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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-06-29

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


ATHENS, GREECE, 29/06/1999 (ANA)


  • Papandreou-Cem meeting in New York tomorrow
  • EU-Latin America summit begins, Simitis to speak today
  • Former Swedish PM Bildt in Athens for talks on Balkans, Kosovo
  • Greece, Turkey in contravention of US weapons on Cyprus commitments
  • Greece, Iran discuss defence sector cooperation
  • ANA agreement with Iraqi News Agency
  • Expanded border patrols considered for other Greek frontiers
  • OA takes off with Speedwing
  • Ergobank's board rebuffs hostile takeover bid
  • Stocks rise in lower turnover
  • Industrial output rises 1.1 pct in April
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Papandreou-Cem meeting in New York tomorrow

Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday said he would meet his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem tomorrow in New York.

Mr. Cem accepted Mr. Papandreou's proposal for a meeting contained in the Greek minister's reply to a letter by Mr. Cem earlier this month.

Expressing satisfaction that his proposal had been accepted, Mr. Papandreou said it was a "a first positive step".

The talks between the two foreign ministers will take place on the sidelines of a meeting of "the friends of Kosovo", a group of countries formed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. The group comprises the G8 countries along with China, Greece, Turkey, Finland, the Netherlands and three international organisations - the European Union, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

Mr. Papandreou was speaking to reporters after talks in Athens with former Swedish premier Carl Bildt, who is the UN chief's special emissary.

He said Mr. Annan's invitation to both Greece and Turkey to participate in the group was sent just a few hours after he had sent his letter of reply to Mr. Cem, late last week.

"This provided an excellent opportunity for Mr. Cem and myself to meet for the first time," Mr. Papandreou said.

Mr. Papandreou added that Ankara's acceptance of his proposal for a meeting was "a first positive step", while adding that it would be premature for one to believe that the two countries had resolved their differences.

He said the issue of terrorism was also one which concerned Greece with respect to Turkey, stressing "we are not afraid to speak with any country about the issue of terrorism, on the condition that such a discussion is held within the framework of international conventions which bind the country and take into account principles which have become established in Europe".

The United States considers the scheduled meeting between the Greek and Turkish foreign ministers in New York tomorrow a positive development, US State Department spokesman James Rubin said yesterday.

Mr. Rubin added that US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who will represent Washington at a UN-sponsored multinational conference focusing on Kosovo, will not hold separate contacts with the two ministers.

EU-Latin America summit begins, Simitis to speak today

The European Union-Latin America summit began here yesterday with the participation of Prime Minister Costas Simitis, scheduled to address the session's plenum today.

His address is expected to focus on issues concerning political cooperation, international economic relations, education and culture.

Mr. Simitis is expected to outline the current positive international economic conjuncture, citing both the spectacular decrease in inflation combined with the establishment of the single currency in EU countries and the looming possibilities of new economic development for Latin America and Caribbean countries.

Latin America countries would wish to create their own common market on the model of the EU's structure.

"The European Union is a reality for Greece today, which emanates from the globalisation of the economy and the need for supranational cooperation," Mr. Simitis said.

"There are many in our country who doubt this European course, particularly the effort being made for the country's equal enty into the Economic and Monetary Union.

Talks with the chancellors of Germany and Austria and the Italian PM focused on issues concerning the European Union, with special emphasis on the issue of the EU's representation at the level of persons and processes regarding the new agencies and organisations being created for the reconstruction of the Balkans.

Former Swedish PM Bildt in Athens for talks on Balkans, Kosovo

Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday met with visiting former Swedish premier Carl Bildt, the EU's former Bosnia mediator, for a review of the situation in the Balkans and Kosovo in particular.

Mr. Papandreou will be one of the foreign ministers meeting at the UN in New York tomorrow to discuss civilian operations in Kosovo.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan expanded the Group of Eight foreign ministers meeting on civilian operations in Kosovo to include China, Greece, Turkey, Finland and the Netherlands as well as three international organisations.

A spokesman for Mr. Annan referred to the meeting as "a group of friends for Kosovo".

Mr. Papandreou told reporters after his meeting with Mr. Bildt that they had discussed ways in which the international community could achieve the targets it has set for southeast Europe through the Stability Pact.

He said that Greece, although it had been present in developments even before the Kosovo crisis, was even now accepting the secretary-general's invitation to participate in the talks to be held in New York as it wanted to play a leading role in the Balkans and the future of the Balkans.

