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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-10-14

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, 14/10/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Premier welcomes 'unity of views' at southeast Europe summit
  • Athens hails Milosevic-Holbrooke agreement for Kosovo
  • Greek under-21 soccer team edges Georgia 3-2
  • Progress in relations expected after Turkish elections
  • Large NATO exercise ends in northern Greece
  • President receives outgoing Russian ambassador Matvienko
  • Gov't to adhere to tight economic policy, Papantoniou says
  • Gov't expected to OK third float for state telecom within days
  • Greek stocks rally in slim trade
  • Greece meets EU fiscal discipline criteria for '97
  • Georgian chamber leader in Greece
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Premier welcomes 'unity of views' at southeast Europe summit

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday welcomed the unity of views at a summit of southeast European countries regarding the need to safeguard territorial integrity in the region and work towards defusing tension through peaceful means. Speaking to reporters after the summit meeting in Antalya, Mr. Simitis said Albania and Yugoslavia's coincidence of views leading to a joint declaration over the troubled Yugoslav province of Kosovo, issued at the summit, was "an indicati on of progress".

The communique by the leaders underlined support for the decisions of the UN Security Council and called for an immediate stop to hostilities in Kosovo and the commencement of unconditional talks. The communique also underlined the commitment to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Yugoslavia and for the "full protection of all rights of residents, citizens, ethnic minorities and ethnic communities, on the basis of equality". The leaders also referred to the new Albanian government as " a prerequisite for the further restoration of public order and the growth of a constructive dialogue between the political forces in Albania, in the framework of democratic institutions".

The communique also stressed the European vocation of all the nations of southeast Europe and adopted the view, strongly expressed by Greece, that European unification could not be complete without the inclusion of all the countries of southeast Europe.

The communique also referred to Bosnia and reiterated the support of all countries for the full implementation of the Dayton agreements.

Mr. Simitis stressed the presence of Greece in all countries in the region and reminded that 3,000 Greek companies are active in southeast Europe.

The communique also hails the decision for the creation of a political consultations mechanism on policy and security issues, as well as the development of cooperation on issues concerning human rights, environmental protection, political exchanges, tackling terrorism, organised crime and other threats for stability and security in the region.

The Antalya meeting agreed on the creation of a centre for the development of trade between countries in the region, while the ministers and prime ministers signed relevant documents.

The creation of an advisory forum between the Parliaments of countries in southeastern Europe was also decided and the meeting hailed the effort by the Foreign Ministry directors to start a study for the creation of a proclamation of good neighbourly rules for countries in southeastern Europe.

The meeting was attended by the Prime Ministers Momir Bulatovic of Yugoslavia, Branco Cerkovski of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Ivan Kostov of Bulgaria, Mr. Simitis of Greece, Radu Vasil of Romania and Mesut Yilmaz of Turkey, as well as the Foreign Ministers Ismail Cem of Turkey, Blagoye Hatjinski of FYROM, Zivadin Jovanovic of Yugoslavia, Nadezha Mihailova of Bulgaria, Paskal Milo of Albania, Theodoros Pangalos of Greece and Andrei Plesu of Romania. Ivo Sanader of Croatia and Besin Spahik of Bosnia also attended as observers.

Athens hails Milosevic-Holbrooke agreement for Kosovo

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday welcomed the agreement for the pacification of Yugoslavia's Kosovo province, reached by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and US presidential envoy Richard Holbrooke in the early morning hours Tuesday.

"With a sense of relief, which, as seen by the statement issued at the end of the Antalya summit, is shared by all the countries of the region, Greece hails the agreement reached by Messrs. Holbrooke and Milosevic for ending the crisis in Kosovo. In this framework, it calls on the Kosovar leadership under Mr. (Ibrahim) Rugova to proceed to the process of peace-making, and on UCK to now show the courage required by peace," he said in a statement.

"Greece congratulates the architects of the agreement, President Milosevic and Mr. Holbrooke. It draws, however, attention to how near the danger of the conflagration drew and how all margins for negotiation had to be exhausted," he continued.

"The Greek side will make all efforts for the peace process to succeed. As in the past, Greece will participate with men and means in the organs that will be set up, particularly in the "Compliance Verifying Mission" of the OSCE, which constitutes the catalytic expression of Prime Minister Costas Simitis' initiative last June.

"Greece believes in the favourable outcome of this process, which also constitutes an indisputable vindication of its Balkan policy, and calls on its friends and partners in Europe and the neighbouring region to join forces in this great task," Mr. Repp as concluded.

