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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-07-30

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, 30/07/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greek loan rates to fall to 6.0-7.0 pct by spring 2000
  • Greece hopes border incident with Turkey was unintentional
  • EU approves Thessaloniki metro construction project
  • Greenpeace criticises air pollution in Thessaloniki
  • Ukrainian woman attempts suicide, suffers light injuries
  • Greek foreign minister receives US ambassador
  • Army officer found dead, apparently in hand-grenade blast
  • Gov't on cooperation with Nicosia
  • 13th World Basketball Championship: Brazil beats S. Korea
  • Balkan writers, translators to meet in Alexandroupolis
  • 13th World Basketball Championship: Greece beats Canada
  • Medical researcher on experimental vaccine for breast cancer
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greek loan rates to fall to 6.0-7.0 pct by spring 2000

Greek National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday that bank loan rates would fall to 6.0-7.0 percent by spring 2000 from 14.0-15.0 percent at present.

The minister was speaking after a meeting of the national statistics committee, which endorsed the government's plan for transition to the euro, the European Union's single currency.

Due to inadequate competition, banks had retained a wide spread between loan and deposit rates in order to hike their profits, Mr. Papantoniou said.

The outcome of entry into economic and monetary union would be fierce competition, which, in turn would drive down domestic deposit rates to match levels in other EU countries, he said.

Differentials between loan and deposit rates would fall to 2.0-4.0 percentage points from the current 7.0-8.0 percentage points.

"This is the case because the fall in loan rates will be greater than the fall in deposit rates," Mr. Papantoniou said.

Shifting to the euro would eliminate foreign exchange risk; and the fall in interest rates would lead to a rise in investments and a decline in unemployment.

Mr. Papantoniou also forecast that the rate of GDP growth from 2001 onwards would be 5.0-6.0 percent annually from 3.5-4.0 percent at present.

In order to join economic and monetary union by January 1, 2001, the government's target-date, a better performance was required in all sectors of the economy, he said.

The government's transition plan outlines how joining the euro will be effected, with special emphasis on the public sector, the financial sector and the Athens Stock Exchange.

Greece hopes border incident with Turkey was unintentional

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos expressed hope today that an Evros border incident on Tuesday afternoon in which Turkish border guards opened fire on a Greek patrol was not deliberate.

"I want to hope that yesterday's incident at Evros in which a Turkish patrol opened fire against a Greek patrol, which returned the fire in accordance with procedure, was not deliberate," Tsohatzopoulos told reporters after presenting 27 graduating officers of the Air Force Cadets Academy in Tatoi, including two women, with their diplomas.

Tsohatzopoulos added that it was an "isolated incident".

Turkish border guards opened fire against a Greek military patrol yesterday afternoon on Evros, marking the Greek-Turkish frontier in northern Greece, a Greek defence ministry source said earlier.

The source told ANA that the Greek patrol took cover behind trenches and returned the fire, which came from a Turkish military outpost 300 metres away.

No one was injured in the exchange, which lasted about 10 minutes.

The source said that the tension was defused when officers from both sides intervened and ordered the shooting to stop.

The incident was being investigated, the same source said, while Greek border guards were placed on alert in the region.

Asked to comment on the incident, the source did not rule out the possibility that the incident was "accidental, since it ended quickly and there was no continuation", but also did not rule out that it could have been "deliberate".

EU approves Thessaloniki metro construction project

The European Union has rejected objections to a project to build a metro from scratch for Thessaloniki, allowing the official appointment of a French-Greek consortium and the start of works, an EU source told the Athens News Agency.

At a meeting yesterday between EU Commissioners Christos Papoutsis and Mario Monti, it was confirmed that the government would in coming days be informed that the objections were to be formally shelved, the source said.

Greenpeace criticises air pollution in Thessaloniki

The air in the northern port city of Thessaloniki is highly polluted with carcinogenic emissions, micro-particles, nitrogen oxides and industrial pollutants, according to measurements carried out by the environmental organisation Greenpeace.

The organisation said in an announcement released today that the problem was a major one requiring immediate measures, since levels of air pollution frequently exceeded limits set by the European Union and the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the protection of public health.

Greenpeace proposes the implementation of a programme to reduce the number of kilometres travelled in total daily by vehicles in the city, the abolition of the use of diesel fuel by taxis, the immediate securing of funds for the operation of a tram network, substantial improvements to means of urban transport, incentives to encourage the purchase of vehicles with low fuel consumption, the use of "clean" technologies and implementation of energy-saving measures in industry and homes, and increased measures to protect surrounding forests, including Seik Sou, against fire and encroachment.

Ukrainian woman attempts suicide, suffers light injuries

A young Ukrainian woman attempted suicide today by leaping from the fifth floor apartment where she was being held captive in Thessaloniki prior to being forced into prostitution.

"I couldn't stand the shame and preferred to die," 22-year-old Katerina Jusuaya told police in the hospital where she was being treated for relatively light injuries.

Jusuaya told police that two Greeks, Constantine Zissis, 30 and A.P., both from Kastoria, had "bought" her along with another woman, Larisa Wilianova, 32, from Moldova from two unidentified foreigners.

She said the two Greeks were keeping them captive in the Thessaloniki apartment for the purpose of forcing them into prostitution. Jusuaya said she and Wilianova had been told they would be killed if they tried to escape.

After her suicide attempt, police forced their way into the apartment where they arrested Zizzis and A.P. and released Wilianova.

