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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-06-18

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Papandreou, Cook agree on need to reconstruct Balkans,Yugoslavia's democratisation
  • [02] Government plans Dr 300 bln of tax cuts
  • [03] Stocks again slump, hit by profit-taking
  • [04] Budgetary spending slows vs target, interest payments jump
  • [05] Counterfeit cheques found in brokerage scam
  • [06] Cosmote signs supply deal with Intracom
  • [07] New float for Hellenic Petroleum seen this year
  • [08] Germanos, Cypriot firms team up for new venture
  • [09] Merger recommended for chemical, fertiliser companies
  • [10] Attica Bank gets okay for share cap increase
  • [11] Aspis Pronia to hold rights issue
  • [12] Athens Foreign Exchange
  • [13] US State Dept. commentson latest Ecevit quips about terrorism
  • [14] Kosovo, Balkans dominate Tsohatzopoulos-Richard talks in Paris
  • [15] Batter Greek-Turkish relations only if int'l law conventions respected, Athens says
  • [16] US$20 million credit line for Romania
  • [17] Greece backs suspension of licensing for Genetically Modified Organisms
  • [18] Gov't promotes Greek-produced meat as safe alternative
  • [19] Union official blames mismanagement, lack of employees for OA's condition
  • [20] Planeload of young women with fake visas prevented from entering Greece
  • [21] G8 summit expected to voice support for UN efforts towards Cyprus settlement

  • [01] Papandreou, Cook agree on need to reconstruct Balkans,Yugoslavia's democratisation

    LONDON, 18/06/1999 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)

    Greece's special role as the only Balkan country which is a member of the EU and NATO has been particularly valuable in reaching the peace agreement on Kosovo and will continue to be so in the involvement of the two organi sations in promoting a stability pact in the peninsula, British Foreign Minister Robin Cook said yesterday.

    "I would like to officially express my admiration for the positive contribution of Greece and (foreign minister) Mr. (George) Papandreou in the diplomatic efforts during the crisis in Kosovo. I recognise Greece's special position as a member of NATO and the European Union, and as the only EU member state in the Balkans, which provided it with special knowledge about the area and, of course, gave it the potential to have a significant contribution to the diplomatic efforts," he said after two hours of talks with his Greek counterpart here.

    "Greece has a particularly strong role to play in the political reconstruction of Kosovo and in transferring our broader commitment to the countries included in the stability plan for the area. Today, George Papandreou and I agreed that officials from our two countries will cooperate in programmes of reconciliation of the two communities in Kosovo and in Serbia's democratisation," he added.

    Mr. Papandreou also said they had agreed to cooperate in programmes promoting the reconciliation of Serbs and Albanians, but "particularly in the effort for important moves regarding the democratisation and support for the society of citizens in Yugoslavia".

    The two men also discussed the Cyprus issue and Greek-Turkish relations.

    Mr. Cook stated he expected Cyprus would be on the agenda of the G8 summit in Cologne today, and that there would be an effort to provide a new impetus to procedures through the United Nations to resolve the problem.

    Responding to questions on the issue of the return of Cypriot refugees to their homes, Mr. Cook stated he believed that any political settlement of the problem should include a solution to this issue.

    "This must be part of any general settlement. The priority, however, must be on bringing the two sides to the negotiating table without preconditions so that we may record on the political issue which must be part of the final solution," he said. Af terwards, Mr. Papandreou was hosted to dinner at Lancaster House and gave an interview to the BBC.

    Meeting with Robertson : Earlier in the day, Mr. Papandreou met with British Defence Secretary George Robertson.

    According to sources speaking after the meeting, the British defence secretary appeared pleased with the way the deployment of the Kosovo peacekeeping force was going and confident there would be an end to the command dispute with Russia.

    He agreed with Mr. Papandreou that everything possible should be done to ensure the Serb population of Kosovo stayed in their homes.

    Mr. Papandreou said there it was extremely important that the Serbs of Kosovo feel safe and that a purely Albanian-populated Kosovo bode ill for the future.

    He urged movement on commitments to disarm the KLA, while Mr. Robertson said negotiations were under way over the issue, and that he was confident there would be an agreement soon.

