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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-10-03

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, 03/10/1999 (ANA)

HEADLINES

  • Greek Foreign Minister in Istanbul
  • Schroeder backs Greece's euro zone bid
  • DM skeptical on Cyprus settlement
  • Simitis meets Lipponen
  • Greek minister to visit Cyprus
  • OTE, KPN bid for Bulgarian telecom
  • Olympics organisers reassure
  • Pollster shows PASOK - ND gap narrows
  • Quake more damaging than originally thought
  • Greek economy in virtuous circle
  • Foreign Exchange
  • Weather
    NEWS IN DETAIL Greek Foreign Minister in Istanbul

    Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou arrived in Istanbul on Sunday at the invitation of the "Taxim Intellectuals Club" to address its members and guests regarding the new international environment in the region and on prospects in Greek-Turkish relations. His speech was due to be broadcast live later in the day by the Turkish TV channel NTV.

    On Monday, Papandreou is scheduled to meet his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem and deliver a speech at Istanbul University on the role of the society of citizens and of the two peoples in shaping the climate in Greek-Turkish relations.

    Papandreou will also meet Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.

    Schroeder backs Greece's euro zone bid

    German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, due in Athens on Monday for talks with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, has expressed Germany's full support for Greece's efforts to make entry to European economic and monetary union in 2001. Mr. Schroeder's s upport is carried in a special section on Greek- German relations printed in the Athens German-language paper Athener Zeitung.

    Mr. Schroeder will be in Athens to mark the 75th anniversary of the German- Greek chamber of commerce and industry.

    Greek-German relations are excellent and efforts will continue to improve them, the chancellor says. "This close friendship will be maintained in the future in the context of the European Union and this will deepen cooperation in all sectors."

    Mr. Schroeder called the leading role Greece was playing in consolidating stability in southeast Europe "invaluable".

    German businesses have long acknowledged the importance of the Greek market as a springboard to closer cooperation in the entire region, he says.

    DM skeptical on Cyprus settlement

    Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Saturday voiced skepticism on the prospects for a Cyprus settlement and the role of the United States in the issue.

    "Turkey's current stand on the Cyprus issue is not only inappropriate as a basis for dialogue, it cannot even serve to make the two sides edge closer, " he told the Cypriot House of Representatives' Defence Committee.

    Referring to the American initiative underway for a solution to the problem, Tsohatzopoulos expressed reservations as to the final outcome.

    "We are concerned that the initiative conceals an effort to strengthen Turkey as a strategic option of the United States in the area. It is the first time that Bill Clinton assumes personal responsibility for the solution of a difficult problem. It will soon be apparent whether the American initiative is substantive," he said.

    In other statements, the minister reassured Cyprus of Greece's unwavering support on all fronts.

    "What concerns Cyprus, concerns Greece as well, this is our firm strategic goal," he said.

    Speaking after a meeting with House President Spyros Kyprianou, he said the strategy is based on two pillars, namely to make Cyprus a full member of the European Union and to boost its defences.

    "If we continue steadily on this track, we shall be in a position to meet any chalenge ahead," he said.

    Commenting on the current improved climate between Greece and Turkey as a result of the recent earthquakes in both countries, the minister said, "it would be wrong for anyone to assume that it can influence political considerations".

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, who arrived in Nicosia Thursday night on an official visit, yesterday attended the Cyprus Independence Day military parade.

    Simitis meets Lipponen

    The summit of EU heads of state and governments in the Finnish city of Tampere on October 15 and 16 will tackle three main issues, asylum and immigration, the fight against cross-border crime and the forging of closer ties in the sphere of justice, Prime Minister Costas Simiis said on Saturday after talks with Finnish counterpart Paavo Lipponen.

    Lipponen is touring EU capitals in order to review the topics to be discussed in Tampere with the leaders of the other 14 member-states.

    Greek anxieties over illegal immigration held centre stage in the talks, also attended by Foreign Minister George Papandreou and other top foreign ministry officials.

    "More than any other European Union member-state, Greece is exposed to the problem of illegal immigration from third poor countries due to being on the edge of Europe and its extensive sea borders. We therefore need tighter control for the protection of EU external borders and measures against the phenomenon of illegal immigration," he said.

