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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-03-28

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, 28/03/1999 (ANA)

NEWS HEADLINES

  • Gov't to debate Kosovo crisis at 1900 hrs
  • Greece gets new national soccer coach
  • Give diplomacy a new chance in Kosovo, Greece says
  • Rubin clarifies statements on Greece, Turkey
  • Communist Party of Greece deplores Clinton statement
  • Archbishop Christodoulos blasts NATO airstrikes on Yugoslavia
  • Army general staff denies missiles report
  • Greece says satisfied with deal at Berlin Agenda 2000 summit
  • Two bidders vying for Ionian Bank
  • Stocks jump with investors seeing economy unscathed by Kosovo
  • Athens bourse to phase in paperless trade from Monday
  • Finance ministry to auction 12M T-bills on Tuesday
  • Weather
  • Athens Foreign Exchange

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Gov't to debate Kosovo crisis at 1900 hrs

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis is to chair a meeting of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence at 1900 hours on Sunday to discuss the Yugoslavia crisis.

    On Monday morning, President Kostis Stephanopoulos is to visit the Athens Pentagon for a briefing.

    Greece gets new national soccer coach

    Vassilis Daniil on Sunday replaced Anghel Iordanescu as Greece's soccer coach following a 2-0 defeat for the national team at the hands of Norway.

    Daniil, a former Panathinaikos coach, is to hold his first training session immediately before leaving on Monday for Riga where the team is to play against Latvia on Wednesday in a qualifying match for the Euro 2000 championship.

    The Greek coach accepted the job on the spot after Romania's Iordanescu quit late on Saturday, taking the blame for the defeat on home ground.

    "It is a credit to Mr. Daniil that he accepted our proposal without setting terms," secretary general Vassilis Gagatsis of the Greek Soccer Federation (EPO) told the Athens News Agency.

    The new appointment will have to be ratified by EPO's board, which is expected to meet as soon as possible.

    Give diplomacy a new chance in Kosovo, Greece says

    Greece on Friday relayed to the the U.S. ambassador in Athens its view that there could be no military solution to the Kosovo crisis adding that talks should resume for the finding of a political solution.

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis held separate meetings yesterday with US Ambassador Nicholas Burns and exchanged views on the Yugoslav crisis.

    Mr. Papandreou and Mr. Burns held lengthy talks in the afternoon at the latter's request, while diplomatic sources disclosed that the US envoy underlined to the Greek foreign minister the US point of view that NATO should appear and act united regarding the Alliance's strikes against Yugoslavia with the aim of convincing President Slobodan Milosevic to accept the proposed agreement on the strife-torn province of Kosovo.

    The same sources stated that Mr. Papandreou reiterated to Mr. Burns the Greek government's stance that whatever military solution will create more problems than solve. The diplomatic sources added that Mr. Burns requested from the Greek side to keep its reactions low key, regarding US President Bill Clinton's statements that Greece and Turkey could be drawn into the Kosovo conflict if it worsened, while he reiterated that those statements were misinterpreted.

    Mr. Kranidiotis, who met earlier in the day with Ambassador Burns, expressed the Greek government's wish to see an end to NATO strikes against Yugoslavia and give diplomacy a new chance.

    Diplomatic sources said Greece was even considering using its veto if the offensive continued up to the third phase.

    Greece's permanent representative to NATO has been instructed to keep a close watch on developments.

    Mr. Burns, who requested the meeting with Mr. Kranidiotis, reiterated the U.S. position that NATO's objective was to convince Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic to concede.

    According to diplomatic sources, Mr. Burns told the Greek minister that President Clinton's remarks about Greece and Turkey had been misinterpreted.

    "Mr. Burns told Mr. Kranidiotis that President Clinton did not mean that there could be a war. He meant that the continuation of the Kosovo crisis could intensify and take on wider dimensions in the region but not with the meaning that there would be a military clash between Greece and Turkey," the sources said.

    Mr. Kranidiotis, however, pointed out that such statements created a climate of insecurity.

    The goverment spokesman, Yiannis Nikolaou, said that Greece's stance on the latest developments in the Balkans have not affected or been affected by its relationship with NATO or the United States.

    Greece has called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and a resumption of diplomatic efforts for a political solution.

    "It is time for all of us to return to dialogue, to try for a political setttlement and for the bombing to stop," Mr. Nikolaou said.

    Asked about U.S. President Bill Clinton's warnings that the Kosovo situation could spiral out of control and drag Greece and Turkey into a war, Mr. Nikolaou said Greece was "an oasis of stability in the region".

