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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-07-25

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, 25/07/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greek-Lebanese agreements on investments,technical cooperation
  • President hosts reception on democracy restoration anniversary
  • Albania issues discussed between Pangalos, Fassino
  • Greek company returns from tour of duty in Albania
  • National Defence Minister visits US carrier 'JFK'
  • Draft bill on day of remembrance for Asia Minor Greeks ratified
  • Veteran politicians honoured
  • 12 Greeks on list of WWII names released by Swiss bankers
  • Students of Modern Greek to visit Greece
  • Paris square to be named for Callas
  • Tourist arrivals to increase in 1997, V.Papandreou says
  • Greek central bank lowers signal money market intervention
  • Dollar sets new record vs drachma
  • Current account deficit drops in April
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greek-Lebanese agreements on investments,technical cooperation

Greece and Lebanon yesterday signed two bilateral agreements, one providing for the protection of investments and the other increased economic and technical cooperation.

The agreements were signed during a meeting between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his visiting Lebanese counterpart Rafik Hariri.

Mr. Hariri arrived in Athens yesterday on a two-day official visit. Today, he is scheduled to meet with President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

During the talks yesterday, both sides noted an identity of views. Mr Simitis stressed that Greece strongly supported peace and cooperation in the Middle East, noting that recent "delays" in the peace process, particularly with regard to relations between Israel and the Palestinians could jeopardise the entire effort.

He said also that it was "necessary" for Israeli forces to withdraw from Lebanon.

Mr. Simitis said he had discussed the Cyprus problem with Mr. Hariri, underlining that Lebanon supported Greece's positions concerning the need for a just and viable settlement within the framework of United Nation resolutions.

The premier stressed to his Lebanese counterpart that Greece wished to play a steady role in the region and said Athens would support Lebanon's efforts to establish a special relationship and cooperation with the European Union.

Mr. Hariri extended an invitation to Mr. Simitis to visit Lebanon and said he had briefed the Greek premier about the suffering of the Lebanese people, urging respect for UN resolutions, particularly those pertaining to the withdrawal of Israeli troops.

He also spoke about a sense of disappointment in the Arab world arising from the position adopted by Israel, and referred to Beirut's aspiration to establish a partnership relationship with the EU.

Turning to other matters, Mr. Hariri said he had discussed with Mr. Simitis bilateral cooperation issues, particularly the participation of Greek construction companies in Lebanese public works tenders and the need for increased cooperation in the tourism sector.

Reiterating the positions outlined by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos at the EU Council of Ministers, Mr. Simitis said Greece was of the view that the Community should undertake a peace initiative in the Middle East rather than being just a "spectator" of developments, "so that Israel too will take the corresponding steps."

Mr. Simitis, however, said that Israel was a country which existed and played a role in the Middle East "and it would be pointless to ignore this fact and not establish relations aiming at peace and cooperation."

"It is Greece's fixed position that international problems should be resolved through implementation of UN resolutions and international treaties," Mr. Simitis added.

Greece, he went on, had for many years stressed the need for a peaceful solution to the Palestinian problem and had supported the efforts of the Palestinians.

After noting that Greece had always been a friend of the Arab world, Mr. Hariri called on Israel to undertake the necessary initiatives to facilitate the acceleration of the peace process.

He said also that he greatly appreciated Greece's view that the EU could play a role in efforts for peace in the region.

President hosts reception on democracy restoration anniversary

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos blamed Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side for obstructing efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, in speaking last night during the annual presidential reception for the anniversary of the restoration of democracy in 1974.

Mr. Stephanopoulos said that "the intervention and initiative taken for the solution of the Cyprus issue, unfortunately, does not allow for much optimism, because of the stance held by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side, in their words and acts."

The president said Greece should continually try to improve its democracy, although the last few years have proven to be its best political period.

"It is the duty of rulers and the ruled to make continuous efforts to improve our democratic state of government," he said.

