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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-07-31

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, 31/07/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Papandreou receives Turkish delegation following talks
  • Simitis calls for common strategy at Balkan summit
  • Chrysohoidis in crime-fighting, border control talks with FYROM
  • Gov't reiterates its position on Moslem minority
  • Balkan media conference opens in Thessaloniki
  • One Albanian shot dead and another wounded
  • Norwegian woman runs amok
  • 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

Papandreou receives Turkish delegation following talks

Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Saturday received the members of the Turkish delegation which participated in bilateral talks earlier this week which constituted the first round of a dialogue on "low-key" political issues.

During the talks in Athens on Thursday and Friday the two sides exchanged views on combatting organised crime, terrorism, illegal immigration and drug trafficking.

Earlier in the week, similar talks were held in Ankara. The next round of talks on the same issues will take place in September following a review of the ideas and proposals put forward by each side.

Speaking to reporters after the courtesy call of the Turkish delegation today, Papandreou referred to his meeting on Friday with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem on the sidelines of the Balkan Stability Pact summit in Sarajevo.

He said both he and Cem had noted that the climate in which this week's talks were held had been "good and constructive".

Papandreou said the next round of talks would begin on September 9 and the aim would be to bring about the greater involvement of the other ministries connected with the issues up for discussion.

Simitis calls for common strategy at Balkan summit

Prime Minister Costas Simitis told a Balkan stability pact summit in Sarajevo on Friday that the situation in the Balkans was at least partly due to the habitual intervention of the major powers, as well as to the insecurity and fear prevailing in the region.

In a brief address at the summit, Simitis called for a common strategy for the entire region, aimed at promoting economic and political reform, securing development and strengthening security.

The stability pact, he said, could serve as a basis for peace and cooperation in the region.

Simitis said that the summit should not be seen as pitting two sides against each other, that is, on the one hand the Balkan countries which wanted to overcome their difficulties, and on the other the rest of the world which is willing to help.

The prime minister concluded his statement by underlining the responsibility of all parties for the situation which has been created in the Balkans.

"For this reason, we must unite our efforts to overcome the present situation," he said.

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.

Gov't reiterates its position on 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 existing 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.

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".

Balkan media conference opens in Thessaloniki

The first Balkan Meeting of Greek Media opened in Thessaloniki today, organised by the Union of Greek Media Correspondents abroad under the aegis of the national economy ministry and the press ministry.

Taking part in the meeting are owners and directors of Greek-language newspapers and radio and television stations in the Balkan region, for the purpose of strengthening relations among them and sharing their experiences on the role of the media in the Balkans, and discussing developments in general.

One Albanian shot dead and another wounded

An unidentified Albanian gunman shot dead one compatriot and wounded another in broad daylight on Saturday in what police described as an ambush near the centre of Athens.

The gunman fired at the two Albanians five times before disappearing.

The Albanians were taken to the Evangelismos hospital where Tortzian Soula, 22, died soon after arrival.

The wounded Albanian was identified as Stavros Lolos, 19, from Koryca.

The police believe the motive for the attack was a "settling of scores".

Norwegian woman runs amok

A 40-year-old Norwegian woman ran amok this morning in the port of Egina and, after setting fire to two motorcycles, jumped into the sea and drowned.

Police said the woman's friend, also a foreign national, identified her as Vense Medoft (phonetic spelling). Police had not yet confirmed her identity.

They said the woman set fire to two parked motorcycles in the port at 6:30 a.m., and when she failed to set fire to a third motorcycle, jumped into the sea and swam out some 15 metres before drowning.

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

Changeble throughout most of Greece on Sunday with rain and storms forecast in many parts in the afternoon. Winds north-northwesterly, light to moderate. Cloudy with possibility of rain later in the day in Athens, with temperatures between 21-33C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki, where temperatures will range from 20-30C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          301.449
Pound sterling       488.758
Japanese yen (100)   261.828
French franc          49.165
German mark          164.891
Italian lira (100)    16.656
Irish Punt           409.490
Belgian franc          7.995
Finnish mark          54.241
Dutch guilder        146.344
Danish kr.            43.301
Austrian sch.         23.437
Spanish peseta         1.938
Swedish kr.           36.845
Norwegian kr.         38.720
Swiss franc          201.808
Port. Escudo           1.609
Can. dollar          200.186
Aus. dollar          196.237
Cyprus pound         558.496
Euro                 322.499
(S.S.)
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