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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-02-18

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, 18/02/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • 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
  • Weather
  • 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 forthcoming trial.

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 Tuesday morning.

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 do so."

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 rebel leader.

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 pursuits."

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 justice."

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 sensitivities itself.

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 image."

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 9 abstaining.

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 said.

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.

WEATHER

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.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

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 euro 319.325

(C.E.)


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