 percent compared to January.
Price declines were reported in clothing and footwear, hotels cafes and restaurants, and consumer and household goods; and increases in foods and non-alcoholic beverages, drinks and tobacco, and entertainment and culture.
The NSS predicted a decline in inflation in coming months, particularly after April, when the repercussions of a 13.8 percent devaluation of the drachma in March last year are expected to have subsided.
Athens News Agency
 Tsohatzopoulos: Turkey's 'coercive diplomacy' will fail
Athens, 6/3/1999 (ANA)National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday stressed that Ankara's recent attempts at "coercive diplomacy" would bring no result as long as Athens made full use of its "major advantages".
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos acknowledged, however, that recent developments following the capture of rebel Kurd leader Abdullah Ocalan had been damaging to and slowed down Greece's course.
Clarifying what he meant by advantages, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos spoke of Greece's ability to press, in agreement with its allies, for confirmation of a need for peace and cooperation in the Aegean as a basic prerequisite for the future, which must also be ac cepted by Turkey.
Commenting on recent infringements of the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) by Turkish warplanes, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos described Turkish activities in the Aegean as "usual" and categorically denied reports that the aircraft were on an aerial photogra phy mission. He also advised "cool-headedness, unity and decisiveness" in confronting Turkish provocativeness.
Athens News Agency
 Gov't confirms request by US charge d'affaires
Athens, 6/3/1999 (ANA)The government yesterday confirmed that the US charge d'affai-res in Athens had visited foreign ministry secretary-general Pavlos Apostolidis on Thursday, advising Athens and Ankara to "lower the tones" in verbal exchanges and stop quarrelling in order fo r bilateral relations calm down.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas confirmed that charge d'affaires Terry Snell met with Mr. Apostolidis. Washington reportedly had made a similar approach to Ankara.
Commenting on the move, Mr. Reppas said Greece followed a policy based on principles in its desire for peace, security and stability in the region.
Asked why Washington addressed itself to Greece also, rather than just Turkey, Mr. Reppas replied that the United States believed Athens must also contribute to help defuse the tension in its relations with Ankara.
Mr. Snell is acting ambassador to Greece because of US ambassador Nicholas Burns' absence in the United States.
Replying to other questions, the Greek spokesman said Greece's veto on EU a financial protocol to Turkey continued to apply.
In order for there to be a normalisation of relations, he added, Turkey must display behaviour of a different kind.
Asked about the possibility of Turkey provoking a confrontation in the Aegean, Mr. Reppas replied that the climate in relations had been highly charged by continuous statements from Ankara and that Greece was always in a state of readiness.
Athens News Agency
 State Dept. advises calm in Greek-Turkish relations
WASHINGTON, 6/3/1999 (ANA - T. Ellis)The need for toning down their verbal exchanges between Greece and Turkey was cited yesterday by the acting US State Department spokesman. Responding to a press question over the content of Washington's recent requests to bot h Ankara and Athens over the issue, Lee McLenny said he would not discuss his country's diplomatic communications with Turkey and Greece in public.
"We think that the Turkish government and the Greek government should tone down their public rhetoric and focus on working things out between them through diplomatic channels, in privateI" he said.
Athens News Agency
 Judicial inquiry completed into Ocalan entry, stay
Athens, 6/3/1999 (ANA)Three prosecutors assigned to investigate the conditions surrounding Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan's entry, brief stay and departure from Greece completed their judicial inquiry yesterday. The case file contains more than 1,500 pages of testimony a nd related information. Prosecutors are expected to begin compiling an official report today, while they are expected to complete and deliver the report on Wednesday.
Chief Prosecutor Goergios Koliokostas will be responsible for bringing charges against any individuals involved in cases of wrongdoing, excluding Parliament MPs, who in any case are not within his jurisdiction.
Parliament has the sole responsibility of bring charges against deputies by voting to lift Parliamentary immunity.
Athens News Agency
 Expatriate Greek prepare draft for Clinton over Ankara's claims
WASHINGTON, 6/3/1999 (ANA - T. Ellis)The National Committee on US-Greek Relations yesterday prepared a draft resolution expected to be sent to US President Bill Clinton, urging him to condemn recent statements by Turkish politicians that Greece supports terroris m.
The draft resolution states the committee's concern that such "silence regarding such inflammatory language will be misinterpreted as a green light to Ankara from Washington to continue, and perhaps escalate, the campaign against Greece."
Athens News Agency
 Athens to probe Albanian agreement allowing port access to Turk warships
Athens, 6/3/1999 (ANA)Athens is investigating reports that Albania's Parliament has ratified an agreement granting Turkish warships the right to use facilities of a naval base at Vlore, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.
"It is an agreement between two free states. We do not believe that if Albania has entered such an agreement, it has done it in order to turn against Greece," he said.
"We also believe that use of this base will be made in such a way as not to make it a springboard for aggressive actions against Greece," the spokesman added.
Athens News Agency
 Athens expected to comply with EU embargo on JAT
BELGRADE, 6/3/1999 (ANA - M. Mouratidis)Greece is expected to comply with an European Union embargo on the Yugoslav national air carrier JAT, a company official said yesterday.