    Meanwhile thousands of protesters clashed with riot police outside the US embassy in Athens after a march against NATO bombings in Yugoslavia.

    The protesters, mainly members of lelf-wing youth organisations and trade unionists burned American flags and threw stones and paint at police in full riot gear, after breaking glass at the residence of Britain's ambassador and hurling similar objects a t the embassy during the march.

    The crowd dispersed after police used tear gas and there were reports of several arrests.

    Rallies were also held in Thessaloniki, Piraeus, Patra and Irakleion.

    Rubin clarifies statements on Greece, Turkey

    WASHINGTON (ANA- T. Ellis) - State Department spokesman James Rubin on Friday clarified that the US statements on a possible involvement of Greece and Turkey in the Kosovo conflict did not imply a clash between the two countries.

    "We do not mean that Greece and Turkey will attack each other. What we mean is that as the pressure expressed by this conflict spread, it could also influence Greece and Turkey if the war spread. And given the interest we have for Geece and Turkey and the close relationship we have wih both countries, we are concerned over the situation," he said.

    Communist Party of Greece deplores Clinton statement

    Communist Party of Greece leader Aleka Papariga rejected on Saturday that US President Bill Clinton had been misinterpreted in statements claiming that strife in Kosovo could lead to a clash between Greece and Turkey.

    Papariga told a news conference in Thessaloniki that the president's statement was not a wrong turn of phrase but a warning to Greece and Turkey to accept what she called Americanisation of the Aegean and its division.

    On Friday, US Amassador in Athens Nicholas Burns was quoted by diplomatic sources as saying that Clinton's statement had been misinterpreted.

    The US president had meant that the Kosovo crisis could assume wider dimensions in the region, drawing in Greece and Turkey; and not that the two countries could end up in a military clash, Burns was quoted as saying.

    In addition, Papariga claimed that the Greek government knew what Washington's plans were, and called on Prime Minister Costas Simitis to explain the incident to the public.

    Simitis should also withdraw Greece's signature from the NATO pact to bomb Yugslavia and refrain from giving the operation logistical support.

    Earlier, Papariga said on arrival in the northern city that strife could spread throughout the Balkans sparked by the current crisis.

    Archbishop Christodoulos blasts NATO airstrikes on Yugoslavia

    Archbishop Christodoulos on Saturday blasted NATO airstrikes on Yugoslavia, saying Orthodox Serbs had been wronged.

    Christodoulos called on Greeks to uphold the country's Christian tradition and rally round their spiritual leaders following what he called "an international injustice" perpetrated against Serbs.

    Greeks had shown their outrage at the bombings in Yugoslavia, taking a stand against the great powers that went beyond expediency or material gain, he said.

    Christodoulos was speaking during a visit to Thessaloniki where a large crowd applauded his remarks on the airstrikes, made during several addresses.

    The Archbishop also repeatedly underlined the indissoluble link between church and state, implying that trying to sever the connection would lead to destruction of the state.

    Attending a ceremony in Thessaloniki to welcome Christodoulos was Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos.

    Venizelos, like Christodoulos, focused on Yugoslavia, saying that Greece had to maintain a fine balance in its dual roles as a member of Europe and of the Balkans.

    In that spirit, Greece had acted as Yugoslavia's diplomatic representative, Venizelos said.

    Army general staff denies missiles report

    The Army General Staff on Friday denied reports published in an Athens daily, according to which 300 missiles were transported to an undisclosed location the day before NATO's air attacks in Yugoslavia.

    The officials said that on March 24 two C-130 transport planes loaded with a number of Russian-made RM-70 ground to ground missiles were destined for a Slovak maintainance facility for scheduled periodic operational maintainance.

    This event was in no way connected to the recent developments in the region, the officials said.

    Acting government spokesman Yiannis Nikolaou affirmed the above information and added that all should be more careful with such issues.

    Greece says satisfied with deal at Berlin Agenda 2000 summit

    BERLIN (ANA/M.Spinthourakis-G. Zitouniati) - Greece said on Friday it had driven a hard bargain and was "fully satisfied" with the deal on EU funding agreed at the Berlin Agenda 2000 summit, after marathon talks.

    "I don't know if burning the midnight oil works generally, but this time it did," Prime Minister Costas Simitis told reporters on the conclusion of the extraordinary summit.

