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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-07-24

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

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

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 24/07/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • 23rd anniversary of democracy restoration marked
  • Athens pleased with US House resolution on Cyprus
  • National defence restructuring discussed
  • Lebanon's Hariri begins official visit today
  • Premier chairs meeting focusing on major projects
  • More consular staff to head to Moscow embassy
  • Female survivors of WWII labour camps call for restitution
  • Ancient fish-farm discovered on Lesvos
  • Greek telecom to award digital deal by August 1, sources say
  • Greek business group sees mixed economic outlook
  • Athens '97 IAAF Championship figures
  • Sounion to Crete on windsurf board
  • WEATHER
  • FOREIGN EXCHANGE

NEWS IN DETAIL

23rd anniversary of democracy restoration marked

Messages poured in from all of Greece's parties and political leaders yesterday marking the 23rd anniversary of the restoration of democracy, after the fall of the seven-year military junta.

Statements mostly touched on the achievements of Greece during the past 23 years and the progress the country has made towards European integration.

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos emphasised there was no longer a problem of democracy in Greece.

"Democracy has been permanently restored and prevails, and the present period of our political life is one of the smooth functioning of our democratic institutions," the President's message on the July 24 anniversary read.

Democracy was restored in Greece in July 1974 after the collapse of the 1967-74 junta, following an abortive coup in Cyprus and the subsequent invasion of the island republic by Turkey. Ankara's forces continue to occupy 37 per cent of the island's north, while in 1983 the occupied area's regime unilaterally declared independence, recognised only by Ankara.

In further statements, the president said ensurance of democratic rule was not in itself sufficient for the prosperity and progress of the Greek people.

He said it still remained for the Greek economy to reach the level of the other European Union member-states, and for successful confrontation of the national issues still pending, "particularly repulsing Turkey's aggressiveness in the Aegean".

"We all desire normalisation of relations and we all hope for a good development of things, but we are also awaiting ascertainment of the tactic to be followed by Turkey following the declaration of principles in Madrid, " Mr. Stephanopoulos said.

The president noted that economic indicators had improved, enabling optimism, "but more is necessary. Even quicker development rates, increased productivity, combatting of unemployment, finding appropriate solutions to the farmers' problems and meeting social needs more fully".

These, he added, were complex problems and difficult targets, the attainment of which did not depend only on the disposition of those in government.

"There are many (sides) which must contribute to the effort, among them those exercising business activity, the working people and the union representatives, particularly those of the public sector, and the sincere cooperation of the farmers," he said.

He said the vision of a fully developed and prospering Greece shared by all needed to be realised to the same extent that full restoration of democracy had been achieved.

In his message on the anniversary, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said the future Greece would be even more free and democratic, adding that a cycle has closed with the years immediately following the restoration.

"The challenge we have now is the equal participation of our country in the European unification process, the effective dealing with great problems of Greece and the (accumulated) delays of decades past," Mr. Simitis said.

Greece's modernisation and its strengthening as a country is a challenge for all, and a goal that calls for "overcoming outdated ways of thinking and setting new strategies".

He added that what was also necessary was promoting great infrastructural changes that would improve the country's competitive ability and "promote creativity, hard work, ethical choices, high ambitions and great vistas into the future."

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis said the anniversary "finds Greece at a critical cross-road", because "politics are experiencing an unprecedented crisis of unreliability".

Mr. Karamanlis conceded that the country's progression towards a united Europe "has the approval of the majority of our people", but he pointed out that "certain cowardly and socially heartless policies undermine this progress and social cohesion".

The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) attributed the political change in 1974 to an obligatory manoeuvre by "US and NATO imperialists under pressure by popular struggle and the public outcry at Cyprus' tragedy".

The Coalition for the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) called for the "radical restructuring of political powers and the revision of the country's political map".

Athens pleased with US House resolution on Cyprus

The government yesterday welcomed as "very positive" a US House of Representatives resolution on the Cyprus problem, which calls for the demilitarisation of the island republic and withdrawal of the Turkish occupation forces.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that if the points contained in the resolution constituted "active elements of US foreign policy, then a permanent and viable solution of the Cyprus problem may be attained".

