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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-07-15

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, 15/07/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece to respond soon to Yilmaz letter to Santer
  • Simitis chairs meeting on Greece's convergence programme
  • Security Council urges Cypriot sides to continue peace process
  • Acceleration of EU-funded projects discussed
  • First F-16 refurbished in Greece
  • Greek-Egyptian law enforcement accord
  • IOC members endorse Athens' 2004 Olympic Games candidacy
  • Greek retail sales volume up 2.5 pct in April
  • Dollar posts record high against drachma
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece to respond soon to Yilmaz letter to Santer

The Greek government will reply "soon" to the letter sent by Turkish Premier Mesut Yilmaz to European Commission President Jacques Santer, who conveyed it to the leaders of the 15 EU member-states, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today.

Athens' reply will be within the framework of the country's "fixed positions", Reppas said, adding that Greece had no objection to the request put forward by Yilmaz regarding Turkey's accession to the EU, provided Ankara fulfils the four conditions set.

The conditions referred to by Reppas are that Ankara should respect human rights and the operation of parliamentary institutions, that the Kurdish problem should be resolved through political procedures, that Turkey should contribute to finding a settlement of the Cyprus problem and Greek-Turkish problems should be handled by Ankara on the basis of the principles of good neighbourliness and respect for international treaties and international law.

Simitis chairs meeting on Greece's convergence programme

Prime Minister Costas Simitis today chaired a meeting on international developments in the European Union, particularly in Germany and France, in relation to economic and monetary union, and Greece's progress with regard to convergence.

The meeting was attended by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and the Governor of the Bank of Greece Lucas Papademos.

"Our assessment is that developments are not upsetting our own economic planning. We remain firm and dedicated to the programme which we have been implementing," Papantoniou told reporters after the meeting.

Asked if the government intended to impose any new economic measures this year, Papantoniou was categorical:

"There will be absolutely no measures during the present year. The budget is going according to plan, inflation has a clear downward tendency and in general, the economy is keeping to the targets set by the government,'' he said.

As every year, Papantoniou added, discussion about the economic policy to be followed next year would begin in essence in the Autumn, when the state budget for 1998 will be drawn up.

Within this framework, he said, a preliminary meeting will be held tomorrow at the ministry for a first exchange of views.

Asked meanwhile, whether there was concern at the Bank of Greece about the sharp rise of the dollar against the drachma, central bank governor Lucas Papademos said there would be no repercussions on Greece's exchange policy.

"These fluctuations reflect various factors which affect the dollar's parity on international markets,'' Papademos said.

Replying to other questions, Papademos said the foreign exchange market would be fully liberalised for Greeks during the course of July.

Security Council urges Cypriot sides to continue peace process

The UN Security Council (SC) has called on the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides to continue with negotiations until the protracted Cyprus problem is solved and has reiterated its support to these efforts.

In a statement to the press yesterday, SC president Peter Osvald of Sweden welcomed the completion of the first round of UN-led direct negotiations and asked the two sides to be constructive.

Diego Cordovez, the UN Secretary General's special advisor on the Cyprus problem who led the talks, briefed earlier yesterday the SC members on the outcome of the first round of the four-day negotiations between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cy priot leader Rauf Denktash, held at Troutbeck, near New York, between July 9 and 12.

In his statement after being briefed by Mr. Cordovez, Mr. Osvald said "the Council is very pleased to learn that these talks were held in a positive and constructive atmosphere."

"Security Council members urge the leaders of the two communities to uphold a sustained process of direct negotiations until the instruments that will constitute a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue have been concluded," he added.

The statement also noted the SC members "urge the two parties to respond constructively to the suggestions made by the secretary general's special advisor on Cyprus, so that further progress can be made in the next round of talks."

It concluded that "Security Council members reaffirm their active, firm and full support to the efforts of the secretary general for a continued and sustained process of negotiations."

A second round of negotiations is scheduled to talke place near Geneva, Switzerland, between August 11 and 16.

Following the conclusion of the first round of talks, Mr. Cordovez told the press that the leaders of both sides were cordial and expressed good will, despite the thorny problems that remain unsolved.

Mr. Cordovez said that Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash had frequent private meetings, meals, and took walks in the forest around Troutbeck. He quoted as an indication of the friendly atmosphere that for the first time in three years they agreed on their own initiative to meet in Nicosia before the next round of talks in Geneva, to discuss human rights issues.

The UN secretary general's envoy expressed the hope that the change in the system and process of the talks, which was adopted for Troutbeck, would be continued in future rounds and help towards finding a solution. He supported this hope by the fact that the two leaders were not asked to give a final reply on any issue, as in the past.

Instead, Mr. Cordovez said, the two leaders were expected to study the UN proposals, discuss them with their own people and come to the next round of talks with specific stances.

In this way, he explained, the outcome of various rounds will be accumulative, and the talks will not be starting from scratch every time, as in the past.

Acceleration of EU-funded projects discussed

The faster implementation of projects financed by EU funds and a partial revision of the second Community Support Framework (1994-99), which covers the period up to December 1999, were discussed today by Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Natinal Economy and Finance undersecretaries Christos Pachtas and Nikos Christdoulakis.

