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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-10-05

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, 05/10/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece, Germany to consider Turkey`s EU options
  • Norway to invest state oil cash in Greek securities
  • Gov't expresses its full support for G. Papandreou
  • G. Papandreou: `Dialogue has opened, problems not solved`
  • State Dept.'s Grossman receives Niotis, Cyprus impasse discussed
  • Turkish infringements in Athens, Nicosia FIR
  • Better prevention of breast cancer pinned on new vaccine
  • Samaranch pleased with 2004 progress so far
  • Stocks nose up in rangebound trade
  • Central bank steps in to quash attack on drachma
  • CSFB sees rate cut if inflation drops
  • Greek-flagged merchant fleet rises in September
  • 'Infosystem '99' in Thessaloniki this week
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece, Germany to consider Turkey`s EU options

Athens and Berlin have indicated they will search for ways to make possible an endorsement of Turkey's candidacy for EU membership by the Helsinki summit in December. "We wish to seek a path in order to have a positive decision adopted on this issue in Helsinki," said German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Athens last night after talks with Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

The Greek premier said he set out to his guest the firm Greek position, according to which there must be certain moves on the part of Turkey for the Helsinki summit to be able to arrive at a positive outcome.

Mr. Schroeder, who arrived in Athens yesterday to attend events marking the 75th anniversary of the founding of the German-Greek Chamber of Commerce and Industry, added that his government would do all it could in that direction, but declined "to refer publicly to the conditions which Turkey must, indeed, fulfil in order to become a candidate country."

The two men also tackled bilateral relations and cooperation in the Balkans, agreeing on the need to promote a stability pact for SE Europe, which, according to Mr. Simitis, was the means to dealing with many chronic problems in the region.

Mr. Simitis said bilateral relations were particularly good in the areas of economic and military cooperation.

Further, he said they discussed issues of concern to Greece in view of the upcoming special EU summit in Tampere, Finland.

Speaking at the German-Greek Chamber later in the evening, Mr. Simitis said the close cooperation between the two governments in the recent Kosovo crisis had confirmed their converging policies and contributed to the positive dynamics amid European developments.

"I hope that initiatives now developing will restore normality and stability in the region. Greece's policy and the activities of German and Greek entrepreneurs have a decisive contribution in this direction," he said.

Further, he praised Athens' efforts to gain accession to the 'euro zone'. "We are watching with respect and appreciation the efforts of the Greek government. Germany is willing to provide every support in this direction. I am convinced that Mr. Simitis will succeed," he added.

Norway to invest state oil cash in Greek securities

Norway plans to invest cash surpluses from petroleum sales in securities from six more countries, including Greece, Reuters news agency reported yesterday.

The monies from the country's draft budget for 2000 will come from the state Petroleum Fund, which already uses its revenue to invest in 21 other countries.

In addition to Greece, the new countries to join the investment list are Brazil, Mexico, South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan.

The Petroleum Fund generally invests up to 40 percent of its capital in stocks and the remainder in bonds.

The investment capital spent abroad comes in the form of an annual surplus in the budget from oil and natural gas sales. At the end of June this year, the fund totalled 182.7 billion Norwegian kroner.

Gov't expresses its full support for G. Papandreou

The government yesterday provided its full support for Foreign Minister George Papandreou in his handling of foreign policy, in light of recent criticism by former foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos.

"The foreign minister is exercising his duties on the basis of government policy agreed by the relevant bodies," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

"Mr. Papandreou enjoys the full confidence and full support of other government members."

Referring to comments by Mr. Pangalos, carried in a newspaper interview on Sunday, Mr. Reppas said that he was a "high-profile member of the (PASOK) party and his opinions are always listened to with interest."

He also disagreed with Mr. Pangalos' comments that a Turkish candidacy for membership of the EU would be tantamount to a "defeat for the nation".