The official added that as a result of the Sept. 7, 1998 embargo on JAT, 70 per cent of the Yugoslav market is controlled by foreign companies.
Greece did not enforce the embargo on Yugoslavia regarding air transport at the time, because a bilateral Greek-Yugoslav agreement was already in place, and set to expire six months later.
As the agreement has expired, Greece is forced to enforce the embargo in order to avoid legal action in the European Court for failing to comply, Greek diplomats said.
The Belgrade government has not retaliated against any foreign air carrier, so Olympic Airways is expected to continue its normal five flights per week to Belgrade.
Athens News Agency
 Avramopoulos focuses on 'day after' for 2004 Olympics
Athens, 6/3/1999 (ANA)Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos yesterday focused on the "day after" for the Athens 2004 Olympic, during a French Chamber of Commerce event.
He expressed concern over projects scheduled the Games, as well as infrastructure projects for the Athens metropolitan area, while he also appeared optimism that the Greek capital's appearence might change and "become a modern European capital."
He also said pollution, traffic congestion and noise, which weigh heavily on Athenian residents, may become things of the past, in light of the required projects for the Games.
The popular Athens mayor also said that air quality has improved over the past few years.
He also said planned projects in the 2004 candidacy file were "complete and possible to realise", while noting that the sites selected for the Olympic Village, for instance, were in most cases unfit.
Finally, Mr. Avramopoulos reiterated that Barcelona should be the example for the oraganisational process.
Athens News Agency
 Greek Olympic team to prepare in Perth next year
Athens, 6/3/1999 (ANA)The Greek Olympic team will prepare for next year's Sydney Games for 15 days in Perth, according to an agreement signed between the Greek Olympic Committee and the government of Western Australia in Athens yesterday.
Greek Olympic officials stressed the western Australian port city's excellent weather conditions, while W. Australian Sports Minister Norman Frederic Moore made particular reference to Perth's expatriate Greek community.
Athens News Agency
 Economic News
Athens, 6/3/1999 (ANA)Gov't to hold 10-year bond auction Tuesday: The finance ministry will auction 180 billion drachmas' worth of 10-year state bonds in paperless form on Tuesday with an annual coupon of 6.3 percent, it said in a statement yesterday.
The auction is a re-opening of a 10-year bond originally issued on January 29, 1999.
The ministry said that despite recent volatile trading in the domestic bond market, Greece's 10-year bond yield spread did not exceed two percentage points compared with 10-year euro bond yields, remaining within the Maastricht treaty's long-term rate c riterion.
The 10-year spread against an average for German, French and Austrian bonds was 196 basis points in the period from February 15 to March 4. Deutsche Bank Securities sees Greek euro entry in 2001: Deutsche Bank Securities (DBS), a subsidiary of the German Bank, said in a report yesterday that it believed Greece would enter the euro zone in 2001.
In a report carried by Reuters, DBS cited positive economic indicators, especially rapid GDP growth, and the stability of progress towards alignment with the European Union. Inflation was the greatest challenge. (Continued on page 8) (Continued f rom page 7) The report also said the Athens bourse showed robust returns, and, among European emerging markets, kept pace most closely with the New York bourse.
A correction in New York was likely to be followed by a correction in Athens, the report said. Stocks nose up in edgy trade: Share prices ended a volatile session moderately higher on the Athens Stock exchange yesterday.
The general index ended 0.67 percent up at 3,253.67 points after dropping as much as 0.70 percent early in the session. The index showed a net loss of 3.67 percent in the week.
Turnover was 112.4 billion drachmas and volume 24,333,576 shares.
Traders said buying activity focused on shares in construction, holding and small cap companies.
Sector indices scored gains.
Banks rose 0.48 percent, Leasing increased 0.70 percent, Insurance ended 0.94 percent up, Investment rose 0.86 percent, Construction jumped 2.31 percent, Industrials soared 1.48 percent, Miscellaneous ended 0.24 percent higher and Holding rose 2.01 perc ent.
The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.03 percent up, while the FTSE/ASE 20 index rose 0.32 percent to 2,001.31.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 196 to 75 with another 23 issues unchanged.
Thessaliki, Naoussa Spinning Mills, Hellenic Telecoms and Gnomon were the most heavily traded stocks.
A total of 30 share prices hit the daily 8.0 percent limit up. Among them were Naoussa, Ridenco, Papoutsanis, Fanco, Texapret, Gekat, Avax, Kardico, Remec and Benroubi.
Mevaco, Minerva, Macedonian Spinning Mills, Alcar-Aemet, Kekrops, Sigalas, Pavlides, Katselis, Desmos and Metka suffered the heaviest losses.
National Bank of Greece ended at 19,700 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 33, 195, Ergobank at 22,200, Ionian Bank at 18,500, Titan Cement at 22,550, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,430, Intracom at 19,970, Minoan Lines at 7,580, Panafon at 8,500 and Hellenic Telec oms at 7,030. Fourlis to boost share capital increase: A shareholders' meeting of Fourlis Bros. SA yesterday approved a share capital increase of 7.0 billion drachmas through cash and a rights issue for existing shareholders.
