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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-09-17

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, 17/09/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Athens welcomes Albright-brokered Cyprus security talks
  • Holbrooke: Cyprus security talks important step
  • Shevardnadze calls for Greek investments in Georgia
  • Greece and Georgia sign transport, communications accord
  • Russian Air Force planes arrive for joint flights
  • Nebiolo sends belated thanks on Athens '97 Athletics meet
  • UNESCO Med conference opens on Tilos
  • EU funds to Greece could total eight trillion drachmas
  • Eurodeputies on status of Mt Athos
  • EOT gears up for 2004 Olympics, tourist seasons
  • Greek stocks back off 1,700 pts, end flat
  • Greece's Macedonia-Thrace Bank shows profit jump
  • Greek teams win UEFA cup matches
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Athens welcomes Albright-brokered Cyprus security talks

Greece yesterday welcomed as a "positive development" the announcement by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash would meet soon to discuss security issues concerning the di vided island republic.

"The agreement reached on Cyprus following US mediation for direct talks between President Clerides and Mr. Denktash on security matters is a positive development," Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis said.

Holbrooke: Cyprus security talks important step

An agreement between President Clerides and Mr.Denktash to discuss security issues is a significant step towards lowering tensions on the island, US Special Presidential Envoy for Cyprus Richard Holbrooke said.

In an interview with CNN, Mr. Holbrooke called Monday's announcement of the agreement by Ms Albright at Larnaca Airport, "a big step" and something which "hasn't happened in a long time".

"It doesn't mean anything is substantively decided yet, but it is a significant step towards lowering tensions," Mr. Holbrooke said.

Noting that the talks will be under UN auspices, the US Presidential emissary said that both he and Ms Albright will be meeting with Greek and Turkish leaders in New York in the next two weeks.

Mr. Holbrooke stressed that the US Secretary of State's "personal involvement" in the announcement as well as the planned contacts with Greek and Turkish leaders are "another indication of the aggressive engagement of the United States in solving the se curity problems of this region, and instability in this region is a direct threat to America's national interests."

Shevardnadze calls for Greek investments in Georgia

Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze yesterday called for investments by Greek firms in his country, where he said steps are being taken to ensure economic stability and peace in the broader region.

Addressing members of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Shevardnadze stressed the importance of further developing bilateral economic and trade relations.

"The advantageous geographic positions of both Georgia and Greece, similarities in certain sectors of the economy, as well as the historic links between the two states create favourable conditions for the development of those relations," said Mr. Shevar dnadze, who is also president of Georgia's foreign investments council.

The sectors that lend themselves to investments, he noted, include infrastructure projects, telecommunications, heavy industry, mining and banking.

The Georgian president said he looked forward to the opening of the Black Sea Commerce and Development Bank in Thessaloniki, given its potentially positive benefits for the countries of the region.

According to the Athens Chamber, trade between Greece and Georgia has increased significantly over the past two years. The volume of trade since 1994 has more than doubled, exports to Georgia have tripled although imports from Georgia have stayed at relat ively stable levels.

In 1996, imports from Georgia came to US$7.4 million while Greek exports to the country totalled US$18.84 million.

Greece mainly exports fuel, farm products and industrial products to Georgia.

Greece and Georgia sign transport, communications accord

Greece and Georgia yesterday signed a transport and communications agreement.

The accord signed between Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis and his Georgian counterparts, Transport Minister Herab Anteisvili, and Communications and Post Offices Minister Pridon Injia provides for a post office link in Thessaloniki which is considered the centre between the two countries. It was also agreed that cooperation between the two countries in the wider transport and telecommunications sector will be widened.

Mr. Mantelis discussed the expansion of cooperation to railroad commercial transport with the operation of a sea link, the operation of a bus route between Athens-Thessaloniki-Tbilisi, with a frequency of four times a week and an air link between Tbilisi and Athens and Thessaloniki through Georgian Airlines on a weekly basis.

It was also agreed to promote cooperation in the telecommunications sector where an agreement to construct a telecomms cable some 600 km long was recently implemented. The project is being funded by the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) and is being implemented by its subsidiary Hellascom.