    The two premiers agreed on the need for the European Union to negotiate re- entry agreements with third countries.

    Lipponen said he hoped that the Tampere summit would adopt decisions leading to greater security and justice in the EU, noting the need for closer cooperation in dealing with the problems arising from illegal immigration, cross-border crime and money laundering.

    Simitis said similar attention should be given to the problem of youth crime, arising from unemployment.

    The Tampere summit is expected to endorse the formation of a judges' network, to be named Eurojust, for improved access to justice and its institutions.

    Finland holds the rotating presidency of the EU until the end of this year.

    Greek minister to visit Cyprus

    Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Christos Rokofyllos will pay an official visit to Cyprus on Friday, it was announced on Sunday.

    The agenda of the talks will include the latest developments in the Cyprus issue and the line the Greek side will adopt following the meeting US President Bill Clinton had with Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit at the White House last Wednesday.

    Rokofyllos, who is handling issues regarding Cyprus' EU accession course, will also discuss matters concerning cooperation and coordination between the two countries' foreign mninistries.

    OTE, KPN bid for Bulgarian telecom

    SOFIA - Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation and KPN of The Netherlands are to acquire a controlling stake in BTK, Bulgaria's state telecom, within two weeks, senior officials said on Friday.

    Making the announcement were Visiting Deputy Transport and Communications Minister Nikolaos Salayiannis and Bulgarian Deputy Premier Evgeni Bakartziev, who is taking part in negotiations for the joint acquisition.

    Mr. Bakartziev told reporters that the sale of the majority stake in Bulgarian Telecommunications Organisation was the country's largest privatisation to date. The two officials agreed that outstanding technical points in the sale arrangement would be resolved by October 15.

    Mr. Salayiannis told the Athens News Agency that the points for debate were secondary, and mostly comprised linguistic problems of translation from English and Greek into Bulgarian.

    The two officials attended the inauguration of an operations room for a telecoms fibre optic cable that is to link Greece, Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

    Undertaking the project was Intracom, a blue chip on the Athens bourse.

    Olympics organisers reassure

    Athens 2004 Olympic Games organisers said on Friday that there was no cause for concerns about reported delays in Olympic Games projects and that planning was still on track.

    "No valuable time has been lost in the area of the projects. The most important aspect of the projects is the preliminary stages. Now the administrative and bureaucratic issues have been surpassed, which is a great advantage," Vice-President of the Orga nising Committee Niki Tzavella told a news conference yesterday.

    Managing director Costas Bacouris said that the decision to place the construction of the Olympic Village - the biggest project - with the Workers Housing Organisation (OEK) had led to a shorter time needed to construct the village.

    Procedures to expropriate land will begin in October and will be completed by the third quarter of 2000, he said.

    "Construction work will begin in March 2001 and end in February 2004. In this way we will have the necessary time ahead of us to make any changes," he said.

    Referring to the transfer in location of the racing track, Mr. Bacouris said that this would occur in August 2001 and said special care had been taken over the environmental aspects.

    "The Olympic Village constructions will be friendly to the environment," he said.

    Pollster shows PASOK - ND gap narrows

    Ruling party PASOK has gained on opposition New Democracy's (ND) lead, an opinion poll published in the Greek daily Eleftherotypia showed on Friday.

    Although ND continues to lead PASOK, with 30.7% of voters giving it their preferences, compared to 30.1% for PASOK, the gap has narrowed considerably compared to the results of June's European Parliament elections. The opposition Communist Party and De mocratic Social Movement were stable with 5.4% and 5.7% of voters' preferences, while the Coalition of the Left garnered 2.8% of the vote.

    Another poll, by V-PRC and published in Ta Nea daily, showed Costas Simitis considered more suitable for the job of prime minister than ND leader Costas Karamanlis, 41% to 31.8%. Mr. Simitis also beat out Mr. Karamanlis in the popularity stakes, 56.9% t o 52%.

    Mr. Simitis had, unsurprisingly, the support of 83.1% of PASOK voters, but 30% of opposition New Democracy supporters also found him appealing. The poll also showed that the majority of PASOK voters (57%), a significant percentage of ND voters (14.2%) a nd about 20% of other party voters believed the government was doing a good job.

    Quake more damaging than originally thought

    The 5.9 Richter quake which hit Athens on September 7 was one of the most destructive in recent decades and left far more damage than originally thought, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Friday.

