Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-04-16
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 16/04/1998 (ANA)
- Close Greek-Bulgarian ties reaffirmed
- Greece to train Armenian officers
- US State Dept. condemns new Turkish threats against Cyprus
- Black Sea Bank governor briefs Greek minister
- 'Treasures of Mt. Athos' exhibit ends April 30
- Poaching on Ionian islands decried
- New Cyprus ambassador to Greece
- Film Festival on Lesvos
- Greenpeace activists charged with disturbing the peace
- Current account deficit rises 6.5 pct in 1997
- Greek stocks jump 3.22 pct on govt's privatisation plan
- Tourism federations call for creation of chamber
- EU: Greece ready to absorb Santer package funds
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Close Greek-Bulgarian ties reaffirmed
Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday that his visit to Bulgaria
this week was another step on the road to bring Balkan countries closer.
Speaking to reporters at a joint news conference held with his Bulgarian
counterpart Ivan Kostov at the end of his two-day official yesterday he
said that his talks with the Bulgarian leadership had been "cordial and
friendly" and had provided an opportunity to define "joint efforts to
resolve problems". There is agreement, he said, on the general framework of
policy which should underpin relations in the region and said Greece had
always supported Bulgaria's desire to join the European Union.
"The Balkans must be an area of friendship, peace, cooperation and
development, without opposition, axes and alliance-building which create
dividing lines," Mr. Simitis said, adding that the participation of Balkan
countries in NATO would be a prelude to regional security.
He called bilateral relations with Sofia "right and good" and that
agreement had been reached that the Bulgarian Parliament would ratify a
bill on the avoidance of double taxation.
There was also agreement on pursuing pacts on the waters of the Nestos
River and stepping up the pace of construction of border posts and the
He said experts would be meeting on the issue of the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis
pipeline at the beginning of May and that Sofia and Athens were awaiting
clarifications from the Russian side on financing and other issues.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov expressed his gratitude for Greece's
support for Bulgaria's bids to join the EU and NATO and said that there
were prospects for more economic cooperation, citing infrastructure
projects and Greek assistance in constructing a bridge over the Danube.
Both prime ministers said that tension in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo
must be resolved through political means.
Mr. Simitis said Balkan countries needed to keep in touch on this issue to
work on joint political moves and that he and Mr. Kostov favoured the
creation of a Balkan rapid deployment force, although discussion had not
extended to where the force would be based.
A joint communique issued at the end of the talks said the deepening of
Bugarian-Greek relations was a strong contributing factor to the consolidation
of peace and stability in the broader region.
"Greece fully supports the Bulgarian aspiration to join the EU and
"They underline the need to forward proposals and ideas concerning land and
sea trade routes linking the Danube and Central Europe with the Aegean, the
Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Black Sea. In this context they
stressed the importance of linking the Paneuropean Crete Corridors IV, VIII,
IX with the Transeuropean Corridor of Egnatia," the communique added.
The two delegations expressed satisfaction with the prospects of opening
three new border crossing points and the agreement regarding distribution
of the Mesta/Nestos river waters.
"They also agreed to increase cooperation between the respective police
forces and relevant institutions for the combat of organized crime,
terrorism, illegal drugs and arms trafficking.
Greece to train Armenian officers
Greece and Armenia yesterday signed a technical agreement for the training
of Armenian officers at Greek military academies.
The accord was signed after talks on bilateral defence cooperation between
Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis and his visiting Armenian
counterpart Vahan Shirkhantan.
The two men also discussed the general political situation in the wider
region, as well as collaboration within the framework of the NATO-sponsored
"Partnership for Peace" programme.
Mr. Shirkhantan later met with Greek military chief Gen. Athanasios
Tzoganis and National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos.
The Greek defence minister expressed hope that bilateral cooperation
between Greece and Armenia will help in a peaceful solution to the problem
of Nagorno-Karabakh, as soon as possible, on the basis of principles of
justice and mutual respect for the rights of peoples in the region.
US State Dept. condemns new Turkish threats against Cyprus
The United States yesterday criticised Turkey for its renewed threats
against Cyprus over its decision to deploy Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft
missiles on the island republic.
"The problem with the missiles cannot be resolved with use of threats," US
State Department spokesman James Rubin told reporters.
"We have encouraged Turkey to approach the issue of the S-300 missiles in a
diplomatic manner and to avoid threats of destroying them by military means,
" Mr. Rubin added.
He nevertheless expressed US opposition to the deployment of the missiles.
A Turkish foreign ministry spokesman on Tuesday said Turkey's policy
concerning the missiles issue has not and will not change, reminding
statements by Turkish officials last year that Ankara would oppose by all
means the deployment.
