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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-12-30

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, 30/12/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Tsohatzopoulos reiterates Greek contingent will remain in Bosnia
  • Athens asks for clarification over Turkish military exercise
  • Karamanlis says ND set to win next elections
  • Report on 'pro-junta picnic' released
  • High court prosecutor rules against Roussel appeal
  • Special environmental protection units to be established
  • Cultural capital '97 ends with musical event
  • Greece, Albania to sign agreement on transport today
  • Capital outflows continue, interbank rates intact
  • Greek stocks end substantially lower
  • Bank if Piraeus profits up 112 pct Jan/Sept
  • Alpha Credit Bank nine month profits rose 46.2 pct
  • Finance ministry announced 15 pct tax reductions on property
  • Olympic order for eight Boeing 737-800s
  • Decision excluding Renault from bus tender upheld
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Tsohatzopoulos reiterates Greek contingent will remain in Bosnia

Speaking at the end of his official visit to Bosnia yesterday, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos stressed that the Greek contingent of the international force will remain in the wartorn country.

"Our position remains steadfast. Just as in the past we stated that the Greek contingent would remain, even if it is the only one to stay in Bosnia, we reiterate today that our contingent will remain in the future," he said.

Replying to a question on the duration of the Greek force's stay in Bosnia, he did not specify the time period.

"Greece's contribution will not only continue at a military level but also through the activation of cooperation on a bilateral level," he said.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that educational facilities will soon be built, as well as a hospital, adding that Greece will contribute to the renovation of a mosque in Visovo and to the building of several places of religious worship.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos was the first high-ranking foreign official to have contacts with all three members of Bosnia-Herzegovina's presidium during a visit to the country.

Early in the morning yesterday, he met with the president of Bosnia- Herzegovina, Alija Izetbegovic at the presidential mansion. Shortly afterwards, he met with the Croat representative and member of the three- member presidium, Krezimir Zubak, in the same venue. He then travelled to Pale where he held talks with the Serb representative in the presidium, Momcilo Krajisnik.

Speaking at a press conference after his meetings, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the development taking place during the past year on the issue of Bosnia- Herzegovina was very positive.

Commenting on the presence of the multinational military force in the country, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that Greece is participating as a member of the military force in Bosnia in the decision to support the Dayton pact, and criticised the position of other countries which have expressed desire in the past to withdraw their forces from Bosnia.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the three sides congratulated him over Greece's military presence and the role played by the Greek contingent.

Referring to Greece's interest in the region, he said it was "self-evident", adding that Greece is independently interested both independently and on a bilateral basis in the prosperity and progress of peoples in the region, and this stems from the fact that whatever crisis in the area also has repercussions in Greece.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos and officials accompanying him left for Tirana later in the afternoon, where he is expected to meet the Archbishop of Albania Anastasios and visit an army base housing the Greek contingent in Albania. A meeting with Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano is expected immediately afterwards.

Athens asks for clarification over Turkish military exercise

Confusion apparently surrounds a Turkish aeronautical exercise scheduled in the Aegean, between Jan. 2-25.

According to reports, the Greek Civil Aviation Authority (YPA) has sent a dispatch to authorities in Turkey on Dec. 24, citing problems regarding four of the areas marked off for the maneuvers.

Turkish officials replied on Dec. 26 with changes regarding these areas, which however, were not satisfactory to YPA.

Ankara issued notams - air navigation directives - for two areas, which include part of Istanbul's Flight Information Region (FIR) along with parts of the Athens' FIR.

On Dec. 28, YPA described the Turkish notam as illegal, void of any content and not valid, since it originated from a foreign service although it related to the Athens' FIR.

On the same day, YPA issued a notam allowing the Turkish exercises in the five of the eight areas originally requested by the plan.

YPA expressed reservations about areas 4,5 and 6, for which it requested communication with Turkey in order to issue the notam, after Turkey modifies the planning of the exercises in those areas. The Greek agency also requested that no national airspace be used during the Turkish exercises, and that the firing range of Andros be excluded.

Accodring to the same sources, YPA is awaiting a Turkish response, however, in the case that no response is given, YPA will report Turkey to the ICAO.

In addition, Athens will inform European Union member-states and the United States.

Meanwhile, according to a ANA dispatch from Sarajevo National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos told reporters that the Civil Aviation Authority was the body having exclusive responsibility in relation to the Athens FIR.

