Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-02-17
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 17/02/1998 (ANA)
- Greece, Russia urge diplomatic solution to Iraqi crisis
- Pangalos politely rejects Cem proposals
- Greece, Egypt to hold joint military exercises
- Seminar on EU for Palestinian diplomats
- Government congratulates Clerides on re-election
- Papantoniou: Greece will fulfill Maastricht criteria for budget
- Greek rates drop in T-bill tender
- Central gov't debt slips to Dr 39.04 trillion in '97
- Greek stocks end down in flat trade
- Greek shipping forex falls 2.7 pct in October
- Greece to host conference for Mediterranean NGOs
- Businessman donates collection to state
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Greece, Russia urge diplomatic solution to Iraqi crisis
Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov said yesterday that all political
possibilities for a settlement of the crisis over weapons inspections in
Iraq had not yet been exhausted and there were still steps which could be
taken to avert military action.
"Greece and Russia do not consider the use of force to be expedient...since
this would have serious repercussions in the broader region," Mr. Primakov
told a press conference after talks with Foreign Minister Theodoros
Pangalos on the first of a three-day official visit here.
He stressed, however, that both Greece and Russia agreed that the weapons
of mass destruction in Iraq must be neutralised.
Mr. Primakov said the 90-minute talks between the Greek and Russian
delegations, headed by the two foreign ministers and attended also by
Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis, included a detailed discussion
of the situation in Iraq.
Russia's foreign minister described as "an encouraging first step" the
prospect of a visit by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to Baghdad. He added
however that Mr. Annan must not go to Iraq with ultimatums but to try and
secure conditions which would enable UN inspectors to do their job and to
persuade Baghdad to neutralise its weapons of mass destruction.
Replying to reporters' questions, Mr. Primakov said he was not in a
position to know what biological and chemical weapons had been stockpiled
by Baghdad, reiterating that he would not like to see force used against
"Because a (military) strike of this type, in the case that there are large
stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons, would considerably affect
all neighbouring countries," he added.
Asked about the sale of Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to
Nicosia, Mr. Primakov said that the missiles would be delivered to Cyprus
in accordance with the contract signed and on the dates agreed.
He said the only possibility for the deal not to go ahead would be if the
entire island republic was demilitarised. He stressed that the S-300
missiles were defensive weapons.
Mr. Primakov said he favoured a peaceful resolution "to all the differences
between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean" adding that, after his talks with
Mr. Pangalos, he believed Greece shared this view. He said his country's
position vis-a-vis the situation in the Bosporus was that the regime should
be maintained as provided for in the Montreux Treaty.
Mr. Pangalos said that the issue of Balkan cooperation had also been
discussed in the context of present developments in the region and that Mr.
Primakov had agreed with him that efforts should continue to overcome
obstacles from any side.
One of the ways to overcome obstacles, he added, would be to create a more
specific programme of action. Mr. Primakov said both countries were
concerned about stability in the Balkans and were prepared to do everything
possible to promote cooperation between Balkan countries in the political,
economic and social sectors.
Mr. Pangalos described Greek-Russian relations as "excellent", while his
Russian counterpart said they were developing very well. Noting that the
talks had been "fruitful and interesting", Mr. Primakov said there was a
fair degree of proximity between the views of the two sides with regard to
developments in the region.
Mr. Primakov later met with President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos
and Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
Mr. Primakov and his Greek counterpart are due to visit today Mount Athos
and two Russian monasteries in the autonomous monastic community.
Pangalos politely rejects Cem proposals
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said yesterday that Greece had never
refused high-level meetings with Turkey, while he himself met with his
Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem on several occasions recently and intended
to do so again in the future.
Mr. Pangalos was commenting on an interview by Mr. Cem published in
Monday's edition of the Athens daily "Eleftherotypia" and the latter's five-
point proposal submitted to Greece's ambassador in Ankara last week in the
form of a verbal note.
Expressing satisfaction at the friendly tone of both the interview and the
proposal, Mr. Pangalos said Greece had never refused high-level meetings
with Turkey. He stressed, however, that Greece would never enter into
"overall" negotiations on Turkey's claims in the Aegean.
Every time Turkey realizes it has reached an impasse, Mr. Pangalos said, it
puts forward the same proposal.
"It is not possible for Turkey to fail to understand the provisions of
international law, as pointed out to Ankara by the international community,
and to continue to propose things which are completely unacceptable," Mr.
Mr. Pangalos noted that Greece had already accepted the general jurisdiction
of the International Court and this meant that if Turkey had recourse to
the court, Ankara too would have to accept its jurisdiction.
