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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-11-19

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, 19/11/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis: Turkey should respond to Athens' recent goodwill gestures
  • Ecevit says talks fruitful
  • Long-awaited Clinton visit to Athens begins today
  • Gov't defends protest ban
  • Cyprus proximity talks unrelated to Turkish EU candidacy
  • Greek-American leaders' response to Wash. Post editorial
  • Vartholomeos receives Prodi
  • Stocks fall on inflation worries
  • National Bank of Greece in alliance with Egyptian bank
  • Gov't to crack down on misleading promotion
  • Intracom in Japanese education project
  • Minoan Flying Dolphins buys new ships
  • Panafon Money Show '99 conference in Kavala
  • New mutual fund for growth small caps
  • WEATHER
  • FOREIGN EXCHANGE

NEWS IN DETAIL

Simitis: Turkey should respond to Athens' recent goodwill gestures

Prime Minister Costas Simitis told his Turkish counterpart Bulent Ecevit yesterday that Athens has made a series of goodwill gestures to improve relations with Turkey and that there should be a response.

Addressing reporters here after a 45-minute meeting with Mr. Ecevit on the sidelines of an Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit, Mr. Simitis said: "I clarified to Mr. Ecevit that Greece has made a series of moves for the imp rovement of relations with Turkey. There should be a response for this process to continue." He added that Athens supported Turkey's European vocation, as it believed EU-Turkish cooperation would benefit both sides.

"Greece supports Turkey's EU prospects because it believes that European Union cooperation with Turkey will benefit both the EU and Turkey. Besides, the Greek position is that, in the long term, all the countries of Europe must take part in the European Union," Mr. Simitis said.

"However," he added, "we want such a cooperation with the European Union to be effected under such terms and processes that will ensure cooperation and friendship so that there will be no problems".

Mr. Simitis said he and Mr. Ecevit had a "very friendly" discussion that focused on "the problems; the issues occupying both countries".

"Such issues and problems include those concerning the Aegean, Cyprus and implementation of the rules of internatonal law in the region. The issue of the (Aegean) continental shelf, the questioning of International law's validity, was one of the central topics discussed," Mr. Simitis said.

He added that Greece proposes the initiation of a discussion on the continental shelf issue, within a specified timeframe, which if not met, will result to the issue being referred to the International Court at the Hague.

The Greek premier said he pointed out that the two countries collaborated after the devastating earthquakes that recently hit in both countries, "and that was very positive".

Ecevit says talks fruitful

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Mr. Ecevit said he and the Greek premier had a very fruitful and warm discussion.

"The Greek assistance during the recent disastrous earthquakes that hit our country was very important for our country and people, and I expressed by gratitude to the prime minister," Mr. Ecevit said, adding that the earthquakes and the cooperation built on them with the mutual extension of assistance "show-ed that cooperation between the two peoples is destiny".

Mr. Ecevit said the ongoing low-impact dialogue between Greek and Turkish foreign ministers "had commenced long before the earthquakes and gave rise to major hopes".

"As I have repeatedly stated, it is my view that there is no serious conflict of interests between Greece and Turkey.

He said "there is no one in Turkey who has territorial designs against Greece. In addition, we must keep constantly in mind that we are both NATO member-countries".

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis said in Athens that Mr. Ecevit's statement, namely, that Turkey does harbour any territorial claims against Greece, is "deceptive".

"This is exactly what he said before he (Ecevit) fabricated the totally unfounded theory of 'grey zones' (in the Aegean), so it is not a good will gesture to give up on an unfounded fabrication," Mr. Karamanlis said.

The ND leader added that the US president should abandon the "equal distance policy between Athens and Ankara".

Long-awaited Clinton visit to Athens begins today

US President Bill Clinton arrives in Athens today at 6:30 p.m. for an official 24-hour visit accompanied by his wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea as well as Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. His talks with Greek leadership begin on Saturday morning before delivering an address at Athens Intercontinental hotel where he will also be staying.

Meanwhile, the government said responsibility for better Greek-Turkish relations lies with Ankara and it is exactly this that will be underlined when Prime Minister Costas Simitis meets with the US president.

The US President main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis are scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. tomorrow at the former's hotel in downtown Athens.

Mr. Karamanlis has stated that during his discussions with the US president he will raise issues regarding Greek-Turkish relations, the Cyprus problem and the role of Greece in the Balkans.

Gov't defends protest ban

The government yesterday defended its decision to bar protests during Mr. Clinton's visit to Athens.

"The government has said from the outset that citizens have an irrevocable right to demonstrate their opposition, but the state too has the duty to ensure the country's interests," Mr. Nikolaou said.

He also pointed out that the then New Democracy government had implemented a similar ban in 1991 for the visit of US President George Bush.

"Whoever believes that President Bush was 'good' and President Clinton is 'bad' should come out and say so openly," Mr. Nikolaou added.

Although the US president has no plans to visit the northern port city of Thessaloniki, the so-called "Committee of Groups against the Clinton Visit" is planning to protest anyway. Representatives of the group warned yesterday that they would hold protest marches in the city if the government refused to back down on its decision to prevent protesters in Athens from reaching the US embassy.

Thessaloniki protesters plan to march to the city's US consulate.

Cyprus proximity talks unrelated to Turkish EU candidacy

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos stressed yesterday that upcoming New York proximity talks between Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash would have no impact on talks regarding Turkey's possible EU candidacy.

"We are pursuing the accession of the Cypriot Republic to the European Union regardless of the political solution on the Cyprus problem. These are two distinct things, we should not link them to each other," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said after a meeting with his visiting Cypriot counterpart Socrates Hasikos.

