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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-04-03

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, 03/04/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Increased activity over Cyprus issue this weekend
  • WEU military chiefs to meet in Athens on Monday
  • New frigate for Greek navy arrives next week
  • Kranidiotis addresses conference on Greece's Mideast policy
  • Another Greek cemetery desecrated in Turkey
  • Beis to run in Athens mayoral race, PASOK condemns move
  • Talks over Olympic's future restart
  • US senate approves abolition of visa requirement for Greeks
  • Greek stocks edge up in wake of correction
  • Greece's Boutaris bids for FYROM brewery
  • EU calls for better absorption of funds by Greece
  • Greece, Algeria sign trade agreement
  • First Mediterranean Special Olympic Games in Athens
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Increased activity over Cyprus issue this weekend

US State Department Coordinator for Cyprus, Tom Miller, has said efforts to settle the protracted Cyprus problem have reached a very critical point. At the same time, Russia's special envoy for Cyprus, Vladimir Tchizhov did not rule out a meeting with his US counterpart Richard Holbrooke, as they will be on a coinciding visits to the island republic over the weekend.

Tchizhov said this after talks in Athens yesterday with Greek Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis.

Speaking after a 75-minute meeting with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides yesterday, ahead of a visit by Mr. Holbrooke, Mr. Miller said "we're making some very serious efforts to try to be helpful."

The US diplomat will meet Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash this morning and is expected to have a second meeting either with Mr. Clerides or Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides later on in the day.

Asked if he sees the possibility of a meeting between President Clerides and Mr. Denktash, Miller replied he did not think so.

"I would never preclude any possibility but that is not what the effort is about," he added.

Replying to a question if they are bringing any ideas, the US diplomat said "we've got a number of ideas but I prefer to discuss those inside."

Mr. Miller refrained from replying to a question if most of the ideas deal with the security issue, but said that "security is one of the core issues in any settlement in Cyprus."

"I think that you all understand what our efforts are all about, this is very serious and I think it's a very critical point that we've reached at this point of time," he said.

Invited to comment on an editorial in the "Washington Post", that Cyprus' accession talks with the European Union will have a negative effect on efforts to settle the Cyprus problem, Mr. Miller said "we're not in the EU and it's not productive for us to comment on that."

UN-led efforts to solve the Cyprus problem have reached a deadlock because Mr. Denktash insists on recognition of his illegal regime unilaterally established in 1983, in the areas occupied by Turkish troops since they invaded the island in 1974.

The Turkish Cypriot leader told UN Secretary General's special advisor for Cyprus last month he will not return to the negotiating table unless he is on an equal footing with President Clerides.

Mr. Holbrooke, the US diplomatic troubleshooter who brokered the Bosnia peace agreement, is due in Nicosia today in order to attempt to revive stalled intercommunal talks. He will hold separate meetings, first with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash a nd then with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides.

Mr. Tchizhov said he did not feel more optimistic after a meeting here yesterday with Turkish Cypriot leader Denktash.

The Russian envoy described his meeting with President Clerides as "useful and interesting" but pointed out he was not optimistic Mr. Denktash would abandon his demand for recognition of his illegal regime.

The Turkish Cypriot leader has refused to participate in bi-communal talks aiming at a Cyprus settlement, unless the illegal regime unilaterally declared in the Turkish-occupied part of the island in 1983 receives recognition.

Mr. Denktash's puppet state is not recognised by any other state but Turkey.

Commenting on the issue of S-300 missiles, purchased by the Cyprus government and expected to be deployed on the island later this year, Mr. Tchizhov said it was not the purpose of his visit to Cyprus.

Asked to comment on the US opposition to the deployment of S-300, the Russian envoy stressed: "There is another good way" of achieving that, pointing out to Mr. Clerides' proposal for demilitarisation of the island.

WEU military chiefs to meet in Athens on Monday

The 18-nation West European Union's (WEU) general staff chiefs' session will be held in Athens on Tuesday. Greece holds the WEU's rotating six- month presidency.

The session will focus on issues concerning the upgrading of the organisation's operational capacity. Among others, issues to be examined regard the future role and duties of the WEU's planning group, participation of associate members in the meetings of the military representatives group, who are preoccupied with the WEU's exercises policy, and the WEU's military exercises doctrine.

The session will be chaired by Greek National Defence General Staff Chief Gen. Athanasios Tzoganis and will be attended by the WEU's secretary- general, the 18 WEU national general staff chiefs, military representatives of the 10 full members, the three as sociate members, the seven observer states as well as the WEU's planning department director and satellite centre director.

New frigate for Greek navy arrives next week

The frigate "Kountouriotis" will reach the Salamina naval base on Monday for an inauguration ceremony, in the presence of the country's political and military leaderships.

