Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-08-28
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 28/08/1997 (ANA)
- Rome backtracks on Dini statements over Cyprus
- Cyprus told it was a 'misunderstanding'
- US: Clerides gov't the only legal one on Cyprus
- Israel reacts to Pangalos statements
- Foundation of Hellenic Culture acquires new status
- New South Wales premier in Athens
- Gov't optimistic over Softex papermill sale
- Greek exports to Tunisia increase by 23.2 per cent
- Battered Greek stocks driven down by banks, lose 1.53 pct
- Greek business development plan absorbs 176 bln in funds
- Greek workers to stage nationwide strike Oct. 23
- Greece drafts law to combat loan sharks
- Business mission to Slovenia
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Rome backtracks on Dini statements over Cyprus
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi reaffirmed yesterday that a solution to
the protracted Cyprus problem should be based on United Nations resolutions.
According to a statement released by the Italian prime minister's office in
Rome, Mr. Prodi had a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Costas
Simitis, in which both men "expressed their common concern on the Cyprus
problem, and on this matter the Italian premier underlined that the
solution to this problem should be based on resolutions adopted by the
"The two sides will take actions in order that the European Union can
proceed, on this basis, in view of negotiations for the island's (Cyprus)
accession to the EU," the Italian statement added.
On Tuesday, Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini was reported as saying,
after talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem in Rome, that in
Cyprus "there existed two governments and two entities".
Mr. Dini was also reported as saying that the question "is to see whether
in negotiations with the EU, these two entities are recognised as
The Italian foreign minister's statements provoked sharp reaction from
Athens, which asked clarifications on what it called "outrageous"
statements, saying late Tuesday evening that if Mr. Dini's statements were
exact "a major issue between the two co untries arises".
Earlier yesterday, the Italian foreign ministry issued a statement saying
that Italy recognises only the Republic of Cyprus.
The statement "reconfirms that on the issue of the start of negotiations
for Cyprus' accession to the EU, Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini stated that
they should constitute a positive element in the search for a political
agreement, which would be to the benefit of both communities on the
It also notes that "in its international relations, Italy, along with other
EU countries, only recognises the Republic of Cyprus".
Cyprus told it was a 'misunderstanding'
President Glafcos Clerides has expressed the view that there had been a
misunderstanding from Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini's statement.
Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides called on Italy's charge d'
affaires to Cyprus, Rafaelle de Benedictis, early yesterday afternoon and
requested clarifications on Mr. Dini's statements.
Asked after an hour-long meeting with Mr. Kasoulides if there was a
misunderstanding from Mr. Dini's statement, the Italian official said "the
minister never talked about recognition of the Turkish Cypriot community as
a state and there is a misunderstanding in the wording, as it was reported
by the media".
Mr. de Benedictis added that this comes out from a press release the
Italian foreign ministry circulated earlier yesterday and a second press
release after the telephone call later between the premiers of Greece and
"There is no change in the Italian position on that," he added, stressing
"of course, we recognise only the government of Cyprus".
Replying to a question about the accession talks Cyprus will begin early
next year with the European Union (EU), Mr. de Benedictis said "the main
message was that during the meeting he made it clear and he recommended
Turkey to push Cyprus in favour of the accession to the European Union".
"What I mean by this is that Italy is supporting Cyprus starting the
negotiations according to the European Union's Council decisions. And this
is the type of message that Mr. Dini wanted to give", he added.
Speaking to the press before the meeting between Mr. Kasoulides and Mr. de
Benedictis, President Clerides said the clarifications given by the Italian
foreign ministry were "very clear" and expressed the view the whole issue
was a "misunderstanding".
US: Clerides gov't the only legal one on Cyprus
The United States recognises only the government of Cyprus Republic
President Glafcos Clerides as the only legal government in Cyprus, US State
Department spokesman James Rubin said yesterday.
"The United States recognises the government of Nicosia as the legal
government of Cyprus. Despite this, we are keeping touch with both Greek
Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders," the spokesman said.
