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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-06-11

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, 11/06/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis: Security Council resolution on Kosovo binding for all
  • Karamanlis calls on voters to treat Euro-elections as referendum
  • Simitis on Euro-elections' importance for country
  • British defence secretary on Athens' role Kosovo crisis
  • Athens requests sector of responsibility in Kosovo
  • Greece hails G8 initiative regarding Cyprus problem
  • US marine disembark at Litohoro en route to FYROM
  • Damage to Greek economy from Balkan 'troubles' at 100 billion dr.
  • Mutual funds' assets increase
  • EPB to increase share capital, seek listing on ASE
  • Bogus bonds scam uncovered
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

    MAIN HEADLINES

    • Simitis: Security Council resolution on Kosovo binding for all Prime Minister Costas Simitis last night hailed a UN Security Council resolution for the deployment of a multinational force in Kosovo.

      "The resolution is binding for all: NATO, the Serbs, and third parties. It constitutes the legal framework for the implementation of procedures leading to peace. These procedures must be implemented by all, without exception. The UN members have an obligation for this," Mr. Simitis said in a statement.

      "Peace is a reality. The bombings have stopped. The refugees will be able to return to their homes. Difficulties will arise, of course. But the basic precondition for implementing peace has been set in motion.

      "It justifies Greece's position until this day. It justifies our view to insist on political negotiations, diplomatic initiatives, in constant communication with all the parties involved," he said, adding:

      "The government, in the maelstrom of war, effectively protected the country's interests. We have kept the country far from military involvment. Greece remained a reliable interlocutor with the Serbs, NATO and all interested parties. Our country remained in this region an oasis of peace, security, stability. Thanks to our policy, Greece played a role; has a role and has prospects.

      Earlier, FM George Papandreou welcomed the signing of a military agreement by NATO and Yugoslavia, saying it opened the way for peace.

      "Our thoughts turn today to the innocent victims of the crisis, both on the side of the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo and the Serbs," Mr. Papandreou told reporters at Athens airport shortly before departing for Cologne, stressing that the end of the war did not mean an end to all the problems which have been created.

      Mr. Papandreou said Greece was now called upon to shoulder a large burden of responsibility for "the day after" within the framework of efforts for the reconstruction of the Balkans, the reconciliation of peoples of the region and the strengthening of regional cooperation. He added that the signing in Cologne yesterday of the Stability Pact for SE Europe was aimed precisely at preventing future crises.

      Mr. Papandreou said it was absolutely necessary for the Serb people "who paid a heavy price for the war" to become reconciled with Europe, noting that they should under no circumstances be "isolated".

    • Karamanlis calls on voters to treat Euro-elections as referendum Concluding his campaign for Sunday's Euroelection with a large rally in Athens yesterday, main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis stressed that citizens faced the dilemma of "whether to approve or condemn government policy."

      "This is a clear and honest dilemma which our party poses. By contrast, (prime minister) Mr. Simitis does not dare ask the people to say 'yes' to his policies, but opts instead for danger-mongering, blackmail and murky positions," he said.

      He punctuated his speech with the "new start" slogan that has characterised ND's campaign, and rejected ruling PASOK's oft-stated position that stability was at stake in this election.

      "We are not returning to the past to uncover old divisions, but are forging ahead to the future with a new unity. PASOK's supposed stability is insecurity, a general deterioration and marginalisation. Today's real Greece is that of the unemployed, crime, the collapse of health services, education without a strategy, overwhelming taxes and national concessions," he stressed.

      He also accused the prime minister of being "cut-off" from the problems of citizens, and of "living in a world of fantasies".

      "Mr. Simitis did not impose austerity on the state and his selected few, but he did so harshly on citizens. The living standards of entire groups in the population are being crushed," he charged.

      Mr. Karamanlis said ND supported the goal of the country joining Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), and when this happens "we shall owe it to the sacrifices of the citizens, the EMU battle will have been won by the people". Speaking for the first time from a written text, Mr. Karamanlis listed 10 priorities for his party when it comes to power, including reforming the state, dynamic development, slashing waste in the public sector, tax reductions, dealing with crime, strat egies for national issues and education, support to farmers and a focus on citizens' everyday problems.

