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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-10-29

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, 29/10/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece marks 58th anniversary of entry into WWII
  • Greece submits memo on EU-Turkey relations
  • Ankara peeved over Greek memo at EU
  • NATO's 'Dynamic Mix '98' concludes
  • V. Papandreou: Social dimension of European unification imperative
  • G.Papandreou lauds Bulgaria's progress towards a united Europe
  • Karamanlis warns ND dissenters
  • Slovenian PM Drnovsek in Athens
  • Kaklamanis-Kyprianou meeting in Athens
  • Wooden vessel crammed with Kurdish illegals intercepted off Crete
  • Athens conference on renewable energy sources
  • Greek equities end higher
  • Interest rates decrease
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece marks 58th anniversary of entry into WWII

Greece yesterday celebrated the 58th anniversary of "Ochi" (No) Day, marking the country's entry into World War II after rejecting an ultimatum by the fascist Italian government.

The Oct. 28, 1940 anniversary was celebrated with church te deums and parades in Athens and other cities, and a military parade in Thessaloniki before President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, who also took the salute.

In a message on the occasion Mr. Stephanopoulos predicted a continuation of tension in Greek-Turkish relations, while speaking in Thessaloniki on Tuesday evening. Mr. Stephanopoulos, addressing a dinner held in his honour by the commander of the Third Army Corps, Lt.-Gen. Athanasios Skarafingas, linked Ankara's provocativeness to Turkey's upgraded role emanating from "oil interests." He also expressed concern over military cooperation between Turkey and Israel.

Greece submits memo on EU-Turkey relations

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos submitted a 48-page memorandum on relations between the EU and Turkey to the Union's Council of Ministers in Luxembourg on Monday, citing all parametres of the two sides' relations, as well as Greek-Turkish issues, the Cyprus question, the Kurdish issue, etc.

The memorandum reminds Athens' partners of positions and views which have been expressed by Turkish officials against Greece. However, according to sources in Brussels, the memo can be described as an indirect reply to efforts by the European Commission to change the legal basis for funding Turkey.

The European Commission is attempting to sidestep Greece's veto by changing the legal basis for funding Turkey and, to this end, it prepared two regulations the second of which includes Turkey in developing countries and anticipates funding amounting to 135 million Ecu, while in parallel it sets out that the relevant decision will be taken with a special majority and not with a unanimous vote.

Among others, the memorandum submitted by Athens mentions the following concerning the Customs Union between the EU and Turkey:

"It should be underlined that the Customs Union was established on the political will of the member-countries of the European Union to promote relations with Turkey. This political will was based on the assumption that Turkey will behave in a way accept able to the European countries and will respond to their desire to see an amelioration in the Greek-Turkish relations, a positive attitude of Ankara towards the Cyprus problem, a sincere effort to ameliorate the human rights standards in Turkey and an acc eptable way to find a solution to the problem in the southeast part of the country.

"In the two and a half years that have elapsed since the enter into force of the Customs Union nothing has happened in those fields.

"The situation in southeast Turkey is becoming every day more tense, the human rights record of Turkey is one of the worst in the world, Ankara is obstinate in blocking all efforts to find a solution to the Cyprus problem, and Turkey's attitude to Greece is aggressive, provocative and hostile.

"As far as the financial regulation is concerned, the bottom line for Greece lies in the fact that no obligation stands from the moment Turkey - immediately after the Customs Union Agreement was ratified by the European Parliament - formulated direct claims on the territory of a member state, landed troops on Greek territory in support of these claims, and risked military confrontation with Greece. This hardly constitutes an attitude of good neighbourliness and effectively absolves the European Union from any mechanistic contractual obligation of financial assistance.

Ankara peeved over Greek memo at EU

Ankara launched a comprehensive verbal attack against Athens yesterday with an announcement by the Turkish foreign ministry referring to the Cyprus issue, the Muslim minority in Thrace, Greek-Turkish relations and the oft- repeated claim of Greek aid to terrorist groups.

The outburst emanated from a memorandum circulated by Athens earlier in the week at the European Union's Council of Ministers, entitled "Relations Between Turkey and the EU."

NATO's 'Dynamic Mix '98' concludes

One of NATO's biggest annual exercises formally ended on Tuesday after involving, for the first time since 1982, joint ground manouevers by troops from the three countries of the alliance's southern wing.

