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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-10-15

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, 15/10/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece, Israel agree to revise, expand defence agreement
  • Simitis in Finland meeting to tackle three main issues
  • President ends Iran visit, cooperation protocols signed
  • Ambassador says Clinton visit can boost Greek-US relations
  • Conference on Cyprus: In theory, it can happen
  • Increase of British tourists to Greece expected
  • ANA presents specialised bulletins
  • Stocks dive in uncertainty
  • Banks have dealt with Y2K problem
  • US embassy to hold tourism conference in December
  • Gov't sees no need for change in bourse law
  • Major firms enter venture capital market
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece, Israel agree to revise, expand defence agreement

Greece and Israel yesterday agreed to revise and expand a 1994 defence cooperation agreement, during talks in Tel Aviv between Greece's visiting National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Israeli Prime MInister and Defence Minister Ehud Barak.

During the three-hour meeting, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos and Mr. Barak exchanged views on the prospects for expanding bilateral relations between Greece and Israel on matters of security and stability in the wider region, and reviewed proposals for cooperation in the armaments sector.

Details on the contents of the new Greek-Israeli defence accord were not made known, but reliable sources said it concerned collaboration in the fields of electronics, anti-aircraft defence and the defence industry, and joint naval manoeuvres. Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also conveyed an invitation by Greek premier Costas Simitis to Mr. Barak to visit Greece in the immediate future.

The Greek defence minister was due to visit the ELISRA electronics systems military industry and the Hazerin airbase later yesterday.

Simitis in Finland meeting to tackle three main issues

Prime Minister Costas Simitis arrived in Finland yesterday to participate in the special summit of EU heads of state and governments tomorrow and Saturday.

He was also due to attend last night's meeting of European Socialist prime ministers.

The special summit 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.

Greek diplomatic sources said that the first two topics are of direct interest to Greece, given the fact that the country has the longest sea borders among European Union member-states, and shares them with poor countries which intensifies the problem.

It was of major importance to Greece that controls at the EU external borders were intensified on the basis of a harmonised and functional systems which will take account of the Treaty of Schengen, the same sources said.

President ends Iran visit, cooperation protocols signed

President Kostis Stephanopoulos concluded his official contacts with Iranian officials in Tehran yesterday, while a cooperation protocol in the agricultural sector was signed by Greek Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis and his Iranian counterpart Mr. Khalederi and another on cooperation among women between PASOK Eurodeputy Anna Karamanou and the Iranian President's adviser on women's issues Ms. Sujai.

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said "the future will show the results of these contacts."

President Stephanopoulos referred again to the importance of economic cooperation and to ground for developing it in his meeting with President Khatami who accepted an invitation to pay an official visit to Greece.

President Stephanopoulos also focused on the proposal by his Iranian counterpart for a "cultural dialogue" between the two countries which, as he said, would strengthen the already robust ties between them.

President Khatami expressed satisfaction over the results of his Greek counterpart's official visit to Iran. He was critical of cooperation between Turkey and Israel and criticised Israel's expansion in the region, saying it was dangerous.

Ambassador says Clinton visit can boost Greek-US relations

U.S. President Bill Clinton believes his forthcoming visit to Greece can boost Greek-American relations in all sectors, U.S. Ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns told reporters in Athens yesterday. "We believe that the leaderships of our countries... will discuss how to better cooperate on major political probelms of our time, we will discuss the leading role of Greece in the Balkans," Mr. Burns said.

Mr. Burns said he believed that the focus would be on issues of bilateral interest, such as economic and military cooperation.

"They will also talk about other major issues, such as the peace process in the Middle East, NATO-related issues and of course Cyprus and Greek-Turkish relations," he said.

Mr. Burns confirmed that President Clinton would be visiting Greece on November 13-14.

Conference on Cyprus: In theory, it can happen

In theory, it can happen: A UN peace conference on Cyprus ended yesterday with the opposing sides recognising that each had legitimate interests and concerns and declaring to be bound to a peaceful resolution on the basis of the UN Charter.

The Greek and Turkish Cypriots agreed on a series of confidence-building measures and Greece and Turkey signed a non-aggression pact on the sidelines of the conference.

But the results of this conference were simulated - by 25 young academics taking part in an inter-communal role play on the Cyprus issue and focusing on where the obstacles to a just, lasting and viable settlement are.

The participating Turks and Greeks - most postgraduate students of law or young lawyers - took the part of the other side in the role play. The experiment was held in Kavala and its aim was to see if it were possible to contain negative behaviours when they occur between Turks and Greeks.

The scenarios involved a peace conference on Cyprus, with the UN as mediator; an intercommunal meeting on Cyprus in which participants shared personal experiences and problems from their lives; and a multi-ethnic group of journalists who reported on the two previous scenarios.

The experiment was organised by professor of social sciences and philosophy at Germany's University of Marburg Dr. Ralf Zoll and by professor of law at Thessaloniki's Aristotelian University, Beniamin Karakostanoglou. It comes under the Marburg university's peace and conflict resolution programme and was supported by the Greek foreign ministry and the German ministry for education and research.

Increase of British tourists to Greece expected

Greek Tourism Organisation (EOT) Secretary General Evgenios Yiannakopoulos concluded his four-day working visit to London yesterday and expressed satisfaction over the number of British tourists expected to visit Greece in the new tourist season. He was likewise pleased with knowledge he acquired from meetings with the leadership of British tourism and senior officials in the British tourism market.

