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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-11-24

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, 24/11/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • G. Papandreou: No decision yet on possible Turkish EU candidacy
  • PM praises rapid growth of Greek telecoms
  • No measures to deal with oil price rise
  • Greek-Israeli meetings on 2004 Olympic alliances
  • Hellenic Arms Industry gets ISO 9001
  • Europarliament to adopt EU report on Greek debt
  • Inflation worries dampen sentiment on ASE
  • Bond yields fall substantially
  • Gov't reiterates position over Cyprus solution through UN
  • Tsohatzopoulos: Greece ready to participate in WEU military units
  • Commission stresses that 'European Museum' a private initiative
  • Chinese film wins top honours at Thessaloniki Film Festival
  • Greek-Palestinian meeting on bilateral economic, development ties
  • Greek pavilion at Expo 2000 in Hannover touted
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

G. Papandreou: No decision yet on possible Turkish EU candidacy

Athens is in the midst of 'tough talks' and has not yet decided on whether it will say yea or nay to Turkey's much-coveted candidacy status at the EU Helsinki summit next month, Foreign Minister George Papandreou said yesterday.

"This will depend on the positions and commitments which the EU will undertake over the way in which the recognition of the Turkish candidacy will be linked with the consolidation of Greek interests," Mr. Papandreou told reporters at a news conference regarding current affairs.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, meanwhile, told reporters that the likelihood of Athens approving or rejecting Turkey's EU candidacy bid was "50-50".

Greece is ready to compress these views into a "yes or a no at Helsinki, in line with the stance to be taken by the other sides," he said. Mr. Papandreou reiterated that Athens fully supported Nicosia's decision to participate in UN-sponsored pro ximity talks.

The foreign minister visits Cyprus tomorrow to meet with government officials there to relay the Greek government's positions.

PM praises rapid growth of Greek telecoms

Greek telecommunications services are a match for their European equivalents, reflecting the expansion of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation abroad and a high growth rate in mobile telephony, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday.

In a speech at the inauguration ceremony for the transport and communication ministry's new building in Athens, Mr. Simitis also said that the mobile telephone sector was developing rapidly through new investments and increased competition.

"We are installing an interconnecting Internet network to include 250 schools in the next two months and more than 4,500 schools in less than two years from now," he said.

The network will also include links to all university and research centres in the country and foreign universities.

On other transport issues, Mr. Simitis said he expected to launch two new Athens metro lines early in January.

Turning to Hellenic Railways Organisation, Mr. Simitis said it had finally started to transform itself through construction of a new rail network across the country. The plan envisages a double track network operating with electric-powered, high-speed trains.

"Our policy priority was to transform Olympic Airways into a viable and competitive airline," Mr. Simitis said.

Mr. Simitis said that Olympic Airways would relocate to a new airport being built for Athens at Spata and was also proceeding with a plan to renew its fleet.

He warned, however, that the national carrier would either have to restructure and become competitive or remain on the sidelines and be punished for its shortcomings.

No measures to deal with oil price rise

National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday that the government would not take any fiscal measures to cope with inflationary pressures due to a rise in global oil prices.

The minister added that the oil problem would not jeopardise meeting the inflation criterion for entry into the 11-member euro zone on January 1, 2001, the government's self-imposed target date.

Greek-Israeli meetings on 2004 Olympic alliances

The Israeli embassy yesterday launched a three-day conference on business alliances with Greek firms ahead of the 2004 Olympics to be hosted by Athens.

Israeli Ambassador Ran Curiel told the conference that trade relations between the two countries had shown a major improvement in the last two years.

Israel was Greece's main export destination in the Middle East, and Greece was a significant market for Israeli exports to the European Union.

The state of relations created a sound base for the development of tripartite partnerships in the Balkans, Mediterranean and Middle East.

Mr. Curiel said that the Olympics were a major business opportunity for Israeli firms.

Attending the conference were representatives of Israeli companies from sectors including construction, project design, telecoms, environmental technology and security systems. The representatives would be briefed by the 2004 Olympics organising committee and meet officials from 50 Greek companies.