The exercise, codenamed 'Dynamic Mix '98', took place at a time when NATO was preparing for possible intervention in the troubled Yugoslav province of Kosovo.

Speaking on the last day of the exercise, the newly appointed commander-in- chief of NATO forces in southern Europe, US Adm. James O. Ellis, said the initial assessment was that the objectives of the exercise had been fully attained.

He added that the exercise would not be over until the conclusions had been discussed in Izmir, Turkey, by representatives of all participating countries. The exercise, conducted in Greece, Italy and Turkey, began on Oct. 1, with manouevers continuing until Oct. 21.

Taking part were air, land, naval and amphibian forces from 11 NATO member- states: Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Britain and the United States.

Some 5,000 military personnel participated in the exercise with 62 warships and 170 aircraft.

V. Papandreou: Social dimension of European unification imperative

Development Minister Vasso Papandreou stressed on Tuesday that the recent informal EU summit in Poertschach, Austria had ascertained the imperative need to reactivate the social dimension of European unification, and signalled an essential turn and reorientation of EU policy towards that direction.

Ms Papandreou, a former European Commissioner responsible for social policy, said that in recent years, the social dimension of European integration that had been promoted through the European Charter on Social Rights during her term of office had been abandoned due to the prevalence of a restrictive policy aimed at meeting Maastricht criteria, and due to a liberal perspective concerning the operation of the labour market.

Following the adoption of the Social Charter by Britain, which had strongly opposed it at the time under its strict adherence of the rules of the market, Ms Papandreou said, "today Europe has a commonly accepted and cohesive social policy, which gives a nswers to the critical problems of its citizens".

G.Papandreou lauds Bulgaria's progress towards a united Europe

The fourth meeting of the Association Council between Bulgaria and the European Union was held in Luxembourg on Tuesday.

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou represented Greece.

The main conclusion reached from the meeting is that Bulgaria is achieving progress in certain sectors of its economy such as tax policy and industry. However, there are a series of problems which render its accession course difficult, including the operation of the Bulgarian nuclear plant at Kozloduy.

Speaking to the press, Mr. Papandreou underlined Bulgaria's positive steps towards its accession to united Europe, adding that during Tuesday's meeting a series of issues of particular concern to Greece were discussed such as the Kosovo crisis and the repercussions of the Russian crisis on the Bulgarian economy.

He said that the Russian crisis did not affect the Bulgarian economy in particular because to a great degree it has replaced its economic relations with Russia with corresponding relations with EU countries.

Mr. Papandreou also said that the issue of illegal immigration was discussed at the meeting.

Karamanlis warns ND dissenters

Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis warned internal party dissenters on Tuesday night that on ND's course towards assuming the government's reins he will not tolerate disputes.

"On the course towards tomorrow, which is aimed at creating a strong and dignified government that will give inspiration to the people there is no place for complacency and rest. Whoever thinks that he is tired of the past, either due to personal bitter ness or to other reasons can sit aside," Mr. Karamanlis told party cadres in Thessaloniki, adding that "all this is not just words as some might think." Mr. Karamanlis also referred to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), saying that Greece's accession is an unquestionable necessity. However, he said that what is of primary importance is protection of citizens' security and property as well as the problems of the economy and education.

Slovenian PM Drnovsek in Athens

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek begins an official visit to Greece today.

Mr. Drnovsek is scheduled to meet with President Kostis Stephanopoulos, Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis and Athens Ma-yor Dimitris Avramopoulos.

It will be the first official visit by a Slovenian prime minister to Greece and comes after visits by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos to Slovenia earlier this year.

Mr. Drnovsek's visit is expected to focus on Slovenia's efforts to join the European Union. Greece is one of the countries that has not yet ratified the EU agreement with Slovenia but is expected to place the issue on Parliament's agenda soon.

Kaklamanis-Kyprianou meeting in Athens

Developments over the Cyprus issue were the focus of talks on Tuesday between the parliament presidents of Greece and Cyprus, Apostolos Kaklamanis and Spyros Kyprianou, respectively, in Athens.

Both men reiterated that the goal of the Greek side was Cyprus's accession to the European Union, which would facilitate a settlement of the problem.

