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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-02-02

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, 02/02/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Ankara urged to help end long-standing Cyprus issue
  • Gov't denies reports of Ocalan's presence in Greece
  • Stephanopoulos visit to Austria
  • Tsohatzopoulos confers with Swedish counterpart von Sydow
  • Quake aid to Colombia
  • SPD delegation in Athens
  • Euro-court ruling against Ankara discussed
  • Man accused of murdering his US fiancee ruled sane
  • First of 10 Canadairs arrives in Greece
  • Stagira municipal council rejects second TVX gold mine
  • Stocks hit new high, fuelled by National Bank of Greece stock split
  • Metka to expand in defence, power sectors
  • Eurodeputy tables report on EU's tobacco sector
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Ankara urged to help end long-standing Cyprus issue

European Union Foreign Relations Commissioner Hans van den Broek yesterday called on Turkey to assume its responsibilities and contribute towards a solution to the protracted Cyprus issue.

He made the statement after a meeting here with Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, calling on Turkey to stop placing obstacles in the EU accession course of Cyprus.

"I realise that the political problem was not resolved despite the courageous decision by President (Glafcos) Clerides on the S-300 missiles. However, a solution does not depend only on the one side. A positive contribution by the other side is also nec essary," he said.

Mr. van den Broek described the decision by Mr. Clerides not to deploy the Russian-made missiles system in Cyprus as courageous and important and as a decision toward defusing tension and achieving political settlement of the Cyprus problem.

He said the decision will strengthen EU ties with Cyprus and especially the continuation of the Republic's accession talks, which opened last year.

At the end of last year, after two UN resolutions which referred to the need for the reduction of troops and armaments on the island, Mr. Clerides announced his decision not to deploy the S-300 missile system in Cyprus.

Expressing the EU's appreciation" for the Cypriot president's decision, Mr. van den Broek said the deployment of the S-300 would have disturbed "the EU process that both sides are fully engaged in".

Referring to the Republic's accession negotiations he said "so far Cyprus has made good progress" and reassured "we will do everything on our side to see to it that this is maintained".

With regard to EU relations with Turkey, he said efforts for their improvement must continue.

The EU official also underlined that Ankara must understand that it must not take any actions that will pose problems in efforts to reach a settlement in Cyprus, which has been divided since Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory in 1974.

Gov't denies reports of Ocalan's presence in Greece

Athens denied yesterday that Kurdish separatist leader Abdullah Ocalan attempted to enter the country early in the morning.

The Greek foreign ministry has no idea where fugitive Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan is, diplomatic sources stressed yesterday.

The sources were referring to reports and widespread speculation that Mr. Ocalan was headed for Athens after being denied permission to land in the Netherlands.

The sources said there had been no application from the Kurdish leader to enter Greek territory.

Foreign ministry sources reiterated Athens' position was for condemning terrorism from whichever source, as well as Greece's standing proposal that the Kurdish issue be discussed within the framework of the European Union.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas told reporters at his usual midday press briefing later that there was no truth to the flurry of reports that Mr. Ocalan had landed in Athens and reiterated that there had been no request towards Greek authorities.

He said Greece had taken a leading role in efforts to resolve the Kurdish issue and in the fight for human rights.

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos also denied reports that Mr. Ocalan was in Athens.

Stephanopoulos visit to Austria

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos will officially visit Austria between Feb. 15 and 17, it was announced yesterday. The visit is the first by a Greek head of state to the Austrian capital. He will be accom panied by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and National Economy Deputy Minister Alekos Baltas.

Mr. Stephanopoulos will hold talks with his Austrian counterpart Thomas Klestil, and Chancellor Viktor Klima, while he will also meet Austrian parliament president Heinz Fischer.

The visit is in reciprocation to the one paid by Austrian President Rudolf Kirchschleger in 1984, at the invitation of late president Constantine Karamanlis.

A tentative schedule includes a visit to the National Library of Austria, which has the largest collection of Greek papyri and the third largest in Greek manuscripts, and to the historical ethnic Greek neighbourhood in Vienna, where the Orthodox Cathedr al stands.

Tsohatzopoulos confers with Swedish counterpart von Sydow

Greece and Sweden's defence ministers focused on the situation in eastern Europe and the Balkans - with emphasis on Kosovo and the Cyprus issues - during their meeting in Athens yesterday.

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and his Swedish counterpart Bjorn von Sydow both expressed concerns about developments in Kosovo, stressing that they favoured a peaceful resolution to the problem.

