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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-12-24

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, 24/12/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • US a reliable ally of Greece, says Burns
  • More airspace violations by Turkish warplanes
  • Tsohatzopoulos: Military always in state of readiness
  • Iranian FM: US-Iran rapprochement depends on Washington
  • Fulbright scholarship on European Union, EU-US affairs
  • Constantine Karamanlis Institute for Democracy set up
  • Kostakis collection may find permanent home in Greece
  • Stephanopoulos message to expatriate Greeks
  • Italian's request for release rejected
  • Posidonia '98 promises to be biggest and best
  • Bank of Greece reports outflows, plans intervention
  • Greek stocks rebound on speculative buying
  • Nat'l Economy Ministry presents new development bill
  • Bank of Greece charter revision approved
  • ELVO contract for 2,000 military jeeps signed
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

US a reliable ally of Greece, says Burns

New US Ambassador to Greece, Nicholas Burns, described as "excellent" his first meeting yesterday with Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

Mr. Burns, who presented his credentials to President Kostis Stephanopoulos yesterday, said President Bill Clinton, Vice-President Al Gore and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had great respect for Mr. Simitis "and the work he has done for Greece to join Economic and Monetary Union".

The envoy added that his one hour of talks with Mr. Simitis had covered all issues but declined to elaborate.

His mandate from President Clinton, he continued, is to work closely with the Greek government in order to further strengthen Greek-US relations and to ensure that the US is a reliable and good ally of Greece.

More airspace violations by Turkish warplanes

Six formations of Turkish warplanes infringed on Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) regulations as well as violating Greek national airspace during five instances, defence ministry sources said yesterday.

The infringements took place near Les vos and Samothrace. Eight Turkish F- 16s and F-4s were all intercepted by Hellenic Air Force fighters.

Tsohatzopoulos: Military always in state of readiness

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday that Greece's armed forces were always in a state of readiness to respond to any emergencies.

He made the statement when asked by reporters if there was a likelihood of a serious incident between Greece and Turkey during the coming year.

"No one can answer that question with certainty. Greece is in favour of an improvement in Turkey's relations with the European Union and we have repeatedly stressed that we are willing to contribute to this, on condition that Turkey accepts the same principles and obligations as all EU member- states," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

Asked whether the military operation to find the wreck of a Ukrainian aircraft that crashed in the mountains of Pieria last week could be characterised as an exercise in readiness, he replied that the search illustrated the capability and preparedness of the armed forces to respond immediately and effectively to emergencies.

Iranian FM: US-Iran rapprochement depends on Washington

Improvement in relations between Iran and the United States depends on Washington, Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Kamal Kharrazi said during a speech at the Pantion University's Institute of International Relations yesterday evening. The Iranian foreign minister was speaking on the topic of his country's foreign policy priorities.

Mr. Kharrazi stressed that a military agreement between Turkey and Israel has strengthened Israel's expansionist designs, reminding at the same time that the agreement was condemned at a recent conference of Islamic nations. He said Iran possessed the m ost direct route for the new pipelines carrying oil from the Caspian region, since Iran enjoyed as high degree of stability, as he said.

Asked about the possibility of such a pipeline running through Greece, the Iranian minister replied that it was "an interesting idea" and that it had been touched upon during his talks in Athens.

The Iranian official said Greece was a significant nation, playing an equally important role in the European Union, southern Europe and the Mediterranean. He added that Athens had contributed to resolving a crisis between Iran and the EU and had showed a good understanding of the Iranian reality, compared to other EU member-states.

Fulbright scholarship on European Union, EU-US affairs

The Fulbright Foundation in Athens in cooperation with the Fulbright Programme in Belgium has unveiled a programme for research or lecturing on European Union affairs and US-European Union relations.

The programme will take place at a selected US university.

Interested candidates must be European Union citizens, actively involved in European Union affairs at a professional or academic level, have excellent levels of achievement and be available at the Fulbright Foundation at 6, Vas. Sofias Ave. in Athens or at 4, Eleftheriou Venizelou St. in Thessaloniki between 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Constantine Karamanlis Institute for Democracy set up

The main opposition New Democracy party yesterday announced the creation of the non-profit Constantine Karamanlis Institute for Democracy.

The institute's president will be Ioannis Varvitsiotis, while its goals will be promotion of democracy as well as the study, analysis and presentation of proposals on a wide scope of educational, political and international matters.

Kostakis collection may find permanent home in Greece

Hopes were raised yesterday that the Greek state might in the near future acquire the fabulous "Kostakis Collection" of Russian avant-garde works of art.

Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos yesterday announced that a final agreement had been reached between the state and the Kostakis family, providing for the purchase by the state of the main part of the collection belonging to the grand-daughter of the famous collector, Aliki Kostaki, which is being kept in a Cologne bank.