The S-300 missiles are scheduled to arrive on the island later in the
summer, after an agreement was reached between Nicosia and Moscow in
Black Sea Bank governor briefs Greek minister
The governor of the Black Sea Commercial and Development Bank, Ersoy Volkan,
met yesterday in Thessaloniki with Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippos
Petsalnikos, whom he briefed on preparations for the multi-national bank's
Both men agreed that the Thessaloniki-based development bank should play an
important role in relation to development and investement activities in the
Balkans and Black Sea region.
Mr. Petsalnikos assured the Mr. Volkan that his ministry will do anything
it could to assist in efforts.
'Treasures of Mt. Athos' exhibit ends April 30
The highly successful "Treasures of Mount Athos" exhibition will officially
end at Thessaloniki's Byzantine Museum on April 30, with hundreds of
priceless manuscripts, artifacts and icons set to return to participating
monasteries on the autonomous monast ic community.
The exhibition will be open from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow - Orthodox
Good Friday - and from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Holy Saturday, with free
Poaching on Ionian islands decried
The Greek Ornithological Society (EOE) issued an announcement yesterday
referring to poaching of thousands of migratory birds on Ionian islands,
particularly Zakinthos, Strofadia, Paxoi and Antipaxoi.
EOE said that many local people are equally to blame since they either hunt
themselves or rent "good spots" to poachers from other areas.
In 1997, EOE requested the intervention of the state without, however, the
situation being remedied. This year, the intervention of forestry, port and
police authorities was requested since March 23 and a mobilisation has
already begun by the merchant marine ministry and the public order
However, initial reports show that the carnage is being repeated.
New Cyprus ambassador to Greece
The Cyprus Republic's new ambassador to Greece, Christodoulos Pashiardis,
yesterday presented his credentials to President of the Republic Kostis
Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis was among officials present at
Mr. Pashiardis later had a meeting with Mr. Stephanopoulos, during which
they discussed the latest developments regarding the Cyprus problem and the
republic's European Union course.
Mr. Pashiardis succeeds Mr. Charalambos Christoforou who has retired.
Film festival on Lesvos
Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Lesvos prefect Alekos Mathiellis
yesterday signed a contract for the holding of an annual international film
festival on the Aegean island beginning 1999.
The "International Creative Documentary Film Festival" is expected be held
each spring in Mytilene and surrounding villages.
Mr. Mathiellis said in an announcement its cost will be 90 million drachmas,
50 per cent of which will be financed by the culture ministry.
Greenpeace activists charged with disturbing the peace
Twenty-two Greenpeace activists arrested on Tuesday at a protest over
genetically altered soya were bound over yesterday for trial on July 3 on
charges of disturbing the peace.
The 22 activists, including two German nationals, were among 30 who had
blockaded a major soy mill plant near the Corinth Canal in protest over
genetically altered soya.
The activists of the international environmental advocacy group blocked the
gates of the Soy Mills Co., demanding an end to the importation of
genetically altered products.
Greenpeace demands that consumers be provided only with unaltered
foodstuffs. Greek and German activists taking part in the protest erected a
huge banner outside the facility stating: "Genetic Danger Stop".
A Greenpeace official later said that Soy Mills Co. cannot guarantee a non-
genetically altered supply for supermarkets, consumers, food industries and
According to a Greenpeace, more than 300,000 tons of soy beans are consumed
in Greece annually, while the genetic alterations were induced with the use
of non-edible organisms.
Current account deficit rises 6.5 pct in 1997
The current account deficit rose by 6.5 percent in 1997 to total 4.8
billion dollars from 4.5 billion in 1996, the Bank of Greece said
The central bank also said that foreign currency reserves were 20.4 billion
dollars at the end of March 1998, up from 13.3 billion dollars in December
The bank attributed the rise to the drachma's entry into the European
Union's exchange rate mechanism on March 14.
Greek stocks jump 3.22 pct on govt's privatisation plan
Greek equities yesterday jumped to their 13th record close in the last 22
sessions on the Athens Stock Exchange reflecting strong foreign buying in
Traders said the market welcomed the government's intention to move forward
with its ambitious privatisation programme.
Foreign investors were once again particularly active in the aftermath of
the Easter holiday in the rest of Europe. Greek markets are closed for
Greek Orthodox Good Friday on April 17, and for Easter Monday on April 20.
The general index ended 3.22 pe rcent higher at 2,339.28 points with all
sector indices scoring gains.
Banks rose 3.71 percent, Insurance was 2.19 percent up, Leasing soared 8.0
percent, Investment ended 3.86 percent up, Construction rose 2.04 percent,
Industrials increased 1.23 perc ent, Miscellaneous was 3.99 percent up and
Holding rose 3.28 percent.
The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 4.53 percent
The FTSE/ASE 20 blue chip index jumped 3.36 percent to 1,394.52.