The spokesman noted, however, that similar texts had in the past been adopted by representative bodies of the United States "but they were not implemented in the country's foreign policy".

The US House plenary passed on Tuesday with a majority of 417 votes in favour, 4 against and 14 abstentions Concurrent Resolution 81, which was approved last month by the House International Relations Committee and initiated by its chairman, Ben Gilman.

The House resolution (the Senate concurring) calls on the Congress to "reaffirm its view that the status quo on Cyprus is unacceptable and detrimental to the interests of the US in the eastern Mediterranean and beyond".

It considers that "lasting peace and stability on Cyprus could be best secured by a process of complete demilitarisation leading to the withdrawal of all foreign occupation forces, the cessation of foreign arms transfers to Cyprus and provide the altern ative internationally acceptable and effective security arrangements as negotiated by the parties".

National defence restructuring discussed

Prime Minister Costas Simitis and national defence ministry officials met yesterday and discussed the nation's policy of defence and its new structure.

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said the policy relied on the strategic document on the evolvement of the 1985 defence dogma.

According to this, the danger for national interests lies in the east, but this is being expanded to include a dynamic reply to any provocation.

The restructuring of the armed forces has begun in the army and will have been completed by the end of 1998. The main purpose of restructuring is to form modern and flexible military formations able to respond quickly to any provocations, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

Lebanon's Hariri begins official visit today

Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is due in Athens today on a two-day official visit, during which he will have talks with Premier Costas Simitis, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas announced yesterday. Mr. Hariri will also have talks with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, the spokesman added.

Premier chairs meeting focusing on major projects

Prime Minister Costas Simitis chaired a meeting on the course of the major projects and projects of a national and regional scale at the Maximos Mansion yesterday.

The meeting was attended by Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis and Undersecretary Christos Verelis.

In a statement afterwards, Mr. Laliotis said an account of the course of projects during the first seven months in 1997 is positive. This year is considered particularly crucial for the course of the whole programme, since projects budgeted at 500 billi on drachmas are being carried out which constitute 33 per cent of the total public works programme.

Mr. Laliotis said both the rate of works being carried out and the rate of absorbing funds are considered satisfactory.

It was pointed out that the processes for the conclusion of a loan with the European Investment Bank for the construction of one of the largest projects, the Rio-Antirrio bridge, will have been completed by the end of July.

More consular staff to head to Moscow embassy

The foreign ministry said yesterday it would be sending more personnel to the consular authorities at the Greek embassy in Moscow to cope with the visa applications submitted by individuals wishing to travel to Greece.

According to a ministry announcement, a problem had arisen in the processing of visa applications due to the recall of an administration employee and a policeman whose presence in Athens was requested ''for an official administrative inquiry''.

The ministry noted that the consular authorities gave priority to group visa applications, adding that the extra staff to be sent in the next few days would soon clear the work backlog.

New consular authorities have recently been established in several countries of the former Soviet Union, at St. Petersburg, Novorosiisk, Yerevan, Baku, Tbilisi and Odessa, apart from those which were already set up in Moscow and Kiev.

According to the ministry, they were established ''in order to strengthen our economic, cultural and tourism relations with these countries''.

Female survivors of WWII labour camps call for restitution

A report by 16 Greek women who had been incarcerated in Nazi forced labour camps during World War II was filed at the Europarliament yesterday by Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) Eurodeputy Alekos Alavanos.

The report calls on the European Parliament to intervene and request from Germany "to proceed to financial compensation and the restitution owed them".

The women state in the report that "most of the Greek women who had worked as hostages in forced labour camps in Hitler's Germany are no longer alive. There are only 16 of us, and we are near the close of our lives."

Ancient fish-farm discovered on Lesvos

Archaeologists conducting excavations on Lesvos have discovered what they believe is an ancient fish-farm at the Makry Yialo site, dating back to Hellenistic times.

