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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-01-13

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, 13/01/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Athens initiative for Olympic truce accepted by IOC chief
  • Stephanopoulos arrives for official visit to India
  • Greece, 18 other nations sign CoE protocol banning human cloning
  • Greece rejects US ambassador's statements on airspace
  • Gov't reiterates support for political solution to Kurdish problem
  • New Schengen visas on the way
  • FYROM suspends visas to Greek nationals at border posts
  • Antenna daily programme disrupted as part of ERS penalty
  • Coast Guard gets state-of-the-art patrol boat
  • Open-air markets closed again today
  • Eurocourt rules in favour on Athens over German pension funds
  • Government says speculators will lose the battle for the drachma
  • Six public enterprises to be partly privatised in 1998
  • Greece's mutual funds assets rise 92 pct in 1997
  • Commercial banks raise interest rates
  • National Bank governor visits South Africa
  • Nestos hydro-electric power project completed
  • Best athletes of '97 named
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Athens initiative for Olympic truce accepted by IOC chief

The idea of reviving the ancient Greek tradition of the Olympic truce was accepted following a meeting here yesterday between International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch and Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

During the more than one-hour meeting, it was decided that the Greek initiative for a ceasefire of hostilities during Olympic Games be adopted, and for a centre be established in ancient Olympia to promote the entire idea.

Mr. Papandreou outlined Greece's plans for this initiative, and said it was part of commitments undertaken by Athens for the hosting of the 2004 Games.

Mr. Samaranch appeared to have responded positively to the Greek initiative and invited Athens to officially present further details at an IOC meeting in Nagano, Japan, just a few days before the opening of the 1998 Winter Olympics.

According to reports, Mr. Samaranch is planning to visit Athens soon for talks with Greek officials. Mr. Papandreou said that a number of meetings will be held from now on with international dignitaries, aimed at further promoting the idea.

Stephanopoulos arrives for official visit to India

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos arrived in Delhi last night, the first stop of a six-day official visit to the subcontinent. The president is accompanied by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and National Economy Undersecretary Alekos Baltas. After laying a wreath at the Mahatma Gandhi monument this morning, Mr. Stephanopoulos will meet outgoing Prime Minister Ider Kumar Guzral and other political party officials.

In addition, a dinner in honour of the Greek president will be hosted by his Indian counterpart K.I. Narayanan in the evening.

Greece, 18 other nations sign CoE protocol banning human cloning

Nineteen countries,including Greece,last night signed a Council of Europe (Coe) protocol banning the cloning of the human species, the first text of international law on the controversial issue.

"In an age when many voices are being raised in support of the cloning of the human species, and indeed are asking for its acceleration, it is very important for Europe to officially show its resolve to defend human dignity vis-a-vis the risks arising from certain scientific applications," CoE Secretary-General Daniel Tarschys said in a press conference before the signing.

The protocol is suplementary to the CoE's Human Rights Convention, known as the Oviedo Convention.

Mr. Tarschys said the protocol was open for signing by all 40 members of the CoE, but also to the countries that participated in its drafting, namely, Australia, Canada, the United States, Japan and the Vatican.

In statements to ANA, Greece's representative, Ambassador Ioannis Boukaouris, said the signing of the protocol was a confirmation of the government's political will that the production of human copies was an undesirable prospect.

"It would be paradoxical for Greece, the cradle of humanism, not to participate in an effort undertaken on a world scale," he said.

Greece rejects US ambassador's statements on airspace

Greece's sovereign rights are not up for negotiation, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday, in reference to recent statements by US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns regarding Greece's airspace limits.

Mr. Reppas said Mr. Burns' statements were "nothing new" and part of US policy.

Mr. Burns on Friday reiterated Washington's stance that the limits of each country's airspace should correspond to those of its territorial waters, meaning that the US recognises a six-mile limit for Greek airspace.

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Saturday that Greece had a 10-mile limit, as clearly set out in a 1931 presidential decree.

"The Greek government continues to have its own policy," Mr. Reppas said.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) yesterday also focused on the statement by Mr. Burns regarding Greek airspace limits, saying it was the first time in many years that Washington's ambassador "expressed himself so openly and unequivocally."