G. Papandreou: `Dialogue has opened, problems not solved`

"We have opened the door to dialogue, but this does not mean we have solved the problems," Foreign Minister George Papandreou told reporters after meeting with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem over lunch at a Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) pact headquarters in Istanbul.

Mr. Papandreou said the meeting had provided a chance for an overview of issues related to the Greek-Turkish dialogue, adding that there would be specific results announced soon.

He was referring to contacts initiated at a foreign ministry officials' level between the two countries earlier this year. The talks hoped to find common ground on a number of issues which would allow room for better relations to develop.

Mr. Cem said also that a "good climate" prevailed in talks between the two countries, but he also said that this did not mean that problems would be automatically solved.

"Mr. Papandreou is a tough negotiator," Mr. Cem said, saying that despite a good personal relationship between the two, no quick solutions should be expected.

Addressing the opening ceremony for the new academic year at the University of Istanbul earlier, Mr. Papandreou pledged to "devote his life" to working for peace between the Greek and Turkish people, and warned the international community that peace in th e region was not served by the application of double standards.

State Dept.'s Grossman receives Niotis, Cyprus impasse discussed

The US administration realises that a "window of opportunity" provided for substantive pro-gress on the Cyprus issue will last until the European Union summit in Helsinki in December, noting that if progress has not been achi eved by then the Greek side will be unable to support Ankara's candidacy.

This assessment was conveyed by US Assistant Secretary of State Marc Grossman to Deputy Foreign Minister Grigoris Niotis at the US State Department on Sunday, according to statements by the latter.

According to the Greek position, such progress should be substantive and not merely a few days' presence by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash at talks without any results being produced.

Diplomatic sources assess that "everything is on the table" over the next two months and in this context Athens is encouraging the US initiative and appears ready to respond to every gesture by Turkey in the right direction.

Turkish infringements in Athens, Nicosia FIR

Turkish warplanes infringed on Athens and Nicosia Flight Information Regions (FIRs) regulations yesterday, the first day of a joint military exercise by Greek and Cypriot forces.

According to reports, 28 Turkish fighter planes entered international airspace between Crete and Cyprus, departing before Greek warplanes reached the area and without entering Greek or Cypriot airspace.

According to Hellenic Air Force sources, the Turkish reaction to the annual exercise was the "mildest to date".

Better prevention of breast cancer pinned on new vaccine

Women genetically predisposed to developing breast cancer may soon be able to avail themselves of a new vaccine, still in development, that will reduce their chances of developing the disease.

According to experts, initial results from tests of the vaccine on laboratory animals are expected to be announced by US professor Robert Guy, at the 4th International Conference on Research on Breast Cancer, beginning Nov. 4 in Irakleio. Announcing the conference, the president of the Greek Society for Research into Breast Cancer, N. Agnatis, told reporters yesterday that breast cancer was still the most common cancer afflicting women, with estimates of between one in eight or one in 12 women suffering from the disease at some stage in their lives.

In Greece, figures show 3,500 new cases a year, with 2,000 deaths linked to the disease. Mortality rates for breast cancer are stabilising worldwide, a development due primarily to timely diagnosis, experts say.

Samaranch pleased with 2004 progress so far

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch said yesterday that the organisation of the Athens 2004 Games was "presenting no difficulty" and the IOC had the fullest faith in its organisers.

"Greece is doing well in all sectors. It has all the prerequisites for an excellent organisation of the Games and we are satisfied with the progress, " Mr. Samaranch told reporters at the Greek National Olympic Committee headquarters.

"According to the official report from the Athens Organising Committee, there are no delays in projects. We have not the slightest question about the report presented," he said. Mr. Samaranch said the 2004 Games were important not only for the Olympic movement, but for Greece as a whole.

Referring to the IOC's decision, announced over the weekend, to set up an international anti-doping agency, Mr. Samaranch said he hoped the agency would begin operating as of 2000.

