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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-07-05

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, 05/07/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES _______________
  • Balkan stability should be based on the safeguarding of borders
  • Piraeus Bank and Ergobank to merge
  • SAE president to head delegation to southern Albania
  • Tsohatzopoulos observes civil defence exercise on Hios
  • Athena Onassis-Roussel attends cousin's wedding in Athens
  • Papandreou says Greece `will benefit from a dialogue` with Turkey
  • Karamanlis says `the sooner general elections are held the better`
  • Overseas Greeks among dead in Turkey bus crash
  • 800 immigrants detained in E. Attica, only 200 have green cards
  • SE European mayors call for summit of region`s leadership
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Balkan stability should be based on the safeguarding of borders

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Saturday said that political stability in the Balkans should be based on the safeguarding of existing borders.

"The safeguarding of international borders and the rejection of any revisionist policy either in the form of territorial claims or in the form of secessionist attempts is the cornerstone of every policy aiming at stability in the Balkans," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said in an address to a European Socialist Party (ESP) delegates meeting in Vienna.

The meeting aimed at preparing the July 22-23 ESP summit on the Balkans to be held in Vienna, as well.

Leaders of European social-democratic and socialist parties are expected to take part in the meeting.

The July summit in Vienna will focus on the ESP's stance in light of the Balkan conference at the end of the same month in Sarajevo.

Mr. Toshatzopoulos speaking on Kosovo reminded the delegates of the UN Security Council decision, which underlined Yugoslavia's territorial integrity and sovereignty over Kosovo.

He also said that the reconstruction of the Balkans should serve a general political planning and should not be connected with political conditions prevailing in the recipient countries.

He added that the international intervention was not to solve internal political problems of countries in the region or elsewhere, but to create the general conditions for the easing of internal crisis and tension.

The Greek defence minister also said that non-intervention in the internal affairs of states, is one of the fundamental elements of European security, as was established in the "Final Act of Helsinki".

He said that in the case of the Balkans, security is unified and indivisible, adding that conditions in the region will be stable when isolationist policies and policies aiming at dividing peoples stop immediately, and the institution of the Balkan Cooperation continues to operate without exclusions.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also noted the determining central organising role the European Union should play in Balkan development.

He added that along with economic aid the Union should contribute to the security in a recognisable way, in direct cooperation with the United States in the framework of NATO and along with Russia, which is an important regional and international strate gic partner.

Finally, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that a lasting Balkan policy by European Socialsts should include collective security and stability, political democratisation, economic modernisation, social justice and cohesion.

Piraeus Bank and Ergobank to merge

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

The boards of both banks decided to recommend 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 the heels of an EFG Eurobank attempt for a hostile take- over, a first in Greece.

SAE president to head delegation to southern Albania

World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) President Andrew Athens will head a delegation to regions of southern Albania, where the Greek minority is predominant.

This first ever visit by SAE aims at examining at close hand the needs of the Greek minority so as to provide specific assistance. The delegation will be in Albania on July 25 and 26.

According to reports, SAE aims at creating healthcare centres and one school, while there are plans to provide aid to Greek minority members in creating small businesses.

This initiative will be similar to the one already in progress in the former Soviet republics where 21 health centres were built with funds granted by the Greek and US governments, as well as private donations.

Mr. Athens announced the initiative during yesterday's opening session of the first SAE youth conference in Thessaloniki.

Tsohatzopoulos observes civil defence exercise on Hios

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday visited the eastern Aegean island of Hios and observed a civil defence exercise.

He said that the new civil defence system is a dynamic process, which is based on the greater and more effective mobilisation of citizens in coordination with local military authorities, so as to increase the feeling of security of all Greek citizens.

Furthermore, he said, from within the strengthening of a force of deterrence, a message of peace and friendly cooperation with our neighbours is sent.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos reiterated that there are no plans for drafting women, while the law regarding civil defence will allow for the training of women to deal with emergencies.

Speaking on the traffic accident on Friday where seven soldiers were killed, the minister said that their families will be awared all the benefits the relevant law prescribes.

Athena Onassis-Roussel attends cousin's wedding in Athens

Athena Onassis Roussel, heiress of famous late magnate Aristotelis Onassis, arrived in Athens on Saturday with her father Thierry Roussel, for the wedding of one of her cousins.

Both her and her father did not make any statements to the press, while security was as always both tight and visible.

She left Athens on Sunday, but no information was made available over whether she will return for a vacation in Greece this summer.

Papandreou says Greece `will benefit from a dialogue` with Turkey

Foreign Minister George Papandreou said yesterday his talks last week with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem in New York were an effort "of a tactical nature" in order to examine whether there existed channels of approach with the neighbouring country.

Mr. Papandreou was speaking in an interview with the Sunday Kathimerini newspaper.

The two ministers decided last week 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 immigration, drugs and other law and order issues.

Mr. Papandreou argued in his interview that dialogue with Turkey "should not be incriminated" and that Greece "will benefit from a dialogue" with the neighbouring country.

Mr. Papandreou said his Turkish counterpart's intentions regarding the improvement of Greek-Turkish relations were "positive" but that he could not guarantee on the "course of development as this will only be shown in practice".

Regarding EU-Turkish relations, the Greek foreign minister underlined the need for Turkey to change its stance over the protracted Cyprus problem.

In Ankara, Mr. Cem said the agreement with Mr. Papandreou was "a step in the right direction (which) should not become the object of exaggeration".

