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

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, 05/05/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece to give EU new economic convergence plan
  • Athens regrets lack of progress on Cyprus problem
  • Greece reiterates stance on terrorist activity
  • Orthodox Churches condemn schismatic tendencies
  • Gov't comments on church-state affaitrs
  • Petition on separation of Church and state
  • Gov't: Flight plans must be filed to prevent interceptions
  • Greece to focus on human rights during CoE presidency
  • Van den Broek on Holbrooke statement on Cyprus' EU accession
  • Greece tooks to expand relations with Iran
  • Greece-Cyprus investments detailed
  • Greek bourse president resigns for personal reasons
  • Kavala airport to replace Thessaloniki's for a week
  • Greek stocks post losses in edgy trade
  • Greece to take part in Bulgarian trade fair
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece to give EU new economic convergence plan

Greece will submit a revised economic convergence plan to the European Union by the end of May linked to the country's planned adoption of the euro on January 1, 2001.

The new plan to align with other EU economies will carry an extension to 2000 and take into account a 13.8 percent devaluation of the drachma effected on March 14, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday.

The devaluation eased the drachma's entry into the EU's exchange rate mechanism on the same day, seen as a step towards joining economic and monetary union.

Speaking to reporters after a weekend EU summit in Brussels to launch the euro, Mr. Papantoniou said the government's priorities were to send a labour reform bill to parliament in May and another in June to tighten up the social security system.

Referring to an appraisal by the summit on progress in Greece's economy, Mr. Papantoniou said much work still had to be done in coming years to prepare for economic and monetary union. inflation, benefitting Greeks, he said.

By January 1, 2001, when Greece is expected to join the euro, interest rates will have dropped to 6-7 percent from 15 percent, and unemployment to 7.5 percent from 10.4 percent.

In addition, investments would rise due to lower interest rates, Mr. Papantoniou said.

The government would not hold a referendum on joining the euro, he said.

Athens regrets lack of progress on Cyprus problem

Greece yesterday expressed "regret and disappointment" with the lack of progress for the protracted Cyprus problem due to Turkish intransigence.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, who made the statement, also noted that the terms posed by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash during talks US presidential envoy for Cyprus Richard Holbrooke held in Nicosia over the weekend with the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides were unacceptable and could not be considered for discussion.

"The terms the Turkish Cypriot leader has laid down are unacceptable and it is not possible even to consider discussions on these terms," he said.

Mr. Holbrooke ended yesterday three days of intensive talks in Nicosia without a breakthrough in efforts to resume peace negotiations on the divided island republic.

Mr. Holbrooke told a press conference yesterday in Nicosia that preconditions put forward by the Turkish Cypriot side "make progress difficult."

Greece reiterates stance on terrorist activity

Greece is a democratic country which respects the human and civil rights of all and will, therefore, not permit any terrorist action against governments, wherever it may come from, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday. The spokesman made th e statement in reply to reporters' questions regarding remarks by Turkish Premier Mesut Yilmaz, who last week claimed in a strongly worded announcement that Athens was supporting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Mr. Reppas stressed that Greece would safeguard democracy and the Constitution and said no pressure whatsoever had been exerted on Athens by Washington on the issue.

The government's position on the Kurdish problem is crystal clear, Mr. Reppas said, namely, that it is in favour of a political solution.

The Turkish foreign ministry made a verbal protest to Greek ambassador Dimitris Nezeritis yesterday over the issue of "activities of the PKK in Greece."

Orthodox Churches condemn schismatic tendencies

Representatives from all of the world's Orthodox Churches decided during a recent conference in Thessaloniki to condemn schismatic factions that have recently sprung up within the ranks of some Orthodox Churches.

Representatives at the conference also decided on a common stance at the 7th General Assembly of the International Council of the Churches, which will take place in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Gov't comments on Church-state affairs

Relations between the church and state are defined by the Constitutionand laws, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas underlined yesterday in answer to statements by new Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos.

The spokesman further said that the government and political parties were exercising their policy by placing national interests above all.

A later press release by the Archdiocese said that Archbishop Christodoulos noted during an informal dinner in Volos on Sunday that "the role of Orthodoxy in today's Europe is a leading one, and it is this role that the Church is mainly called upon to play for a substantial unity between European peoples".

