Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-12-11
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 11/12/1998 (ANA)
- Crucial EU summit gets underway today
- Tsohatzopoulos opens conference on weapons research, technology
- Amnesty International protests executions in US
- Russia's Zyuganov: S-300s pose no threat to any third country
- Synaspismos-sponsored political forum
- DEPA: Greece not obligated to receive Russian gas in '98
- Verbal Testimonies of Thessaloniki Jews
- PMs of Greece, FYROM to address Balkan economy conference in '99
- Foreign currency shipping inflows rise 2.3 pct Jan-June
- Stocks end flat, seen consolidating above 2,500 pts
- Contract for customs service's computerisation with Bull, Intrasoft
- Hellenic Bank branch opens in Athens
- Commission to take recourse over dangerous substance directive
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Crucial EU summit gets underway today
The European Union summit gets underway today in Vienna with discussion
focusing on the issues of unemployment and the 'Agenda 2000'.
The summit, where Greece will be represented by Prime Minister Costas
Simitis, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and National Economy Minister
Yiannos Papantoniou, is expected to give rise to the juxtaposition of views,
on one hand, that fiscal discipline is the Community's "No. 1" target in
view of the euro, and on the other, that development and the increase in
employment, through a boost in public investments, allows a "flexible"
interpretation of the "iron" Stability Pact.
Southern European leaders are thought likely to press for the introduction
of more progressive views on the issue of Community budget resources,
meaning that the calculation of each country's contributions should be made
on the basis of its relative prosperity and its per capita income. Also,
the poorer southern countries are expected to stick to the position that
all Community expenses must reach 1.27 per cent of GDP as the only official
one submitted, and that all others have been informally submitted.
At a second level, they are seeking to secure that the funding of
structural policies and the Cohesion Fund for the least developed countries
once they join the euro does not suffer cuts.
Regarding Cyprus, which is part of the enlargement process, Greek
diplomatic sources were not expecting any particular development, but
rather a smooth continuation of accession negotiations which began two
Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides, who attended the European People's
Party summit yesterday, along with main opposition leader Costas Karamanlis,
said EU enlargement was "perhaps the most creative of challenges for the
Union itself". He also stressed that it "emerges as a political necessity
and becomes not a policy chosen, but a must."
Mr. Karamanlis said that for the real European unification to be achieved
the magnitudes of the community budget should increase or at least remain
on the same levels.
Mr. Karamanlis noted that "if we desire the real European unification, the
magnitudes of the community budget should either be increased or at least
remain on the same levels, because this concerns the unification of Europe
and mostly Greece...because Greece should pursue not the nominal but the
Mr. Karamanlis, referring to unemployment, said that "the European
governments should take a serious look at the problem and develop joint
effective action, because unemployment is posing a serious threat to social
cohesion" adding that "this issue is of particular concern to Greece, if we
take into consideration that, according to the European employment watch,
unemployment in our country exceeds 13 per cent."
Concerning Turkey and its relations with the EU, several member-states are
expected to press for an equation of Ankara's status (at least verbally) in
the framework of enlargement with the status of the countries of central
and eastern Europe and Cyprus .
Greek dimplomacy is certain to react to such possible proposals, and
counter-propose as a basis for all references to Turkey, the conclusions of
the Cardiff and Luxembourg summit and those of Monday's General Affairs
Council, where Turkey's status is clearly separated from that of candidate
Tsohatzopoulos opens conference on weapons research, technology
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday opened the third
symposium on western European armaments research and technology, taking
place in Athens.
He stressed to delegates at the two-day event the need for a common
European defence industry, noting that European defence could not be
founded only on private defence industries but needed the participation of
the countries, too.
Referring to the coproduction of the Eurofire jetfighter by four countries,
he said it was by no coincidence that the Eurofighter was becoming a
"European prospect" as more countries would join the original four,
intimating Greece's interest.
Amnesty International protests executions in US
The Greek section of the human rights organisation Amnesty International
(AI) yesterday staged a symbolic protest outside the US embassy in Athens
to denounce the ongoing execution of convicted murderers in several of that
country's 50 states.
During the protest, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of UN Human
Rights Day, the president of AI's Greek section, Kostis Papaioannou, handed
a letter of protest to an embassy employee which was addressed to US
ambassador Nicholas Burns.
The protesters, dressed in black, hung an effigy of the Statue of Liberty
to underline their charge that human rights are being "executed" in the
Similar protests were meanwhile being held in other countries around the
world to press for the abolition of the death penalty in the US.