    In discussing the rebuilding of the Balkans, Mr. Robertson reiterated that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's departure and the democratisation of Yugoslavia were prerequisites for British participation in the project, while the Greek minister urged the immediate dispatch of humanitarian aid to Yugoslavia.

    Today, the Greek foreign minister will leave for Brussels to attend an extraordinary NATO foreign and defence ministers summit on Kosovo.

    Athens: Disarm the KLA immediately : In Athens, the government said yesterday it believed that the so-called "Kosovo Liberation Army" units in Kosovo had to be disarmed immediately.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, replying to reporters' questions, also said that the Greek troops in Kosovo, as part of the peacekeeping force, were taking all the measures necesssary to protect themselves against possible actions against them by the Albanian rebels.

    "But this is what all the forces in Kosovo are doing in any case," he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Government plans Dr 300 bln of tax cuts

    Athens, 18/06/1999 (ANA)

    A meeting of the government's economic team, chaired by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, yesterday agreed on tax cuts worth 300 billion drachmas for the period 2000-2001.

    Under the plan, due to be submitted to the prime minister next week, 200 billion drachmas in tax breaks will apply to 1999 income and the remaining 100 billion to next year's income, ministry sources said.

    The government is discussing two scenarios in a plan to raise the tax exempt level: firstly, an increase to 2.3 million drachmas for wage earners and pensioners and to 2.0 million for other taxpayers, up from 1.355 million drachmas and 1.055 million drachmas currently; and secondly, a rise to 2.0 million for wage earners and 1.7 million drachmas for other categories.

    The plan also includes extending the tax scale to eight brackets from six to benefit middle incomes; lowering the highest tax rate to 43 percent from 45 percent; abolishing base assessed income for the self-employed and small and medium sized businesses ; and cuts in corporate tax.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Stocks again slump, hit by profit-taking

    Athens, 18/06/1999 (ANA)

    Equity prices ended lower for the sixth consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday unable to hold on to early gains because of lack of follow-through orders.

    The general index ended 0.79 percent down at 3,954.19 points, off the day's highs.

    The index jumped 1.62 percent initially but finally succumbed to profit- taking. It has lost 2.61 percent in the last six sessions.

    Turnover was 152.941 billion drachmas with 27,929,862 shares changing hands.

    The bank and construction sectors were the worst hit to end 1.33 and 1.42 percent lower.

    Other sector indices ended as follows: Leasing (-0.13 pct), Insurance (- 0.06 pct), Investment (-0.08 pct), Industrials (-0.73 pct), Miscellaneous (+0.05 pct) and Holding (+0.24 pct).

    The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 0.25 percent lower while the FTSE/ASE 20 index fell 0.90 percent to 2,343.08 points.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 174 to 113 with another 14 issues unchanged.

    Etane, Ergas, Ergo Invest and Naoussa Textiles were the most heavily traded stocks.

    A total of 10 issues ended at the day's 8.0 percent limit up, while another five ended at the day's limit down.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 20,800 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 20, 560, Ergobank at 22,350, Ionian Bank at 16,100, Titan Cement at 27,750, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,765, Intracom at 20,400, Minoan Lines at 5,095, Panafon at 7,520 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,190.

    Bonds directionless in thin trade : Bond prices in the secondary market were mostly flat in scant trade with investors holding on to highly priced paper, which they are unable to sell without posting losses, dealers said.

    Electronic trade totalled 11 billion drachmas from 57 billion drachmas in the previous session and 9.0 billion on Tuesday.

    The ten-year bond was quoted around 102.50, showing a yield of 5.79 percent. The yield spread over German bunds was 171 basis points.

    In the foreign currency market, the drachma rose sharply against the euro in brisk demand.

    The drachmas bought were not ploughed into the Athens bourse or bond market. The cash probably remained in the interbank market for swap deals, or were destined for the central bank, dealers said.

    At the central bank's daily fix, the euro was set at 323.350 drachmas from 323.700 drachmas in the previous session.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Budgetary spending slows vs target, interest payments jump

    Athens, 18/06/1999 (ANA)

    Budgetary spending in January-May excluding debt servicing showed a 2.4 percent rate of growth, lower than the government's target of 5.5 percent, Deputy Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said yesterday.

    But spending on interest on debt paper rose by 26.5 percent in the same period against a target of 2.4 percent.