Greece had long insisted on the need for a political solution to the crisis and the exhaustion of all diplomatic means for a settlement, stressing that it would not veto any NATO intevention, but would not provide any troops or planes in operations either.

Greek under-21 soccer team edges Georgia 3-2

Greece's under-21 football team yesterday beat Georgia 3-2 in a European championship qualifying match at the Nikos Goumas stadium (AEK) in Athens' Nea Philadelphia district.

Scorers: Greece - Liolidis (28), Kostantinidis (39) and Koulakiotis (89). Georgia - Rekozivili (31), Moudzin (45).

The same two countries' men's teams will meet today in a Euro 2000 qualifying match at the Athens Olympic Stadium - 6 p.m.

Progress in relations expected after Turkish elections

Prime Minister Costas Simitis stressed yesterday that no progress in Greek- Turkish relations would be noted until after the holding of Turkish elections, while speaking in Antalya, Turkey.

"As long as the issue of elections (in Turkey) is pending, there can be no solution to problems," the prime minister told reporters at the conclusion of the two-day summit of southeast European leaders.

Mr. Simitis met with his Turkish counterpart and host Mesut Yilmaz on Monday night. Both Greek and Turkish sides said the meeting was "positive" despite both premiers ascertaining that the climate prevailing in Greek- Turkish relations was not good.

Mr. Simitis said on yesterday that he had underlined that the International Court of Justice at the Hague was available as a framework to deal with differences over the delineation of the Aegean continental shelf and other problems that Turkey believes it has with Greece.

The recognition of the jurisdiction of the court is a prerequisite to Turkey being absorbed into European institutions, Mr. Simitis said.

Mr. Yilmaz, at a news conference, said that the two countries continued to have differences of opinions on how to deal with disputes. "We request a cataloging of all problems, Greece insists on the procedure through the International Court," he said.

Mr. Yilmaz also denied reports in the Turkish press that he had broached the issue of Kurdish Workers' Party "cooperation" with Mr. Simitis.

Referring to the same issue, Mr. Simitis flatly denied that Greece was involved in any illegal activity directed against any neighbouring country, but that it would continue to support the right of all Greeks and foreign residents of Greece to freedom of expression.

He said that he told Mr. Yilmaz that Greece's standing position was that Turkey's differences with Syria must be resolved through peaceful and diplomatic means and the recourse to force could only be justified if it had the prior approval of the UN Secu rity Council.

Large NATO exercise ends in northern Greece

The Greek portion of NATO's largest exercise in its southern wing ended yesterday in the northern Halkidiki region of central Macedonia.

According to a scenario for the 'Dynamic Mix '98' exercise, NATO forces were called on to maintain borders and create conditions of safe passage for groups of hypothetical refugees.

The NATO exercise was carried out with the assistance of Greek Railways (OSE) trains, as well as jeeps and armoured personnel carriers. "Refugees" were examined by doctors and given clothing and food. Military forces cordoned-off the area, checking all vehicles attempting to enter, while they "fought-off" armed gangs trying to raid trains bringing in food and medicine.

The scenario for the entire exercise involves an attack on Turkey by a hypothetical country south of its borders, "Yellowlandia". The government of "Greylandia", on the northern borders of Greece, exploits the unrest to repress its minorities. This resu lts in a wave of refugees towards the south, reaching Greek borders while others attempt to cross the Dalmatian coast and reach Italy.

The US reponse is immediate and NATO forces are called on to conduct missions on three fronts: defensive and offensive in Turkey and humanitarian in Greece and Italy. Italian Gen. Francesco Vanucci, the sub-commander of NATO's southern flank, said at the conclusion of the exercise that NATO was ready in the best possible manner to undertake any mission and hailed the professionalism of the troops participating.

Gen. Vanucci said the new role the Alliance was being called upon to play meant that it needed to be able to respond with flexibility simultaneously in many different regions.

Greece, along with Turkey and Italy, is hosting 'Dynamic Mix '98' which will involve forces from 11 NATO nations and is designed to improve the southern region's capability to implement NATO strategy and to deal simultaneously with a crisis and peace support operation.

In total the exercise will involve approximately 17,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. Approximately 5,000 troops, 62 ships and 170 aircraft will participate, as well as all NATO headquarters in the Southern Region. It is directed and coordinated by the Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces in Southern Europe (CINCSOUTH).

President receives outgoing Russian ambassador Matvienko

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos yesterday received outgoing Russian ambassador to Athens Valentina Matvienko, part of a farewell courtesy visit by the ambassador.

Ms Matvienko will assume the post of deputy prime minister in Russian PM Yevgeny Primakov's government, responsible for social affairs.

