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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-01-28

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, 28/01/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece insists on 'step-by-step' approach with Turkey
  • Kinkel: Ankara should refer its differences to The Hague
  • Pangalos: Ankara must adapt itself to new era
  • Greece signs defence cooperation accord with Slovakia
  • Ms Mitterrand calls for action on illegal immigrants
  • Europarliament head due in Athens tomorrow
  • 1998 declared 'Quality Year' by V. Papandreou
  • Greek stocks hit by rising interest rates
  • Internet users grow rapidly in Greece
  • Greece's cable industry outlook positive, report says
  • Agrotica '98 trade fair opens in Thessaloniki today
  • Greek telecoms profits announced
  • Greek tourism promotional tour in Canada
  • Papastratos sells its share of Makro
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece insists on 'step-by-step' approach with Turkey

The policy of a "step-by-step" rapprochement with Turkey is Greece's answer for a normalisation of Greek-Turkish relations, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday in reply to criticism by main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis .

The ND leader made statements on foreign policy following a meeting with President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

"Turkey is called upon to harmonise itself with the international legal order and accept the appropriate rules of behaviour. It is called upon to recognise the jurisdiction of the International Court at The Hague, as envisaged by the political framework of the Luxembourg summit," he added.

Earlier, Mr. Karamanlis accused the government of having no strategy and of "attempting to secretly alter its policy, as it appears to have decided to refer all issues - which Turkey unilaterally and arbitrarily has raised in an attempt to change the status quo in the Aegean - to the International Court at The Hague".

Kinkel: Ankara should refer its differences to The Hague

German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel yesterday expressed support for a proposal by his Greek counterpart Theodoros Pangalos' calling for Turkey to refer all issues it considers as problems or differences with Athens to the International Court at The Hague, accepting the Court's obligatory jurisdiction.

Mr. Pangalos's statements were published in an interview with the Turkish daily "Milliyet".

"There must be progress in the relations between Greece and Turkey and an attainable way in this direction is the invitation addressed by Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos to the Turkish government to seek recourse at the International Court at the Hague," he said, after a joint press conference with his visiting Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem.

He added that he had emphasised this position to Mr. Cem, together with "an appeal to the Turkish government to re-think it".

The issue of The Hague was side-stepped by Mr. Cem, with the familiar position of "first bilateral dialogue and then we see".

Mr. Kinkel further said that "the European Union is not responsible for the problems which Turkey has created, such as the occupation of northern Cyprus in violation of international law, and the problem with the Kurds".

In his introduction, Mr. Kinkel said the EU decision to open membership negotiations with Cyprus was a given, and that he had asked Mr. Pangalos to contribute to the representation of the Turkish Cypriot side in the Cypriot delegation in negotiations.

Pangalos: Ankara must adapt itself to new era

Turkey must realise that "we have entered a new era", in which it must adapt to by recognising the jurisdiction of the International Court at The Hague, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos told reporters in Brussels yesterday, shortly before returning to Athens.

Mr. Pangalos stressed that Turkey would at some point have to fall in line with the new international situation and recognise the competent international bodies.

He was returning to Athens after attending a European Union General Affairs Council in the Belgian capital on Monday.

Commenting on statements by Turkish Foreign Ministry official Necati Utkan, who said Ankara would not be willing to take recourse to the International Court at The Hague over the issue of its disputing the extent of Greek airspace, Mr. Pangalos said the issue was not what each Turkish official said on one or the other matter with regard to The Hague, "but Turkey's adjustment to international law".

Mr. Pangalos noted that Turkey had for a number of years disputed that Greece's national airspace was 10 nautical miles "even though for four decades, from 1931 to 1973, Ankara accepted this limit without protest".

By continuing to dispute the extent of Greek airspace, Mr. Pangalos said, Turkey was merely exacerbating a problem which it itself had created.

Greece signs defence cooperation accord with Slovakia

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and his Slovakian counterpart J. Siltek signed a defence cooperation agreement, the first between the two countries.

The two ministers discussed armament and defence industry issues within the framework of the cooperation agreement.

According to press reports, Greek officials are interested in the 155mm "SUZANA" mobile artillery system, which has an effective firing range of 37 kilometres.

Mr. Siltek thanked Mr. Tsohatzopoulos for Greece's support in Slovakia's effort to enter the European Union, as well as Greece's stance during the Albanian crisis.

Before leaving the Czech Republic, the Greek defence minister was received by President Vaclav Havel, whom he reassured of Greece's firm political backing for his republic's accession to NATO and in negotiations with the EU.

