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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-07-17

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, 17/07/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Gov`t continues campaign to finalise selection of Thessaloniki
  • Probe now focuses to identifying dead suspect in bus hijacking
  • Costas Simitis: The safety of citizens a basic social requirement
  • Balkans reconstruction agency among Athens` priorities
  • Athens condemns continuing Turkish occupation
  • Finnish PM Lipponen assures of Thessaloniki selection
  • Simitis chairs Cabinet meeting
  • Farmer who hijacked bus in protest heads for court
  • Stocks hit new high, led by banks
  • Ergobank pledges stock for all Ergobank shareholders
  • National Bank extends debit card abroad
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL Gov't continues campaign to finalise selection of Thessaloniki

Deputy Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Friday stressed the Greek government's determination to have Thessaloniki selected as both the headquarters and centre of primary ground operations for the Union's new Balkans reconstruction organisation. The Greek minister made the statements during the European Union's budget council in Brussels. Mr. Christodoulakis pointed to a political commitment made by the "15" EU leaders in favour of Thessaloniki as the agency's host. He added that the choice of Thessaloniki will secure the "effectiveness and coordination of EU actions" in Kosovo, in the name of which the European Commission is trying to "cloud" the decision taken by the 15 leaders and substantively thwart the option of Thessaloniki as the agency's headquarters.

Probe now focuses to identifying dead suspect in bus hijacking

Authorities were continuing on Friday to seek the real identity of the Albanian hijacker killed Thursday afternoon when police stormed a bus to resolve a 30-hour hostage ordeal in northern Greece. According to reports, papers found on the man didn't identify him as "Aleksandr Nana", as he claimed, but one Arbin Soupa, 26. A further search revealed that the man had been arrested in 1993 in Thessaloniki during a crackdown on illegal immigrants. The suspect had then said his name was Ilias Markoy. Meanwhile, Greek Police (EL.AS) Chief Ioannis Georgakopoulos, speaking to reporters in Thessaloniki, said police were continuing to investigate whether the grenade-wielding suspect had acted alone or with accomplices. He said authorities were in possession of the numbers the hijacker had phoned during the hijacking and were investigating what relationship these people had to the suspect.

Costas Simitis: The safety of citizens a basic social requirement

Speaking after chairing a joint meeting of the Cabinet and inner Cabinet on Friday, less than 24 hours after the bus hijacking ended, PM Costas Simitis underlined that the safety of citizens was a basic social requirement. The premier said the government would do everything possible to secure citizens' safety and linked the presence of economic refugees in Greece with many aspects of criminal activity which have appeared in the country over recent years.

"Whoever fails to respect law and order has no place in our country and must leave," Mr. Simitis said, underlining the government's determination to combat crime. Greece, he said, a hospitable country, has in recent years encountered unprecedented "criminal phenomena" which are trying the naturally hospitable feelings of the Greek people. Noting that Greece had very long borders to guard, Mr. Simitis said the high standard of living attracted economic refugees who brought with them "phenomena of other countries" into Greek society.

Balkans reconstruction agency among Athens` priorities

Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis will represent Greece at a two-day EU General Affairs Council which begins in Brussels on Monday and will discuss among other things the basing of the reconstruction agency for the Balkans in the northern port city of Thessaloniki. Mr. Kranidiotis told a press conference on Friday that Greece still had certain reservations regarding the relevant regulations pertaining to the agency as proposed by the European Commission. He clarified that the Commission had not yet taken steps to fall in line with the political decision taken by EU leaders at the recent Cologne summit and meeting in Rio de Janeiro in favour of the agency being headquartered in Thessaloniki. "We are awaiting fresh proposals from outgoing Commissioner (for external relations) Hans van den Broek. I hope that the new decision will be in line with the political decisions taken at Rio," Mr. Kranidiotis said.

Athens condemns continuing Turkish occupation

The government noted on Friday that its positions over a resolution of the protracted Cyprus problem remained unchanged, 25 years after the invasion of Turkish troops and occupation of the island's northern third. "For a quarter of a century, the Cypriot tragedy has been a black page in the annals of contemporary world history and civilisation," Alternate Foreign Minister Yannos Kranidiotis said in a statement. He added that in the summer of 1974 Turkey used brute force to "proceed with one of the most abhorrent ethnic cleansing operations" on Cyprus. "Our positions on Cyprus remain unchanged. The situation today, created by force in Cyprus, is unacceptable. No matter how much time passes, the struggle to restore legality will continue. "Cyprus' struggle is Hellenism's struggle. Greece remains a guarantor of the security and existence of Cypriot Hellenism, steadily pursuing the implementation of the joint defence doctrine and Cyprus' accession to the European Union," he concluded.

