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

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, 11/12/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis: Greece achieved all its objectives in Helsinki
  • Simitis stance lauded
  • Historic decision by EU
  • Opposition criticism
  • Fire brigade tender suspended
  • Police suspect religious items stolen from Kosovo monasteries
  • Expelled Greek doctors criticise Nobel winners MSF
  • Equities rally in across-the-board spree
  • Commercial Bank allies with Internet firm
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Simitis: Greece achieved all its objectives in Helsinki

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday expressed his "full satisfaction" over an agreement reached earlier in the day at the European Union summit here to upgrade Turkey to an EU candidate country.

EU leaders accepted the three conditions set by Athens for approving Turkey's candidacy, namely, that a solution to the Cyprus problem will not be a precondition for an EU decision on the island republic's accession; that Turkey's various territorial di sputes with Greece be referred to the International Court of Justice at The Hague within a specific timeframe; and that the same conditions apply to Turkey as to the 11 other candidates states, emphasising the need for an enhanced dialogue on human rights with a view to Ankara meeting the Copenhagen criteria on entry negotiations.

"It is an historic decision for peace and security in the region, which will help the relations between the two countries, and opens the road to constructive cooperation to the benefit of both Greece and Turkey," Mr. Simitis said.

"Greece had asked right from the start for clear positions and had stressed that Turkey's candidacy would have to be real and not virtual. Also, that there should be certainty as to the future course of action, emanating from the implementation of the rules of international law," he added.

Mr. Simitis also expressed satisfaction with the summit's decisions regarding Cyprus.

"It is clear that from now on, the process of Cyprus' accession to the EU will be unimpeded, and that a solution of the Cyprus problem will not be a condition for Cypriot membership," he said.

He also noted that the decisions reached at the summit were the result of hard work and continuous contacts between the governments of Greece and the other member-states, as well as of Athens particular efforts to develop cooperation and dialogue with A nkara.

"Turkey should realise that it stands to gain from the peace strategy which Greece has carved out," he said.

Regarding Turkey's EU candidacy, the Greek prime minister said any differences between candidate countries and member-states should be solved within a reasonable period of time on the basis of United Nations resolutions and that the agreement reached on

Turkey's candidacy was in accordance with this principle.

"It provides that the Council will examine until 2004 at the latest the progress achieved regarding the resolution of differences," he said, specifying that the only difference which Greece considers it has with Turkey concerns the continental shelf in the Aegean. He also noted the particular significance of the partnership pact which Turkey will sign with the European Union. "This partnership creates a mechanism for monitoring Turkey's behaviour, on the basis of which the European Commission will e xamine the progress that country achieves, as with all other candidate countries," he said.

Finally, he stressed that the decisions reached were not renegotiable and expressed a hope that Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit would accept them and be present at the official EU dinner today.

Simitis stance lauded

Greek premier Costas Simitis' stance at and contribution to the EU summit in Helsinki was praised by Finnish prime minister and current EU chairman Paavo Lipponen and US president Bill Clinton. In a letter to Simitis, Clinton expressed respect and appreciation for his stance, adding that Greece, under Simitis' leadership, could look forward to playing a leadership role in the region for the achievement of stability, prosperity and peace. Lipponen said Simitis played a decisive role in the summit outcome and had maintained an exceptionally positive stance.

Historic decision by EU

Greece's foreign minister on Saturday called the EU summit decision to upgrade Turkey to a candidate country with specific conditions placed on the candidacy as a "historic decision" that formulated a "framework of rules and principles within which we can live in a climate of security, cooperation and peace". He said the deicision opened up very significant opportunities for the improvement of bilateral Greek-Turkish relations and also for a resolution of the Cyprus issue.

Opposition criticism

Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis criticised the government on the outcome of the EU summit in Helsinki, particularly blasting what he called the "recognition of unilateral Turkish claims as Greek-Turkish differences". The Communist Party of Greece-KKE also said that the government's triumphant words were an effort to set up a smoke screen to cover up the fact that the agreement signed in Helsniki was at the expense of Greece's sovereign rights and the Cyprus issue.

Fire brigade tender suspended

The Council of State has suspended the assignment of a contract for the procurement of rapid deployment vehicles for the fire brigade to the winning bidder, after another bidder disputed the outcome of the tender. Chrysler Jeep Hellas was declared the winner of the contract for 100 rapid deployment personnel transport vehicles under a tender issued in mid-June, but the decision was disputed by another bidder, N. Theocharakis S.A. with a motion tabled with the Council of State. The Council of State upheld the appeal, saying that the Chrysler Jeep Hellas tender lacked "full clarity" regarding the real unit price per vehicle.

Police suspect religious items stolen from Kosovo monasteries

Police in Thessaloniki said yesterday they believed they had broken up a ring involved in the illegal sale of items stolen from Kosovo monasteries.

