Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-07-16
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 16/07/1997 (ANA)
- Government pledges to stay on convergence course
- Greece to revise EU fund package
- Kranidiotis kicks off Middle East tour with Cairo visit
- Czech PM in Athens tomorrow for official visit
- First F-16 refurbished in Greece
- Commissioner says EU won`t succumb to Turkish threats
- Defence Minister begins Caucasus tour with talks in Yerevan
- Athens press union takes stance on Turkish journalists' persecution
- Trucks banned from highways on weekends
- New port terminal, motorway credits approved
- Strong corporate profits seen driving up Greek bourse
- Greek transport, communications unions agree to strike truce
- Cyprus in first group for European Union expansion
- FOREIGN EXCHANGE
NEWS IN DETAIL
Government pledges to stay on convergence course
The government yesterday pled-ged to keep to targets contained in its plan
to converge the economy with other European Union countries despite
changing conditions within the EU, National Economy and Finance Minister
Yannos Papantoniou said.
"Our assessment is that developments are not upsetting our own economic
planning. We remain firm and dedicated to the programme we have been
implementing," Mr. Papantoniou told reporters.
He was speaking after a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis to
discuss developments in the EU, particularly in Germany and France, and how
they would affect economic and monetary union.
Also attending the meeting was Bank of Greece governor Lucas Papademos.
Replying to questions on whether the government intended to impose any new
economic measures this year, Mr. Papantoniou said:
"There will be absolutely no measures during the present year. The budget
is going according to plan, inflation has a clear downward tendency and,
overall, the economy is keeping to targets set by the government." A
preliminary meeting on economic policy for 1998 would be held today but
formal discussion would begin in the autumn linked to preparation of the
budget, Mr. Papantoniou said.
Asked whether there was concern at the Bank of Greece about this week's
sharp rise of the dollar against the drachma, Mr.Papademos said he saw no
repercussions on Greece's foreign exchange policy. "These fluctuations
reflect various factors which affect the dollar's parity on international
markets," Mr. Papademos said.
He also said foreign currency restrictions for Greeks would be lifted in
Greece to revise EU fund package
Greece plans to speed up the implementation of European Union funded
projects and partly revise the second Community Support Framework (CSF),
National Economy Undersecretary Christos Pachtas said yesterday. Speaking
after a meeting chaired by Prime Minist er Costas Simitis, Mr. Pachtas said
the reallocation of 1994-99 funds was to enable completion of as many
projects as possible before introduction of the third CSF, known as the
Santer package, due in 2000 after EU enlargement.
Projects not already funded under the second CSF would be accelerated by
transfering EU monies from slow moving projects, he said.
Mr. Simitis was briefed on implementation of the public investments
programme during the meeting, which was also attended by Finance Undersecretary
Nikos Christodoulakis. According to figures presented by Mr. Pachtas,
implementation of EU-funded project s in first-half 1997 showed a 98
percent increase against the corresponding period of 1996.
A total of 725 billion drachmas in CSF funds were spent last year, with a
71% absorption rate for 1994-96.
Kranidiotis kicks off Middle East tour with Cairo visit
Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis kicked off a six-day Mideast
tour yesterday with a visit to the Egyptian capital.
His tour of the area will focus on improving relations with Mideast
countries as well as promoting Greece's role in assisting with the region's
Following separate meetings with Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Mousa and
Foreign Undersecretary El Safty, Mr. Kranidiotis said the atmosphere was
positive for improving bilateral relations.
Mr. Kranidiotis said he discussed the entire range of bilateral relations
with his Egyptian counterpart, adding that both sides expressed desire for
further deve-lopment of relations, and noting that Egypt recognised Greece
could play a positive role in the region, especially in the peace process
between Israel and the Palestinian Self-Rule Regions.
The two sides also discussed implementation of the bilateral defence
cooperation agreement signed on June 19, while the Egyptian officials
expressed concern regarding the similar agreement signed between Israel and
Mr. Kranidiotis said he obtained a promise from the Egyptian side to
support Greece's candidacy as a non-permanent member of the UN Security
Council. The Egyptians, for their part, asked for Greece's support in their
country's relations with the Europea n Union.
Discussions included economic cooperation, and the Egyptian side showed
particular interest in Greek investment for the sectors of new technology,
telecommunications, industry and construction.
