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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-07-29

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, 29/07/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Gov't: Recent Greek-US tension 'a brief interlude already over'
  • Kaklamanis receives president of visiting Greek expatriate group
  • SAE's President cites importance of Greek-US relations
  • Belgrade accepts Greek proposal on more EU observers
  • Kranidiotis talks with Ethiopian counterpart
  • MPs' 'sources of wealth' statements released
  • Medical supplies to Tirana military hospital
  • Full-scale probe into arsons, land grabbing
  • EU approves gov't restructuring plan for Olympic Airways
  • National Bank of Greece posts Dr 55.3 billion profit
  • Greek stocks end flat
  • New Banca Bucuresti branch
  • Worldbasket Greece '98 opens in Athens tonight
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Gov't: Recent Greek-US tension 'a brief interlude already over'

The government yesterday described recent tension in Greek-US relations as "a brief interlude which is already over".

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas added, however, that although relations between the two countries were good, there was room for further improvement. Mr. Reppas clarified that his meeting on Monday with US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns had been scheduled and concerned the safeguarding of intellectual property rights.

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos late last week provoked continued criticism by the US State Department when he charged that US President Bill Clinton's election campaign promises concerning a solution to the Cyprus problem had proved to be a "gross lie".

Mr. Pangalos himself also appeared to be playing down the significance of the recent diplomatic stand-off.

He said there was no discussion of the tension of the last few days, but rather on Greek-Turkish relations, the Cyprus problem and defence policy issues.

Kaklamanis receives president of visiting Greek expatriate group

Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis and the president of the World Hellenism Interparliamentary Union Demetri Dollis discussed the course of the country's national issues in a meeting yesterday.

An exchange of views was made on latest developments over the Cyprus issue, combined with recent statements by US officials concerning the defensive Russian-built S-300 missiles which, it was stressed, create a negative climate on Greek positions for in ternational public opinion which in turn encourages Turkish aggressiveness.

"Unfortunately, my reservations on the role of the US have been confirmed which I had set out to US Ambassador Mr. Burns last February, as well as to US Parliamentarians who visited me: the US is not convincing that it is indeed a third party in Greek-Turkish (relations). It appears as the guardian and protector of Turkey rather than what it wants, at least as it says, its role to be. Namely, to be the third party wishing to offer its good offices," Mr. Kaklamanis said.

Mr. Dollis stressed the great importance attached by the organisation to relations between Greece and Europe and the US from the point of view of a new foreign cultural policy and stressed the need for the better planning and coordination of Hellenism's efforts for the promotion of the country's just national causes.

SAE's President cites importance of Greek-US relations

The president of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) Andrew Athens said yesterday that Greece and the US have been friends and allies for long time, stressing that this relationship must not be disturbed.

Mr. Athens, who was speaking after a meeting with Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, was asked by reporters to comment on the latest barrage of strong-worded exchanges between Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and US officials.

Asked to comment on Mr. Pangalos' proposal to Greek-Americans to shift their financial support from US politicians and parties towards a fund for the Greece's defence spending, Mr. Athens said:

"We cannot stop supporting US politicians, if we really wish to have friends in a range of issues - not just for Greece and Cyprus - but also for issues of concern to us in the US..."

Belgrade accepts Greek proposal on more EU observers

Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has accepted Athens' proposal for an increase in the number of European Union observers in Kosovo on condition that they will previously be accredited to their embassies in Belgrade, foreign ministry sources said yesterday.

The message was conveyed to Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos by Foreign Ministry Secretary General Pavlos Apostolidis, upon his return from Belgrade where he met with Mr. Milosevic.

The Yugoslav president told Mr. Apostolidis that police forces in Kosovo have been ordered not to attack, but as a matter of fact they were obliged to respond to provocations and to protect the lives and economic activities of citizens in Kosovo.

Greece has notified the European Union Austrian Presidency on the meeting between Mr. Milosevic and Mr. Apostolidis in light of a visit to Belgrade by the EU troika headed by Austrian Foreign Ministry Secretary General Mr. Rohan.

The letter from Prime Minister Costas Simitis to Mr. Milosevic sets out the Greek government's positions on the crisis in the Serbian province of Kosovo, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas noted yesterday.

Kranidiotis talks with Ethiopian counterpart

Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis held talks yesterday with his Ethiopian counterpart Tekeda Alemou on international issues of mutual concern, as well as on relations between the two countries.