    • Simitis on Euro-elections' importance for country Prime Minister Costas Simitis said that Sunday's Euro-elections are crucial for Greece's position in the EU and citizens are being called on to back the PASOK government in its task until next year's national elections, when its work will be judged.

      "The question that should concern every citizen is in what direction the country will head: To continue this journey, which has produced specific benefits, both economically and socially, or to go to a process of revision which will jeopardise the achie vements of the last few years," he said before some 100 provincial TV stations.

      He defended his government's policy in the Kosovo crisis, saying it took into account Greece's special position and interests without breaking links with its allies and while also maintaining friendly ties with Balkan countries.

    • British defence secretary on Athens' role Kosovo crisis British Defence Secretary George Robertson yesterday lauded the role of Greece's political leadership during NATO's operations against Yugoslavia, "despite the fact that (Greek) public opinion appeared opposed to the war", as he noted.

      "Greece is in the European Union and NATO. It played this role during the war in Yugoslavia. I wish to praise the political leadership of Greece which, despite the fact that public opinion appeared to be against the war, kept a steadfast position becaus e it believed in the ideals of overall security. It gave great assistance and facilities to troops to pass from Thessaloniki to Skopje," he said.

      Mr. Robertson made the statement at a press conference yesterday and in reply to a question over Greece's role during the war as well as the upcoming phase.

    • Athens requests sector of responsibility in Kosovo Greece's participation in an international peace force for Kosovo is estimated to number between 1,200-1,500 troops, comprising two motorised infantry battalions, apart from medical and support units.

      NATO officials said Athens' request to assume a sector of responsibility is being viewed favourably by the Alliance.

      The first peace force units to arrive in Kosovo will be those of British general Mike Jackson, who will set up his headquarters in Pristina.

    • Greece hails G8 initiative regarding Cyprus problem Foreign Minister George Papandreou hailed the initiative undertaken on the Cyprus issue by the G8's foreign ministers, included in the "conclusions" of their two-day sessions, which ended here yesterday.

      The Greek side had been "expecting it for several weeks", Mr. Papandreou said.

      The G8 foreign ministers - representing he world's seven most industrialised nations and Russia - recommended that the United Nations call the Greek and Turkish Cypriots comprehensive talks without any preconditions.

      Replying to a question, Mr. Papandreou said the invitation to unconditional talks does not create any problem and referred to explicit reference made in a relevant paragraph that the finding of an overall solution is based on the resolutions of the UN's Security Council.

      Regarding an appeal made by the G8 to all parties involved in the Cyprus issue, including Greece and Turkey, to abstain from moves capable of creating tension on the island, Mr. Papandreou referred indirectly to Greek- Turkish relations.

      "This is of particular importance. If we want to shape a climate which without threats, without conflicting logics a prospect can open for a solution to the Cyprus issue," he said.

      The government announced yesterday that it expects "deeds, not words" from Ankara, something to show it was committed to regional peace and cooperation.

      "We don't expect statements from the new Turkish government but deeds that will symbolise a turn to the principles of peace and cooperation in the region," acting government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis told reporters.

    • US marine disembark at Litohoro en route to FYROM A convoy of some 1,200-1,500 US marines destined for a peacekeeping force in Kosovo set out yesterday morning from the Gritsa port in Litohoro, south of Thessaloniki, under heavy police guard and en route to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYRO M).

      The troops will join the NATO peacekeeping force and from there eventually head to Kosovo.

      The US marines had been in waiting nearly a week on two warships and a helicopter carrier in the Aegean for the Greek government's permission to land at Litohoro and from there to FYROM.

      Athens had issued a 10-day prohibition on the passage of foreign troops through Greek territory in the run-up to Sunday's Euroelections.

      The government said on Monday, however, that the conditions were completely different than when the prohibition was enforced since the peacekeeping process had now been set in motion, adding that Greece would facilitate the situation so that there would be no security vacuum after the withdrawal of the Serbian forces from Kosovo.

      A large number of coaches and trailer trucks were waiting at the tiny port to transport the troops and equipment.

      About 300 Communist Party of Greece (KKE) supporters who had gathered at dawn near the Gritsa coast were kept back for security reasons by 15 squads of police officers, and lined up along the convoy's route shouting anti- NATO slogans.