Authorities said they suspected the relics, which include two 18th century icons and 17 copies of 19th century gospels, had been stolen from Orthodox monasteries in Kosovo following the exodus of the minority Serbs from the strife-torn Yugoslav province .

Also found were two crucifixes, six early Christian coins and six typographic plates which could only have come from Serbia or Kosovo, according to experts.

Police said they came across the relics after arresting two men P Savvas Dimitriadis, 49, and Sotiris Tsakalou, 57 P for attempting to sell other artifacts to an undercover policeman.

According to reports, they were working on behalf of Constantinos Nanos, 37, a Naousa resident. A search of Nanos' home uncovered the relics, while his wife, identified as Albanian national Anna Apostoli, was found to be in possession of seven fake pass ports. She was also arrested.

Expelled Greek doctors criticise Nobel winners MSF

The expelled Greek branch of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said yesterday that the crusading aid group, in Oslo to collect the Nobel Peace Prize yesterday, was losing independence to western governments.

"MSF Greece would like to express...their joy for this nomination but also their concerns as to the present and future of this humanitarian movement," MSF Greece president Odysseas Boudouris told a news conference.

MSF Greece is the only branch of MSF which was not invited to yesterday's prize ceremony in Oslo where MSF received the 7.9 million Swedish crowns ($940,000) award. The ceremony was attended by 39 MSF delegates from around the world.

Leaders of MSF expelled the Greek branch for entering Kosovo during NATO's bombing of the Yugoslav province claiming that the Greek branch was not impartial and was favouring the Serbs.

Mr. Boudouris insisted that MSF Greece was trying to help victims, whether Kosovo Albanians or Serbs. He said the humanitarian movement, especially some sections of MSF, was facing "critical problems" partly spawned by their rapid growth and success.

"These organisations have already lost much of their voluntary nature and tend to become institutions that act as factors of the general policy of the countries from which they derive," he said.

He said institutionalisation came from growing dependence on cash handouts from governments and, "like in the recent Kosovo crisis, assumes the form of consent with the dominating view formulated by the mass media".

MSF denies siding with NATO bombings of Yugoslavia during the Kosovo campaign.

The MSF Greece news conference was held at an Oslo hotel after the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, which helps arrange the official ceremonies, refused to allow the group to borrow premises owned by the ministry.

MSF Greece was also backed by veteran Greek novelist Antonis Samarakis. "Pain has no borders," he said, saying that the Greek doctors had merely sought to help victims on both sides during the Kosovo conflict.

Equities rally in across-the-board spree

Equities bounced back on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday, overtaking the 5,400 point level.

The general index ended 2.44 per cent higher at 5,418.32 points. Turnover was around 253 billion drachmas.

The parallel market index for small capitalisation stocks was up 1.95 percent at 1,780.73 points.

The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 2.48 per cent higher at 2,776.55 points.

A total of 29 stocks ended at the daily eight percent upper volatility limit.

Buying interest early in the session was focused on banking and industrial blue chips, later spreading to the rest of the market.

Players are awaiting news on Wednesday of a possible cut in intervention rates by the Bank of Greece.

Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (+1.89 pct), Leasing (+2.94 pct), Insurance (+2.07 pct), Investment (+1.99 pct), Construction (+2.27 pct), Industrials (+3.00 pct), Miscellaneous (+1.28 pct) and Holding (+2.95 pct).

Of 325 shares traded, advancers led decliners at 233 to 84 with 8 issues remaining unchanged.

Commercial Bank allies with Internet firm

State-owned Commercial Bank of Greece, which is listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, has forged a strategic alliance with Internet Protocol New Generation, including the purchase of a sizeable chunk of its stock.

The alliance with Internet Protocol, a member of the IPNG Group that claims the largest number of subscribers in the country, will allow Commercial to expand its activities into the high technology sector, including electronic commerce and banking trans actions through advanced networks, the bank said in a statement.

In turn, Internet Protocol will have the opportunity to sell its integrated services to Commercial Bank's customers.

The IPNG Group has acquired more than 75,000 Internet subscribers in seven months through its X-Treme service and provision of free access to the Internet.

WEATHER

Rain and storms are forecast throughout Greece on Saturday. Winds will be southerly, southeasterly, strong to gale force. Rain in Athens and Thessaloniki.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          321.378
Pound sterling       522.109
Japanese yen (100)   314.643
French franc          49.770
German mark          166.920
Italian lira (100)    16.861
Irish Punt           414.528
Belgian franc          8.093
Finnish mark          54.908
Dutch guilder        148.144
Danish kr.            43.900
Austrian sch.         23.726
Spanish peseta         1.962
Swedish kr.           38.059
Norwegian kr.         40.265
Swiss franc          204.312
Port. Escudo           1.629
Can. dollar          218.101
Aus. dollar          204.178
Cyprus pound         565.837
Euro                 326.467
(L.G.)
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