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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-05-03

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Cyprus problem dominates talks between Holbrooke and Greek, Turkish FMs
  • [02] Papandreou reportedly stresses need for EU to reconsider its stance on the Balkans
  • [03] Papandreou calls US terrorism report on Greece 'unfair'
  • [04] Papandreou, Cem meet in NY prior to joint talks with Albright
  • [05] Three agreements signed by Greek, Turkish FMs reach Turkish parliament
  • [06] Culture Ministry requests additional 10 billion drachmas for 2000
  • [07] Prime minister returns to Athens after spending Easter holiday on Corfu
  • [08] EU seen issuing favorable report Weds on Greek euro entry
  • [09] Greece says amendments to telecom regulations should include measures on development
  • [10] Capital Markets' Committee's report findings normal, probe continues
  • [11] Greek stocks end up in subdued trade
  • [12] Tonnage of Greek merchant fleet rises in April
  • [13] OA resumes flights to Libya after embargo dropped
  • [14] Athens journalists say freedom of the press is non-existent in 20 countries
  • [15] Greek and Turkish neighboring towns to be twinned
  • [16] Portuguese FM to discuss Cyprus' EU accession course with Cypriot officials
  • [17] Britain's envoy for Cyprus arrives on island Thursday
  • [18] Cyprus conference to be held in Washington May 16-18

  • [01] Cyprus problem dominates talks between Holbrooke and Greek, Turkish FMs

    NEW YORK, 03/05/2000 (ANA M. Georgiadou)

    The Cyprus problem dominated discussions between US Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke and the Foreign Ministers of Greece and Turkey, George Papandreou and Ismail Cem, respectively, according to press reports.

    The same reports said that during the dinner hosted by Holbrooke for the two ministers, on Tuesday, Holbrooke noted repeatedly the need for a resolution to the protracted Cyprus problem, stressing US President Bill Clintons willingness to do all he can for the resolution of the problem down to the last hour of his presidency.

    Holbrooke was said to have indirectly noted that he might be personally involved with the Cyprus problem at some point. Discussions also alluded to Turkeys obligation to soon deal with this problem, so as to have a genuine and not an ostensible progress in the third round of UN-led proximity talks in New York in late May between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    Papandreou later addressed a Brainstorming conference on "Integrated free Europe in peace: The future of southeastern Europe" while afterwards he participated in a trilateral meeting with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem in New York. The meeting was still in progress at press time.

    [02] Papandreou reportedly stresses need for EU to reconsider its stance on the Balkans

    NEW YORK, 03/05/2000 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)

    The Brainstorming conference on "Integrated free Europe in peace: The future of southeastern Europe", was held on Tuesday and, according to press reports, lengthy reference was made to the Stability Pact.

    According to the same reports, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said there was need for a reconsideration of the European Union's whole stance on the Balkans in various sectors and that a common position is necessary at international level.

    The Stability Pact is a strategy, a common vision for the region but, as it was stressed, it should also have specific results and specific actions. A permanent coordination and an integrated policy on the part of the international community is necessary. And when one speaks of international community one means Europe and the United States and Russia. These are the parameters, which should play a leading role in a common conception for resolving the region's problems.

    It was further stressed that cooperation on a Balkan level should also be supported and permanent coordination should be achieved in the actions of international organizations involved in the Balkans.

    According to the same reports, Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem sided with Greece's positions, underlining that the voice of the Balkans should also be heard.

    [03] Papandreou calls US terrorism report on Greece 'unfair'

    NEW YORK, 03/05/2000 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)

    The US State Department report on terrorism was unfair to Greece, Foreign Minister George Papandreou said here on Tuesday, ahead of his scheduled discussions with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright later in the day. "The report is unfair to Greece, unfair regarding its real effort to confront terrorism. It is well known to all that Greece has set as a basic goal the confrontation of terrorism as well. It is well known to all that it is a country with an especially high level of security for its citizens," the minister said.

    "Of course, (it is also a well-known fact) that Greece has concluded agreements with many countries, on an equal basis, a basis which provides for the protection of the basic values of human rights and democratic procedures," he added.

