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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-07-23

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, 23/07/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • European Socialists prepare positions for Sarajevo summit
  • Kranidiotis at OSCE
  • Gov't condemns Ankara's recent provocations, talks still scheduled
  • Varvitsiotis sues Lambrakis press group over Litton probe
  • Stocks hit new high in wake of correction
  • Information technology market jumps 34.3 pct
  • Bank of Cyprus gets central bank OK ahead of bourse entry
  • Gasoline retailers call for price consensus
  • ANEK orders ships from Norwegian yard
  • Aegean Airlines makes deals with foreign airlines
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

European Socialists prepare positions for Sarajevo summit

National Defence Minister and European Socialist Party vice-president Akis Tsohatzopoulos has set out four points that European socialists should put forth as their finalised proposal at the European Union's upcoming Balk an conference in Sarajevo.

He made the statement in Vienna last night after the start to the European socialist and social democrat parties' two-day Balkan summit.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said this policy should be based primarily on the need for the recognition and non-violation of existing borders and, secondly, on the need for support for democratic institutions, human freedoms and human rights as a basic ingredient for the operation of all Balkan states.

He also referred to the need for support in Balkan states for the implementation with EU funds of an integrated plan for the productive reconstruction of Balkan countries as a third point.

Lastly, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the EU should guarantee the common prospects of all Balkan states towards the EU through special processes which will recognise the strategic importance the accession of all Balkan states in common European prospects has for Europe.

Apart from Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, PASOK is also represented at the ESP's summit by Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis.

Kranidiotis at OSCE

Alternate foreign minister Yiannos Kranidiotis yesterday submitted Greece's proposal to assume the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) presidency in 2004 to the permanent council of the 54 member-states at the OSCE's headquarters in Vienna.

Greece's proposal is already being viewed positively by the organisation's member-states following yesterday's development.

The representatives of a number of countries, including the US and Russia, expressed positive positions, after Mr. Kranidiotis presented the proposal, and praised Greece's role in the recent crisis in Yugoslavia, as well as its wider role in guaranteeing security and peace in the region.

Mr. Kranidiotis said the year 2004 when Greece intends to assume the OSCE's presidency is the year of the Olympic Games for Greece, as well as the year immediately after Greece's presidency at the European Union.

He added that it is an important year, just as the role of the OSCE presidency is very important and substantive since it also has a political and executive content.

Addressing the OSCE's Permanent Council yesterday, Mr. Kranidiotis underlined the need for "the charter on security in Europe" to be signed at the next OSCE summit in Istanbul in November.

He said it will be a document based on a series of principles many of which Greece succeeded in raising, such as the inviolability of borders, respect for international law and resolving differences peacefully.

Mr. Kranidiotis stressed the decisive role Greece can play in the framework of efforts to reconstruct the Balkans, with the headquarters of the Reconstruction Organisation being in Thessaloniki, which is gradually emerging as the centre of this entire effort.

He further stressed the need at the OSCE's permanent council for the principles of this organisation to also apply to the case of Cyprus where the international community has the obligation of assisting a solution to the problem on the basis of principles of international law and UN resolutions.

In a statement afterwards, Mr. Kranidiotis said that although at the moment there is no activation by the OSCE on the Cyprus issue he believes that this is an issue which should preoccupy the organisation.

On the question of Turkey, he said that for as long as Ankara does not comply and does not adjust itself to the OSCE's general principles, of which it is a member, its course towards Europe will certainly have obstacles and problems.

Gov't condemns Ankara's recent provocations, talks still scheduled

The government yesterday attributed Ankara's stance over recent days, especially the harassment by Turkish warplanes of a civil aircraft carrying Transport Minister Tassos Mantelis, to "circumstances whereby intiatives are being manifested for the settlement of various issues." Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said these issues included the Cyprus problem, the Kurdish issue and Greek-Turkish relations.

Mr. Reppas said another example of Turkey's stance was the neighbouring country's issuing of a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) requesting that certain areas of the Aegean be reserved for Turkish air and naval exercises during the two-month moratorium on military flights over the Aegean in the summer, something agreed to in the past by Athens and Ankara.

