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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-07-26

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, 26/07/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Gov't to deregulate electricity in line with EU
  • Pangalos says it's time for a solution to Cyprus problem
  • Gov't plans to restructure defence industry
  • PM gives interview to Financial Times
  • Greek students in Britain campaign for Parthenon marbles' return
  • Greece expresses opposition to EU funding for Turkey
  • Woman confesses to priest's murder
  • American climber rescued off Mount Olympus
  • Greek suspension bridge gets Dr 115 bln EIB loan
  • Greek telecom seen awarding Dr 70 bln digital deal next week
  • Greek rail subsidiary to manage Dr 500 bln in projects
  • Greek equities end sharply up, pierce resistance
  • Greek industrial output drops 3 pct in May yr/yr
  • Current account deficit drops in April
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Gov't to deregulate electricity in line with EU

The government yesterday decided to deregulate the electrical power market, bringing the nation in line with European Union directives.

Following an Inner Cabinet meeting, where a unanimous decision was taken on the issue, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that the institutional, organisational and administrative framework governing the electricity power market must be completed by February 1999, announcing that the government has agreed to a single administrator system.

Mr. Reppas said this means that the private sector will be given the chance to produce electric power and that the Public Power Corp. (DEH) will maintain public control. He further announced that an independent body will be initiated to supervise conditions set in tendering.

Mr. Reppas said it was decided that processes for linking Greece with the European networks (cable with Italy) will accelerated and the institutional framework for the purchase of electricity will be promoted in Parliament by the end of the year, accompanied by a study to restructure DEH.

Mr. Reppas also said that the Inner Cabinet did not discuss the issue of construction of a power plant in Florina, adding that this will be discussed by government bodies in the future and not be included in the cabinet meeting's agenda for next Friday.

Pangalos says it's time for a solution to Cyprus problem

The government is determined to support the Cyprus government throughout the process of negotiations that has begun towards a just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said yesterday after meeting with visiting Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides.

Mr. Pangalos noted "this is the time there must be a solution to the Cyprus problem" and reiterated that Cyprus was on the way to begin negotiations for European Union (EU) accession, along with other European countries.

Following a two-hour meeting with Mr. Kasoulides, Mr. Pangalos referred to the major changes taking place in Europe and said that in that context Cyprus should become a free country with basic human rights guaranteed and the rights of its citizens for free movement within the island republic to be ensured.

The Greek foreign minister said that a solution of the Cyprus problem would contribute to an improvement in the climate in the southeastern Mediterranean and help the European future of Turkey, which at present is "isolating itself from international develo pments" by its occupation of northern Cyprus and its refusal to observe internationally accepted rules of behaviour.

Cyprus' foreign minister said his meeting was necessary to talk about all recent developments on the Cyprus issue, including the second round of direct talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, scheduled for August 11-16 in Geneva.

Mr. Kasoulides also expressed his appreciation for Greece's support in Cyprus' application for EU membership, saying that without Greece's efforts, the island republic would not have succeeded in reaching the stage of accession talks, due to begin early in 1998.

Cyprus hopes for a solution on the 23-year-old problem based on international law and human rights, and is participating in the direct talks in a positive and constructive spirit, he added.

Asked to comment on statements by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, who said Thursday that there was not much cause for optimism due to Turkey's stance, Mr. Pangalos said statements by the Greek president cannot be commented on.

He added that there were no differences in opinion from Mr. Stephanopoulos' statement, because the government had "also observed Turkish intransigence, which has been expressed by provocative statements and acts, on the occasion of the tragic anniversar y of events of 1974 and the stance held by Mr. Denktash during the New York negotiations" with Mr. Clerides in July.

"This does not mean there is no possibility of reaching a solution, " Mr. Pangalos added. "If Turkey wishes to obstruct a solution, given its other problems and the general changes in world conditions, that's another issue entirely," he said.

He, nevertheless, expressed hope that Turkey would keep a positive stance, to allow a solution that would benefit all Turkish Cypriots, development for both sides and progress.

Gov't plans to restructure defence industry

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the country's defence industry needed restructuring, commenting on a discussion held by the inner cabinet yesterday.

"The reasons are economic and national," he said, adding that an inter- ministerial committee will be established, composed of the National Economy, National Defence and Development ministries, to coordinate policy in this sector.

Mr. Reppas said various proposals had been made concerning the merging of companies that had a similar objective of closer cooperation, cooperation with the public sector, and the need to increase competitiveness, primarily in markets abroad. There are four state-run defence sector enterprises at present - EAB, EBO, ELBO and PYRKAL.

PM gives interview to Financial Times

In an interview with the London-based Financial Times, which was published on Thursday, Prime Minister Costas Simitis stressed that "Greece will use all measures offered in the framework of the European Union to achieve what it considers to be right".

He also didn't rule out the possibility that Athens may resort to blocking EU accession of central European applicants if Cyprus isn't included in a future Union enlargement.