Mr. Stephanopoulos, Prime Minister Costas Simitis, the president of Parliament and party leaders greeted guests at the reception, which is traditionally held annually at the gardens of the presidential mansion.

The reception was attended by former premier Constantine Mitsotakis, Cabinet members, deputies and officials from all parties, court officials, academics and armed forces officials.

Albania issues discussed between Pangalos, Fassino

The situation in Albania dominated talks yesterday in Athens between visiting Italian Foreign Undersecretary Piero Fassino and Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

Other issues discussed included bilateral relations and EU issues.

After his meeting with Mr. Fassino, the alternate foreign minister said that the first phase of stabilisation in Albania had been successfully completed, and the next important phase was to follow. This second phace, Mr. Papandreou said, involved the process of democratisation and economic development.

The Italian official stated that both Greece and Italy were interested in continuing their assistance to Albania, which was aimed at restoring the country's political, administrative and economic life.

Greek company returns from tour of duty in Albania

A company of troops which served for approximately three months with the Greek contingent of the multinational protection force in Albania returned to Greece yesterday via the Kakavia border post.

An official welcoming ceremony was held for the troops at the Kalpaki army base, attended by the civil and military authorities of Ioannina and many relatives.

Another 117 NCOs and officers of the Greek force in Albania arrived on board a tank carrier at the port of Thessaloniki in the morning. The main bulk of the returning force is expected to arrive in Thessaloniki on Aug. 3, while a contingent of 200 men will stay in Tirana until Aug. 8.

National Defence Minister visits US carrier 'JFK'

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday visited the US aircraft carrier "John F. Kennedy", which is currently anchored off Corfu.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos was briefed on the activities of the carrier by its commander, Adm. Williamson, while he later observed an aircraft display.

The minister was accompanied on the visit by the Chief of the Hellenic Navy General Staff, Vice-Adm. Leonidas Paliogiorgos.

Draft bill on day of remembrance for Asia Minor Greeks ratified

A relevant Parliamentary committee unanimously ratified a draft law submitted by three ruling PASOK deputies on establishing Sept. 14 as a national day of remembrance for the expulsion and genocide of Asia Minor Greeks by the Turkish state.The nature, con tent, agency and the way of organising the commemoration events will be defined with a presidential decree to be issued following a proposal by the interior and culture ministers, as well as an opinion by the Federation of Refugee Societies of Greece.

Veteran politicians honoured

President Kostis Stephanopoulos yesterday awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of the Phoenix to Manolis Glezos, Constantine Kallias, Nikolaos Martis, Ioannis Pesmazoglou and Spyros Plaskovitis for "valuable political services they rendered to the homeland."

Mr. Stephanopoulos will give the same award, offered on the occasion of the 23rd anniversary of the restoration of democracy in Greece, to Ioannis Zigdis in the next few days.

12 Greeks on list of WWII names released by Swiss bankers

At least 12 Greek nationals are among 1,872 names with war-era deposits in Swiss banks, who according to the Association of Swiss Banks held accounts in Switzerland.

The association published the 1,872 names in newspapers in 27 countries. It said deposits of about 60 million Swiss francs ($40 million) had never been claimed.

Relatives, or legal heirs can now claim the money within one year from the Association of Swiss Banks.

Students of Modern Greek to visit Greece

One-hundred-and-sixteen top students of modern Greek attending universities in Europe and the United States will visit Greece from July 27 to August 24 for intensive language, history and culture courses, on scholarships granted by the Cultural Relations Directorate.

The courses are being organised by the Thessaloniki-based Aimos Peninsula Institute of Studies.

During their stay, the students from 25 countries will be shown round the monuments and museums of Thessaloniki and visit archaeological and historical sites at Philippoi, Pella, Dion, Vergina and Meteora.

Within the framework of a programme for strengthening modern Greek studies at universities abroad, the culture ministry allocated over 36 million drachmas for 1997.

Paris square to be named for Callas

A Paris square to be inaugurated in September which will be named after Maria Callas, the great opera soprano, the city's mayor, Jean Tiberi, said yesterday.

