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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-10-28

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, 28/10/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Papandreou-Cem contacts in Thessaloniki on Wednesday
  • Constantopoulos received by Demirel in Ankara
  • Gov't on school text books
  • No interest rate cuts-National Bank of Greece said
  • Delos lions to be moved
  • SEB sees euro goal intact
  • Interior ministry announces quake homeless figures
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Papandreou-Cem contacts in Thessaloniki on Wednesday

The Greek and Turkish foreign ministers - meeting today on the sidelines of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) pact conference in Thessaloniki - are expected to evaluate results of the third round of "low-policy" contacts between diplomats from each nation's foreign ministry.

FM George Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem will meet in the northern Greek capital.

The last round, conducted in both countries' capitals and concluded in Athens yesterday, included discussions on issues related to tourism, the environment, economic and commercial relations, culture, cooperation in the multilateral regional field and combatting organised crime, illegal immigration, drug trafficking and terrorism.

According to a joint communique, "the talks were conducted in a friendly and business-like atmosphere", and "included updating the contractual framework of Greek-Turkish relations as and when appropriate, as well as defining specific areas where cooperation could be initiated in the short or longer term".

It was decided to establish working groups related to the above fields and aimed at further elaborating draft texts already exchanged, while conclusions will be ratified in the fourth round, tentatively scheduled to begin some time in December.

The ultimate results will be presented to the two countries' foreign ministers, according to the communique.

Tsohatzopoulos: Ankara must make goodwill gesture now : With both Cyprus and Turkey turning their sights on joining the European Union, Ankara must seize the opportunity now to agree to European standards on respect for human rights and peaceful coexistence between peoples, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday.

He added that for Greece the right of return of refugees and the restoration of freedom and democracy in a united free Republic of Cyprus, which would join the European Union, were inalienable aspects of any resolution of the Cyprus problem.

The minister was speaking in Thessaloniki, where he attended a church service marking the feast day of the city's patron saint.

The defence minister said Greek citizens had every reason to look forward to the coming of a new millennium.

Constantopoulos received by Demirel in Ankara

Turkish President Suleyman Demirel yesterday received a Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) delegation headed by party leader Nikos Constantopoulos.

The Turkish leader stressed that good intentions must be turned into practice and the positive climate shaped in Greek-Turkish relations should be duly utilised.

He added the atmosphere for developing Greek-Turkish relations was "suitable", saying that "resol-ving differences between us is possible", while he extended his thanks for "the interest shown by the Greek people and the Greek government to Turkey after the disastrous earthquake."

"There are three possibilities for us to settle our differences: the first is bad, the second is good and the third is the continuation of the present situation. Everything depends on us," he said, and went on to say that "there are no problems between the peoples but between the countries and these are not yesterday's," he said.

"Our relations will become better in the coming years," he said.

On his part, Mr. Constantopoulos spoke of "an interesting phase in Greek- Turkish relations" and stres-sed that "this positive situation should find response in politics."

The Greek party leader underlined that the two countries should get acquainted and "should not be informed by third parties of things concerning them."

Gov't on school text books

Gov't denies Greek-Turkish textbook committee report : The government yesterday denied press reports that Greek and Turkish experts had agreed to look at one another's school text books, saying the matter could be a focus for discussion.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the issue could be brought onto the agenda of the so-called 'low-level' talks, which are being held between Greek and Turkish foreign ministry officials.

The talks aim at finding common ground for the two countries on a number of non-contentious issues. These include cooperation in tourism, crime and other sectors.

The Athens daily "Ta Nea" reported that it had been agreed to establish a joint committee of experts to examine books used in Greek and Turkish schools at the talks.

The newspaper claimed the aim of the committee was to examine text books used in history, geography and the environment for chauvinistic aspects.

Mr. Reppas said, however, that the issue had not been a focus of discussions during the talks and was not being discussed in the currently. Discussion of this issue, he added, would require good will.

Foreign Minister George Papandreou told reporters after conferring with Prime Minister Costas Simitis on foreign policy issues that he had yet to be briefed on the results of the talks.

