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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-09-16

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, 16/09/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece and Georgia sign friendship and cooperation pact
  • Albright says Clerides and Denktash to discuss security
  • EU Council: Cyprus accession not linked with island's problem
  • US-Greece-Turkey meeting not ruled out for next week
  • Greek-Russian exercise aimed at reinforcing bilateral ties
  • Greek, Bavarian police to cooperate on several sectors
  • Events in memory of Maria Callas conclude today
  • Former President dismisses 'ramblings' of Spain's Sophia
  • Greece sees Dr 11 trillion of projects in 2000-2006
  • Greek retail sales volume up 2.2 percent in June
  • Greek stocks end higher fuelled by banks and construction
  • Greece renews pledge to crack down on tax evaders
  • Debtors owe Greek state Dr. 1.25 trillion
  • National Bank insurance firms merge under Ethniki Asfalistiki name
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece and Georgia sign friendship and cooperation pact

Greece and Georgia yesterday signed a friendship and cooperation agreement during talks here between visiting Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

Mr. Shevardnadze, who began a three-day official visit to Greece yesterday, met earlier with his Greek counterpart Kostis Stephanopoulos.

The Georgian president will be awarded today the Onassis Foundation's prize for International Understanding and Social Achievement. He is also to visit the monastic community of Mount Athos.

Signing the friendship and cooperation agreement with Mr. Simitis, Mr. Shevardnadze said the pact signalled the beginning of a "new era in relations between the two countries and their peoples."

Albright says Clerides and Denktash to discuss security

President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash will meet soon to discuss security issues, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced here yesterday.

Congratulating both leaders for "their wisdom and foresight", Ms. Albright described the development as "a substantial step", that would help "reduce tensions and improve the overall atmosphere for serious negotiations to tackle the core issues of the Cyprus problem".

Ms. Albright, on a quick stop-over from Lebanon, returning to Washington, said both President Clerides and Mr. Denktash have informed State Department special coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Miller and US Ambassador to Cyprus Kenneth Brill of "their willingness to meet soon to discuss security issues".

The date of the Clerides-Denktash meeting has not been set yet.

President Clerides will enter the dialogue with Mr. Denktash on security issues in a "constructive spirit", Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said later.

EU Council: Cyprus accession not linked with island's problem

Cyprus' accession talks to the EU will start six months after the conclusion of the Intergovernmental Conference and are not connected with the Cyprus problem said a joint statement adopted by the foreign ministers of the 15 EU states after a discussion regarding Cyprus' accession process.

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou are attending the EU General Affairs Council.

The council said that the accession talks were definitely not linked with efforts to solve the Cyprus issue and expressed its regrets that the two rounds of direct talks held over the summer between the two sides did not meet with success.

EU member-states expressed satisfaction over the stance of the Cyprus government, which has invited representatives of the Turkish Cypriot side to attend in the accession negotiating group.

US-Greece-Turkey meeting not ruled out for next week

US State Department spokesman James Foley did not rule out yesterday the possibility of a meeting between the foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey along with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at the sidelines of next week's United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.

Ms Albright "had a very constructive meeting with her counterparts of Turkey and Greece in Madrid. If the leaders are willing to return to the Madrid spirit, then such a meeting could become constructive," the spokesman said. It was necessary to have "a return to an atmosphere that is indicative of the intention of both sides to approach one another as colleagues looking for common solutions to the differences keeping them apart," he added.

Greek-Russian exercise aimed at reinforcing bilateral ties

A joint Greek-Russian military exercise due to begin today is not directed against any third party, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

He noted that following the major changes that had taken place in the world, "military accords between countries have been made which would not have been considered permissible in the past".

The exercise due to begin today, he said, was aimed at "bilateral friendship and cooperation".

Greek, Bavarian police to cooperate on several sectors

Public Order Minister George Romeos and the interior minister of Bavaria, Gunther Beckstein, have agreed to cooperation between Greek Police (EL.AS) and Bavarian police in several special sectors, such as policing land borders an d electronic controls to ascertain the genuine nature of travel documents and identity cards.

Mr. Romeos, who is in Munich at the invitation of Mr. Beckstein, told the Greek programme of Bavarian Radio that in light of the ambitious, as he said, modernisation programme for EL.AS in the sectors of organisation, training, technical and material in frastructure, he looks forward to an exchange of experiences on ways to combat organised crime.

A leading issue in talks he held with Mr. Beckstein was also that of illegal immigration and of technical means to police borders, where the special German police BGS and the Bavarian police, in particular, have experience, both in connection with illeg al immigration and smuggling.

Events in memory of Maria Callas conclude today

Events commemorating the 20th anniversary of the death of Maria Callas conclude throughout Europe today with a concert by winners of an international competition in her name. The concert, organised by city of Athens, will be conducted by Louli Psychouli. Musicians invited from orchestras in Europe will form an orchestra in Callas' memory.

State Television ET-1 has scheduled extensive features on Callas for the next three days. EMI-classics, the only company Callas recorded for, has completed the re-release of her performances, which have been technically processed to improve sound.

Callas recorded 32 complete operas, 11 recitals in studios, 2 albums with rare gravures and a double compact disc, all of which have been included in a commemorative edition by EMI. European events honoring Callas conclude today with a concert at the an cient theatre of Ostia, Italy. The concert will be transmitted live.

Former President dismisses 'ramblings' of Spain's Sophia

Former president of the republic Constantine Karamanlis yesterday described as "inaccurate ramblings" references to himself in a book by Queen Sophia of Spain, sister of Greece's ex-king Constantine.

Queen Sophia's book was recently published in Greek.

