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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-05-02

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 02/05/1998 (ANA)


  • Euro-common currency-historic summit
  • Holbrooke meetings with Clerides and Denktash
  • Reppas dismisses Yilmaz statements
  • Three separate labour rallies held in Athens
  • Fifteen dead in road accidents on Mayday exodus
  • Three arrested, police officers implicated in bogus papers case
  • International law on Athens side
  • No Cyprus-EU accession 'a problem'
  • Premier brushes off talk of new devaluation
  • Simitis calls Turkish threat 'strong'
  • Gov't backs Pangalos over recent Chirac criticism
  • Athens condemns dismissals of two Turkish journalists
  • Kozloduy issue raised during Simitis' recent Sofia visit
  • Greece and Italy call for strong Albanian military
  • Defence minister to visit Sweden
  • Papoutsis voices concern over lifting of cabotage
  • Ecumenical Patriarch on new Greek Prelate's election
  • Cutbacks in expenditures envisioned
  • Auction for state securities
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Euro-common currenct-historic summit

BRUSSELS (ANA/AFP) - The 15 European Union (EU) member-states are expected to announce today the "birth" of the common EU currency (Euro), during this historic summit.

Meanwhile the leaders are negotiating behind the scenes for the election of the first president of the newly founded Central European Bank (CEB), which is the focal point of this summit.

Netherlander Wim Duisenberg and French Jean-Claude Trichet are the candidates for the CEB's eight-year-term top post.

According to press reports the former is supported by Germany and the majority of the EU member-states, while the later is supported by France.

The leaders of the 15 nations are expected to approve the list of the 11 EU member-states, which meet the criteria for accession and are wishing to enter the final phase of the currency unification programme.

The EU finance ministers' council yesterday approved the 11 countries' entrance into the Euro-zone and noted the need for fiscal stability of those member-states' economies.

The aforementioned member-states are Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Luxenbourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Protugal, Ireland, Finland and Austria and are expected to kick-off the Euro implementation on Jan. 1, 1999.

Initially the Euro will circulate in check and bank account form, while after the year 2002 bank notes and coins will begin their entry into the market, gradually replacing national currencies.

Holbrooke meetings with Clerides and Denktash

NICOSIA (ANA- G. Leonidas) - US presidential emmissary for Cyprus Richard Holbrooke is meeting again today with Cyrpus President Glafkos Clerides.

Mr. Holbrooke visited the president of the island republic after his latest visit with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

In a related development, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash at 9.30 a.m., before his meeting with Mr. Holbrooke, stated that his stance as well as his demands on the Cyrpus problem are unchanged.

Mr. Denktash, in answer to relevant questions on Mr. Holbrooke's statement that the United States will not recognise the pseudostate, established in the northern occupied part of the island republic, after the Turkish invasion of 1974, said he is not interested in what Mr. Holbrooke has to say, since the US emmissary, as a diplomat can not make such statements.

When asked whether he will apply separately for membership to the European Union Mr. Denktash said that he will consider it after Turkey's accession to the Union.

Finally, Mr. Denktash revealed that a US military attache is participating at the negotiations.

Reppas dismisses Yilmaz statements

Greece has dismissed as an "unacceptable provocation" statements by Turkish premier Messut Yilmaz that Athens was deeply hostile towards Ankara. "The statements by the Turkish premier are an unacceptable provocation and confirm once again Turkey's weakness to adjust itself to international legality," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said late on Thursday. Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis today rejected Yilmaz's statements as "anachronistic, provocative and lacking any historical basis".