Mr. Tekeda briefed Mr. Kranidiotis on developments in the Horn of Africa region, and specifically on relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea and the situation in Sudan. Mr. Kranidiotis assured Mr. Tekeda of Greece's support over relevant decisions by the UN Security Council.

The two officials had the opportunity of confirming the excellent level of bilateral relations between Greece and Ethiopia in the wake of Mr. Kranidiotis' visit to Addis Ababa last February. In this framework, the enlargement of exchanges between the two countries was agreed in various sectors such as telecommunications,taining and developmental aid.

MPs' 'sources of wealth' statements released

The "statements of wealth sources" for the country's 300 deputies were unveiled by the Parliament yesterday, although analysts said the statements did not contain significant changes compared to last year.

The leaders of the two main parties, ruling PASOK and the main opposition New Democracy, recorded among the largest estates.

Prime Minister and PASOK president Costas Simitis in 1997 declared a total income of 44,608,683 drachmas, while his bank accounts, including bonds and treasury bills amounted to approximately 62 million drachmas.

Main opposition ND leader Costas Karamanlis declared a total income of 82, 176,549, while his bank accounts total about 215 million drachmas, part of which are joint accounts with his parents.

Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga is among the "poor" of Parliament, with a total income of 2.57 million drachmas, while her parliamentary remuneration for the last fiscal year of 21.5 million drachmas was donated to KKE.

Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos' declared income amounts to 26,631,094 drachmas and his savings are in the region of 61 million drachmas.

Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas' income in 1997 rose to 27,415,636 drachmas. His bank accounts amount to 17.3 million drachmas.

Medical supplies to Tirana Military Hospital

The Hellenic Airforce General Staff (GEA) announced that it transported 8.5 tons of medical supplies to the Tirana Military Hospital yesterday within the framework of a defence ministry initiative.

The GEA announcement noted that the aid will be used to activate an outpatient clinic of the Albanian military hospital.

Furthermore, a team of eight airforce doctors went to the hospital last Sunday and will remain there until July 31 to train personnel in the use of the new equipment.

Full-scale probe into arsons, land grabbing

The head of Athens public prosecutors, Giorgos Koliokostas, yesterday ordered an urgent preliminary investigation into press reports alleging involvement of arsonists and land grabbers in recent forest fires throughout Greece.

He also ordered the probe to investigate possible tolerance, inertia, procrastination or even assistance offered to arsonists by civil servants.

The investigation has been assigned to four prosecutors, and it is the first time it is being launched on such a scale.

The reports, carried by several Athens dailies, refer to organised criminal activity against the public interest by professional arsonists-land encroachers, who with the direct assistance of public servants enclose forest areas burned by fires in the past, subsequently building luxury residences on the sites.

Meanwhile, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas has dismissed charges of a lack of coordination and personnel in fighting the recent spate of forest fires, stressing that the same number of fire-fighters were mobilised as last year.

He said a probe so far did not rule out arson, but it would be premature to say anything before it was completed.

Meanwhile, fires continued to blaze in several regions yesterday, and authorities urgently evacuated six villages in the greater Corinth region as a forest fire raging out of control for four days approached the yards of the first homes.

Twenty-five fire engines and 90 firemen, assisted by the villagers, have been fighting a losing battle with the blaze, which has several fronts extending over 12 kilometres and was burning out of control.

At the same time, two of Greece's most wooded mountains, Taygetos and Olympos, were still blazing and the mountainsides were almost completely denuded. Land-based firefighters were battling the blaze at Krania, on Mt. Olympus, alone as the fire was in a n inaccessible region, while 5 fire eingines and 20 firemen, assisted by 2 firefighting planes, were battling the blaze at Rovania on Mt. Taygetos.

A two-fronted blaze at Harokopio and Chrysokelaria in Messinia was placed under control after burning forest and farmland. Another fire was also burning at Aliveri, in Evia, in an inaccessible area, and 20 firefighters and a Chinook helicopter were battling the blazes.

EU approves gov't restructuring plan for Olympic Airways

The European Union yesterday approved a government restructuring plan for Olympic Airways that could make the national carrier profitable in 1998, a EU source told the Athens News Agency.

The EU's executive Commission is today due to ratify the plan, which takes immediate effect, with no further debate at its last meeting before the summer holiday, the source said.

