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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-11-01

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.forthnet.gr/ape>


NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 01/11/1996 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Premier, Economy Minister meet on 1997 budget
  • Athens News Agency new facilities inaugurated
  • Greece rejects Turkish protests over UNESCO events
  • ''Parmenion '96'' military exercise begins
  • Defence Minister says withdrawal of peacekeepers won't advance peace in Bosnia, schedules Cyprus visit
  • Greenpeace 'commandos' scale power plant smokestacks on Crete
  • Central Bank governor calls for faster rate of revenues collection, less spending
  • EIB renews support for Greek natural gas system
  • Greek national tourism organisation status changed
  • Turkish drivers get suspended sentence for illegal transport of shotgun shells

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Premier, Economy Minister meet on 1997 budget

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis and National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday agreed on ways to cut back 150 billion drachmas on public expenditures at their meeting yesterday.

    Mr. Papantoniou briefed Mr. Simitis on the ministry's planned economic measures as well as on progress concerning the drafting of the 1997 budget and incomes policy. According to sources, a planned bill on public expenditures aims at drastically cutti ng back on subsidies and operating costs for ministries, such as overtime, miscellaneous expenses and office supplies. The bill also foresees mergers or abolitions of services and organisations as well as a lid on appointments in the public sector, with one hiring made for every five departures.

    Another bill on the abolition of tax exemptions, Mr. Papantoniou told the prime minister, was nearing completion and would be tabled in Parliament soon.

    Methods to raise revenues for the state, including proposals for a real estate tax, taxation of foreign exchange deposit accounts, derivatives and other financial products as well as state titles, were also discussed by the two men at the meeting.

    On incomes policy, various options are still being examined, given the standing consideration - and pre-election pledge - that wage increases will be higher than forecast inflation.

    Inflation for 1997 is projected at 5-6 percent, which means that total increases will range between 8-10 percent, as both wage-earners and pensioners will receive a corrective amount of 2-3 per cent and approximately 1 per cent for "participation in gro wth".

    Later, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas told a press briefing that the 1997 budget would be tabled in Parliament by November 30 at the latest.

    Athens News Agency new facilities inaugurated

    Press and Media Minister Dimitris Reppas inaugurated the new offices of the Athens News Agency (ANA) yesterday evening in the presence of ANA General Director Andreas Christodoulides, government, party officials, journalist unions' representatives, foreign embassy press attaches, foreign correspondents as well as ANA staff.

    After 100 years of work and active presence in the mass media sector, ANA finally acquired its own premises. Considerable assistance by the government and intensive efforts by the administrative council contributed to housing all of ANA's services in its own privately owned facilities on 36, Tsoha St.

    Father Georgios Metallinos officiated at a blessing of the premises, while Mr. Christodoulides in a short speech promised ANA subscribers that the administration and staff will do their best to continuously upgrade services and provide a comprehensive n ews briefing for the country's citizenry.

    "Completion of a telematics programme with the operation of electronic regional centres in major cities in Greece, creation of the first electronic photographic archives linked with Athenian, regional, expatriate, Cypriot and foreign mass media, creatio n of a series of news services such as sports, a radio and television bulletin, audiotext and internet bulletins, a bulletin for briefing Balkan and Mediterranean countries, as well as the strengthening of our international relations with European, Balkan and Mediterranean national news agencies are but a few of the steps which helped and are helping the success and reliability of the ANA," Mr. Christodoulides said.

    In a brief address, Mr. Reppas stressed the need for the ANA's operation as an agency of conscience and culture, adding that the contribution and presence of Mr. Christodoulides had a national character.

    At the same time, Mr. Reppas referred to the ANA's response to modern-day challenges posed for the media through its data bank, the electronic photographic archives and an impending satellite link with its subscribers.

    Mr. Reppas also praised the agency's two new programmes concerning the pages of Internet, through which news from Greece will reach the most distant parts of the earth, as well as the English-language magazine "Hermes," whose pages aim to promote the cr eative aspect of the country on the international scene.

    Among others, the inauguration ceremony was attended by former media minister and current PASOK deputy Telemachos Hytiris, Press Secretary- General Nikos Athanassakis, the president of the Greek Radio and TV Network S.A. (ERT) Panayiotis Panayiotou, the general director of the ET-2 television network, Ioannis Exarchos, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) spokesman Makis Kopsidis, the press attaches of the US and German embassies, several journalists and foreign correspondents.

