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Athens News Agency: News in English, 97-02-19

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

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


NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 19/02/1997 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece backs `balanced` NATO expansion, wants Balkans included
  • Direct emergency phone link between, NATO, Greece, Turkey
  • Premier holds talks with Iranian vice-president
  • Gov't responds to Albright comments on Cyprus problem
  • Defence minister to visit Norway
  • Greece proposes urgent aid to Albania, Bulgaria
  • Black Sea Development Bank to operate shortly
  • Austrian FM arrives in Athens tomorrow

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Greece backs 'balanced' NATO expansion, wants Balkans included

    Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis said yesterday that Greece favours enlargement of NATO eastwards, adding it should be "balanced" and not be aimed at only one region but should include Balkan countries as well .

    Speaking to Greek reporters yesterday, Mr. Kranidiotis said Athens believes that the 16-NATO members should take into serious consideration concerns and claims put forward by Russia and Ukraine.

    He added that dialogue on Mediterranean issues should be promoted in the framework of the alliance, adding that there are many problems which must be resolved by July, both in relation to enlargement and the alliance's internal structure. Mr. Kranidiotis also mentioned the problem of structure and the allocation of NATO headquarters as an example.

    Mr. Kranidiotis represented Greece at the informal session of NATO foreign ministers which came to a close at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels last night. The session served the purpose of an acquaintance meeting between new US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and her counterparts from NATO countries.

    During his stay in Brussels, Mr. Kranidiotis met with NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, who will pay an official visit to Athens on Feb. 28.

    Direct emergency phone link between NATO, Greece, Turkey

    Mr. Kranidiotis said Greece had agreed with the idea set out by Mr. Solana some time ago on the installation of a "secure telephone link" between Greece and NATO, and at the same time between Turkey and NATO, which could be activated in the event of an emergency or crisis.

    According to ANA reports, direct linkage is anticipated between the defence ministries of Greece and Turkey with NATO's headquarters, and more specifically with the office of NATO's secretary general, through telephone lines which will be absolutely secure.

    Diplomatic sources at NATO commented yesterday that this initiative by Mr. Solana, apart from its practical value in the event of a crisis, basically has a symbolic nature and constitutes a step of progress in recently tense Greek-Turkish relations.

    Mr. Kranidiotis further said Greece wants and pursues the offering of good offices both by NATO and other international organisations to avoid tensions with Turkey, reminding that Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos has already tabled a proposal on the creation of a mechanism within NATO to settle possible differences between member-states.

    Mr. Kranidiotis said the agreement on establishing a telephone line between Athens, Brussels and Ankara has not yet been completed but is in its final stage.

    Premier holds talks with Iranian vice-president

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis held talks here yesterday with Iranian first Vice-President Hassan Habibi, on bilateral relations and their further development, particularly in the economic sector, as well as problems concerning the wider region.

    Mr. Simitis said the discussions were particularly friendly and revealed the possibility of developing joint ventures between Greece and Iran in many sectors, for which there will be more regular meetings between officials of the two countries.

    The prime minister stated that the visit to Tehran by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and Mr. Habibi's visit to Athens proves the will for further developing relations, adding that what is now needed is "investigation, contacts and effort".

    Questioned on whether Iran intends to reiterate a proposal for mediation between Greece and Turkey, Mr. Habibi said Iran could not impose mediation.

    "If the two countries desire it, then for us there is no problem," he said.

    Gov't responds to Albright comments on Cyprus problem

    The government noted yesterday that US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's remarks on the need for "an overall solution" did not refer to all outstanding issues in the region but only to a settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas made the statement when asked to comment on remarks by Ms Albright after a meeting in Bonn with her German counterpart Klaus Kinkel.

    Ms Albright said that they had discussed the Cyprus problem and agreed on the need for an overall solution.

    Van den Broek briefs Europarliament prior to Cyprus visit

    European Union Commissioner Hans van den Broek yesterday briefed members of the Europarliament's foreign affairs committee on EU and NATO enlargement, shortly before his visit to Cyprus.