In this case, he continued, Turkey would be able, without needless
talks...to refer any issue it wanted to the International Court.
Only on one issue could there be bilateral talks, Mr. Pangalos said,
referring to the delineation of the Aegean continental shelf.
"With respect to all other issues, let Turkey have recourse to the
International Court," he added.
Mr. Pangalos said the foreign ministry would reply to Mr. Cem's five-point
proposal within the week in a verbal note, the essence of which would
reflect his statements yesterday.
Greece, Egypt to hold joint military exercises
Joint naval and air force exercises in the next few months between Greece
and Egypt were agreed to in talks between National Defence Minister Akis
Tsohatzopoulos and his Egyptian counterpart Hussein Tadawi here yesterday.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, currently on an official three-day visit to Egypt, held
three-hour talks with Mr. Tadawi focusing on bilateral relations and
developments in the wider region. The two ministers reached the joint
conclusion that there is a need for co llective security for countries
belonging to the so-called "instability triangle" and consequently the
further strengthening of their bilateral relations is necessary. They also
agreed to joint aeronautical exercises in the next six months and to
Greece's participation in multipartite exercises conducted in the
eastern Mediterranean, and in which Egypt also participates.
Cooperation between the defence industries of Greece and Egypt will be
promoted, as well as exchanges of visits to Athens and Cairo by officers of
the two countries' armed forces.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that the holding of joint aeronautical exercises
between Greece and Egypt "constitutes a reply to all who think that they
can exploit instability in the region for their own expediencies."
He was referring in essence to joint exercises between Israel and Turkey,
which were carried out in past months and which caused serious reactions in
the Arab world.
Referring to the agreement between Israel and Turkey, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos
said the position of Athens and Cairo is common, since they assess that
this agreement does not serve security in the wider region, because it is
directed against the interests of Arab countries.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos and his Egyptian counterpart also exchanged views on a
possible military intervention by the United States in Iraq. They agreed
that such a development will create serious problems since it will cause
general instability in Arab countries with unforeseen consequences. Mr.
Tadawi also expressed a view that, unfortunately, chemical weapons
possessed by the Iraqi strongman are not Washington's target.
Seminar on EU for Palestinian diplomats
Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis will inaugurate a seminar today
on European Union issues for a group of 10 Palestinian dilpomats.
The seminar is organised by the foreign ministry in cooperation with the
Greek Centre for European Studies (EKEM) and will focus on the EU's
organisation, cooperation and policy on issues related to the Mediterranean.
Government congratulates Clerides on re-election
The Greek government yesterday congratulated Glafcos Clerides on his re-
election as president of Cyprus.
Mr. Clerides took 50.8 per cent of the vote in Sunday's run-off presidential
election, against 49.2 per cent for his rival George Iacovou.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas reiterated the government's willingness
for close cooperation, adding that Greece would always stand by the Cypriot
people in their search for a resolution to their problems.
President Kostis Stephanopoulos also sent a telegram to Mr. Clerides,
assuring him of the Greek people's continued support for Cypriot Hellenism.
Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis also congratulated
Glafcos Clerides and wished him well on his efforts for a just and viable
solution to the Cyprus issue. Mr. Karamanlis reassured Mr. Clerides of his
support for the island republic' s accession to the European Union during
their telephone conversation.
Papantoniou: Greece will fulfill Maastricht criteria for budget
Addressing the European Union's Council of Economic and Monetary Affairs
meeting in Brussels yesterday, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou
said the Greek economy will be in a position to fulfill fiscal criteria set
by the Maastricht Treaty, namely, to have a budget deficit of less than 3
per cent of GDP in 1998.
Mr. Papantoniou outlined to his counterparts the basic principles of Greek
economic policy which the government is applying consistently, emphasising
structural measures taken in the direction of restructuring public
enterprises and organisations, state -run banks, the insurance system,
He added that in 1998 the permanent downward trend of the Greek public debt
will be consolidated to enable the prospect of the drachma's accession to
European Monetary Union (EMU) to become clearer since, as he said, it is
the common position of the "15 " that all countries will be handled on the
basis of the same criteria regardless of whether they will accede to the
EMU from the beginning or at a later stage.
Greek rates drop in T-bill tender
Greek money markets yesterday welcomed a fall in interest rates after the
finance ministry's latest auction of Treasury bills.
The ministry auctioned three-month T-bills worth 50 billion drachmas at
13.1 percent, down from 13.9 percent at its previous auction.