Russian Air Force planes arrive for joint flights

Five Russian Air Force planes arrived in Greece yesterday within the framework of exchanges between the two countries.

Two Sukhoi 27s, two Sukhoi 30s and an Ilyushin military transport plane landed at Tanagra airbase shortly after 4 p.m.

During their stay, Greek and Russian pilots will have the opportunity to carry out flights as co-pilots in the two-seater Sukhoi 30s and the Hellenic Air Force's Mirage 2000s.

The Russian aircraft will depart from Greece on Sept. 19, while Greek Mirage 2000 aircraft are expected to visit Russia in the spring of 1998.

Nebiolo sends belated thanks on Athens '97 Athletics meet

With a 45-day delay and in an unexpected about-face, International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) chief Primo Nebiolo has sent a messsage congratulating the organisers of the 6th World Athletic Championships staged in Athens on August 1-10.

Mr. Nebiolo, who was a lead campaigner for Rome's bid to host the 2004 Olympic Games, also congratulated Athens for being selected by the IOC on September 5 to host the Games.

Mr. Nebiolo, who drew the fire of the entire Greek press and political world alike for his scathing criticism of "incompetence" of the Greek organisers of the championships throughout the past month, in a letter to Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras released yesterday congratulated Greece on the "exceptional success of the Championships".

"It was an honour for us in the world athletics movement who had the opportunity to witness such a memorable event in the country that gave birth to athletics history. The Championship and your contribution to its success comprise a part of the great tr adition that has so influenced the development of athletics in the modern times. You and the people of Greece may be proud of this success," Mr. Nebiolo said in his letter.

Congratulating Athens on its selection to host the 2004 Olympic Games, Mr. Nebiolo said he was "certain that the Olympic history of your country will make the 2004 Games unforgettable".

UNESCO Med conference opens on Tilos

A UNESCO congress entitled "Mediterranean 2000: Peace, Environment, Culture and Tourism" opened on the eastern Aegean island of Tilos on Monday.

The congress was opened at a cave in which remains of dwarf elephants were discovered. It is attended by Aegean Minister Elisabeth Papazoi, Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis and scientists from Belgium, France, Greece, Italy and Spain.

In a message read at the congress, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said the demand for a healthy environment is "an endless task", adding that "there cannot be any long-term prospect of peace on earth if there is no peace with the earth".

EU funds to Greece could total eight trillion drachmas

The third European Union (EU) Support Framework for 2000-2006 is on its way toward final approval, while Greece can expect to receive as much as eight trillion drachmas in Union funds, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday.

After a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis to brief the latter on the latest ECOFIN meeting in Brussels last weekend, Mr. Papantoniou said Greece would use these funds to continue development and support the infrastructure being constructed by o utlays from the Second Support Framework.

Following their meeting, Mr. Simitis received a delegation of Greek businessmen from the Greek-American Business Council and informed him of their intention to visit Sofia and Bucharest.

Eurodeputies on status of Mt Athos

Thirty-five Eurodeputies from all 15 member states of the European Union have called on the EU Council of Foreign Ministers to make a joint declaration ensuring that the special status of the monastic community of Mount Athos, northern Greece, is maintained.

Coalition of the Left Eurodeputy Alekos Alavanos proposed that the declaration be included in the Amsterdam treaties and that it take into consideration the special status of Mount Athos, which "is a particular expression of a common cultural heritage".

EOT gears up for 2004 Olympics, tourist seasons

Athens has a great opportunity in hosting the Olympic Games of 2004 that should be taken advantage of, without leading to unchecked building activity, National Tourism Organisation (EOT) secretary general Nikos Skoulas warned yesterday.

Mr. Skoulas said that it might be necessary to lift a ban on building more hotels in central Athens in order to provide more five-star accomodations for visitors attending the Olympics.

"We must not, however, do excessive things, nor be led into building rooms for three weeks only that will then become mausoleums," he added.

He proposed that a convention centre be built so that Athens could stage more conferences, conventions and exhibitions.

According to tourism figures, there were indications that 1997 would post a 10 per cent increase in tourist arrivals compared to 1996. However, he said revenues from foreign exchange did not follow suit.

