|Wednesday, 20 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-11-16
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Athens hails resumption of talks between Clerides, Denktash
Athens, 16/11/1999 (ANA)Athens yesterday greeted the news of a new round of talks expected to commence between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in New York on Dec. 3.
"This is a positive development, but the continuation of dialogue must be ensured," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas told reporters.
Mr. Denktash on Sunday threatened to boycott the talks, apparently irked by a UN announcement regarding the talks, which referred to "President Clerides" and "Mr. Denktash".
But he later agreed to attend when an amended version of the announcement gave both leaders the politically neutral title of "His Excellency".
Mr. Reppas said there was no issue of convening a trilateral meeting between US President Bill Clinton, Turkish President Suleyman Demirel and Prime Minister Costas Simitis, on the sidelines of the OSCE summit in Istanbul this week, adding that the foreign ministers would have the opportunity to meet on the sidelines of a dinner or at a meeting which Turkish foreign minister Ismail Cem would organise for his counterparts of the 15-member bloc. Responding to a question if mediators had given any indications of a change in Turkish attitudes that would allow constructive talks to take place between Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash, Mr. Reppas said it was not a ppropriate to prejudice the manner in which the talks would be conducted.
"What is important is for the talks to take place. I do not know what the attitude of participants will be, either of Mr. Denktash or some other representative of the international community who will mediate in this effort," he said. He noted that the hour was particularly crucial for Cyprus and required a large measure of responsibility on the part of political parties to avoid making this major national issue a field of dispute between political parties.
"It remains to be proved that the other side, too, is coming to talks with the same sincere disposition as the Cyprus government to contribute to finding a solution. Cyprus has nothing to fear," he added.
Diplomatic sources in Athens said both US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and US mediator Alfred Moses assured FM George Papandreou that Washington would insist on the conducting of substantial talks, without terms and conditions from the start.
Mr. Reppas also announced that the Prime Minister, Costas Simitis, would be meeting with Cypriot President Glafkos Clerides on November 22.
G. Papandreou : BRUSSELS (ANA - G. Zitouniati) - The ball is now in the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot court as far as indicating the political will for a resolution of the Cyprus issue, Foreign Minister George Papandreou said here yesterday.
"Diplomacy needs persistence and responsibility. (UN chief) Kofi Annan's invitation to the two sides is nothing more than the beginning of a process which needs close attention," Mr. Papandreou told Greek Radio and Television as he went into a meeting of the General Affairs Council.
"The fact that Cyprus President Clerides has responded positively to this invitation illustrates his positive will for substantive negotiations. We are waiting to see the response from the other side, the Turkish Cypriot side, so that, finally, after 25 years a resolution of the Cyprus issue can get under way," he said.
Mr. Papandreou said the political will for a resolution to the occupation and division of the island was apparent from all EU member states and the UN Security Council members.
"Now, the onus lies with the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot sides," he said.
Athens News Agency
 Quake damage exceeds Dr 1.2 trillion
Athens, 16/11/1999 (ANA)The total cost of damage in a quake that hit Athens and Attica on September 7 will exceed 1.2 trillion drachmas, according to final estimates by the national economy ministry.
"The earthquake created severe and widespread damage to the country's capital at one of its most productive moments, halting its rapid growth rate and violently jolting the lives of four million inhabitants", a ministry report said.
Released yesterday, the report said that about 7,000 dwellings were fit for demolition, 65,000 uninhabitable until repaired, and 95,000 inhabitable but needing repair.
About 72,000 families in the first two categories were facing serious housing problems, the report said.
A total of 1,161 schools and 20 further and higher education buildings were also included in the list of damage.
Severely damaged were six hospitals with another 27 needing lesser repair.
Around 8,000 businesses, including 6,800 shops and offices, were also hit by the quake, leaving 3,500 people unemployed.
Righting the economic and social fibre of areas worst hit by the quake will cost 620 billion drachmas, more than half the total, the report said.
