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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-11-12

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, 12/11/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis calls upcoming Clinton visit beneficial for Greece
  • Karamanlis sharply criticises Simitis
  • Attack on KKE offices reported
  • Athens cries foul over BM damage to Parthenon Marbles
  • Greek-American leaders on Clinton visit
  • Milosevic praises support from Greek people to Yogoslavia
  • Public investments total Dr 1.9 trillion Jan-Oct
  • ELBO, EAB privatisations at tendering stage
  • Greek stocks end lower on technical worries
  • Morgan Stanley backs drachma parity revaluation
  • Alpha Credit Bank launches first branch in Albania
  • Greece, Germany seek better transfer of knowhow
  • Minoan Flying Dolphins to get new ships
  • Pope's desire for rapprochement with Orthodox world
  • Support for joint hosting of 'Euro 2008' with Turkish federation
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Simitis calls upcoming Clinton visit beneficial for Greece

US President Bill Clinton's visit here, now re-scheduled for Nov. 19, is to Greece's benefit and the government desires a positive climate in bilateral relations, Prime Minister Costas Simitis stressed yesterday.

"Greece's role in the region, bilateral cooperation, Cyprus, Greek-Turkish relations are on the agenda of this visit. We believe we must be present in the region and this is the role we seek to present," Mr. Simitis said.

Mr. Simitis addressed critics of the Clinton visit, saying that they were not taking a "pragmatic or principled approach to the event." "I do not agree with the view that Mr. Clinton should come here offering something," Mr. Simitis said. "This is a view that is reminiscent of clientele relations... We do not need either patrons or godfathers," he said.

Responding to questions on recent demonstrations against the visit, Mr. Simitis said:

"Greece is a country in which the expression of opinion is free and for this reason there will be no restrictions on it," he stressed, adding however, that the country must make good on its reputation of having a great tradition in hospitality. " The main opposition avoids undertaking its responsibilities and its only interest is the party's exploitation of the visit," Mr. Simitis said.

Karamanlis sharply criticises Simitis

Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday harshly criticised the government for its handling of Mr. Clinton's visit to Greece.

Speaking after a half-hour meeting with Mr. Simitis, Mr. Karamanlis told reporters the "postpo-nement" and "downgrading" of the Clinton visit was "nationally harmful", adding that it was inconceivable that "petty party expediencies should come before the national interest".

The ND leader said Mr. Simitis gave the impression of being "incapable of handling national issues of major importance" and criticised him of "not boldly raising his voice".

He said the Clinton visit could prove beneficial for Greece "if we take the opportunity to put forward the Greek positions". But prerequisites for that were correct preparation of the visit and for the government to speak up clearly, he said.

"And the government failed in the former, while with respect to the latter it appears it does not have the stature to raise its voice".

The US, on the other hand, "must realise that the policy of (keeping) equal distances vis-a-vis Greece and Turkey encourages Turkish aggressiveness and provocativeness", Mr. Karamanlis said, adding that Ankara remained expansionist with respect to the Aegean, and intransigent with respect to Cyprus "which in addition to being unjust for Greece, primarily hurts stability in the region".

Attack on KKE offices reported

The government yesterday condemned the attack against a Communist Party of Greece (KKE) office off a central Athens avenue by six masked assailants yesterday afternoon.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the attack was a "despicable act against democratic legality, and is the work of forces wishing to undermine the country's normal course..."

The Coalition of the Left and DHKKI also condemned the attack, while KKE blamed the government, saying it is cultivating "with its cadres' propaganda" the ground for such acts.

According to reports, six suspects armed with clubs and pipes broke into the KKE bureau on Acharnon street and injured three individuals in the offices at the time. The suspects reportedly fled after the incident, while the three men, aged 81, 47 and 23, were hospitalised.

Athens cries foul over BM damage to Parthenon Marbles

The Greek government announced yesterday that conclusions of a recent investigation conducted by experts on the British Museum-housed Parthenon Marbles were "not pleasant at all".

Culture Minister Elizabeth Papazoi, speaking during the presentation of British author William St Clair's book, entitled "Lord Elgin and the Marbles", said that a microscopic and in-depth examination conducted by a delegation of Greek experts on the Marbles revealed damage from excessive cleaning and scrubbing.

She said that according to the findings, cleaning of the sculptures in 1937 and 1938 has caused immeasurable and irreversible damage to the Marbles' patina.

Mr. St Clair said during a press conference that "the scrubbing of surfaces was conducted in full violation of official guidelines and continued for a period of at least 16 months".

