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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-10-06
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>
NEWS IN ENGLISH
ATHENS, GREECE, 06/10/1999 (ANA)
NEWS IN DETAIL`Deeds, decisions` necessary from Ankara to further improve ties
Prime Minister Costas Simitis stressed yesterday that an "un-precedented" positive climate in Greek-Turkish relations, seen over the past two months, must be turned into "deeds and decisions" by Ankara, which clearly showed that bilateral ties had entered a new period.
Addressing the ruling PASOK party's parliamentary group, Mr. Simitis said he was speaking of deeds and decisions by Ankara which would "create a solid foundation for the improvement of bilateral relations".
The prime minister said such deeds and decisions had "yet to appear", but expressed the hope that Turkey would "take a substantial step" to advance its European vocation and support efforts being made for closer cooperation.
Commenting on Greek-Turkish relations, in general, Mr. Simitis said: "We have created an impetus that placed Turkey in the dilemma of choosing between peace and cooperation or a gradual distancing from European structures and marginalisation."
Tsohatzopoulos cites upgraded Greek role in new NATO structure
Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday that Greece's upgraded role in the new structure of NATO vindicated the country's contribution to shaping the Alliance's new face.
Speaking at a ceremony marking the official activation of the NATO sub- headquarters at Tyrnavos near Larissa, central Greece, and later at a press conference, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the upgrading of Greece's position in the Alliance also confirmed the country's role as a force for stability, peace and security in the region.
The minister stressed, however, that Greece's participation in NATO did not eliminate the country's responsibilities regarding matters of national security.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also noted the special role that Greece had to play in the Balkans, given that the Tyrnavos sub-headquarters would be a centre for the exercise of NATO policy in the region.
The ceremony was attended by allied supreme commander US Gen. Wesley Clark, who described yesterday's activation of the sub-headquarters as a historic occasion.
Officially known as "Joint Command South Centre" (JCSC), the Tyrnavos sub- headquarters is one of four southern NATO sub-head-quarters activated during the past month.
When fully operational, it will have 453 commissioned officers and NCOs as well as 815 civilian employees, half of whom will be Greek.
Chrysohoidis leads public order delegation on US visit
Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis left yesterday for an official visit to the United States, where he will have talks on issues related to combatting terrorism and organised crime.
Mr. Chrysohoidis is being accompanied by the head of the Greek police, Lt.- Gen. Ioannis Georgakopoulos and Public Prosecutor Ioannis Diotis, who is also chairman of the public order ministry's council for coordination, analysis and investigations.
During their stay in Washington, the members of the Greek delegation will meet with FBI director Louis Freeh, CIA director George Tenet and US Sen. Paul Sarbanes.
Commission considers quake relief for Greece
The European Commission yesterday discussed, among others, earthquake relief towards Greece.
Discussions on damages caused by the devastating Sept. 7 quake were based on a text compiled by Greek Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou, responsible for employment and social affairs, as well as French Commissioner Michel Barnier, responsible for regional policy.
According to the text, the provision of "sizable aid" to Greece "is possible" on condition that Greek authorities will quickly provide a description and a realistic and total evaluation of the nature and cost of the damages, so they may be assessed.
Simitis says PASOK ready for any election battle
Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday said the ruling party was capable of winning the next general elections whenever these occurred, indicating the possibility of an early poll if the present Parliament failed to elect a president of the republic in March.
"We are exactly one year before the end of the present Parliament's constitutionally set term. The present Parliament is in a position to elect a president of the republic, unless petty party expediencies prevail among the parties of the opposition," he told the ruling party's first parliamentary group session after the summer recess.
Mr. Simitis said he did not wish elections in the March-June 2000 period, because in March, Greece would sumbit its application for accession to the 'euro zone' for 2001; and in June, the EU summit in Lisbon would be expected to approve it. In the mean time, he added, there would be delicate and hard negotiations and this period "requires political stability".
Current account deficit shrinks in January-April
The current account deficit narrowed to 1.425 billion euros in January- April from 2.5 billion euros in the same period of 1998, down 40.3 percent, the Bank of Greece said yesterday.
The change was due mainly to an improvement in the trade deficit, which shrank to 4.807 billion euros from 5.535 billion euros in the same four month period of last year, the central bank said in a statement.
In April, the current account deficit fell to 396 million euros from 868 million euros in the same month of last year.
