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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-05-22

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, 22/05/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Police officer arrested for consulate shooting
  • Romanian, Greek presidents meet in Athens
  • PM Simitis meets with US envoy Niles
  • Defence Minister in Belgrade for talks
  • Gov't says different view from IMF on economic policy
  • Athens bourse closes in on record
  • Albanians ambush compatriots in Greece
  • New 4.3 billion marine environment control system approved
  • Pangalos calls for a successful Albanian election
  • National Bank's new branch in Sofia
  • Alpha Credit Bank 1996 profits rise 13%
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Police officer arrested for consulate shooting

Police officer Dimitris Tzavelas, 28, was arrested late last night at Kakavia, on the Greek-Albanian border, in connection with the fatal shooting of fellow officer Nikos Markakis in the Greek Consulate in Gjirokaster Tuesday.

A few hours later, Tzavelas was brought under heavy guard to Ioannina where he is being questioned. He is expected to be transferrred to Athens later today to be charged.

Tzavelas was arrested on the basis of contradictory statements to police who had gone to Gjirokaster to investigate the shooting, and on the evidence of Odysseas Mitsis, an ethnic Greek security guard at the consulate, as well as ballistics tests on Tzavelas gun.

Romanian, Greek presidents meet in Athens

The presidents of Greece and Romania, Kostis Stephanopoulos and Emil Constantinescu, today underlined the political will of the two countries to further broaden their already close relations, particularly in the economic sector.

The aim, they said, is to promote the two countries' ''strategic cooperation'' in the Balkans and serve as ''an axis of stability in our turbulent world''.

Constantinescu, who is on an official three-day visit to Greece, had talks today with Stephanopoulos on bilateral relations and the situation in the Balkans.

Stephanopoulos briefed his Romanian counterpart on Greece's national issues and reaffirmed Athens' support for Romania's efforts to join the European Union and NATO.

''A friend in need is a friend indeed,'' Constantinescu said characteristically.

Stephanopoulos, who visited Bucharest in November 1995, accepted a fresh invitation from Constantinescu to visit Romania.

In statements to reporters in the presence of the Greek and Romanian foreign ministers of the two countries, Theodoros Pangalos and Adrian Severin, Stephanopoulos stressed that Athens attached great importance to its relations with Bucharest, noting also that there was room for further strengthening.

Stephanopoulos in particular referred to possibilities in the economic and cultural sectors, especially in view of Consantinescu's proposal for the establishment of cultural centres and university training centres.

Constantinescu's proposal will be discussed by delegations of the two countries which will meet in Athens.

Stephanopoulos also noted the excellent cooperation between Greece and Romania on all occasions when their presence was required in the Balkans, referring in particular to Bosnia and Albania.

Reaffirming Greece's support for Romania's bid to join NATO in the first phase of the Alliance's expansion to the countries of central Europe, Stephanopoulos stressed that Bucharest ''has every right and all the prerequisites'' for membership.

Greece, he added, will exercise all possible influence in this direction.

Constantinescu underlined the traditional ties of friendship and cooperation between the two countries, adding that ''it is our duty to find new ways and new solutions in order to give another dimension to these relations within the framework of the new European structure''.

The Romanian president also stressed the importance of ''the axis of stability'' formed by Greece and Romania ''in our turbulent world with so many outstanding disputes''.

Constantinescu said he had discussed with Stephanopoulos the need to find ''new forms'' of economic cooperation in order to ''make optimum use of the dynamism'' of the two countries' economies.

Thanking Stephanopoulos for Greece's support for Romania's bid to join NATO and the EU, Constantinescu remarked that ''a friend in need is a friend indeed''.

Constantinescu also spoke of the need for ''strategic cooperation between the two countries in the Balkans'', saying such cooperation could be based on the joint position for the safeguarding of democratic values and collaboration in the economic sector.

