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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-04-27

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, 27/04/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis, Gligorov agree on expanded cooperation
  • Athens offers to coordinate EU humanitarian aid
  • Kosovars to fly out through Macedonia Airport
  • Tsohatzopoulos comments to CNN over Kosovo
  • Swedish royal couple begins official visit to Greece
  • Agricultural ministry plan eyes some 50% of EU funds to Greece
  • Normandy Mining becomes TVX Gold's partner in gold project
  • Stocks slump in low turnover
  • Bank of Central Greece revokes rate cut
  • Development ministry to seek higher EU funding
  • Gov't considering extension of Athens metro
  • National Bank public subscription begins
  • Greek American leaders urge Clinton to issue warning to Turkey
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Simitis, Gligorov agree on expanded cooperation

Athens and Skopje expressed a desire on Sunday to cooperate in facing repercussions from the Kosovo crisis as well as bilateral economic cooperation, during talks between PM Costas Simitis and the president of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Kiro Gligorov.

The two men also said, after a 45-minute meeting, the first ever between the two that talks on FYROM's name issue would continue in New York under the auspices of the United Nations.

Mr. Gligorov said this issue had not been covered in his meeting with Mr. Simitis but was an issue of the UN-brokered talks. However, he added, "we should see how the name talks are progressing", while the Greek premier noted his hope that a solution will be found.

"We have been discussing this for some time now, and I think - and we must - reach a decision. But I agree with President Gligorov that this is a matter for discussions at the UN," Mr. Simitis said.

Asked whether the cooperation between the two counries would be extensive for the duration of the Kosovo crisis, Mr. Gligorov said relations between Greece and FYROM were "very good, and improving in a positive direction".

Athens offers to coordinate EU humanitarian aid

Greece is willing to undertake overall coordination of European Union member-states' humanitarian aid to countries affected by the Kosovo crisis, Foreign Deputy Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis said yesterday.

"Greece is contributing with all its forces to the provision of humanitarian aid and could undertake the overall coordination of European Union aid to the countries hit by the Kosovo crisis," he was quoted as telling the Union's foreign ministers' council yesterday.

The "15" focused their attention on enhancing economic sanctions against Serbia, exchanged views on the German EU presidency's Stability Pact for SE Europe, while clarifying their intention to provide economic assistance to the countries neighbouring Ko sovo.

Mr. Kranidiotis reiterated that Greece wishes to see a political solution to the conflict as soon as possible, and stressed its agreement with the German Stability Pact, to which Greek proposals have a supplementary character.

Referring to repercussions against Greece from the economic sanctions adopted by the council against Serbia, he stressed that they do not create serious problems, but this did not mean they would not affect certain sectors of the Greek economy. Concerning the oil embargo, he noted there were certain legal vacuums in relation to the compliance of non-EU members.

Finally, he reminded that Greece will soon be hosting a Balkan conference, as well as one on dealing with the humanitarian dimension of the crisis.

Kosovars to fly out through Macedonia Airport

About 20,000 Kosovar refugees will be transported next week to western countries via the Macedonia Airport in Thessaloniki, according to reports.

The same reports stated that the refugees will be housed in an unused aircraft maintenance hanger, already modified for the purpose.

The refugees will arrive in Greece by coach at a rate of about 1,000 per day and will be flown to countries which pledged to receive them until the end of the war, the reports said.

Tsohatzopoulos comments to CNN over Kosovo

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos stressed yesterday that Greece's citizenry is concerned over the fact that the Kosovo crisis could drag Greece and other neighbouring countries into the problem.

"We must realise that it is not correct and wise for neighbours to be involved in a military conflict against neighbours...because these conflicts leave many problems," he said during a televised interview with the Atlanta-based CNN network.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos referred to the Kosovo crisis and Greece's role and also replied to questions regarding the reaction of Greek public opinion against the NATO bombings, implementation of an oil embargo against Yugoslavia, the possible dispatch of ground forces and a restructuring plan for the Balkans.

"The solution we desire for Kosovo must be acceptable. For this reason we must not see military action as a substitute for political and diplomatic efforts, because the final solution in Kosovo will not be a military but a political one," he said.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said Greece honours its commitments with NATO but has stated from the beginning that it will not participate in military operations because countries neighbouring Yugoslavia should not get involved in military conflicts. However, he said Greece is participating in humanitarian activity.

