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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-07-13

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, 13/07/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Bonn support for reconstruction agency base in Thessaloniki
  • Athens blasts latest Ecevit comments regarding Cyprus
  • Cohen arrives in Thessaloniki for 2-day visit
  • Greece-Iran-Armenia cooperation talks held in Athens
  • Spyridon returns to US today following talks with Patriarch
  • UN report on global economy
  • Study: 'Tsikoudia' a favorite drink of Minoans, Mycenaeans
  • Stocks rally, reversing decline
  • Unemployment rises sharply in Q2
  • Budget revenue more than doubles vs target in H1
  • New terminal at Kavala's airport
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Bonn support for reconstruction agency base in Thessaloniki

Visiting German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer stressed yesterday that his government remained fully committed to decisions adopted by the European Council at a recent summit in Rio de Janeiro regarding the selection of Thessaloniki as the base of the Union's Balkan reconstruction agency.

Mr. Fischer held high-level talks in Athens with Greek leadership over reconstruction plans for the Balkans, a Stability Pact for SE Europe, recent developments in Greek-Turkish relations, Cyprus as well as European Union issues.

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Greek counterpart George Papandreou, Mr. Fischer praised Greece's role in the Balkans and the broader Mediterranean region. "European Union leaders reached a specific decision. It remains to be seen how this decision will be implemented in practice...I do not see why it should not be implemented," he said.

Mr. Papandreou also confirmed the agreement with the German FM on the issue.

"There is a decision which we respect. We hope that the agency which will be based in Thessaloniki will be able to play the role it must," he said.

Sources later said that Mr. Fischer had agreed with his interlocutors that the Rio decisions remained valid and assured Athens of the German government's support.

Referring to other issues, the German FM welcomed a recent initiative by the Greek and Turkish foreign ministers to begin talks on a top foreign ministry-officials level, saying the move "contains specific hopes for the future".

"We all know very well the history of the region and are aware that we cannot expect spectacular developments when there are significant issues remaining open, such as Cyprus," he said.

He added it was to the benefit of both the EU and Turkey that specific initiatives be undertaken so as to avoid conflict, while he announced that he would be travelling to Ankara on July 20 to discuss EU-Turkey relations with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem.

Reliable sources said that in his talks with Prime Minister Costas Simitis - with the participation of Mr. Papandreou and Alternate FM Yiannos Kranidiotis - Mr. Fischer agreed that Turkey should undertake steps with regard to Greece, Cyprus and human rights in order for its relations with Europe to develop constructively.

Discussion on EU affairs focused on the issues of European identity, security and defence, institutional changes and enlargement.

Sources said Mr. Fischer expressed a view that the countries of the second wave for enlargement should proceed together without separations between them.

He later continued talks with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, after which he expressed his country's "admiration and respect for Greece's stand" during the Kosovo crisis. He further expressed a view that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was solely responsible for the crisis.

Mr. Kaklamanis said European peoples felt that their governments had no steady policy for dealing with problems, noting that "in Kosovo, the EU and NATO acted unilaterally in order to deal only with part of the problem, that of the Albanian population".

"Why do they not show the same sensitivity in the case of Turkey, which occupies 40 per cent of the territory of Cyprus and flagrantly violates human rights at home?" he asked.

Athens blasts latest Ecevit comments regarding Cyprus

The Greek government sternly criticised Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit yesterday for a statement in which he refused to recognise the existence of a political problem on Cyprus.

"Mr. Ecevit's statements regarding Cyprus constitute an unprecedented provocation to the international community. Mr. Ecevit and the Turkish government endorse the invasion and illegal occupation to claim that the Cyprus problem has been solved," government pokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

In an interview with the state-run Turkish TRT network on Sunday, Mr. Ecevit claimed that "the Cyprus problem ceased existing after the creation of the 'Turkish Cypriot state'," and that "the entire world has to understand the reality of an independent Turkish state on Cyprus".