Bilateral defence cooperation was also discussed.

Quake aid to Colombia

A shipment of humanitarian aid to quake-stricken Colombia left from Patra's port yesterday for a 12-day journey to the South American country, where a 6.0 Richter earthquake struck early last month killing more than 900 people and causing widespread devas tation.

Ten containers of aid will be sent aboard the "Peggy Dow", which frequently transports shipments of bananas between the Aegean and Colombia.

Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis yesterday expressed Athens' support for the quake-stricken. He also chaired a meeting of foreign ministry officials, during which it was decided that humanitarian aid, primarily pharmaceuticals, will be sent to Colombia.

In addition, the town planning and public works ministry will provide 10 stainless steel housing units.

SPD delegation in Athens

A German Social Democrat Party (SPD) delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Minister for European Affairs Gunther Verheugen arrives in Athens today and will hold talks with Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

The delegation will also be holding a series of contacts with ruling PASOK party and government cadres.

After meeting Mr. Simitis, the SPD delegation will meet Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, Deputy FM Yiannos Kranidiotis, Deputy National Economy Minister Alekos Baltas, Deputy Labour Minister Christos Protopapas and the PM's adviser, Nikos Themelis, at the foreign ministry. The meeting will focus on the priorities of the German EU presidency and in general foreign policy and employment policy issues, as well as issues included in the "Agenda 2000."

Issues to be examined at this meeting are bilateral relations between PASOK and SPD, their cooperation in the framework of the European Socialist Party (ESP) in light of ESP's congress and the Euro-elections in June, as well as relations between Greece and Germany.

Euro-court ruling against Ankara discussed

Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis and Cyprus Prosecutor General Alekos Markides yesterday presided over a meeting at the foreign ministry in Athens on the subject of compensation that a European Court of Human Rights has ordered Turkey to pay to a Greek Cypriot refugee.

Ankara last June was found guilty of depriving Titina Loizidou of her right to peacefully enjoy her property by denying her access to it, and was ordered to pay more than 450,000 thousand Cyprus pounds, including legal costs.

Ms Loizidou's property lies in the northern part of Cyprus which Turkey has occupied since 1974.

The deadline for payment expired last October, without Turkey complying. After yesterday's meeting, Mr. Kranidiotis stated that the Greek government regretted Turkey's continuing non-compliance with the court ruling, and its behaviour in Cyprus.

"Sooner or later Turkey will be forced to face its responsibilities and decide whether it really wishes to belong to the big family of European democracies which is governed by the principles of the rule of law and respect for human rights, or it will permanently place itself into an orbit of self-isolation and marginalisation," he said.

Man accused of murdering his US fiancee ruled sane

A Kavala hospital psychiatrist yesterday pronounced a 24-year-old man charged with the murder of his American fiancee as "sane and not suffering from any psychological problems."

Defence attorneys for Georgios Skiadopoulos, accused of strangling to death and brutally decapitating the body of July-Marie Scully, were expected to submit a statement today to a Kavala magistrate.

Authorities said Skiadopoulos converted large sums of the woman's money from US dollars into drachmas after the murder, withdrawing several hundred dollars from a joint account.

First of 10 Canadairs arrives in Greece

The first of 10 new fire-fighting aircraft purchased by Greece from Canada yesterday landed in Elefsina.

The rest of the planes are expected to be delivered by 2001, an order costing US$250 million.

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Public Order Minister Philippos Petsalnikos along with the air force and fire brigade leadership were present at the official ceremony.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos praised the efforts of pilots in combatting forest fires, while he expressed his certainty that more of the aircraft will be operational for upcoming summer season.

Stagira municipal council rejects second TVX gold mine

The Halkidiki municipality of Stagira-Akanthos yesterday reiterated its opposition to the creation of a second gold mine by the Canadian firm TVX in the Skouries site.

In a decision yesterday, the town's municipal council said that it agreed to the operation of the existing TVX installations for as long as required.

However,it said operation of a second mine,which the company had announced in 1997,``would have irreversible condequences on water resources and the area's natural wealth...``

Stocks hit new high, fuelled by National Bank of Greece stock split

Stocks surged to a fifth straight record high yesterday reflecting euphoria by investors over a stock split by National Bank of Greece, the country's largest commercial bank.

The general index ended 2.65 percent higher at 3,233.11 points. Turnover was 115.887 billion drachmas on 21,014,174 shares traded.

