Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-02-24
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 24/02/1998 (ANA)
- Greece replies to Turkish five-point plan
- Greece opposes Blair's views on Cyprus
- Pangalos: Kosovo initiative should include whole region
- Greece hails UN-Iraq agreement
- Government expressed confidence in the drachma
- Greek, Romanian, Bulgarian Public Order Ministers to meet
- Onassis Foundation sues Roussel lawyer
- Italian arrested for smuggling cigarettes
- Foreign Exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Greece replies to Turkish five-point plan
Greece's response to a five-point proposal made by Turkish Foreign Minister
Ismail Cem on the improvement of bilateral relations has been submitted in
Ankara by Greece's Ambassador to Turkey Dimitris Nezeritis, government
spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today.
The response, said Reppas, includes Greece's long-established positions as
put forward by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.
The spokesman said the cornerstone of any improvement in bilateral
relations would be the recognition by Turkey of the jurisdiction of the
International Court of Justice in The Hague.
The question of the continental shelf, he said, could be dealt with in a
step-by-step approach, with recourse to the International Court at the
He reiterated Greece's position regarding the Imia islets, that is that
Turkey could if it wished take recourse to the Court unilaterally.
Reppas also suggested that a climate of trust between the two countries
could emerge from procedures such as talks within NATO on confidence-
Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis today invited the ambassadors of
European Union member states and the US to brief them on the details of
Greece's response the five-point plan.
Greece opposes Blair's views on Cyprus
The Greek government opposes proposals recently put forward by British
Prime Minister Tony Blair regarding the equal participation of Turkish
Cypriots in accession talks between Cyprus and the European Union,
spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today.
Blair's proposals were contained in a letter to newly re-elected Cypriot
President Glafcos Clerides. Reppas also expressed the Greek government's
negative view of Blair's contention that Russian S-300 missiles should not
be installed in Cyprus.
Reppas said that Greece desired the participation of Turkish Cypriots (in
the negotiations with the EU) on condition that this did not lead to
recognition of the pseudo-state (unilaterally declared after the invasion
of the northern part of Cyprus in 1974 by Turkish troops) and that their
participation did not create obstacles to Cyprus' accession to the
No one, he said, can prevent Cyprus from joining the EU. He added that the
government had the means to deal with any eventuality.
Regarding the Russian missiles, Reppas reiterated that it was the
inalienable right of the Cypriot Republic to arm itself in order to defend
Pangalos: Kosovo initiative should include whole region
Greece wants all countries in the region and European Union member states
to take part in any initiative to help resolve the crisis in Kosovo,
government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today.
He was referring to a reply by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos to a
proposal by his Bulgarian counterpart, Nadezhda Mihailova, for an
initiative by Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey on the Kosovo crisis.
In his reply, Pangalos noted the need for a broader involvement in any
initiative regarding Kosovo since according to all indications, it appeared
that the initiative proposed by Bulgaria was inspired by the US, added
Greece hails UN-Iraq agreement
Athens views the agreement over weapons inspections reached between UN
Secretary General Kofi Annan and the Iraqi leadership in Baghdad as a
"positive development", government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said
He also noted Greece's efforts to ensure that all avenues were explored in
order to avoid an outbreak of war.
Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said efforts by Mr. Annan in
Iraq were successful, adding that the European Union's Council of Foreign
Ministers was very satisfied with the signing of the agreement for a
diplomatic solution to the crisis in Iraq.
Mr. Papandreou said although the Olympic truce cannot be considered the
main factor of whatever diplomatic success, it was one of the factors
contributing to the extension of negotiating time, since the winter Olympic
Games in Nagano were underway.
Government expresses confidence in the drachma
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday said he was optimistic that
monetary authorities would again be able to foil speculative attacks on the
drachma, after the Bank of Greece intervened repeatedly in money markets in
order to stabilise the curre ncy's parity.
The spokesman stressed that the government's policy on the drachma would
remain firm and was already bearing fruit.
Markets were hit by Friday's news that the Moody's credit rating firm was
considering lowering Greece's credit rating, now standing at A2 for
domestic paper and Baa1 for external debt. Nevertheless, market reaction
was described as generally reserved, with bankers reporting capital
outflows totalling 230 million Ecus at the drachma's daily fixing - a sum
considered to be within reasonable limits.
The Greek currency fell 0.16 per cent against the Ecu. It was 0.14 per cent
off against the deutschmark but stable against the US dollar. Interbank
rates remained steady around Friday's levels at 17.5 per cent.
