Kuchma expresses satisfaction over contacts with Greek leadership
NEWS IN DETAIL
Simitis announces defence spending plans
Greece will spend two trillion drachmas on defence up to the year 2000 and
a further two trillion by 2007, Prime Minister Costas Simitis announced
today immediately after a meeting of the Government Council for Foreign
Policy and Defence (KYSEA).
Simitis and National Defence Minister Akis Tsohadzopoulos said the Greek
armed forces would purchase an AWACS early-warning aircraft, 60 new
warplanes, training aircraft, transport helicopters and aircraft and would
modernise its F-4 Phantom jet fighters.
In addition, new tanks will be purchased while those already in service
with the army are to be modernised.
The 4-trillion drachma (approximately 16 billion US dollars) armaments
programme will also involve the purchase of modern munitions and the
acquisition of new anti-aircraft systems and warships, including submarines
and nine surface vessels.
Replying to reporters' questions, Simitis said that the Greek people would
have to make sacrifices and stressed that ''there must be no waste''.
He ruled out the possibility of Greece missing the economic convergence
targets set by the Maastricht Treaty as a result of the massive programme.
Noting that the necessary funds for the programme would be raised also
through foreign borrowing, Simitis said that a large part of the armaments
would be supplied by the Greek defence industry.
Greece's defence strategy is one of deterrence, Simitis said, adding that
''we do not claim anything but we shall not give anything up.
Simitis underlined that the country's armed forces had to be bolstered in
order to face ''the threats around us'', and that emphasis would be placed
on upgrading the military qualitatively in order to counterbalance the
''opponent's'' numerical strength.
Simitis said that the defence programme had taken into consideration the
needs of the armed forces without overlooking the limits of the country's
On land, he continued, the objective of the programme is to create flexible,
rapid intervention forces with strong firepower.
The aim at sea was to create a naval force capable of securing control in
the Greek seas, repulsing any invasion from the sea and maintaining a naval
presence in the broader region of the Eastern Mediterranean, the premier
As far as the air was concerned, he added, the aim was to create a force
capable of securing the air defence of the country, maintaining the
necessary air superiority and providing air support for army and navy
All efforts would be made to increase the participation of the domestic
defence industry in the implementation of the programme, Simitis said,
adding that within this framework there would be cooperation between the
ministries of national defence, of national economy and of development with
both private and state-controlled industrial concerns.
The necessary funds for the programme would be secured from FMS credits,
foreign borrowing on the international capital market and the regular state
budget, ''the burden on which will be 100 billion drachmas annually''.
Asked if new taxes would be imposed in order to implement the programme,
Simitis replied that ''there will be taxes within the framework of economic
policy in general, if and when we decide this''.
Simitis underlined that Greece was facing the great challenge of securing
its equal participation in the EU, but at the same time was up against the
Turkish threat and provocativeness.
''Our position towards Turkey is steadfast and quite clear. Greece does not
claim anything but will not concede anything. Greece will never concede or
negotiate its sovereign rights, rights which emanate from historical truth,
which have been consolidated with the blood of generations of Greeks and
have been acknowledged as being final by virtue of undisputable international
treaties,'' Simitis said.
Opposition leader calls for inquiry into handling of bourse crisis
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Miltiades Evert said today that
the party would next Monday table a motion in Parliament proposing the
formation of a committe of inquiry ''to reveal all the government's
peculiar handling with respect to the institution of the Athens Stock
In an announcement, Evert described as ''unprecedented the fact that the
government used state-controlled banks, which also have responsibility for
the scandal, as strike-breakers in order to force a quick solution and
cover up the scandal''.
The Athens Stock Exchange resumed operation today after the Association of
Athens Stock Exchange Members (SMEHA) yesterday accepted a National Economy
Ministry proposal to resolve a deep crisis which had plagued the bourse
since last Friday.
Under the proposal, a Delta Securities default of 2.6 billion drachmas will
be made up from the Joint-Surety Fund and the Titles Depository. According
to a Capital Market Committee decision, disputed transactions must be
cleared by all brokerage firms by Thursday, while those firms which do not
fulfil their obligations will be barred from bourse sessions.
The Stock Exchange supervising authority yesterday attempted to operate the
bourse with the participation only of brokerage firms which are subsidiaries
of the major state-controlled banks, sparking protests from other brokerage
Evert said that the Stock Exchange must regain its credibility at the
earliest, adding he was convinced that the vast majority of small investors
and brokerage firms were in favour of a clearing up of the situation in
order to put the bourse on a solid footing.
On his part, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday
announced that international auditing firms would conduct special audits in
all ASE-affiliated brokerage firms, following the collapse of Delta
Securities - an incident that led to an unprecedented suspension of trading
on the Athens bourse on Friday and Monday.
He added that the measure aims to fully clear up responsibilities and to
draw conclusions, adding that the government intends to deal comprehensively
with the trading settlement, giving solutions to both the problem of
Delta's inability to meet obligations and to improvement of clearing
procedures and reducing market risks.
This would involve legislation, he said, according to which the Titles
Depository would immediately pay the National Bank of Greece the sum of
Delta's worthless checks, and would in turn demand the sum from Delta and
the Joint-Surety Fund.
