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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-11-10

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, 10/11/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • US President postponing visit to Greece for one week
  • Clinton: normalisation of Greek-Turkish relations a priority
  • New measures to expand bourse trade
  • New investment products in real estate
  • Banks lead Athens bourse lower
  • Budget surplus rises to Dr 349 bln Jan-Oct
  • Simitis discusses bilateral, EU issues with Chirac in Paris
  • Clinton visit no that controversial
  • Turkish `friendship train` scheduled to arrive in Thessaloniki
  • Greek-Palestinian agreement in agriculture sector
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

US President postponing visit to Greece for one week

President Bill Clinton is postponing by one week his two-day official visit to Greece to avoid protests marking the November 17, 1973 students' uprising that was instrumental in toppling the military junta in Greece, well-informed sources here told ANA today.

The US president, due to arrive for his first visit to Greece this Saturday, was postponing his visit for November 19-20, immediately after the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Istanbul.

"The postponement is being contemplated so that the visit will not coincide with the Athens Polytechnic uprising commemoration events scheduled for this weekend," the sources said.

The same sources said that an official announcement would be made in Washington at a White House briefing later in the day.

The demonstrations, which usually last for three days in the run-up to the November 17 anniversary, culminate with a protest march to the US embassy in Athens.

This year, organisations decided to extend the demonstrations to five days in order to coincide with the Clinton visit.

Clinton: normalisation of Greek-Turkish relations a priority

US President Bill Clinton stressed yesterday that normalising Greek-Turkish relations is one of Washington's three priorities in Europe.

The US leader was speaking at Georgetown University outside Washington D.C. late Monday evening regarding US foreign policy for Europe during the last 14 months of his administration.

Referring to the framework of events marking the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Mr. Clinton said his other two priorities are cooperation with Russia and stability in the Balkans.

Mentioning Greece and Turkey, he said "a third challenge, and probably the most difficult, is building a permanent peace in the region of the Aegean, the achievement of real reconciliation between Greece and Turkey and bridging the distance between Europe and the world of Islam."

"When I will be in Greece, I will speak of the vital role Greece is playing and can play in Europe," he said, adding that "the oldest democracy in the world is a model for the newest democracies in the Balkans, entry into their markets, a force for stab ility in the region. The only thing standing between Greece and its real capabilities is tension in its relationship with Turkey. It is ironic that Greece and Turkey are both our allies in NATO and allies of each other. They have served together in the Balkans in an excellent way. Their peoples showed great humanity and helped each other when destructive earthquakes struck the two countries recently. This problem can be resolved. It will ultimately be resolved and I intend to do all I can to help."

Mr. Clinton further said "the future will be shaped for the better if Turkey is able to become an integral part of Europe as a stable, democratic, secular islamic nation. And this can be done if there is progress towards overcoming differences with Greece, particularly with regard to Cyprus, if Turkey continues to strengthen respect for human rights and if there is a vital vision on the part of our European allies who should be prepared to go ahead with an opening and believe that in Turkey Europe and the Islamic world can meet peacefully and harmoniously, giving us an opportunity to implement the future of our dreams in this part of the world in the new millennium."

According to ANA dispatch from Paris, Greek leadership was reportedly satisfied with Mr. Clinton's remarks.

New measures to expand bourse trade

Trading on the Athens Stock Exchange will be extended by two hours and the daily volatility limit eased from the start of next year, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday.

Speaking to reporters, Mr. Papantoniou said that the measures would satisfy two key demands by investors and the Capital Markets Commission.

The decision was taken following talks with interested parties in order to further improve the stock market's operation, he said.

Mr. Papantoniou said that extending trading hours would bring the Athens bourse in line with other European markets.

The daily volatility limit for share prices would be expanded from the current 8.0 percent higher or lower.

When a share price hits the daily limit up or down, trading will be suspended to restart within a price range of four percent higher or lower.

The measures decided by the minister require approval by the Athens Stock Exchange's board and the Capital Markets Commission.

New investment products in real estate

National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday unveiled a bill allowing the introduction of two new investment products into the domestic real estate market.

The introduction of real estate mutual funds and real estate investment firms will greatly benefit the market ahead of an expected wave of investments following the country's participation in EMU combined with a rapid fall in interest rates, Mr. Papantoniou said.

Projects such as the Athens Metro, Athens 2004 Olympics projects, road networks and a plan for the unification of archaeological sites by creating walkways could change the terms of land development.

Real estate mutual funds will work on collective investments.

Real estate investment firms will have to operate with a minimum paid-up capital of 10 billion drachmas and will be listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, Mr. Papantoniou said.

Banks lead Athens bourse lower

Equity prices ended lower yesterday dragged down by losses in blue chip stocks in the Banks sector.

The general index fell 0.44 percent to 5,728.14 points, off the day's high of 5,812. Turnover was 342 billion drachmas.

Traders said investors preferred to take early profits in blue chip stocks, a move which overshadowed steady demand for smaller capitalisation issues.

The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks rose 0.49 percent while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks eased 1.06 percent to 2,831.09 points.

National Bank of Greece ended at 21,900 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 24, 890, Commercial Bank at 23,250, Titan Cement (common) at 43,480, Hellenic Petroleum at 4,950, Intracom at 15,000, Minoan Lines at 10,400, Panafon at 3,770 and Hellenic Telecoms at 6,600.

