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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-07-03

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, 03/07/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis calls on ministers to "work harder"
  • Athens satisfied with Russian stance over Cyprus
  • Gov't focuses on ''good communication'' with Turkey
  • Balkan reconstruction- French Senator de Villepin's
  • Contract signed with Ericsson for early warning systems
  • Ipekci awards announced
  • Stocks end higher, led by banking blue chips
  • Piraeus bank makes counteroffer for Ergobank
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Simitis calls on ministers to "work harder"

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday asked his Cabinet to "work harder" until the end of the government's term P September 2000 P stressing that this was also the message sent by Greek voters in European elections last month.

"Until the end of the government's term of office, we will all have to work with greater persistency, determination and effectiveness. We must work until we drop," Mr. Simitis was quoted as saying at the cabinet meeting.

The prime minister added that he was optimistic that the people would renew the government's mandate in next year's general elections.

Commenting on the election of a new president of the republic next year by Parliament, and prior to general elections, Mr. Simitis said it should in no way be allowed to become an issue which divides political parties.

On the contrary, he said, it should be an opportunity for manifesting the unity of the country's political forces in the spirit of the constitution.

Mr. Simitis added that the current president, Kostis Stephanopoulos "undoubtedly embodies and expresses" this spirit.

The premier said the government would not change its policy and that despite obstacles, the country was well on its way to achieving the targets set.

Athens satisfied with Russian stance over Cyprus

Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis yesterday expressed satisfaction over Russia's "steadfast support" for Cyprus within the framework of the United Nations and the G8.

Mr. Kranidiotis was speaking after holding two-hour talks with his Russian counterpart Aleksander Avdeyev yesterday, in which the high level of relations between Greece and Russia was ascertained.

Both ministers said they ascertained an identity of views on several issues, including Kosovo, Cyprus and bilateral relations.

Mr. Kranidiotis said Russia's role "has been very important lately", adding that the Greek government looks forward to the continuation of this cooperation. He said the international community should exert pressure on Turkey to respond to an invitation by the UN Secretary General to the two sides on Cyprus for a start to talks in the autumn.

Regarding bilateral relations, the two ministers agreed to step up their cooperation in regional organisations on issues related to the European Union, while it was also agreed that a meeting will be held in Moscow in July to promote the Burgas-Alexandr oupoli oil pipeline.

In statements regarding Kosovo, Mr. Kranidiotis and Mr. Avdeyev said the two countries have common positions. as the former stressed the need for the populations of Kosovo to be protected and for Serbians' emigration from the province to stop, adding th at Yugoslavia's sovereignty in Kosovo must be respected.

The two sides agreed that the so-called "Kosovo Liberation Army" must be completely disarmed and stressed the need for Yugoslavia to return to international organisations.

Gov't focuses on ''good communication'' with Turkey

The government stated yesterday that efforts were being made to have "good communication" with Turkey in several sectors of common interest, although there would be no dialogue on Greece's sovereign rights.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas made the comment when telling reporters that Foreign Minister George Papandreou had briefed the cabinet yesterday on his contacts in New York earlier in the week with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem.

Mr. Reppas stressed, however, that the government would under no circumstances enter into political dialogue with Turkey regarding Greece's sovereign rights, "which we will not negotiate".

On each occasion, the spokesman added, Turkey will be called on to respect international rules and international law.

Asked by reporters whether the results of the Papandreou-Cem talks fulfilled some of the requirements set by the European Union in order for Turkey to be designated a candidate for accession, Mr. Reppas replied that "nothing has changed in this regard" and no exception would be made in the case of Turkey.

The government said on Thursday that the talks in New York were a "first step" to finding ways to cooperate on a number of issues.

At the two-hour meeting in New York, the Greek and Turkish FMs agreed to hold talks at the level of foreign ministry senior officials on issues related to the economy, trade, environment, tourism, as well as combatting organised crime, illegal immigrati on, drugs and other law and order issues.

Balkan reconstruction- French Senator de Villepin's

The president of the French Senate's committee for foreign affairs and defence arrived in Athens yesterday for talks with Greek officials, including Thessaloniki's role in the Balkans' reconstruction.

According to a French embassy release, Sen. Xavier de Villepin will remain in Greece until Monday and hold talks with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, his Greek counterpart Karolos Papoulias and members of Parliament's Greek-French friendship group.

He will also visit Thessaloniki to discuss the Greek port city's role in the reconstruction of the Balkans with Macedonia-Thrace Minister Yiannis Magriotis.

Contract signed with Ericsson for early warning systems

The government on Friday signed a contract with the Sweden's Ericsson Microwave Systems to provide four fully-integrated airborne radars for the Hellenic Air Force.

The first Erieye/EB145H will be delivered in 52 months' time. The final Erieye is scheduled to be delivered in 58 months' time.

In the intervening period, the air force will be provided with two Erieye/Saab340H early warning systems belonging to the Swedish armed forces.

These will be delivered in 12 and 18 months' time from the signing of the contract.

The cost of the programme totals 174 billion drachmas. Total offset benefits amount to 149.4 per cent, while the nominal value of the joint production, taking into account offset benefits, comes to US$123 million, or 21 per cent of the total value of the programme.

Eight Greek companies will be involved in the manufacture of the systems and will receive the benefit of technological know-how.

The Erieye radar system will be fitted on the Brazilian-made twin-propeller Embraer 145 aircraft. Also involved in the manufacture of the radar systems is the French multinational Thomson.

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, speaking at the signing ceremony, said the new system was an important technological development that would provide the Greek armed forces with unlimited abilities.

