Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-01-09
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 09/01/1998 (ANA)
- Greece protests violations by Turkish warplanes
- US calls on Turkey to curtail Aegean exercises
- Blair: Cyprus' EU accession course unconditional
- Turkey balks at proposed measures to combat illegal immigration
- Illegal Iraqi immigrants arrested
- Interior Minister to visit China
- V. Papandreou to pay official visit to Austria
- Clerides says Paphos air base ready
- SAE promotional campaign in US for 2004 Olympics
- New metro route around Kerameikos
- National Bank chief optimistic on drachma's future
- Drachma movements in 1997
- New reforms ahead for Greece's major ports
- Athenians to pay less for household gas
- Bourse negotiations with DANE extended
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Greece protests violations by Turkish warplanes
Greece yesterday lodged a demarche with Ankara for yesterday's violations
of Greek national airspace and infringement of the Athens FIR by Turkish
Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis said that Greece will also
protest the Turkish provocations to the International Civil Aviation
Organisation (ICAO), the Western European Union (WEU), the European Union
"Infringements (of Athens FIR) and violations (of Greek air space) took
place from Thrace to Rhodes," Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said,
adding: "In this way, Turkey is neither furthering its own goals against
Greece, nor is it helping its own cause within Europe. At the same time it
is showing it does not want to normalise its relations with Greece," Mr.
He attributed the latest incidents to an attempt by Ankara to deflect
attention from its domestic problems instead of trying to solve them.
US calls on Turkey to curtail Aegean exercises
The US administration had asked Turkey to cancel part of its aeronautical
exercises in the Aegean earlier this week, including planned overflights of
the Greek islets of Kalogiroi, a request that was heeded, Assistant
Secretary of State Mark Grossman said yesterday.
In a televised interview with the private Greek station 'Antenna',
Washington's former envoy to Ankara also stressed that the US position was
that the best way to solve the Imia islets dispute, which spark off a
serious Greek-Turkish stand-off in late January 1996, was referral to the
International Court of Justice at The Hague.
Referring to recent decisions regarding Turkey, reached by European leaders
at last month's Luxembourg summit, including the three conditions set for
improvement of EU-Turkish relations, Mr. Grossman revealed that Washington
had advised Turkey to look at the positive aspects of the decisions, as
well as to work on a long-term prospect basis, which requires dealing with
the problems of relations with Greece, Cyprus and the human rights
situation in Turkey.
Mr. Grossman said that the US administration will work very closely with
any Greek government.
Blair: Cyprus' EU accession course unconditional
British Prime Minister Tony Blair underlined that the non-participation of
the Turkish Cypriot community in upcoming negotiations will not affect
Cyprus' accession process toward the European Union.
"The non-participation of the Turkish Cypriots in the negotiations will not
affect the timetable recently decided in Luxembourg on the course of
Cyprus' accession process to the European Union," Mr. Blair told a joint
press conference with EU Commission President Jacques Santer, on the
occasion of the assumption of the EU presidency by Britain.
Replying to a question on how the EU reacts to Turkish threats to annex the
Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus if the accession process proceeds, Mr.
"Our position is clear and it is that which was set out at the recent
conference in Luxembourg. The processes for Cyprus' accession will start
and this is also clear, it has been scheduled.
"This position was confirmed in Luxembourg and will be implemented.
Naturally, we have stated that we would like Turkish Cypriots to be
included in the delegations of Cyprus which will undertake these negotiations,
believing that prospects will be far better if there is a settlement to the
problem and our efforts are directed at finding a viable solution. However,
I repeat that in holding the Presidency we will implement the timetable and
the decisions which we took in Luxembourg concerning the accessi on of
Turkey balks at proposed measures to combat illegal immigration
Turkey yesterday refused to sign a communique on proposed measures to stem
the wave of illegal immigration through its soil toward Europe.
The communique was issued after a meeting of the police chiefs of Italy,
Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Greece and Turkey.
According to sources, Turkish police chief Mr. Bilikan disagreed with
several points in the communique, particularly the one calling on the
signatories to promote and implement bilateral agreements regarding the re-
entry of illegal immigrants back to their country of origin.
Greek police chief, Gen. Athanasios Vassilopoulos, stressed that Greece has
been calling on Turkey to sign an agreement for the repatriation of illegal
immigrants emanating from Turkey, but has so far met with refusal.