Gov't to adhere to tight economic policy, Papantoniou says

The government will refrain from relaxing its economic policy as any deviation would have a negative impact on the economy, interest rates and the drachma, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday.

Commenting on the outcome of Sunday's local elections, Mr. Papantoniou told reporters that conclusions should not be drawn from the first round of voting. Some areas are due for a second round next Sunday.

The minister noted that the government's economic policy was based on the mandate it received from general elections in 1996.

Turning to incomes policy in 1999-2001, he said that workers would see a real increase in wages as in the past, which meant pay rises slightly higher than inflation forecasts for each year.

The period spans a convergence programme designed to take Greece into European economic and monetary union that on Monday received the approval of EU economics ministers, a move Mr. Papantoniou described as a message of confidence that was especially im portant for markets.

The government aims to bring Greece into the euro, the EU's single currency, by January 1, 2001.

Mr. Papantoniou said that reducing consumer price inflation to 2.0 percent at the end of 1999, a requirement for EMU entry, would be the most difficult task.

But the government would use all means at its disposal to achieve the target, including lowering indirect taxes.

Beyond reducing a gasoline tax in September and slashing by more than half a heating oil tax in October, the government had yet to take further decisions on cutting indirect taxes but was examining all the possibilities, the minister said.

He also urged enterprises to contribute to the government's effort to combat inflation by lowering their prices, which some supermarket owners have already done.

Mr. Papantoniou was optimistic that all convergence targets would be met by the end of 1999, and that the government would apply in the first half of 2000 to participate in EMU, barring any major deterioration in the global economy.

However, no such risk was currently being forecast, he said.

Gov't expected to OK third float for state telecom within days

The government is expected within days to give the go-ahead for a third float for Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) as part of its privatisation plan, national economy ministry sources said yesterday.

The float, which was originally scheduled for the autumn, is to sell around 10 percent of share capital, raising the amount privatised to 35 percent of stock.

Greek stocks rally in slim trade

Greek equities rebounded strongly on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday reversing a three-day decline that had pushed the market 10 percent lower.

The general index ended 2.46 percent higher at 1,782.49 points in thin turnover of 29.3 billion drachmas.

Sector indices scored gains.

Banks rose 2.60 percent, Insurance ended 0.29 percent up, Investment jumped 2.50 percent, Leasing soared 6.15 percent, Industrials rose 2.53 percent, Construction ended 1.45 percent higher, Miscellaneous increased 4.12 percent and Holding rose 4.04 perc ent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 0.71 percent higher. The FTSE/ASE 20 index ended 2.46 percent higher at 1,055.49 points.

Volume was 7,348,000 shares.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 174 to 49 with another 19 issues unchanged.

Greece meets EU fiscal discipline criteria for '97

Greece, Spain, Portugal,and Ireland have met set targets regarding fiscal discipline in 1997, and therefore, there is no problem regarding the continuation of their funding from the Cohesion Fund, the European Commissi on stated yesterday in a report regarding the fund.

The Cohesion Fund functions on the principle of conditionality, on the basis of which its ouflows to the member-states cease if they do not achieve their annual commitments in relation to their fiscal deficit.

The fund mainly finances projects in the sectors of transport and environmental protection. Greece received 493.5 million ecu in 1997 for these two sectors.

Georgian chamber leader in Greece

The president of Greece's Central Federation of Chambers (KEE) met in Athens yesterday with his visiting counterpart from Georgia for discussions focusing on bilateral cooperation and boosting business relations.

KEE President Paris Kyriakopoulos and Georgian Commercial and Industry Chairman Guram Ahvlendiani also discussed Georgia's course towards a free market economy, privatisations, major construction projects and attraction of foreign investments in the one -time Soviet republic.

The Georgian chamber official extended an invitation to Mr. Kyriakopoulos to visit Tbilisi.

WEATHER

Unsettled weather will prevail throughout Greece on Wednesday.

Winds will be variable, moderate to strong. Showers in Athens where temperatures will range between 15-20C. Possibility of rain in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from 13-17C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 280.924 British pound 477.946 Japanese yen (100) 235.104 French franc 51.034 German mark 171.070 Italian lira (100) 17.285 Irish Punt 427.552 Belgian franc 8.293 Finnish mark 56.227 Dutch guilder 151.746 Danish kr. 44.991 Austrian sch. 24.327 Spanish peseta 2.014 Swedish kr. 35.766 Norwegian kr. 37.468 Swiss franc 210.939 Port. Escudo 1.667 Aus. dollar 174.939 Can. dollar 182.746 Cyprus pound 582.304

(L.G.)


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