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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-08-25

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, 25/08/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece, Albania advance cooperation with signing of 2 protocols
  • Issue of Greek veto to EU financial protocol for Turkey reappears
  • More Greek aid from municipalities to Turkish quake victims
  • UN High Commissioner praises Greece's role in aiding quake victims
  • Cypriot doctors say were greeted warmly in quake-stricken Turkey
  • Gov't slaps ceiling on fuel price
  • Central bank chief okays anti-inflation package
  • National Bank gets control of Bulgarian leasing firm
  • Mytilineos forges alliance with Cypriot firm
  • Stocks edge down in profit taking
  • Greek, Turkish soccer match to help quake relief
  • Tsiamita wins gold in women`s triple jump
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece, Albania advance cooperation with signing of 2 protocols

Greece and Albania yesterday signed two bilateral cooperation protocols while at the same time confirming that an improvement of bilateral relations is a constant goal of both Athens and Tirana.

The protocols were signed following talks In Tirana between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Albania's leadership.

Mr. Simitis, who arrived in Tirana for a one-day official visit yesterday morning, had separate talks with President Rexhep Mejdani and his Albanian counterpart Pandeli Majko.

The first protocol provides for further economic cooperation between the two countries, namely, the establishment of a new border post in the area of Treis Gefyres, Premeti region.

The second, signed by Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Albanian counterpart Paskal Milo, provides for joint sea patrols in the strait between Sarande and Corfu, aimed at preventing cross-border crime such as smuggling.

According to Greek diplomatic sources, Mr. Simitis and Mr. Majko discussed a number of minor problems in bilateral relations, such as the large numbers of Albanians illegally entering Greece, although both men stressed that these problems would not affect the two countries' good relations.

Also discussed were procedures for the disbursement of 1.5 million dollars of Greek aid to Albania, which will be used for the construction of a maternity hospital and residences in Tirana.

A further $500,000 will be allocated for projects in southern Albania populated by ethnic Greeks.

Commeting on his talks with Mr. Majko, Mr. Simitis said "there is a framework for the relations of Balkan countries which is set by the Stability Pact. It regards understanding and good relations.

"Of course, there are always unresolved problems, difficulties, but nothing is insurmountable. In any case, I do not think that the problems and difficulties can create problems in the development of the region," he said, adding that discussions include d problems in Kosovo, where there will be "problems, but I think that they will be overcome."

Referring to the issue of undocumented workers in Greece, Mr. Simitis said Athens "has stated that it will apply specific principles. Economic immigrants contribute to the development of our country, as well as to the development of Albania. However, there should be correct conditions; their presence in Greece should be under legal procedures."

Mr. Majko said "the relations of Albania and Greece have gone beyond the limits of protocol. We are the most ancient neighbours in the Balkans and the Stability Pact in the region is a new beginning. It will give a new boost to our relations, as the visit of Mr. Simitis has already done."

Later in the day, the Greek premier visited Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania Anastasios and the Greek military contingent at the Izberis camp outside Tirana.

Issue of Greek veto to EU financial protocol for Turkey reappears

Greece's political world has expressed a variety of views of late on the issue of Athens' standing veto over an EU financial protocol for Turkey.

On his part, acting government spokesman Yiannis Nikolaou yesterday reiterated that the any such discussion on the matter was still premature.

"Our position remains steady. As already stated, we shall play a leading role in EU support of Turkey in the difficult problems it is facing due to the earthquake. Beyond that, regarding the veto and the financial protocols, we shall wait to see developmens in the EU, the proposals which will be sumbitted and we shall see to the matter when the time comes," he said in response to questions.

Reacting to Mr. Nikolaou's statement, Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas stressed that "humanitarian values should not be confused with our country's foreign policy".

Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis stated that a country's best interests are not always served through the adoption of the toughest stand possible.

Former New Democracy prime minister Costas Mitsotakis called for a lifting of the veto, saying it was "pointless". Yesterday, his successor to the leadership of the party, Miltiades Evert, said any change in the country's policy towards Turkey should be made after an undestanding between the political parties and take into account all the parametres of the problem, rather than through "piecemeal statements on the problem which may be exploited by Turkey in future."

More Greek aid from municipalities to Turkish quake victims

According to an ANA dispatch from Istanbul, Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem revealed in a television interview yesterday that his Greek counterpart George Papandreou was the first to phone Ankara after the recent quake.

He added that Mr. Papandreou asked to be briefed on the immediate needs following the disaster.

"He was briefed and the Greek aid arrived right away," Mr. Cem noted.

