Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-02-18
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 18/02/1999 (ANA)
- Greece to raise Ocalan ussue at General Affairs Council
- US support for bizonal, bicommunal federation solution in Cyprus
- Amended contract for S-300s signed in Moscow
- Euro-MP Alavanos goes to Turkey
- G. Papandreou ends talks in Vienna, heads for Bonn
- Human rights groups on Ocalan case
- Treaty of Amsterdam overwhelmingly approved
- Cooperation protocol signed between Genoa, Barcelona and Athens
- Investment firms show 20 pct jump in market value
- Stocks post gains in wake of slump
- International banking groups agree to closer cooperation
- Titan, Lafarge to buyout Egyptian cement maker
- Most public hospitals back to normal after doctors paid
- Young Greeks chosen in EU Managers Programme
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Greece to raise Ocalan ussue at General Affairs Council
Athens will raise the issue of the capture in Kenya of Kurdish rebel leader
Abdullah Ocalan at Monday's meeting of the EU's General Affairs Council,
government spo-kesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.
The Greek government will be represented at the meeting by Alternate
Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who will also raise the issue of the
conditions under which the Kurdish leader is being held in Turkey and his
In the meantime, Mr. Reppas said Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who is
still in bed with the flu, will today chair a joint meeting of the inner
Cabinet and the ruling PASOK party's political secretariat.
Eight PASOK deputies have called for Mr. Pangalos' resignation following
Mr. Ocalan's capture in Kenya and subsequent transfer to Turkey early
The spokesman said there was no question of Mr. Pangalos resigning.
Referring to certain aspects of the Ocalan affair, Mr. Reppas said the
rebel Kurd leader and his associates had forcefully pressed to be allowed
to settle in Greece permanently, "and certain parties, acting in an
irresponsible manner, had given him the impression that he would be able to
Replying to reporters' persistent questions, the government spokesman said
several of Mr. Ocalan's associates, who were with him at the Greek
ambassador's residence in Nairobi, had already left, while others had
remained "but are not hostages".
The circumtances under which Mr. Ocalan was captured have not been fully
clarified, Mr. Reppas said, adding that it was not "the right moment" to
refer to the actual facts.
Mr. Reppas said the Greek ambassador remained in Nairobi, despite a call by
Kenya for his recall.
US support for bizonal, bicommunal federation solution in Cyprus
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright yesterday reiterated Washington's
support for UN efforts towards a solution to the protracted Cyprus problem
based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation.
Speaking to the press following a meeting with Cyprus Foreign Minister
Ioannis Kasoulides, Ms Albright said "the United States and Cyprus have
enjoyed very close relations for years, and we have an extensive trade
relationship, we cooperate to fight crime, drug trafficking and terrorism,
and we have a common interest in building a Europe that is united,
prosperous and free, a Europe in which all Cypriots fully participate.
"We also share a critical interest in bringing about a diplomatic
resolution to the Cyprus problem. For we cannot meet our broader goals so
long as Cyprus remains unresolved," she said.
"Today, Foreign Minister Kasoulides and I discussed the prospects for
moving forward on the settlement process. The United States firmly supports
the UN efforts for a solution based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation."
"I told the Foreign Minister that President (Glafcos) Clerides' courageous
decision not to deploy the S-300 missiles on Cyrpus has opened new
opportunities to find a resolution for the Cyprus problem.
"I stressed that the President and I are both personally interested in
helping to move ahead. Last December President Clinton pledged strong
American support for UN Secretary General (Kofi) Annan's initiative to
reduce tensions and seek a settlement," she said.
Mr. Kasoulides said "Cyprus, being conscious of its size, has proven all
along that it can be a reliable and constructive friend. The people of
Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike, have the right to enjoy
freedom, peace and stability like any other people in the world."
Amended contract for S-300s signed in Moscow
A Cypriot defence ministry delegation and representatives of the Russian
weapons maker Rosvooruzhenie have signed an amendment to an original
contract for purchase by Cyprus of the S-300 missiles, allowing for their
deployment on Crete instead of the island republic.
The signing marked the end of two days of negotiations here between Cypriot
Defence Minister Yiannakis Chrysostomis and Rosvooruzhenie officials. Also
present in the talks was Greek director general of armaments.
Talks centred on issues related to the execution of the 1997 contract for
the S-300s, introducing a number or required changes.
Euro-MP Alavanos goes to Turkey
Greek Euro-MP Alekos Alavanos will travel to Istanbul today to present a
Europarliament committee's resolutions on PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.