He pointed out that 1998 will be a crucial year for Greek-Czech relations, announcing at the same time that Prime Minister Costas Simitis, as well as Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis will visit the Czech Republic, probably within the year.

Other meetings Mr. Tsohatzopoulos had included with Czech PM Tosovski and the leader of the senate, Mr. Pitnar.

Ms Mitterrand calls for action on illegal immigrants

Danielle Mitterrand, currently visiting Greece in her capacity as president of the "France Libertes" Foundation, yesterday called for a European policy on immigrants that would work towards their eventual return to their homelands.

Ms Mitterrand is the widow of the late French president Francois Mitterrand.

"The question is not whether western states want to or are able to have these people (in Europe), but to give them the opportunity to return to their homes without any problems," she said in a press conference.

"France Libertes" has been involved in the problems of the Kurdish people, which Ms Mitterrand said were chiefly due to economic factors.

"For 15 years we have been condemning the genocide being perpetrated against the Kurdish people, which we believe is due to economic factors since the land in their area is rich in water resources and therefore has attracted the attention of powerful in terest groups. Our mission today is to attack the true cause of this catastrophe, to protect the people and to offer them our solidarity, letting them know they are not alone," she said.

Ms Mitterrand also attributed the increasing problem of racism to economic factors.

"We must counter the world dictatorship of money with the world democracy of peoples. Measures taken by European states to limit unemployment should not be turned against immigrants, since it is policies such as these that result in racism. Unemployment originates in a policy that seeks a cheap work force. There should be a united front of workers, including foreign workers, against such a stance," she said.

Ms Mitterrand also met with President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and she also had a brief meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

Europarliament head due in Athens tomorrow

European Parliament President Jose Maria Hill Robles begins a three-day official visit to Greece tomorrow at the invitation of Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.

Mr. Robles will hold talks with the country's leadership as well as with party leaders. His agenda of talks includes Greek-Turkish relations, Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), relations between the European Union and Turkey and relations between the Parliaments of member-states and the European Parliament.

1998 declared 'Quality Year' by V. Papandreou

The development ministry has declared 1998 as a 'Quality Year', which will include a series of actions aimed at increasing awareness among the public and organisations.

The action programme in all sectors of the ministry's responsibility (industry, energy, commerce, tourism) were presented yesterday by Development Minister Vasso Papandreou during a press conference.

"Quality is the main strategy in the government's development policy", said Ms Papandreou, who described quality as "a decisive parametre for the country's economic development..."

She further said that the ministry was already working on the appropriate infrastructure required for drawing up a comprehensive policy on quality.

The minister said emphasis would be laid on the introduction of quality checks in the market to protect consumers from low-quality products.

Greek stocks hit by rising interest rates

Greek equities remained under pressure for the second consecutive session yesterday on the Athens Stock Exchange to lose further substantial ground.

Traders said renewed turbulence in the domestic money market hit sentiment.

A rise in interest rates at Monday's auction of state bills was interpreted as a sign of a rising trend in money market rates.

Bank of Greece sources reported new capital outflows totalling 150 million US dollars at the drachma's fixing, while the Greek currency's parity eased by 0.66 percent against the dollar. The drachma was stable against the DMark and the Ecu.

The general index closed 1.23 percent lower at 1,410.23 points with most sector indices losing ground. Banks fell 1.72 percent, Insurance eased 1.51 percent, Leasing dropped 0.44 percent, Investment fell 0.28 percent, Industrials eased 0.60 percent, Constructions plunged 3.08 percent, Holding ended 2.09 percent off but Miscellaneous bucked the trend to end 1.19 percent up.

The parallel market index for small cap companies fell 0.32 percent, while the FTSE/ASE index ended 1.48 percent down to 769.84 points.

Trading remained moderate with turnover at 13.2 billion drachmas. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 160 to 49 with another 26 issues unchanged.

Bank of Athens, Sarandopoulos, Radio Athina, Sato and Dane scored the biggest percentage gains, while Alumil, Technodomi, Levenderis, Viokarpet and Lanakam suffered the heaviest losses. National Bank of Greece ended at 19,650 drachmas, Ergobank at 13, 420, Alpha Credit Bank at 14,500, Delta Dairy at 2,730, Titan Cement at 13,460, Intracom at 14,540 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 5,440.

Internet users grow rapidly in Greece

The use of Internet is rapidly growing in Greece according to a report by the Institute of Financial and Industrial Research (IOBE) on telecommunications networks.

The report said that the number of Greek users of the Internet was estimated at 20-25,000, while a big number of users - mainly students - take advantage of free access offered by universities.

