Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-11-12
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 12/11/1997 (ANA)
- Holbrooke cites 'incompatible differences' in Cyprus problem
- EU issues, Cyprus and Turkey dominate Pangalos' talks in Spain
- Burns sworn in as new US ambassador to Greece
- Greece wants U.S. military hardware - Pentagon says
- Mantelis talks with EU Commissioners on telecom issues
- Tsohatzopoulos ends official visit to Hungary
- PM asks for PASOK unity during budget debate, vote
- Greek central bank seen lowering interest rates
- Greece accuses unnamed speculators of sabotaging the drachma
- Greek competition watchdog endorses insurance buyout
- Greek shippers place latest orders for high-speed car ferries
- Greek central bank to offer liquidity through swaps
- Greek industrial output again shows recovery
- Shipping currency inflows up 0.9 pct in July
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Holbrooke cites 'incompatible differences' in Cyprus problem
US special presidential envoy for Cyprus Richard Holbrooke said yesterday
that issues causing friction between Greece and Turkey cannot be dealt with
unless the "core issue" (Cyprus question) is dealt with.
He acknowledged that public views of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides on
a couple of issues are "incompatible", their disagreements "are very
profound", and urged both community leaders to refocus their attention on
the future and not on the past, th us remaining hostages of the past.
Mr. Holbrooke reiterated the US administration's resolve to work towards a
settlement in Cyprus and said the ongoing peace effort will be continued
"in a less visible level".
The US diplomat conceded that Washington contributed to certain "tragic
events" in the region in the 1960s and the 1970s, saying "we bear certain
Speaking after four hours of talks with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides
and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, the US presidential emissary said
he had "no expectations" from his discussions in Cyprus.
"We have to keep talking to create opportunities, the conversation was
candid and confidential and was conducted in a very positive atmosphere.
This is in my mind a positive fact," he said.
Yesterday's discussions, he added, showed a "willingness to try to address
the problems of the future."
"I know I am talking in what may sound like riddles but I am hopeful," he
Replying to questions, Mr. Holbrooke said "on their publicly stated
positions, the two sides have incompatible positions on two or three
central issues, such as sovereignty, and they have a legacy of mistrust."
The differences between the two sides "are very profound and they range
from very small details like the content of documents to very basic issues
like how to deal with the right of refugees to return."
Defining his task in the peace effort, Mr. Holbrooke said the US believes
this region is "critical to stability for the US national security and the
"We believe that stability is an essential goal in the post cold war period
and in my view the other issues between Greece and Turkey cannot be dealt
with unless Cyprus is dealt with centrally, it is the core issue," Mr.
Holbrooke stressed. Referring to US involvement in this part of the world,
he said "the American history is not entirely clean, there are some things
previous American administrations did in this area, particularly between
mid-1960s and 1974, which I think were shameful."
Cyprus gained independence from Britain in 1960. Three years later clashes
between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities broke out, while Turkish
troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of Cyprus territory in 1974.
"We bear certain responsibility for our role in contributing to certain
events here which were tragic," he added.
He said he would consult with US ambassadors in Nicosia, Ankara and Athens
as well as the US president and his secretary of state before deciding on
his next steps.
After flying to the Turkish capital from his talks on Cyprus yesterday
afternoon, Mr. Holbrooke said he was not going to make statements regarding
the contents of talks on the island republic.
He made the remark after a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem
in Ankara, adding that there was an agreement by all parties involved in
the Cyprus talks to avoid statements.
EU issues, Cyprus and Turkey dominate Pangalos' talks in Spain
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and his Spanish counterpart Abel
Matutes ascertained a coincidence of views on European issues at a joint
press conference here yesterday, underlining the excellent political
relations that exist between Athens and Madrid.
The press conference came during the first day of Mr. Pangalos' official
visit to Spain.
The two ministers also discussed Greek national issues which, together with
the accession of Cyprus to the European Union, constituted one of the main
topics of discussion. Speaking to reporters after their meeting, the
ministers announced that they handled the issue of an upcoming visit by
Spanish King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia to Greece, while Mr. Pangalos
also announced that he conveyed an invitation from Prime Minister Costas
Simitis to his Spanish counterpart Jose-Maria Aznar to visit Greece.
