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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-06-04
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>
NEWS IN ENGLISH
ATHENS, GREECE, 04/06/1999 (ANA)
NEWS IN DETAILEU leaders welcome Belgrade`s acceptance of proposed peace accord
European Union leaders yesteday welcomed Belgrade's acceptance of a proposed agreement for an end to the Yugoslav crisis and NATO's bombings of the Balkan country.
Prime Minister Costas Simitis called the agreement significant and a hopeful development, following two months of destruction.
Mr. Simitis stressed that Athens from the beginning emphasised that a solution to the problem could have been achieved by peaceful means.
He added that this development proved that war is not the most appropriate means for a solution of problems. Mr. Simitis also praised his own country's efforts throughout this period, which he said are now recognised by all sides.
He said that this development is positive for Europe, because it showed its ability to intervene decisively, even with some tardiness, adding that the EU will not leave Balkans to their fate, since the war in Yugoslavia was a negative experience for the Union.
Responding to relevant questions, the Greek premier said this development has nothing to do with the Euroelections, while he noted that arguments by various anti-European forces, namely, that the Union can do nothing, were unfounded.
Regarding the end of NATO's bombardment, Mr. Simitis said it will be realised as soon as Serbian forces withdraw from Kosovo, while he added that the agreement does not mention anything about the future of Mr. Milosevic.
Mr. Simitis stressed that with this agreement the existing borders of Yugoslavia are recognised, adding that today the EU leaders will discuss the stability pact for the Balkans.
Foreign Minister George Papandreou, speaking to reporters in Cologne where he is attending the EU summit, appeared optimistic about developments in the Kosovo crisis.
Referring to the procedures for an end to the Kosovo crisis, Mr. Papandreou said the withdrawal of Serb forces from the war-ravaged province must be accompanied by an end to NATO's bombing campaign.
He also confirmed reports that the UN would be responsible for the command of the peacekeeping force to be deployed in Kosovo, in which NATO's participation would be "strong".
He concluded by saying that Greece had every reason to be satisfied by the latest developments "to the extent that our firm position in recent months has been that a solution must be found to the Kosovo crisis through diplomatic means".
The general principles of the peace plan are: the phased withdrawal of Yugoslav troops from Kosovo; when this withdrawal is verified, an end to air strikes by NATO; UN troops to be deployed; Serb troops to remain stationed in central border posts and mo st significant cultural monuments (monasteries); a political resolution to the Kosovo issue through wide- ranging autonomy; assurances for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Serbia and Yugoslavia; and a timetable for the withdrawal of Serb forces and the deployment of a peace force to be determined in further talks between international mediators and the Yugoslav leadership.
According to Serbian MPs, the UN Security Council will issue a resolution on the plan within the next 15 days.
Athens points Turkey to The Hague as Cem repeats Aegean claims
Greece dismissed recent statements from Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem, who again brought up Ankara's claims of 'grey zones' in the Aegean.
"There is no reason for us to protest about the statements of Turkish officials. As long as Turkey continues to make intransigent and aggressive statements, it puts itself in a difficult position in front of the international community," acting governme nt spokesman Yiannis Nikolaou said.
Mr. Cem reiterated Ankara's claims disputing the Greek sovereignty of a number of Aegean rocky islets, some inhabited, during his speech to the Turkish assembly. Mr. Nikolaou said Greece's stance on this issue - that Turkey should take its claims to the
International Court of Justice at The Hague if it felt it had a case - still stood.
Turkey has not made any move to refer the issue to The Hague. over what it called a lack of measures for the protection of the endangered sea turtle Carreta-carreta.
EU Commission takes Greece to task over Carreta-carreta
The European Commission yesterday issued a final warning to Greece over what it called a lack of measures for the protection of the endangered sea turtle Carreta-carreta.
The Commission accused Athens of violating a directive for nature preserves, which prescribes a series of measures for the protection of endangered species.
The Commission's report stated that the Lagana Gulf on the Ionian island of Zakynthos, a prime nesting area for the carreta-carreta, has been drastically altered by human activity, therefore endangering the very existence of the species.