PM Simitis meets with US envoy Niles

Prime Minister Costas Simitis met today with US Ambassador in Greece Thomas Niles as part of the premier's ''routine contacts'' with foreign envoys, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

Reppas, who is scheduled to meet with Niles tomorrow, meanwhile expressed the government's total disagreement with a recent State Department report which contained criticism of the Greek press.

''In Greece, freedom of the press is respected and we must promote it,'' Reppas said, adding that the State Department report contained ''false information''.

''Journalism in Greece is exercised in a responsible manner and any problems that may exist do not entitle anyone to make judgements of the type contained in the State Department report,'' the spokesman said.

Defence Minister in Belgrade for talks

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos today began talks with the Federal Yugoslav and Serbian leadership within the framework of a two-day working visit, according to an ANA despatch from Belgrade.

Tsohatzopoulos, who arrived in Belgrade Wednesday, had talks today with his Yugoslav counterpart Pavle Bulatovic, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic and Federal Yugoslav Premier Radoje Kodic.

After his talks with Milosevic, Tsohatzopoulos told reporters that he had briefed the Serbian leadership on Greece's views on ''the major issue of the changes and developments in Europe'' concerning the European Union and NATO.

Tsohatzopoulos added that he had stressed the importance of cooperation, stability and security in the Balkans as well as the possibilities which exist for Greece and Federal Yugoslavia to contribute in this direction.

Another subject of discussion, Tsohatzopoulos continued, was the interest of the Greek government and people in cooperating with the Yugoslav government and people.

''A new period is opening up before us and we must safeguard democracy, peace and stability in our region,'' Tsohatzopoulos said.

Tsohatzopoulos will wind up his visit to Belgrade this evening following a brief meeting with Orthodox Patriarch of Serbia, Pavlos.

Gov't says different view from IMF on economic policy

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) experts' report on the Greek economy does not reflect the government's positions on the issue, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today.

Reppas added that the contents of the report constituted neither recommendations nor suggestions but merely ''the expression of views'' which did not influence the government's economic policy of the government.

The IMF and the government have different views on the economic policy, he said, noting that the government's policies aimed at further developing and strengthening the country's competitiveness and improving the income of Greek citizens so that they could enjoy decent standards of living.

Although noting a marked improvement in the Greek economy, with growth rates accelerating and inflation falling to 20-year lows, the IMF report urges the government to take measures in all sectors of the economy and particularly the social insurance system, employment, incomes policy and public sector hiring.

The report noted however that Greece's participation in EMU and the gradual convergence of income towards EU standards of living were now a ''realistic'' target.

Athens bourse closes in on record

A buying spree for bank shares intensified on the Athens Stock Exchange pushing the market very near its all-time high with traders predicting a new record probably on Friday.

The general index jumped 2.74 percent to 1,683.85 points, a breath away from its record of 1,684.31 set in July 1990. Banks lead the rally with a 2.92 percent gain, including a stunning 6.5 percent rise by National Bank of Greece.

All other sector indices scored gains. Leasing was 1.98 percent up, Insurance increased 2.10 percent, Investments jumped 4.0 percent, Industrials ended 2.65 percent up, Construction ended 0.71 percent higher, Holding rose 2.06 percent and Miscelleaneous increased 2.75 percent.

Trading remained at very high levels and turnover reached 32.9 billion drachmas.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 174 to 53 with another 29 issues remaining unchanged. Alpha Finance, Hellas Can, Macedonia-Thrace Bank, Alcatel and Ergodata were top gainers, while Tzirakian, Ippotour, Heliofin and Petzetakis suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece closed at 37,500 drachmas, Commercial Bank at 14, 800, Ergobank at 20,980, Alpha Credit Bank at 21,100, Ionian Bank at 8,170 and OTE at 6,700 drachmas.

Albanians ambush compatriots in Greece

Police in northern Greece are increasingly concerned at crimes committed by Albanian raiding parties on Greek territory, after the latest incident in which a group of masked Albanian gunmen robbed a group of their compatriots in the northern prefecture of Pella last night, shooting one man and seriously injuring another.

