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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-04-22
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>
NEWS IN ENGLISH
ATHENS, GREECE, 22/04/1999 (ANA)
NEWS IN DETAILSimitis: Diplomacy must now end Kosovo crisis
Prime Minister Costas Simitis warned yesterday of the danger of a spillover of the continuing Kosovo crisis in the broader region, saying diplomacy must again take centre stage in efforts for a peaceful settlement.
"As long as the attacks continue, the wave of refugees will increase. The continuing military involvement also creates serious economic consequences for the broader area," Mr. Simitis said, adding that Greece's communications had been cut off on its northern border with Yugoslavia and with central Europe.
Addressing the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, he also condemned continuing Serbian operations in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo.
"These operations must stop at once. Within the broader framework of a ceasefire in Yugoslavia, Serbian forces must withdraw and only the police forces agreed in October 1998 should remain. We condemn the policy of ethnic cleansing that Serbia is pursuing," he said.
The premier, in the United States for a NATO summit tomorrow, said Greece was willing to make diplomatic efforts aimed at finding a peaceful and viable solution to the Kosovo problem on the basis of the framework shaped at Rambouillet and by the Contact Group.
"There is a framework. Solutions can, should and must be sought within this framework. Diplomacy must once again take centre stage in our efforts," he said.
Mr. Simitis said Greece's policy in the Balkans was based on the principles of territorial integrity of states, inviolability of borders, respect for human and minority rights and the peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with the Founding Charter of the United Nations.
In this context, he underlined Athens' opposition to any action which might lead to a change of borders in the Balkans.
Mr. Simitis also stressed Greece's special position as a member of the EU and NATO but also a Balkan country "which can and must act as a factor for peace".
"In the north of Greece a network of infrastructures and functions exists, aimed at extending opportunities in inter-Balkan cooperation, a strong productive link and the gradual creation of an integrated economic area in the Balkans, which will improve the preliminary conditions for convergence.
"Progress which has been achieved in this region over the past few years is impressive. The number of Greek enterprises in the Balkan countries has increased considerably. The number of sectors within which they are active is already quite large and ex tends from the more traditional sector, such as foods and drinks, clothing and construction to the more specialised technological sectors (such as telecommunications), where Greek enterprises hold a strong position among other foreign investments," the prime minister said.
"We declared right from the start that we will not participate in military operations. Greece is a neighbouring country and in no way can there be involvement in the conflict which would make us part of the problem," he said.
Mr. Simitis stated categorically that there was no danger of a war between Greece and Turkey because of the situation in Yugoslavia. "No such danger exists. We must be clear because any lack of clarity, or the cultivation of a climate of conflict may lead to negative results," he said.
Responding to press questions, Mr. Simitis said the recent election results in Turkey showed that the nationalistic movement in Turkey will be very strong, adding that Greece will always look for solutions in improving its relations with Turkey.
Regarding the Cyprus problem, the Greek premier underlined Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides' proposal last year for the island republic's demilitarisation, since as he said, the heavy weaponry fielded by the Turkish occupation forces on Cyprus make the island the most heavily fortified military region in the world.
Mr. Simitis said that should the Kosovo crisis deepen and a way out of the impasse is sought, "we should turn to Russia as well...Of course, this is not to say that there is talk of changing the terms we have agreed on."
Mr. Simitis said the sympathy shown by Greek public opinion toward the Serbs stemmed from its negative attitude toward military interventions, given Greece's harsh experiences, such as the Greek Civil War, as he noted.
More British troops head to FYROM via Thessaloniki
A British contingent of 1,700 troops is expected to arrive in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) via Thessaloniki in the next few days, military sources said.
According to earlier remarks by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the contingent will perform "humanitarian duties" related to the refugees in FYROM.
Meanwhile, a NATO force already in FYROM continues to be resupplied through Thessaloniki's port, as a convoy of 50 armoured personnel carriers yesterday left the port headed for FYROM.