The MEKO 200-class frigate is the sixth to be inducted into the Hellenic Navy. Meanwhile, a Turkish frigate yesterday approached four Hellenic Navy minesweepers at a distance of roughly 1,000 metres and as they were sailing just off northern Evia in the framework of the "Kataigida" naval exercise.

The Turkish frigate was apparently observing the Greek exercise.

Kranidiotis addresses conference on Greece's Mideast policy

Speaking yesterday at a two-day conference in Athens, Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis referred to the orientations of Greek foreign policy in the Middle East. "Securing peace and security in southeastern Mediterranean region is one of the main targets of Greece's foreign policy," he said, adding that the main waterways leading to and from Greece cross the region and a crisis in the Middle East would create chain reactions.

The second target is the maintenance of existing balances in the Middle East at the level of countries in the region and at the level of forces which can affect the region's entire edifice and, lastly, Greece's target is to bring the countries of the Middle East closer to western Europe, facilitating cooperation between the two coasts of the Mediterranean.

On the first day of the conference yesterday, attended by PASOK deputy Anastasios Peponis, prospects were examined for closer relations between the European Union and the eastern Mediterranean by PASOK Eurodeputy Yiannis Roubatis, the presidential commissioner of Cyprus Manolis Christofides, the studies director of Rome's International Relations Institute Roberto Aliboni, Alberto Bin from the political affairs- Mediterranean-NATO department, journalist Yiannis Kartalis and Palestinian professor Manouel Hasasian.

The event was organised by the Philip Morris Institute, the Lambrakis Studies Foundation and the Greek European and Foreign Policy Foundation at the Concert Hall, and under the auspices of the foreign ministry.

Another Greek cemetery desecrated in Turkey

The government yesterday described as "a barbaric act" the desecration of a Greek cemetery in Istanbul early Tuesday morning.

"The desecrators remain unknown, just as those who have perpetrated such acts in the past against churches and cemeteries of the Greek community (in Turkey) also remain unknown," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

The spokesman said "such deplorable acts must be dealt with decisively because they are blemishes on culture and institutions and should not leave the international community indifferent".

Mr. Reppas expressed a hope that Turkish police will "this time" prove to be more effective.

Guards at the Kourtoulous cemetery said yesterday that the desecration was the work of at least four persons, according to an ANA dispatch from Istanbul.

They said some of the gravestones that were moved were so heavy that they could not have been lifted by one person.

Vandals desecrated the Greek cemetery at Neohorio on the Bosporus in September 1993, while another cemetery in the Istanbul suburb of Kanitili was the target of desecrators last year.

No arrests were ever made.

Beis to run in Athens mayoral race, PASOK condemns move

Former Athens mayor and PASOK deputy Dimitris Beis yesterday announced his candidacy for the Greek capital's top municipal post, a move that drew immediate criticism from the ruling PASOK party.

PASOK is officially supporting one-time Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader and current deputy Maria Damanaki in her bid to become Athens' mayor.

"PASOK's leading group, together with a section of Synaspismos, have opted for Damanaki with the only aim of promoting a different 'political game'," Mr. Beis said.

He stressed that his candidacy was an authentic expression of PASOK and its founder, Andreas Papandreou, and that the current PASOK leadership was trying, "with threats and obstacles, to gag an independent political voice which does not bow to a system. "

He pointed out that Ms Damanaki had played a leading role in Andreas Papandreou's referral to a special court in 1989, as well as her refusal to support current Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos' candidacy for the municipality in 1994. That election resulted in the election of incumbent mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, who was sponsored by the main opposition New Democracy party.

Both the ruling party leadership and government spokesman Dimitris Reppas condemned Mr. Beis' decision to stand again.

PASOK has decided to back Ms Damanaki's candidacy, and "it is self-evident that any other candidacy is categorically condemned by the movement (PASOK), " a party statement read.

The former Athens mayor has also served as secretary of the party's Parliamentary group.

Talks over Olympic's future restart

Olympic Airways' management and union representatives did not make any statements after emerging from a meeting yesterday, in which discussions focused on a new proposed labour regulation, collective bargaining agreements and the proposed abolition of meal bonuses for staff.

It transpired, however, that details were decided on the procedure for re- commencing dialogue, which is expected today.

Meanwhile, Parliament's competent committee approved the goverment's draft bill on streamlining the airline, after sharp exchanges and tense confrontations between government and opposition deputies.

Transport Minister Tassos Mantelis refused to be drawn on whether he would accept changes to a draft bill when it comes up for debate in the plenum next week. He also said that the state would settle all its debts to the airline within two months, and would retain control of 51 per cent of the loss-making company.