Finally, Mr. Kranidiotis handed Mr. Mousa an invitation by President Kostis
Stephanopoulos for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to visit Athens.
Mr. Kranidiotis will also visit Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.
Czech PM in Athens tomorrow for official visit
Czech Premier Vaclav Klaus will visit Greece tomorrow for talks with his
Greek counterpart Costas Simitis on bilateral relations, particularly on
the possibilities for upgrading political dialogue.
According to a Czech embassy announcement, the aim of the visit is to
further develop "the already excellent and friendly relations" between the
Czech Republic and Greece in all sectors, especially economic issues.
During his stay, Mr. Klaus will also have talks with Foreign Minister
After his talks in Athens, Mr. Klaus, who will be accompanied by his wife,
will fly to Crete to participate in an international seminar organised by
the Group for International Study and Evaluation A.G. (GISE) and Alpha
The seminar will focus on issues pertaining to foreign policy, security and
international economic relations.
First F-16 refurbished in Greece
The Hellenic Aerospace Industry (EAB) yesterday delivered to the Air Force
the first F-16 jetfighter to undergo extensive refurbishment in Greece.
The fighter plane was turned over to the Air Force during a special event
at EAB's facilities in Tanagra attended by Finance and National Defence
Undersecretaries George Drys and Dimitris Apostolakis, Chief of the Air
Force General Staff Lt.-Gen. George
Antonetsis, and US Ambassador in Athens Thomas Niles.
The air force has assigned EAB a programme to upgrade all its F-16s by the
year 1999. The delivery of six more modernised F-16s is scheduled over the
next four months.
The work is being carried out by EAB following its acquisition of the
knowhow from Lockheed-Martin Corp., the F-16s' American manufacturer.
Commissioner says EU won`t succumb to Turkish threats
European Commissioner Christos Papoutsis yesterday responded to statements
by Turkish officials regarding EU enlargement, stressing that European
political culture does not bow to threats or blackmail.
Mr. Papoutsis, who is responsible for energy, SMEs and tourism, was
commenting on threatened "counter-measures" by Turkey in the event that the
European Commission's recommendation on enlargement does not satisfy
The Commission yesterday announced its formal decision to recommend Poland,
the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Estonia and Cyprus in the first
round of the Union's enlargement.
"European political culture does not succumb to threats and blackmail.
Particularly with respect to the Cyprus Republic's European prospect, an
independent UN member-state whose northern part has been under Turkish
military occupation for the last 23 ye ars," Mr. Papoutsis said.
The Greek Commissioner added that Turkey's road to Europe presupposed
respect for international law and human rights.
"Specifically, it presupposes implementation of UN Security Council
resolutions and decisions. It presupposes the active contribution of Turkey
(in finding) a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem on the basis
of UN resolutions," he added.
Mr. Papoutsis said the Commission recommended that accession negotiations
should begin with Cyprus in 1998 as planned.
Defence Minister begins Caucasus tour with talks in Yerevan
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday briefed his
Armenian counterpart Vasger Sarxien on the situation in the Balkans,
including problems created by what he called "Turkey`s expansionist and
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos is on a tour of Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.
Discussions in Yerevan centred on cooperation in the bilateral defence
In statements afterwards, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos placed particular emphasis on
priority for dealing with problems of security, stability and cooperation
in the new international environment, particularly in eastern Europe.
Athens press union takes stance on Turkish journalists' persecution
The Athens Journalists' Union (ESHEA) will join the protest of several
international press organisations over violations of democratic traditions
in Turkey, it announced yesterday.
ESHEA will send a letter of protest to the international federation of
journalists to protest a recent sentence against a Turkish journalist.
During the latest general assembly meeting of the European Federation of
Journalists-International Federation of Journalists in Brussels last month,
New Democracy deputy and ESHEA board member Fani Palli-Petralia tabled a
question on the persecution of journalists in Turkey and the federations'
lack of serious reaction.
Following a lengthy discussion, the secretary-general decided to set up an
investigative committee on the issue.
Trucks banned from highways on weekends
The government yesterday announced a ban on the circulation of trucks over
1.5 tonnes on sections of the country's motorways when traffic is at a peak,
in an effort to reduce congestion and cut the number of accidents.