In response, the Greek government spokesman stressed that "...with his statements, the Turkish premier places Turkey outside the framework of international legality. His claims ultimately achieve the exact opposite from the intended result...confirming the provocative and aggressive character which, in violation of any concept of law, characterises Turkey's policy. This has its unfavorable repercussions on Ankara."

Main opposition New Democracy party spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said that "once again Ankara is showing its true face" through Mr. Ecevit's statements.

Mr. Spiliotopoulos said the international community's demand is for a just and permanent solution to be found based on UN resolutions, adding that the decision by the G8 indicates this, while this is also demanded by the Security Council's latest resolutions.

Cohen arrives in Thessaloniki for 2-day visit

US Secretary of Defense William Cohen is scheduled to arrive in Thessaloniki today for a two-day working visit in Greece.

Mr. Cohen will meet with his Greek counterpart Akis Tsohatzopoulos for talks on the situation in the Balkans, and especially developments in Kosovo, the Cyprus issue in the light of the recent G8 initiative as well as Greek-Turkish relations.

Later in the day he will attend an official dinner hosted in his honour by Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, while the two men will also visit the US helicopter carrier "Kearsarge", docked at the port of Thessaloniki.

Tomorrow Mr. Cohen will meet with Prime Minister Costas Simitis in Athens. He will also hold talks with main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis.

Greece-Iran-Armenia cooperation talks held in Athens

Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis held talks in Athens yesterday with Iranian and Armenian deputy foreign ministers, Mortessa Sarmedi and Armen Martirossyan, respectively, within the framework of tripartite cooperation between Athens, Tehran and Yerevan.

Mr. Kranidiotis underlined the political significance of such tripartite cooperation in efforts to stabilise peace in the wider region and referred to a need to strengthen economic cooperation between the three countries, particularly in the energy sector, according to a foreign ministry announcement.

Afterwards, the two foreign deputy ministers along with foreign ministry officials focused on the course of tripartite cooperation in the sectors of tourism, energy, transport and communications, the economy, industry, technology, prevention of natural disasters as well as health and the environment.

It was agreed that the coordinating committee's next meeting will take place in Yerevan, where the third meeting, at the foreign ministers' level, will take place on September 7-8.

In an unrelated development, Mr. Kranidiotis will meet European Commission President Romano Prodi and other EU officials in Brussels today.

The purpose of Mr. Kranidiotis' contacts is to promote the finalisation of Thessaloniki as the headquarters of the Union's Balkan Reconstruction Organisation, a foreign ministry announcement said.

Spyridon returns to US today following talks with Patriarch

Archbishop of America Spyridon returns to the United States today, following his meeting yesterday at the Patriarchate with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos that focused on the leadership issue that has arisen at the Archdiocese of America in recent months.

Spyridon announced after the talks that he was satisfied at their outcome, and that he will return to Istanbul in August to "complete the discussion".

Meanwhile, the Patriarch yesterday also received a Greek foreign ministry delegation, shortly before the group departed for Athens.

Greek officials, headed by ambassador Stylianos Valsamas-Rallis, had set out certain ideas to the Patriarch and members of the Holy Synod on Sunday concerning ways of strengthening cooperation between Athens, the Archdiocese of America and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

According to sources, the Greek government has decided not to become involved in issues constituting the exclusive domain of the Ecumenical Patriarchate's Synod.

UN report on global economy

The Greek economy showed discernible improvement in the global economy in 1975-1997, showing a rate of growth of 1.7 percent, according to an annual report by the United Nations.

At the same time, its performance in human development remained below the average for industrially advanced nations, said the UN report on human development.

Greece ranks 27th for human development among 174 countries, the report said.

Average life expectancy in Greece in 1970-1997 rose by six years to 78 years from 72 years. Infant mortality fell to seven out of every 1000 births from 38.

The position of women in society has shown major improvement, but Greece again lags the industrially advanced nations, the report said.

Study: 'Tsikoudia' a favorite drink of Minoans, Mycenaeans

The dietary habits of the ancient Minoans and the Mycenaeans were apparently in conflict with the contemporary Mediterranean diet, according to research conducted by scientists from Greece, Britain, Italy and the United States.