US Senate approves abolition of visa requirement for Greeks

The US-based National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (NCEH) yesterday announced that the US Senate voted on Wednesday to waive visa requirements for Greek citizens.

NCEH President Andrew E. Manatos said that "late last night the US Senate took a final Congressional action, which will allow Greek citizens to visit the US without a visa, beginning in a few weeks or months."

He added that "in doing so, the Senate overturned its previous position which would have required Greece to continue its visa programme for two more years. This bill will now be sent to the President for his signature and implementation."

Mr. Manatos said that this development was realised by the timely work of Senators Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts), Spencer Abraham (R-Michigan), and US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns.

Greek stocks edge up in wake of correction

Greek equities yesterday moved tentatively higher on the Athens Stock Exchange reversing a two-day correction. Traders said investors were particularly interested in small capitalisation companies, pushing the parallel index 3.77 percent higher.

The market's general index rose 0.31 percent to 1,995 points with sector indices ending mixed.

Banks rose 0.94 percent, Insurance increased 0.98 percent, Leasing dropped 0.59 percent, Investment ended 0.99 percent up, Construction fell 0.71 percent, Industrials eased 0.47 percent, Miscellaneous soared 4.65 percent and Holding was 1.0 percent up.

The FTSE/ASE-20 blue chip index rose 0.26 percent to 1,175.53 points.

Trading was heavy with turnover at 55 billion drachmas.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 124 to 99 with another 32 issues unchanged.

Metrolife, Euromedica, Follie-Follie, Sysware, Teletypos, Phaliro Medical and Ippotour scored the biggest percentage gains at the day's 8.0 percent limit up. Demetriadis, Lanakam, Etma and Ekter suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 35,500 drachmas, Ergobank at 22,605, Alpha Credit Bank at 23,650, Delta Dairy at 3,365, Titan Cement at 22,350, Intracom at 18,500 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 7, 800.

In the domestic foreing exchange market the drachma was weaker against the Ecu and the DMark.

Greece's Boutaris bids for FYROM brewery

Greece's Boutaris winemaker has bid for a 51 percent stake in Bitola brewery, one of the largest companies in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

FYROM's government privatisation service has valued its assets at 3.5 million marks.

Other presumed bidders in the brewery's sale are MTI of Switzerland and Fosters of Australia.

The deadline for bids is April 10, and Bitola's new owners will be announced on April 11.

EU calls for better absorption of funds by Greece

European Union social affairs commissioner Padraig Flynn yesterday urged Greece to speed up efforts to fully absorb EU social funds because the country needed to invest in human resources.

Responding to a question by Greek Euro MP Mihalis Papayiannakis on Greece's absorption rate, Mr. Flynn said that outstanding funds to support programmes on improving education, combatting long-term unemployment and modernising public administration tota lled 1,770 million Ecus (632 billion drachmas).

He said he hoped that the government would upgrade its programme on human resources by June.

Greece, Algeria sign trade agreement

Greek and Algerian commerce authorities yesterday signed a bilateral economic and trade agreement at a seminar in Athens attended by businessmen from both countries. The agreement was signed by the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (OPE) and Algeria's commerce and industry chamber.

OPE chairman, Yiannis Tzen, said that the deal sets the foundation for permanent cooperation between the two countries.

National Economy Undersecretary Alekos Baltas reassured the Algerian delegation that the Greek government would continue efforts to upgrade bilateral economic and trade relations to the same level as existing cultural ties.

The Algerian delegation presented the seminar with its investment policy and incentives, the government's privatisation programme, plans to reform the banking system and opportunities in its energy sector.

First Mediterranean Special Olympic Games in Athens

The first Mediterranean Special Olympic Games will take place in Greece from April 5-9, officials announced.

The 1,420 athletes from 25 countries will participate in track and field events, basketball, and swimming, among others, while 380 volunteer coaches will also assist.

Special Olympics Hellas President Andreas Potamianos said that about 5,000 athletes participate in programmes in Greece.

WEATHER

Partly cloudy weather is forecast for most parts of Greece today. Local fog in the morning. Winds will be westerly, light to moderate in the south and western regions. Athens will be partly cloudy with temperatures between 7- 19C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 4-18C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's closing rates (buying): U.S. dollar 320.237 British pound 536.236 Japanese Yen(100) 239.598 French franc 51.727 German mark 173.302 Italian lira (100) 17.579 Irish Punt 435.488 Belgian franc 8.403 Finnish mark 57.102 Dutch guilder 153.785 Danish kr. 45.471 Austrian sch. 24.634 Spanish peseta 2.044 Swedish kr. 39.936 Norwegian kr. 41.864 Swiss franc 209.223 Port. Escudo 1.691 AUS dollar 209.768 Can. dollar 225.482 Cyprus pound 596.271

(C.E.)


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