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A.N.A. Bulletin, 20/12/95
From: "Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Athens News Agency Directory
ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No, 769), December 20, 1995
Greek Press & Information Office
E-Mail Address: email@example.com
 OECD predicts years of recovery for Greek economy
 PASOK executive meets, initiatives to be discussed next month
 Premier's condition unchanged
 Anthopoulos say Greece, Yugoslavia can form 'economic axis' of co-operation
 Decision on number of Greek troops for Bosnia this week
 Samaranch to intervene with IOC executive on Athens' Olympic bids
 Bill on illegal immigrant workers to be ready early next year, Tzoumakas says
 All schools to be linked to new computer network in two years, education minister says
 New oil drilling efforts begin today in Aegean
 Papadopoulos vows to rid country of 'public debt nightmare'
 OTE stock to be floated on ASE, Venizelos says
 Teachers to rally outside Parliament tonight for more funding
 Union, pensioners rally against budget
 Another European group protests Greek toy ad ban
 Moves afoot to deregulate nightclub closing times
 Greek crew arrested for smuggling illegal immigrants to Italy
 OECD predicts years of recovery for Greek economyAthens, 20/12/1995 (ANA):
The government yesterday described as "very positive" an OECD report which said that 1996 and 1997 would be years of recovery for the Greek economy.
The latest OECD report makes a generally favorable assessment of the Greek economy but also refers to a number of potential dangers and urges the taking of additional measures in the sector of public finances.
The report praises the government's strict fiscal policy which, it underlines, "increased confidence in the markets" and reduced interest rates and inflation.
At the same time, the report said, there had been an "investment boom" in 1995, both in the private sector, thanks to the cheaper cost of money, and the public sector, due chiefly to inflows of Community moneys from the structural funds.
The OECD report predicts that by the end of 1997, inflation will be just above 6 per cent, interest rates will continue to drop, although at a slower pace than hitherto, and GDP will increase at a rate of over 2 per cent in the period 1996-97.
"The growth of GDP will be based mainly on the increase in investments and the small recovery of domestic consumption. The reduced cost of bank loans and wage restraints will support private investments, while a large part of the cost of public investments is expected to be met from the Delors II package," the report said.
Despite this, the report continues, without the adoption of additional measures, at the end of 1997 the public deficit would stand at 7.5 per cent of GDP, while the public debt and inflation would be 100 per cent of GDP and 6 per cent, respectively. Without clearly stating it, the report intimates that the Greek economy will not be ready for the third stage of EMU.
National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said Monday that he believed Greece would attain the criteria set by the Maastricht Treaty for EMU by the end of 1998.
The OECD report also warns of the danger that its forecasts could be overturned by "the strain of adjustment in the sector of public finances."
It emphasizes that interest rates should not be allowed to drop at too rapid a pace, since this could lead to a crisis of confidence among investors and have adverse repercussions for the course of inflation and the balance of current accounts.
The OECD report also speaks of delays in the inflow of EU funds and a resulting aggravation of the balance of payments, while praising the government's "hard" drachma policy and restrained incomes policy in the public sector.
 HytirisAthens, 20/12/1995 (ANA):
Government spokesman Telemahos Hytiris welcomed the OECD's positive report on the course of the Greek economy.
"Everyone is aware of this. The only person who seems to be unaware of it is (main opposition New Democracy party leader) Miltiades Evert," said Mr. Hytiris, who described statements by Mr. Evert as "peculiar." With his statements, Mr. Hytiris said, Mr. Evert was contributing to the destabilization of the economy.
The report detailed the course of economic indicators from 1994-1997:
1994 1995 1996 1997 Private consumption 1.5 1.6 2.0 2.2 Public consumption 0.5 0.2 0.2 0.2 Domestic demand 1.0 2.7 3.2 3.4 Capital investments (% of GDP) 0.4 7.0 9.4 9.0 Exports 7.3 5.2 6.9 7.1 Imports 3.8 6.5 8.0 8.0 GDP 1.5 1.9 2.3 2.5 Unemployment 9.6 9.8 10.1 10.3 Industrial production 0.6 1.6 3.0 4.4 Public deficit (% of GDP) -11.4 -9.5 -8.6 -7.7 Balance of payments (% of GDP) -0.2 -2.1 -1.9 -2.0
 PASOK executive meets, initiatives to be discussed next monthAthens, 20/12/1995 (ANA):
PASOK's Executive Bureau held a meeting yesterday on initiatives to be assumed in light of the prime minister's prolonged illness.
PASOK central committee secretary Costas Skandalidis said prospects were open for the assumption of initiatives, implying that the first step in this direction would be taken during the committee's meeting scheduled for January.
