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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-12-08

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, 08/12/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • PM calls for clarity in EU-Turkish relations
  • EU stance key to Greece position at summit
  • Turkish FM cited for Ipekci prize
  • President enjoys wide popularity
  • Inflation will not affect convergence - finmin
  • Public debt reduction economic focus
  • British Museum loser in recent Marbles meet
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

PM calls for clarity in EU-Turkish relations

Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Wednesday called for "clarity" in relations between Turkey and the European Union and Turkey and Greece, as the 15-member bloc prepared to discuss Turkey's bid for candidacy. "It is necessary that there be clear positions in regards to the ways and the rules of behaviour of all the participants, our European partners, Greece, Turkey, so that we can be led to solutions and not to impasses with the new relations of Turkey with the European Union," Simitis said after chairing an inner cabinet meeting. The meeting was called to discuss Greece's position on Turkey's bid for candidacy for the European Union, to be discussed at the Helsinki summit on Friday.

EU stance key to Greece position at summit

The stance Greece will take at this weekend's EU summit depends more on the actions of the European Union and less on Turkey, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Wednesday. Greece's decision on Turkey's bid for EU candidacy will be led by national interests and the stance on existing problems, he said. He said talks were continuing at a number of levels, but he stressed that the Cyprus issue remained of paramount importance. The policy Greece takes at Helsinki will also be affected by the Cyprus issue, he said.

Turkish FM cited for Ipekci prize

A prestigious Greek-Turkish friendship group has said it has proposed Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem for a special prize, after he said that Turkey was committed to falling into line with EU norms on resolving border disputes. The secretariat of the Ipekci Award took the decision unanimously to propose Cem for the 'Special Abdi Ipekci peace and friendship prize". A statement from the Ipekci secretariat said it was responding positively to statements from Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou who said that Cem's "efforts and activity" should be rewarded, regardless of the outcome of Friday's EU summit in Helsinki, which will discuss Turkey's bid to become a candidate member.

President enjoys wide popularity

President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos' enjoys sweeping popularity, just a few months before Presidential elections were due in parliament, according to a recent opinion poll the results of which appeared Wednesday in the Athens press. A poll conducted by the firm "Metron Analysis", which was conducted before his much-lauded address at the dinner in honour of US president Bill Clinton who briefly visited Athens last month as part of a wider Balkan tour, a sweeping majority of 88.5 percent considered Stephanopoulos' presidency a success. Asked to choose their favorite for President between Stephanopoulos and Athens' popular mayor, Dimitris Avramopoulos, an overwhelming 66.3 percent of the respondents preferred the current president against 23.7 percent who opted for Avramopoulos.

Inflation will not affect convergence - finmin

The recent rise in inflation due to increases in world oil prices, will not overturn the necessary convergence of interest rates, national economy and finance minister Yannos Papantoniou said Wednesday, adding that the timetable for de-escalation of interest rested largely with the Bank of Greece. Addressing the second day of a conference on "The Hour of the Greek Economy" organised by the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce (AHCC), Papantoniou predicted that inflation would remain at the present levels over the next two months. He also said that the eventuality of early general elections would not affect Greece's application to join the European Union's economic and monetary union (EMU), which was slated for submission in March.

Public debt reduction economic focus

A strategy of reducing the public debt will continue to be the touchstone for the Greek economy, Deputy Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Wednesday. Christodoulakis, speaking to a conference on the Greek economy organised by the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce, said that the issuing of a 20-year bond in the new year would be attractive for portfolios wanting long-term investment. The Greek bond market, he said, has become a tool for investment selection.

British Museum loser in recent Marbles meet

Greece said on Wednesday that the British Museum had been the loser in a recent symposium held in London to discuss the condition of the Parthenon Marbles. Speaking at a news conference, Culture Minister Elizabeth Papazoi said that Greece had "gained new friends" following its presentation of the facts at the symposium, contrary to what appeared to be the aim. "It is obvious that this was a symposium with a pre-defined aim," she said. She said that British historian William St Clair, who revealed the damage done to the Marbles during cleaning attempts in the 1930s, had been targeted by the symposium.

WEATHER

Overcast weather will prevail in most parts of Greece today with rain or storms in eastern and southern Greece, Crete and the Dodecanese islands. Winds variable, light to moderate, turning strong in the Aegean Sea. Mostly sunny in Athens with a few clouds and temperatures between 8-17C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 5-12C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          318.333
Pound sterling       517.268
Japanese yen (100)   309.534
French franc          49.677
German mark          166.610
Italian lira (100)    16.829
Irish Punt           413.759
Belgian franc          8.078
Finnish mark          54.806
Dutch guilder        147.869
Danish kr.            43.809
Austrian sch.         23.681
Spanish peseta         1.958
Swedish kr.           37.791
Norwegian kr.         40.057
Swiss franc          203.568
Port. Escudo           1.626
Can. dollar          215.859
Aus. dollar          202.269
Cyprus pound         565.757
Euro                 325.862
(M.P.)
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