Greek Internet companies turnover totalled 2 billion drachmas in 1996, a figure likely to grow substantially in coming years.

The report noted that competition would increase in the future and that only a few companies would survive.

Greek companies were steadily adopting electronic data information systems (EDI).

More than 100 companies, mainly multinational subsidiaries, have adopted the EDI system, while another 250 were expected to follow soon.

Greece's cable industry outlook positive, report says

Greece's cable industry outlook is positive, but the sector may face increased competition in the domestic market due to the liberalisation of public utilities procurement contracts in the European Union, the Institute of Financial and Industrial Research (IOBE) said yesterday in a report.

Greek cable manufacturers depend largely on orders by Public Power Corporation and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation.

The two Greek utilities recently signed procurement contracts covering 25 percent of the country's cable industry turnover.

The report urges cable manufacturers to seek expansion in eastern Europe ahead of an expected massive investment in the telecommunications and energy sectors in the region.

Currently, almost 40 percent of Greek cable manufacturers production is exported and the industry showed a surplus of 75 million Ecu in 1995.

Italy is Greece's main supplier in cables. On the other hand, Britain and France are the main exporting markets.

Agrotica '98 trade fair opens in Thessaloniki today

Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas today inaugurates the 14th Agrotica international trade fair in Thessaloniki, rated as the biggest agricultural trade fair in the Balkans and this year is expected to show increased numbers both in exhibitors as in visitors.

According to HELEXPO figures, 1,517 Greek and foreign exhibitors will take part in the fair, covering 38,500 square metres, up from 1,500 and 36,807 respectively last year.

Albania, Bulgaria, France, Spain, Italy, Poland and Tunisia are taking part with state-sponsored pavilions.

Greek telecoms profits announced

The total profits of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) are expected to amount to 368 billion drachmas in the 1998 fiscal year, increasing by 64 billion drachmas or 21 per cent compared to the 1997 fiscal year.

According to OTE's budget, total revenues will increase from 979 billion drachmas, while expenditures for 1998, in the investments sector, will amount to 320 billion drachmas and will show an increase of 73 billion drachmas or 32.2 per cent as against pre dicted investments in 1997.

Upon completion of the anticipated construction programme in 1998, targets will be achieved such as the installation of 1.2 million lines, 160,000 new telephone lines and the construction of 2,500km of ditches for underground urban and long distance net works.

Over the same period, an increase is also expected in digital lines by 72 per cent as against 49 per cent anticipated for 1997.

OTE is expected to present considerable fund surpluses in 1998 which, after the payment of its fund obligations, will amount to 113.8 billion drachmas.

Greek tourism promotional tour in Canada

The Greek National Tourism Organisation's (EOT) Canadian bureau will organised a 23-city "Showcase Greece" exhibition tour starting February 10.

Commenting on the effort, EOT General Secretary Nikos Skoulas said that "Canada is sending us optimistic messages. We are regaining lost ground in the North American markets, beginning in Canada".

The exhibitions will promote all aspects of Greek tourism, while tour operators will take part with their own exhibition and workshops.

Some 3,500 Canadian tourist agents are expected participate.

Papastratos sells its share of Makro

The cigarette-maker Papastratos yesterday announced that it sold its shares of the Makro Cash and Carry outlets, some 10 per cent of the company's total, for 5.5 billion drachmas.

Over the nine-month period from January to September 1997, 1.51 billion drachmas were spent on fixed asset investments. Revenues amounted to 49.75 billion drachmas over the same period, up from 40.40 billion drachmas over the corresponding period in 199 6, while net sales increased by about 2.5 per cent. Pre-tax results totalled 8.25 billion drachmas, from 7.17 billion drachmas.

WEATHER

Cloudiness and light snowfall in most parts of Greece today. Winds variable, moderate to gale force. Athens will be cloudy with mild rain and temperatures between 3-7C. Cloudy with slight snowfall in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 1-4C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 281.619 Pound sterling 464.792 Cyprus pd 532.684 French franc 47.027 Swiss franc 194.154 German mark 157.530 Italian lira (100) 15.964 Yen (100) 222.962 Canadian dlr. 194.551 Australian dlr. 190.365 Irish Punt 394.122 Belgian franc 7.637 Finnish mark 52.060 Dutch guilder 139.803 Danish kr. 41.368 Swedish kr. 35.603 Norwegian kr. 38.011 Austrian sch. 22.400 Spanish peseta 1.858 Port. Escudo 1.541

(C.E.)


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