Mr. Simitis said Greece will not release EU funds to Turkey in the framework of the latter's customs union with the 15-member Union or proceed with dialogue if Ankara does not stop disputing part of Greek sovereignty or does not resort to the Internatio nal Court of Justice at The Hague.

"Every word in Greek-Turkish discussions is important," Mr. Simitis said, explaining that the Greek side aims at achieving results through the experts committees and not "as in the past" discussions leading to disagreement.

Mr. Simitis said the spirit of Davos was "shortlived" because an effort was made to achieve a great deal in a short period of time, while not enough attention was paid to details.

According to the British newspaper, Mr. Simitis is aware that an improvement in Greek-Turkish relations will allow for cutbacks in defence spending, an element which will contribute towards the attainment of targets set in the Maastricht Treaty, which constitutes a top priority target for the Greek government.

Describing Mr. Simitis' personal characteristics, the newspaper assesses that he is neither explosive nor charismatic but has much in common with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

"He gave a different image to an old-fashioned socialist party, managing to apply policies which would have met with strong reaction a few years ago," the newspaper reported.

Lastly, Mr. Simitis said in the interview that he believes he's closer to the French socialists, adopting measures favouring low-level pensioners and the unemployed.

Greek students in Britain campaign for Parthenon Marbles' return

Greek student societies in Britain will stage protests outside the British Museum, the Ministry of Heritage and British embassies around the world on November 14 to campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.

In a statement by the Union of Hellenic Student Societies in the United Kingdom released yesterday, the union said that they had designated November 14 as "Parthenon Day".

The campaign will include mass mailings to British officials calling for negotiations on a timetable for the return, debates, and Parthenon Day Web Sites at the Internet addresses of: http://www.greece.org/eefkmed and http://www.uk.digiserve. com/mentor /marbles.

Greece expresses opposition to EU funding for Turkey

Greece yesterday expressed its explicit and categorical reservations over any funding for Turkey from the European Union's budget, whose draft for 1998 was discussed here on Thursday.

Greece's permanent diplomatic representative at the EU, Ambassador Pavlos Apostolidis, made the following statement during yesterday's meeting of the member-states' Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER), which he also submitted to the session's minutes:

"The Greek delegation is opposed to the registration of funds for fiscal cooperation with Turkey (EU budget policy B7-4034), given that the required legal basis does not exist in accordance with the processes anticipated by the Treaty and on the basis of the terms and preconditions of the relevant body for the (EU) budget.

"The Greek delegation also discloses that it does not agree with the selective implementation of the legal basis in accordance with the policies (of the EU budget) and the interests of certain member-states."

Athens had also submitted a similar statement in the minutes of the Council of Ministers on the EU budget last year.

Meanwhile, governent spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Athens' policy remained unchanged on the issue. Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis had set out Greece's view on the matter.

Woman confesses to priest's murder

A 42-year-old woman yesterday confessed to shooting to death a priest earlier this week on an Athens street, an incident which attracted widespread local media attention.

Ekaterini Yiannakopoulou was arrested late Thursday night outside a monastery in Mandra, western Attica, after evading police since shooting Archimandrite Anthimos Eleftheriadis in the Nea Smyrni district on Tuesday.

The suspect reportedly told police that she killed the Cypriot-born priest, who was also her confessor, because he had "ruined her life by rejecting her after a relationship spanning eight years."

She also told police that she bought the murder weapon from an undisclosed Athens store last September and began making plans to kill the priest, whom she at one point described as "god in human form."

Ms Yiannakopoulou was charged with premeditated murder, illegal possession and use of firearms, and taken to a prosecutor to testify. She is scheduled to testify on Tuesday, following her request for an extension.

In statements to the press, she appeared confused and said, "I loved the archimandrite and I still love him. I died along with him the moment I shot him. But I had to protect his honour and that of my family".

American climber rescued off Mount Olympus

Mountain rescue workers succeeded in evacuating an American national from a Mount Olympus shelter late yesterday, after strong wings and fog hampered two attempts by military helicopters to approach the site.

Army personnel carried 32-year-old William Sheen overland down the mountain on a stretcher and from there by ambulance to an Athens hospital, where he reported in a relatively good condition.

According to reports, Mr. Sheen, who suffers from sickle-cell anemia, had been tended by a doctor while waiting for evacuation at the shelter, located at an altitude of 2,100 metres.

Greek suspension bridge gets Dr 115 bln EIB loan

A French-Greek consortium that won construction and operation of a suspension bridge in western Greece yesterday signed a contract with the European Investment Bank (EIB) for a loan of 115 billion drachmas.

The loan, which is guaranteed by the Greek state, covers around 50 percent of the project's 226 billion drachma budget.

National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou told the signing ceremony that the project, due for completion in 2005, was the key to development in northwestern Greece.

