Greek shipping competitiveness an issue for shipowners, seamen
NEWS IN DETAIL
Prospects for Greek economy are positive
The prospects for the Greek economy are positive, according to informed
sources citing a report by the organisation Standard and Poors to be
According to the report, Greece will retain its present long-term foreign
currency rating of BB and corresponding short-term rating of A3.
In addition, the report's evaluation of the Greek economy will now be using
the term ''positive'' to describe prospects, a step up from the previous
designation of ''steady''.
With respect to long- and short-term local currency ratings, Standard and
Poors give Greece an A and A-1 respectively.
The report notes that the evaluation ''reflects the positive prospects that
exist with the new government, which came to power last year with an
absolute parliamentary majority and has a four-year term in which to
continue to adapt the country's public finances and implement its economic
policy in the public sector and to carry out other structural reforms,
which have been set by Greece as a target for its entry to EMU by the year
Also underlined in the report are Greece's growth rates -- which are above
the European Union average -- the country's stable democratic system of
government ''and the unimpeded and impeccable settlement of the post-war
Greek, Turkish generals may meet next month
The government said today that Chief of the National Defence General Staff,
General Athanasios Tzoganis, may meet with his Turkish counterpart, General
Ismail Hakki Karadayi, at next month's NATO meeting in Brussels.
Acting government spokesman Yiannis Nikolaou said that the meeting, if held,
would be within the framework of ''routine contacts'' which take place on
the sidelines of Alliance meetings and could serve ''to further broaden
possibilities for improving the climate of Greek-Turkish relations''.
Commenting on an invitation from Karadayi to Tzoganis to visit Turkey,
Nikolaou said an official invitation would have to be extended.
He underlined however that while all such initiatives were positive, they
should be accompanied by ''concrete measures for the implementation of
Turkey's good intentions''.
''Such moves are meaningful when the conditions are secured which are
related to respect for international law, international treaties and the
implementation of the principle of refraining from using force or
threatening the use of force,'' the spokesman said.
Karadayi attended a reception at Athens' embassy in Ankara to celebrate
Greece's Independence Day on Tuesday. The government described his
attendance as ''a polite gesture''.
The Turkish general reportedly spoke to Greece's Ambassador to Ankara,
Dimitris Nezeritis, of the need to resolve bilateral differences ''so that
future generations will not be burdened by these problems''.
Although noting yesterday that Karadayi's statements had a positive value,
the Greek government yesterday expressed the hope that they reflected a
more general political direction.
Greece says top Turkish general's remarks have 'positive value'
Athens appeared reserved yesterday on statements the Turkish chief of
general staff reportedly made during a reception at Athens' embassy in
Ankara to celebrate Greece's Independence Day on Tuesday.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas called Turkish Chief of General Staff
Gen. Ismail Hakki Karadayi's attendance at the reception a "polite
Mr. Reppas said that while his statements have a "positive value", he hoped
they also expressed a more general political direction and that Greece
expected similar political initiatives to show these were not empty words,
while the important thing was for Turkey to express fully and concisely its
positions on the entire spectrum of Greek-Turkish issues.
Gen. Karadayi reportedly spoke to Greece's Ambassador to Ankara, Dimitris
Nezeritis, of the need to resolve bilateral differences "so that future
generations will not be burdened by these problems".
He also drew attention to the ease with which Greeks and Turks developed
friendly relations on a social level.
Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel visiting Ankara reiterated
that "Turkey's accession to the European Union cannot be carried out soon
due to problems continuing to exist in the human rights sector, the Kurdish
issue, Greek-Turkish relations and Turkey's economic problems."
Mr. Kinkel stressed the considerable importance that "the normalisation of
Greek-Turkish relations" has for Europe and appealed to Athens and Ankara
for "necessary flexibility in handling problems."
Referring to the Cyprus issue, Mr. Kinkel said that "convergence must be
reached between the two sides."
Illegal immigration from Albania down
The number of Albanian illegal immigrants entering Greece dropped by 15 to
20 per cent during the last month, Public Order Minister George Romeos told
Romeos was replying to a question tabled by main opposition New Democracy
party deputy George Orfanos.