A 100-page report including the conclusions of the experts' examination will be officialy presented in London at the first-ever symposium focusing on the Parthenon Marbles, set for the end of November.

Greek-American leaders on Clinton visit

Greek-American leaders yesterday expressed their satisfaction that US President Bill Clinton will visit Greece during his trip to the region next week.

The week's postponement is considered as bringing the US president to Athens after Turkey, something one Greek-American community leader said may afford the opportunity for "positive progress to report to Greece" on the Cyprus issue.

Andrew Athens, the president of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) and national chairman of the United Hellenic American Congress (UHAC) said: "We understand that some encouraged the president to skip his visit to Greece. His overruling of that recommendation says something about his commitment to Greece." .

Philip Christopher, president of the International Coordinating Committee- Justice for Cyprus and of the Pancyprian Association of America, warned that "the Cyprus issue cannot wait."

"It is crucial that President Clinton secure some substantive movement toward a just and viable Cyprus settlement now. Without a visit to both Turkey and Greece, hope for such movement would be greatly diminished," Mr. Christopher said.

Andrew Manatos, president of the National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (CEH), said that "...now that President Clinton will be visiting Greece after Turkey, it will afford him a better opportunity to achieve the goal he seeks -- to have pos itive progress to report to Greece."

The American-Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) expressed hope that "during President Clinton's stay in Athens the problems created by the Turkish provocations in the Aegean and the ongoing occupation of part of Cyprus will be discussed in depth".

In Montreal, visiting Archbishop Demetrios of America yesterday expressed optimism on the success of Mr. Clinton's visit.

"I am aware of the difficultues with the American president's official visit, but I am convineced that it could prove very beneficial for finding solutions to the various problems of the countries of the region," he said.

Demetrios will also be a member of the official delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople when Mr. Clinton is received at the Patriarchate on Nov. 17, and will attend the official dinner in Mr. Clinton's honour to be hosted by the Greek government on Nov. 19 in Athens.

Milosevic praises support from Greek people to Yogoslavia

Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic yesterday stressed that the Greek people deserve the utmost of respect for their wholehearted support for the people of Yugoslavia during NATO's bombing.

Mr. Milosevic commented on relations between Yugoslavia and Greece during his meeting with former FM Karolos Papoulias yesterday, who concluded his two-day visit to Belgrade for talks with Yugoslav government and party officials.

Mr. Papoulias travelled to Belgrade in his capacity as Parliament's national defence and foreign affairs committee chairman.

Mr. Milosevic underlined that Greece and Yugoslavia are linked with a permanent and common target to develop close and mutual relations and cooperation in all fields, having the longstanding friendship between the two peoples as a steadfast basis.

He added that pressures to which Yugoslavia is exposed constitute a factor of destabilisation for southeastern Europe in its entirety and should be eliminated in the interest of stability and the successful development of the entire region to enable the implementation of the Balkan countries' orientation for cooperation between them, as determined at the summit in Crete.

Public investments total Dr 1.9 trillion Jan-Oct

Funds approved in the public investments programme totalled 1.88 trillion drachmas in the period January-October 1999, accounting for 83.4 percent of the total programme this year, Deputy National Economy Minister Christos Pahtas said yesterday.

This year's programme is expected to total 2.255 trillion drachmas, exceeding an earlier target of 2.195 trillion drachmas.

Mr. Pahtas said that the rapid implementation of the government's public investments programme reflected the country's drive to boost growth.

ELBO, EAB privatisations at tendering stage

A partial privatisation of Hellenic Vehicles Industry and Hellenic Aerospace Industry is expected to be completed by the end of January 2000, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou to discuss the privatisation process, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the programme was at the tendering stage.

Greek stocks end lower on technical worries

Equity prices ended yesterday's session lower, reversing an early advance on the Athens Stock Exchange.

Market sources attributed the fall to uncertainties over the operation of a new electronic trading system, due to begin operations today, with several securities firms saying they were not fully informed of its functions.

The new system aims to improve the quality and volume of transactions. It also will divide trade into normal stocks and shares under supervision.

The general index ended 0.83 percent lower at 5,657.06 points, with turnover at 384.572 billion drachmas.

Hellenic Telecoms and Keranis were the most heavily traded stocks. National Bank of Greece ended at 21,225 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 25,000, Commercial Bank at 22,790, Titan Cement (common) at 39,400, Hellenic Petroleum at 4,940, Intracom at 14, 500, Minoan Lines at 9,910, Panafon at 3,680 and Hellenic Telecoms at 6,500.