Mr. Matutes said the two countries expressed their desire to increase Greek-
Spanish exchanges and common investments, while Mr. Pangalos announced
meetings between business circles from the two countries and a future
agreement on the avoidance of double taxation. there is a customs
On the question of agricultural policy, Mr. Pangalos said that "if Turkey
enters the EU it would mean an increase in agricultural expenditures by 80
per cent. And this is so because Turkey has a colossal agricultural
production which it does not consume because it has 60 million inhabitants.
In addition, it has huge modernisation problems. Therefore, we cannot
request from countries which are EU member-states...to pay this bill and in
any case, not Mediterranean countries."
Mr. Pangalos further said "we are always hoping for a just and viable
solution to the Cyprus issue. The accession of Cyprus to the EU will
resolve many of the problems which at present are the object of disagreement.
It will provide guarantees of stabil ity and security for all the
inhabitants of Cyprus, both the Greeks and the Turks."
Burns sworn in as new US ambassador to Greece
The new US Ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns was sworn in at a ceremony
at the State Department on Monday night.
Mr. Burns, who arrives in Athens early December, said his main goals in his
new post would be the continuation of close military cooperation between
the US and Greece, promoting the resolution of Greek-Turkish differences in
the Aegean and a resolution of the Cyprus issue as well as cooperation in
He said Washington supported Greece's policy in the Balkans and considers
the Simitis government's economic policy to be moving in the right
The 41-year-old diplomat referred at length to the "blood ties" between
Greeks and Americans and expressed his intention to maintain contact with
the Greek-American community.
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, referring to Mr. Burns as a very
good friend and associate, added:
"Athens is a post where we send our very best diplomats and Nicholas Burns
is one of the best we have."
Present at the ceremony, apart from Ms Albright, were State Department
official James Rubin, Greece's Ambassador in Washington Lucas Tsilas, and
the ambassadors of Cyprus, Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of
Greece wants U.S. military hardware - Pentagon says
The U.S. Defense Department said on Monday that Greece wanted to buy seven
CH-47D military transport helicopters built by Boeing Co. for an estimated
The package, if approved by Congress, would also include 28 M-60 machine
guns, eight M-2 machine guns, ammunition, three spare engines and other
support equipment, the Pentagon said.
It said the transport helicopters "will provide the Greek armed forces with
an improved capability to transport personnel and cargo for both military
and humanitarian assistance purposes."
But in apparent reference to long military and political tension between
NATO allies Greece and Turkey, the Pentagon stressed that the equipment
would be provided to Greece "in accordance with and subject to the
limitations on use and transfer of the Arms Export Control Act."
The Pentagon also said that Greece was seeking to buy 30 Army tactical
missiles and launch equipment for $31 million.
And it announced separately that Turkey was seeking to buy four military
"Firefinder" radar sets to help Turkish forces accurately and quickly
respond to artillery fire.
All of the sales are considered routine defense items, but the Pentagon
said the radar sets would also go to Turkey under limitations of the arms
Mantelis talks with EU Commissioners on telecom issues
Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis had separate meetings
here yesterday with European Union Commissioners Martin Bangemann and Karel
Van Miert regarding cooperation between Athens and the Union in resolving
pending Greek issues.
As the Commission is taking legal action against Greece for delaying
deregulation of the telecommunications market, Mr. Mantelis said that he
did not make any efforts to avert the recourse.
He stressed that within the deadlines provided for by the recourse process,
Greece would have managed to arrange the pending telecoms issue.
The Greek minister, however, admitted that his discussion with Commissioner
Van Miert also touched on several sensitive issues, such as linking mobile
telephony in Greece with international networks without intervention of
Greece's national network.
Commissioner Bangemann told Mr. Mantelis that he was planning to visit
Athens in May and he hoped that by then, many of the pending issues will
have been settled.
Tsohatzopoulos ends official visit to Hungary
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos wound up his official two-day
visit here yesterday, saying acceptance and respect for international law
and treaties was a required precondition to safeguard security, stabili ty
as well as cooperation in eastern Europe.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos further stressed that the same preconditions applied
also for the case of Turkey, as far as upgrading its relations with Europe
The Greek minister described as a very positive coincidence the fact that
his visit to Budapest was made at a time when Hungary was requesting NATO
membership, and also preparing to seek an equal place into the European
In the sector of security and defence, Greece and Hungary decided to
exchange expertise - at military and technical levels - on the armaments
PM asks for PASOK unity during budget debate, vote
Prime Minister and PASOK president Costas Simitis asked the ruling party's
executive bureau yesterday for political unity during the upcoming
discussion and vote in Parliament for the 1998 state budget.