Other points of the communique mention that the chiefs agreed to intensify
security measures at the external borders, boost checks in border areas,
and engage in a systematic exchange of information on illegal immigration.
Also, to carry out joint probes into organisations engaged in illegal
immigration and in the property of individuals suspect of participation in
such organisations, as well as collection, filing and exchange of
fingerprints of persons illegally entering a country.
The Turkish delegation reserved judgment on the communique and said it
would express its opinion after examining it.
Gen. Vassilopoulos said he was not particulary pleased with the results of
the meeting, as it did not focus on a political examination of the problem,
it did not provide a solution to the root of the problem, which is that
illegal immigrants originate in Turkey, but if the measures mentioned in
the communique were applied, it would be a step forward.
He also stressed that Greece was now vindicated, as when Athens raised the
same issue at various international fora two years ago, no other country
paid the attention required.
Illegal Iraqi immigrants arrested
Thirteen Iraqi Kurds were found by a military patrol on the island of Hios
yesterday morning after they were put ashore during the night by a Turkish
The boat had been observed fishing near the island the previous evening. At
some point the boat neared the coast and the Kurds - eight men, one woman
and four children - were put ashore. The crew then resumed fishing off the
Hios Prefect George Kaloudas has expressed fears of a fresh wave of illegal
immigrants to the eastern Aegean islands as, although thousands of people
are reportedly waiting on the Turkish coast for transport to Greek
territory, the merchant marine minis try has not provided the Hios coast
guard with extra manpower.
Interior Minister to visit China
Interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos leaves for the People's Republic of
China tomorrow on an official visit focusing on efforts to upgrade
Mr. Papadopoulos will meet, among others, Chinese Prime Minister Li Peng,
and the mayors of Beijing, Zia King-Lin, and of Shanghai, Hu Kuang-Di. He
is to sign a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the fields of
public administration and person nel management
V. Papandreou to pay official visit to Austria
Development Minister Vasso Papandreou leaves for a two-day official visit
to Vienna on Monday for talks with Austrian National Economy Minister
Johannes Farnlaitner, the president of the Federal Economic Chamber,
Leopold Mandertaner, and a series of meetings with representatives of major
companies as well as the Federation of Austrian Industrialists.
Talks will focus on such issues as Austria's priorities for when it assumes
the European Union's presidency in the second half of 1998, its domestic
market, deregulation of the electric power market and interest shown by the
Austrian side for the undert aking of major public works projects in
A review will also be made of bilateral economic relations as well as an
examination of prospects for closer bilateral cooperation in various
In the first nine months of 1997, Greece's exports to Austria totalled
1.337 billion Austrian shillings, a decrease of 9.7 per cent compared to
the corresponding period in 1996. Imports, however, from Austria reached
2.287 billion shillings, an increase of 6.2 per cent as against the
corresponding nine-month period in 1996.
Clerides says Paphos air base ready
The Paphos air base is ready and will be fully operational on Jan. 24,
Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides said on state television yesterday.
The military air base will be used by aircraft of the Hellenic Air Force in
the context of the joint defence doctrine agreed to between Cyprus and
Greece. "The issue of the defence of Cyprus is directly linked to
negotiation process for a solution of the Cyprus problem," the Cypriot
president said. Mr. Clerides also referred to the prospective purchase of
the Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missiles.
SAE promotional campaign in US for 2004 Olympics
The World Council for Hellenes Abroad (SAE) for the regions of North and
South America will begin an information and promotional campaign for the
2004 Olympics in the United States, according to a statement by SAE
regional president Christos Tomaras.
"This move by SAE in the US will include activities whose main purpose will
be to publicise the 2004 Olympiad, in order to forge all over the world the
true image of the Olympic Games and Greece," Mr. Tomaras said.
SAE will prepare printed material in English and Spanish presenting the
history, tradition and spirit of the Olympic Games in Greece for distribution
to the press, schools, universities and sports organisations.
New metro route around Kerameikos
The public works ministry and the Attiko Metro firm yesterday decided to
alter the third route of the under construction metro so as to protect the
Kerameikos archaeological site.
This change will cost an additional 17 billion drachmas and new geological
studies will be needed.
According to press reports, the third line will start at Syntagma Square,
run along Ermou Street, pass under the Votanikos area before following Iera
Odos. A new tendering is expected as the previous one is invalid.