Gov't reiterates support for political solution to Kurdish problem

Greece supports a political solution to the problem of the Kurds, Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis said in response to a question in Parliament yesterday.

He added that Greece had already accepted many Kurdish refugees, but could not give political asylum to all of them, although conditions were improving for them daily as new sites were found for them in various parts of Greece.

In a related development, 21-year-old Kurdish journalist Hodor Salah resorted to a rather painful way of impressing his need to be granted political asylum.

While in detention, three days after being arrested near the Evros River, which he crossed from Turkey, he sewed his lips with thread and needle.

After being taken to hospital in Alexandroupoli, and persuaded that his request would be examined on merit, the man consented to having the stitches removed.

New Schengen visas on the way

Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis has sent directives to all Greece's embassies abroad with regard to the new policy on issuing visas in connection with the country's commitments under the Schengen Agreement, it was announced yesterday.

Schengen regulations will apply for citizens of Balkan, central and eastern European states, as well as those of the Commonwealth of Independent States, who will be entitled to multiple-entry visas of a one to three month duration. Only in exceptional circumstances will visas for Greece alone be issued.

Albanian citizens will be issued Greek visas of between three and thirteen months duration, which can, in some cases, be extended to five years.

Schengen regulations will apply to all other countries.

Northern Greek commercial unions called for a solution to delays in issuing visas at Greek consulates in Balkans states, whose visitors to Greece spend an average 1,000 dollars per day, according to Thessaloniki Commercial Association president Dimit ris Dimitriadis.

FYROM suspends visas to Greek nationals at border posts

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) foreign ministry announced yesterday that it will suspend the issuing of visas to Greek nationals at its border posts.

This measure comes after a Greek government decision last November affecting visas for entry into Greece by FYROM nationals.

Visas will be issued at each country's respective liaison offices.

Antenna daily programme disrupted as part of ERS penalty

The private television channel Antenna will have to disrupt its programme daily as part of a penalty imposed by the National Radio-Television Council (ERS).

According to government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, the order for disruption to the station's daily programme was signed yesterday, in accordance with a previous ERS decision.

Regarding the economic part of a hefty penalty (100 million drachmas), Press Minister Dimitris Reppas said a summons had been forwarded to Antenna by relevant authorities.

Coast Guard gets state-of-the-art patrol boat

The Igoumenitsa coast guard has just acquired a new 40ft patrol boat equipped with the latest technology in order to boost its ability to stop the entry of Albanian criminals to Greece via the Ionian Sea. A similar boat has been acquired by the Corfu coast guard.

The Italian-made boats, capable of reaching speeds of 60 knots, have been donated to the coast guard by the Laskaridis family.

Open-air markets closed again today

The country's open air fruit and vegetable markets will remain closed today for a second day in protest over an increase in the merchants' annual lump sum taxation payment from 120,000 drachmas to 180,000 drachmas.

In a meeting yesterday between the Panhellenic Federation of Producers' and Merchants' Associations, Finance Minister George Drys and Commerce counterpart Mihalis Chrysihoidis, Mr. Drys made counterproposals to some of the merchants' economic claims.

The striking merchants are also calling for a halt on issuing licenses to hawkers, and that a proposal for a ceiling on the prices of fruit and vegetables be withdrawn.

Mr. Chrysohoidis promised action on the issue of hawkers' licenses.

According to the federation's president Panayotis Moshos, there are around 10,000 producer-merchants in Athens and 28,000 in the country as a whole.

Eurocourt rules in favour of Athens over German pension funds

The European Court has called into question legal procedures of German courts and the practices of Bonn's social insurance services, which systematically rejected Greek corrective birth certificates for Greek nationals working in that country for the purpose of pensioning.

The European Court maintained that German courts must judge each case separately on the basis of specific evidence.

The Eurocourt's ruling ended a long-standing dispute between Bonn and Athens, and which had upset the European Commission's relevant services, most of whom supported the German positions. It appears that the issue had also divided the European Court, wh ich had delayed a year before reaching its verdict.