Two Turkish F-16s on Wednesday infringed on Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) regulations and harassed an aircraft carrying Mr. Mantelis from Larnaca to Athens. The incident took place at an altitude of 28,000 feet south-east of Rhodes in air corri dor RED-19, which connects Larnaca with the Dodecanese island.

The harassment was also roundly condemned by Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who added however, that it would not affect efforts for a de- escalation of tension between Greece and Turkey.

Replying to reporters' questions, Mr. Reppas said Turkey should stop "reacting in this way" to initiatives for the resolution of the Cyprus and Kurdish problems, and Greek-Turkish relations.

On the aircraft harassment incident itself, Mr. Reppas commented that Turkey from time to time "created problems, caused tension and undermined relations of good neighourliness".

"The government, having as its criterion the interests of the country, rather than reacting spasmodically, will continue its efforts to attain its objectives, since as a member of NATO and the European Union it has a very important say in the greater region regarding the safeguarding of peace and security," he said.

He added, however, that Turkey's actions should be addressed by the international community and stressed that Greece would under no circumstances allow itself to become "inactive" or a "captive" to the situation.

Mr. Reppas noted also that Turkey would have to bear the entire diplomatic and political cost of its actions.

The spokesman said the Greek-Turkish dialogue which is scheduled to begin on Monday would proceed as planned and would not be affected by recent developments.

On the issue of the Turkish NOTAM, Mr. Reppas said Ankara's efforts to have certain areas of the Aegean reserved for military exercises during August was a breach of the moratorium agreed by the two countries "and this illustrates Turkey's inability to contribute to the normalisation of Greek- Turkish relations".

t was also announced later in the day that Mr. Papandreou had a telephone contact with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem, where the former reportedly expressed both his and the Greek government's displeasure over the mid-air harassment by the Turkish warplanes.

According to sources, Mr. Cem, who was apparently more-or-less familiar with the incident, "distanced" himself from the incident and reassured his Greek counterpart that Ankara shared the necessity to maintain "lower tones" for the sake of the Greek-Turkish dialogue.

On his part, Greek ambassador to Ankara Ioannis Korantis reiterated to a Turkish foreign ministry official that the incident took place inside the Athens FIR and the air corridor, while he stressed that it was "unacceptable" for Turkish warplanes to fly at such a small distance from a civilian aircraft.

Conversely, the Turkish foreign ministry denied that Turkish warplanes had harassed the plane.

The Greek Civil Aviation Authority (YPA) announced it will report the incident to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Varvitsiotis sues Lambrakis press group over Litton probe

New Democracy deputy and former defence minister Ioannis Varvitsiotis yesterday filed a lawsuit against the Lambrakis press group for defamation, following recent reports in the morning daily "To Vima" over an ongoing investigation regarding commissions by US defence contractor Litton in 1993.

The newspaper reported that Litton paid 12 million dollars in commissions to secure a contract for the supply of spare parts for Greece's F-16 fighters and while Mr. Varvitsiotis was defence minister.

"To Vima" quoted relevant court proceedings against Litton in a US federal court.

Mr. Varvitsiotis is seeking 500 million drachmas in damages,pledging to donate all the proceeds to charity in the event he wins the lawsuit.

Stocks hit new high in wake of correction

Equities posted a new record high yesterday after a technical correction lasting two sessions, taking the market beyond 4,500 points.

The general index ended 1.29 percent higher at 4,528.97 points from 4, 471.22 points a day earlier.

Turnover was 167.869 billion drachmas from 164.127 billion drachmas in the previous session. Changing hands were 27,923,073 shares.

Again attracting investors were small and medium capitalisation stocks. Players mostly fought shy of banking shares.

Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (+0.60 pct), Leasing (+1.79 pct), Insurance (+1.33 pct), Investment (+1.93 pct), Construction (+2.13 pct), Industrials (+0.92 pct), Miscellaneous (+3.49 pct) and Holding (+5.20 pct).

