Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-05-12
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 12/05/1998 (ANA)
- WEU operational capabilities, Kosovo dominate ministerial talks
- Drachma firm against major currencies, reflecting confidence
- Trade delegation to visit Uzbekistan in June
- Avramopoulos makes it official, he'll run for Athens mayor again
- Left-wing parties from Greece,Cyprus and Turkey condemn status
- Archbishop Christodoulos chairs first Synod, 'time for work'
- Civil Aviation Authority defends Greek airspace, airport safety
- Greek firm snares prize at International Plovdiv Fair
- Protest cites abuse of Orthodox priest by Albanian police
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
WEU operational capabilities, Kosovo dominate ministerial talks
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday expressed strong doubts that
an idea for intervention in Kosovo had been put forward within the NATO
"It is a matter of interpretation. I would be very guarded on whether such
an idea was being examined by NATO," he told reporters after the first day
of the Western European Union (WEU) foreign and defence ministers' session
on the Dodecanese island of Rhodes.
Fifty-six foreign and defence ministers from 28 European countries
participate in the two-day WEU summit, with the participation of NATO
Secretary-General Javier Solana.
The WEU comprises 10 European Union member states also belonging to NATO,
which are full members, and 3 associate states and 15 observer nations from
the wider region.
Mr. Pangalos told reporters that reinforcement of the WEU's operational
capabilities as well as the possibility of independent action by the
organisation were at the centre of talks.
Earlier, Mr. Solana said that NATO had not adopted any decision regarding
the Kosovo crisis, but all options would be considered at a diplomatic
level in Brussels tomorrow.
"All options are under consideration, including a French proposal for
control of military flights over Kosovo's border with Albania," he stated
on the sidelines of the conference.
"NATO's main concern is the safeguarding of the security of the borders of
Albania and of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)," he
Mr. Pangalos also denied that the idea of a NATO intervention had been
discussed at the session, urging that "reason should prevail in handling
such a matter."
"If Yugoslavia invited us, we would examine such a request, as we did in
the case of Albania, otherwise, it would be like invading Yugoslavia, and
this would anything but contribute to efforts for pacifying the region," he
"There are ways in which the WEU can contribute, responding to Albania's
request for safeguarding its borders," he said, explaining that Albania was
concerned over the possibility of the Kosovo crisis creating problems of
Mr. Pangalos referred to a proposal submitted by his Belgian counterpart
Eric Derycke for the setting up of a group of "wise men" to examine WEU's
role in the new European security architecture.
He said that certain countries had expressed reservations but given that it
had been submitted, it should be taken into account.
"Greece is not against this idea, because we believe that it can offer
something while not causing any harm," he explained. He said the results of
the session were satisfactory, and that an agreement had already been
reached on the text of conclusions to be issued today.
The Greek minister specified that the ministers had agreed that ratification
of the Treaty of Armsterdam, which established the new European identity in
defence and the prospect of gradual progress towards merging WEU and the EU,
should be promoted.
"WEU must be in continuous contact with NATO during this course, strengthening
at the same time its own operational capabilities," he added.
He explained that the Greek WEU presidency had done its best, and to the
degree that a measure of consensus existed, to promote this prospect.
Drachma firm against major currencies, reflecting confidence
The drachma rose against major foreign currencies in domestic markets
yesterday, reflecting confidence in the economy by institutional investors
The phenomenon, which has lasted for weeks, signals the fact that investors
see healthy prospects for the country's entry into the European Union's
economic and monetary union, the analysts said.
At yesterday's central bank daily fix, the drachma was at 308.85 to the US
dollar; 342.72 to the Ecu; and 174.04 to the mark.
When the drachma's parity was adjusted to enable entry into the EU's
exchange rate mechanism on March 14, the national currency was at 327 to
the dollar and 357 to the Ecu.
The drachma has since appreciated by 5.6 percent to the dollar, and 4.0
percent to the Ecu.
The government has said it hopes to join EMU by January 1, 2001, and take
part in the launch of the euro, the EU's single currency, in physical form
a year later.
Trade delegation to visit Uzbekistan in June
The Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (OPE) is arranging a visit by a Greek
trade delegation to Uzbekistan at the end of June led by its president,
Working with OPE in organising the trip is Uzbekistan's general consulate
in Athens, overseen by the country's prime minister, OPE said in a
Taking part in the trade mission are Greek companies in foodstuffs,
telecoms, construction, pharmaceuticals, packaging and oil. The deadline
for applications to take part in the delegation is May 20. Uzbekistan has
said that key areas for bilateral cooperation are joint ventures,the
transfer of knowhow, and investments in sectors represented by the firms
already booked to take part in the mission.
Avramopoulos makes it official, he'll run for Athens mayor again
Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos yesterday announced his long-awaited re-
election bid for the Athens mayor's post in the upcoming October municipal
"For four full years I served at this post with stability and reliability,
having you (Athens' citizens) as the only source of courage and Athens'
best interests as my guide," Mr. Avramopoulos, a former career diplomat,
said in his widely televised address.
Presenting an account of his tenure in office so far, the mayor placed
emphasis on the fact that his work was "far from partisan or racked with
personal expediences", assuring that he will continue along the same lines
"as mayor of all Athenians."
Mr. Avramopoulos added that he found it untimely to now engage in pre-
election discussions, while he also called on other mayoral hopefuls to
prove their intent to honour the city by avoiding an early start of
election campaigning, which he said will burden city streets with
additional pollution, such as leaflets, posters, noise, etc.
