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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-02-18

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, 18/02/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greek-Russian initiative to promote Kofi Annan's Iraqi visit
  • Measures for loss-making Olympic Airways in a month's time
  • Europarliament resolution on pillaging of Imvros Church
  • Greece and Egypt oppose military intervention in Iraq
  • Greece reiterates rights under Law of the Sea
  • Pentagon said to be pressing for US ratification of Law of the Sea
  • Mass violations of Greek airspace by Turkish warplanes
  • Vartholomeos to visit Canada in March
  • Papademos reappointed Bank of Greece governor
  • Karamanlis in Brussels
  • Europarliament hails Greek measures on conscientious objecrors
  • Albania's Alia has by-pass operation in Greece
  • Greeks to get new tax register number under streamlining plan
  • Greek stocks shed gains in lucklustre trade
  • Venture capital for Danube Fund
  • Wine orders over the Internet
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greek-Russian initiative to promote Kofi Annan's Iraqi visit

Greece and Russia yesterday undertook an initiative to promote UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan's visit to Iraq, which aims at persuading Iraqi leadership to permit UN weapons inspections.

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and his Russian counterpart Yevgeny Primakov yesterday contacted several European Union counterparts from northern Greece, in the direction of defusing the ongoing Iraqi crisis.

Mr. Pangalos and Mr. Primakov contacted French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine from Macedonia Airport in Thessaloniki yesterday morning. Later, while on Mount Athos, the two ministers had telephone conversations with German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel and Belgian Foreign Minister Erik Derycke.

Both the Greek and Russian FMs are continuing efforts to communicate with other counterparts from EU countries, including British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook.

Mr. Pangalos told reporters earlier in Mount Athos that he and Mr. Primakov were making "specific efforts" for a political solution to the Iraqi crisis.

"There is a considerable danger and let us hope that the UN Secretary General is left to do his job without needless terms and conditions which will just make things more difficult. His final efforts could, with some understanding from the other side,bring some result," Mr. Pangalos said.

"Of course, the objective of all of us is for the chemical and nuclear weapons which Iraq may have to be neutralised. No one supports the view that it should have such weapons. But there must be some understanding and there must be no show of strength and intransigence," he added.

Primakov stated in Thessaloniki late last night that according to information he has "it appears that Iraq is ready, in light of a trip by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to Baghdad, to show the greatest constructive disposition."

Measures for loss-making Olympic Airways in a month's time

Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis said yesterday that measures for the streamlining of Olympic Airways and the Greek Post Offices (ELTA) would be announced within 30 days.

He made the statements after meeting with National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on the future of the two state-run utilities, also attended by their managements.

Mr. Mantelis said the operational plans of the two public enterprises would first be submitted to dialogue with staff before final decisions are adopted.

The two ministers are holding follow-up meetings today to discuss measures for the urban transport organisations of Athens (OASA) and the Greek Railways Organisation (OSE).

Before yesterday's meeting, Mr. Mantelis said the six-month deadline given by the government for management and employees to find solutions to the problems of public enterprises (DEKOs) other than OA and ELTA would be adhered to. Before the deadline, managements must have submitted their programmes concerning work regulations, economic revitalisation and business plans.

A project manager must first be found, he continued, and the company is already in negotiations in order to safeguard its interests.

Europarliament resolution on pillaging of Imvros church

The main opposition New Democracy party's Parliamentary group has tabled a resolution at the European Parliament plenum regarding the pillaging of an Orthodox church on Imvros earlier this month.

Besides the widespread damages, several priceless holy relics were stolen from the church. Imvros and Tenedos, two islands in the extreme northeastern Aegean inhabited by a homogeneous ethnic Greek population at the turn of the century, were awarded to Turkey by the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.

The resolution calls on the Europarliament to condemn the sacrilege, stressing that "these illegal acts are in contrast to the free expression of ideas and fundamental freedoms."

Turkish authorities are also called on to prevent the removal of the relics from the island and on the Turkish government to protect and allow the unimpeded operation of cathedrals.

Greece and Egypt oppose military intervention in Iraq

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and visiting National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday agreed that Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein should accept a UN Security Council resolution for a continuation of inspections for weapons of mass destruction. The two men met during the Greek minister's second day of his official visit here, and also agreed that the US should in no case proceed with a military intervention, as diplomatic possibilities were still in place.

"An invasion would create more problems in the Middle East than it would solve," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

They also discussed current bilateral issues and the consequences of the Turkish-Israeli military agreement, stressing that Ankara functioned as a destabilising factor in the eastern Mediterranean.

