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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-10-13

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, 13/10/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Kosovo dominates SE Europe summit, Greek positions reiterated
  • EU economy ministers endorse Greek convergence plan
  • Greek stocks slump in scant trade, foreign institutions dump banks
  • Greek, Slovenian transport ministers meet
  • Gov't presents privatisation programme in London
  • ESP presidium meeting in Brussels today
  • Simitis, Yilmaz have sidelines meeting in Antalya
  • Wives of region's leaders gather in Sofia
  • More than half of Greek municipalities elect mayors in first round
  • Athens marks 54th anniversary of liberation from Nazi occupation
  • Law enforcement seminar on detecting fake passports, visas
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Kosovo dominates SE Europe summit, Greek positions reiterated

The Kosovo crisis and the threat of a NATO strike against Yugoslavia dominated the first day of a summit of southeast European countries yesterday, held in the Turkish resort city of Antalya.

Prime Minister Costas Simitis, in his address to summit leaders, called for the avoidance of impasses in discussions over the Kosovo crisis.

"The ministerial meeting in Istanbul last June proved to be a frustrating experience. We should avoid its repetition today...We should not forget that our countries, Yugoslavia's immediate neighbours, are most affected both by the crisis in Kosovo and by any punitive measures of the international community. I use every opportunity to drive this point home to Greece's partners in the European Union and NATO," he said.

Addressing reporters after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Mesut Yilmaz, he reiterated the need for exhausting all possibilities for a political solution to the Kosovo crisis, saying the Antalya summit created a "positive climate" towards that direction.

Mr. Simitis also stressed the importance of promoting stability, prosperity and good neighbourliness in the wider region.

"Regional cooperation is essential for the modernisation of countries in our area. At the same time, however, during our meetings, we, the leaders of countries of Southeast Europe, must discuss the dangerous issues affecting our region. While it is highly encouraging to meet and agree on further action in all fields, our efforts can only prove successful in the long run if we also tackle difficult problems which affect all of us.

"I am referring specifically to the dangerous situation in Kosovo, which threatens stability in the region and can destroy the fragile peace there. The humanitarian crisis would have disastrous consequences for all our countries and put an abrupt end to economic development.

"We should not forget that our countries, Yugoslavia's immediate neighbours, are most affected both by the crisis in Kosovo and by any punitive measures of the international community. I use every opportunity to drive this point home to Greece's partners in the European Union and NATO.

"The Antalya Summit provides an excellent venue for a significant step forward. This is the only multilateral forum where the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia fully participates on an equal footing with the other countries of the area. It should therefore use this forum to express its views so that we can have a substantial discussion on Kosovo and achieve progress," Simitis told his regional counterparts.

EU economy ministers endorse Greek convergence plan

European Union economy ministers yesterday approved Greece's 1998-2001 plan to align with the rest of the 15-nation bloc that the government hopes will take the country into economic and monetary union.

The EU council of economy and finance ministers, known as Ecofin, said in its recommendation after a meeting in Luxembourg that it welcomed the Greek government's target of entry into EMU by January 1, 2001.

The convergence plan's focus on fiscal revitalisation and lower consumer price inflation was correct, the recommendation said.

In addition, the plan was founded on a long-term approach that showed powerful growth in real terms, stemming mainly from investment coupled with lower inflation.

At the same time, investment and inflation targets required healthy economic returns in terms of supply; and incomes policy was central to bringing down inflation on a lasting basis.

Welcoming pay levels agreed for 1998-1999, the ministers urged employers and workers to adhere strictly to the agreements.

Furthermore, the government would have to be ready to take any measures needed to ensure that inflation would fall on a long-term basis.

The ministers also sanctioned the government's strategy of reducing the fiscal deficit to 0.8 percent of gross domestic product in 2001 by clamping down on primary spending.

But the public debt remained high, and reduction of the fiscal deficit should reflect a greater decline of the public debt than so far achieved, the ministers said.

In addition, more funds should accrue from privatisation in order to help reduce the public deficit.

Also praised was the government's plan for structural reforms in the labour market, social insurance and wider public sector; but the measures had to be implemented.

Finally, the ministers repeated that measures contained in the plan were healthy but had to be carried out even if the long-term macro-economic environment became less favourable.

Attaining the targets would represent a spectacular correction of fiscal imbalances that had long characterised the Greek economy, the ministers said.

Greek stocks slump in scant trade, foreign institutions dump banks

Greek equities ended substantially lower on the Athens Stock Exchangeyesterday reversing an early surge as foreign institutional investors liquidated positions in banks for the second straight session.

The general index ended 1.83 percent lower at 1,739.61 points. The index had gained 2.0 percent in the first half of the session.

Trading remained subdued with turnover at 27.8 billion drachmas. Volume was 5,594,000 shares.

Sector indices mostly lost ground.