The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 3.95 percent higher. The FTSE/ASE 20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips gained 1.06 percent to finish at 2,654.61 points.

Of 298 shares traded, advances outpaced declines at 231 to 56 with 11 issues unchanged.

National Bank of Greece ended at 22,300 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 22, 105, Bank of Piraeus at 9,160, Ergobank at 40,500, Titan Cement (commom) at 30,530, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,910 and Intracom (common) at 21,390 drachmas.

Information technology market jumps 34.3 pct

The domestic information technology market grew by 34.3 percent in 1998, the highest percentage increase in 10 years, according to a survey released yesterday.

The survey by Strategic International/K.Kataras SA said the market was worth 276.7 billion drachmas last year.

The rate of increase is expected to decline in coming years, but not below 15 percent.

The market's explosive rise in 1998 was due mainly to three factors, the survey said.

For the first time, personal computers appeared in the market that cost less than 300,000 drachmas, expanding the customer base.

In addition, wider use of the Internet in Greece spurred sales, coupled with lower prices for personal computers.

Finally, debate on the "millennium problem" led many companies to buy new hardware and software, again stimulating sales.

Bank of Cyprus gets central bank OK ahead of bourse entry

The Bank of Cyprus Group yesterday received permission from the island republic's central bank to alter the status of share capital that would allow entry into the Athens Stock Exchange.

The Bank of Cyprus will call a shareholders' meeting in September to endorse the release of 10 percent of its share capital to Greece, in effect endorsing the move to seek bourse entry.

Gasoline retailers call for price consensus

The Gasoline Retailers Federation of Greece yesterday blamed fuel companies for price excesses in the market that have angered the government.

The federation said in a statement that a gentleman's agreement sought by the state would have to involve concrete commitments on prices by the two other parties involved - fuel producers and the development ministry.

Retail price anomalies seen among filling stations and districts were due to shifting wholesale prices charged by the companies, the statement said.

Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos repeated yesterday that he would slap ceilings on fuel prices if the violations continued. Retail prices should not differ widely from weekly indicative rates released by the ministry, Mr. Venizelos said.

He added that the ceilings would be imposed if prices fluctuations were not reduced by 50 percent in the next ten days.

ANEK orders ships from Norwegian yard

ANEK, a Crete-based passenger shipper, said yesterday it had ordered the construction of two passenger and car ferries from Norway's Fosen shipbuilder.

The cost of the two vessels is 205 million euros. The first ship is due for delivery in October 2000 and the second in May 2001.

The ferries' maximum speed is 30 knots. They have a capacity of 1,850 passengers, 130 trucks and 120 cars.

Aegean Airlines makes deals with foreign airlines

Aegean Airlines announced yesterday that it had forged commercial agreements with a batch of foreign airlines.

The private Greek carrier said the operators were KLM, Alitalia, Northwest Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Middle East Airlines and Maersk. Aegean Airlines, which launched domestic flights in June, has undertaken to effect the Greek stretch of the airlines routes.

WEATHER

Fair weather is forecast across the country on Thursday, with cloud cover later in the day in the northwest. Winds will be northerlies mild, while in the Aegean moderate. Temperatures will range from 22-35C in the north, 19- 38C in the mainland and Ionian and 24-31 in the Aegean. Athens will be fair, winds northerly moderate, 23-38C. Thessaloniki will have fair weather, northerly winds mild to moderate and temperatures of 21-35C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          307.004
Pound sterling       484.314
Japanese yen (100)   260.162
French franc          49.144
German mark          164.820
Italian lira (100)    16.649
Irish Punt           409.313
Belgian franc          7.991
Finnish mark          54.217
Dutch guilder        146.280
Danish kr.            43.331
Austrian sch.         23.427
Spanish peseta         1.937
Swedish kr.           36.702
Norwegian kr.         38.902
Swiss franc          200.682
Port. Escudo           1.608
Can. dollar          203.697
Aus. dollar          198.435
Cyprus pound         556.948
Euro                 322.360
(L.G.)
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