The operational programme has been submitted to the European Union for approval and co-funding.
Athens News Agency
 Greek shipowners call for better competitiveness
Athens, 16/11/1999 (ANA)The London Committee of Greek shipowners yesterday called for measures to boost competitiveness and make the national register more flexible.
Meeting in the British capital, the group said that the level of withdrawals from the register between 1996 and October this year had reached a critical point.
In that period, 183 vessels joined the register and 423 left it. Among other repercussions were a loss of jobs for Greek seamen.
The shipowners said the merchant marine ministry should adopt European Union maritime policy.
"Greek shipping, as a major factor in the world economy, is under severe pressure without so far securing the necessary national backing of a kind that fleets enjoy in both EU and non-EU countries," the shipowners said in a statement.
The Greek-flagged and Greek-owned fleet comprised 16 percent of the world fleet, the shipowners said.
Athens News Agency
 Stocks end moderately higher
Athens, 16/11/1999 (ANA)Equity prices ended the first trading session of the week moderately higher, unable to hold on to their early gains on the Athens Stock Exchange.
The general index ended 0.36 percent up at 5,722.99 points, off the day's high of 5,777 points. Turnover was a moderate 302 billion drachmas.
Shares in the Leasing, Information Technology and Construction sectors attracted heavy demand, leading the market higher, while Holding and Industrials came under pressure.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (+0.69 pct), Leasing (+3.36 pct), Insurance (+0.60 pct), Investment (+0.49 pct), Construction (+3.05 pct), Industrials (-0.55 pct), Miscellaneous (+2.38 pct) and Holding (-1.69 pct).
The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 0.70 percent higher while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks rose 0.39 percent to 2,803.84 points.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 161 to 134 with another 19 issues unchanged.
A total of 43 shares ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit up, while another 12 ended at the day's limit down.
NEL Lines, Techniki Olympiaki and Attikat were the most heavily traded stocks.
National Bank of Greece ended at 21,500 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 26, 520, Commercial Bank at 23,400, Titan Cement (common) at 38,950, Hellenic Petroleum at 4,890, Intracom at 14,180, Minoan Lines at 10,050, Panafon at 3,620 and Hellenic Telecoms at 6,475.
Athens News Agency
 Drachma steady in dull trade
Athens, 16/11/1999 (ANA)The drachma was steady in uneventful trade yesterday following a steep rise in the previous session that had prompted the central bank to step into the market in order to curb its ascent.
The drachma rose late last week after slumping on a statement by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou that monetary policy would remain unchanged.
The decline had followed euphoria on now apparently defunct rumours that the drachma's central parity in the European Union's exchange rate mechanism II would be revalued in the near future.
At the central bank's daily fix, the euro edged down against the drachma.
The single European currency was set at 328.310 drachmas from 328.320 drachmas in the previous session and 328.450 drachmas on Thursday.
The dollar rose sharply against the drachma, in line with its ascent in international currency markets.
The US currency was set at 318.280 drachmas from 316.800 drachmas a session earlier and 315.590 drachmas on Thursday.
Bonds nose up in slim trade : Secondary market bonds posted gains of around 10 basis points in light trade yesterday with buyers active in the market.
Trading above 99.40, the benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.41 percent from 6.38 percent in the previous session and 6.58 percent on Thursday.
The yield spread over German bunds was 154 basis points from 153 basis points to 155 basis points a session earlier and 158 basis points on Thursday.
Electronic trade was sharply down at 15 billion drachmas from 48 billion drachmas in the previous session and 14 billion drachmas on Thursday.
Buy orders accounted for the bulk of turnover.
Athens News Agency
 Bank of Piraeus buys Romania's Pater Bank
Athens, 16/11/1999 (ANA)The Bank of Piraeus yesterday announced the acquisition of Romania's Pater Bank as part of its dynamic expansion drive in the Balkans.