Under the plan, the company will issue 7,551,900 new shares at a nominal value of 300 drachmas each and offer a price of 1,000 drachmas.
Of the total, 7,024,050 shares will be distributed to existing shareholders at a ratio of one new for every two old, and the rest are destined for the Fourlis Group's staff.
The new capital will be used to support the company's expansion beyond electrical and electronic goods into sectors like food and clothing.
The share capital increase is the company's second in a decade following a 900 million drachma raise in 1994.
Investments have totalled almost 10 billion drachmas in the last six years.
Fourlis' 1998 consolidated turnover totalled 96.8 billion drachmas, up 69 percent from 1997, while pre-tax profits rose 28 percent to 2.7 billion drachmas.
The parent company's turnover rose 12 percent to 15.4 billion drachmas, while pre-tax profits totalled 2.2 billion drachmas in 1998, slightly up on the previous year. Drachma gains vs euro, loses vs dollar in February: The drachma in February fell an average 2.90 percent against the US dollar compared with January and rose an average 0.49 percent against the euro, Ionian Bank said in a monthly report.
Also in February, the pound sterling rose 1.55 percent against the drachma while the yen was flat, said the bank's financial research division, on the basis of the central bank's daily fix.
The euro was fixed at an average 321.9 drachmas in February, down 0.49 drachmas against the previous month.
The European currency was 8.81 percent, or 31.12 drachmas down on the drachma's central parity against the euro of 353.1 in exchange rate mechanism II, in effect since January 1.
Athens News Agency
 Contradictory Bonn statements regarding CAP joint funding
BRUSSELS, 6/3/1999 (ANA - P. Pantelis)A working dinner for European Union Agriculture Ministers regarding agricultural reform was held on Thursday night amid confusion, reportedly caused by contradictory German statements on joint funding of the Common Agricultu ral Policy (CAP).
The marathon discussion held at the Council of Agriculture Ministers, discontinued a week ago, will be resumed on Tuesday. Greek Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis had the opportunity of referring to the lack of understanding among ministers and of wondering whether one is speaking of reforming or disorganising CAP.
The German Council of Agriculture Ministers president, K.H. Funke, announced the results of the informal European Council in Bonn and the position of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on brushing aside the joint financing of CAP.
However, he said that Mr. Schroeder insists on the solution anticipating that annual agricultural expenditures are stabilised at 40.5 billion euros. He called on EU agriculture ministers to take direct positions favouring a compromise proposal.
Mr. Anomeritis expressed satisfaction over the rejection of joint funding, which Greece had rejected at the start of the discussion with the argument that it would lead CAP to dissolution.
He said that an exit exists with the combination of the two scenarios proposed by France and Austria on diminishing subsidies for producers.
Mr. Anomeritis said that the repercussions from the combined proposal must be shouldered by the products which have increased agricultural expenditures and not the Mediterranean products which do not burden the EU's budget.
Athens News Agency
 Athens foreign exchange
Athens, 6/3/1999 (ANA)
Banknotes Buying Selling US Dollar 294.416 301.242 Can.Dollar 193.420 197.905 Australian Dlr 184.155 188.425 Pound Sterling 473.720 484.703 Irish Punt 405.459 414.860 Pound Cyprus 549.925 562.675 Pound Malta 713.001 742.709 Turkish pound (100) 0.071 0.074 French franc 48.680 49.809 Swiss franc 200.756 205.411 Belgian franc 7.916 8.099 German Mark 163.268 167.054 Finnish Mark 53.707 54.952 Dutch Guilder 144.903 148.263 Danish Kr. 42.969 43.966 Swedish Kr. 35.756 36.585 Norwegian Kr. 37.220 38.083 Austrian Sh. 23.206 23.744 Italian lira (100) 16.492 16.874 Yen (100) 239.528 245.082 Spanish Peseta 1.920 1.964 Port. Escudo 1.593 1.630 Euro Buying: 319.325 Selling: 326.728 Gold Sovereign (rates in Drachmas) Old mint: 20480 (b), Elizabeth up to 1973: 20780 (b), Elizabeth of 1974 and onward mints: 20780 (b), 22260 (s) Gold (in dollars per ounce) London: 288.45 New York: 288.45 Foreign Exchange Buying Selling New York 294.416 301.242 Montreal 193.420 197.905 Sydney 184.155 188.425 London 473.720 484.703 Dublin 405.459 414.860 Nicosia 549.925 562.675 Paris 48.680 49.809 Zurich 200.756 205.411 Brussels 7.916 8.099 Frankfurt 163.268 167.054 Helsinki 53.707 54.952 Amsterdam 144.903 148.263 Copenhagen 42.969 43.966 Stockholm 35.756 36.585 Oslo 37.220 38.083 Vienna 23.206 23.744 Milan 16.492 16.874 Tokyo 239.528 245.082 Madrid 1.920 1.964 Lisbon 1.593 1.630
Athens News Agency