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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-09-25

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, 25/09/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece, US resolve to settle issues through int'l law
  • US reiterates view that Imia should be put to int'l arbitration
  • Athens says Balkan summit another chance for Greek-Turkish talks
  • Netherlands' Queen Beatrix to visit Greece
  • Albanian defence minister in Athens
  • Pangalos meets with Archbishop Spyridon
  • Black Sea countries working towards free trade zone
  • Athens backs Nicosia on S-300 decision
  • Athens Mayor in Chicago
  • Commercial venture firm created
  • Greece aims to meet EMU deficit criterion in '98
  • Athens bourse, FT International launch new stock index
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece, US resolve to settle issues through int'l law

There is acommon conviction by Athens and Washington that issues must be resolved peacefully with reference to international law and using international organisations and mechanisms anticipated for this purpose, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said yesterday after successive meetings with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and US special presidential envoy on Cyprus Richard Holbrooke.

Ms Albright appeared reserved in statements she made after the meeting.

Replying to a question on what the outcome of the meeting was, she said: "We shall see how much we will be able to proceed today."

Referring to the meeting she had later with Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, she added "I hope we will have a series of productive meetings."

After his meeting with Richard Holbrooke, Mr. Pangalos said:

"We discussed the Cyprus issue. Mr. Holbrooke informed me that he is approaching the issue and I spoke to him of the contacts I had (at the UN General Assembly). It was a very useful discussion for both of us."

On his part, Mr. Holbrooke said "I am very pleased over the very positive stance concerning cooperation in the Aegean, which the government of Mr. Simitis and Mr. Pangalos is showing. I believe that we are on the eve of important developments in Europe."

Mr. Holbrooke said Washington supports the accession of Cyprus to the European Union and desires a decrease in tension in the Aegean, which Mr. Pangalos discussed with Ms Albright.

"We are very pleased that President (Glafcos) Clerides and (Turkish Cypriot leader) Mr. (Rauf) Denktash are starting talks this week (tomorrow) on security issues. A development which Mr. Miller promoted during his trip to Nicosia. I have not scheduled a personal visit to Cyprus but I want to stress that the US is participating and will continue to participate actively in these issues," Mr. Holbrooke said.

Replying to a question on his views on how a solution to the Cyprus issue is being promoted, he said "there are all the elements for progress, but the will of all the leaders in the region is necessary and I do not think that hasty assessments are helpful. I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic. I see the issue from its realistic aspect."

US reiterates view that Imia should be put to int'l arbitration

Washington yesterday reiterated its position that the Imia issue should be referred to the International Court at The Hague or another form of international arbitration, indirectly pointing to Ankara for the current "stale mate" in Greek-Turkish relations.

"As you know, our view is that it is appropriate for such a matter (Imia) to be referred to the International Court at The Hague or another international forum," US State Department spokesman James Rubin said after US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's successive meetings with Greek and Turkish foreign ministers Theodoros Pangalos and Ismail Cem yesterday.

Ms Albright expressed disappointment for the lack of progress in the separate meetings.

"The secretary regrets that there was no progress to end the stalemate between the two countries," Mr. Rubin said.

He added that discussions focused on bilateral relations rather than the Cyprus issue.

There was a limit to what Washington could do to help in the situation, he said, but both sides had to show statesmanship and decisiveness.

He also expressed the hope that during the rest of Ms Albright's stay in New York the next 10 days there would be some progress made.

Asked to comment on the content of the talks, he said: "We don't think it's necessary to go into details, it's not useful."

Commenting on a forthcoming meeting between Greek and Turkish Prime Ministers Costas Simitis and Mesut Yilmaz in Crete this November, he expressed hope that there would be a better development.

Athens says Balkan summit another chance for Greek-Turkish talks

A scheduled Balkan summit on Crete in early November may provide Greek- Turkish relations with another chance, Athens said yesterday, after an unproductive meeting between the Greek and Turkish foreign ministers on Tuesday.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the meeting between Theodoros Pangalos and Ismail Cem brought "no result".

"I hope that the summit of Balkan nations in Crete, where there is a scheduled meeting between (Prime Minister Costas) Simitis and (his Turkish counterpart Mesut) Yilmaz will bring results," Mr. Reppas said.

Mr. Reppas said the failure of the Pangalos-Cem meeting to make any headway was entirely due to Turkey's stance, which, he said, "on the one hand laid out a general political position, and on the other, refused to take the step which would lead it to de al with the issue of (the Aegean islet) of Imia".

Mr. Reppas noted that the Madrid communique signed between Mr. Simitis and Turkish President Suleyman Demirel over the summer indicated that Turkey should take its claim over Imia to international jurisdiction, which it has not done.

At last night's meeting, Mr. Pangalos said that Turkey continued to dispute the status quo of the Aegean and that this was an issue that was not up for discussion.

It was the first high-level meeting between the Greek and Turkish sides since the signing of the Madrid communique, which drew broad guidelines for relations between the two neighbours.

Mr. Reppas said the Madrid text was "a starting point to deal with Greek- Turkish problems".

"Turkey has back-pedalled on the spirit of Madrid," he said, adding that he thought it "unlikely" that there would be a tripartite meeting between Greece, Turkey and the United States at the UN this week.

Netherlands' Queen Beatrix to visit Greece

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands will pay an official visit to Greece October 7-9, accompanied by her husband, Prince Claus, it was announced yesterday.

The royal couple will visit Greece on the invitation of President Kostis Stephanopoulos.

