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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-03-12

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, 12/03/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greek FM meets Russian counterpart in Belgrade
  • FM: Balkans summit can help peace in Kosovo
  • NATO troops continue to pass through Thessaloniki
  • No change in plans to install S-300s on Crete
  • PM Simitis confers with ministers
  • Continued Russian interest in pipeline idea
  • PM meets with delegation of American Jewish Committee
  • Pensioners to get 3.9 pct rise
  • Greek equities break 18th record this year
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greek FM meets Russian counterpart in Belgrade

Foreign Minister George Papandreou said after talks with his Russian counterpart in Belgrade today that an Athens-proposed Balkan conference to resolve the Kosovo crisis could pave the way for stability in the region. According to an ANA dispatch from Belgrade, Papandreou said he would put the proposal to the Yugoslav leadership in talks today with president Slobodan Milosevic. "I hope there will be a positive response from the Yugoslav side for the conference, which could be held in Bucharest very soon, perhaps before resumption of the Kosovo peace talks in Rambouillet," the Greek foreign minister said. Papandreou, who today winds up a two-day tour of Balkan capitals in Belgrade, met with Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov for talks on the strife-torn Yugoslav province of Kosovo aiming at a political solution and on Athens' proposal for a Balkan conference on the Kosovo crisis.

FM: Balkans summit can help peace in Kosovo

Later, speaking after meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Vuk Draskovic, Papandreou stressed the need to achieve a political resolution to the problem of Kosovo which would provide autonomy without a change of borders in the Balkans and with full respect for human and minority rights. "This resolution will be very important for Greece and all the Balkans and for this reason Greece is recommending the holding of a Balkan summit in Bucharest at which these principles can be expressed forcefully," Papandreou told reporters. If a step in this direction were taken and a political solution found, then Yugoslavia would be able to take its place in he international community, international organisations and sanctions could be lifted, which would also be to Greece's benefit, Papandreou said.

NATO troops continue to pass through Thessaloniki

More than 5,000 NATO troops have so far passed through the northern port city of Thessaloniki on their way to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to join an Alliance-led peacekeeping force ready to back any peace deal for the Yugoslav province of Kosovo. National Defence General Staff spokesman, Major Stamatis Lazarou, said on Friday that a special bureau would be set up in Thessaloniki to provide information about the movement of NATO troops on their way to FYROM. About 50 supporters of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Tuesday tried to stop a train carrying NATO tanks from Thessaloniki to FYROM. The protesters stood on the track, holding up the train for one hour, before being persuaded by the police to disperse. The KKE, which objects to any NATO presence in former Yugoslavia, warned it would continue the protests.

No change in plans to install S-300s on Crete

Greece has not changed its mind about installing the Russian S-300 missile system on the island of Crete despite displeasure from Ankara over the issue, the government said on Friday. Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas attributed comments from Ankara about the missiles to the pre-election period in the neighbouring country and said these comments only served to increase the tension between the two countries. Ankara has expressed displeasure at the decision by Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides, with Athens' agreement, to move the missile system to Crete. Clerides took the decision late last year, following threats by Turkey to "take out" the missiles if they were deployed on the island republic, and concerns from some European countries that the issue would delay Cyprus' EU ambitions. According to an ANA dispatch from Nicosia, the S-300 anti-aircraft missiles will be transported to Crete in mid-1999.

PM Simitis confers with ministers

Prime Minister Costas Simitis conferred on Friday with his interior, defence and public order ministers and the alternate foreign minister. On leaving, Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said issues related to the interior ministry were discussed. Sources said that the focus of concerns was the Parliament's establishment of a fact-finding commission on the Ocalan affair, to be discussed today. The proposal, submitted on February 26, was signed by 116 deputies of the ruling PASOK party. One of the purposes of the proposed commission is to establish whether there was any political responsibility in the handling of the Ocalan affair.

Continued Russian interest in pipeline idea

Russia on Friday reconfirmed its interest in the completion of projects related to the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline and natural gas pipeline, through its ambassador to Greece, Mikhail Botsarnikov, who had talks in Thessaloniki with Macedonia-Thrace Minister Yiannis Magriotis. The talks covered bilateral relations and developments in the Balkans, the Black Sea region and SE Europe. Magriotis also had talks today with Japan's ambassador to Greece, Kazuo Matsumoto, focusing on possibilities for cooperation between Greek and Japanese companies with a view to undertaking joint business ventures in the Balkans.

PM meets with delegation of American Jewish Committee

Prime Minister Costas Simitis today met with a visiting delegation from the American Jewish Commitee, one of the largest Jewish organisations in the US. The 10-member delegation, headed by Committee president Bruce Ramer, is also due to meet later with national defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and the primate of the Orthodox Church of Greece, Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece. "The purpose of our visit is to enhance Israel's relations with Greece," Committee executive director David Harris said, adding that there was "room for growth". The Committee met yesterday with Israel's ambassador in Athens Ran Curiel.

Pensioners to get 3.9 pct rise

Labour and Social Security Minister Miltiades Papaioannou on Friday said pensions would rise by 3.9 per cent for the vast majority of pensioners as of January 1 this year. Papaioannou was speaking to reporters after the pensioners' coordinating committee met for talks with Prime Minister Costas Simitis. According to circulars which have already been sent to social security funds, pensions up to 250,000 drachmas will increase by 2.5 per cent, while those over this figure by 2 per cent. All pensioners will receive an additional 1.4 per cent "corrective" increase. Papaioannou spoke of the prime minister's "proven" sensitivity towards recipients of low pensions, stressing that the government was following a policy of "redistribution and solidarity with the (financially) weaker strata".

Greek equities break 18th record this year

Equity prices soared to another record on Friday, their 18th this year, pushing the general index above the 3,500 level for the first time ever. The index ended 1.90 percent up to 3,537.90 points, off the day's highs of 3,568.04, to show a 8.74 percent gain on the week. A record close on Wall Street on Thursday and a spectacular jump of prices in Frankfurt following the resignation of German finance minister Oskar Lafontaine encouraged trading in Greek equities. Also, renewed foreign interest for Greek bonds and blue-chips stocks (Hellenic Telecoms, Titan Cement, Panafon) helped in the creation of a domestic rally. The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 0.42 percent higher.

WEATHER

Sunny spring-like weather and rising temperatures continue throughout Greece today. Winds variable, light to moderate. Athens will be sunny with temperatures ranging between 5-21C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 3-18C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          292.709
Pound sterling       475.466
Japanese yen (100)   242.931
French franc          48.645
German mark          163.146
Italian lira (100)    16.479
Irish Punt           405.157
Belgian franc          7.910
Luxembourg franc       7.910
Finnish mark          53.666
Dutch guilder        144.795
Danish kr.            42.926
Austrian sch.         23.189
Spanish peseta         1.918
Swedish kr.           36.027
Norwegian kr.         37.470
Swiss franc          199.714
Port. Escudo           1.591
Aus. dollar          185.792
Can. dollar          192.051
Cyprus pound         549.370
Euro                 319.087
(M.P.)
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