Examination of organic residue on ancient pottery shows that the Minoan and Mycenean diet was mainly based on meats and greens, while fish was on the bottom of their culinary preferences.

In addition, "tsikoudia" - a clear alcoholic spirit made from wine grape residue and still distilled across Greece today - was a favourite drink with their meals.

The findings of the research were presented yesterday at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens by Culture Minister Elizabeth Papazoi.

Stocks rally, reversing decline

Equity prices rebounded yesterday following a four-day decline in the previous week which had pushed the market 2.88 percent lower.

The general index ended 0.82 percent higher at 4,259.65 points, sharply off the day's highs of 4,345 points.

Turnover was 560.389 billion drachmas with 82,843,984 shares changing hands reflecting the transfer of Hellenic Telecoms' 59,288,937 shares from the Greek state to the underwriters of its fourth flotation, at 6,500 drachmas per share.

The company's share price, however, fell 55 drachmas to end at 6,745 drachmas despite the successful outcome of the flotation.

Banks outperformed the market to end 1.54 percent higher.

Other sector indices ended as follows: Leasing (+0.63 pct), Insurance (+0.26 pct), Investment (+0.62 pct), Construction (-0.71 pct), Industrials (+0.39 pct), Miscellaneous (+0.49 pct) and Holding (+0.24 pct).

The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 1.87 percent higher while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips rose 0.89 percent to 2,494.99 points.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 173 to 111 with another 15 issues unchanged.

Dorian Bank's shares resumed trading in the market at a new price of 6,105 drachmas.

It ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit up but in very low turnover.

Unemployment rises sharply in Q2

The jobless rate jumped to 10.8 percent of the workforce in the second quarter of 1998, up from 9.6 percent in the same period in 1997, the National Statistics Service said yesterday.

NSS's report, based on harmonised EU figures set by Eurostat, showed that employment increased by 113,832, or three percent in the period April-June last year, while the country's total workforce rose to 4,445,702 from 4,262, 345 in the same period of 1997.

Budget revenue more than doubles vs target in H1

The growth of budget revenue more than doubled in the first half of 1999 against target compared with the same period of last year, resulting in a surplus of 276.58 billion drachmas in June from 213.3 billion in May.

The finance ministry said in a statement yesterday that budgetary revenue increased by 12.39 percent in the first half of the year, sharply up from a 5.83 percent increase envisaged in the budget.

Tax collected rose 7.7 percent in June and by 13.2 percent in the first six months of 1999.

Customs revenue was 11.7 percent up in June and 3.3 percent higher in the period January-June.

Value Added Tax revenue jumped 29.5 percent in June, posting a 12 percent rise in the first half of the year.

New terminal at Kavala's airport

A new terminal at Kavala's 'Alexander the Great' airport began operation yesterday after renovations totalling some two billion drachmas.

The 6,800-square-metre terminal replaces facilities comprising prefabricated buildings occupying only 1,500 square metres.

Apart from the renovation work on the terminal itself, the airport's runway was also extended.

WEATHER

Mostly fair weather will prevail throughout Greece on Tuesday with the possibility of scattered showers in the mountainous regions of Macedonia and Thrace. Winds will be northerly, light to strong.

Fair in Athens where temperatures will range between 23-36C.

Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from 22-34C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          317.986
Pound sterling       494.056
Japanese yen (100)   260.152
French franc          49.127
German mark          164.764
Italian lira (100)    16.643
Irish Punt           409.174
Belgian franc          7.988
Finnish mark          54.199
Dutch guilder        146.232
Danish kr.            43.331
Austrian sch.         23.419
Spanish peseta         1.936
Swedish kr.           36.978
Norwegian kr.         39.749
Swiss franc          200.434
Port. Escudo           1.607
Can. dollar          215.859
Aus. dollar          210.939
Cyprus pound         558.992
Euro                 322.251
(L.G.)
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