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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-12-11

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, 11/12/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Government condemns bomb attack on minister's office
  • Kranidiotis addresses conference on Cyprus
  • Albanian Prime Minister interviewed
  • CoE conference on media policy
  • Gypsies inoculated by Doctors of the World
  • Turk arrested for transporting illegal immigrants
  • Thessaloniki airport flights cancelled
  • Northrop Grumman defence industry seeks partner in Greece
  • Government will consider Article 19 on citizenship
  • DEP changes name to Hellenic Petroleum
  • Hellenic Steel changes in share ownership
  • National Bank of Greece names board for London subsidiary
  • Greek interbank rates return to pre-crisis levels
  • Greek stocks end flat in edgy budget trade
  • Thessaloniki's Hyatt casino projects hefty '97 turnover
  • Bill on transparency in public works contracts
  • EU funds for archaeological sites in eastern Macedonia, Thrace
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Government condemns bomb attack on minister's office

The bomb disposal expert injured in last night's explosion at the Athens office of Development Minister Vasso Papandreou was reported to be in a satisfactory condition today.

Pieros Xanthakos received injuries to his hands and legs while trying to defuse a bomb left at the entrance of Papandreou's office.

Anti-terrorist squad officers and doctors said that his injuries had been minimised by the special protective clothing he was wearing at the time of the blast.

Xanthakos, who was visited today by Public Order Minister George Romeos, is expected to be discharged from hospital in the next few days. He was handed a cheque for one million drachmas by the head of the Greek Police as immediate financial assistance.

Shortly after the blast, an anonymous caller to Skai radio and television said the "Fighting Guerrilla Formation" claimed responsibility for the bomb.

According to the caller, the attack was prompted by the government's decision to give a gold mining contract to the Canadian firm TVX Gold.

The caller said that a warning call earlier to newspaper "Eleftherotypia" had deliberately misled police as to the time the bomb was set to go off so as to cause injuries among police arriving at the scene.

The bomb consisted of one kilo of dynamite packed in a metal water canister which fragmented upon detonation, causing the injuries to Xanthakos.

Police have expressed fears that the attack may have been an attempt on Papandreou's life rather than a warning since, although she did not use the office regularly, she had appointments there yesterday evening.

Romeos expressed concern about the recent spate of bomb attacks against a variety of targets which were subsequently claimed by various terrorist groups.

According to sources, anti-terrorist police are considering the possibility that former members of terrorist groups Revolutionary Popular Struggle and November 17 have set up new organisations.

Government spokesman Nikos Athanassakis, meanwhile, strongly condemned yesterday's attack.

"No action whatsoever of this kind will obstruct the implementation of the government's programme for the development and progress of the country," Athanassakis said.

Commenting on the environmental motives for the attack claimed by the Fighting Guerrilla Formation, Athanassakis said that it was "feigned sensitivity, as proven by the murderous, social callousness displayed.

Kranidiotis addresses conference on Cyprus

Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis today called on Turkish Cypriot political organisations to overturn Ankara's policy and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for the good of their community.

Kranidiotis was speaking at a conference organised by the Coalition of the Left and Progress, entitled "Cyprus today: Prospects for a Solution".

He said the prospect of Cyrpus's accession to the European Union "provides the greatest ever opportunity since 1974 for the settlement of the political problem".

At the same time, he assured Turkish Cypriot representatives attending the conference that Cyprus's accession perspective was not a "side road" for perpetuating Greek Cypriot dominance, as claimed by the Denktash regime.

Commenting on Denktash's intransigence in talks with Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides, Kranidiotis said that Denktash was seeking to perpetuate the Cyprus problem "because he believes that by doing so, the political problem will remain unresolved, and more importantly, he will be able to nullify the impetus towards a resolution which has been created by the accession prospects".

At this point, Kranidiotis appealed to Turkish Cypriot political organisations to exert pressure on Denktash in order to force him to "tone down" his intransigence and "see reality".

He said Denktash was using the Turkish Cypriot community as a "vehicle" to further Turkish designs, particularly its efforts to come closer to Europe.

"But Ankara does not realise that in this way it is only trapping itself and its European prospects are becoming increasingly remote," Kranidiotis said.

Turning to the major issue to be discussed at the EU summit in Luxembourg, namely that of Turkey's participation in the European Conference for states wishing to join the Community, Kranidiotis reiterated that if Turkey did not satisfy the prerequisites set by Greece, Athens would veto its participation.

"Turkey must therefore accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court, the perspective of Cyprus's accession to the EU and provide tangible examples that it intends to respect human rights and proceed with democratisation," he said.

One significant initial step, he added, could be gradual disarmament with the ultimate aim of the complete demilitarisation of the island republic.