    Mr. van den Broek will have meetings with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash on Feb. 26-28.

    Replying to a question by main opposition New Democracy party Eurodeputy Panayiotis Lambrias on a threatened veto by Turkey unless its accession to the EU and the West European Union (WEU) is promoted, Mr. van den Broek said: "I myself have also raised the issue with the Turkish foreign undersecretary."

    Defence Minister to visit Norway

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos will pay an official visit to Oslo from Feb. 23-25 for talks with his Norwegian counterpart.

    The visit is within the framework of bilateral relations and is at the invitation of the Norwegian minister.

    During his stay, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos will visit the areas of Trondheim and Stavanger.

    ADEDY calls strike for next Tuesday

    The Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) made good on its promise yesterday and declared a 24-hour strike for next Tuesday, the first day of discussion in Parliament regarding a new salary scale.

    In an announcement, ADEDY noted that the new salary scale is "at the limits of an incomes austerity policy, does not lift existing injustices and inequalities and does not create a stable base for the

    Greece proposes urgent aid to Albania,Bulgaria

    The Foreign Ministry's Balkan Affairs director, Dimitris Kypraios, explained Greece's initiative on the granting of urgent aid to Bulgaria and Albania at a meeting of Balkan nation officials in Sofia yesterday.

    Within the framework of this initiative, diplomatic sources also do not rule out a visit to Sofia by a senior Greek government official during the week.

    The Greek proposal is part of an initiative for stability and good neighbourliness in southeastern Europe and is aimed at aiding both Bulgaria and Albania, which are faced with huge economic problems.

    Black Sea Development Bank to operate shortly

    National Economy Undersecretary Alekos Baltas announced yesterday that the Black Sea Development Bank, to be headquartered in Thessaloniki, would begin operating in the first half of the year.

    Representatives of 11 countries participating in the bank are currently discussing technical details concerning the bank's operation at a meeting in the northern Greek port city. The countries are Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey, the Ukraine and Greece.

    It is hoped that the inauguration of the development bank will take place early April.

    Mr. Baltas said seven of the 11 countries had already fulfilled all their obligations for the development bank's establishment and only the depositing of funds necessary for its operation was awaited.

    The deadline for depositing funds expires on March 25, Mr. Baltas said.

    The seven countries are putting up 80.5 per cent of the total capital, estimated at US$1.5 billion, while the remaining four, which Mr. Baltas did not name, were expected to have fulfilled all their obligations shortly.

    The delay of the four does not cause any real problems for the bank's operation since, according to its charter, only 51 per cent of the capital must be paid in from at least six countries.

    Mr. Baltas said the bank would serve as "...the key for cooperation and the development of the countries participating." Among the goals of the bank are to boost trade and finance major development projects. It is the first "international" bank to be established in the Balkans. The development bank's headquarters in Thessaloniki is expected to have 200 employees.

    Austrian FM Schussel arrives in Athens tomorrow

    Austrian Foreign Minister and Deputy Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel arrives in Athens tomorrow on an official two-day visit.

    Mr. Schussel will hold talks on bilateral relations with Greece, developments in the European Union, cooperation between the two countries at the EU and other international organisations as well as the situation in former Yugoslavia and the Balkans, the future enlargement of NATO and Austria's views on European security.

    The fact that Austria will hold the EU's rotating presidency in the second half of 1998, the year when negotiations on Cyprus' accession to the EU are due to start, attaches increased importance to Mr. Schussel's visit.

    Talks are also expected to focus on the Cyprus issue, with which Austria has a particular interest since Vienna has had a contingent of soldiers in the UN peacekeeping force on Cyprus since the early 1960s.

    New rates for Bank of Central Greece

    The Bank of Central Greece announced yesterday that deposit interest rates valid as of Feb. 20 are as following:

    - Ordinary savings bank interests rates at 10.00 per cent for up to one million drachmas; super savings bank rates at 10.50 per cent for one-10 million drachmas; 11.00 per cent for 10-30 million drachmas and 11.50 per cent for 30 million and above.

