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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-07-04

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, 04/07/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • June inflation creeps up
  • Bulgarian president promises return of rare manuscript
  • Continued vigilence on borders
  • German, Greek defence ministers meet on NATO
  • No British beef in Greece
  • Forest fires break out
  • Greece to cooperate with Kazakh oil, gas industry
  • US awaiting decision on Aegean, State Dept. says
  • Charter arrivals up, but problems remain hoteliers say
  • Greek equities finish higher, propelled by blue chips
  • Greece gets new interbank system in September
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

June inflation creeps up

Greek consumer price inflation rose in June for the first time this year, creeping up to 5.5% year-on-year from 5.4% in May, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said.

June's rise in the cost-of-living index was due to increases of 0.6% in foodstuffs, 1.6% in apparel and footwear, 0.4% in housing (mainly rents), and 0.3% in transport (mainly a rise in passenger ship fares).

Bulgarian president promises return of rare manuscript

Bulgarian President Peter Stoyanov today confirmed that a rare 18th century manuscript stolen from the autonomous monastic community of Mount Athos monastery would be returned to the monastery it was stolen from.

Stoyanov arrived in Mount Athos early this morning, on the final leg of his three-day official visit to Greece. He was received with the full honours afforded by the holy community to a leader of an Orthodox country.

Following a service at the Protatou Cathedral, he visited the Ayios Georgios Zografos monastery, where he assured the monks that the manuscript currently on display at a museum in Sofia would be returned.

The priceless 1762 manuscript written by Paissios Hiliendarios was stolen from the monastery in the 1980s but replaced with a copy, delaying the discovery of the theft.

Efforts have been under way to retrieve the manuscript since it turned up in Sofia a few years ago.

Stoyanov will fly back to Sofia in the early afternoon from Thessaloniki's Macedonia airport.

Continued vigilance on borders

The Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) today unanimously decided the continuation of the state of readiness of the country's military and police on the border with Albania in order to deter and combat criminal activity.

KYSEA, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, said increased security measures should continue in particular in the sea region between Corfu and the Albanian coast.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the security measures were being implemented in accordance with provisions as laid down in international treaties and international law.

German, Greek defence ministers meet on NATO

Visiting German Defence Minister Volker Ruehe and his Greek counterpart Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday discussed the new structure and enlargement of NATO, in view off the forthcoming NATO conference in Madrid, while walking through the breathtaking Vikos Gorge in Ioannina, northwestern Greece.

The two ministers agreed that there was rapprochement of views, while Ruehe reiterated Germany's endorsement of the establishment of four NATO sub- headquarters in Europe, one of which would be in Greece.

They also discussed initiatives that needed to be taken in the context of the Western European Union (WEU), as Germany is set to take over the rotating WEU presidency from France for the second half of the year, followed by Greece in the first half of 1998.

"There was a series of positive proposals, and we shall continue our collaboration in that direction because we believe that security matters do not concern only NATO and are of priority in many regions of Europe, such as Bosnia, Albania and elsewhere," Tsohatzopoulos said at the Ioannina 'Xenia' hotel shortly midnight when they completed their trek.

On bilateral issues, the talks focussed mainly on armaments, collaborations and a series of political initiatives.

"We reached very positive conclusions," Tsohatzopoulos said, while Ruehe added: "Our relations have become closer, it was an outstanding day for us."

The ministers further discussed the Cyprus issue.

"Negotiations are underway and so are all the initiatives that have been taken, so that the dialogue over the next two months between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cyriot leader Rauf Denktash will flrmulate more auspicious conditions for success," Tsohatzopoulos said.

He said he told Ruehe that Greece "endorses the prospect of Cyprus' membership in the European Union. We hope that those negotiations will commence, as decided, in the most efficient manner. For us, the prospect of a Cyprus slolution is found in the procedures for Cyprus' accession to the EU".

On withdrawal of the eight-nation protection force in Albania, Tsohatzopoulos said the force had completed its mission, which was to assist the distribution of humanistic aid and support the election process.

"Consequently, withdrawal of the multinational force is a matter of time and, in the next few days, the final decision shall be taken in cooperation with the new Albanian government".

Ruehe returned to Bonn this morning.

No British beef in Greece

Agriculture Undersecretary Vassilis Geranidis told a press conference in Thessaloniki today that not one gram of British beef had been imported to Greece from the quantity which was illegally exported despite a ban.

The European Commission said yesterday that 1,600 tonnes of British beef had been illegally exported to the Netherlands, Russia and Egypt. The EU banned the export of British beef last year after London acknowledged that consumers eating infected beef could contract the human equivalent of mad cow disease.

Geranidis said checks were being carried out at all the country's entry points, adding that on the ministry's instructions, the checks would continue.

If quantities of British beef are discovered, Geranidis said, they will be seized on the spot.

Forest fires break out

Two fires broke out a short while ago in the areas of Paradeisia and Ekklisoula near Megalopoli, Arcadia.

Two fire-fighting aircraft and a number of fire-engines of the Fire Brigade and Forestry Service are currently participating in efforts to put out the fire.