Referring to talks on Cyprus's accession to the EU, Kranidiotis underlined that representatives of the Turkish Cypriot community could take part in negotiations only as part of the Cyprus republic delegation and not in a way which would legitimise the pseudo-state in the Turkish-occupied north of the island.

Albanian prime minister interviewed

Five months after his Socialist party won Albania's parliamentary elections, Prime Minister Fatos Nano gave the ANA a wide-ranging interview on his government's efforts to deal with the country's problems, including its relations with its neighbours.

Last week, the Albanian government signed an accord with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, which has a large Albanian minority. Nano said the accord was the result of contacts begun in New York at the UN Assembly and continued at the Balkan summit in Crete last month.

"The initial agreements we have signed with the FYROM include favourable provisions with regard to travel, visas and taxes. Citizens who live within 10 kilometres of the border will be able to cross over to the other side twice a month without a visa, in order to develop a free trade zone that may be expanded in future into a three-nation zone to include Greece," he said.

Asked if he was as optimistic about his country's relations with Serbia, Nanos said:

"We have adopted the same philosophy, that is to consolidate democratic institutions, a free market, for our borders to be less of an obstacle to the free movement of both businessmen and citizens. This is the only solution for the southern regions of the Balkans."

Drawing attention to the problem of Kosovo, whose population is predominantly composed of ethnic Albanians, Nano called for more dialgoue between various minorities in each country.

"Once we have achieved that, we will be in line with international initiatives aimed at achieving stability in the Balkans, for a future in line with the values of each nation, so that we can forget the conflicts of the past," he said.

His talks with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in Crete, he said were "friendly" and characterised by "logic as well as the need for respect for the criteria of the international community for a civilised and democratic solution to the Kosovo question".

"If all treaties are respected, a normalisation of relations between former Yugoslavia and Albania will be possible," added Nano.

Asked what the next step would be with regard to Kosovo, in the light of a French-German initiative, the Albanian prime minister observed:

"I do not think we will be able to undertake any unilateral initiatives on Kosovo. We respect this issue since we have our compatriots there. We are continuing to move in the direction of creating a climate of dialogue in the Balkans so that the Euro-Atlantic and European Union initiatives in the region will be more substantial."

Turning to the issue of Albanians fleeing abroad as illegal immigrants, the Albanian prime minister clarified that an agreement signed with Italy last month did not simply provide for the repatriation of illegal immigrants, but for procedures applying to those who would be allowed to stay in Italy.

"In future, Albanians will be able to travel to Italy to do seasonal work. This will allow for the legalised status of the remaining 100,000 Albanians already in Italy... Those who return to Albanian will receive financial support from the Italian government as well as from our own," he explained.

Meanwhile, he said steps were being taken to solve the problem of smuggling, which was exacerbated by the crisis earlier this year.

Income from customs, which stood at 2.7 million dollars in May of this year, was now of the order of 20 million dollars.

"I can say that the situation is now under control. Of course there is still insufficient control of the cigarette trade. The signing of the Division XXI agreements and closer cooperation with the Greek authorities has made the smugglers' task much more difficult," he said, adding a that a government committee had also been created to deal with the problem.

Finally, with regard to the pyramid investment schemes whose collapse led to the riots that brought about a complete breakdown in law and order, Nano said that these schemes were now under the control of the government and foreign experts.

"In a few months we will have a report as to what there is, where the money went and how much can be recovered...This issue is also linked with the establishment of a banking system and a healthy free market," he said.

CoE conference on media policy

Governments should rapidly agree a common response to the information revolution to avoid conflicting regulations in the Council of Europe's 40 member countries, CoE deputy secretary general Hans Christian Kruger said today.

He told the opening session of the 5th CoE ministerial conference on mass media policy being held in Thessaloniki that "new communications technologies hold great promise and could break down geographical, cultural and intellectual barriers world-wide".

But, he warned, "the information revolution has its dark side, also".

Already, Kruger said, "police have to pool resources to fight paedophile groups on the Internet and organised criminals are quick to make the best of rapid technological change".

Absence of a legally binding European agreement could "jeopardise freedom of expression and informaton as well as the successful development of the information industry at pan-European level," Kruger cautioned.

"The new technologies must serve the individual, and every country, as far as possible on a equal footing," Kruger said. "They should develop access to information, education, and culture, promote exchanges of information and ideas, and improve the relationship between indivudials and public authorities," he added.

More than 40 ministers from the Council of Europe member countries and invited states are in Thessaloniki for the conference, which aims to study the current situation, the positive and negative aspects of the development of the information society and its influence on how society operates.

Apart from the 40 CoE member states, delegates are also attending from Armenia, Georgia, the Holy See, Canada, and the United States.

The "Ministerial Conference on the Information Society: A Challenge for Europe" is being hosted by Greece's press and Media Mnister Dimitris Reppas.