Meanwhile, police found a 2.35 metre Monk seal dead yesterday on the northern Greek shoreline near Poteidaia, Halkidiki.
According to experts from the conservation group MOM, a non-profit group involved in the conservation of the rare species, the cow was of an advanced age and bore no visible wounds. They said the seal's death was probably due to respiratory problems alt hough further tissue testing will determine the exact cause.
The monachus-monachus or monk seal is one of the world's 12 most endangered species. Experts estimate only 500 are still alive in the entire Mediterranean, victims of a changing marine and shore environment as well as ruthless fishermen.
In many parts of the Mediterranean, fishermen regard the seals as pests because they destroy their nets. Monk seals have been found shot, clubbed and dynamited.
Greece has one of the largest populations of the monk seal, thought to number between 250 and 300. The island of Alonissos is home to the only seal shelter in the Mediterranean but has the capacity to care for only two seals at any one time.
In countries such as France, Italy and Spain the species have vanished entirely, while a very small number of monk seals live on the coasts of North Africa, Turkey and the Adriatic.
'Chicken-gate' confiscations continue
Public health officials since Tuesday have confiscated approximately 242 tons of poultry imported from Belgium, all suspected of being tainted with dioxin.
Officials said they expected more quantities of poultry impounded and destroyed, while chicken by-products also imported from Belgium are also targetted.
Authorities have already confiscated 19,000 eggs, five tons of mayonnaise and more than a ton of chicken pies.
Additionally, the agriculture ministry announced that it was expecting relevant European Union directives on the condition of pork emanating from Belgium.
In a related development, an Athens prosecutor has brought charges against "Kanakis S.A." over the issue.
Water quality, resources discussed at Thessaloniki conference
Water is one of the most essential commodities for human existence, responsible for hundreds of diseases plaguing mankind and, despite the fact it covers the largest part of the earth's surface, its adequacy for the future is strongly disputed.
Additionally, water pollution is being extended internationally, while water resources are increasingly the object of friction between many countries.
The above was deduced by proposals presented on the first day of HELECO '99, the 3rd International Exhibition and the Conference on Environmental Technology organised by the Technical Chamber of Greece at a HELEXPO convention centre in Thessaloniki.
The director of the Union for the Quality of Water, Antony Milburn, presented data according to which half the population of the world is suffering from diseases directly related to the quality of water.
About 800 epidemics all over the world during the 1986-1996 period were attributed to water and it was estimated that 10 to 14 per cent of GDP in the countries where they developed was spent on takling them.
The Palestinian self-rule areas' minister for environmental issues, Yousef Abu Safieh, spoke of the issue of political frictions caused by water management and attributed to them ecological problems appearing in the Gaza Strip.
Georgian Minister of the Environment Merab Sharabidze attributed the problems of environmental pollution to the fact that, following the dissolution of the USSR, citizens of resulting countries moved to big cities by about 56 per cent.
The coordinator of the UN's Mediterranean Plan of Action for the Environment, Lucien Chabason, presented a programme by the organisation for tackling water pollution which includes the Patraikos Gulf and the inside part of the Saronic Gulf. Mr. Chabason said this programme proves that the situation in the Mediterranean is reversible.
Greece backs EU growth, employment pact
National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said that an employment pact adopted by the European Union yesterday could aid domestic growth and help to combat joblessness.
The pact, which was endorsed by the EU's council of ministers, aims to boost low growth rates seen in the 15-nation bloc this year that are nudging up the average unemployment rate.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr. Papantoniou linked Greece's jobless rate to an urban drift reminiscent of the 1950s and 1960s, an influx of economic migrants in recent years, and the spread of new technologies that have lowered demand for recruitment.
The EU will seek ways of boosting growth through talks involving its finance, labour and employment ministers, the Commission, the European Central Bank, and employers and workers associations.
Delta Airlines launches new route to Greece
Delta Airlines of the United States yesterday inaugurated a new route to Greece linking Athens to Atlanta in Georgia.
Launching the route, which has four flights a week, was the U.S. Ambassador in Athens, Nicholas Burns.
