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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-10-06

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, 06/10/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • EU accession negotiations with six candidate-states begin Nov. 10
  • 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
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

EU accession negotiations with six candidate-states begin Nov. 10

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 resolutions."

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 delegation.

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 Cyprus.

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 percent.

Trading was moderate with turnover at 42.9 billion drachmas on 8,875,000 shares traded.

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 points.

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, economists said.

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 increased.

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 Seastar.

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 centre.

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 Forces.

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 international law.

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 "Defendory '98".

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 and Turkey."

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.

WEATHER

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.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

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

(C.E.)


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