Trading was extremely heavy with turnover at 96.9 billion drachmas.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 186 to 57 with another 21 issues
Hellenic Telecoms, Duty Free Shops, Mouriades, Vis,Selonda, Ionian Bank,
Bank of Piraeus, Eskimo, Balkan Export, ETBA Leasing, Alpha Leasing and
Intrasoft scored the biggest percentage gains at the day's 8.0 percent
Dane, Barba Stathis, Shelman and Rokas suffered the heaviest losses.
National Bank of Greece ended at 42,995 drachmas, Ergobank at 25,900, Alpha
Credit Bank at 26,500, Delta Dairy at 4,370, Titan Cement at 25,100,
Intracom at 19,700 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at a new
record close of 8,947 drachmas in h eavy volume of 2,208,650 shares.
Tourism federations call for creation of chamber
Tourism federations called for the creation of a tourism chamber to cover
the entire sector.
The proposal made by the country's tourism and travel agents' association,
HATTA, was included in a memorandum sent to Development Minister Vasso
Greek hoteliers were the only group to distance themselves rom the
EU: Greece ready to absorb Santer package funds - EU
Greece is ready to absorb monies from a fresh package of European Union
funds currently being drafted by the 15-nation bloc.
During a visit to Athens this month, EU Commission President Jacques Santer
said Greece had worked hard to make structural changes that would aid the
absorption of Community Support Framework (CSF) funds.
The Commission said in a report outlining the Greek economy in 1994-1997
that a recovery in private investments and the implementation of major
infrastructure works, coupled with a major improvement in absorption
mechanisms, meant the conditions were ri ght for use of CSF funds.
This applied to the absorption of credits, the repercussions on macroeconomic
indicators and the creation of permanent employment. "Greece will continue
to reap 17.6 percent of available monies from structural funds or the 5.4
trillion drachmas of its entitlement," Mr. Santer told a small group of
Greek and foreign correspondent s in a private briefing.
Saying structural funds would rise by 15 percent in 2000-2006, Mr. Santer
indicated that Greece could expect inflows of 6.2 trillion drachmas from
structural funds in that period while continuing to reap subsidies from the
European Social Fund and Cohesion Fund.
It would also receive a stake in 2.8 billion Ecus that are transferred each
year for restructuring in the agricultural economy. No radical change would
be made to current quotas for Mediterranean products, Mr. Santer said.
"For purely Mediterranean products proposals have been made but I do not
think that in the future these products will be in a disadvantageous
position to goods produced in the other EU countries," he said.
The EU expects to settle the allocation of the new CSF, or third Santer
package, by June 13, 1999 ahead of Euro-parliament elections.
Greece's government has set up a ministerial planning group to work out a
development plan for 2000-2006.
A key task will be to prepare for absorption of the third Santer package.
Deputy National Economy Minister Christos Pachtas has said the government
and EU had agreed that in 2000-2001 certain projects funded under the
second CSF, or Delors package of funds, will continue to receive monies
under the new Santer package.
Within a policy of overall development, the government's target is to give
priority to completion of major projects including a highway linking Patras
to Thessaloniki, a city ring road between Elefsina and Stavros, the railway
network and the northern branch of a highway on Crete.
"We have decided that certain key projects, which should be completed in
2000, such as the Rio-Andirrio bridge link, the Athens ringroad, the
Thessaloniki metro, the Egnatia Way, natural gas and the national land
registry will be the projects to straddle the old CSF and the new," Mr.
The Commission has released the following information on Greece:
Greece ranked eighth among EU member states in terms of absorption with a
32 percent rate of execution of projects in 1994-1996
Funds absorbed in 1994 were 120 billion drachmas; in 1995, 320 billion
drachmas; in 1996, 550 billion; and in 1997, 700 billion. The target in
1998 was absorption of 820 billion drachmas.
Fine weather with few clouds is forecast in most parts of the country today
with scattered showers in the northwest, central and northern Greece from
the afternoon. Winds variable, moderate to strong. Athens will be sunny
with few clouds and temperatures between 11-27C. Possibility of rain in the
evening in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 8-23C.
Wednesday's closing rates (buying): U.S. dollar 310.923
British pound 523.716 Japanese Yen(100) 239.489
French franc 51.411 German mark 172.320
Italian lira (100) 17.421 Irish Punt 435.111
Belgian franc 8.349 Finnish mark 56.760
Dutch guilder 152.956 Danish kr. 45.213
Austrian sch. 24.488 Spanish peseta 2.030
Swedish kr. 39.872 Norwegian kr. 41.325
Swiss franc 207.814 Port. Escudo 1.683
AUS dollar 201.753 Can. dollar 217.268
Cyprus pound 590.815