Meanwhile, two more fires which broke out this morning in Araxos, Achaia and Lepreo, Ilia have been brought under partial control.

Efforts to extinguish the Araxos fire, which has so far destroyed about 25 acres of semi-forest, have been hampered by strong winds and rough terrain. The blaze briefly threatened outlying houses of the village.

The Lepreo fire was caused by negligence on the part of a group of workers which was cutting tree branches to prevent them coming into contact with power lines in the village.

Six fire-fighting aircraft, forestry employees and firemen from Pyrgos and Olympia with eleven fire-engines are making efforts to extinguish the blaze which has so far destroyed 15,000 square metres of pine forest.

Greece to cooperate with Kazakh oil, gas industry

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said on Thursday that Greece was seeking closer economic cooperation with resource-rich Kazakhstan, especially with its oil and gas industries.

"We are interested in productive cooperation which will be mutually profitable," Mr. Pangalos told reporters after meeting Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev at the end of a two-day official visit to the Central Asian state.

Kazakhstan - a country five times the size of France and with a population of just 16.7 million people - is attractive because of its huge oil and gas reserves, the minister said. "Greece is buying important volumes of gas from Kazakhstan, and we shall also buy oil. We are planning a big pipeline from Novorossiisk to (the Black Sea port of) Burgas in Bulgaria and then to the Mediterranean," he said.

Russia's Black Sea port of Novorossiisk is the destination of an oil pipeline due to be built by the Caspian Pipeline Consortium from Kazakhstan's huge Tengiz oil field, in line with an agreement signed in May this year.

US awaiting decision on Aegean, State Dept. says

The United States said yesterday it could not promote any initiative in the Aegean until Greece and Turkey reached an agreement to reduce tension in the region.

US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said "we believe that any measures to reduce tension that can be agreed and applied in the Aegean must be implemented by both sides."

Mr. Burns added that confidence-building measures (CBMs) in the Aegean were still being discussed under the aegis of NATO, while there was no concluding agreement yet.

"We must await the completion of these talks," he said, adding that "Greece must be given time to evaluate Turkey's public statements". He was referring to Ankara's unilateral decision announced earlier this week to limit its military activity in the Aegean between July 1 and Aug. 15.

Athens responded with reservation to the announcement, insisting for a three-month moratorium on military overflights in the Aegean.

Charter arrivals up, but problems remain hoteliers say

Tourist arrivals by charter flights are on the rise, the Panhellenic Federation of Hoteliers said.

Using figures from arrivals at airports throughout Greece in June, the federation warned that the increase did not preclude a drop in prices offered by tour operators.

The largest increase was reported at the airport of Irakleio, Crete, where arrivals rose 20 percent in June, compared to the same month last year.

At other destinations, tourist arrivals increased in Samos by 7.5 percent and in Corfu by 1.0 percent but decreased in Mytilini by 0.9 percent.

Despite the increase, however, the hoteliers' federatoin warned that long- term infrastructure inefficiencies in tourism had led to a drop in prices and an increase in lower-income tourists.

Greek equities finish higher, propelled by blue chips

Stock prices recovered during the last trading session of the week to finish up 1.38 percent helped by strong buying interest in blue-chips, particularly in the industrial sector.

The general index closed at 1,514.18 points - up 0.43 percent on the week - with all sector indices scoring gains. Trading was moderate with 12.8 billion drachmas changing hands.

Banks rose 1.54 percent, Holding was 1.76 percent up, Insurance increased 1.29 percent, Industrials rose 1.63 percent, Construction was 0.87 percent up, Investment increased 0.81 per cent, Investment ended 0.40 percent up and Miscellaneous increased 0.29 percent.

Greece gets new interbank system in September

A new interbank settlement system will be introduced in Greece in September by DIAS SA Interbank Systems, Bank of Greece deputy governor Panagiotis Thomopoulos said.

The new system, called DIASTRANSFER, will provide speedy and safe capital transfer services among banks either by crediting bank accounts or by cash payments to beneficiaries, said Thomopoulos, who is also president of Dias.

DIASTRANSFER will simplify interbank transfer procedures, enabling settlement within the day.

DIAS is expected soon to introduce a new interbank payments system called DIASDEBIT that will cover, in the first phase, consumer payments to public utility firms.

The company's electronic clearing system on bank cheques, used by 35 banks in Greece, handles more than 50 percent of transactions in the country.

WEATHER

Sunny weather will prevail throughout the country today with a rise in temperatures forecast in the Ionian Sea regions and mainland Greece. Winds will be variable, moderate to strong. Athens will be sunny with temperatures between 23-36C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 21-36C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 274.169 Pound sterling 458.641 Cyprus pd 530.581 French franc 46.416 Swiss franc 186.546 German mark 156.443 Italian lira (100) 16.075 Yen (100) 239.796 Canadian dlr. 198.975 Australian dlr. 206.371 Irish Punt 417.731 Belgian franc 7.579 Finnish mark 52.511 Dutch guilder 138.974 Danish kr. 41.071 Swedish kr. 35.248 Norwegian kr. 37.398 Austrian sch. 22.231 Spanish peseta 1.850 Port. Escudo 1.550

(M.P.)


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