    "The same we have done with the USA. I will have the opportunity to discuss this and brief on this climate Mrs. Albright today," Papandreou said.

    On Monday government spokesman Dimitris Reppas rejected "direct or indirect accusations on our country's policy" on the issue of terrorism, adding that Athens remains steadfastly bent on the target of confronting the phenomenon of terrorism.

    According to an ANA dispatch from Washington, this year's State Department report says that Greece continued to be one of the weakest links in Europe's efforts against terrorism, adding that most anti-American terrorist attacks in Europe in 1999 took place in Greece which was second only to Colombia. The chapter on Greece says: "Greek terrorists perpetrated 20 acts of violence against concerns of the US government and US private companies in Greece and dramatically increased their attacks against Greek targets, as well as foreign targets.

    Papandreou, responding to questions regarding discussions on the Cyprus issue between him, Mrs. Albright and Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem said, "this is one more opportunity to promote a solution of the Cyprus problem, as we have ahead of us, within a few days, the beginning of the third round of talks under the auspices of the United Nations.

    "During these discussions I will have the opportunity to stress the importance to our country, and I would say the whole of the European Union - of which we are members, the need for political will by all sides for the promotion of substantial talks and finally the favorable resolution of the Cyprus problem," Papandreou concluded.

    [04] Papandreou, Cem meet in NY prior to joint talks with Albright

    NEW YORK, 03/05/2000 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)

    Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem met late Monday evening here for their latest round of face-to-face talks, as trilateral contacts with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright are also set for Tuesday.

    "We had a very positive, friendly and open discussion in light of today's events, organized by the East-West Institute, and in relation to the rapprochement of our two countries," Papandreou told reporters in Manhattan after the meeting.

    The Greek FM later mentioned that Greek-Turkish relations were discussed in light of the recent signing of nine bilateral agreements and the completion of official visits, while developments in the European Union as well as the thorny Cyprus problem were also the focus of talks.

    Finally, Papandreou said the Kosovo issue and the situation in the Balkans also came up.

    "As you know we have a common approach on principle, especially over Kosovo, and that will be a topic of discussion with Ms Albright as well today," he added.

    [05] Three agreements signed by Greek, Turkish FMs reach Turkish parliament

    ISTANBUL, 03/05/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    Three of the nine agreements signed between Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem in January were tabled for approval in the Turkish parliament, according to a report by the Istanbul daily Hurriyet.

    According to the report, Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit tabled the agreements on marine transport, economic cooperation and mutual promotion and protection of investments.

    [06] Culture Ministry requests additional 10 billion drachmas for 2000

    Athens, 03/05/2000 (ANA)

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou held talks with Culture Minister Theodoros Pangalos on Tuesday, in light of the Culture Ministry's request for additional subsidies this year amounting to 10 billion drachmas, and Papantoniou said afterwards that culture will have more effective support in coming years.

    Pangalos said that with its new policy, the Culture Ministry will fund what somebody is doing and not what he is, adding that this will facilitate the saving of funds. He also said that expenditures for culture would increase since the demand for culture is increasing.

    Papantoniou recognized the Culture Ministry's problems and continuous need for funds and said that at present cultural activities can be supported much more effectively with the new powerful economy and with revenues from denationalizations.

    Papantoniou further said that an issue exists with the budget for 2000 and that in general it was agreed that the issue should be resolved. He said that the issue of funding the Athens Olympic Games, with regard to culture, was also discussed.

    [07] Prime minister returns to Athens after spending Easter holiday on Corfu

    Athens, 03/05/2000 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis flew back to Athens from Corfu on Tuesday night after spending the Easter holiday on the fashionable island with his wife.

    Earlier, Simitis had successive meetings with local authorities and agency representatives on the island. He held similar talks with members of his ruling PASOK party's local prefectural committee.

    Simitis told them that the next four years can alter Greece's image radically and expressed certainty that Greece will become a member of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in June and as from January 1, 2001 it will be in the eurozone.

    "This fact does not mean that problems will be solved automatically. However, it provides stability on which we can build. We have the political will to signal a new period of great renewal with coordination, unity and effectiveness," he said.