Finnish PM Lipponen assures of Thessaloniki selection

Finnish PM and current European Union president Paavo Lipponen offered assurances on Friday that Thessaloniki will be the headquarters of the Balkan reconstruction organisation. "The headquarters of the reconstruction organisation in the Balkans will be in Thessaloniki. The Finnish presidency will observe the decision taken in Rio," he said. The assurance was given to PASOK Eurodeputy and Socialist group vice-president Georgios Katiforis by the Finnish premier in Helsinki on Friday, when Mr. Katiforis raised the issue during a meeting between the Socialist group's presidium and Mr. Lipponen .

Simitis chairs Cabinet meeting

Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Friday asked his Cabinet ministers to record a greater presence throughout the provinces. During a Cabinet meeting, Mr. Simitis asked each minister to visit the provinces at least once during July and August and twice beginning in September, while he repeated warnings against what he called a "climate of mass hirings" which would have adverse repercussions. The government has already announced some 1,000 new hires in police forces and 1,500 more personnel to boost border patrols.

Farmer who hijacked bus in protest heads for court

A farmer who hijacked an Albanian tourist coach on Thursday in retaliation for Wednesday's hijacking of an intercity bus in northern Greece by a grenade-toting Albanian will be tried on Monday in Messolongi. According to police, 44-year-old Andreas Kalyvas released the driver and all 38 passengers of the coach he hijacked and drove it to a Messolongi police station in protest over the other hijacking. Authorities said Mr. Kalyvas first followed the bus, en route from Tirana to Athens, in his pick-up truck and stopped it along the Antirrio-Ioannina national highway by brandishing a shotgun.

Stocks hit new high, led by banks

Equities surged to a new record, their 32nd this year, breaking through the 4,400-point barrier for the first time. The general index ended 2.35 percent higher at 4,410.33 points, near near the day's highs. Turnover was 179.690 billion drachmas with 24,502,467 shares changing hands. Dealers said buying activity once again focused on blue chips in the banking sector encouraged by a fierce battle between Eurobank and Bank of Piraeus to gain control of Ergobank. All three banks are listed on the bourse.

Eurobank pledges stock for all Ergobank shareholders

Ergobank's retail shareholders will all receive stock if a share swap offer by Eurobank is oversubscribed, EFG Eurobank's managing director, Nikos Nanopoulos, said on Friday. Mr. Nanopoulos was addressing a news conference to explain the Eurobank Group's new, improved offer in a hostile takeover bid it has launched for Ergobank through Consolidated Eurofinance Holdings. He said that all of Ergobank's retail shareholders owning less than 400 shares would receive stock because under the terms of the deal every applicant would receive a minimum of 200 shares.

National Bank extends debit card abroad

National Bank of Greece, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, said that as of Friday it had extended the use of its debit card to transactions abroad. The card may be used at any ATM outside Greece marked Cirrus and Maestro. Withdrawals abroad will come in the form of that country's currency up to the equivalent of 2000 euros for each trip. The daily limit is the equivalent of 300,000 drachmas. The amount of the withdrawal in foreign currency is converted into drachmas and automatically debited to the holder's account.

WEATHER

Partly cloudy throughout the country on Sunday, localy increased in the Aegean and the mountainous regions. Winds will be northerly, moderate to strong, turning gale force in the Aegean Sea. Partly cloudy in Athens where temperatures will range between 23-33C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from 21-30C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          315.387
Pound sterling       493.738
Japanese yen (100)   261.610
French franc          49.112
German mark          164.714
Italian lira (100)    16.638
Irish Punt           409.048
Belgian franc          7.986
Finnish mark          54.182
Dutch guilder        146.186
Danish kr.            43.319
Austrian sch.         23.412
Spanish peseta         1.936
Swedish kr.           36.704
Norwegian kr.         39.452
Swiss franc          200.672
Port. Escudo           1.607
Can. dollar          212.943
Aus. dollar          208.136
Cyprus pound         559.091
Euro                 322.152
(M.S.)
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