|Saturday, 16 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-03-12
From: The Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada <firstname.lastname@example.org>
 Simitis replies to Ankara with Athens' proposal for 'step-by-step' approach
Athens 12/03/1998 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday rejected Turkey's proposals for unconditional dialogue on all issues, saying they were insubstantive and simply aimed at creating impressions.
"These proposals, as others in the past, aim at creating impressions rather than dealing with the substance of issues," he said.
Turkey's proposals were handed to the Greek ambassador in Ankara earlier yesterday, and contained an invitation to Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos to visit Ankara. The premier said the proposals would be studied in detail,but stressed that politically, they did not differ in their substance from others in the past, which he said led nowhere.
"We need a reply to Greek positions on a step-by-step approach, on how the problem of delineation of the (Aegean) continental shelf is resolved. If this is done, then the two countries can build good relations," he stressed.
Commenting on Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's refusal to participate in talks for Cyprus' accession to the EU, Mr. Simitis said it was certain that Mr. Denktash could not obstruct the entry of Cyprus into the Union.
"The procedure has been agreed, and the difficulties that lie ahead will be overcome," he said.
After attending a meeting of European Socialists' group, ahead of today's European Union enlargement conference here, the prime minister said further enlargement would serve the principles of stability and peace in the region, and that Europe should not simply be a common market but be distinguished by its social sensitivity and justice, environmental protection, and by improving living standards.
 ... Turkey reiterates call for dialogueANKARA (ANA - A. Ambatzis)
Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem addressed the letter and invitation to Mr. Pangalos.
According to an announcement by the Turkish foreign ministry yesterday, Ankara conveyed its positions to Athens concerning the letter sent by Mr. Pangalos in reply to proposals made by Mr. Cem on Feb. 12.
"The Greek side was notified that indifference over problems in the Aegean cannot be a solution, that this position will provide a continuation for tension and, consequently, our constructive position on the issue of resolving problems between Turkey and Greece in a peaceful way was brought once again to the attention of the Greek government to put an end to tension," the announcement said.
It further said that Ankara favours a start to talks at ministerial level or at a high level and stressed that "these talks must be organised, not on the sidelines of irrelevant international meetings, as proposed by Mr. Pangalos, but in a framework whi ch will be jointly set out and with which it will be possible to examine all the problems in the Aegean."
Lastly, the announcement said that in a letter Mr. Cem invited Mr. Pangalos to Ankara "for specific issues to be discussed, which will allow for the first step to be made."
Greece had rejected Mr. Cem's initial proposals, stressing that the cornerstone of any improvement in bilateral relations would be recognition by Turkey of the International Court of Justice at The Hague's jurisdiction.
Athens' response to Ankara's proposals had pointed to international law as the means to resolve bilateral problems.
 Positive estimates over course of Greek economy
Athens 12/03/1998 (ANA)Despite a recent hint by the Moody's international credit rating agency that it might downgrade Greece's standing shortly, international investors seem to be renewing their confidence in the country's economy. Merril Lynch yesterday announced its intentio n to issue an international five-year "drachma bond", bearing a fixed rate of 10.125 per cent.
JP Morgan has also announced that it has upgraded the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) as a company, thereby also upgrading its stock. The utility's analysts are forecasting that OTE's share price will rise from 6,500 drachmas today to more than 8,000 by the end of the year. Given the marked 'weight' of the state-run organisation's stock in the volume of trading at the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), the estimate is considered as a sign of confidence in the medium term course of the bourse.
The latest developments come in the wake of an SBC Warburg report stressing that the drachma is not overvalued and is most unlikely to be devalued after May 1, when the EU is expected to determine which currencies will comprise the euro.
In the report, the firm advises clients to invest in the drachma on a long-term basis. It also stresses that any fall in the international competitiveness of Greek products is not due to the government's stable drachma policy, but to higher Greek production costs, compared to other EU countries.
SBC Warburg considers that recent currency upheavals did not have an adverse impact on the Greek economy.