Generally, the impression among market analysts was that fears about the
drachma had been considerably exaggerated and that new speculation about a
devaluation was baseless, particularly when it was not certain that Moody's
would in the end proceed to reconsider the country's credit rating.The
analysts were also pointing out that the firm has downgraded the country's
credit rating before, shortly before a speculative run on the drachma in
May 1994, from Baa1 to Baa3, only to raise it again to its former level
later. The Greek economy's indicators have improved rather than worsened
since, they added.
The Greek government is about to sign a $1 billion intenational syndicated
loan soon, and government sources consider that the interest rate to be
agreed upon will prove that its creditworthiness has not been hit. They add
that the policy of the stable drachma will continue, even at the cost of
high interest rates, and the national economy ministry considers tha the
1998 budget can absorb -mainly through the planned privatisations of public
utilities- any additional cost arising from higher rates in t he interbank
market and state paper.
Greek, Romanian, Bulgarian Public Order Ministers to meet
The public order ministers of Greece, Romania and Bulgaria will hold a
three-day meeting in Thessaloniki beginning March 6 aiming at strengthening
friendship among the three countries and strengthening cooperation, it was
Greece's public order minister George Romaios and counterparts Gavril Dejeu
of Romania and Bogomil Bonev of Bulgaria plan to "lay the foundations for
intensified cooperation and the development of coordinated and efficient
measures in combatting organised crime, terrorism, drug and weapons
trafficking, money laundering and illegal migration", the announcement
Onassis Foundation sues Roussel lawyer
The Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation is suing a Greek lawyer
representing French businessman Thierry Roussel for slander and defamation
in court proceedings that resumed in Athens today.
Prof. Nestor Kourakis, Roussel's Athens-based lawyer, is facing a counter-
suit by the Foundation over charges filed a year ago on behalf of Roussel
alleging mismanagement and embezzlement of the Foundation's assets by its
board of directors.
The Foundation board members were acquitted of the charges and found to
have profitably managed the late Aristotle Onassis' estate by the court
hearing the Roussel suit.
An Athens tribunal yesterday began hearing the Foundation's countersuit,
accusing Kourakis of defamation through dissemination to the press of
'false' accusations against the board.
Roussel is the former husband of the late Christina Onassis, Aristotle's
daugher. The couple divorced a year before her death in 1988. Their 13-year-
old daughter, Athina, is the sole surviving heir to the vast Onassis
Foundation president Stelios Papadimitriou and vice-president Paul
Ioannidis, testified before the court yesterday that Kourakis had
disseminated false claims to the media between August 20-23, 1996 "that
were exceptionally slanderous and defamatory to the Foundation", accusing
Kourakis of "acting not only as a Roussel's lawyer, but also as an
individual harbouring malicious sentiments".
A separate Foundation lawsuit against Roussel opens next Tuesday in an
Italian arrested for smuggling cigarettes
Greek security police today confiscated two trucks and arrested its Italian
driver on charges of smuggling cigarettes into Greece.
A police spokesman told the ANA that the a contraband cigarette smuggling
ring was operating between Italy and the central Greek port city of
The spokesman said that about 1,200 cases of cigarettes were hidden under
paintings and table lamps. The driver, Gennaro Bonetti, 39, from Naples,
was being questioned by police and would appear before a public prosecutor.
He said the arrest took place after a two-month surveillance by Greek
security and financial police.
The contraband haul represented about 2 billion dr. in evaded customs
duties, the spokesman said.
Mostly fine weather is forecast for most parts of Greece today with the
possibility of local rain in the west in the afternoon. Fog in some areas
in the morning. Winds light, turning to moderate in the Ionian Sea.
Scattered clouds in Athens with temperatures between 7-20C. Similar weather
in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 5-17C.
Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 284.942
Pound sterling 466.478 Cyprus pd 534.093
French franc 46.822 Swiss franc 194.154
German mark 156.974 Italian lira (100) 15.915
Yen (100) 221.345 Canadian dlr. 200.543
Australian dlr. 189.715 Irish Punt 390.531
Belgian franc 7.607 Finnish mark 51.737
Dutch guilder 139.297 Danish kr. 41.190
Swedish kr. 35.321 Norwegian kr. 37.498
Austrian sch. 22.318 Spanish peseta 1.854
Port. Escudo 1.534