Morgan Stanley backs drachma parity revaluation

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, the investment bank, said yesterday that a revaluation of the drachma's central parity in the European Union's exchange rate mechanism II is essential to ease the alignment of Greek short-term rates with the euro zone.

The drachma's parity with the euro was set at 353.109 when Greece joined ERM II in March last year.

"A readjustment is the only way to resolve the dilemma of (Greek) monetary policy," analyst Ricardo Barbieri was quoted as saying in a Reuters report.

Alpha Credit Bank launches first branch in Albania

Alpha Credit Bank yesterday inaugurated its first branch in Tirana, Albania, as part of an expansion policy in markets abroad.

The branch is the first of five that Alpha Credit, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, is planning to open in the neighbouring country.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by Alpha Credit Bank Group chairman Yiannis Costopoulos, Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, Albanian government ministers, and the Greek ambassador to Tirana.

"Alpha Credit Bank's branch in Tirana will provide all banking services offered in Greece and other foreign countries," said Andreas Barntzis, the new branch's manager.

Alpha Credit Bank has already launched branches in London, Sofia, Nicosia and Bucharest.

Greece, Germany seek better transfer of knowhow

Greek and German officials are to meet in Athens on November 23 to debate improving the transfer of technological knowhow from the north European country to Greece.

Organising the meeting are the National Documentation Centre, the Greek Centre for the Distribution of Innovation and the German Centre for the Distribution of Innovation of Essen/Rhineland-Palatinate. The talks aim at boosting ties among Greek and Ger man companies in order to effect the transfer of knowhow.

Attending the meeting will be company executives and representatives of universities and research centres from the two countries involved in the field.

Minoan Flying Dolphins to get new ships

Minoan Flying Dolphins said yesterday it had purchased three passenger and vehicle ferries from the Nomikos shipping family.

The company had previously purchased vessels from shipowners Goutos and Agapitos.

Minoan Flying Dolphins, a subsidiary of listed Minoan Lines, is expected in the near future to announce new alliances with companies in the passenger shipping sector.

Pope's desire for rapprochement with Orthodox world

A high-ranking Catholic Cardinal of central Europe stressed in Athens yesterday that Pope John Paul II is ready to do everything for the unity of the Christian world.

Speaking during the start to the 29th general assembly of the council of European Catholic bishops - Consilum Conferentiarum Episcopalium Europae - Cardinal Miroslav Vlk of Prague referred to the Roman Catholic Church primate's intention to apologise from the Orthodox Church for the dreaded "Holy Inquisition" and the infamous Crusades, as part of an effort to achieve a rapprochement between the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Church.

"Nobody can say that the pope does not have his arms open to all. He is ready to do everything for the unity of Christians and he has been working for this from the day of his election," the Cardinal said during the council's convening in Athens.

Support for joint hosting of 'Euro 2008' with Turkish federation

The government yesterday said it would provide support to plans by its football federation to jointly bid with the Turkish federation to host the "Euro 2008" soccer championship following a meeting between the Turkish and Greek sports ministers.

"We noted with great interest that the Greek and Turkish football federations have begun talks on jointly bidding to host the "Euro 2008", Deputy Minister for Sports Andreas Fouras said after meeting with his visiting Turkish counterpart Fikret Unlu. "We committed ourselves to providing technical support to the federations so they can prepare their bid," he said. Mr. Fouras added that Mr. Unlu would return to Athens, at his invitation, to attend the weightlifting world championships.

WEATHER

Light cloud over the Ionian and Dodecanese islands is forecast for Friday with local rainfall and storms mainly in the west, abating gradually. Winds in the west will be easterly moderate, on the east northerly strong and in the Aegean Sea very strong. Athens will be partly cloudy with temperatures ranging from 12-18C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 10- 14C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          313.065
Pound sterling       508.202
Japanese yen (100)   298.156
French franc          49.671
German mark          166.591
Italian lira (100)    16.827
Irish Punt           413.709
Belgian franc          8.077
Finnish mark          54.799
Dutch guilder        147.852
Danish kr.            43.817
Austrian sch.         23.678
Spanish peseta         1.958
Swedish kr.           37.700
Norwegian kr.         39.753
Swiss franc          202.482
Port. Escudo           1.625
Can. dollar          213.181
Aus. dollar          200.949
Cyprus pound         565.400
Euro                 325.822
(C.E.)
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