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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-08-28

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, 28/08/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Dini affair over, FM Pangalos says
  • US: Clerides gov't the only legal one on Cyprus
  • FM Pangalos sticks to guns in face of Israeli protest
  • Industrialists call for structural changes to economy
  • Greece, Latvia discuss bilateral relations
  • Fighter planes crash in mid-air
  • Foundation of Hellenic Culture acquires new status
  • Stock market remains unsettled
  • Greek business development plan absorbs 176 bln in funds
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Dini affair over, FM Pangalos says

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said today Athens considered the issue which had arisen due to statements by Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini on the Cyprus problem to be "over" following reaffirmation by Italian Premier Romano Prodi that a solution to the problem should be based on United Nations resolutions.

"Following Italy's refutation, we can consider that the matter is over," Pangalos said.

On Tuesday, Dini was reported saying after talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem in Rome that in Cyprus "there exist two governments and two entities".

Dini was also reported saying that the question was "to see whether in negotiations with the EU, these two entities are recognised as equal".

His remarks provoked a sharp reaction from Athens, which termed the statements "outrageous" and demanded clarifications.

Early yesterday, the Italian foreign ministry issued a statement saying Rome recognised only the Republic of Cyprus.

According to a statement released later by the Italian premier's office in Rome, Prodi had a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Costas Simitis during which both men "expressed their common concern about 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 UN".

Asked his view of the reasons which led Dini to make the statements, Pangalos said the only thing he could assume was "his effort to make Mr. Cem happy" during his visit to Rome.

Pangalos reiterated that Dini's statements were "most unfortunate" and "moreover have no value whatsoever", since Greece was determined to do everything possible to ensure adherence to the legal and political commitments undertaken concerning the Cyprus problem.

"Prior to October 1998, the negotiations should have begun for Cyprus' accession to the EU. Everthing else about enlargement is just political intentions. The only legal commitment is this," he said.

Pangalos underlined that the Cyprus government had repeatedly expressed its interest in the participation also of Turkish Cypriots in the accession talks, adding that "the person who is not only not interested in Cyprus' European perspective but who systematically torpedoes it is (Turkish Cypriot leader) Rauf Denktash".

So if Mr. Dini wants to be of service to the Turkish Cypriots, Pangalos went on, he should help them get rid of Mr. Denktash and the policy which he follows.

"And then I shall shout Avanti Colonelli!" he said.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas also expressed satisfaction at the clarifications provided by Italy concerning Dini's statements.

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.

FM Pangalos sticks to guns in face of Israeli protest

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos today stuck to his guns in the face of Israeli criticism of statements he made recently concerning the Israeli- Palestinian peace process.

"It is only logical that the Israelis feel the need to support their positions," Pangalos said, while reiterating that it was unacceptable to identify the Palestinian people with terrorists.

This was no basis for the smooth continuation of the peace process, he said, while stressing that Greece had been one of the first countries to openly condemn terrorism.

"However, the policy of taking reprisals against non-combatants for acts of terrorism is unacceptable," Pangalos said.

Pangalos was responding to a strongly-worded statement from the Israeli foreign ministry yesterday concerning remarks he had made after his meeting with Arab League Secretary-General Abdel Meguid on Monday.

Referring to the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, Pangalos had said that he condemned terrorism but that 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".

Industrialists call for structural changes to economy

The Association of Northern Greek Industries (SBBE) today asked Prime Minister Costas Simitis to speed up structural changes in the country's economy and infrastructure, particularly in Macedonia and Thrace, saying the current pace was slow compared to other countries of Europe.

The request was put by the association's presidium during a 90-minute meeting with Simitis in Athens this morning. The meeting was attended also by Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos.

The presidium put forward specific proposals for the further development of northern Greece and discussed in general the role which Greece is expected to play in Europe's economic development.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, SBBE President Vassilis Takas said the delegation had reiterated to Simitis what they had told European Commission President Jacques Santer at the association's general meeting in May.

"That is, the need for a new Santer plan along the lines of the Marshall Plan implemented after the Second World War, for the development of the region, something which of course presupposes Greece's faster development in the economy and infrastructure," Takas said.

The industrialists expressed disagreement with the changes the government intends to make to the development law, saying that the "first fruits" of the law now in force were just becoming apparent.

They acknowledged however that the development law in its present form had so far not attracted the major investments from abroad which the country needs.

Asked to comment on developments in the economy, Takas replied:

"Some positive steps have been taken but more definetly need to be taken."

Takas said the SBBE felt there was a need for a change in the "mix" of economic policy "which should lean more towards fiscal policy and the reigning in of public sector spending".

Replying to other questions, Takas said the investment climate in the Balkan had changed, but not significantly.

"The steps being taken in this region are very timid. The political, economic and social climate must first be stabilised before we can talk about investments," he added.

Reiterating a statement made in the past by Simitis, Petsalnikos said "Northern Greece, both Macedonia and Thrace, are the steam-engine for the development of the entire country".

Greece, Latvia discuss bilateral relations

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos had talks today with his Latvian counterpart Valdis Birkavs on European Union enlargement and the development of bilateral relations between Athens and Riga.

After the talks, Pangalos said Greece had never recognised the forced annexation of the three Baltic states by the then Soviet Union.

He said Athens supported the simultaneous commencement of negotiations of all candidate countries for accession to the Europe Union, Latvia being one.

Latvia, he added, is a country which will play an important role in European affairs.

Commenting on EU enlargement in general, Pangalos said it could not take place simply by redistributing existing resources, stressing that it was necessary to increase the resources.

He said there was also a need for provisions in general which would ensure transparency and democratic procedures in common European institutions.

Birkavs thanked Pangalos for Greece's support for the simultaneous commencement of EU accession talks and expressed the hope that this position would be adopted at the next EU meeting on the issue in Luxembourg.

The Latvian foreign minister emphasised the importance of further developing bilateral relations, particularly in the economic sector.

Although bilateral economic relations were not at a very high level, Birkavs said, they were nevertheless improving year by year.

Fighter planes crash in mid-air

Two Greek Air Force A-7 fighter planes went down in the sea late last night near Kalamata after colliding in mid-air during a training flight, according to an Air Force General Staff announcement.

The two pilots ejected safely and half an hour later broadcast an emergency radio message, which was picked up by C-130 aircraft. They were later rescued from the sea by navy craft in the area.

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 Institut.

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 ministry.

Stock market remains unsettled

Greek equities ended with minor changes after nervous trading on the Athens Stock Exchange.

Traders said the market remains volatile, reflecting investors' worries over the course of inflation and the government's final decisions on drafting next year's budget as well as the International Olympic Committee's decision on whether Athens will host the 2004 Olympic Games.

The general index closed 0.16 percent higher at 1,544,39 points. Sector indices were mixed. Banks rose 0.18 percent, Leasing increased 0.21 percent, Insurance ended 0.64 percent up, Investment rose 0.06 percent, Industrials fell 0.11 percent, Construction increased 0.33 percent, Holding fell 0.08 percent and Miscellaneous rose 1.10 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 0.20 percent higher.

Trading improved markedly due to the transaction of large blocks of shares in Mortgage Bank and ETEBA. Turnover was 20.3 billion drachmas.

In the domestic foreign exchange market the US dollar rose by 0.46 percent against the drachma while the DMark fell by 0.27 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 and jewellery.

The ministry is also sponsoring worker safety projects totalling 2.46 billion drachmas in 12 major industrial firms.

WEATHER

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.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

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

(M.P.)


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