"The Cypus problem will not be solved in Cyprus, but primarily in Washington, and then in London and Brussels, so efforts for (Cyprus') accession must be directed there," Mr. Kyprianou said.

Talks on coordinated activities by the Greek and Cypriot houses will continue during Mr. Kaklamanis' official visit to Nicosia, in the middle of November.

Wooden vessel crammed with Kurdish illegals intercepted off Crete

The coastguard yesterday detained 263 illegal immigrants, mostly Kurds from Iraq, that were crammed into the hold of a Lebanese-flagged wooden fishing boat.

Authorities were alerted by the skipper of a Greek fishing boat, who had spotted a large number of people on the deck of the 25-metre "Santa Maria" as it was sailing off the southwest coast of Crete.

A patrol boat located the vessel shortly afterwards.

Apart from the 263 Iraqis, including 123 children of different ages, the coastguard arrested two Syrian nationals apparently piloting the vessel and suspected of masterminding the smuggling operation.

According to initial reports, the "Santa Maria" sailed from a port in Lebanon. The two Syrians and the illegal immigrants will appear before a public prosecutor in Hania today.

Athens conference on renewable energy sources

The Athens Polytechnic will organise a conference in the Greek capital on the subject of renewable energy sources and their application in Greece, scheduled for Nov. 30 through Dec. 2.

The conference will be attended by Development Minister Vasso Papandreou and EU Commissioner responsible for energy Christos Papoutsis, among others.

The main focus of the conference is the further introduction of renewable energy sources in the country's energy balance and the shaping of an integrated national strategy on development of these forms of energy.

Greek equities end higher

Greek equities ended sharply higher for the second consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, reflecting strong buying activity in banks and industrials.

The general index ended 1.71 percent higher to 2,140.39 points in heavy turnover of 46.2 billion drachmas. Volume was 11,483,000 shares.

Traders said the market was expecting a new cut in the Bank of Greece's intervention rate by 25 basis points soon, in line with a climate of lower rates in the European Union.

Sector indices were mixed. Banks rose 2.11 percent, Insurance fell 0.33 percent, Investment was 0.08 percent off, Leasing dropped 1.31 percent, Industrials increased 1.82 percent, Construction fell 1.01 percent, Miscellaneous ended 0.75 percent up and Holding jumped 2.4 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.24 percent higher.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 137 to 90 with another 23 issues unchanged.

Interest rates decrease

Interest rates fell significantly in Tuesday's Treasury bills auction held by the Greek finance ministry.

The average weighted rate in one year T-bills fell to 11.0 percent from 11.6 percent in the previous auction.

Primary dealers offered 450.8 billion drachmas, more than double the original aim of 200 billion. The finance ministry finally accepted bids totalling 228.6 billion drachmas.

The fall in T-bill rates is a favourable development for the government in its effort to contain inflation and cut long-term yields, two major EMU convergence criteria.

Financiers agreed that although Greek 10-year bond spreads remained high at 400 basis points above the Maastricht criterion of 6.0 percent, the situation could be easily improved on the condition that inflation would be contained to 2.0 percent by the end of 1999.

Long-term interest rates would then follow the decline, they said.

In the domestic secondary bond market the climate was positive.

The Greek paper market remains vulnerable to moves by foreign investors. Experts say that bond prices could be hit again in future international turmoil and the government would like to avoid such a prospect now that the country has entered a final stretch towards the Maastricht criteria.

WEATHER

Fair weather throughout Greece today turning cloudy in the western and northern parts of the country. Winds northerly, moderate to strong and at times very strong in the southeastern Aegean Sea. Athens will be sunny with temperatures from 12-22C. Fair weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 5-19.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 279.873 British pound 466.796 Japanese yen (100) 233.646 French franc 50.334 German mark 168.858 Italian lira (100) 17.053 Irish Punt 420.410 Belgian franc 8.177 Finnish mark 55.532 Dutch guilder 149.574 Danish kr. 44.364 Austrian sch. 23.992 Spanish peseta 1.987 Swedish kr. 36.188 Norwegian kr. 37.043 Swiss franc 206.182 Port. Escudo 1.645 Aus. dollar 171.715 Can. dollar 181.536 Cyprus pound 572.344

(C.E.)


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