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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-04-22

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, 22/04/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece reaffirms support for Cyprus' defence
  • Athens denies reports of Dayton-type conference for Cyprus
  • Karamanlis' condition worsens
  • World Earth Day celebrated today
  • Medical journal highlights risks from smoking
  • Swiss say Roussel allegation over kidnap plot baseless
  • CoE's Human Rights Commission on ex-king's complaint
  • Stephanopoulos on official visit to Hungary
  • Greek stocks hit new record, jump 7.32 pct
  • Tax squad finds barrage of offences in March swoop
  • International lawyers Clyde & Co. open office in Piraeus
  • Greek farm minister questions EU's tobacco policy
  • Greece launches new bond trading market tomorrow
  • AEK of Athens in Eurobasket final
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece reaffirms support for Cyprus' defence

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos reiterated yesterday that Greece would stand by Cyprus in the face of Turkish threats and the on- going occupation of one-third of the island republic by Ankara's forces.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos made the statements following discussions with visiting US Defence Secretary William Cohen, who arrived for a brief stopover in Athens for talks on issues of mutual interest after winding up a five-day tour of eastern Europe and the Middle East. Their meeting lasting for more than an hour and continued during a working lunch.

"Greece, as a guarantor power, is concerned about the security of Cyprus and will stand by it in the defence of rights as long as there is a threat, whether from Turkish occupation troops on the island or from the refusal of Turkey to contribute to the ending of the military occupation and to an acceptable resolution of the Cypriot problem," the Greek defence minister stated in a joint press conference after their talks.

The Greek defence minister said that the deployment of Russian S-300 missiles on Cyprus was solely the concern of the Cypriot government, which was the only authority able to decide on the issue.

Mr. Cohen said he did not ask for Greece's help in averting a deployment of the missiles on the island but said such a deployment would be a mistake, while noting Greece's desire to find a solution to the problem. He added that ways must be found to bring Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots to talks.

Turning to Greek-Turkish relations, Mr. Cohen said it was "a shame" that Greece and Turkey were not exploiting the chances open to them, such as proposals by the NATO secretary-general on a moratorium.

The two also discussed the Greek military's multi-million dollar armaments procurement programme.

Mr. Cohen said that the US was not discouraging Greece from any arms purchase but that the modernisation of the Greek armed forces was an issue he disucssed with Tsohatzopoulos and expressed his country's wish that it could help in this direction.

Mr. Cohen also officially invited Mr. Tsohatzopoulos to visit Washington for a continuation of their talks.

Athens denies reports of Dayton-type conference for Cyprus

Athens yesterday denied reports that a Dayton-type peace conference on the Cyprus issue was being considered.

"There is no such issue," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas told reporters.

Referring to recent activity on the Cyprus issue, he said the government "could not have a negative stance on the interest being expressed by various sides."

He added, however, that a resolution of the Cyprus problem had to be based on United Nations resolutions and summit agreements made between late Cypriot President Archbishop Makarios and leader of the Turkish Cypriots, Rauf Denktash.

He reiterated that it was a sovereign right of the Cypriot government to decide on the purchase of Russian S-300 missiles.

Karamanlis' condition worsens

Former president Constantine Karamanlis' condition is worsening, according to a short announcement from his doctors yesterday.

The statement, issued at midday, said that Mr. Karamanlis' condition was listed as "extremely critical".

Mr. Karamanlis suffered renal failure late Monday night and doctors were reported to have said that the former president's health was at its lowest ebb since he was admitted to the hospital on April 7.

The 91-year-old statesman was admitted to the Hygeia Hospital with a respiratory infection.

"We cannot do any more than what we have already done," one of Mr. Karamanlis' doctors was reported to have said.

World Earth Day celebrated today

As environmental problems are increasing and becoming more universal, World Earth Day is celebrated around the globe today, providing for an insight into the need to protect the environment and implement sustainable development for the entire planet.

In a message to mark the occasion, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Undersecretary Theodoros Koliopanos underlined the need for efforts to boost economies in order to take into consideration two major preconditions to achieve sustainability.

One of them, said Mr. Koliopanos, "relates to social justice, so that development can provide employment and humane conditions for life and work, irrespective of people's nationality and sex".

The other precondition, marked by the World Earth Day, according to the undersecretary, regarded the use of natural resources in order to preserve the planet's natural heritage intact for the next generations.

The World Wildlife Fund - Hellas (WWF) organisation also issued a message, saying that Greece was also celebrating, as it was a unique country in terms of its wide environmental variety.