Speaking to the press on his visit to the United States, Mr. Cem said that in light of what was decided with Mr. Papandreou "several projects will be undertaken.

"Of these it will arise whether a further step can be made. We expect all that to be concluded within July," he added.

He claimed that "Greece has maintained an adversary stance towards Turkey. If this stance is abandoned and we turn to healthy, realistic, cautious and good relations, it will be to the benefit of both countries."

Speaking on the G8 announcement on the Cyprus problem, the Turkish foreign minister said "their proposal will not serve anything, but only make the Cyprus issue even more complicated and expose the eastern Mediterranean to new dangers."

The G8 last month called on the United Nations Secretary General to invite the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides this autumn for comprehensive talks without preconditions, taking into account relevant UN resolutions and treaties on Cyprus.

Karamanlis says `the sooner general elections are held the better`

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday said it was too early to discuss the issue of the election of a new president of the republic.

"The (president's election) issue is yet too far away and therefore it is too early for this to be discussed," Mr. Karamanlis told the Sunday Vima paper in an interview.

Mr. Karamanlis, nevertheless, said "the sooner general elections are held the better".

Parliament is due to elect a new president of the republic next March, while the present PASOK government's mandate ends in September 2000, when general elections are to be held. Under present constitutional provisions, if parliament fails to elect a new president in three consequent ballots with an overwhelming majority of 200 for the two first ones and 180 votes for the third, out of 300 deputies, then parliament is dissolved and early general elections are called, after which the new parliament can elect a president with a simple majority vote.

Mr. Karamanlis said his party has not yet decided on any presidential candidate, accusing the government of too early announcing its preference for current President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos to have his mandate renewed.

Prime Minister Minister Costas Simitis told a cabinet meeting on Friday that the election of a new president should be an "opportunity for manifesting the unity of the country's political forces in the spirit of the constitution".

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

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas also on Friday said that Mr. Stephanopoulos' record in exercising his duties argued in favour of a renewal of his term.

In his interview yesterday, Mr. Karamanlis also said that the "prolongation of the government's life harms the country". "There is no doubt that we have the best feelings and best appreciations for the President of the Republic. But as I said, the prolongation of this government's life harms the country. What we are going to do, as far as persons or policies are concerned, it is yet too far away," Mr. Karamanlis added.

Overseas Greeks among dead in Turkey bus crash

A bus that crashed in Turkey killing 12 people was carrying overseas Greeks and Georgians to Thessaloniki, a travel agent in the northern port city said yesterday.

The bus carrying 32 people from Tbilisi collided with a car near Bolu, 250 kilometres northeast of Istanbul, on Saturday and plunged into a 300-metre deep ravine.

The bus was chartered in Tbilisi by a Georgian firm on behalf of Norbis, the Thessaloniki-based travel agent arranging the trip.

A spokesman for Norbis, Valerios Ioakimidis, told the Athens News Agency that most of the dead were overseas Greeks.

Relatives of passengers aboard the bus that crashed left Thessaloniki for Bolu on Saturday in order to see if family members were among the dead.

Other relatives and friends gathered outside Norbis' office awaiting news.

800 immigrants detained in E. Attica, only 200 have green cards

Police detained 800 immigrants in eastern Attica over the weekend as part of a drive to deport aliens lacking residence or work rights, authorities said yesterday.

Of the total, 18 people were found in possession of forged residence permits.

Another 200 were carrying the state-awarded green card, which grants the right to work.

SE European mayors call for summit of region`s leadership

The mayors of 14 capital cities of southeastern Europe yesterday signed a declaration calling for a summit of the region's leadership, at the conclusion of an extraordinary conference they held in Athens.

The conference, which took place at the initiative of the mayors of Athens, Sofia and Kiev, examined new policies as well as the economic and social conditions now developing in Kosovo.

It also sought to support cooperation between the local governments with European organisations for the support of political stability, democratisation and the harmonisation of the relations between the peoples of the region.

The 14 mayors with their declaration requested of the three mayors, who organised the conference, to visit the cities hit by the crisis - notably Belgrade, Podgorica, Pristina, Skopje and Tirana - and to prepare a report, which will be handed over to the European Union, the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), as well as the United Nations Secretary General.

Based on this report the member-cities will coordinate their humanitarian aid efforts.

The mayors also decided to create an "emergency conditions fund", to be financed with the support of member-cities as well as by international and European organisations.

According to the decision, every one of the cities will be able to request funds if in emergency, with a simple application, while only the second application of a city will be submitted to the plenum for approval.

The mayors also decided to request of the European Union to allow them representation in regional administrative bodies as observers, when matters regarding the relevant cities are at issue.

On Saturday, Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos addressed the conference stating that "with this initiative we aim to contribute to the establishment of peace, cooperation and stability in the region, as well as the facilitation of the real needs of cit ies and local societies."

Belgrade Mayor Voislav Mihailovic, known for his opposition to the existing regime in Yugoslavia, addressed the conference, requesting that those in power now in Yugoslavia not be granted immunity as at this point "they deter (Yugoslavia) from receiving economic support from the European Union."

WEATHER

The weather will be sunny on Monday, turning to cloud in mainland Greece in the evening and then showers or storms. Winds will be northerly, light to moderate, throughout the country but strong in parts of the Aegean. In Athens, temperatures will range from 20C to 33C. In Thessaloniki, temperatures are forecast at 20C to 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
(L.G.)
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