He also relayed to Mr. Bildt Greece's interest in Thessaloniki being the headquarters for services, yet to be established, for the reconstruction of the Balkans.

He stressed that Greece was one of those countries and could play a "particularly constructive role in the efforts under way to improve the situation in Kosovo and the wider region."

Mr. Bildt also met with main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis.

Greece, Turkey in contravention of US weapons on Cyprus commitments

US State Department spokesman James Rubin said yesterday that both Greece and Turkey were in contravention of commitments to the US government not to send US-supplied weapons to Cyprus.

"Greece as well as Turkey have sent American equipment to Cyprus, in contravention of the commitments they made to the US concerning weapons systems. As a result of the our research, we asked the Greek and Turkish governments to withdraw some items of American origin from Cyprus," he said in reference to a State Department report handed to the US Congress on Friday.

He added that both governments responded that they would comply, later informing Washington that the specific weapons had been removed. The spokesman said that after such a development, "we think we have solved the problem".

Mr. Rubin futher noted that the relevant 1987 law clearly stated that such items are given by the American government with the understanding that they will not be transported to Cyprus or be used to "promote the severance or division of Cyprus".

The US federal law does not contain exceptions for weapons approved by the Cypriot government, he clarified.

Greece, Iran discuss defence sector cooperation

Greece and Iran yesterday began exploratory talks focusing on the sector of defence cooperation, with both sides noting considerable room for progress.

According to a dispatch by the Iranian News Agency (IRNA), the contacts are taking place within the framework of an official visit to the Iranian capital by National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, the first by a European Union defence minister to the Mideast country since the Islamic revolution of 1979.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos stated that the purpose of the visit was to exchange views on issues of mutual interest with his Iranian counterpart, Adm. Ali Shamkhani, while Greece was willing to develop cooperation with Iran in the defence sector.

Adm. Shamkhani said "cooperation will be on an equal basis and will be implemented in the future with a view to the two countries playing an active role in the consolidation of peace and stability internationally".

He added that teams of experts from both countries would discuss the specifics of implementing any agreement.

The Greek minister is also scheduled to meet President Mohammed Khatami and Parliament President Ali Akhbar Nuri.

ANA agreement with Iraqi News Agency

The Athens News Agency (ANA) and the Iraqi News Agency (INA) yesterday signed a cooperation agreement in Athens.

The agreement was signed on the part of ANA by its General Director, Andreas Christodoulides, while the Iraqi side was respesented by INA General Director Udai el Taie. Greek ambassador to Baghdad Costas Bikas was also present during the signing.

According to the agreement, the two agencies will exchange news and information, cooperate in educational programmes for journalists and technical personnel, as well as provide mutual assistance to their correspondents in Iraq and Greece, respectively.

INA is already cooperating with the Agence France Presse (AFP), as well as the news agencies of the People's Republic of China, Morocco, Algeria and Turkey.

An INA delegation will today meet in Athens with several government officials and visit various newspapers and television stations.

Expanded border patrols considered for other Greek frontiers

The government is considering expanding the deployment of border patrols along more of Greece's frontiers, Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis said in the northwestern town of Kastoria yesterday.

"The government will not tolerate the prevailing situation with illegal immigrants. Our aim is for those foreign nationals who are here legally to remain only. The security of Greek citizens comes first," he said, after a meeting of regional and police officials on the problem of widespread lawlessness caused by illegal immigrants filtering in from Albania.

Sources said there was agreement that the situation has improved lately and that the border population now feel more secure than a few years ago, when Albanian gangs would raid border villages, robbing households and seizing property.

OA takes off with Speedwing

Olympic Airways and British Airways officials yesterday signed the agreement whereby the UK carrier's Speedwing subsidiary will undertake the management of the Greek airline for a period of 30 months.

The agreement was signed by OA president Giorgos Zygogiannis, Speedwing's managing director Steve Dunning, BA's director of strategic alliances, John Patterson and Deputy Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, representing the Greek state, owner of OA .

Meanwhile, the government yesterday sought to improve industrial relations at troubled national carrier Olympic Airways by calling for consensus talks between unions and the company's new British manager.

Unions have called a 24-hour strike for Thursday to protest the award of a 30-month management contract to Speedwing, a subsidiary of British Airways.