According to AI, which in October launched a one-year campaign for penal
reform in the United States, nearly 500 people have been executed in the US
since the death penalty began to be re-enforced in 1977.
A US federal judge on Wednesday ordered a stay of execution for Canadian
national Stan Faulder, who was scheduled to die by lethal injection
yesterday, citing concerns about whether he received a fair trial.
Russia's Zyuganov: S-300s pose no threat to any third country
Russia's Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov said yesterday that the
contract between Moscow and Nicosia for the purchase and deployment on
Cyprus of Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missiles must be implemented
because the defensive weapons system posed no threat to any third
Mr. Zyuganov was speaking at a news conference during a two-day visit to
Greece, which began yesterday at the invitation of the Communist Party of
Nicosia's plans to purchase and install the S-300 missiles on the island
republic in an effort to bolster its defenses has drawn criticism from
Washington and European countries, which claim the deployment will merely
serve to increase tension.
Turkey has openly threatened to prevent the deployment.
Noting the "very good" relations between Cyprus and Russia, Mr. Zyuganov
underlined Nicosia's right to choose the weapons systems which ensure its
He expressed the hope that "our countries will withstand the pressure
exerted by the US" in order for the contract to be executed.
Commenting on Russia's policy vis-a-vis arms sales, Mr. Zyuganov said his
country had lost all the major markets which it had gained in the Soviet
In a clear reference to the US, Mr. Zyuganov said that if only one major
arms seller is allowed to dominate the world market, the prices of weapons
will be too high for many countries.
Regarding Turkey's role in the northern Caucasus and the Middle East, Mr.
Zyuganov expressed displeasure, saying that Ankara was trying to increase
its influence in the two regions without taking into consideration Russia's
"This policy does not help towards the development of mutual trust. We have
our own zone of geopolitical responsibility and Russia had always played a
role, even before the creation of the USSR, in the region of Eurasia," Mr.
Zyuganov said, indicating that he strongly opposed Turkey's policy of
trying to penetrate the region.
Synaspismos-sponsored political forum
Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos
yesterday inaugurated the 15th "Forum of the European New Left", organised
by his party.
About 25 European Left-wing parties are represented at the Forum, including
the French Communist Party, the German Democratic Socialism Party and the
Italian Communist Renewal Party.
Outlining the main points of action for the European Left, Mr. Constantopoulos
said that guarantees of social protection and social solidarity must be
enlarged, democratic institutions of participation, representation and
control must be enlarged and so should protection of individual, social and
ecological rights, quality of life and the work environment.
DEPA: Greece not obligated to receive Russian gas in '98
Greece has not entered any conventional obligation to receive 1.5 million
cubic metres of natural gas in 1998, Public Gas Corp. (DEPA) managing
director Savvas Papaphilippou said yesterday, stressing that Russian gas
currently being received was not meeting envisaged specifications.
He said that despite the cleaning of the gas pipeline in Bulgaria, the
problem with the quality of the natural gas delivered remained.
A protocol on the issue is to be signed with a reprsentative of the
Bulgarian company today.
Verbal Testimonies of Thessaloniki Jews
The "Verbal Testimonies of Thessaloniki Jews on the Holocaust", a
collection of survivors' memories was presented yesterday in Thessaloniki,
detailing some of the atrocities of Nazi concentration camps.
Some survivors detailed in the book their horrific experiences at the
Auschwitz camp, where they became guinea pigs at the hands of Nazi
According to the book, compiled by Naar and Erica Kunio-Amarillo, the vast
majority of female prisoners were sterilised through a series of experiments.
Nazi forces exterminated almost 50,000 of the 56,000 Greek Jews of the city,
who initially came to Greece in the late 15th century, invited by the
Ottoman sultan to escape the Spanish Catholic inquisition.
PMs of Greece, FYROM to address Balkan economy conference in '99
Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his counterpart from the Former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Ljubco Georgievski, will speak at a Balkan
economy conference to be held in Thessaloniki in May 1999.
Association of Northern Greek Industries (SBBE) president Vassilis Takas
told a news conference yesterday that the association's annual conference
would focus on conditions in the Balkans a decade after the opening of
Mr. Georgievski is to speak on May 10, the first day of the conference, and
Mr. Simitis on May 11.
Trade between Greece and FYROM is expected to exceed US$250 million in
Greece is the largest foreign investor in the neighbouring country at 50
Stormy ties between Athens and Skopje have improved in recent years.
Greece opposes the use of the name "Macedonia" by the landlocked republic,
arguing it conceals expansionist designs against its northern province of
Under an interim agreement in September 1995, Greece and FYROM agreed to
hold talks under UN auspices on finding a mutually acceptable solution to
the name issue.