He said it was still "too early" to draw any conclusions on the effect of recent activity over the Cyprus issue.

Greek-American leaders' response to Wash. Post editorial

Several top Greek-American leaders expressed their criticism with a paid advertisement in yesterday's "Washington Post", a response to an editorial in the same paper last week regarding urban terrorism in Greece.

"The allegation that Greek governments 'do not want to find' a repeat political killer is even more unreasonable...(as terrorists) killed a Greek prime minister's son-in-law," the paid opinion piece read.

"It took our (the US) government...18 years to find the 'Unabomber,' and then only when his brother turned him in...it does not mean that we 'do not want to find' the bomber," they added.

"Greece always has been there for the United States, for example, in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and even Bosnia and Kosovo - one of only seven nations, out of 191 in the world to do so. And, if we treat them right, Greece will always be there," the advertisment stated.

The article was signed by 24 Greek-American leaders and was addressed to the Washington Post and the US pulbic.

Vartholomeos receives Prodi

European Commission President Romano Prodi met with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos of Constantinople at the Phanar yesterday, a meeting sources described as "cordial".

Talks reportedly included the issues of human rights and religious freedom in Turkey, the re-opening of the Halki Theological Academy and Turkey's European prospects.

Stocks fall on inflation worries

Equity prices remained under pressure for the third consecutive session yesterday, pushing the market below the 5,600 level.

The general index ended 1.46 percent lower at 5,571.67 points, off the day's low of 5,548.63 points, with turnover at 312 billion drachmas.

Analysts attributed the market's negative climate to worries over the impact of rising oil prices on the inflation rate.

Shares in the Leasing sector were badly hit with the index ending 3.35 percent lower.

National Bank of Greece ended at 21,300 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 25, 440, Commercial Bank at 23,430, Titan Cement (common) at 37,050, Hellenic Petroleum at 4,650, Intracom at 13,400, Panafon at 3,680 and Hellenic Telecoms at 6,365.

National Bank of Greece in alliance with Egyptian bank

National Bank of Greece, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, said yesterday it was forming a venture capital firm with the National Bank of Egypt.

The new company will initially have a share capital of 50 million US dollars, with both banks holding equal stakes.

The announcement was made in Alexandria, Egypt by governor Theodoros Karatzas for the Greek bank and his counterpart Mahmoud Abdel Aziz for the Egyptian bank.

The venture capital fund will invest in high-growth companies operating in Egypt in order to aid them join the Egyptian bourse within five to seven years.

The two firms also agreed to aid passenger shipping links between Greece and Alexandria, a move that would help to boost tourism between the two countries.

Gov't to crack down on misleading promotion

The development ministry is to slap fines starting at 160 million drachmas on companies that mislead consumers by mail about their services or products.

The firms will also be barred from a register of companies selling by mail order.

The move follows complaints received by the ministry's consumer general secretariat that led to an enquiry.

Intracom in Japanese education project

Intracom, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, is taking part in a Japanese education ministry project to provide schools in the country with the Internet via satellite. The Greek telecommunications and high technology firm is working with Matsushita Communi -cation Industrial, the parent of Panasonic, in the project that employs Intracom's IoS-Internet software. Intracom said in a statement yesterday that the two firms won an international tender for the project.

Minoan Flying Dolphins buys new ships

Minoan Flying Dolphins yesterday announced the purchase of four ships, taking its fleet to 67 vessels.

With the new acquisitions that will ply routes in the Cyclades and Saronic Gulf, the company now has 34 fast ferries, 29 standard passenger and vehicle ferries and four Ro-Ros.

Panafon Money Show '99 conference in Kavala

Panafon Money Show '99 will be held in Kavala, northern Greece, this weekend.

The financial and development forum is co-organised by local authorities in Kavala and by Organotecnica SA, under the auspices of the Macedonia-Thrace ministry.

The conference will be attended by representatives of the Athens Stock Exchange, the Athens Derivatives Exchange, the Thessaloniki Stock Exchange Centre and business representatives from all over the country.

New mutual fund for growth small caps

Mutual fund manager Nationale-Nederlanden yesterday launched a new domestic equity fund, called Dynamic Enterprises-Domestic Equity, for investors seeking to participate in small- and medium-sized listed companies with strong growth potential.

The new mutual fund's investment strategy will focus on identifying companies with growth rates higher than the market average.

The stocks are likely to be in the information technology, construction and distribution sectors, or new listings, or merger and acquisition targets.

Nationale-Nederlanden manages a total of eight mutual funds in Greece.

WEATHER

Rainy weather will prevail in most parts of Greece today, mostly in the northeastern part of the country and the northern Aegean islands. Winds westerly, moderate to strong, turning gale force in the Aegean Sea. Partly cloudy in Athens with sunny spells and possible rain in the evening with temperatures between 14-20C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 10- 15C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          313.809
Pound sterling       509.293
Japanese yen (100)   296.568
French franc          49.749
German mark          166.849
Italian lira (100)    16.853
Irish Punt           414.351
Belgian franc          8.089
Finnish mark          54.884
Dutch guilder        148.082
Danish kr.            43.876
Austrian sch.         23.715
Spanish peseta         1.961
Swedish kr.           37.791
Norwegian kr.         39.799
Swiss franc          203.672
Port. Escudo           1.628
Can. dollar          213.330
Aus. dollar          200.354
Cyprus pound         565.242
Euro                 326.328
(C.E.)
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