Finally, they endorsed agreements reached between Mr. Tsohatzopoulos and his Egyptian counterpart on Monday for the holding of joint aeronautical exercises in the next six months.

The Greek minister's talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa centred on much the same subjects. Later, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos visited a M1- A1 main battle tank production plant.

His visit ends in Alexandria today, as the Greek minister is scheduled to meet with Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria and All Egypt Petros.

Greece reiterates rights under Law of the Sea

Greece reiterated yesterday that it had every right under the Law of the Sea convention to extend its territorial waters from six to twelve miles and would do so when it saw fit.

Replying to a Turkish foreign ministry announcement issued yesterday, Greek foreign ministry spokesman Costas Bikas repeated a statement on the matter issued by the ministry on Jan. 22.

"Greece fully respects international law...and the joint communique issued in Madrid, adherence to which may and should have a positive influence on Greek-Turkish relations and stability in the region," Mr. Bikas said.

The Turkish announcement yesterday said the Madrid "agreement", signed by Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Turkish President Suleiman Demirel in July last year, obliged both sides to refrain from unilateral actions.

Mr. Bikas pointed out that according to international law, Greece had every right to extend its territorial waters to twelve nautical miles.

"We have repeatedly stated that when we decide to exercise this right, we shall act in a responsible manner as a sea power with a comprehensive perception of freedom of navigation, peace and good neighbourly relations in the Aegean and the Mediterranean . This is in any case provided for by the right of safe passage which is recognised by international law," Mr. Bikas said. "The exercise of this lawful right can therefore under no circumstances be considered as a threat or non-adherence to the princip les contained in the Madrid joint communique, which Turkey should implement. Ankara would be well advised not to create issues where there is no issue," he added.

Pentagon said to be pressing for US ratification of Law of The Sea

The US Defense Department is pressing for ratification of the Law of The Sea, which was finalised in 1982 and has been signed by 123 countries.

This position constitutes a significant change in relation with the recent policy, as Washington considered that the Treaty restricted the ability of US vessels to sail freely throughout the world.

The "Defense News" review notes that the US military now considers that changes brought about in the Law of the Sea in 1994 offer satisfactory solutions to US objections.

"The treaty holds tremendous significance for the US, particularly with regard to defense and security," Defense Undersecretary Walter Slocombe said, adding that "the US can neither urge other countries to sign the treaty nor can it (Washington) exerci se its appropriate leading role with regard to its (treaty) application if the (US) Senate has not previously ratified it".

The review considers that non-ratification impedes the speedy resolution of disputes relating to issues such as national sovereignty and the extent of territorial waters.

Mass violations of Greek airspace by Turkish warplanes

A total of 16 Turkish F-16 and F-4 warplanes violated Greek national airspace on several instances between the islands of Lesvos and Hios, according to sources.

The particular area had been designated by Turkey for its current aeronautical exercises, while the Turkish warplanes moved in two waves, one in the morning and another early in the afternoon.

In all cases, Greek fighters intercepted intruders, while on two instances interceptions developed into engagements.

Vartholomeos to visit Canada in March

Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos will visit six Canadian cities from March 25 to June 2.

Vartholomeos' visit, which will be the first ever by an Ecumenical Patriarch to that country, will include Ottawa, Vancouver, Winnipeg, London, Toronto and Montreal.

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien will welcome the Orthodox Prelate.

Meanwhile, Vartholomeos described the appointment by the US administration of a special secretary on human rights issues as an indication of emerging global changes. The Patriarch made his observation here yesterday after a meeting with US Assistant State Secretary John Shattuck.

Papademos reappointed Bank of Greece governor

A Parliament's committee yesterday approved renewal of Bank of Greece Governor Lucas Papademos' five-year term. Mr. Papademos said during the hearing that "Greece will be able to join the euro system by 2001."

Karamanlis in Brussels

Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis who is in Brussels to attend a meeting of ND supporters met with Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos.

Mr. Avramopoulos is a candidate in today's elections for the presidency of the European Union's regions committee.

Europarliament hails Greek measures on conscientious objectors

A report by the French Eurodeputy of the European Unified Left, Aline Pailler, adopted yesterday by a Europarliament plenum, makes a positive reference to measures taken by the Greek government to release conscientious objectors and the initiation of legislation recognising the rights of conscientious objectors.

The report focused on the state of human rights in the European Union last year.

