Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-07-16
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 16/07/1997 (ANA)
- Papantoniou predicts a tough fiscal 1998
- Kranidiotis kicks off Middle East tour with Cairo visit
- Czech PM in Athens tomorrow for official visit
- New airport opens in Crete
- Greek assistance offered in Turkish helicopter crash
- Air space violations by Turkish planes
- 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
- Cyprus in first group for European Union expansion
- Earthquake in Aegean
- FOREIGN EXCHANGE
NEWS IN DETAIL
Papantoniou predicts a tough fiscal 1998
The Greek government will implement an austere fiscal policy in 1998 in
order to prepare the country for participation in Economic and Monetary
Union, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said
Speaking to reporters, Papantoniou said that 1998 will be a tough year for
the Greek economy as participation in the single European currency would
depend on achieving targets set in the government's programme to converge
with other EU countries.
He said the government's efforts would aim at reducing inflation to below
3.0 percent from the current 5.5 percent and adjusting fiscal policy to
strict provisions contained in the convergence programme.
"1998's budget will be crucial," Papantoniou said.
He predicted that the budget deficit would shrink to 4.2 percent of GDP
this year and that economic growth would accelerate to 3.5 percent.
Inflation would be contained within official targets by the end of the year,
Papantoniou stressed that final decisions on drafting 1998's budget would
be agreed in the autumn after the prime minister's traditional speech on
the economy held in September each year at the Thessaloniki International
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.
New airport opens in Crete
Transport and Communications Minister Haris Kastanidis today inaugurated
the new installations of the ''Nikos Kazantzakis'' airport at Heraklion,
The inauguration is within the framework of an ongoing programme to
modernise and develop all the airports of the country at a total cost of 30
The works under the programme include the landscaping of surrounding areas,
the extension of runways and the construction of new parking areas.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Kastanidis reaffirmed the government's
commitment regarding the construction of a further runway at Heraklion
airport, the study for which has been delayed due to a fault which appeared
in the subsoil.
He said the final study would be given to him a month from today,
containing solutions to the problem which arose.
Following the recent improvements, the airport area reserved for passenger
use now covers 23,000 square metres.
Some 3.5 million passengers use Heraklion airport annually.
Greek assistance offered in Turkish helicopter crash
The government said today that it had informed the Turkish authorities of
Greece's willingness to provide any kind of assistance necessary following
the crash of a Turkish military helicopter east of Samos.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that according to available
information, the helicopter crashed into the sea this morning inside
Turkish territorial waters, perhaps just off the Turkish coast.
Air space violations by Turkish planes
A group of 10 Turkish F16 and F4 warplanes today infringed the Athens FIR
and violated Greek airspace over the Aegean between the islands of Limnos
and Lesbos, informed sources said.
In each case, the Turkish warplanes were identified and intercepted by
Greek fighter planes.
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.
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
Earthquake in Aegean
A strong earthquake measuring 5 on the Richter scale was recorded shortly
after 13:00 local time, its epicentre being 180 kilometres northeast of
Athens in the sea between the islands of Skyros and Lesbos.
So far, there have been no reports of damage or injuries.
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