In a joint statement, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Transport Minister Tassos Mantelis said they backed talks between the two sides and the formulation of a collective labour agreement.

The government has said that labour and social insurance rights will not be affected by award of the contract to a foreign operator, a move already endorsed by parliament. A contract with Speedwing has yet to be signed.

Under an existing agreement in principle, Speedwing's assignment is to make Olympic profitable, and take the ailing carrier into an international alliance. British Airways will also have an option to buy a 20 percent stake in Olympic.

Under the law passed in parliament, Olympic's unions will retain their two members on Olympic's board.

Ergobank's board rebuffs hostile takeover bid

The board of Ergobank, which is the target of a hostile takeover bid by Consolidated Eurofinance Holdings, yesterday stated outright that the offer was damaging, and urged shareholders to shun it.

In a statement, Ergobank chairman Xenofon Nikitas said that the bank would shortly explain in detail to shareholders why they should reject the offer.

The board and its international consultant, Warburg Dillon Read, were studying possible alternatives to the offer, Mr. Nikitas said.

Under Consolidated Eurofinance Holdings' hostile takeover bid for a maximum 50.1 percent stake, Ergobank's shareholders would receive 110 shares in EFG Eurobank plus 200,000 drachmas in cash in return for 50 shares held in Ergobank.

EFG Eurobank is a subsidiary of Consolidated Eurofinance Holdings and a member of the Latsis Group.

Financial information in the share offer prospectus was unclear, and the offer could lead to conflicting interests between Consolidated Eurofinance Holdings and minority shareholders in both EFG Eurobank and Ergobank, Mr. Nikitas said.

In addition, the offer undervalued Ergobank, and was closely linked to newly listed EFG Eurobank's share price, which had a very short track record on the bourse.

Stocks rise in lower turnover

Equity prices ended the first session of the week higher on the Athens Stock Exchange despite a decline in turnover.

Traders said buying interest focused on smaller capitalisation stocks and they noted that Greek investors remained cautious, adopting a pattern in international markets, ahead of a decision on US interest rates due shortly.

The general index ended 0.71 percent higher at 3,976.71 points, unable to hold above the 4,000 level which it briefly overtook early in the session.

Turnover was 128.557 billion drachmas with 25,399,362 shares changing hands.

Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-0.04 pct), Leasing (+3.10 pct), Insurance (+1.73 pct), Construction (+2.35 pct), Industrials (+0.90 pct), Miscellaneous (+1.22 pct) and Holding (+4.97 pct).

The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 1.26 percent up while the FTSE/ASE 20 index ended 0.34 percent higher at 2, 314.76 points.

A total of 39 shares ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit up.

National Bank of Greece ended at 20,400 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 19, 995, Ergobank at 31,510, Ionian Bank at 17,000, Titan Cement at 27,000, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,895, Intracom at 20,570, Minoan Lines at 5,230, Panafon at 7,480 and Hellenic Telecoms at 6,750.

Industrial output rises 1.1 pct in April

The industrial production index increased by 1.1 percent in April compared with the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said yesterday. NSS said that the mining, manufacturing and electricity-natural gas composite index rose 3.4 perc ent in April from the same period in 1998, to show a 4.3 percent increase in the first four months of 1999.

The mining production index dropped 17.9 percent in April against the same month of 1998, to post an 18.7 percent drop in the period January-April this year.

The electricity-natural gas production index jumped 30.3 percent to show an increase of 44.8 percent in the first four months.


Fair weather with a chance of local cloud and scattered rain in the northwest of the country is forecast for today. Winds moderate westerlies. Athens will be sunny with scattered cloud and temperatures between 20-35C. Thessaloniki will be partly cloudy with possibility of rain in the afternoon and temperatures from 188-32C.


Tuesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          310.990
Pound sterling       490.445
Japanese yen (100)   255.718
French franc          49.103
German mark          164.683
Italian lira (100)    16.635
Irish Punt           408.973
Belgian franc          7.985
Finnish mark          54.172
Dutch guilder        146.159
Danish kr.            43.350
Austrian sch.         23.407
Spanish peseta         1.935
Swedish kr.           36.777
Norwegian kr.         39.607
Swiss franc          201.465
Port. Escudo           1.607
Can. dollar          211.693
Aus. dollar          204.292
Cyprus pound         557.504
Euro                 322.092
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