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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-07-18

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, 18/07/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • EU position on Cyprus' accession welcomed
  • Greek contingent in multinational force to return from Albania
  • Greek-Argentine agreement on nuclear energy signed
  • Czech Prime Minister on unofficial visit
  • US State Dept. on Ecevit visit to occupied Cyprus
  • Athens condemns latest airspace violations by Turkey
  • SAE gets permanent offices in Thessaloniki
  • Europarliament draft resolution on Greek forest fires
  • Private sector to manage some EU-funded state projects
  • Yfantis unit to open in Romania
  • Greek drachma stabilises, interbank rates drop
  • Tourist arrivals up 7 percent in Rhodes
  • Greek industries show drop in 1996 profits
  • IAAF 85th anniversary in Athens
  • WEATHER
  • FOREIGN EXCHANGE

NEWS IN DETAIL

EU position on Cyprus' accession welcomed

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday hailed the European Union's position that negotiations on Cyprus' accession to the Community should begin, as originally agreed, six months after the signing of the Amsterdam Treaty.

At the same time, he welcomed statements by European Commission President Jacques Santer and Commissioner Hans van den Broek, according to which Cyprus cannot be held "hostage" as a result of Turkey's stance.

In particular, Mr. van den Broek told the European Parliament Wednesday that the Commission cannot hold Cyprus hostage due to lack of cooperation by the Turkish side regarding a settlement of the protracted Cyprus problem.

Speaking at a press conference, Mr. Papandreou said also that Greece was in favour of accession negotiations beginning simultaneously for all eleven prospective member states.

The Commission has recommended that membership negotiations for an expanded EU should begin with Cyprus, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Estonia and Slovenia next year.

As far as the EU's relationship with Turkey is concerned, Mr. Papandreou said, this will be examined in detail during the discussion of the Commission's "Agenda 2000" report on enlargement, noting that a special report had been drawn up on the further development of the Community's relations with Turkey.

Within the framework of this discussion, Mr. Papandreou continued, it will be examined whether Turkey will have a "special" relationship with the EU, or whether this relationship will constitute an advanced form of Customs Union ("Customs Union plus," as it is referred to in Community lingo). The Commission's report on EU-Turkish relations contains references to the need for a relationship of good-neighbourliness (on the part of Turkey) with Greece, as well as for a settlement of the Cyprus problem and respect by Ankara for human rights and democratic institutions.

The "Agenda 2000" is expected to be given the final seal of approval at the EU summit in December.

Greek contingent in multinational force to return from Albania

Withdrawal of the Greek contingent in the 8-nation protection force in Albania will begin Monday, July 21, following completion of the force's mission, it was announced yesterday. The gradual pullout of Greek troops will be completed on August 8. The multinational force, comprising troops from Italy, Greece, Spain, Turkey, Romania, Austria, France and Denmark, was deployed in mid-April to protect humanitarian aid arriving in the strife-torn Balkan country and assist OSCE observers monitoring general elections last month.

Greek-Argentine agreement on nuclear energy signed

Greece and Argentina yesterday signed a bilateral agreement providing for cooperation in the peaceful applications of nuclear energy.

The agreement was signed for Greece by the president of the Greek Atomic Energy Commission, Prof. Anastasios Katsanos, and on behalf of Argentina by Buenos Aires' ambassador to Athens Francisco Jorge Bullrich. The agreement aims at promoting cooperation in developing basic research, applied research, technology and know-how in the peaceful application of nuclear energy. Argentina has a highly developed nuclear programme covering nuclear fuel and the construction and supply of nuclear reactors. Prof. Katsanos clarified, however, that Greece had not changed its policy opposing the establishment in the country of nuclear reactors for power generation.

Czech Prime Minister on unofficial visit

Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus arrived here yesterday on an unofficial visit and had talks with Greek counterpart Costas Simitis before lunching with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos. Although no statements were made after the meetings, informed sources said discussion focused on issues related to the commencement of the procedure for NATO and European Union enlargement.

US State Dept. on Ecevit visit to occupied Cyprus

US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns yesterday appealed to Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit to use his forthcoming visit to the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus for promotion of a positive atmosphere that emerged from the signing of the Simitis - Demirel communique and the Clerides-Denktash talks last week.

