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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-09-04

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, 04/09/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • PM Simitis optimistic on future of Balkans
  • Greek soldier injured in Kosovo
  • FM welcomes rescue workers back
  • Greece keen to see Turkey as EU candidate
  • PM hails 25th PASOK anniversary
  • Stock Market
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

PM Simitis optimistic on future of Balkans

Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Friday night appeared optimistic about future developments in the Balkans, underlining Greece's "leading role" in securing peace in the region.

"The twofold ascertainment is common to all, inside and outside Greece: first Greece today plays a leading role in the broader region with its level of growth and policies and, second, its strategy of peace and mutual understanding bears fruit; we will steadfastly continue this policy," he said, addressing the inaugural ceremony of the 64th Thessaloniki International Trade Fair.

"The transition of societies in the friendly neighbouring countries from yesterday's reality to today's reality involves dangers of which we are not afraid. There are perspectives, there is a future in our region," Mr. Simitis said, adding that the prim ary aim was peace, security and stability.

"This means a comprehensive acceptance from all sides for respect of the rule of international law; the seeking recourse to international bodies, when there are insurmountable differences; the participation in collective security systems, the mechanisms of which avert the conflict between those who participate. The century of national territorial claims has ended for Europe long ago," the prime minister said, adding that peaceful coexistence, progress and prosp erity are guaranteed now within the frontiers formulated following World War II. The peaceful coexistence of peoples and ethnic minorities required the creation of strong states ruled by law, respect for human rights, religious beliefs and respect of differences, he said.

"Policies of ethnic cleansing as well as policies of double standards cultivate malice and national phantasms. We are and we remain opposed to such phenomena."

The neighbouring countries' orientation towards an open society and their growing integration with global economy are hopeful signs, but more efforts are needed, if these countries wanted to come closer to the European Union, Mr. Simitis said.

"Southeastern European countries are and will remain a multicultural reality...we must make culture a channel of communication and a bridge of understanding and cooperation between our peoples," Mr. Simitis said.

Referring to Greek-Turkish relations, Mr. Simitis said that "it is our deep belief that it is to Greece's and Turkey's interest to achieve conditions of good neighbourliness. Turkey's respect of International Law and International Treaties, which define the status quo in the region is a necessary precondition."

Thessaloniki, the premier said, has a strong productive structure with a notable export orientation and creative forces in recent years have helped the city change its strategic options to enable it to follow developments.

The government on its part has created a new economic environment, he said, adding that Thessaloniki becoming the headquarters of the Balkans Reconstruction Organisation is creating a new climate favourable for the northern port city to become the "Balk ans Metropolis".

Greek soldier injured in Kosovo

A soldier of the Greek peacekeeping force in Kosovo was accidentally injured early on Saturday, by his own service pistol, the Greek Army General Staff announced.

Sgt. Anastasios Dinakis, a five-year volunteer serving in the Greek force in Urosevac in Kosovo, was injured at about 1 am on Saturday and was transported to the Thessaloniki military hospital by helicopter.

His condition remains critical.

The incident is being investigated.

FM welcomes rescue workers back

Foreign Minister George Papandreou welcomed back Greek rescue teams working among Turkey's earthquake victims and praised them for doing much to forward peace and rapprochment between the two countries.

Papandreou was speaking after meeting with members of non-governmental organisations such as Doctors of the World and the Red Cross, representatives of the Greek emergency services and of the Church, all of whom were involved in relief and rescue work in Turkey in the wake of the devastating 7.2 Richter earthquake on August 17.

The foreign minister praised the courage and self-sacrifice of those involved in relief operations, saying their only motive was the need to provide help to their fellow humans. "They showed compassion and understanding and this is a guarantee for the future of Greece," he said.

Greece keen to see Turkey as EU candidate

Foreign Minister George Papandreou said on Friday that Greece was keen to see Turkey become a candidate for European Union membership but that this also required that Ankara meet certain obligations.

"More than anyone we want to see Turkey as a candidate country but Turkey and our partners can not overlook the fact that the neighbouring country has responsibilities and obligations," Mr. Papandreou told reporters after briefing President of the Repub lic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

"If Turkey is ready to undertake these responsibilities we have no objection to helping," he said.

Mr. Papandreou on Friday also briefed Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis on the government's proposals on the issue of EU financing for Turkey and the handling of damage caused by the earthquake.

Mr. Kaklamanis said the results of both Mr. Papandreou's handlings and contacts were successful, having led to the smoothing over of relations with Turkey in a very short period of time.

"It is something which satisfies us without disorientating us," he said.

PM hails 25th PASOK anniversary

Prime Minister and ruling socialist PASOK party leader Costas Simitis hailed the party's 25th anniversary in a statement published in the Athens daily Eleftherotypia on Friday, stressing the significance of the past and prospects for the future. PASOK was founded by the late Andreas Papandreou on September 3, 1974.

"The past is a source of experiences and wisdom. It is not an anchor binding us to stagnation and immobility," he said.

"We are living in a new era and historical assessments are adequate for us, " Mr. Simitis said, adding that "the obligation of all of us is to view tomorrow in a sovereign manner."

Mr. Simitis stressed PASOK's decisive contribution to Greece emerging as a safe and stable country which participates on an equal footing in European unification processes and has a strong and dynamic economy.

In a similar statement, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos praised PASOK's contribution to Greek society, as well as the historic role played by its founder Andreas Papandreou.

"It has been proved now, 25 years after its founding, that PASOK's contribution to the development of Greek society was decisive in changing a series of mentalities, conceptions, events and factors and in consolidating the conditions for a modern Greece which can be both equal in Europe and a model in the wider geopolitical region to which we belong," he said in Thessaloniki yesterday during his visit to the Thessaloniki war museum which is undergoing construction.

Stock Market

Equity prices ended the last trading session of a historic week lower following a decline in international markets. The general index ended 0.61 percent down at 5,407.85 points, sharply off the day's lows of 5,346.68 points. Turnover was 388.181 billion drachmas with 46,944,203 shares changing hands. Traders said the market welcomed the government's measures to combat inflation while ignoring a decision for higher sales tax. Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (-0.21 pct), Insurance (-0.39 pct), Construction (+1.40 pct), Miscellaneous (-0.89 pct), Leasing (-2.95 pct) and Investment (-4.00 pct).

WEATHER

Cloudy variable weather on Sunday with local storms expected in eastern Macedonia, Thrace and the northern Aegean. Winds will be norhterly moderate. Athens will have fair weather with scattered cloud in the afternoon and temperatures will range from 21C-31C. Variable cloud in Thessaloniki increased in the afternoon. Temperatures will range from 18- 27C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar 303.006 Pound sterling 488.659 Japanese yen (100) 276.113 French franc 49.367 German mark 165.571 Italian lira (100) 16.724 Irish Punt 411.177 Belgian franc 8.027 Finnish mark 54.464 Dutch guilder 146.947 Danish kr. 43.555 Austrian sch. 23.533 Spanish peseta 1.946 Swedish kr. 37.081 Norwegian kr. 38.742 Swiss franc 202.765 Port. Escudo 1.615 Can. dollar 202.070 Aus. dollar 195.612 Cyprus pound 561.928 Euro 323.828

(M.S.)


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