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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-08-18

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, 18/08/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Premier sees 3.5% growth rate, increased investments
  • Simitis ends vacation today, meetings scheduled for next week
  • Kranidiotis on Athens' Cyprus issue priorities
  • Athens condemns deadly N. Ireland bombing
  • Contract signed for 4 Super Puma helicopters
  • Two Turks arrested after flag-raising incident on Kalymnos
  • Greek stocks slump 1.63 pct, again dragged down by turmoil abroad
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Premier sees 3.5% growth rate, increased investments

Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday that the economy would show a 3.5 rate of GDP growth for the second consecutive year and that investments were rising, a clear sign of economic progress.

Mr. Simitis was speaking in a message to mark next month's annual international trade fair in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.

The progess was seen in major inflows of foreign capital; a spectacular increase in public and private investments; a drop in the fiscal deficit; declining interest rates; job creation; and the rapid pace of restructuring in public enterprises and state banks.

The economy also displayed monetary, institutional and political stability, he said.

However, the prime minister cautioned against complacency.

"We must intensify our efforts in all sectors of the economy, because the sacrifices of the Greek public these past four years have borne fruit and must not be wasted."

Mr. Simitis reiterated that entry into European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) by Jan. 1, 2001 remained the government's target.

Finally, he said Thessaloniki could become a hub in the Balkans, linking the region's emerging economies.

"It's up to us, if that is what we all want P and it doesn't depend solely on the government P to turn Thessaloniki into the financial capital of the Balkan hinterland," the prime minister said.

Simitis ends vacation today, meetings scheduled for next week

Prime Minister Costas Simitis is expected back from his vacation this evening, as a meeting with his closest associates is scheduled for Wednesday.

Mr. Simitis will meet with associates on Wednesday although his full schedule essentially begins next Monday with Cabinet meetings on various issues, such as the announcement of next yearYs economic measures during the opening of the International Thes saloniki Fair on Sept. 4. Other topics include the S-300 missiles issue prior to Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides' arrival in Athens on Aug. 27 for talks.

In addition, sources close to the prime minister apparently place added importance on next weekend's meeting in Thessaloniki between Mr. Simitis and Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima, who will be visiting Greece between Aug. 21-23.

Kranidiotis on Athens' Cyprus issue priorities

Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis said yesterday that Athens' main concern with regard to the Cyprus issue was not the current debate over deployment of the Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missiles but the island republic's continuing occupation by Turkey and its refusal to comply with UN resolutions.

In an press interview published by the Nicosia-based daily "Fileleftheros", the Greek official underlines that efforts to politicise and internationalise the Cyprus problem were to the benefit of the Greek Cypriot side, while the island's further militarisation was to the benefit of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.

He added, however, that what was more important to the Greek Cypriot side was to set a "hierarchy of initiatives" and to reorganise priorities.

He further cited the promotion of Cyprus' EU accession process and preparations for negotiations as well as a resumption of talks on the basis of UN resolutions for a solution of the dispute and a reduction in the island's armaments.

Asked about Greece-Cyprus joint defence doctrine commitments, Mr. Kranidiotis said these were certainly in force. Consequently, he added, Cyprus has the right to choose any weapons systems it wished.

He further underlined that the decision to install the S-300 missiles on Cyprus was not an aim in itself, but served the island's defence needs. The necessity for the weapons' installation could only be re-examined, he stressed, if things changed for th e better and conditions making their installation necessary were improved.

"(Cyrpiot) President (Glafcos) Clerides has submitted his proposals for a reduction in armaments on Cyprus, which Greece fully backs", Mr. Kranidiotis said, adding that, "foreign countries honestly concerned about easing tensions on Cyprus should turn their attention to the Turkish side, which not only breaks the law by strengthening its military presence on Cyprus but also complains about neighbouring countries'".

Concluding, he emphasised the close cooperation between Greece and Cyprus, saying that Prime Minster Costas Simitis has placed the Cyprus problem on the top of Athens' list of foreign policy priorities.

Athens condemns deadly N. Ireland bombing

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday expressed his sorrow over the bomb attack in Northern Ireland to his British and Irish counterparts, Robin Cook and David Andrews, respectively.