The winning "Yefyra" consortium, which will operate and maintain the bridge for 42 years, comprises engineering contractors GTM-Entrepose SA of France with a 55 percent stake, and Greek engineering contractors who hold the remaining 45 percent.

The bridge will have two traffic lanes in each direction, and the state has undertaken to build access roads to the country's main highway network. Around four million vehicles annually are expected to use the bridge.

The project will create 3,000 jobs, Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis said.

Greek telecom seen awarding Dr 70 bln digital deal next week

Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) is expected to award a contract next week to Intracom and Siemens, its traditional suppliers, for procurement of 1.366 million digital switches worth 70 billion drachmas, OTE sources said.

The state-run firm's board postponed the first of three meetings to debate the deal in order to gain more time to prepare its recommendations. Meetings are scheduled for Tuesday and Friday next week.

OTE is expected to order 1.366 million switches, opting for the mid-point of a 600,000-1,800,000 range still being discussed, the sources said.

The digital supplies are part of a fast track investment programme for 1997- 1998 worth 135 billion drachmas.

OTE board members are expected to make the following recommendations at next week's meetings:


Direct award of the digital switches deal to Intracom and Siemens to bypass new long-term contracts or an international tender, both of which would be time-consuming
Direct award to Intracom and Siemens of a contract for installation of a network risk and fault management system
Tender between Intracom and Siemens to provide network supplies

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

Greek rail subsidiary to manage Dr 500 bln in projects

Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE) in August is expected to transfer the design and implementation of projects worth 500 billion drachmas to Ergose, a newly created subsidiary.

State-owned OSE will keep control of projects in the final phase of implementation.

OSE is also due to hand over new projects and materials procurements to Ergose by the end of 1997.

Greek equities end sharply up, pierce resistance

Greek stocks yesterday ended sharply higher led by banks, piercing resistance at 1,600 points after struggling to retake the key level for nine straight sessions.

The Athens general share index finished 2.05 percent higher at 1,601.39 points, outperforming the parallel market for smaller cap stocks which rose 0.96 percent. The bourse gained 4.18 percent on the previous week.

Trade was moderate to active with turnover jumping to 15.3 billion drachmas.

National Bank of Greece gained 1,685 drachmas to close at 37,810 drachmas, propelled by a robust 94 percent rise in first-half net profit to 33 billion drachmas from 17 billion a year earlier.

Most sector indices scored gains. Banks rose 2.91 percent, Leasing 0.43 percent, Insurance 2.48 percent, Industrials 2.17 percent, Holding 1.57 percent, and Miscellaneous 2.02 percent. Bucking the trend were Investment, which lost 0.02 percent and Const ruction, down 0.01 percent.

Advances led declines at 126 to 67 with 37 shares remaining unchanged of 230 stocks traded.

The day's highest percentage gainers were Agrinio Metals and Plastics, Hellenic Investment Bank for Industrial Development (preferred), Benroubi (preferred) and Keranis (common).

The biggest losers were Evropaiki Pisti (preferred), Sato (preferred), Kekrops and Macedonian Textiles (common). Among blue chips, National Bank of Greece finished at 37,810 drachmas, Ergobank at 17,500, Alpha Credit Bank at 20,125, Delta Dairies (commo n) at 3,470, Hellenic Bottling at 10, 250, Titan (common) at 14,990,

Intracom (common) at 13,190, and Aluminium de Grece (common) at 18,295 drachmas.

Greek industrial output drops 3 pct in May yr/yr

Greek industrial production slumped three percent in May against the same month in 1996, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said yesterday.

Industrial output in January-May held steady, NSS said.

Current account deficit drops in April

Greece's current account deficit for April dropped 3.1 per cent to US$660 million from $681 million in the same month of 1996, showing an improvement for the second straight month, the Bank of Greece said yesterday.The January-April deficit jumped 21.3 pe r cent to $2.28 billion from $1.88 billion a year earlier, the central bank announced.

WEATHER

Most parts of the country can expect cloudy weather and scattered showers with storms, especially in central and northern Greece. The cloud is expected to lift gradually, remaining only in the north. Winds are northwesterly, moderate to strong. Athens will be cloudy and possibly rainy, with temperatures ranging from 22-32 centigrade. Cloud is also forecast for Thessaloniki with temperatures ranging between 20-27 centigrade.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday 's closing rates - buying US dlr. 284.307 Pound sterling 473.581 Cyprus pd 530.323 French franc 45.995 Swiss franc 187.776 German mark 155.030 Italian lira (100) 15.933 Yen (100) 244.726 Canadian dlr. 205.721 Australian dlr. 210.403 Irish Punt 415.747 Belgian franc 7.505 Finnish mark 52.189 Dutch guilder 137.640 Danish kr. 40.718 Swedish kr. 35.924 Norwegian kr. 37.527 Austrian sch. 22.036 Spanish peseta 1.839 Port. Escudo 1.534

(C.S.)


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