Another report, by the Dutch ABN-AMRO bank, says Greece's participation in EMU is feasible under certain conditions - mainly related to the promotion of necessary structural reforms. The report stresses that the Greek bond market will stabilise soon and interest rates will begin a downward slide down to the levels of other EU partners if the government boosts its current efforts for economic convergence.
Regarding the likelihood of a drachma devaluation, the bank, without ruling it out altogether, stresses that such a development would both cut short the decrease in inflation and hurt confidence in the convergence programme.
 Gov't says it insists on calm in the area
Athens 12/03/1998 (ANA)The government yesterday exp ressed hope that no tension would arise in Cyprus and the Aegean.
Acting government spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said that it was up to Turkey how it would react from here on, and recalled that Greece has insisted to date on the preservation of calm in the region. Asked to comment on an impasse apparently arising in the Cyprus problem due to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's stance, Mr. Athanassakis accused him of "persistence in intransigence".
"We hope for a change of that stance," Mr. Athanassakis said. "Cyprus' course towards the European Union and the Republic of Cyprus itself cannot be hostage to the Turkish Cypriot leadership."
 ... Clerides-Evert meetingIn a related development, former main opposition New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert held talks with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides yesterday morning on developments on the Cyprus issue and the island republic's negotiations for accession to the Europ ean Union.
Mr. Evert said Mr. Clerides' positions cover him absolutely and expressed his conviction that Cyprus' leadership has set a correct direction both for the accession process and on the dialogue which will take place when the Turkish Cypriot side ultimately joins this process.
 Hungarian PM to visit
Athens 12/03/1998 (ANA)Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn is due in Athens on March 18 for talks with Greek counterpart Costas Simitis and other government officials, it was announced yesterday.
Acting government spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said the Simitis-Horn talks would focus on the development of bilateral relations, the course of Hungary's accession to the European Union and NATO, and the situation in the wider region.
 Clinton-Spyridon meeting in White House
NEW YORK 12/03/1998 (ANA)Archbishop of America Spyridon will meet US President Bill Clinton today at the White House for a ceremony regarding a declaration for the March 25 Greek Independence Day.
 Britain emphasises commitment to Cyprus'accession talks
LONDON 12/03/1998 (ANA - L.Tsirigotakis)Britain said yesterday that it was committed to talks for Cypriot accession to the European Union, scheduled for begin on March 31, despite Turkish Cypriot objections. "Britain is committed to Cyprus' application for membership in the European Union," Foreign Secretary Robin Cook tol d a news briefing on the EU's enlargement conference, opening today in the British capital.
"We believe that Cyprus is a very strong candidate, has a much higher standard of living than the other candidates, a healthy economy, and has brought its legislation in line with the acquis communautaire," he said.
"We believe it would be unfair and a mistake if the procedure for Cypriot accession to the European Union was impeded by a veto from (Turkish Cypriot leader) Rauf Denktash or Ankara," he added, recognising that Cypriot government efforts to bring the Turkish Cypriots into membership negotiations were not sufficient for the accession of the entire island.
"Of course, it would have been much better if Cyprus were brought into the European Union as a united island rather than divided...For this reason we have asked from Cypriot authorities to try, so that their delegation would be mixed, in other words, with the participation of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots," he said.
"We recognise that the government of Cyprus cannot alone secure this condition. The cooperation of Turkish Cypriots is also necessar...I hope they will respond positively".
The so-called parliament in the Turkish-occupied Turkish Cypriot pseudo-state decided on Tuesday not to participate in negotiations and not to attend UN-sponsored peace talks unless the self-styled regime is recognised as a state by the international co mmunity.
Only Turkey, which occupies 37 per cent of Cyprus' territory, recognises the Turkish Cypriot pseudo-state, which was illegally set up in 1983.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for British Prime Minister Tony Blair stated: "the accession process embraces Cyprus and the countries of eastern Europe."
