Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-10-06
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, GREECE, 06/10/1998 (ANA)
- EU accession negotiations with six candidate-states begin Nov.
- Greek stocks end flat, brushing off plunge in previous session
- Primary budget spending rises 9.1 pct in January-August
- Greek shipping registry loses ships but gains tonnage in Sept.
- Defendory '98 trade fair opens in Piraeus today
- Athens blames Ankara for Turkish-Syrian tension
- Parliament's third session begins
- Apostolakis receives Iranian counterpart Ghazizadeh
- V. Papandreou lauds defence-related joint productions
- Congressman notes military imbalance exists between Turkey, Greece
- Study proves Athens' smog among Europe's worst
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
EU accession negotiations with six candidate-states begin Nov.
Substantive negotiations between the European Union and six candidate-
countries will start on Nov. 10, according to a unanimous decision taken by
the EU states' 15 foreign ministers yesterday.
The decision is included in a communique containing conclusions reached
during yesterday's Council of Foreign Ministers' meeting in Luxembourg.
The six candidate-countries are Hungary, Poland, Latvia, Slovenia, the
Czech Republic and Cyprus.
Referring to Cyprus, the communique stated that the EU's target is the
creation of "a bi-zonal and bi-communal state based on the overall
political settlement of the Cyprus issue on the basis of relevant UN
It added that "progress achieved in the accession course of Cyprus, as well
as those linked to a viable and just solution to the Cyprus issue will
naturally support each other."
The Council also expressed regret over the fact that a solution has not yet
been found to the continuing division of Cyprus.
It noted that due to the political situation prevailing in Cyprus a
detailed examination of the island republic's adjustment to EU acquired
rights cannot possibly cover Cyprus' territory in its entirety. This is so,
it added, because a Cypriot government proposal for the Turkish Cypriot
community to participate in a delegation negotiating Cyprus' EU accession
was rejected by the latter.
Speaking to reporters, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos expressed his
satisfaction over the references regarding Cyprus.
Asked whether the accession of a divided Cyprus into the EU would be
feasible, Mr. Pangalos pointed to the example of Germany which, although
divided, was among the countries which played a leading role in the course
towards European unification.
Replying to another question, Mr. Pangalos referred to efforts by France,
primarily, to link the accession of Cyprus to the EU with a solution to the
Cyprus issue. He said that once again France raised a similar issue and
that again it received the necessary reply.
Speaking to French reporters, French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine
reiterated Paris' positions on Cyprus, which have been known over the past
year or so. He conceded that accession negotiations for Cyprus will start
on Nov. 10, but added that the problem of the possible accession of a
divided Cyprus must preoccupy the European Council in the future.
Austrian Foreign Minister and current European Union Council President
Wolfgang Schuessel also reiterated that substantive EU accession negotiations
will begin on Nov. 10.
Mr. Schuessel said that at an initial stage, negotiations will start in
seven of approximately 30 sectors in which candidate-countries must agree
with the EU on the completion of processes for their accession.
He added that the decision on accession negotiations with the "six" was
taken unanimously, stressing that in the case of Cyprus the EU acted on the
basis of Luxembourg summit conclusions (December 1997).
He also expressed hope that accession negotiations will help efforts aimed
at a solution to the Cyprus issue, adding that the EU desires a solution
based on UN resolutions on a bi-communal and bi-zonal federation.
Efforts by many national delegations, primarily France's, to link the
completion of processes for the island republic's accession with a solution
to the Cyprus issue, were met by a strong reaction from the Greek
France, according to sources, claimed that Cyprus' accession to the EU must
be linked to a solution to the political problem of Cyprus. This view was
clearly shared by the Dutch delegation and, in part, by Germany. Luxembourg
was explicitly opposed to the view.
Speaking to German reporters, German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said
that the Cyprus problem must not be used as a pretext to obstruct the
overall enlargement process.
Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini expressed the wish that accession
negotiations will assist in a solution to the political problem of
Greek stocks end flat, brushing off plunge in previous session
Greek equities finished slightly lower in highly volatile trade yesterday,
regaining some equilibrium after a 7.32 percent plunge in the previous
session triggered by a global financial crisis.
Traders said the market was nervous in the wake of renewed turmoil in
international markets, attributing a partial recovery of the market to
bargain-hunting and speculative buying.