The defence minister, who was replying to a question regarding a scheduled military maneuver in the Aegean by Turkey, added that "Turkish authorities notified Greece about the military exercise 10 days ago."

"We are expecting that Turkish behaviour (during the exercise) will comply with international rules. We hope that its behaviour (Ankara's) will be governed by such principles, and also be based on its disposition for admission into the European Union", he said.

Nevertheless, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that "in case Turkey questions the rules of the international law, there will be a decisive reply."

Karamanlis says ND set to win next elections

Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis optimistically predicted that ND will win the next general elections, during a televised interview with private channel Antenna (ANT1) yesterday.

"The party (ND) is on a good course since it has overcome its introversion and has managed to heal the wounds of many years", he said, adding that "(ND) is looking at the future, being fully aware of the great responsibility that we will soon undertake following the Greek people's decision".

He predicted that 1998 will be a difficult and crucial year for the country's future as far as its course towards united Europe was concerned, while he grabbed the opportunity to attack the goverment on its choices, underlining that "its timidity and decisions were undermining this course."

Mr. Karamanlis revealed that his party had set a twin target in 1998, firstly, to put pressure on the government to follow what he called a proper policy; and secondly, to persuade the majority of voters on its positions and proposals.

Report on 'pro-junta picnic' released

Severe reprimands are likely to be levelled on 41 police officers, many high-ranking, who several years ago participated in an outdoor picnic replete with pro-junta-era songs, dances and insignia. Videotaped antics from the event were recently broadcast on several Greek television stations. A police deputy chief submitted his report yesterday afternoon, after a two-month investigation into the case. Military junta sympathising police officers and and Riot Police Unit (EKAM) were shown dancing to junta- era songs, as well as shouting slogans and firing in the air with their service weapons. The lenghty report arrives at the conclusion that the video was unaltered. The report recommends that EKAM commander Koutroumanis be dismissed, with some police officers be fired and others suspended.

High court prosecutor rules against Roussel appeal

The Supreme Court public prosecutor's office yesterday rejected an appeal by Thierry Roussel, the father of Athina Onassis-Roussel, against an Athens appeals council decision, according to which Mr. Roussel was to stand trial on charges of slander, perjury and filing a wrongful lawsuit against the Liechtenstein-based Onassis Foundation. The Supreme Court prosecutor's office judged that the decision was sufficiently justified.

Special environmental protection units to be established

The Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Ministry will submit a bill in Parliament anticipating the creation of special units for protecting the environment.

The units to be established will be known as "Inspectors of the Environment S.A." The units' mission, according to the bill, will be control and observance of national and European Union legislation on the environment.

The bill further anticipates observance of regulations which have been imposed, either as a precondition for granting a licence and the operaton or renewal of the operation of every activity at all public or private projects.

The units will be manned with specialised personnel and will propose the imposition of fines in cases they ascertain violations of environmental legislation.

Cultural capital '97 ends with musical event

A celebration marking the end of the European cultural capital year in Thessaloniki will be broadcast to all Balkan countries, with images sent to several European nations and to cable subscribers in the United States via the state-run NET network.

The event will feature internationally acclaimed Yugoslav composer Goran Bregovic, noted Greek singer Giorgos Dalaras and his Yugoslav counterpart Zdravko Colic, as well as 200 dancers, musicians and chorus singers.

The show will cost the Cultural Capital of Europe Organisation (OPPE) 235 million drachmas, 70 million coming through the sale of the musical programme to several Balkan state broadcasters.

Greece, Albania to sign agreement on transport today

Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mandelis and his Albanian counterpart, Gaqo Apostoli, will sign a bilateral agreement here today on the transportation of passengers and goods by road.

Mr. Apostoli is paying an official visit to Greece at the invitation of Mr. Mandelis.

During their talks today, the two ministers will also discuss issues related to road and rail connections between Greece and Albania

Capital outflows continue, interbank rates intact

The Bank of Greece, the country's central bank, yesterday reported outflows totalling 300 million Ecus at drachma fixing in the domestic interbank market.

Bankers said that foreign institutional investors continued closing their positions into Greek state securities ahead of the end of 1997, a pattern prevailing since last week, leading to more than 1.1 billion Ecus in outflows.

Interbank rates however remained steady helped by the Bank of Greece's discreet intervention.