Meanwhile, a six-member Greek parliamentary delegation yesterday arrived in Istanbul aboard a Hellenic Air Force C-130 plane carrying 20 tonnes of humanitarian aid to the quake victims, following a decision by Parliament. All the MPs are physicians.

Finally, the mayors of the five largest municipalities in the country met yesterday in Athens to discuss efforts for the coordination of humanitarian aid to quake-stricken Turkey.

The meeting was attended by the mayors of Athens, Dimitris Avramopoulos; Thessaloniki, Vassilis Papageorgopoulos; Piraeus, Christos Agrapidis; Patra, Evangelos Floratos and Irakleio, Costas Aslanis.

Speaking afterwards at a joint news conference, Mr. Avramopoulos said the meeting was aimed at joining the forces of the five municipalities to respond collectively to the needs that have arisen in Turkey following the devastating earthquake of Aug. 17.

Mr. Avramopoulos said a coordinating body had been set up in Athens to facilitate the gathering and dispatch of humanitarian aid, as part a common effort of the five municipalities. He said the venture had been named "Operation Solidarity".

Mr. Agrapidis said that in the face of such a disaster, "there is no name, no flag, no ideology, nor fixations of mindless leaders. We must leave prejudices aside," he added.

Mr. Papageorgopoulos said a two-day blood donation drive was being held in Thessaloniki, while Mr. Floratos announced that a special event would be held in Patra on Sept. 3 with the participation of noted composer Mikis Theodorakis, the proceeds of which will be directed to aiding Turkish quake victims.

In addition, Mr. Floratos said a team of engineers with increased experience from the effects of quakes in the Patra area would travel to the worst-hit areas and assist their Turkish colleagues in assessing structural damage of buildings still standing.

Mr. Aslanis said the assistance sent by the people of Irakleio, and of Crete in general, was "a self-evident duty".

Mr. Avramopoulos told reporters that he would travel to Turkey today for talks with the mayor of Istanbul, Ali Mufit Gurduna, to discuss Athens' offer to set up a 1,000-tent settlement for the homeless, together with hospital and facilities such as a pl ayground. The camp will be set up by a Greek team.

Mr. Avramopoulos said that 10 containers of aid had so far been collected, in addition to the relief gathered in other municipalities. In a related development, a recently acquired mobile medical unit was handed over yesterday to the "Medecins sans Frontieres "organisation for use in the northwest of Turkey for one month.

The unit was recently given to local government authorities in Kavala by the government. The unit departed for Turkey yesterday.

UN High Commissioner praises Greece's role in aiding quake victims

United Nations High Commissioner Florinda Rojas Rodriguez yesterday praised Greece's role in providing humanitarian aid to Turkey. Ms Rodriguez was in Thessaloniki for the signing of a cooperation agreement with the non- governmental organisation "Social Solidarity". She also visited Macedonia- Thrace Minister Yiannis Magriotis and discussed a programme by the High Commission in the Balkans.

She also thanked the Greek minister for the action undertaken by the ministry in Kosovo and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as well as for the initiative in collecting humanitarian aid for Turkey, noting that the Greek government, agen cies and citizens are upstanding examples in providing humanitarian aid.

"Greece is a strong country in the region with high humanitarian ideals and its opinion should be respected in the European Union," Ms Rodriguez said.

Cypriot doctors say were greeted warmly in quake-stricken Turkey

A three-member medical team which went to Turkey to help victims of the earthquake that struck the country last week returned home telling everybody they were greeted warmly.

"Thank you my brother," the Turkish driver who ferried them around told them as he bid the team farewell, a press conference heard here yesterday from the team, members of the Cyprus branch of the non-governmental organisation Doctors of the World.

Nicolas Panayiotou, a Cypriot doctor living and working in France, said "people were kind and polite to us."

He said Turkey's ambassador to Greece offered the Cypriot team (comprising two doctors and a nurse) free tickets to Istanbul with the Turkish Airlines but they decided to fly to Turkey last Friday on a Greek C-130 to get their earlier.

The doctors said they would be ready to go back, if needed, and said the organisation will send medicine to Turkey for the victims.

They also said that many people were surprised with the fact that a Cypriot delegation went to offer aid.

Gov't slaps ceiling on fuel price

Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos is to submit an amendment to parliament today imposing a ceiling on the price of liquid fuel.

The amendment will incorporate administrative penalties and oblige refineries, distributors and retailers to report their profit margins, Mr. Venizelos told parliament yesterday.

Central bank chief okays anti-inflation package

Bank of Greece governor Lucas Papademos said yesterday that he approved a package of measures devised by the government to help lower inflation.