"This is what was agreed and that is what we will be pursuing," he added.
Replying to questions in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Mr. Cook said the negotiations were not subject to the veto of the regime in the Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, adding that Turkish Cypriots stood "more to gain than anybody else in Cyprus from EU membership."
Commenting on Turkey's European prospects, he also noted that Ankara had been invited to attend the European Conference, but had decided against that, in view of the Luxembourg European Council last December.
The Council had asked Turkey to pursue political and economic reforms, improve its human rights record, relations with Greece and support UN-led negotiations "on a political settlement in Cyprus on the basis of relevant UN Security Council Resolutions."
 Blair,Clerides meet in London
LONDON 12/03/1998 (ANA/CNA)Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and British Prime Minister Tony Blair had a 30-minute meeting here last night,on the eve of the European Conference, which opens in London today.
No statements were made after the talks which took place at 10 Downing street.
Present at the meeting were Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, Attorney General Alecos Markides and High Commissioner to the Britain, Michalis Attalides.
Britain's special envoy for Cyprus, Sir David Hannay and the country's High Commissioner in Nicosia, David Madden, attended the London meeting as well.
After the meeting, Mr. Blair hosted a dinner for the heads of state or government participating in the European Conference.
 Greece reiterates support for human rights, inviolability of external borders
Athens 12/03/1998 (ANA)Greece urges respect for human rights, supports the inviolability and preservation of external borders and opposes secessionist tendencies, government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis said yesterday, replying to questions on the crisis in the strife-torn Yugos lav province of Kosovo.
The spokesman said Greece and other Balkan countries had appealed to all sides to exercise self-restraint and moderation and work towards dialogue.
He was referring to a joint declaration by the foreign ministers of Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) unveiled on Tuesday in Sofia.
The declaration expresses serious concern over the deterioration of the political situation in Kosovo as well as the possibility of conflagration which may spread throughout the region.
 ... Burns: Not just Serbia's problemUS Ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns said, meanwhile, that Washington and Athens were working together to avert the spre-ad of the Kosovo crisis throughout the Balkans.
Mr. Burns was speaking in Irakleio, Crete at the end of a two-day visit to the island, and shortly before flying back to Athens.
"I do not understand (Yugoslav President Slobodan) Milosevic's statement that Kosovo is a domestic problem of Serbia. When we have massacres of non-combatants, women and children, the problem is certainly not one concerning only one country," Mr. Burns told reporters.
 Skandalidis on upcoming elections
Athens 12/03/1998 (ANA)PASOK party Secretary Costas Skandalidis presented what he called the "three plus one milestones" in PASOK's course until general elections in the year 2000, after an executive secretariat's meeting yesterday.
The three milestones are municipal and prefectural elections in October, Euroelections in 1999 and general elections in 2000. Another milestone is the holding of a party congress next year.
Referring in general to the political situation, Mr. Skandalidis said political stability is required, while he rejected scenarios concerning early elections and maintained that the main opposition New Democracy party is in the midst of a major strategy crisis, in contrast to PASOK, which has a programme, targets and a proposal for confronting the country's problems.
On the question of municipal elections, Mr. Skandalidis said that PASOK considers cooperation between progressive forces essential in the first but primarily in the second round, clarifying the party's position on the second round of the elections from now.
He said it will support all candidates from the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos), the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) or the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) who will make it to the second round and that will face candidates not supported by PASOK.
Replying to a question, he blamed Synaspismos' leadership for failure to reach cooperation between the two parties from the first round of municipal and prefectural elections.
 EU wants squandered money back from Thierry Roussel
Athens 12/03/1998 (ANA)The European Union is pursuing the return of a nine-million-dollar subsidy it had given French businessman Thierry Roussel for an aborted investment programme in an underdeveloped region of Portugal nearly a decade ago, European Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler said on Tuesday.
He was replying to a question tabled by Coalition of the Left and Progress Eurodeputy Alekos Alavanos.