Short-term interest rates moved around 10 percent, while rates for over a month range 14 percent.

Greek stocks end substantially lower

Greek equities came under heavy pressure yesterday to end substantially lower on the Athens Stock Exchange.

Traders said sentiment was affected by renewed turmoil in southeast Asian markets and a new round of higher interest rates by domestic commercial banks.

The general index closed 1.63 percent lower at 1,451.16 points, while turnover rose to 48.1 billion drachmas reflecting transactions of large block of shares ahead of the year end. During the session 700,000 shares of National Bank of Greece were traded .

Sector indices ended lower. Banks fell 1.78 percent, Insurance eased 1.87 percent, Leasing dropped 0.66 percent, Investments ended 0.95 percent off, Constructions dropped 1.83 percent, Industrials fell 1.24 percent, Miscellaneous ended 1.78 percent down and Holding plunged 2.86 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 0.88 percent off and the FTSE/ASE index rose 1.62 percent to end at 829.10 points.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 167 to 47 with another 17 issues unchanged.

Pairis, Dane, Papahellinas and Chalyps Cement scored the biggest percentage gains, while Nematemboriki, Papoutsanis, Vis and Parnassos suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 24,500 drachmas, Ergobank at 14,230, Alpha Credit Bank at 16,130, Delta Dairy at 3,220, Titan Cement at 12,790, Intracom at 12,950 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 5, 805.

Bank of Piraeus profits up 112 pct Jan/Sept

Bank of Piraeus, a Greek listed private bank, yesterday reported a spectacular 112 percent rise in profits for the first nine months of the year, bringing the total to 7.9 billion drachmas compared with 3.7 billion in the corresponding period last year.

The bank's assets in the period from January to September rose by 78 percent, deposits were 89 percent higher and lending rose by 63 percent.

Alpha Credit Bank nine month profits rose 46.2 pct

Alpha Credit Bank's profits rose by 46.2 percent in the first nine months of the year to 64.3 billion drachmas from 44 billion the same period last year.

The bank's assets totalled 221.7 billion drachmas, deposits rose 20.3 percent to 2.3 trillion drachmas and lending increased by 38.8 percent to 1.2 trillion.

Alpha Credit, the country's largest private bank, said in a statement yesterday that its fourth quarterly results would be affected by a rising trend in interest rates from the end of October.

Finance ministry announces 15 pct tax reductions on property

Greece's finance ministry yesterday announced a 15 percent rise in tax exemptions and tax reductions on heritage and grants taxation, property transfer and large property taxation.

The ministry said the measures were aimed at offsetting the impact on taxation by rising property prices.

Olympic order for eight Boeing 737-800s

State-run Olympic Airways has ordered eight "Boeing 737-800" aircraft, the giant manufacturer announced here yesterday.

The value of the order amounts to US$408 million, while delivery of the aircraft will start in early 2000. The Boeing 737-800s will replace the carrier's previous 737 and 727 models, an announcement stated.

The 737-800 aircraft are equipped with the new CFM56-7 engines, which are manufactured by CFMI, a joint venture of the US-based General Electric company and the France's Snecma.

Decision excluding Renault from bus tender upheld

The Renault company has been excluded from tendering by the Thermal Buses Co. (ETHEL) for procurement of 750 buses, valued at 45 billion drachmas, as the Council of State rejected the French company's appeal.

The firm, which was excluded during the first stage of tendering, was requesting suspension of decisions by an inter-party committee.

The Council of State rejected all the reasons put forth by the automaker.

WEATHER

Fair weather in most parts of Greece today with scattered showers in the eastern regions and the islands improving later in the day. Athens will be sunny with few clouds and temperatures between 7-15C. Same in Thessalasoniki with temperatures from 4-12C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 277.998 Pound sterling 465.804 Cyprus pd 532.208 French franc 46.785 Swiss franc 193.554 German mark 156.419 Italian lira (100) 15.929 Yen (100) 214.093 Canadian dlr. 193.837 Australian dlr. 182.230 Irish Punt 402.613 Belgian franc 7.587 Finnish mark 51.743 Dutch guilder 138.880 Danish kr. 41.089 Swedish kr. 35.672 Norwegian kr. 38.132 Austrian sch. 22.256 Spanish peseta 1.848 Port. Escudo 1.535

(C.E.)


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