    [08] EU seen issuing favorable report Weds on Greek euro entry

    BRUSSELS, 03/05/2000 (ANA-B.Demiris)

    The European Union's executive Commission is expected to issue a report backing Greece's entry into the 11-member euro zone, EU sources said on Tuesday.

    In the report due for release on Wednesday, the Commission is expected to outline Greece's performance in meeting the Maastricht Treaty's five economic convergence criteria with the rest of the EU, expressing qualms only about the country's ability to sustain inflation below 2.0 percent.

    In the form of a recommendation, the report will be given to the EU's finance ministers for endorsement.

    The final decision on whether or not the country qualifies to join the euro zone will be made at a summit of EU leaders in Lisbon on June 19-20.

    Greece's self-appointed target date for membership is January 1, 2001.

    Lisbon EU summit to formally approve Greece's EMU entry, Papantoniou says: An EU summit in Lisbon, June 19, will formally approve Greece's participation in EMU, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said on Tuesday.

    Speaking to reporters on the eve of the publishing of assessment reports on the Greek economy by the European Central Bank and the European Commission, Papantoniou said that the country has completed its participation in membership procedures and that it now faced two milestones: first, an ECOFIN Council meeting on June 5 and the final decision on Greece's EMU membership by an EU summit in Lisbon, June 19.

    "It's up to EU governments now," Papantoniou said.

    [09] Greece says amendments to telecom regulations should include measures on development

    BRUSSELS, 03/05/2000 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    The European Union Telecommunications Council of Ministers convened on Tuesday to amend the existing legal framework of telecommunications.

    The agenda of amendments include subjects regarding access to existing infrastructure, additions to existing regulations and the extension of the so-called universal character of services to levels of satisfactory quality and prices.

    On his part, Greek Transport and Telecommunications Deputy Minister Alekos Voulgaris said that any regulation regarding unhindered access to the telecommunications infrastructure should be coupled with measures securing the development and utilization of the existing infrastructure.

    He stressed that any additional European Union regulations should be adopted only in cases were the market itself can not resolve existing problems, and in any case it should be adopted in such a way as not to be binding.

    [10] Capital Markets' Committee's report findings normal, probe continues

    Athens, 03/05/2000 (ANA)

    The Capital Markets' Committee on Tuesday said that a probe on "suspicious" stock trading on the Athens Stock Exchange on March 9, the day when Prime Minister Costas Simitis formally announced Greece's application for EMU membership, has not revealed any illegal activity.

    Stavros Thomadakis, its chairman, however, said that search would continue.

    The findings main element was a concentration of stock share selling by four securities firms, which accounted for 30.94 percent of total stock sales in that period.

    Thomadakis said that the Capital Markets' Committee's probe was not aimed to hold someone responsible for offering stock shares but to focus on the way these sales were carried out.

    According to the report, trading on four blue-chip stocks (Hellenic Petroleum, Hellenic Telecoms, National Bank of Greece, Commercial Bank, Intracom and Alpha Credit Bank) accounted for 50 percent of the fall in the general index, being the heavier constituents of the index.

    Five investors accounted for 64.5 percent of stock sales in Hellenic Telecoms on that day, while another two accounted for 85.86 percent of selling in Alpha Credit Bank.

    Major sellers were foreign financial institutions, with stock selling worth 2.46 billion drachmas.

    A foreign institutional investor, holding significant short positions in derivatives futures products maturing on March 31, 2000, is believed to be active seller in an effort to push share prices lower and to benefit from its futures investment, the report said.

    The March 9 session was highly criticized for the massive execution on selling orders by several securities firms. The general index was scoring gains more than 2.0 percent initially before a wave of selling dramatically change its direction 45 minutes before the close.

    [11] Greek stocks end up in subdued trade

    Athens, 03/05/2000 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended sharply higher on Tuesday after a four-day Easter holiday on the Athens Stock Exchange. Traders said sentiment was encouraged by optimism over positive reports on the Greek economy to be published on Wednesday by the European Central Bank and the European Commission, paving the way for the country's EMU membership.

    Trading conditions, however, remained extremely subdued with analysts doubting that a rally of prices could be sustained.

