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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-07-09

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, 09/07/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis-Demirel communique on Greek-Turkish relations
  • Premier says communique serves Greek interests
  • US State Department hails joint communique
  • Holbrooke: EU accession talks facilitate Cyprus solution
  • Greece backs Romania, Slovenia and Bulgaria for NATO accession
  • Fires still burning at several sites
  • Pharmacies to close in protest of revised drug price-list
  • Thessaloniki-Pancevo oil pipeline discussed
  • Intracom Constructions awarded ISO 9002 certificates
  • SEBE urges government to drop hard drachma policy
  • Greek stocks end flat in dull trade
  • ION's Samaranch arrives for opening of Int'l Olympic Academy
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Simitis-Demirel communique on Greek-Turkish relations

Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Turkish President Suleyman Demirel yesterday issued a joint communique on Greek-Turkish relations after a meeting held at the sidelines of the NATO summit in Madrid.

Mr. Simitis said that the communique was a document of principles, which will govern relations between the two countries.

The meeting between Mr. Simitis and Mr. Demirel was held at the initiative of the United States and, as Mr. Simitis added, an initiative by Washington took place on Monday night through US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos met his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem in the morning and a summit meeting was held in the afternoon.

Mr. Simitis explained that the issues which were not expressly referred to or touched on in the communique were not settled by this specific text.

"No correlation should be established either with the issue of (Greece's legal right to extend its territorial waters to) the 12 nautical miles or with issues relating to the European Union or the (EU) financial protocol," Mr. Simitis said, adding that the issue of the 12 nautical miles does not constitute a Greek-Turkish issue but a Greek one with an international aspect.

"Greece reserves its right to exercise this right whenever it deems expedient," he added.

The communique states:

"Both countries will pursue efforts to promote bilateral relations based upon:

  • A mutual commitment to peace, security and the continuing development of good neighborly relations;
  • Respect for each other's sovereignty;
  • Respect for the Principles of International Law and International Agreements;
  • Respect for each other's legitimate, vital interests and concerns in the Aegean which are of great importance for their security and national sovereignty;
  • Commitment to refrain from unilateral acts on the basis of mutual respect and willingness to avoid conflicts arising from misunderstanding; and
  • Commitment to settle disputes by peaceful means based on mutual consent and without use of force or threat of force."

Premier says communique serves Greek interests

The premier said the principles contained in the communique serve Greek interests and the country's pursuits, while they also promote peace and stability in the region.

"Turkey recognises at a high political level that the use of force or the threat of the use of force have no place in relations between the two countries," he said.

Mr. Simitis added that this means that there was a lifting of casus belli, adding at the same time that withdrawal of the threat of war had been set by Greece as a basic element for every attempt at normalisation since, as he said, "this was the main element casting a shadow on relations between the two countries."

Asked whether Greece committed itself not to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles, Mr. Simitis again reiterated that issues not explicitly referred to or not raised in the communique were not settled by the specific document.

Mr. Simitis said the joint communique constituted in essence a non- aggression pact. Replying to a question, he said an "experts committee" established in the framework of the European Union will continue its work, examining procedural issues.

Mr. Simitis went on to say that with the joint communique basic principles were raised and specific problems were not resolved in Greek-Turkish relations (such as the continental shelf). He said Greece will continue to support the policy of step-by-step rapprochement, adding that with yesterday's "joint registration of principles" there will be a more positive course in Greek-Turkish relations than in the past.

However, he said, there was still ground to be covered.

"We took a step, a very persuasive step to show that we can direct developments for a framework of peace in the Balkans," he said.

Mr. Simitis clearly spoke of a "Turkish withdrawal" which he attributed to the "very major change in the climate from the beginning of 1996 to date."

US State Department hails joint communique

The US State Department yesterday described a Greek-Turkish joint communique on Greek-Turkish relations as a major step forward toward peace between the two countries.

State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said, however, that the joint communique had no direct effect on the continuing disagreements between Athens and Ankara over the future of Cyprus.

"We prefer to keep the issues separate", Mr. Burns said.

Holbrooke: EU accession talks facilitate Cyprus solution

US presidential emissary Richard Holbrooke believes Cyprus' accession talks with the European Union could facilitate efforts towards a settlement of the protracted Cyprus problem.