Mr. Fischler said "the return of the subsidy allocated to Thierry Roussel's company Oderfruta has been requested" by the Commission, invoking regulations and clauses of the EU's Structural Funds that "ensure the proper implementation of the financed act ions, prevention and prosecution of irregularities and the recovery of capital lost due to misappropriation or negligence". Mr. Roussel - the father of the only surviving heir to the vast Onassis fortune, Athina - was divorced from Christina Onassis a year before her death in 1988.
According to reports, in 1988 he arrived in Alendejo with promises of $66 million in investments and the creation of numerous new jobs.
Alendejo is considered one of the poorest regions in the EU with an unemployment rate of 30 per cent, more than double that of the EU average.
Sources said Mr. Roussel's project had envisaged turning the region into a producer of top-grade fruit and vegetables for export to European markets, and was therefore, "generously" subsidised by the then Portuguese government of Anibal Cavaco Silva as well as by the EU's Structural Funds.
Mr. Roussel eventually invested only $34 million, with funding coming from the Lisbon government, the EU and the rest from a loan by the Portuguese bank Caixa General de Depositos. However, the Oderfruta venture went bankrupt in 1994 "leaving behind mas sive debts, unpaid fruit producers and workers, as well as extensive environmental destruction, as the unit was established in a protected ecological zone", sources said.
Mr. Fischler said in his reply to Mr. Alavanos that the Commission, having learned that "the financial viability of the project was in danger, requested in September 1993 detailed explanations from (Portuguese) national authorities, and a second letter followed in May 1994".
He said that when Oderfruta was declared bankrupt in a Portuguese court in 1994, the procedure for recovery of the EU subsidy "was initiated immediately".
 Greek-American leaders meet in Washington
WASHINGTON 12/03/1998 (ANA - T. Ellis)Leaders of the Greek-American community had a two-hour conference here yesterday under the auspices of Archbishop of America Spyridon.
Issues discussed included the defining of common goals and methods for achieving them as well as the role of the Church and Greek-American community groups.
Spyridon said the Church will not imvolve itself in
non-ecclesiastical matters, rather, it will lead efforts in addressing the problems facing Greeks and Orthodox Christians throughout the world.
The re-opening of the Halki Theological School, banned for decades by Turkish authorities, is also a priority, Spyridon added.
 New Albanian-Greek dictionary launched
Athens 12/03/1998 (ANA)An Albanian-Greek dictionary was launched yesterday at a ceremony attended by visiting Albanian President Rexhep Mejdani and his Greek counterpart Kostis Stephanopoulos.
The dictionary was funded by the Foundation for the Rehabilitation of Repatriated Greeks from Albania, an organisation funded by the Latsis group. The dictionary has 50,000 entries and was published by Ioannina University. It follows a Greek-Albanian volume issued in 1994. Both were compiled by N. Ginis.
The Albanian president expressed his gratitude for Greece's assistance in emancipating Albania by means of the "powerful weapon of culture".
An economy that developed without concurrent cultural development, he said, led to "uniformity", which could only be fought by "the mind, the pen and living traditions".
Mr. Mejdani concluded a three-day official visit to Greece yesterday.
 ... Joint Greek, Albanian patrol crewsJoint crews of Greek and Albanian officers will man coast guard patrols in the area between the Greek island of Corfu and the Albanian coast in a bid to curb crime, the merchant marine ministry said yesterday. Ministry sources told the ANA that joint crew s would be manning 10 patrol boats that would comb the region in an effort to stop marauding gangs from neighbouring Albania.
The sources said that "this cooperation is based on the recent agreement signed between the two countries to combat crime in the sea regions of Greece and Albania, which has been on the rise in the past three years".
According to Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis, "the joint operations will be led by a senior officer of the Greek Coast Guard, who will be authorised to decide whether the 10 patrol boats will enter Albanian territorial waters" where Albanian criminals usually take refuge.
He said the joint crews would be "authorised to return fire" in the event of attack by unidentified boats.