According to reports, 27 German Leopard II tanks remain at the port, awaiting permission to reinforce the German contingent already in FYROM.
Greenpeace cites increased dioxin, PCB levels in northeast Greece
Greenpeace yesterday said initial measurements in the northeast town of Xanthi had indicated increased levels of dioxin and PCBs in the atmosphere.
In a statement, Greenpeace said that dioxin and PCBs levels recorded were higher than considered normal even in polluted areas. Measurements from the University of Thrace, which were analysed in Germany, have indicated that the levels of dioxin and PCB s were high but not high enough to cause alarm. The university recorded dioxin levels of between 7-30 trillionths of a gram per cubic metre and of PCBs at between 3-30 billionths of a gram per cubic metre. Greenpeace said the levels may sound extremely sm all but were in fact higher than normal readings from around the world. There has been much concern in Greece about NATO's bombing of chemical plants in Serbia and the consequences these actions would have on the environment. Dioxin, trace amounts of whic h were found in Agent Orange, the defoliant used by US forces in the Vietnam War, is a toxic compound that is carcinogenic and linked to birth defects in certain animals.
Swedish royal couple in Greece next week
King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Sylvia of Sweden are due in Athens on Monday for a three-day visit at the invitation of President Kostis Stephanopoulos, in the first-ever official visit by a Swedish head of state to Greece.
The royal couple will be received by Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis on Monday, followed by a luncheon in their honour.
On Monday afternoon, King Carl Gustaf will visit the Athens metro construction site at Syntagma Square, followed by a banquet in honour of the royal couple hosted by President Stephanopoulos at the Presidential Mansion.
On Tuesday, the Swedish royal couple will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and meet with Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, after which Queen Sylvia will leave for a visit to a local hospital while the Swedish head of state will receive the leaders of the Greek opposition parties at a central Athens hotel and attend a business seminar at the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The Swedish royals will meet with PM Costas Simitis at noon Tuesday, followed by a luncheon in their honour hosted by the premier and a visit to the Swedish Institute in Athens.
On Wednesday, the royal couple will visit ancient Asini, near Nafplio in the Peloponnese, where the king's grandfather, prominent Swedish archaeologist Gustaf VI Adolf carried out his first Greek excavations in the 1920s. The excavations are continuing today.
They will also visit the archaeological site in Delphi on Wednesday before going to Nafplio by helicopter for a visit to the local museum and a lunch in their honour hosted by the prefect of Argolis.
The Swedish royal couple departs Athens on Thursday morning.
Bond prices plunge in mass sell-off from abroad
Bond prices shed up to 120-150 basis points in heavy turnover yesterday with US players trading through London believed to have dumped much of the paper, dealers said.
The sell-off took the yield spread of domestic paper with German bunds as high as 2.12 percent during trade, exceeding the 2.0 percent maximum eurozone alignment target for the first time recently.
Electronic trade was 207 billion drachmas from 50 billion drachmas on Tuesday and 54 billion drachmas on Monday. Another 200 billion drachmas of trade outside the electronic system was seen by dealers.
Small-scale buying occurred after the sell-off, nudging prices up marginally and taking the yield spread with bunds to 2.06 percent.
The drachma came under some pressure but players abroad did not close their positions in the national currency, indicating they may return to the market.
Northern exporters hit by Kosovo crisis
Northern exporters yesterday called on the government to take any political or diplomatic moves that would aid their sector, which is hurting from the impact of NATO airstrikes on Yugoslavia.
The Northern Greek Exporters Association (SEBE) sent a letter to the government yesterday, pointing out that Greece was the European Union country worst hit by the repercussions of the bombing.
Among sectors affected were retail trade and tourism. Harmed overall were domestic firms with investment or trade links to Yugoslavia, Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Among steps SEBE wants to see are compensation for businesses hit by the Kosovo crisis to be worked out through the EU, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank.