Calling on the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities to "take advantage of this unique opportunity", Mr. Holbrooke pointed out that Cyprus could be "the Singapore of the eastern Mediterranean".

Asked to comment on threats by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to turn the occupied areas of Cyprus into an autonomous part of Turkey , Mr. Holbrooke said "the US is very strongly in favour of an undivided Europe and the US strongly supports Cyprus ' accession talks with the EU".

Asked if accession talks could facilitate US efforts to find a solution, Mr. Holbrooke replied: "I think it is a very positive thing, the US strongly supported the addition of Cyprus to the list of the countries that would be considered first and the economy of Cyprus demonstrates clearly that Cyprus is ready for membership".

The American envoy said he would discuss with President Clerides his plans for precise dates for a trip to Cyprus at their meeting next week.

Greece backs Romania, Slovenia and Bulgaria for NATO accession

NATO leaders, in an historic move to erase Europe's Cold War division, invited Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to join the alliance yesterday and held out real membership prospects to other former communist states.

A NATO summit climaxed a day of wrangling by reassuring Slovenia, Romania and the Baltic states that they would be considered seriously in future expansions and pledged that all the new democracies had the right to join the defence body.

Prime Minister Costas Simitis backed Romania, Slovenia and Bulgaria for membership in the alliance, saying that the Balkan countries should have equal treatment with the central and eastern European countries.

"In our view, the enlargement process should eventually embrace all European countries, interested in joining the alliance and fulfilling a number of criteria. The stability of our continent is greatly dependent upon NATO's enlargement," Mr. Simitis said.

Fires still burning at several sites

Forest fires were still raging in northern Evia, Ilia, Arcadia, Messinia prefectures as well as on the island of Ios yesterday, according to forestry officials.

They added that eight Canadair and four Grumman firefighting planes, army contingents, firefighters as well as dozens of forestry service and fire brigade vehicles were deployed at the various fronts.

Officials told ANA that the massive fire in Seikh Sou urban forest in Thessaloniki, which broke out on Sunday, had been contained after burning an estimated 1,700 hectares of forest land.

Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas - whose ministry is responsible for forests and fire prevention - said that after the fire was completely extinguished, aerial photographs would be taken of the area, while soil retention works and extensive reforestation would also be carried out. In Evia, the fire was subsiding although it had not been contained.

Pharmacies to close in protest of revised drug price-list

Pharmacies in Athens will remain closed for as many as five days, starting tomorrow until next Wendesday, after a dicision taken yesterday during an Attika Pharmaceutical Association's meeting.

Pharmacies in the rest of the country will go on strike on Thursday and Friday. During the strike, pharmaceuticals could only be bought from druggists that are open overnight.

Pharmacists are demanding a withdrawal of the government's revised drug pricelist, which trims their profits on pharmaceutical products.

Meanwhile, the hospital doctors' strike ends today, with a decision pending on further action.

Doctors at the Social Security Foundation (IKA) have called a strike for July 14 and 15 over institutional and economic demands.

Thessaloniki-Pancevo oil pipeline discussed

Interest by several Yugoslav enterprises in the construction of an oil pipeline from Thessaloniki to Serbia via the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) was among issues discussed between Yugoslav and FYROM businessmen during a recent official visit by FYROM Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski.

Studies for the project are still underway by the Serbian Oil Industry (NIS).

According to the plan, the oil pipeline will start from Thessaloniki, stretch east of Gevgeli, near Lake Doirani and reach Veles and Skopje, while in Serbia the pipeline will follow the line Nis-Jagodina-Smederevo- Belgrade-Pancevo.

The proposed oil pipeline would have a length of 719km and, according to estimates by NIS technicians, total costs will reach US$860 million for construction.

The Thessaloniki-Skopje-Pancevo oil pipeline will have a capacity of 10 million tons of crude a year, while about five years are required for completion.

Intracom Constructions awarded ISO 9002 certificate

Intracom Constructions, belonging to the Intracom group, has been awarded with the international quality certificate ISO 9002.

