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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-07-30

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, 30/07/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greek-Turkish talks shift to Athens, on cultural, regional issues
  • Chrysohoidis in crime-fighting, border control talks with FYROM
  • Simitis at Balkan stability pact summit
  • Treatment of illegals the focus of EU talks with ACP nations
  • Gov't reiterates its well-known position over Moslem minority
  • Gilman article: Cyprus impasse begs attention
  • Gov't releases results of lab tests on various foods
  • Deadline ends for new bids in Ergobank buyout
  • Stocks nose down in brisk trade
  • UK travel agents to hold congress in Greece
  • Progress report on Athens metro
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greek-Turkish talks shift to Athens, on cultural, regional issues

The first day of a second leg of talks between Greek and Turkish officials ended in Athens yesterday, after commencing in Ankara on Monday.

The two delegations of foreign ministry officials will conclude talks today on issues related to the "citizen safety", with discussions expected to focus on ways of confronting illegal immigration and combatting organised crime and terrorism.

Informed sources said talks yesterday covered cultural and regional cooperation issues, and were conducted in a "positive climate".

The foreign ministry officials from both countries have been appointed to discuss "low-level policy issues".

Foreign Minister George Papandreou is expected to receive the Turkish delegation in his office on Saturday.

The Greek-Turkish talks was agreed upon by Greek and Turkish Foreign Ministers George Papandreou and Ismail Cem, respectively, in New York late last month.

Chrysohoidis in crime-fighting, border control talks with FYROM

Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis held talks in Skopje yesterday with FYROM Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski during a one-day visit to the neighbouring country.

Mr. Chrysohoidis also met with FYROM Deputy PM Dosta Dimovska, Parliament Deputy President Tomislav Stojanovski and Interior Minister Trajanov.

The issue of implementing a police cooperation protocol and cooperation against drug and weapon smuggling were discussed during the Greek minister's meeting with Mr. Trajanov, while prevention of international terrorism and illegal immigration were also examined along with specific security issues related to the Balkan region.

The two sides agreed that cracking down on crime constitutes a common target of the two countries. Finally, Mr. Chrysohoidis invited Mr. Trajanov to visit Greece.

Simitis at Balkan stability pact summit

Prime Minister Costas Simitis left for Sarajevo early today to attend a Balkan stability pact summit in the Bosnian capital.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the Greek side would attempt to have final resolutions include certain views to contribute to a resolution of regional problems.

He noted that the stability pact had three components, namely, the provision of humanitarian aid, provision of economic aid for reconstruction, as well as the introduction and consolidation of democratic parliamentary institutions.

Treatment of illegals the focus of EU talks with ACP nations

The issues of the treatment of illegal immigrants - xenophobia and racism - in Europe and the return of cultural artifacts to their country of origin were discussed in Brussels yesterday at the EU's interministerial session and a negotiating group with countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific rim.

Foreign ministry secretary general Stelios Perrakis represented Greece at the session which was attended by ministers from 71 countries with their "15" counterparts from the European Union. It focused on revising the LOME Treaty on eradicating poverty, development, proper administration and harmonisation with the state of law, as well as the gradual incorporation of these countries in the world's economy.

The representatives of the non-EU countries protested over the ill- treatment of many of their subjects who arrive in EU countries as illegal immigrants and referred to phenomena of xenophobia and racism.

They also called for the return of their cultural artifacts which adorn many museums in developed countries at present to their place of origin. Greece backed this claim due to the Parthenon Marbles, but did not receive a relevant response from the "15. "

Mr. Perrakis held contacts on the sidelines of the session with senior European Commission officials responsible for establishing the headquarters of the Balkan reconstruction agency in Thessaloniki and discussed "the next steps" with them, stressing th at continuing reactions to a decision taken are not beneficial for anyone.

Gov't reiterates its well-known position over Moslem minority

The government said yesterday that its position on the issue of the Moslem minority of Thrace was "clear, known and unchanged", namely, that such a minority existed and was only a religious one.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas made the statement when asked by reporters to comment on remarks by Foreign Minister George Papandreou in an interview with an Athens-based monthly magazine and speaking yesterday on a local radio station.