The two-day discussions are focussing on the impact of new communication technologies on human rights and democratic values, and rethinking the regulatory framework for the media.

Gypsies inoculated by Doctors of the World

The humanitarian organisation "Doctors of the World" began an inoculation programme today for gypsies living in camps in Aspropyrgos, west of Athens. The programme is being carried out in conjunction with the Greek Group for Minority Rights, with the support of the Health Ministry and the European Union.

On the occasion of World Child Day, 50 children at the camp are being inoculated against infectious diseases such as hepatitis. Adults are also being vaccinated.

Dr. Christos Velisaropoulos, in charge of the organisation's clinics, said the programme would be extended to other camps around Attica such as those as Nea Liosia, Aghia Paraskevi and Drapetsona.

The organisation's doctors would also be holding a weekly clinic at each camp.

Turk arrested for transporting illegal immigrants

Police today arrested a Turk for transporting 17 Iraqi illegal immigrants to the island of Samos, Samos coast guard officials said.

They said 31-year-old Ismiler Ismail Kadir, of Kusadasi, transported the Iraqis, of Kurdish origin, to the Avlaki region of Samos in a wooden boat at dawn today.

They said he ran into engine trouble as he tried to escape, so he beached the boat and hid in the nearby forest, where he was later caught.

Thessaloniki airport flights cancelled

Heavy fog forced the cancellation and delay of a number of flights from Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport earlier today.

Two Olympic Airways flights - one to Athens and the other the Mytilene-Hios - were cancelled.

Normal services were resumed at midday when the fog cleared.

OA flights from Athens destined for Munich and Brussels were forced to skip their scheduled stopover in Thessaloniki.

Authorities said that the frequent problem of fog closing down the airport would be overcome as of 1998 when the airport's landing system is upgraded from ILSI to ILS II.

Northrop Grumman defence industry seeks partner in Greece

Northrop Grumman of the US, a world leader in the defence industry, is seeking a partner in Greece to help manufacture high-technology products and aid expansion into southeast European markets.

According to US embassy officials in Athens, Northrop Grumman is one of many American defence firms that are interested in securing a foothold in Greece, which invests actively in the region.

Also luring US companies is a high-technology defence procurement plan over the next decade, budgeted at roughly four trillion drachmas, unveiled last year by the socialist government.

A member of NATO and the European Union, Greece is also strategically placed to act as a base for firms abroad to enter markets in the Balkans, eastern Europe and the Black Sea region.

Interest shown by many American firms is focused not only on the sale of a weapons system but also the quest for a Greek partner," Patrick Santillo, the US embassy's counselor for commercial affairs, said.

"An equally important issue is that when an allied country such as Greece acquires a US system, Americans always offer generous training and information on all the equipment's capabilities, with no secrecy," Mr. Santillo said.

Representing Northrop Grumman at the presentation was William James, president of Northrop Grumman International Inc. of Virginia. The corporation is a leading designer, systems integrator and manufacturer of bomber, fighter and surveillance aircraft, commercial and military aerostructures, precision weapons, space systems, electronic countermeasures and information systems.

It is prime contractor for the US Air Force's B-2 stealth bomber, and principal subcontractor to prime contractor McDonnell Douglas for part of the US navy and marine corps F/A-18 Hornet strike fighter.

On Monday, the US State Department gave McDonnell Douglas, which is owned by Boeing, the go-ahead to compete with its F-15 jet fighter in a tender for the Greek government's arms procurement plan.

It has already issued a similar decision for Lockheed to take part with its F-16 jet fighter.

A rival in the same tender is the EF-2000 Eurofighter jet, which is manufactured in four European Union countries.

Government will consider Article 19 on citizenship

The government will deal with the issue of the Constitution's Article 19 concerning the citizenship code "in due course" spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

According to the provisions of Article 19, citizens belonging to ethnic minorities are stripped of their citizenship when they emigrate with the intention of not returning to Greece.

Mr. Reppas said that in Greece everyone was equal before the law and the state, with the situation to be envied by many countries, although he admitted that there was room for improvement. He said he shared many individuals' concern over the issue and t hat the government felt there should be no second-class citizens.

DEP changes name to Hellenic Petroleum

The Public Petroleum Corp. (DEP) will change its name to Hellenic Petroleum.

DEP Managing Director Eleftherios Tzellas said that the name-change is connected to the company's planned public offering.

DEP's 1997 profits to date are 19.2 billion drachmas, according to available figures.

Hellenic Steel changes in share ownership

The management of the Hellenic Steel Co. announced yesterday the latest changes in the company's share ownership.

A general assembly meeting last month approved the sale of 51.3 per cent of the shares owned by the Japanese company Itochu to Sowestra. Sowestra is managed by the Italian company ILVA, of the Riva Group.

