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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-01-15

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, 15/01/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Athens irked by U.S. envoy's statements
  • Turkey violates air space
  • President may head Olympics C'tee
  • Smoking banned in Parliament
  • Stephanopoulos winds up India visit
  • Ports closed as seamen strike
  • New Navy chief appointed
  • Chile looks to tighter ties with Greece
  • Equities under pressure, end down
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Athens irked by U.S. envoy's statements

The Greek government today appeared irked over statements by US Ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns concerning the extent of Greek air space.

Replying to reporters' questions, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Greece would not allow any questioning of its policy "according to which Greek air space has extended to ten nautical miles for about the past 60 years and no one has disputed this for very many years".

While noting that Burns had retracted some of his initial statements on the subject, Reppas said Athens did not agree with the position of the US Ambassador "since it does not conform with the principles of international law adhered to for decades in the region".

Burns last Friday reiterated the US position that the limits of each country's air space should correspond to those of its territorial waters, which would mean that Washington recognises a six-mile limit for Greece's air space.

Asked whether there was a problem with Burns, Reppas replied that the government had not been occupied with any issue concerning the ambassador.

The spokesman was also asked whether the services of the US were welcome with regard to the Cyprus problem and Greek-Turkish relations.

With respect to Cyprus, he replied, any initiatives will be judged by whether they are within the framework of UN resolutions and the 1977 summit meetings in Cyprus (between President Makarios and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash).

On the issue of Greek-Turkish relations, Reppas said no US initiative was currently in progress.

Turkey violates air space

The government said that Turkish warplanes again violated Greek air space today, this time between the Aegean islands of Lesbos and Chios.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the Turkish aircraft were on all occasions recognised and intercepted by Greek fighters.

Commenting on the latest violations, Reppas said Turkey was persisting in its "meaningless policy which will be confronted in practice".

He added that Greece's diplomatic and other actions in response to the Turkish violations were bearing fruit and enhancing the country's international position.

President may head Olympics C'tee

The government today responded favourably to the possibility of President Kostis Stephanopoulos heading the organising committee to be set up to oversee preparations for the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Asked by reporters to comment on the possibility, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said it would be "a good development" provided the president himself consented.

Reppas added however that it was still too early for any relevant announcement to be made.

A draft bill on the formation of the Athens Olympic organising committee is due to be tabled in Parliament this week.

Reppas said today that the committee would be made up of officials selected on the basis of their knowledge and ability "and not political or party criteria".

Smoking banned in Parliament

Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis has banned smoking in the House's main chamber and during parliamentary committee meetings and asked MPs to refrain from using their mobile phones while the House or committees are sitting.

Stephanopoulos winds up India visit

President Kostis Stephanopoulos today wound up his official visit to New Delhi and left for Agra where he was given a guided tour of the magnificent Taj Mahal and the city's imposing fortress, according to an ANA despatch from Udaipur.

Stephanopoulos later travelled to the city of Udaipur where he visited a hotel housing a splendid collection of crystal objects.

Tomorrow, Stephanopoulos is scheduled to visit Bombay.

Ports closed as seamen strike

Greek-flag merchant ships remained tied up at ports throughout the country as crews went on a 24-hour strike demanding non-lifting of cabotage coastal shipping restrictions under European Union-wide transport deregulation.

Under cabotage restrictions, which must be gradually be abolished in Greece by January 1, 2004, only Greek vessels are allowed to carry out coastal passenger and cargo routes originating in one Greek port and ending in another Greek port.

The restrictions, by decision of all the EU countries, ceases to be in effect for cruiseships as of 1999 and for coastal shipping as of the year 2004.

In the meantime, a delegation of the Hellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) was due to meet in Brussels with EU Transport Comissioner Neil Kinnock to seek the extension of cabotage restrictions beyond the slated dates.

PNO Secretary General Yannis Halas told the ANA that the abolition of cabotage would create "severe unemployment problems among the Greek seamen, who are already suffering the consequences of the withdrawal of ocean-going Greek ships from the Greek registry (flag)".

Striking seamen in Piraeus were due to march to the Merchant Marine Ministry for a demonstration, where they would also present a resolution to Minister Stavros Soumakis.

New Navy chief appointed

Vice-Admiral George Ioannidis, up to now Commander of the Hellenic Navy Fleet, has been named as the new Chief of the Navy General Staff, it was announced today. He replaces outgoing Chief, Vice-Admiral Leonidas Palaiogiorgos.

The decision was taken today by the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA), which met under Prime Minister Costas Simitis, in the annual process of promotions in the Armed Forces.

KYSEA also decided that the Chiefs of the Army and Airforce General Staffs, Lt. Gen. Manoussos Paragioudakis and Lt. Gen. (air) George Antonetsis, respectively, would remain in their posts.

Chile looks to tighter ties with Greece

Greece and Chile will discuss the further promotion of bilateral tourism relations at a special event scheduled for January 26 at a central Athens hotel on the occasion of the visit to Athens of Chile's Economy Minister Alvaro Garcia.

Also attending the event will be Chile's Foreign Minister, Mariano Fernandez, the President and Secretary General of the Greek National Tourist Organisation, Yiannis Stephanidis and Nikos Skoulas respectively and Chile's Ambassador in Athens, Marcia Covarrubias.

Discussion will focus on ways of upgrading bilateral cooperation in the tourism sector, including the organisation of conventions, training and special forms of tourism.

The Chilean delegation will include representatives of major organisations, including the General Director of Sernatur, Chile's tourism organisation, as well as businessmen active in the tourism sector, who will have contacts with their Greek counterparts aimed at broadening possibilities for Greek investments in Chile.

Equities under pressure, end down

Greek equities came under strong pressure to end at three-month lows on the Athens Stock Exchange following a similar trend in international markets.

Traders said a turbulent domestic money market also depressed sentiment.

The general index fell below the 1,400 level for the first time in three months to end at 1,393.99 points, down 2.25 percent but off the day's lows of 3.21 percent

Dealers said the market was dragged down by a 4.27 percent plunge in banking issues. Banks were particularly hit because of fears that high interest rates in the domestic money market would finally hit the sector's profitability.

Insurance fell 0.52 percent, Leasing dropped 3.42 percent, Investment ended 1.19 percent off, Constructions ended 2.11 percent down, Industrials fell 0.75 percent, Miscellaneous rose 2.51 percent and Holding fell 0.58 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 2.36 percent higher, while the FTSE/ASE ended 3.17 percent down at 767.06 points.

Trading was heavy with turnover at 19.4 billion drachmas reflecting massive liquidation.

WEATHER

Partly cloudy weather is forecast throughout Greece today with showers in the west of the country. Local fog in the morning. Winds will be southerly, light to moderate. Temperatures in Athens will range between 6-17C, while in Thessaloniki from 2-11C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 285.537 Pound sterling 464.871 Cyprus pd 533.299 French franc 46.713 Swiss franc 192.384 German mark 156.409 Italian lira (100) 15.896 Yen (100) 218.151 Canadian dlr. 199.769 Australian dlr. 185.901 Irish Punt 392.653 Belgian franc 7.581 Finnish mark 51.657 Dutch guilder 138.825 Danish kr. 41.073 Swedish kr. 35.563 Norwegian kr. 37.857 Austrian sch. 22.235 Spanish peseta 1.846 Port. Escudo 1.529

(M.P.)


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