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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 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

  • Greece says FYROM name issue still "open"
  • Govt: Cyprus problem a "central point" of Greek-Turkish relations
  • Athens pleased with US House resolution on Cyprus
  • Main opposition party walks off procurement committees
  • Cabinet to discuss liberalisation of energy market
  • Lebanon's Hariri begins official visit today
  • 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

Greece says FYROM name issue still "open"

The government said today that the issue of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia ''remains open'' and that the views of Athens and Skopje on the matter did not as yet coincide.

''The issue is the subject of handling within the framework of the initiative of Cyrus Vance,'' government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said, replying to reporters' questions.

Commenting on relations between Greece and FYROM, Reppas said that they were guided by the bilateral interim agreement, adding that progress had been made since the signing of the agreement, particularly in the economic and trade sectors.

Replying to other questions, Reppas said there was ''room for agreement'' on the name issue, while reiterating that Greece had entered the talks under Vance with its known position of not accepting the name ''Macedonia'' or some derivative.

''For the moment, the views of the two sides do not converge,'' Reppas said, adding that talks on the issue could not be allowed to carry on forever.

''It is up to Mr. Vance to undertake the appropriate initiatives to resolve the issue,'' Reppas said.

Govt: Cyprus problem a "central point" of Greek-Turkish relations

The Cyprus problem constitutes a ''central point'' in Greek-Turkish relations, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today, when asked to comment on statements by the US special coordinator for Cyprus, Thomas Miller.

Replying to questions on Greek-Turkish relations and the role of the United States, Reppas said that the US was in contact with both governments and was contributing to the restoration of a climate of understanding between the two countries ''without there being direct contact between the two governments''.

Reppas added that US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright would contribute to the further rapprochement between Athens and Ankara ''which Greece deems to be desireable''.

Asked about the possibility of a further meeting between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Turkish President Suleiman Demirel, the spokesman said ''there is no such meeting on the horizon''.

Simitis and Demirel recently signed a joint communique, later described as a declaration of intentions, on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Madrid.

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".

Main opposition party walks off procurement committees

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis said today his party would walk out of the parliamentary state procurements committees in protest at what he charged was a lack of transparency in procurement procedures.

''The present system of contracting and executing state procurements is riddled, deficient and non-transparent,'' Karamanlis said after a meeting of the ND Transparency Committee.

''Despite the high-sounding commitments undertaken by the government many years ago regarding the creation of an independent administrative authority (to supervise procurements), it has turned a deaf ear,'' the ND leader charged.

Karamanlis said that instead of the government going ahead and establishing this authority, the Cabinet recently deemed the present situation to be satisfactory, ''thereby consolidating the impression that it is preserving the system of non-transparency, in effect fulfilling suspicious party obligations''.

For this reason, he added, ND's representatives would no longer participate in the relevant parliamentary committees.

Karamanlis also announced the undertaking of a political and parliamentary initiative aimed at setting up an independent public administrative authority and the strengthening of the State Audit Council ''in order for there to be transparency in the use of public money and respect for the money of the Greek taxpayers''.

Cabinet to discuss liberalisation of energy market

Prime Minister Costas Simitis will chair a Cabinet meeting tomorrow on the liberalisation of the energy market and the country's defence industry, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today.

Reppas said the Cabinet may discuss the issue of the construction of electrical power generating plant in Florina, northern Greece.

Although the Board of Directors of the Public Power Corporation (DEH) has unanimously approved construction of the plant, objections to the project have been voiced within the ruling PASOK party.

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.

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

(S.S.)


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