The Athens general index ended 0.15 percent off at 1,889.69 points, sharply
off the day's lows early in the session when the market lost around 4.0
Trading was moderate with turnover at 42.9 billion drachmas on 8,875,000
Sector indices closed mixed.
The heavily weighted banking sector fell 0.10 percent, Insurance rose 0.38
percent, Investment ended 0.26 percent up, Leasing dropped 2.34 percent,
Industrials fell 0.04 percent, Construction rose 0.99 percent, Miscellaneous
ended 1.20 percent up and Holding eased 2.33 percent.
The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.11 percent higher,
and the FTSE/ASE 20 blue-chip index fell 0.26 percent to 1,135.39
National Bank of Greece ended at 33,900 drachmas, Ergobank at 20,700, Alpha
Credit Bank at 18,600, Ionian Bank at 9,450, Hellenic Telecoms at 6,220,
Delta Dairy at 2,960, Intracom at 9,120, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,290, Titan
Cement at 15,790 and Minoan Lines at 5,400 points.
Primary budget spending rises 9.1 pct in January-August
Primary budget spending rose 9.1 percent in January-August compared with
the same period last year, exceeding a targeted 6.3 percent increase,
according to government figures released yesterday.
Spending on interest also exceeded this year's target of almost zero growth,
marking a 7.0 percent increase in January to August.
Higher spending on interest reflected the impact of the drachma's 13.8
percent devaluation on March 14 accompanying entry into the European
Union's exchange rate mechanism; and the repercussions on domestic interest
rates of market turmoil abroad.
If the same rate of increase on interest is maintained, then the target
will be exceeded by more than 100 billion drachmas by the end of the year,
Greek shipping registry loses ships but gains tonnage in Sept.
Four ships of 134,104 gross tons were registered in the Greek shipping
registry in September, while 10 ships totaling 118,661 gross tons left the
register in the same month, the merchant marine ministry said yesterday.
Although the net result was six fewer ships for the registry, tonnage
The new registrations, three tankers and one bulk carrier, were young
vessels, the ministry said in a statement.
Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis congratulated operators Carras
Hellas Ltd and Thenamaris (Ships Management) Inc. on their decision to
raise the Greek flag on three ships - the Aquabella, Aquadonna and tanker
Defendory '98 trade fair opens in Piraeus today
Defendory '98, an international trade fair for conventional defence systems,
begins in Piraeus today at the port authority's seafront exhibition
Among firms taking part in the trade fair, which ends on October 10, is
Hellenic Arms Industry, which is to present nine new products resulting
from joint ventures.
The products include Shorad mobile anti-aircraft missile systems and Milan
anti-tank missile launchers.
US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns yesterday issued a statement
stressing Washington's interest in the modernisation of the Hellenic Armed
Mr. Burns' statement was released on the occasion of the opening of a US
pavilion at the international weapons exhibition "Defendory '98", taking
place at the Piraeus port authority trade centre this week. According to a
press release, Mr. Burns noted that "the United States pavilion in
Defendory this year is the largest national exhibit and the biggest
American showing ever. Forty-nine US companies are displaying the latest in
American high technology products and services." Furthermore, Mr. Burns
said US companies "understand the importance of defence-related industrial
co-production (offsets) here in Greece...partnerships can be realised
during the coming months, if decisions are made to utilise US systems."
Athens blames Ankara for Turkish-Syrian tension
Greece yesterday attributed responsibility to Ankara for the recent tension
between Turkey and Syria.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said all countries should take steps
to ensure a climate of stability and security in the region.
"Turkey dynamites all attempts at creating such a climate," Mr. Reppas
added in the context of Greek-Turkish relations.
The spokesman underlined the need for "good faith, a desire to reach an
understanding and the behaviour one would expect from a good neighbour".
In addition, he said, problems should be resolved on the basis of
Tension between Turkey and Syria has worsened recently, with Damascus
concerned at Ankara's growing military ties with Israel and Turkey accusing
Syria of supporting Kurdish separatists.
Parliament's third session begins
Parliament's third session was inaugurated yesterday with a customary
blessing delivered by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos.
Following the ceremony, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis announced
that the election for the Parliament's committee chairmanships would take
place later in the day. According to the legislature's agenda, the first
bill to be discussed will be bourse regulations, scheduled for today.
All Parliament sessions will be transmitted on the Internet at http://www.parliament.gr
Apostolakis receives Iranian counterpart Ghazizadeh
National Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis yesterday met
yesterday with his Iranian counterpart Seyed-Ziaaldin Ghazizadeh, who is
heading Tehran's delegation to the international weapons exhibition
The exhibition is taking place at the Piraeus port authority's exhibition
centre this week.
