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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-01-20

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, 20/01/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Kinkel: Ankara should take continental shelf issue to the Hague
  • Athens says Ankara's position over Aegean exercises 'irrational'
  • Head of 2004 Olympics organising committee named
  • PASOK backs Damanaki for Athens mayor, Lazarides in Thessaloniki
  • Albania welcomes Greek offer to host Kosovo talks
  • Pangalos-Miller talks focus on Cyprus
  • Karamanlis again points to 'tax raid' by gov't
  • Greek officers evaluating Russia's Sukhoi-30
  • Greek support for Italian entry into first phase of EMU
  • Rome says no opposition to connecting Greek, Italian power grids
  • Renewed confidence pushes stock prices higher
  • Tourism authorities plan aggressive marketing campaign
  • Israeli tourism conference begins in Athens
  • Plays by Turkey's State Theatre to be staged in Athens
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Kinkel: Ankara should take continental shelf issue to the Hague

German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel called on Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz to take the first step in what he called the key problem of the Aegean islands' continental shelf and accept recourse to the International Court at The Hague.

"Yilmaz, being the prime minister of the larger country, should now be in a position to accept the jurisdiction of the International Court at The Hague for a decision to be taken over the Greek-Turkish dispute concerning the continental shelf of the islands of the Aegean," he said.

In an interview published in a Frankfurt daily yesterday, Mr. Kinkel said restoration of relations between Turkey and the European Union passes through the easing of tension in relations between Greece and Turkey and the resolution of Greek-Turkish diff erences.

Mr. Kinkel believes that tension between Turkey and Greece "constitutes the nucleus of the problem in relations between Turkey and the EU."

At the same time he assesses that "the conjuncture is more favourable than ever", since the two countries are headed by Prime Ministers Costas Simitis and Mesut Yilmaz.

Athens says Ankara's position over Aegean exercises 'irrational'

Greece yesterday described the stance adopted by neighbouring Turkey concerning the holding of military exercises in the Aegean as "irrational" and "much more than inconsistent".

"Irregular military action contributes to the exacerbation of Greek-Turkish relations," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said when asked by reporters about the possibility of Ankara holding further military exercises in the Aegean.

Mr. Reppas advised Ankara to refrain from using military forces as it had done up to now. Athens, the spokesman clarified, was not proposing some moratorium but wants respect for international law and international treaties and for Turkey to show good faith.

Asked to comment on the banning of the Turkish main opposition Welfare Party, Mr. Reppas said it illustrated once again the lack of democracy in Turkey and confirmed that institutions were not functioning in the neighbouring country.

"This decision may cause further political instability in Turkey and consequently, worrying developments are on the horizon as far as Greek- Turkish relations are concerned," Mr. Reppas said.

Head of 2004 Olympics organising committee named

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday announced the establishment of two committees to organise and supervise the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

Mr. Simitis announced the decision after a meeting with President Kostis Stephanopoulos, under the aegis of whom a national olympics committee will operate, while it will be chaired by Mr. Simitis. Under the plan, such a committee will monitor preparati on and evaluate Olympics-related works carried out.

The main responsibility for the organisation and execution of the works will be undertaken by the "Athens 2004" organising committee, which will operate as a societe anonyme. It will be headed by Stratis Stratigis, a former New Democracy and Democratic Renewal Party (DHANA) deputy. The other members of this committee will be announced later this week. Mr. Simitis said Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, who headed Athens' Olympics 2004 bid committee, would be a member of the national committee, a fter her "personal request not to participate in the organisational committee, due to personal reasons".

"It is the government's desire to set up an efficient and flexible scheme which will guarantee the preparation and execution of the games under a regime of absolute transparancy and control," Mr. Simitis said, adding that "this set-up meets that aspiration, as Greece's goal is to prove that it is capable of successfully completing the task it has undertaken".

The new president of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games committee, Stratis Stratigis, 64, is an attorney by profession, and holds a doctorate in economics and maritime law. He speaks German, English and French.

PASOK backs Damanaki for Athens mayor, Lazaridis in Thessaloniki

Ruling PASOK's executive bureau yesterday approved the Athens, Thessaloniki and Piraeus candidates for municipal elections slated for October.