Stocks nose up in rangebound trade

Equities yesterday finished slightly higher in rangebound trade with investors across Europe waiting to see if the US Federal Reserve will raise interest rates. The general index ended 0.40 percent higher at 5,654.65 points from 5,632.27 points in the previous session.

The market is seeking to consolidate around 5,600 points after a phase of extreme shifts. Sector indices ended as follows: Banking (-1.59 pct), Insurance (+1.92 pct), Construction (+6.20 pct), Miscellaneous (+2.30 pct), Leasing (+2.40 pct), Investment (-2.42 pct), Industrials (+1.13 pct) and Holding (+4.24 pct).

The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks gained 5.91 percent while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chips and heavily traded stocks shed 0.56 percent to finish at 2,938.15 points.

Of 307 stocks traded, advances outpaced declines at 193 to 102 with 12 shares remaining unchanged.

National Bank of Greece ended at 23,890 drachmas, Commercial Bank of Greece at 27,495, Alpha Credit Bank at 23,600, Minoan Lines at 8,769, Intracom (common) at 27,500, Titan Cement (common) at 37,000, Hellenic Petroleum at 5,635, Hellenic Telecommmunications Organisation at 7,035 and Panafon at 8, 095 drachmas.

Central bank steps in to quash attack on drachma

The drachma came under a new round of speculative attacks in the domestic foreign exchange market yesterday with the central bank again selling euros to drive up the national currency.

The Bank of Greece sold around 350 million euros after the drachma slid to around 329 to the euro at the opening. It has sold a total of one billion euros since Thursday to stem the drachma's decline.

Traders said monetary authorities were signalling to the market that they would scotch an unbridled descent of the drachma to its central parity in the European Union's exchange rate mechanism II of 353.1 to the euro.

A plan for a phased depreciation of the drachma, which currently stands around 8.0 percent above parity, towards the ERM rate is part of the country's counter-inflationary policy devised to take Greece into the euro zone by January 1, 2001.

CSFB sees rate cut if inflation drops

The Bank of Greece is likely to trim its intervention rates on October 13 in the wake of an anticipated slip in inflation in September, Credit Suisse First Boston said yesterday.

Quoted by Reuters news agency, CSFB said that if inflation fell to 1.9 percent in September, as expected, then there was room for the central bank to cut its two-week deposit rate by 25-50 basis points.

The rate is currently at 12 percent.

Greek-flagged merchant fleet rises in September

The Greek-flagged merchant fleet showed a net gain in capacity and number of vessels in September, the Merchant Marine Ministry said in a statement yesterday.

The registry gained nine vessels totalling 275,927 gross registered tons and lost five ships totalling 52,625 grt, the statement said.

'Infosystem '99' in Thessaloniki this week

The 13th computer software exhibition "Infosystem '99" will open its gates on Thursday in Thessaloniki with 623 exhibits from 23 countries.

This year's exhibition is touted as the largest of its kind in Greece, occupying some 11,000 square metres of floor space.

The exhibition also includes a conference entitled "Formulating Society of the Year 2000 ".

WEATHER

Fine weather will prevail in most parts of Greece today with the possibility of rain in the Ionian Sea, Epirus, western central Greece and the Peloponnese. Light southeasterly winds turning to moderate in the Ionian and Aegean seas. Partly cloudy in Athens with temperatures from 19-30C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 16-28C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          303.899
Pound sterling       503.400
Japanese yen (100)   287.204
French franc          49.709
German mark          166.717
Italian lira (100)    16.840
Irish Punt           414.024
Belgian franc          8.083
Finnish mark          54.841
Dutch guilder        147.965
Danish kr.            43.902
Austrian sch.         23.697
Spanish peseta         1.960
Swedish kr.           37.252
Norwegian kr.         39.551
Swiss franc          205.027
Port. Escudo           1.627
Can. dollar          206.177
Aus. dollar          200.196
Cyprus pound         561.472
Euro                 326.070
(C.E.)
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