Hellenic Arms Industry gets ISO 9001

Hellenic Arms Industry SA has been awarded the ISO 9001 quality assurance certificate for its plants in Eyio, Lavrio and Mandra, the company said in a statement yesterday.

The certification, awarded by the Hellenic Standardisation Organisation, was a two-year procedure covering design and production.

The Group expects to obtain the same certificate in the near future for its two other plants, which belong to subsidiaries, located in Kymi and Kefallovrysso, Epirus, the statement said.

In addition, the company is carrying out one billion drachmas' worth of investments, backed by the European Konver programme, at its Epirus plant.

The investment is to purchase advanced technology machinery that is able to produce the euro coin, which is composed of two metals.

The euro programme will ensure contracts for at least five years, Hellenic Arms Industry said.

Europarliament to adopt EU report on Greek debt

The European Parliament is expected to adopt a European Commission recommendation to abolish Greece's excessive debt status, PASOK Eurodeputy George Katiforis said in the Belgian capital yesterday.

Mr. Katiforis has been appointed by the European Parliament's Economic Committee as rapporteur for the European Commission's annual report on the EU economy, due to be formally presented to the Europarliament today by Pedro Solbes, EU Commissioner for Economic Affairs.

"After the important decision to abolish the status of excessive debt, the Commission's report has made positive forecasts on the Greek economy and especially the inflation criterion, the last hurdle in our country's progress towards EMU participation," Mr. Katiforis said.

Inflation worries dampen sentiment on ASE

Equity prices came under strong pressure yesterday to end sharply lower, hit by worries over the impact of rising oil prices on the inflation rate.

The general index ended 1.26 percent down at 5,532.44 points, off the day's low of 5,480 points. Turnover was 344 billion drachmas.

Shares in the Investment and Industrials sectors were badly hit while the Insurance and Miscellaneous sectors ended 2.24 and 0.86 percent higher, respectively.

National Bank of Greece ended at 21,100 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 24, 300, Commercial Bank at 22,490, Titan Cement (common) at 37,500, Hellenic Petroleum at 4,550, Intracom at 13,890, Minoan Lines at 9,500, Panafon at 3, 900 and Hellenic Telecoms at 6,275.

Bond yields fall substantially

Seven-year bond yields fell substantially in yesterday's regular weekly auction of state securities by the finance ministry.

The average weighted interest rate of the seven-year bond, worth 135 billion drachmas, fell to 6.83 percent from 7.49 percent in the previous auction of October 19.

The annual coupon was 6.0 percent.

Bids submitted by the market's primary dealers totalled 358 billion drachmas, more than two times the amount sought, evidence of continued demand for Greek state bonds.

The auction was a reopening of the original February 19, 1999 issue.

The average weighed price of the bond was 95.796 and its minimum accepted price was 95.750.

Gov't reiterates position over Cyprus solution through UN

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday reiterated that a solution to the long-standing Cyprus problem should be sought within the context of UN resolutions.

He was replying to questions in connection to statements by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who reportedly said that a solution to the Cyprus problem was still distant, and to remarks by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who reportedly said he would go to New York to meet with the UN secretary general only.

The government spokesman said "the division of Cyprus is the shame of Europe", adding that "the Cyprus issue is a difficult issue, that is why it has remained unresolved for so many years". As for Mr. Denktash, he said "he is the extremely negative factor in efforts for a resolution to the problem", and that with his attitude "he is just making it more known that he is not willing to contribute in seeking a solution".

Tsohatzopoulos: Greece ready to participate in WEU military units

Military units of the Western European Union (WEU) will be formed within 2000, and Greek armed forces will be ready to participate in them, Defence Ministrer Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday.

Speaking at the WEU's ministerial council session, he said Greece was an ardent supporter of the idea of a "European defence," the conditions for which are now mature. Regarding armaments programmes, on which he chaired a committee session,

The Council expressed satisfaction over the continuation of dialogue between WEU and Cyprus .

