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Athens News Agency: News in English, 97-03-27

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, 27/03/1997 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Prospects for Greek economy are positive
  • Greek, Turkish generals may meet next month
  • Greece says top Turkish general`s remarks have `positive value`
  • Illegal immigration from Albania slows
  • Athens dismisses Albanian secret service allegations
  • Greece offers battalion for police force in Albania
  • Bulgarian FM Stalev in Athens next month
  • Public order minister meets with FYROM counterpart
  • Transport Commission Kinnock due in Athens today
  • Pangalos meets with Arab ambassadors
  • Euromerchant Bank to buy Credit Lyonnais Greece network
  • Canadian interest in regional construction sector
  • 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 published shortly.

    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 2001''.

    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 debt''.

    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 gesture".

    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 Parliament today.

    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 smugglers.

    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 democratic normality.

    "(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 and NCOs.

    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 Vlajkov.

    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 problems.

    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 Soumakis.

    Announcing the visit yesterday, Mr. Soumakis said both he and Transport and Communications Minister Haris Kastanidis would be having talks with Mr. Kinnock.

    Mr. Kinnock will also be meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Mr. Soumakis said.

    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 government.

    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 maritime sector."

    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 in London.

    During their first joint meeting this year, members of the two boards focused on issues concerning the maritime shipping sector at a national and international level.

    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."

    WEATHER

    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.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    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

    (M.P.)


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