    Mr. Christodoulides also thanked the Inter-Balkan Medical Centre and the EPOM-ABEE construction firm as well as the companies Kelari, Kourtakis, Pepsico-HBH, Pigados Hotel, FAGE and Hatzimihalis group for their contribution towards successful holding of the ensuing reception that followed.

    Greece rejects Turkish protest over UNESCO events

    Athens has flatly dismissed a demarche by Ankara over UNESCO-organised cultural events last week near the uninhabited Greek islet of Imia, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas announced yesterday. Mr. Reppas said Greece rejected the verbal demarche conveyed to the Greek embassy in Turkey on Friday as "unacceptable in its entirety." "There were no margins for discussion as the events occurred in Greek sovereign territory," Mr. Reppas said.

    The Club UNESCO Dodecanese organised an international meeting on peace over the weekend, which included cruises around the islands of Kalymnos, Kalolymnos and Imia, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the organisation.

    "The climate in relations between Greece and Turkey is not positive and this is due to Turkey's unwillingness to take any effort at rapprochement whatsoever," Mr. Reppas said.

    Referring to this week's incident in which a Turkish soldier fired a shot in the direction of a Greek observation post on the Greek-Turkish border, Mr. Reppas said the incident had been resolved and was considered closed.

    Foreign ministry spokesman Costas Bikas yesterday also referred to Athens' rejection of the Turkish demarche.

    Parmenion '96 military exercise begins

    A military exercise code-named "Parmenion '96" began in northern Greece yesterday with the participation of all three arms of the Hellenic armed forces, the defence ministry announced.

    The annual exercise, taking place in the Evros prefecture and the Aegean, will include landing craft operations with air force and naval back- up.

    The final phase of the exercise will be staged on the eastern Aegean island of Samos in early November.

    In addition, President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos has expressed interest in attending the final stage.

    Informed sources said that the exercise's plan also includes the re-taking of an isle.

    In a related issue, when asked to comment on press reports in an Athens daily that Turkey had established a crisis management and operations centre on the Turkish coast facing the Greek islet of Imia, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said i t was an issue of concern only for Turkey.

    "It does not concern us what our neighbours do but what we do," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

    He added that there was no particular concern over the fact that Turkey was conducting exercises in the Aegean at the same time as Greece.

    Defence Minister says withdrawal of peacekeepers won't advance peace in Bosnia

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos assessed yesterday that at present, peace will not be safeguarded in Bosnia with the withdrawal of foreign troops, in light of the fact that the limit for a multinational peace force in Bosnia expires on Dec. 15. The issue will be examined at the European Union summit. Whether or not the Greek force will remain in Bosnia will depend on the position of the other states, he said, adding, "if they leave, we will leave."

    The Minister will pay his first visit to Cyprus from Nov. 21-24, while talks with his Cypriot counterpart Costas Eliades will focus on issues concerning the widening of possibilities for strengthening the unified defence d octrine and common armaments within the framework of joint efforts between Greece and Cyprus.

    During his stay on the island republic, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos will have talks with the political leaders of Cyprus.

    Meanwhile, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that in the first half of 1997 the political leadership of the national defence ministry will start visits abroad to promote existing agreements or sign new ones, with their first stops being the Balkans.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos will participate in the corresponding sessions of NATO and West European Union (WEU) national defence ministers in December.

    Referring to military dialogue in Cyprus, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said it was taking place through the UN, adding that the Cypriot government has accepted, adding however, that he was not aware whether results will be produced.

    Greenpeace 'commandos' scale power plant smokestacks on Crete

    Members of the Greek branch of the international environmental advocacy group Greenpeace climbed the smokestacks of a Public Power Corp. (DEH) plant in Linoperamata, Irakleio yesterday, raising a huge banner protesting the creation of another power plant on Crete.

    Protesters also accused DEH and the government of refusing to adopt positions advocating the use of alternative sources of energy to solve the large island's electricity problem.

    They called for Crete to become a model of environment-friendly sources of energy, saying that "clean solutions" must be adopted right away.

    All 15 Greenpeace members, who were still on the smokestacks at presstime, were expected to meet with DEH officials.

    Central Bank governor calls for faster rate of revenue collection,less spending

    Governor of the Bank of Greece Loukas Papademos yesterday issued a warning on the economy, stressing the need for measures to accelerate the rate of income collection, restriction of spending and the rationalisation of the labour market, to which the cent ral bank pays particular attention.