In connection to next year's local government elections and yesterday's
meeting between PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis and Coalition of the
Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos, the premier
requested low tones and cool-headed
ness. He added that a "warlike" atmosphere is unnecessary.
Greek central bank seen lowering interest rates
The Bank of Greece is likely to cut interest rates today after pressure on
the drachma eased, monetary sources said.
Inflows of roughly 120 million dollars were reported at the central bank's
daily fix yesterday with interbank rates ranging from 17-60 percent, still
unnaturally high following a wave of speculative attacks on the drachma. At
yesterday's central bank fix the drachma gained 0.66 percent on the dollar
to finish at 268.03, and rose 0.07 percent against the mark to close at
156.03. The national currency lost 0.05 percent against the Ecu, to end at
Greece accuses unnamed speculators of sabotaging the drachma
Greece yesterday accused speculators of deliberately launching attacks on
the drachma and pledged to maintain its defence of the national currency.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas claimed the attacks were either
planned ahead of time or instigated by market players he did not name.
Greece's central bank has propped up the drachma largely by keeping
interbank rates high to deter trade and intervening in the foreign currency
market. Mr. Reppas, who made the statements in reply to questions, said
defence of the drachma would result in losses for speculators.
Greek competition watchdog endorses insurance buyout
Greece yesterday approved a friendly takeover by insurer Allianz of rival
Helvetia, saying the move would leave competition in the growing insurance
According to the state's competition watchdog, the new company will hold
3.8 percent of life insurance, three percent of general insurance, and 1.4
percent of reinsurance.
Greek shippers place latest orders for high-speed car ferries
Twenty-seven large high-speed car ferries are currently under construction
worldwide with twenty-four being built according to DNV classification
DNV is the leading classification society on high speed vessels with 30
years of experience.
On the world market DNV has 70 percent of passenger craft and 90 percent of
high speed car ferries.
The latest orders were placed by Greek owners.
Goutos Lines has ordered a 45m Tricat for 375 passengers at Cowes Ship Yard
in the UK. Strintzis Lines has ordered a 40m catamaran at Baatservice Verft,
The new types of high speed craft will bring changes to sea transport.
Technical and operational safety is ensured by the IMO code of safety and
DNV total safety class rules.
Greek central bank to offer liquidity through swaps
The Bank of Greece is shortly to employ swap deals in order to provide
liquidity to Greek and foreign banks in a move to cut the cost of bond
Swap deals will also make it easier for the central bank to support the
Greek currency, analysts said.
Central bank officials repeated that the bank would maintain a cautious
monetary policy, its most powerful weapon in the battle against speculative
attacks on the drachma.
Greek industrial output again shows recovery
Greek industrial output remained on a recovery trend in the last three
years in line with all other European Union member-states, a survey said
A survey on Greek industrial output by the Institute of Economic and
Industrial Research (IOBE) commissioned by the Athens Chamber of Industry
and Commerce said that production recovered in Greece after a continuous
four-year decline in 1990-1993.
Industrial production rose by 0.6 percent in 1994 followed by a 2.1 percent
rise in 1995.
The average EU rate of increase was 5.3 percent.
shipping currency inflows up 0.9 pct in July
Inflows of Greek shipping foreign exchange rose by 0.9 percent in July to
total 201 million dollars.
Shipping income was 199.3 million dollars in the corresponding month last
Partly cloudy weather is expected throughout Greece today with the
possibility of light rain in the northwest. Local fog in the morning. Winds
will be variable, moderate to gale force. Partly cloudy in Athens with
spells of sunshine and mild southerly winds. Temperatures between 13-22C.
Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 12-17C.
Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 265.886
Pound sterling 453.820 Cyprus pd 529.728
French franc 46.473 Swiss franc 190.821
German mark 155.625 Italian lira (100) 15.875
Yen (100) 212.705 Canadian dlr. 189.075
Australian dlr. 185.603 Irish Punt 406.125
Belgian franc 7.545 Finnish mark 51.663
Dutch guilder 138.067 Danish kr. 40.890
Swedish kr. 35.563 Norwegian kr. 38.083
Austrian sch. 22.112 Spanish peseta 1.842
Port. Escudo 1.525