It was the first drop in interest rates after a rising trend in the last
The auction was held with the participation of a newly created group of
primary dealers in the domestic securities market.
Finance ministry officials expressed their confidence that money market
rates would resume their downward trend at a more rapid pace in the second
half of the year.
Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis said the auction results were
a good sign, and the prospect of lower rates was realistic.
"The market acknowledges improvements in economic fundamentals," Mr.
Central gov't debt slips to Dr 39.04 trillion in '97
Greece's central government debt eased slightly in 1997 to 39.04 trillion
drachmas from 39.4 trillion in 1996, representing 119.3 percent of GDP from
120.2 percent the previous year.
Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis yesterday predicted that the
state's borrowing needs would fall to 10.27 trillion drachmas in 1998 from
12.92 trillion in 1997.
Greek stocks end down in flat trade
Greek equities yesterday ended lower in subdued trading on the Athens Stock
Traders said the market was awaiting the results of a finance ministry
Treasury-bill auction for a signal on the direction of interest rates.
The general index closed 0.69 percent down at 1,482.73 points with most
sector indices losing ground. Banks fell 1.05 percent, Insurance eased 0.05
percent, Investment dropped 0.02 percent, Construction ended 1.63 percent
off, Industrials fell 0.26 p ercent, Holding eased 1.10 percent but Leasing
and Miscellaneous bucked the trend to end 0.99 and 0.47 percent higher
The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 0.34 percent. The
FTSE/ASE blue chip index dropped 0.97 percent to end at 823.75 points.
Trading was moderate with turnover at 12.5 billion drachmas.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 106 to 98 with another 21 issues
Ideal, Viochalco, Ergas and Athinea scored the biggest percentage gains at
the daily 8.0 percent upper volatility limit while Radio Athina, Vis,
Hellenic Technodomiki and Thessaliki suffered the heaviest losses.
National Bank ended at 22,340 drachmas, Ergobank at 14,900, Alpha Credit
Bank at 16,140, Delta Dairy at 2,935, Titan Cement at 13,700, Intracom at
15,350 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 5,785.
Greek shipping forex falls 2.7 pct in October
Greek shipping foreign exchange revenue dropped 2.7 percent in October last
year to 191 million US dollars, the Bank of Greece said yesterday.
Revenue was 196.3 million dollars in October 1996, the central bank said in
Greece to host conference for Mediterranean NGOs
Greek Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday called on the
country's non-governmental organisations to help organise a Mediterranean
conference to be held in September in Olympia.
Mr. Papandreou was speaking at a meeting in Athens of representatives of
non-governmental organisations, ministry officials and representatives of
the European Union's executive Commission.
Speakers urged non-governmental groups to make use of around one billion
Ecu earmarked by the EU to help fund non-governmental organisations.
Businessman donates collection to state
Nikos Metaxas, the founder of the Maris Hotel chain in Crete, has donated
his private collection of 2,229 ancient artefacts to the Greek state, it
was announced yesterday.
The collection of artefacts - dating from 4,000 B.C. to 300 A.D. - was
built up over a period of 40 years by Mr. Metaxas and his wife, Loula.
It is expected to be housed in the Iraklion Museum, on Crete.
The artefacts include 680 Minoan cameos, considered to be the largest
private collection of such items in the world. Pots, tools, weapons,
jewelry and pottery items - primarily from prehistoric Crete as well as the
Geometric, Archaic, Classical, Helleni stic and Roman periods are also
Mr. Metaxas also accepted a proposal from the director of the Iraklio
museum Alexandra Karetsou that he finance the publication of a book on the
Cloudy weather is forecast for most parts of Greece today. Possibility of
scattered showers in the north and the northern Aegean islands from the
afternoon. Light snowfall in the mountainous regions. Winds light to
moderate, turning strong in the north in the evening. Local clouds in
Athens with temperatures between 8-19C. Possibility of rain in Thessaloniki
with temperatures from 6-14C.
Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 284.803
Pound sterling 467.212 Cyprus pd 534.688
French franc 46.684 Swiss franc 194.759
German mark 156.478 Italian lira (100) 15.858
Yen (100) 225.928 Canadian dlr. 197.190
Australian dlr. 188.971 Irish Punt 390.411
Belgian franc 7.582 Finnish mark 51.647
Dutch guilder 138.825 Danish kr. 41.067
Swedish kr. 35.119 Norwegian kr. 37.597
Austrian sch. 22.237 Spanish peseta 1.847
Port. Escudo 1.526