Pater Bank, which operates two branches in Romania, has a health portfolio and holds a permit to develop its banking activities.
The purchase deal was signed by Bank of Piraeus and Hungary's Budapest Bank, parent of Pater Bank.
Budapest Bank and its strategic partner General Electric Capital (GEC) agreed to the sale of their subsidiary because the former has decided to focus its activities on the rapidly growing Hungarian market, and the latter has recently acquired Banc Post in Romania.
Athens News Agency
 Greece expects 2.5 mln UK tourists in 2000
Athens, 16/11/1999 (ANA)More than 2.5 million tourists from the United Kingdom are expected to visit Greece in 2000, Greek National Tourism Organisation secretary-general Eugenios Giannakopoulos said in London yesterday.
He was speaking to reporters following the inauguration of GNTO's pavillion at the World Travel Market trade fair in London.
The pavillion also included 40 Greek businesses and agencies from the private and public sectors.
Mr. Giannakopoulos held a series of meetings with tourism representatives from China, Egypt and Cyprus.
Athens News Agency
 Brown & Root leave Skaramanga
Athens, 16/11/1999 (ANA)Brown & Root of the United Kingdom is leaving Skaramanga Shipyard, which it has managed since 1996, Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos told a news conference yesterday.
The company will now be managed by six of the company's executives, Mr. Venizelos said.
The shipyard is owned by Hellenic Industrial Development Bank, which holds 51 percent of stock, and company employees, who have the remaining 49 percent.
Athens News Agency
 Athens Foreign Exchange
Athens, 16/11/1999 (ANA)Bank of Greece closing rates of: November 15, 1999
Banknotes Buying Selling US Dollar 315.734 323.054 Can.Dollar 215.383 220.377 Australian Dlr 203.310 208.024 Pound Sterling 510.444 522.278 Irish Punt 413.533 423.121 Pound Cyprus 564.944 578.042 Pound Malta 746.348 777.446 Turkish pound (100) 0.056 0.058 French franc 49.651 50.802 Swiss franc 202.790 207.491 Belgian franc 8.073 8.261 German Mark 166.519 170.380 Finnish Mark 54.776 56.046 Dutch Guilder 147.789 151.216 Danish Kr. 43.797 44.812 Swedish Kr. 37.819 38.696 Norwegian Kr. 39.878 40.803 Austrian Sh. 23.668 24.217 Italian lira (100) 16.820 17.210 Yen (100) 300.794 307.768 Spanish Peseta 1.957 2.003 Port. Escudo 1.625 1.663 Foreign Exchange Buying Selling New York 315.734 323.054 Montreal 215.383 220.377 Sydney 203.310 208.024 London 510.444 522.278 Dublin 413.533 423.121 Nicosia 564.944 578.042 Paris 49.651 50.802 Zurich 202.790 207.491 Brussels 8.073 8.261 Frankfurt 166.519 170.380 Helsinki 54.776 56.046 Amsterdam 147.789 151.216 Copenhagen 43.797 44.812 Stockholm 37.819 38.696 Oslo 39.878 40.803 Vienna 23.668 24.217 Milan 16.820 17.210 Tokyo 300.794 307.768 Madrid 1.957 2.003 Lisbon 1.625 1.663
Athens News Agency
 Simitis-Ecevit meeting on OSCE summit sidelines for Thursday
Athens, 16/11/1999 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis will meet with his Turkish counterpart Bulent Ecevit on Thursday in Istanbul on the sidelines of an Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit, the government announced yesterday.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Athens expected a "tangible response" from Ankara that it desired a normalisation of bilateral relations.
"Greece is in favour of a European prospect for Turkey," Mr. Reppas said, adding: "Greece's advocacy is based on the foreign policy being followed in Greek-Turkish relations."
Mr. Simitis leaves for Istanbul tomorrow. While there he will meet with a number of European Union and Balkan leaders, while he will also be received by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.