Mr. Pangalos expressed a hope that the deadly and "illogical attack" will not slow down the ongoing peace process.

Contract signed for 4 Super Puma helicopters

A contract for the purchase of four search and rescue helicopters was signed in Athens yesterday between the merchant marine ministry and the French-German consortium "Eurocopter".

The four all-weather "Super Puma" helicopters will cost approximately 18 billion drachmas, according to the government.

Two Turks arrested after flag-raising incident on Kalymnos

Six Turkish nationals were initially arrested early yesterday morning after two of the six hoisted the Turkish flag on a power pole in Kalymnos' port, just prior to racing towards the Asia Minor coast in a luxury motorboat.

A Kos public prosecutor later charged two of the six Turks -- seaman Gunay Zeybeker and the owner of the yacht, Gengiz Menteseoglu -- with disturbing the peace and offending national sentiment.

Both men were then released without restrictions pending trial on March 21 next year.

The yacht later departed Kos, where it was led by coastguard authorities after being forcibly stopped, and was reportedly headed for Turkey.

In their defence, the two Turkish nationals claimed they had not intended to provoke, but rather to express their "feelings of friendship."

The merchant marine ministry identified the other passengers on the yacht as Seket Gaykan, the vessel's skipper; Gonca Menteseoglu, as well as Attila and Leyla Kayihan.

According to coastguard reports, the Turkish nationals were spotted at about 1 a.m. by local residents raising the Turkish flag in the Dodecanese island's main port, as one of the men in the group videotaped a local celebration.

Kalymnos residents reportedly chased the suspects through the port, where the Turkish-flagged yacht "Eda" was waiting with its engines on. Five of the Turkish nationals managed to board the yacht as it departed, chased by a Kalymnos-based patrol boat, w hich detained the vessel before it was able to exit Greek territorial waters.

The yacht had arrived in Kalymnos from Patmos on Saturday afternoon.

Greek stocks slump 1.63 pct, again dragged down by turmoil abroad

Equities ended sharply lower on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday as renewed turbulence in international markets stemming from a currency crisis in Russia again hit the Greek market.

The general index ended 1.63 percent lower at 2,539.35 points, off the day's lows of 2.80 percent early in the session.

Dealers said the partial reversal was proof that the underlying trend of the market remained positive.

Trading was moderate with turnover at 35.5 billion drachmas.

Sector indices suffered losses across the board. Banks fell 1.33 percent, Insurance ended 0.68 percent off, Investment dropped 1.42 percent, Leasing eased 0.58 percent, Industrials plunged 2.20 percent, Construction fell 1.33 percent, Miscellaneous ende d 0.27 percent off and Holding dropped 1.29 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.10 percent lower, and the FTSE/ASE 20 index ended 1.58 percent off at 1,544.23.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 157 to 67 with another 20 issues unchanged. Bank of Athens, Desmos, Rokas, Boutaris, Klaoudatos, Ekter and Development Invest scored the biggest percentage gains.

Etma, Ridenco, Orion, Parnassos, Athinea, Seafarm Ionian, Hellenic Mills and Uncle Stathis suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 48,550 drachmas, Ergobank at 28,600, Alpha Credit Bank at 25,800, Ionian Bank at 16,825, Hellenic Telecoms at 7,515, Delta Dairy at 3,595, Intracom at 12,360, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,725 and Titan Cement at 21,000.

WEATHER

Sunny weather is forecast throughout the country today with some cloud expected in central and northern Greece in the afternoon. Possibility of storms in the mountainous regions of mainland Greece. Winds will be northerly, light to strong. Temperatures in Athens will range between 24- 32C, while in Thessaloniki from 21-30C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 301.270 British pound 485.564 Japanese yen (100) 206.306 French franc 50.021 German mark 167.628 Italian lira (100) 17.005 Irish Punt 420.608 Belgian franc 8.126 Finnish mark 55.169 Dutch guilder 148.736 Danish kr. 44.035 Austrian sch. 23.809 Spanish peseta 1.977 Swedish kr. 36.843 Norwegian kr. 39.273 Swiss franc 200.642 Port. Escudo 1.639 Aus. dollar 178.312 Can. dollar 198.182 Cyprus pound 570.400

(L.G.)


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