Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-08-28
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 28/08/1998 (ANA)
- Simitis-Clerides reaffirm common front, no postponement of S-300s
- Papantoniou says drachma not under direct attack
- Tsohatzopoulos dismisses latest Demirel claims
- Heightened Greek-Turkish trade, Ankara notes
- Greek stocks plunge 7.7 pct on financial turmoil abroad
- Greek drachma, bonds slump in fallout from international crisis
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Simitis-Clerides reaffirm common front, no postponement of S-300s
Prime Minister Costas Simitis used harsh language yesterday referring to
the international community in relation to the Cyprus issue, saying "some
had forgotten how the problem had arisen". He also reiterated Athens'
commitment to defend the island repub lic in the event of a threat.
Mr. Simitis was speaking to reporters after a two-hour meeting with
visiting Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides. The meeting was also attended
by the the foreign and defence ministers of both countries.
A three-page joint communique issued after the end of the meeting stressed
that the Cyprus problem was and remains one of invasion and subsequent
illegal occupation. In addition, both Mr. Simitis and Mr. Clerides
categorically stated that ther e had been no decision to postpone
deployment of Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missiles on the divided
"The essence of the Cyprus problem has nothing to do with one kind of
weapon or the other. It is a problem of invasion and illegal occupation,"
Mr. Simitis said.
On his part, Mr. Clerides said he was "completely satisfied" with the talks
and welcomed in particular Mr. Simitis' statement that "any threat (against
Cyprus) will be confronted jointly."
He added that the basic pursuit "is through peaceful means to find a just,
viable and workable solution to the Cyprus problem," noting that "we are
ready to resume the dialogue on the substance of the Cyprus problem".
The joint communique underlined that Greece and Cyprus fully backed efforts
by the UN Secretary General to find a solution within the framework of
Security Council resolutions and the summit agreements reached by the Greek
and Turkish Cypriot sides in 1977 and 1979.
Both governments called on the international community to continue its
efforts towards a resumption of inter-communal dialogue on Cyprus and the
commencement of a dialogue on reducing arms and the divided island's
demilitarisation. They also reiterated in the strongest terms that the
defence and integrity of Cyprus was a fundamental right of the island
republic's government and "Greece's duty". "The Greek government makes it
clear to all that the (Greek and Cypriot) joint defence do ctrine is not
restricted to defence planning. It constitutes a commitment on the part of
Greece, the core of which is the Greek government's decision to defend
Cyprus militarily in the event of a threat," the communique read.
Regarding Nicosia's plans to deploy the S-300 missiles, the communique
stressed that neither government wanted friction or tension and that their
only concern was "to strengthen Cyprus' defences in the face of Ankara's
constantly increasing provocativen ess and extensive modernisation of
Turkish weaponry in the occupied part of Cyprus".
The two sides also pointed out that the S-300 anti-aircraft missiles are
The communique also noted that Nicosia had put forward specific proposals
for a gradual disarmament on the island with the ultimate aim of complete
demilitarisation, "the adoption of which would prevent the creation of
tension and help restore confidenc e".
Both Greece and Cyprus said they would not have any objection, "in
principle", to a "guaranteed" military no-flight zone over the island,
provided this was within the UN framework and was part of a procedure which
would lead to gradual disarmament.
They also expressed disappointment once again at the continuing intransigence
of the Turkish side, stressed in particular by Mr. Simitis in statements to
"It is just not possible for a UN member-state (Turkey) to object and
refuse to accept a solution based on the rules of international legality in
order for peace to be consolidated in the region," he said.
In terms of Cyprus' EU prospects, Mr. Simitis believed that negotiations
should start during the current rotating EU Austrian presidency on issues
which have been completed. The Greek PM said Cyprus' accession to the EU
would constitute the key for a so lution to the Cyprus problem.
President Clerides left yesterday afternoon for Zurich on his way to Durban,
South Africa, to attend the Non-Aligned summit.
Papantoniou says drachma not under direct attack
The Greek economy is not at the heart of the current upheaval in international
markets, but is indirectly affected by the structural problems of the
Russian and Asian economies, said National Economy Minister Yiannos
Papantoniou during a press conference yesterday.
The minister stressed that the reason behind the flurry of sales of Greek
state bonds by major foreign investors was their desire to liquidate gains
to cover losses in Russia and the Far East.
He also noted that there was no direct "attack" against the national
According to the data provided by Mr. Papantoniou, there was an outflow of
240 million German marks yesterday, after Wednesday's outflow of US$1.5
This was a definite improvement, he noted, but all would depend upon the
developments in the international markets in the near future. Regarding the
stock market the minister said that yesterday's decline was a natural
outcome of the internatio nal upheaval, while noting that interest rates
remained under control.
Mr. Panantoniou stressed that the government and the Bank of Greece
followed developments closely, taking all appropriate measures. Such moves
included yesterday's repurchase of Greek state bonds worth 100 billion
drachmas by the finance minist ry and today's pla-nned absorption of
liquidity throu-gh swaps by the Bank of Greece.