The prime minister returns to Athens on Friday, ahead of the expected arrival of US President Bill Clinton.
Athens News Agency
 Clinton calls on Greece, Turkey to decrease Aegean tension
ANKARA, 16/11/1999 (ANA - A. Abatzis/A. Kourkoulas)US President Bill Clinton stressed yesterday that Turkey and Greece should make efforts to decrease tension in the Aegean, adding that efforts should also be made to find a permanent solution on Cyprus.
"Securing a better future also depends on a decrease in tension in the Aegean," Mr. Clinton said in an address to a Turkish assembly plenum yesterday.
The US president is on an official visit to Ankara before attending the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe summit in Istanbul.
Mr. Clinton said that in terms of recent Greek-Turkish rapprochement, "the Ecevit government has made leaps in this direction", and that "Greece has also made efforts in this direction, showing that it sees Turkey's future in Europe."
"After the earthquake in August, the peoples of the two countries united because the earthquakes were not a Greek or a Turkish tragedy, but a tragedy for humanity," he said.
Referring to the Cyprus issue, Mr. Clinton expressed satisfaction over the fact "the two sides accepted the proposal by the UN Secretary General for a start to talks" and expressed the hope "we will be led to a permanent solution."
On the question of democratisation and human rights in Turkey, he said "there is still a lot that should be done."
He further said that the Turkish government has taken "steps" on the issue of democratisation and, referring to the world proclamation of human rights, said "there is still a lot that should be done."
Mr. Clinton added that Turkey "contributes to pacification and stability" in various regions, referring characteristically to the Balkans and the wider area of central Asia.
"We should explain to Russia that the war it is conducting against terrorism is correct, but also that it is not correct to target the non- combatant population," he said, while referring to a "future in which nations which are predominantly moslem and non-moslem nations will be together."
On the question of Turkey's European vocation, he called on European countries "to take into consideration that the vision of a united and democratic Europe cannot become a reality without Turkey."
Mr. Clinton praised the founder of the modern Turkish state, saying that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded Turkey "turning in many cases against western countries which wanted a mutilated and small Turkey."
Speaking at a joint press conference after holding talks with his Turkish counterpart Suleyman Demirel, Mr. Clinton described progress in Greek- Turkish relations as hopeful.
Replying to questions from the press, he noted that the improvement in Turkey's relations with Greece was an important element in the improvement of relations between Turkey and the US.
"Difficulties which remain are small but the benefits will be big for all," he said.
Referring to the Cyprus problem, Mr. Clinton expressed "hope that the coming talks on Cyprus will bring us closer to a lasting peace with real security for all Cypriots and an end to the island's division."
He underlined the particular importance the US attributes to relations with Turkey and once again reaffirmed his "personal strong support for Turkish European Union candidacy."
Each one of the 10 major problems one can think that the world will face in the years to come will be handled better if Turkey is a substantive partner of the EU, he said.
Athens News Agency
 Security measures reviewed in light of Clinton visit
Athens, 16/11/1999 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday chaired the latest government meeting to review security measures planned for US President Bill Clinton's visit to Athens, scheduled for Friday and Saturday. No statements were made afterwards, which was attended by Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopulos, Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis, Press Minister Dimitris Reppas, and Deputy Minister to the Premier George Paschalidis.
In a related development, leading opposition New Democracy MPs will convene today to discuss the party's position on the Clinton visit. Also attending the meeting will be ND honorary president Constantine Mitsotakis, who met yesterday with US ambassador Nicholas Burns.
No statements were made after that meeting, but it is believed that Mr. Clinton's visit, Greek-Turkish relations, the Cyprus issue and the situation in the Balkans were discussed.
Protests : Meanwhile, organisers of protests scheduled during the Clinton visit said they were determined to march to the US embassy to demonstrate their opposition to US and NATO policies.
Representatives of the youth groups of ruling PASOK, the Communist Party of Greece(KKE), the Coalition of Left and the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) said they had reached agreement on the staging of protests during the visit.