Albanian defence minister in Athens

Albanian Defence Minister Sabit Brokaj arrived in Athens yesterday at the invitation of Greek counterpart Akis Tsohatzopoulos.

The ministers are due to sign a new cooperation accord between their two countries in the military sector.

Pangalos meets with Archbishop Spyridon

The need for closer relations between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Athens was confirmed in a meeting between Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and Orthodox Archbishop Spyridon of North and South American, held in New York on Tuesday.

Archbishop Spyridon said the meeting was held in "a friendly atmosphere" and centered on issues related to Greece and Hellenism, with particular emphasis on the role which expatriate Greek communities can play in dealing with those issues.

Black Sea countries working towards free trade zone

A draft proposal calling for a new free trade zone on the Black Sea was approved by the economic committee of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), which concluded its meeting in Athens yesterday. The plan will have to be approved by BSEC's plenary meeting in Moldava in December, before proceeding. The plenary session will also discuss a BSEC stock and trade exchange, telecommunications and transportation. During the meeting, Theodoros Kassimis, a deputy for the main opposition New Democracy, was elected president of the economic, trade, technical and environmental committee of BSEC's plenary session. BSEC members include Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey and the Ukraine.

Athens backs Nicosia on S-300 decision

Nicosia's decision to purchase Russian-made S-300 missiles is a "politically sound and completely legal decision by the Cypriot government", Athens said yesterday.

"The Greek government supports this decision," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said. Mr. Reppas said Athens hoped that there would be ample time before the deployment of the missiles to begin demilitarisation of the island, whose northern third is occupied by Turkish troops. "When there are no troops, there will be no S-300s," Mr. Reppas said.

Athens Mayor in Chicago

Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos is in Chicago for a four-day official visit at the invitation of his counterpart of Chicago and the President of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad president Andrew Athens.

The municipalities of Athens and Chicago will become sister cities, while a protocol of cooperation will be signed during Mr. Avramopoulos' stay.

The mayor of Athens will also hold meetings with federal, state, economic and business officials, as well as representatives of the Greek-American community.

Commercial venture firm created

An international commercial venture to undertake large-scale business deals has been founded at the initiative of the Commercial Bank, the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO) and the Organisation for the Insurance of Export Credits (OAEP).

The bank's broader aim is to forge deeper business relations between the countries of the Balkans, central and eastern Europe, the Middle East and the Black Sea region.

Greece aims to meet EMU deficit criterion in '98

Greece aimed to meet the budget deficit to gross domestic product (GDP) criterion of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in 1998, Yiannos Papantoniou, minister for national economy and finance said yesterday.

Mr. Papantoniou, speaking at the annual meetings of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Hong Kong, said the government was now discussing the 1998 budget.

"The government aims at a public deficit to GDP ratio of less than 3.0 percent which will satisfy the Maastricht Treaty criterion for entering the Economic and Monetary Union," he said.

Greece aimed to reduce its budget deficit as a proportion of its GDP to 4.2 per cent in 1997 compared with 7.5 per cent in the previous year.

"Preliminary results in the first seven months of the year suggest that the budget is on track," he said.

Mr. Papantoniou said good economic performance in the year had ushered in buoyancy in capital and money markets. "Interest rates are falling faster than forecast in the budget," he said.

Athens bourse, FT International launch new stock index

The Athens bourse yesterday launched a new real-time share index, the FTSE/ASE-20, that will run parallel to the existing general index and track the daily progress of a basket of stocks.

The index, which monitors 20 mostly industrial and banking blue chips, was designed for the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) in a joint project with FTSE International, a subsidiary of the London Stock Exchange and Financial Times newspaper.

"Introduction of the FTSE/ASE-20 is a major step in developing the stock exchange and in our effort to attract institutional investors from abroad," bourse president Manolis Xanthakis told an inauguration ceremony for the new index.

Its design has taken into account the creation of a derivatives market in Greece that is expected to occur next year after new legislation is introduced.

The new index will facilitate the calculation of returns on investments and the creation of new mutual funds, which function on the basis of stock indices.

"A new investment culture is growing in Europe at this time as investors seek opportunities further and further afield," Mark Makepeace, FTSE International's managing director said.

The bourse will handle daily operations and calculation supervised by a newly created committee of representatives from the ASE, key investment houses in Greece and abroad and FTSE International, which is also to act as an auditor.

Banks tracked in the new index are Alpha Credit Bank, National Bank of Greece, Ergobank, Commercial Bank of Greece, Mortgage Bank, Ionian Bank of Greece, Piraeus Bank and Macedonia-Thrace Bank.

Industrials monitored are Titan Cement, Hellenic Bottling, Aget Heracles, Biohalko, Delta Dairies, Papastratos, Intracom and Aluminium de Grece.

Engineering contractors Michaniki and AEGEK are included in the new index along with Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation and Goody's.

WEATHER

Cloudy weather is forecast throughout Greece today with scattered showers in the west and south. Winds variable, moderate to strong, turning gale force in the east. Possibility of drizzle in the evening in Athens where temperatures will range between 14-24C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from 9-20C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 279.317 Pound sterling 451.043 Cyprus pd 531.315 French franc 46.628 Swiss franc 190.385 German mark 156.672 Italian lira (100) 16.056 Yen (100) 233.021 Canadian dlr. 200.999 Australian dlr. 201.525 Irish Punt 410.966 Belgian franc 7.590 Finnish mark 52.514 Dutch guilder 139.138 Danish kr. 41.158 Swedish kr. 36.787 Norwegian kr. 38.708 Austrian sch. 22.262 Spanish peseta 1.857 Port. Escudo 1.543

(L.G.)


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