Mr. Burns and Delta officials told the ceremony that the expansion of Delta's services from Athens signalled the Greek economy's vitality and the fact that Greece attracted U.S. visitors.
Delta already operates a daily service from Athens to New York.
Stocks rise on hopes of Kosovo peace, inflation decline
Renewed hopes of a diplomatic solution to the Kosovo crisis combined with talk of a surprise fall in inflation encouraged sentiment on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday, leading equity prices higher.
The general index ended 1.27 percent up at 4,123.02 points, sharply off the day's high of 4,180 points. Turnover was 177 billion drachmas with 29,934, 000 shares changing hands.
The construction sector and the parallel market for smaller capitalisation stocks outperformed the bourse's main market.
The two indices ended 3.65 and 3.46 percent higher respectively. Other sector indices ended as follows: Banks (+0.70 pct), Leasing (+1.38 pct), Insurance (+2.78 pct), Investment (+2.10 pct), Industrials (+0.89 pct), Miscellaneous (+0.40 pct) and Holding (+2.10 pct).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index ended 1.16 percent higher at 2,453.52 points.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 203 to 77 with another 16 issues unchanged.
National Bank of Greece ended at 23,250 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 21, 100, Ergobank at 27,950, Ionian Bank at 17,000, Titan Cement at 29,045, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,990, Intracom at 23,750, Minoan Lines at 9,400, Panafon at 7,800 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,400.
Bond prices rise in robust turnover
Bond prices gained 50-90 basis points yesterday with buying interest seen from players at home and abroad on hopes of a political solution to the Yugoslav war and talk of a sharp decline in domestic inflation, dealers said.
Electronic trade was healthy at 120 billion drachmas from 36 billion drachmas in the previous session.
The ten-year-bond was trading at 103.40-103.75, showing a yield between 5.83 percent and 5.78 percent. The yield spread with German bunds remained at 164 basis points from 174 basis points at Wednesday's close.
In the foreign currency market, the euro again slumped in line with European markets, prompting the Bank of Greece to intervene by purchasing 50 million euros to curb the drachma's ascent.
At the central bank's daily fix, the euro was set at 323.960 drachmas from 324.000 drachmas in the previous session.
Technical Olympic begins share cap rise
Technical Olympic yesterday launched a rights issue to increase its share capital by 13.7 billion drachmas.
Alpha Finance is acting as consultant to the rights issue, which has preference rights for shareholders and runs until July 4.
On offer are 19,649,910 new shares at a nominal price of 250 drachmas each to be offered to existing shareholders at 700 drachmas per share. The new capital will be used mainly to finance the company's expansion strategy through the acquisition of Mo hlos SA, another listed contractor.
Mohlos also announced a share capital increase. For issue are 2,234,160 new common shares at a nominal value of 160 drachmas each, to be offered to shareholders at 700 drachmas per share.
Saudi Airlines resume Athens flights
Saudi Arabian Airlines yesterday resumed flights from Athens after some nine years.
An airline official noted that "we are back here and hope that Saudi Arabian Airlines and Olympic Airways will operate more flights between our two countries. We know that Greece is the door to Europe." According to a summer schedule released by the airline, there will be two flights per week from Riyadh and Dhahran to Athens on Thursdays and Sundays.
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WEATHERFine weather with rising temperatures will prevail in most parts of Greece today. Partly cloudy in the afternoon in central and northern Greece with the possibility of showers in the mountainous regions of Epirus, Macedonia and Thrace. Winds variable, light to moderate. Light cloud and hot in Athens with temperatures between 19-35C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 18-33C.
Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 309.742 Pound sterling 497.131 Japanese yen (100) 255.549 French franc 48.992 German mark 164.313 Italian lira (100) 16.597 Irish Punt 408.053 Belgian franc 7.967 Luxembourg franc 7.967 Finnish mark 54.050 Dutch guilder 145.831 Danish kr. 43.233 Austrian sch. 23.355 Spanish peseta 1.931 Swedish kr. 35.962 Norwegian kr. 39.005 Swiss franc 201.763 Port. Escudo 1.603 Can. dollar 209.431 Aus. dollar 200.483 Cyprus pound 556.869 Euro 321.368(C.E.)
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