      The KKE's local organisation in Thessaloniki has called a rally for this evening in central Thessaloniki to protest the transport of military forces to FYROM via Greece despite the signing on Wednesday night of a Kosovo peace deal.

    • Damage to Greek economy from Balkan 'troubles' at 100 billion dr. National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday that the signing of the Kosovo peace agreement meant that damage incurred by the Greek economy would be contained at approximately 100 billion drachmas or 0.2 per cent of GDP.

      During a television interview on a private station, Mr. Papantoniou said the Greek government would seek compensation from the European Union for the losses sustained.

      The government and the central bank had initially estimated that the cost of the war for Greece would be between 0.2 and 0.5 per cent of GDP in 1999, depending on how long the Kosovo crisis continued.

      Greece's projected GDP growth for the current year is 3.5 per cent.

    • Mutual funds' assets increase Total assets of mutual funds increased by 0.56 per cent between June 8-9 and reached 10.011 trillion drachmas.

      The biggest percentage increase was shown by the assets of the domestic available funds management (0.85 per cent) followed by domestic bonds with an increase of 0.26 per cent, domestic shares (0.20 per cent) and domestic joint funds (0.07 per cent).

      Assets of share mutual funds have achieved an increase exceeding 195 per cent since the beginning of the year. This is due to the high yields they offered during 1998 (in certain cases they exceeded 100 per cent), as well as to the high yields they are continuing to show during the current year.

    • EPB to increase share capital, seek listing on ASE The European Popular Bank (EPB) has decided to increase its share capital five-fold, from 5.5 billion Greek drachmas to 25 billion.

      The Bank, a subsidiary of the Cyprus Popular Bank Group, also decided to seek a listing on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE).

      Both moves were announced at a press conference in Athens yesterday, by the Executive Chairman of the Popular Bank Group and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the EPB, Kikis Lazarides.

      "We are in contact with management at the ASE and are trying to secure the appropriate information on how to seek a listing and I believe this will be easy and quick," Mr. Lazarides said.

      Asked if the listing on the ASE signals a turning point away from the Cypriot market towards Greece, Mr. Lazarides said "we are not giving up Cyprus under any circumstances."

      Cyprus, he explained, "is our base and we shall continue to expand and make every possible effort to be in the forefront."

      Mr. Lazarides said that by the end of this year there will be 17 offices of the EPB operating in Greece, four more offices than in 1998.

      "We hope to have between 40 and 50 offices in the next three years," he said.

      He said the Group will try to achieve a strong and profitable presence in Greece, in the UK and strengthen its presence in Australia, the US and elsewhere.

    • Bogus bonds scam uncovered Authorities yesterday arrested two men on charges of flooding the market with fake Swedish state bonds worth 362.9 million drachmas.

      Members of the financial crimes squad acted on information they received last month, according to which fake bonds were being sold to unsuspecting Greek investors as possible collateral in order to obtain bank loans.

      A first batch of 45 such bonds were identified as bogus by Sweden's state forensic laboratory on June 5, and since then the total number of confiscated bonds rose to 981, each bearing a nominal value of 10,000 kronas each.

      Police arrested Vassilis Mavridis, a Thessaloniki resident who runs a financial services office in the city, and Apostolos Skorditis, a retired army major, believed to have supplied the fake paper to the former.

      An investigation is continuing.

      WEATHER

      Sunny weather is forecast in most parts of Greece today with the possibility of showers in central and northern Greece in the afternoon. Winds variable, moderate to strong. Few clouds in otherwise sunny Athens with temperatures between 21-34C. Possibility of showers in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 18-31C.

      FOREIGN EXCHANGE

      Friday's rates (buying)
      U.S. dollar          307.163
      Pound sterling       492.687
      Japanese yen (100)   257.652
      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.            43.255
      Austrian sch.         23.355
      Spanish peseta         1.931
      Swedish kr.           36.049
      Norwegian kr.         39.134
      Swiss franc          201.515
      Port. Escudo           1.603
      Can. dollar          208.538
      Aus. dollar          203.097
      Cyprus pound         555.897
      Euro                 321.368
      
      (C.E.)
      Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
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