The PASOK-backed candidates for the three municipalities will be Maria Damanaki,the former leader of the Coalition of the Left and a current deputy for that party, current Kalamaria Mayor Thrasyvoulos Lazaridis and Christos Fotiou, respectively

The announcement was made by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who said current Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos paid more attention to appearances rather than the problems of Athens citizens and that Pireaus residents were not happy under Stelios Logothetis over the last few years.

Albania welcomes Greek offer to host Kosovo talks

Albania yesterday welcomed an offer by Greece to host talks between Yugoslavia and Albania over Serbia's troubled region of Kosovo.

"Initiatives contributing to the (solution) of the Kosovo issue are welcomed by the Albanian government," said Vladimir Prela, political advisor to Socialist Prime Minister Fatos Nano.

"I think the Kosovo issue could be solved step by step and through dialogue."

However, Mr. Prela said there was as yet no formal invitation from Greece, which on Friday offered to host talks on Kosovo, a southern province of Serbia where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs nine to one.

The Greek offer came after U.S. envoy Robert Gelbard on Thursday urged Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to open a dialogue between Serbs and Albanians to defuse rising tensions.

A wave of violence over the past year has prompted fears among Western governments that Kosovo could become the next flashpoint in the Balkans after the devastating wars in Croatia and Bosnia. Greek Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said Athens would be willing to bring together Mr. Milosevic, Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano and Ibrahim Rugova, the leader of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

Mr. Papandreou said Greece agreed with the European Union position on Kosovo -- that it should remain part of Yugoslavia but with wide-ranging autonomy, which Serbia revoked in 1989. Greece hosted a summit of regional leaders on the island of Crete last year at which Mr. Milosevic and Mr. Nano discussed Kosovo.

Pangalos-Miller talks focus on Cyprus

US State Department special coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Miller yesterday held talks with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis on the Cyprus issue.

Details of the talks were not disclosed, while sources said that Mr. Miller briefed the Greek officials on the results of his contacts in Ankara early last week.

Washington's ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns was also present at the meeting, as was Foreign Ministry Secretary-General Ambassador Alexandros Filon and the ministry's head of the Greek-Turkish affairs department, Ilias Klis. Mr. Miller departs today for Washington.

Karamanlis again points to 'tax raid' by gov't

Speaking to his party's Parlimentary group yesterday, main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis referred to a lack of boldness and indecisiveness on the part of the government to promote a policy of structural changes in the economy.

He said that the currency crisis was due to the lack of confidence in the Greek economy, and claimed that fiscal policy has already been overturned due to increases in interest rates. He spoke of a tax raid on the part of the government, which does not restrict public waste, but neither does it proceed to privatisations.

Mr. Karamanlis stressed that in the last two years, there have been 60 new tax burdens which hit directly those needing breaks and need a different and humane social phase.

He claimed that the policy of the government was contrary to development and leads to a further increase in unemployment.

He accused the government of being unable and not willing to sever the umbilical cord with the forces that benefit from today's decadence, and said that the present tax system must be simplified with a parallel reduction in tax rates.

Greek officers evaluating Russia's Sukhoi-30

Several Greek pilots are testing the third generation Russian-built Sukhoi- 30 warplane as of yesterday, after being briefed on the ground all last week.

A group of Hellenic Air Force officers, including both technicians and pilots, are in Russia to evaluate the fighters.

The Sukhoi-30 is one of the five warplanes being currently evaluated by the Hellenic Air Force.

Greek support for Italian entry into first phase of EMU

Athens announced its support for Italy's participation in the first phase of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), while it considers the broadest possible EMU participation of EU members desirable, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said after the EU's Economy and Finance Ministers' Council (ECOFIN) session in Brussels yesterday.

The basic issues examined during the session was the ratification of the convergence programme of the Italian economy and the British presidency's action programme.

Regarding the latter, Mr. Papantoniou stressed that Greece agreed with the EMU implementation programme but considered particularly important the proposed measures for bolstering employment which are among the basic priorities of the British presidency.

The minister reported to the Council that the Greek government intends to table in Parliament "an ambitious programme of offering employment opportunities to 200,000 young people between 20 and 27".

He also said that Greece accepts fiscal discipline as one of the basic economic options of the EU, but on the other it wishes recognition of the fact EMU will result in the creation of increased needs in sectors of member-states' economic and social policy.

"We say yes to restricting waste, but we wish increased financing of policies and the policy of cohesion in the Community," he noted.

Rome says on opposition to connecting Greek, Italian power grids

Italy no longer objects to the connection of the electric power grids of Greece and Italy, Italian Finance Minister Carlos Chiampi said yesterday.