Medical journal highlights risks from smoking

More than half a million people die from smoking-related diseases each year, according to a paper in this month's European Respiratory Journal.

The article, which brings together research from across the European Union, also states that lung cancer in women has increased fourfold over the past 30 years. This is almost entirely due to their increase in tobacco use.

On the eve of today's EU vote to ban tobacco advertising across Europe, Prof. Charis Roussos, president of the European Respiratory Society, highlighted research which details what the group says is the tobacco industry's tactics to lure young children into smoking.

Prof. Roussos, in a press release from Athens yesterday, said:

"Banning tobacco advertising is essential for reducing the risk of more children taking up this fatal habit. Cigarettes are more lethal than handguns, hard drugs, AIDS and car accidents combined. There is no question, tobacco advertising must be banned. "

The ERS is lobbying the European Parliament to ensure that the proposed ban on tobacco advertising becomes law.

Swiss say Roussel allegation over kidnap plot baseless

The Onassis Foundation yesterday released a statement citing a decision by a Geneva public prosecutor who found allegations by Thierry Roussel regarding attempted kidnapping plots targetting his daughter Athina, the primary heir to the huge Onassis fortune, completely baseless.

"...the malicious accusations of Roussel about the alleged attempted kidnapping of Athina have also been proven, as expected, false and the entire case has been placed on file," a statement read

"By decision of the Public Prosecutor of Geneva, dated 17 April 1998, and communicated to the Supervising Authority of the Guardianship Authority of the Oberengadine, namely, the District Court of Maloya, the malicious accusations of Roussel about the a lleged attempted kidnapping of Athina have also been proven, as expected, false and the entire case has been placed on file," the announcement from the Greek members of the Onassis board added.

"The referenced criminal procedure which has been communicated to our authority on 6 April 1998 has established with certainty that no project or plan has been conceived for the kidnapping of Athina Roussel," the public prosecutor said.

CoE's Human Rights Commission on ex-king's complaint

The European Human Rights Commission of the Council of Europe (CoE) held a hearing yesterday on the admissibility and merits of a complaint brought by ex-king Constantine and eight members of his family regarding the confiscation of one-time royal property by Greece in May 1994.

Following deliberations, the Commission - comprised of 19 members - declared admissible Constantine's complaint concerning the property issue, but at the same time rejected as inadmissible his petition regarding a requirement by the Greek state that as urname should be acquired and used by him and the members of his family as a condition of access to courts, and for continued recognition of their Greek nationality and passports.

The Commission will now consider the merits of the petition and place itself at the disposal of the parties with a view to achieving an amicable settlement of the matter on the basis of respect for human rights. If it succeeds in effecting an amicable settlement, then the Commission will prepare a report to the Committee of Ministers of the CoE, containing a brief statement of the facts and the solution reached.

If a solution is not reached, the Commission will draw up a report of the facts and state its opinion as to whether the facts disclose a breach by the Greek government of its obligations under the Convention.

Greek Culture Minister and constitutional law expert Evangelos Venizelos, who had proposed legislation to settle "the royal property issue", said that the entire Greek people were aware of the fact that the relevant law of the Greek state was not a gainst any member of the ex-royal family and was neither of a personal or economic nature.

The minister added that in Greece, as in other countries as well, the fate of the royal property was left up to the people to take the final decision by voting for the political system of their choice.

"The insistence exhibited by certain people to regard the specific issue as a mere property or private issue, showed lack of respect for the nation's history..." he said.

Stephanopoulos on official visit to Hungary

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos leaves for a three-day state visit to Hungary today at his Hungarian counterpart's invitation. The Greek president will hold private talks with Hungarian President Arpad Goncz and other leaders, while he will also inaugurate a Greek-Hungarian business conference.

Mr. Stephanopoulos' discussions are expected to include bilateral relations and Budapest's application to join Euro-Atlantic structures, which Athens supports.

Mr. Stephanopoulos will also visit the ethnic Greek village of Beloyiannis and will address the country's Parliament.

Greek stocks hit new record, jump 7.32 pct

Greek equities hit another record yesterday after the four-day Orthodox Easter holiday.

Traders said the market welcomed last week's news of a merger between state National Bank of Greece and its subsidiary Mortgage Bank, further expanding the country's largest banking group.

Buying focused on the banking sector which showed most share prices hitting the day's 8.0 percent limit up with the exception of Macedonian-Thrace Bank and Mortgage Bank.

The general index soared 7.32 percent to end at 2,627.90 points. Analysts expect the market to test the 3,000 level soon.

