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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-03-06

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, 06/03/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Foreign Minister George Papandreou defends Greek foreign policy
  • Inflation stagnant at 3.7 pct
  • Tsohatzopoulos: Turkey's 'coercive diplomacy' will fail
  • Gov't confirms request by US charge d'affaires
  • Judicial inquiry completed into Ocalan entry, stay
  • Athens expected to comply with EU embargo on JAT
  • Gov't to hold 10-year bond auction Tuesday:
  • Deutsche Bank Securities sees Greek euro entry in 2001
  • Fourlis to boost share capital increase
  • Contradictory Bonn statements regarding CAP joint funding
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Foreign Minister George Papandreou defends Greek foreign policy

Foreign Minister George Papandreou speaking at the Parliament yesterday defended Greek foreign policy as a whole and presented Greece as "a quiet force which is not answerable to anyone".

Mr. Papandreou advised "cool-headedness and sobriety, seriousness and responsibility, because there are forces with a plan and determination which want to gain at the expense of our interests".

The only thing Greece wants from Turkey, he said, was for Ankara to accept and implement international law and the decisions of the European Court for Human Rights.

"This magnanimity of ours should not be misconstrued by Turkey as weakness. If they dare try to realise their verbal threats, they will come up against a wall formed by the Greek people and army which will be of one mind," Mr. Papandreou said.

Mr. Papandreou warned the Turks "not to mistake our differences as a division among the Greek people, for if there is a real threat, the joint decision will emerge from this House for sacrifices in defence of our sovereign rights".

Referring to the Kurdish problem, Mr. Papandreou admitted that there had been mistakes in the government's handling "but no betrayal".

Inflation stagnant at 3.7 pct

Year-on-year inflation in February remained at 3.7 percent, the same as the previous month, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said yesterday.

The NSS said the February consumer price index fell 0.5 percent compared to January.

Price declines were reported in clothing and footwear, hotels cafes and restaurants, and consumer and household goods; and increases in foods and non-alcoholic beverages, drinks and tobacco, and entertainment and culture.

The NSS predicted a decline in inflation in coming months, particularly after April, when the repercussions of a 13.8 percent devaluation of the drachma in March last year are expected to have subsided.

Tsohatzopoulos: Turkey's 'coercive diplomacy' will fail

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday stressed that Ankara's recent attempts at "coercive diplomacy" would bring no result as long as Athens made full use of its "major advantages".

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos acknowledged, however, that recent developments following the capture of rebel Kurd leader Abdullah Ocalan had been damaging to and slowed down Greece's course.

Clarifying what he meant by advantages, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos spoke of Greece's ability to press, in agreement with its allies, for confirmation of a need for peace and cooperation in the Aegean as a basic prerequisite for the future, which must also be ac cepted by Turkey.

Commenting on recent infringements of the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) by Turkish warplanes, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos described Turkish activities in the Aegean as "usual" and categorically denied reports that the aircraft were on an aerial photogra phy mission. He also advised "cool-headedness, unity and decisiveness" in confronting Turkish provocativeness.

Gov't confirms request by US charge d'affaires

The government yesterday confirmed that the US charge d'affaires in Athens had visited foreign ministry secretary-general Pavlos Apostolidis on Thursday, advising Athens and Ankara to "lower the tones" in verbal exchanges and stop quarrelling in order fo r bilateral relations calm down.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas confirmed that charge d'affaires Terry Snell met with Mr. Apostolidis. Washington reportedly had made a similar approach to Ankara.

Commenting on the move, Mr. Reppas said Greece followed a policy based on principles in its desire for peace, security and stability in the region.

Asked why Washington addressed itself to Greece also, rather than just Turkey, Mr. Reppas replied that the United States believed Athens must also contribute to help defuse the tension in its relations with Ankara.

Mr. Snell is acting ambassador to Greece because of US ambassador Nicholas Burns' absence in the United States.

Judicial inquiry completed into Ocalan entry, stay

Three prosecutors assigned to investigate the conditions surrounding Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan's entry, brief stay and departure from Greece completed their judicial inquiry yesterday. The case file contains more than 1,500 pages of testimony a nd related information. Prosecutors are expected to begin compiling an official report today, while they are expected to complete and deliver the report on Wednesday.

Chief Prosecutor Goergios Koliokostas will be responsible for bringing charges against any individuals involved in cases of wrongdoing, excluding Parliament MPs, who in any case are not within his jurisdiction.