The ban, effective from July 18 to September 14, basically means that
trucks will not be able to use motorway sections which generally become
congested when city dwellers leave for and return from the provinces at
For instance, trucks will not be able to use either the old or new national
road leading out of Athens for Corinth on Fridays beween 14.00 and 21.00. A
similar restriction will apply with respect to the motorway lanes leading
in to Athens on Sunday afternoon between 17.00 and 22.00.
Road assistance trucks and vehicles carrying pasteurised milk and fresh
fish will be exempt from the ban.
New port terminal, motorway credits approved
Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis has
approved credits amounting to 10.1 billion drachmas for the construction of
a passenger terminal at the port of Irakleio, as well as for improvements
on Kifissos avenue between Iera Odos Avenue and Athinon Avenue.
The amount of 1.15 billion drachmas will be provided for the passenger
terminal and nine billion drachmas for Kifissos Avenue.
In parallel, the joint venture "SARANTOPOULOS-MENTON" was assigned
yesterday with building the motorway between Almyros and Aerinos, budgeted
at 19 billion drachmas. The project is part of the Patra-Thessaloniki-
Strong corporate profits seen driving up Greek bourse
A long hot summer lies ahead for the Athens Stock Exchange after the market
breached resistance at 1,600 points following a month of consolidation,
Despite slipping below the key level on Tuesday, factors expected to have a
positive impact on the market are anticipated high corporate profits in the
first half of the year, particularly for industrial and banking blue
Other factors expected to push the market up are a rebound in the share
price of Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) as soon as its
share capital increase is completed, and an equity increase by National
Bank of Greece, due in autumn.
HSBC James Capel, an international investment firm, said in a survey of the
Greek capital market that the Athens bourse would see an average 13 percent
increase in net profits of listed companies this year, up from an earlier
forecast of 10.4 percent.
Greek transport, communications unions agree to strike truce
Union leaders representing workers in 17 public enterprises endorsed a two-
month labour peace agreement with Transport and Communications Minister
After a meeting with Kastanidis, union leaders expressed their support for
the minister's efforts to secure labour peace, although they stressed
particular sectoral problems. Speaking to reporters, Kastanidis thanked
unions for a constructive discussion and for their support for his
Olympic Airway's pilot unions stressed the need for urgent hiring of new
pilots in order to proceed smoothly with a restructuring programme the
airline is undertaking.
OA's unions agreed to the labour peace proposal on condition that there
would be no surprise legislative adjustments to scrap unions' institutional
and financial demands.
Cyprus in first group for European Union expansion
The European Commission proposed yesterday that accession talks for an
expanded European Union should start with Cyprus and five other nations.
The Commission's "Agenda 2000" document recommends that Poland, the Czech
Republic, Hungary, Slovenia and Estonia join Cyprus in the accession talks
The document was formally agreed on yesterday without much discussion
during a meeting of EU Commissioners in Strasbourg.
The adopted proposal will be made official this morning when European
Commission President Jacques Santer formally presents the decision to the
The decision means that Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania
will have to wait for EU membership, although they will each have
contractual accession partnerships allowing them to prepare at their own
speed for joining the Union.
Cyprus was scheduled to start membership negotiations six months after the
Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), in accordance to an EU decision in
Last June's Amsterdam European Council had reiterated that accession talks
with Cyprus should start as scheduled, that is in early 1998.
Cyprus applied for EU membership in 1990. It signed an association
agreement with the European Community in 1972 and a customs union agreement
Fair weather is forecast throughout the country initially today, turning
cloudy locally in the afternoon in northern and central regions. Athens
will be fair with moderate northerly winds. The same for Thessaloniki, with
local clouds in the afternoon.
Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 278.772
Pound sterling 470.248 Cyprus pd 531.772
French franc 46.025 Swiss franc 189.447
German mark 155.446 Italian lira (100) 16.000
Yen (100) 243.982 Canadian dlr. 204.094
Australian dlr. 205.265 Irish Punt 419.100
Belgian franc 7.529 Finnish mark 52.653
Dutch guilder 138.062 Danish kr. 40.797
Swedish kr. 35.726 Norwegian kr. 37.125
Austrian sch. 22.091 Spanish peseta 1.845
Port. Escudo 1.541