Mr. Karamanlis noted that the form of regime in Greece had been decided in a referendum in 1974 that abolished the monarchy.

Mr. Karamanlis pointed out that in July 1973 (during the military dictatorship in Greece) both he and ex-king Constantine had committed themselves to holding a referendum once the Greek people had regained their sovereign rights, in order that they them selves could decide as to the type of regime they wanted.

Greece sees Dr 11 trillion of projects in 2000-2006

Greece hopes to carry out infrastructure projects worth 11 trillion drachmas between 2000 and 2006 under a new package of European Union funds.

Funds from the newly created 3rd Community Framework, which is currently being discussed by the EU, are expected to total eight trillion drachmas for Greece. The government would contribute another three trillion drachmas.

The figures emerged from statements by National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday following an informal weekend meeting in Luxembourg of the EU's economy and finance ministers.

The new funds, also known as the Santer package, are to replace the expiring second support framework.

Greek retail sales volume up 2.2 percent in June

Greek retail sales volume increased by 2.1 percent in the first six months of the year compared with the corresponding period in 1996, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said yesterday.

In its monthly release of retail sales data, NSS said that the volume of sales rose by 2.2 percent in June.

Greek stocks end higher fuelled by banks and construction

Greek equities ended the first trading session of the week substantially higher reflecting renewed buying interest in banking and construction issues.

The general index closed 1.64 percent higher at 1,681.81 points with all sector indices scoring gains.

Banks rose 2.17 percent, Leasing was 0.34 percent higher, Insurance ended 1.36 percent up, Investments increased 0.64 percent, Industrials rose 1.82 percent, Construction jumped 2.30 percent, Holding was 2.97 percent up and Miscellaneous ended 2.10 perc ent higher.

The parallel market index ended 0.77 percent higher.

Trading was heavy and turnover was 27.5 billion drachmas.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 142 to 62 with another 25 issues unchanged.

National Bank of Greece ended at 34,630 drachmas, Ergobank at 18,300, Alpha Credit Bank at 19,890, Delta Dairy at 4,290, Titan Cement at 16,390 and Intracom at 14,140. Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation ended at 6,765, off 65 drachmas, in heavy vo lume of 284,510 shares.

Greece renews pledge to crack down on tax evaders

Greece will pursue its drive against tax dodgers, giving offenders sleepless nights, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday.

The crackdown already underway has focused on large-scale evaders.

"They'll be losing their sleep in coming years," Mr. Papantoniou said after an informal weekend meeting of European Union economy and finance ministers in Luxembourg.

The socialist government's main weapons in the fight against rampant tax evasion are its financial crimes squad, which carries out lightning checks on suspect enterprises, and a computer system still being phased in.

The EU ministers discussed a proposal by the Commission, the EU's executive arm, to adopt a code of conduct in taxation on compensation and companies in order to reduce violations.

Debtors owe Greek state Dr. 1.25 trillion

Major debtors to the Greek state total 4,462 with money owed exceeding 1.25 trillion drachmas, Finance Undersecretary George Drys said yesterday.

Mr. Drys said that a list of debtors who owe more than five million drachmas each to the state would be published by the end of October.

The data on monies owed came from a survey by the informatics department of Athens University, he said.

According to the survey, 98.5 percent of debtors were from the private sector and 1.5 percent from the public sector. However, public sector debtors owed 59 percent of the total.

Mr. Drys said that 91.9 percent of debtors owed more than 100 million drachmas, while another 57 percent owed between 10 and 50 million.

The commerce sector included the largest number of debtors to the state.

Out of the total debt of 1.25 trillion drachmas, six percent resulted from direct taxes, 10 percent from indirect taxes and 44 percent from loans.

National Bank insurance firms merge under Ethniki Asfalistiki name

The Ethniki Asfalistiki insurance company has become a major insurance player in the Greek market after merging with the firms Astir, Panellinios and ETEBA Asfalistiki, with a primary goal of expanding into the Balkans and eastern Europe.

Development Minister Vasso Papandreou expressed satisfaction over the development, while inaugurating an Ethniki Asfalistiki sales conference.

National Bank Governor Theodoros Karatzas said the merging of the four insurance companies of the National Bank's group is part of the group's wider strategic restructuring.

The president of the new Ethniki Asfalistiki and current National Bank deputy governor Costas Stamoulis said the new firm already covers more than 20 per cent of the local market, while by the year 1999 it will control about a quarter of the insurance m arket and more specifically 23 per cent of life insurance, 28 per cent of automobile insurance and 26 per cent of the remaining sectors. Expansion of Ethniki Asfalistiki into neighbouring countries will start in a few months' time from Romania, while the new company will possess 100 branch offices, 185 production offices, 900 insurance agents and 4.500 insurance and financial advisers.

The Athens Stock Exchange has also approved the merging of Astir and Ethniki Asfalistiki.

WEATHER

Almost fine weather is forecast for today, except for the Ionian and mainland Greece where it will be cloudy with the possibility of scattered showers. Winds variable, light to strong, turning gale force in the Aegean Sea. Partly cloudy in Athens with temperatures from 17-29C. Possibility of rain in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from 16-25C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 276.252 Pound sterling 443.067 Cyprus pd 530.958 French franc 46.614 Swiss franc 189.616 German mark 156.726 Italian lira (100) 16.055 Yen (100) 229.529 Canadian dlr. 198.499 Australian dlr. 199.194 Irish Punt 417.830 Belgian franc 7.593 Finnish mark 52.524 Dutch guilder 139.178 Danish kr. 41.158 Swedish kr. 36.301 Norwegian kr. 38.033 Austrian sch. 22.264 Spanish peseta 1.856 Port. Escudo 1.542

(C.E.)


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