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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-11-04

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, 04/11/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Balkan states pledge to cooperate for peace, prosperity
  • Simitis insists on step-by-step rapprochement with Ankara
  • Turkish fighter plane violations continue
  • Stocks end sharply higher
  • Monetary crisis will have no lasting effect
  • Two tremors rock Athens
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Balkan states pledge to cooperate for peace, prosperity

Balkan countries today pledged to work together to create in the region conditions for prosperity in a framework of peace, security, good- neighbourliness and stability.

In a communication issued at the close of a two-day summit, the first of its kind in the region, the leaders of seven southeast European countries, and a Bosnian representative, also expressed their determination to protect human rights and promote a market economy.

Participating in the summit at Aghia Pelagia, near Heraklion on Crete were the heads of state or government of Albania, Bulgaria, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Greece, Romania and Turkey.

Bosnia's Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mihovil Malbasic also attended as an observer.

"We shall work together to create in our regions conditions for the prosperity of our nations in a framework of peace, security, good- neighbourliness and stability.

"We are determined to pursue South Eastern Europe cooperation, on a mutual and equal basis, in the firm belief that each of us has much to learn from the other.

"We shall promote the State of Law, the protection of human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, including interethnic dialogue, individual freedoms and a market economy that will allow the individual enterprises to flourish and generate employment and opportunities for all and especially for the youth," the declaration said.

The declaration affirmed the countries' commitment to the UN Charter, the Paris Charter and the Helsinki Final Act "including all ten principles referred therein".

These principles are sovereign equality, respect for rights inherent in sovereignty, refraining from the threat or use of force, inviolability of frontiers, territorial integrity of states, peaceful settlement of disputes, non-intervention in internal affairs, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, equal rights and self-determination of peoples, cooperation among states and fulfilment in good faith of obligations under international law.

The countries also underlined the importance of their European orientation as being an integral part of their political, economic and social development and said they had agreed to promote respect for international law.

Areas in which the countries pledged to cooperate included science, education, culture and sports "as a means to strengthen our mutual understanding and friendship".

They said they would also work together to combat organised crime, terrorism, narcotics trafficking and "illegal and irregular migration".

The declaration notes the countries' determination to intensify efforts for greater economic cooperation, improve inrastructures and enhance the investment climate.

For this purpose, the competent ministers will meet at least once a year to assess progress.

In addition, according to the declaration, the foreign ministers of the countries will meet at least once a year "to conduct political consultations and promote cooperation on issues of regional stability and security" and political directors will get together every three months for consultations.

The declaration added that the idea of establishing a joint Secretariat would be discussed by the foreign ministers to ensure continuity between subsequent summit or ministerial meetings.

The next summit will be held in the Turkish port city of Antalya next October, while the foreign ministers will meet in Istanbul in June.

Simitis insists on step-by-step rapprochement with Ankara

Prime Minister Costas Simitis clarified today that he had reacted "most negatively" to the position expressed by his Turkish counterpart Mesut Yilmaz favouring a bilateral dialogue on all issues dividing the two countries.

Simitis was speaking at a press conference at the close of a two-day summit of southeast European countries in Aghia Pelagia, near Heraklion, Crete.

The Greek premier had talks on the sideline of the summit yesterday with Yilmaz which he later described as "useful".

Asked to comment on a remark reportedly made by Yilmaz after the talks, according to which Simitis had responded "very constructively" to the Turkish position in favour of a bilateral dialogue on all issues, Simitis said his counterpart was speaking in general about "constructive dialogue".

Simitis said the two leaders had "an open and frank" discussion during which each expressed his opinion.

He reiterated that his talks with Yilmaz were "useful and positive".

"The worst thing is silence and confrontation," Simitis stressed, adding that he would take Yilmaz up on his invitation to visit Turkey "only if the prerequisites exist for a successful outcome", clarifying that by this he did not mean just a lessening of tension in the Aegean "but also other matters".

Simitis reiterated on a number of occasions however that Greece did not consider it expedient to cut off contact with Turkey.

Simitis said he had raised the issue of Turkish violations of Greek air space during his meeting with the Turkish premier, adding simply that Yilmaz had presented his own view of the issue.

On the Cyprus problem, Simitis said simply that "it was ascertained that it is a problem which creates tension in the region".

Simitis said he had restated to Yilmaz yesterday Greece's longstanding position that Athens was not opposed to cooperation between Turkey and the European Union for political, religious and cultural reasons.

But, he continued, this presupposes the settlement of certain major problems, including respect for international law and human rights, and for Turkey to recognise "all the rules emanating from international treaties".

Replying to other questions, Simitis said there had been no developments on the issue of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) during his talks in Crete yesterday with FYROM President Kiro Gligorov.

Simitis said he had conveyed the Greek position on the issue to Gligorov, as well as Skopje's obligation to adhere to the bilateral interim agreement.

He said Gligorov responded by saying that he had taken the steps which he considered to be necessary.

Simitis said he had discussed with Gligorov matters related to economic cooperation, tourism and investments.

Simitis said he believed the summit had been a success, noting that it was the first time Balkan leaders had all met to discuss the problems of the region.

The premier added that it was the conviction of all at the summit that without regional cooperation, it would not be possible to create conditions of peace, security, development and stability in the region.

