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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-10-22

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, 22/10/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Quake aid to Turkey shouldn't be confused with foreign policy
  • Too early to foresee impasse over latest US initiative over Cyprus
  • France's Richard to press Euro-defence in Greece
  • New round of low-level Greek-Turkish talks begin in Ankara
  • Simitis lashes out at ND over videolotto issue
  • Greek-Albanian law enforcement cooperation extended
  • Greece, Turkey to link electricity networks
  • Monetary policy to stay tight until inflation falls
  • Twelve bids for Spata airport project
  • Stocks end down in jittery trade
  • Thessaloniki to host Balkan conference
  • GSEE backs social insurance mutual fund manager
  • European sailing federation congress in Athens next year
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Quake aid to Turkey shouldn't be confused with foreign policy

Humanitarian considerations should not enter in the exercise of foreign policy vis-a-vis Turkey, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday in reference to mutual acts of assistance between the two neighbouring peoples following twin quakes a few weeks ago.

"The recent earthquakes in Turkey and Greece have produced moving acts of mutual help and solidarity, opening paths of friendship between the two peoples. However, humanitarian assistance in a moment of catastrophe should not be confused with the exerci se of foreign policy," he said in an address while on a tour of the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, which lies across from the Asia Minor coast.

Expressing satisfaction with the results of the country's foreign policy, particularly in the Balkans, Mr. Simitis said "we have succeeded in making Greece an oasis of security and stability," with a presence which poses to Turkey the dilemma of "either following a policy of peace and cooperation, or becoming gradually distanced from European structures and marginalised".

"Turkey should not want the latter, and must therefore be against tensionIadopting actions and decisions creating a solid foundation for an improvement in relations," he added.

Too early to foresee impasse over latest US initiative over Cyprus

The government said yesterday that it was too early to say whether a US initiative on the Cyprus problem had reached an impasse, following a meeting between US presidential envoy Alfred Moses and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in Nicosia on Wednesday.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said, however, that the negative outcome of the meeting should be attributed entirely to Mr. Denktash "and this responsibility must be laid at his door by the international community".

Replying to reporters' questions, Mr. Reppas said Athens did not formulate its policy on the Cyprus problem on the basis of developments in relations between the European Union and Turkey but on the course of Cyprus' EU accession bid.

France's Richard to press Euro-defence in Greece

French Defence Minister Alain Richard will seek Greek support for French proposals that the European Union do more to shoulder its own defence responsibilities when he visits Athens on Monday, his office said.

Ministry spokesman Jean-Francois Bureau told reporters yesterday Mr. Richard's meetings with Greek Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos would be a follow-up to President Jacques Chirac's outlining of French positions in a speech this week.

President Chirac said the EU must have "its own arrangements for the provision of advice, analysis and military leadership...a military committee is indispensable and it should be able to work through a sufficiently high-level European general staff."

This point has set off alarm bells at the Pentagon which believes the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), where Washington plays the leading role, should be the place where all military missions should be prepared.

New round of low-level Greek-Turkish talks begin in Ankara

A new round of ongoing talks at the foreign ministry level between Greece and Turkey began yesterday, this time in Ankara.

The talks involve delegations from the Greek and Turkish foreign ministries with the participation of other ministries. They aim at finding common ground on a number of bilateral issues.

This round of talks is expected to focus on issues related to bilateral cooperation on combatting organised crime, illegal immigration, the drug trade and in combatting criminal activity would could be described as "terrorist".

Joint cooperation in tourism will also be examined.

Simitis lashes out at ND over videolotto issue

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday strongly attacked the main opposition New Democracy party for "turning the Olympic lottery issue into a major political issue", as he said.

Addressing an audience on the island of Lesvos he said the main opposition party's tactic harms the country's interests, "since it dynamites the climate of stability which the country needs in light of its bid for accession" to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

"Proof of this is ND's position concerning the election of the president of the republic by desiring, despite the spirit of the constitution, to use the process to force early elections," he added.

Mr. Simitis said "another tactic is that of scandal mongering which we experienced strongly these days, the relentless struggles which are threadbare recipes of the old Right."

Mr. Simitis said on Wednesday that the government was dropping plans for a special lottery to raise money for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, because it had become the object of "petty partisan politics".

The lottery - called Olympic videolotto - had drawn fire from New Democracy in recent days and in parliament.

ND leader Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday lashed out against the government, saying it was responsible for "phenomena of corruption, lack of transparency and shady deals with vested interests".

Greek-Albanian law enforcement cooperation extended

The Greek and Albanian public order ministers, Michalis Chrysohoidis and Spartak Poci decided yesterday to extend police cooperation between the two countries in a number of ways.

During a meeting in the Albanian town of Sarande, they agreed to cooperation such as joint patrolling of sea regions to counter smuggling and illegal immigration, the strengthening of the Albanian police with equipment as well as the training of Albanian police in Greece in countering financial crimes.

The files of Albanian criminals who may be in Greece will also be handed to Athens. Already, 137 files have been dispatched to Greek police.

"Greek support to Albania does not only concern cooperation but also the establishment of security and order generally and between the members of the Greek minority," Mr. Chrysohoidis said.

Greece, Turkey to link electricity networks

The Public Power Corporation (DEH) decided yesterday to go ahead with a plan to link the electricity networks of Greece and Turkey.

