Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-01-13
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 13/01/1998 (ANA)
- 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
- 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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
In a related development, 21-year-old Kurdish journalist Hodor Salah
resorted to a rather painful way of impressing his need to be granted
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
During his visit, Mr. Karatzas will meet with the country's Finance
Minister Trevor Manuel and South Africa's central bank governor Dr Chris
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
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.
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
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