Mr. Skandalidis said initiatives were associated with the premier's health condition but also with general developments.
He reiterated that the government was functioning normally and in line with the constitution, adding the political problem was being successfully dealt with.
Asked to comment on statements by the prime minister's wife, Dimitra Papandreou, that she would support her husband's decisions, Mr. Skandalidis said it was a "human reaction."
Answering questions on the possible replacement of the prime minister yesterday, government spokesman Telemahos Hytiris reiterated that the government was functioning according to the laws and Constitution.
Replying to a question on meetings between Mr. Stephanopoulos and government and party officials, Mr. Hytiris said that the president's actions were also in accordance with the Constitution.
Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos briefed President Kostis Stephanopoulos yesterday on all current political developments.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, who is standing in for the prime minister, reiterated that the institutions were functioning smoothly in accordance with the Constitution and the law.
Underlining that the entire Greek people was hoping for Mr. Papandreou's speedy recovery, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that what was of paramount importance was the attainment of targets for 1996, particularly within the framework of the state budget.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, who deputized for Mr. Papandreou at the EU summit in Madrid, said he had briefed Mr. Stephanopoulos on the decisions taken, particularly those of interest to Greece, such as the commencement of negotiations for Cyprus' accession to t he EU and EMU.
Mr. Stephanopoulos described the meeting as "very important."
Meanwhile, education minister and son of the premier, George Papandreou, expressed hope yesterday that his father would overcome his health problems.
"We are optimistic, and believe he is doing better. I think he has chances (to overcome his problem)," he told reporters.
Asked to comment on the succession issue, he said his first priority was his father's health.
"My first priority is my support to my father. I believe decisions will be made when the time is right," he told the press.
Asked whether he had assumed initiatives in this direction, the minister said:
"I have already stated I will do my duty, I will speak to my father, say what I believe but this is not the moment to speak on what I will discuss with my father."
"I think, at this moment, what he needs is human support, support from his children and his family," he added.
He further said he was not in a position to estimate as to when the time would be right for initiation of succession procedures.
Asked to comment on President Stephanopoulos' initiatives, Mr. Papandreou said:
"They are positive and of course the president has a very important role since he supervises the smooth operation of the institutions.
"It is natural (for him) to be responsibly and correctly briefed from all available sources," he added.
Asked whether President Kostis Stephanopoulos could contribute to the solution of the political problem, Mr. Skandalidis said "Mr. Stephanopoulos has the sensitivity, the concern and the will to discuss and help face these problems."
Asked on the anticipated formation of a political party by former PASOK minister Dimitris Tsovolas Mr. Skandalidis said "one chooses the way and the course one determines for oneself".
He added that Mr. Tsovolas' move was an attempt to politicize a personal grudge, adding that such moves could not break party unity.
Mr. Skandalidis added that he had been briefed by Mr. Tsohatzopoulos on the Madrid summit and branded the final communique's conclusions on Greece as "very important and positive for our country."
He said those who believed that the Greek delegation would be inadequate were proved wrong.
The Executive Bureau meeting also discussed the budget, which is currently being discussed in Parliament, with Mr. Skandalidis saying PASOK's parliamentary group was united in this political battle.
Meanwhile, former deputy prime minister Yiannis Haralambopoulos and former minister Costas Simitis met for an hour yesterday, at the latter's request.
Mr. Haralambopoulos described the meeting as useful and interesting, and said there was agreement on many issues raised. He expressed the view that as long as the current political situation continued, so would such contacts.
Questioned whether he would persevere in a possible candidacy for the premiership, which he has indicated, he said, "I will insist on my positions".
Mr. Simitis also described the meeting as very interesting, adding he would continue contacts in the party, and that everyone was needed for a creative course of the party.
 Premier's condition unchangedAthens, 20/12/1995 (ANA):
The medical bulletin issued by the Onassion Centre at 8pm last night said the prime minister's condition remained unchanged, and physiotherapy for a prevention of a new infection of the respiratory system had been intensified.
According to the bulletin, "his breathing is being supported periodically by a respirator and his renal function by a kidney machine. The modified antibiotic treatment is being continued and the patient does not have a temperature."
Doctors were examining the possibility of moving Mr. Papandreou to a special intensive care unit in order to reduce the risk of new infections. They said the decision was also taken for psychological reasons.
Thanks to a gastric tube, Mr. Papandreou is estimated now to weigh over 60 kilos, his doctors said. However, they stated he is still being supported by a respirator, and held out little hope of his kidneys being able to function without mechanical support.