The two men discussed bilateral issues and relations, Balkan and Persian
Gulf peace prospects, while Mr. Apostolakis accepted Mr. Ghazizadeh's
invitation to visit Iran.
The Greek undersecretary is expected to meet with his counterparts from
other nations over the next few days.
V. Papandreou lauds defence-related joint productions
Development Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday described joint production
as the best course for the local defence industry and foreign investors.
Addressing a conference of the Federation of Greek Defence Materials
Manufacturers on the subject of "Armaments-Cooperation Among Defence
Industries-Economy", she said that offset benefits that can result from the
armaments programme will constitute a lever for the development of the
country's defence industry. She added that the decisive factor in success
is for foreign suppliers to be obliged to present binding contracts with
Greek suppliers before the signing of contracts. Referring in particular to
state-run defence industries, Ms Papandreou said their dependence on the
state to such a great degree allowed for interventions which did not lead
to rational manning, resulting in the swelling of the operational costs
with the known negative results.
Congressman notes military imbalance exists between Turkey, Greece
The first official US recognition of an imbalance of military power between
Turkey and Greece was welcomed yesterday by several Greek-American leaders,
according to an announcement by the Washington-based National Coordinated
Effort of Hellenes organisation.
The organisation stated that US Congressman Ben Gilman, chairman of the
international relations committee of the US House of Representatives, said
following his talks at the US State Department and Pentagon and regarding
an inquiry over the sale of advanced jet fighters to Greece, he was
"convinced that it was necessary to rectify the imbalance between Greece
Mr. Gilman added that he was now inclined to support the sale of advanced
fighter aircraft to Greece, which would lessen the gap between Greece and
Turkey's air capabilities, provided that such a sale is done in a manner
that will promote stability and reduce tensions in the region.
The announcement added that Mr. Gilman was also urging the US administration
to adhere to an earlier timetable for accomplishing this objective.
Study proves Athens' smog among Europe's worst
Athens has the worst benzoline pollution levels among six European cities
taking part in a programme to record the pollutant, Athens prefectural
authorities announced yesterday.
The programme was implemented in Greece by the Athens prefecture in
cooperation with the health and epidemiology department of Athens
University Medical School.
Taking part along with Athens were the cities of Copenhagen, Padua, Murcia,
Antwerp and Rouen.
According to the results of the programme, average levels of the pollutant
in Athens were between twice and eight times the maximum permissible level
advised by the World Health Organisation, namely 15 milligrammes per cubic
metre of air.
At a meeting yesterday chaired by Athens Prefect Dimitris Efstathiadis, a
number of decisions were taken aimed at confronting the threat to the
health of citizens in the greater Athens region.
These include demands for the introduction of a card verifying that
emissions of benzoline from cars with catalytic converters are within
prescribed limits and the establishment of maximum levels of benzoline
pollution for the taking of emergency measures.
In addition, the prefecture will seek the further expansion of the existing
pollution measurement network and the formation of a special committee of
experts to evaluate the effectiveness of measures taken and recommend, when
necessary, the taking of ad ditional measures.
Benzoline is a carcinogenic pollutant and scientists in Greece have
recently urged action to reduce the high levels in the Athens area.
In July, the environmental organisation "Greenpeace" said that the cloud of
pollution which often hangs over Athens was responsible for thousands of
premature deaths annually.
Greenpeace said the measurements in particular for benzoline and micro-
particles in Athens were among the highest recorded in Europe.
Fair weather is forecast for most parts of Greece today with scattered
cloud in the west. Winds variable, moderate to strong. Athens sunny with
few clouds and temperatures between 16-28C. Same in Thessaloniki with
temperatures from 14-25C.
Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 282.541
British pound 478.382 Japanese yen (100) 209.163
French franc 51.413 German mark 172.360
Italian lira (100) 17.434 Irish Punt 431.123
Belgian franc 8.357 Finnish mark 56.649
Dutch guilder 152.927 Danish kr. 45.336
Austrian sch. 24.510 Spanish peseta 2.030
Swedish kr. 35.149 Norwegian kr. 37.795
Swiss franc 208.791 Port. Escudo 1.680
Aus. dollar 168.794 Can. dollar 182.409
Cyprus pound 581.590