Art lover George Kostakis, a Muscovite of Greek descent, built up his collection between 1930 and 1960 by exchanging works by western artists for paintings dating from the period 1910-1930 by then unknown Russian avant- garde artists.

In 1977, he donated about 150 works to the Tretiakov Art Gallery in Moscow, while the approximately 600 works he retained have been kept in Cologne.

The collection includes works by Malevic, founder of the 'Supremacist' school, Tatlin, the founder of 'Constructivism', Popova, Rozanova, and Matiushin.

Kostakis had himself expressed the wish that the 600 works now in Cologne be brought to and remain in Greece.

Mr. Venizelos hinted that the collection might be housed at the Museum of Modern Art in Thessaloniki.

Mr. Venizelos declined to make any statement when asked about the purchase price, but according to press sources, Aliki Kostaki had in the past asked the Greek state for 6.5 billion drachmas.

Stephanopoulos message to expatriate Greeks

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos yesterday addressed a message to expatriate Greeks on the occasion of the Christmas and New Year holidays.

"All of you Greeks who live and prosper in various places of the world with your ever lively national conscience, function as the 'other' Greece, a dynamic and creative Greece that actively supports the efforts being made by metropolitan Greece to successfully deal with its foreign policy problems," Mr. Stephanopoulos said.

The president also spoke about the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE), saying that the organisation was a great help in promoting issues which relate to the further progress of Greek expatriate communities.

Unity among the people and their organisations in all corners of the world, said Mr. Stephanopoulos, was of vital importance to them.

"We need knowledge, prudence, merit and braveness in order to be able to sail again in the open seas, go through rough seas and obstacles and to defend Hellenism and Orthodoxy internationally," the president of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SEA) Andrew Athens said in a message addressed to expatriate Greeks on the occasion of Christmas and the New Year.

Mr. Athens added that a few days after the SAE conference in Thessaloniki, it was now evident that the SAE was the realisation of a major dream and a unique endeavour to achieve Hellenism's universal unity.

The SAE president compared the SAE to a boat which was directing expatriate Greeks into the new millenium, with responsibility for its navigation lying with all Greeks. He further said that 1997 had been a very constructive year, with SAE's work being tested and acclaimed, while there was still a long way ahead.

Italian's request for release rejected

An Athens appeals court yesterday rejected a request by Italian national Enrico Bianco to be released from jail pending an extradition request from Rome.

The court decided that Mr. Bianco is wanted for criminal acts and not political, as he claimed, the court stated.

Posidonia '98 promises to be biggest and best

"Expansion" is the theme of the Posidonia '98 international shipping exhibition, which is slated for June 1-5 in Piraeus next year, and with six months still to go to the opening, architects have been called in with a view to creating more exhibition spac e to accommodate exhibitors.

More exhibition area than ever will be required for stands, as reservations are running at record levels despite some clouds gathering on shipping's horizon. "The national stands especially require additional space,"says Nana Michael, managing director of Posidonia Exhibitions SA. "Confirmations so far point to the largest Posidonia ever with regard to the occupied exhibition area".

The US is leading the way as its maritime industry mounts its largest presentation ever abroad. At least 50 percent more space will be required than at Posidonia '96 -- when the increase had been 20 percent -- to house the very diverse range of companie s which want to show this time," she said.

Other expanded national stands include the Dutch who have taken 45 per cent more space than before, Malta 30 percent more, and France is 20 percent up after a 15 percent increase in 1996.

In addition, all these countries have a bigger presence in the exhibition outside the national pavilions. Croatia, a new country, is also a new national exhibitor.

The leading British participation at Posidonia '98 is also expected to be the larger than two years back. The Baltic Exchange will be exhibiting again, and this time it is planning to do so with a number of other London- based organisations. Japan has al so indicated its maritime sector plans a repeat major presence.

Greece and Posidonia's leading place in the international shipping community is underlined by the fact that the European Union will mount a stand. Through the European Commission space has been taken to present projects of the Telematics Application Programme of the European Commission's Directorate General XIII.

"In addition to the European Commission, we have been encouraged by the inflow of other first-time exhibitors," says Ms. Michael. "Not only is the interest coming from international exhibitors, but also from Greece, particularly from supply and service companies."

The record for the number of countries represented within the exhbition -- 64 at Posidonia '96 -- is also expected to be exceeded at the 1998 event, the 16th of these biennial international shipping exhibitions, which will be held in the Piraeus Port Authority's Akti Miaouli waterfront Exhibition Centre.

Bank of Greece reports outflows, plans intervention

The Bank of Greece yesterday reported outflows of 110 million Ecus and 140 million DMark at the drachma's fixing in the domestic foreign exchange market following a pattern seen on Monday.