"The situation in Cyprus this summer is calm, in contrast to last year. There are positive signs emerging from last week`s talks in Troutbeck, where (Cyprus) President Clerides and (Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf) Mr. Denktash spent some time together. We consider that trends in Cyprus are positive, and very much hope that Mr. Ecevit will use this visit to strengthen this constructive and positive trend," he stated.

Although he avoided criticising Mr. Ecevit for the visit to the occupied areas, Mr. Burns said in reply: "I didn't say we agree with the visit".

Commenting on Mr. Ecevit`s recent threat that Turkey would annex Turkish- occupied northern Cyprus if accession negotiations started with the EU, Mr. Burns implied that he does not agree with this position, stressing that "this is perhaps the reason why we are asking him to be positive and constructive."

Referring to the joint communique signed in Madrid between Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, Mr. Burns said: "We hope that in the Madrid spirit Greece and Turkey will proceed to some practical steps to improvet heir relations with each other. The US expects from Greece and Turkey to respect each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty."

Athens condemns latest airspace violations by Turkey

Incidents such as the latest Turkish violations of Greek airspace over the Aegean are contrary to the spirit emanating from the joint communique of Madrid, government spoke-sman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

The violations of Greek airspace by Turkish warplanes since the issuing of the communique "compromise" Ankara, Mr. Reppas said. Greece and Turkey issued a joint communique on bilateral relations on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Madrid, following talks between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Turkish President Suleyman Demirel.

The spokesman called on all forces in Turkey which support the spirit of the Madrid communique "to work in order for this spirit to become an integral part of Greek-Turkish relations, so that it cannot be undermined or overturned."

SAE gets permanent offices in Thessaloniki

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou will inaugurate the permanent headquarters of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) on Sunday evening in Thessaloniki.

The ceremony will be attended by SAE president Andrew Athens, Macedonia- Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos and Secretary General for overseas Greeks Stavros Lambrinidis.

The new offices are at the building of the Macedonia-Thrace Bank.

Europarliament draft resolution on Greek forest fires

The European Parliament yesterday adopted a draft resolution on the recent fires in Greek forests, which burned tens of thousands of stremma of forest and farm land, proposed jointly by Greece's Eurodeputies.

The draft resolution calls on the European Commission to provide economic relief to residents who lost property in the recent fires, as well as to help with reforestation and fire-protection measures.

Private sector to manage some EU-funded state projects

A pioneering programme for Greece was launched yesterday when the government called on the private sector to jointly fund and run state projects that receive European Union financing.

During a press conference at the European Commission offices in Athens, Development Minister Anna Diamantopoulou said the Company for Developing Private Infrastructures in Northern Greece (EAIYBE) will manage and be responsible for the projects.

EAIYBE is based in Thessaloniki and its members include chambers of commerce, banks, industries and others in the area. It is headed by Nikos Efthymiadis, until recently the president of the Federation of Industries in Northern Greece.

Ms Diamantopoulou said the programme would absorb nine billion drachmas, half of which would come from the EU's European Regional Development Fund. The rest would be made up by private investments.

For the time being, activities would concentrate on projects in northern Greece, Ms Diamantopoulou said, because of its proximity to developing markets and its key location but may be extended to other areas depending on its success.

Ms Diamantopoulou said it was the first time the government was turning over the management of Community funds in Greece to private hands, although social responsibility would be a major priority.

The areas targeted for the projects include all major infrastructures in Greece, such as ports, exhibition and storage areas, free-trade zones, energy networks, telecommunications, and services linking research and production.

Outlining its programme, Mr. Efthymiadis appealed to all interested investors to submit their proposals independently or jointly with state agencies until Sept. 25, for a preliminary selection of projects.

The finalised forms of chosen projects should be submitted by Nov. 24. Agreements will be finally signed by the end of the year, he said.

Proposals must involve investments worth at least 500 million drachmas, and the investor will be responsible for managing the project for five years after its completion.

Mr. Efthymiadis said interest had been expressed in creating free-trade zones at the borders with Albania and Bulgaria, to help local businesses avoid time-consuming customs procedures in bilateral trade, among others.

Interested parties should contact EAIYBE at 1, Plateia Morichovou, Thessaloniki, tel. 031-539817.

Yfantis unit to open in Romania

The processed meat products manufacturer Yfantis will establish a new production unit in Romania, it was announced yesterday, with the total initial investment expected to reach one billion drachmas.