 ConstantopoulosAthens, 20/12/1995 (ANA):
Speaking in Thessaloniki yesterday, Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos charged that PASOK was entrapped by its own weaknesses.
"The lack of democratic procedures and a structure dominated by the leader render conditions for solving the succession issue even more difficult," he said.
Questioned on the Coalition's stand after a possible replacement of the prime minister, Mr. Constantopoulos said his party would continue exercising opposition on the basis of the government's initial policy statement.
 Anthopoulos say Greece, Yugoslavia can form 'economic axis' of co-operationBelgrade, 20/12/1995 (ANA/M. Mouratidis):
Speaking at a press conference in Belgrade yesterday, National Economy Under-secretary Ioannis Anthopoulos stressed the need for an "economic axis" between Greece and Yugoslavia, outlining the framework of his first formal talks with key financial and political figures of Yugoslavia and Serbia.
Mr. Anthopoulos' visit, the first official one after the lifting of sanctions, is aimed at creating conditions for equal economic co-operation to the benefit of both countries. He arrived in Belgrade on Tuesday night at the head of a ten-member delegation comprising state officials and businessmen.
He said the first agreements expected to be signed soon were on economic, scientific and technological co-operation, promoting mutual protection for investments and avoiding double taxation.
Mr. Anthopoulos said Greece offered Yugoslavia technical and financial support through the approval of export credits capable of amounting to 200 million dollars.
Referring to sectors of co-operation, Mr. Anthopoulos said Greece and Yugoslavia could co-operate at the level of construction companies to construct major projects in Greece, Yugoslavia and third countries. He said co-operation could also concern the telecommunications sector, the standardization of farm products, the textiles industry, light and modern technology, the sector of technical protection for the environment and tourism.
Mr. Anthopoulos also made a proposal, which the Yugoslavs accepted, that Yugoslavia apply for membership of the Black Sea Economic Co-operation Organization, which Greece would support, and participate in the Black Sea development bank headquartered in Thessaloniki.
However, the political commitment the Greek side requested from the Yugoslav government for the free passage of transit trucks through Yugoslavia and a reduction in tolls showed that Yugoslav reservations concern this issue which they indirectly link to the issue of facilities they want at the port of Thessaloniki.
On the question of free passage for trucks, Mr. Anthopoulos was told that it would be examined as part of the modernization of Yugoslavia's transport network.
Mr. Anthopoulos held talks yesterday with the Yugoslav alternate finance minister, the transport and communications under-secretary and the alternate foreign minister.
Mr. Anthopoulos ends his visit today. Prior to his return to Athens he is expected to visit Pale for talks with Bosnian Serb representatives.
 Decision on number of Greek troops for Bosnia this weekAthens, 20/12/1995 (ANA):
The Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) is to decide this week on the size of the Greek military force to be sent to Bosnia with the NATO mission, government spokesman Telemahos Hytiris said yesterday. Replying to reporters' questions, Mr. Hytiris stated that the prime minister, in co-operation with the ministers of national defence and foreign affairs, had decided on the participation of Greek military forces in Bosnia.
 Samaranch to intervene with IOC executive on Athens' Olympic bidsAthens, 20/12/1995 (ANA):
Sports Under-secretary George Lianis has received a letter from International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch saying he would ask the IOC executive committee to officially consider Athens' bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games "by way of exception."
"I shall ask the IOC Executive Committee to officially examine whether and with what procedure your country's candidacy by way of exception can be submitted to the IOC Assembly," Mr. Samaranch said in the letter.
Athens decided last week to launch a late bid to host the 2004 summer games and has requested to be given the 2008 Olympics if the bid failed, as "compensation" for not being given the 1996 games, which marks the centenary of the revival of the modern Olympics in the Greek capital.
"Unofficially, I have discussed the matter with my colleagues on the IOC Executive Committee. On the basis of their knowledge and experience, their general feeling appears to be that while your initiative is considered to be a noble and generous one, it will demand the broad consensus of the IOC members. The effort to attain such consensus will undoubtedly be difficult," Mr. Samaranch wrote.
"This is particularly true," he continues in the letter, "when one takes into account that a large number of European cities have submitted bids for 2004, and the interest which has been clearly expressed by some cities for 2008."
 Bill on illegal immigrant workers to be ready early next year, Tzoumakas saysAthens, 20/12/1995 (ANA):
Labor and Social Security Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas said yesterday that a bill being prepared by the ministry to regulate the status of immigrant workers in Greece would be ready in early January. Mr. Tzoumakas made the announcement to the presidium of the Athens Labor Centre (EKA) who submitted a report on the current situation and possible solutions.