Parliament has the sole responsibility of bring charges against deputies by voting to lift Parliamentary immunity.

Athens expected to comply with EU embargo on JAT

Greece is expected to comply with an European Union embargo on the Yugoslav national air carrier JAT, a company official said yesterday.

The official added that as a result of the Sept. 7, 1998 embargo on JAT, 70 per cent of the Yugoslav market is controlled by foreign companies.

Greece did not enforce the embargo on Yugoslavia regarding air transport at the time, because a bilateral Greek-Yugoslav agreement was already in place, and set to expire six months later.

As the agreement has expired, Greece is forced to enforce the embargo in order to avoid legal action in the European Court for failing to comply, Greek diplomats said.

The Belgrade government has not retaliated against any foreign air carrier, so Olympic Airways is expected to continue its normal five flights per week to Belgrade.

Gov't to hold 10-year bond auction Tuesday:

The finance ministry will auction 180 billion drachmas' worth of 10-year state bonds in paperless form on Tuesday with an annual coupon of 6.3 percent, it said in a statement yesterday.

The auction is a re-opening of a 10-year bond originally issued on January 29, 1999.

The ministry said that despite recent volatile trading in the domestic bond market, Greece's 10-year bond yield spread did not exceed two percentage points compared with 10-year euro bond yields, remaining within the Maastricht treaty's long-term rate c riterion.

Deutsche Bank Securities sees Greek euro entry in 2001

Deutsche Bank Securities (DBS), a subsidiary of the German Bank, said in a report yesterday that it believed Greece would enter the euro zone in 2001.

In a report carried by Reuters, DBS cited positive economic indicators, especially rapid GDP growth, and the stability of progress towards alignment with the European Union. Inflation was the greatest challenge. (Continued on page 8) (Continued f rom page 7) The report also said the Athens bourse showed robust returns, and, among European emerging markets, kept pace most closely with the New York bourse.

A correction in New York was likely to be followed by a correction in Athens, the report said.

Fourlis to boost share capital increase

A shareholders' meeting of Fourlis Bros. SA yesterday approved a share capital increase of 7.0 billion drachmas through cash and a rights issue for existing shareholders.

Under the plan, the company will issue 7,551,900 new shares at a nominal value of 300 drachmas each and offer a price of 1,000 drachmas.

Of the total, 7,024,050 shares will be distributed to existing shareholders at a ratio of one new for every two old, and the rest are destined for the Fourlis Group's staff.

The new capital will be used to support the company's expansion beyond electrical and electronic goods into sectors like food and clothing.

Contradictory Bonn statements regarding CAP joint funding

A working dinner for European Union Agriculture Ministers regarding agricultural reform was held on Thursday night amid confusion, reportedly caused by contradictory German statements on joint funding of the Common Agricultu ral Policy (CAP).

The marathon discussion held at the Council of Agriculture Ministers, discontinued a week ago, will be resumed on Tuesday. Greek Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis had the opportunity of referring to the lack of understanding among ministers and of wondering whether one is speaking of reforming or disorganising CAP.

The German Council of Agriculture Ministers president, K.H. Funke, announced the results of the informal European Council in Bonn and the position of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on brushing aside the joint financing of CAP.

However, he said that Mr. Schroeder insists on the solution anticipating that annual agricultural expenditures are stabilised at 40.5 billion euros. He called on EU agriculture ministers to take direct positions favouring a compromise proposal.

WEATHER

Cloudy weather with scattered showers in most parts of Greece today. Winds variable, strong, turning gale force in the Aegean Sea. Possibility of intermittent rain in Athens with temperatures between 11-17C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 8-15C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          294.158
Pound sterling       473.839
Japanese yen (100)   239.062
French franc          48.680
German mark          163.268
Italian lira (100)    16.492
Irish Punt           405.459
Belgian franc          7.916
Luxembourg franc       7.916
Finnish mark          53.707
Dutch guilder        144.903
Danish kr.            42.954
Austrian sch.         23.206
Spanish peseta         1.920
Swedish kr.           35.654
Norwegian kr.         37.071
Swiss franc          201.009
Port. Escudo           1.593
Aus. dollar          182.310
Can. dollar          192.627
Cyprus pound         549.568
Euro                 319.325
(M.S.)
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