In response to a letter by 52 ruling PASOK deputies and one main opposition New Democracy deputy recommending a change in parliamentarians' oath from swearing in the name of the "Holy and Indivisible Trinity of One Essence" to swearing in the name of th e Greek people and the nation", Mr. Reppas said Constitutional revision is an entirely Parliamentary process, adding that "this position (changing the oath) is not among the government's proposals for revising the Constitution."

Petition on separation of church and state

Sixty public figures, including deputies, Eurodeputies, former ministers, university professors, artists, publishers and journa-lists, have signed a text calling for the separation of church and state.

"The complex relationship between church and state is one of the insoluble problems of the society of citizens in Greece, and establishes a regime of privileged ideological, legal and administrative treatment of the Orthodox Church vis-a-vis other relig ions. This situation is contrary to the spirit of the Constitution and international treaties, such as the European Convention of the Rights of Man, given that a series of important issues relating to the broader field of safeguarding individual and social rights are either directly or indirectly taken care of with the cooperation or the intervention of the Church," the text adds.

It cites as examples the continuing mention of one's religious persuasion on identity cards, the absence of provisions for non-religious funerals, the hanging of icons and religious symbols in public buildings, the mostly compulsory attendance of religious education in schools and discrimination against non-Orthodox teachers.

The text is signed, among others, by former New Democracy minister Andreas Andrianopoulos, Eurodeputy Anna Karamanou, deputies Petros Kounalakis and Spyros Danellis, professor Giorgos Veltsos and veteran left-wing politician Leonidas Kyrkos.

Gov`t: flight plans must be filed to prevent interceptions

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday stated that the Hellenic Air Force will intercept any and all aircraft that do not submit previous flight plans for the Athens FIR.

He added that in cases that the relevant flight information is provided, the air force will not intercept, as was the practice last year during NATO's "Distant Thunder" military exercises in certain parts of the Aegean.

Mr. Reppas' statements came in answer to a report in the Athens daily "Ta Nea", according to which the Hellenic Air Force would not intercept NATO aircraft participating in current wargames over the Aegean.

He specified that such information includes the time and point of entrance and exit from Athens' Flight Information Region (FIR), the number and type of aircraft, the friend-or-foe signal, time and altitude over the region hosting military exercises an d the IFF code.

Greece to focus on human rights during CoE presidency

Greece will place emphasis on upgrading the role of the European Court of Human Rights, the protection of human rights, cooperation between Council of Europe member-states on refugee problems and the issue of illegal immigration, Alternate Foreign Ministe r George Papandreou said yesterday.

Greece takes over the presidency of the Council of Europe today, at a special ceremony in Strasbourg, when the German presidency hands over the reins.

Athens plans a number of activities during its term as CoE president, including a summit of social security ministers in Malta, an unofficial meeting of sports ministers and a meeting of representatives of the parliamentary assembly with the Committee o f Permanent Representatives in Santorini.

Van den Broek on Holbrooke statement on Cyprus' EU accession

EU Commissioner for external affairs Hans van den Broek yesterday rejected accusations against the Union by US presidential emissary for Cyprus Richard Holbrooke, after a deadlock following the latter's mission to the divided island repu blic over the weekend.

Mr. Holbrooke, in a press conference in Nicosia, cited an EU decision to open accession with the Cyprus Republic, but not with Turkey, as one of the reasons for his mission's impasse.

Mr. van den Broek said he disagreed with the US diplomat, underlining in a BBC interview that the EU had adopted during the Luxembourg summit last December "a strategy very clearly in favour of Turkey's EU accession."

Underlining Cyprus' "legitimate application" for EU accession, he said "we have worked very hard for years so that the Turkish Cypriot community takes part in (Cyprus') accession talks."

Greece looks to expand relations with Iran

Greek Ambassador to Tehran Dimitris Tsikouris and the secretary general of Iran's southeastern province of Kerman Masoud Mahmoudi yesterday discussed expansion of relations between the two countries in all areas, particularly the economic sector. Briefing the Greek ambassador on the immense potential of the province, Mr. Mahmoudi said that in light of the many historical and economic common points between the two countries, there were ample grounds for further promotion of bilate r relations. Ambassador Tsikouris said that Greece, as a member of the European Union, was interested in boosting Iran-Greek economic relations. The Greek diplomat said that delegations from Greece would be visiting Iran in the near future.