In the published interview, Mr. Papandreou was quoted as saying that "nobody doubts that there are a lot of Moslems of Turkish origin" in western Thrace, adding however, that "at times the minority issue is raised together with territorial claims. If ex isting borders are not questioned, I don't really care if somebody calls himself a Moslem, Turk, Bulgarian or Pomack".

"The Balkans will find their peace if we guarantee borders and at the same time the rights of minorities," he said.

Mr. Reppas stressed that as far as Greece was concerned there could be no question of the minority in Thrace being designated in any way other than 'Moslem'.

The issue came to the forefront last week when Thrace's three Moslem MPs and 13 non-governmental organisations called for recognition of so-called "Turkish" and "Macedonian" minorities in Greece.

Over the weekend, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos rejected the call outright, telling reporters that "such minorities do not exist, however much some may want to create them."

"Under the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), there is only a Moslem minority in our country, which lives in the best conditions," he added.

Commenting on Mr. Papandreou's statements, Mr. Reppas said he had simply stated what was self-evident, namely, that the status of the minority in Thrace is governed by the Treaty of Lausanne, "which refers to the existence of a Moslem minority and speci fies its three components - Pomacks, gypsies and those of Turkish origin".

Mr. Reppas said the Treaty of Lausanne, which determines the status of the Moslem minority, prevails in this respect over the conventions of Copenhagen and Paris, which pertain to citizens' rights, and to which Greece is a signatory.

Noting that the government agreed with Mr. Papandreou's statements, Mr. Reppas said the foreign minister had raised the major issue of the inviolability of borders "and did so in a responsible manner".

Mr. Reppas noted that the Greek minister had said in the interview that the term "Turkish minority" could be used in efforts aimed at changing borders and that this could create many problems.

Regarding the way in which the minority or certain members of the Moslem minority might refer to themselves, Mr. Reppas said Greece, during the New Democracy government in 1990-93, had signed the relevant international conventions "and at all events, we are not afraid of how someone may choose to call himself".

He added that policy on such issues had to take into account all the relevant international factors.

Replying to other questions, Mr. Reppas underlined that there had been no change in the government's stance on the issue, nor could this be construed from Mr. Papandreou's statements.

Mr. Reppas said while the rights of Greek citizens were respected, "any attempt to undermine national sovereignty or obstruct the exercise of (Greece's) sovereign rights will not be tolerated".

In Ankara, the Turkish foreign ministry said it saw no change in Greek policy regarding the minority in western Thrace, as a result of Mr. Papandreou's statements.

"I did not detect in his words a stance much different from the official and well-known Greek stance," said ministry spokesman Sermet Atancali.

Gilman article: Cyprus impasse begs attention

US Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-New York) drew a comparison between the plight of the Kosovar Albanian refugees and Greek Cypriot refugees, driven from their homes by a Turkish invasion in 1974.

"...This repatriation (in Kosovo) should positively influence similar situations, such as the one on Cyprus, where some 200,000 Greek Cypriots have been prevented from returning to their homes in Northern Cyprus for nearly 25 years," Mr. Gilman wrote in a commentary published in the "Washington Times" yesterday.

Mr. Gilman referred to a "courageous" decision by Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides to cancel the planned deployment of the Russian-made S-300 missiles on the free parts of the island republic in order achieve, as he said, progress towards solving the Cyprus problem. He stressed that Turkey must now realised "its interests" and contribute to such a solution. "It is time now to cut the Gordian knot of Cyprus," he concluded in his article.

Gov't releases results of lab tests on various foods

The government yesterday presented results of lab tests reportedly showing that Greek foodstuffs are uncontaminated.

Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos said a wide range of samples from dairy products, meats, poultry, eggs and their by products, were all tested for dioxin contamination, with levels far lower than prescribed legal limits.

Mr. Venizelos also announced that a bill establishing a "national foods inspection agency" will be tabled in Parliament within the next few days.