Mr. Papademos was speaking to reporters after a meeting with National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou.

He added that the central bank was taking a cautious approach to interest rate cuts, especially its intervention rates in the money market.

First, inflation had to fall further towards the criterion for entry into the euro zone, Mr. Papademos said.

National Bank gets control of Bulgarian leasing firm

National Bank of Greece, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, said yesterday it had acquired a controlling stake in Interlease of Bulgaria.

National Bank bought 49.3 percent of Interlease's stock from Leaseholding of the Netherlands, taking its ownership to 72.5 percent.

The bank, along with National Investment Bank for Industrial Development, already owned a 23.2 percent stake in the Bulgarian leasing firm.

Other shareholders are the International Finance Corporation, a subsidiary of the World Bank, and the Bulgarian Chamber of Industry.

Mytilineos forges alliance with Cypriot firm

The Mytilineos Group, a metals miner and trader, and Hellenic Copper Mines (HCM) of Cyprus announced yesterday that they had forged a strategic alliance.

HCM is owned by the Cypriot Hellenic Metallurgical Company Ltd and Oxiana Resources of Australia.

Under the terms of the deal, Mytilineos will buy HCM's total copper output for an unspecified number of years, the two firms said in a statement.

Mytilineos expressed its willingness to become a strategic investor in HCM, reinforcing the firm's capital base with five million US dollars.

The move would allow a 50 percent rise in capacity to 12,000 tons annually from 8,000 tons and enable HCM to enter the Cyprus Stock Exchange with a strong capital base and improved profitability.

The two groups also plan to undertake joint projects in Cyprus, Greece and the eastern Mediterranean.

Stocks edge down in profit taking

Equities succumbed to profit-taking to end slightly lower yesterday but the general index remained above the historic 5,000 level which it broke the previous day.

Dealers said investors raked in some profits from smaller capitalisation stocks, and buying interest turned to the banking sector.

The general index ended 0.20 percent lower at 5,056.49 points, sharply off its intra-day high of 5,172.41 points.

Turnover was 304.997 billion drachmas with 40,086,276 shares changing hands.

Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (+2.12 pct), Leasing (-6.82 pct), Insurance (-1.01 pct), Investment (-1.66 pct), Construction (-1.50 pct), Industrials (-2.68 pct), Miscellaneous (-4.22 pct) and Holding (-1.32 pct).

The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks fell 0.46 percent while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 0.99 percent higher at 2,779.34 points.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 189 to 104 with another five issues unchanged.

National Bank of Greece ended at 23,500 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 23, 700, Commercial Bank at 27,950, Titan Cement at 35,800, Hellenic Petroleum at 3,000, Intracom at 23,600, Minoan Lines at 7,330, Panafon at 8,645 and Hellenic Telecoms at 6,600.

Greek, Turkish soccer match to help quake relief

The Istanbul-based Galata Saray football club yesterday announced that it has accepted a proposal by PAOK Thessaloniki to play a friendly match. According to statements to the state-run Anadolu news agency, proceeds of the game will be donated to an earthquake relief fund. The date of the game has not yet been fixed.

Tsiamita wins gold in women`s triple jump

A field day for Greek women in the triple jump Paraskevi Tsiamita yesterday became the first-ever Greek athlete to win a gold medal at a World Athletics Championship, posting a 14.88-metre effort in the women's triple jump in Seville, Spain.

Olga Vasdeki added to the Greek medals tally by winning the bronze in the same event with 14.61. Yamile Aldama of Cuba was second, also with 14.61.

Katerina Thanou and Anastasia Kelesidou have already won a bronze and a silver medal, respectively, in the women's 100 metres dash and discus throw.

WEATHER

Sunny weather with a further drop in temperatures will prevail in the Ionian, eastern Aegean Sea and the Dodecanese islands today. Local cloud in the rest of the country with sporadic rain mainly in Thessaly, eastern central Greece and eastern Peloponnese. Scattered cloud with possibility of showers in Athens with temperatures between 20-30C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 18-26C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          307.520
Pound sterling       491.476
Japanese yen (100)   275.349
French franc          49.371
German mark          165.581
Italian lira (100)    16.725
Irish Punt           411.203
Belgian franc          8.028
Finnish mark          54.468
Dutch guilder        146.956
Danish kr.            43.549
Austrian sch.         23.535
Spanish peseta         1.946
Swedish kr.           37.107
Norwegian kr.         39.293
Swiss franc          202.244
Port. Escudo           1.615
Can. dollar          205.364
Aus. dollar          196.099
Cyprus pound         558.992
Euro                 323.848
(C.E.)
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