Noting that immigrants currently accounted for one quarter of salaried workers in the country, Mr. Tzoumakas said that the government wanted legal rather than "black" labor and to prevent the phenomena of racism and xenophobia appearing. According to informed sources, the bill will provide for a "legalization fee" of up to 500,000 drachmas per head and a transitional provision for Albanians, making their legitimate status dependent on the development of diplomatic relations between Athens and Tirana .
EKA President Christos Polyzogoupoulos said that the illegal hiring of immigrant workers resulted in lost revenues of 100 billion drachmas.
Echoing Mr. Tzoumakas' remarks on the threat of racist phenomena, Mr. Polyzogoupolos said that legalization was the only solution to combat xenophobia.
 All schools to be linked to new computer network in two years, education minister saysAthens, 20/12/1995 (ANA):
Education Minister George Papandreou visited the Polytechnic centre in Zografou yesterday to meet pupils and teachers from 10 junior high schools in Attica linked to the new Telemahos computer network. Mr. Papandreou sent his best wishes for Christmas to the pupils and teachers through the computers. Pupils and teachers will be able to exchange messages and information, obtain information from school libraries and electronic newspapers, while pupils from various schools will be able to co-operate in common tasks on the network. Mr. Papandreou said the education ministry's aim was to have all the country's junior high schools linked to the programme in two years' time.
 New oil drilling efforts begin today in AegeanAthens, 20/12/1995 (ANA):
A new oil drilling operation by the North Aegean Petroleum Company will begin today, in a location 2.5 miles off the Prinos oil field, northwest of the island of Thasos.
Drilling operations, by the "Roger Mowell" oil drill, aim at locating new oil deposits to increase oil production in the Prinos oil field from 9-10,000 barrels a day to 25,000 barrels a day.
The drillings, conducted by NARC in co-operation with the Greek state, fall under agreement by the consortium to make investments in the region of $25 million.
 Papadopoulos vows to rid country of 'public debt nightmare'Athens, 20/12/1995 (ANA):
Finance Minister Alekos Papadopoulos said yesterday that the government will not allow public debt to break the nation or let high inflation once again plague Greece's economy, in his Parliament speech during deliberations on the 1996 state budget.
Mr. Papadopoulos reiterated Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou's statement that "either the nation will eliminate the debt, or the debt will eliminate the nation," in order to highlight the government's effort at ridding the country of what he said was a "public debt nightmare."
According to the finance minister, three methods exist for tackling the nation's enormous public burden: declaring bankruptcy, obviously not an option; funding the primary debt through primary revenue surpluses; or eliminating it by inflation, a disguised form of bankruptcy.
The third option is a double trap, he said, implying that a reduction of the debt will be achieved through primary revenue surpluses. "Our anti-inflationary policy is in reaction to the public debt and not forced on us by any Maastricht (treaty). We are on course with Maastricht. We do not serve it," Mr. Papadopoulos added.
Among the budget goals touted by the finance minister are economic stability and development of a social state, which he said must be a "common pursuit of all of us."
In analyzing PASOK's fiscal policy over the 1994-1995 period, Mr. Papadopoulos cited a number of achievements, including a reduction in deficits and the public debt as a percentage of GDP, submission of two state budgets with few divergence, slicing of interest rates from 21.5 per cent to around 13.9 per cent today as well as public sector savings totaling approximately 700 billion drachmas.
Referring to the last figure, the finance minister said the dramatic reduction in government waste spurred a drop in interest rates, especially bank lending rates, which in turn creates conditions for development, inflation's downturn to single-digit figures after almost 22 years and exercise of a taxation policy without the need for new taxes. Government goals for the 1996 budget call for an increase in revenues, limiting spending, a continued reduction in the public debt as a percentage of the GDP, application of an active political management of the nation's public debt instead of a static response, creation of a fund for securities management using auctions, institution of new methods of issuing fixed interest rates as well as avoiding a reduction of the public debt through inflationary means.
The minister said the government will institute a series of decisions that will fight tax evasion, reduce public sector spending, tax reform, increased use of data processing and other upgrades at the finance ministry.
 OTE stock to be floated on ASE, Venizelos saysAthens, 20/12/1995 (ANA):
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Evangelos Venizelos announced the sale of 8 per cent of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) stock on the Athens stock market, during his speech in Parliament last night.
The transport minister said he will meet with main opposition New Democracy president Miltiades Evert today in reference to the issue. He will also meet with other party leaders on the OTE flotation.
 SoufliasAthens, 20/12/1995 (ANA):
In his speech, main opposition New Democracy party's spokesman George Souflias said he doubted the government would achieve its economic policy targets, saying the 1996 budget was anti-growth and ineffective and following the same flawed political views.