Furthermore, the government will continue its monetary policy, which aims
at preserving the current 4.5 per cent appreciation of the drachma in
relation to the 357 parity to the Ecu, which was set when the Greek
currency entered the Exchange Rate Mechan ism in March. Finally, the
minister stressed that the government would continue its austere fiscal
policy and would focus on the speeding up of privatisations, which might be
delayed in case the international crisis is prolonged.
Tsohatzopoulos dismisses latest Demirel claims
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday dismissed
statements made on Wednesday by Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, who
openly disputed Greek sovereignty of 132 islets in the Aegean.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos called the Turkish president's comments "repetitions
He was speaking to reporters after a half-hour meeting with several
visiting US Congressmen and the chairman of Congress' Greek-American
Friendship Committee, US Rep. Michael Bilirakis.
The Greek minister added that there was "nothing to negotiate" in the
Aegean, while international law and international conditions "clearly set
out the status quo in the Aegean".
Mr. Demirel said in an interview with the Turkish daily "Hurriyet",
published Wednesday, that "there are 132 rocky outcroppings or islets in
the AegeanIwhich belong to us".
On his part, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas replied on the same day
by describing Turkish foreign policy and the Demirel statement as "fossils
from the past".
Heightened Greek-Turkish trade, Ankara notes
The Turkish external trade bureau announced yesterday that the volume of
Turkey's external trade with Greece in 1997 increased by 39.8 per
According to figures, Turkish exports to Greece increased from US$ 236.4
million to $298 million, an increase of 26.1 per cent, while imports from
Greece increased by 51.2 per cent, from $285 million in 1996 to $430.7
The share of industrial exports to Greece increased from 67.5 per cent to
74.9 per cent, while the export share of agricultural and mineral products
decreased from 17.1 per cent to 15.3 per cent, and from 15.4 to 9.9 per
The trade balance shows surplus in favour of Greece of $132.6 million.
Greek stocks plunge 7.7 pct on financial turmoil abroad
Greek equities nosedived yesterday badly hit by a major crisis in
international markets to end drastically lower in active trade near the
daily eight percent lower volatility limit.
The general index ended 7.70 percent, or 190.42 points down at 2,281.33
points, its lowest level since mid-April. Turnover totalled 76.2 billion
drachmas. Traders said a wave of blue-chip selling in banks and industrials,
mainly by American funds, h it the Greek market, pushing the many of share
prices to the daily 8.0 percent limit down.
Dealers said a lack of buying interest inflated losses in the market, with
numerous sell orders remaining unexecuted.
Sector indices all suffered heavy losses. Banks plunged 7.97 percent,
Insurance fell 3.94 percent, Investment dropped 7.82 percent, Leasing ended
8.0 percent off, Industrials fell 7.58 percent, Construction dropped 7.68
percent, Miscellaneous ended 8.0 percent down and Holding declined 6.84
The parallel market index for small cap companies dived 7.17 percent. The
FTSE/ASE 20 index plumeted 7.99 percent to 1,373.68 points.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 237 to 14 with another 3 issues
Greek drachma, bonds slump in fallout from international crisis
Greek markets remained under pressure yesterday with the drachma sliding
further against most foreign currencies and bond prices losing substantial
Traders said, however, that capital outflows were significantly curtailed
to total 250 million US dollars, and the drachma's decline had slowed.
The drachma fell by 0.77 percent against the dollar. The Greek currency was
0.60 percent off versus the DMark and 0.76 percent lower against the
Bond prices were badly hit again as foreign institutional investors
continued liquidating their long-term positions in the Greek bond market in
a bid to cut their losses in Russian bonds and other emerging markets.
Interbank rates rose further with the Athibor rate increasing to 21.5
percent. The finance ministry auctioned the repurchase of fixed-rate bonds,
a move aimed at defending the country's bond market from external
The auction included seven-, 10- and 15-year bonds totalling 100 billion
Settlement dates are August 28 for bonds with duration of seven and 15
years, and September 1 for 10-year bonds.
Sunny weather is forecast throughout the country today with scattered cloud
in the northern Ionian Sea, Epirus and Macedonia in the afternoon. Winds
will be westerly, southwesterly, light to moderate. Temperatures in Athens
will range between 22-35C and in Thessaloniki from 20-31C.
Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 310.020
British pound 510.860 Japanese yen (100) 217.079
French franc 51.217 German mark 171.566
Italian lira (100) 17.394 Irish Punt 430.925
Belgian franc 8.326 Finnish mark 56.427
Dutch guilder 152.257 Danish kr. 45.106
Austrian sch. 24.405 Spanish peseta 2.024
Swedish kr. 36.787 Norwegian kr. 37.089
Swiss franc 206.847 Port. Escudo 1.677
Aus. dollar 173.908 Can. dollar 197.091
Cyprus pound 584.982