However, while the organisers of the three opposition party groups said they would attempt to reach the US embassy, the ruling party's youth group differentiated its position, stating that although it endorsed the "political stance of the agreement", it would not participate in any such efforts to breach police lines and would hold protests only within limits set by authorities.
"We call on the youth of Greece to exercise their inalienable right to protest the barbarity of the 'new order'. We proclaim the representative of US imperialistic policy 'persona non grata' in our country. We demand an end to imperialistic interventions in the Balkans, in the wider region and in the entire world. We demand that our country stop having any relation to imperialistic interventions and that nuclear weapons and military bases leave the country. We demand a stop to facilitations given by Gre ece for the interventions. We express our opposition to attempts to create a terrorism climate, aiming at restricting people's reactions", part of the agreement read.
Athens News Agency
 Events for annual Nov. 17 commemorations begin
Athens, 16/11/1999 (ANA)The gates to the Athens Polytechnic opened to the public at dawn yesterday, marking the beginning of the three days of events commemorating the 26th anniversary of a 1973 students' uprising against a military junta then ruling Greece. The annual events, the same as each year, will last through Nov. 17 and will end with a march to the US embassy in downtown Athens - set for Wednesday.
This year's events will be held shortly before US President Bill Clinton's visit, however, as announced by Polytechnic authorities, these events will not continue beyond Wednesday.
Mr. Clinton arrives for his 24-hour visit on Friday.
The Polytechnic's gates will close on Nov. 17 upon the commencement of the protest march. Karamanlis Meanwhile, main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis proposed to universitiy rectors, especially the Athens Polytechnic, of the taking of a faculty senate decision at every school to enable asylum to be lifted when necessary.
Mr. Karamanlis reiterated ND's position that asylum concerns the "free movement of ideas and views" and not the protection of possible criminal elements.
Referring to this week's Polytechnic events, ND spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said the premier and the government should take measures to enable order and calm to be safeguarded at universities and in areas where they are located.
Police and judicial officials are constitutionally barred from entering university grounds except on the express approval from university authorities.
The practice of university asylum has been the focus of criticism over recent years, particularly during the November 17 commemorations. University property has also been frequently vandalised during the riots, most often by non-students involved in the violence.
Past efforts to lift asylum, either partially or in whole, have been fiercely opposed. In 1995, then-public order minister Stelios Papathemelis dropped plans to abolish the practice following vehement protests. His plans drew a 'louder' protest from the shadowy "Revolu-tionary Popular Struggle" terrorist group, which placed a bomb at the Athens School of Business to protest plans to abolish asylum. The bomb caused extensive damage but no injuries.
Athens News Agency
 Final approval given for Balkan reconstruction agency in Thessaloniki
BRUSSELS, 16/11/1999 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis/G. Zitouniati)The European Union's General Affairs Council yesterday gave its final approval to Thessaloniki as the base for the EU reconstruction agency slated to aid the troubled Yugoslav province of Kosovo and the Balkans, in general.
A joint communique by the council noted that both the basic services and the base of the organisation will be stationed in Thessaloniki, adding that meetings of the managing board and the general administrative and accounting services will also be in the northern Greek city.
Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Alternate Foreign Minister Christos Rokofyllos both expressed their satisfaction over the expected decision.
In an intervention at the sessions of the General Affairs Council, Mr. Papandreou underlined that the EU summit in Helsinki in early December "will not be just a bureaucratic stamp of approval but a significant political decision which, in the wake of Kosovo, sends a message to eastern Europe."
He said that if the decisions taken at Helsinki will be positive for Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey (if it is included as a candidate country) they will constitute a positive step for eastern Europe.
On the one hand, he said, Europe is opening its doors to the region, while, on the other, the problems which continue to plague the region require from the EU clarity and strictness in the prerequisites for the criteria for incorporating these countries into Europe, and particularly in the criteria related to human rights.
