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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-11-05

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


ATHENS, GREECE, 05/11/1999 (ANA)


  • Balkan stability and security at centre of tripartite talks
  • FM winds up Canada visit, moves on to US
  • Terrorism on Clinton-Simitis agenda
  • Bofors announces contract for supply of anti-tank missiles
  • Simitis invites new Albanian PM to visit Greece
  • Death toll from Superfast III ferry fire reaches 14
  • Ecumenical Patriarch to visit Thessaloniki early next year
  • Tsohatzopoulos proposes 'third road to socialism'
  • Nobel Prize-winning economist senses optimism in Greece over EMU
  • Athens bourse ends mixed in subdued trade
  • Greece liberalises domestic gold market
  • HOPE launches first Electronic Trade Centre
  • Greenpeace, locals protest continued storage of toxic wastes
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Balkan stability and security at centre of tripartite talks

The problem of stability and security is the most important one in the Balkans, according to the Presidents of Bulgaria and Romania, Petar Stoyanov and Emil Constantinescu, and Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis who met during the second tripartite meeting in Borovets, Bulgaria yesterday and which Mr. Simitis termed "very fruitful."

In a statement during a joint press conference, Mr. Simitis said the criterion for a solution to problems in the region should be the observance of rules set by international law and international treaties.

Regarding the Kosovo issue, the three leaders agreed that a status of wide autonomy should be granted and, as Mr. Simitis underlined, processes should be speeded up to allow for a political entity in the region to tackle problems. On the other hand, the solution should be provided within the borders of Yugoslavia.

The Bulgarian president said any change of borders in the region could create new reactions and new misery.

The implementation of the Stability Pact also preoccupied the leaders, while the Presidents of Bulgaria and Romania showed distrust over the intentions of the West on the issue. President Stoyanov said it has no specific content to justify its existence and the Romanian President agreed with him.

Both expressed satisfaction over the fact that Greece has provided the sole aid plan so far for the region's reconstruction which, as they said, has a timetable and concerns specific countries.

The Greek plan, presented at the economic forum in Thessaloniki, amounts to 500 million dollars.

Likewise, both presidents expressed satisfaction for support given to the two countries by Greece in their efforts to join the European Union and NATO.

An important issue of interest to Romania and Bulgaria is the problem of the River Danube in the area of Novi Sad where a bridge was destroyed by NATO bombings and obstructs shipping.

The two presidents requested Greece's assistance on this issue as well, while Mr. Simitis said unimpeded shipping should be restored on the Danube and the issue should not be subject to political pressures and extortions from whatever side.

FM winds up Canada visit, moves on to US

Greece's Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday wound up a four- day visit to Canada with the signing of an agreement for the mutual extradition of criminals and a memorandum of cooperation between the two countries in the field of athletics.

Mr. Papandreou and Canadian counterpart Lloyd Axworthy signed the accords in Ottawa, on the last leg of the Greek minister's visit before he headed for a US visit beginning with Boston, where he was due to deliver an address at Harvard University yesterday evening.

After the signing ceremony, the two ministers told reporters that Greece and Canada had close cooperation on a number of international issues, and Kosovo in particular, "in order to win peace and create a multi-cultural Balkans," Mr. Papandreou said.

Mr. Axworthy described as "very interesting" Mr. Papandreou's initiative aiming at reviving the ancient tradition of the 'Olympic Ekechiria', calling for a world-wide truce for the duration of the Olympic Games in order to bring a message of peace to the world.

Mr. Papandreou said he would take up this initiative with International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Juan Antonio Samaranch during the latter's visit to Athens next month. The foreign minister also said he outlined to Mr. Axworthy Greece's concern over the proposed construction of nuclear plants in Turkey and Romania with Canadian nuclear reactors adding that the designated was not suitable for the region precisely because of its intense seismic activity.

The two foreign ministers further discussed the Cyprus issue.

