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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-02-27

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, 27/02/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis: '15' EU leaders demand fair, open trial for Ocalan
  • Athens dismisses latest Ankara barbs following Ocalan 'confessions'
  • Greece has not consented to NATO intervention in Kosovo
  • Final decisions on 'Agenda 2000' agricultural policy pending
  • Piraeus Bank-Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi cooperation agreement
  • Gazprom officials in Athens for talks on natural gas issue
  • Stocks end slightly up after dizzy week
  • Greece to issue eight securities over two months
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Simitis: '15' EU leaders demand fair, open trial for Ocalan

BONN (ANA - M. Spinthourakis) Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday that he raised the issue of implementing decisions taken at a recent Council of Ministers' meeting regarding the detention of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan in Turkey.

Speaking after a special EU summit in Petersberg, outside of Bonn, he said the "15" had agreed that Ocalan's trial should be open, based on the principles of the rule of law, with a free selection of his lawyers and with full respect for human rights.

The Greek PM made the statement at a press conference shortly after the end of the summit, where the main issues discussed were the Ocalan affair and the Union's fiscal prospects within the framework of "Agenda 2000".

"The course of Turkey's relationship with Europe will largely depend on the stand it will adopt on the Ocalan issue," he said, stressing that this view prevailed among the other EU leaders, and that they would stress to Ankara at both the Community and bilateral level the need to respect the principles of the rule of law.

"The European Union is a Community not only of interests but also of values, irrespective of the fact that national expediencies often determine the policies of statesIOca-lan's trial should be treated by the EU on the basis of political, democratic and humanitarian principles on which the edifice of the European Union was established," he added.

The Greek prime minister held separate meetings with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, French President Jacques Chirac, as well as the prime ministers of Italy, Massimo d' Alema and Spain, Jose Maria Aznar.

He announced that Mr. Aznar replied that he had already contacted Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, stressing the need for a fair judicial procedure for Ocalan. Regarding discussions on "Agenda 2000", the Greek premier stressed that the basic qu estion was what resources should be devoted to the Community budget and how faster growth rates would be achieved.

With particular reference to the issue of reforming CAP, Mr. Simitis stressed Greece agreed with the view that spending in the agricultural sector could be restricted.

Finally, he said Athens was in favour of negotiations on the Community's fiscal prospects, closing at the special summit in Berlin next month.

According to the proposal, reflecting a particularly restrictive German view on the size of EU budgets, expenses for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will amount to 283 billion euros, while the expenses for structural policies will be in the region of 220 billion euro for the period. France, which is partially in agreement with the proposals, has called for the avoidance of "generous" cutbacks in CAP funds.

Athens dismisses latest Ankara barbs following Ocalan 'confessions'

Athens emphasised yesterday that Ankara was exploiting the so-called 'Ocalan confessions' to the fullest, although its latest verbal attacks against Greece would only serve to do harm to itself.

"Turkey's psychosis about supposed Greek-PKK relations is not new," acting government spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said.

"It is attempting to exploit the situation... This is not Ocalan talking but Turkish propaganda".

The pro-government Turkish press reported yesterday that Ocalan had 'confessed' that the Greek Orthodox Church and businessmen had financed the Kurdish rebel struggle. One confession claimed that the Greek defence minister was leaking NATO secrets to Ru ssia.

"We will be hearing a lot more," Mr. Athanassakis predicted. He called the allegations about the defence minister "laughable".

He noted that Ankara's claim that there was a training camp in the Lavrion refugee camp had been rejected by the UN High Commission for Refugees given that the camp was under permanent inspection by the Red Cross and the UN.

G. Papandreou: Foreign Minister George Papandreou told reporters later that Ankara's attempts to make Greece a scapegoat would fail and Turkey had to begin to deal with the Kurdish problem with European values.

"The Kurdish issue is not a Greek issue nor a Greek-Turkish issue. It is a European issue," he said.

He was speaking after a meeting with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis on the latest developments over the Ocalan affair and on discussions underway at the European Union.

The Greek FM said he was keen to pursue wider cooperation and consensus on an inter-party level in foreign policy even through a foreign policy council.

Greece has not consented to NATO intervention in Kosovo

Greece has not consented to a NATO intervention in the troubled Yugoslav province of Kosovo, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said in Parliament yesterday.

Responding to a question tabled by a Communist Party of Greece (KKE) deputy, Mr. Tsohatzopulos said that, quite the contrary, Athens "has made it clear that the Kosovo issue requires a peaceful, political and diplomatic solution."

"We accept the use of NATO as a means of pressure, but if the international community decides to authorise the alliance to intervene for implementation of the Rambouillet agreement, Greece will not participate," the Greek defence minister emphasised.

He added that a 1,500-strong force dispatched to FYROM via Thessaloniki was being deployed to protect international observers in Kosovo.