Mr. Yiannakopoulos said "the overall image is that we will have an increase in British tourists by at least 10 per cent next year. Another important ascertainment is that the English market separates Greece from the other major European destinations such as Spain. The English market does not want Greece to become like Spain but to preserve its diversity."

He said British tourist officials consider Greece a very special destination, as an exotic tourist destination in Europe with colourfulness and with natural spaces in a very good condition and added that this image should be preserved.

ANA presents specialised bulletins

The Athens News Agency's (ANA) specialised advance information bulletins (Elyros), published in cooperation with a Brussels-based firm, was presented yesterday night at the City Hall of Hania, Crete.

During an event co-sponsored by the prefectural and municipal administrations of Hania, ANA General Director Andreas Christodoulides and Elyros Managing Director Georgios Markatos presented the Greek-language bulletins, which cover European Union activi ties and programmes currently in progress.

The bulletins cover the agricultural, municipal, legal and economic sectors of the Union's co-funded programmes, as well as relevant regulations.

Furthermore, it was announced that the Elyros bulletins will soon cover social, consumer, medical, research and technology, transport and commercial fishing issues of the Union as well.

Also the programme of publications will include a guide to programmes, initiatives and other activities that are co-funded or totally funded by the Union. This guide's publication will be the first for Greece and will be updated once every two months.

Stocks dive in uncertainty

Equity prices came under strong pressure yesterday reversing a three-day rally and pushing the market below the 6,000 level.

The general index ended 3.88 percent lower at 5,916.68 points from 6,155.21 at the previous close, slightly off the day's lows of 5,842 points.

Turnover was 412.7 billion drachmas.

Dealers said a sharp correction on Wall Street, nervous European markets and uncertainty over developments in inflation and interest rates created a wave of profit taking in the market.

The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 6.46 percent lower while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks dropped 2.94 percent to 2,976.24 points. National Bank of Greece ended at 23,650 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 24,200, Commercial Bank at 26,840, Titan Cement (common) at 37,990, Hellenic Petroleum at 5,313, Intracom (common) at 17,000, Minoan Lines at 10,332, Panafon at 7,765 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,550.

Banks have dealt with Y2K problem

Speakers at a seminar yesterday organised by the Union of Greek Banks said that the sector was ready to meet the new millennium after work undertaken on computer systems to deal with the change of date, or Y2K problem.

As a result, there should be no panic on the part of the public, the speakers said. The union has coordinated work on fixing the problem.

In addition, the central bank has said it will make extra liquidity available to banks to deal with any increased demand during the transition.

US embassy to hold tourism conference in December

Delegates from 29 countries are expected to attend an international tourism infrastructure conference to be held by the United States embassy at the Asteras Hotel in Vouliagmeni on December 1-3.

The conference aims to bring closer US companies and firms from Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Georgia, Greece, Estonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia, Spain, Israel, Italy, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, the Palestine Authority, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Turkey and Finland.

The US delegation will include representatives from the Commerce and State Departments, Export-Import Bank, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and US ambassadors from around the world.

Originally to be held in Thessaloniki, the conference was postponed earlier in the year due to the crisis in Yugoslavia.

US ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns told a press conference that Greek- American economic relations were steadily expanding after starting from a low level. He said that US companies were soon expected to show their interest in the Greek market, which they viewed as fast growing and with a healthy outlook linked to its anticipated entry into the euro zone.

He repeated that Greece was a stable, attractive and safe country that he recommended to Americans as a tourist destination.

Gov't sees no need for change in bourse law

The government believes that the legal framework covering the operation of the Athens Stock Exchange is adequate and sees no reason for change, acting government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis said yesterday. He was commenting on press reports according to w hich the prime minister was considering a ban on stock market transactions by ministers.

Mr. Athanasakis said that cabinet members shared equal rights with all other Greek citizens but noted that there was a moral and political dimension to the issue. He also dismissed talk of ministers bickering over an effort to repair the damage after a strong quake that hit Athens on September 7.

Major firms enter venture capital market

Alpha Credit Bank, Intracom, Lambrakis Press SA and Telesis-Dorian Bank yesterday announced the creation of a venture capital company to participate through minority shareholdings in dynamic new companies. The holdings will be in firms involved in teleco mmunications, the Internet, information technology and digital television in Greece and abroad, especially in the Balkans and east European countries.

The new company's start-up capital totals five billion drachmas, which may rise to 10 billion drachmas. Each of the four companies will have a 30 percent stake except for Telesis-Dorian Bank at 10 percent.The new company will not limit itself to the sup ply of venture capital to new companies but will also expand into management and organisation operations.

WEATHER

Fine weather will prevail in most parts of the country today. Cloudy in northern Greece with the possibility of local rain mainly in eastern Madedonia and Thrace. Northwesterly winds variable, light to moderate. Sunny in Athens with temperatures ranging from 15-27C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from 12-23C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          302.996
Pound sterling       501.357
Japanese yen (100)   283.216
French franc          49.747
German mark          166.843
Italian lira (100)    16.853
Irish Punt           414.339
Belgian franc          8.089
Finnish mark          54.882
Dutch guilder        148.077
Danish kr.            43.910
Austrian sch.         23.715
Spanish peseta         1.961
Swedish kr.           37.305
Norwegian kr.         39.176
Swiss franc          205.111
Port. Escudo           1.628
Can. dollar          204.253
Aus. dollar          196.317
Cyprus pound         563.258
Euro                 326.318
(C.E.)
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