He said, however, that there would be a mid-term report on the talks on the completion of the third round, which is currently under way.

No interest rate cuts-National Bank of Greece said

National Bank of Greece Governor Theodoros Karatzas announced yesterday that the bank will not cut interest rates in the near future but instead await a signal from the central bank.

"When that occurs (any decrease in rates by the Bank of Greece), we'll review the development," Mr. Karatzas said.

He was addressing a news conference in downtown Athens to outline nine- month results posted by National, the country's largest commercial bank and the second Greek listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

National Bank unveiled pre-tax profits of 146.4 billion drachmas for January-September compared to 88.6 billion drachmas in the corresponding period of 1998.

The National Bank Group posted consolidated pre-tax profits estimated at 219 billion drachmas in January-September against 128.9 billion in the first nine months of 1998 - an increase of about 70 percent.

Delos lions to be moved

A complicated operation to move five ancient marble lions from the island of Delos in order to save them from further damage will get under way on Wednesday.

Strong Cycladic winds and sea breezes over the centuries have damaged the lions, which are thought to date back to the 6th and 7th centuries BC. Only five are in a reasonable condition today, while only half of another two can be saved and a further thr ee are in fragments.

The lions - each thought to weight about 2.5 tons - will be moved to a special hall at the island's museum where they will be restored and exhibited.

Replicas of the statues will be placed along the road the lions guard on Delos. The 'Lions Way' is a popular drawcard for the thousands of tourists who visit the island annually.

Archaeologists have expressed concern about the degenerating condition of the marble lions for some time. They first requested their removal to the museum in 1992.

Other archaeologists have voiced objections against the move, saying that the lions had to be saved but not to the cost of the aesthetic unity of the site.

Delos, which has been described as "a floating archaeological site", is visited by thousands of tourists every year. It is inhabited by only a handful of museum guards and the staff of a small hostel for archaeologists.

According to mythology, Delos was raised from the seabed by Poseidon, god of the sea. Archaeological findings show that it was inhabited as far back as the early Bronze Age (around 2000 BC). By the second and first centuries BC, the isle had become the chief trading centre of the eastern Mediterranean. Apart from the impressive row of lions, its numerous archaeological sites have yielded a large number of ancient temples, villas and magnificent sculptures.

SEB sees euro goal intact

The Federation of Greek Industries (SEB), the country's largest employers' union, believes that Greece's chance of taking part in European economic and monetary union has not changed because of a temporary rise in inflation.

Iason Stratos, SEB's chairman, said yesterday that the government had remained steadfast in the economic policy it had originally adopted, and could deal with any problems in a timely fashion.

He was commenting on reports that the annual inflation rate may rise above 2.0 percent in October, up from 1.9 percent in September.

Interior ministry announces quake homeless figures

The interior ministry said on Wednesday that the number of those still homeless in the wake of the September 7 earthquake totalled 19,560, with a total of 74,067 homes had been slated for demolition or deemed unfit for habitation. The figures come from a comprehensive census of the damage caused by the wake conducted by the National Statistics Service recently. Some 4,367 families continue to reside in settlements set up by the state while the remaining homeless reside in tents near their damaged or destroyed homes or in trailer homes. Some8,388 business premises and stores were also damaged by the quake. About 850 were forced out of their premises due to extensive damage, while another 3,656 must proceed with extensive repairs.

WEATHER

Mostly fair weather with scattered cloud will prevail throughout the country on Friday. Winds northerly, moderate to strong. Fair weather with light cloud in Athens and temperatures between 15-22C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 12-20C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          308.353
Pound sterling       510.384
Japanese yen (100)   295.943
French franc          49.909
German mark          167.387
Italian lira (100)    16.908
Irish Punt           415.687
Belgian franc          8.116
Finnish mark          55.061
Dutch guilder        148.559
Danish kr.            44.053
Austrian sch.         23.791
Spanish peseta         1.967
Swedish kr.           37.853
Norwegian kr.         39.660
Swiss franc          204.635
Port. Escudo           1.633
Can. dollar          208.995
Aus. dollar          199.561
Cyprus pound         567.126
Euro                 327.380
(M.S.)
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