Mr. Souflias accused the government of dramatically delaying the absorption of funds from the Delors II package and claims this retention is in the region of 1.2 trillion drachmas, over the two years PASOK has been in power.
He attributed the increase in the public debt to PASOK's rule during the 1980s. In 1981, he said, public debt stood at 670 billion drachmas and amounted to 33 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while by 1993 it had risen to 114 per cent of GDP. T he only thing the ruling party succeeded in doing was reducing the public deficit to 113 per cent in 1994 and stabilizing it at the same levels in 1995, Mr. Souflias said.
The ND spokesman said he doubted the public debt was 31 trillion drachmas as claimed by the government, saying it totals 33 trillion drachmas with the debts of hospitals and the Hellenic Industrial Development Bank (ETBA).
 Teachers to rally outside Parliament tonight for more fundingAthens, 20/12/1995 (ANA):
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, representatives of the Tutorial Federation of Greece (DOE), the Federation of Secondary School Teachers (OLME) and the Federation of Private School Teachers (OIELE) criticized government education funding for 1996 and said they were organizing a protest gathering outside Parliament this evening.
"The unacceptably low level of funding for education has brought schools to the point of asphyxiation and, among others, perpetuates the third world status of double shifts. The continuous downgrading of public education at all levels being promoted favors and supports trends for privatizing education," they said.
Teachers and parents said they wanted a "generous increase in the funding of education amounting to 15 per cent, support and upgrading of free public education, abolition of the double shift system and substantive increases in the monthly salaries of teachers."
 Union, pensioners rally against budgetAthens, 20/12/1995 (ANA):
The Coordinating Committee of First-Stage Unions (unions controlled by the Communist Party of Greece) staged a rally from Kaningos Square to Parliament yesterday, protesting the new state budget for 1996. The coordinating agency of pensioners organization s also participated.
The demonstrators demanded an end to austerity, an increase in social expenditures and fairer tax reforms. They termed the budget "another austerity budget robbing the incomes of working people and pensioners and securing new privileges for big local an d foreign capital."
General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) member Zoi Sokou (who belongs to the communist ESAK grouping) told demonstrators the policy of the socialist PASKE, conservative DAKE and Coalition groupings was aimed at the "implementation of government and European Union policy as painlessly as possible."
A delegation of trade unionists delivered a resolution to Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis and the political parties.
 Another European group protests Greek toy ad banBrussels, 20/12/1995 (ANA/P. Pantelis):
The European Association of Commercial Television (ACT) has joined other European organizations in protesting a Greek ban on television advertisements for toys before 10pm to the European Commission.
ACT said that the Greek ban poses a threat to the survival of children's programmes, whose main source of income is advertising. It also claims the ban contravenes the principle of free circulation of services foreseen in the directions for television without borders.
A member of ACT said that the situation whereby a member state sacrifices Community legislation for national interests was "a dangerous precedent".
The Toy Manufacturers of Europe (TME) and the European Advertising Industry have already protested about the Greek ban to the European Commission.
 Moves afoot to deregulate nightclub closing timesAthens, 20/12/1995 (ANA):
A complete deregulation of nightclub hours is expected to be announced soon, pending a final decision by Labor Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas and Public Order Minister Sifis Valyrakis.
However, sources said it is practically certain that non-restricted hours will be implemented for Fridays and Saturdays, the entire summer season as well as the Christmas and Easter holidays.
Three options remain for the Sunday to Thursday schedule: complete deregulation, closure at 3:30am, or no restrictions on only establishments offering live music.
The government is expected to convey to nightclub owners the importance of honoring collective labor agreements in order to protect nightclub employees. However, several nightclub trade union representatives have expressed apprehension over the anticipated measure, saying nightclub employees will bear the weight of such a deregulation.
 Greek crew arrested for smuggling illegal immigrants to ItalySyracuse, 20/12/1995 (ANA/Reuter):
A Greek cargo ship carrying 181 Asian illegal immigrants ran aground off Sicily yesterday, Italian police said.
The captain and five crew of the vessel, named the "Iason", were detained on suspicion of running illegal immigrants to Italy.
Police said the six, all Greeks, had abandoned the ship and its human cargo when it ran aground near a beach at Marzameni, near the southeast Sicilian town of Syracuse.
The immigrants, from Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, were traveling in the hold. They included two children and 12 women, one of them six months pregnant. Several of them had swam to shore.
Police said the immigrants had apparently boarded the Iason in Romania and Turkey. They were expected to be issued with expulsion orders giving them two weeks to leave the country.
End of English language section.