Greece-Cyprus investments detailed

Greek capital invested in Cyprus between 1991-96 has increased considerably, reaching 7.6 billion drachmas, while during the same period Cypriot businesses invested 18 billion drachmas in Greece, according to the commercial and economic attache of the Gre ek embassy in Nicosia. Speaking during a one-day seminar entitled "Economic developments in Cyprus and Greek Products' Prospects", organised by the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO) in Athens, H. Passadi said Greece and Cyprus have the potential to deve lop an excellent joint economic setting and supplement their economies and boosting their cooperation. She also referred to the operation since March 1997 of HEPO's International Wholesale Centre in Nicosia, which promotes Greek products in Cyprus and to the Greek Leather CentreYs plans to establish a branch in Cyprus.

Greek bourse president resigns for personal reasons

Manolis Xanthakis, the Athens Stock Exchange chairman, has resigned from his post citing personal reasons.

National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday accepted his resignation, which was submitted on January 1.

Mr. Papantoniou announced that Stavros Kouniakis, the governor of Macedonia- Thrace Bank, would succeed him in the post.

Market sources said Mr. Xanthakis, who has held the position since January 1, 1994, was disappointed with the slow pace of a project to switch to electronic securities on the bourse, stemming from anti-reactions by many stockbrokers.

Kavala airport to replace Thessaloniki's for a week

Kavala's Alexander the Great airport will go international for a week due to runway maintenance that is likely to close northern Greece's main airport in Thessaloniki.

Under a decision by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Olympic Airways, Kavala's airport will handle about 50 flights daily between May 8 and 14.

The timetable allows 43 international flights from European countries daily and 7-8 domestic and charter flights carrying tourists from Europe.

The runway works at Thessaloniki's Macedonia airport are part of a month of projects to improve air access to the airport, which often sees flight postponements due to mist and fog.

The reconstruction will also deal with wear and tear, and allow the installation of heavy duty lighting for use in fog.

The airport's ILS I landing system will be upgraded to ILS II, boosting visibility by 80 percent.

Greek stocks post losses in edgy trade

Greek equities yesterday ended lower in nervous trade on the Athens Stock Exchange in the aftermath of a historic European Union summit to launch the euro.

The general index ended 0.71 percent lower at 2,602.82 points after starting the day 4.0 percent up, to show a 2.5 percent loss later in the session.

Sector indices were mixed. Banks fell 1.16 percent, Insurance dropped 1.72 percent, Investment eased 0.45 percent, Leasing rose 3.40 percent, Industrials fell 0.66 percent, Construction ended 0.42 percent up, Miscellaneous rose 1.01 percent and Holding was 1.59 percent higher.

The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 0.30 percent, and the FTSE/ASE 20 index fell 2.47 percent to 1,550.34.

Trading was heavy with turnover at 80.4 billion drachmas.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 135 to 102 with another 24 issues unchanged.

Macedonia-Thrace Bank, Delta, Sportsman, Agrinio Metalplastics and Seafarm Ionian scored the biggest percentage gains at the day's 8.0 percent limit up.

Aluminium of Greece, Ideal, Allatini, Sato and Eltrak suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 53,500 drachmas, Ergobank at 29,000, Alpha Credit Bank at 33,250, Delta Dairy at 4,770, Titan Cement at 26,100, Intracom at 20,150 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 8, 900.

Greece to take part in Bulgarian trade fair

Greece has the third largest number of participants in this year's consumer goods and machinery trade fair in Plovdiv, hosting 1,400 companies from 32 countries.

The 42 Greek companies and organisations taking part include the Greek National Tourism Organisation, Hellenic Sugar Industry, and Casa Due furniture manufacturers.

The broad range of goods on show include metallurgical products, electrical appliances, clothes and textiles, and construction and decoration materials.

WEATHER

Overcast weather turning to rain or scattered showers is forecast for most parts of Greece today. Winds southwesterly, moderate to strong. Athens will be sunny with possibility of showers and temperatures between 16-23C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 14-22C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 307.976 British pound 513.340 Japanese yen(100) 231.434 French franc 51.396 German mark 172.424 Italian lira (100) 17.479 Irish Punt 433.802 Belgian franc 8.360 Finnish mark 56.770 Dutch guilder 152.981 Danish kr. 45.203 Austrian sch. 24.502 Spanish peseta 2.030 Swedish kr. 39.978 Norwegian kr. 41.624 Swiss franc 206.187 Port. Escudo 1.682 Aus. dollar 198.941 Can. dollar 214.788 Cyprus pound 588.256

(C.E.)


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