Banks fell 2.59 percent, Insurance eased 1.16 percent, Investment ended 1.41 percent off, Industrials fell 1.35 percent, Construction was 1.46 percent lower, Miscellaneous dropped 2.98 percent and Holding fell 1.67 percent.

Leasing bucked the trend to end 1.31 percent higher.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.22 percent off. The FTSE/ASE 20 index fell 2.09 percent to 1,030.16 points.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 149 to 72 with another 22 issues unchanged.

Greek, Slovenian transport ministers meet

The transport and communications ministers of Greece and Slovenia yesterday agreed on joint action for the development of pan-European road and railway "axis X".

Both Tassos Mantelis and Anton Bergauer emphasised the significance of simplifying cross-bord er transport procedures aimed at upgrading road and railway transport. Emphasis was placed on telecoms field. Further cooperation in the postal sector was agreed upon.

Gov't presents privatisation programme in London

The government yesterday presented Greece's privatisation programme of state enterprises as well as details over the course of the country's economy to representatives of foreign banks and credit institutions in London.

Presented by Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis, the event was part of efforts for a more effective promotion of its privatisation policy.

Meanwhile, an agreement regarded as the first step in the privatisation process of the Corinth Canal (AEDIK) was signed last Friday between the government and National Bank, allowing for the sale of shares to the State Enterprise of Securities (DEKA), which will undertake to sell AEDIK.

ESP presidium meeting in Brussels today

Deputy Foreign Minister Yannos Kranidiotis left for Brussels yesterday to take part in a meeting of the European Socialists Party's (ESP) presidium today.

The meeting will take an initial look at the prospects for European socialists ahead of the European Parliament elections scheduled for June next year. Also on the agenda are developments in the Balkans, including Kosovo. He will brief the meeting on Greece's positions regarding the troubled Yugoslav province. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook will chair the meeting, which is also scheduled to discuss the ESP's manifesto ahead of the Euro-elections.

Simitis, Yilmaz have sidelines meeting in Antalya

Prime Minister Costas Simitis met yesterday with his Turkish counterpart Mesut Yilmaz on the sidelines of a two-day summit of southeast European countries in Antalya, Turkey.

"It was a friendly and useful meeting," Mr. Simitis told reporters afterwards.

The meeting was also attended by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and Turkish FM Ismail Cem as well as other high-ranking officials from the two neighbouring countries.

Mr. Simitis said he reiterated Athens' positions to Mr. Yilmaz over the need to deal with Greek-Turkish problems within the framework of the International Court at The Hague's jurisdiction.

He added that Mr. Yilmaz reiterated his country's position for a dialogue on all issues.

The Greek premier added that he explained to the Turkish side that closer cooperation with the European Union "requires that Ankara at some point acknowledge the jurisdiction of the International Court". The two premiers ascertained that the climate prevailing in Greek-Turkish relations was not good, but they referred to the procedure continued within NATO for Confidence-Building-Measures (CBMs). The Greek prime minister also told his Turkish counterpart that, in addition to the procedure in NATO, an "experts' committee procedure" had been agreed within the framework of the European Union, able to deal with other issues that Turkey feels must be examined.

Mr. Simitis reiterated though that Greece considers as the only outstanding problem between the two neighbouring countries the issue of delineating the Aegean's continental shelf.

Wives of region's leaders gather in Sofia

A conference of women from countries in southeastern Europe, held with the participation of the 10 wives of the region's leaders, yesterday appealed for "an end to the thoughtless escalation of tension in the Kosovo region."

"At this moment, when the region is in a turmoil, when peace, security and prosperity have been sacrificed to political ambitions of various personalities and to the power struggle, we request the taking of measures which will put an end to the thoughtless escalation of tensions in Kosovo," a final communique endorsed at the meeting stated.

The wife of US President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, inaugurated the conference on Sunday. It is attended by the wives of the presidents of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Albania, Romania, Slovenia and Bulgaria, as well as the wives of the prime ministers of Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria and the wives of the parliament presidents of Romania and Bulgaria.

More than half of Greek municipalities elect mayors in first round

Mayors were elected in 466 out of a total of 900 municipalities in the first round of Greece's municipal and prefectural elections on Sunday, and in 15 out of a total of 54 prefectures.

Run-offs will be held in 567 municipalities and communities.

Dimitris Avramopoulos was easily re-elected mayor of Athens in a landslide victory on Sunday, while run-offs will take place next Sunday in the three other major cities of Piraeus, Thessaloniki and Patra. According to figures released yesterday morning by the interior ministry, with the results of 1, 152 out of a total of 1,426 polling stations counted, Mr. Avramopoulos had amassed 57.68 per cent of the vote.

Maria Damanaki, backed by ruling PASOK and the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) received a disappointing 16.35 per cent, followed by Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI)-backed Dimitris Beis, a former Athens mayor and long-time PASOK cadre as well as minister, with 12.68 per cent. Finally, Communist Party of Greece (KKE)-backed Leon Avdis with 10.36 per cent.