A group of fourteen illegal immigrants were set upon by the gunmen in a forest in mountainous terrain near the village of Ano Grammatiko. The men fired the group with automatic weapons, killing Yanni Bogdan, 17, and seriously injuring his cousin Vasili Bogdan, 25. The rest of the group were forced to hand over their money, a total of 35,000 leks, and ten wristwatches.

New 4.3 billion marine environment control system approved

National Economy Undersecretary Christos Pachtas today signed a draft agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB) for a 4.3 billion drachma programme providing for the installation of a marine environment control system.

The ''Poseidon'' programme is being 85 per cent funded by the Financing Mechanism of the European Financial Area countries (former European Free Trade Association).

Under the programme, a marine environment control system will be installed for the seas around Greece, namely the Aegean, Ionian and Libyan.

The three seas have long served as natural crossroads for sea transport from the Black Sea, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East (via the Suez Canal) and the Adriatic.

It is hoped that the data collected during the implementation of the programme will help avert ecological disasters in the marine environment.

The programme is also expected to result in significant benefits for the Greek economy, particularly for fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, marine transport and other sectors.

Pangalos calls for a successful Albanian election

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday called on all political forces in Albania to make every effort towards a successful outcome for the June 29 elections, promising that Greece "will continue to offer every possible assistance on the diplomatic, economic and humanitarian front."

In a statement, Pangalos warned against allowing "partisan concerns to thwart" what he called "the historic opportunity offered by the elections". He said the "international community would have to review its position with regard to Albania if the elections foundered."

" If the elections were not held under free and fair conditions," Pangalos said he feared "the end of Albania's troubles would not be at hand."

Meanwhile, there are no plans for Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos to visit Albania, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday replying to reporters' questions.

Commenting on the situation in the neighbouring country, Reppas said it was the responsibility of the political forces of Albania to give a solution to the problem which exists.

On the presence of the multinational protection force in Albania and its role, Reppas said ''no one is prepared to whitewash unilateral actions and it is not possible for the international community to legitimize handling which serves the plans of individuals or parties''.

''The international community will not remain indifferent,'' Reppas said.

The spokesman expressed the hope that the political parties in Albania will in the next few days find a way to communicate.

National Bank's new branch in Sofia

National Bank of Greece governor Theodoros Karatzas on Thursday will launch the state bank's new branch in the Bulgarian capital and is expected to meet members of the country's new government during his visit to the capital.

Accompanying Mr. Karatzas to Sofia is a delegation of roughly 50 representatives of industrial sectors including construction, foodstuffs, textiles and metals.

Alpha Credit Bank 1996 profits rise 13%

Alpha Credit Bank reported a 13 percent increase in 1996 net profit to 43.1 billion drachmas from 38.2 billion the previous year.

Presenting annual results to the annual shareholders' meeting, the president of the bank Yiannis Costopoulos said that 1996 represented yet another year of success, coordinated growth, and confirmation of the bank's leading role in the Greek banking industry.

WEATHER

Sunshine is forecast throughout the country today with cloud developing later on in central and northern Greece. Winds will be southerly, light to moderate, changing to north-northwesterly later in the day. Temperatures in Athens will range from 19-36C. Thessaloniki will be sunny with increasing cloud later in the day. Temperatures will range between 16-33C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 265.846 Pound sterling 439.853 Cyprus pd 530.859 French franc 46.828 Swiss franc 189.546 German mark 157.733 Italian lira (100) 16.030 Yen (100) 233.765 Canadian dlr. 195.146 Australian dlr. 206.763 Irish Punt 407.871 Belgian franc 7.641 Finnish mark 52.239 Dutch guilder 140.318 Danish kr. 41.428 Swedish kr. 35.494 Norwegian kr. 37.888 Austrian sch. 22.413 Spanish peseta 1.875 Port. Escudo 1.569

(M.P.)


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