Three separate labour rallies held in Athens

Workers turned out en masse in Athens to celebrate Labour Day but the trade union front was not united as illustrated by the holding of three separate rallies almost simultaneously in the city centre. What was supposed to have been the major event, the rally organised by the General Confederation of Greek Labour (GSEE), the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) and the Athens Labour Centre attracted only an estimated 2,000 workers. Addressing the rally, GSEE president Christos Polyzogopoulos accused the organisers of similar events "just a few hundred metres away" of harming the unity of the trade union movement. In contrast, the rally organised in Syntagma Square by trade unionists affiliated to the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) attracted an estimated 6,000 workers. They urged trade unions to become more militant and not participate in the social dialogue with the government and employers. Trade unionists affiliated to left-wing parties not represented in Parliament organised a separate rally in Omonia Square, followed by a march to nearby Kolokotroni Square, where they joined groups of Turks, Kurds, Africans, Albanians and other immigrants.

Fifteen dead in road accidents on Mayday exodus

Fifteen have lost their lives on Greek roads this Mayday long weekend, with another 215 injured - 65 seriously - in 145 traffic accidents since Thursday night, officials announced.

Traffic police will step up measures ahead of the expected return of holiday-makers tomorrow afternoon.

Three arrested, police officers implicated in bogus papers case

Three people have been arrested and at least six others are wanted by police for questioning in connection with offences involving the use of forged documents, official seals and bribery to furnish foreigners with papers supposedly granting them Greek citizenship. According to the police, the three arrested claimed during questioning that a number of police officers with positions in aliens bureaus were involved in the case. According to the police, the gang has supplied at least 1,000 people with false citizenship documents for a payment of between 5 and 7 million drachmas in each case.

International law on Athens side

International law and the Treaty of Lausanne clearly define the Greek sovereignty of islands and islets in the Aegean, Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday. Speaking at a flag-raising ceremony on the MEKO-200 frigate "Psarra", the second of three being constructed by the Skaramanga Shipyards, Tsohatzopoulos said that if Turkey had any doubts about the sovereignty of islands in the Aegean then it should refer to the International Court of Justice at The Hague to get this clear answer.

No Cyprus-EU accession 'a problem'

Foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos said yesterday there would be no European Union enlargement if anyone created a political problem over Cyprus' accession. "If a political problem is created in Cyprus' accession course, this would undermine the smooth function of the EU itself and consequently there will be no enlargement," Pangalos said in an interview with the Athens afternoon daily Eleftherotypia. Cyprus, he said, was part of package with the other membership candidates. Negotiations would be held separately with each candidate and each candidate would be judged on the basis of its pros and cons, the minister added.

Premier brushes off talk of new devaluation

Prime Minister Costas Simitis Thursday dismissed media reports that a second devaluation of the drachma was pending. Reports of a new devaluation have been fuelled by speculation that a European Union summit over the weekend to launch the euro will readjust the parities of currencies in the EU's Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). "(The rumours) are absurdities coming from speculators who want to recoup the money they lost in the March devaluation," Mr. Simitis told a meeting of the ruling PASOK Parliamentary group.

Simitis calls Turkish threat 'strong'

Prime Minister Costas Simitis Thursday said the Turkish threat was strong and the government did not underestimate it. Addressing the ruling PASOK's Parliamentary group, Mr. Simitis also warned that Greece should not be dragged into a "mentality of rhetoric", which only benefitted Turkey. The premier further said that Greece was not opposed to Turkey's European orientation, adding however, that Athens' acceptance hinged on such conditions as Ankara's acceptance of international treaties, its contribution to a resolution of the Cyprus problem and improvement of its relations with Greece.

Gov't backs Pangalos over recent Chirac criticism

The government fully shares Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos' concern and interest in vigorously promoting Athens' positions and defending national rights, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Thursday in reply to a question regarding the Greek FM's harsh criticism this week of French President Jacques Chirac. Mr. Reppas said that it was not the French president that provoked criticism by the Greek foreign minister, but Paris' policy in terms of EU-Turkey and Greek-Turkish relations, saying France finds it difficult to understand the reason why Athens was ins isting on maintaining its veto of the EU financial protocol for Ankara. France repeatedly has supported the unconditional withdrawal of the Greek veto for EU aid to Ankara.

