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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-07-31

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, 31/07/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Pangalos-Burns meeting focuses on Greek-US relations, Cyprus
  • US State Department satisfied
  • Gov't applauds Eurocourt ruling against Turkey
  • Tsohatzopoulos outlines policy on Cyprus
  • Acropolis Museum re-opens
  • Greek stocks rise, led by National Bank of Greece
  • EU to help fund energy centre in Athens
  • Budget excesses predicted for end of year
  • Greek, Turkish firms in major joint venture
  • Bank of Central Greece majority stake on bourse today
  • Job subsidisation programme for recovering drug addicts, ex-cons
  • Greece beats Italy, Lithuania upsets US in WorldBasket series
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Pangalos-Burns meeting focuses on Greek-US relations, Cyprus

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday received US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns with whom he discussed recent tensions 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 contacts between Mr. Pangalos and diplomats".

According to sources, Mr. Pangalos told Mr. 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 invasion and occupation of the northern part of Cyprus in 1974 as a "conflict" rather than an invasion of an independent UN member- state.

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

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

Mr. Burns was later received by National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos. Sources said that the meeting, which had been scheduled since last Tuesday, also focused on Greek-US relations, Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue.

US State Department satisfied

US State Department spokesman James Rubin told reporters yesterday that the US administration was satisfied with what Mr. Pangalos had told ambassador Burns in their meeting.

"What I am prepared to say is that we are satisfied with what Foreign Minister Pangalos had to say (regarding his earlier public statemens on US policy to Cyprus)," he said in response to questions.

He also reported that the Greek foreign minister had assured Mr. Burns that Greece wanted the strongest possible relationship with the US, and that Athens had great respect for President Clinton and other US leaders.

"The minister and ambassador Burns also agreed that they would continue to work together closely and stay in close touch. They agreed that we need to work constructively on the major issues facing our two nations," he added.

Mr. Rubin said that Greece would now welcome a visit by State Department special coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Miller in early September to discuss issues of regional importance.

Gov't applauds Eurocourt ruling against Turkey

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis yesterday praised a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (EDHR) on Tuesday, which orders Turkey to pay 300,000 CYP pounds in damages to a Greek Cypriot re fugee from the Turkish-occupied port of Kyrenia.

The Eurocourt ruled in favour of Titina Loizidou for continued violation of her right to peaceful enjoyment of her holiday property.

Mr. Papandreou also stressed the broader political significance of the ruling to the Cyprus problem, and said it proved the Court's respect for human rights.

"The ruling is particularly important, not only because it concerns the Turkish occupation of the Republic of Cyprus, but also because it proves how, the European Court of Human Rights, trying individual suits against illegal actions on the part of member-states, can arrive in judgements whose significance extends much beyond the specific individual rights and interests of the litigant," he said.

Mr. Kranidiotis said the ruling acquired special importance today when "Ankara and the Denktash regime in northern Cyprus are trying to legitimise their illegal actions and set as a condition for the resumption of the peace process the recognition of the pseudo-state".

Tsohatzopoulos outlines policy on Cyprus

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos addressed the graduates of the Air Force Academy's 70th class at Tatoi yesterday, outlining the country's options on the issue of Cyprus as well as the position potential mediators must observe for the problem to be resolved.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that options include support for the republic's European prospect, which no one can stop, and the strengthening of the defence capacity of the Republic of Cyprus against the foreign threat it is experiencing.

He reiterated that Greece is in favour of the island's demilitarisation, as proposed by the Cypriot president, although the Turkish Cypriot side is opposed.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also wondered how it can be that NATO is promoting confidence-building measures in the Aegean and is unable to supervise the no-flying zone over Cyprus, which has been proposed by the Greek side. He further said that Greece is in favo ur of a peaceful solution to the Cyprus issue, in favour of dialogue and in favour of mediation by third parties in this direction. He warned, however, that whoever wants to make a reliable initiative must be objective and not become a mediator for the one side, while demanding the unilateral disarmament of the other side.