He declined comment on the process of Cyprus' accession to the European
Union (EU), saying that this was entirely an EU issue.
Israel reacts to Pangalos statements
The Israeli foreign ministry yesterday reacted strongly to comments by
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, following his meeting with Arab League
Secretary-General Abdel Meguid on Monday.
The meeting covered the Middle East situation and Greece's relations with
the Arab world.
Referring to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Mr. Pangalos said that
he condemned terrorism, but that it was "also not right to carry out
reprisals against non-combatants".
The European Union, he added, had the means at its disposal to exert
pressure on Israel and "should use it".
Israel said the Greek foreign minister's statements were "unfortunate and
detrimental to the peace process" and that it was certain the statements
did not reflect the positions of the "overwhelming majority of European
"We completely and categorically reject these arguments," the Israeli
foreign ministry statement said.
"Mr. Pangalos's statements reflect a one-sided view and are incompatible
with Greece's expressed willingness and intention to contribute to the
Foundation of Hellenic Culture acquires new status
Parliament passed a bill yesterday granting the Foundation of Hellenic
Culture a status comparable to the British Council and the Goethe
The bill was supported by all wings in Parliament, where Alternate Foreign
Minister George Papandreou said the foundation would "become the main
agency of the Greek state for realising Greece's cultural policy overseas
while also promoting the Greek lan guage".
The foundation was founded by 38 well-known Greeks in 1992 under the aegis
of the president of the republic and the supervision of the foreign
New South Wales premier in Athens
The premier of the Australian state of New South Wales, Bob Carr, will
visit Greece on Sept. 3 for talks with Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos
and Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, an Australian embassy announcement
New South Wales is the most populous state of Australia and its capital,
Sydney, will host the 2000 Olympic Games.
Gov't optimistic over Softex papermill sale
Development ministry officials are optimistic regarding the sale of the
country's largest papermill, Softex, sources said yesterday.
The same sources said there is both Greek and foreign interest in the
Development Undersecretary Anna Diamantopoulou said a few days ago that the
first enquiry was made a few days ago, while the deadline expires on Sept.
24. The privatisation process of other firms, Kerafina, MEL and Elefsis
Bauxite is also reported to be evolving.
Development Minister Vasso Papandreou has said claims by creditor banks are
causing delays in the whole process.
"There are problems with the banks, leading to major divergences from the
privatisation programme of certain businesses," she said, adding that
efforts were being made to minimise the delays.
She said the Business Restructuring Organisation (OAE) has to complete the
privatisation process for 20 ailing enterprises by early 1998.
Greek exports to Tunisia increase by 23.2 per cent
Greek exports to Tunisia recorded a 23.2 per cent increase last year in
relation to 1995, while imports from that country fell by 35.5 per cent,
according to data contained in the Association of Exporters of Northern
Greece's latest export bulletin.
Top of the list in Greek exports was cotton, while the import list was
headed by fuels.
In total, Greek exports to Tunisia amounted to Ecu48 million, while imports
did not exceed Ecu18 million.
Cotton exports were valued at Ecu11.4 million, followed by cotton iron
products, totalling 50 per cent of all exports.
Battered Greek stocks driven down by banks, lose 1.53 pct
Greek equity prices yesterday came under renewed selling pressure to end
sharply lower on the Athens Stock Exchange, reflecting heavy losses in the
Traders said the market looked extremely volatile ahead of the socialist
government's final decisions on drafting next year's budget.
Also creating nervousness was a vote on September 5 by the International
Olympic Committee on whether Athens would host the 2004 Olympic Games.
The general index ended 1.53 percent down at 1,541.99 points. Banks fell
2.22 percent, Leasing was 0.77 percent up, Insurance dropped 0.84 percent,
Investment eased 0.92 percent, Industrials fell 1.41 percent, Construction
was 0.77 percent off, Holding dropped 1.27 percent and Miscellaneous rose
The parallel market index for small cap companies fell 0.70 percent.