In Piraeus, ND-backed mayoral candidate Christos Agrapidis and PASOK's Christos Fotiou will run in the second round, after they received 43.1 and 27.5 per cent, respectively, on Sunday. They were followed by KKE-backed Panayiotis Salpeas with 11.94 per cent, DHKKI-backed Antonis Dendidakis with 6.93 per cent.

In Thessaloniki, the two candidates to run in the second round will be Vassilis Papageorgopoulos (ND) and Thrasyvoulos Lazaridis (PASOK), who gathered 44.5 and 31.3 per cent, respectively. Synaspismos-backed Spyros Vouyias was the surprise of the electi ons, amassing 15.18 per cent, followed by the KKE-backed Agapios Sachinis with 5.19 per cent.

In Patra, PASOK-backed Andreas Karavolas, who received more than 35 per cent, would face KKE-backed Panayiotis Kosionis, who amassed over 28 per cent, in the run-offs.

In the first round, 116 mayoral candidates backed solely by ND, 91 backed solely by PASOK, five backed by the KKE and three backed by DHKKI were elected, while 106 candidates backed jointly by PASOK and other parties other than ND, 68 candidates backed jointly by ND and other parties other than PASOK, and five candidates backed jointly by PASOK and ND were elected. Fifty-four candidates elected in the first round were not supported by the parties represented in Parliament.

In the prefectural races, out of the country's 54 prefects, 15 prefects managed to be elected in the first round, of whom eight are PASOK-back, six ND-backed and one independent.

Theodoros Katrivanos (ND), who received 41.75 per cent in the first round, and Evangelos Kouloumbis (PASOK) with 34.54 per cent of the vote will contend in the run-off for the Attica prefecture. KKE-backed Spyros Halvatzis received 11.12 per cent, follo wed by Synaspismos-backed Ioannis Dragasakis with 8.31 per cent and DHKKI-backed Elias Nikolopoulos with 3.75 per cent.

Prefectural run-offs will also be held for Thessaloniki prefecture, between PASOK-backed Costas Papadopoulos, who gathered 42.5 per cent and ND/Political Spring-backed Christos Koskinas, who received 41.5 per cent in the first round.

They were followed by KKE-backed Michalis Spyridakis with 6 per cent, Synaspismos-backed Michael Tremopoulos with 5.34 per cent and DHKKI-backed Zissis Papadimitriou with 5.10 per cent.

PASOK-backed candidates were elected in two prefectures in the first round, candidates backed jointly by PASOK and other parties other than ND were elected in five prefectures, while ND/Political Spring jointly-backed candidates were elected in seven prefectures, including eastern Attica, where Dimitrios Frangos amassed some 56 percent against PASOK-backed Anastasios Moustakatos with about 24 per cent.

Athens marks 54th anniversary of liberation from Nazi occupation

Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos presided over an annual flag-raising ceremony atop the Acropolis yesterday, marking the 54th anniversary of the liberation of the Greek capital from the Nazi forces.

At the ceremony, also attended by Justice Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos, speakers paid tribute to the resistance fighters who struggled against Nazi and fascist occupiers.

Mr. Avramopoulos, who personally raised the Greek flag, said the message of the day was both lasting and timeless. "The Greece of the resistance...as it was then and as it is now, is always prepared," the recently re-elected Athens mayor said.

Mr. Yiannopoulos, paying tribute to the resistance of anti-occupation groups EAM and ELAS, said:

"Our people fought bravely for the liberation of Europe and gave rise to the adage: Greeks fought like heroes and heroes like Greeks...The message of the resistance in today's anniversary is more relevant than ever, because all of us together, government and people, must defend our homeland."

Law enforcement seminar on detecting fake passports, visas

Police officials from 15 countries in the wider region will attend a seminar on the detection of false identity and travel papers, currently under way in Athens. Organised by the public order ministry, the seminar aims to train police and other of ficials in techniques used to produce fake travel papers and in new technologies being developed to detect them.

The seminar is co-financed by the European Commission through the European Union's "Odysseus" programme. Apart from Greek police officials, the seminar will be attended by representatives of the competent authorities in Albania, Armenia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Italy, Lithuania, Ukraine, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia and Turkey.

The seminar runs from Monday through Thursday.

WEATHER

Cloud and rain will prevail throughout Greece on Tuesday. Winds will be southerly, southwesterly, moderate to strong. Rain in Athens where temperatures will range between 16-24C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from 15-20C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 282.145 British pound 476.358 Japanese yen (100) 239.112 French franc 51.007 German mark 171.021 Italian lira (100) 17.285 Irish Punt 427.552 Belgian franc 8.290 Finnish mark 56.205 Dutch guilder 151.667 Danish kr. 44.977 Austrian sch. 24.324 Spanish peseta 2.014 Swedish kr. 35.484 Norwegian kr. 37.547 Swiss franc 211.212 Port. Escudo 1.669 Aus. dollar 175.604 Can. dollar 183.500 Cyprus pound 583.951

(L.G.)


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