    The January-May debt servicing figure was due to a high level of treasury bill sales and to the payment of interest on zero coupon bonds totalling 239 billion drachmas.

    Debt servicing would show a discernible decline in coming months, and savings by the end of the year would total 30 billion drachmas, Mr. Christodoulakis said.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Counterfeit cheques found in brokerage scam

    Athens, 18/06/1999 (ANA)

    Alki Securities, which is being investigated for alleged malpractice, said yesterday that it had unearthed counterfeit cheques deposited in a branch of Alpha Credit Bank.

    In a warning to the public, Alki said that it bore no commitment to pay out on the cheques, which were the result of forgery by a former executive of the company. The brokerage is also carrying out its own enquiry into the allegations, which are restric ted to Alki's Thessaloniki branch.

    The company's accounts with the Athens bourse are clear, according to authorities.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Cosmote signs supply deal with Intracom

    Athens, 18/06/1999 (ANA)

    Cosmote yesterday signed a mobile telephone equipment supply contract worth 15 billion drachmas with a consortium comprising Intracom, Ericsson and Intracom Construction.

    The four-year turnkey deal is for the supply of base stations and other equipment, and also includes maintenance, Cosmote said in a statement.

    Selection of the consortium was made through an international tender.

    Cosmote said the deal would accelerate its network expansion growth rate and cut equipment and infrastructure installation costs.

    When it launched operations, Cosmote had forged a similar agreement with Nokia.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] New float for Hellenic Petroleum seen this year

    Athens, 18/06/1999 (ANA)

    A second flotation for Hellenic Petroleum is expected to be launched by the end of the year, Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos said yesterday.

    He said that the percentage of equity to be offered through the stock market would depend on recommendations made by the consultants to the sale. The minister stressed, however, that the Greek state would retain a majority share in the company.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Germanos, Cypriot firms team up for new venture

    NICOSIA, 18/06/1999 (ANA)

    Cyprus Trading Corporation Ltd and F.W. Woolworth's & Co (Cyprus) Ltd announced yesterday that they had forged an agreement with Germanos of Greece to establish a Cypriot venture.

    The two firms are to own 51 percent of the new company's share capital, and Germanos the remaining 49 percent.

    The firm will run two networks of stores under the names Germanos and Multirama, the same as in Greece.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Merger recommended for chemical, fertiliser companies

    Athens, 18/06/1999 (ANA)

    The national economy ministry's advisory committee on competition yesterday recommended a merger of Phosphates Fertiliser Industry of Kavala with Chemical Industries of Northern Greece, based in Thessaloniki. On completion of a feasibility study by a con sultant from abroad, merger proceedings are expected to begin.

    The study is due to be sent to the ministry in August.

    The planned merger is part of a government drive to revitalise the domestic fertilisers sector.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Attica Bank gets okay for share cap increase

    Athens, 18/06/1999 (ANA)

    Shareholders of Attica Bank yesterday approved a 29.7 billion drachma share capital increase through a 2-for-5 rights issue.

    The new shares will be offered at 2,500 drachmas each. The meeting also approved a management proposal for a dividend payment of 24 drachmas per share.

    The bank's chairman, Soulis Apostolopoulos, said the new capital would be used to expand services by raising the number of branches to 48 by the end of the year from 38 currently.

    The money will also be used to set up subsidiaries, install an advanced information system, and prepare for introduction of the euro.

    Attica Bank's net profits totalled 3.042 billion drachmas last year from one billion in 1997, an increase of 198 percent.

    Lending rose 41.8 percent to 116 billion drachmas and deposits rose 45 percent to 156.1 billion drachmas. The bank's equity capital following the share capital increase will total 48.1 billion drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Aspis Pronia to hold rights issue

    Athens, 18/06/1999 (ANA)

    Aspis Pronia, a general insurance company, yesterday announced a share capital increase of 7.6 billion drachmas through the issue of 3,342,860 new common shares at a nominal price of 100 drachmas and offering price of 2, 300 drachmas per share.

    The share capital increase envisages a one-for-eight rights issue. Pavlos Psomiadis, the board's chairman, told a general shareholders' meeting that 1998 profits totalled one billion drachmas, up from 408 million in 1997.