Terrorism on Clinton-Simitis agenda

The issue of combatting terrorism will be one of the issues discussed at talks between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and President Bill Clinton, the government said yesterday. Government spokesman Nikos Athanassakis told reporters that talks were cu rrently under way on how exactly this issue would be discussed by the two delegations.

He stressed however that there was presently no draft agreement or cooperation protocol on the issue being considered.

The spokesman was harsh in his criticism of a Washington Post article on Wednesday alleging a lack of desire among some in Greece to catch members of the elusive November 17 terrorist group.

The report, he said, was characterised by "ludicrousness... and regurgitated nonsense of spy-talk".

Meanwhile, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis yesterday rejected as "unacceptable, despicable, provocative and irrational" an article in Wednesday's edition of the Washington Post newspaper alleging links between the shadowy "Novemb er 17" terrorist organisation and Greek officials.

Mr. Laliotis said the article, which "clearly serves expediencies", had "no relationship to reality".

Mr. Laliotis said that in the terrorist organisation's nearly 25 years of action, Greece had been also under New Democracy governments, and they, too, had failed to break up the group.

Bofors announces contract for supply of anti-tank missiles

Sweden-based Bofors company yesterday announced an 6.8 billion drachma contract for the supply of short range anti-tank missiles to Greece.

The Celsius Company weapons manufacturing subsidiary's press release noted that it will provide munitions both ready for use and for assembly regarding the Carl Gustaf anti-tank missile system.

Bofors will deliver the munitions to the Hellenic Arms Industry (EBO), which will also be responsible for assembly in Greece.

Simitis invites new Albanian PM to visit Greece

Prime Minister Costas Simitis spoke with new Albanian premier Ilir Meta by phone on Wednesday evening and extended an invitation for him to visit Greece soon, the government said yesterday.

Spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said that Mr. Simitis wished Mr. Meta well in his new post and that the Albanian premier accepted the invitation to visit Athens. No date has yet been announced for the visit.

Death toll from Superfast III ferry fire reaches 14

Three more bodies were found aboard a Greek ferry that caught fire en route from Patras to Italy's Ancona port, bringing the death toll to 14, harbour authorities said yesterday.

The three bodies were found in the cabin of a truck in the garage level of the Superfast III ferry, which caught fire Monday shortly after setting sail from the northwestern Greek port of Patras.

Although all 306 registered passengers and 107 crew were safe and accounted for and successfully evacuated from the blazing ferry, a search later turned up the bodies of 11 stowaways without travel documents, all believed to be Kurdish illegal immigrants, in various levels of the ferry's garage, which is automatically sealed off in such emergencies. The victims have died of smoke inhalation.

Ecumenical Patriarch to visit Thessaloniki early next year

Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos will visit Thessaloniki early next year, according to reports. The Patriarch will arrive in Thessaloniki in the framework of events concerning the inauguration of the city's Concert Hall, which are also expected to be att ended by Prime Minister Costas Simitis. According to the reports, the Ecumenical Patriarch and Mr. Simitis will meet on the sidelines of the events.

Tsohatzopoulos proposes 'third road to socialism'

Greek Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday proposed socialist practices different to both the Soviet and the neo-liberal models.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos' proposal was tabled in an international symposium in Tunis, where he participated as the vice-president of the European Socialist Party (ESP).

"The policy and practices of the 'third road to socialism' aim at leading societies to the next century, in conditions different from those of the Soviet system, which collapsed, and different from the with out limit harsh neo-liberal proposal. Thus the 'third road' is a way to reach modern socialism," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

The Greek defence minister said that the socialists should not disregard or misinterpret the free market, adding that the socialist models, which did so, paid the price through failure or collapse. However, he added, the overestimation of the free market leads to an uneven disbursement of wealth both on an international and national level.

Nobel Prize-winning economist senses optimism in Greece over EMU

Nobel prize-winning economist Lawrence Klein outlined his views of an ongoing international economic recovery at a lecture on Thursday evening at Greece's central bank.