Since the end of February, Romeos said, the number of illegal immigrants
entering the country from neighbouring Albania has dropped sharply as a
result of increased security along the border.
A total of 42 joint army and police detachments had been set up along
Greece's border with Albania, Romeos said, which had been reinforced with
squads of riot police, two helicopters and patrol cars.
In the last two months alone, approximately 30,000 illegal immigrants have
been sent back to Albania, he added.
Orfanos alleged that Kalashnikov automatic weapons smuggled into the
country from Albania were available on the black market in the northern
port city of Thessaloniki for just five to ten thousand drachmas.
Romeos disputed the claim, saying such availability was not possible
because of the stringent checks in force.
''The measures taken by the government are such that arms smuggling on this
scale is not possible...,'' he told Parliament.
In a related issue, Romeos said a meeting would be held on Monday with the
participation of the mayors of the Athens district of Ano Liosia to discuss
the problems which have been created in the area by Albanian drug
Greece dismisses Albanian secret service allegations
Greece yesterday dismissed statements by Albania's outgoing secret service
chief that Greek groups were plotting to "liberate" southern Albania,
saying such claims were "not even worthy of being denied".
"The statements by the outgoing chief of the Albanian secret service are
not even worthy of being denied and must be attributed to the confusion in
which the individual in question has naturally found himself," foreign
ministry spokesman Costas Bikas said.
"The Greek government has signed a friendship and cooperation agreement
with Albania and during the current crisis actively shows its assistance in
this time of need for the neighbouring country. Greece is also working
within the framework of international initiatives for the restoration of
"(Albanian) President (Sali) Berisha and Prime Minister (Bashkim) Fino, by
public statements as well as to Greek governmnent officials, have already
praised the Greek stance.
Bashkim Gazidede, the outgoing secret service chief, told the Albanian
parliament yesterday that Greek groups were also behind the insurrection
which has enveloped the neighbouring country during the past weeks.
Greece offers battalion for police force in Albania
If international organisations decide to send a multinational police force
to Albania, Greece aims to participate by sending a batallion, press
reports stated yesterday. The Greek force would be comprised by officers
The Greek armed forces has organised a C-130 aircraft to transfer 20 tonnes
of medicines and food to Tirana. The humanitarian aid will be donated to
Albanian authorities for distribution.
Bulgarian FM Stalev in Athens next month
Bulgarian Caretaker Foreign Minister Stojan Stalev will visit Greece on
April 15-16, before paying a working visit to Turkey on April 2-4,
according to an announcement by Bulgarian foreign ministry spokesman Radko
According to Mr. Vlajkov, Mr. Stalev's visits are part of preparation for
high-level meetings, while bilateral relations and possibilities for their
intensification will also be discussed, as well as certain regional
Public Order Minister Romeos meets with FYROM counterpart
Wide-ranging cooperation between Greece and the Former Yugoslavia of
Macedonia (FYROM) was agreed upon yesterday by Public Order Minister George
Romeos and his visiting FYROM counterpart Stoyan Trevskovski.
Discussions focused on the combatting of organised crime, drug smuggling,
terrorism as well as the smuggling of weapons, people and stolen vehicles
from neighbouring Albania.
Mr. Romeos said that both countries must cooperate to face the growing
problem of illegal drug production, stressing to the FYROM delegation that
Greek authorities have information that large quantities of drugs are
manufactured in the neighbouring form er Yugoslav republic.
Transport commissioner Kinnock due in Athens today
European commissioner for transport, Neil Kinnock, is due to arrive in
Greece today at the invitation of Merchant Marine Minister Stavros
Announcing the visit yesterday, Mr. Soumakis said both he and Transport and
Communications Minister Haris Kastanidis would be having talks with Mr.
Mr. Kinnock will also be meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Mr.
Pangalos meets with Arab ambassadors in Athens
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos met ambassadors from several Arab
countries accredited to Athens yesterday, and expressed the government's
opposition to the housing settlement policy applied by the Israeli
Mr. Pangalos said he will raise the issue with the European Union.