    Analysts expect the market to test the 4,400 level on Wednesday, a psychologically critical barrier for the Greek bourse.

    The general index ended at 4,368.21 points, up 2.79 percent. Turnover was 193.6 billion drachmas, reflecting a block trade in Eurobank's shares, worth 120 billion drachmas.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 2.29 percent higher at 2,461.11 points and the FTSE/ASE 40 index jumped 3.41 percent to 582.24 points.

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended at 749.72 points, up 4.80 percent.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 308 to 25 with another 11 issues unchanged.

    Eurobank, Hellenic Telecoms, Informer, Alpha Credit Bank and National Bank were the most heavily traded stocks.

    Derivatives prices end significantly higher: Derivatives prices ended sharply up on the Athens Derivatives Exchange following big gains in the two benchmark indices, FTSE/ASE 20 and FTSE/ASE 40. Turnover was a subdued 1,121 contracts worth 3.8 billion drachmas.

    A total of 594 futures contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 index, worth 2.7 billion drachmas. The May expiring contract ended at 2,473 points, the June at 2,466.50 and the July contract at 2,462 points.

    A total of 527 futures contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 40 index, worth 1.1 billion drachmas. The May expiring contract ended at 580 points and the June contract at 583 points.

    Bonds drop in sell-off: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market fell in light trade on Tuesday with the action focusing on the state's two 10-year issues.

    The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.15 percent from 6.01 percent on Thursday, the last trading session before the Greek Orthodox Easter holiday.

    The paper's yield spread over German bunds was 80-82 basis points against 81 basis points on Thursday.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 48 billion drachmas from 83 billion drachmas before Easter.

    Of Tuesday's total, sell orders accounted for the whole of turnover.

    Drachma drops vs. euro, dollar: The drachma on Tuesday fell against the euro and dropped sharply against the rampant US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market.

    The Bank of Greece intervened to nudge up the national currency, selling around 245 million euros.

    At the central bank's daily fixing, the euro was set at 336.240 drachmas from 336.100 drachmas on Thursday, the last trading session before Easter.

    Also at the fixing, the US dollar was set at 369.450 drachmas from 365.400 drachmas on Thursday.

    [12] Tonnage of Greek merchant fleet rises in April

    Athens, 03/05/2000 (ANA)

    The capacity of the Greek merchant fleet increased by 494,000 DWT in April after the Greek flag was hoisted on 12 ships and removed from another two.

    According to official data, 12 ships having a total capacity of 618,283 DWT hoisted the Greek flag in April, while the Greek flag was removed from two others having a capacity of 124,477 DWT.

    The average age of the ships registered in April is seven years and for those that left, 18 years.

    [13] OA resumes flights to Libya after embargo dropped

    Athens, 03/05/2000 (ANA)

    National carrier Olympic Airways has resumed flights to Libya after the United Nations lifted an embargo on the country in place since 1990.

    OA now runs three flights a week to Benghazi - on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

    [14] Athens journalists say freedom of the press is non-existent in 20 countries

    Athens, 03/05/2000 (ANA)

    The Athens Journalists Union (ESHEA) issued an announcement on Tuesday, on the occasion of World Press Day on Wednesday, saying that freedom of the press is non-existent in 20 countries and subject to persecution in 70 others.

    The announcement said that in 1999, 87 journalists and other media employees were murdered or killed in the line of duty. Sixteen of them lost their lives during the NATO attack on the state TV building in Belgrade and three during the NATO attack on the Chinese Embassy, while the total number of journalists killed in last year's bombings amounted to 25.

    Also in 1999, 446 journalists were arrested and 653 were victims of assault or threats, while 357 newspapers and other media were prosecuted or obliged to close down.

    In the first four months of 2000, 21 journalists lost their lives and 84 are in prison. They do not include about 80 journalists who are being held in Turkish prisons.

    [15] Greek and Turkish neighboring towns to be twinned

    ISTANBUL, 03/05/2000 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    The far northeastern Greek town of Paralia and the bordering town of Sarkoy in northwestern Turkey will be twinned on Thursday, when the mayor of Paralia along with 200 of its citizens will visit their Turkish neighbors to sign the relevant protocol.