    Mr. Simitis said Greece would receive nine trillion drachmas from structural funds over the 2000-2006 period, a 13 percent increase over allocations for the 1993-1996 period.

    "The final result is positive because inflows to Greece from the Common Agricultural Policy are expected to be higher - albeit marginally - in the next seven years, while inflows from structural funds will be significantly higher," he said. The promised funds will ensure Greece will be able to build on developmental and social policies, including tax reform, he added.

    Along with national resources, public investments over the next seven-year period will total 15 trillion drachmas, an increase of 50 percent over previous years and will constitute five to six percent of GDP.

    The exploitation of Community funds will create the basis for an increase in the purchasing power of the average Greek to 80 percent of the EU average in 2006, compared to 69 percent today, the prime minister said.

    "With this development, the Greek economy is realising real convergence with the economies of other member-states," Mr. Simitis said.

    Two bidders vying for Ionian Bank

    Two bids were received in a tender for the privatisation of Ionian Bank, its main shareholder, Commercial Bank of Greece, said in a statement on Friday.

    According to sources, the bidders for the 51 percent stake in Ionian were Alpha Credit Bank and the Bank of Piraeus Group. The deadline for offers expired at yesterday evening.

    EFG Eurobank, which had submitted a non-binding offer in the first round of the tender, said in a separate statement that it had not bid in the second round.

    Piraeus' bid was around 250 billion drachmas, according to sources at the bank.

    Trade unionists opposed to Ionian Bank's privatisation vowed to launch a new wave of strikes and take its main shareholder, Commercial Bank of Greece, to court if the sale price is too low.

    Stocks jump with investors seeing economy unscathed by Kosovo

    Equities rebounded spectacularly on Friday, recovering a chunk of sharp losses earlier in the week on tension stemming from NATO airstrikes against Yugoslavia.

    The general index ended a highly volatile session 2.22 percent up at 3, 548.46 points reflecting gains in banks, construction, investment and insurance stocks.

    Financial analysts said that adverse developments in the Balkans would only have a limited impact on the domestic economy.

    They predicted a gradual decoupling of the market from regional developments if the current crisis did not escalate.

    Traders noted that an EU summit agreement earmarking nine trillion drachmas from structural funds for Greece in the period 2000-2006 would greatly benefit the country's economic growth.

    The market has also discounted a positive outcome in a second tender for the sale of a majority stake in Ionian Bank whose deadline for bids was yesterday.

    Turnover was 155.9 billion drachmas and volume 22,539,062 shares.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index rose 2.09 percent to 2,210.18 points.

    Athens bourse to phase in paperless trade from Monday

    The Athens Stock Exchange is to begin the first phase of a switch to paperless trade on Monday with a group of 20 less heavily traded stocks. The first phase ends on April 2.

    Two more groups of stocks will follow in the middle of April and the beginning of May.

    Remaining shares will switch to paperless trade on the day following their annual general shareholders meetings.

    Finance ministry to auction 12M T-bills on Tuesday

    The finance ministry will auction 200 billion drachmas' worth of 12-month Treasury bills on Tuesday in electronic form. The commission is 0.45 percent.

    The ministry also said in a statement that it will hold a public offering of tax-free savings bonds in paperless form from Thursday, April 1 until Monday, April 5.

    Weather

    Changeable weather is forecast throughout the country on Monday with showers expected in the evening. Storms are probable in western and southern Greece. Athens will be cloudy with a likelihood of showers from late afternoon. Temperatures 7C to 18C. The same weather is forecast in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 6C to 15C.

    Athens Foreign Exchange

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: March 26,1999

    Banknotes          Buying    Selling
    ---------          -------   -------
    US dollar          296.013   302.876
    Canadian dollar    196.416   200.970
    Australian dollar  188.510   192.880
    Pound sterling     480.981   492.133
    Irish punt         406.781   416.213
    Cyprus pound       552.167   564.969
    French franc        48.839    49.971
    Swiss franc        200.468   205.116
    Belgian franc        7.942     8.126
    German mark        163.801   167.599
    Finnish mark        53.881    55.131
    Dutch guilder      145.376   148.746
    Danish kroner       43.114    44.114
    Swedish kroner      35.807    36.637
    Norwegian kroner    38.228    39.114
    Austrian schilling  23.282    23.822
    Italian lira (100)  16.546    16.929
    Japanese yen (100) 248.298   254.055
    Spanish peseta       1.925     1.970
    Portuguese escudo    1.598     1.635
    
    (C.S.)
    Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
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