The square is located in the cityYs 16th District, in the southwestern part of the French capital where Callas resided and died on September 16, 1977.

According to an anouncement by the Paris municipality, at the inauguration night, a large-scale event will be held in the Town Hall and will be simulcasted on a giant screen outside the building.

The announcement also said that in Spring 1998, the Paris Town Hall will organise an exhibition dedicated to the roles in Callas' repertoire. On display will be the late artist`s costumes, letters, personal belongings and photographs.

Tourist arrivals to increase in 1997, V.Papandreou says

Tourist arrivals will show an 8-10 per cent increase in 1997 over 1996 figures, Development Minister Vasso Papandreou told tourism sector officials yesterday.

Ms Papandreou said the programme "Tourism and Culture" had been included in the Community Support Framework and delays in its initial application have been covered.

By the end of the month certain investment projects in the programme will have been approved, while a meeting will be held in September with all involved parties to set the schedule for its application.

This programme calls for infrastructural works in many sectors. In marine tourism, it calls for a programme of port and marina construction totalling 10.5 billion drachmas, including marinas in Thasos, Argostoli, Ikaria and Zakynthos.

Another 8.3 billion drachmas is allocated for programmes in mountain, ecological and alternative tourism in general, while in another sector, small- and medium-sized enterprises have submitted 367 proposals pending evaluation and approval that will allo w them to use funds allocated to that sector.

Another 414 million drachmas will be approved for training seminars within 1997, with the total budget for professional training amounting to four billion drachmas.

Ms Papandreou referred extensively to property owned by the Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT), and said a draft bill would be tabled in Parliament in the autumn for founding societes anonyme to manage these assets.

Greek central bank lowers signal money market intervention

Greece's central bank yesterday nudged down its near-daily intervention in overnight funds in the domestic money market to 11.6 percent from 11.9 percent. Traders said the Bank of Greece was apparently signalling a return to lower rates after a period of market jitters largely stemming from activity on international markets.

The drop also would aid a 12-month treasury bill issue at the end of the month whose rate is 9.6 percent, the traders said.

The central bank's routine intervention at the end of the trading day acts as a gauge of liquidity in the interbank market and sometimes signals a shift in policy.

Dollar sets new record vs drachma

The dollar hit a new all-time high against the drachma yesterday, gaining 0.12 percent to close at 285.75 drachmas at the central bank's daily fix.

Commercial banks on Friday will sell the U.S. currency at 290.036 drachmas.

The pound sterling lost 0.28 percent against the drachma in a downward correction to end at 478.64 drachmas at the fix, or 485.820 drachmas for sale by commercial banks.

The German mark edged up 0.08 percent, finishing at 156.080 drachmas.

The Ecu closed steady at 309.38 drachmas.

Current account deficit drops in April

Greece's current account deficit for April dropped 3.1 per cent to US$660 million from $681 million in the same month of 1996, showing an improvement for the second straight month, the Bank of Greece said yesterday.The January-April deficit jumped 21.3 pe r cent to $2.28 billion from $1.88 billion a year earlier, the central bank announced.

WEATHER

Localised showers are expected over northern, central and western regions in the afternoon. The rest of the country will have light cloud. Winds will be mostly northerly, light to moderate. Athens will be mostly cloudy, with temperatures ranging from 22-37 C, while Thessaloniki will be increasingly cloudy with possible showers in the afternoon and temperatures of 20-34 C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 283.464 Pound sterling 474.811 Cyprus pd 530.561 French franc 45.987 Swiss franc 190.762 German mark 154.955 Italian lira (100) 15.938 Yen (100) 245.222 Canadian dlr. 205.165 Australian dlr. 208.469 Irish Punt 420.052 Belgian franc 7.503 Finnish mark 52.655 Dutch guilder 137.590 Danish kr. 40.712 Swedish kr. 36.109 Norwegian kr. 37.686 Austrian sch. 22.022 Spanish peseta 1.840 Port. Escudo 1.537

(L.G.)


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