The Greek firm has purchased land in Bucharest covering an area of 9,500 square metres through its subsidiary, Yfantis Roumania.

Work for the construction of building installations, with a total area of 2, 500 square metres, has already begun.

The Yfantis company's turnover is expected to reach nine billion drachmas this year, compared to 7.7 billion drachmas in 1996.

Greek drachma stabilises, interbank rates drop

Tension in the Greek money market yesterday showed signs of defusing after the drachma stabilised and interbank rates moved lower, reversing an early jump above 13 per cent.

Bank of Greece officials said that pressure exerted on the drachma was a surprise but proved to be short-lived. The central bank however will be looking to tomorrow's session to reach a final conclusion.

According to unofficial estimates, total outflows during a round of currency turmoil in May combined with Wednesday's tension were three billion US dollars. Bank of Greece officials attributed the outflows of capital to an international rush to buy the green currency and sterling.

The dollar stood 13 per cent higher against most European currencies since the start of the year.

In the domestic foreign exchange market, the dollar rose to a new record of 282.14 drachmas at the central bank's daily fixing. The DMark was fractionally higher and the ECU steady against the drachma.

Tourist arrivals up 7 percent in Rhodes

Tourist arrivals on Rhodes at the present time are up 6.9 per cent, according to the official figures of the Dodecanese Department of the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO).

According to the figures, the number of guests at hotels on the island presently totals 57,028, of whom 53,889 are foreigners and 3,139 Greeks.

At the same time last year, hotel occupancy stood at 53,344, of whom 50,365 were foreigners and 2,979 Greeks.

Of course the actual number of visitors currently on the island is much higher, since many tourists are staying in rented rooms and other forms of accommodation.

Tourist industry representatives believe that the number of visitors to the island will increase during the next few days, boosted by Greeks taking their annual leave.

In addition, a large number of independent travellers are expected from Italy, France and the Arab countries.

Greek industries show drop in 1996 profits

Net profits of Greek industrial and manufacturing companies declined in 1996 despite the fact that the number of companies with net earnings of more than 100 million drachmas increased by 7 percent last year, according to a survey by Multipress.

The Greek industrial and economic survey released on Internet showed that 657 Greek industries and manufacturing companies with net profits of more than 100 million drachmas reported cumulative earnings of 475.15 billion drachmas last year, down on real prices from the previous year.

The report showed that manufacturers' return on capital was lower than that of commercial firms.

It also said that the food industry was the most profitable sector of Greek industry with one in five companies reporting net profits of more than 100 million drachmas.A total of 125 food companies showed total net earnings of 85.9 billion drachmas in 1 996. Also surveyed were 51 companies in the chemicals sector, 49 in textiles, 49 in non-metallic minerals, 41 in pharmaceuticals, 38 in metals and steel, 36 in clothing, 36 in printing and 35 in plastics and rubber.

IAAF 85th anniversary in Athens

The International Athletics Associations' Federation (IAAF) will celebrate in Athens the 85th anniversary of its founding, three days before the opening of the August 1-10 world athletics championships in the Greek capital. The anniversary will be marked at a June 29 IAAF Congress inaugurated by Prime Minister Costas Simitis and attended by a number of legends of world athletics such as Czech Emil Zatopek (long distance runner), Kenya's Kip Keino (medium distance runner), Russia's Valery Brummel (high jump), and Americans Dick Fosbury (high jump) and Carl Lewis (sprint, long jump).

WEATHER

Sporadic showers are likely in northwestern regions in the afternoon. Winds will be southwesterly, up to moderate in the west, and northerly, of the same intensity, in the east. Athens will be sunny with temperatures ranging from 22-33 C, Thessaloniki will have light clouding, increasing in the afternoon, with temperatures of 18-30 C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 279.883 Pound sterling 466.419 Cyprus pd 530.720 French franc 46.142 Swiss franc 188.812 German mark 155. 838 Italian lira (100) 16.041 Yen (100) 240.957 Canadian dlr. 203.519 Australian dlr. 205.696 Irish Punt 420.013 Belgian franc 7.549 Finnish mark 52.762 Dutch guilder 138.439 Danish kr. 40.908 Swedish kr. 35.946 Norwegian kr. 37.636 Austrian sch. 22.132 Spanish peseta 1.852 Port. Escudo 1.545

(L.G.)


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