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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-11-12

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, 12/11/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • 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
  • Weather
  • 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 responsibility."

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 said.

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 Europeans."

"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 union.

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 fighting terrorism.

He said Washington supported Greece's policy in the Balkans and considers the Simitis government's economic policy to be moving in the right direction.

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 Macedonia.

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 $376 million.

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 export act.

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 was concerned.

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 Union.

In the sector of security and defence, Greece and Hungary decided to exchange expertise - at military and technical levels - on the armaments sector.

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 310.10 drachmas.

    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 market intact.

    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 standards.

    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, Mandal, Norway.

    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 transactions.

    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 yesterday.

    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 year.

    WEATHER

    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.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    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

    (C.E.)


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