"The ministers note with satisfaction the continuation of dialogue between Cyprus and WEU, which is developing in parallel with the development of relations between Cyprus and the European Union, with which membership negotiations are underway," said t he joint communique. The Turkish delegation noted its objection to this reference.

Commission stresses that 'European Museum' a private initiative

A proposed 'European Museum' to contain exhibits of the continent's history since the Middle Ages and mostly from Europe's northwest is a private initiative, EU Education and Culture Commissioner Viviane Reding stressed in Brussels yesterday.

"The plans for the museum are based on a private initiative and statements on the subject do not bind the European Commission, which has not received any relevant report or application," she said.

The statements came in reaction to Culture Minister Elisabeth Papazoi's address on the issue at the Union's culture ministers' council yesterday in Brussels and a relevant question tabled in the Europarliament by Greek Eurodeputies.

Ms Papazoi expressed Athens' reservation towards the creation of such a museum in Brussels.

"Europe is a political unit, it has a particular understading of itself, its borders and its role in the future. The problem of the historical definition of Europe is foremostly political and is related to today and not yesterday."

The planned museum in Brussels proposes that Europe was born during the Middle Ages, while the map of the European Union is that of Charlemagne's empire, albeit with certain exceptions.

Chinese film wins top honours at Thessaloniki Film Festival

A Chinese film won the "Golden Alexander" at the 40th International Thessaloniki Film Festival's foreign section, while a nostalgic of the '60s Greek movie won top honours in the Greek section.

"Xizhao" (Shower), a film about a father-son relationship in a China undergoing modernisation, directed by Zhang Yang, won the best film award, while the Italian-French-Argentine production "Garage Olimpo", directed by Marco Bechis, placed second.

Best director award was given to Britain's Justin Kerrigan for his "Human Traffic".

"Peppermint", directed by 46-year-old Costas Kapakas, received top honours in the Greek film section.

Greek-Palestinian meeting on bilateral economic, development ties

The meeting on issues of economic and technological cooperation between Greece and the Palestinian self-rule authority concluded yesterday.

During the meeting the two sides examined the possibilities for bilateral cooperation and agreed to work for the mutual protection and promotion of investments and avoidance of double taxation.

The Greek delegation was headed by Deputy National Economy Minister Rodoula Zisi and the Palestinian delegation by Mohammed Nasasibi.

Sectors of cooperation include industry, health, agriculture, tourism, infrastructure, energy and renewable sources of energy in particular, human potential development, maintenance of monuments and preservation of cultural heritage as well as the organisation of public administration, among others.

Greek pavilion at Expo 2000 in Hannover touted

A Greek pavilion will be set up among other European stands at the 'Europe Avenue', the most prominent portion of the world Expo 2000 exhibition in Hannover between June 1 and Oct. 31, 2000.

The exhibition, focusing on "Man, Nature and Technology" is dedicated to sciences, technology and arts, with man being the focal point.

A total of 190 countries and international organisations will be participating in Expo 2000 and it is expected to be visited by some 40 million visitors.

Hailing Greece's participation, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou reiterated his conviction that the country is ready for EMU entry.

WEATHER

Fine weather with a further drop in temperatuires is forecast in most parts of Greece today with local rainfall in eastern Macedonia, Thrace and the northern and eastern Aegean islands. Gradual improvement expected later in the day. Winds north northwesterly, medium to strong, and very strong in Aegean and Ionian seas. Athens sunny with temperatures between 5-15C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 5-10C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          315.773
Pound sterling       513.181
Japanese yen (100)   301.628
French franc          49.724
German mark          166.768
Italian lira (100)    16.845
Irish Punt           414.150
Belgian franc          8.085
Finnish mark          54.858
Dutch guilder        148.009
Danish kr.            43.858
Austrian sch.         23.704
Spanish peseta         1.960
Swedish kr.           37.918
Norwegian kr.         39.916
Swiss franc          203.722
Port. Escudo           1.627
Can. dollar          214.847
Aus. dollar          201.421
Cyprus pound         564.448
Euro                 326.170
(C.E.)
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