In the section of the report concerning Greece, the Parliament calls on the government to fully give amnesty to all conscientious objectors so far and to grant them full civil rights, particularly by granting passports and safeguarding freedom of travel in the EU.

The relevant resolution also condemns the listing of religion in identity cards, since the Parliament believes that this action deals a blow at respect for the private life of people and can lead to discriminations.

Albania's Alia has by-pass operation in Greece

Former Albanian president Ramiz Alia was recovering satisfactorily after undergoing a quadruple by-pass operation at Thessaloniki's George Papanicolaou Hospital yesterday morning.

The four-hour operation on the 73-year-old former communist strongman was performed by the head of the cardiology unit, Panayiotis Spyrou.

Mr. Alia, who was admitted late Sunday night after arriving from Tirana, will remain in intensive care for two days before being moved to a hospital room to recuperate for another week. His travelling expenses have been paid for by an anonymous Thessaloniki businessman.

Greeks to get new tax register number under streamlining plan

Greeks will acquire a new tax register number under a finance ministry decision aimed at widening and streamlining the tax base in the country, Finance Undersecretary George Drys said yesterday.

A new nine-figure tax file number will be given to all legal and private entities, married females, property holders, government ministries and foreigners operating branches or offices in Greece.

Mr. Drys said the measure aimed at creating a new tax profile for every citizen and set up a data base to improve cross-referencing of tax data in a drive to combat tax evasion.

The new measure will be implemented by the end of 1999 along with the launch of a programme to check tax data.

Greek stocks shed gains in lucklustre trade

Greek equities ended slightly lower reversing an earlier advance on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday. Traders said the market lacked buyers and fresh incentives to maintain its rebounding trend.

The general index closed 0.21 percent down at 1,479.66 points with sector indices ending mixed.

Banks fell 0.50 percent, Insurance eased 0.08 percent, Leasing rose 0.59 percent, Investment increased 0.37 percent, Construction ended 0.71 percent higher, Industrials fell 0.05 percent, Miscellaneous dropped 0.38 percent and Holding rose 0.81 percent.

The parallel market index rose 0.87 percent. The FTSE/ASE blue chip index ended 0.40 percent off at 820.45 points.

Trading was subdued with turnover at 14.2 billion drachmas.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 126 to 74 with another 29 issues unchanged.

Eskimo, Singular, Demetriadis, Papoutsanis and Ergas scored the biggest percentage gains at the daily 8.0 percent upper volatility limit, while Boutaris, Bank of Athens, Daring and Keranis suffered the heaviest losses. National Bank of Greece ended at 2 2,050 drachmas, Ergobank at 14,900, Alpha Credit Bank at 16,080, Delta Dairy at 2,930, Titan Cement at 13,675, Intracom at 15,370 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 5, 750.

Venture capital for Danube Fund

Bankers Trust recently invested US$1.5 million in Alpha Ventures with the purpose of providing capital for the bank's Danube Fund, which invests in Balkan countries.

The mutual fund capital after the investment by the US bank amounted to US$19 million. The company's shareholders are Alpha Credit Bank, the European Bank Restructuring and Development and several Greek investors.

Wine orders over the Internet

Users of the Internet will soon have the opportunity to order their favourite Greek cooperative wine electronically, and their order will be delivered through the courier firm Posto Express.

This possibility was obtained by the Central Sectoral Cooperative Union of Vine Products (KEOSOE) in the framework of implementing a relevant programme of the development ministry on electronic trade.

The electronic wineshop will be established by KEOSOE in cooperation with the company of new telematics services, products and applications PROODOS S.A. and the telecommunications and informatics company Space Net S.A.

WEATHER

Gale force winds and a drop in temperature will be the main characteristics of today's weather. Clouds and light rain in most parts of the country. Intermittent snowfall in the mountainous regions. Winds northerly, northeasterly, moderate to strong, turning gale force in the east of the country and the Aegean Sea. Light rain in Athens with temperatures between 8-11C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 5-8C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 284.208 Pound sterling 466.121 Cyprus pd 534.906 French franc 46.672 Swiss franc 194.268 German mark 156.433 Italian lira (100) 15.858 Yen (100) 226.206 Canadian dlr. 196.852 Australian dlr. 190.871 Irish Punt 388.864 Belgian franc 7.580 Finnish mark 51.626 Dutch guilder 138.786 Danish kr. 41.049 Swedish kr. 35.077 Norwegian kr. 37.508 Austrian sch. 22.233 Spanish peseta 1.847 Port. Escudo 1.528

(C.E.)


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