In terms of recent Olympic Airways strikes and delays, Mr. Skoulas said the government was holding "intensive negotiations" on creating one or more multi-share charter carriers, based on the successful Turkish model, that would be privately run but with government support as well.

Among other innovations, regions would be encouraged to take over their own tourism promotion, similar to a programme pioneered in Greece by Crete, while the ministry of foreign affairs was soon expected to sign an agreement creating a slot for tourism attaches in embassies overseas.

Other plans the government has, he said, were to sell or lease on long-term basis the majority of EOT's assets in real estate, such as the Xenia Hotel in Lagonissi, off the Athens to Sounion highway, and the leasing of the Alimos marina.

Greek stocks back off 1,700 pts, end flat

Greek equities ended Tuesday's session with minor changes after an early attempt to reach the 1,700 level was met cautiously by the market and led to a bout of profit-taking.

The general index closed 0.03 percent off at 1,681.33 points. Banks rose 0.07 percent, Leasing was 0.29 percent higher, Insurance dropped 0.12 percent, Investment fell 0.36 percent, Industrials eased 0.17 percent, Construction ended 0.83 percent up, H olding fell 0.21 percent and Miscellaneous jumped 1.64 percent.

Trading was heavy and turnover was 20.8 billion drachmas.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 111 to 101 with another 24 issues unchanged.

Alcatel, Vis, Hellenic Biscuits, Petzetakis scored the biggest percentage gains, while Heliofin, Barba Stathis, Sanyo and Kalpinis suffered the heaviest losses. National Bank of Greece ended at 34,530 drachmas, Ergobank at 18,350, Alpha Credit at 19,9 75, Delta Dairy at 4,190, Titan Cement at 16,350, Intracom at 14,300 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6,730.

Greece's Macedonia-Thrace Bank shows profit jump

Greece's Macedonia-Thrace Bank posted first-half profits of 2.8 billion drachmas, sharply up on 2.4 billion drachmas for the whole of 1996, its chairman Spyros Kouniakis said yesterday.

The jump, which doubled profits in the same period a year ago, stemmed from a rise in the listed bank's operating profits and portfolio, Kouniakis told a news conference.

A sign of the Thessaloniki-based bank's progress was its inclusion in a new index for the Greek bourse devised by FT International, which is to be launched on September 24 and operate side by side with the existing index.

Deposits at the bank in June were 20.2 percent higher than in the same month of 1996 and the average rise in 1991-1995 was 13 percent, Kouniakis said.

Macedonia-Thrace Bank has opened 10 new branches and another four are to start operating by end-year, bringing the total to 65, he said. It also plans to overhaul its operational structure and upgrade computer systems in order to cut down on red tape.

The bank has completed plans to expand into the Balkans and convert its representative offices in Germany and Bulgaria into branches, Mr. Kouniakis said.

Greek teams win UEFA cup matches

PAOK of Thessaloniki posted an unexpected victory against Britain's powerhouse Arsenal last night, beating the London team 1-0 in the first leg of their UEFA cup matchup.

Costas Fratzeskos scored for PAOK in the 61st minute. The match was attended by 40,000 fans. The second game will be played in London in two weeks. In a second UEFA matche OFI of Irakleio beat Hungary's Ferencvaros 3- 0. The second game will be played in Hungary in two weeks.

WEATHER

Partly cloudy weather with spells of sunshine will prevail throughout the country today with scattered showers in the Ionian Sea, mainland Greece and the northern Aegean Sea. Winds, northerly, moderate to strong, turning gale force in the Aegean Sea. Athens will be partly cloudy and windy with temperatures between 18-28C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 16- 24C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 277.591 Pound sterling 442.968 Cyprus pd 528.776 French franc 46.622 Swiss franc 190.836 German mark 156.612 Italian lira (100) 16.063 Yen (100) 230.342 Canadian dlr. 199.392 Australian dlr. 198.926 Irish Punt 414.378 Belgian franc 7.590 Finnish mark 52.312 Dutch guilder 139.083 Danish kr. 41.132 Swedish kr. 36.206 Norwegian kr. 37.819 Austrian sch. 22.246 Spanish peseta 1.856 Port. Escudo 1.541

(C.E.)


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