According to a Commission-sponsored study by Deloitte Touche of the UK, the government's plan is realistic and could lead Olympic Airways to profitability even within 1998, despite strikes and go-slows early in the year.

The study forecasts that if targets are met, then the company could post profits of 20 billion drachmas in 1999.

The streamlining plan, which comes in the wake of a failed revitalisation attempt in 1994, allows 21.8 billion drachmas in state aid to OA for release in two instalments.

The first instalment of 12 billion drachmas is for immediate disbursement. The second tranche of 7.8 billion drachmas may be given between March and June 1999 following an evaluation of progress made in restructuring.

But the Commission ruled that a 75-billion-drachma plan for OA's transfer to a new airport being built for Athens at Spata cannot be subsidised by more than 30-35 billion drachmas.

The endorsed plan also includes a wage freeze, alignment of working hours with international standards, staff cuts in permanent and seasonal staff, the abolition of selected allowances and a new marketing policy based on market criteria.

National Bank of Greece posts Dr 55.3 billion profit

National Bank of Greece, a blue chip on the Athens bourse favoured by foreign investors, posted first-half profits of 55.3 billion drachmas before tax and after provisions, up 63 percent on the same period of last year.

The bank said in a statement yesterday that provisions were 21.6 billion drachmas against 18 billion drachmas in the first-half of 1997.

Additional provisions in the rest of 1998 are expected to be 30 billion drachmas.

The first-half jump in profits was attributed mainly to progress in a modernisation plan and portfolio revitalisation in loans and holdings.

Greek stocks end flat

Greek equities ended flat in light trade yesterday after slumping early in the session on news that the government had called off an international tender through the bourse to privatise Hellenic Duty Free Shops SA.

The Athens general share index ended 0.07 percent higher to finish at 2, 729.34 points. The FTSE/ASE 20 index gained 0.35 percent, ending at 1, 661.09 points.

Summer-season trade was light with turnover edging up to 48.1 billion drachmas from 42.2 billion drachmas in the previous session.

Sector indices closed mixed. The heavily weighted banking sector gained 0.93 percent, Leasing dived 1.63 percent, Insurance inched up 0.22 percent, Investment nosed up 0.62 percent, Industrials shed 0.64 percent, Construction rose 0.84 percent, Holding dropped 0.93 percent, and Miscellaneous slipped 0.09 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies finished 0.11 percent lower.

Of 265 stocks traded, declines led advances at 125 to 123 with 17 shares remaining unchanged.

The day's biggest percentage gainers finishing at the upper daily eight percent volatility limit were Shelman, Katselis, Pouliadis, Nikas, Aspis Pronia, General Trade and Avax.

New Banca Bucuresti branch

A new branch of Banca Bucuresti, a subsidiary of the Alpha Credit Bank, was inaugurated in Arad prefecture, Romania yesterday.

Banca Bucuresti began operation in 1995 and currently has a network of nine branches throughout Romania.

Apart from the Alpha Credit Bank which controls the group, the bank's shareholders are the Leventis group, Papastratos, Argyrometallevmaton and Varytinis and the European Development Bank.

Worldbasket Greece '98 opens in Athens tonight

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos last night opened the inaugural ceremony at the Athens Olympic sports complex for Worldbasket Greece '98, the 13th World Basketball Championship, which will last until August 9.

The event was also greeted by Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, outgoing International Basketball Federation (FIBA) president George Killian and Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos.

The games begin tonight. Greece's first match is with Canada at 10 p.m.

WEATHER

Fine weather with high temperatures is forecast throughout the country today with temperatures ranging from 23C to 41C. Moderate northerly winds later in the day, with the possibility for local rains in central and northern Greece. Athens, sunny with temperatures between 28-41C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 24-39C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tusday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 294.049 British pound 486.060 Japanese yen (100) 207.229 French franc 49.148 German mark 164.811 Italian lira (100) 16.711 Irish Punt 414.458 Belgian franc 7.993 Finnish mark 54.213 Dutch guilder 146.191 Danish kr. 43.245 Austrian sch. 23.420 Spanish peseta 1.942 Swedish kr. 37.248 Norwegian kr. 38.986 Swiss franc 196.198 Port. Escudo 1.608 Aus. dollar 179.403 Can. dollar 195.622 Cyprus pound 561.968

(C.E.)


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