Final decisions on 'Agenda 2000' agricultural policy pending

Decisions on the agricultural sector of "Agenda 2000" were postponed for next week following yesterday's proposal by Greek Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis.

During an EU farm ministers' meeting in Brussels, Athens apparently achieved a 70,000-ton increase for Greece's milk production quota and secured an exception of 80 per cent for a Greek farmers' subsidy reductions.

Further increases on cattle subsidies were allowed to Greece, as the quota for veal feeding cows was increased by 7,000 and bulls were raised by 4, 000.

Athens also secured an increase by 1,732 hectares of grapevine cultivations.

Piraeus Bank-Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi cooperation agreement

Bank of Piraeus and the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, one of the largest international finance groups, signed a cooperation agreement yesterday.

The agreement anticipates that Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi will cooperate exclusively with Piraeus Prime Bank (former Credit Lyonnais Hellas, a 100 per cent subsidiary of Bank of Piraeus until now).

According to the agreement, the Japanese bank intends to also proceed with participation in the Prime Bank's share capital with a considerable minority stake.

Cooperation between the two banking groups, an announcement said, confirms the positive expectations for the development of the Greek market in light of Greece's projected accession to Economic and Monetary Union.

The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi was created through a merger between the Bank of Tokyo and Mitsubishi Bank in April 1996. It is currently one of the three biggest banks in the world from the point of view of assets.

Gazprom officials in Athens for talks on natural gas issue

Natural Gas Enterprise (DEPA) officials yesterday met with a Russian Gazprom delegation in Athens, discussing issues raised during a visit to Moscow by a development ministry delegation earlier this month.

According to press reports, the Russian side raised the issue of a natural gas price increase to the tune of 30 per cent. More discussions are expected to resume next week.

Stocks end slightly up after dizzy week

Share prices ended the last trading session of a highly volatile week slightly higher on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday.

The general index ended 0.24 percent up at 3,377.58 points for a net gain of 3.96 percent on the week.

The index broke through the 3,400-point level early in the session but fell later on profit-taking.

Turnover was 123.8 billion drachmas and volume 26,027,645 shares.

Activity focused on small and medium-sized capitalisation stocks and shares in the textiles sector with nine stocks hitting the daily 8.0 percent limit up.

Sector indices scored gains.

Banks rose 0.49 percent, Leasing fell 1.88 percent, Insurance was 0.87 percent up, Industrials eased 0.03 percent, Miscellaneous increased 0.50 percent, Holding rose 1.26 percent, Construction jumped 4.44 percent and Investment soared 3.13 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 4.95 percent up, while the FTSE/ASE 20 index dropped 0.01 percent to 2,109.37.

Greece to issue eight securities over two months

The finance ministry will issue eight securities in the next two months in order to cover the public sector's borrowing requirements.

Deputy Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said yesterday that the ministry will also take measures to facilitate access for private investors to the domestic derivatives bond market.

The government's borrowing programme for the next two months includes 15- year bonds worth 220 billion drachmas on March 2, 10-year bonds on March 9 and three-year bonds on March 16.

Also for issue are three- and six-month Treasury bills on March 23 and 12- month T-bills and tax-free savings bonds on March 30.

The finance ministry plans to issue five-year bonds on April 6 and 7-year bonds on April 20.

One week later, on April 27, it will issue 12-month T-bills and tax-free savings bonds.

Finally, 20-year bonds are to be issued in the second half of the year.

Mr. Christodoulakis said that a wave of profit-taking in European bond markets and capital flight into the US dollar would not negatively affect the country's bond yield levels in terms of meeting the Maastricht treaty's long-term interest rate criterio n.

He noted that domestic 10-year bonds yielded 5.91 percent, while the average yield in the three EU member-states with the lower rates was currently 4.01 percent.

The spread is smaller than the two percentage points envisaged in the Maastricht criterion, Mr. Christodoulakis said.

WEATHER

Mostly fair weather will prevail in most parts of Greece on Sunday. Winds will be variable, light to moderate in the Aegean Sea. Sunny in Athens. Variable with the possibility of rain in Thessaloniki.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 289.714 Pound sterling 463.621 Japanese yen (100) 241.254 French franc 48.688 German mark 163.293 Italian lira (100) 16.494 Irish Punt 405.522 Belgian franc 7.917 Luxembourg franc 7.917 Finnish mark 53.715 Dutch guilder 144.926 Danish kr. 42.964 Austrian sch. 23.210 Spanish peseta 1.920 Swedish kr. 35.478 Norwegian kr. 36.700 Swiss franc 200.850 Port. Escudo 1.593 Aus. dollar 179.577 Can. dollar 191.277 Cyprus pound 549.032 Euro 319.374

(M.S.)


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