Trade was more active with turnover at 13 billion drachmas.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 145 to 44 with another 26 issues
Sysware, Lampsa Hotels, Lampropoulos and Xylemporia scored the biggest
percentage gains, while Fintexport, Etma, Korinth Spin mills and Attica
Bank suffered the heaviest losses of the day.
National Bank of Greece ended at 34,300 drachmas, Ergobank at 16,815, Alpha
Credit Bank at 18,750, Delta Dairy at 3,945, Titan Cement at 14,470,
Intracom ata 12,200 and OTE at 6,270.
In the domestic foreign exchange market the US dollar rose 0.31 percent
against the drachma while the mark eased by 0.17 percent.
Greek business development plan absorbs 176 bln in funds
The Industry Business Programme, a project sponsored by the Greek
government, has absorbed 176 billion drachmas from the start of the year
until August 20, marking a 20.5 percent absorption rate against nine
percent at the end of 1996.
Development Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday told a news conference that
in the three years from the start of the programme, 576 business projects
and special investments totalling 488 billion drachmas had been promoted.
Ms. Papandreou said that the ministry had devised a new initiative on a
business network called clusters that would encourage cooperation
particularly among small and medium-sized enterprises.
The project, budgeted at 11.7 billion drachmas, will cover 19 networks
including 215 Greek businesses from the country's more dynamic sectors of
industry - foodstuffs, furniture, clothing, advanced technology, informatics
The ministry is also sponsoring worker safety projects totalling 2.46
billion drachmas in 12 major industrial firms.
Greek workers to stage nationwide strike Oct. 23
The General Workers Confederation of Greece (GSEE), the country's largest
umbrella trade union, has called a 24-hour nationwide strike on October 23
to demand a rise in tax-free income, index-linked taxation and measures to
GSSE is also expected to start the process of signing a new collective pay
agreement with employers.
Speaking during a board meeting yesterday, the union's chairman Christos
Polyzogopoulos announced the union's annual congress would be held 12-15
March in Kavala, northern Greece, to mark activism by local tobacco
workers. GSEE is celebrating its 80th birthday this year.
Greece drafts law to combat loan sharks
Greek Justice Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos yesterday announced he had
set up a committee to investigate the illegal loans market and draft a bill
to combat the growing phenomenon. The committee, headed by the ministry's
secretary general, will have thr ee months to examine the cause of the
problem, the workings of the market, and its impact on legitimate commerce.
It will then propose the solutions.
Mr. Yiannopoulos conceded indirectly that legitimate banks also carry out
dubious lending at high interest rates, and indicated that the socialist
government may investigate their activities.
The newly-created committee, which comprises judicial officials and a
lawyer, will restrict its activities to loan sharks and illegal financial
Business mission to Slovenia
The Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO) is organising a campaign for the
promotion of economic relations with Slovenia, in September and October.
In cooperation with the Greek embassy in Ljubljana and the Commerce and
Industry Chamber of Slovenia, HEPO is organising a one-day conference on
Sept. 8 in Athens, entitled "Business Approach to Slovenia", while a
business mission has been scheduled for Oct. 13.
For more information call (01) 99.82.251 until Sept. 5 at the latest.
Almost fine weather is forecast for most parts of the country today except
for mainland and western Greece where scattered showers are expected in the
afternoon. Winds westerly, light to moderate. Athens will be partly cloudy
with temperatures between 19-33C. Same in Thessaloniki with possible
showers in the afternoon and temperatures from 17-30C.
Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 281.907
Pound sterling 453.364 Cyprus pd 528.835
French franc 46.396 Swiss franc 189.045
German mark 156.270 Italian lira (100) 16.002
Yen (100) 236.394 Canadian dlr. 201.872
Australian dlr. 210.616 Irish Punt 417.196
Belgian franc 7.570 Finnish mark 52.136
Dutch guilder 138.746 Danish kr. 41.039
Swedish kr. 35.875 Norwegian kr. 37.756
Austrian sch. 22.214 Spanish peseta 1.848
Port. Escudo 1.541