After the meeting Pachtas said the government was determined to proceed with a partial revision of the Delors-2 package so as to complete as many projects as possible before the third Community Support Framework (CSF) (the "Santer" package) went into effect in the year 2000 after the EU's expansion.

In that context, projects which had not been included in the second CSF would be advanced with the transfer of funds from other projects which were being delayed

Pachtas said the government was striving for the best possible result by speeding up the implementation rate of the CSF.

During the meeting, the Premier was also briefed on the course of materialisation of the Public Investments Programme. According to figures presented by Pachtas, there was a 98% increase in first-half 1997 in advancing projects financed by the EU, compared with the corresponding period in 1996.

The second CSF, funded under the Delors-2 package, is co-financing 18 sectional, 13 regional and the nine major projects throughout Greece.

A total of 725 billion dr. in CSF funds were spent last year, with a 71% absorption rate for the period 1994-96.

First F-16 refurbished in Greece

The Hellenic Aerospace Industry (EAB) today delivered to the Greek Air Force the first F-16 jetfighter to undergo extensive refurbishment in Greece.

The fighter plane was turned over to the air force during a special event at EAB's facilities in Tanagra attended by Finance and National Defence Undersecretaries George Drys and Dimitris Apostolakis, Chief of the Air Force General Staff Lt. Gen. George Antonetsis and US Ambassador in Athens Thomas Niles.

The air force has assigend EAB a programme to upgrade all its F-16s by 1999. The delivery of six more modernised F-16s is scheduled over the next four months.

The work is being carried out by EAB following its acquisition of the knowhow from Lockheed-Martin Corp., the F-16s American manufacturer.

Greek-Egyptian law enforcement accord

Egypt and Greece will sign a cooperation agreement focusing on security, providing mainly for the deportation of criminals, a police source said yesterday here.

An Egyptian Foreign Ministry delegation had visited Athens on July 3-6 for talks regarding the agreement, which is to be signed during the forthcoming visit of Interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos to Cairo.

The date for the minister's visit has yet to be confirmed.

In the meantime, Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis is due to visit Cairo today for talks to improve Greek-Egyptian cooperation in various sectors.

IOC members endorse Athens' 2004 Olympic Games candidacy

Two International Olympic Committee (IOC) members, who ended their visit to the Greek capital yesterday, made positive comments on Athens' Olympic Games candidacy.

Bulgarian IOC delegate Ivan Slavkov said: "I feel especially pleased whenever I visit Athens, since the days I played water polo. I consider the Greek candidacy very strong, and I believe that in the event of Athens' victory, the Bulgarian people will also be very pleased."

Paul Wallwork, of Western Samoa, said: "I see that Athens is changing for the better, compared to my last visit. The Greek candidacy is thorough, carefully planned, and based on an authentic technocratic perception".

Four other IOC members, Messrs. Rene Esomba (Cameroon), Jan Stabo (Norway), Roy Anthony Bridge (Jamaica) and Francis Ngvesko (Uganda) are beginning their official visit to Athens today.

Meanwhile, replying to press questions, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said it was customary for members of the International Olympics Commitee (IOC) to visit cities seeking to host Olympic Games and that these visits have the nature of well-intentioned public relations.

Greek retail sales volume up 2.5 pct in April

Greek retail sales volume rose by 2.5 percent in April compared to the corresponding month last year, the National Statistics Service said.

Retail sales volume was 1.7 percent higher in the first four months of 1997 from the same period in 1996.

Dollar posts record high against drachma

The US dollar shot up to a new record close against the Greek drachma in the domestic foreign exchange market reflecting the greenback's spectacular gains in international markets.

The dollar was a record 281.27 drachmas at the central bank's daily fix, up 5.16 drachmas from last Friday. Commercial banks were selling the dollar at 285.489 drachmas.

The US currency has shown a 13.63 percent rise since the beginning of the year.

Sterling also rose sharply to 474.20 drachmas, up 5.52 drachmas from its previous close.

The British currency broke new six-year barriers against the DMark last week in international markets, surpassing the 3.0 mark level.

The German currency has come under pressure due to the uncertainties over the future of European monetary union and talk of a more lax interpretation of the Maastricht treaty.

WEATHER

Fair weather is forecast throughout the country initially today, turning cloudy locally in the afternoon in northern and central regions. Athens will be fair with moderate northerly winds. The same for Thessaloniki, with local clouds in the afternoon.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 280.426 Pound sterling 472.777 Cyprus pd 530.344 French franc 46.233 Swiss franc 189.943 German mark 156.310 Italian lira (100) 16.104 Yen (100) 245.820 Canadian dlr. 204.704 Australian dlr. 206.548 Irish Punt 422.628 Belgian franc 7.571 Finnish mark 52.823 Dutch guilder 138.842 Danish kr. 41.023 Swedish kr. 35.938 Norwegian kr. 37.527 Austrian sch. 22.218 Spanish peseta 1.855 Port. Escudo 1.548

(M.S.)


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