The eminent University of Pennsylvania professor emeritus, who was introduced and accompanied by central bank Governor Lukas Papademos, told an audience of mostly banking executives and economic scholars that he sensed an excitement and optimism in Greece over the prospects of the country entering Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), adding that he "has never seen so much economic enthusiasm" as he has seen recently in Greece. "It's an exciting time for Greece to be making its step ahead."

With Mr. Papademos standing next to him, Mr. Klein also answered a question on US FED chief Alan Greenspan's relationship vis-a-vis Wall Street by saying that he doesn't believe a country's central bank governor should directly affect the bourse.

Athens bourse ends mixed in subdued trade

Equity prices ended yesterday's session mixed to lower in subdued trade on the Athens Stock Exchange, reflecting lack of fresh incentives and directions.

The general index fell 0.31 percent to 5,530.85 points. Turnover was low at 261 billion drachmas.

Shares in the Banks sector came under pressure pushing the relative index 1.50 percent lower. Ergobank was the only sector's issue to move higher.

The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks rose 1.56 percent while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks eased 1.05 percent to 2,784.50 points.

National Bank of Greece ended at 22,000 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 24, 300, Commercial Bank at 23,250, Titan Cement (common) at 39,400, Hellenic Petroleum at 5,000, Intracom at 14,250, Minoan Lines at 9,615, Panafon at 3, 850 and Hellenic Telecoms at 6,750.

Greece liberalises domestic gold market

Greece's finance ministry yesterday tabled an amendment to parliament offering domestic financial institutions, authorised on foreign exchange transactions, to buy and sell gold. The Bank of Greece, the country's central bank, has a monopoly on gold trans actions.

The same amendment certifies an equity restructuring of Hellenic Vehicles Industry (ELBO) and writes-off taxes for the period 1988-1998.

HOPE launches first Electronic Trade Centre

The Hellenic Export Promotion Organisation (HOPE) yesterday announced the creation of the first Electronic Trade Centre in the country aimed at offering business-members access to an international business information network.

Singular, a Greek software group, signed an agreement with HOPE for the implementation of the project after an international tender.

Theodore Vlassopoulos, HOPE's chairman and chief executive, said that the whole system was under the surveillance of the United Nations which was setting international standards and was monitoring their establishments.

A total of 135 Electronic Trade Centres are currently operating in 125 countries worldwide.

Greenpeace, locals protest continued storage of toxic wastes

Greenpeace activists, joined by a local mayor, demonstrated at the premises of a local paper mill yesterday, against what they say is the storage of thousands of tonnes of pesticides considered a health risk to residents in western Thessaloniki.

Protesters entered the NOVA (formerly Diana paper mills) plant wearing masks and protective suits. On leaving the factory, they said they had found the pesticides stored in cracked barrels and in cardboard boxes.

The plant is about 100 metres from Stavroupolis apartment buildings and only 10 metres from other residences, including makeshift homes built by expatriate Greeks from the former Soviet Union.

More than 1,000 tonnes of various types of pesticides are stored at the plant awaiting processing or removal. A 1996 environmental study by NOVA referred to the risk of a toxic cloud created in the event of a fire, resulting in health problems for nearby residents.


Scattered clouds, but mostly sunny in western and northern Greece today. The rest of the country will be cloudy with local showers. Scattered storms in the southeastern Aegean sea early in the day. Few showers in Athens with temperatures from 10-19C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 8-20C.


Friday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          310.972
Pound sterling       510.602
Japanese yen (100)   296.033
French franc          49.701
German mark          166.692
Italian lira (100)    16.837
Irish Punt           413.961
Belgian franc          8.082
Finnish mark          54.833
Dutch guilder        147.942
Danish kr.            43.852
Austrian sch.         23.693
Spanish peseta         1.959
Swedish kr.           37.502
Norwegian kr.         39.505
Swiss franc          202.790
Port. Escudo           1.626
Can. dollar          211.574
Aus. dollar          197.606
Cyprus pound         563.516
Euro                 326.021
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