At the same time it was announced that an investment of three billion drachmas in the company's new galvanising line had been completed. The unit produces high quality and advanced technology products for the Greek market and exports to western Europe.

National Bank of Greece names board for London subsidiary

National Bank of Greece, Greece's largest commercial bank, yesterday named the board of directors for its subsidiary NGB International, an investment bank based in London.

NGB International will focus on international investment banking with the aim of bringing its parent company closer to international capital markets.

Nikos Karamouzis, National Bank's deputy governor, was appointed as chairman of the board whose members include Panagiotis Stellakis, Demetrios Pavlakis, Ioannis Makris and Panagiotis Venetis, all senior executives in other subsidiaries in the National Bank of Greece Group.

Greek interbank rates return to pre-crisis levels

Greek interbank interest rates dropped substantially to return to their pre- crisis levels yesterday.

The overnight rate was set at 9.80 percent and the one-month rate at 11 percent at the end of the day.

The one-month Athibor rate fell by 1.0 percent to 12.5 percent.

According to bankers, Athibor is likely to edge down to around 11 percent on Thursday.

Greek stocks end flat in edgy budget trade

Greek equities ended mixed to higher yesterday on the Athens Stock Exchange reflecting investors' nervousness ahead of a parliamentary debate on the socialist government's 1998 budget beginning on December 17.

Traders said the move by major Greek banks to lower interest rates, signalling the end of a period of higher-cost money in the aftermath of last month's monetary turmoil, had yet to boost market sentiment.

The general index closed 0.18 percent higher at 1,566.62 points.

Trading was heavy with turnover at 26.1 billion drachmas representing heavy arbitrage trading.

Sector indices were mixed. Banks fell 0.20 percent, Leasing rose 0.33 percent, Insurance increased 0.04 percent, Investment ended 0.06 percent down, Industrials rose 0.34 percent, Construction fell 0.36 percent, Holding was 0.29 percent off and Miscella neous dropped 2.28 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 1.23 percent.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 119 to 95 with another 24 issues unchanged.

Radio Athina, Intertyp, Parnassos and Selonda scored the biggest percentage gains at the day's upper limit, while Fintexport, Mochlos, Halyps Cement and Balkan Export suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 27,000 drachmas, Ergobank at 15,995, Alpha Credit Bank at 17,390, Delta Dairy at 3,550, Titan Cement at 13,250, Intracom at 14,500 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6, 350.

Thessaloniki's Hyatt casino projects hefty '97 turnover

The Hyatt Regency Casino in Thessaloniki expects revenues this year to reach 38 billion drachmas, which translates into an average daily income of more than 100 million drachmas.

It is also estimated that by the end of the year, the number of visitors to the casino will reach about 1.25 million people, or an average of 3,500 visitors daily. Profits this year are estimated to be between three and 3.5 billion drachmas, as compared to last year's recorded loss of three billion. In the four years of the casino's operation, the Greek state has received a total of about 315 billion drachmas.

Hyatt is also building a new hotel near the casino, which will be ready in 1999 - expected to cost 40 billion drachmas.

Bill on transparency in public works contracts

Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis told Parliament yesterday that transparency and effectiveness in awarding and carrying out public work contracts is secured by a relevant bill. During a discussion where representatives of agencies set out their views, Mr. Laliotis said "excessively low discounts are rejected through the bill."

"With the implementation of the previous law 2229 discounts had been drastically reduced by 15-20 units. We have discounts of 45-55 per cent. With this bill they will jointly assess how the system works..." he said.

EU funds for archaeological sites in eastern Macedonia, Thrace

Projects at archaeological sites in eastern Macedonia and Thrace are being funded with about 1.6 billion drachmas from European Union funds, and are part of the Second Community Support Framework's regional operational programme. The funds will be provide d for an extension of the archaeological museum in Kavala, as well as works in Samothrace, Mesimvria, Didimotiho, Maronia, the Rodopi mountain range, the shrine of Kamariotissa Samothrace, the western wall of Avdiron and restoration of the historic cathed ral of Agios Dimitrios in Kassitero, Rodopis.

WEATHER

Cloudiness throughout Greece today. Mild southwesterly winds in the Ionian Sea and mainland Greece, stronger in the east. Athens will be partly cloudy with temperatures between 5-16C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 2-11C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 278.663 Pound sterling 458.800 Cyprus pd 531.216 French franc 46.580 Swiss franc 192.408 German mark 155.908 Italian lira (100) 15.932 Yen (100) 216.395 Canadian dlr. 195.424 Australian dlr. 185.812 Irish Punt 405.530 Belgian franc 7.559 Finnish mark 51.782 Dutch guilder 138.364 Danish kr. 40.948 Swedish kr. 35.724 Norwegian kr. 38.400 Austrian sch. 22.160 Spanish peseta 1.847 Port. Escudo 1.528

(Y.B.)


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