The find comprises a series of structures, believed to be holding tanks, connected with each other by means of a small canal running along one side.

At points along the canal, there are holes allowing the sea water and fish to enter.

Similar finds, but of the later Roman period - called vivarium - have been found in the past on Crete.

Greek telecom to award digital deal by August 1, sources say

Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) is expected to appoint a supplier for 600,000-1,800,000 digital switches by August 1 as part of a fast track investment plan for 1997-1998 worth 135 billion drachmas, OTE sources said.

OTE's traditional suppliers Intracom and Siemens are so far tipped to win the contract, which is due for debate by OTE's board in three meetings starting on Thursday, the sources told the Athens News Agency. They said the state telecom was likely to use direct award for the contract because forging long-term agreements with suppliers or calling an international tender would delay the procurement, which is urgently needed.

The board's second and third meetings to discuss the award would be held on Tuesday and Friday next week, the sources said.

OTE president Dimitris Papoulias has informed Prime Minister Costas Simitis of progress in the state telecom's investment plan and fresh needs that have arisen, they said.

Greek business group sees mixed economic outlook

The PASOK government has brought the economy closer to alignment with other European Union countries but its policies have led to distortions that could damage the market, the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) said.

In its six-monthly economic report, EVEA identified deficits in the balance of payments as the economy's main economic problem.

The trade group welcomed a gradual decline in consumer price inflation but forecast the trend could reverse from October, jeopardising the government's target of 5.5 percent inflation for December.

EBEA urged the government to adopt the following measures in order to curb market distortions:

  • Cuts in public spending rather than tax hikes to remedy fiscal imbalances
  • Broader measures to combat inflation, breaking a dependence on foreign exchange policy and price restraint by public utilities as anti-inflationary tools
  • Curbs on privileges for state utilities that have virtual monopoly status
  • Backing for free competition
  • Privatisation
  • Improvement of the labour market's institutional framework to spur recruitment of the young
  • Modernisation of public administration through technological and administrative changes
  • Opening the education system to international competition
  • Change in philosophy behind the social insurance system.

Athens '97 IAAF Championship figures

Staging the August 1-10 World Athletics Championships in Athens will cost 4.8 billion dr., including the 800 million drachma cost of the opening ceremony, Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras said yester- day.

Receipts of three billion dr. are anticipated from ticket sales, 500 million dr. fom athletes' accomodation and a large sum from the renting of various facilities. Approximately one billion dr. were invested in modernising the Athens Olympic Sports Complex, 500 million on sports infrastructure and equipment for the new anti- doping control centre, and 500 million on athletics equipment.

Sounion to Crete on windsurf board

Greece's windsurfing Olympics gold medallist Nikos Kaklamanakis sets sail from Cape Sounion on July 30 for a two-day 200 nautical mile journey to Crete on his surfboard aiming, as he said, to advertise the beauty of Greece all over the world and to boost Athens' candidacy for the 2004 Olympic Games.

Kaklamanis will surf the 120 miles to Santorini in 6-8 hours on the first day of the journey, covering the remaining 80 miles to Heraklion, Crete in 5-7 hours on the following day.

WEATHER

Fair weather is forecast over the whole of the country today, with northerly winds, moderate in the east and becoming strong to very strong in the southeastern Aegean. Athens will be mostly sunny with temperatures ranging from 22 to 35 C. The same for Thessaloniki with temperatures 20-33 C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 283.137 Pound sterling 476.140 Cyprus pd 530.918 French franc 45.940 Swiss franc 190.930 German mark 154.831 Italian lira (100) 15.935 Yen (100) 245.550 Canadian dlr. 205.999 Australian dlr. 208.419 Irish Punt 418.386 Belgian franc 7.499 Finnish mark 52.626 Dutch guilder 137.511 Danish kr. 40.670 Swedish kr. 36.131 Norwegian kr. 37.666 Austrian sch. 22.010 Spanish peseta 1.840 Port. Escudo 1.535

(L.G.)


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