He added that according to a decision of the Capital Market Commission, all
transactions entered up until Nov. 7 had to be cleared by tomorrow morning,
and any firms not complying would not be allowed to participate in the
Any arrears ascertained would be met in the same way as those of Delta's,
In a related development, it was announced that ASE president Manolis
Xanthakis had been summoned to appear before a Supreme Court prosecutor to
make a deposition in connection with conditions at the ASE and the Delta
Meanwhile, an Athens first instance prosecuting authority is already
carrying out an investigation into the affair.
US State Dept. official has talks in Athens on Cyprus issue
The US State Department's southern European representative, Carey Cavanaugh,
today described his talks in Athens as ''fruitful and useful'' and said
Washington shared the same targets as Greece with respect to securing peace,
stability and prosperity for Cyprus.
Cavanaugh, who has unofficially become Washington's coordinator for the
Cyprus problem following the resignation of James Williams, arrived in
After talks today with Foreign Undersecretary Christos Rozakis he told
reporters that his meetings on Tuesday and today in Athens and those he
will be having tomorrow in Nicosia ''underline the emphasis which the
United States attaches to efforts for a settlement of the Cyprus problem''.
US State Department spokesman Glyn Davis said yesterday that Cavanaugh's
visit to Athens, Ankara and Cyprus was ''a diplomatic mission on a working
level and does not constitute the start of a US initiative on the Cyprus
Asked by reporters here today when such a US initiative would begin,
Cavanaugh replied that ''this depends on the course of the talks''.
Replying to other questions, Cavanaugh described Greece's positions as
''positive'' and reiterated that the US shared the same targets as
Earlier, Cavanaugh had talks with the director of the foreign ministry
political affairs directorate Alexandros Filon and the general secretary
for European affairs Stelios Perrakis with whom he discussed Cyprus' course
towards accession to the European Union.
Cavanaugh, who leaves later today for Nicosia, had the opportunity to
exchange views with foreign ministry officials during a dinner given in his
honour last night by US Ambassador in Athens Thomas Niles.
According to diplomatic sources, the US is placing particular emphasis on
the implementation of previous proposals put forward by Washington's
permanent representative at the United Nations, Madeleine Albright, aimed
at reducing tension and commencing military dialogue on Cyprus.
Foreign ministry concern at Great Lakes tragedy
The foreign ministry said today that Greece was following ''with concern''
the developments in Central Africa's troubled Great Lakes region and ''the
drama'' of the refugees.
At the same time, a ministry announcement said, Greece condemns all acts of
violence and calls for an immediate end to hostilities in the region.
The ministry underlined that all initiatives by the United Nations and the
international community in general aimed at relieving human suffering must
''On their part, the countries (directly) involved must create the right
conditions for an overall political settlement of the crisis and refrain
from actions which prejudice the sovereignty and territorial integrity of
all the states of the region, so that the appropriate conditions might
exist for a speedy and peaceful settlement of the problems in the Great
Lakes region,'' the announcement said.
Kuchma expresses satisfaction over contacts with Greek leadership
Visiting Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma yesterday expressed satisfaction
at the results of his official talks in Greece, stressing the "great
possibility for the development of economic relations between the two
Speaking during a meeting with Greek businessmen yesterday morning, the
Ukrainian president referred to the signing on Monday of a friendship and
cooperation agreement between the two countries, saying it formed the basis
for further cooperation.
In relation to the political and economic situation in his country, Mr.
Kuchma said the Ukraine's accession to the European Union was a "strategic
goal of national importance," adding that the former Soviet republic looked
forward to Greece's support to achieve this goal.
Elaborating on economic developments in the Ukraine, Mr. Kuchma drew
attention to the voting of a new constitution defining the principles for
the country's further development, downward trends in inflation, completion
of a privatisation process for sma ll-to-medium-sized enterprises and
initiation of privatisation procedures for larger companies.
The president of the Athens Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Yiannis
Papathanasiou, stressed that the two countries' "economies, which are
complementary, have a mutual interest in building closer ties of commercial,
industrial, tourism and technological cooperation."
"Mr. Kuchma's visit to our country will undoubtedly have positive results
in this direction," he added.
Mr. Kuchma also held a meeting yesterday with Parliament President
At the meeting both men expressed a will for further bilateral relations.
Mild with local clouds, with temperatures in Athens ranging from 11-22 C
and in Thessaloniki 9-18 C.
FOREIGN EXCHANGE (Buying)
U.S. dlr 234.806 Can. dlr.175.802, Australian dlr. 185.048 Pound sterling
387.455, Irish punt 388.765, Cyprus pd 514.253, French franc 46.392, Swiss
franc 186.794 Belgian franc 7.619, German mark 156.994 Finnish mark 51.955,
Dutch guilder 139.991 Danish Kr. 40.857, Swedish Kr. 35.623, Norwegian Kr.
37.375, Austrian Sh. 22.316, Italian lira (100) 15.543 Yen (100) 211.108
Spanish Peseta 1.864, Portuguese Escudo 1.551.