 Karamanlis calls for transparency in police promotions
Athens 12/03/1998 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday met with the presidium of the National Federation of Police Officers, where he reiterated his support for transparency regarding police promotion procedures.
Mr. Karamanlis said that able officers are passed over for promotion, while party favourites are promoted.
On his part, ND deputy Prokopis Pavlopoulos said ND will propose a system of police promotions similar to that of the armed forces as well as a continuous training programme.
In response, Public Order Minister George Romeos said that Mr. Karamanlis is tarnishing police officers in order to minimise impressions from ND's interparty problems.
Mr. Romeos said that "it is at least malicious for a party president to call officers as party favourites for political gain."
He added that the government "promoted (able officers) that are respected by police force personnel and have shown worthy activity."
Regarding these comments, ND spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said that results of government policies are obvious, since there is a total absence of policing, leaving citizens to live under a state of fear.
 Leg surgery on Karamanlis
Athens 12/03/1998 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday underwent surgery on his leg following an injury he sustained during a football game between Parliament deputies from different parties. The game took place yesterday afternoon at the Leoforos Alexandras stadium.
Prime Minister Costas Simitis, from London, sent a telegramme wishing him a quick recovery.
 Yiannopoulos says gov't prepared to move prisons from cities
Athens 12/03/1998 (ANA)Justice Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos yesterday announced that the government has decided to transfer all correctional facilities out of cities.
Speaking in Parliament, he added that seven modern facilities are already under construction, while a 400-bed capacity methadone programme is being promoted for a prison in Thebes.
Mr. Yiannopoulos also said that he proposes that possession of small amounts of illegal narcotics by drug users should be treated as a misdemeanor, although there will be no decriminalisation of drugs.
 Florina power plant project to proceed, gov't stresses
Athens 12/03/1998 (ANA)Plans for a power plant near the border town of Florina will proceed in line with a unanimous decision by the Cabinet, acting government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis said yesterday.
Mr. Athanasakis said the controversial project would go ahead according to the original plan.
Meanwhile, a government delegation headed by Development Minister Vasso Papandreou is to visit Florina today at the invitation of local authorities.
Asked whether the issue would be discussed in Parliament, the acting government spokesman said the project had already been discussed in full by a Parliamentary committee.
On its part, the Parliamentary committee yesterday decided to set up a subcommittee to draft a report on the controversy surrounding the construction cost for the Public Power Corp. (DEH) plant.
During the debate, Ms Papandreou reiterated that the cost was 179.5 billion drachmas, and accepted that this was not on a turnkey basis, as supplementary projects had to be constructed for the plant to operate. She also said the government had given the go-ahead for the project only after the findings of an independent evaluator had been made available.
Main opposition New Democracy party deputies argued that questions remained regarding the cost as well as the fact that the government had not brought to Parliament for ratification an agreement which was a revision of an earlier one, signed by a ND gov ernment in 1992.
 Greece says its coastal fleet maintains high world standards
Athens 12/03/1998 (ANA)Greece's coastal shipping fleet has the highest international standards in its category, Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis told reporters yesterday.
He was commenting on foreign press reports hitting the country's maritime industry ahead of the summer tourism season.
"This is an annual phenomenon," Mr. Soumakis said. "Every year foreign competitors try to hit Greece's coastal shipping industry through negative press reports. Their effort will fail once again."
Mr. Soumakis also said that the government will seek a change in the legal status of the country's two largest ports, Piraeus and Thessaloniki, in order to become more competitive.
 Greek tax revenue rises 18.15 pct in Jan-Feb
Athens 12/03/1998 (ANA)The Greek government's tax revenue rose 18.15 percent in January-February compared with the same period last year, Finance Undersecretary George Drys said yesterday.
 Greece to keep civil servants' tenure intact
Athens 12/03/1998 (ANA)The government has no current plans to abolish permanent tenure for civil servants, acting government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis said yesterday.