Early in the session, the index soared beyond 3,270 points, almost 4.0 percent higher, before profit-takers raked in their gains.

Sector indices scored gains.

Banks soared 4.01 percent, Insurance surged 5.37 percent, Investment ended 1.35 percent higher, Construction increased 3.19 percent, Industrials rose 1.07 percent, Miscellaneous ended 3.24 percent up and Holding ended 1.11 percent higher. Leasing buck ed the trend to end 2.16 percent down.

National Bank of Greece's share price jumped 8.0 percent to 21,060 drachmas on the first trading day of new shares resulting from the stock split on volume at 422,000 stocks.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 0.25 percent up, and the FTSE-ASE-20 index for blue chips and heavily traded stocks gained 2.84 percent to end at 2,059,45 points.

Of 288 shares traded, advances outpaced declines at 187 to 83 with 18 unchanged.

The most heavily traded stocks were Teletypos, Thessaliki, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation and Viosol.

Alpha Credit Bank finished at 33,500 drachmas, Ergobank at 27,290, Titan Cement Co. at 23,115, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,350, Intracom at 15,400, Hellenic Bottling at 10,550, Minoan Lines at 7,450, Panafon at 9,900 and 8, 600 drachmas.

Metka to expand in defence, power sectors

Metka, which plans to become a key player in the defence, mining, and energy sectors, is to hold a stock split and turn its preferred shares into common in the wake of its entry into the Mytilineos Group, also listed on the Athens bourse.

The Mytilineos Group's chairman, Evangelos Mytilineos, announced yesterday an alliance with Krupp and Mann of Germany in mining operations in the Balkans. Metka's activities would be funded by means of project finance, without resorting to bank loans or share capital increases, Mr. Mytilineos said.

Metka is seeking to become a player in the European defence industry, working to attain government contracts involving Patriot missiles, tanks and submarines.

The firm is due next week to sign a construction deal involving Patriots.

Metka's breakthrough into the sector is due to the national defence ministry's decision to have foreign companies carrying out projects to work with domestic firms, Mr. Mytilineos said.

The firm also is positioning to take advantage of upcoming liberalisation in the electricity sector, already forging a deal with the Public Power Corporation to create a joint venture for the construction of electricity production in the Balkans.

The firm has a long-term contract with the state corporation until 2005 worth 17 billion drachmas, Mr. Mytilineos said.

He added that Metka was the only domestic firm to tackle the construction of electricity production stations.

By the end of 1999, it will have ensured its participation in a powerful consortium to produce electricity, also planning to work with renewable energy.

Finally, Metka is also interested in an alliance with TVX Hellas, a subsidiary of the Canadian firm, in northern Greece.

Eurodeputy tables report on EU's tobacco sector

New Democracy Eurodeputy Antonis Trakatellis has submitted a report on tobacco in the Europarliament, with which he is attempting to overturn proposals by the Commission on determining subsidies and tobacco quotas over the n ext three years (1999-2001).

The Eurodeputy said he considers the proposals to be very unfavourable for Greek tobacco growers.

Mr. Trakatellis pointed out that no increase in subsidisation prices is anticipated for tobacco varieties, as determined since 1995, resulting in the decrease in producers' income continuing.

He said that it is impossible for Greek producers to replace their production with other varieties in three years. He further said that the proposal for a total transfer to other varieties is leading producers, at least those in Greece, to deadlock since they have planned their production for 1999 and are unable to cover the demands for a change in cultivations both in time and in funds.

Mr. Trakatellis' report has already been discussed at the European Parliament's agriculture committee and is expected to be ratified soon.

WEATHER

Intermittent rain is forecast in most parts of Greece today. Light snowfall in the mountainous regions and possibly in areas of centeral and northern Greece. Winds northerly, northeasterly, moderate, turning strong in the Aegean Sea. Showers in Athens with temperatures ranging from 2C to 10C. Overcast in Thessaloniki with temperatures from -4C to 2C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 279.982 Pound sterling 460.288 Japanese yen (100) 242.663 French franc 48.573 German mark 162.908 Italian lira (100) 16.455 Irish Punt 404.564 Belgian franc 7.898 Finnish mark 53.588 Dutch guilder 144.584 Danish kr. 42.843 Austrian sch. 23.155 Spanish peseta 1.915 Swedish kr. 35.895 Norwegian kr. 37.234 Swiss franc 198.033 Port. Escudo 1.589 Aus. dollar 177.469 Can. dollar 185.087 Cyprus pound 550.441

(C.E.)


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