Greece chose Ericsson in late 1998 to provide it with the four airborne radars, part of the multi-million-dollar armaments programme currently in progress.

Ipekci awards announced

Six deputies from various assemblies, the Greek and Turkish Technical Chambers and writer Kemal Yalcin are among the recipients of the 1998-99 Abdi Ipekci Awards, honouring personalities and non-governmental organisations contributing to the promotion of peace and friendship between the two nations.

The awards, established 20 years ago in memory of the slain Turkish journalist, were announced late on Thursday after a five-month delay, due to the crisis in the Balkans.

In announcing the awards, the president of the Greek committee, Tassos Athanasiadis, said a recent exchange of letters between the two countries' foreign ministers, George Papandreou and Ismail Cem on the subject of dialogue between the two countries, h ad a catalytic influence on the decision to announce them at this stage.

"An increasing number of Greek and Turkish citizens are coming to realise that their governments have reached an impasse, due to the perpetuation of problemsIThey are coming to realise that it is time they themselves play a crucial and constructive role for peace, with initiatives which have been rightly described as 'the diplomacy of citizens'IThey are the necessary complement to the government's work," he said.

The two members of the Greek Parliament who are among the recipients of the Special Ipekci Award are Stephanos Manos, the former ND minister and founder of the newly created Liberals party, for an article entitled "Should we perhaps begin to see them di fferently?," as well as Mustapha Mustapha, a Coalition of the Left and Progress deputy and member of the Muslim minority in Thrace, who is well-known for his moderate views.

The two Greek members of the EuroParliament who received the Ipekci Communication Award are Anna Karamanou and Costas Hatzidakis, for their activities in favour of Greek-Turkish rapprochement. Two further recipients of the same award are Cem Ozdemir, a German parliament deputy, and Yiannis Sakellariou, a German Eurodeputy P of Turkish and Greek descent, respectively P for their joint activity in favour of rapprochement between Greek and Turkish communities in Germany.

Other bodies receiving the awards are the Greek and Turkish State Theatres, for exchanging visits last year, the two countries' sections of the International Council of Museums and Sites, as well as the Winpeace "Organisation of Greek and Turkish women for Peace".

Mr. Yalcin is also honoured with the Ipekci Communications Award for his tireless efforts to locate the descendants of a Greek family who left Asia Minor in the exchange of populations in 1923 so he could turn over the dowries of its young female member s, which had been entrusted to his grandfather.

Other recipients include Yasar Togo, consul general of Turkey in Athens, Leyla Tavsanoglu and Suleyman Yencel, journalists, Mete Tunkai, professor of international relations at Istanbul's Bilge University, and Panayiotis Karafotias, a poet and former di rector of the UN bureau in Greece.

Stocks end higher, led by banking blue chips

Equity prices ended the week with gains helped by strong buying interest in blue chips in the banks sector. The general index ended 0.67 percent higher at 4,152.55 points, off the day's highs, as profit-taking took some steam out of the market.

Turnover was 152.967 billion drachmas with 26,432,940 shares changing hands.

A decision by the Athens Stock Exchange's board on Thursday to suspend trading of Thessaliki's shares left a large number of smaller capitalisation stocks under strong pressure.

Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (+1.24 pct), Leasing (+1.28 pct), Insurance (+1.61 pct), Investment (+0.28 pct), Construction (-0.15 pct), Industrials (-0.06 pct), Miscellaneous (+0.55 pct) and Holding (+0.09 pt). The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks fell 1.72 percent while the FTSE/ASE 20 index gained 1.15 percent to end at 2,461.20 points.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 185 to 105 with another six issues unchanged.

Eight stocks ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit up, while another 10 ended at the day's limit down.

Ergo Invest, Bank of Piraeus, Hellenic Telecoms and Intersat were the most heavily traded stocks, while Bank of Piraeus, Hellenic Telecoms, Ergobank and Ergo Invest led the day's turnover.

National Bank of Greece ended at 21,020 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 21, 340, Ergobank at 34,690, Ionian Bank at 16,485, Titan Cement at 29,440, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,885, Intracom at 19,090, Minoan Lines at 6,010, Panafon at 7,925 and Hellenic Telec oms at 6,875.

Piraeus bank makes counteroffer for Ergobank

Piraeus Bank and Ergobank on Friday announced they will merge to create ''ERGOPIRAEUSBANK'' establishing the third largest banking group in Greece.

The boards of both banks decided to recomend to their shareholders that the two groups merge creating a new bank with 277 branches around the country and 14.5 per cent market share.

The move comes at heels of an EFG Eurobank attempt for a hostile take-over, a first in Greece.

WEATHER

Partly cloudy weather will prevail throughout the country on Sunday with scattered showers in the afternoon in mainland Greece. Winds will be northerly, light to moderate, turning strong in the Aegean Sea. Possibility of showers in Athens where temperatures will range between 21-34C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from 20-31C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          314.900
Pound sterling       496.119
Japanese yen (100)   259.934
French franc          49.136
German mark          164.795
Italian lira (100)    16.646
Irish Punt           409.251
Belgian franc          7.990
Finnish mark          54.209
Dutch guilder        146.258
Danish kr.            43.358
Austrian sch.         23.423
Spanish peseta         1.937
Swedish kr.           37.043
Norwegian kr.         39.880
Swiss franc          200.845
Port. Escudo           1.608
Can. dollar          214.074
Aus. dollar          209.887
Cyprus pound         558.694
Euro                 322.311
(M.S.)
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