According to central bank's sources the outflow did not relate to lack of confidence in the Greek drachma but a decision by foreign institutional investors not to roll-over their positions in state securities ahead of the end of the year.

Meanwhile, one-month interbank rates fluctuated around 17-18 percent, sharply higher from the overnight rate of 11 percent.

The Bank of Greece is expected to intervene in the market on Wednesday by adding liquidity to stabilise interest rates.

Greek stocks rebound on speculative buying

Greek equities rebounded on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday ending a five-day sharp fall which saw the market lose 4.10 percent of its value.

A steadier outlook in the domestic money market rates and a recovery in international markets encouraged sentiment and led investors to bargain- hunting buying.

The general index closed 1.16 percent higher at 1,478.21 points.

Sector indices scored gains. Banks rose 0.54 percent, Insurance ended 1.05 percent higher, Leasing increased 0.54 percent, Investment rose 0.31 percent, Constructions ended 0.87 percent up, Industrials rose 1.33 percent, Miscellaneous increased 1.19 per cent and Holding was 1.41 percent higher.

The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 0.81 percent while the FTSE/ASE index ended 0.96 percent up at 842.60 points.

Trading was heavy with turnover at 41.7 billion drachmas reflecting transactions of large blocks of shares.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 137 to 73 with another 21 issues unchanged.

Ekter, Desmos, Rilken and Dane scored the biggest percentage gains at the day's upper limit of 8.0 percent, while Radio Athina, Viosol, Galis, Elatex and Sato suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 25,000 drachmas, Ergobank at 14,600, Alpha Credit Bank at 16,155, Delta Dairy at 3,200, Titan Cement at 12,910, Intracom at 13,350 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 5, 980.

Nat'l Economy Ministry presents new development bill

National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday presented a draft bill on investment and development aimed at replacing an existing subsidies system with a new wider framework of subsidising interest rates and tax cuts for businesses operating more than five years.

Mr. Papantoniou said that the bill would be submitted shortly in parliament.

He stressed that the new legislation would promote a new framework on investment incentives and widening measures to support investments in the country.

The new bill also foresees incentives to combat unemployment with subsidies up to 15 million drachmas for the creation of every new job.

The bill also includes cutbacks in subsidies to border areas and drastic cuts in subsidies to new tourism areas in Greece.

Mr. Papantoniou underlined that the new legislation foresees special measures on mergers and takeovers of small and medium-sized companies in order to improve competitiveness.

Bank of Greece charter revision approved

An extraordinary general assembly of the Bank of Greece shareholders yesterday approved a revision of the central bank's charter to bring it in line with a recently passed bill on "arrangements for the Bank of Greece".

The Parliament bill provides for the central bank's autonomy, stipulating that the bank's administration does not ask for nor accept instructions from the government or state bodies.

The legislation was provided for in the European Union treaty for all member-states as a necessary prerequisite for participation in Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

ELVO contract for 2,000 military jeeps signed

Speaking prior to the signing of a contract in Thessaloniki yesterday for the production of some 2,000 military jeeps, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos stressed the government's interest in the Hellenic Vehicles Industry (ELBO).

The contract, valued at 32 billion drachmas, was signed at ELBO's installations at Sindos, Thessaloniki. The contract is of a three-year duration and anticipates the option for the purchase of a further 2,500 vehicles.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the national defence ministry will contribute to this effort with the signing in the first half of 1998 of contracts totalling 35 billion drachmas for the production of 172 trucks and 88 buses (for military personnel) and 611 mul tiple use vehicles (for the air force).

He further said that in 1998, as was also the case this year, the government will maintain a high percentage of the Greek defence industry's participation in all of the country's armaments.

Out of contracts worth 450 billion drachmas signed by the ministry in 1997, 40 per cent was assigned to Greek weapons industries compared to 4 per cent which was the percentage in past years.

WEATHER

Partly cloudy weather will prevail throughout Greece today with the possibility of light rain in the islands of the eastern Aegean where temperatures will go up to 19C. Winds northerly, light to moderate. Athens will be mostly sunny with few clouds and temperatures from 7-16C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 5-11C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 277.929 Pound sterling 462.927 Cyprus pd 531.712 French franc 46.757 Swiss franc 193.564 German mark 156.428 Italian lira (100) 15.945 Yen (100) 214.470 Canadian dlr. 193.063 Australian dlr. 182.285 Irish Punt 404.438 Belgian franc 7.584 Finnish mark 51.693 Dutch guilder 138.860 Danish kr. 41.085 Swedish kr. 35.698 Norwegian kr. 38.172 Austrian sch. 22.242 Spanish peseta 1.850 Port. Escudo 1.533

(C.E.)


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