Acropolis Museum re-opens

The Acropolis Museum opened its doors again as of yesterday after following several upgrades. The museum is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. but on Mondays it will be open to the public from 12 noon to 8 p.m.

Greek stocks rise, led by National Bank of Greece

Greek equities finished higher in light to moderate trade yesterday led by blue-chip National Bank of Greece in the heavily weighted banking sector.

The Athens general share index ended 1.55 percent higher to finish at the day's high of 2,757.58 points. Turnover nosed up to 49.4 billion drachmas from 40 billion drachmas in the previous session.

National Bank of Greece gained 1,600 drachmas to close at 55,800 drachmas from 53,890 drachmas in the previous session.

Sector indices mostly finished higher. Banking jumped 2.50 percent, Leasing slipped 0.21 percent, Insurance surged 2.85 percent, Investment gained 0.80 percent, Industrials shed 0.06 percent, Construction rose 1.65 percent, Holding increased 1.23 percent, and Miscellaneous gained 0.75 percent.

The day's biggest percentage gainers finishing at the daily upper eight percent volatility limit were Chipita, Nikas, Bank of Central Greece (common and preferred), Katselis, Uncle Stathis, Aghios Georgiou Mills and Metka.

Corinth Pipes ended 37 percent higher in line with a higher volatility limit for new listings.

National Bank of Greece ended at 55,500 drachmas, Ergobank at 31,800, Alpha Credit Bank at 29,390, Ionian Bank at 16,600, Commercial Bank of Greece at 28,495, Delta Dairy (common) at 3,725, Intracom (common) at 12,800, Titan Cement (common) at 23,100, H ellenic Petroleum at 2,720 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 8,250 drachmas.

EU to help fund energy centre in Athens

The European Union yesterday agreed to help fund an energy centre due to be set up by the Athens Municipality.

The centre will promote energy-saving in Athens and contribute to projects on sustainable development ahead of the 2004 Olympic Games hosted by the Greek capital.

It will also work closely with a similar centre to be established in London. The centre will receive 150,000 Ecu (about 50 million drachmas) under the EU's Sabe II programme for the three first years of its operation.

The EU is to contribute 4.95 million Ecus in 1998 to the creation of 33 new energy centres, bringing the total to 173 in the 15-nation bloc. Responsible for the project is Energy Commissioner Christos Papoutsis.

Budget excesses predicted for end of year

Pressures leading to possible excesses in budget expenditures by the end of 1998 are being observed as figures in the first half of the year are higher than predictions.

This is primarily due to the swelling of consumer loans and to the new salary scale, and deduced by data concerning the implementation, on a cash basis, of the 1998 budget in the first half of the year publicised yesterday by the General Accounting Office.

According to the data, the budget's first stage expenditures over the first six months, on a cash basis, increased by 12.2 per cent, while the budget had anticipated an increase in the region of 4.5 per cent. This target is difficult to achieve if the increase in first stage expenditures continues at the same rate in the second half of the year.

Figures reveal, on a cash basis, that first stage expenses (salaries, pensions, hospital fees, other benefits, subsidies to agencies and other consumer expenditures, etc.) appear to have covered 45.8 per cent of the amount which had been anticipated for the whole year in the first six months.

However, the General Accounting Office's bulletin said that "the biggest part of the budget's expenditures is paid every year in the second half of the year."

Specifically, in the first half of the year, and on a cash basis, expenditures for salaries increased by 4.8 per cent (the budget anticipated an increase of 3.9 per cent). Expenditures for pensions increased by 18.1 per cent (the budget anticipated a 5. 5 per cent increase), expenditures for hospital fees and other benefits increased by 10.8 per cent, remuneration subsidies increased by 14.1 per cent and subsidies to agencies increased by 14.9 per cent.

The largest increase was 25.7 per cent in consumer expenses, while the budget anticipated an increase of only 5.8 per cent.