    The current account interest rates will be 8.50 per cent for up to one million drachmas and 10.50 per cent for one million drachmas and above.

    Time deposits interest rates will be 10.65 per cent to 11.80 per cent for three-12 months. The interest rate will be negotiable for amounts of more than 40 million drachmas.

    Greece wins prize at int'l food show

    Greece has won a prize for the best national pavilion at the "International Fancy Food and Confection Show" in San Francisco, the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO) announced yesterday.

    Visitors to the fair showed particular interest in olive oil, olives and dairy products, the announcement said.

    OPE added that the enormous foodstuffs market in the US, coupled with increased imports and the trend towards healthier Mediterranean cooking, bode well for the future of Greek exports.

    IOBE notes upward trend

    Domestic industrial activity followed an upward trend in 1996 but to a lesser extent than in 1995, according to the monthly bulletin of the Economic and Industrial Research Institute (IOBE) on the issue of "competitiveness in industry."

    IOBE's bulletin said Greek industry's business expectation indicator receded in December 1996 compared to the corresponding month in 1995.

    According to IOBE, although the percentage of enterprises considering that their orders are below normal is increasing, 70 per cent of them continue to believe that the level of their orders is reaching regular levels for December 1996.

    Assessments by export industries for overseas orders follow a similar trend, since 57 per cent believe the level to be satisfactory, 16 per cent more than usual and 27 per cent less.

    WEATHER

    Cloudiness, rainstorms and snowfalls in most parts of Greece, spreading to the rest of the country this evening starting from east to the southern coastal areas. Athens will be overcast with rain and snow in the surrounding mountains with temperatures ranging between 4-13C. Thessaloniki will be cloudy and rainy with temperatures between -1 to 6C.

    SPORTS

    Acropolis rally

    The 44th international "Rally Acropolis" will be held from June 8-10 with 20 special routes, including nine new ones, covering a total of 399 kilometres, the Hellenic Automobile Touring Association (ELPA) said yesterday.

    This year, the rally is included in the world manufacturers' and drivers' championship and the two-litre world cup category.

    ELPA said a number of teams have already declared that they will be participating, including those of Ford, Seat, Skoda, Subaru and Mitsubishi.

    The 44th rally will be held in three stages.

    Competitors will set off on Sunday morning, June 8 from the Athens Acropolis and complete the first leg at Kammena Vourla in the late afternoon. The 395-kilometre route includes seven special sections stretching a total of 138 kilometres.

    The following day, the second stage will start and finish at Kammena Vourla. A route of 393 kilometres which includes seven special sections totalling 131 kilometres.

    The third and last stage will start from Kammena Vourla and the finish line will be at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Piraeus.

    The route has a length of 465 kilometres, of which six special sections account for a total distance of 129 kilometres.

    Athens` 2004 Olympic bid

    The president of the Athens 2004 Olympics Committee told foreign correspondents yesterday that "hosting the 2004 Games would be a unique opportunity to promote our country, (an opportunity) opening new developmental horizons into the forthcoming century."

    Addressing a Foreign Press Association lunch, Ms Yianna Daskalaki- Angelopoulou said: "Athens wants and can organise the Olympic Games of 2004, " she said, adding that "Athens' candidacy is based on a new philosophy."

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 264.408 Pound sterling 424.794 Cyprus pd 520.304 French franc 46.015 Swiss franc 178.357 German mark 155.278 Italian lira (100) 15.707 Yen (100) 212.933 Canadian dlr. 194.968 Australian dlr. 202.428 Irish Punt 414.656 Belgian franc 7.525 Finnish mark 52.364 Dutch guilder 138.334 Danish kr. 40.720 Swedish kr. 35.500 Norwegian kr. 38.986 Austrian sch. 22.068 Spanish peseta 1.838 Portuguese escudo 1.545

    (C.E.)


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