The Arab ambassadors, who requested the meeting, briefed Mr. Pangalos on
latest developments on the Middle East issue in the wake of the decision
taken by the Israeli government to build 6,500 new residences in the Abu
Gneim region of East Jerusalem.
Euromerchant Bank to buy Credit Lyonnais Greece network
Credit Lyonnais Greece S.A. and Euromerchant Bank S.A. on Wednesday
announced that the two companies had agreed in principle for the latter to
acquire the former's banking network in Greece, a Euromerchant Bank
announcement said yesterday.
The international group Credit Lyonnais has been operating in Greece since
1977 through a Representative Offie and since 1981 through its subsidiary -
Credit Lyonnais Greece S.A. - which will continue to develop its capital
market, corporate banking, shipping and treasury activities in Greece.
According to the Euromerchant Bank announcement, the subsidiary will also
continue to operate in international private banking for major clients of
the Credit Lyonnais Group.
Euromerchant Bank was established in 1990 and is part of the European
Financial Group (EFG) - a banking group held by Latsis family interests.
In 1996, the company agreed to merge its operations with Interbank in
Greece, following the sale of 95 per cent of Interbank's shares from Banque
Worms to the EFG.
The merger will create the third largest private sector bank in Greece.
Canadian interest in regional construction sector
Several Canadian construction companies active in the building of transport
and communications networks are reportedly interested in cooperating with
Greek firms in order to jointly undertake projects in the Balkans, Black
Sea region and Middle East count ries.
The proposal was conveyed yesterday by the international affairs consultant
of Canada's Industry, Commerce and Science and Technology Ministry,
Genevieve Filion, during a meeting with members of the board of directors
of the central Macedonia department of the Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE-
TKM) in Thessaloniki.
According to a TEE-TKM announcement, the cooperation proposal is to be
discussed in November or December during a meeting between representatives
of Greek and Canadian construction companies. This will be preceded by a
written briefing between TEE-TKM a nd the relevant Canadian ministry.
Greek shipping competitiveness an issue for shipowners, seamen
Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis yesterday said the issue of
competitiveness by the Greek shipping sector "must be solved between the
shipowners and the merchant seamen."
The merchant marine ministry cannot formulate the shipping sector, the
minister said, adding that "the merchant marine ministry is not the
Mr. Soumakis made the statements in regard to a joint announcement on
Tuesday by the members of the board of directors of the Greek Shipping
Cooperation Committee and the Greek Shipowners Union, after their meeting
During their first joint meeting this year, members of the two boards
focused on issues concerning the maritime shipping sector at a national and
They said that the course of Greek-flagged shipping was "extremely worrying,
" in view of the sharp decline in competitiveness of the ships sailing
under the Greek flag.
"The fruitless discussions with the government over a 10-month duration
regarding the adaptation of shipping policy to that which our EU partners
have adopted and implemented successfully, have formulated 'a climate of
flight' which will be transformed into an economic, social and national
problem for our country," the announcement read.
According to the announcement, "the government must proceed with the taking
of necessary measures, based on the broader national interest, in order to
avert the danger ot the country's shipping sector collapsing."
Mostly sunny weather is forecast for most parts of Greece today, except for
the eastern and southern regions of the country which will be partrly
cloudy with scattered showers. Winds will be northerly, moderate to strong,
turning to gale force in the Aegean. Athens will be overcast with sunny
spells and temperatures between 6-10C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki with
temperatures between 4-9C.
Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 264.219
Pound sterling 428.544 Cyprus pd 524.332
French franc 46.426 Swiss franc 180.306
German mark 156.523 Italian lira (100) 15.645
Yen (100) 212.982 Canadian dlr. 192.468
Australian dlr. 207.219 Irish Punt 415.410
Belgian franc 7.589 Finnish mark 52.776
Dutch guilder 139.138 Danish kr. 41.069
Swedish kr. 34.492 Norwegian kr. 39.668
Austrian sch. 22.248 Spanish peseta 1.843
Portuguese escudo 1.555