He said that tenure was linked to a review of the country's constitution.
 Greek stocks climb again on falling interest rates
Athens 12/03/1998 (ANA)Greek equities resumed their upward trend on the Athens bourse yesterday to score further gains.
Traders said market sentiment remained positive following a gradual decline in interbank rates and a steadier drachma. Construction stocks were the focus of attention and led the market higher.
The general index closed 0.90 percent higher at 1,531.26 points.
Banks rose 0.65 percent, Insurance increased 0.72 percent, Leasing fell 0.13 percent, Investments ended 1.73 percent up, Industrials rose 0.72 percent, Construction soared 3.92 percent, Miscellaneous jumped 2.65 percent and Holding was 0.10 percent off.
The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 1.27 percent. The FTSE/ASE blue chip index ended 0.91 percent up at 862.83 points.
Trading was heavy with turnover at 23.2 billion drachmas. Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation's share price rose 95 drachmas to 6,515 in heavy volume of 558,850 issues.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 165 to 64 with another 15 issues unchanged.
Technodomi, Gnomon, Attikat, Halyps Cement, Athinea, Alte and Proodeftiki scored the biggest percentage gains at the day's 8.0 percent upper volatility limit, while Desmos, Ippotour and Mouzakis suffered the heaviest losses.
National Bank of Greece ended at 22,650 drachmas, Ergobank at 16,030, Alpha Credit Bank at 17,000, Delta Dairy at 3,100, Titan Cement at 14,900 and Intracom at 15,750.
 Greece to install airport radar despite protests
Athens 12/03/1998 (ANA)Greece's government will go ahead with the installation of a new radar system for Thessaloniki's international airport despite protests by residents, Transport and Communications Minister Tasos Mantelis said yesterday.
The radar is due for installation near the airport in Perea, where residents fear they will be exposed to high levels of radiation from the system.
Mr. Mantelis told a news conference the radar was a key step in making Macedonia airport a centre for combined transport operations in southeastern Europe.
 Greece to launch pilot Skopje-Thessaloniki rail link
Athens 12/03/1998 (ANA)Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE) will launch a pilot rail link between Skopje and Thessaloniki on April 9 using high-speed Intercity trains, a senior OSE official said yesterday. The state company plans to include Balkan destinations as part of its drive to modernise services and revitalise, OSE managing director Ioannis Mourmouris told a news conference.
OSE's five-year investment plan had a budget of 440 billion drachmas for rail operations and 226 billion for rolling stock, Mr. Mourmouris said. He claimed that the state company's 160-billion drachma deficit was due to phenomena including "non-existent shifts, overtime and training by OSE staff".
Needed was a rationalisation of routes and station operations. Mr. Mourmouris cited as an example a station that had revenue of eight million drachmas and spending on wages of 45 million.
"A private company on an eight percent commission could achieve the same results," he said.
Asked if OSE staff would be made redundant, Mr. Mourmouris said: "This will be unnecessary in the first stage due to retirement on the basis of age, but if it is needed later then we must have the courage to do so, without, of course, creating social problems."
OSE's 1998 business plan will be ready on March 18, he said.
 Allianz to insure Greek building projects
Athens 12/03/1998 (ANA)Allianz, a Greek-based subsidiary of the German insurer, has signed contracts covering three new construction projects in Greece.
The projects are construction of rail tunnels at Platamonas, budgeted at 27 billion drachmas, construction of road tunnels in the Tymphristos mountain worth 3.5 billion drachmas, and construction of a concert hall in Thessaloniki (11 billion drachmas).
Allianz has already signed insurance contracts for the Athens metro and the Spata airport projects.
 Public works credits
Athens 12/03/1998 (ANA)Credits amounting to 10.7 billion drachmas have been earmarked for the auctioning of highway portions on the Kozani-Ptolemaida national motorway, flood-protection projects in the prefectures of Pella, Rhodes, Karditsa, Trikala and Larisa, as well as infra structure works for the Attica road network.