    Aspis Pronia is currently undergoing a restructuring programme aimed at reducing its operational expenses.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Athens Foreign Exchange

    Athens, 18/06/1999 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece closing rates of: June 17, 1999

    Parities in Drachmas

    Banknotes             Buying  Selling
    US Dollar             310.228 317.421
    Can.Dollar            212.982 217.920
    Australian Dlr        204.387 209.126
    Pound Sterling        493.579 505.023
    Irish Punt            407.285 416.729
    Pound Cyprus          554.845 567.710
    Pound Malta           729.743 760.149
    Turkish pound (100)     0.068   0.071
    French franc           48.900  50.033
    Swiss franc           200.806 205.461
    Belgian franc           7.951   8.136
    German Mark           164.003 167.806
    Finnish Mark           53.949  55.200
    Dutch Guilder         145.556 148.931
    Danish Kr.             43.168  44.169
    Swedish Kr.            36.472  37.317
    Norwegian Kr.          39.363  40.275
    Austrian Sh.           23.311  23.851
    Italian lira (100)     16.566  16.951
    Yen (100)             258.545 264.539
    Spanish Peseta          1.927   1.972
    Port. Escudo            1.600   1.637
    Foreign Exchange      Buying  Selling
    New York              310.228 317.421
    Montreal              212.982 217.920
    Sydney                204.387 209.126
    London                493.579 505.023
    Dublin                407.285 416.729
    Nicosia               554.845 567.710
    Paris                  48.900  50.033
    Zurich                200.806 205.461
    Brussels                7.951   8.136
    Frankfurt             164.003 167.806
    Helsinki               53.949  55.200
    Amsterdam             145.556 148.931
    Copenhagen             43.168  44.169
    Stockholm              36.472  37.317
    Oslo                   39.363  40.275
    Vienna                 23.311  23.851
    Milan                  16.566  16.951
    Tokyo                 258.545 264.539
    Madrid                  1.927   1.972
    Lisbon                  1.600   1.637
    Athens News Agency

    [13] US State Dept. commentson latest Ecevit quips about terrorism

    WASHINGTON, 18/06/1999 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    Asked to comment on statements by Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit regarding claims of PKK training in Greece, US State Department spokesman James Foley said yesterday that the US "has reports in mind, past reports on the training of the PKK in Greece. We handle all reports on terrorist activities with seriousness and the relevant American services evaluate them."

    "I am not referring to what we may or may have not discussed with the Turkish prime minister, but to the event itself that we had past reports on PKK training in Greece," he explained.

    However, he pointed out that "there is a difference between what we are prepared to say in public and what we may say in private" on the issue. He added that there is a permanent dialogue between the US and both Greece and Turkey on the issue of terrorism.

    Mr. Foley also invoked relevant statements by Foreign Minister George Papandreou on leaving the State Department after meeting Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in May, with which he had stressed Greece's decision to do everything to deal a blow at terrorism.

    "Our intention is to work with Greece, as we have done in past months, since it is increasing its efforts to combat terrorism," Mr. Foley concluded.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Kosovo, Balkans dominate Tsohatzopoulos-Richard talks in Paris

    Athens, 18/06/1999 (ANA)

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos met in Paris yesterday with his French counterpart Alain Richard, with talks focusing on European and bilateral issues as well as conditions in the Balkans. The two ministers also discussed developments in Kos ovo, European security and long-term plans for stability in the Balkans. Mr. Richard stressed that France supports Greek efforts for stability in the Balkans.

    On his part, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos announced that within the next two to three month the two countries will sign a final agreement for the purchase of 15 Mirage 2000-5 fighters, as well as the upgrade of another 10 Mirage 2000s, allready operated by Greece .

    Finally, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos visited the international airshow and exhibition Le Bourget, outside Paris.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Batter Greek-Turkish relations only if int'l law conventions respected, Athens says

    Athens, 18/06/1999 (ANA)

    Greece reiterated yesterday that it wanted to build good relations with Turkey, making it crystal clear, however, that such relations must be founded on the principles of international law and respect for international conventions.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas added that relations should also be based on respect for the territorial integrity, independence of states and the inviolability of borders.

    Mr. Reppas was commenting on statements made by Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit during a taped television interview on a private Greek television station Wednesday night.