The issue had been raised by Greek national Efthalia Dafeki, who had worked in Germany, with the Community Court in Hamburg because her pensioning fund in Germany had refused to accept a correction in her date of birth by Greek law courts.

The case, which is not unique in its kind, was then referred to the European Court by the court in Hamburg.

The European Court concluded that community services and the courts of a member-state must respect relevant certificates from another member-state, at least when their accuracy is not disputed with specific indications.

Government says speculators will lose the battle for the drachma

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas was adamant yesterday that speculators would lose their battle against the drachma.

He reiterated that the government was ready to face all possible scenarios but acknowledged that the government was expecting pressures against the Greek currency to continue for several months.

Mr. Reppas stressed that there would be no changes in the government's privatisation programme.

Six public enterprises to be partly privatised in 1998

Six public utility and state-controlled enterprises will be partly privatised in 1998 in Greece, a national economy ministry statement issued yesterday said.

A meeting on procedures and timetables for the privatisation of Athens Water Company, Olympic Travel, Olympic Catering, the State Real Estate Agency, Thessaloniki International Fair and Corinth Canal, chaired by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, decided to speed up valuation of public enterprises to facilitate their flotation through the stock market, or sale of minority stakes to private investors in the current year.

Greece's mutual funds assets rise 92 pct in 1997

Greece's mutual funds assets rose a spectacular 92.16 percent in 1997 to a total of 7.319 trillion drachmas at the end of the previous year.

According to figures released yesterday by the Federation of Greek Institutional Investors, the country's 161 mutual assets composition based on asset volume was: Money market 61 percent, Bonds 27.45 percent, Combined 8.25 percent and Equity 3.30 percent.

Out of a total of 29 mutual funds companies operating in Greece, 10 were handling 80 percent of the market's share.

Commercial banks raise interest rates

Two of the largest private commercial banks operating in Greece yesterday decided to raise their deposit and lending rates.

Citibank, a subsidiary of US bank Citicorp, raised its consumer lending rate by one percentage point to 21.50 percent, while Xiosbank, a Greek listed bank, announced a 25 basis points rise in its Xiosalma deposit rate to 11 percent.

National Bank governor visits South Africa

The governor of National Bank of Greece, the country's largest bank, Theodoros Karatzas is visiting Johannesburg, South Africa, to chair the bank's subsidiary South African Bank of Athens Ltd shareholders' annual meeting.

During his visit, Mr. Karatzas will meet with the country's Finance Minister Trevor Manuel and South Africa's central bank governor Dr Chris Stals.

Mr. Karatzas will also meet South African businessmen and representatives of the Greek community in South Africa.

Nestos hydro-electric power project completed

A third power unit in the hydro-electric project on the Nestos river was linked with Greece's national power grid network yesterday, completing the project's operation.

The Nestos river power project is one of the most important power projects in Greece and along with a combined power natural gas station to be built in Komotini, forms the new energy centre in northeastern Greece, part of the Egnatia power project.

Best athletes of '97 named

The Panhellenic Sports Press Association (PSAT) yesterday named javelin thrower Costas Gatsioudis and long-jumper Niki Xanthou the best athletes of 1997, while the European basketball champion Olympiakos was named the best team of the year.

The awards ceremony took place at the Peace and Friendship Indoor Stadium in Faliro. The country's sports leadership, ministers, deputies and journalists attended the ceremony.

WEATHER

Almost fair weather is forecast throughout Greece today with local clouds only in the west. Local fog in the morning. Winds light. Athens will be sunny with temperatures between 6-17C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 2-13C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 284.476 Pound sterling 459.336 Cyprus pd 534.688 French franc 46.838 Swiss franc 193.291 German mark 156.800 Italian lira (100) 15.941 Yen (100) 215.333 Canadian dlr. 198.777 Australian dlr. 182.478 Irish Punt 391.443 Belgian franc 7.600 Finnish mark 51.804 Dutch guilder 139.153 Danish kr. 41.188 Swedish kr. 35.520 Norwegian kr. 37.934 Austrian sch. 22.290 Spanish peseta 1.850 Port. Escudo 1.534

(C.E.)


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