The European Parliament committee on foreign affairs, defence and security,
convening in Brussels yesterday, adopted resolutions calling on Turkish
judicial authorities to guarantee humane treatment of the captured Kurd
Mr. Alavanos, a Eurodeputy representing the Coalition of the Left and
Progress, will represent the European Parliament at the joint committee
meeting with the Turkish national assembly.
The Europarliament committee called for Mr. Ocalan's trial to be fair and
public, for the accused to be given the right to choose his own lawyer and
that European Parliament members be allowed to visit him.
It also reminded Turkey of its obligations as a member of the Council of
Europe not to apply the death penalty.
The committee also noted that a political solution was needed to the
Kurdish issue and that a just solution would be definitive for the future
of relations between the European Union and Turkey.
G. Papandreou ends talks in Vienna, heads for Bonn
Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou left for Bonn yesterday for
talks regarding the safety of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, the Kurdish
problem and bilateral issues.
Mr. Papandreou was briefed by Greek ambassador in Vienna Yiannis Yennimatas,
after the ending of an occupation of the Greek embassy by about 40 Kurdish
protesters, preceded by marathon negotiations.
Austrian Interior Minister Karl Schlegl said the PKK had managed to
coordinate its activity internationally, and this should lead authorities
to conclusions regarding their improved consultation.
Mr. Papandreou stated later that he had also been in communication with his
Dutch counterpart in order to coordinate efforts regarding the occupation
of the Greek embassy in The Hague, which ended later in the day. This
brought the number of Greek dipl omatic missions in Europe still occupied
by Kurdish protesters to three, namely, the embassies in London and Berne,
and the consulate in Zurich.
Meanwhile, according to an ANA dispatch from Melbourne, Australian
authorities had filed charges against 65 people of Kurdish origin,
including 30 women and two children, for illegally invading and ocupying
the Greek consulate in Sydney early yesterday morning.
Human rights groups on Ocalan case
The international community, and the governments of all OSCE countries in
particular, are collectively responsible for the Kurdish people's
continuing drama and the development in the Ocalan case, the Greek Helsinki
Agreements Watch said yesterday in a joint announcement with the Greek
Group for Minority Rights.
According to the two organisations, in refusing to grant political asylum
to Ocalan and bring him to justice for what he is charged with (and doing
the same for the Turkish authorities for their criminal acts againts the
Kurds), the European and North American governments showed that "no
government in the world sincerely respects human rights. All of them merely
invoke them when they are in line with their interests or their electoral
The two organisations denounced the US government for constituting an
accessory and moral accomplice and praiser of Turkey's crimes against the
Kurds, "a stance making it accountable to every law-abiding body of
They also denounced the European Union for making "hypocritical" appeals
for a fair trial for Ocalan in Turkey. In parallel, they noted that the
Kurdish leadership, accepting support by "known intolerant Greek nationalists
who have proved in other issues thet they have no respect for human rights",
deals a blow at the international appeal of the Kurdish struggle "and with
its position it once again confirms the impression that it lacks democratic
The two organisations condemned the attacks against Greek consulates in
Europe by Kurds and call on the Greek government to place responsibilities
in all directions and remove from its ranks "all those who with their
repeatedly callous position harm it, as well as Greece's international
Treaty of Amsterdam overwhelmingly approved
After a five-day debate, interspersed with long intervals on the latest
developments in the Ocalan affair, Parliament early this morning overwhelmingly
approved the Treaty of Amsterdam, with 246 votes in favour, 19 against and
Cooperation protocol signed between Genoa, Barcelona and Athens
A friendship and cooperation protocol between Athens, Barcelona and Genoa
was yesterday signed in Athens by the cities' respective mayors.
"It is up to us to put in actual practice the broader cooperation protocol
we signed today, by extending it in the future through the participation of
more cities for the sake of our citizens today and tomorrow, for Europe,
for our history," Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos said.
Athens, Barcelona and Genoa will each play a leading role in 2004, as they
will host the Olympic Games, world cultural congress and Cultural Capital
of Europe institution, respectively.
Investment firms show 20 pct jump in market value
Investment firms in January posted a rise in market value to 387.7 billion
drachmas, up 64.6 billion drachmas, or 20 percent, the Institutional
Investors Union said in a statement yesterday.
The net asset value of the sector's 16 firms rose to 374.3 billion drachmas,
showing a rise of 38.8 billion drachmas, or 12 percent, the statement
The union attributed the improvement in figures to the Athens Stock
Exchange's robust performance.
The investment companies sector posted a premium of 3.6 percent at the end
of January against a discount of 3.7 percent at the end of December.