    In the interview, Mr. Ecevit repeated Turkish leadership's claims over "problems" in the Aegean. Athens views these so-called "problems" as in effect constituting unilateral Turkish claims on its territory.

    Mr. Reppas said Greece had repeatedly proposed to Turkey that efforts should be made to build good relations, but that Ankara had not responded.

    Asked by reporters about the current state of Greek-Turkish relations, the Greek spokesman said they were determined by the same framework which determines Ankara's relations with the European Union, which was related to respect for human rights and the rules of international law.

    Responding to Mr. Ecevit's claim that the United States agreed with Turkey's allegations that Greece was training terrorists, Mr. Reppas said there was absolutely no evidence that the US believed this, adding that Mr. Ecevit's claim was unfounded.

    Mr. Reppas also stressed that the level of security in Greece was much higher than in other countries in the west.

    In another meeting between Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis and US ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns, held at the former's request, the spokesman said that Mr. Kranidiotis told the US envoy that whenever Washington referred to issues of terrorism it gave the impression that Greece's efforts to combat such phenomena were "not sufficient".

    Mr. Reppas noted that in forthcoming meetings with US officials, the Greek side would raise the issue of Mr. Ecevit's claims.

    The spokesman also dismissed the veteran Turkish politician's request for Turkey "to check" to ascertain whether there were indeed any terrorist training camps in Greece, saying it lacked seriousness.

    Mr. Reppas added that Turkey would be advised "to see what is happening in its own country" rather than making such allegations.

    Asked whether Greece intended to make some goodwill gesture towards Turkey for the improvement of bilateral relations, the spokesman replied that Athens was expecting just such a move from Ankara, since Greece had repeatedly made moves in this direction .

    On initiatives aimed at resolving the Cyprus problem and the stance of the Turkish Cypriots, Mr. Reppas said Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash was "a negative force".

    He added that the international community was showing "lively interest" in a settlement of the problem "and the Turks and Turkish Cypriots cannot hold captive an independent country".

    Athens News Agency

    [16] US$20 million credit line for Romania

    BUCHAREST, 18/06/1999 (ANA - A. Makridis)

    Greece will grant Romania credits totalling 20 million US dollars, which will be managed by the two Greek banks established in the Romanian capital.

    This was agreed to in meetings held here between a national economy ministry delegation and the Romanian government.

    Other pending issues concerning Greek investors in Romania were also promoted for resolution. The meetings were held on the sidelines of a visit to the country by President Kostis Stephanopoulos and Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis.

    Meanwhile, Mr. Stephanopoulos held talks with the President of Romania's Parliament and the Senate's deputy president. In the afternoon, he visited the Patriarchate of Romania Theoktistos.

    In a statement afterwards, President Stephanopoulos said the visit was "extremely pleasant", which took place for the third time, since "he always met with the Patriarch whenever he visited Romania."

    On his part, Patriarch Theoktistos said he welcomed "a great friend of the Orthodox Church of Romania, of the Romanian people and of our country."

    Late in the afternoon, Mr. Stephanopoulos inaugurated a painting exhibition at the Romanian National Art Museum entitle of "Testimonies of Plastics from Modern-Day Greece."

    The exhibition will run until June 24.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Greece backs suspension of licensing for Genetically Modified Organisms

    BRUSSELS, 18/06/1999 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    The permanent Greek delegation to the European Union on Wednesday issued a statement regarding the suspension of market licenses for "Genetically Modified Organisms", inviting all other members-states to co-sign it.

    The statement was issued in light of the revision of directive 90/220/EEC, lauded by the environmental organisation Greenpeace yesterday. The Greenpeace bureau in Athens issued an announcement expressing its satisfaction and called on all EU member-stat es approve the proposal.

    The statement issued during Wednesday's COREPER meeting read:

    "The Greek Delegation, in the light of completing the procedures regarding the modification of Directive 90/220/EEC for the deliberate release of GMOs and given the need for implementing a more transparent and strict framework concerning critical issues , such as risk assessment, monitoring, labelling, as well as the need to restore the trust of market and public opinion, states its intention to implement a procedure suspending new approvals concerning the placing on the market of GMOs, until the amendment of Directive 90/220/EEC is implemented."