The trade deficit in April stood at 1.242 billion euros from 1.504 billion euros in the same month of 1998, the Bank of Greece said.
Stocks jump on domestic rate cut hopes
Equities finished sharply higher yesterday with market players hoping to see a reduction in the central bank's intervention rates in the near future.
A healthy opening in European bourses also fuelled sentiment as investors abroad appeared to discount that the Federal Reserve will leave US rates unchanged.
The general index ended 3.02 percent higher at 5,825.45 points from 5, 654.65 points in the previous session.
Analysts say the outlook for the Athens bourse is improving as the market shows more signs of consolidation.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banking (+1.22 pct), Insurance (+0.32 pct), Construction (+6.57 pct), Miscellaneous (+3.93 pct), Leasing (+4.77 pct), Investment (+4.21 pct), Industrials (+4.63 pct) and Holding (+3.45 pct).
The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks gained 7.67 percent while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chips and heavily traded stocks gained 1.82 percent to finish at 2,991.71 points.
The day's most heavily traded stocks were Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation and Hellenic Petroleum. National Bank of Greece ended at 23, 650 drachmas, Commercial Bank of Greece at 27,950, Alpha Credit Bank at 23, 800, Minoan Lines at 9,300, Intrac om (common) at 28,500, Titan Cement (common) at 38,750, Hellenic Petroleum at 5,890, Hellenic Telecommmunications Organisation at 7,155 and Panafon at 8,400 drachmas.
Drachma unruffled in wake of attacks
The drachma gained slight momentum against the euro yesterday in the wake of speculative attacks in the domestic foreign exchange market over the past week that were quashed by repeated central bank interventions.
The Bank of Greece had sold around one billion euros since Thursday to stem the drachma's decline.
Speculators appeared to back off after the central bank made it clear it would not tolerate an unbridled descent of the drachma to its central parity in the European Union's exchange rate mechanism II of 353.1 to the euro.
Japanese delegation visits the north
A group of Japanese economy officials visited northern Greece yesterday to learn of investment opportunities in the prefectures of Rhodopi and Evros.
The delegation included the general director of JETRO, the Japanese foreign trade board, and the head of economy and trade at Japan's embassy in Athens.
Discussed were opportunities for local investment and widening alliances between Greek and Japanese firms. Deputy National Economy Minister Rhodoula Zissi, outlined Greece's role in aiding growth in neighbouring Balkan countries and the economy ministry's Hermes plan designed to help widen business ties between Greece and Japan.
ETVA opens account for quake victims
Hellenic Industrial Development Bank announced yesterday that it had opened an account for victims of the earthquake that hit Athens on September 7.
The account number is 015/00000001111198.
ETVA has donated 200 million drachmas for quake relief through a collection made by the Union of Greek Banks.
Christodoulos on Church bureaucracy, possibilities of pope visit
Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos said yesterday that the Church is ruled by a terribly "cumbersome apparatus".
Christodoulos added that when he assumed the post of Prelate of the Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greece, "heads did not roll", he harmed no one, while, on the contrary, he requested and is still requesting more work to enable all to perform in accord ance with their capabilities and abilities.
The Archbishop, who was speaking during a Holy Synod meeting yesterday stressed: "We are afraid that the committee will wish to satisfy the locals and foreigners who question the existence of real religious freedom in Greece. We are watching developments so as to intervene when necessary."
Christodoulos also referred to a possible visit to Athens by the Pope John Paul II, saying that "if we said 'yes' to the pope's visit we would jeopardise our internal unity. If we said 'no' we would be slandered abroad, primarily, as well as at home as being intolerant and medieval. We did our duty with great prudence and care, and things vindicated us."
WEATHERFine weather will prevail throughout the country on today, with local light cloud in the northeast. Light westerly winds turning to moderate in the south. Fine weather in Athens, with temperatures ranging from 19-29C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from 16-27C.
Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 305.050 Pound sterling 503.718 Japanese yen (100) 286.192 French franc 49.686 German mark 166.641 Italian lira (100) 16.832 Irish Punt 413.835 Belgian franc 8.079 Finnish mark 54.816 Dutch guilder 147.896 Danish kr. 43.854 Austrian sch. 23.686 Spanish peseta 1.959 Swedish kr. 37.480 Norwegian kr. 39.579 Swiss franc 205.585 Port. Escudo 1.626 Can. dollar 208.598 Aus. dollar 201.932 Cyprus pound 563.745 Euro 325.922(C.E.)
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