    Speaking at the British-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce (BHCC), Mr. Papademos stressed that exchange policy will remain anti- inflationary, but clarified that there will be greater flexibility in order to avoid profit-making moves by international investors.

    He stressed that the increased capital inflows appearing do not only have positive influence on the reduction of lending costs, but also hide dangers, which are mainly related to the short-term character of the influence.

    Mr. Papadimos stressed the need for changes in the labour market, which he said must take international developments into account, the relation of labour costs in Greece and abroad and the relationship between production and payment.

    Regarding the balance of payments, he said that persistant high inflation has led to a deterioration of the balance of payments.

    He concluded by stressing the need for Greece to participate in the European monetary union by 2001, saying this will be a defining development for the country.

    EIB renews support for Greek natural gas system

    The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term lending institution, renewed its support for the construction and operation of a high pressure transmission and distribution system of natural gas in Greece by extending a new ECU 200 mill ion (60.6 million drachmas) loan to the Public Gas Corportation of Greece (DEPA) this week.

    The loan agreement was signed in Luxembourg on Tuesday for the EIB by Mr. P. Gennimatas, vice-president, and for DEPA by Mr. S. Palaloyiannis, managing director.

    The loan forms part of a larger facility of up to ECU 300 million approved by the EIB. Financing will be phased over the project's construction period. Designed in the late 80s, the project started being contructed in 1990. The high pressure system is e xpected to be operational in its entirety by the year 1999.

    A first loan of ECU 7.3 million from the IEB was signed in February 1991. Slow initial construction, however, impeded the continuation of EIB financing, which has now been reactivated following the acceleration of construction.

    Works include a high-pressure pipeline running from Kula, at the Greek- Bulgarian border to Ayia Triada to the nearby island of Revithoussa, a receiving terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG) on the island, as well as high pressure branches, metering a nd operating stations and a remote control and communication system. Gas will be imported from Russia and Algeria, the latter in LNG form.

    The project is by far the largest energy investment ever undertaken in Greece. It represents the only significant possibility to diversify its energy supplies. It is also considered of importance to the development of the Union's energy network. It is s upported jointly by the EIB, the Union's Structural Funds (ERDF) and the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and is a key investment on the priority list of Trans-European Network projects approved by the Essen European Council in December 1994.

    Furthermore, the project offers important environmental benefits by replacing polluting energy sources such as lignite and heavy oil products by clean natural gas. The project will essentially serve power generation in combining cycle power plants and i ndustrial units in the major Greek metropolitan areas of Athens and Thessaloniki contributing to significant air quality improvement.

    Greek Nntional tourism organisation legal status changed

    Development Minister Vasso Papandreou has announced the conversion of the National Tourism Organisation of Greece (EOT) into a Societe Anonyme (S.A.).

    Speaking in Thessaloniki during a news conference held at the start of the 12th "Philoxenia" exhibition, Ms Papandreou underlined the need for a radical restructuring of EOT, an organisation which she said has to stop its entrepreneurial activities and focus more on policy-making in coordination with the ministry, and particularly in the fields of marketing and public relations.

    Ms Papandreou also said that the goverment, under its three-year programme, will proceed with the exploitation and partial liquidation of EOT assets.

    Turkish drivers get suspended sentence for illegal transport of shotgun shells

    Two Turkish drivers received a suspended one-year sentence and were ordered to pay a fine of one million drachmas yesterday for carrying a total of 900,000 shotgun shells in their trucks.

    The court also ordered the immediate deportation of the drivers, while their trucks and the shotgun shells were confiscated.

    Sevat Kara, 30, and Yiunal Pektas, 34, were stopped by Evros customs officials at the border and were charged with not having necessary documents for transporting their cargo through Greece.

    WEATHER

    Sunny to partly cloudy with local showers in several parts of the country. Partly cloudy in Athens with temperatures ranging from 12-19C. Sunny and mild in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 4-16C.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE (Buying)

    U.S. dlr 235.660 Can. dlr.175.822, Australian dlr. 186.794 Pound sterling 383.706, Irish punt 384.896, Cyprus pd 512.864, French franc 46.188, Swiss franc 187.672 Belgian franc 7.566, German mark 155.828 Finnish mark 52.110, Dutch guilder 138.979 Danish Kr. 40.618, Swedish Kr. 35.966, Norwegian Kr. 36.922, Austrian Sh. 22.166, Italian lira (100) 15.557 Yen (100) 207.378 Spanish Peseta 1.851, Portuguese Escudo 1.545.

    (L.G.)


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