Among others, Intracom Constructions has carried out in the energy sector infrastructure works at lignite facilities in Ptolemaida, Amyntaio and Megalopoli as well as projects to install mechanical and electrical equipment at the Agios Dimitrios power s tation in Kozani prefecture.

In the telecommunications sector, the firm is credited with telecoms projects in Attica, the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisations (OTE) cardphone network, mobile telephony installations and a telecommunications centre in Piraeus, among others.

SEBE urges government to drop hard drachma policy

The Northern Greek Exporters' Association (SEBE) urged the government to abandon the hard drachma policy, arguing that it had reached its limits as a mean of containing inflation.

A SEBE survey on the impact of monetary policy on exports and inflation said a devaluation of the drachma would aid exports in the short-term.

"A real devaluation of the drachma will lead to a short-term increase in exports for a period of nine months," the survey said.

The survey argued that the hard drachma policy's ability to combat inflation was fading.

The government, which has relaxed its monetary policy and allowed a speedier slide of the drachma over the last five months, had acknowledged the trend, it said.

Greek exports were dependent both on imports and real currency parities. They also appeared to be particularly fragile to changes in the international economic climate.

SEBE president Apostolos Gennitsaris noted that the impact of the hard drachma policy was particularly severe in 1993 when exports to European Union countries fell sharply to 270 billion drachmas.

Hard hit Greek exporters had to turn to other markets in central and eastern Europe, South America and the Middle East.

SEBE reported progress in a project to sell fresh and processed farm produce to six east European states - Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Moldova and Ukraine.

The two-year programme is partly funded by the European Union and started at the end of 1995.

Greek stocks end flat in dull trade

Trade was directionless on the Athens Stock Exchange with market players seemingly preoccupied with their summer holidays.

The general index closed 0.03 percent higher at 1,548.18 points.

Trading was moderate with 12.1 billion drachmas changing hands. Most sector indices scored gains. Banks rose 0.04 percent, Leasing was 0.03 percent off, Insurance dropped 1.21 percent, Investment increased 0.85 percent, Industrials ended 0.42 percent higher, Construction fell 0.86 percent, Holding rose 0.44 percent and Miscellaneous was 0.35 percent up.

The small cap index eased by 0.34 percent.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 132 to 80 with another 19 issues unchanged.

Bank of Central Greece, Ergodata, Viohalco and Mouriadis scored the biggest percentage gains, while Remek, Etma, Allatini and Lambropoulos suffered the heaviest losses of the day.

National Bank of Greece ended at 34,490 drachmas, Ergobank at 17,030, Alpha Credit Bank at 18,795, Titan Cement at 15,100, Intracom at 12,490 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6,470.

IOC's Samaranch arrives for opening of Int'l Olympic Academy

International Olympic Committee (IOC) Chairman Juan Antonio Samaranch yesterday planted an olive tree in his name within a special area designated by the city of Athens.

Mr. Samaranch is in Greece along with other members of the IOC for the opening ceremony of sessions at the International Olympic Academy in ancient Olympia.

The tree-planting ceremony took place in the Goudi district of Athens, where other IOC members also planted olive trees that will provide the crowning wreaths for winners in the event Athens wins the bid to host the Olympic Games of 2004.

Mr. Samaranch avoided any direct mention on Athens' bid, saying that all five contenders for the 2004 Games begin from the same starting line.

WEATHER

Mostly sunny weather is forecast for most parts of the country today. Local clouds in central and northern Greece with intermittent storms in the north in the afternoon. Winds variable, moderate to strong. Athens will be mostly sunny with temperatures between 22-33C. Sunny to partly cloudy in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 18-30C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 273.941 Pound sterling 463.978 Cyprus pd 530.720 French franc 46.301 Swiss franc 187.205 German mark 156.121 Italian lira (100) 16.029 Yen (100) 243.268 Canadian dlr. 198.698 Australian dlr. 203.598 Irish Punt 416.104 Belgian franc 7.566 Finnish mark 52.481 Dutch guilder 138.692 Danish kr. 40.989 Swedish kr. 35.285 Norwegian kr. 37.339 Austrian sch. 22.184 Spanish peseta 1.848 Port. Escudo 1.545

(C.E.)


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