"This cooperation should not be ad hoc but more permanent in nature. This was discussed and accepted. It was also agreed that the ministers of the various countries should have closer contact in numerous sectors, although it is in nobody's intentions to create a new organisation, since this presupposes solid basis and experiences, which does not exist at the moment. Our aim is to create a more cohesive area of political and economic cooperation," Simitis said.

He expressed the view that the summit would have a positive effect on Greece's national issues, stressing that any meeting in the region which reduces the climate of antagonism "which does not befit the 20th century" is positive.

"Of course, any kind of climate can be spoiled and this is why the effort to build good relations must be permanent," the premier added.

Simitis noted also that the summit had provided the opportunity for talks at a bilateral level and discussion of problems which for decades have bedevilled the countries of the region.

With respect to the further promotion of economic cooperation in the region, Simitis acknowledged that there was a financing problem, but said it was right for ideas to be put forward so that they could be examined in time and solutions found.

Turkish fighter plane violations continue

Violations of Greece's air space and infringements of the Athens FIR continued today.

Four pairs of Turkish F-16 and one pair of Turkish F-4 aircraft entered Athens FIR at 07.40 this morning near the island of Lesvos without submitting a flight plan. One of the incidents developed into a violation of Greek air space.

All Turkish aircraft were intercepted by Greek F-16 and Mirage 2000, while one interception turned into a mock dogfight.

Stocks end sharply higher

Greek equities soared to sharply higher levels for the second consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange with market sentiment improved by a stable domestic money market, falling interbank rates and news of a new drop in the inflation rate for October.

The general index closed 4.72 percent higher at 1,613.78 points, recovering almost half its previous week's losses in the first two sessions of the week.

Trading remained heavy with turnover at 34.7 billion drachmas.

All sector indices scored big gains. Banks rose 3.75 percent, Insurance increased 4.32 percent, Leasing jumped 4.80 percent, Investment was 4.49 percent higher, Construction rose 4.45 percent, Industrials were 5.33 percent up, Miscellaneous soared 7.14 percent and Holding was 6.34 percent higher.

The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 4.67 percent. The FTSE/ASE index was 4.41 percent higher at 942.48 points.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 228 to 17 with another 11 issues unchanged.

Goody's, Viohalco, Bank of Greece, Sanyo, Aegek, Bank of Athens, Intrasoft, Intracom scored the biggest percentage gains, while Ermis, Desmos, Zampa and Sarandopoulos Mills suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 29,600 drachmas, Ergobank at 17,000, Alpha Credit Bank at 19,100, Delta Dairy at 3,900, Titan Cement at 15,000, Intracom at 13,925 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6, 020.

Monetary crisis will have no lasting effect

Greece's National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said that the impact of the recent monetary crisis would be insignificant during the current year, but greater in 1998 and that the final burden on the economy would be determined by the duration of the crisis.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with workers' representatives, Papantoniou said that the foreign exchange crisis limited the scope for extra hand-outs by the government.

He stressed that the economy overcoming the crisis was an important factor but noted that problems remained. These difficulties should be dealt with through 1998's budget.

Economy and finance minister urged all social classes to work together in dealing with these problems and that the government would set an example by slashing public spending.

Panantoniou reiterated that the government was firm in its pledge to secure and gradually improve workers' incomes in 1998.

Greece's national and finance ministries held the last preparatory meeting ahead of a final decision on 1998's budget due Wednesday.

A final decision on next year's budget will be taken during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

During the preparatory meeting today, Papantoniou and Finance Undersecretaries George Drys and Nikos Christodoulakis discussed last details of the budget and specifically the issue of new taxes.

Two tremors rock Athens

An earthquake measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale was recorded in Athens this morning, according to an annoucement by the Geodynamic Institute. The epicentre was situated near Elefsina, southwest of the city. No damage has been reported.

The institute later announced that two weak earth tremors were recorded, one at 12.30 measuring 4.3 Richter and one at 12.33 measuring 4.1 Richter. Both epicentres were situated around 30 km west-northwest of Athens, north of Elefsina.

Seismologist Vasilis Karakostas of the Geophysical Laboratory of Thessaloniki University said later that the two quakes did not give cause for concern.

He told the ANA that the area around the quakes' epicentre had never produced any remarkable seismic activity, being further south that the seismic zone that produced the 1981 earthquake near the Alkyonides Islands in the Gulf of Corinth and which measured 6.7 Richter.

WEATHER

Cloudiness is forecast for eastern and southern Greece today with the possibility of light rain in eastern Greece, Thessaly and Euboea. Mostly fair weather in the rest of the country. Winds variable, moderate to strong, turning gale force in the Aegean Sea. Sunny weather in Athens with temperatures between 9-18C. Thessaloniki will be overcast with moderate winds and temperatures from 4-15C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 270.816 Pound sterling 453.820 Cyprus pd 530.819 French franc 46.549 Swiss franc 191.372 German mark 155.848 Italian lira (100) 15.917 Yen (100) 225.640 Canadian dlr. 193.638 Australian dlr. 194.943 Irish Punt 405.430 Belgian franc 7.557 Finnish mark 51.953 Dutch guilder 138.240 Danish kr. 40.964 Swedish kr. 35.956 Norwegian kr. 38.444 Austrian sch. 22.143 Spanish peseta 1.846 Port. Escudo 1.522

(M.P.)


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