National Bank chief optimistic on drachma's future
National Bank of Greece Governor Theodoros Karatzas appeared optimistic
that pressures on the drachma would ease soon.
"The economy's basic indicators are in their best shape ever, which
justifies optimism for the future," he said during a luncheon hosted in
Athens by the Foreign Press Association.
He stressed that the economy does have the strength and the leeway to face
the side-effects of the temporary 'defensive' rise in interest rates, which
from now on, would be adjusted faster than in the past.
Regarding the value of the drachma, he said its overvaluation amounted to
no more than 2 to 4 per cent, which is not a substantial impediment to the
competitiveness of Greek exports.
Furthermore, Mr. Karatzas stressed that the assumption of market shares in
the financial markets of neighbouring countries was an important part of
the bank's Balkan strategy.
"The bank has plans for an energetic presence in currency and securities
management in the Balkan countries, seeing that after the introduction of
the Euro, its comparative advantage inside Greece and in the drachma market
will wane," he said.
Drachma movements in 1997
The drachma was slightly stronger against most European currencies with the
exception of the British pound, but its parity against the US dollar was
substantially lower in 1997.
The Greek currency moved within the targets set by the Bank of Greece to
show a 2.07 percent drop against the Ecu, after falls of 0.44 and 3.12
percent in 1996 and 1995 respectively.
The Ecu/drachma annual average fixing rate was 308.4 drachmas, up from
301.5 the previous year, a rise of 2.30 percent.
The DMark depreciated by 0.50 percent against the Greek currency, the
French franc was 0.62 percent higher but the pound sterling shot up 13.72
percent reflecting a sharp rise in the British currency in international
The Swiss franc rose 5.14 percent against the drachma, while the Italian
lira fell 0.10 percent.
The US dollar increased 13.98 percent in 1997, while the Japanese yen fell
0.23 percent in the same period.
New reforms ahead for Greece's major ports
Greece's two largest ports, Piraeus and Thessaloniki, will be transformed
into societe anonymes with the prospect of a future flotation, Merchant
Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis told parliament yesterday.
Speaking during discussion of a new bill to reform the merchant marine in
the country, Mr. Soumakis stressed that the government did not intend to
proceed to a full-scale privatisation of major ports.
The Greek government has decided a characterisation of ports in national or
local interest and their transfer under local authorities control.
Mr. Soumakis said that the procedure would be completed by February
New Democracy party honorary president, Constantine Mitsotakis, in his
speech criticised the government's policy on the merchant marine and urged
the prime minister to take measures in order to boost the Greek flag's
Athenians to pay less for household gas
Athenians will pay 10-30 percent less for energy when they switch to
natural gas from liquified gas, Development Minister Vasso Papandreou told
a news conference yesterday.
The Athens area will eventually be supplied with Russian natural gas by the
state-run Public Gas Enterprise from a network currently being built.
Prices for household consumers will be 130 drachmas a cubic metre from 144
drachmas. Around 7,000 homes are using liquified gas.
Bourse negotiations with DANE extended
Supervised negotiating with the Dane shipping lines has been extended until
Feb. 7, according to a decision yesterday by the administrative council of
the Athens Stock Exchange.
The extension was deemed necessary after developments in the company's
economic and administrative issues.
The bourse also approved a request by the main sponsor for an extension of
the public registration and introduction date for the company Kyriakoulis
Mesogeiakai Krouazierai S.A. onto the stock exchange's parallel market
until the end of February.
Fair weather is forecast for most parts of Greece today with local clouds
in the northeast of the country starting in the afternoon. Winds northerly,
light to moderate. Athens will be sunny with temperatures between 9-18C.
Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 3-15C.
Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 286.490
Pound sterling 465.625 Cyprus pd 535.978
French franc 46.816 Swiss franc 193.891
German mark 156.766 Italian lira (100) 15.957
Yen (100) 214.897 Canadian dlr. 199.888
Australian dlr. 182.652 Irish Punt 390.451
Belgian franc 7.599 Finnish mark 51.772
Dutch guilder 139.103 Danish kr. 41.174
Swedish kr. 35.559 Norwegian kr. 38.154
Austrian sch. 22.283 Spanish peseta 1.850
Port. Escudo 1.535