Swedish royal couple begins official visit to Greece

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden arrived here yesterday for a four-day visit to Greece.

The Swedish royals were greeted at Athens airport by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, Development Minister Vasso Papandreou and former premier Tzannis Tzannetakis on behalf of the main opposition New Democracy party.

Mr. Stephanopoulos, during a private meeting with the Swedish royal couple, stressed the need for a political solution to the Kosovo crisis and expressed Greece's interest in the situation throughout the Balkans, as well as his great concern over "the humanitarian aspect of the crisis, since waves of refugees have swarmed neighbouring countries."

The president, speaking later last night at the official dinner he hosted in honour of his royal guests, referred to the friendly ties between Greece and Sweden as well as to their productive cooperation within the European Union, while he pointed to the "valuable services offered by Swedish citizens during World War II. He also referred to Greece's gratitude for Sweden's assistance to the Greek people in their struggle against the military junta during 1967-74.

King Carl Gustaf in turn referred to the ties between the two countries in all sectors, particularly in the trading and defence sectors, while he praised Melina Mercouri's initiative for the creation of the Cultural Capital of Europe institution.

Mr. Stephanopoulos bestowed the Grand Cross of the Savior's Order on King Gustaf and the Grand Cross of the Honour Order on Queen Silvia.

The Swedish royal couple also had a 20-minute meeting with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, who expressed to them the concern of the Greek people over the events in Yugoslavia and their consequences in the broader Balkan region.

The royal couple is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Costas Simitis today.

Agricultural ministry plan eyes some 50% of EU funds to Greece

The agricultural ministry yesterday tabled a plan requesting for approximately half of the EU-funneled Third Community Support Framework funds slated for Greece.

Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis announced that the plan proposed expeditures to the tune of 4.1 trillion drachmas out of the approximately nine trillion drachmas budgeted for the 2000-2006 period.

He said 3.8 trillion drachmas would be funelled to agriculture while the rest would be spend on commercial fishing activities, under such a plan.

Mr. Anomeritis said the funds will not constitute direct subsidies alone, rather a large portion will be spent on infrastructure, aimed at lowering production costs and increasing quality.

He added that funds will also be allocated for the creation of 37 information centres around the country, as well as the creation of eight educational centres.

As for commercial fishing, he said the programme includes a 5 per cent renewal of Greece's fishing fleet.

Normandy Mining becomes TVX Gold's partner in gold project

Normandy Mining of Australia, a world player in the sector, is to team up with TVX Gold of Canada to carry out a gold mining project in northern Greece.

TVX Hellas, the Canadian miner's Greek subsidiary, said in a statement yesterday that the choice of Normandy as a 50 percent partner was made after talks with firms who showed interest in an equity holding in the project.

An injection of fresh capital by Normandy Mining will ensure financing for investment plans by TVX Hellas-Hellenic Gold in Olympiada and Skouries in Halkidiki, the statement said.

TVX Gold retains 100 percent ownership of TVX Hellas, it added.

Protests by local residents have severely delayed the project, which TVX originally planned to carry out alone.

Stocks slump in low turnover

Equity prices ended the first trading session of the week substantially lower on the Athens Stock Exchange.

The general index ended 1.83 percent down at 3,252.09 points, off the day's lows.

Turnover was 70.6 billion drachmas, a record low for the year, and volume was 16,219,439 shares.

Traders said investors were expecting a further decline in prices to more attractive buying levels with no particular event on the horizon likely to spark a strong upturn.

A number of foreign financial institutions expressed their reservations about the domestic market's short-term outlook due to the Kosovo crisis, although they retained their confidence in the market's long-term prospects.

Sector indices suffered losses. Banks dropped 2.04 percent, Leasing eased 2.0 percent, Insurance fell 1.08 percent, Investment plunged 4.95 percent, Construction ended 1.82 percent off, Industrials fell 1.09 percent, Miscellaneous ended 1.15 percent down and Holding fell 1.33 percent.

The FTSE/ASE 20 index ended 1.82 percent off at 2,033.50.

National Bank of Greece ended at 19,100 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 19, 050, Ergobank at 24,330, Ionian Bank at 16,800, Titan Cement at 21,890, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,260, Intracom at 17,090, Minoan Lines at 7,000, Panafon at 7,740 and Hellenic Telecoms at 6,625.