    Mr. Reppas was speaking after the inner cabinet went through a thorough review of damage and quake relief efforts.

    He said 33% of the 185,000 buildings inspected throughout Attica needed repair work and seven percent needed to be pulled down.

    School buildings had been particularly adversely affected, he said.

    Of the 2,465 buildings inspected, 427 needed repair and two were to be demolished.

    This meant between 35,000-40,000 students needed to be provided with alternative school buildings, he said.

    Of those buildings needing repair, 175 were to be completed in November, 125 in a longer period of time and 45 would not open this school year.

    Of the 209 commercial buildings inspected, authorities had that 72 could not be used for commercial purposes.

    Historical buildings and sites were not overly affected, expect for some Byzantine-era buildings, most notably the Daphne Monastery.

    Greek economy in virtuous circle

    Greek economy in virtuous cycle, minister says: National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said on Friday that Greece had entered a virtuous cycle that would aid its goal of joining the euro zone from a position of strength.

    "Greece is now moving in a virtuous cycle with low deficits, low inflation and high growth," Mr. Papantoniou told a luncheon in New York held by Capital Link.

    The country's budget deficit is currently at 1.5 percent of gross domestic product against 13.8 percent of GDP in 1993, and inflation has declined to 2.0 percent from 14.0 percent in 1993.

    In addition, growth rates over the last three years have risen to 3.5 percent, well above the EU average.

    "The major forces that have created this virtuous cycle are increased policy credibility, deficit reduction, widespread structural reforms, a significant fall in real lending rates and an expansionary public investment program, partly supported by EU fu nds," Mr. Papantoniou said.

    At the same time, the government plan's to take Greece into the euro zone by January 1, 2001 was aimed at more than nominal qualification.

    "We want to ensure that Greece will embark on monetary union in a strong position and fully reap its benefits," the minister said.

    Attaining a robust economy would also enable Greece to take advantage of investment opportunities in southeastern Europe and the Mediterranean, as well as contribute to growth in the two regions.

    Economic and monetary policies combining a mix of stability, sustainable growth and supply-side reforms had laid the foundations for a sound overall economy and resilient financial markets.

    Further spurring investment would be the 2004 Olympics to be hosted by Athens, Mr. Papantoniou said.

    The minister was in the U.S. to attend a recent annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

    Foreign Exchange

    Banknotes Buying Selling US Dollar 303.889 310.935 Can.Dollar 207.507 212.318 Australian Dlr 199.700 204.330 Pound Sterling 501.039 512.656 Irish Punt 413.898 423.495 Pound Cyprus 561.770 574.794 Pound Malta 712.486 742.173 Turkish pound (100) 0.060 0.063 French franc 49.694 50.846 Swiss franc 204.040 208.770 Belgian franc 8.081 8.268 German Mark 166.667 170.531 Finnish Mark 54.825 56.096 Dutch Guilder 147.919 151.349 Danish Kr. 43.846 44.863 Swedish Kr. 37.361 38.227 Norwegian Kr. 39.561 40.478 Austrian Sh. 23.689 24.238 Italian lira (100) 16.835 17.226 Yen (100) 287.095 293.751 Spanish Peseta 1.959 2.005 Port. Escudo 1.626 1.664

    Euro Buying: 325.971 Selling: 333.529

    Foreign Exchange Buying Selling New York 303.889 310.935 Montreal 207.507 212.318 Sydney 199.700 204.330 London 501.039 512.656 Dublin 413.898 423.495 Nicosia 561.770 574.794 Paris 49.694 50.846 Zurich 204.040 208.770 Brussels 8.081 8.268 Frankfurt 166.667 170.531 Helsinki 54.825 56.096 Amsterdam 147.919 151.349 Copenhagen 43.846 44.863 Stockholm 37.361 38.227 Oslo 39.561 40.478 Vienna 23.689 24.238 Milan 16.835 17.226 Tokyo 287.095 293.751 Madrid 1.959 2.005 Lisbon 1.626 1.664

    Weather

    Fair weather throughout the country is forecast for Sunday, with only light cloud in southeastern areas. Winds northerly, light to moderate. Temperatures same as Saturday.

    (M.S.)


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