Budget surplus rises to Dr 349 bln Jan-Oct

Budget revenues showed a surplus of 349 billion drachmas in the first 10 months of 1999, the finance ministry said yesterday.

The regular budget's revenues rose 10.3 percent in the same period, up from an official target of 5.83 percent. October's rise was 1.44 percent.

Revenues collected by tax offices rose 3.76 percent in October to stand 11.17 percent higher in the period January-October.

Customs revenues increased 1.13 percent in the month for a 3.2 percent rise in the 10-month period, while VAT revenues rose 12.33 percent in October for a 8.37 percent rise in the first 10 months of the year.

Simitis discusses bilateral, EU issues with Chirac in Paris

Bilateral relations and European Union issues were the focus of a meeting between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and French President Jacques Chirac at the sidelines of the 21st Socialist International conference here yester day.

"It is the common belief of both countries that all problems should be resolved before the summit meeting of Helsinki, so that in this way there will not be any problems following the summit," Mr. Simitis said, referring to EU enlargement issues and prospects of a Turkish candidacy.

The Greek premier also said Chirac concluded that there is understanding for the need to resolve the Cyprus problem.

According to French diplomatic sources, Paris believes the EU candidacy status of Turkey should be recognised in Helsinki "on an equal basis with rest of the candidate countries."

Clinton visit no that controversial

The promise of protests and demonstrations greeting US President Bill Clinton when he arrives in Athens this weekend will make this third visit by a US president to Greece no less controversial than the two visits which preceded it.

Bill Clinton is the third US president to make an official visit to Greece. He follows Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1959 during the height of the Cold War, and George Bush in 1991, who arrived following the end of the Gulf War.

Controversy was no stranger to either of those visits and it is striking that many of the issues that occupied the agenda of those visits - the Balkans, Greek-Turkish relations and Cyprus - are again on the agenda of the Clinton visit.

Eisenhower, the supreme allied commander on the western front in WWII, stopped over in Athens as part of a tour of western capitals ahead of the Paris meeting he was scheduled to hold with Nikita Khruschev, a summit meeting that never took place.

Karamanlis had to deal with a recalcitrant opposition, which demanded equal time and threatened to walk out of Parliament if Karamanlis got up to address Eisenhower in Parliament.

Thirty-two years later, on July 18, 1991, another Republican president visited Greece, again to be greeted by Constantine Karamanlis, who was then president.

Athens in July 1991 was a city besieged by protests against the Bush visit: the opposition, led by today's PASOK, boycotted Bush's reception at the airport but attended his address in Parliament.

Environmental activist MP Anastasia Andreadaki wore a T-shirt depicting a divided Cyprus and the words 'Never Forget': the Cyprus problem was again a burning issue in relations between Greece and Turkey.

Bush intimated during his visit to Athens that a resolution of the Cyprus problem was in the offing for 1991, although he admitted that he did not have a 'magic wand' to ensure such an eventuality.

Turkish `friendship train` scheduled to arrive in Thessaloniki

The personal railway car of modern Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, will arrive in Thessaloniki tomorrow carrying an exhibition on modern Turkish history.

The "Friendship Train" is travelling to Greece in the hope of bolstering the recent positive developments in the dialogue that has already begun between media of the two countries, a press release from the Turkish embassy stated.

The two wagons are accompanied by 60 reporters, railway workers, emergency rescue personnel and young people from the neighbouring country.

The train's arrival in Thessaloniki coincides with events marking the 61st anniversary of Kemal's death, commemmorated at the Turkish consulate in the northern Greek capital every year. Mustafa Kemal was born in Thessaloniki in the latter 19th century.

The train's second car hosts a photo collection with pictures of Kemal and his Greek counterpart Eleftherios Venizelos, as well as an art exhibition on the goodwill between the two countries following the devastating earthquakes that hit Turkey and Greece in August and September, respectively.

The "Friendship Train" will arrive in Athens on Thursday morning.

The two railway-cars will be open to the public viewing in Thessaloniki on Wednesday and in Athens on Thursday, as well as in Drama and Komotini during the train's return trip to Turkey.

Greek-Palestinian agreement in agriculture sector

Greece and the Palestinian Authority yesterday signed cooperation agreements in agriculture and agricultural enterprises.

During talks in Athens before the signature of the agreements, the Greek and Palestinian farm ministers, George Anomeritis and Hikmat Zaid, respectively, cited the existence of opportunities for more extensive cooperation in the agricultural sector.

The agreements provide for joint research programmes and exchange in know- how in the areas of water management, investment and joint ventures in the agricultural sector.

Weather

Overcast weather and rain will prevail in most parts of Greece today. Sunny spells in Thrace and the islands of the eastern Aegean Sea. Winds variable moderate to gale force in the Aegean. Partly cloudy in Athens with temperatures between 13-18C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 11- 15C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          314.008
Pound sterling       509.233
Japanese yen (100)   298.523
French franc          49.792
German mark          166.996
Italian lira (100)    16.868
Irish Punt           414.717
Belgian franc          8.097
Finnish mark          54.933
Dutch guilder        148.212
Danish kr.            43.959
Austrian sch.         23.737
Spanish peseta         1.963
Swedish kr.           37.696
Norwegian kr.         39.859
Swiss franc          203.102
Port. Escudo           1.629
Can. dollar          213.637
Aus. dollar          199.824
Cyprus pound         567.265
Euro                 326.616
(C.E.)
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