Trading was heavy with turnover at 100.1 billion drachmas. Sector indices scored gains.

Banks rose 7.43 percent, Insurance ended 6.44 percent up, Investment increased 7.65 percent, Leasing was 3.54 percent higher, Industrials rose 7.27 percent, Construction was 7.21 percent up, Miscellaneous rose 4.96 percent and Holding increased 7.33 per cent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 6.61 percent.

The FTSE/ASE 20 blue chip index soared 7.51 percent to 1,569.30.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 250 to 13 with another 8 issues unchanged.

National Bank of Greece, Ergobank, Commercial Bank, Ionian Bank, General Bank, Alpha Credit Bank, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation, Heracles Cement, Titan, Hellenic Bottling and Altec scored the biggest percentage gains.

General Warehouse, Athinea, Ippotour and Thessaliki suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 50,112 drachmas, Ergobank at 28,350, Alpha Credit Bank at 29,160, Delta Dairy at 4,822, Titan Cement at 27,864, Intracom at 20,900 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 10,152 drachmas in heavy volume of 1,500 ,000 issues.

Tax squad finds barrage of offences in March swoop

The financial crimes squad reported yesterday that it found 2,649 cases of tax evasion in the north of the country during raids it carried out in March.

The squad, which belongs to the finance ministry, said that in 617 cases businesses had failed to issue sales receipts endorsed by tax authorities; in eleven, no invoices were issued; 57 enterprises failed to keep books; 33 kept two sets of books; 27 liquid fuel outlets issued no distribution invoices; and in 249 cases no tickets were issued for entry to night clubs.

The financial crimes inspectors have been ordered to step up their on-the- spot checks.

International lawyers Clyde & Co. open office in Piraeus

International lawyers Clyde & Co. have opened an office in the port of Piraeus, reflecting the importance of Greece as a centre for shipping, the firm said in a statement yesterday.

The new Piraeus office is headed by Martin Hall, a specialist in salvage, collision and casualty work who has many years of experience acting for Greek owners. Mr. Hall will be supported by five colleagues with a Greek portfolio, a local lawyer and a ship's master.

The office hopes to serve the firm's shipping contacts in Greece and throughout the eastern Mediterranean.

Greek farm minister questions EU's tobacco policy

Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas yesterday criticised the European Union's policy on tobacco saying it was ironic to promote support for tobacco growers, at the same time opposing smoking.

Speaking at an EU farm council meeting in Luxembourg to discuss the Agenda 2000 programme for the bloc's eastward expansion,Mr. Tzoumakas said that if Europe really wanted to reduce smoking it had to take measures to shrink its tobacco industry.

Turning to olive oil, he rejected a Commission proposal to freeze EU spending at 1992 levels.

Greece and Italy agreed that a lasting reform plan for the sector should be agreed as soon as possible. Spain sought to delay agreement on the plan, apparently to reap the benefits of substantial investments in the olive oil industry.

Greece launches new bond trading market tomorrow

Greece is to launch an electronic secondary trading market tomorrow for fixed-income securities.

Eligible for trade on the market at 10.00-14.00 local time on Monday-Friday, are the following:

  • Greek state drachma bonds
  • Corporate bonds
  • Bonds issued by international organisations
  • Greek state bond loans

In the first phase of operation only paper securities will be traded, and in the second phase, securities in purely electronic form.

Brokerages and banks will trade in the market, whose creation is expected to boost turnover in fixed-income securities and spur the switch away from paper form.

AEK of Athens in Eurobasket final

AEK of Athens set up another Greek Final Four triumph in Barcelona yesterday with a 69-66 victory over Italy's Benetton Treviso in a semi- final match for the European Champions' League. It plays against Kinder Bologna in Thursdsay's final match.

WEATHER

Mostly fair weather is forecast in most parts of Greece today with a possibility of showers in the northeast of the country from the afternoon. Winds variable, moderate to strong. Athens will be sunny with temperatures between 11-23C. Scattered clouds in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 9- 22C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's closing rates (buying): U.S. dollar 308.958 British pound 517.586 Japanese Yen(100) 234.310 French franc 51.300 German mark 171.864 Italian lira (100) 17.384 Irish Punt 433.821 Belgian franc 8.331 Finnish mark 56.641 Dutch guilder 152.669 Danish kr. 45.071 Austrian sch. 24.428 Spanish peseta 2.023 Swedish kr. 40.158 Norwegian kr. 41.364 Swiss franc 206.733 Port. Escudo 1.675 AUS dollar 200.404 Can. dollar 216.077 Cyprus pound 591.232

(C.E.)


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