Stocks post gains in wake of slump
Equities resumed their upward course on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday
following a sharp correction in the previous session.
Dealers said investors bought blue chips in the industrial and leasing
sectors and smaller capitalisation stocks.
The general index ended 0.99 percent higher at 3,430.46 points. Turnover
was 137.458 billion drachmas and volume 31,107,889 shares.
Sector indices scored gains.
Banks rose 0.10 percent, Leasing soared 8.0 percent, Insurance increased
3.77 percent, Investment ended 0.39 percent up, Construction rose 0.59
percent, Industrials ended 2.71 percent higher, Miscellaneous increased
4.72 percent and Holding rose 1.26 pe rcent.
The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 5.14 percent up
while the FTSE/ASE 20 index rose 0.18 percent to 2,130.31.
National Bank of Greece ended at 20,230 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 34,
595, Ergobank at 24,500, Ionian Bank at 17,000, Titan Cement at 23,480,
Hellenic Petroleum at 2,682, Intracom at 19,926, Minoan Lines at 7,600,
Panafon at 9,695 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,900.
International banking groups agree to closer cooperation
Banking representatives from 13 countries in the Black Sea region, the
Balkans and the Mediterranean yesterday agreed to cooperate more closely in
order to face challenges posed by the global economy.
The secretary general of the Hellenic Banks Association, Ioannis Manos, who
chaired the International Banking Forum held in Athens, called for a
regular meeting every two years.
Representatives noted the problems their countries faced in reorganising
their economies and creating a new legal framework suitable for the
development of banking systems.
The forum was attended by banking representatives from Albania, Armenia,
Bulgaria, Cyprus, Israel, Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Turkey, Slovenia, Romania,
Autonomous Palestinian Territories, Lebanon and Greece.
Titan, Lafarge to buyout Egyptian cement maker
The Titan cement company has signed an agreement with the French company
Lafarge for a joint venture in Egypt, with the acquisition of the Beni Suef
Co. which is being privatised by the Egyptian government.Titan and Lafarge
agreed to establish a holding c ompany with equal stakes of 50 per cent
each for the acquisition of a 76 per cent stake in the Egyptian firm, while
they plan to add a second production line to increase the Egyptian plant's
total production to three million tonnes annually. Beni Suef dis tributed
1.4 million tonnes of cement in the local market last year.
Titan has been active in Egypt since 1979, when it set up a distribution
centre for imported cement. Sales in Egypt are forecast to reach 800,000
tonnes this year.
The French company is active in 65 countries worldwide, with an annual
turnover of 10 billion euros.
Most public hospitals back to normal after doctors paid
The crisis in the health sector is apparently ebbing as all public
hospitals were back to normal yesterday, except for the "Laiko" where
doctors have taken a different stance.
After the payment of a large portion of retroactive pay earlier this year
and a government decision to increase budget allocations to pay doctors'
overtime, union representatives are now promoting demands related to
upgraded services offered to patients through the purchase of more medical
equipment, improvement of infrastructure and personnel increases.
Public doctors' participation in yesterday's Hospital Doctors' Union
general assembly was limited and amidst disagreement regarding the
continuation or not of mobilisations, the meeting was interrupted due to an
insufficient number of participants for reaching a decision.
Young Greeks chosen in EU Managers Programme
Two young Greeks have been chosen by the European Union to participate in
the first year of the programme "EU-China Junior Managers Programme", which
aims to train young managers in China's business environment and language.
The programme falls within EU strategy to develop relations with the
People's Republic of China.
Christina Kouli, with a master's degree in astrophysics and Haralambos
Kapachtis, with an MBA, are among another 45 people from EU countries to
participate in the programme.
Overcast weather and sporadic showers will prevail in most parts of Greece
today with snowfall in the mountainous regions. A drop in temperatures
expexcted tomorrow. Winds variable, moderate to strong. Partly cloudy in
Athens with temperatures between 7-12C. Same in the morning in Thessaloniki
with temperatures from 3-7C.
Thursday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 283.682
Pound sterling 463.720 Japanese yen (100) 239.469
French franc 48.680 German mark 163.268
Italian lira (100) 16.492 Irish Punt 405.459
Belgian franc 7.916 Luxembourg franc 7.916
Finnish mark 53.707 Dutch guilder 144.903
Danish kr. 42.954 Austrian sch. 23.206
Spanish peseta 1.920 Swedish kr. 35.898
Norwegian kr. 36.766 Swiss franc 199.893
Port. Escudo 1.593 Aus. dollar 179.542
Can. dollar 189.373 Cyprus pound 548.576