Foreign currency shipping inflows rise 2.3 pct Jan-June
Foreign currency inflows from shipping in January-June rose 2.3 percent to
1,056.9 million dollars from 1,033.5 million dollars a year earlier, the
merchant marine ministry said yesterday.
In April-June inflows from shipping were 561.9 million dollars from 529.5
million dollars in the same period of 1997, up 6.1 percent, the ministry
said in a statement.
Stocks end flat, seen consolidating above 2,500 pts
Equities finished slightly lower on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday,
again showing signs of consolidating above previously stubborn resistance
at 2,500 points despite volatility during trade.
The general index ended 0.19 percent lower at 2,536.88 points. Trade was
moderate with turnover sharply down at 66.5 billion drachmas from 86.6
billion drachmas a day earlier. Volume was 15,558,000 shares.
Fuelling trade was heavy demand for state-run National Bank of Greece,
which had announced sharp rate cuts on Wednesday after the central bank
lowered three key rates. Yesterday it announced that it would seek
shareholders' approval for a stock split.
Other commercial banks followed suit in the race to cut rates, including
listed Ergobank, Xiosbank and Commercial Bank of Greece.
The FTSE/ASE-20 blue chip index nosed up 0.04 percent to finish at 1,571.85
Outperforming the general index was the parallel market for smaller cap
stocks, which closed 1.10 percent higher.
Sector indices finished mixed.
Banks rose 1.31 percent, Leasing dropped 0.47 percent, Insurance jumped
2.35 percent, Investment crept up 0.18 percent, Construction edged up 0.13
percent, Industrials slumped 1.33 percent, Miscellaneous increased 0.11
percent, and Holding dropped 1.36 percent.
Of 272 shares traded advances led declines at 122 to 120 with 30 unchanged.
Contract for customs service's computerisation with Bull, Intrasoft
The government yesterday signed a contract for upgrading the computerisation
of Greece's customs services with the Bull and the Athens-based Intrasoft
companies, which will provide the hardware and software products,
respectively. The project is expected to be completed in about a year's
Customs officials said after a signing ceremony that the new system will
enhance effectiveness by minimising tariff evasion and instituting better
control of substances harmful to public health.
Finance Deputy Minister George Drys added that the tax bureau's "Taxis"
system was already in operation in 100 taxation bureaus, and promised that
it would cover the entire number by the end of 1999.
Hellenic Bank branch opens in Athens
Interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos inaugurated the first branch office
of the Cyprus-based Hellenic Bank in Athens yesterday.
Speaking at a ceremony, the president of Hellenic Bank Ltd., Panos Galanos,
expressed optimism over the bank's successful course in Greece, underlining
that the common language and culture and the unbreakable historical and
cultural ties between Greece and Cyprus will contribute in this direction.
Commission to take recourse over dangerous substance directive
The European Commission announced that it has started the process of
lodging a recourse, through an avis, against Greece, Belgium and Portugal
for failing to implement two EU directives concerning dangerous substances.
The first is the European Commission's Directive 54 (1996) which has
amended the Council of Ministers' directive 548 of 1957 and refers to the
classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous chemical substances.
The second is the European Parliament's and Council of Ministers' Directive
56 of 1996 which also amends directive 548 of 1967.
Directive 548 is one of the first directives on the environment and is
aimed at a rapprochement between national legislations on new chemical
substances and to secure a high level of protection for human health and
The European Commission also sent an avis against Germany for failing to
implement Directive 56 of 1996.
Clouds with possible light snowfall are forecast on Friday for Macedonia
and Thrace, northern Greece. Few clouds with sporadic rainfall in the rest
of the country and light snow on the mountains in central Greece. Winds
will be variable, moderate to strong. Athens will be partly cloudy with
possible showers and temperatures ranging from 5C to 12C. Thessaloniki will
also be partly cloudy with temperatures ranging from 0C to 8C.
Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 276.361
British pound 459.236 Japanese yen (100) 234.826
French franc 49.608 German mark 166.358
Italian lira (100) 16.794 Irish Punt 413.168
Belgian franc 8.065 Finnish mark 54.705
Dutch guilder 147.525 Danish kr. 43.680
Austrian sch. 23.633 Spanish peseta 1.954
Swedish kr. 34.313 Norwegian kr. 36.670
Swiss franc 204.416 Port. Escudo 1.621
Aus. dollar 171.418 Can. dollar 179.790