Greek, Turkish firms in major joint venture

The Greece-based Spyrou firm and a Turkish company have reportedly decided to carry out the first major joint investment - US$20 million - according to a report in a Greek daily.

The "Exousia" daily said the purpose of the investment is production of cotton, fruit and vegetable seeds. Greek enterprises are already active in the neighbouring country in the form of joint ventures. However, the specific investment has a broad natur e and profits totalling US250 million are expected over the coming years.

Apart from this, cooperation between Greek and Turkish companies gives a reply to the deadlock in bilateral relations and can function as a bridge towards detente.

The cooperation agreement is aimed at the creation of three units producing seed plants and seeds, unique in their kind for the neighbouring country, which will play a considerable role in the development of the Turkish agricultural industry.

These units will operate in southern, southeastern and northern Turkey.

It is an investment whose completion is expected in 1999, when the first products will circulate in the Turkish market. The Spyrou company has been active in Turkey over the past decade, with one official saying that expected sales will amount to 250 million dollars at the end of the next five years.

Bank of Central Greece majority stake on bourse today

Bids for the purchase of a 51 per cent stake of the Bank of Central Greece's common shares, currently in the hands of its parent company - Agricultural Bank of Greece - will be submitted to the Athens Stock Exchange at noon today.

The package will also contain 20.1 per cent of the bank's preferred shares, which are also held by the Agricultural Bank.

Four Greek banks have shown interest in the Bank of Central Greece and have obtained a relevant file containing all its economic figures. They are the state-controlled General Bank of Greece, the Bank of Attica, Aspis Bank and the Egnatia Bank. However,the possibility of any of these banks not ultimately tabling a bid today cannot be ruled out.

The Bank of Central Greece currently has a network of 24 branch offices.

Job subsidisation programme for recovering drug addicts, ex-cons

The government yesterday approved a programme subsidising 350 jobs for former drug addicts and ex-prison inmates as well as for young offenders.

The new jobs will be subsidised for a period of 36 months with 6,500 to 8, 000 drachmas per day, while an employer will also be obliged to employ a person for at least 10 months after subsidisation has ended.

Two hundred and ninety jobs will be created in either the private sector or in local government, while the remaining 60 will be self-employment positions. The programme's total cost will be 1.04 billion drachmas. Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou si gned the relevant decisions.

Greece beats Italy, Lithuania upsets US in WorldBasket series

Greece beat Italy 64-56 during the second day of the 13th WorldBasket Championship in Athens last night before about 14,000 fans.

Lithuania, bronze medal winners at the last two Olympics and led by forward Arturas Karnisovas with 29 points, beat a non-NBA United States team 84- 82.

The US team lost its chance to win when a three-point shot by Jimmy Oliver hit the rim with less than a second to go.

Yugoslavia overcame Russia 82-74 in overtime (68-68 in regulation time) after a see-saw match.

In the other games, South Korea nearly caused an upset, only narrowly losing to Brazil 76-73 (halftime 45-40), while Spain edged Australia 77- 76.

Puerto Rico easily overcame Japan 78-57 (halftime 39-32), while Argentina had no problem securing its second win, beating Nigeria 68-51. Canada rebounded after losing to Greece on the opening day, prevailing over Senegal 70-57.

WEATHER

Fine weather with high temperatures is forecast throughout the country today with moderate northerly winds. Athens will be sunny, with temperatures ranging from 25C to 37C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from 21C to 35C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 292.005 British pound 479.672 Japanese yen (100) 205.780 French franc 49.261 German mark 165.168 Italian lira (100) 16.739 Irish Punt 414.557 Belgian franc 8.008 Finnish mark 54.332 Dutch guilder 146.469 Danish kr. 43.338 Austrian sch. 23.468 Spanish peseta 1.946 Swedish kr. 36.902 Norwegian kr. 38.807 Swiss franc 197.249 Port. Escudo 1.613 Aus. dollar 179.750 Can. dollar 193.400 Cyprus pound 559.667

(C.E.)


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