The Italian minister had a meeting in Brussels yesterday with European Union Commissioner Monika Wulf-Mathies on the sidelines of an EU Council.

According to Italian sources, during the meeting with the EU Commissioner, Mr. Chiampi said that Rome regarded that it was necessary that the project go ahead at an accelerated pace and that Italy will place no obstacles.

Renewed confidence pushes stock prices higher

Greek equities ended substantially higher yesterday for the second consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange reflecting the market's relief over a recovery in international markets and a further decline in domestic interbank interest rates.

Bank of Greece sources reported capital inflows totalling 250 million Ecus at the drachma's fixing. The Greek currency strengthened against the DMark and the Ecu but eased against the US dollar.

The general index closed 1.73 percent higher at 1,435.71 points pushed higher by a 5.02 percent surge in construction shares.

Most other sector indices scored gains. Banks rose 1.87 percent, Insurance ended 1.09 percent up, Leasing increased 1.79 percent, Investment jumped 2.62 percent, Industrials rose 1.95 percent, Holding ended 1.57 percent up, but Miscellaneous bucked the trend to end 0.05 percent off.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.06 percent up, while the FTSE/ASE index jumped 1.63 percent to end at 788.87 points.

Trading was heavy with turnover at 17.8 billion drachmas.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 156 to 63 with another 21 issues unchanged.

Macedonian Plastics, Rokas, General Trade and Desmos scored the biggest percentage gains at the day's upper limit, while Ideal, Development Funds and Demetriades suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece closed at 20,490 drachmas, Ergobank at 13,630, Alpha Credit Bank at 14,800, Delta Dairy at 14,295, Titan Cement at 13,750, Intracom at 14,940 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 5, 580.

Tourism authorities plan aggressive marketing campaign

Hellenic Tourism Organisation (EOT) is seeking a more aggressive marketing and public relations campaign abroad this year with the aim of attracting increased tourist arrivals.

Nikos Skoulas, EOT's general secretary, said yesterday that Greek tourism authorities were organising workshops seminars in 13 cities in the U.S., attended by more than 5,000 travel agents, a figure 40 percent larger than the previous year. Mr. Skoulas expects increased tourist arrivals from the US this season. EOT will spend more than 10 billion drachmas on this year's publicity campaign abroad.

Israeli tourism conference begins in Athens

The Association of Israeli Travel Agents in cooperation with the Hellenic Tourism Organisation is organising its annual conference in Athens from January 19 to 23.

The conference is being attended by more than 500 Israeli travel agents.

Greece's Development Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday attended the opening ceremony of the conference aimed at promoting incoming tourism in Israel, developing bilateral tourism cooperation between the two countries and attracting more Israeli touris ts in Greece.

Israeli tourists in Greece totalled 150,000 in 1997, an increase of 10 percent from the previous year.

Plays by Turkey's State Theatre to be staged in Athens

The National Theatre of Greece will extend its hospitality to a theatre troupe of TurkeyYs State Theatre, which arrived in Athens yesterday to stage two plays.

Both plays have a Greek identity, one by Dimitris Psathas "Zitite Pseftis" (Liar Required) and the other by Terence MacNally, "Master Class", a play about Greek soprano Maria Callas. This is the first official performance by the Turkish theatre group in Greece, which takes place in return of a recent sucessful tour by Greece's National Theatre in Turkey, performing "Medea".

National Theatre Managing Director Nikos Kourkoulos said "politicians do not get involved in culture", before indroducing the managing director of Turkey's national theatres to reporters.

Both plays were a success in Turkey.

WEATHER

Rain is forecast for most parts of Greece today. Winds southerly, southwesterly, strong to gale force. Drizzle in Athens with temperatures between 9-15C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 7- 11C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 287.571 Pound sterling 470.069 Cyprus pd 534.291 French franc 46.584 Swiss franc 191.059 German mark 156.032 Italian lira (100) 15.854 Yen (100) 222.714 Canadian dlr. 200.086 Australian dlr. 191.357 Irish Punt 395.312 Belgian franc 7.564 Finnish mark 51.697 Dutch guilder 138.478 Danish kr. 40.960 Swedish kr. 35.623 Norwegian kr. 37.914 Austrian sch. 22.181 Spanish peseta 1.826 Port. Escudo 1.526

(C.E.)


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