Deadline ends for new bids in Ergobank buyout

The deadline expired yesterday for new bids in a war for the acquisition of Ergobank with EFG Eurobank apparently emerging the winner in the absence of a fresh offer from Bank of Piraeus, analysts said.

Piraeus had effectively withdrawn from the battle earlier this week after Ergobank's management recommended to shareholders that they should accept the offer by the EFG Bank Group through Consolidated Eurofinance Holdings, itself a member of the Latsis Group.

Piraeus and EFG, which, along with Ergobank are listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, were the only bidders.

Today is the date when bids may be withdrawn. Ergobank's shareholders must decide on August 4 whether or not to take part in an offer, and any shares collected by the bidders must be announced on August 5.

Stocks nose down in brisk trade

Equities ended slightly lower yesterday with investors again shunning blue chips and favouring selected buys in small and medium capitalisation stocks.

The general index ended 0.32 percent lower at 4,378.37 points from 4,392.24 points a day earlier.

Turnover was 237.402 billion drachmas from 164.1 billion drachmas in the previous session. Changing hands were 34,439,505 stocks.

Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-0.37 pct), Leasing (+8.00 pct), Insurance (-3.84 pct), Investment (-1.73 pct), Construction (-0.01 pct), Industrials (-0.10 pct), Miscellaneous (-0.30 pct) and Holding (-0.73 pct). The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 0.19 percent higher. The FTSE/ASE 20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips dropped 0.33 percent to finish at 2,535.46 points.

Of 296 shares traded, declines outpaced advances at 156 to 131 with 9 issues unchanged.

National Bank of Greece ended at 21,300 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 21, 900, Bank of Piraeus at 8,940, Ergobank at 32,000, Titan Cement (common) at 30,790, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,855 and Intracom (common) at 20,700 drachmas.

Block trade in Bank of Piraeus : A block trade in Bank of Piraeus shares, representing 2.6 percent of the bank's share capital, was reported on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday.

The stock was reportedly moved by private investors. The trade was for 3, 109,000 shares at 8,800 drachmas each, totalling 27.4 billion drachmas of the bourse's turnover for the day.

UK travel agents to hold congress in Greece

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) is to hold its annual congress for 2000 on the island of Kos, a domestic tourism official said yesterday.

General secretary Evgenios Yannakopoulos of the Greek National Tourism Organisation said ABTA's members in London voted yesterday in favour of Greece against Portugal, the other candidate country.

Organisational details of the congress, one of the largest sector events in the world, will be announced in the autumn, Mr. Yannakopoulos said.

Progress report on Athens metro

Transport and Communications Minister Tasos Mantelis yesterday inspected the site of the Sepolia station being built for the new Athens metro.

Construction is at an advanced stage in 19 out of 21 stations, and 23 out of 25 trains ordered have been delivered. Around 800,000 passengers are expected to travel annually on the existing and new network, due to come into operation at the end of the year.

WEATHER

Fair weather is forecast throughout the country on Friday with clouds developing in west, central and north Greece and local rainfall in the northern Ionian, Macedonia and Ipiros. Winds will be northerly mild to moderate.Fair weather in Athens with scattered cloud in the afternoon hours with the possibility of rain, and temperatures between 23C and 36C. In Thessaloniki weather will be fair early in the day with clouds developing in the afternoon hours and possibility of rainfall or storm. Temperatures will range from 21C to 31C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          301.766
Pound sterling       482.985
Japanese yen (100)   261.402
French franc          49.142
German mark          164.815
Italian lira (100)    16.648
Irish Punt           409.300
Belgian franc          7.991
Finnish mark          54.216
Dutch guilder        146.276
Danish kr.            43.293
Austrian sch.         23.426
Spanish peseta         1.937
Swedish kr.           36.605
Norwegian kr.         38.549
Swiss franc          201.674
Port. Escudo           1.608
Can. dollar          199.630
Aus. dollar          195.583
Cyprus pound         558.278
Euro                 322.350
(L.G.)
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