Athens condemns dismissals of two Turkish journalists

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas Thursday said that the firing from a major Turkish daily of two Turkish columnists on Tuesday is a reaffirmation that democracy does not function in that country and that human rights are not respected. In a related development, Eurodeputy Yiannis Roumbatis denounced the actions against "Sabah's" Mehmet Ali Birand and Cengiz Kandar to the European Commission and the European Union Council of Ministers in Brussels.

Kozloduy issue raised during Simitis' recent Sofia visit

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas Thursday said that during his recent visit to Bulgaria, Prime Minister Costas Simitis emphatically raised the issue of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant. He was responding to a question concerning the construction of a nuclear power plant on the southwestern coast of Turkey. Mr. Reppas said that according to Athens' information, construction of the plant has not proceeded and that the entire process is at a preliminary stage. He further said that Greece is following the issue and its development.

Greece and Italy call for strong Albanian military

The defence ministers of Greece and Italy pledged on Wednesday to help rebuild Albania's military so that it can effectively defend its borders in view of the escalating crisis in neighbouring Kosovo. "Greece and Italy have a joint responsibility to support the Albanian military so that it can defend its borders on its own," Italian Defence Minister Beniamino Andreatta told reporters after talks with his Greek counterpart Akis Tsohatzopoulos. Both Greece and Italy sent troops to Albania last year as part of a multinational force to restore order in the poor Balkan nation after widespread disturbances.

Defence minister to visit Sweden

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos will pay an official visit to Sweden from May 17-19 at the invitation of his Swedish counterpart Bjorn von Sydow. Mr. Tsohatzopoulos will also meet with Swedish Foreign Minister Lena Hjelm Wallen and visit the installations of electronics giant LM Eriksson.

Papoutsis voices concern over lifting of cabotage

The likely adoption of a text on coastal shipping by the EU's shipping ministers' council, containing a series of amendments of the EU Directive on cabotage, will have adverse effects on Greek shipping, according to EU Commissioner Christos Papoutsis. Athens' concerns are focused on the number of crewmembers on passenger ships and their working hours.

Ecumenical Patriarch on new Greek Prelate's election

Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos stated yesterday that he is looking forward to a "close and friendly" cooperation with new Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos. "We are particularly close with the new Archbishop, we are friends," he told ANA, stressing their "strong spiritual link". "We are looking forward to receiving him at the Ecumenical Patriarchate with particular joy," he said, adding that he hopes to visit Athens soon after.

Cutbacks in expenditures envisioned

Expenditures contained in the 1999 budget will freeze in order to facilitate a decrease in the deficit, according to a target set by the Convergence Programme. Considerable cutbacks are anticipated in special categories of expenditures, such as operational expenses (electricity, water, telephone, etc), transport costs and civil servants' travel expenses. Cutbacks in expenses are anticipated in a circular on the preparation of the 1999 budget, expected to be sent to all ministries and public agencies next week, to enable them to start processes for a new budget. The main points in the circular were announnced beforehand by Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis.

Auction for state securities

An auction of state securities will be held on May 4, according to an announcement by the finance ministry. The date of issue and settlement will be May 6, 1998. The securities to be auctioned will be treasury bills of a three-month duration amounting to 70 billion drachmas and six-month T-bills amounting to 50 billion drachmas.


Fair weather is forecast in most parts of Greece today. Intermittent showers in mainland Greece and the Ionia Sea. Winds will be variable, light to strong. Partly cloudy in Athens where temperatures will range between 13- 28C. Possibility of intermittent showers in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from 12-25C.


Thursday's rates (buying)

U.S. dollar 313.502 British pound 523.538 Japanese yen(100) 237.812 French franc 52.078 German mark 174.622 Italian lira (100) 17.674 Irish Punt 441.400 Belgian franc 8.460 Finnish mark 57.625 Dutch guilder 155.099 Danish kr. 45.801 Austrian sch. 24.822 Spanish peseta 2.058 Swedish kr. 40.519 Norwegian kr. 42.061 Swiss franc 209.753 Port. Escudo 1.708 Aus. dollar 204.347 Can. dollar 218.637 Cyprus pound 596.886


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