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Gov't promotes Greek-produced meat as safe alternative

    Athens, 18/06/1999 (ANA)

    Representatives of several veterinary organisations yesterday reassured the public that Greek meat is safe, cautioning consumers to avoid fat, where dioxin accumulates.

    However, veterinarians complained that checks taking place in the country are inadequate. On his part, Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis said all the quantities of confiscated Belgian meat will be destroyed.

    In another interview, Mr. Anomeritis said fresh milk on sale in the Greek market is unadulterated and locally produced. He said fresh milk is not imported, while all other products are checked as imported goods, adding that a further 200 tonnes of fresh products (meat, mayonnaise and poultry) have already been destroyed.

    Mr. Anomeritis said stringent checks have taken place and are continuing to take place at the source of dioxin infection, which is fodder crops for animals.

    Replying to criticism that dioxin checks are not being conducted on Greek products, he said checks were not taking place because there are no symptoms. Greek animals are not under suspicion and for this reason checks, which are costly and require a gre at deal of time, have not taken place, he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] Union official blames mismanagement, lack of employees for OA's condition

    Athens, 18/06/1999 (ANA)

    Lack of management and failure to satisfy employees' wage demands are the causes of yet more problems at debt-ridden Olympic Airways (OA), a unionist said yesterday.

    An official of the stewards' union, Vassilis Yiannakopoulos, said OA's subsidiary "Macedonian Airlines" and pesonnel shortages were the main causes for the state-run carrier's problems. He also claimed that Macedonian siphons off up to 16 per cent of OA 's regular flights.

    Mr. Yiannakopoulos demanded special measures to be taken at a meeting between the ministries of national economy, development and transportation ministries, with participation of OA's management and unions.

    Olympic Airways yesterday announced special ticket discounts for travel to 12 destinations in Europe.

    The fares apply to a limited number of seats, Monday through Thursday, and for a maximum stay of 14 days. Prices are set at 75,000 drachmas for departures from Athens and Thessaloniki (90,000 from other Greek airports) to Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Geneva, Zurich, Milan, Munich, Rome, Stuttgart and Vienna.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] Planeload of young women with fake visas prevented from entering Greece

    Athens, 18/06/1999 (ANA)

    A group of 82 young Russian women who arrived in Thessaloniki with forged visas on a plane from Moscow on Wednesday were expelled and sent back on the same plane, police said yesterday.

    The chartered airplane arrived at Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport with the women, originally hailing from Moldova, Ukraine and Russia.

    Airport police noticed that the group visas had been issued for different persons, but had been pasted on forged lists bearing the names of the women who actually arrived.

    They were sent back on the same plane five hours later.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] G8 summit expected to voice support for UN efforts towards Cyprus settlement

    LONDON, 18/06/1999 (ANA/CNA)

    The group of most industrialised countries plus Russia (G8), which will discuss the Cyprus problem during the weekend, are not seeking to displace the role of the UN in efforts to solve the Cyprus problem but to support a process towards a settlement.

    This was stated here yesterday by the director of the Press Department of the Foreign Office, Chris Sainty.

    Asked if the G8 will talk about the Cyprus problem at their forthcoming meeting in Cologne, Mr. Sainty said there will be some discussion on Cyprus and a reference in the statement which will come out of the G8.

    What the G8 will be seeking to do is not in any way to displace the UN "as the international organisation with the key interest to resolving the issue and reaching a settlement," Mr. Sainty said.

    "Clearly, the role of the G8 is a supporting one. I expect it to say in a statement that it supports the efforts of the UN and the Secretary-General in promoting the process towards a settlement," the FO offical added.

    Invited to comment on statements made by Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit that an intervention by the G8 could lead to an ethnic conflict like in Bosnia, Mr. Sainty said that what the G8 will be seeking to "do is to help towards the efforts of the U N to reach a settlement."

    This is "supported by all sides," he added.

    The G8 Foreign Ministers have agreed on a reference on Cyprus during their recent meeting in Cologne. The reference is subject to approval by the G8 summit this weekend.

    The ministers urged their leaders to reiterate their support to UN efforts for a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem on the basis of UN Security Council resolutions.

    They called on their leaders to urge the UN Secretary-General to invite the two sides in Cyprus to negotiations without preconditions.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of the island's territory.

    Athens News Agency

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