He also reiterated his earlier call to other hopefuls not to engage in out-
dated campaign methods, but to instead hold a "civilised and mutually
"In this way, we will contribute to a political strengthening of democracy,
an upgrading of quality as well as protecting the city we serve," he
The mayor's statement was been seen by many political analysts as an intent
to outlast the four-year term in the mayoral position if re-elected,
indirectly answering rivals' charges that Mr. Avramopoulos has short-term
political ambitions in other arenas.
Left-wing parties from Greece,Cyprus and Turkey condemn status
Six left-wing parties from Greece, Cyprus and Turkey condemned the present
status quo on the island republic, stressing that the current situation is
not and cannot be a solution to the protracted Cyprus problem.
"The continuation of the impasse in the Cyprus problem, the absence of
communication between the two communities and the lack of dialogue and
progress in intercommunal talks contribute to the consolidation of the
(present) status quo, which is not and cannot be a solution to the Cyprus
problem," the parties said in a common statement, issued after a meeting in
Istanbul on May 8-9.
Delegates from Cyprus' left-wing AKEL party, the Turkish Cypriot Republican
Party and "New Cyprus", Greece's Coalition of the Left and Progress
(Synaspismos) party, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Turkish
Freedom and Solidarity Party (ODP) parties participated in the meeting.
Archbishop Christodoulos chairs first Synod, 'time for work'
New Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece yesterday chaired his
first meeting of the Holy Synod, the 12-member ruling body of the Orthodox
Church of Greece.
Opening the meeting, Christodoulos said there may have been disagreements
and differences of opinion prior to the election, following the death of
Archbishop Serapheim, "but now these are in the past and we shall go
"The talk is over, it is now time for work," the archbishop said.
One of the issues discussed at yesterday's meeting was the frequency with
which the 12-member body meets. According to the charter, it should convene
eight times a month, which has not been the case.
It was decided that the body would from now on meet every first and third
week of the month.
The plenary of 77 metropolitans will continue to meet every October 1, but
in cases of matters of particular urgency or importance, it was decided
that it should meet extraordinarily.
The prelates also decided to propose to the Ecumenical Patriarch that
Christodoulos visit Phanari from June 12 to 15.
Christodoulos, who was enthroned on Saturday, will meet with Prime Minister
Costas Simitis today for talks on relations between the Church and the
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the two men would exchange views
on the relationship between the Church and state.
"The government hopes that there will be understanding and harmonious
cooperation with the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church," Mr. Reppas
Civil Aviation Authority defends Greek airspace, airport safety
Civil Aviation Authority Director Dionysis Kalofonos yesterday stressed
that Greece's airspace and international airports are ranked among the
safest in the world.
He was speaking in the wake of reports appearing in several foreign
publications containing pilots' allegations that airspace entry and exit
problems exist in Greece.
Mr. Kalofonos attributed the reports to various circles attempting to
attack Greek tourism, adding that over the past two years, and at the same
time of the year, such rumours are disseminated.
He added that groups of pilots will soon be invited by the agency from
abroad for a display of the approach and departure system already in
In an unrelated development, Olympic Airways announced yesterday that it is
closely following instructions by airline manufacturers for the maintenance
of aircraft and monitors all planes consistently with its technical support
The latest announcement by Boeing, according to OA administration, concerns
aircraft having exceeded 50,000 flight hours.
Olympic's aircraft, including 18 Boeing 737s, have only 35,000 flight
hours. For this reason, it was added, Boeing's directive does not concern
Greek firm snares prize at International Plovdiv Fair
Greece's Danko Company won one of the Plovdiv International Fair's prizes
for quality of kitchen appliances and food products on Friday.
Germany's Braun and Poland's Veris were also among the prize winners.
Germany had the biggest number of participants with 67. Next came Italy
with 62 and Greece with 41 entrants. Central, Eastern European, US and
Argentine companies were also among the participants.
Protest cites abuse of Orthodox priest by Albanian police
A strongly worded protest has been addressed by the Holy Metropolis of
Gjirokaster and by Orthodox faithful in Premeti to Albanian President
Rexhep Mejdani, Prime Minister Fatos Nano and Culture Minister Edi Rama
over the unacceptable behaviour shown by several local policemen towards a
priest at the Koimiseos Theotokou Church.
Last Saturday, and while a work group from the technical service of the
Orthodox Autocephalus Chur-ch of Albania had started work to fence-off the
Cathedral's land, a truck of masked and armed police officers began to drag
Father Vassilios Themolaris from his beard towards the police office, an
announcement by the Holy Metropolis of Gjirokaster stated.
Police authorities did not explain the reasons for this act. They continued
verbally abusing the priest at police headquarters.
"The Orthodox faithful in the region also state that they have been reviled
for some time by elements with atheist sentiments," it was added.
Overcast weather is forecast throughout the country today with the
possibility of rain in mainland Greece in the afternoon. Winds northerly,
moderate, turning strong in the Aegean Sea. Possibility of rain in Athens
with temperatures between 14-24C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with
temperatures from 13-22C.
Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 306.379
British pound 501.416 Japanese yen(100) 231.057
French franc 51.463 German mark 172.648
Italian lira (100) 17.501 Irish Punt 434.893
Belgian franc 8.367 Finnish mark 56.810
Dutch guilder 153.195 Danish kr. 45.315
Austrian sch. 24.534 Spanish peseta 2.032
Swedish kr. 40.238 Norwegian kr. 41.247
Swiss franc 206.594 Port. Escudo 1.685
Aus. dollar 194.273 Can. dollar 213.062
Cyprus pound 586.113