Greek foreign minister receives US ambassador

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos today received US Ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns with whom he discussed the recent tension in Greek-US relations, the course of Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus problem.

No statements were made after the 75-minute meeting.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas clarified however that the meeting had taken place at the request of the US envoy "within the framework of contact between Mr. Pangalos and diplomats".

According to informed sources, Pangalos told Burns that US initiatives on matters such as the Cyprus problem were welcome, provided they remained within the framework of international law.

A row broke out between the two NATO allies after a US official described the Turkish attack against Cyprus in 1974 as a "conflict" rather than an invasion of an independent UN member-state.

In subsequent statements, Pangalos raised temperatures by saying that President Bill Clinton's election campaign promises of a Cyprus settlement had proven to be a "gross lie".

Pangalos reportedly told Burns today that his statement was not intended as a personal attack against Clinton who, he said, enjoyed the respect of both himself and Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

According to the same sources, Pangalos said he merely wished to point out that statements made by presidential candidates did not coincide with their positions after elections.

After today's meeting, the sources said it was likely that announcements would be made in Athens and Washington aimed at restoring the climate in relations between the two countries.

Army officer found dead, apparently in hand-grenade blast

A 24-year-old army sergeant major was found dead in his car early today on Chios island, apparently killed in a handgrenade explosion, police said.

They said Constantine Korelis, who was serving at a signal unit on the island, was found dead in his car behind the Chios Airport.

Police said the type of hand-grenade responsible for Korelis' death was not used by the Greek Army.

Korelis was found with wounds all over his body and mutilated.

Police were investigating the possibility of suicide, but did ot rule out other possibilities.

A special explosives squad was called to search Korelis' apartment, as police feared the home may have been booby-trapped. But although the apartment was not wired, police found quantities of wires and clocks.

Gov't on cooperation with Nicosia

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday that the governments of Cyprus and Greece are cooperating very closely.

Mr. Reppas agreed with his Cypriot counterpart Christos Stylianides that the procurement of the Russian-made S-300 missile system falls within the joint defence doctrine.

National issues are handled by the Cypriot government after prior communication with the Greek government and both governments are always acting within the framework set by UN resolutions that now exceed 100, Mr. Reppas said.

A visit by the Cypriot National Council to Athens or a joint meeting under Prime Minister Costas Simitis have not been scheduled, Mr. Reppas concluded.

13th World Basketball Championship: Brazil beats S. Korea

South Korea nearly caused an upset on the second day of the 13th World Basketball Championship in Athens, only narrowly losing to Brazil 76-73 (halftime 45-40).

Puerto Rico, in their second game of the tournament which began yesterday, beat Japan 78-57 (halftime 39-32).

Balkan writers, translators to meet in Alexandroupolis

Several noted writers and translators from the Balkans are holding a first- ever meeting of its kind from Aug. 29 through Sept. 5 in Alexandroupolis.

The event is part of an effort to modernise libraries in the region of Evros, supported by the culture ministry, the Evros prefecture and the National Book and Translators' Centre.

An important role in this latest effort for regional communication is played by translators, while special emphasis is placed in a common workshop for writers and translators.

Among the personalities set to participate are Ismail Kadare, Kiki Demoula, Milomor Tzouganovic, Zyranna Zateli, Nedim Gursel, Vasilis Vasilikos, Blanca Dimitrova, Spyros Plaskovitis, Mlilisav Savic, Sotiris Demetriou, Mircea Kartaresku and Thanasis Valtinos, all of whom will meet in Alexandroupoli at the Workshop of Balkan Writers and Translators, organised by the National Book Center.

13th World Basketball Championship: Greece beats Canada

Greece beat Canada 78-72 (43-37 half time) in the late evening matchup during the first day yesterday of the 13th World Basketball Championship, held in Athens.

Prime Minister Costas Simitis and other high-ranking government members attended the game, played at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Faliro before a crowd of about 10,000.

Lithuania and Russia also got off to a flying start. Lithuania hammered South Korea 97-56 and Russia easily beat Japan 83-58.

USA had no problem in thrashing Brazil 83-59, Yugoslavia overwhelmed Puerto Rico 80-66, while Spain, despite initial difficulties, did not fall victim to surprise, beating Nigeria 80-68. Italy also faced difficulties with Senegal (36-35 at half-time) but managed to prevail 76-66.

Medical researcher on experimental vaccine for breast cancer

A noted Greek-Australian medical researcher yesterday stated on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos that the first test results of a breast cancer vaccine have shown positive results.

Vasso Apostolopoulou, who is on a visit to the island, noted that she is optimistic of the study's course but it will be another six years before the vaccine can be properly assessed.

WEATHER

Sunny weather and a slight drop in temperature is forecast throughout the country today. Moderate northerly winds towards evening with some scattered showers in northern Greece. Athens will be sunny with temperatures ranging from 24C to 38C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 22C to 36C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 292.412 British pound 480.763 Japanese yen (100) 206.981 French franc 49.207 German mark 164.950 Italian lira (100) 16.721 Irish Punt 414.874 Belgian franc 7.998 Finnish mark 54.262 Dutch guilder 146.315 Danish kr. 43.303 Austrian sch. 23.441 Spanish peseta 1.942 Swedish kr. 37.131 Norwegian kr. 38.847 Swiss franc 196.545 Port. Escudo 1.610 Aus. dollar 178.897 Can. dollar 195.265 Cyprus pound 562.067

(C.S.)


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