In a study of its members conducted between April 1 and April 19, SEBE said orders worth two billion drachmas to Yugoslavia had been lost with one billion drachmas' worth of finished or semi-finished goods unable to move, or lost.
In addition, some firms were hit by a lack of imports from Yugoslavia and by the need to divert land transportation of goods to central and western Europe away from the war zone, driving up costs by an estimated 20 percent.
Thirty six percent of companies polled said they faced major operational problems due to the crisis, and 45 percent feared closure.
Stocks edge down in fifth straight decline
Equity prices ended moderately lower yesterday extending their decline for the fifth consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange.
The general index ended 0.68 percent off at 3,350.56 points, losing 10.24 percent in the last five sessions.
The market initially reacted favourably to reassurances from government officials and the Bank of Greece's governor that the impact of the Kosovo crisis on the economy was limited, pushing the index 2.53 percent up in the first 15 minutes of the session .
Later, however, investors resumed their cautious attitude, taking prices lower.
Turnover was 107.481 billion drachmas and volume 20,502,215 shares.
Sector indices suffered losses. Banks fell 1.05 percent, Leasing dropped 2.14 percent, Insurance eased 1.10 percent, Investment rose 0.50 percent, Construction fell 1.15 percent, Industrials ended 0.54 percent down, Miscellaneous ended 0.93 percent off and Holding fell 0.58 percent.
National Bank of Greece ended at 20,000 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 20, 340, Ergobank at 25,700, Ionian Bank at 17,580, Titan Cement at 22,000, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,270, Intracom at 18,170, Minoan Lines at 7,100, Panafon at 7,290 and Hellenic Telecoms at 6,500.
State procurements in 1999 to total Dr 694 bln
This year's public procurements programme will total 694 billion drachmas, the development ministry said in a statement yesterday.
The procurements programme for the country's public sector was approved by the ministry's committee of procurements planning.
The statement said that the programme's managing committees would operate with greater transparency, helped by the installation of a new computer system due to operate in two months.
Lambrakis shows 40 pct turnover jump in Q1
The Lambrakis Press Organisation yesterday reported a 40 percent increase in its turnover to 14.1 billion drachmas in the first quarter, up from 10.1 billion in the same period last year, while profits totalled 706 million drachmas.
Lambrakis Press held a corporate presentation for the Union of Institutional Investors.
The company's financial and marketing directors said that Lambrakis Press remained a leading player in the domestic media industry with sales of 54 billion drachmas and net pre-tax profits of 4.1 billion last year.
Lambrakis Press will seek listing on the Athens bourse for two of its subsidiaries - Lambrakis Printing SA and Travel Plan SA.
Lambrakis Press also plans to launch a retail network called Young Club, two tele-marketing firms and new alliances with publishing groups abroad.
OTE Consulting to focus on Middle East
OTE Consulting, a subsidiary of Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation, said yesterday it planned to focus on expanding abroad, especially in the Middle East.
The company is carrying out European Union funded programmes in Jordan, the self-ruled Palestinian territories and Tunisia.
A senior company official is to visit Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan on May 23-26 as part of the scheme.
WEATHERFair weather with rising temperatures will prevail in most parts of Greece today. Overcast in the west and north of the country from the afternoon. Winds light to strong. Athens will be sunny with temperatures from 10-25C. Mostly fair in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 6-24C.
Thursday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 304.891 Pound sterling 490.068 Japanese yen (100) 255.757 French franc 49.285 German mark 165.292 Italian lira (100) 16.696 Irish Punt 410.485 Belgian franc 8.014 Luxembourg franc 8.014 Finnish mark 54.373 Dutch guilder 146.699 Danish kr. 43.497 Austrian sch. 23.494 Spanish peseta 1.943 Swedish kr. 36.297 Norwegian kr. 39.136 Swiss franc 202.031 Port. Escudo 1.613 Aus. dollar 197.229 Can. dollar 204.352 Cyprus pound 559.627 Euro 323.283(C.E.)
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