Bank of Central Greece revokes rate cut

The Bank of Central Greece yesterday withdrew a decision taken last week to cut its deposit rates, responding to criticism that the move contravened an agreement between the central bank and Hellenic Banks Association on curbing credit expansion.

The Bank of Central Greece said in a statement that the original decision had aimed to bring rates into line with the rest of the market, and had been taken before the credit expansion curbs.

Development ministry to seek higher EU funding

Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos said yesterday he would seek higher European Union funding for 2000-2006 in order to support tourism along with manufacturing and services.

Mr. Venizelos was addressing a seminar to present the ministry's proposals on the European Union's 3rd Community Support Framework, which is currently being formulated.

He said the ministry intends to seek 4.9 trillion drachmas, up from 3.8 trillion drachmas under the second Community Support Framework.

He said that the ministry would earmark 2.2 trillion drachmas for the manufacturing and services sector, up from 1.1 trillion, while tourism would absorb 700 billion drachmas, sharply up from 170 billion under the 2nd Community Support Framework.

Mr. Venizelos said the ministry's final proposals were expected to be completed by June following talks with the parties involved.

Gov't considering extension of Athens metro

Work on the Athens metro is proceeding quickly, with trial runs on the pentagon-Syntagma line will begin next month, the government said yesterday.

Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis announced that Athenian residents could begin using the lines from Sepolia in the west to Syntagma and pentagon (east) to Syntagma by December this year.

Up to 88 per cent of the project has been completed and the metro is expected to be fully operational by October 2000, he said.

Also under consideration are plans to extend the metro by a total of 27.5 kilometres. The extended lines would cost an extra 705 billion drachmas, while Mr. Laliotis said some of the cost could be covered by the Third Community Support Framework.

National Bank public subscription begins

National Bank of Greece's public subscription in a 170-billion-drachma rights issue began yesterday and will be completed on May 28.

The increase will be carried out through a cash payment with the issue of 14,843,024 new common shares, each with a face value of 1,450 drachmas.

Old shareholders will have preferential choice of the 14,160,698 shares at a ratio of 1:10.

Greek American leaders urge Clinton to issue warning to Turkey

Prominent members of the Greek American community have called on US President Bill Clinton to tell Turkey that its use of deadly force and threats of deadly force can no longer be tolerated.

"NATO's credibility and moral authority for its mission in Kosovo and NATO's image will be seriously undercut if Turkey's military occupation of Cyprus is not put to an immediate end and the Cypriots, who were ethnically cleansed by Turkey, are not allo wed to return to their homes in safety", a letter to Mr. Clinton says.

The letter, signed by 115 Greek American leaders, notes that NATO's determined response to the recent ethnic cleansing in Kosovo can greatly help Mr. Clinton's desire to end the forcible division of the Republic of Cyprus.

If Turkey receives such a messsage from the US and other NATO allies, "it can come away from this meeting with a very good reason for ending the status quo on Cyprus".

Their political and military leaders can begin to see that as their ethnic cleansing policies on Cyprus begin to erode the credibility and moral authority of NATO, so also will Turkey's stature within NATO begin to erode, the letter says.

It also points out that the Turkish side has blocked US efforts with unacceptable preconditions whereas the government of Cyprus has shown both political will and positive attitude towards Mr. Clinton's efforts.

"Its recent courageous and conciliatory decision to cancel the order of surface-to-air missiles is a remarkable example of the positive behaviour of the government of Cyprus", Greek American leaders say.

Weather

Scattered cloud and long spells of sunshine are forecast for most parts of Greece on today. Possibility of intermittent storms in the mountainous regions of Macedonia and Thrace. Winds variable, light to moderate. Overcast from the afternoon in Athens with temperatures between 10-22C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 8-20C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          305.109
Pound sterling       492.607
Japanese yen (100)   256.333
French franc          49.371
German mark          165.581
Italian lira (100)    16.725
Irish Punt           411.203
Belgian franc          8.028
Luxembourg franc       8.028
Finnish mark          54.468
Dutch guilder        146.956
Danish kr.            43.592
Austrian sch.         23.535
Spanish peseta         1.946
Swedish kr.           36.396
Norwegian kr.         39.144
Swiss franc          202.130
Port. Escudo           1.615
Aus. dollar          198.822
Can. dollar          206.534
Cyprus pound         558.298
Euro                 323.848
(C.E.)
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