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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-06-02

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, 02/06/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • PM Simitis leaves for EU summit
  • Gov't confirms Albright call
  • FM meets with former PM Mitsotakis
  • Athens looking at Cem proposal
  • Greece has no comment on Ocalan charges
  • Higher growth to combat unemployment
  • Simitis-Karamanlis debate non-starter
  • New stock market for SMEs planned
  • Four Bulgarians arrested in baby sale
  • Kosovo uncertainty pressures Greek equities
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

PM Simitis leaves for EU summit

Prime Minister Costas Simitis left at noon today for Bonn to represent Greece at the European Union summit which opens tomorrow in Cologne, effectively marking the end of Germany's EU presidency. He said in an airport statement that the G-8 initiative for a solution to the Yugoslav crisis was in progress, adding that, at the summit, "we will insist on reaching agreement as soon as possible and obstructing the obstacles and difficulties". Simitis expressed hope that the peace process will "fall into line" and that more steps will be made in that direction. Apart from the Yugoslav crisis, the EU leaders will also discuss a European pact on employment, Simitis said. Simitis is accompanied by foreign minister George Papandreou.

Gov't confirms Albright call

Government spokesman Yiannis Nikolaou said that Athens discerned a "positive direction and preconditions" for a solution to the Yugoslav crisis. Nikolaou confirmed that Albright had telephoned Papandreou on Sunday and requested "communication" with the Yugoslav leadership. The spokesman said Papandreou contacted Milutinovic and Jovanovic who expressed the view that a solution was possible based on G8 principles. Nikolaou declined to provide any further information about the content of Papandreou's contacts with his US and Yugoslav counterparts, saying "the discussions are not being held for public relations reasons, nor to satisfy the public". "Greece is present and the Greek foreign minister is doing everything in his power regarding efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis," Nikolaou said.

FM meets with former PM Mitsotakis

Main opposition New Democracy MP and honorary president Constantine Mitsotakis today met with foreign minister George Papandreou, whom he briefed on his private visit to Belgrade last week and talks with Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic. Mitsotakis, a former prime minister, told reporters after the meeting at the foreign ministry that he had discussed with Papandreou the latest developments in the Yugoslavia crisis. He said peace in Kosovo was feasible, provided that peace was desired by the NATO member-states. Mitsotakis later met with Yugoslavia's ambassador to Greece Dragomir Vucicevic and relayed to the Yugoslav envoy the Greek government's position on a peaceful settlement of the crisis. The same sources said that the former prime minister reiterated that the two Australians convicted of spying in Belgrade recently be released.

Athens looking at Cem proposal

Athens confirmed on Wednesday that Foreign Minister George Papandreou had received a letter from his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem proposing the two countries cooperate on security issues. "Mr. Cem's letter is being examined and discussed," government spokesman Yiannis Nikolaou said. "Greece is not responding for the time being but will in time." Nikolaou said Turkey had to show that it was "on the path to Europe", respect the rules of international law, human rights and Greece's territorial sovereignty. "We are still a fair distance as there are many things that need to be discussed before such an issue can be a topic for dialogue," he said.

Greece has no comment on Ocalan charges

In a state ruled by law, the position of any defendant is to be tried justly and freely, government spokesman Yiannis Nikolaou said on Wednesday, replying to reporters' questions on the ongoing trial of rebel Kurd leader Addullah Ocalan in Turkey. Asked to comment on the claims by the leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) at his trial earlier this week regarding his supposed "collaboration" with the Greek authorities, Nikolaou replied: "We shall not enter into dialogue with Mr. Ocalan, particularly when he is speaking from inside a glass cage." As a position of principle, Nikolaou added, Greece condemns all terrorist activities and is opposed to any change in existing borders. "However Turkey too must take steps in the direction of a state ruled by law," the spokesman said.

Higher growth to combat unemployment

The government's target is to accelerate economic growth to 4-4.5 percent from the present 3.5 percent in the fight against unemployment, national economy and finance minister Yannos Papandreou said today. He said there were "no easy solutions" for reducing unemployment, adding that all countries faced the problem. Unemployment, he added, would be the prevalent problem over the next few years. The issue of unemployment is expected to be one of the main topics of discussion at the EU summit which opens tomorrow in Cologne. Papantoniou conceded that the unemployment rate remained high in Greece, attributing it partially to "the new technologies, which create fewer jobs than anticipated".

Simitis-Karamanlis debate non-starter

The government on Wednesday charged that the main opposition New Democracy party was solely responsible for the fact that a televised debate between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and ND leader Costas Karamanlis would not be held prior to European elections on June 13. Government spokesman Yiannis Nikolaou said the government had proposed a debate similar to one held in 1996 between Simitis and then ND leader Miltiades Evert "which would allow viewers to compare the positions of the two parties". "But Mr. Karamanlis wants to speak in slogans. New Democracy has not presented positions and proposals and this is the reason why Mr. Karamanlis is artfully avoiding dialogue," Nikolaou said.

New stock market for SMEs planned

Around 7,500 small- and medium-sized enterprises could be listed on the Athens Stock Exchange according to a draft legislation presented by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou today. The new market for rapidly growing enterprises was expected to begin operating next fall and would be included in a common European markets' trading platform following Greece's entry in EMU by January 1, 2001, Papantoniou said. The new market's aim would be to help small- and medium-sized companies raise new capital to finance their expansion.

Four Bulgarians arrested in baby sale

Police arrested four Bulgarian nationals involved in the sale of an infant to a woman who later turned them in to police, charging that the four were blackmailing her for more money. The woman, who was not identified, told police she had paid three million drachmas to "adopt" a newborn baby boy. But one of the group threatened the woman later that the child would be kidnapped if she did not hand over another two million drachmas.

Kosovo uncertainty pressures Greek equities

Uncertainty over developments in a diplomatic effort to resolve the Kosovo crisis hit the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday and pushed equity prices lower. The general index ended 0.86 percent down at 4,071.31 points after rising 1.30 percent early in the session. Turnover was 183.422 billion drachmas with 29,144,824 shares changing hands.

WEATHER

Fair weather will prevail in most parts of the country on Wednesday. Partly cloudy in the afternoon in central and northern Greece. Possibility of showers in Thrace. Winds will be variable, light to moderate, turning strong in the southeastern Aegean Sea. Fair in Athens where temperatures will range between 17-33C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from 16-32C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          308.314
Pound sterling       494.611
Japanese yen (100)   254.845
French franc          49.089
German mark          164.637
Italian lira (100)    16.630
Irish Punt           408.860
Belgian franc          7.982
Luxembourg franc       7.982
Finnish mark          54.157
Dutch guilder        146.119
Danish kr.            43.331
Austrian sch.         23.401
Spanish peseta         1.935
Swedish kr.           35.865
Norwegian kr.         39.075
Swiss franc          202.194
Port. Escudo           1.606
Can. dollar          208.816
Aus. dollar          198.827
Cyprus pound         557.762
Euro                 322.003
(M.P.)
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