    According to an Anadolu news agency dispatch, Paralia Mayor Christos Boyiatzis and his Sarkoy counterpart Suleyman Altinok will sign the protocol.

    [16] Portuguese FM to discuss Cyprus' EU accession course with Cypriot officials

    LARNACA, 03/05/2000 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus' accession course to the European Union (EU) will be examined during the meetings to be held between Portugal's Foreign Minister Jaime Gama and Cypriot officials.

    Speaking on Tuesday on his arrival in Cyprus on a two-day visit, Gama said he will hold talks with Cypriot officials, including Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, during which issues regarding EU enlargement policies will be discussed, adding that his meetings will also address issues concerning the efforts for achieving a solution to the Cyprus question. He also noted that the EU closely monitors these efforts.

    A third round of UN-led proximity talks on the Cyprus problem is scheduled to begin on May 23 in New York, aiming at preparing the ground for substantive negotiations leading to a comprehensive settlement. Two rounds have already taken place, the first in December 1999 in New York and the second in February 2000 in Geneva.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied the northern third of the island.

    Welcoming his Portuguese counterpart, Kasoulides said that Gama is visiting Cyprus in his capacity as President of the Council of the European Union.

    "We will have the opportunity to discuss all the developments in the Union, the course of the accession of Cyprus, the Barcelona process, and the ongoing efforts in the Intergovernmental Conference", Kasoulides said adding that he will brief his counterpart on the efforts to reach a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    Later on, at Larnaca airport, Gama met with Cyprus' Chief Negotiator for accession to the EU George Vassiliou.

    Speaking after their meeting, Vassiliou said they discussed issues relating to Cyprus' accession to the EU and thanked Gama for his country's support in Cyprus' efforts to join the Union.

    "We discussed a number of practical issues", Vassiliou said, adding that "Portugal is willing to give us practical assistance in various fields".

    He also said that delegations from both countries would visit Cyprus and Portugal. Gama noted that Portugal would share its experience with Cyprus on certain adaptations and reforms regarding accession to the EU.

    [17] Britain's envoy for Cyprus arrives on island Thursday

    NICOSIA, 03/05/2000 (CNA/ANA)

    Britain's envoy for Cyprus Sir David Hannay arrives here Thursday for a new round of talks with the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides, barely three weeks before the resumption of the UN-led proximity talks in New York.

    On Friday morning he will be received by President Glafcos Clerides and have a meeting with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Rauf Denktash. Later on the same day, he will give a press conference.

    On Thursday, Hannay will have a meeting with Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides.

    As British High Commissioner Edward Clay told CNA, "his (Hannay's) visits are designed to help him and equip him to support the UN representative in managing the talks", noting that the UN have the chair of the talks and Britain tries to assist the UN any way they find helpful.

    He said Hannay at any given moment is probably up to date with the views of the two parties.

    During his five-day visit, the British diplomat will give a lecture in the northern Turkish-occupied part Nicosia on the European Union Common Foreign and Security Policy and attend dinners with local personalities to exchange views on various topics.

    On Saturday, Hannay will be President Clerides' guest on his boat and on Sunday he will have an informal lunch with Denktash.

    He is likely to meet UN Special Adviser for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto on Sunday, due in Cyprus on that day.

    Hannay plans to leave Monday for talks in Athens.

    [18] Cyprus conference to be held in Washington May 16-18

    NICOSIA, 03/05/2000 (CNA/ANA)

    Participants in the 11th Annual Cyprus Conference organized between May 16 -18 in Washington by the International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA) and the Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) will be meeting past and present top US foreign policy-makers.

    Former nominee for President of the United States, Michael Dukakis, former Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Lee Hamilton, former Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan Administration, Richard Perle, and top US expert on military issues, Charles Moskos, are some of those who will be meeting with Hellenic leaders from across the US and around the world.

    Conference participants will also be meeting with over 40 of the United States top foreign policy-makers, including key US Senators and Members of the Congress, and senior administration officials in the State Department, Defense Department, White House, and National Security Council.


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