The link is part of moves towards rapprochement by the two countries.

Talks have been conducted with TEAS, the Turkish power utility, and between the two national governments involved.

The link will pass through Thessaloniki, Philippi and Hamitabat.

The cost of the project is estimated at 15 billion drachmas.

Monetary policy to stay tight until inflation falls

Monetary policy will remain tight until lower inflation is secured, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday. Speaking to reporters after a meeting with central bank governor Lucas Papademos, Mr. Papantoniou said: "My view, which I suppose Mr. Papademos shares, is that the cut in interest rates announced by the Bank of Greece is too small to have any significant impact on commercial bank interest rates".

He noted that short-term rates were in the process of converging with their European Union equivalents, but still had a way to go.

The central bank governor told reporters that further cuts in interest rates would depend on the course of inflation and on the bank's estimates on price stability and the inflation convergence criterion to attain euro zone entry.

Twelve bids for Spata airport project

Twelve bids were received in a tender to provide ground handling services for aircraft and passengers at a new international airport being built for Athens at Spata.

The companies were Acclona Airport Services Hellas, Avlapartner Hellas SA, DNATA, FCC Agua Y Entorno Urbano SA, GHI Hellas SA, Goldair Handling SA, Hellenic Airport Services, Northeast Aviation Services Plc, Ogden Hellenic Aviation SA, Servicair Greece Handling SA, Swissport Hellas SA and Olympic Airways SA.

Three bidders will be awarded contracts.

In another tender, six bids were received for the provision of airport refuelling services.

The bidders were AFFSA SA, BP-Mobil-Shell-EKO, DynAir Fuelling SA, Ogden Hellenic Aviation SA, Olympic Airways Total Refineries, and Skytanking. Two will be awarded contracts.

Stocks end down in jittery trade

It was another session of volatile trade on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday with equity prices ending moderately lower.

The general index ended 0.59 percent down at 5,670.43 points, off the day's lows when the market shed up to 1.58 percent.

It had started the day 2.10 percent up to drop later on heavy profit taking.

Turnover was a moderate 380.6 billion drachmas.

Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-1.74 pct), Leasing (+0.37 pct), Insurance (+2.06 pct), Investment (-1.48 pct), Construction (+0.65 pct), Industrials (-0.08 pct), Miscellaneous (+2.48 pct) and Holding (+0.08 pct).

The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks rose 2.71 percent while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks fell 1.66 percent to 2,826.79 points.

National Bank of Greece ended at 21,880, Alpha Credit Bank at 22,450, Commercial Bank at 23,865, Titan Cement (common) at 34,750, Hellenic Petroleum at 5,450, Intracom (common) at 15,550, Minoan Lines at 10,095, Panafon at 8,820 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,140.

Thessaloniki to host Balkan conference

An international financial and business conference on reconstruction of the Balkans will be held on November 2-3 in Thessaloniki.

The conference, to be attended by economy ministers, bankers and businessmen from Balkan countries, is organised by the Association of Northern Greek Industry, Thessaloniki International Trade Fair SA, Euromoney Conference and Symeon Tsomokos SA.

The agenda includes discussion of an international effort for the reconstruction of Kosovo and the Balkan region and the roles of regional governments, the US and the Inter-Balkan Business Cooperation group in promoting the plan.

GSEE backs social insurance mutual fund manager

The Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) supports a plan to invest the Social Security Foundation's (IKA) reserve capital in securities through a mutual fund manager but union members are guarded about a plan for the securitisation of debts payable to IK A.

IKA president Miltiadis Nektarios yesterday briefed GSEE members on progress in the plan to modernise IKA's operations and the creation of a new business plan to ensure its viability.

Union members told Mr. Nektarios that IKA needed to ensure ample financing from employers, workers and the state budget.

Sources said that GSEE supported a plan for the creation of the mutual fund management company to invest IKA's reserve capital in the domestic bond and equity markets.

Union representatives were reluctant, however, to adopt proposals for the securitisation of debts to IKA and urged for the continuation of talks, although IKA's management is expected to approve both plans and to rapidly proceed towards opening new way s of borrowing.

European sailing federation congress in Athens next year

Athens will play host to the European sailing federation EUROSAF congress in April next year.

The decision to hold the congress in Athens - April 1-2 has been set as the date - was taken during EUROSAF's meeting in Istanbul recently.

The European federation also expressed the hope at its council meeting that Greece would organise a sailing event for young people with special needs, as the Special Olympics will be held shortly after the 2004 Games.

WEATHER

Cloudy weather with scattered showers will prevail throughout Greece today, with the exception of the southeastern and central Aegean. Winds variable, moderate to very strong. Partly cloudy in Athens with a chance of rain later in the day and temperatures ranging from 18-26C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 16-19C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          303.820
Pound sterling       506.753
Japanese yen (100)   286.093
French franc          49.868
German mark          167.249
Italian lira (100)    16.894
Irish Punt           415.346
Belgian franc          8.109
Finnish mark          55.016
Dutch guilder        148.437
Danish kr.            44.007
Austrian sch.         23.772
Spanish peseta         1.966
Swedish kr.           37.172
Norwegian kr.         39.283
Swiss franc          205.408
Port. Escudo           1.632
Can. dollar          204.074
Aus. dollar          196.952
Cyprus pound         565.936
Euro                 327.112
(C.E.)
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