Papandreou on Turkey : In addition, Mr. Papandreou added yesterday that Turkey would be informed on the procedures of its European Union candidacy, the need for its harmonisation with the acquis communautaire and the "tools of control" for this adjustment.
He specified that this would take place during the dinner to which he has been invited by his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem on the sidelines of the OSCE conference in Istanbul.
Mr. Papandreou discussed the issue with European Commission President Romano Prodi and a number of his EU counterparts with whom he met on the sidelines of the Council of Ministers' meeting. He said he also impressed on Mr. Prodi the need for Cyprus' accession procedures to be safeguarded, irrespective of the island's political problem.
Regarding the intercommunal talks announced, Mr. Papandreou said Greece considered them adequate only to the degree they had a substantive content.
Mr. Prodi stated his willingness to participate in a commonly acceptable solution in Helsinki where the final decision on Turkey would be taken.
Athens News Agency
 German Minister Daubler-Gmelin briefs Athens on work for EU human rights charter
Athens, 16/11/1999 (ANA)German federal Justice Minister Herta Daubler-Gmelin stressed in Athens' yesterday that an upgraded European Union charter on human rights must be respected by any new EU member-states, while harmonisation with the Union's 'acquis communautaire' also concerns candidate countries, something she termed a 'significant element'.
She was replying to a question on whether adherence to any future EU charter on human rights would be a necessary condition for Union accession or even candidate status. The German minister arrived in Athens at the invitation of the Friedrich Ebert Institute to participate in a discussion on the issue of "Fundamental Rights in the European Union: Protection of Human Rights After the Amsterdam Treaty".
In other statements, the German justice minister since October 1998 and high-ranking SPD party official, said such a charter is expected to be finalised by December 2000, while her ongoing contacts in the Union are the focus on 'preparatory work' for its conclusion.
Asked about the issue of immigration and illegal immigration, a problem slowing creeping towards the top of Athens' list of concerns at an EU-level of late, she said Germany faced the same problem 10 or 15 years ago, as do other EU states currently.
"...we need a set of principles for a common immigration policy (EU- wide)...this may lead to problems but it is necessary," she said.
Before a brief press briefing at the German embassy in Athens, Ms Daubler- Gmelin was received by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, while she was also met upon her arrival at Athens airport by her Greek counterpart, Evangelos Yiannopoulos - a fact she touch ed on in her initial comments, as the 81- year-old Greek minister had recently undergone an operation and was released from an Athens hospital on Sunday.
Ms Daubler-Gmelin was accompanied by German ambassador to Athens Karl-Heinz Albert Kuhna and PM Simitis' brother, Spyros, a noted law professor in Germany.
Athens News Agency
 Seismologist: latest Turkish quake shouldn't affect Greek territory
Athens, 16/11/1999 (ANA)One of Greece's most distinguished seismologists yesterday stressed that the latest devastating earthquake to hit NW Turkey was not expected to have any effect on seismic activity in Greek territory.
Thessaloniki University Prof. Vassilis Papazahos told Greek state television that the Nov. 12 tremor that hit NW Turkey was weaker and further away than the catastrophic Aug. 17 quake which struck southeast of Istanbul. He added that it was "in a chrono logical sense" connected to the quake that hit the Attica basin on Sept. 7.
The Aug. 17 quake, he said, had "accelerated" the manifestation of the Greek quake.
"We are going through a period of high seismic activity which is going to last up to three years," he added, however.
He said that the Anatolia fault which gave rise to the twin Turkish quakes was 1,000 kilometres long and, in contrast to the faults in Greece, it lacked depth and therefore causes land heaves which "do not leave anything standing".
"On the contrary, the Aegean faultlines have greater depth, and although the tremors they produced during the '80s and relatively recently ranged from 6.5 to 7 on the Richter scale, they did not cause great catastrophes, which is why we do not remember them", Prof. Papazahos said.
Athens News Agency